In my new book Paranormal South Tyneside (Amberley Publishing, 2009) I've taken a meander through dozens of
spooky stories and weird tales which I've written up in my columns over the years. The common denominator is that they all (or almost all) have their setting within the smallest borough in the UK.
For US readers unfamiliar with British geographical lingo, what we call a county you would call a large borough. What we call a borough you'd look upon as a reasonably-sized back yard. Trust me, everything really is bigger in the USA.
Several of the stories included in the book are UFO-related, and I thought I'd share one of them with you in this column as it is, I believe, particularly interesting.
Alice was thirty-three years old when she began having panic attacks. They were always the same. She would wake up in the middle of the night, sweating profusely with her heart pumping like a steam-hammer. For several minutes she would experience a terrible feeling of "vulnerability", as if someone was watching her. Then, after a while, the feeling would disappear and she would go back to sleep.
Then, one morning, Alice noticed blood on her pillow. She appeared to have had a small nosebleed during the night. However, as she made her bed she noticed some more blood on the sheets. Examining her left leg, she found a peculiar "scoop-mark" which looked as if a small amount of flesh had been cut out of her shin with a sharp instrument. Even more bizarrely, her husband noticed that a perfect circle of hair - about the size of a twenty-pence piece - had been removed from her scalp just above her right ear.
Alice visited the doctor and told him that she believed she was having a nervous breakdown. However, she also told him that she was confused, for if these strange happenings were "all in the mind" how did she have the physical scars to prove that they were really happening?
The doctor told Alice not to worry. The hair loss was simply alopecia "caused by stress". The nose-bleeds and shin wound? "Maybe you had a restless night and were tossing and turning. You may have banged your nose with your hand and caught your leg with a toe-nail on your other foot."
All very plausible, except that none of this explained the most frightening aspect of Alice’s experience, which she related as follows:
"One morning I woke up and had a strange feeling that something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. Then I sat up in bed and suddenly realised that I was wearing a brassiere under my night-dress – something which I never do.
"The worst thing was that it wasn’t even mine. It was this horrible, tan-coloured frumpy thing which was about three sizes too big. I could even smell perfume or deodorant on it which wasn’t mine. I just began to scream. It frightened the life out of my husband, who was still sleeping."
Alice’s husband Ian happened to mention what was happening to a close friend who worked in the same office. This friend suggested that Alice may not be going through a breakdown at all, and may in fact have been abducted by aliens.
At first Ian thought this was ridiculous and actually shouted at his friend.
"I was angry that my wife was having a mental breakdown, and here was a supposed friend making jokes about it."
But Ian’s friend wasn’t joking, and urged Ian to take Alice to a hypnotherapist.
Ten days later, Alice was lying on a couch in the therapist’s studio in a deep hypnotic trance. Gently, the hypnotist took Alice back to her childhood in an effort to discover what may have been causing her weird experiences. No one – not the therapist, not Ian or even Alice herself – could have imagined what she would recall.
At the age of eight, Alice remembered playing in a field near her home. Suddenly, the sky "went sort of dark". After a pause, she continued.
"There are some men. Funny little men. I don’t like them. They want me to go with them on their rocket and I don’t want to. I want to go home".
The hypnotist asked Alice to describe the men.
"They’re kind of small with grey skin like an elephant. They have real big eyes and they’re black. They go right around their head. I don’t like them ‘cause they stare and stuff".
Next, Alice recalled being strapped to an examination table inside the craft, and then having a blue light shone in her eyes from a machine that made a strange swishing noise. Her next recollection was being back in the field and hearing her mother call for her.
Further hypnotic regression sessions showed that these creatures had abducted Alice on at least nine separate occasions. Then, when Alice was eighteen years old, the phenomenon stopped, only to start again when she was thirty-three. Once again, Alice was being taken on board a space ship of some kind and subjected to various "tests".
In one session she recalled having a probe inserted in her left nostril. Whilst this was happening she was also aware that another one of the creatures was doing something to one of her legs. As the hypnotist led her through the experience Alice suddenly shouted, "Ow! He’s hurting my leg! Make him stop!"
Finally, Alice recalled being kept in a room with about twelve other people. They were all naked. Dimly she remembered "the aliens" dressing her before returning her to her bed. This, she believes, is where a mistake was made and she was accidentally given the brassiere of another abduction victim in the same room. Alice is not the first "alien abductee" to claim that they were returned home wearing the wrong apparel.
Actually, I've heard of several cases in which abductees have been returned to their homes with the wrong clothing. What are we to make of it all?
The truth is that the Alien Abduction Phenomenon is one of the most baffling aspects of the UFO enigma. Naturally, to skeptics it sounds extremely outlandish. However, credibility and truthfulness actually have very little to do with each other. Just because something sounds wacky, that doesn't mean that it couldn't have happened.
I was unable to verify Alice's story, but I tend to believe it. Or at least, I believe that she believes it, which I confess isn't exactly the same thing. Having said that, if she wasn't abducted by aliens then I struggle to offer a cogent alternative explanation.
If readers have any thoughts on the matter, then "answers on a postcard, please…" – or better still, an e-mail.
©Mike Hallowell, 2009