Space Case

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The sky turned green a few months back, from Dallas all the way to the Gulf. "A lot of people saw it," the man was saying, and if you didn't, you weren't looking, and you'll never see anything if you don't look.

He had begun speaking of lights that came down and melted the asphalt when, on the other side of the room at the Innova Center, another man reached into his coat pocket and lifted into the air a blue-velvet box. It was the chief abductions investigator with his little box of treasures. His jaw was set and his eyes were darting, and Derrel Sims looked important, in an FBI kind of way. He held a magnifying glass over the box; the members of the Houston UFO Network shuffled forward.

"This is one a lady sent me," Sims began. "Said she found it in her bed after an abduction."

He moved his hands beneath their eyes.
"These are little tiny nasal implants we found from a little girl," he continued.

"Those little stringy things?" a woman asked, scrunching up her nose.
Yes, Sims answered. They're .21 micrometers, which is about the size he would expect a nasal implant to be. He had instructed the girl's mother to collect her mucus the morning after each abduction. He found the implants by poking through the Kleenex.

"You have to know what to look for," he explained.
Sims showed them the "ocular implant" that stood as proof of the mass abduction of 1992, and he showed them a "high-tech ceramic" that he said was found at the site of a UFO crash. But there were specimens in that case more difficult to recover, and one by one, the chief investigator held the magnifying glass over them -- the little black bits that had been cut, he said, from a lady's foot, a man's hand and another woman's neck.

"If abductions are real, there should be evidence," he said gravely. "We think we're finding that evidence."

His display was filmed in April by a news crew from Channel 13. The pretty blond reporter had very few questions. She declined to sit through the lecture on dead cows, but on the way out, she thanked the chief investigator and told him this was all very fascinating, and she would think so even if she weren't working.

Sims was gracious and courtly. He seemed reluctant to let her go, which only made his rejection of the Houston Press sting all the more. No, he would not sit for a portrait.

"It's not about me. It's about what's happening to these people," he said. "And I don't need a critic to evaluate what I'm doing."

In the field they call ufology, Derrel Sims is becoming a shining star. In late March, he and his implant surgeries were the subject of an entire episode of the UPN series Paranormal Borderline. In Houston alone, some 50,000 households tuned in, and now a producer for Fox is considering another show like it. The chief investigator and his work are also on the current cover story of UFO Magazine. He has videos on sale, a 900 number offering alien updates, a World Wide Web page called "Alien Hunter" and an autobiography in the works, which he intends to call Confessions of an Alien Hunter.

It was my honor several years ago to be among the first reporters to speak with Mr. Sims. Just so I would know, he began by saying he could kill me in an instant, and there would be nothing I could do. Then he went on to describe his intergalactic battle with the alien leader Mondoz, and I went on to recount the tale in the Houston Post.

It wasn't my fault it didn't make the front page, and I am only partly responsible for the fact that it looked, there in Section D, kind of like a joke. But the hard-core members of HUFON were not amused, and when I returned recently to investigate the growing fame of the chief investigator, many of them declined to talk with me. One said afterward that she had been scolded for doing so. Another suggested that I was gullible for doubting alien abduction and that I had been brainwashed by the government. Anyway, a warning to the editor finally arrived from Derrel Sims' second-in-command. Cooperation from HUFON members has been understandably lacking, wrote Senior Investigator Dale C. Musser.

"While I do not know what Mr. Patterson's personal reasons are for his dislike of Mr. Sims, it is clear that he is on a vendetta .... [Reports from people he has questioned] seem to indicate that much of what Mr. Patterson plans to write is very close to, if not, liable."

Liable to do what, Musser did not say, but nonetheless, it was clear the doors were closed to me, and with nowhere else to turn, I fell in with a small band of outcasts. They believed it was possible that life exists on distant planets. Most of them believed space aliens could very well be visiting Earth. And they all agreed on one thing: as one put it, "Derrel is destroying the credibility of the field."

