Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Things That Go Bump, 2013: Issue #4

Ghosts, schmosts.

Too good to speak into my microphone, huh? Too busy flapping about dilapidated old houses to appear in front of my camera, is that it? Waiting for a guest shot on Ghost Hunters and don't have time to waste on some amateur, that's the way of things?

Well, fine. Stick to your condemned rental properties and your knock-off Ouija Boards. I suspect most of you are as banal and tedious in death as you were in life anyway, judging from the lack of sparkle in the EVP recordings I've heard.

So let's leave the world of hauntings behind for a moment, and talk time travel instead.

Yes. Time travel. The stuff of science fiction and bad television show plot devices. Am I about to trot out a list of incidents which are intended to prove the existence of time travelers in our midst?

Yes. No. Maybe. Look, just keep reading, and see what you think.


In 2009, archaeologists accompanied by a pair of Chinese journalists excavated a tomb in Shangsi they dated to the Ming Dynasty (15-16th century). The tomb was undisturbed, and the contents had remained sealed for some 400 years.

Among the objects unearthed inside the tomb was the one shown below.

That's right. It's a watch-ring, the hands stopped at 10:06. On the back of the tiny watch-ring the word SWISS is engraved.

So. We have a timepiece which couldn't be much more than a century old (the first recorded watch-ring was not manufactured until after 1780) found inside a tomb which has been sealed for some 400 years.

That's what Fortean enthusiasts call 'really weird, dude.'

How did the watch get there? Who left it? Is the whole thing a hoax?

The answers are, respectively, I don't know, don't know that either, and who knows.

The only thing that could make this story better is the discovery of a drawing of a blue London police call box on the tomb walls. Sadly, that didn't happen.

But the watch did. That's weird enough for me.


There's a lot of gold mining in and around the Ural Mountains in Russia.

And it's not just gold (and empty vodka bottles) the miners are bringing up.

This is just a sample of the machined, metallic artifacts that have been discovered in places that date 100,000 years old, or more.

My knowledge of history is admittedly vague in spots, but I am relatively sure the design and manufacture of metal springs, screws, and threaded rods was not much in evidence a hundred thousand years ago.

But there are the products of such a technology.

Such discoveries are not limited to the Urals. There are stories of similar findings right here in the US, and pretty much everywhere else people poke around deep underground.


You either recognize the name John Titor, or you don't.

If you don't, you're in for a treat, because his story is in my opinion the most fascinating thing to come out of the Internet since Epic Rap Battles of History opened their webpage (check out Skrillex versus Mozart, if you need a laugh, and who doesn't).

John Titor emerged on an obscure internet bulletin board called Time Travel Institute on November 2, 2000. He didn't call himself 'John Titor' yet, but posted under the handle TimeTravel_0. At first, TimeTravel_0 posted brief declarations about the nature of time travel, and the specifics of time travel machine design.

In January of 2001, the same poster began posting on another board, the Art Bell BBS forums. It was then he chose a posting name (the site required one), and 'John Titor' emerged.

Titor claimed to be a time traveler from 2036, sent back to 1975 on a mission to snatch a vintage IBM 5100 computer. Titor claimed he made an unscheduled (and unsanctioned) stop in 2000 to collect some family photos, meet with family members, and try to warn people about the emerging threats of 'Mad Cow' disease and the American Civil War, which he predicted would begin in 2004 over a heavily-disputed Presidential election (ring any bells?). He also claimed that the Russians would nuke the US and much of Europe in 2015, after the civil war reached its peak and political destabilization and the presence of so many nukes made them so paranoid they panicked and pushed the button.

According to Titor, World War III ended with nearly all of the major cities in the US left desolate, much of Europe a wasteland, and the rest of the world limping along aided by the remaining pockets of industry and technology. The Russians, he claimed, were obliterated, because the Chinese took exception be being nuked and responded in kind.

Titor's story was riveting. Partly because he was so matter-of-fact, and so detailed.

His time travel mechanics were equally fascinating. According to Titor, his history was not necessarily ours, because simply by being present in our timeline, he caused it to branch off from what he recalled as history.

He could return to his own timeline, but only by hauling his 500 pound time machine across country to his original point of emergence (he claimed to have traveled to Florida to find his family) and then traveling back to 1975 and re-entering his own timeline from there.

Yeah, it got complicated, but -- PICTURES!

Here are a few of the images Titor shared with the internet back in 2000 and 2001.

He claimed this was scanned from the machine's operating manual. The device, he claimed, was a C204 Gravitational Distortion unit, built by General Electric.

And here is an alleged photo of the device, which Titor installed in the back seat of a 1987 4-wheel drive SUV.

Titor simply stopped posting in late March of 2001. He never reappeared.

He left behind a veritable mountain of images and posts, though, and though the original forum may be long gone, the Internet lives forever. If you're interested -- and I hope you are -- please check out Wikipedia for a just-the-facts-ma'am outline of events and this Strange Dimensions site for details.

Do I believe John Titor's story about a violent future and time-traveling sports cars?

No. Not really. But I do believe the Titor postings represent some of the most compelling story-telling ever seen on the net.What the Titor poster did was exactly what we writers try to do, every time -- suspend disbelief long enough to spin a tale of danger and heroism before closing with the words THE END.

Titor never wrote those words. He left us to believe he fired up his time machine and headed back to 2036, because while it might be a poisoned, desolate wasteland, it was also home, and that's where people go when all is said and done.

That's the kind of ending I can believe in.


If any time travelers are out there chuckling as you read this, I invite you to drop by and pay me a visit. I won't pester you for photographs or ask about the future or even beg to see a lost of Best Sellers in Fantasy for the next twenty years.

I'll just listen quietly to any stories you have to tell and brew you up a good cup of coffee. Maybe we'll listen to some music, played from vinyl, and make small talk about dogs and cars and sea monsters.

My door is always open. Stop by, and have a cuppa.


  1. OMG, I find this stuff fascinating (though my first gut reaction to the Swiss watch was that someone HAD compromised the site already and dropped their watch... but still...). There are a lot of things in this world that can't be just "explained away." Love your posts - they make me think!

  2. Very interesting stuff. For the watch, I'd think it would be terribly implausible for someone to say a site had never been visited before it had been closed up originally - unless you could test the actual air or something you couldn't really know if someone had been there, the place may seem undisturbed but there isn't any way to say for sure nobody had been there.

    The John Titor story is terribly fun too. Whether he was a time traveler or not, he certainly knew how to keep his audience riveted!