My mother swore that she witnessed a UFO event.
It would have been sometime around 1964, I guess... I don't remember precisely, but it wasn't more than a year or two after we moved into the house on Marchmont Drive, so it had to be sometime between April of 1963 and early 1965, when Mom first began to talk about the experience. I remember when she first told us; she had an adamant, "no fooling" tone that I came to recognize over the years, a tone that signalled that she was absolutely convinced regarding what she was about to tell us.
I'm sure I don't remember every detail, but I remember enough.
The back yard of our house shared a common fence with a horse pasture--not a neat, well-maintained horse pasture, but several acres of overgrown land in which there was a rather ramshackle stable and a segment of level ground that could be called a pasture if one was feeling rather generous. There were two horses that were housed there when we moved in; the only reason the horse pasture was there had to do with the vagaries of the city-county borders. The city didn't allow a horse pasture in a residential area, and we lived in the city... but the owner of that pasture had somehow convinced the city to annex the land around him without annexing the pasture itself, so the land remained in the county, where zoning requirements were one step away from nonexistent.
Why is this important? Well, because it meant that we had--just beyond our rather spacious back yard with all its hickory, poplar, and oak trees--and overgrown stand of woodland, brambles, and briars that formed a rugged thicket, beyond which could barely be seen a sloped-roof horse shed. Beyond that was a pasture, a dirt path that wound to a gate on the low-lying far end of the property, next to a swampy area that bordered a creek. No one ever maintained this property, so don't for a moment picture an attractive, manicured, orderly horse pasture; instead, imagine a stand of north Georgia wilderness, about ten acres in size, on which three acres had been cleared of sufficient trees to form a crude flat area on which weeds and wild grasses were allowed to grow waist-high in the summer. It was a thatch filled with poison ivy and poison oak in the wilder parts, home to snakes in the swampy area, and overrun with thorny blackberry bushes at the fence line.
As you might imagine, we kids would occasionally venture into the area to see the horse--an elderly, aloof steed that tolerated us quite well, snorting and eating whatever apples or sugar cubes we brought with us. But this ground was so rugged that even we kids found it uninviting.
From the back of our house, the overgrown wooded area gave some privacy; we could catch glimpses of the weathered red of the stable area, and we could at night see broken patterns of headlights as cars came down Paris Drive and took the curve at the far end of the horse pasture--but for the most part, the pasture provided a sense of seclusion. As a result, I don't think my parents particularly minded its wild, overgrown nature; it was much more protective than a privacy fence could have been.
My sister and I had bedrooms along the front of the house; a hallway ran down the center of the house from the living room to the north end of the house, parallelling Marchmont Drive. My parents' bedroom was on the back side of the house, with a window facing the thickest part of the overgrown thicket. It not only served to block most road traffic noise and light, it actually managed to shade a great deal of the morning sunlight as well, creating a shadowy canopy over the back yard.
It was early in the morning hours, Mom told me, when she was awakened by the sound of dogs barking. Not just the occasional bark of a dog, mind you, but frenzied barking, she said--the sound of dogs who feel threatened and disturbed. It was a constant sound, and that struck her as odd; the dogs in our neighborhood would bark now and then, but for the most part it was a quiet place.
Then she said that she heard another sound--the sound of the two horses whinnying and protesting. This was a sound none of us ever heard in the night, before or after. Her first thought, she said, was that someone was trying to steal the horses; she wasn't sure why they would want them, but she still was concerned enough that she looked out the window.
What she saw, she told me with a solemn seriousness, was an incredibly bright light that filled the lower part of the pasture and penetrated the thicket; it was so instense that it cast stark shadows on the wall opposite the window once she pulled the drapes back to look out. And the light wasn't coming from headlights or a flashlight, but from a large saucer-shaped object in the pasture. Because of the overgrowth, she couldn't see details well enough to describe the saucer in detail, but since the light emanated from the object rather than illuminating it, the light helped to define its shape and size.
What disturbed her more, she told us, was that there were several figures moving in front of and adjacent to the light--think, lanky figures in close-fitting clothing. Since they were largely in silhouette, she couldn't see details, but she knew from their movements and their size that there was something different---disquietingly different--about them.
That's when she tried to awaken Dad. And she couldn't. She shook him, she called his name, she tugged at his arm, but she said he wouldn't wake up. He wasn't snoring--Dad was a constant snorer, his post-midnight cacaphony sometimes resonating down the hallways into my and Kim's rooms--but this time he was silent... and unawakenable.
Mom said that she then opened the door and came over to my room, only to find that she couldn't wake me up, either. For some reason, we were both asleep far more deeply than was normal, and she wasn't able to break through that sleep to alert us about the strange happenings in the pasture behind us. Since Kim was only three or four years old at the time, there was no reason to awaken her, so Mom didn't try; instead, she said, she simply closed the draped again, seeing the light coming in around their edges, but not opening them again for fear that she might attract the attention of whomever was in the pasture.
Then, after about ten minutes, the light went off as if someone had turned off a switch, she said. After waiting a moment to see if it would return, she approached the drapes. She noticed, though, that the noises were gone. The dogs were quiet. The horses were quiet. And when she opened the drapes, there was no light from the pasture.
And at the same time, she said that Dad snored once--one of his loud, explosive snores--and then half-awoke to ask her what she was doing at the window.
She didn't tell him then; she didn't tell us the next day, either. Nor the day after that. It was months later that she first told us about it.
I think it was shortly after a friend and I had remarked about a strange area in the horse pasture... an area where the wild grasses had simply quite growing. It was an area in which everything was flat and withered, an area that stood out from the pasture grasses around it because even the weeds and brambles seemed reluctant to grow in them. And neither horse would walk into that area to eat.
Mom was bothered by that. Shortly after, she told us the story. And while Mom always had a great sense of humor, she never tolerated our joking about that. Whatever she witnessed that night, she was certain that it wasn't natural, and she seemed to feel that she had been on the cusp of something much more ominous than any of us realized. I talked to her about it a time or two again, looking for more details; she didn't want to talk about it in much more detail, because she said it made her nervous. She didn't know why, but it did.
Mom wasn't a person easily made nervous.