The Believers

Local UFOlogists bring a religious zeal to their tales of alien visitations. Delusions? For real? Whatever, they watch the skies and wait.

"The ship was about 60 feet in diameter, round-shaped, but I didn't see any landing gear or nothing like that," he recalls. He was taken into a large room, where he learned that "they're from 45,000 years in the future, and it takes them about fifteen minutes to get here."

While he was in the room, the greys began to conduct experiments, inserting needles in his tongue, navel, and ears, as well as implanting a communications device behind his left ear and cutting a triangular shape into his body. "This really hurt me," he remarks. Why had they done this to him? "You are one of the chosen ones," an alien supposedly told him.

Amazingly, all the probings and cuttings during that first meeting left no permanent marks on his body, certainly nothing he could show anyone after the ordeal was over. All he had was his improbable tale, which he recounted to his family and, later, to UFO believers at meetings. (His family and wife declined to speak to New Times.)

Diaz has had several shipboard encounters since then with more benign creatures, but again he offers no evidence that could back up his contentions. The last one took place in February. As Diaz tells it, he was lying in his bed sleeping when he was whisked away to the Tamiami Trail again, where he was hustled aboard a craft that took him -- in fifteen seconds -- to an underground base in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. There he saw E.T.'s and government scientists.

That trip to the subterranean base wasn't the first time he met with government officials. About a year and a half ago, two Air Force agents quizzed him about high-tech aeronautic issues, he asserts. With the future of U.S. aviation at stake, he declined to answer because his walk-in instructed him not to cooperate. (Once again, though, he is unable to locate a friend who supposedly witnessed the meeting.)

Besides allegedly being sought after as a consultant to the U.S. Air Force, in recent months Diaz claims he has cured people of heart disease and other ailments, using the healing energies his various entities have sent him. Still, he says he wishes the entities would stop walking in on him so often. "My mission," he says, "is to do more healing."

Diaz's tale -- strange as it may seem -- is hardly unique in the Miami area, and, surprisingly, the narratives he and some others tell differ markedly from the national pattern in abduction reports. These local residents' vivid, conscious recollections of the alleged abductions are quite unlike many of the cases popularized in the mass media, in which people generally suffer from mysterious problems and bouts of missing time, then "remember" through hypnosis that they've been abducted by intrusive aliens. The absence of lingering trauma in some people is particularly striking. With Ann (not her real name), for instance, it's hard to tell which is weirder: the fantastic nature of her tale, or the fact that such a plain-spoken, pleasant woman is recounting this story at all.

On a recent night, Ann, a real estate property manager who works for several communities, sits in her neat, spare living room in a North Dade townhouse, explaining how she became firmly convinced she'd been abducted by aliens after her boyfriend spotted two puncture marks behind her right ear. She began reading heavily on the subject of UFOs and abductions. But nothing actually happened until she went on a retreat for UFO believers in New Hampshire last Labor Day weekend. On a Saturday night, she was taking part in a relaxation exercise led by a self-proclaimed walk-in, Zera. There were about twenty people in the room, and they were all lying down on the carpet. The leader began making unusual dolphinlike "toning" sounds when suddenly Ann felt herself being lifted up. "I was afraid to open my eyes," she says now. But when she did, she could hardly believe what she saw.

She found herself in a bucket chair that moved forward and stopped in front of a table with about a dozen aliens. "One looked like a lizard, another one looked like a bird, another one, the most human of them, had no mouth, two holes for a nose, eyes, and sort of a big round head," she says. To show what he looked like, she points to a maroon-colored rock she has lying on her living room table; etched somehow into the middle of the rock is a light gray outline of a large-skulled creature with two long slits for eyes. She found it on the beach the day after her supposed encounter, and she sometimes cradles it as a memento of her experience.

"My first reaction was: What the hell is going on here?" she says in a no-nonsense voice tinged with a Spanish accent. "I am freaking out. I looked at my body, and then I looked back up at them. I kept saying to myself, 'This is a dream and I need to wake up, like, right now.' When I looked up, he said telepathically, 'You're not imagining this. This is not a dream, this is reality.'"

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