He was the reason they left HUFON three years ago, and he and his fame were the reason they emerged from their exile now. They told their Derrel stories and turned over their Derrel files. They gave names of people who would talk. None was more eager than Rebecca Schatte, a real estate agent turned Internet paranormal reporter who has committed much of her recent life to investigating the investigator.

"I have trouble with people who name their aliens," she said. "Derrel's a fraud, and I expose frauds."

"Derrel Sims' pioneering work in the alien and abduction phenomenon and his discovery of alleged artifacts may someday be the foundation for major discoveries in the fields of science and technology."

That, at least, is what he says in the background sheet he hands out.
The chief investigator also serves as "abductee chairman" of HUFON's abductee support group. The membership is kept secret, and the group meets at secret times and places. Only abductees are allowed, and only Derrel Sims can certify an abductee. He has bragged that he can do this just by looking at you, but just to make sure, he takes out his tools.

According to a handout on his methods, the assessment might begin with an analysis of your handwriting. Then it would go on to something called Symbolic Profiling, and eventually, Sims would evaluate the shape of your face and observe which way you looked as you told your story. If you didn't look up, which would indicate you're making it up, you might then undergo a battery of tests. The IQ test is necessary because "certain levels of intelligence are not likely to make up convincing stories." Then there's the personality profile, and then the "Alleged Alien Encounter Questionnaire."

A few years ago, this alien test was only a short quiz with questions such as "Have you ever heard buzzing sounds you could not account for?" and "Have you ever seen lights flash in your eyes that you could not explain?"

The questionnaire has evolved since then into a marvel of abduction science, a long exam that asks about excessive fingernail growth, allergic reactions to Novocaine and "words or terms you feel you know, which have no real meaning to you." "For Men Only" is the section that addresses what's going on in your scrotum, and the section "For Women Only" wants to know, "Do you ever have sexual fantasies about powerful, small or dark men who make love and walk away?"

If you get this far, Sims puts you in his La-Z-Boy, and you get hypnotized. Usually, he puts you under to get more details about your abduction, but often people sit down thinking they've only seen an owl or something with big eyes like a cat. In these cases, Sims uses hypnosis to see through the "screen memory" left by aliens. The result is believers such as HUFON President Donna Lee, who, until she was hypnotized, had no idea she'd been taken away.

"All I know is that through my regressions with Derrel, I'm an abductee," she said.

Since an abduction by space aliens is a harrowing experience, Sims recommends therapy. "Hypnotherapy is great," he says. Inside the abduction support group, according to another handout, "many abductees have stated that for the first time in their lives they do not feel at odds with life." Musser, an engineer, showed up suffering from depression and learned it was "Post-Abduction Syndrome." He became a believer. Now, as the Senior Investigator, he's trying to understand, among other things, why aliens stopped his plane in the middle of the sky as he returned from his father's funeral.

The private eye cost Rebecca Schatte $500. He found some tax problems and a slew of businesses with funky names, but no criminal record for Derrel Sims. Schatte was disappointed. If you want dirt, the private eye suggested, you should steal the man's garbage. All sorts of dirt in there, he said, and Schatte thought about it but decided no, she didn't want to get that dirty.

There's a woman in Dallas who believes space aliens drowned her children. Derrel Sims has gone to investigate, and Schatte has, too. She is on his trail -- writing letters, making phone calls. She thinks she may have discouraged the organizer of a conference from inviting Sims to speak.

"What are you going to write?" she wanted to know. "'Crazy Woman Chases Lunatic'? I don't know why I'm doing this. This is not the end of the world. But if people are being harmed, it needs to be stopped."

One evening in 1983, at a time when she had "a lot of personal things going on," Schatte was lying in her bed reading a book. The next thing she knew, it was much later, and she was standing outside her car, 15 miles from home and hysterical. She never figured out what happened, and the experience was pushed to the back of her mind until she showed up at a HUFON meeting and heard about "missing time."

"'Oh, I had that,' I said, and they said, 'Oh, you've been abducted, you've been abducted!'" And Schatte was sent home with directions to read a book by famed abductions guru Bud Hopkins. She did and was scared and wondered if indeed she had been taken away. When her mother died a few years ago, she realized her ties to the earth had been weakened, and for some reason, she reached out to the chief investigator of abductions. She completed Sims' paperwork and waited, but he never agreed to take her case, never said anything at all except that he was terribly busy.

