Seemingly inexplicable events happen to just about everybody. But are they really inexplicable or is there an obvious if improbable explanation staring us in the face? Tony Crisp has a theory: far-fetched he admits, but one which links all those puzzling and apparently unconnected little incidents.
My wife and I were suddenly awake, listening. In the pitch darkness we remained still to catch again the sound that had woken us. It followed: the rattle of the children’s bedroom door handle. Thinking that we knew what was happening, we relaxed and waited to see what would happen next. Recently the children had been waking up at unearthly hours and deciding it was time to get up and play. For the sake of our sleep we had to convince them otherwise.
The door handle having been turned, footsteps now proceeded down the stairs. There followed more door handle-turning, while my wife let her annoyance rouse her enough to get up and tell whoever it was to go back to bed. She, too, then went down the stairs, and I heard her switch on the lights and walk from room to room. Mounting the stairs again, she went into the children’s room. When she eventually came back into our bedroom she had a puzzled expression on her face. ‘I looked everywhere downstairs. The lights were all off, the doors closed, and nobody was down there. Then I went to the childrens room, the door was closed again, and they were all fast asleep.”
Both of us had distinctly heard the door handle turn, and the footsteps on the stairs. We lay awake for some time trying to explain it to each other. Eventually we gave up and were settling down to sleep when once more a noise disturbed us. It was the sound of something being dragged across the floor of the childrens room, followed by the turning of the door handle again. My wife said quietly, “You go and look this time.”
I switched on the lights and opened our bedroom door. There directly opposite I could see and hear the door handle turning. Whoever was doing the turning couldn’t quite make it, because the catch was stiff. Giving a helping hand, I opened the door but it bumped against something on the other side.
After a few moments of shuffling, my small daughter’s face peered around the door. Somewhat relieved, I asked her why she was out of bed. Her reply was that she wanted to go to the toilet, which was downstairs. Then, with a glimmering of what had probably happened coming to me, I asked, ‘Did you go down-stairs before?’
Her reply was, Yes, but Mummy told me to go back to bed!’
The facts remained, however. My wife had met no one on the stairs. No door had been open. Nor had the stool originally been dragged across the floor to reach the door handle, which was much too high for any of the children to reach unaided. Can you explain it?
Looking into the lives of others one finds evidence of similarly inexplicable experiences. Mr L.A.S., a travelling salesman in America, sold goods to 17 families in a Pennsylvania town. They were to be paid for on delivery. Because of unforeseen events, however, he was called away from the district and was unable to fulfil the orders. A full year later he was halted while driving through the town on his way to New York, by a blizzard. It being lunchtime, he took advantage of the delay to have a meal, and while doing so reviewed in thought each of the 17 families whose orders he had been unable to meet. As soon as the snowstorm had eased, he drove on. It was a month later that he finally revisited the 17 families.
I quote here his own words: ‘At the first house I was met with the words, “You know, we were thinking of you while we were eating the noon meal. It was the day of the big snowstorm.” At the next house the greeting was similar. “We were talking about you the other day, wondering whatever had happened to you.” When was that? “Oh, at noon on the day of the big snowstorm.” With each of the remaining 15 families, the story was substantially the same.’
Sometimes the seemingly inexplicable appears in the form of an insignificant event. Only a few days ago I was driving my car along a narrow, one-way section of road where repairs were being done. Suddenly, for no apparent reason to myself, the driver in front stopped. Thinking that he was needlessly blocking the traffic I tried to hoot my horn. It wouldn’t work. Traffic coming from the opposite direction poured into the stretch of road from the other end. I pressed my horn again, and then again. Still no sound. I looked round to see if I could back up but a stream of other cars was right behind me. I pressed my horn twice more, and on the last press it sounded briefly just as I saw the oncoming traffic turn into a diversion that had been hidden to me. Getting my head down, I was now just able to see a red traffic light high up on my left.
I have tested my horn several times since that incident. Not once has it ever hinted at malfunction. I can’t explain it. And I cannot help wondering whether something was stopping me from making a fool of myself and annoying an innocent motorist.
This fossil was found embedded in coal. It is a metal tool??
Sometimes such puzzling events do more than help one not make a fool of oneself. Edward Root ran a music school in Tucson, Arizona. Every week he cycled three miles to an Indian school south of the city and gave lessons to the teachers. Starting back in the dark one evening, he had ridden about a mile on the unpaved road when, suddenly, the bicycle stopped and he fell off. He could find nothing to have caused the fall, so he remounted and rode on. But only for another three feet. Then he came off again. Once more he tried and once more he promptly came off. Feeling somewhat unnerved, Root had a better look round, and on walking forward a few feet discovered a gaping, 16ft-wide, 6ft-deep hole in the road. If he had kept cycling, he would undoubtedly have plunged into the hole for, in the darkness, he had left the road. Finding it again, he cycled home without further mishap. What, one might ask, stopped the bicycle?
Author Frank Tripp, writing in Elmira, tells how, while motoring in the isolated Pocona mountains, he noticed his oil gauge showing zero. Stopping the car he discovered that a cap had come off an oil sump and that, even as he watched, oil from the car was forming a growing pool at his feet. As he looked down at it, he noticed something embedded in the ground by his right foot. He dug it out. No prizes for guessing what it was. The cap fitted the oil sump drain hole exactly, and Tripp was able to drive slowly on to a garage.
Despite the ingenuity of modern science, some of these experiences would appear to be inexplicable. This is so not only in the realm of human experience, but also in nature itself.
In the North American Blue Ridge Mountains there is a National Park where ‘Fairy Crosses’ are found in abundance. These are precisely the shape of the Maltese, Latin or St Andrew’s Cross. Science tells us they are made of staurolite, which is also known as fairy stone. But just how they are made, and in such precision is not known.
And what about the perfect imprint of a human foot found in a Nicaraguan quarry beneath 11 strata of solid rock? The age of the rock and placing of the footprint make it, again, seemingly inexplicable.
The Times of December 24, 1851, tells an interesting story. A certain Hiram De Witt had brought over to this country a piece of auriferous quartz from California. It was the size of a man’s fist, and De Witt enjoyed showing it to friends. One day, the quartz was dropped and split open. Embedded inside was a cut iron nail, only slightly corroded. Quartz is, of course, one of the oldest rocks known, dating back to long before prehistoric man’s time. So how did the nail get there?
Coal is not as old as quartz or rock by any means. Nevertheless, we must still think in terms of millions of years. Yet one solid lump of coal taken from a Scottish mine revealed, on accidentally being broken open, a ‘wedge-shaped metal instrument’. Although the lump was extracted from a seam only 7ft below ground level, the area had not previously been worked. Besides this, the iron wedge had been completely embedded in an otherwise unbroken piece of coal.
Let us allow our imaginations to run riot. Has man, travelling by time-machine, watched history at its every turn, dropping a coin here, a nail there, and leaving footprints in the sand of time? One can only surmise.
A fossilized human finger found in quartz – millions of years old.