Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The man who vanished (temporarily)

Crows in a treeI was waiting for a train at a quiet station recently. With no train for a while there was no one else about. I looked around hoping to see some wildlife to watch to pass the time. That's when I noticed a young man walking along a path a little way from the station. I looked away for a couple of seconds, distracted by a noise, When I looked back to the path, the man had gone. I was now puzzled because I know that path well and there is no easy way off it, short of climbing over fences and walking through dense undergrowth. So I scanned the area to see where the man had gone. Then I saw him, further along the path. In fact, he was just where he should have been had he continued to walk at the pace I saw him going at before. But here's the weird bit. There is NOTHING to obscure the view of the entire length of the path from the position where I stood. There is some thick undergrowth but it is only tall on the far side of the path from where I was standing. I SHOULD have been able to see the man as soon as I turned back, after being distracted by a sound. So how did I not see him when I definitely should have? Was he a ghost perhaps?

While I considered this puzzle, the man stood opposite me on the other platform of the station. He looked completely normal, but then most ghosts do. One thing I did notice was that he was dressed entirely in dark clothes and, significantly, was wearing a hood. The weather was overcast and it was rather dark for the time of day (early afternoon). I tried to work out some non-paranormal explanations for the man's bizarre temporary disappearance.

There were various possibilities. For instance., maybe the man had gone into the taller undergrowth on the far side of the path, briefly, for some reason I can hardly imagine. Or maybe he had bent over to tie his shoe laces. Both of these possibilities would have entailed the man going faster after the brief delay so that he arrived at the place and time I next saw him. His hood, however, suggested a more likely explanation. There is a bend in the path which would make him look away from my position. This would have caused his face and head to be hidden from me by that hood. It is possible he would have then blended in with the tall dark leafless vegetation behind. So, even if I'd looked directly at him he would have been hidden in plain sight! The bend is in the stretch of path he would have traversed when I looked away. So, it makes sense and fits the known facts but without doing a reconstruction I can't be sure.

There are, of course, lots of other possibilities, mainly involving the man doing something quite odd. And, of course, people do indeed do odd things from time to time. Similarly, many apparent paranormal incidents involve unusual coincidences. And this could be an example of a coincidence. If the bend in the path was indeed responsible for the disappearance, I would have had to turn back just as the man was looking away for a few seconds. It is important to consider the unlikely, but entirely feasible, before looking at paranormal explanations for a bizarre incident.

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