The Lily Cafe is thrilled to present author John L. DeBoer and his science fiction novel featuring aliens and a journey across the world The Amazon Encounter!
Title: The Amazon Encounter
Author: John L. DeBoer and Jean Jacques
Publication date: April 4, 2021
Genre: Science Fiction
A shaman in the Amazon rainforest has a problem: children in his village are dying from an unknown ailment. When a large, disc-shaped object falls from the sky onto a riverbank, he enters the object through a gash in its wall.
A prominent Beverly Hills plastic surgeon is staying in the house of his pediatrician cousin, who is away for the weekend. He goes to sleep in the guest room and awakens the next morning lying on the ground in a jungle.
Thus begins a story of aliens, teleportation, and telepathy involving unwitting physicians, the Pentagon, international scientists, espionage agents, a Las Vegas gangster, and a psychic. A colorful cast of characters takes the reader on an exciting, and often amusing, journey from the Amazon jungle to southern California, and eventually to the NBC television studios in Manhattan. Stops along the way include Moscow, Beijing, North Korea, Sao Paolo, Brazil, and the infamous Area 51 in Nevada.
Enjoy the ride!
It was picked up coming out of the Arctic by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
It was too small for a disaster-causing asteroid and much too slow. But with an altitude of 70 miles above the Earth at a speed of 1600 miles per hour, it was consistent with an ICBM, and this raised immediate concern across the U.S. air-defense network.
As the object continued south and passed over the Caribbean, NORAD breathed a sigh of relief. But the Air Force still had a problem: The object couldn’t be an asteroid or an ICBM, because it was slowing down!
No known plane could fly that high. Unless Russia had developed a hybrid space/atmosphere craft, this left a conclusion that could be even more worrisome.
Satellites tracked the object, officially now classified as a UFO, into South America as its altitude and speed continued to decrease – until it disappeared into the Amazon rainforest.
David Levy had it all: a thriving Beverly Hills plastic surgery practice catering to vain celebrities, a lavish home in Bel Airwith a tennis court and an infinity pool overlooking the lights of downtown Los Angeles, a Mercedes-Maybach S650 Cabriolet for cruising and a Porsche 911 Carrera just for fun. Just over six feet, he had a handsome face and a sculptured body that turned heads when he walked into a room. His outgoing personality not only invited confidence in his surgical skills from his patients, but made him quite popular among the power elite of the City of Angels.
But David Levy was not a happy man.
Michelle, his wife of fifteen years, a former model featured in the 2006 Swimsuit Edition of Sports Illustrated, no longer included him in her priorities. Except when it came to spending his money and basking in the social recognition he’d earned for his status in the community. Their intimacy had become a rarity. David’s desire to have children had been rejected by Michelle, who was afraid of what a pregnancy might do to her body.
So he was vulnerable to temptation when the opportunity presented itself in the form of Sandra Schlitz. The affair with her began six months after he’d hired the twenty-eight-year-old beauty as his office manager.
On Wednesday, two days ago, Levy Cosmetic Surgery, LLC had closed for the day. Michelle had somehow obtained a key to the office and found her husband and office manager in flagrante delicto in Exam Room 3. Her iPhone’s camera captured the scene in living color.
That very day, David was kicked out of his house. On Thursday, he’d been served with a notice of divorce proceedings. The attorney representing Michelle was no other than Rachel Kaplan, who had notorious success in getting financial revenge on cheating husbands for her celebrity women clients. The lavish lifestyle he’d come to expect was about to disappear.
Sandra tried to offer condolences when he gave her the news, but she did a poor job of concealing her joy. When he’d found lodging at the Oakwood Apartments,a well-known refuge for LA bigwigs facing the same situation, she’d offered to share it with him, but he demurred. Being caught seeing each other out of the office would not help his case, and he still hoped he could get out of his fix somehow.
But after two pity-party nights alone in the apartment, during which Michelle wouldn’t take his calls, he decided to move on as best he could.
His cousin, Aaron Levy, had gone through a divorce a few years earlier and now lived in what had been the couple’s beach place in Santa Monica. David called him to commiserate and get some advice.
“Sorry to hear that, Dave. I didn’t know you guys were having problems.”
