Danny Robins Investigates 'The Burnt Man' On 'Uncanny'

June 12, 2024 1:00 AM ‐ PodcastsParanormalRadio
Burnt Man - Uncanny USA
Danny Robins returns with another episode of his paranormal podcast 'Uncanny', now available on BBC Sounds. In the latest instalment titled 'The Burnt Man', Danny delves into the eerie experiences of Myke, an artist and graphic designer, who encountered a terrifying apparition during his childhood in Palmdale, California.

Myke's story begins in his family's small, crowded apartment in Palmdale, a desert town known for its proximity to military facilities and factories. As a child, Myke shared a room with his grandmother, Alma Jean, and several other family members. One night, as Myke lay awake, he noticed a shadow blocking the moonlight from the hallway.

"I'm seeing that the light is blocked by something in the bathroom, like something dark is just sort of moving in front of the light, a person," Myke recounts. Initially thinking it could be a family member, Myke soon realised it was something far more sinister. He describes the sight of a charred figure wearing a "silvery charred aluminium-like" uniform. Myke then added some grim details, telling us the figure had "exposed intestines and smoke pouring out," plus remnants of an oxygen helmet and what appeared to be a burnt human skull.

The encounter took a more bizarre turn when Myke's grandmother, without waking, abruptly slapped him out of the path of the approaching figure. "She's not awake. She's not asking what's going on. Her eyes are closed. She's just upright in a way that is surprisingly abrupt," Myke explains. This sudden intervention seemed to save him from the entity.

Years later, while staying at his grandmother's new apartment, Myke experienced a similar encounter. Again, he saw the charred figure, this time partially obscured behind a plant. The apparition did not approach him but watched from a distance, evoking the same fear Myke felt as a child. "It was clear that this was the same guy," he says.

Myke long suspected a connection between the apparition and the tragic 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster, which he watched live on television as a child. The silvery outfit and burnt appearance of the figure seemed reminiscent of an astronaut's uniform. However, a deeper investigation led Myke to reconsider this theory. 

Palmdale is home to Lockheed Martin's test facility, known for its stealth bombers and experimental aircraft. Researching accidents at the facility, Myke discovered that several test pilots had died in crashes nearby. He found that the test uniforms from the 1960s and 70s were silvery and chrome-like, much like the outfit worn by the figure he saw.

This revelation led Myke to believe that the figure might be the spirit of a test pilot who died in one of these crashes. Myke's brother, who had also lived in the same apartment, shared a recurring dream of seeing through the eyes of someone entering their home and heading towards the bathroom – the exact spot where Myke first saw the apparition.

Reflecting on his experiences, Myke now theorises that the figure might have been seeking his grandmother, a nurse known for her caregiving. "I think he was coming towards my grandma. She was a nurse, a caregiver and somebody who would be there if you were in need. And I think I was just in the way," Myke concludes.

What The Experts Think

Danny is joined by just one expert this week, psychologist Ciarán O'Keeffe, who provides his expert opinion on Myke's haunting experiences. Ciarán begins by highlighting the unusually graphic detail of Myke's apparition. "We are so used to hearing accounts of apparitions where they are blurry shapes, just kind of a dark shadow. Here we get a level of detail where he's talking about intestines and protruding organs and a horrible description that he gives of this kind of part skull on the spine," Ciarán notes, emphasising the forensic quality of Myke's descriptions.

Ciarán proposes that Myke's experiences could be attributed to sleep-related hallucinations, specifically sleep paralysis. "Whenever we get an experience that's relayed around nighttime, we've got to start to think about sleep related hallucinations. And here we've got what sounds like sleep paralysis," he explains. During sleep paralysis, the brain mixes dream imagery with the real environment, which could account for Myke's vivid visions.

However, Ciarán expresses doubts about this explanation due to the physical interaction with Myke's grandmother. "Where I struggle with this explanation is in what happens next. And that is when Alma Jean, his grandmother, slaps him. And there's a physical interaction there. That almost raises doubt on that sleep paralysis theory. And that makes me think, well, maybe something else is going on," he states, recognising the complexity added by this element.

Danny, also intrigued by the level of detail in Myke's account, questions whether such graphic anatomical knowledge could come from Myke's interest in science fiction and comics. Ciarán acknowledges this, noting, "You've got comics and imagery there that he may well have been exposed to that is in his brain."

Ciarán also considers the rare possibility of simultaneous neurological phenomena, suggesting that Myke might have experienced sleep paralysis while his grandmother experienced somnambulism, or sleepwalking. "The chances are very, very remote," he admits, adding, "these two people are having these odd kind of neurological experiences but also potentially paranormal experiences in a room where there are multiple other people who are not waking up."

Ultimately, Ciarán recognises the profound fear Myke experienced, saying, "It's just absolutely horrific. I defy any sceptic, such as myself, to be sitting in a bedroom and to witness the same thing and not be freaked out."

You can listen to this episode in full plus the full 'Uncanny' archive on BBC Sounds now.

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