"If there is a universal mind, must it be sane?" - Charles FortOn the fateful evening of December 15th, 1967, the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant, West Virginia collapsed from structural failures during full rush hour traffic. The incident killed 46 people, many of whom were holiday shoppers; most of these people died trapped in their cars under the weight of the iron bridge beams, submerged in the icy December waters. The tragedy made national headlines and put the little town of Point Pleasant on the map and in the minds of many that holiday season.
While the collapsed bridge was certainly the climactic event for the residents of Point Pleasant that year, there were many preternatural events leading up to this. UFO sightings and other high strangeness were endemic across the Ohio River region that year. These sightings and stories were later documented by John Keel in his book The Mothman Prophecies.
1967 was a pivotal year for UFOs and related phenomena. Reports of UFO sightings poured in from all across the United States; others were reported as far away as South America and Russia (adding a new dimension to those who believed that UFOs were of Communist origins). The very first publication of an alien abduction case (the infamous Hill abduction) was presented in the book Interrupted Journey by John Fuller just a year prior to this. Men-In-Black (MIB) reports came into focus for the first time, along with cases of animal mutilation. Sightings of humanoid-type beings associated with UFOs were popping up all over the world.
Amidst all of this, the University of Colorado was in the process of conducting a study at the behest of the US Air Force billed as the first "serious, objective, scientific and independent investigation" of the UFO phenomenon ever undertaken. The final report became known as the Condon report, named after Edward Condon, the researcher in charge of the study. During this year, the Condon study had suffered a series of setbacks and internal conflicts; they had several major falling-outs with prominent UFO organizations at this time. In the world of US intelligence, revelations of secret assassination programs, CIA mail and phone interception activity, and domestic operations against dissenting groups were all abuzz that year. J. Edgar Hoover had begun his secret COINTELPRO campaign against Black nationalist groups in 1967. In the last months of 1966, the CIA began recruiting unwitting subjects for a nationwide experiment involving LSD and mind control. The project would later become known as the infamous MKULTRA project. The backdrop to all of this was the raging war in Vietnam and building Cold War tensions in Greece and Bolivia. For those trying to keep up with all the events, both mainstream and fringe, 1967 was a busy year.
In 1966 John Keel was commissioned to write an article for Playboy Magazine on the subject of UFOs. His work was rejected and later replaced by a piece by J. Allen Hynek, the lead man on the US Air Force's Project Blue Book for many years. It was during this time that Keel became hooked on the subject of UFOs. He traveled all over the country interviewing witnesses and conducting his own field research. Given the crescendo of UFO sightings building throughout 1966-67 across the US, John Keel decided to focus his investigations on one area as a microcosm of the UFO phenomenon itself. He chose Point Pleasant, West Virginia as his case study, from where he had already received a number of reports of odd sightings. He wanted to get in on the ground and discover all the related phenomena that people experience living amidst a UFO flap. As it turned out, he would not be disappointed with his selection of Point Pleasant.
Eight years later he published his book The Mothman Prophecies, based on events he experienced during this time. As many know, this book was then made into a movie (under the same name), released in 2002 and directed by Mark Pellington. Keel often joked that Richard Gere, the actor chosen to play Keel's role in the movie, was a "John Keel look-alike." For Keel, who had struggled financially for decades (like many writers do), the movie was a monetary blessing for a man whose health was in decline. His book The Mothman Prophecies - which had previously been out of print and thus difficult to find copies of - was also republished, and several foreign language versions became available as well. John Keel passed away on June 3rd, 2009 at the distinguished age of 79 years.
The following article proceeds from the standpoint that the reader has some familiarity with The Mothman Prophecies movie, but perhaps less familiarity with the actual book it was based on. Because of this, a customary 'spoiler alert' applies here for those who haven't yet seen the movie.
The protagonist in the Mothman movie is a man named Jack Klein, a reporter for the Washington Post, and a man grieving over the recent death of his wife, Mary. Jack Klein is synonymous with John Keel in the original book, although the character and plot details in the movie differ significantly from the book. Keel, in real life, was never married, nor was he mourning the death of anybody at the time. His interest in Point Pleasant was strictly due to the UFO and other Fortean phenomena taking place there. (The word 'Fortean' was coined in honor of Charles Fort, a man who lived at the turn of the 19th century who wrote about odd news items that couldn't be explained by conventionally accepted science.) Keel spent his time in Point Pleasant running around the countryside tracking reports of UFO sightings with a local news reporter by the name of Mary Hyre. The character most closely resembling Mary Hyre in the movie is the friendly town cop who goes by the name Connie Mills. Like Mary Hyre in the book, she is the one who accompanies Jack on his journeys into the paranormal.
