Free-Fire Zone: Hostility Against the Unknown
By Scott Corrales © 2020
I've always been quick to avail myself of a science fiction or fantasy reference when writing, and this is no exception. Toward the end of The Lord of the Rings - Return of the King, the great J.R.R. Tolkien has Frodo returning to his native land of The Shire only to find it subverted and destroyed by the fallen wizard Saruman. His trusted companion Samwise draws a sword to deal the final blow against the miscreant, but Frodo stays his hand, saying the wizard was "of a noble kind that we should not dare to raise our hands against."
The wizard, of course, belonged to the immortal Ainur, the spirits who came into the world at its creation. But my intention is not to get bogged down in Tolkenian fandom, but rather to meditate on Frodo's line of dialogue. It could be that some of the beings we have come to associate with the strange phenomenon of UFO - we call them UFO occupants, saucerians, ufonauts, etc. - belong to a 'noble kind' (perhaps an angelic order, or a tutelary body of spirits ordained to guard our world, "The Watchers', if you will) that deserve respect, if not veneration at times?
The annals of ufology contain more episodes involving attacks by these superior beings against mere mortals than the other way around, although we do on occasion find incidents in which humans drew first blood. Inevitably, as John Keel said in Disneyland of the Gods, 'the gods shoot back' for our impertinence.
Assailing ufonauts is not punishable under the laws of Man. For example, homicide by its definition applies to genus 'homo', although a case could be made for natural law (jus naturale) as affording protection to hapless visitors from space or more than likely from other dimensions. Furthermore, the doctrine of Metalaw circulated in the 1970s holds that "all intelligent races in the universe have in principle equal rights and values." In the cases we shall examine here, however, there were no lawyers present to hand out their cards to the injured parties.
It Happened in Peru
Dr. Anthony Choy, one of Peru’s best known researchers, looked into one of these cases as recently as 2002, this time in the community of San Bartolomé in the Peruvian highlands, specifically in the province of Huarochirí, several hours to the north of Lima, the capital city. The picturesque town is known for its variety of fruit trees and otherwise excellent weather, boasting nearly year-round sunshine, filled with forests (Bosque de Zarate being the best known) and abundant wildlife. Not a grim or ominous location in the least.
The case involved two witnesses, the main one being Luis "Lucho" Rojas Povis, 51, a toll booth operator who happened to be outdoors at two o’clock in the morning with his best friend when both men became aware of “two figures” making their way down the slopes of Cerro de la Pascua, clad in silvery outfits. Initially, the onlookers did not find anything unusual about them, believing them to be mountain climbers or official personnel in outlandish protective gear. As the figures approached there was the awful realization that things were not quite as normal as expected.
The entities were described as having “an athletic build, slender and tall” with form fitting silver outfits. Their faces looked human, but their eyes were described as “shining”, and they didn’t walk as much as float above the ground. They did not utter a single word.
Astonished beyond belief, Rojas and his friend walked up to the strange new arrivals; the friend even reached out to touch the face of one the entities to see if it was “real”. One of the entities slapped the probing hand away, shocking the human.
“Hey, why are you messing with my buddy?” the toll booth operator challenged the creature, according to Dr. Choy’s interview. But what could have become the first mano-a-mano between humans and non-humans (since the 1954 case involving José Ponce and Gustavo González in Venezuela) was interrupted by the unexpected arrival on the scene of a taxicab whose passenger and driver were about to become the next set of witnesses to the mind-bending situation.
Beatriz García, 34, had just taken a taxicab back to San Bartolomé at that late hour from the town of Ochocica, where a fair had been held that day. Agreeing to pay the driver a rather high fee for the journey home, Ms. García was startled to see “a man made of pure tin or dressed in aluminum” standing at the edge of the road. She was only able to see one figure, but could not say if it was the entity that slapped away the man’s effort to touch its visage. The driver became very agitated by the unearthly sight, and his nervousness caused her not to look very closely at the being, while having noticed its “brilliant” eyes. During the interview with Anthony Choy, she estimated that a distance of ten meters separated her from the entity, which appeared to be “walking back and forth, two steps forward, two steps back, but actually floating in the air.” She coincided with Rojas’s description of the creature’s dress, the form fitting nature of the outfit, its helmet and general build.
