October 02, 2009

October Monster Mania: Alien Abductors

This month I'm counting down to Halloween with some New England monsters. No witches or ghosts this month - they're so common around here they don't really count as monsters!

Let's start with a little story about an inter-racial couple living in New Hampshire in the early sixties. They both worked for civil rights, were members of the NAACP, and the husband sat on the local Civil Rights Commission. They were pretty forward thinking for 1961. New England has long been the home of innovators.


Betty and Barney Hill

But Betty and Barney Hill didn't become famous for their politics. They became famous because they were the first people in the world to be abducted by a UFO.

On September 19, 1961 the hills were driving home to Portsmouth from Canada when they saw a strange light in the sky. Betty first thought it might be a satellite, but it followed them for many miles. At one point it appeared to briefly land on Cannon Mountain, only to take off and follow them again. Finally, the light (now clearly a flying saucer) descended in front of the Hill's car, causing Barney to brake abruptly. Barney left the car to get a closer look at the saucer, which had moved away from the road and was hovering over an adjacent field. He saw some human (or humanoid?) figures looking through its windows at him. He panicked, returned to the car, and drove back to Portsmouth ASAP.

Sounds like the end of the story, no? It should be, but Betty was troubled by strange dreams throughout that fall, Barney developed warts in an unusual pattern on his genitals, and neither of them could account for two hours of missing time. They both seemed to have amnesia about part of their trip! Concerned, they talked with local UFO researchers and underwent several hours of hypnosis.

Their sessions with the hypnotists revealed what happened in those two hours. The Hills had been taken aboard the saucer by a group of small men with large bulbous foreheads. Betty's nervous system was scanned, samples of her skin and hair were taken, and the men tested her to see if she were pregnant. Barney received a similar exam, but his also included an anal probe (ouch!) and a sperm sample taken through a strange cup placed over his genitals. (The warts he developed mirrored the outline of the cup.)


The Hills gained notoriety when their story appeared in the press and as a popular book, The Interrupted Journey. It was later filmed as a TV movie, The UFO Incident.

Both of the Hills are now deceased, but their experience left an important legacy to American culture. Thousands of people have claimed since that they too were abducted by aliens, spawning a small industry of books and movies. Alien abduction was even studied by a Harvard psychiatrist.


Estelle Parsons and James Earl Jones (the voice of
Darth Vader) in The UFO Incident.


What really happened to the Hills? Was it all just lies? Were the memories really just constructed by the hypnotists? Was it a spontaneous release of the naturally occurring hallucinogen DMT? Perhaps the aliens weren't really from space at all, but are related to elves or fairies, who also show an unhealthy interest in human reproduction in old folktales.

Or, maybe, the Hills really were abducted by aliens.

Whatever the case, it's pretty dark in the White Mountains at night, particularly in the fall and winter. If you find yourself driving up there keep your doors locked!

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