Upon arriving in Point Pleasant, Keel soon finds that impossible coincidences and other strange phenomena follow him wherever he goes: indeed, he becomes an attractor of the phenomena. Both the book and the movie agree on this point. In the book, this high strangeness eventually follows him back to his apartment in New York where events continue to unfold - driving Keel to the brink of insanity. In the movie, Klein's permanent residence is in Washington D.C., but some of his experiences in D.C. are no less queer than the ones he has in Point Pleasant. The movie doesn't go into nearly the same depth as the book, and glosses over many prominent points Keel emphasizes throughout the book; the book reads more like a trial of absurdity in contrast to the 'psychological thriller' theme developed by the movie. Despite this, the movie is still an excellent Hollywood portrayal of the Fortean phenomena and high strangeness that Keel and many witnesses experienced leading up to the collapse of the Silver Bridge.
So just what was the nature of the phenomena Keel encountered on his journeys to Point Pleasant?
Those Damned Phones
The Mothman movie begins with Klein at his desk in Washington talking on the phone. Suddenly, he is overcome by a loud electronic screeching sound that causes him to miss a part of his conversation. As it turns out, this little problem with the phone ends up playing a big role in both the book and movie.
Keel was accosted by all manner of telephone mischief. Sometimes he would hear loud beeping sounds like Morse code; other times he would hear howling, heavy breathing sounds and other static-like interference. Sometimes he would hear fast-talking voices and other times he would get bizarre pranks from what sounded like actual people. Sometimes these calls would follow him when he went to other peoples' houses. He wasn't alone in experiencing these phone problems either. In July of 1967 Keel reports:
"Reports of telephone hoaxes, beeping and electronic sounds, tapes being played back, etc., reached me from as far away as Seattle, Washington. Flying saucer enthusiasts from coast to coast were suddenly having identical problems. Obviously this was not the work of a few random pranksters. It was more like a well-organized, well-financed campaign. On the night of July 21 between the hours of 10 P.M. and 1 A.M. hoax calls were received in Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, and probably many other places that I never learned about. Unlisted phones were no protection. Were these calls the work of the CIA, as so many of the UFO enthusiasts believed? They seemed too pointless and expensive to be the work of the government."Keel's phone got so bad that at one point he asked the phone company if he could personally inspect the phone lines leading from his apartment in New York going to the main hub. To his surprise, they consented to the inspection. He was never able to find a physical tap on his lines (even though the phone company admitted that their own voltage tests indicated that a tap existed somewhere on his line), but Keel became an expert telephone technician in the process of trying to fix his problems. He went on to help a number of people who experienced unexplained telephone problems.
As hinted in the prior quote, Keel eventually abandoned the notion that his phone line was physically tapped by government sources such as the CIA or other alphabet intelligence agencies. At this point he started to explore more exotic theories. He hypothesized that there was some non-physical intelligence that was able to manipulate his phone and perform a whole host of dazzling electromagnetic phenomena. After getting a series of strange phone calls, Keel eventually hooked a tape recorder up to his telephone, but over time his tape recorder would fail at key moments in conversations with UFO witnesses. Static would appear, covering up voices - static that was supposedly not heard on the line during the conversation. The CIA and other groups may have had the ability to tap phones, but to manipulate a detached tape recorder seemed beyond the work of human ingenuity at the time. This, among other details, made Keel suspicious that the problem went beyond simple telephone pranks.
There were occasions when Keel received phone calls from people involved in UFO research only to later discover that these people could not have possibly called him. As one can imagine, these calls were very disruptive and unnerving. At one point Keel discovered that "another 'John Keel' had been phoning people around the country, imitating [his] voice and mannerisms exactly." Mary Hyre was the recipient of one such phone call. She believed she was talking to John while they conversed about the disaster prophecy on the Ohio River. The next day Mary phoned John referencing this conversation, but Keel had no recollection of making the call. According to Keel, he had not discussed the impending prophecy with anybody other than Mary at that point. Keel concluded that whatever or whoever was making these calls had the ability to duplicate voices and imitate the personalities of people with a stark degree of accuracy. This, according to Keel (who had spent time in television and show business), is not an easy thing to do - even for professional mimics. Keep in mind this was back in 1967; digital audio manipulations or voice synthesis would have been out of the question.
