In the spring of 2003, much of my recreation could be attributed to the San Diego Reader, a fairly standard urban weekly with a good crossword. That’s where I and my roommates came across a small text classified promoting a meeting of the San Diego chapter of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON). It took place in the banquet room of a Sizzler steakhouse a few miles north of our apartment. Not only was the meeting free to attend, but we somehow assumed a buffet would be included given its location. As recent college graduates with precarious employment, a free event with the potential for free food was considered the ultimate in recreation regardless of the nature of the event.
As we entered, I expected the restaurant to be full of UFO enthusiasts or perhaps even flying saucers and other alien-themed decor. But there were no signs of anything beyond eager consumption of chopped steaks and butterfly shrimp. I approached a woman tending the salad bar and asked where the UFO group was meeting. She looked at me with pity and disdain and pointed to a nondescript door at the back of the dining room. We made our way past the booths and into the meeting facility where we found that we were among the first to arrive. Only a few of the 50 or so seats were occupied and an older man was busying himself with the projector. This man, I would learn, was named Mel and was the director of San Diego MUFON. He seemed certain we had arrived in this room by accident. “Why are you guys here? How did you hear about us?” In retrospect, I should not have been surprised by his paranoia, but it was off-putting. We took three seats at the back of the room and watched as it gradually filled with male senior citizens.
Mel called the meeting to order. As he went over the day’s agenda, a waitress circled the room taking orders. The speaker that day would be discussing “Planet X”. For presenting, Mel informed us, the guest of honor would be treated to a free buffet funded by MUFON membership dues. It was at this point that we realized we would not be getting a free dinner and our enthusiasm waned. But it was too late to abort; we had implanted ourselves too deeply into the room to leave without causing a major disruption, and the projector was already glowing with images of Sumerian artifacts and diagrams of planetary orbits.
Our predicament may have actually been fortuitous, though, as we may otherwise have never learned of the imminent death we all faced. You see, a tenth planet (Planet X) with a 3000-year orbit was on its way to our near vicinity where its colossal size would bring about a reversal of Earth’s rotation, thereby unleashing floods and famine that would wipe out the vast majority of Earth’s inhabitants. Only those living in the mountains and properly equipped to survive such catastrophe would be spared. NASA and other villains had been concealing this arrival for months if not years, hoping to keep the citizenry from panicking or skipping work. For better or worse, we even had an exact date for the arrival of this alien planet: May 15th, just three weeks from the Sizzler presentation. Despite the periodic interruptions by buttered roll and Diet Coke refill deliveries, the mood was somber.
When the lecture ended, the attendees chatted amongst themselves, evenly divided between those who were sure Planet X was a hoax and those who were sure the other guy would be dead by the next MUFON meeting. We pilfered some nachos and headed on our way. I suspect the friends who attended the meeting with me did the appropriate thing with the information from the previous hour, namely discarded it immediately. But I fixated on it; I needed to know who exactly it was that would have us all believe a rogue planet could go undetected until the day it was suddenly upon us, submerging our high-rises and reducing the survivors to scavengers.
In the next post, I’ll introduce you to Nancy Lieder, the woman who brought us this dire warning by channeling the alien inhabitants of Planet X. Here’s a small preview from a radio interview: