Let’s say you’re on an airplane, and the old man sitting next to you starts chatting. Normally, you don’t like smalltalk with strangers. Or any talk with strangers, especially when you’re strapped into a tiny coach seat on an aging 737. But he’s elderly, so you listen respectfully as he tells you all about himself.
Let’s go on to say that because you’ve shown polite interest in the man, he begins telling you a story. You do a little mental eye-roll, but the old man is a veteran, and when a veteran tells you a story, you shut your damn mouth and you listen.
Two hours later, and the man has finished telling you one of the strangest stories you’ve ever heard. And you know it’s just a story, because it was too bizarre. It was unreal. It just couldn’t have happened the way it was told. But you’re fascinated, so you ask the old man some questions. And he won’t answer you. He shakes his head and changes the subject, acting like he’s uncomfortable that he told you the story in the first place.
Upon landing, the man apologizes for not asking you enough about yourself, so you hand him a business card and give him the ten second highlights of what you do, and you write his name and address in one of your notebooks.
When you get home, you find that his story is still stuck in your head. What parts, if any, were real? Was he just old and confused? He’d told the story with too much conviction and too much detail for it to be entirely fabricated. So you write him a letter, and ask him to tell you more.
But you get nothing in return. Maybe the poor guy died, you think. You forget about the old man and his crazy story, and go on with your life.
Then several months later, to your complete surprise, a thick envelope shows up in the mail. There’s a letter from the old man, telling you some of what you wanted to know. The envelope is full of papers and materials that corroborate a large amount of what he told you in his story.
So now you are completely freaked out, because if he lied about what happened, then so did the other men who were with him.
And the whole thing is just too fucking eerie to believe. But you don’t have a choice.