In the Mothman movie, there is one incident where Klein receives a call from the character Gordon Smallwood following a distressing series of events. After Klein discovers Gordon's lifeless body, the medics conclude that Gordon had been dead for at least 8 hours and could not have possibly made the call. Towards the end of the movie, Klein is also told that he is to receive a call at a particular time from his (then deceased) wife for God knows what reason. As far as I could find, Keel's book didn't mention any examples of dead people making phone calls, but it seems possible considering what he was dealing with! This prankster-like phone phenomenon plays a large role in Keel's book as well as in the movie. If there was one aspect of the book that the movie did a good job portraying, it was definitely the phone shenanigans.
Bright Lights and Glowing Eyes
In the movie, Klein's first encounter with the so-called 'Mothman' comes indirectly when some dark-winged creature with glowing red eyes flies in front of his car while he and his wife are driving. His wife (who was driving the vehicle) sees this creature for a moment and freezes in fear. Moments later, she crashes the car and hits her head on the driver-side window. Unlike his wife, Klein didn't see anything during this whole incident. After the car crash, his wife is taken to the hospital where she slowly regains consciousness. However, during her stay at the hospital the doctors discover she has glioblastoma, a rare cancer of the temporal lobe. As she withers away in the hospital from the cancer, she makes a notebook of drawings depicting the creature that caused her to crash the car. Thus the scene is set for the elusive Mothman as the harbinger of death and tragedy.
Now nothing quite this dramatic happens to Keel or any of his Mothman witnesses in the book. That said, he does mention several accounts of the Mothman chasing cars. In one account it chased two teenage couples driving in a truck outside of town. Trying to evade the creature, the spooked driver steps on the gas, going over 100mph at one point. Even at this speed, the Mothman easily kept apace along side of their vehicle. The Mothman eventually vanished and the teenagers drove straight to the police station to report their sighting in an absolutely frantic state. The officer on duty reported that, "I've known these kids all their lives [...] They'd never been in any trouble and they were really scared that night. I took them seriously." How many teenagers willingly drive straight to the police station to report anything?
The sightings weren't limited to the Mothman either, nor were they limited to the Point Pleasant area. There were several reports of large birds, flying humanoids and oversized ostrich-like creatures from people across the United States that year. For whatever reason, Point Pleasant was the center of the majority of classic 'Mothman' sightings, however. Most of these sightings consisted of people spotting a dark humanoid figure with wings and two large, glowing red eyes. For the Point Pleasant residents, many of these Mothman sightings occurred in what is known as the 'TNT area'. This was a wooded area on the outskirts of town that was used as an ammunition storage space during WWII. They had built a number of igloo-like domes used for storing explosives that had been covered over with grass by the passage of time. On the site there was also an old disheveled factory building where the explosives were manufactured. After WWII, the igloo domes sat mostly empty, or were occasionally used for storage by the city. All of this provided for the perfect spook-site.
During 1967, the town was in the clutches of hysteria over the Mothman; everyone and their grandmother was either trying to catch a glimpse of this winged creature or trying to capture it somehow. People paraded over to the old TNT area nightly, hoping to catch a glimpse of the red-eyed beast. However, the Mothman was clever. It would make subtle and not-so-subtle appearances for unsuspecting witnesses who may have previously been skeptical. Those who actually did sight it described it as evoking unspeakable terror. The creature also seemed to have a penchant for frightening menstruating women. This seemingly bizarre trait, along with the car-chasing, frequently turns up in UFO lore too.
While the Mothman sightings were whipping up frenzy among the townsfolk, and focusing all public attention on the TNT area, UFOs and other intelligent lights were making nightly appearances in the surrounding countryside, causing all manner of deviltry. Farmers were reporting poltergeist activity; typical haunting cases were reported from certain backwoods residents. Animals went missing and sometimes turned up dead with the blood sucked out of them and with no visible cause of death. These animal mutilation cases were some of the first connected with the modern UFO phenomenon. Seeing all of this, Keel regarded the Mothman as primarily a distraction from some other activity of unknown origin and motive. It seemed that the gullible townsfolk were busy chasing the Mothman while some insidious snare laid waiting for them in time.
People were reporting all sorts of strange experiences in addition to the occasional Mothman sighting. In the movie, there is one scene where Klein and Connie interview two young teenagers who had made a police report after they experienced something out-of-this-world while parked on a remote 'lover's lane'. The two were necking in the backseat when they were suddenly overcome by a bright light and then a tingling sensation that scared them out of their wits. After the incident, the young man started having problems with his eyes. During the interview with Klein and Connie, one of his eyes is noticeably swollen even though the incident happened weeks ago.