Some will dismiss this incident as another “colorful” Latin American case (the dictionary definition of the word is “full of interest; lively and exciting”, but tends to be interpreted as “patently untrue” on the lips of a skeptic!) but the strange motion of the single helmeted being witnessed by Beatriz García has been mentioned in many case histories. Dr. Frank B. Salisbury also noted this in his foreword to the Lorenzens’ Flying Saucer Occupants mentioned above: “These beings may sometimes walk like normal people, but they may also move with “sliding motions” or a tottering gait.”
Regarding the "slap" with which one of the San Bartolomé humanoids responded to the human's urge to touch its features, it is worth remembering what Argentinean researcher Roberto Banchs noted in his own monograph, La fenomenología humanoide en Argentina (Servicio de Investigaciones Ufologicas, August 1977): "Social behavior is sometimes misinterpreted, leading matters to such a state of confusion that any action on part [of the intruders] is deemed hostile. It is imperative to analyze all physical and psychological factors before a conclusion can be reached."
Don’t Bring a Gun to a Blaster Fight!
Jorge Anfruns moves on to an even more disturbing story which can understandably be dismissed as anecdotal, as no names or dates are given due to the highly sensitive nature of the event. It took place “at some point along the Chilean, Bolivian or perhaps Peruvian borders, which I have no intention to recall,” he writes.
A detachment of police officers on horseback – the only way to get around in the mountainous terrain – was proceeding down the gorge known as Quebrada de las Bandurrias (two different ones appear on the map, the northernmost at 28°08′52″S 70°59′52″W, but nowhere near the border. Possibly a third gorge of the same name?). The five riders, as tired and thirsty as their mounts, suddenly became aware of something ‘resembling a silvery house’ farther down the canyon. The lieutenant in charge of the small detachment realized that they must have come across the lair of a notorious band of fur smugglers – dealing in valuable vicuña skins – that operated in the area. He ordered his men to fan out as quietly as possible. One of the policemen dismounted, picked up a rock, and threw it against the silvery structure, causing its occupants to emerge and take up defensive positions. At this point, the lieutenant ordered his men to open fire.
“This,” the author goes on to say, “was the start of the most uneven fight of the century.”
The bullets streaming from the policemen’s firearms were met with bright beams of cohered light, able to “pierce their targets and split them open like cauliflowers” (p. 105). The patrol’s horses made the easiest targets. One of the long-suffering mounts burst from the inside out. A member of the patrol was felled by another such beam, leaving a devastating wound on his chest. Retreat being the only alternative, the lieutenant and the survivors made their way back to headquarters, reaching it two days later and delivering a full report on the situation. A larger, heavily equipped response force subsequently arrived at the Andean gorge, finding no trace of the silvery “shack”, but ascertaining that traces of horse blood were indeed on the sand. The bodies of the fallen police officers were also gone.
Can we believe such a story? Was a simple but tragic encounter between law enforcement and fur smugglers grotesquely embellished with elements worthy of an old pulp magazine? There’s no way of telling.
Chupacabras Eats Hot Lead
There can be no question, however, that law enforcement comes across bizarre situations, even closer to home than they would like. In August 1995, police officer José Collazo became the unwilling protagonist in a highly-dramatic scene involving the enigmatic creature popularly known as the Chupacabras. Collazo spoke at length with Spanish journalist Magdalena del Amo regarding his harrowing experience.
According to Collazo, he and his wife were getting ready for bed at around 11:00 p.m. one night when they suddenly heard the alarm on their car go off. Suspecting a thief, Collazo picked up his service revolver and went out to his carport, where he was confronted by a surrealistic scene: his pet Chow dog was engaged in a losing battle with what he first took to be another dog sinking its fangs into the Chow's back. According to Collazo, he soon realized that the intruder was not a dog -- in fact, not even a creature of this world.
The officer felt himself engulfed in fear for his own life. He aimed his .357 Magnum against the unknown creature and fired a sure shot at it. The creature "rolled up into a ball," Collazo explained, and bounced off one of the carport walls before disappearing out the back into the warm night air.
During the course of an interview with Spanish journalist Magdalena del Amo, the policeman observed that concern for his car kept him from firing further shots at the intruder. Nonetheless, the creature left patches of thick fur on the carport floor and traces of blood on the wall. It also left a noxious odor which persisted for well over a week, resisting all efforts to eliminate through the use of assorted detergents.
