Out of This World


It has been over thirty-seven years since a singular incident occurred in Northern Arizona the likes of which have not been repeated.

It was early November, 1975, near Strawberry, Arizona, when a young man was abducted by a alien spacecraft.

I was nowhere near Strawberry, living at the time quite a distance west of there in Flagstaff, famous along I-40 for being the jump-off point for travelers to the Grand Canyon. And famous for its mention in the song about Route 66.

Being a student at Northern Arizona University, the first I heard of the curious event was when a professor I knew was called away to help in the case of Travis Walton.

The professor was quite rattled by the affair and other than mention what an incredible event it was, would not divulge any of the particulars about the case.

No matter. It was soon a worldwide phenomenon and the grist for the UFO believers and disbelievers alike.

And I read the books and saw the film but never considered going to Strawberry. I was certain the young man had far too much attention already and I could not contribute anything on the subject but a few more questions. And he already had plenty of those, as well.

Time passed and the story settled down and Walton was able to – for the most part – return to a normal life.

In 1991, I moved to Phoenix after transferring to the Glendale, Arizona, Post Office from the delivery route I had in Flagstaff.

And soon, a new person moved onto my route by the name of Cy Gilson. The name did not ring any bells or anything until one day I delivered an envelope from a national association of polygraphers. Suddenly, the name was very familiar.

But I did not see him in the regular course of my work and I thought it would have been far too intrusive to just go up and knock on his door.

About a year later, however, there was a delivery that required his signature. So, I knocked on the door. While passing him the pen and paper, I asked, “Are you the Cy Gilson who worked with Travis Walton?”

His jaw tightened a moment but then he nodded.

“I’m pleased to make your acquaintance. I lived in Northern Arizona at the time and it was pretty crazy. I think you pretty much settled the matter.”

He nodded and looked at me very steady. “It was a life altering experience, even with the small part I played.”

I returned the nod and said, “Thank you” as I took the pen a slip of paper back.

Before I turned to go, he added, “You can never view the universe the same, you know.”

I agreed.

Even though I delivered his mail for several years, I never spoke to him again. I am sure he, too, got a little too much attention over the matter.

In the years since, I have seen detractors slinging mud at all the principal players in the Travis Walton incident but they are nothing but shadows, things without substance, and their words without authority or anything close to evidence.

I suppose it is like Fox Mulder said, “The truth is out there.”


Strange Intruder

The other day, I was busy editing my first novel. Sitting at my desk in the living room, my cat curled up on the coffee table taking his midday constitutional when a noise disturbed both of us.

There was a growl in the dining room.

A long low growl as though some very large dog had gotten into the house and was trying to hide under the dining table.

The cat immediately yowled and headed for the nearest exit, staring warily into the dining room trying to locate the intruder.

Hearing the sound in the otherwise quiet house was a little unsettling and I wondered if perhaps the kitchen door had been left open – or blown open knowing the condition of the old door – and went into the dining room to investigate.

There was nothing there, hiding under the table or behind the hutch. Nothing.

Looking into the kitchen, I saw the door was closed as tightly as it should have been on a chilly day.

I listened again, cocking my head one way and then the other, trying to listen for any more growling, breathing, or anything else that would lend a clue to where or what it was.

No luck. The sound did not repeat.

The cat came over to rub against my leg, waiting for some reassurance that sanity did, indeed, prevail.

Soon, the strange moment passed, and the cat and I resumed our familiar perches to get back to what we had been doing. He sleeping and me, editing.

It was the first instance of an animal sound in the house. Except, of course, for those sounds made by our cat.

Just Another Haunted House

We live a very old house in an historic district in Northern Virginia’s Mosby country.

There is a window in the upper room that opens and closes itself on occasion, and without apparent regularity.

However, there are “repeaters” in the house.

Every morning at 9:15am, regular as clockwork, you can hear footsteps going up the staircase.

They don’t go all the way up, just a few steps and then stop.

But it happens every day.

And, every so often, you can see a ghostly figure moving through the dining room. Usually out of the corner of your eye. But if you look quick enough you can see the figure before it fades completely out.

There have been a couple of ghost hunts done in the house and visitations by a couple of psychics but we have never been able to “make contact” with whoever is still hanging around the property.

We are quite comfortable living with whoever it is. We don’t interfere with them and they don’t bother us, unduly.

Well, except on those very cold days when that damned window opens and the arctic blast drifts down the stairs.

I Haven’t the Ghost of a Clue

I don’t really know why I’m blogging just yet.

I don’t have a book actually published (though it is in the editing stages) and am not normally a very talkative person.

And small talk and chatting? Forget it!

So, I probably won’t be saying anything too productive or useful at the present.

The editing? Well, it is going slowly. There are so many things that can be said differently and that is really what the writing is all about, I suppose: how to say something in the best way possible to get the point/picture/action across to the reader.

I’m just having a tough time trying to decide which version of a statement sounds best.

That reminds me of voice actors working on an animated feature. Most of the time, the director has them say the line a dozen different times with different inflections so they can choose which versions fits the story better from their own vision of it.

Writers have to do the same thing. Which version of a statement makes the point or action in the best manner possible in relation to the rest of the tale?

At times, I just wish I knew what I was doing!

The writing was easy.

< evil grin >

Things that Go Boomp in the Night

Last year I was invited to an overnight ghosthunting adventure in Front Royal, Virginia. A local ghosthunting group (called VAPR – the Virginia Paranormal Research) was doing an investigation of the historical Balthis House. We assembled at the property at sunset and got all the equipment ready to roll.

Then we were in the dark for the next eight hours.

There were noises throughout the night but nothing we could find a source for and – of course! – the batteries on all the hand-held equipment had to be continuously swapped out with fresh ones as the power was drained. It was a long night chasing the chimera.

But after reviewing all the “evidence” gathered from the house, we had nothing. No ghostly apparitions, no creepy voices caught on tape, nothing.

When they investigated the famous Belle Boyd House, there was a lot more to write about.

I started ghosthunting when I was very young, having lived in some interesting places, and I’ll get into those along the way, I am sure.

But everyone has a fireside story to swap, and I invite yours.