CREEPY CORNER: In Honor of "Back to the Future Day," We're Talking SPOOKY Time Travel

Great scott! Time slips!
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Louise Hung
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Great scott! Time slips!

In honor of Marty McFly and Doc Brown's recent visit, I thought it was only appropriate to talk about time travel this week. CREEPY TIME TRAVEL. 

In case you shun the technology (what are you doing here?) and have not seen the dazzling display of  "Back to the Future" memes, photos of dudes in orange puffy vests looking at wristwatches, countless pictures of DeLoreans, and this movie still

BTTF clock day

inundating social media, let me catch you up. 

Yesterday was the day that Doc Brown and Marty visited when they went back to the future, in the movie, "Back to the Future Part II".  It was Back to the Future Day! 

80s kids rejoiced, teens into "old movies" geeked out, and a blanket of nostalgia swaddled humanity for a while. 

My husband and I caught ourselves saying in all earnestness to each other, "They just don't know how to make movies like that anymore." Then we shook our fists at some neighborhood youths. 

BUT WHAT IF TIME TRAVEL WAS REAL???

Alright, I'm not going to sit here, Creepy Corneristas, and tell you that I think time travel is possible (yet), but there are some eerie "true accounts" out there of what are often referred to as "time slips." 

A time slip is a brief period of time when the past intrudes on the present. Those who have claimed to have experienced a time slip claim that they stepped back in time entirely by accident; it is "spontaneous" and out of their control. Some don't even know that they have "slipped" until later. 

Some people even claim that the presence of ghosts are just evidence of time slips. Ghostly knockings, voices, footsteps could be where there is a "thin spot" in time. 

The idea of residual hauntings — a haunting that has no awareness, just repeats like a film — is also sometimes connected to a time slips. Perhaps the location of a residual haunting is a peek into the past? 

I admit we're tiptoeing into some metaphysical territory, but I find the concept of time being non-linear to be thrilling. And potentially spooky. 

Also a time slip happened on the Christmas episode of The Real Ghostbusters. So, EVIDENCE. 

As bizarre and unlikely as time slips may sound, there are "cases" out there that continue to stick around even after the skeptics stomped their collective feet and shouted, "NO WAY!"

While it is nearly impossible to actually prove what happened to these "time travelers," their stories are intriguing. As I always say, "What if?"

What if there's the smallest of chance that these things really happened? And if there isn't even that chance, isn't a story that tickles our imagination and makes us want to sleep with the lights on worth it, in and of itself? 

Here are a couple of my favorite time slip stories. There's a fantastical quality to them that I enjoy. I hope you enjoy them too. 

An Afternoon at Versailles 

Maybe the most famous (and controversial) time slip story takes place in August of 1901 at the Palace of Versailles

Principal Annie Moberly and Dr. Eleanor Frances Jourdain of St. Hugh's College in Oxford were visiting Versailles while on vacation. Having toured the palace, they entered the garden, headed toward the Petit Trianon. 

versailles petit trianon

Petit Trianon gardens. Source Flickr

While searching for the correct path to the Petit Trianon, they found themselves near a deserted farm and an old plough. At one point they came across three "costumed" men in green coats and three-cornered hats. Asking directions, they were politely pointed in the right direction. 

As the women continued, they commented later that they felt "as if a heavy mood was oppressing their spirits." Jourdain mentioned seeing a woman and girl standing at a cottage. The odd thing is that they seemed to be on "pause," the girl's arms outstretched, as if "in a motion picture." 

Moving on, the women were confronted with a man, his faced marred by smallpox, sitting in a gazebo. No sooner had they come upon this gazebo man when another man "in a dark coat and buckle shoes" came running up behind them, barking directions to them in French. Though both women spoke French, they found the man barely understandable. 

Following the man's directions across a small bridge, they soon came upon a woman sitting on a stool, sketching. Seated on the lawn of a country estate, she wore an old-fashioned summer dress, a green scarf, and her light hair was under a big, white hat. 

As Jourdain and Moberly neared, a man (also in period "costume") came hurrying out of one of the nearby country houses. 

Worried that they had intruded, they enquired about the Petit Trianon and when they finally found the entrance, were confronted by a wedding party in regular 1901 garb. The heaviness they felt lifted at this point. 

The women didn't think anything strange of their trip to Versailles until three months later when they compared notes. 

While both women had memories of the men in green coats, the man in the gazebo, the small bridge, and the country houses, only Moberly had seen the sketching lady. Dr. Jourdain had not. Furthermore, Moberly had not seen the plough or the "paused" woman and girl at the cottage. 

After extensive investigation, Moberly and Dr. Jourdain found that the Versailles gardens they had witnessed that day in August was very different than the Versailles gardens in their contemporary 1900s. Upon returning to Versailles and examining maps and historical documents, the women came to realize that the entire landscape was different from what they had seen. 

There was no small bridge, no plough on the premises, no open lawn where the woman had sat sketching. The buildings were all different and even the the paths they took were gone. 

Further research revealed that what they had seen was more in keeping with specifically October 5, 1789 — the day Marie Antoinette learned of a mob planning to storm her palace gates. October 5, 1789 was also "the last day that Marie Antoinette spent at the Petit Trianon." 

Was the sketching woman Moberly saw none other than Marie Antoinette? Was the man in the dark coat and buckle shoes the page, de Bretagne, sent to warn Marie Antoinette of the mob? Had Dr. Jourdain and Ms. Moberly somehow stumbled into a slip in time?

What do you think, Creepy Corneristas?

What Hotel?

I love this one because true or not, it reminds me of a "Scary Story to Tell in the Dark." 

The Gisbys and the Simpsons, two British couples, were on vacation in 1979. Headed to Spain, they had decided to drive through France, and stay overnight near Montélimar. 

The hotel they intended to stay in was full, so they were pointed down the road by a hotel worker in an unusual plum-colored suit, to another hotel. As they drove, they noticed the road was narrow, cobbled, and had old-fashioned circus posters posted along the way. 

old timey Montelimar

Montélimar c. 1917. Did the Gisbys and the Simpsons see something not too far off from this? Source Wikimedia Commons

They soon reached a quaint inn decorated in heavy wood, rustic cloths, and possessing no modern conveniences like telephones. The innkeeper, while friendly, spoke no English and the couples were able to communicate just enough to get rooms for the night. 

After a hearty but delicious dinner by candlelight, the couples retired to their rooms. The rooms, it should be noted, had no glass in the windows, only shutters, and the feather mattresses had only coarse calico sheets and rough blankets. The Gisbys and the Simpsons shared a bathroom with "antique" plumbing. 

As the group was eating breakfast the next morning (a breakfast that included "black and horrible" coffee), they saw a woman dressed in an old-fashioned, silk evening gown enter the hotel. "I couldn't take my eyes off her," said Pauline Simpson. 

Strangely, when Geoff Simpson asked two policemen drinking coffee in the hotel — two policemen in odd-looking uniforms — how to get to the "autoroute," the policemen didn't know the word and instead sent them to an old, out of the way road. Even stranger, the bill for both couples' stay was only 19 francs — 1/13 the regular hotel rate. 

The Gisbys and the Simpsons went on to their Spain vacation and on their return trip, decided to stay at the inn again. But try as they might, they couldn't find it. And nobody in the village knew of such an inn. Despite finding the "right road," the spot where the hotel should have been was empty. 

When they asked their first hotel for the employee in the unusual plum-colored suit (hoping he might know the way to the inn) the hotel said they had no such employee. The Gisbys and the Simpsons had to move on. 

Adding more weirdness, both couples found that all the pictures they had taken at the mysterious inn had not developed. It was like their trip never existed. 

Or was it in the past?

While the Gisbys and the Simpsons have been criticized for holes in their time slip story — why didn't the old-timey people freak out over their car? How did they pay with modern money? — they all claim to be telling the truth, and that they "only know what happened." 

Both couples returned later to try and find the hotel again, but still none was found. Though, in doing some research the policemen's uniforms were identified as being from 1905. 

To the best of my knowledge, still not much is known about the Gisby's and the Simpson's experience. Did they just get lost? Could they be pulling off a hoax? Or did they step back in time for a night?

Creepy Corneristas? Thoughts? 

And don't forget to send me your story for Creepy Corner's HALLOWEEN READER ROUNDUP! See details at the end of this post!