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Imagine you're having recurring nightmares, the same dream over and over again ever since you were a kid. Now imagine you find out your brother is having the same exact dream and so is a friend your brother went to college with, and so is another friend who lives next door to you.
For people having the same terrifying nightmares, that couldn't just be a coincidence.
Right now, let's say that you undergo hypnosis just to see what's going on in your subconscious during the session. You remember something that happened to you years ago, something so traumatic, you repressed it from your memory. Just thinking about it sends your heart racing. Then your brother hypnotized and your two friends and all four of you uncover memories of the same incident. Looking back, you can pin down exactly when and where it took place. You remember it so vividly.
You know, it has to be true. There's only one problem. What really happened is so horrific. No one believes you. In fact, you're not even sure that you believe it yourself. This is Supernatural, a podcast original, and I'm your host, Ashleigh Flowers, every Wednesday, I'll be taking a deep dive into a real unexplained occurrence to try and figure out the truth. This week is the story of four friends who had a strange encounter at the Allagash waterway in Maine.
You can find all episodes of Supernatural and all other cast originals for free on Spotify. And if you like what you're hearing, reach out on Facebook and Instagram app podcast and on Twitter at Sparkasse Network. In 1980, a 28 year old art dealer named Jim Weiner started having scary health problems out of the blue, he'll have sudden chest pains and the left side of his body will go numb. And then the symptom list gets even weirder. He starts having recurring nightmares.
What happens is he wakes up in the middle of the night paralyzed and sees something standing over him. Sometimes it feels like he's levitating off the bed. Other times he hears a strange hypnotic noise. But that shadowy thing is always there. Jim had nightmares like this when he was a child. His family joked that the house was haunted and they even named the apparition Harry the ghost. But they'd gone away as he got older, at least until now.
He figures all of these symptoms must be related, but he doesn't know exactly how. Jim is on the road a lot for work. So over the next few years, he sees specialists in hospitals all over the country Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Utah, California, Texas. All of them say the same thing. We can't find any cause. Then finally, in 1983, Jim sees a neurologist and finds out his chest pains are a type of seizure. He's diagnosed with temporal limbic epilepsy, or TLT, which appear to be caused by a head injury he'd suffered five years earlier.
TLY can also cause hallucinations out of body experiences and feelings of an unusual presence. So that must be what's going on with the recurring nightmares. Right? But Jim's doctors aren't so sure. Hallucinations with toay usually follow a repetitive pattern, and they're exactly the same each time. Jim's experiences are always a little bit different. Also, he'd been having these nightmares since childhood. So the whole thing is kind of weird, but Jim doesn't really think much of it until three years later, in 1986, that year, Jim's twin brother Jack starts having nightmares of his own in Jack's dreams.
There's also a strange figure hovering over him, and it fits the same description as Jim's. Granted, that description is super vague. It has two arms and two legs and it's about four or five feet tall. The main difference is that in Jack's dreams, he's in a white room full of hazy light, standing against a wall. And on the other side of the room, he sees Jim and two of their other friends, Chuck and Charlie. They're just sitting there almost in a trance.
Then the weird creature gets closer. It has big, shiny black eyes, no nose, and apparently no mouth either. But it has fingers and it's holding a sharp metal tool. It lifts up Jack's arm and tries to stick something into his armpit. And then he wakes up in a cold sweat, absolutely terrified. Every time Jack has this nightmare, he's shaken for days when he finds out his twin brother Jim, is having the same horrifying nightmares.
Neither of them know what to make of it. But if two of them are having similar dreams, Jack starts to wonder about the other two guys in his dream, Chuck and Charlie. Chuck Rock and Charlie Fords have been friends with the twins since college in the early 70s. By 1986, the four of them are in their 30s, but they're all still close. Charlie and Jim live in the same apartment building in Boston, and Chuck and Jack both live in rural Vermont, just a town away from each other.
So just out of curiosity, the twins ask Charlie in shock if they've been having any weird dreams lately. And what do you know? They both are having the same recurring nightmares. This has to be more than just coincidence, but no one has an answer. Jim even brings it up to his doctors as if his epilepsy could explain why his friends are having your dreams. But of course, that's a no. Then a couple of years later, in 1988, Jim reads a book called Communion by Whitley Strieber.
It's a purportedly true story about a strange experience the author has one night, which is eerily similar to the nightmares Jim and his friends are having. Something in the book kicks loose an old memory. A few years before the four of them started having these nightmares. They'd gone on a camping trip together and something happened on that trip that none of them had ever been able to make sense of.
