ALTERED STATES: THE ENIGMA OF PARALLEL UNIVERSES
Posted October 1, 2012on:
Out of all the rich realm of paranormal subjects, the idea of parallel universes is probably the one that intrigues me the most. In itself it is a pretty broad spectrum, covering time-slips, inexplicable disappearances, odd people or animals who seem to have strayed from another dimension, and phantom landscapes. These are cases where the fabric of life and time has become completely distorted, where reality has taken on a wholly dreamlike, surreal state. There have been numerous examples of these throughout the years, and from all over the world. The ones I have listed below are amongst some of the most bizarre I have found.
HAMMERSLEY FORK, CLINTON CO, PENNSYLVANIA, USA, 1860
One evening the residents were sitting on their porches at dusk, when they saw a stranger walking down Main Street. This was an event in itself, a stranger round these parts. And this one turned out to be very strange indeed. At first they thought he was a drunken vagrant, but he was crying out at some invisible presence “Let me go! Damn you, let me go!” He then rose up into the air, still protesting, and vanished. The witnesses ran out into the road to see if they could find the vanishing visitor, but found that his boot-prints ceased abruptly in the thick dust on the road. A search of the surrounding corn-fields also revealed no traces of him.
BRISTOL, ENGLAND, 1873
In December 1873, Mr and Mrs Thomas B Crumpston, from Yorkshire, arrived for a short holiday at the Victoria Hotel, Bristol. Early in the evening they heard strange, loud noises in or near their room. They complained to the landlady, who said she had also heard them. Nevertheless the couple retired to bed. At 3 AM they were awoken by more loud noises, and a disconcerting sensation as if the floor was giving way beneath them. They shouted for help, and found that their voices sounded weird and echo-y. Mr Crumpston said the floor opened up, and he felt as if he was being dragged into it. Mrs Crumpston pulled him out, and they managed to escape from the room via the window. They ran to the railway station, where the unfortunate couple were arrested for disorderly conduct. Mr Crumpston said “my wife and I have escaped from a den of thieves and rogues. We had to defend ourselves with a pistol”. He had fired his pistol twice, once at the ceiling, and later into the street.
CHATHAM, KENT, ENGLAND, 1914
People were out shopping in the High Street one bitterly cold afternoon, 16 January. They were suddenly accosted by a man, completely stark naked, babbling excitedly, highly confused and frightened. It was said that he just suddenly seemed to appear out of nowhere, in a state of great distress. He was apparently declared insane and put away. It might be that he was simply a harmless lunatic, and had wandered out naked into the streets, where he got confused and frightened. But there were very similar cases in Romford, Essex, on 14 January 1920, and 9 December 1920, when six unknown people were found wandering the streets. They were all unable to say who they were, or where they had come from. Like the poor man in Chatham High Street, they were declared insane, and put away.
AT SEA, 1928
In this next case the witness seemed to accidentally drift into another dimension for a short while. I came across it in ‘The Unexplained: Great Mysteries Of The 20th Century’ by Jenny Randles. In October 1928 a young seaman was working on an oil-tanker, which was sailing from USA to Europe, and at this point was situated just off the Florida mainland. At 8PM he left his cabin to visit the ship’s library. As he stepped out on deck, he noticed an eerie calm, and it felt as if the ship was deserted. He wandered about, and noted unhappily that the sky and the sea seemed to have melded into one whole, monotonous grey colour. It was a depressing sight, and the poor man, feeling as though he was abandoned alone in this dismal place, sat down in despair. Suddenly he heard footsteps running towards. It was one of his ship-mates, who said everybody had been looking for him, when he had failed to turn up in the library, and they feared he had fallen overboard. The witness looked up, and found that the sky was normal again, and the leaden atmosphere had vanished.
