The Big Study

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Sometimes I wish that I had been a field researcher but that was not the case. Anytime I have been privileged to listen to encounters first hand have just been dumb luck. But there’s nothing like listening to the actual witness retell the event. There was a chance to do that once which led to a description of something that I have no idea of what it was. Here’s the tale: “once upon a time” I had an particularly unusual student. He was pretty good–about as good as he desired to be at the moment. He was [and doubtlessly still is] full of life and spirit of adventure, participating in macro-art displays, Society for Creative Anachronism mediaeval battles, and Darth Vader full regalia Halloween frights for neighborhood kids trick-or-treating. He was a futuristic technophile and loved all-things-technoexciting. Somehow he had managed to insinuate himself into an apprenticeship at the local Planetarium and began giving the lectures on the wonders of the Universe. More amazingly, they then gave him the job even though he was still an undergraduate senior. All of that is to explain how when one evening the phone rang at the Planetarium, a student of mine picked it up. On the other end of the line was a young woman. She and a friend had recently had a very strange experience, and REALLY wanted to know if anyone could help them understand it. My student called his odd teacher and said: How would you like to take a little trip to Sturgis, Michigan? He was pretty insistent. I said yes and was glad I did.——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
We met the witnesses just a couple of days after the event–thankfully, as that quickness had not allowed other odd ideas to creep in and attach themselves to the story, although one of the two girls was already seeking to do so. The witnesses were two young women in their mid-twenties, and of blessedly different personalities. [a fact that markedly advantaged a “clean” harvesting of the facts from the speculations]. I’ll call the dark-haired darling [both these girls were very attractive] “Brandy”, and the blonde-haired girl, “Bonnie”. Bonnie was the one who was trying to synthesize everything imaginable into the event [but not unnaturally so] while Brandy was amazingly grounded about the whole thing, viewing it as something really interesting that happened the other night. Well, OK, what DID happen? ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–
My student and I met the girls at the scene. He stayed with Bonnie at the place where they parked during much of the event, while I walked with Brandy a ways up the highway to where the main weirdness began, and they both independently described the action blow-by-blow. The recollections matched exactly–no kidding. My student and I had agreed to ask step-by-step sequential and patient retelling of the events, and the two girls told exactly the same story in all details. The story is this: they had spent a day-plus with friends on their farm. There had been a lot of electrical interference with radios and televisions all day. They also had heard that there might be an auroral display the previous evening but because of overcast couldn’t see anything. The next evening was fairly clear but showers were around. At 2:30am, they began to drive back to Sturgis as Brandy had to work the next morning. There was no rain but there was fog. Still the girls knew this road completely. A half hour into the drive the windshield was showing rain. For a brief while it rained only only on Brandy’s side, and when she mentioned that it moved over to Bonnie’s [who was driving]. Bonnie tried the wipers but the “rain” just smeared all over. She tried some fluid and it helped a little, but the smearing got worse in time. She stopped the car and Brandy got out to hand wipe the “stuff” away. It was brown “goo” and smelled like rotten eggs. [this is what some anomalies researchers call a “Fortean Fall”–a rain containing things it shouldn’t]. Brandy got back in the car and they started off again but the rain suddenly stopped, the goo dried solid, [it was thin and piecemeal enough that the driver could still see forward], and then the engine died. [About this time a UFO researcher would be thinking: where’s the flying saucer? THAT anomaly never showed up]. Bonnie also could not get the brakes to function, and the car rolled on down a slight slope in the road. Both girls had the thought that the car was moving but it shouldn’t be [despite the slight slope–I walked this with Brandy, and it isn’t much ]. The girls began to get a bit panicky. Ahead was an outdoor market, of course closed and abandoned at the moment, and Bonnie steered the automobile towards its parking lot. Once there, the car rather violently slammed to a stop. Brandy sensed the interior heating up and screamed at Bonnie that they had to exit the car. They began walking back to the road, and found themselves surrounded by “millions of small, 2 to 3 feet in length, rays of lightning flashing everywhere, around our feet, our legs, over our heads, everywhere in the air. The air was filled with them”. These whatever-they-were bolted forward in brief bursts showing a spectrum of light, the red end leading, and rapidly disappeared after short flights. Looking back towards their car, they saw that the sky was starkly clear of any cloud or fog. In its place was a pink-orange-red fluorescent glow which arced over half the sky, and having a sharply divided border from the other half of the sky which was dead black. This awesome display drove the witnesses nearly hysterical, and they ran back towards their car. To their sides, roadside weeds stood rigidly upwards and their crowns emitted flashes and glows of lightning. Back at the car, the windows were steamed and the interior so hot that they couldn’t stay there and ride out whatever was happening. So they ran. Back to the road. Down in one direction on the roadway, about 100 yards away, there were a bunch of “deep red lines” dancing. “It looked like a bunch of little kids no taller than two feet, outlined in what I imagine to be infrared, dancing around in the road”. They didn’t go there. Instead they pounded on the door of the nearest house–all dark– that they could reach. The rainbow lightnings still flashed about. The apprehensive trailerhome owner refused to look outside but did allow them to use a phone [which did work] and they called a friend. By the end of the call the lightshow was failing. They walked back to the car, which still would not start. Five minutes later clouds moved in and the “thing” was gone. By the time their friend arrived…nothing. ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
If this had been only Bonnie who reported all this, I’d have been skeptical of many of the details. But it was also Brandy. Brandy was rock-solid. A thoroughly grounded person, who said she was a little disappointed in herself for being so scared at the height of the action, but that she felt it was a very interesting experience that was over and had little to do with “going to work each day and living one’s life”. Bonnie as I’ve said, was different. She was not “crazy” by a long shot, but the experience so interested her that she didn’t want to let it go without understanding it. This was a bit of an obsession for a while and Brandy was apparently a bit amused by that in her friend. The bottom line was: these two very different personalities told the exact story, down to small details. I have very little choice than to believe that I received a report of something precisely as two different minds feel that they honestly experienced it. And because I’m not a big fan of the idea of highly detailed group hallucinations, I am left with the idea that this was primarily an objective experience. Some other experiences having bits or pieces of this one, exist in the anomalistic literature, but none that I’ve found has this richness. What was it? Does the planet throw up a highly focussed point wherein utterly-out-of-the-norm static electric phenomena manifest? The Aurora is no easy culprit either, as the direction of the Half-of Heaven Color Effect wasn’t anywhere in the vicinity of North.[a few off-center auroras are in the literature but nothing like this]. Did our sweethearts slip into a patch or overlap of “otherworld” for several minutes–if they were in our world, it wasn’t behaving very well. So…mystery. One can hardly blame Bonnie for her interest. I’m just glad that she had a friend like Brandy to balance things off.
Posted by at 7:24 AM
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