The Pascagoula Creatures
"These are kind creatures. Gods, what lies I have heard!"
~Cymbeline, Act IV Scene 2
At heart, I like to write about creepy stories. Stories that are good to scare children with, but I like to give them with a caveat that I was never told: Stories are, sometimes, just stories. Don't believe everything you hear. Therefore, in an effort to get back to my roots as a scary storyteller, allow me to introduce to you the weirdest thing I've ever heard: the story of the Pascagoula Creatures.
In 1973 in Pascagoula, Mississippi two shipyard workers, Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker, had an experience that has never been equaled among UFO folklore. They were sitting on a dock fishing when they looked behind them and saw a giant egg-shaped object hovering about 40 feet away. The object looked to be about 10 feet tall and had blue lights "like a police car." As they sat there, understandably surprised, a door opened out of the bottom of the thing and three forms floated out. They were about five feet tall, had neckless, bullet-shaped heads, slits for mouths and carrot-shaped appendages sticking out from where their noses and ears should have been. They also had rounded feet, hands that ended in pincers or claws, and no eyes. Hickson said that the skin of the creatures was gray and wrinkly, like an elephant, and that their hands were shaped "like mittens."
The beings grabbed the two fishermen, hauled them into the ship, and examined them with some sort of "electronic eye" that floated in midair. The interior of the ship was incredibly bright: Light seemed to come from the floors, the walls, the ceiling, everywhere. After a while (he couldn't tell how long) Hickson was released, and he found Parker standing near the water in a trance. He snapped out of it, and the two men called the local air force base, which told them to call the sheriff. The sheriff came and picked them up and, despite being told not to publicize the case, word still leaked out.
Calvin and Parker have, unlike two other famous abductees, Betty and Barney Hill, never changed their stories. They also seem to be genuine in their conviction that something happened to them that night. Many books and websites say that they have refused any opportunity to make money from their experience, neglecting to mention that Hickson has written a book, appeared on local public access television shows, and even goes to local schools to tell children his story (hardly activities for which one would rake in the cash, but still.) Hickson and Parker were two of the first famous abductees, and, depending on how one looks at it, their tale either coincided with the beginning of the 1973 UFO "flap" (widespread sightings) or the publicity of their case actually instigated the 1973 flap. Unlike Betty and Barney Hill, the other two most famous abductees of whom I wrote two weeks ago, their character seems above reproach. They've never contradicted themselves, changed their stories, or made outrageous claims. So I'm going to say right now that I cannot come to a conclusion about what happened to them that night based just on what they've said and done since then. It would be easier if one of them had slipped up and said something that could be seen as evidence the incident was a hoax, but because that didn't happen I'll just content myself to mention what it is that makes me suspicious that something is amiss here.
First and foremost, look at the creatures that are said to have done the abducting. They're quite possibly the weirdest creatures ever in UFO folklore. They're also entirely unique: I don't believe that anything similar has ever been reported, other than in this case. Hickson said that their stilted movements gave him the impression that they were robots. This means that some shadowy group went through the trouble of building a pair of sophisticated carrot-faced elephant robot monsters, and only deployed them once. With the report of seeing crazy gray nightmare monsters, the very uniqueness of the antagonists makes one suspect that they made it up, since no one else has reported such creatures; however, the uniqueness of the monsters also makes it clear that they did not simply lift the encounter wholesale from TV shows or comic books. It's sort of a weird paradox, I suppose: The less similar an abduction is to other abductions, it becomes simultaneously less and more likely that it actually happened.
Then, take this quote, said by Hickson: "There's always the threat that we are going to blow the world all to pieces, I'd like to think they are watching out for us, to see that we don't." Perhaps it's just the philosophic musings of an older man; on the other hand, it echoes the actions of the "contactees" of the 1950s and early 1960s, who claimed to have been chosen by aliens to convey some message of world peace. The keystone of the tales spread by contactees in the '50s and '60s almost always revolved around how angry aliens were with us for inventing the atom bomb; considering that the Cold War was in full swing, this was hardly a surprising mirror image of the fears of society at large. The contactees more or less died out during the '60s to be replaced by the "abductees," folks claiming that their contact with aliens was substantially less than pleasant.
Is that quote above a smoking gun? Hardly. Is it enough to make me a little more suspicious than I was before I read it? Definitely.
Another thing that makes me suspicious is Parker's role in all of this. He waited a long time before he began speaking about what happened to him that night. According to Hickson, he passed out when the robot monsters touched him, and when Hickson found him later, he was in a trance. Although again, this is hardly a smoking gun, it's a relatively common theme in UFO abductions of more than one person: One person sees everything in its entirety while the other person either passes out or ends up in a trance. The second person only later remembers the event, after (to be blunt) the first person takes the time to convince him it happened.
I'm not saying that's what happened in this case. According to everything I've read, the two men were both freaking out about what happened that very night. However, no source that I've been able to find is specific enough to say whether Parker told any part of the story early on. It's possible Hickson imagined it all and told everyone, and Parker was just freaking out because Hickson was freaking out. Again, I don't know either way what happened, but I sure am suspicious.
After I wrote my article on Betty and Barney Hill, a lot of people e-mailed me and were aghast that I would dare to attack the reputation of two recently deceased individuals. I suppose that's because they couldn't find fault with my arguments. I'd just like to take this opportunity to say that I am not trying to speak ill of Hickson and Parker, or trying to defame them or slander them. Something weird happened, and I don't think they'd mind people discussing it and looking at it from a critical angle. So if you're going to send me furious e-mails, try to come up with something a little better than "You're trying to defame these people" and picking on minor grammatical errors.
Be seeing you.
Portions of this article first published in The Triangle, 29 April 2004