“Yeah, well, it hasn’t been a good marriage for a while. So maybe it’s for the best. Except I’m sure she’s going to take me to the cleaners. She hired Rachel Kaplan to go after me.”
“Oh, man! Your lawyer better be good. Got one yet?”
“No. It’s all happened so fast. I haven’t had time to check around. But I don’t think it’ll matter much. She has me nailed. At least you got to keep your beach place.”
“Our split-up wasn’t too bad, all things considered, and I needed a place to have my son during visitation. He likes coming to the beach.”
“Who was your lawyer?”
“Sid Cohen. Want his number?”
“Hold on.” After a few seconds, Aaron told him.
“Thanks. I’ll call him Monday.” David sighed. “Still can’t believe this is happening.”
“I know. But look on the bright side. Being a bachelor has its advantages. Remember our med school days? We had our pick of women then.”
“And we ended up with bad choices.” David sighed again.
“Don’t live in the past, Dave. A whole new world has just opened up for you.”
“If you say so.”
“Hey, I’ve got a great idea. Move in with me. And today would be perfect. I’ve got Marc for the weekend, and I’m taking him to Disneyland. You’ll have the place to yourself.”
“Sure. Until you find a place of your own. We could party, man. Like the old days, remember?”
David chuckled. “Oh, yeah. A very long time ago.”
“Something to be said about the bachelor life. You’ll get back in the swing of things pretty quick.”
“That would be great. Hope you’re right. Thank you.”
“Stop by the office. I’m about to go pick up my boy, but I’ll leave a key for you. The security code is the year we graduated from UCLA. And I’ll let the housekeeper know in case she’s still at the house when you get there. Consuela comes in around eight and is usually out of there by early afternoon.”
“I’ll split all the costs with you, of course.”
“No prob. We’ll work out the details when I get back on Sunday. Not sure what’s in the fridge, but there’s plenty of booze in the bar. You can have the bedroom at the back that has its own bathroom.”
“Thanks, buddy. I really appreciate this.”
“We bachelors have to stick together, Dave. Make yourself at home.”
State of Tocantins, Brazil
An adolescent Tapirapé boy, naked except for a loincloth, squatted beside his baby sister sitting on a straw mat.
His mother, also naked, but adorned with abstract designs painted on her body with blue dye, waved a fan of reeds over the face of the coughing infant. The coughing stopped, and the baby’s color darkened as she gasped for a breath. Then another coughing fit ensued. The mother placed a hand on the one-year-old’s forehead. “So hot,” she said in a dialect of the Tapirapé language. She looked at her son, fear in her eyes. “We need Pagura. Get him, Compo!”
Compo rushed out of their log house to the home of the village shaman. “Pagura,” he called out at the entrance.
A tall, muscular man appeared in the doorway. He wore a necklace of white shells, and designs in black decorated his face, arms, and torso. A small wood plug pierced his nose. “What is it, Compo?”
“My sister is getting worse. You must come quickly!”
Pagura nodded sadly. The coughing spirit. He’d lost track of the number of villagers afflicted, but two babies had already died. It would last many days in older children and adults, but then it went away. The very young were not strong enough to fight it. “I will bring the spirit smoke.”
He disappeared into the darkness of the interior and emerged a few moments later wearing a headpiece of multicolored bird feathers and carrying a long-stem wooden pipe and a small basket containing dried brown leaves.
Pagura followed Compo to his house and stood next to the stricken infant. He filled the bowl of the pipe with the leaves. “Fire stick, please, Lomica,” he said to the mother, who rushed to the clay cooking stove. She stuck a straw taper into the fire and brought the flaming stick to the shaman.
Pagura puffed on the pipe as he lit the leaves. He dropped the stick to the dirt floor and continued to puff rapidly, inhaling until his eyes became glazed, then knelt next to the baby, where he blew smoke into her face as he chanted, “Evil spirit, I command you, leave this child!”
He continued blowing and chanting for several minutes while the child coughed, and then he stood.
“I have done what I can. The spirits will decide.”
“But she is burning up,” Lomica protested.
“Cool her body with water from the river so that the hot spirit will want to leave.”
Pagura left the house, burdened with anxiety. His reputation as a shaman was not only at risk, he could be in danger. He’d heard of a shaman in another village who had been killed by his people who thought he was working with the evil spirits against them.
