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This all began with a family trip to Las Vegas; the year was 2009 and we decided to go on a little vacation for my 20th birthday. Now that I think about it, why couldn’t my parents have just waited a year and made the Las Vegas trip at my 21st birthday? Going to Las Vegas as a 20 year old is like going to an amusement park when you’re too short to go on all the good roller coasters. I’m a single child so it was just my mother, my father and myself. As residents of Southern California, we decided to make the drive out there in our minivan instead of paying for airfare.
Not to mention avoiding the horrifying experience of the Los Angeles International Airport. Anyone who’s made that drive before knows there’s not much to look at; nothing but desert and hot asphalt. We stopped in the small town of Baker California for a little bit of food at a Del Taco that was rated “C” by the FDA, some ridiculously overpriced gasoline and a glance at the world’s largest thermometer (it happened to be 108° F that day) which is about average for early summer since the town is so close to Death Valley.
The conversations on the road trip consisted mainly of my dad and I making Simpsons’ jokes and references (none of which my mom understood); or my parents talking amongst themselves about family matters that I didn’t really care about. I had an old Game Boy with me at that time, so I wasn’t completely bored out of my mind while my parents were talking. The total drive time from our house Vegas was about 6 ½ hours. We got to the Strip and found our hotel – we were staying at Circus Circus. Not the most luxurious hotel on the trip, but I had no complaints. It was a nice little 4 day, 3 night vacation where we did all the usual Las Vegas kinds of things, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
It was the third day of our vacation and we didn’t really have anything planned out for that day. At first we were just going to wander around the strip and see if anything interesting caught our eye; but my mom had a migraine headache that day, so my dad and I decided to go out on our own and leave the city while she rested. We were both very fascinated by the whole UFO phenomenon and we knew that the legendary secret base known as area 51 was about 85 miles north of the city of Las Vegas. So we planned a little adventure: to go up that desolate Nevada Highway 375 otherwise known as “The Extraterrestrial Highway” and head north. We just planned to look around a little bit and get some pictures at the border line of the base. (I find the concept of a “legendary secret” hilarious by the way)
We knew that there wasn’t really much to see other than signs telling you that this was government property and that they have the right to shoot on sight if you tried trespassing; but we felt that that alone would be a good photo opportunity and that it would just be cool to be able to say “hey, I’ve been the area 51.” So we drove for about an hour and a half seeing literally no traffic which honesty was a little unsettling, though not unexpected. We got as close to the base as we could, got out of the car and found that it was exactly as we expected: there was a dirt road that was blocked off with those aforementioned signs on a locked gate. The peculiar thing was, that there weren’t any fences or walls blocking entry to any of the forbidden areas; just these orange markers sticking out of the ground marking the territory.
I guess they just feel that since no one has the balls to go in there- why build a fence? We could see all the equipment they have for spotting curious onlookers such as ourselves. There were strange devices sticking out of the ground that I’m sure are used for things such as detecting oncoming vehicles, thermal surveillance and all sorts of video cameras. Before we knew it, I noticed that there was a white truck sitting on top of the hill with two men equipped with binoculars inside watching us. I’m sure they were there just to make sure we didn’t do anything stupid and to show us that this was serious business. I bet they get people out there like us all the time. Needless to say, we didn’t do anything stupid. We just took pictures of ourselves in front of the “will shoot on sight” sign, looked around a little bit and decided to get heading back because it was starting to get dark.
The problem was that it shouldn’t have been getting dark; and it was getting dark fast, unnaturally fast. When we got to the border of the base it was about 3:00 PM; so we should’ve had at least 5 hours of light, but it felt like we’d only been there for about 45 minutes. My dad looked at his watch and saw that indeed the watch said it was 3:43 PM… The only thing wrong with that was that his watch had stopped ticking. We discussed this strange occurrence briefly, but then just decided to get in the car and get going. We got into the van, sat down fastened our seat belts and my dad turned the key in the ignition. The engine started fine; however, every electronic component of the car was not functioning. We couldn’t get the lights on, the radio wasn’t working and the digital clock face was completely blank.
At this point we were starting to panic, the car was in perfect driving order, but we had no headlights and the sun was quickly dipping below the mountaintops. The decision we made was just to drive as fast as we possibly could for as long as we had visibility. If we got pulled over by the cops, that would be our best case scenario because then, we would at least have some help. Getting a speeding ticket, even a big one would be a small price to pay. We of course thought to try our cell phones, but just like all the electronics in the car: they were completely dead. Let me give you a little recap of our situation: my dad is now driving like a bat out of hell, going at least 110 MPH down a completely abandoned highway in a minivan trying to get back to civilization before the sun disappears below the horizon at what we think is around 3:55 PM. My dad is completely focused on the road at this point, but I’m starting to see things out the windows to the right side of the car. I don’t want to tell him because if he looked, he’d probably flip the van and kill us both.
