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Castle Bravo - 15 MT, 1954
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----- Originally posted by J. Cannon in January of 2005 -----


PROPHECY


I still cannot return to regular posting. Give me another week or so.

Right now, I'm going to make a confession. I'm going to put a troubling matter "on the record." I do so with some hesitation, since the business under discussion could ruin whatever small reputation I may have gained.

The question of the day comes down to this: Do you believe in ESP?

I grew up immersed in Fox Mulder-ish lore (Tom Delay wasn't kidding when he said that sites like mine belonged to the "X-Files" wing of the Democratic party), but over the years, my attitude slid into skepticism. I've met a lot of people who claimed to have had preternatural experiences or abilities. These claimants invariably turned out to be irritating and unreliable.

Magic? UFOs? Ghosts? Visions of the Virgin Mary? The internet and your local library abound with many a wild story, but proof remains unobtainable. Even the best-attested incidents become less impressive upon close examination.

I thus segued into cynicism and curmudgeon-hood.

(Yes, my ladyfriend and I have a tradition of dining out at "haunted" restaurants on Halloween, but we do so out of a sense of romance and fun. We don't expect to see anything.)

Curmudgeon that I became (and remain), I still tended to place ESP in the "maybe" category, if only because Dr. J.B. Rhine and other scientists have claimed to validate the existence of the phenomenon in the laboratory. (By the by: Did you know that Sir Richard Burton coined the term "ESP"?) On the other hand, scientists such as Dr. Susan Blackmore have persuasively disputed the existence of the phenomenon. As I said: I came to view ESP as a maybe. Not a likelihood, but a possibility.

And then I met a woman (no, not my current ladyfriend) who transformed that "maybe" into an "almost certainly." Here's the catch: While this woman was able to prove her ability to me, she could not do so in a way that allows me to prove it to you.

That's the hell of it. By her own account, whatever ability she once possessed always manifested itself in spurts -- rare spurts. She could never turn on the spigot at will.

Remember the old Chuck Jones cartoon starring "Michigan J. Frog"? The amphibian who could sing "Hello, my baby" -- but only to an audience of one? The moment an audience showed up, the magic stopped.

Hate to admit it, but this story is one of those stories.

I hope I haven't yet alienated all of my readers. Because in this case, the singing frog predicted World War III.

The wake-up call

In July of 1999, the woman with whom I was romantically involved at that time -- call her Gabrielle -- woke up, woke me up, and announced that she had just had an exceptionally vivid dream. A prophetic dream.

A dream in which airplanes flew into the World Trade Center -- "or buildings like the World Trade Center."

I had met Gabrielle over the internet; she was visiting me from out of state. As mentioned earlier, she claimed to have had psychic experiences, especially when younger, although those experiences had tapered off in recent years. The stories she told me about the earlier days were weird and fascinating -- and, of course, unprovable. I made no secret of my stance on ESP: I had become a cynic, but even so...maybe. She understood that, for the most part, I was now much more of a Scully than a Mulder.

And that's why I immediately looked for a conventional explanation for her nightmarish vision of disaster striking the World Trade Center.

I immediately presumed that her dreaming mind had merely processed images from a half-forgotten news account. "Maybe you're thinking about the time a jet crashed near LAX," I suggested, referring to an incident from the 1980s.

(Nota bene: For purposes of readability, this account will include snatches of dialogue. The quotes are as exact as memory allows. Obviously, I didn't have a tape recorder running.)

No, she answered. Not low buildings. "That happens later. It won't be what they say it is."

The main vision, she insisted, involved skyscrapers. "Like the World Trade Center."

She saw people jumping. Then the buildings would tumble to the ground.

Gabrielle spoke to me for about twenty minutes or so. Her voice and her eyes were odd. She seemed hypnotized. I never saw her act quite that way on any other occasion.

To be honest, I must specify that, throughout this conversation, she almost always referred to buildings "like" the World Trade Center; she confessed that she could not even be sure that the event would take place in New York City, although she did describe a cloud of smoke over the water. "I think it is the World Trade Center," she said at one point.


Naturally, I wanted to know who would commit such an act. "It won't be who they say it is," she answered.

[To be continued...end of Part 1]

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