A Hiccup in Time in North Reading, Massachusetts
Strange tales of time slips, while uncommon, do come my way from time-to-time. I go into depth about what a time slip is, as well as the possible cause, on the Ghosts and Hauntings page of my website. The short and dirty definition of a time slip? The brief, unintentional intersection of another timeline, either past or future (or, perhaps, even an alternate present) with a present timeline that an individual knows and recognizes as their timeline. In other words, their reality. While all of this may sound like the plot of a sci-fi movie that you dare not take a bathroom break during for fear of being totally lost when you get back to your seat, there is some fairly interesting theoretical science behind it. And since I just brought it up, I might as well clue you in on one of my pet peeves: people who take a pee break or make a Twizzler run during a movie, then get back to their seat and insist that you explain what happened while they were gone. I mean, am I just being a jerk, or is that annoying? Okay, I'm probably just being a jerk...
Now that I've vented and gotten that off my chest, let's get back to the spooky stuff, with a story of an incident that allegedly happened in our own backyard. This was told to me by a client, and I have been given permission to pass it on to you with one caveat: that I do not use his real name. We'll call him 'John'. It is interesting to note that this tale of weirdness occurred the same weekend that Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on New England. Did the unique meteorological conditions play a part? Possibly. Extreme or unusual weather conditions often factor into paranormal events. After interviewing John, reviewing multiple references, and recreating the route of his drive during those early morning hours in late October 2012, I have documented the following information:
Date of Event: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Time of Event: 12:30 AM EST (Time approximate)
Location of Event: Haverhill Street, North Reading, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
Coordinates of Event: N42° 35.3273', W071° 4.9297' (WGS84 coordinates approximate)
42.588788, -71.082161 (GPS coordinates approximate)
Weather Conditions at Time of Event: Hurricane Sandy (During lull in storm)
It is important to note that, although returning from a party, alcohol appears to have played no role in the incident. In addition, John passed voice stress analysis (X13-VSA PRO) without issue. While somewhat controversial and not an exact science, it does bolster the credibility of his account of events. What follows was taken from his account, recorded at his home on Saturday, October 4, 2014.
John Tells His Story of Strangeness
"I was returning from a Halloween party at a friend's place in North Andover (Massachusetts) on Saturday night. Well, actually the drive home was early Sunday morning, October 28, 2012. I guess it was around 12:30 or so. Hurricane Sandy was hitting us hard that weekend, so I was surprised the party was still on, and don't know why I went. Looking back, I should've stayed home because the roads weren't safe. It's dark and rural out that way. I remember thinking it was the perfect atmosphere for a Halloween party, though. Maybe that's why I went, I don't know. I didn't wear a costume 'cause I had enough sense to figure if I got stranded on the road someplace, I'd look like an idiot if the cops came.
I took Haverhill Street on the way home, so I guess that would be southbound or southeast? Yeah, I guess it must be, because you have to go through North Reading (Massachusetts) before you get to Reading (Massachusetts). Anyways, I went through the center square in North Reading, where all the old, historic buildings are. The rain and wind wasn't too bad; it seemed to be letting up. A couple minutes past that spot, just before North Reading/Reading town line, on the North Reading side, I drove into a thick fog. You always know when you cross the town line because the pavement on the road changes, rougher or the North Reading side, smoother on the Reading side, and I hadn't noticed that it had happened yet. The fog was weird, it was like no fog anywhere, then all the sudden, bang! A thick fog. Really weird. My radio went completely dead. I mean, the panel was still lit, but no sound, just hiss. My hearing got muffled, too, like having your hands over your ears. It scared me a little bit. Well, it scared me a lot (John chuckles nervously). What really was crazy, though, was what I could see through the fog, or what was supposed to be there that wasn't. Most of the houses on the street weren't there anymore. It was like I drove into this thick fog, but once in it, it wasn't that foggy anymore. Like going through a door, the change was that quick. It was still night, but there were no streetlights, either. The road seemed to be narrow, but I got the impression that whatever structures that were there had been pushed back. I don't know how to explain it better than that. None of the recognizable cues were there anymore; my perception was completely different. No other cars, but I guess there wouldn't be much traffic on that section of Haverhill Street that time of night, especially during weather like that. You know the weird thing, though? Gaslights! I saw what looked like gaslights or candles in the few houses that I saw. They definitely weren't electric lights. This went on for what I later estimated to be about twenty seconds or so, then I hit that thick fog again and everything was back to normal, just as quick as it happened. Sound was coming out of my radio again, same station, just like nothing changed.
Nothing like that had ever happened to me before or since, and I've been on that road, damn, I don't know how many times. I've given up on trying to figure it out, 'cause it just makes you crazy and I don't think there's an answer. I can tell you that I never drink and drive, and the strongest thing I had at the party that night was a Sprite." (John again chuckles nervously).
"You're not gonna use my name, right?"
"No, not your real name", I reassure John on the recording. "I'm just interested in your story."
Destination: Arkham, Massachusetts?
Many towns in New England celebrate their rich Colonial past, but few to the degree of North Reading. While the blight of progress has infected even the most hearty and stalwart of New England communities, North Reading remains oddly immune. Walking through the Center Square, one gets the sense that the 1700s never really ended, and those golden arches and horseless carriages seen in other towns are merely an unfortunate illusion.
I recently paid a visit to North Reading, traveling historic Haverhill Street to get a feel for what 'John' experienced. While I certainly didn't expect to be transported in time by a fog bank, I nonetheless wanted to complete the images his account had drawn in my head. Fog bank not withstanding, I was not disappointed.
"Historic" Haverhill Street? Yes, indeed. The street intersects many towns, and was the main route between Boston and Haverhill, Massachusetts back in the day when Paul Revere was excitedly yelling something about the British coming. For all we know, Mr. Revere could have encountered the same fog bank, gone fast-forward a few hundred years, and was referring to The Beatles. Yes, North Reading really is that strange...
Many houses and farms from the Colonial era still silently stand on Haverhill Street, and even without some paranormal trick of time, my eyes had to search for current-day reminders. The pavement surface does change abruptly at the Reading/North Reading demarcation and is very noticeable when driving, just as John had stated. I also noted that a path of high power lines cross over the street at the approximate location where John said he had his experience. I find this interesting, as high power lines have been involved with paranormal experiences in many documented cases. This may be due to the effects of strong electromagnetic fields on the brain or, as some paranormal researchers believe, that the fields supply the energy for such events to occur and manifest.
The sudden appearance of fog, the brief time frame, and the "muffled" hearing sensation John said that he experienced during the incident have been a component of some other documented accounts of slips in time. And one cannot help but wonder what role, if any, the unusual meteorological conditions due to Hurricane Sandy contributed to the event. Last (but, yes, almost certainly least), it was almost Halloween. The town would be the perfect setting for an H.P. Lovecraft story. No, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if his fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts was inspired by North Reading. After all, it was his neck of the woods. I'm sure Miskatonic University is waiting there for the next unsuspecting traveler, just beyond the fog...
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