Leaning forward, Jane Fogg trained her Nikon on the scarlet tanager in the canopy of leaves. The songbird cocked its head. It would be a good photo. The muted light was perfect.
“Stay there, you little bastard,” she whispered. “Stay there, stay there.”
Branches cracked across the creek. Mouth open, the birder forgot about her shot. A black saucer-shaped craft flew through the sparse woods on a low trajectory toward the ground, mowing down thin green saplings and clumps of underbrush. The impossible craft grazed a huge oak. Spinning, the saucer veered off, skimmed the forest floor, bounced, came down hard, and crashed in the distance with a sickening metallic thud. Screaming birds flew up out of the trees.
Twenty seconds, and that was it.
“A plane crash,” the birder said in disbelief.
Somebody might be trapped in the wreckage. With a pounding heart, she slung the Nikon around her neck and slid down the overgrown embankment to the creek. It had to be a military aircraft.
The instructor stopped the film. "OK," he said. "Now, what was Ms. Fogg's worst mistake here?"
One student raised a hand. "Going alone into an unsecured danger area instead of calling for backup?"
"Pretty stupid, but not the worst. Anyone else?"
"Assuming the flying saucer is a military aircraft and not, well, a flying saucer?"
"No, though that's still pretty dumb. Next?"
"She didn't get any pictures," the third student said.
"Right! The camera's round her neck, not in her hand. No shots of the saucer, nothing on the screaming birds flying away - she didn't even get the goddamn tanager, for Christ's sake!" The instructor glared at Jane. "You call yourself a birder?"
Opening: H. Grant.....Continuation: Steve Wright