TOKYO, JAPAN, 1954
This one is popularly known as The Man From Taured, a place that doesn’t exist … that we know of anyway. It’s one of the most famous cases concerning possible parallel dimensions, and first appeared in an English-speaking Japanese newspaper soon after the time it was supposed to have happened. A European flight arrived at Tokyo in 1954. One of its passengers was a white male, fairly tall, but otherwise looking pretty ordinary and businesslike. He presented his papers at passport control, and that’s where the mystery begins. Because his passport claimed he came from a country called Taured, a place no one had ever heard of. The man became angry at the disbelief which greeted him. He said he had come to Japan on business, and that he worked for a major International company. The company though, when asked, said they had never heard of him, neither had the hotel which he said he had booked a room with (though I’ve also seen it written that the hotel didn’t exist). The man had a large wallet full of various different European currencies, plus an international driver’s licence, which was invalid. The man said he spoke several different languages, including Japanese, which he was fluent in, although his native language was French. He was shown a map of the world, and grew distressed when Taured could not be found on it. He pointed to the region of Andorra, and claimed that was Taured, and that it had been there for nearly a 1000 years. The airport staff took pity on the distressed man, and allowed him to go to a nearby hotel, but he was to be kept under guard until his identity was cleared up. The man was allowed to dine in the hotel restaurant, but when he checked into his room, two guards stayed on sentry duty outside. So far this could simply be a case of the man perhaps suffering from an extreme nervous breakdown, or temporary amnesia. But it’s not as simple as that. Because the following morning, it was found that the mystery visitor had vanished! The guards had been on duty all the time at the door, and the window was several floors above a busy street, with no balcony or ledge. The strange man had seemingly vanished into thin air.
ADDENDUM: In his book Haunted Liverpool 26 Tom Slemen recounts the tale of a Liverpudlian couple who flew out on holiday to Alicante, Spain in 1971. The aircraft hit bad turbulence flying over the Pyrenees, and was forced to make an emergency landing. The couple found themselves in a strange, futuristic city called Taured, the most striking feature of which was a giant statue of Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’. The security guards at the airport were very militaristic, and aggressive towards the couple, demanding to know what they were doing there. The couple were eventually allowed to fly on to their holiday destination. When they returned home they tried to search for Taured on maps and atlases, without any success.
SUFFOLK, ENGLAND, 1957
Three 15-year-old boys were training as Royal Navy Cadets in the October of 1957, when they were sent out into the East Anglian countryside to learn map-reading. None of the boys were from the area. Bill Laing was from Perthshire in Scotland, Michael Crowley from Worcestershire, and Ray Baker was a Londoner. On this strange Sunday morning they came upon the small village of Kersey. What was most apparent about it was it’s silence. The birds had stopped singing, and there was no breeze rustling through the trees. Plus the season seemed to have changed. It now felt like the height of Summer. There was no one around, and the buildings seemed to be abandoned. They peered through the windows of the houses, and found they were empty, without furniture, and the walls were crudely whitewashed. A butcher’s shop still had decaying oxen hanging up, covered in mould. Even the ducks on the village pond seemed motionless, and the trees didn’t cast any shadows. Unsettled by this odd atmosphere, the boys decided to leave the village, and climbed the small hill out of it. When they reached the top, they looked back, and suddenly found that things seemed to be pretty normal. There was smoke coming out of the chimneys, and the church bells were ringing, as you would expect on a Sunday morning. One of the boys, Bill Laing, recalled later that he felt a feeling of “sadness and depression” in Kersey, along with a feeling of being watched. Andrew Mackenzie of the Society For Psychical Research investigated the history of the village, and found that the shop they had peered into was now (in the 20th century) a private residence, but had operated as a butcher’s shop from Medieval times until late in the 18th century. He concluded that the boys had travelled back in time to the immediate aftermath of the Black Death in the 14th century. There are problems with this scenario. Such as where was all the furniture in the houses? Even in Medieval times they had a few basic sticks of furniture. And there’s the whole dreamlike feel of the case, such as the lack of noise, the trees casting no shadow, the ducks seeming motionless, and the feeling of being watched. I’ve seen efforts to debunk this case, saying that the boys were simply confused and felt alienated, but there’s no denying the experience had a profound effect on them.
UTAH DESERT, USA, 1972
Four young students, all female, and who all wished to remain anonymous, had been spending the day at a rodeo in Pioche, Utah. They were anxious to get back to their lodgings in Cedar City, as there was a curfew at 11 PM, and if they weren’t back in time they would be locked out for the night. At around 10 PM on this May evening they crossed the Nevada-Utah state line, and came to a halt at the Pacific Railroad crossing. The girls were all familiar with this route, but one of them pointed out a fork in the road ahead that she didn’t remember from before. The girls agreed to take the left-hand fork, as that was headed in the general direction back to Cedar City. Driving onwards, they entered Gadianton Canyon, and noticed that the road now seemed to be made out of white cement. This isn’t unusual in the States, but the whiteness of this cement seemed brighter than normal. Suddenly the road came to a sheer drop. If the driver hadn’t pulled on the brakes sharp enough, the car would have gone hurtling over the edge. The girls were more angry than scared, feeling that some kind of warning sign should have been erected by the highways agency. They turned the car round and headed back, only to find themselves now not in desert landscape, but in green, lush pasture! They drove on a few miles and came to a roadside diner. The sign was odd, as it seemed to be in some unknown exotic alphabet. A bunch of very tall men poured out of the diner on seeing the car, and acted very excitably, as if they were seeing something wholly unusual, all the while jabbering in a strange language. The girls were spooked by the behaviour of these strange, wild men and roared off in their car, only to be pursued by the men in peculiar, three-wheeled egg-shaped vehicles. The girls floored their car and drove hell-for-leather, chucking up a dust storm in their wake. The car suffered three burst tyres as a result, and lost a hub-cap. Eventually they found themselves back in more familiar surroundings, with no sign of their pursuers in their egg vehicles. The girls reported their story to the police, but were met with scepticism. Even so, no trace of their exciting journey was found on the roads, no tyre-tracks, and the missing hub-cap was never found. In his book Beyond Time Travel Richard Bullivant writes that the Gadianton Canyon was, according to local Mormon culture, the home of the Gadianton Robbers, an ancient criminal sect, who continually waged war with the good people of the area. The Mormons consider Gadianton to be a place where the “veil between worlds” is thinner than normal. Well the students certainly found that out! Again, could this have been travellers’ disorientation? The girls were probably tired, it was late, they were anxious to get back. They were in an unsettling area after dark. Did they simply stumble upon a roadside diner, where the inhospitable men decided to terrorise four young girls? Just as a random thought, might the men have even been trying to be helpful? Could it all have been a simple case of crossed-wires, as can all too easily happen when two different cultures meet? Although that doesn’t explain their dinky three-wheeled cars. I’ve read an effort to debunk this one Online, but the author seemed more intent on rubbishing the “chicks” (as he quaintly called them) than making any coherent points.
SOMERSET, ENGLAND, 1974
On a hot evening, 28 July 1974, Peter Williamson and his family decided to hold a barbecue. They were interrupted by an electrical storm. The family weren’t too bothered, as they were in a covered porch, but their dog panicked and ran into some bushes in the garden. Peter went out to try and coax the animal back to the house. Whilst he was out there, he was struck by lightning, and – to his family’s horror – completely vanished! The police were called, but no trace of Peter was found. Fortunately, he was found alive again three days later, at 8 o’clock in the morning, lying in some nearby bushes, with one foot in the pond. He was also wearing a strange pair of brown corduroy trousers which didn’t belong to him. All Peter could remember of his 3 day absence was that he had been in a cottage hospital a few miles away. He said the hospital ward had had a strange, shimmery sort of light to it. A Dr Nugent had attended him, and a patient in the next bed had kindly loaned him the brown trousers, presumably because Peter’s own clothes had been damaged in the lightning strike. Peter eventually went back to the hospital, and located Dr Nugent, who was quite a bit older than he remembered. When Peter said he had been an amnesia victim, and Nugent had treated him, Dr Nugent had replied that that wasn’t possible, as he hadn’t had an amnesia patient for several years. The obvious answer here is that somehow, after the lightning strike, Peter had experienced a time-slip where he had gone back in time several years to when Dr Nugent had been younger. All I can say is that at least in this case Peter came back. Somehow I don’t like to think of people being trapped in a time which isn’t their own. Unless they want to be of course.
BARCELONA AIRPORT, SPAIN, 1976
This is one of the oddest cases I have ever read. It is especially disturbing for the way it impacted on one of the participants. At Easter 1976 a family were due to fly out from Barcelona Airport. The group consisted of mother, father, small daughter, and their nanny. The man left the group for a short while to collect the plane tickets, but when he returned, he found that the nanny and child had vanished, and only his wife was there. Airport security was called, but no trace of them was found. Suddenly an old lady, described as looking of “humble” origins, approached the distraught mother, and told her to pray. The old lady then immediately vanished back into the crowd of onlookers, and very soon after the nanny reappeared, holding the little girl in her arms. The nanny was bewildered by all the panic, and said she had been sitting there all along. To add to the weirdness, the little girl was found to be physically stuck to the nanny, and the father had to pull her away. The child’s arms were turning red. The family decided to go on with their journey, and boarded the flight, but the nanny suddenly had hysterics halfway through the flight, and had to be restrained. The family returned home, and the nanny was admitted to hospital. Whilst there she was put under hypnosis. She said she had heard a “commanding male voice” summoning her. Attempts to probe her further though were met with more distress, and the process was abandoned.
The following is one of the most famous time-slip cases on record. It is noteworthy because of the amount of detail given to us, and because it simply defies explanation. It can be read as a simple time-slip experience, (albeit a lengthier one than we usually hear about), but it has many very odd dream-like qualities to it as well. In October 1979 two couples, Geoff and Pauline Simpson, and Len and Cynthia Gisby, set out from Dover, England, on a touring holiday. Their plan was to motor down through France, spend two weeks in Spain, and then motor back up again. On 3 October, as they were driving down through France, towards Avignon, the weather began to take a turn for the worse. At 9:30 PM they decided to try and find somewhere to stay for the night.
They pulled off the autoroute and found a motel. Len went inside to inquire about rooms. He was met by a man in an ornate plum-coloured uniform, who informed him that there were no rooms, but recommended a hotel further down the road. Len returned to the car. They drove down narrow, cobbled streets. Along the way they saw a poster advertising a circus, and they commented on the strangely old-fashioned feel of it. When they eventually found the hotel it was decidedly quaint. There were no tablecloths on the tables, no telephones or lifts, no pillows on the beds, and no locks on the bedroom doors. The windows had wooden shutters but no glass. Nevertheless the tourists had an enjoyable meal, and retired to bed for the night.
The following morning they went down to breakfast, and whilst partaking of some rather nasty black coffee, they were joined in the bar by a woman wearing a silk evening-gown and carrying a little dog under arm, as well as two gendarmes wearing old-fashioned uniforms (they later found out that these uniforms had been worn by gendarmes prior to 1905). The gendarmes and the lady in the ballgown seemed to know each other, and were chatting away in French quite chummily.
Before leaving Len and Geoff decided to take some pictures of their wives standing next to the windows in their hotel-rooms. On checking out they were astonished to find that the bill (this was for four people including dinner) only came to 19 francs. Len paid this very reasonable fee in cash. When he asked the landlord for directions, the landlord seemed perplexed by the word “autoroute”.
After their two weeks in Spain, the couples decided to see if they could find the odd little hotel again. Although they found the posters for the old-fashioned circus, they couldn’t find the hotel. Eventually they stopped at the motel where Len had called in first. There was no sign of the man in the plum-coloured uniform, and the receptionist said that no such person worked there.
Back in England, the couples had their holiday films developed. All their pictures came out … except the ones they had taken in the odd little hotel, which were completely missing. A reporter for Yorkshire Television said “there was evidence that the camera had tried to wind on in the middle of the film”.
This utterly baffling case presents far more questions than it does answers. If it was a straightforward timeslip why did no one at the hotel comment on the holiday-makers’ modern clothes, or their strange car parked outside. They seem to have been remarkably accepting of these visitors from the future. But that is often the way with time-slips. The people the witnesses meet often are very accepting and unquestioning. The whole experience has a dream-like feel, down to the random details, such as the plum-coloured uniform of the motel employee, the circus posters, and the lady in the ballgown with the little dog. Was it a collective dream/hallucination brought on by tiredness? For me, that seems even less plausible than a timeslip! Did they unwittingly slip into another dimension for several hours?
QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA, 1992
Travellers in remote areas are often the ones most likely to fall into an altered state. I found one such typical, but eerie example in John Pinkney’s book ‘Australia’s Strangest Mysteries’. The case was related to him directly by the witness, a Peg Fearneley. She said she and a friend, a sales rep, were driving to Childers, Queensland, in 1987. They passed a milk bar and Peg had suggested they stop for a short while, but the friend said it would be better to press on to Childers. They would be there in time for lunch at noon. As they drove along they noticed that it had become very silent. No birds were singing, and there was no other traffic around. Her friend, who had been driving in the area for over 30 years, was equally perplexed. As they went further, they noticed that there were no road signs, or buildings of any kind. Instead all was flat, empty countryside which stretched away forever. When their petrol was almost out, they finally, with great relief, saw a town ahead. Relieved, they hoped to get some lunch, and stopped at a pub, only to be told it was now 2:30, and lunch was over. Peg’s friend asked the barman if a new road had been built lately, at which the barman laughed and said there was only one highway. The experiences of Peg and her friend is fairly typical of many cases such as this, whereby travellers have found themselves in an alien landscape.
Another disturbing traveller’s tale was related on ‘Your True Tales’ website by a woman, who said she had been driving to Seward, Alaska, with her husband in 1994. They had been driving along a remote, empty road for some while, when her husband said they were running low on petrol, and should look out for a gas-station. As they rounded a curve in the road they came upon an old-fashioned gas station, with two positively antiquated gas pumps in front. The woman said she felt uneasy about the place, and wanted to press on, but her husband felt it was imperative they should get some petrol. A young boy, aged about 13, came out to serve them. He was dirty and barefoot, wearing a pair of ragged dungarees. The woman went into the shop, and found everything covered in dust and cobwebs. There were animal hides hanging everywhere. She decided to leave again. When she got back outside, she found her husband in conversation with the boy, who, she noticed, had very sharp teeth, and kept looking unnervingly at her husband’s stomach! The boy kept badgering her husband to go fishing with him. The couple got back in their car, and drove off. About 20 minutes later they pulled in at a roadside cafe, which, mercifully, seemed perfectly normal. They asked the waitress about the gas-station, and she replied that there wasn’t a gas-station within 2 hours drive of here, and she should know, as she had lived in the area all her life. She said the heat had probably got to them.
ISLE OF WIGHT, ENGLAND, 1999
Michael and Noeline Sleat were holidaying on the island in June 1999. One warm, sunny day they decided to stroll down a country lane to a park. On their way they noticed a large Victorian house, with some children playing ball in the grounds. They said that the children were wearing old-fashioned clothing. One of the boys wore knee-breaches, and a girl was in an old-style school gymslip. They could hear the voices of the children, but couldn’t make out what they were saying. Curiously, they described the ball as being kicked, but “it didn’t appear to go anywhere”. They carried on down the lane, and came across two men with an old-fashioned car, who didn’t reply when they greeted them. The couple went to the park, where they passed a couple of hours. On their way back, they found that the children were still playing. In fact, it seemed as if they hadn’t moved at all. When Noeline alerted her husband to it, he turned his head, and the scene vanished, “like switching a television off”. The couple were disturbed by this experience, and said they never wanted to experience anything like it again.
YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND, 2001
For an experience of high strangeness this next case takes some beating too. I found it on Albert Rosales’ excellent Humanoid Sightings website. John and Jean Peterson, and their two children, Peter (9) and Laura (7), were picknicking in the Dalby Forest, (animal mutilations have been rumoured to have been carried out in this area), one afternoon in May 2001. John and Jean became aware of two people approaching them across a field. To their surprise the couple appeared to be naked. John shouted at them. He was angry because the children were there. As the couple got nearer they appeared to be transparent. John ran to the car to get his camera. When he returned the couple were walking into a derelict barn. He ran after them into the barn. The figures had disappeared, but there was a perfect image of them on the wall! The family immediately packed up and left the area.