This particular case is taken from the Mothman book almost verbatim. In the book, Keel also notes that both the boy and the girl were severely sunburned after their encounter (not an easy thing to explain to parents and friends!) The boy's eye was indeed swollen shut and took a very long time to heal. Keel suspected that this couple had been exposed to intense actinic rays - the kind of rays that come from a welding torch - the ones in the upper end of the visible frequency spectrum. The boy had a severe case of conjunctivitis which is not an uncommon symptom for those exposed to actinic rays. Keel noted that many UFO witnesses had experienced similar eye problems after their encounters.
As mentioned with the phone problems, whatever this phenomenon is, it seems to be able to manipulate electromagnetic energy in extreme and specific ways. Many UFO sightings, Keel notes, begin as lights that change color; either going from dark purple to blue on down the spectrum of visible light, or starting from a deep red glow and proceeding from there to orange and yellow. A UFO might start off changing colors this way before it morphs into some visible object. It is as if this phenomenon originates from a portion of the energy spectrum beyond what we normally see before it manifests in our visible reality. Could there be unseen worlds hiding Mothmen, aliens, spaceships, ghosts, monsters, giant birds, sea serpents, and other creatures in these invisible bands of the electromagnetic spectrum? Or is there something at a higher level with the ability to use little-known properties of electromagnetism to foster all kinds of hideous hallucinations?
Meet the Contactees
The Mothman movie does a poor job depicting the enormity and absurdity of the contactees that Keel encounters. All we're given in the movie is the character Gordon Smallwood who appears to be a composite character based on several contactees in Keel's book. One night Gordon starts hearing a voice from his sink saying the same phrase over and over again: "Ninety-nine will die. Denver Nine." He writes this down, and then the next morning he shows this to Klein. Later that day they see on the news that Domain Air Flight 9 out of Denver crashed killing all 99 passengers. It is this same style of cryptic prophecy that plagues Keel and his contactees throughout the book.
Gordon eventually meets up with his contactor late at night on a deserted gravel road. A brilliant flash of light precedes his appearance. A man steps out of the shadows and announces himself as 'Indrid Cold', then gives Gordon another cryptic set of messages. Later, Cold shows up at Gordon's house and Klein even gets to talk to him on the telephone. Right off the bat, Cold tells Klein some personal information that only Klein could know, and then proceeds to shock Klein with a series of 'mind-reading' tricks.
In the book, Keel also communicated with these entities. He states that:
"By mid-July I was in indirect contact with the entities through three different systems. First, contactees would relay my questions to them and relay their answers back to me. I was still extremely skeptical, so many of my questions were complicated and beyond the abilities of the individual contactees to answer ... even if they spent hours in a library trying to research the answers.While this all seems a bit unreal for the novice, this isn't nearly as far-out as the adventures Keel describes with these contactees.
Second, I was able to communicate by mail by sending letters through the U.S. Post Office to addresses which I later discovered were nonexistent. I would receive replies by mail, often the very next day, written in block letters. Some of these replies covered several pages.
Third, I was sometimes able to speak to the entities by telephone! A contactee would call me and inform me that an entity was present in his or her house and wished to speak to me. Sometimes I just asked questions and the alleged entity whispered the answer to the contactee who relayed it to me. Sometimes a strange voice would come on the line and speak to me directly. In some, if not all, of these instances, the contactee probably entered a trance state and the voice came from their own vocal cords just as 'spirits' speak through mediums at séances."
One contactee was a man by the name of Woodrow Derenberger (Keel calls him Woody throughout most of the book). Woody was a man in his 50's who had led a pretty normal life up until November of 1966. He had a job working as a traveling salesman with a family to support. Late one night when he was driving home, he was overtaken by a large object that looked like "an old-fashioned kerosene lamp chimney, flaring at both ends, narrowing down to a small neck and then enlarging in a great bulge in the center." The object turned lengthwise on the highway in front of him, blocking the road, forcing Woody to slam on the breaks. With Woody stopped on the road, a door opened on the object, and a man walked out and approached his car.
Woody reported the incident to the authorities the next day just as he was instructed, and surprisingly, his story was accepted with little fuss. Several other witnesses who had been driving at the time came forward and reported that they had seen both the object hovering over the road and a man standing next to Woody's vehicle. His story was aired on the local news and Derenberger became a local celebrity of sorts. His life would never be the same.
