Not in the Manual: Where Humor and High Strangeness Meet

The work of a UFO investigator can be interesting and exciting, but the antics and shenanigans are literally out of this world. Join me as I delve deep into my ridiculous personal experiences and case files dealing with ufologists, paranormal investigators, and witnesses; this is the stuff that’s not in the manual.

Roy sent me an email a few hours after our initial meeting. Attached were multiple photos and a brief message telling me to “check these out.”

One photo was of his bedroom and many orbs, which I later ruled to be dust particles, floating about. The other two photos were taken in his basement, again, orbs that resembled dust. The final photo was of a dog — a German shepherd — at a cabin with bright yellow orbs surrounding it. None of these photos were compelling or things I haven’t seen before. They certainly weren’t evidence of aliens or abduction.

Little did I know it, but I would receive dozens and dozens of similar photos from Roy over the next several months. As time went on, I even began to receive short video clips of insects flying in front of the camera lens, which he claimed were small probes tracking his movements.

Going through the photos in Roy’s initial email, I paused on the photo of his bedroom. His bed’s headboard was made of wood. I sent an email to my nurse friend.

It’s not my dad. LOL. Can a guy hit his head on a wooden headboard and cause this type of injury? Why does it look like a cut?

I received a reply a few hours later.

“Yes. They’d have to hit it pretty hard though. I’ve seen people hit their heads on stuff and the skin on their head tears open. When you hit your head- it bleeds … a lot. The skin is pretty thick up there so it splits like that. I don’t know why … just does.
This happened in bed? Was he having sex or a nightmare? Lol.”

That was it! Roy was having nightmares, or night terrors to be more precise. Night terrors, a known and studied psychological condition, can cause people to experience terrible dreams, in which they can thrash about. Many sufferers of night terrors (which can also be sleep paralysis) talk of being chased by monsters or taken by aliens. This had to be it, right? I know the condition is rare, but it has to be more common than actual aliens …

I thought I had a solution for Roy. It’s sleep paralysis and night terrors, they can often be repetitive, bring on the same feelings, and can be a symptom of extreme stress. He was always in bed asleep when it happened, so what else could it be?

There is a large stigma attached to UFOs and investigating sightings. It’s the work of wackos and it’s all around silly. That may be true. I don’t know. I am a wacko. I’ve learned, however, that it is also very human. People place significant personal and spiritual weight upon what they believe is happening to them. Suggesting anything contradictory can cause a visceral reaction. Roy’s entire life, all he built for himself, walked out the door. His career, his health and his family were all gone. Something
had to fill that void. Roy was terrorized by his abduction experiences, but it gave him purpose. It filled the emptiness left by a life that crumbled away; and sometimes pain is better than nothingness and meaninglessness.

At least, I think so. What the hell do I know? I’m just some damn fool who talks to people who think they are being abducted by aliens.

It took me a day or two to assess the case. He had a story. He had a cut on his head most likely caused by hitting his head against the headboard attached to his bed while experiencing a night terror. He had photos of dust. He thought they were tracking his movements, but had no evidence. He was clearly troubled, and these experiences began after he underwent multiple horrible life altering changes.

My plan was to call Roy and let him know what I thought. Before I was able to do so, I received a long email from him. There are only two parts that matter.

“They came last night. I kept a camera by my bed just in case and I got some very interesting pictures before I passed out. I felt my legs go numb so I started taking photos. They are attached and let me know what you think.”


“I can’t find a hypnotherapist in this city but I have been in contact with a woman in California. She helps abductees figure out what happens during these things. I’m trying to get money together to head down there. Do you know anyone closer who can do this? California’s not cheap. I’m happy you are helping me. If I can get someone to hypnotize me, I might get some answers.”

Roy was experiencing some type of catharsis from this experience and from the fact that someone was listening to his story. He had someone in his corner. I decided to not tell Roy my thoughts. I replied to his email and let him know to keep those photos coming and that I was still putting my case together. Those photos that he took during the initial stages of his supposed abduction were of nothing — a dark bedroom from the perspective of someone sitting in the bed. He saw something in them. I couldn’t.

This went on until January of 2012. I would get regular updates, photos and videos, and updates on his task of finding someone to hypnotize him. In the first week of January, I received one final email from Roy. It read (again, this has been edited for clarity and I’ve shortened it for the purpose of this article),

“Good news! I found someone in Toronto who does hypnosis. I went on some forums and found a group of people who use a certain doctor there for this type of stuff …

… My brother is coming with me. We are going to make a trip of it. I’ve never been to Toronto but he has …

… I know you are probably tired of me sending you pictures and stuff. I feel like the investigation isn’t really progressing and I need to do this myself. You’ve been helpful but I need to do this alone now. I’m going to stop sending you this stuff …

… If it’s huge news, I’ll let you know how it goes. If not, then I probably won’t.

… Thanks for listening, Roy.”

I did not reply. I never let Roy know what I thought about his case and I chalk that up to inexperience and cowardice. I don’t know where Roy is. I’ve been tempted once or twice to send him an email, but have always chosen not to. Roy didn’t need me. He needed a doctor and I hope he has seen one since. Doing this kind of work, you meet people from many walks of life. Roy had no evidence of his dealings with otherworldly beings, but he was being taken away by something. Pain, loss, and depression are much more potent than any alien visitor.

About the Author

M. J. is a full time educator and nerd with a background in History and Cultural Studies. A lover of science fiction, geek culture, and all things weird, he enjoys studying the stranger aspects of modern popular culture.

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