Occasionally, I come across stories on the Internet purported to be real events that frankly sound more like fiction, fantasy fiction, at that.
Such was the case with the following tale. Yes, it sounds questionable. But after I read it, it occurred to me that Trish and I had experienced something very similar, but on a smaller scale, and we’d also written a story told to us by our on-line friend Diane Fine that features the same interdimensional flavor. But first here’s the story that prompted these thoughts.
+ + +
In 2006, Carol Chase McElheney was driving from Perris, California to her home in San Bernardino, when she decided to stop in her hometown of Riverside. It didn’t take long, however, for Carol to realize that something was wrong. The geographical location was correct, but the town was different from her memories.
Towns change, of course, over time, but Carol couldn’t even find her childhood home or the homes of other family members. Had they all been demolished and replaced?
In fact, she didn’t recognize any of the houses in her old neighborhood. Even the cemetery where her grandparents were buried was just a fenced lot full of overgrown weeds.
Yet, she also found some landmarks that were familiar, such as the college and middle school. So she knew she must be in the right town. Her discomfort about the changes in her old hometown were soon reflected in the eerie vibe she felt from the Riverside residents. It was as if she was an outsider, an intruder and the locals knew she didn’t belong. The place started taking on a sinister aura, and she quickly departed without stopping or talking to anyone.
A few years later, when Carol returned to Riverside for her father’s funeral, it was the same old town she knew as a child, and she felt none of the haunting eeriness that she’d sensed on her earlier trip. Did Carol inadvertently stumble into some darker version of her hometown that existed in a parallel world or dimension?
Of course it’s easy to write off such a story as an exaggeration of an event in the woman’s life or just a ‘what if’ fantasy tale. But then I recalled Diane Fine’s story of a trip during college in which she and friends had encountered heavy fog while passing through the town of Dannemora, New York. We wrote about it in Aliens in the Backyard. Here’s the excerpt:
They pulled off the road and stopped at a bar-restaurant that resembled a barn and included antique farm implements on the walls. Something odd happened there that left a blank in the minds of the four young women. None of them could remember leaving the restaurant or even driving the rest of the way to their destination! On their return trip, when they approached the town, they decided to go back to the place. They found the road where they’d turned off, but there was no restaurant. They were certain they were at the right place, but it was as if the restaurant never existed.
Then there’s the experience that Trish and I had while house-hunting about 15 years ago. We found a great house in Jupiter Farms, Florida, a rural community west of Jupiter that has no zoning laws. So you could have a mansion on five acres next to a goat farm with a yard filled with junked cars. You take your chances when you move to Jupiter Farms.
The house we liked featured two master bedrooms on either end wrapping around a large screened in swimming pool and overlooking two and a half wooded acres of property. The central part of the house was an open style kitchen-family room featuring a stone fireplace with all updated appliances and granite countertops. We really loved that place, and I memorized the whole setting interior and exterior, including the view of other houses in the neighborhood. But our house hadn’t sold and we couldn’t make an offer. We ended up not moving at the time, but about a year and a half later we were in the market again, and looking at listings of available properties, I was amazed to see that same address in Jupiter Farms for sale.
We excitedly told our realtor that we had already seen this house when it was on the market earlier, and we were very interested. She drove us there and I recognized the neighborhood, even the gravel driveway, which was somewhat unusual, and wouldn’t be allowed in most neighborhoods. We walked inside and were stunned. It was a different house, and an unappealing one at that. None of the amenities of the place I remembered were presented. The open-style layout didn’t exit. There was a pool, but no double master bedrooms at either end.
We stayed a couple of minutes, but I just wanted to get out of there. It looked all wrong, and felt wrong. I walked outside and took a look at the property behind the house. I recognized one particularly unusual house with a Victorian style ‘tower.’ It was in the right place, as I recalled. The realtor was very confused, of course, when we told here it was the right address, but the wrong house. We had no explanation.
I guess we still don’t. Except it seemed that one of those house existed in another dimension, and apparently it was the one we liked. We eventually found our house here in Wellington and have been very happy with it.