By S.E. Smith
The children’s story, “Wrong Turn to Roswell,” by USA Today and The New York Times bestselling author S.E. Smith started with episode 1 and 2 in the Vision Magazine, published on Dec. 21, 2017. The magazines are available for free at rdrnews.com/special-publications.
The story continues in the Vision section of the Roswell Daily Record, which started Sept. 23.
What happened: A spaceship with a vacationing robot family had to land for repairs in the back of an artist’s welding studio in Roswell. The robot father Copper and their mother Diamond warn their son Iron and his sister Carbon to not get into trouble. Despite the warning, the kids run out after their robot dog Rover One and encounter two human boys, Alan and Matt. The boys promise to help, but the robots are in danger to be found because of Dr. Lancer who is an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell. A mob gathers, but Alan has a plan. Together with the help of Stanton Friedman, Roswell Daily Record reporter Christina Stock, the Roswell Police Department’s Chief Deputy Shane Baker and the publisher of the Roswell Daily Record, Barbara Beck, the robots hide successfully in plain site as art in the welder studio of Alan’s mom. The next morning, they find out that photos were leaked, and the decision is made to announce the reality of alien robots in Roswell at the UFO Festival and GalactiCon planning committee meeting in the UFO Museum. The reception is friendly and the robot kids are permitted to go to school with Alan and Matt. Returning to the spaceship, the neighborhood is surrounded by the military. A phone call to the newspaper rallies the town, who come to the rescue with Christina Stock and her white pickup in the lead. Roswell’s citizens are able to protect the aliens. The robots convince General Adam that he can’t haul their spaceship off, and a deal is made to give scientists access. Will the robot family be able to repair their spaceship and escape the general?
Days turned to weeks. Summer vacation had started, which was good since it was almost impossible to get to school in the mornings with all of the media attention. A large white tent covered more than half of the area next to Alan’s house now. Scientists scurried up and down the platform while soldiers tried to keep the gawking tourists and the occasional protester behind the barriers.
Alan smiled when he saw Herb Lancer arguing with yet another scientist. Diamond had felt so bad about almost killing the local college professor that she had insisted he be a part of the research team. Herb was delighted with his new position and had become very protective of the alien family.
“Hey, Alan. Hi, Carbon,” Matt called out, narrowly missing the soldier walking past them as he pedaled into the yard.
Alan groaned and bowed his head. “Why does he have to come every day?” he muttered.
The soldier, who was close enough to hear, glanced at Matt and chuckled. Matt made a face at the man. Carbon giggled and bumped her shoulder against Alan’s. “You know you don’t mean that. You like Matt,” she teased.
Alan lifted his head and adjusted his glasses. “Not this much,” he mumbled under his breath.
Matt slid to a stop, barely catching himself from falling off the bike, and Alan warily watched as Matt dropped his bike on the ground and walked toward them.
“You know, they make kickstands for a reason,” he hinted, shaking his head as Matt came to sit next to them in the shade of the house.
“What? Oh, yeah, it is really hard to get up and down. I thought I’d see if Carbon could take a look at it for me,” Matt responded with a grin.
“Sure,” Carbon said with a wink. She rose to her feet and walked over to the bike.
The second the soldier was out of earshot, Matt leaned closer to Alan and slipped him the small package he had pulled from his pocket. Alan covertly tucked it into his own pocket. His sad gaze focused on Carbon.
“Are you sure this is the last thing they need?” Matt asked.
Alan nodded. “Yeah. It was nice of Dr. Lancer to get this for them. I know once the scientists find out …,” he quietly trailed off.
“When are they you-know-what?” Matt asked.
“Now that we have this? Soon,” Alan grimaced and shared a commiserating look with the boy who had become a surprisingly good friend over the last few months. Matt had even been just the right amount of resourceful and sneaky these past couple of weeks. Alan fingered the package that Herb had given Matt to give to him so he could give it to Rover One who would take it to Diamond.
It was a very convoluted method of getting the necessary parts to Diamond to repair the spaceship, but honestly there were cameras everywhere but in the bathrooms! They had to do it this way after Herb had been banned from the spaceship.
Alan snapped his fingers to Rover One, and the robotic dog rose from where he was gnawing on someone’s missing screwdriver. When Rover One sat in front of him, Alan patted the dog and lowered his head to whisper in his ear.
“Take this to Diamond,” he instructed.
A small compartment opened on Rover One’s side and Alan slipped the final part that Diamond had requested into the cavity. Rover One licked his chin before turning and trotting over to his discarded screwdriver. Picking up the tool in his mouth, he happily wagged his tail as he threaded his way through the group of scientists and into the spaceship.
