Monday, February 09, 2015

Lightning Bugs & Lightning Bolts



Lightning Bugs & Lightning Bolts
by Alfred Lehmberg
From UFO Magazine


Sparse sightings in a ufological milieu, tantalizingly meager, are made through partly cloudy skies when there is any visibility at all.  A few mornings are first-rate, cool and clear.  "Forever" presents itself with breathtaking aplomb... even as the "emptiness" remains decidedly un-empty. 

It matters not.  Empty is equally satisfying, anymore, oddly. "Empty" becomes as singular and auspicious as "filled."

See... including the alleged birds, spent boosters, idle bursts, and falling bolides... and forgetting UFOs? Where do even IFOs go?  I digress early.

To date, my sightings regard mere points of light, reader, identified as... unidentified.  They remain without regard sightings sworn to by this retired military officer and aviation professional.  The "ride" you're on, remember.

Also remaining?  These are humble reports.  They are but prosaic examples of the non-prosaic... lightning bugs where the girth and depth of a yawning universe insures lightning bolts abound, rest assured... but for a couple of odd wrinkles...

To wit:

Anderson, California, the twelfth of April, 2002, at 04:15 hours: soundless *Fastwalkers* clip by, one after the other, at a hot three degrees a second and arrow straight!  The sky is crystal clear and the first silent yellow-red light, only a little dimmer than Sirius, does not diminish in furious intensity as it flies from the point overhead to that point where it disappears behind some trees at about 20 degrees elevation!  It is immediately followed by an identical *Fastwalker* on the same track and heading, which also dives to disappear behind the same cut in the darker trees!  Fastwalking twins.

The wrinkle?  The brilliantly illuminated course for both objects was the duest of due Wests...

That was due west, ladies and gentle-bunkies... an artfully anomalous track your garden variety satellite does not ordinarily describe!  This is according to an albeit inconstant and less than reliable (?) Jim "ashamed-of-his-apostrophe" Oberg... intrepid space historian, reflex klasskurtxian spokes-mook, and arguably one of the noisier of our stunning panoply of noisily noisome noisy negativists… 

The other wrinkle concerns a good sighting on the 15th at 04:50 that I was able to call to the attention of a witness!  It was one of the more typical "ambling" stars (varying track and apparent speed) appearing as I watched the Northern sky at about 350 degrees azimuth and 50 degrees elevation.  It traveled about 20 degrees in a fuzzy arc west-southwest, before it dimmed, abruptly, and went out.

My brother Philip was outside with me prior to his start of a 10 hour shift of work... a type work to make my blood run cold. This particular exertion involves driving tunnel through blasted rock a quarter mile inside a small mountain northwest of Redding, California.  

He sat close by beneath a covered porch quietly consuming that first cup of what he called his "morning ambition."  I called him over excitedly to see my 'object'. He lumbered over annoyed and mumbling bothered protests... he was something less than thrilled to accommodate me.

Looking up to where I pointed with what I knew to be an under-whelmed expression on his sharply planed miner's face, he acknowledged shortly that it was weird... but after grudgingly watching for just a few seconds, he turned and went back to his coffee even before the damned thing blinked out! 

He was something less than impressed, like I said, but my own irritation was minimal.  I understood why.

No... It's not complacency, insentience, or having "bigger" fish to fry explaining his lack of interest.  Uh-uh.  Nor was it was due to any general non-acceptance of "things ufological" on his part. 

Astonishingly, it was the simple lack of a strong enough stimulus provided!  Much more is required to move him.  Experience is the culprit!  To him?  Said light's a meager object, merely; however weird, prosaic even IF non-prosaic!  Tiny quiet lights moving in the night sky... these do not begin to approach his 'interest' threshold, much less cross it. 

Why is that?

Three decades and change ago, my brother and his now deceased wife, Susan, saw an incontestable UFO... for a period of many minutes... on a deserted California Coast Highway!  They saw it so "up-close and personal" that for a few memorable moments it was the only thing they could perceive in the sky, at all! 

See, I wanted my brother to witness anomalous minnows flitting in a small pond... when he had already seen Moby freakin' Dick leap clear of the Pacific Ocean fish-tailing like a hooked trout!  That's small hyperbole, reader.

Here's the story. 

In 1977, and after the end of the Viet Nam incarnation of the arguably endless war we fight in the US, my brother and his bride of a few years had occasion to travel at night down the California Pacific Coast Highway from French Gulch to Oxnard.  They would spend time with our folks for Christmas. It's about a fourteen hour trip. 

At the time I was ufologically oblivious in what was then West Germany, but I digress again.

Both were well rested, not intoxicated, and looked forward to a quiet drive on a beautiful night down an uncluttered and beautiful coast road... listening to R&B on the VW Window Van's cheesy little AM radio... kids at Christmas laughing at trifles... high on life and carefree as was childhood...

Respectfully, one can almost hear the ominous music swelling on the soundtrack...

