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1974: Kirchick's Warning

In 1978, Dr. Julian Kirchick was dying. After an extended bout with cancer, it was clear to everyone -- especially Kirchick -- that he was soon to be gone; and, because Kirchick was a very tenacious man, he had arranged for the journal he had kept since the start of his illness to be partly published as a record of his experience with a terminal disease. At this late stage, he had requested a reporter to talk to so he could pass on some few thoughts on his situation to be included in what was published of the journal, and so John Pascal, with the Long Island Newsday magazine, was sitting with him. One week later, Kirchick was dead.

        When Pascal published an article describing this final interview, he also made note of an unusual event that had occurred four years earlier which Kirchick felt was involved in his then-present condition... though he couldn't exactly say how. He just felt it was important to include it as part of the story of his slow death. Kirchick himself was too weak in 1978 to describe the occurrence, but it was among the earliest notes in his journal, and he indicated that Pascal should read it as their interview was beginning... so the account was written much earlier, before Kirchick was frail and, possibly, delusional.

        According to his journal, on a summer day in 1974 Kirchick was relaxing in a chaise lounge by his pool in the backyard of his house. The sun was slowly setting, and it was a quiet comfortable moment of shadows and light in the early evening, broken only by the occasional chirping of birds. Kirchick was in "a restful, semitrance-like state," when a sudden rustling in the bushes about twenty feet away startled him. He stood up and started to walk over to investigate... and stopped after just two steps.

        He was no longer alone. Somewhere before him -- it's implied it was the source of the noise, but not stated -- a skeletal human figure stood.

Kirchick's Vision
[Larger version here]

It was wearing a monk-like robe with a large hood and sleeves, with skin so thin and tight that the shape of the figure's skull was apparent. Where the eyes should have been were just sunken, hollow holes, yet Kirchick felt them peering at him. The figure's visible teeth werepartly open in what seemed to Kirchick to be a friendly smile... and the strange being's bony hand backoned to Kirchick to come closer. But Kirchick was frozen in place by his sudden fear of what he was seeing.

        Four years later, in the hospital room with Pascal, Kirchick stated "To this day, I don't know if it was a mirage or my imagination or what. It was death, though." And it would seem he was right... for it was later in 1974 that Kirchick was first diagnosed with the cancer that eventually ended his life.