This month marks a year that I have been broadcasting my weekly show on the paranormal. No, this isn’t a shameless plug, and I am guilty of it enough to know when I’m actually NOT doing it. Having the show has afforded me the opportunity to meet many interesting and many opinionated people. It has also helped to lay a baseline of similarities in experiences that I have shared with some of my guests. One guest in particular happened to be Paul Shroeder, a self-proclaimed abductee. Paul’s case, like most abductees starts out weird and graduates to a level of high strangeness that a lot of abductees share that makes their experiences not only hard to categorize even in the paranormal, but often the subject of ridicule in a field that usually frowns upon narrow mindedness.
I rarely relate my own experiences because I have tried to take the focus off of myself not only in interviews with my guests, but because I feel as though I’m on a different journey of discovery right now. I, however, cannot deny when an experience related to me shares some of the same qualities as my own. Like many abductees, Paul Schroeder’s experiences in adulthood have triggered memories reaching back into his childhood. Not unlike Paul, I myself have a childhood memory that has troubled me far into the current stages of my life.
I was raised in a rural part of Illinois, just far enough south of Chicago to practically feel as though we existed in an entirely different country. My father worked third shift as an electrician at a local automotive factory and, like most men his age in that part of the country, basically worked all of the time. We had a single level ranch home at the edge of town at the end of a dead end street. Bordered on one side by the small rural town that served as our community, two cornfields and an old abandoned elementary school fenced us in on the others.
The old school was a magnet to many of the kids living on the three or four blocks surrounding the old edifice. The building itself was off limits, but the old playground was for the most part intact, and inviting to those kids whose parents couldn’t police them enough to keep them off of the property, My parents figured I was close enough to come calling with a skinned knee and let my sister (five years my senior) and I play there almost everyday. Eventually the bond between my sister and myself would wane as boys started to take interest in her and I suddenly became the annoying little. Suffice it to see that playground became more of a gathering place for her and her friends to socialize and less of a place where I would have had the social opportunity of the more often used and approved park on the other side of town. It was close however and close meant more play time and less time to-and-from.
My bedroom was less of a sanctuary than the old playground and I can remember the uneasiness I often felt alone in that room. I was an extremely difficult child to get out of my parents’ bedroom and often suffered bad dreams and night terrors that would land me back in the comfort of their bed, much to their chagrin, I’m sure. I had a closet that always felt particularly suspicious in its ominous and most sinister presence and a window that felt equally malevolent to me. It is the memory of that window, moreso than the closet that serves as muse and monster to me now.
I was no more than seven when my own stranger came calling. My favorite book was an illustrated number called “Grandpa’s Ghost Stories” In retrospect, this might be one of the earliest memories of my fascination with the bizarre. Of course, I can still only speculate if it is cause or effect. I would often have my mother read this book to me and the protagonist’s journey through the spirit world somehow excited my curiosity the way baseball cards did other children. It would not be phantoms that would hijack my fears and feed on my terror, but something else entirely.
I had no reason to wake up from my sleep and look out that window. There was no noise, no light, no reason. I just did. What I saw wouldn’t occupy even a margin note in “Grandpa’s Ghost Stories”. Children typically don’t scare other children unless they’re the school bully or have an illness that isn’t understood by the child brain. Children playing by themselves rarely scare other children at all. Instead, their lack of social brand is often viewed as an opportunity to meet another child or claim a little stake on valuable playground property.
The child that I saw playing outside of my home when I was seven, quite simply shouldn’t have been there. Not alone. Not in the middle of the night. Not looking at me, looking at him. There shouldn’t have been that much light around him. In fact, I couldn’t remember seeing exactly where the light was coming from, it was just there showing me what my eyes couldn’t in the blackness outside my window. As curious as kids are , that curiosity knows little loyalty and jumps from one thing to the next like a lonely fall wind. This child was fixated on me and when he smiled I remembered the animatronic Teddy Ruxpin that my family had purchased for me for X-Mas. It could open its mouth and even tell me a story, but it could never quite match its inflection with its robotic maw. It was a device used to mimic a very human and very simple emotion. It was supposed to endear the toy to the child and become its best friend. That’s easy for a stuffed teddy bear to do with children. They usually don’t even have to talk.
I was glad that this Teddy Ruxpin, standing spotlighted outside of my childhood home had not tried to talk. I think the awkwardness of it might have been too much even for my “Grandpa’s Ghost Stories” kid-brain to wrap itself around. As it stood, I do remember being very confused as if someone had pulled a quarter out from behind my ear; knowing that someone had just played a trick on you that had nothing to do with magic, yet still not knowing how they did it. One thought still permeates the fog between then and now: This is a kid that really isn’t a kid. I felt like I was somehow looking at an adult that had managed to disguise itself as a potential playmate. It had all the coverings of another seven year old, but its motives were far older.
This is where my memory ends and I have no idea where it comes from, or if the event itself escalated at that point in time. I only have assumptions, and they are quite varied.
So as I was listening to Paul Schroeder tell me about his experience as a child, I felt that same recognition that as different as these experiences might be in context, there are similarities that although offer little in the way of answers, might at least give clues to motive in method and process.
The abduction experience among children has some defining characteristics similar amongst experiencers. While most scenarios in the adult years are often frightening and nightmarish, the approach to children seem to be different, if not somewhat, still awkward. Children seem to be drawn into the experience, being allowed to slightly acclimate themselves to the dream like quality of the event, often looking out of a window or down a flight of stairs. Adults on the other hand, are definitely thrust into the “kid gloves are off” arena of experience. This raises a lot of questions.
I find it hard to believe that the differences here are based on any sensitivity on part of the entities. I have come to suspect that although these powerful forces are capable of emotion, it is usually of ill temperance. What then would be the provocation to adjust the methods that, albeit take no account of the subject’s well being, seem to be an across the board used routine for the adults of our species? Maybe we’ve been approaching this from the wrong direction. Maybe it’s not a misplaced politeness on the part of our invasive little visitors, but a much warranted apprehension.
What if the process of child abduction and the way it tends to vary from adult abduction is not so much preferential as precautionary? This certainly separates the sentiment from the sentient with our hosts, but it definitely follows in line with their cold and pragmatic behaviors. Again, this might not be leading us to any new answers, but it might start us on the road to asking the right questions.