So in August of 1976, Jim and Jack were both 23 and starting their careers as artists in Boston. Charlie was still in college and Chuck had left school a year ago and was living in a tree house in Vermont that summer. Chuck wanted to go camping at the Allagash Waterway, which is a series of lakes and streams just north of the Appalachian Trail. He invited the others to join him, and they agreed. The first few days of the trip were pretty uneventful.
They went hiking, canoeing, explored the woods like nothing really out of the ordinary until their fourth night in Allagash on August 24th, just after sunset, the four friends were setting up their tents on the shore, and Jim saw a strange light in the sky like a star, but way brighter than any other star he could see. He looked through his binoculars and realized it wasn't a star at all. It was some kind of glowing object, maybe 200 feet above the tree line.
He watched it hover for a while and then it suddenly blinked out and disappeared.
Jim figured it must have been a helicopter or something, so he let it go until two nights later on August 26, again, it was right after dusk, they canoed over to a different lake, set up a campfire on the beach and headed back out on the waterway for some night fishing. As soon as they were out on the lake, they saw something up in the sky. It was the same glowing object Jim had seen a couple nights ago.
Only this time it was much closer. It was so bright, it almost looked like a miniature sun. The four of them sat there and watched it for a few minutes, just hovering over the trees, moving back and forth, totally silent. It couldn't be a weather balloon. It was way too bright for that. And it wasn't a helicopter either because it wasn't making any noise. After a while, Charlie decided to signal with a flashlight just to see what would happen.
He tapped out an S.O.S. in Morse code and the light started moving closer. Chuck immediately drops the flashlight in shock and starts paddling. Whatever this thing was, it was time to get out of its way. They paddled back to the shore as fast as possible, but this aircraft kept gaining on them. By the time they reached the bank, it was directly above them, about 50 to 100 feet above water level. And up close, it looked like nothing they'd ever seen before.
Then a beam of light came out of the bottom, right over the canoe. And the next thing any of them remember, they're standing back on shore. The object was flying away, back in the same direction it had come from. It got smaller and smaller and then suddenly blinked out of view. Now, none of them had any idea what just happened. They all had a gap in their memory for the exact same time span from the object hovering over them to being back on the shore.
Something must have happened in between, but it's a total blank. They only remembered being out on the lake for like twenty minutes, but the campfire they built was burnt to ashes.
It would have taken hours for that fire to burn out. Now you'd think after something like this, the four of them would be freaking out. I would be freaking out. But oddly, they were pretty calm more days than anything else and completely exhausted. They sat down at the picnic table to try and piece together what happened. But after a few minutes, they were too tired to even keep their eyes open. They just fell asleep at the table.
When they woke up the next morning, they still weren't panicking. I mean, what were they supposed to do, tell the police that they were attacked by a UFO? They were all just ready to pack up and keep moving.
When they got to the next campsite, they flagged down a forest ranger and told him what they saw. He didn't believe a word of it, but they insisted they weren't joking, they weren't dreaming, they weren't drinking or on drugs. They saw this thing. So the ranger reported it to the main office and it turned out a few other campers had reported similar things in the past few days. The radio dispatcher checked with the Air Force base nearby to see if they had any aircraft passing through recently.
But they didn't. There was no other explanation the Rangers could think of, so there was really nothing else they could do. When the four friends got back from the trip, they mentioned the weird flying object to their families. But again, no one believed them and that was the end of it, at least until twelve years later when Jim read Communion by Whitley Strieber.
So the reason this book kickstarted Jim's memory is because it's about an alien abduction, stripper claims that late one night in 1985, he was woken up by a strange noise coming from outside. Then he saw a small figure walking into his room and approaching his bed.
He blacked out for a while, and the next thing he knew, he was in a strange grayish white room, sitting on a bench being examined by humanoid creatures. Now, at the time this book came out, Whitley Strieber was a best selling author that he claimed the book was a true story, but most people still assumed it was fiction. Jim might have dismissed it, too, if it didn't sound so eerily similar to the nightmares he and his friends were having.
And the alien ship called to mind the mysterious aircraft they'd seen in Allagash, which got Jim thinking about that sudden jump in time between the object hovering over them and being back on the shore. What happened during that gap and why could none of them remember it?