Never Judge Aliens by Their Size
Ever since Flying Saucer Review's Gordon Creighton and Charles Bowen began focusing upon Argentina's seemingly inexhaustible supply of UFO and high strangeness material has been the subject of fear and wonderment around the world. Argentina, the world's sixth largest country, boasts a population of only 30 million, with a fifth of its inhabitants tightly clustered in the communities surrounding Buenos Aires. To the west lie the majestic Andes; north and east are dominated by the plains and grasslands collectively known as the Pampa, and the south is occupied by the barren plateau known as Patagonia. While not exclusive to these remote open areas, the bulk of Argentina's UFO case histories have occurred in such lonely reaches.
During the 1965 UFO flap (one of the largest ever experienced in the southern hemisphere), Rialto Flores, an investigator for Argentina's defunct CODOVNI organizations, visited the locale of Corrientes to interview Carlos Souriou, at the time a high-school senior and hapless experiencer of one of the most terrifying high-strangeness events ever recorded in that country.
One night in February 1965, Soriou and his older brother went on an armadillo hunt accompanied by the farmworkers of their father's estate. Upon returning home from the hunt, they noticed short, unusual forms lurking in the field under cover of darkness. According to Soriou, the forms were no larger than three feet in height. Their shortness prompted one of the farmworkers to say Soriou's brother: "They're midgets, patroncito. Let's cut them down with our machetes!"
Drawing his cutlass, the farmworker proceeded to act out his aggression upon the silent bundles. But the unexpected happened: the farmworker's arm was momentarily paralyzed as he was about to deliver the first blow, and the "midgets" increased in size to a height well in excess of seven feet.
Soriou's brother quickly fired his .22 caliber automatic rifle and was dumbfounded to see that no bullet had exited the muzzle. Replacing the bullet with others only had the same effect--no projectile would issue from the barrel to strike the now-towering forms. Helpless against the unknown entities, the hunters broke into a mad dash to a nearby barn, where they bolted themselves in.
But the wooden structure would afford little protection against whatever forces had been stirred up by their reckless behavior. Beams of light poured in throughout the wood, lighting up the barn's inside with an actinic glare; Souriou himself was hysterical with fear, and the others had to cover him with boxes and saddle blankets to keep him from seeing the unearthly light that poured through the cracks.
The glare stopped after a while, prompting the farmhands to believe that the worst was over and the "critters" had gone. The older brother courageously decided to venture out into the night once more to start a pickup truck that was kept nearby, hoping to leave the area and get help, but halfway through his sortie he was surprised by the entities who seemingly "appeared" out of nowhere. Propelled by sheer adrenaline, the man ran back toward the barn, where the farmhands refused to open the door lest the "critters" gain entry. Souriou's brother screams prompted them to unbolt the door just as one of the "critters" seized him, encircling his waist with its unearthly arms. The human broke free and made it into the safety of the barn.
Many hours later, the terrified band of hunters made it to the safety of the pickup truck and drove off to another field owned by the Souriou family without being harassed by the entities. Subsequently, many of the farmhands refused to return to the field in which the incident had occurred and one of them had to be dismissed from his position due to his fear. During his conversation with Rialto Flores, the younger Souriou believed that the gigantic presences were perhaps sitting when his group came across them, which would account for the mistaken impression that they were dealing with "midgets". The witness was adamant about the sheer horror of the event, and about the fact that a no point was a vehicle or UFO seen anywhere in the vast open area. The appendage that encircled his brother was not of a humanoid type. Rather it appeared to be "made out of hair or something similar", which he could not explain.
An Incident in Brazil
In March 1969, the French UFO publication Phénomènes Spatiaux carried an interesting story involving an incident between a Brazilian national and UFO occupants on August 13, 1967 in the state of Goias, specifically in the vicinity of Pilar de Goias. Ignacio De Souza, a married man in his forties, father of several children, was the administrator of a local plantation and had never heard anyone mention flying saucers or men from outer space before. Life was hard enough in his tropical environment to concern himself with such things.
On that fateful evening, Ignacio and his wife were returning home when they saw an object 'resembling an inverted dish' hanging in the air, with an estimated size of thirty five meters. More alarming than the size of this heavenly intruder was the fact that three beings were on the ground, standing between the De Souza's vehicle and their home. The French magazine quotes Ignacio as saying that he was not alarmed by the three figures - they looked human enough, but were bald. He thought they might be visitors, but was taken aback by their 'strange airplane'. The visitors seemed to be running around and jumping like little kids, a fact he found disquieting, to say the least.
