From the Fate Archives
The center of France has some spots which are among the wildest and most backward in Europe. The peasants and sheepherders of these areas are known for their austerity and faithful clinging to customs and morals some of which date back to the time of the Celts, that is to say, over 20 centuries. One would not expect to find among these people minds obsessed with science fiction.
However, it is in one of these very sectors that, for the first time in Europe, a man claims to have seen and even touched with his hand a being from outer space. The affair took place September 10, 1954, at nightfall, three days after the sighting at Contay [see sidebar, page 66].
It was 8:30 p.m. when Antoine Mazaud returned to his farm. “Are you sick?” his wife asked him. “You seem pale; and your hands are trembling. What happened?”
Madame Mazaud had good reason to be concerned. Her husband, a solid man in his 50s, was a stable peasant, as sensible as he was robust.
“No,” he answered. “I’m fine. But I had a bizarre experience—really an inexplicable meeting.”
His wife asked, “Who did you meet?”
“Who? You would better ask What. I’ll tell you. But I forbid you to tell anyone. I don’t want any trouble.”
And Mr. Mazaud told this story:
He had worked all afternoon in his oat field. Around 8:30 night was falling and he decided to return home. Throwing his pitchfork onto his shoulder he took the path leading from the hamlet of Mourieras to his home, about 1,500 meters away. This path twists between two hedgerows in a wild, hilly countryside.
While walking through a small wood he put down his pitchfork in order to roll a cigarette. (I add this small detail so that the American reader will understand the character of this person and this place—far removed from the novels of H. G. Wells.) This task took him a minute or two, after which he put his pitchfork back on his shoulder and started out again.
“I had taken only a few steps,” he said, “when in the beginning darkness I found myself face to face with a strange being dressed in a peculiar way. He was of medium height and was wearing a sort of helmet, without earpieces, somewhat like a motorcycle helmet.
“My first thought was to defend myself with my pitchfork,” he said. “I was scared stiff. The other also was immobilized. Then, very slowly, he came towards me, making a gesture above his head with an arm. I think he wanted to calm me, perhaps to greet me or to express his friendship. His other arm was extended to me but not in a menacing manner.
“I didn’t know what to do. After a moment of panic, during which I was asking myself with whom and what I was dealing, I thought perhaps it was an insane person who had disguised himself. As he continued to come slowly towards me, making strange gestures like salaams, I decided that he didn’t intend to attack me.
“He was in front of me. Then, as I still was holding my pitchfork in my right hand, I offered him my left, hesitatingly. He took it, shook it very hard and then, brusquely, held me to him, pulling my head against his helmet. All this took place in complete silence.
“I was recovering from my stupor. I took courage and spoke to him. He did not answer, but passed in front of me and went a couple of yards away into the heavy shadows of the woods. It seemed to me then that he kneeled. A few seconds later I heard a kind of buzzing whistle and saw rising, almost vertically, towards the sky between the branches a sort of dark machine. It seemed to be shaped like a cigar puffed out on one side and about three or four yards long. It passed under the high tension wires and disappeared to the west, in the direction of Limoges.
“It was only at this moment that my reason returned,” continued Mr. Mazaud. “I ran in the direction he had disappeared but obviously it was too late.”