When Bud Hopkins came to town, Schatte cornered him and got herself hypnotized anyway. There were no aliens lurking back there, but the story she recalled involved a car and a highway exit that didn't exist at the time. She understood then that she could never trust hypnosis and would never know what happened to her.

"I think it's a good example of how you can be led, how you can be sucked into the whole thing," she said. "Something happened, but Derrel is in no position to tell me what. Bud Hopkins is in no position. No one can tell me what happened, but I allowed myself to believe they could."

The alien hunter claims to hail from a line of warriors that goes back to the king of England. Which king he does not say, but the family wound up eventually in the little town of Alamogordo, New Mexico, and Derrel Sims grew up during the height of the Cold War watching missiles from the nearby White Sands testing range rise into the sky.

He says now the aliens have been harassing his family for 100 years. At any rate, he wasn't surprised the day he was told three UFOs swooped down and flew beside a missile. The aliens came for him the first time when he was three, Sims told UFO Magazine. He told me they came to his bed only once, when he was 17 and already deep into UFO research.

What they did to him, he won't reveal unless it has happened to you. (It's an alien thing; you wouldn't understand.) For whatever reason, Sims dropped out of college after only a year, and if there was an implant on his person, it didn't prevent him from joining the Army.

He has said he was training to be a military policeman in 1968 when the CIA recruited him and sent him to work in covert operations. It had something to do with raising lions and tigers, people recall, but Sims was vague about it, and his military record only shows that he was an MP for three years of no particular distinction.

He wound up in Spring, eventually, living on a street called Enchanted Gate. In 1979, he registered the first of eight businesses in Houston -- something called Parallax Enterprises. The next year, he founded Sims Construction & Supply, and that seems to have kept him busy until 1987, when he surfaced again with Executive Financial Associates. By then, he was also deep into New Age, and knew enough about "the latest brain research" to be running Accelerated Learning Systems. According to a flier, an ALS course offered "answers to questions such as 'Who Are You?' 'Why Are You Here?' 'Who Do You Wish to Become?' " The secrets lay in "Quantum Holographic Techniques."

"With this technique, Mr. Sims obtained a black belt in Japanese Kara-te, without ever taking any lessons. A feat no human has done prior."

He became a scuba-diving instructor the same way, the ad bragged, and with this special technique, he could teach you everything he knows about scuba-diving and karate -- in just five minutes. For a small fee.

"The amazing thing about you is how you got where you are!" goes one of the testimonials.

"Your sense of being is unlimited," goes another. "It must be hard to be mortal!"

Maybe not -- not with his superhuman ability to learn. He seems never to have taught what he learned; he just taught learning -- Super Learning, Optimal Learning, Peak Experience Learning. By 1989, according to another flier, Sims had learned that "you probably use less than 1 percent of your total brain capacity." He, of course, used much more, and for $220, he would teach you to think like he thinks.

"Come and become an explorer-archaeologist of yourself beginning a lifetime of discovery of the greatest wonder created ... you!"

It was around this time that he joined the Houston UFO Network. Sometime after that, Derrel Sims moved to an Humble road called Rising Star. He appeared sharply dressed at that first meeting, but "he had a look on his face like 'I've been through the wringer,' " old HUFON member Max Washburn recalled. "And when he said he'd been abducted, I believed him."

Sims' wife, Doris, has almost never been seen at meetings, and as for his teenage son, Sims told his new friends the aliens had wrecked him. Sims made friends quickly. He was "a real huggy person, like he's going to help you out," one woman remembered. Vince Johnson considered him just "a tad eccentric," right from the beginning. As Johnson recalled, Sims held out his hand and said:

"Hi. I'm a warrior."
HUFON gradually grew to about 150 members, and Sims' role grew along with it. About the time he became abductee chairman, he founded another company called Saber Enterprises. Saber bills itself as a laboratory and research center, but there's little sign it's ever been much more than a post office box and a La-Z-Boy in Sims' home. This is where Sims works as a certified hypnotherapist.

