It has generally been my experience that when I'm speaking at a UFO conference, I am approached by people wishing to impart the details of encounters of a distinctly alien kind. And in a similar fashion, on those occasions when I lecture for audiences whose interests are fixed firmly within the realm of cryptozoology, more often than not I end up being the recipient of tales pertaining to all things monstrous. But there have been exceptions to the rule.
One particularly notable exception came my way midway through November 2006 when I traveled to Sin City itself, Las Vegas, to give a lecture on crashed UFOs at the annual UFO Crash Retrieval conference that author Ryan Wood held, for many years, deep in the heart of the city.
It was shortly after coming off stage on the Sunday afternoon that I was approached out in the lobby by a dark-haired man, of about fifty, named James. He had a very strange and remarkable tale to tell concerning his own, personal encounter with a flying monstrosity some three years earlier. It was clear to me from the instant we met that James was somewhat concerned about whether or not he should reveal the startling story that was soon to reach my amazed ears.
James told me, however, that he realized I had a deep passion for some of the stranger and more surreal aspects of cryptozoology and monster-hunting, and had therefore elected to spill the beastly beans, so to speak, no matter what the cost. And so, as we sat back in our chairs and sipped on refreshingly cheap, and refreshingly tasty, Margaritas, he began his remarkable tale of monstrous terror.
James explained to me that he worked in town as a bus-driver, and on his nights off he would occasionally head off into the dark deserts of Nevada. He would hang-out and look at the stars, while regularly dosed up on a more than a liberal helping of Lophophora williamsii – or Peyote - which is well known for its psychoactive alkaloids.
As James told me, his late-night encounter had occurred on a Sunday in early November 2003 at Nevada’s oldest state-park: the Valley of Fire. Located around fifty miles outside of Las Vegas at an elevation of between 2,000 and 2,600 feet, the Valley of Fire sits in a basin fifteen miles southwest of Overton, Nevada. In times long gone, specifically around 300 BC to 1150 AD, the Valley of Fire was home to, among others, the Anasazi, who were farmers from the nearby fertile Moapa Valley. Hunting for food and taking part in complex ceremonies, that often involved the use of peyote, were commonplace for those ancient people.
According to James, he had been relaxing on a small outcrop of rock late at night when, after the Peyote had firmly kicked in, he was amazed – yet curiously calm – to see closing in from the distance a huge, shadowy entity flying low in the evening sky. At first, James said, he was unable to determine its nature and assumed, quite understandably, that it was perhaps some form of glider or remotely-piloted prototype aircraft of the military. It was neither. Indeed, it was far stranger than anything that could have come out of the heart of the Pentagon or Area 51.
As the aerial thing got closer and closer, James could see that it was a living creature: a giant, bat-winged, bird-like animal with a wingspan of around twenty feet that was black in color and which appeared to be both wet and shiny. James explained to me that at no time did he see the wings of the beast flap or beat: rather the animal just seemed to glide above the desert landscape in majestic fashion. James watched it until it finally faded into the distance and darkness, never to return.
James was certain that his encounter was somehow induced by the peyote; yet he was not convinced that the experience could all be relegated to the realm of hallucination. Rather, James was absolutely certain that he had been afforded a unique glimpse of a beast that inhabited a realm far different from ours; but one that it was possible to access, both specific circumstances and altered-mindset permitting. And who was I to argue with that?