It's A Double Bill For Danny As 'Uncanny' Questions What Lies Beyond

June 19, 2024 1:00 AM ‐ PodcastsParanormalRadio
Creepy Man Walking
Danny Robins returns with the eighth episode of his hit paranormal podcast, 'Uncanny'. This week's double-bill episode, 'What Lies Beyond', delves into two eerie incidents from the US, featuring two new witnesses. Available on BBC Sounds, the episode begins with Rebecca, an emergency responder from rural Maine, who recounts an impossible 911 call, and Eldon, who shares his unsettling experiences at a Kansas funeral home.

Rebecca's Story: The Mysterious 911 Call From Maine

Rebecca's story begins in the year 2000, when she worked as a communications officer at a police agency, handling 911 calls and dispatching officers. On a seemingly ordinary evening, she received a call from an elderly woman whispering about a fire at an address in Oakland, a small community of about 6,000 people. Despite the woman's repeated whispers of "fire" and Rebecca's attempts to confirm the address, the call abruptly disconnected. Rebecca recounted, "She had an older voice, it was really low. She sounded like your grandma."

Attempting to follow up, Rebecca called back, but no one answered. She dispatched the fire department and a police officer to the address, only for them to find a group of college students, completely unaware of any fire and adamant that they hadn't made the call. The officers initially suspected a prank, but Rebecca confirmed the address matched the 911 call record.

Minutes later, another 911 call came from the same location, the same elderly woman's voice repeating "there's a fire." Rebecca, maintaining protocol, dispatched the responders once more. The officer, now frustrated, interrogated the students further and even conducted a tour of the house. Meanwhile, fire department personnel used new thermal imaging gear to check for hidden fires.

To everyone's astonishment, the thermal imaging revealed an electrical fire smouldering behind the walls. "It was burning the outside of the copper tubing which was cloth," she said. "It probably would have been a significant structure fire had it not been discovered," Rebecca explained. The responders concluded that the call, whether real or not, potentially saved the students' lives.

The situation took a further eerie turn when it was discovered that the house had no functioning phone line. The previous owner, an elderly woman who had recently passed away, had lived there most of her life. Yet, somehow, the address appeared on the 911 call system despite no installed landline. Reflecting on the mystery, Rebecca said, "I don't know who called but whoever did saved those boys' lives that evening."

What The Experts Think

As always, Danny was joined in the episode by two guest experts to dissect Rebecca's mysterious 911 call case. For the skeptic perspective, he speaks with Dr. Nilu Ahmed, a psychologist from Bristol University. Representing the believer's view is Morgan Knudsen, a writer and broadcaster on the paranormal.

Nilu acknowledges Rebecca as a credible witness due to her training and experience as a 911 operator, which demands calmness and clarity under pressure. "On the face of it, she's a fantastic witness. She is trained to listen really strongly and effectively and to not be thrown by anything that comes in her way." However, Nilu suggests that Rebecca's profession might make her hyper-vigilant to danger words. Nilu mentions the phenomenon of audio pareidolia, where the brain interprets unclear sounds as familiar words, especially under stress. She posits, "So being a 911 operator, she hears the sound coming in through the 911 system, it must be a danger word, it sounds most like fire. So it's going to be fire."

When the call repeats, and a police officer also hears the voice, the mystery deepens. Morgan interprets this as a potential case of direct voice phenomenon, where disincarnate voices communicate, sometimes through electronic devices. Morgan finds Rebecca's lack of personal connection to the deceased owner significant, reducing the likelihood of bereavement-induced hallucination. "Rebecca doesn't have a dog in the fight here. She doesn't know this person. So she's not grieving at all. And so that kind of eliminates the possibility that this is somebody who was just overreacting to somebody calling in. So to me, this has a lot of credibility."

Addressing the absence of a landline in the house, Nilu suggests the possibility of technical glitches. "Technical issues are a part of our modern life. And these glitches happen all the time in systems that are thought to be foolproof." Despite this rational explanation, Nilu concedes the coincidence of the call aligning with an actual fire is unusual. "It is a really bizarre set of circumstances I have to concede that."