Cold did manage to return. In later communications with Woody, Cold claimed that he was from the planet Lanulos which was in the galaxy of Ganymede. He also announced that his first name was 'Indrid' (same as in the movie). Cold described Lanulos as a planet much like Earth, but without wars and other forms of human strife. Later the next year, Cold would take Woody on board his space ship, and they would visit his home planet of Lanulos for a tour. Woody described it as, "a pleasant little planet where the people ran around nearly nude." At one point Woody announced that Cold and the space people had selected him for a very special experiment. He was to become pregnant and give birth to a great leader of the human race. With the events of 1967 shattering everybody's sense of reality, a pregnant man seemed no less strange.
Something seemed off to Keel about Woody and his adventures with Cold. The totality of his physical experience was of a different quality than most contactee stories Keel was familiar with. Even the names of people and places Woody used were different than the usual Greek names that were popular among other contactees at the time. Everything was too 'mundane', he thought. Keel could never quite put his finger on what was so utterly different about Cold and Woody. The best Keel could say was that Cold and his buddies from Lanulos were doing a mighty fine job spreading propaganda on behalf of the space people, claiming a number of converts in the process. It seemed that Woody attracted a lot of the nuts who converged on Point Pleasant that year.
Back on Keel's home turf in Long Island, things were no less strange. He had made the acquaintance of a local radio talk-show host by the name of Jaye P. Paro. On her show, Mrs. Paro talked mostly about the paranormal lore of Long Island, and that year she brought UFO reports into the mix. It was through Mrs. Paro that Keel met a number of local contactees. One such contactee was a girl who went by the pseudonym 'Jane'. Jane lived near Mount Misery, the highest point in Long Island, and had few intellectual interests beyond reading comic strips. One night, while driving on the Mount near an old mansion home, she and her boyfriend suddenly lost consciousness in the car. Momentarily, they found themselves driving on a different road at the bottom of the Mount, unsure about how they got there. Jane was spooked.
Shortly after this, Jane received a phone call from a strange metallic voice instructing her to go to the library at a certain time and check out a specific book on Indian history. She did as she was told, and when she got there the place was deserted save for an odd-looking librarian with black hair. The librarian acted as if she was expecting Jane, and produced the book from under her desk. Jane sat down to read, but had trouble since the words in the book kept getting smaller and smaller, and then larger and larger. Finally it broke into a coherent message:
"You have been selected for many reasons. One is that you are advanced in autosuggestion. Through this science we will make contact. I have messages concerning Earth and its people. The time is set. Fear not... I am a friend. For reasons best known to ourselves you must make your contacts known to one reliable person. To break this code is to break contact. Proof shall be given. Notes must be kept of the suggestion state. Be in peace, [signed] A Pal."After reading this message, the words appeared normal again. Jane left the library and started to feel ill. She vomited several times over the next several days. She later told her story to the radio host Mrs. Paro who then told her to get in touch with Keel.
From this point on Jane began to see the black-haired librarian lady wherever she went. She claimed the woman looked 'dead' and had a frightfully hysterical laugh. One day she ran into this woman again on the street, and a black, spotless Cadillac pulled up beside them. A man got out of the back seat, and introduced himself as Apol (pronounced 'Apple'). He gave her a small metal disk and told her to wear it so that 'they' would know who she was. She then mailed the disk to Keel, who received it, but claimed it looked like an ordinary flea collar tag. Keel mailed it back; by the time it returned to Jane, the piece of metal had twice been folded in two and blackened, as if it had been put in a fire. Somebody was playing tricks with the mail.
Soon Apol and his buddies were visiting Jane daily, giving her all sorts of information which she would then relay to Keel. Apol would eventually begin to address Keel directly, giving him specific information, and making a number of future predictions. Jane would continue with these experiences throughout the year. Eventually Apol would bring more of his space buddies to meet with Jane. Keel noted that many of these entities were coincidentally named after characters in his obscure fictional novels (Jane had never read any of these).
While Jane was running around on wild goose chases with Apol, Mrs. Paro, the radio talk-show host mentioned earlier, arrived in her radio studio one afternoon to find a large black woman with glassy eyes, wearing a costume made of feathers. The peculiar woman proclaimed: "I am Princess Moon Owl. [...] I am from another planet. I came here by flying saucer." Mrs. Paro described Princess Moon Owl as having difficulty breathing and that she smelled of rotten eggs. The Princess proceeded to deliver a hilarious 30-minute monologue on what life was like on the planet Ceres - a planet somewhere in the asteroid belt. Mrs. Paro aired the conversation later that day. Having a real Space Person in their presence, the lunatic fringe of New York went wild.
As Keel was listening to this broadcast later that day, he thought that the voice of Princess Moon Owl sounded like that of "a man faking an Aunt Jemima accent." Afterwards, he received a call from the Princess Moon Owl saying that he could reach her through "contactee Paro". Keel thought the voice on the phone was different than the one he had heard on the air.