"A state of hypnosis exists any time we suspend the critical, analytical factor in the thought process," he said in an old HUFON newsletter.

The letters he sprinkles behind his name -- C.Ht -- come from a variety of hypnosis "institutes." The problem with these short-course schools, say therapists with Ph.D.s, is that they may consist of just one person who says, "I certify you."

Anyway, when Derrel Sims finished his education, he began hypnotizing the members of HUFON and, for $395 each, certifying them, too, in hypnotherapy.

He needs the money to go after the aliens, his supporters say, and no one doubts Sims is serious about those aliens. Speaking of his own abduction, "he had a lot of anger about it," a fellow abductee recalled, "a lot of militancy, like he wanted to amass an army against the ETs."

At Saber Enterprises, he is said to have worked on a stun gun to neutralize the aliens. He also passed out a wanted poster bearing the likeness of your basic space creature. "If you have any information concerning the activities of these individuals," it read, "please contact DERREL SIMS."

"His approach is very, very scientific," HUFON member Dan Marshall testifies.

"He really did know what he was talking about," an abductee says. "His work was of a higher caliber than other UFO researchers."

Everywhere that Derrel went, there were many sure to go. When Musser let it be known that he was always abducted on his annual camping trip, the chief investigator deputized a posse, and off they went with wind-up cameras into the Colorado wilderness to wait for what would come. They waited and waited, but Musser went nowhere, and nothing came. Eventually, Sims became quite ill, and as he told the story later, it was the aliens at work, urging him telepathically to go get help for himself so they could have their way with his comrades. The alien hunter refused to retreat, and that is why the aliens never came. They were afraid of him.

Quick of mind and tongue, the chief investigator solved the abduction mystery with typical lightning speed. He revealed his work little by little. It amounted to the most amazing coincidence: HUFON's own Derrel Wayne Sims, C.Ht., the man standing before them on the podium -- he was the focus of all alien abductions worldwide. The aliens were trying to get to him, and they would have done it, too, if Sims didn't have a friend in a high place by the name of God.

"It's a pretty nice deal," said Sims.
Surely, there was no greater power than an alliance between Derrel Sims and God, and Sims believed that inevitably, the alien leader would have to descend to Earth and negotiate. The plot was similar to that of the 1960s sci-fi novel Dune, in which a young nobleman assumes control of the planet Arrakis and demands a visit from the emperor of the galaxy. Sims began to repeat the nobleman's battle cry:

"The emperor must come to Arrakis!"
The only problem with all this was the little matter of proof. The chief investigator had not a speck of it. He was lucky, though, amazingly lucky, for it was soon supplied.

In December 1992, the morning after a HUFON meeting on abduction, Dale Musser awoke with a bloody nose. This was a bad sign. Sims put him under, and the details began pouring out.

Musser realized he had just experienced not one but two abductions, the first of which occurred before the meeting. He was led from his bedroom out to the driveway by a gray alien wearing a tool belt. They were beamed up, and he was told on the mother ship to get naked. He was led through a series of rooms in which he saw a few of his HUFON chums, along with a dinosaur, and aliens who looked like monks and cockroaches and even like Bigfoot. What they shoved up Musser's nose then was actually an eavesdropping device, he realized later. His nosebleed after the meeting occurred when he was debugged.

When Sims hypnotized them, the chums Musser saw saw other chums, and finally a former HUFON member in Jacksonville, Florida, was told she had been floating on the UFO, too. She was not surprised, for she makes these voyages with regularity, and she was due to go. As it turned out, she was the first of this lot. The chief investigator claimed that the last time he hypnotized her, he had given her a message for Mondoz. Consequently, when Mondoz appeared in her bedroom, she rose quickly and cried out, "Derrel Sims knows what you're doing!"

They say Mondoz's head turned into a worm then, but when he regained his composure, he had everyone bugged before the abduction meeting, in order to discover what this Derrel Sims had been teaching.