He could not afford more deaths from this coughing spirit. I must ask spirit ball for help.
Santa Monica, California
David Levy packed up his few belongings, settled with Oakwood Apartments, and drove the Porsche to the pediatrician’s office in Santa Monica for the key. Then he headed for Aaron’s house. He’d been there a few times to watch sporting events like the NBA finals and to play poker.
He pulled into the driveway next to a Ford Focus just as a middle-aged Hispanic woman came out the front door. Consuela, he assumed.
He exited the car as the woman reached the Focus. “Consuela?” he asked.
“I’m David Levy, Aaron’s cousin.”
“Oh, si. Mr. Levy, he told me you stay with him. Your room, it is ready, señor.”
“Do you need key? I locked up.”
“I have one, thanks. And I know the security code.”
She squinted at him as if undecided whether she approved of David’s invasion. “Mr. Levy be back on Sunday.”
“Yes, I know.”
“And I don’t come on Sunday.” She gave him the eye again. “Por favor, Mr. Levy likes to keep house clean.”
“I understand, Consuela.” David smiled. “I won’t make a mess, I promise.”
She nodded – reluctantly, David thought. “Hokay.” She climbed into her car and David watched her drive off, hoping she wouldn’t suddenly return to offer more housekeeping caveats.
When her car disappeared out of sight, he grabbed his suitcase, a duffel bag and laptop from the trunk and went to the front door. The key worked with no problem, as did the security code, and he entered the foyer.
To his left was the family room sporting a 60-inch flat-screen TV above a granite-countertop bar. The room opened into an updated eat-in kitchen at the rear of the wood-frame, single level house.
Across from the family room, a hall led to a wing on the right that he knew contained a guest bath, a guest bedroom with bunk beds, and the master en suite. David continued straight ahead to his quarters at the back, across from the kitchen.
He dumped his suitcase on the queen-size bed, dropped his duffle bag in the closet, and put his car keys and his laptop on the small desk. After going back to the car to collect his suits, he went to the bar and poured himself a glass of Macallan on the rocks. He took the whiskey out the back door.
On one side of the pergola-covered concrete patio stood a Weber grill, and on the other, a hot tub. The patio continued past an umbrella table and chairs to surround a lap pool, and that about did it for the small, fenced-in backyard.
David made do with leftover meatloaf he found in the fridge for his supper, and after watching a Fast and Furious sequel on HBO, he unpacked, got ready for bed, and climbed between the sheets in his silk pajamas.
Thoughts of his life coming apart kept him tossing and turning for several hours before he finally fell asleep.
Amazon rainforest, Brazil
David woke with a feeling of unease. Something wasn’t right. A bad dream, maybe. And it had to be a dream that persisted: the bed was gone. In fact, so was the whole bedroom.
I’m lying outdoors on the ground! As he pondered this, a tarantula crept slowly past his nose, and he sat up with a start.
What the hell? He watched the spider disappear beneath a shrub.
“Hi, Dr. Levy.”
“Huh?” David turned to see a fierce-looking savage staring down at him, a big grin on his face. He quickly crabbed backward and stood, staring at the man who wore feathers on his head, a wood plug through his nose, a Rolex on his left wrist, and not much else. Only then did it occur to him that the primitive spoke English.
“Who are you?” David asked, at a loss for anything else to say.
“I Pagura, shaman of village.”
David looked down and saw he still wore his silk pajamas. “Where am I?”
Pagura smiled, showing bright white teeth. “Brazeel.”
“Yeah, okay. You know it?”
This is unbelievable! I must be dreaming. But dreams usually made sense at the time. Onlylater, when awake, did they seem totally weird. David pinched the skin of his forearm, but the scene didn’t change.
They were in a small clearing at an intersection of several paths leading into a dense forest of trees that towered overhead. Strange bird calls – he assumed they were avian in origin – issued from the forest canopy.
His neurons certainly had created quite a spectacle in his REM sleep. I’m in a freakin’ Brazilian jungle wearing my pajamas, talking to a native in English! The explanation beyond his reach for the time being, he decided to go with the flow.
“Yes, I know Brazil. In fact, I’ve spent some time in Rio de Janeiro.”
“I not go there. Too far from land of Great River.”
“The Amazon River?”
