On the cool evening of October 11th, 1973, Charles Hickson and his friend Calvin Parker, Jr. were fishing off a pier on the Pascagoula River. As they watched, a football-shaped, glowing craft zipped down from the sky and hovered over the river. Three bizarre beings floated out of the ship and approached the men. Hickson described the extraterrestrials as “robots” with wrinkled gray skin like an elephant’s, and claw-like hands. Their bullet-shaped heads had no necks, instead merging seamlessly into their shoulders. The creatures had slits for mouths and carrot-like growths where their noses and ears wouldhave be. They did not appear to have any eyes. Their cylindrical legs appeared to be welded together.
The alien robots somehow paralyzed Hickson and Parker and took them back to their ship. There, the men were floated into a bright, empty room and scanned by a football-shaped mechanical eye. According to Hickson, Parker quickly passed out during the encounter. Years later, under hypnosis, he would recall seeing shadowy beings watching the procedure from another compartment. Perhaps these were the creators and controllers of the wrinkled robots.
After a short while, both men were returned to the pier. Once able to move again, they ran to their car and sat for a long time, regaining their composure.
So what exactly happened to Hickson and Parker that night on the Pascagoula River? Were they indeed paralyzed by wrinkled robots and taken about a spacecraft? Were the beings from another planet? Another dimension (perhaps the same higher dimension that was the possible home of the Van Meter Visitor and other bizarre phantoms)?
Or was the whole encounter a vivid, terrifying hallucination? Joe Nickell, Ph.D., a Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSA) wrote an interesting article for the May/June 2012 issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine which postulates that Hickson may have actually experienced a hypnagogic episode.
Hypnagogia is the state between waking and sleeping where some people can experience vivid, dream-like hallucinations, often including strange lights and visions of frightening beings. Many people also report sleep paralysis during this time-- a condition caused by the body being in “sleep mode”, though the mind is still partially active.
Hallucinations and sleep paralysis, so Nickell hypothesizes, might explain the bizarre appearance of the wrinkled robots, as well as the way they paralyzed the two men. Parker, as was mentioned before, fell asleep at the beginning of the alleged encounter and did not wake up until afterwards. He only recalled details of the incident later. Perhaps his "recovered memories" were influenced by Hickson’s own genuine belief in the encounter.
Hypnogogic hallucination it may have been, but regardless the experience still haunted the men for years afterwards. Both suffered mental trauma from what they believed they saw. Parker was supposedly even hospitalized at one point after an emotional breakdown.
In an interesting possible sequel to this encounter, just six days later a metallic, wrinkly, robot-like being somewhat similar to the Pascagoula aliens was reported in Falkville, Alabama. I'll be detailing that incident in my next entry.