Honestly, I can’t tell you what I was seeing. There were streaks of light of varying color, things that look like fireworks imploding instead of exploding in utter silence, some very large pulsating lights that were just kind of teetering back and forth in the sky and other things my vocabulary simply cannot convey. These were definitely “unidentified flying objects”, but not the types of things that I think would constitute any kind of alien spacecraft. It was at this point that another strange occurrence started –the sun that was so quickly disappearing behind the mountains seemed to stop just below the horizon. It was odd; the sun was completely obscured by the mountains, but we could still see its glow behind them. we were in some kind of endless twilight. As strange as it was, it was beneficial to us; because at least in this situation, we had the visibility to continue moving on and hopefully get back to the city so we could just put crazy cluster-fuck behind us. Something else I found comforting was that those strange lights that I was seeing earlier had vanished.
Our new found optimism was, however, short lived. We’d been driving twice the speed limit for over an hour now but we hadn’t seemed to have made any progress. At this rate, we should have at least seen some sort of buildings or other motorists… actually, when I think about it; at the rate we were going, we should’ve already reached Vegas. Instead, all we were seeing was the same abandoned highway in an eerie orange tint that we had been looking at this entire time with no recognizable landmarks for bearings. It’s not like we could’ve made a wrong turn or anything like that either; the entire trip was a straight line. Something was seriously wrong… And we both knew it.
We just keep continuing down this seemingly endless road with no real semblance of time; but then, we finally saw something that was different. Way off in the distance we could see something large blocking the road in both lanes. As we got closer, we identified the obstruction as several large vehicles parked sideways. It was an apparent military blockade. There were two large Humvees and a single canopy-topped troop carrier. As we approached, my dad began slowing down. When we started getting close, the men manning their peculiar post started shining their incredibly bright spotlights in our direction from the tops of the vehicles. We then heard a loud, deep voice over a loudspeaker,
“Shut your engine down and keep your hands were I can see them!“
We obliged of course, my dad turned the car off and both of us stuck our hands out of our respective windows. It was at that point that we started seeing the soldiers: they seemed to be wearing normal military uniforms, though with the bright lights it was hard to tell because they were heavily silhouetted. One thing I did find strange was that they were all wearing gas masks. Something about this just didn’t seem right.
Nothing about this entire situation made sense. Why would they be blocking off the road going away from the base? Why has the sun apparently been frozen just beyond the horizon? And what were those lights I had been seeing? I counted six soldiers of varying height and build. They all seem to be carrying standard M4 assault rifles as one would expect; but there was just something about them that seemed off, that point accentuated by the gas masks. We were approached by one soldier on each side of the car. Each of our windows was met with a soldier and the one on my father’s side asked in a stern, somewhat warped-sounding voice:
“What business do you have being here?”
My dad answered nervously, “We’re just trying to get back to our hotel.”
The soldier in an even deeper, more warped-sounding voice, replied, “Hotel? I don’t know of any hotels ’round these parts.”
It was at this point that I started feeling strange, time and space seemed distorted. I looked at the soldier on my side of the car, and noticed that he had no skin exposed whatsoever. I looked him dead in the eye and all of a sudden I was having images appear in my mind’s eye –thousands of them, all at once and an accompanying cacophony of sound bombarding my ears from within. I had never experienced anything so intense and overpowering in my life and doubt that I ever will again. I used all my energy just to try and stay conscious, but I couldn’t hold out for long.
The next thing I knew, it was early morning the next day, the sun had apparently set and risen as it always does and my father and I regained consciousness together. We were still in our car, with a car in motion; however now, all the electronics were functioning properly. We were turning down the street that leads to our hotel. It seems as though my father had driven all the way back with no memory of it. He told me that he had a similar experience to what I did and also lost consciousness around the same time as me. The clock radio in the car said it was 6:18 AM, my dad checked his analog watch to confirm it, but it read out 1:15 as the time. It was off by over five and half hours but was it was ticking again. We didn’t know what to say to each other, neither of us could come close to comprehending what had happened that night.
We made it back up to the hotel room with my mom worried sick and us not knowing where to start to explain what the fuck had just happened to us. We ended up just telling her that our car broke down on the highway so we were stuck on the road all day waiting for help and had forgotten to charge our cell phones; so it wasn’t until early that morning that a generous trucker stopped and helped us get our car in working order again. She was incredibly pissed, as she had every right to be; but she believed our story. It didn’t feel right telling her what actually happened since we weren’t even sure ourselves. My father and I still don’t talk about that night with each other to this day.
I’m not going to try to speculate on what exactly happened; maybe we saw something we shouldn’t have, maybe the desert sun just does strange things with your mind. I will leave you with this small word of advice: if you pursue the mysterious, you’ve got no one but yourself to blame if you find it.