It’s a question that I asked myself as I was working on the final changes I’d make to my manuscript for ‘An0ma1y‘ . The story begins with our narrator, Desi, being abducted by little Grey aliens.
It was originally the opening scene of a role-playing game I ran in the mid 90s. When the original Desi decided she would play herself in a campaign I had called ‘Paradox Wars’, it was a time when the ‘X-files’ dominated TV ratings and several competitors arose hidden in the late night schedules, ‘Dark Skies’ and reruns of that old show based on the project bluebook case files. But I didn’t watch these shows to find out about UFOs – I watched them because I was already hooked by UFO phenomena.
I was a huge fan of science fiction when I was very young, I remember wanting to learn to read because of ‘Speed’ comic that ran ‘A journey to the stars’ episodically drawn by Ron Turner, my Dad read the first few to me, I learnt to read reading that comic. The comic was published in 1980, so I guess I was 5…
The plot was that a family were abducted one night by an alien space ship and it’s tentacled robot, both of which looked more than slightly frog-like. The story didn’t last long as Speed merged into ‘Tiger’ in November 1980 – which was a far Sportier title. But, I guess, the story had sown its seed in my mind. I read 2000AD and Eagle when I was a little older, and I flirted with Doctor Who magazine, but ‘Tiger’ held me for a while.
Then in 1983 I got given ‘The world’s greatest UFO mysteries’ by Nigel Blundell and Roger Boar, a Christmas Present from my Aunt and Uncle, both now sadly passed. I was slightly spooked and intrigued by the cover, and started reading it at once.
It suggested to me that flying saucers, UFOs weren’t just in science-fiction — people saw them for real! I had had no idea, I was 9 and I was hooked.
Many of the seeds for An0ma1y were planted in my mind by reading this book. I found some of it deeply disturbing, but as it disturbed my mind so I was hooked. In the same way as a dancing, mountain stream can be diverted by the addition of one rock, so too my mind was forever changed.
Then I saw one.
It was 1985, and we were on holiday as a family. We always went to the same camp site in those days, so much so that I grew up with a Welsh accent that turns on as I cross the border. This particular morning we got up early and drove to the lovely, picturesque bay of Tresaith, which Google maps seems to have visited in the middle of winter, but anyway, we set up windbreaks and blankets on the sand, near the rocks under the cliffs on the right hand side of the bay. This position meant we were well sheltered from both the morning wind, through the day until the evening when the wind would reverse direction. It also gave us ample view of the MOD base on the opposite headland where all manner of interesting aircraft landed through the day.
It was exactly 9:00 am when a sudden fog rolled in from the sea. The entire beach, view and horizon turned suddenly, uniformly grey. The fog was chill, and thick. Suddenly the entire beach seemed wrong, the warmth of the morning sun completely stolen by the fog bank. We sat on the beach, shivering slightly for about half an hour, making sandcastles in the fog. Then suddenly a gap opened in the fog, a circular hole that lead straight up the cliff where we were sat. Of course we looked up, scanning the blue sky over head, and marvelling at the way we could see the fog moving up the cliff face and inland around us. Then it came.
It drifted over the cliff, and hovered directly above us. It was probably a hundred feet above the cliff top and glinted silver in the morning light. It didn’t look very big, only perhaps six feet across, and confused I asked my dad what he thought it was.
He paused, and said, “Well, I would say a weather balloon, only… weather balloons travel with the wind.”
The shape continued to hover there, directly above us for a while, and then almost as though it got bored, it suddenly starting moving, first gaining height slightly before smoothly accelerating away back out of sight over the cliff.
It was probably a weather balloon, it really was, but in that strange weather, with that strange sight overhead, that behaved in such an unnatural seeming way, I was convinced; not that I had seen a flying saucer, or that there had been an alien travel pod silently overlooking us and hiding from the Ministry of Defence base across the bay in the fog. No, I was convinced that I would never know. There was no way I would ever know for sure. Perhaps the wind striking the cliff face caused some sort of standing wave or vortex that first cleared the fog, and then drew in a weather balloon, released from the airbase, under the cover of the fog, only to hold it — perfectly still — in the centre of the swirling and splitting fog, before finally releasing it to bob up and blow back away.
Neither answer for what I experienced seems particularly likely, but that mystery has been with me ever since. I will always remember looking up at something that didn’t seem possible, in an unreal situation, and knowing that it was really happening.
Suffice to say that I grew more interested in the UFO experience. The accounts of abductions in the US began to trickle over, and I read them whenever I found them, second hand book stores and magazines, a pattern of investigation that lead me to subscribe to the ‘Fortean Times‘ and finally to write ‘An0ma1y‘.