In a small New England town, members of a support group that boasts a growing membership of about 1,500 gathered for a “secret” meeting.
“I want to let you know that you are not alone,” begins the leader of the group.
It was twin sisters Audrey and Debbie, who asked to be heard on behalf of themselves and their hometown, as they have come a long way to share their experiences.
“It’s been a long and tiring battle,” Audrey said. “It affected my life enormously. I’m still in therapy.”
The group assembled for this meeting is not struggling with alcohol, drugs, sex, or gambling, but is part of Starborn, an alien experience and awareness support group for those who say they have been abducted by aliens.
Many people have wondered: do earthlings live alone in the infinite universe or are there other intelligent life forms out there in the cosmos? Nearly half of Americans and millions more globally believe we are not alone, according to a 2000 ABC poll. While 40 million Americans say they have seen or know someone who has seen an unidentified flying object, or UFO, a growing number believe they have encountered aliens.
Audrey and Debbie not only said that aliens exist, but that they have made contact with them. The twins said it all started when they were young.
“I was probably 5 or so… and a bright blue light would come into the room when the door opened and it was like a misty blue light shining through the whole house,”
Audrey said. “And two figures were entering the house, one was taller, and they had black capes, but they were bald and had big eyes.”
Audrey and her sister call their visitors the “Bald Men”, but are better known in UFO circles as the “Greys”, a race of aliens classified by the gray color of their skin.
The twins’ first encounter with aliens, they say, occurred in childhood and continued into adulthood. They also believe they were abducted together on the same spaceship — just so they can compare stories later.
“We were on kidnappings together,”
Audrey said. “They transported us in the ship and we saw our house from above. So we realized that these beings are not from here. They are very good at memory wiping or whatever you want to call it. it leaves you with only very few things that you can remember. So we remember certain things about how we were together.”
When asked why the aliens would continue to abduct them together, the twins had no explanation. That’s the question I always ask myself,” said Debbie. “Many times I find myself in tears saying, ‘Why me?’ Why me? Why can’t this happen to someone else.”
No matter what anyone else thinks, people like Audrey and Debbie are convinced that what they witnessed is real.
“I remember when I was on a spaceship and I was standing there on the spaceship and the floor and the walls disappeared. And I was looking at the Earth,” Debbie said. They said they realize their stories sound too fantastical and are sometimes the stuff of sci-fi movies.
In science fiction, aliens are often anthropomorphic and benign creatures, such as “E.T.”, “My Favorite Martian”, the classic television series “Star Trek” or the hit film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.
But aliens can also embody people’s fears, of things that look radically different from human life.
Pop culture depictions of aliens don’t seem to be slowing down. On cable, there’s the acclaimed miniseries “Torchwood: Children of Earth,” where the aliens’ sinister thoughts are voiced through possessed children. And this fall, ABC will add a new series to its list of movies about creatures from outer space.
The members of Starborn believe, however, that this is not just the stuff of science fiction, but fact. They said coming forward with their beliefs was a challenge.
Terrell Copeland, a former US Marine, came the farthest to attend the “secret” meeting, driving 600 miles from rural Virginia. Copeland’s foray into the paranormal began two years ago with a UFO sighting he said was captured on his cell phone from his apartment in downtown Suffolk, Virginia.
“It was a ball of light,” he said, like a big ball of light. It does not move. It was solid white. It was right across the street from him… 300 feet above the ground and changing colors very rapidly.
“This is…not something ordinary. Something is wrong here. Maybe there are things on my mind. I shouldn’t be looking at this stuff,’” Copeland, 27, who drives forklifts in a warehouse for a living, recalled thinking.
But after the video of what Copeland said he saw in the sky was posted on YouTube, he said there was also a strange visitor who came to his front door.
“I woke up to the sound of someone trying to get into my apartment,” he said. “And I said, ‘Who is it?’ There was no answer. However, you know, you could see the doorknob moving and a slight noise at the door. I had a firearm, and it was on my table. And my thought was to take the gun and stand up to check.
“I was in complete paralysis. The only things I could move were my eyes. And I heard a voice through the door say, “You don’t need that gun. We will not harm you.”
“When you see these things and then you do the research and you see that there are so many people who have experienced the same thing as you … you have to say to yourself … maybe there is something to this,” he added.
Soon after, Copeland said he began to experience what he calls “wasted time.” Throughout two nights, Copeland said, he missed four hours, but not as a result of sleep.
As the number of unexplained UFO sightings increased, Copeland began keeping a journal and sketching what he believed he witnessed during the “missing time” episodes.
“I was in a room and I saw a woman who didn’t have full human features,” he recalls of the night he said he was abducted in 2006. “She had typical black eyes that I’ve heard of with an elongated skull. And that surprised me. And the next memory I have is of me standing on my balcony waving at this cylinder-shaped ship.”
Copeland said his experiences with aliens transformed him spiritually. “I just want to be a better person, because if I feel like someone higher up noticed me… then maybe I’m doing something right. And if I do something right, maybe I can do it better,” he said.
Copeland’s otherworldly beliefs are shared by thousands of believers. Hundreds of people gathered at the national convention of the Mutual UFO Network, or MUFON, in Denver this month to share their experiences with like-minded believers.
Stace Tussel, a working single mother and magna cum laude college graduate, has been reluctant to talk about her close encounters with aliens. “I’m not necessarily afraid,” she said. “I’m a little nervous about how people might react. I believe I have experienced contact with non-human intelligence.”
Tussel said he has the videos and scars to prove it. “I’ve had several encounters that have left marks on my body — scars like the one on my finger,” Tussel said. “I once woke up with three red diagonal lines. I woke up with the fingerprints of the affected hands, which I alone could not have made myself, and which no one else could have made for me.”
When asked if it was simply a dream and Tussel said, “I don’t know if the dream would cause a stigmatizing effect where you have scars or body marks.”
Tussel, an education consultant, blogs about UFOs and chains in her spare time. While many have turned out to be man-made hoaxes, she believes some circles could be the result of an alien spacecraft or extraterrestrial communication.
“I don’t think I was taken against my will,” she said. “I think my whole life I’ve been prepared to share information, experience information, and communicate with non-human intelligence.”
“I don’t want to go into too much detail about certain types of beings that I’ve seen because of the graphic nature of some of the things that I’ve seen and experienced,” she said.