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In 1975 Dr. Mullis bought acreage about ten miles inland along the Navarro River in Mendocino County,
The path heads west then takes a sharp turn north after a few earthen steps. He walked down the steps and at the far end he noticed something glowing. He pointed his flashlight at it. It only seemed to glow whiter. He recounts that he was not frightened. What he remembers is talking to a raccoon who said, “Good evening, doctor.” To which Mullis thinks he responded, “Hello”. His next recollection is of walking along a road uphill from his house. He had no memory of the night before. He thought maybe he had passed out and spent the night outside but the nights in summer are damp and his clothes were dry and not even dirty.
Returning to the cabin he found the lights on, but dim. He had his own solar panels and batteries under the house and was always careful to turn the lights off to conserve energy. The groceries were still on the floor; the cold, freshly squeezed orange juice was warm. His memory of the night before began to return slowly. He remembered the flashlight and wondered what had happened to it. He retraced his steps. He went to the outhouse but nothing was there, neither the raccoon nor the flashlight. He felt empty and confused and sleepy. He took a nap.
Upon awakening he says the experience, “took on a much sharper reality.” He began to question; Where was the flashlight? Why were his clothes dry? Why were the house lights on? He decided not to panic and go about the business of the day. There is a spring in the woods that feeds a pond on the property. The pipe leading from the spring to the pond gets clogged and he decided to clean it out. The woods are about 200 yards away from the cabin through an open meadow. Just inside the shade of the trees he began to panic. He turned and walked rapidly away toward the daylight. He says, “I didn’t want anything to know I was panicking.” When he got into the open he turned and looked back. He didn’t know why, but he was sure that whatever had happened to him the night before, happened in those woods. He decided not to go back and told no one of the experience. Suddenly he was afraid of a place he had always enjoyed. Six months later he retuned to the woods with two of his children and unclogged the pipe. Somehow he felt safer with his children with him. But he would not go back alone.
A year or two passed. One weekend when he was at the cabin alone, he decided to do some homespun psychotherapy. He got his AR-15, taped a flashlight to it and returned to the woods. Yelling, “This is my property and I’m coming in. Anything moves - I’ll shoot it. If it doesn’t move I may shoot it anyway. I’m pissed off.” He emptied one clip and then loaded another. It worked. After this he knew he could come back to the woods.
A while later he was in a bookstore in La Jolla; he noticed a display of Whitley Strieber’s book Communion. The picture on the cover caught his attention. He bought the book and began reading it. Strieber’s experience and his own were similar. Coincidentally, at this time his daughter Louise called from Portland to tell him she had found a book she wanted him to read called Communion. “I’m reading it right now.” He responded.
Louise began telling her father about an experience she had at the cabin with her fiancé. They had arrived late one night and she walked down the hill to the outhouse. She was gone for three hours, her fiancé frantically searching everywhere calling her name. Like her father, she found herself wandering down the same road back to the cabin with no memory of what had happened during the time she was missing. When she saw the book she had a vague recognition just as Mullis had. After she told him her story he shared his. It was the first time he had ever told anyone.
Mullis ends by saying, “I wouldn’t try to publish a serious paper about these things, because I can’t do any experiments. I can’t make glowing raccoons appear. I can’t buy them from a scientific supply house to study. I can’t cause myself to be lost again for several hours. But I don’t deny what happened. It’s what science calls anecdotal, because it only happened in a way that you can’t reproduce. But it happened.
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