The good Princess seemed to know a lot about the local UFO buffs; Keel later learned that she was contacting most them as well - some of them on their unlisted numbers. How she had so much intelligence on the Long Island UFO networks was a bit of a mystery, but Keel, being suspicious, smelled a hoax. A large UFO conference was set to be held that June, and Princess Moon Owl seemed like a perfect publicity stunt. Keel suspected that she may have been a dupe under the influence of demonic possession of some sort.
After the UFO convention, Princess Moon Owl faded away as Keel guessed. Then, to his surprise, she popped up again that year calling all the local UFO enthusiasts and making a number of "silly predictions". Then all of a sudden she cleaned up her act and became respectable! She began handing out small sums of money to the poor and needy. She caught the attention of a number of newspaper reporters who received glowing calls from people telling of the Princess's good deeds. Keel then decided to move on to more pressing matters. The noise was beginning to overpower the signal. At this point he describes his situation:
"The noble princess was the least of my worries. I was like a general advising a dozen deeply troubled contactees and trying to guide them through the games they were caught up in.In other words, Keel was buried knee-deep in cosmic propaganda from the space people, fed to him through the various entities handling these contactees. He was desperately trying to make some sense from all of this and was having little luck. There were synchronous and coincidental events galore in his talks with the contactees, despite the fact that no one contactee knew about the others he was talking with. The best he could say is that the experiences of these contactees were largely hallucinatory, and that whoever was pulling their strings was using some highly advanced form of hypnosis or trance induction.
One woman in Brooklyn was searching for a mysterious crucifix that seemed to have special meaning to the entities. It was like the search for the Holy Grail.
A man on Long Island was frantically making preparations for the big evacuation. He even traveled to a secret underground flying saucer base, in a black Cadillac with a dashboard festooned with flashing colored lights, where he participated in a 'dry run.' [...]
One woman told me she had been flown to another planet where she was placed in a huge glass hospital and examined by a great eyelike machine. Her hosts told her they were "copying" her insides.[...]
[A]nother contactee was involved in a game which required her to buy large quantities of salt, transport it to Mount Misery, and leave it in a field for the space people in the belief that salt was an essential part of their diet."
He suspected that the folks chosen as contactees were special, but not in a positive sense. He found that they were highly suggestible individuals who easily fell into trance under hypnosis (Keel was himself a trained hypnotist; he experimented with hypnotizing several of his contactees). He suspected that the interaction with the bright lights that preceded many of their visitations caused the contactees to go into a trance, during which they downloaded fabricated memories. They were also being hypnotized to carry out certain tasks without any recollection thereafter. These tricks often come up in the literature on mind control techniques which, as we know, were certainly being researched during this time. However, the source of the mind control, Keel observed, didn't appear to be of human origin (something to consider for those who study so-called 'mind-control' victims today).
Whoever or whatever was in charge had the uncanny ability to create whole dramas that never actually took place in the minds of these contactees. They made absolutely sure to let Keel know who was in control.
Prophecies and Cosmic Tricksters
In the Mothman movie, the entity Indrid Cold feeds the character Gordon Smallwood a couple of cryptic predictions involving an airline crash and an earthquake that come to pass. Then Cold lays a whopper on Klein, predicting "a great tragedy on the river Ohio". Klein goes into hyper-paranoia and suspects there will be an accident at a local chemical plant on the Ohio River during the Governor's tour of the plant. Going off his rocker, he tries to warn the Governor about this, but instead looks like a fool after no accident occurs. Of course, in retrospect it all makes sense to Klein after the Silver Bridge collapses. The same goes for Connie regarding her dream about seeing floating packages on the water and hearing a voice say to her, "wake up number 37". In the movie they state that 36 people died during the bridge accident, and Connie would have been number 37 had Klein not saved her life. (In the actual bridge collapse 46 people died and 2 went missing.)
The book version of these events is a bit different. Before we get to that, let's discuss some of what Keel observed from these prophecies and predictions that he received through his circus of contactees.
As mentioned above, Keel was in contact with half-a-dozen entities throughout this period who were feeding him predictions. The most prominent entities mentioned in the book are Woody's Indrid Cold and Jane's Apol. At one point it got so intrusive that all Keel would have to do is think of a question and Jane would call giving him the answer from Apol. Apol was also the one feeding Keel predictions about plane crashes, which happened right on schedule, according to Keel.
