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FIVE

A

Wendelle Stevens had retired from the Air Force in 1963, after twenty-three years on active duty, over 4,000 hours of flying time, and top-secret clearance. Graduated from the Army Air Corps' first test pilot training school, Stevens at age twenty had been a project officer for the development of the P-47 fighter plane, and during World War II had commanded an aircraft maintenance squadron, seeing only limited combat in the Pacific.

After the war, the Air Force assigned Stevens to the Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright Field, where he screened thousands of documents and advanced aeronautical blueprints captured by the Americans when the Germans fled their factories and air design centers. Many of the documents had been seized from the Nazi drawing board, details of exotic flying machines and rockets. Subsequently, Stevens was reassigned to Alaska, briefing and debriefing air crews of the Ptarmigan Project, a weather reconnaissance program in which B-29 crews mapped and photographed the polar surface. Because of encounters with strange circular aircraft reported by these returning crews, UFOs had piqued Stevens' interest even before the term "flying saucer" was coined in June 1947.

Stevens' first involvement with a UFO came during a debriefing in which one of his crews claimed it had spotted a "bogey" flying at an altitude much higher than they were capable. Before long, Stevens' B-29 crews inside the Arctic Circle had reported dozens more such sightings involving speeds and aeronautical maneuvers unknown to our technology. Later, Stevens himself clocked one of these "bogeys" on radar. It was traveling 7,000 miles an hour.

"Based on my previous experience in the Air Intelligence Center," Stevens said, "I was convinced that there was no earth technology capable of producing air vehicles that could fly at thousands of miles per hour and make sharp angled turns at such high speeds, stop and even reverse instantly, stand still in the air, descend and ascend vertically at low and high speeds, land on the ice and water, and submerge underwater and emerge again and fly away."

The B-29s on the Ptarmigan Project came outfitted with still cameras and movie cameras, and many times the crews who reported witnessing such maneuverability also captured the exotic craft in photographs and on film. Stevens himself saw none of the physical evidence, because as soon as the exposed film arrived in its canister with the crew back at his base, Stevens sent it with the crew chief directly to Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, where, according to Stevens, "the officer was met by Pentagon intelligence and taken someplace."

Hearing nothing further about any of the sightings, Stevens began collecting articles and books on the UFO phenomenon. In a short while, he had acquired some of the first UFO photographs ever published, and he began to exchange copies of these photos for new ones taken by amateurs, as sightings became more prevalent. By 1976, Stevens' library on UFOs included 700 books and nearly 3,000 photographs, probably the largest private collection in the world, and one that was utilized extensively by documentary filmmakers. For nearly thirty years, he had corresponded and exchanged evidence regularly with most of the world's UFO researchers and investigators, and had personally investigated over a hundred cases in Bolivia, Canada, China, Ecuador, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States; he had walked the sites, handled the evidence, and "looked the people in the eye." Occasionally, he had been warned by governments not to pry.

"When I first encountered the phenomenon in the Air Force," Stevens said, "I thought it was very interesting to know and I wanted to find out more about it. But then, I found out that the people I was passing information to were denying that it ever existed. And I was running into trouble trying to tell my stories to somebody else. That piqued my curiosity because of all the energy used to suppress the information. Why were they covering it up? If there was nothing to it, why worry about it? Then, when I got to investigating my own cases and found that witnesses had turned pictures over to authorities and they never knew really who these authorities were, and nobody could ever find the pictures again, I began to worry. Where were they all going? Who the hell was doing this and how?

"The phenomenon itself seems to be interwoven in our society from its very beginning, and we don't even understand that. If you go back through the Old Testament with different eyes, you'll find some sixty-eight passages that describe UFOs. Eliza was taken up by a wheel of fire, and Moses was spoken to out of a burning bush. That's no more than a green fireball that hovers in front of the sofa in somebody's house and talks to him, which I've run into at least twenty times in my investigations.

"I think part of the reason I chase UFOs is that I find realities there that are not realities to most other people. And I wonder why. It's too widespread to be nothing but a mental aberration. There are 70,000 cases per year reported worldwide. That's far too much for accidental story telling. It's too much for a bunch of liars to be creating their own stories for their own prestige or status or whatever they seek as individuals.

"If I hadn't spent thirty years doing this, I wouldn't believe it if you told me. But I have come to accept it because I have seen so many cases and talked to so many different people who are not in touch with each other, who are sane, rational people with no ax to grind, and these things have happened to them."

B

Lou Zinsstag and Wendelle Stevens had never met, though they frequently had exchanged photographs and information on UFO cases. During his thirty years of collecting and investigating, Stevens had acquired a reputation for having a knowledgeable eye when it came to analyzing photographs. Zinsstag knew of that reputation, and in the summer of 1976, she had written to Stevens, telling him briefly about the Meier case and mentioning the photographs taken by this one-armed, unemployed security guard. Prior to her letter, Stevens had heard nothing of the Meier case, but he knew Zinsstag by reputation as well as through correspondence, and he doubted her fascination with the case was unfounded. Though she was vague about their content, Zinsstag had twelve photographs she wanted Stevens to see; and instead of sending them by mail as she had often done in the past, she wanted to bring them herself from Switzerland to Stevens' home in Tucson.

