I can tell you something about the accusation of paranoia. It’s one of those neat paradoxes: if you expose a conspiracy, you’re automatically crazy, for the simple reason that the likelihood of any single convoluted plot being true is so small that the average citizen — even a nay-sayer like Gary — is likely to discount its reality as practically impossible. And yet, some of you will reply, he’s willing to believe in space aliens trying to contact him? Admittedly, there is another paradox here, but it is a paradox grounded in a human frailty rather than in a strategic feint: it’s easy to imagine that the extraordinary has extraordinary causes; it’s difficult to accept that the ordinary never has been.

“The subject exhibits in his written expression a broad range of schizophrenic behaviors,” writes a self-appointed bludgeon of the conservative online press, a Dr. Demetri, who writes a bile-tinged column on one of the ultra-conservative websites you can easily find, if you so wish. Although a journalist by trade, Demetri claims to have a PhD in clinical psychology. Since he writes under an assumed name — “I have no desire to subject my family to the calumnies of which the liberal press is so enamored” — it’s not possible to check his story, but I would be surprised if his supposed analysis relies on much more than a crystallization of self-help drivel.

“First, there is the ego obsession and the overwhelming sense that the world revolves around him.

Second, there is the vision of a world full of assassins and government assault troops who have nothing better than to chase down and kill normal, average citizens.

Third, there are the hints of being involved in an even grander conspiracy that controls all aspects of the flow of information, from the world-wide fiber and satellite infrastructure, to encryption and network security.

Fourth, there are the frequent taunts aimed at an imagined set of tormenters.

Fifth, there is the inability to narrate a conventional story without constantly interrupting the narration with new expressions of outrage and self-pity.

And sixth, there is the inability to look at reality for what it is, that is, the incessant need to twist reality to fit the feverish dreams of his paranoid vision.”

Thank you, Dr. Demetri.

Thanks to his insight into my character (not the Engine’s dire prediction) I have decided not to risk the trap of pursuing the new alien encounter. I took a hard look at myself through Demetri’s eyes and realized that there was truth to his analysis. Yes, I am unable to tell a story without interrupting it. And that is exactly what the psychological profilers are hoping for: for me to chronicle my interaction with this individual; to provide an ever richer mosaic of our communication until, finally, we agree to meet; or I reveal how we could communicate with each other more simply. The end. I have a growing appreciation of their underlying patience — of the classical hunter posture they have assumed. Time is not on my side. Mistakes become more likely with each day, while they can bide their time, conserve their strength, test for weakness. With each interruption, I grow weaker and they grow stronger.

The tale must go on.