At this point, Jim was still hoping there was a rational explanation for this loss. Time is a symptom of Teeley. So he mentioned the Allagash incident to his psychiatrist. But the camping trip happened 12 years before the brain injury that caused the telly in the first place, even if Jim's lost time was caused by an epileptic seizure. It wouldn't explain why it happened to three other people in the exact same moment, or why all four of them were having the same recurring nightmares.
There was no medical explanation for this. So Jim psychiatrist referred him to another expert, one who specialized in UFO encounters. We'll look into that right after this. Now let's get back to the story. In May of 1988, Jim drove to a UFO conference a few miles outside of Boston on his psychiatrist recommendation. He was there to meet the keynote speaker, Raymond Fowler. Fowler was the director of investigations for the Mutual UFO Network, or MoveOn. He literally wrote the handbook on UFO sightings.
If anyone could explain what was going on with Jim and his friends or at least rule out the possibility of an alien abduction. It was this guy.
Before the conference, Jim flagged down Fowler and told him about what had happened in Allagash the last time. The nightmares and the fact that the other three people on the Allagash trip were all having the same exact dreams. Even Fowler had never seen anything like this. Having four witnesses to the same abduction would be groundbreaking if it was an abduction. He couldn't give Jim a straight answer, at least not yet. The only one who really knew what happened during the last time was Jim himself.
The truth was buried in his head somewhere, and to get to it, they'd need a hypnotherapist.
Hypnosis has kind of fallen out of favor lately, but the popular idea in the 80s and 90s was that traumatic memories could be repressed as a defense mechanism. So the point of hypnotherapy is to get you into a relaxed state where it's easier to call up those subconscious memories. Ray Fowler had been hypnotized himself in the past, and as you might have guessed, he uncovered memories of being abducted by aliens. He set up an appointment for Jim with his old hypnotherapist, Tony Constantino, according to Fowler's book about the case.
Here's what happened. Jim sits down in an easy chair. Tony puts on some relaxing music and he talks him into a hypnotic state. From there, Tony told him to go back to the night of the UFO sighting. Implication aside, whatever they saw was an unidentified flying object. So that's what we're going to call it. Jim was able to remember everything about that night going out on the lake, seeing the light in the sky, the UFO hovering over them and shining down what he described as a tube of light.
And then his memory skipped to being back on the shore. Everything in between was still a total blank. According to Tony, this meant Jim's conscious mind was still blocking the memory. So he tried a new tactic to get around the mental barriers. He told Jim, Imagine sitting in front of a big TV screen with the word yes on one side and no on the other. He would ask a question and Jim would tell him which side of the screen lights up after answering some yes or no questions.
With this technique, the memories start flooding back. All of a sudden, Jim remembered everything. On the other end of that tube of light, there was a room. Three or four creatures like the ones he'd seen in his dreams were hovering over his brother Jack, moving his arms back and forth like they were examining him. And Chuck and Charlie were sitting on a bench nearby. Up to now, Jim hadn't personally remembered anything about being in a strange room with a bench or the other three being with him.
But his brother Jack's nightmares were just like this.
Since Jim knew about his brother's nightmares, there's always a chance that he was unintentionally borrowing some of those details.
But here's where it really gets interesting. Jim knew that in his brother's dreams, he could clearly see the creatures faces. But when Jim describes the creatures under hypnosis, he couldn't remember their faces at all. He actually said, quote, Jack remembers the faces and he's even told me, but I don't remember anything in the moment, I could only fight to concentrate on what was just right in front of me, end quote. So that implies this was a distinct memory of his own, not just a composite of details from his brother's account.
When Jim came out of hypnosis, he was shocked by what he'd uncovered. He had more questions now than he did in the beginning. But Tony told him not to go digging for answers on his own if he read any UFO books, the details that he learned might seep into his own memories. He also warned him not to tell the other three what happened during the session because over the rest of 1989, Jack, Chuck and Charlie would all separately undergo hypnosis.
Jack was the next to go and his wife Mary came with him for moral support, like his brother Jack initially didn't remember anything between the beam of light and being back on the beach. But once he got into a deeper, hypnotic state, he started reliving that night vividly. What he remembered was after the light came down over the canoe, they were somehow transported into a room full of hazy white light. This part was just like his recurring dreams.
He was paralyzed, surrounded by creatures with big black eyes. And Jim, Chuck and Charlie were sitting on a bench nearby. Then Jack remembers something new. The creatures poked him in the armpit with a metal tool and they start moving his arms up and down. That's the same thing his brother Jim described seeing during his session.