In early September 1976, Zinsstag flew to the United States, accompanied by Timothy Good, to meet with some of the more prominent figures in American UFOlogy, and to conduct research on George Adamski. On the prearranged day, she called Stevens from the Greyhound bus station in Tucson, and Stevens picked them up, got them checked into a motel, then drove them out to his house. They first wanted to see Stevens' UFO library, which took up an entire wall of the living room, and another wall in his small study. In addition to the 700 volumes on UFOs collected from all over the world, thirty blue binders containing Stevens' collection of nearly 3,000 UFO photographs stood side by side in three tight rows.

Briefly, they discussed various cases, but Zinsstag cut short the small talk when she pulled a folder from her satchel. As Timothy Good remembered, "Lou brought a sort of 'dossier' on Meier." Inside the folder lay a large envelope, which she opened carefully, then slid out a small stack of 5 X 7 photos. As she began laying out each photograph neatly on Stevens' dining room table, Stevens took one look and whispered, "I have nothing in my collection that even comes near the quality of these prints."

When Stevens examined a UFO photograph, he looked first for relative focus, then for distance graying. "Distance attenuation is what I call it," he explained. "The further away an object is, the more moisture, smoke, and dust there will be in the atmosphere between it and the lens.

"Then, I would look for evidence of rephotographing. If it's got a fingerprint or specks on it, I turn it at an angle in the light. If what I'm looking at is not on the surface, then it's printed in the photograph, and that means that something preceded this picture. Also, the distance light travels has some relationship to the color that arrives at the lens. The closer the object is, the more red it appears; the further it is, the more blue. Another thing to look at is light scatter because the curved surface on a larger object scatters light differently than the sharply curved surface on a nearer object. A model can be perfectly realistic, but it will cast light differently."

Stevens examined each print carefully, holding it up to the light and tilting it. In thirty years of collecting and analyzing photographs of UFOs, Meier's photos were the most spectacular he had ever seen. Rarely was a UFO photograph more than a single accidental shot taken with poor equipment by an amateur who had no time to make adjustments for proper lighting, speed, and focus. Extremely rare was the photo taken in daylight, or with the UFO below the horizon, or with multiple craft in the same picture. And no one had ever taken a continuing series of photographs of the same craft.

In the Meier photos, shiny silver disks, glinting from the sun, hovered in a blue sky above nearby hills and trees. A distinct red band encircled the upper convex rise on many of the sleekly contoured disks. Others were adorned with equally spaced knobs around the perimeter and a rococo dome on top. In all, Meier had photographs of six variations of spacecraft, each taken in daylight, some below the horizon, and some with two, three, even four spacecraft in the same picture. And each of the photos was the sharpest and clearest Stevens had ever seen.

Timothy Good later remembered Stevens' reaction. "He became absolutely in the seventh heaven when Lou showed him the photographs. He was thrilled. Absolutely. Words to the effect, 'best pictures I've seen.'"

C

When Zinsstag and Good had called from the bus station late that morning, Stevens had been entertaining friends down from Phoenix, Lee and Brit Elders. Lee Elders had been a close friend of Stevens for five years and was aware of Stevens' reputation as a UFO investigator. He and Brit were mildly interested themselves, having been educated in the phenomenon by Stevens. No one could go to Stevens' house and see the fat three-ring binders filled with pictures of flying saucers and not have his curiosity piqued. That afternoon, though, the Meier photos that Lou Zinsstag spread across the dining table amazed the Elders as much as Stevens.

"Photographs of UFOs," said Brit, "are usually fuzzy little balls in the sky that have no definition. And they are so far away and so much out of focus, they could be just about anything."

She laughed. "Sure, somebody has taken a little tiny miniature setting, put it together, and filmed it. That's what that is."

"Actually, Lee used to laugh at my UFO hobby," recalled Stevens. "When he saw the photographs, his position was, 'Ah, they're fakes. Anybody could look at those and tell they're faces.' They looked pretty good to me, but I had run across a lot of good pictures that were fakes, so I kind of half agreed. But I thought, man, these are the best fakes I've ever seen. How did he do it?"

For the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, Stevens studied the photographs and listened to Zinsstag recount her experiences with Meier. She told him about Meier's living conditions in the Hinwil house, his wife and children, and the many people who came to see him. She explained her relationship with Meier and how she had acquired the photos. The man was poor, she said, had only one arm, and seemed sincere. How many pictures had he taken of the craft? Stevens wanted to know. Oh, replied Zinsstag, quite a few more. As he listened, Stevens perceived that Zinsstag was trying to relay a sense of the man and his experiences without telling the whole story, as though she were protecting Stevens from some sort of sensory overload. The pictures spoke for themselves, but it seemed that much of the story, perhaps most of it, remained untold. This perception intrigued Stevens.