Then Apol, along with Cold, began prophesying the assassination of Pope Paul. This prediction was aimed at July 26th, and was to take place somewhere in the Middle East. There was also supposed to be an earthquake preceding the event, and a worldwide blackout following the assassination, according to Apol. After this prediction, it was suddenly announced by the Vatican that the Pope was scheduled to make an appearance in the Middle East during this time. Not only this, but a violent earthquake shook Adapazari, Turkey, killing approximately one-thousand people on July 22nd, putting things right on schedule. Every part of the prediction was being carried out exactly as Apol described. Keel took the prediction seriously and prepared for the worst. Then to everyone's surprise, the 26th passed without assassination or blackout. This turned out to be an important lesson for Keel.
Actually, there was a failed assassination attempt on the Pope several years later that matched the description given in the original prediction, it was just the date that had been off; and the assassination attempt occurred in the Far East, not the Middle East. This is typical of these predictions, Keel discovered. Often times they would be exceedingly accurate; other times they would be symbolic or cryptic; and still other times they would be accurate, but off by a factor of years or months. Most of these predictions were merely hints, and rarely was there enough information given to be able to take action; if one did try to take action based on one of these prophecies, it would just look foolish in the end. Such are the games devils play.
Keel wasn't the only UFO researcher being fed predictions through the contactees. Gray Barker at one point told Keel that he received a prediction stating that "a famous newsman in the Midwest" would die very soon. Two days later Frank Edwards died of a heart attack. Frank was author of the book Flying Saucers - Serious Business (Keel notes that many prominent UFO researchers have met untimely deaths).
Even more amazingly, following the Silver Bridge collapse, Keel received a prediction about the possible assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The prediction stated that King would be shot in the throat on Feb 4th while standing on a balcony in Memphis. Keel spent some time trying frantically trying to get through to King, but without success. As fate would have it, the assassination took place exactly as described, however the date was April 4th and not Feb 4th.
Through these various entities Keel was told that:"[t]he dollar [...] would soon be devalued. (It wasn't devalued until years later.) Red China would be admitted to the United Nations (correct, but it seemed very unlikely in 1967). Robert Kennedy should "stay out of hotels" (?). Man should not attempt to go to the moon (they were apoplectic over our space program). I would soon be moving to a new apartment on the ground floor of a building north of the United Nations. (This also seemed very unlikely in 1967, but a year later I did find a ground-floor apartment in upper Manhattan and moved.)"
Then Keel's gang of spacemen started hinting at a big "EM effect" slated for the middle of December. The timing of this event was supposed to coincide with the lighting of the White House Christmas tree. When President Johnson flipped the switch, all the power in the United States was supposed to go out. Keel was told through Apol that there would be some disaster on the Ohio River during this time as well. As in the movie, Keel suspected it may have something to do with a chemical plant close to Point Pleasant. It was either this or it could be related to a nearby Naval base, he thought.
Keel wrote to Mary Hyre to warn her of this prediction from Apol, but told her not to tell anybody. Startled by Keel's message, Mary Hyre relates to him a dream she had shortly before she received his letter where she saw "people drowning in the river and Christmas packages [...] floating everywhere in the water." Needless to say there was plenty of anxiety building this holiday season for the people of Point Pleasant. Other Point Pleasant residents reported intense dreams all relating somehow to the river. There was something in the air; people could feel that something was desperately wrong. Still, Keel remained skeptical about this vague warning and continued to focus on the power-outage prediction despite the fact he had been fooled once before.
Apparently UFO groups all around the world were receiving dire predictions about a world-wide catastrophe sometime in December of that year. According to a Danish cult, the world was supposed to end on December 24th, 1967. They even had a lead-lined bomb shelter constructed for the event. The broadcast of doom was not, by any means, limited to Keel and his entourage of contactees - the message was being broadcast worldwide in nearly every language! People all over the world were receiving messages of doom. Who or what had the means to pull off such a global operation in 1967?
At 5:45 on December 15th, Keel and a buddy holed up in his apartment with candles and a flashlight, eyes glued to the television, expecting the nation to blow a fuse. They watched as the switch flipped, lighting the Christmas tree - everybody 'oohed and ahhed'. The power did not go out.
However, moments later an announcer cut in to bring a special news bulletin saying that a bridge, laden with rush hour traffic, had collapsed on the Ohio River near Gallipolis. There was only one bridge along the Ohio River connecting Ohio to West Virginia in that area, and that was the Silver Bridge at Point Pleasant - the same bridge Keel had crossed dozens of times on his visits. Keel's first thoughts were: "They've done it again."