“Okay. That is name. Many rivers come from Great River. One is big help to village.”
“How did I get here?”
“You not here, then you here. I not know.”
Neither do I! “Why did you call me Dr. Levy?”
Pagura frowned. “Not your name?”
“Yes. I’m Dr Levy.”
“Doctor for kids?”
“You mean a pediatrician?”
“I’m not a pediatrician. I’m a plastic surgeon.”
Pagura frowned again. “Not understand.”
The shaman was obviously confused. Get in line! “I operate to make people look better,” David said, struggling for an explanation the witch doctor would accept.
Pagura smiled and pointed at his body paint. “This?”
David shook his head. “I cut skin and muscle with a scalpel – a knife – to make a new look.”
Pagura stepped back and tilted his head at David. “People let you?”
David chuckled. “They ask me to do it. Anyway, let’s get back to Dr. Levy. I know a Dr. Levy who’s a pediatrician. He’s my cousin, Dr. Aaron Levy.”
“Okay! Okay! He the one!”
“Doctor save sick kids in village.”
“You wanted Dr. Levy to come here?”
“Bet you. Save kids.”
This was bewildering. Can I wonder about being in a dream while I’m dreaming? That didn’t make sense. But neither did this reality, if that’s what it was. Did I slip into an alternate universe somehow?
“How do you know Dr. Levy?” he asked, hoping that a logical explanation for his predicament would emerge soon.
Pagura shook his head. “Scarzo know.”
Going deeper into the rabbit hole. “Who is Scarzo?”
“Man from Loz-vagiz, You-es-ay. He live in next village, bigger than my village. We go there, get things my people not have. He . . .” Pagura looked up at the tree canopy. “I not think of word. Scare! Scarzo scare me when I meet him. He has gun. He show me shooting. But Scarzo is . . . nice. Yeah. Funny man. Give me English words and watch.” He smiled as he held up his wrist.
At least this was something David could grasp. This Scarzo character came from Vegas somehow. Aaron had a practice there for a while. So that could be why Pagura knew about him. He wanted to sit down to continue the conversation, but the thought of the tarantula kept him standing. That and the other creepy-crawlies he knew lived here. He looked down to make sure his bare feet weren’t being threatened. As if to reinforce his aversion to the alien fauna, a screech came from the trees. Monkey?
“Scarzo told you about Dr. Levy?”
“Yeah, okay.” The shaman nodded his head rapidly, apparently pleased David was finally getting it. “Scarzo say Dr. Levy treat kids. I ask spirit ball get –”
“Hold it, Pagura. What is this spirit ball?”
“I show you. Ball bring you here.” Pagura frowned in disappointment. “I tell ball bring Dr. Levy. Ball make mistake.”
David felt sweat trickling down his body. He undid the buttons of his pajama top to get some relief from the heat and humidity. But leery of insects, he kept it on. A hypothesis that made some kind of sense, crazy as it was, started to form in his head. I stayed in Aaron’s house – alone – while he was away. Hmm. So a device capable of teleportation somehow reaches out for Aaron . . . Could that be it? But a technology unknown to today’s science being used by a witch doctor in the Brazilian jungle? He couldn’t begin to figure that one out.
The shaman’s sorrowful expression brightened. “I show you spirit ball?”
“Wait, Pagura. You asked the ball to bring Dr. Levy, but it brought the wrong Dr. Levy.”
Pagura nodded. “Screwed up. Scarzo say that. And he say ‘fucked up.’ Same thing, he say. It mean big mistake. I understand.”
“Does Scarzo know about the ball?”
“I not tell him.”
“Okay, we have a situation here, and I’m not happy about it. The ball screwed up. It got the wrong man. But you’re the one who asked the ball to fetch Dr. Levy, so you’re responsible for the mistake.” David was amazed at how quickly he could treat this inconceivable event like an everyday occurrence and try to turn it in his favor.
“Not know word.”
“It means it’s your fault I’m here. So you have to help me.”
“It my . . . payback?”
“Yes. The first thing you can do is get me something to wear besides this.” David gestured at his pajamas. “And shoes for my feet.”
“Our people not cover bodies.”
David pointed at the material over Pagura’s genitals. “But you’re wearing a loincloth.”
Pagura looked confused. “Is what men of our people do.”