The following morning, Zinsstag and Good left for Los Angeles. For the next year, Stevens corresponded with Zinsstag until he made contact with Meier himself and began a correspondence with him. Slowly, he realized that Meier had had more than a few contacts, that details of these contacts had been recorded, that perhaps many more, even hundreds of photographs existed, and that Meier may not have been the only one to have seen and experienced strange things in the forests surrounding Hinwil and now in the hills outside Schmidruti. In October 1977, a little over a year after Lou Zinsstag and Timothy Good had come to Tucson, Stevens decided the case was worth an on-site investigation, and he made arrangements to fly to Switzerland to meet Billy Meier.

"I'm just going to go over real quick and take a look," he told the Elders. He hoped to get prints of some of the Meier photographs for his collection, and mainly "to look the man in the eye to see if he's telling the truth."

The Elders laughed. "Tell us what happens when you get there," they said.

D

Stevens flew to London, then took the train to Wiesbaden, Germany, where he delivered a UFO lecture. The next day, he took another train to Zurich, where he rented a car and began his drive to the Meier farm, as picturesque a drive as one could imagine. In October the green countryside lay dotted with the bright reds and yellows of turning leaves, and many tree trunks supported burlap sacks filled with fresh-picked apples and pears. On nearly every hillside roamed light gray dairy cows with the Glocke or the Treichle dangling from their necks, tinkling as they grazed. Already the farmers had stacked winter wood head high, the split logs forming a face as smooth as a puzzle.

The Meier farm stood not so picturesque. Meier and his family had been living at the farm now for only six months. Mud still lay everywhere, and Stevens saw outbuildings standing askew, their roofs sagging. The main house, which shared a common wall with the barn, had no upstairs, only open rafters, and the roof leaked. The only bathroom facilities sat behind the house, a lean-to built over a pit. In the kitchen a pressure pump now brought in cold water from a holding tank, and Meier had wired the kitchen and the main room of the house with electricity for only two bare light bulbs. Most of the floors were still of dirt.

When Stevens arrived at the farm, he saw two cars with people waiting to see Meier, one from Munich, one from Berlin. A few young Europeans, hitchhiking, or on bicycles or motorcycles, had pitched tents on the driest piece of ground they could find and lived there for a few days, working in the field or garden during the day, and talking to Meier in the evenings. Invited by the Meiers to stay at the farm if he liked, Stevens himself slept in a bedroll in the rafters above what used to be the barn. He felt that any case worth investigating deserved time, and it appeared that the Meier case deserved more than most. He wanted to get as close as he could.

A year earlier in Tucson, Zinsstag had told Stevens only that Meier had had more than one contact and that he had taken at least a dozen other photographs than the ones she had brought with her. In his first day at the farm, after meeting Meier and talking with a few other people, Stevens confirmed his earlier suspicion that Zinsstag had held back some of what she knew about the case to avoid overwhelming him at the outset.

Much to his surprise, Stevens found that Meier not only spoke passable English, but had a colorful way of expressing himself. When the two men met, Meier even offered him a challenge: he said he hoped the colonel would ask questions not asked by everyone else.

"He had so many different faces coming and going," said Stevens, "and he had answered the same questions so many times for so many different people, he got sick of it. He didn't want to talk about it at all to outsiders because he'd explained to somebody else yesterday and somebody else the day before, and another one the day before, and another one the day before, and he didn't care. If you didn't ask the right questions, you didn't get the answers.

During his four days in Switzerland, Stevens accompanied Meier on several long walks into the forest behind the farm, and when the weather turned bad he sat with Meier in the kitchen for hours poring over photo albums and talking. When Stevens asked about recent pictures of the beamships, Meier gave him 130 photographic prints, charging him only for the cost of printing. Through an interpreter, Stevens also interviewed Popi, the children, and half a dozen other witnesses, including Jakobus, Hans Schutzbach, and Herbert's friend Harold Proch, who was visiting with his sister. Each had his or her own stories to tell, and each was so convinced the contacts were taking place that when Stevens asked if they believed them, the common answer was, "I don't believe. I know."

E

With the weather socked in, cold and damp, and visibility at the sites poor, the Gasthaus zum Freihof in Schmidruti provided Stevens with a quiet place to get away from the farm and sit in a warm parlor heated by a large wood stove. One gray morning, he retired to a table by the French windows that overlooked the road spiraling through the village, and began to read the background on the contacts. Meier's alleged experiences appeared to be far more complicated than a simple meeting three years earlier.

Stevens thumbed through the voluminous pages of contact notes, beginning with Meier's account of his first contact with Semjase, a Tuesday afternoon, January 28, 1975, in a field not far from Hinwil.

According to the notes, that January had been unseasonably warm in eastern Switzerland, and the winter had been unusually dry; little snow clung to the lower elevations. Meier wrote that in the early afternoon he had been at his house in Hinwil when the twinkle of a thought had entered his consciousness, and then words and symbols had formed a message, one he had been expecting but not quite so soon: he was to leave his house and bring with him a device for taking pictures.

Responding to the message, Meier had departed on his moped, taking with him an old Olympus 35mm camera with a broken viewfinder and a focus that jammed just short of infinity. He used this camera because the film advanced with a simple thumbwheel he found easy to operate with his one hand.

