High Strangeness: The Interrupted Journey

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Interrupted Journey

Just back from a short vacation and ready to resume my journey, but first, an interruption:

I must come clean. I am a lifelong UFO geek. For as far back as I can remember, I have wanted to make a sighting, have a close encounter, be abducted, anything and everything short of the probing thing; I think I could convince a spaceman that I could still get a lot out of the experience without having a long needle inserted into my navel or up my nostril.

I grew up in a small village in Southern Wisconsin. We had a library, but I think the local bookmobile had more books. My mom was a volunteer librarian, so I spent a lot of time there and read anything that looked interesting. For some reason I was drawn to the beat-up paperbacks about UFOs and poltergeists and sasquatch, I guess because they scared me to death and because they were real. Or at least they claimed to be; they sure seemed to be.

The story that seemed realest of all to me in my youth was that of Barney and Betty Hill, a married couple from New Hampshire who sighted a strange flying craft while driving home from vacation in September, 1961, and promptly lost three hours of their lives. The book about their experience, "The Interrupted Journey" by John Fuller, mesmerized me and scared the living bejeebers out of me. The book told of how, for months after their experience, the Hills were troubled by frightening snatches of memory and terrifying nightmares of being taken out of their car and floated aboard an alien spacecraft. Finally, for the sake of their own sanity, they underwent months of hypnosis to try to pull back the curtain on those missing three hours of their lives. What they discovered, and remembered, about that night was so scary that it made me want to curl up inside my flannel JC Penney pajamas and never come out.

My memories of Barney and Betty recently resurfaced for the first time in a very long time when I started reading the 2007 book "Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience," by Stanton Friedman and Kathleen Marden. "Captured!" takes a new look at the Hills' experience, combining new evidence, the full transcriptions of the Hills' hypnosis sessions, and the memories of co-author Marden, who happens to be Betty's and Barney's niece, and experienced much of the events firsthand. Added twist: she is also a national training officer for MUFON, and thus my new boss!

The book is a revelation to a UFO buff, because it doesn't just make the abduction experience seem even scarier and more immediate than ever before; it also makes the Hills much realer, much more layered and nuanced and three-dimensional, then I have ever seen them portrayed. These people had nothing to gain by coming forward with their story, but once they finally did they never wavered in their description of their experience. Whatever else anyone might think of them, their courage and conviction is to be respected and admired.

That's the kind of people I hope to meet as a MUFON field investigator.

PS: If you can find it, the 1975 TV movie of the Hills' abduction, "The UFO Incident," is worth a watch. You haven't seen freaky until you've seen James Earl Jones delivering a post-traumatic stress disorder full-on China Syndrome meltdown under hypnosis!

No comments: