Dangers And Hazards Of Exploring Shadow World
Some readers have got on my case because they found my book Shadow World to be in many ways too frightening. I have always advised people that Shadow World is a cautionary book, a book that seeks to warn everyone who will heed its admonitions that researching the paranormal is serious business.
Presently, when nearly every town with a population of 500 or more has at least one group believing that they are prepared to explore the unknown, it would be irresponsible for those of us who have been in the field for decades not to post a few warning signs for those who seek to venture where countless others fear to tread.
Truly, it takes more than watching a couple of specials on a cable channel and reading a few books to become a paranormal or UFO researcher. It takes years of studying the available literature, and, perhaps equally important studying the wisdom and knowledge of others is to take the necessary time to know oneself before one faces the inhabitants of Shadow World.
Some years ago, a young man we shall call Bill told me that he had assembled a dream team of individuals who he felt certain could play hardball with any of the multidimensional entities that had visited or invaded Earth's turf.
Bill told me that he had seen a UFO when he was a college junior at the University of Indiana at South Bend. Bill was a member of an informal group that got together once a week to discuss politics, philosophy. art, poetry, and things that went bump in the night. One night someone had brought up the topic of UFOs, and that very evening, driving back to their respective apartments, five of their number claimed to have witnessed a low UFO overflight.
Bill assured me that each of the five were all good students, physically fit, nondrinkers, nondopers, and two of them were Viet Nam combat veterans. Each of them prided himself on maintaining a cool, analytical approach to all aspects of life, especially toward anything that smacked of the occult or the bizarre. And yet each of them swore that he had seen what was unmistakably an object in the sky that he could not identify as a conventional aircraft, an ordinary celestial manifestation, a weather balloon, a bird, or anything known that could have been flying above them.
Four nights later, two of the five had seen another UFO.
Then, on the next evening, Bill and the other two saw a brightly glowing object overhead as they returned around one o'clock from a movie.
The five decided to form a splinter group in order to discuss the UFO phenomenon. They were well aware that the main group of culture vultures would mock them for their flying saucer experiences and make light of the entire subject, so they would head for an all-night pancake house to compare notes and thoughts on their subjective response while undergoing the experience of encountering what appeared to be an unknown phenomenon.
Bill said that it had not been long before the five of them had a group sighting, and from that evening on they had taken to nightly skywatches.
"We all witnessed UFOs cavorting in the midnight sky," he said. "On one occasion I stood within ten feet of two nocturnal lights hovering silently in midair. Later, we heard rappings in the dark, hollow voices, heavy breathing, and the crushing footsteps of unseen entities.
"Strangely enough," Bill said, smiling, "we were able to maintain our cool toward all the phenomena occurring around us. Maybe we got to thinking that we had been chosen for some special kind of interaction. Perhaps, secretly, we were beginning to view ourselves as masters of two worlds. I mean, we were all Dean's List students, all athletic young men, normally balanced emotionally, mentally, sexually. I guess we felt that modern Renaissance men such as ourselves could deal rationally with such phenomena and stay in control of the situation."
But then, Bill went on, the manifestations had become violent. They had swept through one of the group's home one night, pounding on the walls, yanking furiously at the bedposts, striking the startled young man in the face, terrorizing his entire family. Some of the group were followed by unmarked automobiles that seemed a bizarre mixture of styles and models--phantom automobiles, if you will.
Within the next few months, the number of harrowing incidents had increased and had expanded to include strange, dark-clad, nocturnal visitors in the apartments of several of the group members.
Radio and television sets switched on by themselves. Doors opened and closed-although, when tested, they.were found to have remained locked. One of the group made the wild claim that he had been teleported one night from his bedroom to the middle of a forest on the outskirts of the city.
"As preposterous as that sounds," Bill said, "I'm sure that most of us accepted it as true. since we had all undergone some incredible experiences. We had all lost our sense of perspective. I began sleeping with the. light on and a .38 Special under my pillow. Another of my friends invested heavily in weapons and began running with a group that offered sacrifices to Odin. A third was 'born again' into fundamental Christianity. The other two dropped out of college a month before they would have graduated with honors."
What did he think it had all meant?
Bill considered the question carefully. "I've thought a lot about that. I think the five of us had entered a kind of game, a contest, a challenge, a testing experience. The trouble was, we just didn't know all the rules.
"Modern society doesn't prepare us to play those kind of games. Modern society doesn't tell its kids that there is another reality around them. Our educators have ignored the individual mystical experience and the other dimensions that can open up to those who enter altered states of consciousness--whether it be through drugs or through accidentally stumbling into the twilight zones."
Is humankind involved in some kind of continuing interaction with the "Other"? Is it the same ancient intelligence that continually tests us, or do new teams come to play the reality game with us?
"I had the feeling," Bill recalled, "that my friends and I were dealing with some kind of energy.
At first I thought it was something from outer space, some alien world. But I've thought about our experiences a great deal, and I believe that we had somehow activated some energy that is a part of this planet. I think we might have triggered some kind of archetypal pattern with our minds. Maybe that's what magicians have tried to do since Cro-Magnon days--interact with and control that energy with their minds."
Henry Lazarus (The names of the individuals in the next case study are pseudonyms--for what will become obvious reasons.) taught physics in a small Midwestern college, and, in spite of his initial resistance to the UFO enigma, he found that he was becoming totally enthralled by those men and women who had immersed themselves in a field of research that challenged the scientific paradigm of the twentieth century.
During summer break, Lazarus flew to New York to proselytize UFOs to his old friend Benjamin Chiang, an university professor of physics. Chiang had always been one of the most open-minded individuals whom Lazarus had ever encountered, and his response to Lazarus' presentation of the subject had been customarily direct. Instead of relying upon secondary reports, why did they not travel to a scene of alleged UFO activity and collect their own primary data?
Lazarus was pleased with his friend's reasonable suggestion, and he was excited by the proximity to such an area of alleged phenomena. One of the speakers at a UFO conference had told him of a small town not far from Springfield, Massachusetts, where it was claimed that UFO manifestations could be observed almost nightly. The town was situated on the Connecticut River in the Holyoke Mountain Ridge.
Chiang had only an early morning class on Wednesday, the next day. They could be on the road long before noon, and after about a four-hour drive arrive on the scene in plenty of time to witness whatever activity the UFOnauts might have in store for them. Since his first class on
Thursday was not until late in the afternoon, they could afford the time to stay overnight if necessary.
Chiang asked if Henry would mind if he asked a friend of his, a very skeptical, hard-nosed professor of biology, to accompany them if his schedule were compatible with such an expedition.
In true scientific spirit, Lazarus welcomed a closed mind as a kind of control.
Two hours on the road, Henry had begun to regret extending his permission to invite Dr. Philip Reisman along on the excursion. Reisman was more than a skeptic, he was a cynic.
By three that afternoon, with only a couple of comfort stops, they had found their UFO harbor. As was to be expected, it looked just like any number of small New England river towns in the bright sun of a summer's day.
Henry remembered that his informant had said that there was a woman at a small local museum who had become an authority on the UFOs and the creature sightings that had been made in the area over the past twenty years.
The local UFO expert was a jolly, round-faced woman in her fifties, whose name was Mary Higgins, and being a widow with a very limited social life, she unhesitatingly accepted their invitation to dinner in exchange for her guiding them to one of the more favored UFO-spotting sites.
Mrs. Higgins seemed only mildly impressed by their academic credentials. She had, within the prior four months, brought two astronomers, a magazine writer, an Air Force officer, a documentary filmmaker, and an author of books on the paranormal to the same site to which she would guide them that evening.
Mary Higgins proved to be a delightful raconteur over dinner at the charming riverfront restaurant. She told them that the phenomenon often left scorched circles in the farmers' fields.
At least half a dozen men and women claimed to have been taken on board the craft, and they all described the UFOnauts as being no more than five feet tall with large heads, big eyes with catlike pupils, hardly any noses to speak of, just a couple of slits for mouths, and pointed ears.
No, she answered Phil Reisman's jibe, they were not green-skinned, but they had been wearing green-colored, one-piece jumpsuits.
All in all, the little New England river town and its surrounding environs seemed like a perfectly mixed cauldron of continually bubbling paranormal phenomena. For at least the last forty years--and before that if the old-timers could be believed--there had been regular manifestations of UFOs, Big Foot, Cat People, Giant Birdmen, ghosts, phantoms, and poltergeist activity.
Mrs. Higgins favored the theory that she lived in what some paranormal researchers termed a "window area," a portal between dimensions of reality. A place where, in what seemed to be cyclical patterns, mysterious phenomena continued to appear, then disappear. More aware intelligences, she speculated, such as the UFOnauts, made use of such window areas to enter and to leave our Space·Time continuum.