On his motorbike, he had ridden aimlessly through the village, turning when the glimmer of a command directed him to. After an hour, he found himself far from the village, on a remote road bordering a nature conservancy where he received a final command to stop his motorbike and wait. After several minutes, a sudden stillness descended upon the meadow, and then a large disk-shaped object shot soundlessly through light clouds, slowed in a wide graceful arc, and crossed the meadow four or five hundred feet from where Meier stood aiming his camera. But the moment he snapped a picture, the disk had vanished.

When the disk reappeared again, it hovered above a truck parked at the edge of the meadow, only a hundred feet from where Meier stood. He watched the disk suspended quietly no more than three hundred feet off the ground.

Meier estimated the disk to be about twenty-one feet in diameter, with reddish rectangles, like windows, encircling its upper mound. Beneath the craft, the hull, exceedingly old in appearance, seemed to undulate "as if little waves ran continuously through the lower side of the ship." The waves radiated downward, creating an aura around the truck. Meier took a second picture, and again the spacecraft abruptly broke its hovering pattern, rushed toward the east, and disappeared into the clouds.

Climbing onto his moped, Meier had then headed out across the meadow in the direction he had last seen the disk. Only moments passed before he felt a stillness suddenly descend upon the meadow. Then, the disk came streaking through the clouds again, faster than any jet Meier had ever seen. It dropped speed quickly, banked slowly over the forest, and began its descent toward the clearing. Meier took two more pictures as the craft, without a sound, dropped lower and lower, and then landed.

In the warm parlor of the Freihof, Stevens put down the notes and sipped his hot tea. The encounter Meier was about to describe in the notes, he now knew, was only the culmination of a series of phenomena in Meier's life that Meier claimed had been set in motion thirty-five years ago. Before he read further, Stevens wanted to question Meier about the earlier experiences.

F

Back in the kitchen at the farmhouse, Meier did not hesitate to tell Stevens the long story of his involvement with the Pleiadians, a story that began in his childhood. He said his first sighting of an alien spacecraft occurred one morning when he was only five and a half years old.

"This was in 1942 together with my father," said Meier. "He was behind the house under a walnut tree, it was summertime. When I saw the ship flying, it didn't necessarily seem strange to me. It did look strange in our world, but somehow I had the feeling that it was something familiar. It fell down from the sky, to the tower of the church, and then it came to us and left westward. It was very, very fast. Altogether, I watched it fall for maybe one and a half minutes, and then when it left westward, there were seconds only."

The object had reminded Meier of a huge discus, shooting overhead only 600 feet off the ground, completely soundless, and disappearing over the Horagenwald.

He asked his father, "Daddy, what's happened here?"

But his father only replied, "It's a secret weapon of Adolf Hitler."

"I was thinking that can't be true," said Meier, "that's something else. I don't know if my father realized what he saw because he didn't bother with it anymore. I started to watch the sky day and night."

Meier told Stevens that two months had passed before he again saw the silvery flying disk, this time descending slowly toward a field where he was playing alone. But as the disk neared the grassy surface, suddenly, without a sound, it had vanished. Within moments of the disk's vanishing, something "similar to a voice" arose inside Meier's head. Accompanied by the drawing of vivid pictures in his mind, the voice thereafter spoke to Meier once a day. It requested that he answer, and seek answers of his own.

"In the beginning, I didn't receive entire words or sentences," he explained to Stevens. "It was more like pictures. As time went by, these pictures became words and sentences. Later, I received messages in symbols. Once, I tried to draw one of these symbols, but I was not able to do it."

"Troubled by the voice and the pictures in his head, Meier had told Parson Zimmermann, the Protestant minister in the village, of the great flying disk he had seen and of the voice that had come into his head soon afterward. Zimmermann had a reputation in the village as somewhat of a mystic, far more liberal in his thinking than the parochial outlook of his parishioners.

"I knew Parson Zimmermann," said Meier. "He was the family priest, and I used to play with his children. Another reason I probably went to see him was that even as a small child, I heard talk that he occupied himself with mystical matters. I told him about the experience I had together with my father, and then the voices I heard inside of me, the telepathic calls. That's why I went to him, because I though I was going crazy. I used to go after school; it was not far from the schoolhouse. He told me that he knew about these flying objects; back then, they were not called UFOs; this was nothing new to him. The people who flew in them would come from another world, not from earth. He told me that he understood this, but that he could not talk about it. He was a priest and he would shock the people. He told me to try to learn telepathy, to try to give answers. So I tried as I was told. After a few weeks, it worked, and I was able to answer. I remember very well that Father Zimmermann told me not to talk about it to anyone, otherwise everybody would say I was crazy."

Now, whenever he heard the voice speaking to him, the young Meier would try to direct his thoughts inward, and before long, he felt as if those thoughts made contact with something.

"The first reaction from the other side," he recalled, "was like a gentle and fine laughter, which I heard deep inside of me and felt, pleasant and relaxing. I still hear that laughter, but I can't define it. It was a very lovely laughter." Then, the contact faded away once more, and Meier neither heard a voice nor realized pictures. Suddenly, all was quiet again.

On February 3, 1944, Meier's seventh birthday, a new voice, low and clear, came into his conscious mind "and ordered me to learn and to collect knowledge transmitted to me." Meier feared that the clarity of this new voice meant he had finally succumbed to insanity.

"I was afraid because as a small boy, I hadn't any experience with the telepathic way. I again had to go to ask Parson Zimmermann what was happening, and he informed me, and I slowly understood."

The low, clear voice Meier now heard belonged to an entity named Sfath, whose thought-transmitted teachings continued frequently through the summer of 1944. Then, one day in September, as Meier walked alone in a meadow, Sfath suddenly announced himself telepathically and told the boy he should wait there and not be afraid.

"This was some time later and far from our home," said Meier. "It was three or four miles away behind a very big forest, a lonely place. There, I saw something falling down from the sky, very, very slow and it became bigger and bigger. It was something like a metallic pear. Then, this ramp opened and it came out, going down like an elevator. I entered the ship and we went up very high above the earth. There was a very old man who looked to me like a patriarch. His name was Sfath. He was a human being, like each other one here on earth, only very old. We talked for hours, then he brought me back to the ground. The funny thing was, he knew my mother tongue better than I."

The venerable Sfath told Meier he would remain his spiritual mentor only through the early 1950s, when a much higher form of life would assume the responsibility for further teaching. Meier had been selected for a mission, but Sfath revealed only that decades would pass before the boy knew its nature. Until that time, Meier had to be prepared to meet with many things, some that would cause him again to question his sanity, others that might bring physical harm. At the end of four hours, Sfath returned Meier to the meadow then departed, never to be seen again by the young boy. For many years thereafter, though, he had continued transmitting thoughts to Meier, preparing him, Meier felt, for the next step in his spiritual evolution. Then, on February 3, 1953, when Meier turned sixteen, Sfath's voice had ceased in his mind forever.

Several months passed before the silence was again filled with a new voice, at once present and talking to him. Unlike the soft and harmonic tone of Sfath, the new voice sounded young and fresh, full of force. She was named Asket.

G

Asket came from the DAL Universe. "To your universe, it is unknown," she instructed Meier, "but our universe is parallel to yours. It lies reckoned in your time on an equal plane. Many of the universes lie in time planes and spaces completely unknown to you. Because of technological developments, the barrier has been opened from our universe to yours."

When Meier was twelve he spent eight months in a tuberculosis sanatorium, and at fourteen, the local guardianship office sent him to the boys' home at Albisbrunn for being consistently truant. At Albisbrunn, he ran away three times before authorities returned him to his parents, and then he quit school before completing the sixth grade. As a young man, he worked at many jobs, from laying sewer pipe to milking dairy cows. Once, with several other young men, he was picked up by police for stealing and sent to a detention center at Aarburg, from which he again ran away, this time to France, where he joined the Foreign Legion, went AWOL a few months after completing training, and returned to Switzerland and the detention center. He told Stevens that after his teenage years of reformatories and odd jobs, Asket had encouraged him to venture out into the world, to explore and to learn. Inspired by her telepathic teachings and her reassurance, Meier said he began his first travels into the Middle East in 1958.

"I was told to go over there myself and see what is really there," he said, "because there is a connection with previous lives. The most important places were Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Jordan. Very important again were West Pakistan, the foot of the Himalaya Mountains, and then India, mainly New Delhi and Mehrauli. And I have to add Turkey to this. All this has a connection with Emmanuel; that was his route and where he lived. I was told to get in touch with certain people, some of whom expected me, they were informed. In Mehrauli, I learned the teachings and philosophy of Buddha from a Buddhist monk."

Weeks, even months had passed between contacts with Asket. Then, suddenly her voice would be inside his head again, indicating she desired to transmit information to him.

"Do you have time?" she would say.

Most often, he would say yes because her instruction was more important than anything else. And if he said yes, she would say, "Would you go to this place tomorrow and meet with these people?" Or, "I want you to go here and look at this." Or, "I want you to go there and learn this."

"It is something very normal," he explained to Stevens. "It's as if you called me and asked, 'Billy, do you have time for this?' Same thing."

Meier viewed such wanderings as part of the mission he had been given as a young boy. It was "instructive." As he explained to Stevens, he was "to get to know man, the soul of man, life of man, the background of the teachings." He was also to learn about nature.

"You learn a lot from nature," he said. "You observe plants and animals, how everything exists, how it comes to life, how it dies, how it can live together. That's how I learned the laws and commands of nature. The laws and commands of nature are the same as the laws and commands of Creation. Creation is not a separate power, Creation is in everything."

Working his way from Greece to Turkey, down through Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, into Saudi Arabia and out again through Kuwait, into Iran, further east to Pakistan and finally into India, Meier had traveled "by land, in cars, by hitchhiking, by bus and by train and by ship." He found employment as a snake catcher and a gardener, drove a nitroglycerine truck, sang in the streets, waited tables, herded pigs, sailed an oceangoing tug, sold pots, pounded nails, supervised a youth hostel, prospected for rubies and gold, posed as a veterinarian, coached, worked as a male nurse, picked grapes, designed jewelry, performed puppet shows, raised chickens, and taught German - all, he told Stevens, under the tutelage of Asket. During his travel, he acquired the nickname "Billy," as a result of his infatuation with the American West and folk heroes Billy the Kid, Buffalo Bill, and Wild Bill Hickok.

As Meier wandered from country to country, job to job, Asket had continued the telepathic teachings begun by Sfath, imparting to him even greater spiritual awareness.

"You are selected as truth offerer," she had revealed to him, "like numerous others at very early times before you. You have to become greater in knowledge than every other earthly human being of your time. Because of this, you have come under the controlling guardianship of a certain form of life which had to protect, lead, guide, and educate you. This embodies a law of the Creation which cannot be acted against, even by will, for truth offerers are not called for their mission at a certain age; they are destined from the time of procreation. Such a life will be difficult, for the creature concerned has extraordinary things to perceive."

Near the coastal city of Iskenderun, Turkey, on August 3, 1965, winding his way out of the Middle East, Meier was riding in an old bus when it collided with another bus, throwing him out of a window. The accident severed his left arm just above the elbow. Meier told Stevens he had been left for dead by the side of the road and lay unconscious for several hours before a doctor happened by, checked him for signs of life, and had him taken to a local hospital. He spent two weeks there, and when he felt well enough to travel again, he continued on to Greece, where he settled into a hotel in Thessaloniki, selling shirts "with German, with my hand, my eyes, my mouth, with my feet, with a pencil and paper." At a party on Christmas Day of that year, he had met a seventeen-year-old Greek girl named Kaliope Zafireou.

While Meier was in India in 1964, Asket had allowed him to photograph her spacecraft high above the Ashoka Ashram on the outskirts of Mehrauli. In the photograph, the craft appeared distinctly disk-shaped, topped by the slight rise of a dome, but otherwise undetailed. Meier still had the photograph and showed it to Stevens.

That year, Asket, as Sfath before her, had left him. In her final contact, she had informed Meier that for his own benefit as well as that of his new contacts,' he would be monitored for the next eleven years. At the end of that time, if assured that he had achieved the proper spiritual plane to allow face-to-face contact, the new beings would reveal their presence to him.

"Your forefathers came from the Constellation Lyra," Asket had told Meier. "And when you have become mature enough to hear the new explanations concerning these matters, you will have the answers from the descendants of your forefathers themselves. The eternal truth remains for all times the eternal truth."

And so ended Meier's story of his youthful encounters.

H

Early the next morning, Stevens returned to the warmth and quiet of the Freihof's small paneled dining room, where he drank more strong tea and waded through the awkward English translation of Meier's first contact with the new life-form, the Pleiadians. He had left off with the spacecraft finally alighting in the meadow. As Stevens began reading again, Meier's notes described the craft, which, now landed in the meadow, seemed to pulsate. Its nearly translucent, golden-silver skin glinted in the sun. Except for the portholes around the dome, the smooth, contoured surface remained unbroken by projections or seams and unmarked by symbols.

Meier had walked toward the craft for a closer look and better pictures, but when he had come to within a hundred yards, something suddenly checked his progress, "as if I were running against the winds of a soundless storm," he wrote. "With all my power, I fought against it to move forward. I even succeeded in this, but only for a few meters, then the counteracting force was simply too great, and I sat down on the ground, stared over at the object, and waited for what was to come."

In less than a minute, a figure had appeared behind the craft. As the figure approached, Meier could see that it was human in form, walked upright on two legs, and had two arms at its side. It was covered up to its neck by a tight, thin one-piece suit, dull gray in color and rough - almost like the hide of an elephant, he thought. A hard ring collar encircled the base of the neck, and the suit ended in darker, ankle-high boots.

The being, of course, was the Pleiadian Semjase, a woman with eyes an unusually pale blue. Her amber hair was parted in the middle and fell to her waist, framing her small nose, delicate mouth, and exceedingly high cheekbones. Meier had noted at the time that only two of Semjase's features truly differed from that of an earth human: her small ears joined her head in a straight line instead of a gentle curve; and her white skin was so pale and so perfect it approached luminescence.

Semjase had walked confidently and gracefully toward him, touching his arm and gently helping him to his feet; then the two of them walked to a tree near which Meier had left his motorbike. There in the grass, for an hour and a quarter, they had talked, Semjase speaking German so that Meier could understand.

Meier wrote in the notes that for a long while the Pleiadians had desired contact with an earth human who was sincere in assisting them with their mission. They had nurtured and observed him since he was five years old, and since he responded adequately to each of several levels of communication, he had continued to be contacted. In January1975, he finally was ready to learn of the Pleiadian presence and to understand the simple mission for which he had been selected.