Whatever Mondoz got out of it, the abduction was certainly a blast for the earth people. One woman saw Jesus on the UFO. Another spoke with her dead brother, and a third was handed silverware when she said she was hungry. It wasn't nice of the aliens to cut the secretary's finger off, but they were polite enough to sew it back on.

A day or so later, the story goes, the secretary was at her desk, rubbing her sleepy eyes, when something plopped down that would become known in the annals of HUFON as "the ocular implant." Sims had it examined at the University of Houston and began happily announcing it contained rare metals. As for "The Mass Abduction Event of December 8, 1992," Sims declared it the first time in history that aliens had taken people simultaneously from different locations.

What a wonderful piece of work by the chief investigator; what a marvelous, swashbuckling year. Sims distributed a pamphlet boasting of his successes. He "orchestrated a mass abduction." He "tore off two 'eyecups' in two abductions" and "took over thought processes of an alien in one project -- aboard craft." And he discovered that aliens "make careless errors" and "appear to have low IQs."

This news brought great relief to some earthlings. UFO Universe made Sims its cover story, and he was christened "Alien Hunter" on the cover of UFO Library Magazine. He spoke on radio shows and was invited to lectures. By August 1993, when he reached the Corpus Christi chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, he had forgotten why he came.

"We were trying to find out about the multiple cases, and we weren't interested in whether he could catch a hummingbird or chase down a deer," director Doris Upchurch recalls. "All of this was with his bare hands, you understand. I've heard since that the most dangerous place in the world is between a microphone and Derrel Sims."

If the chief investigator rarely found humor in anything he did, there was a small faction of the UFO community who rarely found anything else.

"I DEFY those damnable gray devils from tampering with my life. I've dealt with them before, and I'll deal with them AGAIN! ... Just try and probe my rectum while strapped to my racks, you hideous beasts from another world!"

It was a spoof, just a spoof, a message sent over the Internet. For a long time, Sims' detractors were content whispering among themselves, but in the spring of 1993, they began speaking out.

Max Washburn questioned the investigator's "weekend wonder" education. He thought the mass abduction was dangerous. "You don't challenge the devil," he said. Others found the central theme of the aliens versus Derrel Sims absurd. The chief investigator was not acting professionally, David Mayo said. Vince Johnson said the investigator was suffering delusions of grandeur.

They were most concerned, however, with the abductions group. They didn't know what was happening in there, but Schatte believed some of those people probably needed serious help, and she and Johnson didn't think Sims qualified to supply it. When Schatte made her points and suggested a mental health professional be named to oversee the support group, an abductee rose and shouted, "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" Things began to get ugly, but the chief investigator sat quietly through most of it. He let his abductees defend him until Rod Lewis told one of them to kiss his ass. Sims lunged across the table then "like Charles Manson on amphetamines," Lewis said, and the dissenters decided to get the hell out of there.

Three years later, Rod Lewis doesn't think much about aliens anymore, but he's still scared. He thought it was possible I was working for the CIA, but "so what," he said. "If you are, fine. If you aren't, fine. If I warrant that attention, I'm flattered."

He sat in his South Dairy Ashford office, with his degrees arrayed behind him. He's worked mainly as a dentist, but since his break with HUFON, Dr. Lewis, as he still likes to be called, has become a full-time "new science researcher." Which means, for the most part, that he publishes a little bimonthly dealing with mind control, futurism, black projects "and much more."

"If you lay all this out on a flow sheet, you can see the links," he promised. That is, if you don't hold to closely to "science and physics and common sense. The first thing you have to do is put this aside and then you have to look critically."

How do you do that, I asked, when you've tossed out your common sense?
"Well," he answered, "it's a juggling act."
He took pains to explain it. He talked for hours. The link on the flow chart turned out to be the government. The government lies, he said. The government is trying to control our minds. Maybe there never was a man on the moon. Maybe the government planted the bomb in Oklahoma City. And maybe, said Dr. Lewis, Derrel Sims is a government agent.

The abduction support group would be the perfect screen for government experimentation, he said. Abductees tell no stories, and with Derrel at the door, there are no inquiries. Maybe it's an experiment to influence people to see what they haven't seen. Yeah, that seemed very likely to him.

