Weird things happen sometimes.
That doesn’t mean that they mean anything. It just means that we live in a universe where the odd sometimes occurs.
One of those odd things happened to me today. I assign it no special importance, other than the fact that the coincidences involved got my attention, probably because I’ve always been interested in coincidence. Part of that is probably that I am a writer, and constantly aware when working on anything fictional that readers will only accept so much coincidence. Beyond that, they’ll laugh at the novel or story, or maybe throw the book across the room. Certainly, I’ve done both in my many years as a reader.
Anyway, today’s coincidences happened because I was waiting for some information to become available so that I could do my work for the day. Because I work on the internet, when I have down time in the middle of my work day, I tend to sit and surf the ‘net. Today, specifically, the adventure started when I decided to go over and take a look at Paul Cornell’s blog. I recommend his blog highly, by the way. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Cornell briefly earlier this year at Gallifrey One (that’s a Doctor Who convention, for the uninitiated). He seems a very nice man, and he is a very, very good writer.
One of the things I read on Mr. Cornell’s blog today was that he will be attending the Fortean Times Unconvention next month in London. This spurred what was to be a quick visit to the Fortean Times website, which I had not visited in years. The site is dedicated to the sorts of unusual things that Charles Fort studied in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, all sorts of mysteries and anomalous phenomenon and conspiracies. Things that I have had more than a passing interest in ever since I was a child; things I don’t necessarily believe or believe in, but that I am hesitant to always dismiss out of hand, either.
I looked through the site quickly, clicking on a couple of short items that were of minor interest before seeing a feature headline, “Hollywood Hitmen”, that piqued my interest mostly because I grew up in Southern California. I didn’t mean to spend much time with it; I had to get back to work.
It was a mildly interesting story about a screenwriter who disappeared while driving across the Southern California desert late one night in 1997. The authorities called it an accident, but his family and friends weren’t so sure, and the circumstances surrounding the discovery of his car and skeletal remains about a year later did nothing to contradict their feeling that he had been murdered.
None of the this, however, is really relevant to the experience I had with the story today. What is relevant is that as I scanned the story and the photos that accompanied it, two things jumped out at me. First, one of the photos, of a Denny’s restaurant, looked awfully familiar to me. This turned out to be because it is the Denny’s in Mojave, California, a regular stop when I’m taking the “back way” to and from Southern California rather than putting up with all the traffic on I-5.
The second thing that jumped out at me was a reference to Rocketdyne’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory, also in Southern California, and to the partial nuclear meltdown that occurred there in 1959. I grew up in sight of the field lab, where among other things tests were made on the rocket engines that took the Apollo rockets, and the astronauts, to the moon.. I was also at home, at the age of nearly three, the night in July of 1959, when an experimental nuclear reactor melted down and released many times more radiation than the meltdown at Three Mile Island a couple of decades later. My house was in the direct line of sight of the facility, and just a couple of miles away as the crow flies. I’ve written about that incident before in this blog, on October 5, 2006 to be precise.
Here is where the whole coincidence thing comes in. What are the odds that I would visit a website for the first time in several years, and find that the one headline story that I chose to click on to read, without there being any indication that there could possibly be anything that I could so directly relate to might be there, happened to contain two separate references to places and/or events that I have personal experience with?
As I said at the beginning of this post, I don’t assign any cosmic significance to any of this. I just find it curious that events unfolded as they did, and even more curious that the story that contained the two coincidental references appeared on a website devoted to the strange and the unusual. Certainly, curious enough to write about it after not having written anything here for months.
Like I said, no cosmic importance at all.
Except that I really wanted to tell someone about this, and maybe the universe was giving me a kick in the pants to get my butt over here and start posting again.