"Belief is the Enemy"
Throughout all of this, Keel quickly learned that this phenomenon had a propensity for establishing false beliefs. He would get stuck on different snippets of conversation relayed in his chats with the contactees, and these would sometimes strike a chord with him in subtle ways. He would then go about creating a new theory to explain the clues bouncing around in his plenary mind. Shortly after these acts of mental juggling, he would begin to receive positive feedback leading him in the direction he was already thinking. The problem was that this feedback often turned out to be illusory, leading him down errant paths.
At another point, Keel was brooding over descriptions of these space people given to him by his contactees. He noted that several of their features resembled that of reptiles more than human mammals. He didn't relay this suspicion of his to any of his friends or contactees at the time. Shortly after this, Jane had a meeting with Lia (one of Apol's female companions). Lia talked with Jane about eggs the whole time. At one point she walked into the kitchen, picked an egg from the refrigerator, and proceeded to suck out the contents in true reptilian form. Jane was perplexed and called Keel to tell him what she saw. She obviously had no idea that Keel had been working on a reptile theory, but the entities in charge sure did! It turned out this way in several cases. Many messages the contactees received were bewildering to them, but quite often these details held some significance for Keel that they couldn't possibly have known.
Keel suspected that many of the classic Men-In-Black cases he and other witnesses described were part of the same overall phenomena designed to create a false frame of reference. Many UFO researchers and contactees believed that these dark, 'foreign-looking' men were with the Air Force or some intelligence agency, and that the government was trying to scare people into not talking about the things they saw or experienced. Keel tried to confirm this through contacts of his in the Pentagon, but nobody seemed to have the slightest clue who these people were. At one point the Air Force actually put out a bulletin asking for people to come forward with any information about these MIB characters. This likely had the opposite effect of making the contactees and UFO buffs more paranoid and less forthcoming! There were always several oddities about these MIB that gave them away as something not-so-human. A good deal of the book is dedicated to such MIB cases and the eccentric descriptions of these characters. Keel eventually concluded that these MIB were part of a false frame of reference designed to sow seeds of discord in the UFO community. In other words, it was cosmic COINTELPRO at its best.
However, as the mother of all false reference frames, Keel regarded the belief in the extra-terrestrial origin of UFOs to be the biggest whopper of them all! He even describes it as a contagious disease of sorts. In his books, he points out that there is little difference between the modern UFO reports and descriptions of demonology in the Middle Ages. The same goes for Irish fairly legends, vampire myths, and other monster lore that has been handed down through the centuries. All of this is part of the same underlying phenomena designed to steer the ship of human destiny through false belief. This phenomenon has probably been around as long as human beings have been around, and in each epoch it establishes itself in a new frame of reference acceptable to the culture at hand.
In our time, in this budding age of space travel, our civilization is enamored with the idea of traveling to distant planets in the hope that one day we will commune with other sentient creatures like ourselves in some far-off part of the galaxy. This fantasy has given rise to the belief in extra-terrestrials as well as the belief that these UFOs cruising the skies are really spacemen from another planet.
However, when we step outside of this limited belief and look at the phenomena in its totality - like Keel attempted - we begin to see something very different take shape. In the infamous words of Charles Fort, he suspected - as many have who have looked at all the evidence -- that "we're property." As Keel points out in his book, whatever this phenomena is, it is firmly in control of our planet.
In the tumultuous times we live in, with talk of apocalyptic predictions and mass enlightenment centered on 2012; with the imminent so-called 'disclosure' of UFOs, evangelized from the rooftops of power; with the fear of phony terrorism and false-flag operations threatening to pull humanity into the Dark Ages; Keel's words, "belief is the enemy" are just as pertinent today as they were back then.
Today we live in a world every bit as unhinged, if not more so, as Keel did in 1967. Because of this, we must work to increase our knowledge in any way that we can and not limit our perception of reality.
We must learn to discipline our minds and remove extraneous belief systems, while at the same time learning to think in terms of unlimited possibilities. If we cannot collectively somehow manage to do this, we will ultimately give away control of our destiny as we have many times throughout history.
Those vying for control come in a multitude of forms: religious extremists, corporate fascists, political demagogues, and even spacemen from the planet Lanulos.
Interestingly, the one feature these types all seem to exhibit is a lack of conscience and related traits of the psychopath (something to consider when it comes to false beliefs). As Keel states in the concluding chapter of The Mothman Prophecies:
"[W]e do not know who we are or what we are doing here. But we are slowly learning. Once we begin looking beyond the mere manifestations we will finally glimpse the real truth. Belief has always been the enemy of truth; yet, ironically, if our minds are supple enough, belief can sometimes open the door."