As a paranormal researcher, it is often presumed that my waking hours are filled with the strangest of events from the moment I wake until the moment I slumber.
This is not true.
Whilst I have personally witnessed several examples of most unusual phenomena, they have been few and far between. After all, these things are, by their very nature, rarely predictable and, more often than not, refuse to abide by any schedule. Indeed, most of my time is taken up interviewing witnesses, combing through media reports and gathering data from a multitude of other sources.
Due to the nature of my work I tend to arrive after the fact, picking up the pieces and searching for connections that may initially appear as coincidences.
Do not take this the wrong way, I enjoy my work, and it needs to be done. Mainstream science cares not for incidents that fall outside of its somewhat rigid parameters, and if my colleagues and I did not catalogue these events, they would become hearsay and conjecture, half-remembered and eventually forgotten.
But on occasion, I have been privy to the most extraordinary things.
The following is my account of one such occasion.
November 9th 2005
Daisy Chadwick is a tall, striking woman. Standing well over 6 feet, she exudes an aura of confidence as she strides over to my table in the corner of the well-lit coffee lounge she has requested we meet in. Shaking my hand firmly, she sets down her briefcase and takes the seat opposite me.
She introduces herself before summoning a waitress with a mere glance, a skill I am yet to master.
We exchange pleasantries and after a few minutes of small talk it becomes clear that Ms Chadwick is not the type to either entertain flights of fancy or suffer fools gladly.
She is a business woman and is, in her own words, ‘all about the bottom line’.
This only serves to make her testimony all the more compelling.
The following are her words.
‘First of all, I am very aware how all of this is going to sound. If someone were to tell me that these things had happened – were happening – to them, I would assume that they were either lying or high.
‘I don’t take drugs. I drink on occasion, but that’s it. And I would never normally speak to someone like you. No offense.’
I assure her that none is taken.
‘And I don’t believe in ghosts, or spirits, or things that go bump in the night. That’s all kid’s stuff. But I need to get to the bottom of this. And I’d prefer it done quickly and with the minimum of fuss.
‘And this stays between me and you. Okay?’
I nod and ask her to start from the beginning.
‘The first thing happened last Tuesday, so about a week ago. I was chairing a late meeting with the various regional sales managers at a hotel in Birmingham.
‘Normally I would stay at the hotel, but that useless group of individuals at Head Office who masquerade as an Admin department decided to have the meeting on the same day that some bloody boyband were staging their big comeback show.
‘There wasn’t a spare room available in the entire city.
‘The meeting ran late, as these things usually do, and so I found myself driving home, back to Nottingham, in the dark and the pouring rain.
‘I was using one of those newfangled sat-nav devices. Head Office had given it to me the week prior. Apparently it would make my life easier and cut down on the amount of miles I had to travel.
‘The damn thing was next to useless.
‘What should’ve been a reasonably easy journey straight down the motorway became like some Machiavellian nightmare, with that bloody box on the dashboard barking instructions at me to take all these winding country lanes.
‘I found myself heading down a thin road, barely enough room for one car. There were trees on both sides. As far as I could tell in the darkness, I was driving through a forest. The sat-nav said I was in Swadlincote, but I’ve been to Swadlincote before, and I’ll be damned if I remember there being any forest near there.
‘There were no lampposts, so I was crawling along, doing my best to peer out of my windscreen and see through the rain, when my car just… ‘died’ on me.
‘The lights flickered, the radio went, and the whole vehicle trundled along for a few feet before the engine went as well.
‘I reached for my phone, hoping to call the AA, but that was dead too. It wouldn’t turn on, which was odd, as I knew it still had some charge when I’d left the meeting.
‘The sat-nav was dead too, which was also odd, as I thought that it ran on an external battery. It was plugged into the cigarette lighter, but that was just to charge it.
‘So there I am, sat in my car, in the dark, listening to the rain hammer down on the roof, when I thought I saw something dart past the passenger-side window.
‘It was a just a shape, I didn’t get a good look at it.
‘Then it happened again, on my side, something dark running by the window. I’d barely turned to look when something banged on the passenger door. It sounded like something had ‘slapped’ it. And then again on my side. And another and another.