As they drove, they would crest an occasional bluff and be able to see many miles out into the Pacific ocean.  Stars and offshore oil rigs glittered delightfully like diamonds in the velvet darkness of an untroubled sea. 

It was that beautiful night alluded to, and their spirits were high.  There were no children as yet, and their lives stretched out before them in a manner seemingly as optimistic and completely open-ended as the untrammeled and easy rolling ocean on their right.

...They would stay married ... forgive the digression... 'till death they did part.

Back on the road... every time that they would get a shot of ocean they would fully appreciate the quiet beauty of the endless sea and sky.  The burgeoning starry reaches looked like a glittering backdrop weighted at the bottom by the brighter lights of the aforementioned offshore rigs. 

Highway One is a curling, winding snake of a road taking the traveler in and away from periodic views of the ocean to points well inland.  They'd been watching with interest, upon their successive close passes to the ocean, that an "off-shore rig" seemed to be getting closer to shore every time they had an opportunity to see it.  They were alerted but still unsuspecting at this point.

Driving through a stretch away from the ocean and down a valley between hills, my brother's wife noticed what she took for a lighted triangular billboard further down the road. Oddly, they didn't seem to be gaining on it!  Odd Indeed...

Abruptly, they did gain on it as it flew down upon them... Suddenly, it was adjacent to the van and just outside her passenger door about a hundred feet away!  It became obvious to them both at last  that this observed "sign" was moving, so they upgraded their estimation of the object to a plane in trouble... or a helicopter... something

The eerie silence confounded them. They pulled over to the side of the road to see... ...what the hell was what, frankly.

Philip got out of the van and jogged around its front to look.  Before his slack-jawed eyes suddenly loomed a silent upside down "Christmas tree" quite as large as an office building, it seemed!  One racing heartbeat later all he could observe from horizon to horizon were dozens of different sized bright lights hovering right down over the top of them in eerie silence, directly overhead, like a swarm of quiet multicolored bees!

My brother ran a few meters from the car in a heedless attempt to see more, immediately enchanted.  His wife screamed from the car, and he looked back.  She was begging him to return to her.  "They'll get us," she was screaming, "They'll get us"!

A cold fear took him then, and he scrambled back to the van and piled in beside her, slamming the door! He looked up at the UFO through the top of the windscreen.  His wife was beside herself with fear!

...Just as abruptly, the UFO was gone. 

Stunned, they sat for a moment in shocked amazement, holding their breath at its sudden departure!  Eventually, feeling the pressure was off and breathing at last they fired up the van in the now dark silence and left the area... leaving while the leaving was apparently good!  Both were highly freaked out!

Now, my brother's a merry trickster.  His totem animal would be the crow ... if he was into native religions.  But like the crow, he's not wired for enduring obfuscation, he's a dyed in the wool sociophile, and he won't be a party to the short-sheeting egregious or the maliciously mendacious.  Sincerely.  He'd tell the truth if it was important.  Still,  it's not him that convinces me. 

It's her.

His wife, Susan, was ever a solid confirmation that it is only the good who die young.

A serious student of a thoughtful Christianity, she was an honored grammar school teacher who inspired a permanent monument in her memory. This was a memorial festooned with roses to be raised at the school where she'd taught.  On that tribute is a metal plaque iterating her name and the observation, "Always gentle, always kind..." 

Interestingly, her maiden name was Pinkerton... those Pinkerton's of historical Detective Agency fame, and for the first 25 years of her life further delighted those who knew her with the nickname of "Spink."  She was the truest of joys and pleasures.

Susan was an intelligent women, undeniably so.  Still, she was under the inculcated mainstream opinion that only feebs and losers saw UFOs!  See, Susan was not remotely comfortable or at all eager providing testimony to this kind of event.  Indeed, she would never have brought it up on her own, but that my brother was eager to talk with me about it, and she was there with him... She was a most reluctant witness, forgetting she's never told a self-serving lie in her life.  Moreover, it was the truth. 

God is truth.  N'est ce-pas?  Susan would have agreed.

The preceding said, she recounts suspected demons from Hell descending upon them that night and taking the form of a boiling sky full of crazily colored and eerily silent lights!  She trembled as she related the story and looked haunted reliving it all again.  I knew her for almost 30 years; she was the real deal.

Later, I'd ask my brother about missing time, and whether he seemed to get down to Oxnard about when he thought he should.  He said he thought he did.  I don't suspect abduction complications... but who's to say, eh?

Does the reader begin to understand, perhaps, my lack of irritation for this particular under-whelmed witness a little better!  He was party to lightning bolts, after all, reader; I was getting excited about lightning-bugsHis sighting might have stopped my heart.

I can dig the scale.  How about you, reader?

Solicitous, I suppose, he had to admit my "lightning bug" was weird.  Still, he was able to fake a yawn in a manner so huge it would break a normal man's jaw.  What a guy.

That's enough.  I remain watching our aggregate skies.

Restore John Ford and read on!

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