By S.E. Smith
Illustrations by Pupped-Eclipse (Heather Donahue)
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. Today, the last episode brings the story to a closure.
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. The robot family and their friends distract the military and repair their spaceship. Alan gets invited to join and together with his mother, the robot family returns to space.
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Hey, Alan. You’d better hurry or we are going to be late,” Carbon called out.
“Two more minutes. I just need to send this message,” Alan loudly responded.
Alan looked back at the screen. Out of habit, his hand rose to adjust his glasses before he remembered that he didn’t wear them anymore. In fact, it had been 10 years since he had worn glasses.
“Alan, you’re going to miss your ride,” Jennifer said, coming into the room behind him.
Alan looked at the screen again trying to think of what else he should say. He rubbed his hands against his uniform and looked at his mom with a pleading expression.
“He’ll be there,” Jennifer stated.
“How do you know for sure?” Alan asked.
Jennifer laughed. “I just do,” she replied.
“Hey, Alan, are you coming?” Iron demanded from the doorway.
“Go, I’ll send the message for you,” Jennifer said.
Alan rose from his seat and brushed a kiss across his mom’s cheek. Bending, he grabbed the duffle bag filled with clothes and a few of his prized possessions, then paused and looked over his shoulder to meet her eyes.
“I love you, Mom,” he said before he turned and disappeared through the doorway.
* * *
“I love you, too, Alan,” Jennifer whispered.
She could feel the sting of tears in her eyes. She was so proud of the young man that Alan had become. The last 10 years had been an adjustment for both of them. Life out in the universe was a lot different than back home in Roswell. Her gaze moved to the miniature sculpture that she had made of the robotic family, including two new members — Alan and herself.
Sinking down into the chair, her finger hovered over the send button before she moved it to play the message that Alan had been about to send. Alan wouldn’t mind her watching the video. Pressing the play button, she sat back in the chair.
“Hey, Matt! I hope you are keeping out of trouble. How are you doing? Listen, I’ve been accepted to this great new program at the university here. Carbon and Iron are doing the same program, so we’ll be together again and we were wondering if you …”
Jennifer listened as Alan haltingly told Matt about the new school he was attending, and she thought about her son’s pen pal. Alan wasn’t the only one who had changed a lot over the last 10 years — so had Matt.
The two boys had kept in touch over the years thanks to the communications device Iron had installed in the space helmet. The fact that Matt had been talking to them from inside the helmet had been a source of amusement for the alien family for quite a while until Iron finally explained to Matt that he could position the helmet in front of him like a camera to record and receive messages.
“Jennifer, I was going to go to the parts refuse, would you like to go?” Diamond asked.
Jennifer turned and nodded. “Sure. I’m working on a companion for Rover One,” she said, rising from her seat.
She took a step forward, then turned and pressed the send button, watching for a moment as the message zipped to their far away solar system. When she turned back around, she saw that Rover One was sitting next to Diamond with a happy grin on his metallic face.
“I think we are going to have some company,” Jennifer laughed.
She walked to the door and paused to look back at the screen. Alan’s screensaver was a picture of all of them standing together back in Roswell. Christina, Herb, Stan, and dozens of others were gathered around Alan, Matt, and the robotic family. Her throat tightened at the happy look on everyone’s face.
Rover One whined and looked up at her. Jennifer knelt and ran an affectionate hand over the dog’s head. He licked her chin.
“Come on, let’s go find you a friend,” she said, standing.
Rover One’s tail wagged like crazy and he took off down the hall. Diamond looked at her with a concerned expression. Jennifer threaded her arm through Diamond’s and patted it.
“Sometimes it is hard to believe how fast the kids have grown,” she said as an explanation.
“I know. Iron has gone through three expansion kits in less than a year,” Diamond replied.
* * *
Six months later, Alan stood staring out at the dusty landscape. A cooling breeze blew down from the mountains. He lifted a hand to shield his eyes and scanned the horizon.
“There! I see a dust trail,” Iron said, pointing to the north.
“Finally!” Carbon growled. She stopped pacing and looked at the mini-computer on her wrist.
“I knew he would come,” Alan muttered in relief.
“I knew he would be late,” Carbon retorted.
“It looks like he has someone with him,” Iron said.
