1997, November: The Incident

Consider the following picture for a moment.

The Incident
[Picture sources here]

This image is now mostly seen separate from all explanation in picture sharing sites, as well as in collections of ghostly or paranormal pictures... which is all just a shame, because it has quite a story behind it. Two, actually.

        But I get ahead of myself.

        Balder Olrik, a resident of Copenhagen, Scandinavia, posted a very unusual website in 2004 describing a strange book he found and sharing what little he had left of it. According to Olrik, he was browsing around a used bookstore somewhere in November, 1997, when he came across a book with his family name on it; intrigued, he asked the store owner where it had come from, and the owner said it was owned by a deceased American officer. Olrik opened the volume to peruse it... and immediately closed it and asked how much it was. The book, you see, was hiding a second book inside; Olrik suspected that if the owner knew this, he might raise the price.

        The second book was titled The Incident. It was most certainly not about Olrik's family; rather, it seemed to document a series of strange events -- possibly experiments -- that defied rationality. Page after page, picture after picture, the book became more and more hypnotic and horrifying. Unable to guess what exactly he now owned, Olrik copied off a few pages and sent them to a friend of his to get someone else's opinion.

        Three days later, someone broke into Olrik's apartment and stole the book. Nothing else was taken.

        With just the seven pages he copied left to him, Olrik put together his website to share the pictures and text with the rest of the world... and to hope he might someday get some answers. The image above comes from the first of the seven pages he presented:

Page 103 of 'The Incident'
[Picture sources here]

Caption: "At the Third Beograd Tribunal, Mr. Klein was doubting the powers of the New World Order and look how he was taught a lesson! The young man fainting in the middle of the picture, is an American student of whom The Great Leader has said 'Mr. Oswald will fire the first shot of a new era for us'"

As can be clearly seen, not only does it imply paranormal activity, but it also claims a connection to a major historic event... the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

        The website included a section for comments to be sent, and the very first comment -- signed only "H.Z." -- claimed to be from Frankfurt, Germany, and to have seen the missing book at an auction where it was bid up to a ridiculous price by two men, before being outbid by a phone-in bidder for twice the amount. H.Z. had beer afterwards with the auction-house director, who mentioned that the phone bidder had been "a very nervous American lady." H.Z.'s opinion of the matter was simply that the book was a rare copy of an expensive print that was stolen from Olrik and sold at auction precisely because of its actual value... but H.Z. also speculated that it might have a connection to a secret society that wanted it out of sight as well.

        Olrik followed up on the clue and obtained the address for the American lady, in New York, and flew off to find the buyer. All Olrik discovered, however, was that the address given was a business address for a company that he could find no information on (even on the internet!). A query to a friend of Olrik's, a journalist in Washington, eventually helped him find that the strange company was owned by a "very big Hightec Corporation" that Olrik wouldn't name, because "they are notorious for dragging people in court."

        And that's where Olrik's accounting of the matter ends, though many other people commented afterwards with a wide variety of theories regarding the origins and disappearance of the book.

Just One Problem...

        Buried deep on Olrik's website and without a clearly marked link, is the one thing that puts a dent in the account: a disclaimer page.

        Olrik states that his website is an 'artwork,' and admits to Photo-shopping the various pictures both to introduce fantastic and conspiratorial details -- such as Lee Harvey Oswald's face in the photo above -- and to create the 'pages' from the non-existent book, as well as writing the first comment in his comments page (the rest are real). Olrik's reason for this creation was to demonstrate that words and pictures can be faked, and that viewers in the "New-Age" of the world would need to be critical with what is presented to them from now on.

        Of course, the line between 'art' and 'scam' tends to be a thin one in these cases... because Olrik then brags a bit about how popular the site had become. All of which ends the first story of the strange picture above; but remember, I said it had two stories, didn't I? Let me show you something interesting.

Curiouser and Curiouser

        Olrik did indeed Photoshop the pictures he used in "The Incident"... but he didn't Photoshop them as much as you might normally suspect. I ran across the unaltered pictures as I was researching this matter, and it only brought up new questions. For example, our main picture above with and without Olrik's alterations:

Picture 1

Without alterations
...and not altered.

As you can see, the picture was darkened, Lee Harvey Oswald was pasted in, and lightning bolts were added... but the original picture still shows a gathering with very odd activity. This was true of all seven of Olrik's images, most of which display the same people at the same event. So the new questions: who are these people, where did Olrik get these pictures, and what exactly is going on?!? Follow the 'See Also' link below for more on that...

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