ADDENDUM: As I mentioned above, animal mutilations are suspected to have been carried out in the Dalby Forest area, but I’ve only recently learnt that there are also bizarre rumours of human mutilations as well. There are stories of 6 or 7 mutilated bodies found in the area, which had had their hair removed. When this story found it’s way to the press, it was put out that the mutilated bodies were in fact shop window mannequins which had been dumped there! Whatever the truth of the matter, Dalby Forest is said to have had a long history of strange happenings.
STRETENSK, EASTERN SIBERIA, RUSSIA, 2001/2002
There are parts of Russia that seem to be rife with anomalous happenings, areas of High Strangeness. The Crimea is one, and Eastern Siberia is another. In 2001 a man who lived alone in an isolated hut here would leave late at night, and go and meet up with a stranger. The stranger was described as very tall, aged between 70-90, and wore a dark hood. He would teach the man to see “with his heart”, and the pair used telepathy to communicate with one another. On 27 August 2002, Pyotr Valeriovich Grigorenko, a tourist guide, and Alexander Vladimirovich Baruchiko, a building engineer, had some strange experiences here. They said they observed domes of red and pink located at different parts of the valley. In the valley they saw dozens of upturned centuries-old pine trees and larches, which looked as if they’d been uprooted by hurricane force winds. Local hunters had reported seeing strange lights, which were usually accompanied by an odd crackling sound. It wasn’t uncommon for them to experience physical fatigue and nervousness, and some have felt such dread that they had dropped their weapons and fled from the area. Mr Grigorenko said he had seen a very tall black humanoid with a rectangular-shaped head. It moved in complete silence, and appeared to be not fully three-dimensional. What lifts this case for me from being perhaps just a very odd UFO area into a Very High Strangeness one is Grigorenko and Baruchiko’s claim that Time itself went peculiar here. It felt as if an entire day had been compressed into only 20 minutes. Photographs taken here usually come out as over-exposed or black with a red hue. It used to be a good hunting area apparently, but now all the game animals have left for good.
NEW YORK, USA, 2011
This one was very recently included on the Your True Tales round-up for December 2015. In it the witness, Daniel, said he had been spending a week visiting relatives in New York in October 2011. A place he had been to before, but not for a few years. One afternoon he said he decided to go on a stroll through lower Manhattan, with no particular destination in mind, just to see what had changed in the 3 years since he had last been there. Suddenly he found himself looking up at the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, which had been destroyed in a terrorist attack ten years earlier, on 11 September 2001. Daniel said he stood there staring at the buildings in a daze for about 5 minutes, before reaching for his mobile phone, in order to take a photo as proof of what he was seeing. When he looked up again, after retrieving the phone from his pocket, he found that the buildings had disappeared, and the skyline was back to normal. Daniel was understandably confused and upset by his experience. Did he time-travel that day? Or did he see a ghostly mirage? Certainly there have been plenty of witnesses who claim to have seen phantom buildings over the years, ones which had stood there in the past. Did he somehow psychically tap into the energies in the area, and see it as it once was before that fateful day?
It’s quite common when reading cases like all these, to come across elements we normally find in UFO cases. Such as the missing-time Peg and her friend experienced in Queensland, or the red marks on the little girl’s arms at Barcelona Aiport. Interestingly too, the Dalby Forest incident can be read as something vaugely alien-ish, or perhaps as something ghostly. Could it all be psychology? In the Barcelona incident, the focus does seem to be on the nanny and her distressed state. Without knowing a lot more about the woman’s character and mental health, it is impossible to say. What made that case particularly intriguing was the way the little girl seemed to be stuck to her, as though magnetised.
This is only a very small selection of cases I’ve read like this. I shall add to it if I find more.