‘It was happening all over the car, bangs on the side and the windows. I could make out what looked like little hands on the glass.
‘And then I saw them. Dozens of what I can only assume were kids hitting my car and then running off in all directions, into the night.
‘Sod this, I thought, and I got out to yell at them, to tell them to bugger off or I’d call the police. After all, they didn’t know my phone wasn’t working.
‘As I stepped out they were still running past and whacking my car. I could hardly make them out, but they looked younger than teenagers, and they were wearing these weird masks that had what looked like beaks on them. I guess that Halloween wasn’t over for them.
‘They were laughing as I tried to grab hold of one of them. But the little shits were too quick.
‘I leapt for another one but slipped in the mud and fell on my knees. And then…’
She trails off for a moment, looking into the distance before continuing.
‘And then I was back in my car.
‘The radio was on, the lights were on, the rain had stopped and the sun was coming up. The sat-nav was saying ‘continue ahead to re-join the motorway’.
‘According to it I was near some village in the Cotswolds.’
Ms Chadwick then goes onto to explain that she drove the two hours back to Nottingham and arrived home tired and muddied. When she climbed out of her car she noticed dozens of small, dirty handprints on the sides of the vehicle. Wanting no more than a hot shower and some rest, she headed inside.
When she removed her clothes she found her knees were bruised, presumably from the fall she took. But there was also another mark, this one a large lesion on her shoulder. She tells me that this mark initially presented as one large bruise, but soon became to take the shape of what looked like a palm, four fingers and a thumb. Slipping her jacket off and undoing a few buttons on her blouse, she pulls her collar to one side to show me.
This bruise, coloured a deep green fading to yellow at the edges, is unmistakably a handprint, albeit a particularly large one.
She has no idea how it got there.
Ms Chadwick continues.
‘I took the rest of that day off, and the next. I’ve built up more than enough time up in lieu to cover that. I told H.R. it was ‘women’s problems’. They didn’t ask any more questions.
‘I visited my G.P. and showed him my shoulder. He grilled me on what happened. I wasn’t planning on telling him but it all came blurting out.
‘He told me it was just stress and that I’d been working too hard. He wrote out a prescription for sleeping tablets for me. But it’s not stress. I can handle stress.
‘I found your number on the internet. I wasn’t going to call at first, but other stuff has been happening. Weird stuff.’
I ask her to elaborate.
‘Well… and this is going to sound stupid… but I’ve never really noticed the birds on my street before. But since that night, I’ve been woken up every morning by a group of crows in the tree in my front garden. They just sit there, cawing until I get up and shoo them off. But they always come back, every damn morning. And they’re there at night too.
‘It sounds like they’re shouting at me.
‘And then yesterday there was a bundle of black feathers and blood on my doorstep. It was like someone had left them there.
‘I understand if you think I’ve flipped. I’m a business woman, a good one, and I’m smart. I don’t freak out, it’s just not what I do. But I don’t know what’s happening, and I just want it to stop. I need it to stop.’
Seeing Ms Chadwick, a woman so confident and self-assured begin to sob, is deeply troubling.
Whilst I make no guarantee that I can resolve her rather ‘unusual’ situation, I ask if her if she would be willing to speak with a colleague of mine, and possibly try a session or two of hypnotic regression.
She agrees, somewhat trepidatiously.
November 11th 2005
Two days later I meet Ms Chadwick at the offices on one Dr Abigail Bender, a psychiatrist and hypnotherapist. A colleague of mine, and also a friend, I have known Dr Bender for a great many years.
After a pot of tea and an initial round of pleasantries, Ms Chadwick lies down on the therapist’s couch and I take a seat by the window, to observe and take notes.
After reassuring Ms Chadwick that she has no plans to make her believe she is a chicken or take her back to her life as a queen in Ancient Egypt, Dr Bender urges her to calm her mind and relax, and the session begins.
The following is a partial transcript of that session, relating to what I believe is the pertinent part. A complete version is logged in the archives.
Dr Bender: Take a look around, where are you now?
Daisy Chadwick: I’m on a road in the woods. I don’t know where exactly.
