Nightmares or real? Some out-of-this-world stories of alien abductions

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE CHILLING KIND

April 04, 1993|By Tom Keyser

The nightmares wouldn't stop -- the sudden, bizarre, unsettling nightmares. They were always the same; they seemed almost real:

Lea was sitting in a booth in a small, empty room with gray walls. A monotonic voice behind her said: "Don't move, or you might be hurt."

She felt paralyzed. She heard clicking noises, like an X-ray machine. Suddenly she was lying on a table. A bright light shone in her eyes. She sensed people moving around, examining her.

Then she was sitting up, facing a short creature so hideous she could not look at its face. From a box the strange being removed a shiny needle. At the tip was a silver marble. The creature moved closer toward Lea.

At that point Lea would jerk awake in her bed, terrified and drenched with sweat. Her screams would awaken her parents. But her mother, Lea recalls, would always admonish her: "It's just a nightmare. Everybody has them. You shouldn't watch all that scary stuff on TV."

Lea now believes it wasn't just a nightmare. She believes it was real. She is one of the people whose stories you might expect to see in a supermarket tabloid under the heading "Humans Who Believe They've Been Abducted by Aliens."

Lea is 25, lives in Prince George's County, works at a bank and is engaged to be married. She is thin and has blue eyes. She is, in her words, average-looking and average in every way. Knowing that most people react with scorn and ridicule at the mention of UFOs and extraterrestrial life, she asked that her last name not appear in this story.

"I used to think I belonged in a mental institution, to be honest with you," she says. "But I don't think anymore that I'm crazy. I go to school. I work full time. I pay my bills like anybody else. . . . I think other people think I'm crazy."

The subject of abductions by space aliens is so far-out, so utterly fantastic that most people, even with their wildest imaginations, cannot begin to fathom it. Many will not take it seriously. It is unbelievable, unthinkable.

The subject is also deeply disturbing. These are not pleasant stories of people out raking leaves suddenly beamed into a UFO, subjected to a little cosmos comedy and sent back to their yards chuckling.

These are chilling accounts of people who say they've been kidnapped, confined in spaceship examination rooms, probed, prodded and examined by aliens who seem primarily interested in sexually related activities. Their stories more resemble reports of rape than they do a heartwarming visit by "E.T."

Around these alien abduction stories, an industry has been launched. It soars far beyond the tabloids. There are best-selling books, popular films and prime-time television shows. Mental-health professionals gathered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last summer for a conference on abductions. In Maryland and across the country have blossomed support groups, where people who believe they've been abducted can share their stories -- away from the ears of those who might mock, exploit or be titillated by their anguish.

And, of course, there are the scientists -- from the internationally known astronomer Carl Sagan to a Navy physicist from Maryland -- and a plethora of researchers, lining up on either side of the highly charged issue.

What's really happening? No one knows for sure. But one thing is clear: Something has shattered Lea's and others' calm, secure existence on planet Earth. Whether the rest of us accept or reject their stories is irrelevant. We cannot assuage their fear: It is palpable. The torment is real.

Lea's began while she was in the fourth grade. She remembers clearly:

She was outside her apartment in Prince George's County playing with her sister and other children. It was dusk. They heard a hum, or a buzz, like a swarm of bees. They saw a disklike object -- wingless, silver-gray, a row of lights along the edge -- creep at treetop level over the apartment complex. It hovered above a parking lot between buildings, and then drifted away.

Lea and her sister ran inside to tell their parents. The girls even drew pictures.

"My father wanted to call somebody," Lea says. "But my mother said no, we'd made it up. But all of us saw it. We talked about it for days at school."

Shortly after that, Lea says, the recurring nightmare began. She dreamed it on and off for a decade, from when she was 10 until about 20.

Dreams are only part of her story. When she was 12 or 13, she and her sister, who is two years younger, were staying at their grandparents' house in St. Mary's County. They were in separate beds in the same room when a ball of lightning, as Lea describes it, passed through a window and curtain into the room.

About the size of a tennis ball, it glided between the beds, bounced off a door and vanished. A couple of seconds later another lightning ball did the same thing, and then another. Lea says there might have been 20 in all.

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