"In a way, this is almost as unbelievable as the alien abduction phenomenon," said the doctor. "But the difference is, I have the documents to prove this stuff exists."

And he handed over some issues of his magazine, Close Encounter Chronicles.

If it gets out that you're working with a chief investigator of abductions, you might get fired, the chief investigator has said, and "I do everything I can to protect the people who work with us."

He has never said who examined the ocular implant at the University of Houston. He has never revealed the conclusive results. Is that thing an implant from a space alien?

"Oh, good grief," says Lisa Meffert, a geneticist at UH. "Is that what he's saying it is? No, most likely it's the tip of a bobby pin."

She said he came in "all hush-hush" claiming the thing fell out of someone's eye. Meffert assumed Sims was a lawyer with a lawsuit and didn't care to know more. She examined the "implant" under a microscope and told the chief what he had there was probably a plastic piece of a hairpiece.

By then, there was already a mass abduction video, and an eerie, magnified picture of the implant had been published on the cover of a HUFON "Special Report." Sims got another opinion. He took his glob to the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH and apparently was very pleased with the service. The instrument that was used-- an electron microprobe -- had a nice UFO ring to it, and the finding of rare metals certainly beat the bobby pin conclusion.

If Sims had said who he was and what he thought it was, "we would have dismissed him as a loony and sent him away," said Joe Kulik at the Center. As it was, when the Post story came out, the university's public affairs department got upset that the Superconductivity Center was doing implant work, and Kulik was pretty sure no one on campus would ever deal with Derrel Sims again.

That doesn't prevent Sims from dropping the university's good name into his implant show-and-tells, or from implying that he's still working with someone there. But when he says, "We've got some really topnotch scientists," he's probably talking now about Warren Laboratories and David Pritchard.

Sims told UFO Magazine that Warren Laboratories is "a very, very large corporation" near Houston. George Warren says it's simply a small herbal-extract business in Stafford. Warren isn't sure, but he doesn't think he's ever been abducted. He met Sims a few years ago, flying to a UFO conference, and he's been examining alien implants ever since. It's just something he believes in, he says, and he does it for free, and he's hoping he can put the chief investigator on the company payroll. Maybe they can figure out how UFOs zoom around and develop that into an alternative energy source for the country.

"I want to help him live to a higher standard," said Warren. "He's a scientist out to help mankind, and I am, too."

Sims has been pretty good about protecting George Warren from public scrutiny, but somehow, the chief investigator's name has appeared several times in print beside Pritchard's. A physics professor at MIT, Pritchard's latest research was published in UFO Magazine and concerned an object that reportedly fell out of a penis. His ufology work brings him scorn from his peers, but Pritchard soldiers on anyway, hoping for the day that he finds proof of aliens and can announce, "Look -- I've made a discovery as significant as Copernicus'!"

About a year ago, the alien hunter tracked him down. They've communicated four or five times since, which was enough for the professor to say that Sims is "going about this more credibly than most." Rather than picking things out of beds and off the ground, Pritchard thinks it far more sensible to look for implants where they were planted. Sims has invited him to the next set of surgeries, and the professor says, "I'm sort of standing by to help in any way I can."

In June 1995, Sims was out in California, shaking hands at a UFO convention. It took a while to introduce himself. By then, the chief investigator of abductions was also the director of physical investigations.

"Kinda looked screwy to me," Dr. Roger Leir recalls. "Who walks around carrying a box full of implants and a bag full of X-rays?"

But they got to talking anyway. The podiatrist remained unimpressed until Derrel Sims produced a University of Houston lab report. A "credible university" with a finding of rare metals -- "that sort of perked up my ears," Leir says. Then his eyebrows were raised "to a considerable height" as he examined X-rays of what Sims called "anomalous objects."

Sims handed him an X-ray of a foot; it just so happened that Leir was a podiatrist. Right then and there, Leir volunteered to oust that implant, and he has since been named medical director of Saber Enterprises.