DrB: What time is it?
DC: The clock says ten thirty.
DrB: Keep going forward in time. What happens next?
DC: The lights go out. The radio goes out. The car stops. It’s dark. And rain. Lots of rain.
DrB: Tell me how it makes-
[Dr Bender is cut off by Ms Chadwick jumping up slightly and shrieking]
DC: Something just ran past the window- oh my God there’s another one. And another. They’re banging on the car.
[Ms Chadwick’s head is darting from one side to the other as she speaks]
DrB: Stay calm. You are safe here. Who are they?
DC: They look like… like kids. But their faces are hidden by masks. The masks look like bird faces. With beaks. And the eyes are on the side of their heads. They’re laughing. Laughing at me.
DrB: What did you do next?
DC: I get out of my car. I’m going to grab hold of one of them and wring their necks. I reach for one, but then he’s gone. Then another, but he’s dodging away. I’ve fallen over. Damn, there’s mud everywhere. But…
What is that?
DrB: Can you tell me what’s happening, Daisy?
DC: There’s… there’s light. Everywhere.
DC: No. It’s not real light. Like, ‘false’ light. But it’s everywhere. [hushed] Who – who is that?
DrB: Daisy? Daisy, who is it?
DC: There is a man here. He has a mask on too. He is over me, reaching down. His coat is made of… feathers. Oh my God. What does he want?
DrB: Stay calm, Daisy. I’m going to start counting backwards from ten, and I want you to…
DC: Oh God, it’s not a mask at all. He has a beak. Why does he have a beak? He’s touching my shoulder. What’s wrong with his hand? It’s just bone… [screaming] What do you want?!
At this point Ms Chadwick, still in a trance, starts to retch violently. Dr Bender helps her to sit up on the couch as I stand to fetch a glass of water.
I make it less than halfway across the room before Ms Chadwick begins to vomit on to the floor between her feet.
I watch, part in horror, part in fascination, as she throws up a trickle of deep red liquid mixed with short, black, downy feathers.
This goes on for approximately thirty seconds. During this time, Dr Bender is attempting to bring Ms Chadwick safely out of the trance.
When she is finally brought around, Ms Chadwick looks at the mess on the ground in disgust and asks, ‘what on Earth is that?’
Following that session, I asked Ms Chadwick to check in with me daily for the next fortnight. She no longer notices the birds loitering outside her residence, and there have been no more ‘little gifts’ placed on her doorstep. She seems much happier overall. I suspect the events of that night and the following ten days or so will, to her at least, become no more than a curious little tale she tells to younger relations at Halloween.
But these events both confound and intrigue me. What exactly did Ms Chadwick encounter in the woods that night? And, certainly more interestingly, why did it cause her to react in such a way when she recalled the memory under hypnosis?
Dr Bender collected the vomit produced my Ms Chadwick and had it analysed (a rather unenviable task, I must confess). The liquid was a combination of blood and bile from an unknown animal, and the feathers were those of a baby crow.
I did not pass this information along to Ms Chadwick.
Now, regression therapy has its critics, and the possibility of false memory syndrome cannot be discounted. However, if the memory had been different, would Ms Chadwick’s reaction have changed to fit it? Had she falsely remembered a man with a pig’s head, would her body have thrown up trotters and snouts? Had he a snake’s head, would we have seen fangs and scales?
I am being facetious, of course, but this is exactly the kind of case that we should be able to hold up as an example to our doubters. We have both psychical evidence and the testimony of a highly credible witness.
Sadly, I am aware that our critics will cry ‘hoax’ and ‘foul pay’, yet if Ms Chadwick has been pulling our leg all along, then I can only applaud her dedication. Not only is she a convincing conjuror, but her acting skills are second to none and she is probably due an Academy award.
But still, if Ms Chadwick agrees, I intend to ‘go public’ with this one.
Dr Thomas Gotobed
– I guess Ms Chadwick didn’t agree, as I can find no further mention of this anywhere on-line. There are similarities between this case and another one that I posted before that occurs later chronologically though. Almost makes you not want to visit the English countryside – C.R.