When asked if she has ever had a paranormal or alien experience, Katherine laughs and asks me if I am serious. After a brief explanation about my intent to report these experiences without bias she nods and says she had one experience a long time ago. I braced myself for what I assumed would be a harrowing tale that she’s been repressing for decades as she began her story.
“It was in 1984,” she began, “I was driving back home from my sister’s house in Sheridan after a week-long visit. I lived in Casper – this was back in Wyoming – and there’s still not much out there today, but back in ’84 it was basically 150 miles of nothing between the two towns.”
She stopped, citing that her story was stupid and probably not what I was interested in writing about. I agreed that her story might not be what I was looking for, but I would not be able to determine that without hearing the story first. She began again, recapping the little bit she had already told me about her experience.
Katherine continued, elaborating on how she had left her sister’s house after dinner on Sunday night. She had to be back in Casper by the next morning, as she had classes to attend at the Casper Community College, and so was driving fairly fast. Fairly fast in 1984 was 70 mph, as the National Maximum Speed Law limit was 55 mph nation-wide back then. Even at 70 mph the trip would be almost two hours through endless plains of rolling yellowed prairie dotted with cattle and antelope but little else. She was no more than a quarter of the way home when the sun set in a blaze over the Bighorn National Forest’s spiky pines.
Driving at night had never been one of Katherine’s favorite activities, though she found it necessary from time to time. She described night driving as, “Thrilling and terrifying – the landscape seems so different through the tunnel vision you’re forced to see the world through [because of] headlights.”
Lighting one cigarette after another and listening to Duran Duran and Deniece Williams on the AM Pop Radio station, the time felt as if it were flying by as fast as the desolate Wyoming countryside was passing outside her windows. She hadn’t passed another car in over 45 minutes from either direction and except for her headlights there wasn’t another visible light save for the panoply of stars overhead. The utterly lonesome scene emboldened Katherine to push her little Subaru to 80 mph and hopefully make it home a few minutes ahead of schedule.
She had just barely hit the 80 mph speed goal when a pin-prick of light appeared in her rear view mirror. First instinct was that some lonesome and bored State Trooper had clocked her as she crested the top of a hill and was now in hot pursuit to catch and ticket her. She immediately eased off the gas and brought her speed down to an excruciatingly slow 60 mph. It was still speeding, but whoever was behind her was as well, and it would do no good to tell a cop who knew better that your speed never broke the limit.
As the light behind her grew closer – at a surprising rate, Katherine thought – it grew both brighter and larger… and bluer. It was a bright bluish-white light that reminded her of neon signs in old café windows. There was no flashing and strobing of lights that were hallmarks of police vehicles in pursuit of dastardly drivers, no sirens wailing through the night air. Katherine flicked her radio off and sucked a cigarette down in record time as her nerves began winding up on themselves.
The light, and its source, came so close to hitting her car that she let off the gas completely and braced for impact, squeezing her eyes closed and ducking her head. Just as she thought she should have felt the collision she opened her eyes to see the light slide down her windshield and onto the road in front of her.
Its speed remaining constant and fast throughout the maneuver, it slipped from the road in front of her and into the shallow ditch on the right side. It then pulled back onto the road and slipped into the ditch on the opposite side, where it stayed before disappearing into the distance far ahead of Katherine and her car.
Astonished and frightened, Katherine had not noticed that her car had died. She was stranded in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere – and kids, this was before cell phones were so wide-spread, so she was helplessly stuck, her car straddling the yellow dotted line separating the tiny 1984 interstate highway lanes. She sat in her car, waiting for someone to pass by and help her, and she fell asleep.
She woke to the sound of a metallic clicking; her car was bathed in white light that reflected from her rear and side-view mirrors into her eyes, half blinding her. As she was able to peer around the shafts of brilliant light she saw it was still night, and that the source of the metallic clicking was a State Trooper tapping his flashlight on her window.
Rolling her window down she swallowed the urge to burst into explaining the events that left her stranded, and instead gave a simple and empty explanation, “My car broke down.”
The officer gave her a jump, and her little Subaru was purring on all four cylinders in no time. Before letting the Trooper go back to patrolling, she mentioned that before her car broke down “someone” (maintaining her sanity in the eyes of the Trooper) had nearly run her off the road and nearly crashed themselves as they veered into the ditches on either side of the highway.
The officer ordered her to wait where she was while he went to inspect the ditch a few hundred yards ahead of her car. His patrol car slowly cruised up one side of the highway on the narrow shoulder, spotlight aimed at the ditch. Without stopping, the patrol car executed a U-turn at the top of the hill, and came back, apparently examining the ditch on the opposite side of the highway on the return trip.
“There’s no evidence that any vehicle’s been in the ditches recently,” the Trooper explained, “And if you didn’t see the plate and can’t give a description of the car, count yourself lucky that they were probably just kids out for a joy-ride and that they didn’t crash into you.”
With that, the Trooper nodded his head and left Katherine to drive home. The ride back to Casper was a long and quiet one, but the sky was beginning to lighten and that gave Katherine the courage to turn the radio back on, and smoke one of her last three cigarettes. She tried to put the experience behind her as she had a long and busy week of work and college classes.
“It was three or four years before I ever told anyone that story,” she confides, “Even now it feels ridiculous telling you, but it’s what happened – anti-climatic, really. It really changed my life though – only my husband notices. But I don’t drive at night, not since that night. Not once.”
Next Week’s Everyday Paranormal Experiences, Interview #3: “Bear-men”
On the Article Series:
I myself am a huge skeptic of all things paranormal or extra-terrestrial and I tend to take most tales of either with a huge grain of salt – sometimes even an entire salt shaker, depending on the tale that’s being weaved. I have even had a couple ghostly and otherworldly experiences myself, which I may relate in later stories – and I’m skeptical of those! Is what I experienced the truth of the experience or is there an empirical explanation that I simply have not yet unlocked? Regardless of my skeptical nature, ghost stories and alien encounters have always fascinated me as they have all of humanity for thousands of years.
It is this fascination that I wish to convey in a unique and different paranormal or alien experience every week – Thursday, to be exact. I will be conducting interviews with everyday people to hear their stories and relate them back to you, the Paranoid Gamers. Perhaps I’ll be interviewing some of you, as well.
Do you have an experience of a haunted item, place, or person? Have you been visited by aliens or heretofore undocumented intelligent life – terrestrial or extra so? If you’d like to share your experience and possibly have your tale published in this series of articles, please contact me and we can relive your experience.