The silver of the giant bullet shone brilliant against the reddest dirt Ty had ever seen. It lay longways on the ground, unlike the one they’d found in Nevada, but it was otherwise nearly the same kind of spaceship. The federals hosed it down from a portable water tower.
“What the hell are you doing?” yelled Doc. He jumped off his horse and waved for them to stop.
Ty and Will followed him as he stormed over to the man with the hose.
“Who’s in charge here?” he asked.
A crowed gathered at a healthy distance, audibly muttering about ‘Men in Black.’
“I think our friend in the capital did some PR for us,” said Ty.
Hose-man pointed to a skinny man in a furry gray stetson. The man took his stetson off and approached them, hand extended.
Doc took his hand. “Well, Bone Ellison—what’s the idea washing off the outside of the ship?”
Bo stuttered. “Many reasons. Space residue, space disease, foreign poisons, space body fluids, foreign planet dust…”
“Let me guess,” said Will. “Your mother never let you play outside, did she?”
Doc scowled back. “You really think humans are going to get extraterrestrial sicknesses? If anything like that is on there, it has to be collected. For science, you knucklehead.”
“Oh!” Bo brightened. “We did—Mr. Wells.”
A young man stepped forward. “Sir, we swept as much off it as we could. I’ve got a large collection in stoppered-up tubes.”
“What’s yer name?” asked Doc.
“Harold Grover Wells, sir.”
“Next time wait for the Men in Black, see?”
“Begging your pardon, sir,” said Bo. “We didn’t know to expect you until yesterday’s messenger.”
“Have you been inside?” asked Ty.
“Oh, yes,” said Bo. “Amazing objects. We haven’t moved anything, yet.”
“Good thing,” said Ty. He found it difficult not to crack a grin while he pretended to be stern.
“No creatures?” asked Doc.
Doc and Will looked at each other gravely.
Bo tilted his head. “Wait, was there a creature in this thing?”
“Let’s see inside,” said Doc.
The space ship had a cradle just like the previous one, but no creature. They poked around the interior for a while, looking for a little sled like one they’d found on the ship in Nevada.
“Huh,” said Doc.
“We’ve got a problem, boys,” said Ty.
“What is it?” asked Bo.
“There’s a creature from another world roaming around the earth somewhere.”
Bo’s face turned snow white. “What kind of creature?”
“It’s a small and strange thing,” said Doc. “It doesn’t have legs, so it’s likely getting around in its locomotive sled.”
“You’ve seen them before?” asked Harold, his eyes as wide as quarters.
“One came down in Nevada,” said Doc.
Ty frowned at him. “Do they need to know about that?”
“At this rate, I think so,” said Doc. “We found the poor feller dead inside the ship.”
“We didn’t see any sled tracks around this thing,” said Bo.
“We’ll need a few posses,” said Will. “It’ll be a wide search.”
“We need good men,” said Doc. “Men that won’t panic and shoot things they don’t understand. Can you manage that, Mr. Ellison?”
“I-I think so. This is the biggest thing I’ve ever had to face,” said Bo.
“Maybe not,” said Harold. “What keeps knocking them out of the sky?”