Semjase first explained briefly that Pleiadian civilization originated many thousands of years ago, not in the Pleiades, a star system much younger than our own, but in the Constellation Lyra. When war ensued, before the planet was destroyed, much of the population migrated to other star systems, in the Pleiades, the Hyades, and to a planet orbiting a nearby star known as Vega. On one interstellar journey, the new Pleiadians discovered Earth and its early life evolving in an atmosphere hospitable to their own. Since that time, according to Semjase, Earth had been destroyed twice by its own inhabitant: first by a civilization evolved from early Pleiadians who remained behind and mated with primitive earth humans; and second, when a later generation of Pleiadians colonized Earth and produced advanced technology until war again destroyed the planet. Semjase and the Pleiadians who had chosen to return again to Earth were descendants of a peaceful Lyrian faction that now felt responsible for guiding Earth in its spiritual evolution, so the earth humans could avoid the setbacks long ago experienced by their Pleiadian ancestors.

To help them in their mission, the Pleiadians had contacted many earth humans telepathically, but the chosen ones eventually proved to lack knowledge, willingness, or loyalty. The few who possessed these qualities feared exposure, and so, remained silent about the contacts.

"In the past, we have witnessed those who were unable to determine the truth and were frightened by it," Semjase told Meier. "They claimed they would be accused of insanity, and that others would plan conspiracies to prove they were lying. This serves no purpose for the earth human or ourselves. If such humans had been sincere, we would have offered them the chance to take clear photo proofs of our beamships. We have allowed you this already, and in the future will come even greater opportunities."

Taking photographs of the Pleiadian beamships was to be part of Meier's mission; pictures provided proof that the Pleiadians existed, and this reality was a necessary step before earth humans would begin to accept the truth that they belonged to a network of galactic societies. The Pleiadians themselves were only one of many millions of cosmic races that traveled freely in space.

"The earth human calls us extraterrestrials or star people, or however he wants," Semjase had continued. "He attributes to us supernatural abilities, yet knows nothing about us. In truth, we are human beings like the earth human being, but our knowledge and our wisdom and our technical capabilities are very much superior to his.

"One of our concerns is aimed at your religions and the detrimental effect they have had on the development of the human spirit. One thing above all has power over the life and death of each creature. This is the Creation, laws which are irrefutable and eternally valid. The human being will recognize them in nature, if he troubles himself to look, for they show him the way to spiritual greatness. While the earth human indulges in religion, the real spirit dwindles.

"On Earth," she added, "charlatans have spread the lie that we come by order of the Creation as angels, to bring to the earth humans the long-hoped-for peace, the truth, the protection, and the order of your God. This is a lie, for we never have received such orders and we never will. The Creation never gives commands. It is a law unto itself, and every form of life must conform to it and become a part of it. Bring this truth to the light of the world."

Before they parted that afternoon, Semjase had promised Meier that many contacts would follow, and that she also would transmit thoughts to him telepathically.

"Do not worry that I will do this at an unsuitable time," she had said. "I know to regard your character and your will for independence; thus I will always take my directions from you. The time will come when we will meet together in my beamship, and you will be able to fly into space with me. I will inform you later about this."

Semjase had then walked back through the meadow to her beamship. Once she was inside, waves again emanated from the craft, distorting the shapes and colors of everything around it. A blue-red corona radiated outward. Meier took several more pictures as the beamship rose slowly above the pine trees and drifted to the north. It was exactly four o'clock when he exposed the last frame on his film; an instant later, the beamship shot straight up into the clouds and disappeared from Meier's view. And once again, the stirring had returned to the meadow.

I

One afternoon, with a break in the weather, Stevens asked Meier to take him to one of the contact sites. On his moped, Meier guided Stevens and the interpreter to a grassy bluff near Hasenbol, about forty minutes from the farm. On the bluff, Meier had taken a series of photographs in which a beamship approached in the distance.

"The pictures," recalled Stevens, "showed the object beginning as a speck, just a little dark speck, and getting bigger and bigger and bigger until it's the craft hovering behind a tree."

Driving up to Hasenbol, Stevens was impressed by the terrain and puzzled at how Meier could have rigged the photographs to make the beamship appear to fly toward the camera from a point out over a deep valley. But as they neared the site, another problem arose that had never occurred to him. The only way to get to the top of that bluff was by climbing a dirt road barred by a locked gate. Beyond the gate, the road narrowed and finally became two ruts separated by a wide swath of thick grass cutting through meadow, then traversing steeply up the side of the bluff.

At the gate, Stevens stopped the car, located the farmer who owned the land, and had his interpreter ask for permission to pass through the gate and proceed across the meadow.

"When we went through there, he looked at everything," remembered Stevens. "He didn't open it, but he came and looked on the back of the moped and at the car, and wanted to know what we were going to do. And I don't think that he would have allowed Meier across there with a moped loaded with disks and rigging equipment. He might have let him in there with all that rigging, but at least he would have known about it."

While the farmer looked over the contents of Stevens' rental car and Meier's motorbike, Stevens asked through the interpreter, "Do you remember Mr. Meier here?"

The man said, "Yes, he was here over a year ago."

"Did he have anything unusual with him at the time?" asked Stevens.

"What do you mean?" countered the farmer. "He had cameras and a roll pack strapped on his back, and a tripod on his moped."

"No, I didn't see anything like that," replied the farmer.

"Meier stood next to Stevens, as Stevens asked the questions. "He knew what I was after," Stevens said later, "but he never objected to me asking these questions of him or of anybody else."

