Jake Kell, a student at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Mo., pulled his 1999 Chevrolet S-10 next to a Git-N-Go convenience store gas pump in May 2003, stepped out of the pickup and started pumping gas.
A few minutes later, sweat rolling down Kell’s back in the humid late spring Missouri air, the nozzle handle clicked and the tank was filled. It was only 11 a.m.; he knew the day was going to only get more uncomfortable.
He didn’t expect it to get weird.
“I went in to pay for the gas,” Kell said. “The humidity made me weak, so I just wanted to pay for the gas and leave.”
After paying, he stepped from the air-conditioned store onto heat-radiating asphalt and the day quickly got strange.
“As I left the gas station, some large melon-headed man dressed in a business suit yelled, ‘What year is it?’” Kell said.
Kell stopped near his truck and turned to look at the man. The stranger’s stature was imposing.
“The large man was 6’ 7”,” Kell said. “He could have been taller.”
The “melon-headed man” stood in front of the store at a spot Kell would have noticed when he walked out to the parking lot – but he hadn’t. The man wore a dark black suit “with a rough fiber texture,” Kell said. “Along the lines of the things Teddy Roosevelt could wear.”
“What year is it?” the man yelled again.
The man, white, about 35 to 40 years old, wasn’t just tall, he was big, “not too thin, but not fat.”
“He was just a big man who was acting strange,” Kell said. “He was clean-shaven, no mustache or beard. He just looked like an average tall American. If you saw him in a large group of people you’d just think he’s tall.”
But he’d asked an odd question. Kell answered it. “Two-thousand three,” Kell told him.
The man’s face contorted in anger. “What year is it?” he screamed at Kell.
“Again I said ‘2003,’” Kell said. “I was starting to get ticked off.”
The large man screamed again. “What year is it?”
“I said ‘2003’ so he could hear me,” Kell said. “Then he quit asking.” Kell tried to ignore the man as he slid into his truck. “I said to myself, ‘is this guy an alien?’”
But when Kell turned to get another look at the large man, the man was gone. “He disappeared from the front of the gas station,” Kell said.
The only place the man could have gone that quickly was inside the store, but when Kell looked, the man wasn’t there.
“When it happened I thought nothing of it,” Kell said. “It’s only afterward that I happened to listen to Coast to Coast AM with George Noory (the nation’s top late-night radio talk show) where I heard about a time traveler sighting by a truck driver in Texas at a truck stop. Someone kept asking ‘What year is it?’ to the truck driver. The driver was annoyed and left.”
There are documented reports of time slips throughout history, such as RAF pilot Sir Victor Goddard who encountered airplanes in 1935 that didn’t exist until 1939, a 100-year-old Swiss watch found in a Chinese Ming dynasty tomb, and a man named John Titor who purported online to be from 2036 and made some accurate – and not so accurate – claims about the near future of mankind.
Although stories of out-of-place humans are common, what did Kell and the truck driver who called into the radio program experience? Lunatics? Pranksters? Or someone who was lost in time?
“These stories are not so rare as people think,” Kell said. “There are many people who have seen them. But the stories are so bizarre that I don’t think anyone would want to come foreword to tell it. Who would believe you?”
Copyright 2010 by Jason Offutt
Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”
Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog, from-the-shadows.blogspot.com.