95% of UFO sightings can be written off as nothing: weather phenomena; misidentified aircraft; mistakenly identified stars or planets. 5% cannot be explained. In this series we’ll be looking at the mass sightings. The abductions. The unexplained deaths. Real cases, with real people.
These are the 5%. These, are the UFO files.
16th September 1994
It’s the morning break at Ariel School, Ruwa, Zimbabwe. The teachers are all in a staff meeting, leaving the children outside in the school yard with just one adult for supervision. The adult is working at the tuck shop, selling sweets and drinks to the children.
The meeting is nothing out of the ordinary until suddenly, the children run screaming into the school towards the teachers, surprising them in how coordinated they were, one teacher recalling “They came running up here [to the meeting] in such a panic, even if we had staged it they could not have run all together like that. Even if we practised it I don’t know how many times. They came up here like a living snake.”
The screaming children are telling the most outrageous of stories, another teacher recalled her initial scepticism at the wild claims. When all is said and done, 62 children will report the sighting. After hearing the children’s stories and the consistency within them, she too starts to believe that something out of this world had taken place.
So what had happened?
The children were playing outside, when suddenly, some of their eyes are averted skyward, drawn there by a flute like noise. Looking up, they see a silver object, surrounded by smaller objects. Beside the school grounds is an area of brush. More children watch now as the object lands in the field next to the school.
Wild enough, but what happens next is straight from the realm of nightmares. The craft sits in the scrub beside the school and a ‘man’ materialises on top of the craft. No taller than the children themselves, the being has large, black, threatening eyes.
In the blink of an eye, he is in front of the craft, walking towards the children. Panicked, they scream. The man notices the children and vanishes, materialising behind the craft.
The stories are unbelievable, and yet, with so many of the children reporting such a similar tale, the teachers think that the kids have seen something. The children are asked to draw exactly what they have seen. The drawings contain such an eerie similarity that now the teachers are starting to believe.
Children are famous for their over-active imaginations, and it would be easy to dismiss, if not for the fact that some of the children are also displaying symptoms of PTSD.
John Mack is an American psychiatrist and parapsychologist and a professor at Harvard Medical School. In the early 1990s Mack embarks on a study into alien abduction, suspecting that those reporting the events are suffering from some form of undiagnosed mental illness. Upon interviewing ‘abductees’, however, his interest is piqued when no obvious pathologies present themselves. They’re not crazies, so what’s really going on?
It is during the following decade-long study that he was called to interview the children at the Zimbabwe school.
The children are interviewed one by one. They recall seeing two UFOs and two alien beings. It is clear from the interviews that the children are scared. They report the noise of the craft. The landing of the silver object. The strange being that came from the craft. One child recalls the man looking at her:
“I felt scared… I’ve never seen such a person like that before.”
Fear was a common theme. The black, staring eyes of the being seemingly the source of the fear. The children sensing the man wanted to take the children away.
Some of the older children got the impression that they were being communicated with, but the message was bleak:
“They were telling us the world’s going to end. Maybe because we don’t look after the planet.”
This idea came after the sighting.
“I felt horrible inside. All the trees would go down and there would be no air and people would be dying.”
John Mack said after the interviews that he felt the children were not distorting reality, telling something crazy, and doubting themselves. The quality of the testimonies was that of someone talking about something that happened to them. He said of the alien abduction phenomenon more generally, “I take [the accounts of abduction] seriously. I don't have a way to account for them. I would never say, yes, there are aliens taking people. [But] I would say there is a compelling powerful phenomenon here that I can't account for in any other way, that's mysterious.”
So, you're interested in UFOs? Want to read more? Sure you do! Click here for an excerpt from my UFO thriller The Event.
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In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.