Alan and Carbon both froze and watched as the dusty old pickup bounced down the dirt road toward them. Farther behind Matt, there was a lot more dust being kicked up by a long line of vehicles.
“We’d better start the ship,” Carbon muttered, grabbing her brother’s arm and pulling him toward the platform extending from the spaceship.
Alan walked backward and watched Matt slide to a stop in an old, red Ford pickup truck. Matt practically fell out of the driver’s seat when he opened the door. Alan blinked when he realized that the videos of Matt hadn’t exaggerated how much he had grown. Matt really was close to 6-foot-3 and built like a linebacker.
“Are you going to help me?” Matt demanded, rushing around to the bed of the truck.
“What happened? I told you not to tell anyone!” Alan hissed, catching the duffle bag Matt tossed in his direction.
Matt looked over his shoulder at the line of vehicles coming closer. He grinned and shrugged, then pulled a suitcase out of the back. He hurried to the open driver’s door where he reached inside and pulled out the space helmet.
“I didn’t realize the military was still listening to my phone calls. I had to tell my parents that I was leaving to start school in outer space. I mean, how cool is that?” Matt explained, holding out the suitcase.
Alan shifted the duffle bag to his shoulder and took the battered suitcase from Matt. He followed Matt around to the passenger side of the truck. Matt was grabbing bags of groceries from the passenger seat.
“We have food,” he automatically commented.
Matt shrugged. “I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to take a chance. I have a month’s supply of good food and a year of MREs,” he replied.
“Alan, we’ve got more company coming,” Iron yelled. “Hey, Matt!”
“Hey, Iron,” Matt cheerfully greeted.
Matt walked toward the spaceship with one hand filled with bags and the space helmet hanging from the other. Alan hurried after him.
He turned when he heard the sound of helicopters approaching, and pressed the button to close the platform. Iron yelled for Carbon to go, and Alan looked out of the window as the spaceship lifted off.
Matt came to stand beside him. He winced when Matt slapped him on the shoulder. Matt’s strength had exponentially grown, too!
“Do you think you’ll miss Roswell?” he asked.
Matt looked out of the window. In the distance, they could see the small city of Roswell, New Mexico posing like a diamond in the desert. Matt shook his head.
“You know what they say — home is where the heart is. Roswell will always be home, but I can have more than one. It will be there if I ever want to come back,” Matt said.
“Do you think you will?” Alan asked.
“What? Come back? Heck, no! Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea how cool this is?” Matt exclaimed.
“Matt, you’ve got to come see this,” Iron yelled.
Alan grinned when Matt almost tripped over the bags he had placed on the floor. Some things never really changed — Matt’s love for adventure was one of them. With a sigh, he bent and picked up the bags of groceries, grimacing when he saw all of the black MRE bags.
He straightened and looked down at Roswell, thinking that his heart was wherever his friends were. He smiled when he saw Miss Christina’s white truck pulling up next to Matt’s. His hand lifted, even though he knew she couldn’t see him. A smile curved his lips when she raised her arm and waved her hand in farewell.
Maybe she could, after all, he thought as the spaceship shot out of the Earth’s orbit, heading for a new adventure.
It is not really the end. S.E. Smith is working now on changes and additional material for “Wrong Turn to Roswell — the book.” She has hired Roswell’s own, Heather Donahue, as illustrator. The announcement of publication date will follow. — Christina Stock, Vision Editor.
A note from the author:
I hope everyone enjoyed the story “Wrong Turn to Roswell” with Alan, Matt, Carbon, Iron, and the rest of the wonderful cast of characters as much as I did. I would like to thank Heather Donahue for her beautiful illustrations for the story. I would also like to thank Christina Stock, the members of the Vision section, and the Roswell Daily Record for making the story possible.
a.k.a. S.E. Smith
Preorder to Smith’s newest project, the Pets in Space 4 anthology is now available. Each anthology is available for a limited time. Part of the proceeds go to Hero-Dogs.org, a nonprofit charity that helps disabled veterans. Through the anthology, the authors have been able to donate more than $4,000 to help veterans live a more productive life by providing them with a service dog. For more information, visit petsinspaceantho.com, where a free sampler is available.
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. 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.