When the beings noticed the car, the pointed at it with a 'let's go get him' attitude and broke into a run. Ignacio told his wife to make a break for the house while he reached for his trusty carbine, opening fire against the nearest of the three beings. But - lex talionis, as the late Dr. Berthhold E. Schwarz might have observed - a beam of energy emerged from the object overhead, striking him in the chest. Mrs. De Souza picked up the carbine, ready to make a stand, but the three strange figures had by now run back to their 'airplane', which proceeded to take off vertically making a buzzing sound, like a swarm of bees (a sound commonly associated with these objects).
Mr.De Souza explained that he'd aimed for a headshot, striking his target. ("I couldn't have missed," he added. "I'm a crack shot.") In doing so, the human noticed that the strange intruders appeared to be nude, although his wife opined they were probably clad in extremely form-fitting, pale yellow coveralls, reminiscent of the "Venusians" reported in northern Spain in the 1950s.
The Brazilian planter may have scored a hit on his target, but so had the flying object. He was hospitalized complaining of numbness and tingling, and advised by hospital staff not to speak so openly about the event. An attending physician found a 15 centimeter burn between his shoulder and chest. Ignacio De Souza died in October 1967 of leukemia, possibly brought on by exposure to the inhuman death ray.
Alberto Tavernise Killed a Grey
In the summer of 2015, an intriguing news item appeared in the pages of Argentina's Nuevo Diario, a newspaper from the city of Santiago del Estero. It concerned one Alberto Tavernise - a man who had shot and killed one of the so-called Grey aliens, and then abducted for his trouble. Whether he was rectally probed in an act of alien vengeance is beyond the journalistic record, of course.
Tavernise, 59 at the time, was a resident of Luan Toro, a village in the Province of La Pampa. While hunting, he noticed activity around one of the hunting stands, only to find himself surrounded by five otherworldly creatures which he described as grey, four-toed and four-fingered. "One day I decided to do a walk-around of the hunting blind and that's when everything occurred. They realized I had found them, and on the 9th of August, five of them came at me. I was surrounded. Two of them got under the hunting blind, and when I went to shoot at them, they put me to sleep. When I awoke, they were no longer there." There would be repeat encounters, he said.
"One day I went out to hunt them," he told the newspaper. "We had a confrontation during one encounter and I shot the one I referred to as The Scout, because he always went ahead," he explained. "When I approached the body, there was no blood in the wound, and three others came at me. I returned to the site a few minutes later, and the body was no longer there, since it had been taken away by a spacecraft," he concluded.
In a 1950s pulp, the human protagonist might have blown the smoke from his handgun and said something along the lines of "and let that be a lesson to you." Reality, in the 21st century. would be far different: The entities came back for him.
"They came to my house and abducted me, in a subsequent instance," he declared succinctly. "I spent three days in bed, sleeping with my eyes open...with a headache that lasted nearly two months. Had to go to the doctor, have tests performed, to a neurologist to have an EEG, to the ophthalmologist, and I was left with aftereffects in my eyes that have lasted to this day. My eyes have troubled me since that day."
Heroics of a Fighter Pilot
In a society deeply influenced by Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and Top Gun, the exploits of fighter pilots have been glamorized to a considerable extent, and perhaps rightly so. Hurtling through the skies in a multi-million dollar piece of equipment while dodging enemy fire is nothing to sneeze at.
Luke Skywalker and his X-Wing fighter have little to fear, however, from Oscar Santa Marina and his Sukhoi SU-22 fighter bomber. This very real knight of the air, is no less worthy of legendary status: Santa Marina fearlessly opened fire against a UFO.
April 11, 1980 - forty years ago, Peru's air force base in La Joya (Arequipa) detected a strange object closing in. Believing the object to be a reconnaissance craft from neighboring Chile, which had a less than amicable relationship with Peru at the time, the air base commander ordered a scramble of a Soviet-built SU-22 fighter bomber to intercept the intruder and destroy it.
Lt. Oscar Santa Maria took off from the runway at top speed, heading for a rendezvous with the intruder, now five kilometers distant. The minute the object was within his sights, the pilot unleashed hell: a stream of rounds from the fighters 30mm cannon streamed toward the target, with no apparent effect. The object sped away vertically with the Peruvian fighter in hot pursuit. The pilot engaged his afterburners and broke the sound barrier - the unwelcome spy craft was not going to get away.
Oddly enough, there had been no radar confirmation of the object's presence. The distance shrank as Lt. Santa Maria's fighter gained on the enemy. It was then that the 'bogey' did something impossible - it stopped dead in the air. The Sukhoi flew right past it at an altitude of thirty-six thousand feet. Had Chile purchased some advanced tech from a foreign power, far superior to the capabilities of the Russian-built fighter-bomber? This question must surely have crossed the pilot's mind as the object suddenly increased in altitude and stopped again, causing the fighter to swerve and avoid collision. They now found themselves at sixty-two thousand feet above the Peruvian desert, with only a hundred rounds remaining and fuel critically low.