You can get the video now for $30, wherever you see the chief investigator. It starts with him and ends with him, but in between, there's footage of an honest-to-god, flesh-slicing surgery, one implant coming out as it supposedly went in.

The woman's face is never shown, but she was one of Derrel Sims' abductees, and though her implant was causing her no pain, she wanted it out of her big toe badly enough to travel to an unknown land and bleed. The toe was numbed by a needle, and there beside her in Leir's California office, wearing a surgical cap, was the chief investigator, providing the hypnoanesthesia.

"Every breath you exhale, it's all the tension of the day just gone," Sims whispered. "Let it go. That's right, just give it up. And as it happens, I want you to notice that your foot, the one we're going to work on, I want you to go ahead and put it in a little bucket of ice. There you go ...."

Leir marked the spot with a stud finder. He and his nameless assistant put a tourniquet around the toe and cut it open. Then there was blood, and they pulled the tourniquet tighter and forced the cut open and began probing with their scalpels.

"That's it right there, isn't it?" said the second surgeon.
"Yeah, I think so," said Leir.
"We're hitting the object now," the second announced. "It has a very hard metallic feel."

Leir pulled something out and wiped it in the gauze.
"Is that it?"
"No," said Leir. "That's soft tissue."

They poked and pushed and cut and squeezed. The woman was drifting farther and farther away, Derrel Sims kept saying, but after a while, he broke the reverie and asked: "Where's my implant, Doctor?"

Dr. Leir answered: "We're fishing, Derrel. It's like going fishing."
More than an hour had passed when Leir said, "I got it!" and this time he really had. It was a tiny black triangle, and the reason it had been so hard to find, Leir instantly concluded, was that "a layer of abnormal fibrous tissue" had grown around it. They were all very excited. Leir was anxious to get it to a lab. Many implants have evaporated or turned to powder in the light of day, but Leir thought he knew how to preserve this one. The chief investigator took the implant home, packed in the patient's own blood. He soon announced that it glowed green under a black light, but eight months later, "at press time," UFO Magazine reported, "pieces lingered at the unnamed lab pending official analysis."

HUFON's outcasts call themselves SPUFON now, which stands for nothing, except their refusal to take anyone seriously. They gather for breakfast occasionally. Over pancakes and coffee, they discuss UFOs and alien abduction. There's something to it, they say, but no one knows what it is, and no one will ever know, if the likes of Derrel Sims keep scaring the serious people away.

"Derrel's implants have never been fully analyzed and they never will be," Schatte concludes, "because once they're proven to be dirt off the floor, he can't make any money on it."

But whether or not they've examined the implants, experts are growing interested in the work of Dr. Leir and Derrel Sims. A California ethics board is investigating the necessity of implant surgery. In Texas, an expert on ethics thinks it's possible that Sims is practicing psychology without a license.

The chief investigator knew nothing about his new fans in April. With 70 members of the Houston UFO Network, he was sitting in the dark, gazing at pictures of rotting cows. "I'm not going to dwell too much longer on unusual animal death," the speaker said, but he did it anyway, to the point that even the chief investigator got up and took a break.

He was in the lobby when I found him. Chief, I said, it's not looking good. Are you sure you don't want to talk to me?

Not a chance. If you write an unflattering story, he said, "all it's going to do is make you look like an ass."

And that was that. He turned his back then and began talking to whomever would listen. He told about the five surgeries scheduled for May, the report he's writing for MIT, the July conference where he'll sit beside Bud Hopkins and the charity he just founded to finance his research.

He was interrupted at last when a middle-aged man with immaculate hair stepped forward, rubbing his thumb. The fellow only knew that he had been watching the surgery video, and the next morning, he had wakened with a pain he didn't understand.

"Watch it come up right here," he said, rubbing harder. "I push on it, and it gets redder and redder and then becomes a triangle."

The chief investigator leaned over and investigated the man's thumb. Yeah, could be something was in there all right, but he would a need a thumb X-ray to know for sure. He gave the name of a chiropractor who does that sort of thing.

"You just say, 'Derrel sent me,' and he'll smile at you and say, 'Come on in.'

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