So either Jim broke the vow of silence and both of them were lying, or the two of them were coming up with identical memories, completely independent of each other.
What's even stranger when Charlie comes in for his session a month later, he also uncovered the exact same memories.
Charlie even described it in more visual detail, the room they were in was like a doctor's office with a cabinet full of medical equipment. There was a window next to the bench. And when he looked out, he could see the canoe on the lake down below. After doing some medical tests, the creatures took Charlie and his friends to a different room, a hollow beam of light shot out below the floor, and one by one they descended down it.
After this session, Tony, the hypnotist wrote to Ray Fowler that he fully believed that Charlie's recollection was genuine and that the accounts from all three men were all very consistent. But before they could make a definitive call, they had to talk to the final witness. Chuck was the last one to go, and he also had the most difficulty getting into it, Chuck is a bit rough and tumble outdoorsman who once lived in a tree house. So not exactly like the usual hypnosis type.
Eventually, he did remember being aboard the UFO and his story matched with the other three had said, but it seemed like he was reluctant to discuss it, like there was still something holding his memory back. And then while he's describing the alien figures, he was asked whether he'd ever seen those creatures before. And he said, yeah, in my room when I was little. Chuck remembered a time when he was four or five years old where he woke up to a strange figure staring at him at the foot of his bed.
It looked just like the aliens from the ship in Allagash, except it was a little smaller. This happened several more times throughout his life from childhood, all the way to adulthood. This was a huge deal because in most cases of alleged alien abductions, the same people claimed to be visited multiple times throughout their lives. So to Ray Fowler, the childhood visitations were a strong sign that they were dealing with a real abduction.
When Chuck woke up, he barely believed it himself, Chuck had read a few books about alien abductions, including Communion by Whitley Strieber, the same book Jim read before he started hypnosis. So he wasn't sure of the memories he uncovered really happened or if he'd imagined it based on the details from the book. But there was something else he couldn't explain away. Chuck's wife couldn't make it to the appointment that day, so Jack's wife Mary went with him for support.
And when Chuck started talking about his childhood experiences, Mary thought back to an old family's story. Harry the Ghost. We mentioned earlier how Jim had been having nightmares ever since he was a kid and his parents had blamed it on a poltergeist. Well, Jim wasn't the only one who was seeing things. The whole family had noticed strange activity around the house, doors locking and unlocking themselves, the TV turning on and off, weird noises at night. Jack hadn't thought about it in years until Mary brought it up, but he also remembered seeing this monster in the middle of the night when he was little as well.
Ray Fowler reached out to Jim and Jack's mother, Jean, and she said, Yeah, I remember Harry the ghost.
In fact, Jean had seen the ghost for herself. One night she woke up to see a white glowing figure at the end of her bed. Her husband woke up, too, but they were both too stunned to move. After a few minutes, the figure walked out of the bedroom door and disappeared. It was so real that they thought it was an actual intruder, but they searched the entire house and it was nowhere to be found. Now, Jean was a skeptic through and through.
She didn't believe in flying saucers and she definitely didn't believe her sons were abducted by aliens. But she knew what she saw that night, even if she couldn't explain it. So at this point, we have three family members who have been seeing the same nighttime visitor for decades. One friend who's had similar experiences going all the way back to childhood, we have four total witnesses to the same UFO sighting who all lost time for hours with no explanation, who have been having nightmares about it for decades, and who recall details of the same shared experience under hypnosis, not to mention a half dozen people who'd seen or heard about the UFO 12 years ago, including the forest ranger who took the reports and one professional hypnotherapist who believes they're telling the truth as icing on the cake.
Jim, Jack, Chuck and Charlie all took polygraph test to prove they weren't lying about their memories and they all passed. There were only two coherent theories to pull together all these pieces. Either this was a massive hoax in the works for over a decade or the four friends from Allagash were really abducted by aliens. We'll look at the fallout after this and we'll speculate on whether there's actually a third option that we haven't considered yet. Now back to the story.
In 1993, Ray Fowler compiled his notes on the hypnosis sessions into a book called The Allagash Abductions. Jim, Jack, Chuck and Charlie were a brief media sensation. They appeared on like the Joan Rivers show. They were profiled on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. But understandably, not everyone was buying the alien abduction story. What struck people the most wasn't how bizarre it was, but how familiar it was from the description of the aliens to the medical experiments, to the flying saucer with a beam of light at the bottom.