Later, as they drove back to Schmidruti, Stevens mulled over three things about Hasenbol: the locked gate, the stern and inquisitive farmer, and most of all, the steep drop below the grassy bluff. "That and the fact that the object approached from a gray spot in the distance in the haze, getting bigger and bigger and bigger all the way, from over this valley. I don't see how he could do it."

By now, several witnesses had described to Stevens the strange landing tracks left by the beamships, and Stevens wanted to see a set for himself. Two weeks before his arrival in Switzerland, there had been a contact in a meadow and a set of three tracks had been left behind. If nothing had disturbed them, they would still be there in the short grass. With Meier directing, Stevens drove to the site, where they got out of the car and walked through the woods to a clearing. Stevens recognized the indentations immediately and understood why they had puzzled so many people before him.

"The tracks I looked at had stems bent over that weren't broken and they never stood up," he recalled. "And that's mysterious. How can that happen? All grass stands back up again if you haven't broken the stem. I have never been able to figure out what kind of equipment he could have used to produce those tracks in wet grass without leaving a track to and from, except the one Semjase walked out on. You could salt the ground, but the salt would not make the grass grow greener, and it probably wouldn't grow at all if you salted it too much. When I asked him he had a ready answer, didn't even stop to think about it.

"I said, 'how come the grass doesn't grow back up?'

"He said he asked the Pleiadians and they told him it was the magnetic vortices under the landing pads that produced a change in the magnetic orientation in the plant, and the plant grew horizontally in its induced field rather than vertically in a normal field. I could be misreading it; I could be seeing it all wrong. But how in the hell was he going to do that a dozen times over and never get caught?"

Stevens had investigated over a hundred cases in a dozen countries. He had walked landing sites, handled evidence, and talked to witnesses. But the Meier case was different. In Stevens' mind, what set it apart was the number of principal witnesses who had seen something for themselves. Too many seemingly honest people had too many stories about Meier that couldn't be explained - people who had watched him closely, had waited for him to slip, and who had never seen anything suspicious. One of the most common stories Stevens heard was about the time the Pleiadians had teleported Meier out of his office. The office had one window and one door, both locked from the inside with a key. One afternoon, at least two people saw Meier enter the office, but no one saw him leave. Yet later in the afternoon, when everyone thought he was working in his office, he suddenly showed up on the road in front of the farm briefly disoriented, and three men had to break down the office door to get back in.

After Stevens heard the story, the next time he and Meier sat down for a question-and-answer session, he asked Meier to define for him the precise moment he was teleported from earth to a beamship. Meier, in English, tried to explain, using the example of being in his office.

"I maybe sit by the typewriter at the window," he began, "and suddenly I feel a very, very strong force clearing up everything in my head, but still holding the position of my body by the table... because I am already going into the ship with Semjase. And in that same moment, I know I am sitting in front of the typewriter by the table. But a very short moment only, because I forget everything that is happening here. And then, in this moment, I am there, and not here."

This led to another question. Stevens wanted to know "where" Meier was when he met with the Pleiadians.

"If I am now in the ship staying on the ground," said Meier, "or a little bit over the ground, or if we fly off in the atmosphere, or out of the earth into space, or if we are walking around the ship, it is exactly the same. You see, there is the force field, and you always are inside there."

But Stevens wondered if during the contacts Meier was somehow in another dimension, or if the experiences with the Pleiadians were similar to astral travel, "a state of ecstasy, exhilaration," he suggested. He was implying that perhaps Meier's contacts took place solely on a mental plane and not a physical one.

But Meier answered, "I know what this means, astral travel. It isn't anything like that. It's so real, like we are sitting here. You see," he said, "they are really material."

J

Stevens understood now why Lou Zinsstag had been reluctant to tell him everything she knew about the Meier case. The four days in Schmidruti had been crammed with reading, questioning, viewing, thinking, and wondering. For the first time in thirty years, he felt overwhelmed. He returned to Tucson with 130 new color photographs, many of them far better than the original twelve he had seen Lou Zinsstag arrange across his dining room table. He had several hundred roughly translated pages of the contact notes, and many statements from witnesses who described seeing things unimaginable.

"Some of them told me they saw him return in the middle of three men standing in a group in a rainstorm. Looked like he just popped out of the ground, and he didn't have any raindrops on him. That's unique, that a real trick. I never had people present where the witness was teleported.

"No, Meier's a smart man and he's got a good mind, but he has only one arm, and he's limited in equipment, and he's watched by a lot of people. I don't see how he can do all these things."

Stevens went back to Tucson and told his friends Lee and Brit Elders, "If this man is perpetrating a hoax on the world, he is also successfully fooling his wife and his closest friends, and has been doing so for two and a half years."

"Steve came back shaking his head," remembered Brit. "He didn't know what to do. He spent three days at our house saying, 'you're not going to believe it. You've got to go. You're not going to believe it.'"

"I was worried about him, added Lee, "because I had observed so many UFO cases he'd been on in the past. He's had a hundred field investigations. But this time, he comes back saying, 'you've got to go over there. This is bigger than all of us!'"

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