There would be a break around midnight so that Diamond and Copper could recharge. The shift would resume at five in the morning. Alan knew that the short amount of time was never enough for Diamond or Copper to fully recharge.
“I’m really going to miss Iron,” Matt glumly muttered.
“Yeah, leaving your friends is hard,” Alan said, wrapping his arm around Matt’s shoulder.
Matt perked up and smiled at him. “Hey, do you want to play some basketball?” he suddenly asked.
“Sure,” Alan responded.
* * *
Alan rolled over in his bed, fumbled for his glasses, and looked at the clock. It was almost one o’clock in the morning. He pushed the covers back and sat up. Sliding fully clothed out of bed, he shook Matt.
“What?” Matt sleepily grumbled before his eyes popped open and he sat up like a Jack-in-the-box. “Is it time already?”
“Shush! Keep your voice down,” Alan warned as he pulled on his shoes and picked up his backpack.
Matt nodded and pushed away the Iron Man bedspread. He pulled on his own shoes and put on his space helmet. Alan looked at Matt dubiously.
“What are you doing?” he hissed.
“Iron fixed this thing up really cool. I can see in the dark with it now,” Matt explained.
Alan started to protest, then shrugged. As crazy as it sounded, the helmet might actually come in handy. At least Matt wouldn’t run into stuff. He took in a deep breath and motioned for Matt to follow him.
He winced when the door to his bedroom squeaked as he opened it. He peered out in the hallway. Together, they crept down the hallway to the stairs.
Alan froze when he heard his mom softly call his name. He and Matt straightened and froze in mid-step. Matt looked at him with a guilty expression.
“How did you know I was leaving? Did you tell her?” Alan demanded.
“Yeah, I mean — she’s your mom and it was kinda obvious when I looked in your bag. You can’t leave without her,” Matt defended.
“Actually, Carbon told me first,” Jennifer Whitehouse stated.
“I didn’t want … I couldn’t tell you … The science and space …,” he struggled to explain in a guilty voice.
“I know and I understand why, Alan,” Jennifer said.
Alan stepped forward and wrapped his arms around his mom’s waist, hugging her tight. With an odd mix of feelings, he suddenly realized that he was as tall as she was now. She hugged him back.
“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice muffled against her shoulder.
“You’ll always be my little boy, Alan,” she brokenly whispered.
“You know…,” he started to say.
She reached over, took his backpack from him, and nodded. He didn’t know what to say. She cupped his cheek with her hand and smiled.
“It’s time to go,” she murmured, stepping around him.
Alan silently followed her down the stairs while Matt trailed behind them.
His throat was tight as they crossed the main warehouse. They waited until the clock struck one. The power flickered before going out.
“Let’s go,” Jennifer said, gripping Alan’s hand and pulling open the door.
Alan could hear the guards shouting. There was no moon tonight, but thanks to the stars, the area was still bright enough to navigate. A generator suddenly hummed before sparks burst skyward, briefly illuminating Herb Lancer standing in front of the generator.
“Come on,” Carbon cried out from the platform.
Alan ran after his mom. He could hear more activity behind him. He looked over his shoulder to see soldiers running toward them.
“Goodbye, Alan,” Matt said.
“Matt …,” Alan started to say.
Matt shook his head. “We’ll always be friends, no matter where you are,” he said.
Alan nodded. He reached out and squeezed Matt’s shoulder before he turned to hurry up the platform. His mom, Carbon, Iron, and Rover One were standing in the entrance. He paused at the doorway. His eyes filled with tears.
“Mom …,” he started to choke out.
His mom shook her head. “Do you really think I would let you go on such a great adventure without me?” she asked.
His eyes widened in surprise, and Carbon pulled him into the spaceship. He watched as Matt backed up and waved to him. Alan waved back as the door to the spaceship sealed.
“Goodbye,” Alan whispered, staring down at his home as it grew smaller.
The final chapter of “Wrong Turn To Roswell” will be in the Aug. 25 edition of the Roswell Daily Record, with the epilogue: Home is Where the Heart is.
S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY and international award-winning author of science-fiction, fantasy, paranormal and contemporary works for children, young adults and adults. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away. Smith was part of last year’s UFO Festival and GalactiCon where she gathered more information about the town and its people to include in her story. Smith has a book series about the fictitious town Magic, New Mexico, which was inspired by her first trip to our area in 2015 and is located somewhere between Roswell, Artesia and Carlsbad. The Magic, New Mexico series continues with several authors joining with their own stories, courtesy to Smith. To dive into another novella set in the Worlds of S.E. Smith’s Magic, New Mexico, visit magicnewmexico.com. Readers can check out Smith’s website at sesmithfl.com and chat with her on Facebook at facebook.com/se.smith.5 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.