Friday, October 30, 2009

An eerie episode from my past

Being a (mostly) secular, pragmatic person, fully convinced of the virtues of Occam's razor, I don't know that I believe in the supernatural per se.  But any open-minded person must eventually admit that there are phenomena in this world that, if one precludes such, simply cannot be explained.  So, in the spirit of the Halloween season, I offer this true episode from my past.  Perhaps not frightening, but weird.  Make of it what you will.

In the spring of 1973, I was living in Salem, Oregon, in a house on Doughton Street, with my mother and my younger brother and sister.  Next door to us, there lived a boy who was my age (11), named Danny.  He and I became friends.

One bright, cool day we were standing in his kitchen talking.  The sun shone weakly through the window over the kitchen sink.  It was an easy, relaxed situation:  just two boys hanging out together.  The conversation revolved around things that eleven-year-old boys tend to think are important:  school, friends, toys, television.  Then, rather abruptly, Danny said "Let me show you something in the basement."  He walked past me to the far end of the kitchen; to a door that opened onto descending stairs.

He opened the door and started down.  I distinctly remember seeing him halfway down on the staircase, stomping his feet, descending.  I followed him.

But sometime during my descent, I experienced a brief --what shall I call it? --interruption of cognizance?  Whatever.  The sensation was similar to that which one experiences when brought abruptly out of a reverie.  It was as if I had been interrupted during a cast-afar daydream.  It lasted no more than a second.   

Then I found myself at the bottom of the stairs, in the basement.  And it was empty.  No Danny.  No nobody.  Just me standing in my next-door neighbor's basement. 

I wandered through the basement looking for my friend, but he was nowhere to be found.  I was puzzled.

And then, I heard Danny calling for me.  From upstairs!

I climbed back up the stairs, and there was Danny, still in the kitchen.  He asked, "Why did you go down to the basement?"

"I followed you!" I said.

He shook his head, saying "I didn't go down there."

That was thirty-six years ago.  To this day, I still can't understand what happened.  The human mind, of course, remains an enigmatic entity.  Is it possible I experienced some kind of narcoleptic episode?  That I lapsed instantaneously into sleep and thence to a dream?  Or, going further afield, had I momentarily come into contact with some parallel universe, a la Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber, wherein Alternate Danny and Alternate Dade had gone into the Alternate basement?  Or had I been visited by some desperate underworld shade trying to reveal some dark secret?

I've never since had a similar experience.  And, at this point, I'm convinced that I will go to my grave never knowing what truly happened.  But once I get there... who knows?

Happy Halloween!


thejamesranch said...

How do you know you never had this experience again...maybe you never really put this on your blog and you think you're reading a comment I never posted!! Hmmmm...

Ridwan said...

Amazing experience for sure Dade!

I can imagine that you have played with the 'what-ifs' in your head ever since then.

I remember a similar experience in that it has stayed with me since boyhood.

My folks and I were visiting my grandparents and that night I saw a man in full military uniform standing at the foot-end of the bed just staring at me.

We were sharing the guest room so I woke my dad. He saw the man too and rose slowly to turn on the light.

Many years later I found out that my grandparents home was built on a discarded military base from the time of the Boer War.

The house I was told sat in a part where soldiers were buried.

The person who told us was there when the house was built and claimed that human remains were found.

I cannot explain what happened that night. It was my only experience seeing a 'ghost'.

And the experience has stayed etched in my mind.

Peace Dade!

Anonymous said...

Danny Bowers! Haven't thought of him in quite some time. Interesting episode, none the less.