Morgan, on the other hand, believes in a supernatural intervention. She speculates that the spirit of the deceased homeowner might have been trying to protect her property or the students. "I definitely think that they were saved by something supernatural or what we think was supernatural. So my position is that somebody was looking out for them."

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Eldon's Story: A Haunting Experience In Kansas

In the second half of 'Uncanny' episode eight, Danny turns his attention to Eldon, who recounts a chilling experience from his youth. Eldon, now in his 60s and an architect, vividly recalls an incident from the summer of 1980 in the small town of Cottonwood Falls, Kansas.

At 19, Eldon spent his summer helping his grandparents, who ran a furniture shop and a funeral parlour out of their home. "My grandparents were well-known, they were kind of pillars of the community but on the side, an important income stream was running a funeral parlour," Eldon explained. He sometimes assisted with funeral duties, including carrying caskets and witnessing the embalming process in the basement.

One particularly tragic case involved a young man who drowned while trying to rescue a cow stuck in a pond. Eldon described the heartbreaking situation: "He was wearing hip waders that rapidly filled with water. It was a very sad story." Eldon helped carry the young man's casket to the room used as the funeral parlour, where it lay in state overnight.

Due to a malfunctioning air conditioner, Eldon opted to sleep on the porch that night. As he lay on the camp bed under a bright full moon, he heard the porch door unlock and open. Expecting to see his uncle, he was shocked to find the apparition of the drowned man. "It was this guy in the casket. He looked absolutely healthy...but he was wearing his everyday work clothing like he just came off the ranch," Eldon recounted.

Eldon described his reaction: "I wasn't scared; I was almost mesmerised." The apparition exuded an aura of love and longing, conveying deep regret and a desire to be alive. The spirit placed a hand on Eldon's forehead and stroked his head. Eldon recalled, "This went on for 20-30 seconds, but then all of a sudden my adrenaline kicked in...and I was then just terrified." He curled into a ball, and when he opened his eyes, the apparition was gone.

The next morning, Eldon shared his experience with his family, but they were dismissive. "They didn't really want to know about it," Eldon said, acknowledging that such tales could harm their business. Reflecting on the incident, Eldon remains convinced he encountered the young man's spirit. "It was a profound experience. This young man just wanted to communicate to me about how precious life was and how he wished he were alive so much."

What The Experts Think

Danny's experts for this episode also gave their opinion on Eldon's case. Morgan begins by discussing the association between funeral homes and hauntings, noting that despite common beliefs, these places aren't typically haunted. "Typically cemeteries aren't incredibly haunted and funeral homes typically aren't either," she explains. Morgan suggests that spirits prefer to linger in places they loved during life rather than where their bodies are prepared post-mortem. "You've got spirits looking for interaction with people... the funeral home probably isn't the best place to get that."

Nilu offers insights into Eldon's background, highlighting the impact of growing up around death. She suggests that this environment normalised death for Eldon but that the sudden death of a young person would still be deeply unsettling. "Eldon's brain is probably trying to protect him from this awful vision... our brains are usually very good at trying to protect us in some way," Nilu explains. She posits that Eldon's mind might have conjured a comforting image of the young man before his drowning to counteract the traumatic sight of the disfigured body.

Danny then raises the possibility of hallucinations and sleep-related phenomena, asking Morgan if these could explain Eldon's experience. Morgan acknowledges this, but finds the prolonged physical contact reported by Eldon intriguing. "This seems to go on for quite a long time. Those types of hallucinations usually you just wake up after a little bit," she notes, suggesting that the encounter could indeed have a paranormal explanation.

Nilu further elaborates on the psychological aspects, mentioning the concept of heautoscopy, where individuals see and interact with a double of themselves. She suggests that Eldon might have seen a reflection of himself in the young man, creating a profound psychological experience. "Perhaps that familiarity and representation he saw in that young man of himself just created this visitation experience almost," she theorises.

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

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