Published First-Hand Accounts, part three: Archived Letters Reporting Encounters
Updated: Jun 14
At Rice University in Houston, Texas there is a library collection of many thousands of letters that were sent to an author beginning just after the mid 1980s.
A sampling of these letters have been published in these two books:
The Communion Letters: Authentic, vivid, first-person testimony selected from hundreds of thousands of letters reporting actual encounters, abductions and visitations received and recorded by Whitley and Anne Strieber; 1997 first edition
Them; Whitley Strieber; 2023
The website portal to the collection open to researchers:
This brief article will only present the first of a dozen letters from THEM (and none from the 1997 work Communion Letter, still published and available to future researchers).
Mitch Horowitz states in the preface:
"The author pursues the question of “visitor” phenomena from the perspective of the reported beings themselves."
"By considering what the visitors may want, and the difficulties of our understanding them (and perhaps they us), Whitley, finally, moves the debate where it must go: from asking whether to asking why."
From the Foreward by Jacques Vallee:
"There is an unprecedented drama unfolding in the lives of many families—our own neighbors. For many years I have been privileged to follow the work of Whitley—and especially of his late wife Anne—as they saved, catalogued, and finally secured (at Rice University) the testimony of thousands of such witnesses. This book can only bring out a small but representative sample of the drama they have experienced but it puts an end to the suggestion that Whitley’s imagination alone has been fomenting some sort of myth: This is real. It touches many families with no prior experience, or indeed interest in the phenomenon. Science has no explanation for it, in spite of all the “experts” posturing on TV or before Congress. Yet ignoring it doesn’t represent an acceptable intellectual approach."
From the Introduction by Whitley Strieber:
"Human beings have frequent encounters with our visitors, and not just alone and in the night. Group encounters are common and encounters happen day and night. Most people who have them are never exposed to memory recovery techniques such as hypnosis. Prior to the publication of Communion, they were also not much exposed to the now very extensive presence of contact stories in the culture, and the letters in this book will reflect that lack of contact with media about the phenomena that the authors experienced.
Even though people are often put under tremendous pressure and suffer extensively from encounters, the public reaction is generally indifference, hostility, or laughter, and the official one denial or silence......"
And, from the Afterword by Rice University professor Jeffrey Kripal:
"There is almost endless data in the Archives of the Impossible, although to call it “data” is already to misunderstand it, to scientize it, as it were. What there really is are thousands upon thousands of human descriptions of experiences of contact with what, or whom, Whitley calls simply the visitors. As the letters quoted and analyzed in these pages give ample witness, the archives possess such concretized experiences in great abundance, indeed in greater abundance than any single researcher can read, much less interpret and understand. It is not, then, that we do not have enough evidence. We have too much evidence. What we need now is a way to organize and, above all, theorize it."
One Encounter Case Shared in "THEM"
~~Visitors in a bookstore
The letter writer saw Strieber's reporting of an account of an editor from William Morrow and Company (publishers of Communion) who encountered 2 apparently tall Gray's in disguise perusing the just-published Communion in a New York City bookstore. That account appeared in the second book of encounter accounts, the 1988 Transformation. He also relates the story in the 2016 book co-written with Jeffrey Kripal, The Super Natural, pgs 98-99:
He reports that "when I was out touring for Communion back in 1988, I got back to my hotel room to discover that I had a phone message from my editor, Jim Landis, then at William Morrow and Company. When I telephoned him, he said, 'I have good news and bad news.' Of course, I demanded the bad news first. He answered that the visitors thought that Communion was full of mistakes. Then he added, 'The good news is that we all believe you now'......."
Strieber describes what was seen:
"It turned out that another editor, Bruce Lee, had been checking stock in the old Madison Avenue Bookshop when he had noticed two people looking through a copy of the book. They were turning pages very rapidly and laughing together. When he went closer, he could hear that they were saying that I'd gotten this wrong or that wrong, then paging along and snickering.
But how could they know? How could they be so sure? When he walked up to them to ask, they stopped and looked at him. He was shocked to see huge, glistening eyes just like the ones the being on the cover of the book had. He found the eyes absolutely terrifying, and decided to leave the shop. When they walked out, they followed him, chatting together in what he thought of as Jewish accents. He watched them walk off into the afternoon crowd on Madison Avenue. Nobody seemed in the least concerned that two aliens were strolling down the street in overcoats and hats on a warm afternoon crowd on Madison Avenue....."
Strieber reports that his late wife Anne had not told him that someone had sent a letter describing a similar experience. He speculates that she didn't want to upset him with yet another report suggesting that he had gotten it wrong in Communion from the perspective of the aliens. He found the letter during a research visit to the archive at Rice University and noticed that his late wife had noted it's importance with notations. It was the second letter this man had sent, relating his experiences, and was received in 1990 after he read about the Brue Lee experience in Transformation. (The letter was the 3,843 one saved by Anne.)
Before describing the details in this man's letter, here are some details noted in the Bruce Lee story that the man had read, inspiring him apparently to share his own alleged wild experience.
From pgs 235-236 in Transformation:
The senior editor for Morrow (Bruce Lee) and his wife enter the bookstore where he first shows his wife the display for the newly released Communion and then they go their separate browsing ways.
"Mr. Lee was reading the flap copy of a book of fiction when he noticed two people enter the store and move without hesitation directly to the display of Communion. He was fascinated. The book had barely appeared in the stores and this couple went right to it, which suggested that people were beginning to hear about the book very early in it's career.
Mr. Lee moved closer to the couple. They were both short, perhaps five feet tall, and we're ring scarves pulled up to cover their chins, large dark glasses, and winter hats pulled low over their foreheads. They were paging through the book and making such comments as, 'Oh, he's got that wrong!' and, 'It wasn't like that'. There was gentleness and humor in their demeanor---at least for the moment. Mr. Lee also noticed that they were turning---and apparently speed-reading---the pages at a remarkable rate. He went up to the couple, introduced himself as being associated with the publisher, and asked them what they found wrong with the book. The couple looked up at him and said nothing. It was then that Mr. Lee noticed that behind their dark glasses both the man and woman had large, black, almond-shaped eyes. 'You know the look you get from a dog when it's going to bite' Me. Lee told me. 'That was the feeling I got from their eyes. I didn't want to get bitten. So I moved away'."
Strieber the reports Lee "went over to his wife, pointed out the couple while mentioning the similarity of their eyes to those on the Communion jacket....". They left the store.
Whitley Strieber shares an analysis of each letter he published in THEM. He notes that the first letter he republishes in this book is "a perfect place to begin our exploration of what the visitors have revealed of themselves in their encounters with us". And, he starts by stating that "they're not angels or mythological beings charged with mysterious grandeur" nor are they evil and demonic.
The letter-writer sets the stage, revealing characters who can be quite theatrical:
"On March 2, 1987, I was briskly walking on the east side of Bell Boulevard in Bayside, heading south at 39th Avenue towards Waldenbooks bookstore to see if they got Communion in yet. In front of me, I approach four persons who are staggering, very boisterous, laughing loudly, and acting rowdy. They are dressed funny for such a warm day. They are wearing woolen skull caps, huge scarfs around their necks and faces, and have on these enormous sunglasses. The little that I can see of their faces appear to be painted white. I determine that they are drunk. It makes me feel ill at ease and uncomfortable, and I stop, waiting for them to pass Waldenbooks. They stop in front of the bookstore, blocking the door and then hang out there, joking and laughing loudly. I now cross the street as I do not want to be near them. I then decide to walk around the block. On my return, they are no longer there."
He now enters the store and asks the clerk for the location of the new book Communion. He notices fear in her eyes as she points to "where those four are standing". He sees that the four are in pairs, each pair sharing a book. They're rapidly turning pages with quiet laughter and ongoing commentary "this isn't so". As he reaches to get a book, they turn and look at him, which is when he notices that "the skin on their heads is very white, and in the space between their faces and sunglasses, I see huge eyes".
He walks in fear to the other side of the room and the 4 become "boisterous". He notices a young man in a suit and his young wife enter the store and the young man approaching the loud four and asking what they thought of the book.
When they turn to him, he reacts and goes to his wife at the counter, fearfully saying they need to leave.
He concludes his letter:
"The visitors then continue to scan the book for about another five minutes, giggling and laughing. They then turn to leave and walk by me in pairs two abreast. My head is bowed. I am looking straight down because I don’t want them to know that I noticed them. I am scared. As they pass me, and I am just becoming relieved, the one on the right rear breaks rank, turns, and come directly to me. The other three, walking slowly toward the door, do not notice that he has done so. He passes me, pausing briefly and laughing in a low voice. It’s like a taunting laugh. As he turns and repasses me, he brushes his arm against me. I think he is trying to knock me down, but it is gentle. I realize now that the visitors can set us up and play with us. After being touched in this manner, I get a message that they mean no harm."
Strieber provides an analysis to this, and the other eleven cases profiled in THEM. The cases, like this one shared in the article, demonstrate just how interwoven those beings we call the Greys can be in the lives of ordinary people.