“Okay, never mind.” Scratch the loincloth. He’d keep the pajamas. Still needed some kind of footwear, but he was hungry, and he needed sustenance before trying to make sense of this disaster. “Can you get me something to eat?”
“I cook food in house.”
“Let’s go. After that, you can show me this spirit ball.”
David followed Pagura along the path, ever mindful of where he placed his feet that hadn’t been challenged by more that hot beach sand in years. He wondered if the witch doctor had some animal skins he could use to fashion flip-flops or even sandals.
Jeez. I’m here five minutes and already thinking of how to live in the jungle. That teleporting ball better be able to send me back to Santa Monica pronto!
He’d received curious looks from other natives in the village as he and Pagura emerged from the forest and headed to the house. Maybe the introductions will come later, David thought as he ogled a well-endowed young woman with designs painted on her torso and continuing down to . . . Oh, boy!
Chickens were pecking at the ground in a central clearing around which a series of dwellings made of un-milled wood were clustered in a semicircle. A brown, short-hair dog came running to them and gave David a sniff.
Pagura led him inside one of the log houses. “This my house.” He went to a pot set on what appeared to be a clay wood-fueled stove. The shaman stirred whatever was in the pot with a wooden spoon. David had to admit it smelled good.
But it put even more strain on his bladder that was used to being emptied first thing in the morning. He tapped Pagura on the shoulder, and the shaman turned.
“Yes, it smells good. But I have to. . . you know. . .” He cupped his penis through his pajamas and gave Pagura a grimace.
“Behind house.” He pointed to the rear of the dwelling. “Hole in ground. Put dirt on after.”
David nodded and went out the back entrance. A three-foot-long trench, two feet deep, with a makeshift railing at one end sat ready at – and for – his disposal. On each side of the trench stood a pile of earth next to a hoe-like wooden implement. He’d never been a Boy Scout or been in the field as a soldier, but he knew a latrine when he saw one.
David stood at the trench and emptied his bladder, then scraped some of the dirt over it. Man, I hope I’m not here long. He already anticipated constipation setting in because of what he visualized having a bowel movement would entail – in the wild, exposed to bugs and animals – and without toilet paper!
When he returned, Pagura handed him a wooden bowl containing some kind of stew and a wooden spoon and took his own stew to a log with seats carved into it.
They sat and David peered into the bowl. Chunks of what looked like meat and potatoes, and green leaves similar to spinach were immersed in a dark and fragrant broth. He ladled some of it on his spoon and took a sip. Not bad. And very spicy. He was going to ask his host what he was eating but thought better of it. He was hungry, and knowledge of what comprised the meal would probably ruin it for him.
“Good, Pagura. Thank you.”
“My respons. . . my payback.” Pagura nodded and smiled.
When they finished, the shaman took his bowl to a cistern hollowed out of another log and ladled water into it. David followed and did the same thing. Pagura went out to the trench, used his spoon to swirl the water around in the bowl, and tossed the contents into the trench.
So the latrine doubles as a sink. Makes sense. David followed suit.
Inside, they put the bowls and spoons on a shelf jutting out from the wall.
“See spirit ball now?” Pagura asked.
“Yeah, okay,” David said, adopting the shaman’s speech pattern. Halfway to going native, he thought with some dismay. What’s next? Learning Pagura’s language and sticking a wood plug through my nose?
They headed toward the jungle the way they had come, and David scanned the villagers hoping for another look at the nubile woman he’d spotted before, but he didn’t see her. The dog that had been curious about him earlier sat in front of one of the houses and watched them go.
They entered the clearing where David woke up – he was certain this wasn’t a dream now – and continued into the forest on the other side.
David could hear the gurgle of flowing water before they came through the trees to the bank of a river. About fifty yards wide, it had a moderate current. More jungle on the far side. David looked upstream and didn’t see anything unusual. But when he looked downstream – Holy shit!
To their right, about twenty yards away, was what David could only describe as a spaceship: a flying-saucer craft popularized in movies and often described in sightings, gray-white in color. One edge of the disc was buried in the river bank, the opposite side leaned out close to the rushing river.
“Is that your spirit ball?” David asked, incredulous at the finding.
Pagura laughed, apparently amused at David’s ignorance. “No. Bird of Great Spirit. Ball inside.”
