Thursday, October 17, 2013

Slips In Time: Real, Imagined, or Otherwise.

"In 1935, while still a Wing Commander, Air Marshal Sir Robert Victor Goddard was sent to inspect a disused airfield near Edinburgh at a place called Drem. He found it in a very dilapidated state with cattle grazing on grass that had forced through cracks in the tarmac.

Later that day, he ran into trouble while flying his biplane in heavy rain and decided to fly back to Drem to get his bearings.

As he approached the airfield the torrential rain abruptly changed to bright sunlight. When he looked down he saw the airfield had been completely renovated and was now in use. There were mechanics in blue overalls walking around and four yellow planes parked on the runway. One of these was a model which, for all his aviation experience, he completely failed to recognize." [Time Travel: A New Perspective by J. H. Brennan]

What makes this strange incident even more uncanny is that four years later, the Royal Air Force began painting their planes yellow and the uniforms worn by mechanics had changed to blue. 

It is difficult to say whether the pilot's encounter actually occurred as described--or, indeed, if the entire story wasn't made up. This is often the case with such outlandish accounts of the seemingly impossible. Often times, as with Machen's Bowmen, The Angels of Mons, the temporal misadventures of several British navy cadets or the famous encounter at Versailles, the truth isn't stranger than fiction--it IS fiction. Tales so compelling, so verisimilar that they creep into the public consciousness as truth. Someone reads it, forgets he has read it, and then relates it to a friend as 'something he heard' (perhaps from a buddy in the war) and relates it as having actually happened. This new listener then takes up the narrative and off it spreads like wildfire.

Another example of this is the urban legend of a young man named Rudolph Fentz who was struck and killed in Times Square in June of 1950. Just another accident in a busy intersection? Maybe not: Fentz was dressed in garments from the late 1800s; had a receipt for the care of a horse and the washing of a carriage; a letter dated 1876; and 70 dollars in anachronistic US currency. None of these show any indication of being around 75 years old. They all looked new. 

As the tale resolves, we come to find out that Rudolph Fentz was a man who disappeared in 1876.

Is it to be believed? No. The story is by Jack Finney, a science fiction writer [the Body Snatchers], but it gets passed around from time to time as something that actually happened. 

With this and other similar accounts in mind, what are we to make of all these tales of overlapping time? Is it all hooey or do people sometimes slip through the veil that separates us from our past or our future?

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