Philip Reisman stated his opinion that it all sounded dangerously akin to madness to his way of thinking.
That night at the very stroke of twelve, as beautifully choreographed as if George Pal, Ray Harryhausen, Willis O'Brien, Rick Baker, or any other of the great Hollywood special effects masters were producing live-action theater, a glowing UFO appeared above the clump of trees before which Chiang had parked his Volvo.
Lazarus felt fully alive for the first time in his life. Chiang was chortling with excitement. Mary Higgins was staring smugly at Philip Reisman, who was saying absolutely nothing, who seemed totally transfixed by the scene before him.
The Volvo could not contain them. Lazarus flung open the door as if he were his Biblical namesake throwing back the stone before his tomb. Chiang was already racing across the open meadow that lay before the grove in which the UFO appeared to have settled.
"Don't rush it, boys," Mary Higgins warned them. "Don't get too close. Give it a minute."
Reisman shouted at them to come back, to be careful. When they were about halfway across the meadow, two balls of greenish light moved out from the grove and came toward Chiang and Lazarus. The two physicists slowed their pace and looked curiously at the lights hovering above them.
Mrs. Higgins had stepped out of the car, and she was yelling at them that they were being monitored. Chiang and Lazarus felt that she might be correct.
And as they stood there, not wanting to offend or to transgress any rules they could not hope to comprehend, they heard the crushing footsteps of unseen entities moving in the grove ahead of them. To their right, they heard what seemed to be heavy breathing. To their left, the mumble of hollow, alien voices.
Chiang lifted his arms and shouted into the darkness that he was a man of goodwill and peace. Motivated by his friend's example, Lazarus did the same.
At that moment, the harsh, blaring, horribly discordant sound of the car horn shattered the almost reverential attitude of the two scientists toward the promise that lay beyond them in the grove of trees. The sound of the horn became the shriek of a frightened, demented beast, and it seemed to echo around them in a hundred variations of disharmony.
From the very first note of the metallic scream, every aspect of the UFO manifestation seemed to shrink back, as if the footsteps, the lights, the breathing, the voices were but multiple probings of a single entity--an entity that had now begun to retreat, to withdraw, like a wild thing startled by the blare of a hunter's trumpet.
In the matter of a very few seconds, all facets of the phenomena had seemingly been pulled back to the grove, and Chiang and Lazarus stood in the center of the meadow in anguish, as the UFO shot up into the night sky at a rate of speed that they could not comprehend in terms of the science which they understood. They felt alone, disappointed, like two small children who had only caught a glimpse of Santa's boot as the gift-laden elf disappeared up the chimney.
When they returned to the Volvo, they demanded to know why Dr. Reisman had pressed on the horn. His reply was barely distinguishable through his frightened, chattering teeth, but it had something to do with saving them from being taken into a spaceship and chopped up for food.
Mrs. Higgins' face in the light from the headlamps bore an expression composed of nearly equal parts of contempt and pity for the biologist.
"It's scared away now," she told Chiang and Lazarus. "You might just as well call it a night."
They drove Mary Higgins back into town and thanked her for her graciousness and her tolerance.
When they went in search of a motel that might still be open, Philip Reisman insisted that they return at once to New York City. Lazarus and Chiang acquiesced, since another day spent with the man would have been intolerable to both of them.
They were not five miles out of town when Reisman; who was sitting in the backseat, began to shout that they were being followed by two glowing green lights.
When Chiang glanced in the rearview mirror, he was excited to see that Reisman was correct.
Lazarus clutched his friend's shoulder and together, almost as one, they uttered a shared wish that they might have another opportunity for interaction with the UFO occupants.
But then the lights whooshed by them, one on either side, and vanished into the darkness.
By the time Chiang and Lazarus dropped Reisman off at his apartment a few minutes before dawn, the man was nearly hysterical. He had cowered in a corner of the backseat most of the way home, his teeth chattering. He had shouted out a dozen times that monsters lurked at the side of the highway.
It was Reisman, babbling into the receiver about something pounding on his walls.
Ben was about to tell him to take some tranquilizers and to go to sleep when a remarkable thing occurred. A mysterious pounding began on the walls of his own apartment.
At this point, Reisman screamed that a dark, hooded figure had appeared in a corner of his bedroom.