Every detail seemed like it was ripped from a sci fi horror movie. But to UFO researchers, it isn't that simple. In 1988, a folklorist named Dr. Thomas E. Ballard put together a study of over 300 UFO encounters from all over the world. What he found was that every report followed the same consistent narrative. The abductees were taken aboard a UFO and examined. The aliens spoke to them telepathically. Sometimes they were given a tour of the ship and then they were brought back home.
If the abduction narrative sounds familiar to us now, it's because most pop culture depictions of aliens are drawn from these same abduction accounts. As for the abductees themselves, they might be more credible than you think. In 1992, psychiatrist Dr. John EMAC did a study of 60 alien abductees. He found that the majority of them didn't appear to be lying or suffering from any mental illnesses.
By all evidence, they were telling the truth or at least what they thought was the truth. The human memory is scarily unreliable. It's just as easy to invent memories as it is to forget them. For example, there was a study done in 1995 where the participants were told a brief story about a time they'd gotten lost in a shopping mall as a child. The story itself was a complete fiction, but when they were asked to provide more details about that experience, some of them described how they felt or what the person who rescued them was wearing.
They didn't even realize that the whole event never happened. In a hypnotic state, you're more suggestible. So it's even easier for your mind to invent false memories. If you go into it expecting a certain outcome like an alien abduction, it's pretty likely that your brain will create a memory to match those expectations. And once you wake up, that memory will seem so completely real, even if it never actually happened. However, even if the memories the four friends uncovered were false, that still doesn't address the shared dreams that started at all.
How do you explain that? And more to the point, how do you explain the UFO sightings in Allagash in the first place? That question we do have a possible answer for. In 2016, more than two decades after the Allagash abductions hit the news, Chuck suddenly came forward with a confession. They were all on hasheesh, which is a much more concentrated form of pot.
Now, from the beginning, all four friends had denied any drinking or drug use during the camping trip, but suddenly, 40 years after the fact, Chuck was saying that was a lie. He retracted all his statements about the abduction, the recovered memories, the dreams, et cetera. With one exception, he maintained that they did see the UFO in Allagash, but they were all totally stoned at the time. Hasheesh impacts your perception of time and space, so it would explain why they were so carried away by the light in the sky, which in all likelihood was just a weather balloon or a military aircraft.
They were so distracted they lost track of time. And so what felt like 20 minutes was actually a few hours. However, when Chuck made these allegations, Jim, Jack and Charlie all continued to deny any drug use. And according to an article in a local newspaper, The Fiddlehead focused Jim had his own take on why Chuck was changing his story. When the media frenzy started to wane in the 90s, Chuck apparently came to them with a plan to, quote, make a million dollars on the Allagash case, end quote.
They would criticize the way the case was handled by Ray Fowler and the hypnotherapist stirring up controversy would create more tension and they could make a nice profit. Now, the other shot him down. After that, the friendship deteriorated and eventually they cut Chuck out of their circle entirely.
According to the other three, Chuck, sudden confession was just a plot to get back at them.
What it ultimately comes down to is who do you trust the man who admits to lying for decades and had a clear motivation to change his story or the three men who say they were abducted by a UFO? The easy answer is none of them, but actually they all might be telling the truth or at least their own version of it under hypnosis. Chuck did remember being abducted in Allagash and being visited by aliens multiple times as a child, but he was never sure if the memories were real or if he was just imagining them.
Eventually, he decided on the latter. It was a false memory. Meanwhile, the other three believe the abduction story so fully that whether it's objectively true or not, it became true to them. It's safe to say they weren't lying exactly. But with the evidence we have, it's impossible to know for sure whether the abduction really happened. I'll leave you with a quote from Dr. John EMAC, the Harvard psychiatrist who studied abductees. The furthest you can go at this point is to say there is an authentic mystery here.
And that is, I think, as far as anyone ought to go. Thanks for listening.
I'll be back next week with another episode, you can find all episodes of Supernatural and all other podcast originals for free on Spotify. Spotify has all your favorite music and podcast all in one place. They're making it easier to listen to whatever you want to hear for free on your phone, computer or smart speaker. And if you like the show, follow at Parkhurst on Facebook and Instagram and App Podcast Network on Twitter.
Supernatural was created by Max Cutler and stars Ashley Flowers and is a podcast studio's original. It's executive produced by Max Cutler, Sound Design by Ron Shapiro with Production Assistance by Carly Madden. This episode of Supernatural was written by Kate Gorger with Writing Assistants by Draco.