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!

3 comments:

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!
Ridwan

Anonymous said...

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