They approached the object that David had no doubt was a spacecraft, and an extraterrestrial one at that.
“You’ve been inside?”
“Yeah, okay.” Pagura beckoned David to follow and on the jungle side of the ship was a big gash, big enough for them to enter. “We go here.”
David, eyes squinting, saw a display of changing colors on the interior walls, but heard no sound from within. He turned to Pagura, amazed. “Are there, uh, people inside?”
“No people. Only spirits.”
“What do they look like?”
“Not see them.”
“How long has the bird been here?”
Pagura held up five fingers.
“Yeah, okay. I see bird of Great Spirit fall from sky when I catch fish. Jungle shake, I run to village, bring back men, men scare. Shaman strong. Find hole, go inside, find spirit ball, put hands on it, it talk to me.”
Unfuckingbelievable! But now the presence of teleportation technology in the Amazon jungle was becoming plausible. “The ball speaks in your language?”
“No words. Ball talk inside head. Know what I want say.”
Teleportation and now telepathy. What a discovery! “Is it safe to go inside now?”
Pagura grinned. “You scare, David?”
David gestured at the opening. “Lead the way, brave shaman.”
David followed Pagura into a room lit up with bright colors on the walls that kept changing into another hue, like the underwater color-wheel lights of his hot tub. There was no sound, and David couldn’t identify any instrumentation. It appeared the space was completely empty, but then his gaze fell upon a black sphere suspended without visible support about four feet off the floor. He found it difficult to focus on it – probably why he hadn’t noticed it before. Like a black hole, he thought. It was about the size of a basketball and reflected absolutely no light, its presence made known only by what it blocked from view behind it.
“So this is the spirit ball?” he asked Pagura.
“Yeah, okay. You try.”
The ball was so dark that David couldn’t focus on it. After a few moments staring at the sphere he felt drawn to it, as if, also like a black hole, it had a gravitational pull. David was mesmerized. He recalled what Pagura had said: put hands on it, it talk to me. He slowly approached the ball and reached out to place his hands on the its surface, not knowing what to expect. The ball was very cold. A shiver ran through his body.
“My name is David –”
We know who you are, David Levy.
He heard the reply in his head. Startled, he quickly dropped his hands. It took a few moments for his heart rate to slow and this reality to set in.
Again, he cautiously placed his hands on the ball. This time, a small shimmer went through his arms.
“Who are you?”
We are We.
“Your name is We?” David asked.
Yes. We or Us, depending on the subjective or objective usage. In your language, of course. We do not have individual names.
“Okay, let’s move on.”
Where do you want to move, David?
“No, it’s just an expression. I’m not moving anywhere yet. Can you tell me where you come from?”
We come from a galaxy your people call Andromeda.
“What happened to your ship? How did you end up here in the Amazon?”
As we neared your star system, we were attacked by other beings with a very powerful proton beam. Our ship was damaged and unable to continue, but we were able to make it to Earth.”
David, fascinated, had so many questions he wanted to ask. But where to start?
“Are you familiar with us, the people of Earth?”
Yes, we have been monitoring your progress and are concerned with how you are managing the planet.
“We’re destroying it. Yes, I know. Can you help us do better?”
You are not yet ready for our guidance.
“This is overwhelming. I have to take a break, but don’t worry. I will return.”
We will be here, David.
David slowly lowered his hands and rubbed them vigorously. He turned around and motioned for Pagura to exit the ship.
Once outside he took a deep breath, rubbed his eyes in disbelief. His mind was traveling a hundred miles per hour. What should he do next, what should he ask next? Simply being sent home – leaving this discovery behind – was no longer an option. So much he could learn. And what about those sick kids? Should he bring Aaron here? How would his “normal” life be affected – his business, his patients, his divorce? Sandra! He was already starting to miss her.
About John L. DeBoer:
After graduating from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, John L. DeBoer, M.D., F.A.C.S. completed a surgical residency in the U.S. Army and then spent three years in the Medical Corps as a general surgeon. Thirty years of private practice later, he retired to begin a new career as a writer. Dr. DeBoer is a member of International Thriller Writers and is the author of nine published novels. The father of two grown sons, he lives with his wife in North Carolina.
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Thank you so much, John!
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