Santa Maria broke off pursuit at this point, aware that he was nearing his machine's maximum operating altitude. Perhaps he had heard of the tragic fate of Thomas Mantell, who lost his life during a similar pursuit. He returned to La Joya - now eight hundred kilometers away - while the object kept rising, vanishing into the darkness of space.
Lt. Santa María described the object he attacked: “It was an object with a blued dome, looking like a light bulb split in half, with a wide metal base that made everything shine. When I approached and saw it completely, I realized that it lacked nozzles, wings, windows, antennae...nothing at all. It was a very smooth surface above and below.”
A Legendary Venezuelan Incident
The José Ponce incident has been featured in a vast selection of UFO literature since the 1960s. The UFO website Alternativa OVNI (www.alternativaovni.com.ar) made such a fine effort at summarizing it that I’m presenting the translation of the entry in question:
On 29 November 1954, between 2:00 and 2:30 in the morning, Gustavo González, a 25-year-old Cuban businessman living in Venezuela, and his Venezuelan assistant, José Ponce, were aboard Gustavo’s van, on their way to the “Industria Nacional de Embutidos C.A.” or “Schelper” meat processing plant, located on Buena Vista street in Petare, in order to obtain products to sell in the market at daybreak.
Drivilng along Buena Vista street, they were surprised to see the street illuminated as though it were 12 noon. Upon exiting the van to see what was afoot, José suddenly ran back toward the vehicle after seeing a strange entity approaching them.
Seconds later, Gustavo also saw the creature and was at first hesitant, but then advanced toward it and wrapped his arms around the being to capture it and drag it back to the van. The small alien, however, was rather strong and managed to break away from the hold. Upon releasing itself, Gustavo fell to the pavement, but managed to spring up quickly. According to Gustavo, the entity weighed some 50 kilograms (110 pounds) when he lifted it.
While he followed the small alien, he noticed something even more surprising: two other small aliens were approaching him. One of them flashed him with a “flashlight” – apparently they had come to assist their comrade. Blinded by the light and unable to see what was happening for a few seconds, he took hold of his Boy Scout knife when his vision was restored, and saw that the same diminutive alien was now coming toward him. Instinctively, the man stabbed the creature’s shoulder, only to feel the blade slip off its skin, which was as tough as rhinoceros hide. When the extraterrestrial tried to seize him, Gustavo realized it had sharp claws on each of its four fingers.
Meanwhile, his assistant, José Ponce, emerged from the right side of the van and headed toward the spherical object. Suddenly, a small hairy extraterrestrial emerged from the right, hurriedly walking up a steep slope with fistfuls of dirt in its hand.
When the tiny alien noticed Ponce, it jumped two meters, entered the hatch and vanished into the object. Seconds later, another entity emerged, armed with a long, shiny tube in its hands, pointing it at both men.
They suddenly felt a vibration that encompassed their bodies – Gustavo and José were rendered paralyzed. They later saw the brilliant sphere rising majestically and silently to a point in the night sky before vanishing altogether.
An incident worthy of a motion picture or TV series, without a doubt.
So what, then, leads us to 'raise our hands' - as Frodo put it - against these unknown quantities, when most human codes of conduct urge us to extend kindness toward strangers? Our response to the unknown is almost never in tune with the golden rule: quite the opposite, our animal natures take over and our response is the fight or flight. If seeing an unknown human activates a number of defense mechanisms in our mental makeup - fear, mistrust, suspicion of harmful intent - upon seeing a strange fellow human, wouldn't it be more so in the case of the alien or the monstrous? On the other side of the coin, whether UFO operators or strange creatures are angelic or extraplanetary, what gives them the right to retaliate with lethal force against a species that its primitive in the evolutionary sense, or under their tutelage? Some alien apologists have argued that retaliation is for our own good, so to speak - a laser blast in time saves nine, in that any damage to themselves or their craft may pose a greater hazard to the species at large than to the subject of retaliation. I can only imagine speculation involving a gunshot, or better yet a missile or artillery shell, successfully striking the non-human machine and triggering the explosion of a power source that could render a continent uninhabitable in minutes.
Maybe it's far easier to think that our visitors are either bad angels or bad spacemen who don't like us anyway.