Catherine just can't explain it. She has no idea why she felt so compelled to keep on. driving that night after leaving the Boston night-club where she worked as a receptionist. It was after midnight and she had driven past Somerville, where she lives. Nor does she know why she got off the highway about 10 miles to the north, or why she drove around Saugus and momentarily got lost in a wooded area. But after finding her way out, she noted that it was 2:45 in the. morning - at least 45 minutes later than it should have been.
Feeling anxious, she raced back home. The next day, on local news, she learned that dozens of people throughout. the Northeast had reported a UFO, including a policeman and his wife who had seen an object stop overhead and shine a light on them. Astronomers said the object was a shooting star.
A few weeks later, Catherine decided to contact Harvard psychiatrist John Mack, author of the 1977 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of T. E. Lawrence and known most recently for his outspoken interest in the UFO abduction phenomenon. In a series of hypnotic regression sessions, Mack helped Catherine unlock a lifetime of apparent abduction memories, beginning at the age of three and culminating in that murky night just weeks before at the age of 22.
Catherine did not enjoy finding out what had happened to her in the woods on the night of March 6, 1991. "I don't want to be there," a very frightened Catherine told Mack while under hypnosis. "I want to drive out."
But she could not. Her car had apparently come to a stop and her body had gone numb. Then suddenly her door had opened. "There is a hand reaching out to get me," Catherine recalled. "It's long and thin and it's only got three fingers." A being With huge, black, almond-shaped eyes then took her from the car, and the two of them were swept up in a beam toward a huge metallic ship.
The alien abductor, the story goes, then took Catherine inside, into a hallway, where four other beings were waiting. When they began pulling at her clothes, she got annoyed. "Stop it," she recalled thinking. "I'm perfectly capable of doing this myself, thank you." Once naked, Catherine was led into an enormous room "the size of an airplane hangar."
She saw rows and rows of tables everywhere. "There are hundreds of humans in. here," she told Mack under hypnosis. "And they're all having things done to them." The rows were about five feet apart, she noted, and anywhere from a third to half the tables had humans on them. She estimates there were between 100 and 200 people in that room. But in the mass of bodies and blank faces she remembers one of them specifically - the one on the table to her left. He was a black man with a beard.
Catherine was forced to sit up on her table and the beings then began running their fingers down her spine. The terrifying examination had begun.
The, rest of Catherine's traumatic UFO experience appears in John Mack's controversial book, Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens, and is rather typical of such stories. But one detail in her story stands out like a Gulliver in Lilliput - that bit about the hundreds of other humans she saw aboard the alien craft that night. And Catherine is by no means alone among alleged abductees in reporting the presence of large numbers of humans aboard the alien crafts.
What accounts like these suggest is that the phenomenon actually involves mass abductions. It appears, as in Catherine's tale, that large numbers of people are being taken, one by one, to central locations that serve as holding facilities for dozens, perhaps hundreds, of others during the same period of time. If the other abductees' stories are true, moreover, sometimes entire groups of people are taken all at once.
Reports of this phenomenon, in fact, confirm some people's worst fears about the alien endeavor. Could we all be pawns in some weird extraterrestrial breeding scheme to repopulate a dying alien world? Or is the entire human race being unwillingly drafted into some hideous alien genetic experiment to produce alien human hybrias? Whatever the case, one thing seems clear: Quite a large number of us are potential targets.
"The phenomenon is not, as the general public tends to believe, an occasional `there's one, let's get him' sort of thing on the part of the aliens," explains David Jacobs, a Temple University historian specializing in twentieth-century U.S. history and the author of the book, Secret Life. Instead, he asserts, we have a mass abduction program taking place covertly. The notion of a secret invasion inevitably springs to mind.
"What we have here," says Jacobs, "is a continual abduction scenario. It's very much like an assembly line. The aliens get them in. They go into a waiting area where they see other people sitting around. They get shown to a table. There are all sorts of people lying on the tables as various stages of different procedures are being run on them. Then they get them up, get them out, and new people arrive. It's a revolving door."