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Bizarre Slips in Time

True stories that challenge our concept of time and reality

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WHAT IS TIME? We can measure it and slice it up into millennia or nanoseconds, and we can sense our experience through it. The Encarta encyclopedia can define it as a “conscious experience of duration, the period during which an action or event occurs...” and we can even abstractly label it the fourth dimension. But all that really doesn’t bring us any closer to a true understanding of what time is... or how it works.

What we do have are some very peculiar stories of rare instances in which time doesn’t seem to flow in the way we normally experience it. People report gaps in time, jumps through time, missing time, and perhaps even glimpses into past or future events.

Because our perception of time is usually so routine and mundane that when a person is enveloped by one of these time slips, they report it as the most bizarre and disorienting thing they’ve ever experienced.

Here are some of those stories. (Cue Twilight Zone theme):

A Blip in Reality

In 1991, Glenn was a university student in Nova Scotia. What began as an ordinary bus trip back to his home town to visit his parents turned into a confusing distortion of time and space.

“I sat at the back of the bus and there was nobody around me,” says Glenn, “but there was a family sitting behind the driver in the front. The bus ride was uneventful until we came close to my parents’ home town. I was looking out the window and looked at the Michelin tire factory as we went by it going uphill. When the bus reached the top of the hill, I got a strange feeling, and for some unknown reason I started to imagine many people on the bus laughing at me!

“Right then there was a blip in reality and the bus was suddenly about a mile back on the highway! I then had the experience of watching the bus drive by the tire factory again! This kind of scared me and I noticed that the family sitting in the front, who were talking loudly before, were now dead quiet.

“I approached the bus driver when we stopped and told him what I thought happened. He looked really nervous and he said something like, ‘Things like that happen.’”

A Brief Leap in Time

The bus driver was right, apparently. Things like that do happen. Just ask Sue, who in the autumn of 1994 was driving with her boyfriend Jim to their home in Fallbrook, California when they might have narrowly escaped a larger rift in time.

“There are two roads into Fallbrook,” says Sue, “from the north and from the south. We approached from the south heading north on Mission Rd., which is a four-mile, curvy, two-lane road. It was a Friday evening and I blurted out how weird it was that we hadn't passed any cars in the opposite direction since our turn onto Mission Rd. Fallbrook is a small town, but this was a very well-traveled road.

“I knew it was 6:24 because I had just looked at the big amber display on the stereo when all of a sudden the car died, the pedal went hard and the lights went off. I remember feeling confused, thinking that we ran out of gas, yet knowing that we had plenty of fuel. We coasted off to a dirt turnout immediately ahead. Jim asked what happened and I had no answer, but I felt like I had just dozed off or had gone through Jello or... I don't know what.

“I put it in gear, Jim jumped out, came around to my side and opened the door. I jumped into the passenger seat, he got in, cranked it over and – vroooom! – off we went. As we pulled away I felt irritated, a little nervous, but sure something really weird had just happened. Then I glanced at the clock on the stereo again. It was 6:36 p.m. Twelve minutes had passed when, being generous, the whole incident couldn't have taken more than 1½ minutes, max.”

Next page > Instant replays of time

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