For the next three weeks, The Superstitious Times will publish the chronicles of Dan Hoddinott and his experience of a time slip, akin to the Moberly–Jourdain incident.
I know what it feels like to be on the precipice — to be right there on the edge of dimensions, states of being, or whatever you wish to call that place where one can see firsthand the cycling of gears where the realms of life and death intersect. It’s an unsettling and disorienting feeling to be aware that both realms can lay claim to your residency at once, even while appearing ambivalent; resultant is a kind of twilight existence that can last for days, for weeks or even longer, and its residual ash never totally goes away…
Twice I’ve walked away from car wrecks I should not have survived. One spring evening, on the normally turbulent and unforgiving North Atlantic, I required rescue from a sudden violent breakup of a miles-wide ice sheet — and from the frothing fury of the gasping water, enraged by months of pointless captivity, that savagely shoved cubic tons of white ice aside like used grave clothes in the righteous roar of its resurrection. Once, on a reckless dare on the Olympic Mountains in Washington state, I attempted to scale a sheer cliff wall, unaided by spike or rope or any semblance of common sense; in that pre-cellphone world, survival took some hours and the collective reckoning of a sizeable gathering of unrelated hikers and fellow adventurers (none of whom became admirers, it deserves pointing out).
Whether placed there by accident, misadventure or personal folly, one never forgets what it feels like to be in that place. And this is why, on a powerfully hot and windy late-June day in the California desert, the occasion of our unexpected deaths provided the most logical explanation my son, R-Three (not his given name), and I could settle on to describe what had transpired during a side trip to Mojave Air and Space Port.
R-Three had no first-hand knowledge of “the feeling” I describe above, but he had spent much of his then-almost 30 years keeping pace with me on willful intellectual examination of all manner of usually dismissed phenomena and offbeat-but-persistent ideas. And he trusts my experiential testimony. Still, our conclusions were arrived at for strictly scientific reasons, based solely on our shared experience that day.
In the experience- and phenomenon-inclusive worldview we have crafted through the years, see, we countenance ideas such as the paranormal while holding them at arm’s length until they can be examined for conformity to trusted scientific principles. We derive satisfaction out of applying to all manner of paradoxical ideas, whether appealing or unappealing, the two significant and mutually dependent scales of justice held over from the Enlightenment era: reason and science. It should not be surprising that a stop in the Valley of Nye, in Nevada, was on the agenda for later that day, where we would pay homage to Art Bell and the Coast to Coast radio program he founded in the untamed Nevada desert.
This is the first public appearance of our story. We have hesitated to speak about it at large in the nearly four years since, lest its compelling essence be frittered away in the reductionist rhetoric of gotcha-oriented skeptics, who we expect would regard us as “likely candidates” for such an experience. Sober analysis, at the end of an expectant search for a rational explanation, is about all we could ask of a genuine skeptic.
Ground rules we live by: Application of non-negotiable scientific principles to delineate reason from conjecture and enthusiasm. The latter two tend to betray an unflattering allegiance to the god of science that has emerged from the ashes of belief systems torched indiscriminately by the latest wave of secular theology; unwavering belief and obedience, and blind acceptance of statements made in the absence of verifying measurements are standard demands of this deity too! We prefer to rifle through the rubble left in the wake of the politicized scientific establishment, looking for reusable parts. We expect no more ridicule for taking pause to examine evidence of extraterrestrial intervention on ancient earth or anecdotes of ghost sightings or some other elements of the paranormal, then, than one would invite for the embrace of fanciful conjecture arising out of a mathematical equation stretched out full length.
Our analytical minds can accommodate the notion of one, in the immediate aftermath of his or her death, retaining a degree of self-awareness, or even continuing on for a period in the intended trajectory that the death event had interrupted. Such is not a foreign concept in the databank of human knowledge, is anecdotally consistent across cultures from the present day far back into antiquity, and is therefore not beyond the reach of reason. Recognition of the possibility we might be dead, that day in the California desert, was strictly a scientific conclusion, not a metaphysical one.
R-Three considered the prospect of our death a logical conclusion as readily as I did. I could tell this by the sobered, and not panicked, expression on his face when I put it into so many words, while the silver bullet that was our rental SUV raced away from the spaceport on the black ribbon of asphalt making up State Route 14. Our utter invisibility to the persons going about their very practical lives there and, not insignificantly, our shared interpretations of fluctuating time periods and our ultimate inability to locate entrances to very public buildings at the spaceport had made the case.
The startling realization was not only that we were dead but that we must have died the night before, at a hotel in Santa Clarita. An uninterrupted series of anomalous events had occurred on the way to the spaceport in Mojave.