Albert K. Bender, director of the International Flying Saucer Bureau, was prepared to tell the world an amazing secret . . . until the Men in Black paid him a visit.

Bender’s grandly titled IFSB was actually a one-man operation – but a well-accepted one during the 1950s flying saucer craze. In 1953 Bender was confident that he would soon be able to divulge the truth about the saucers. Then one day in July, while lying down after a bout of dizziness, Bender saw three shadowy figures standing in his bedroom wearing conservative dark suits and Homburg hats that shaded their faces. Communicating with Bender telepathically, they confirmed that he had stumbled upon part of the saucers’ secret, but he was told to conceal the truth. He swore to do so, and they revealed the rest of the secret. He wrote a book about the incident yet never passed on what he supposedly knew.

Bender is one of many UFO spotters who claim to have been visited by the Men in Black. Typically they arrive in old but immaculate cars. After a UFO sighting in July 1967, Robert Richardson was visited by two Men in Black in a 1953 Cadillac. He noted the number plate, checked it and found that that number had never been issued. The men are said to walk like robots and move awkwardly, handling familiar everyday objects as if doing so for the first time. They speak in quaint phrases reminiscent of B-grade movies. Their faces are expressionless, but slightly sinister.

Are the Men in Black secret service or security officers, or even agents of some bizarre international conspiracy? Are they aliens who are masquerading as humans? Are they flesh-and-blood or hallucinations? Those who meet them relate the incidents in such matter-of-fact terms, it seems that they must be more than fantasy. Reports of their physical appearance and vaguely menacing behavior are intriguingly consistent. Whatever they are, they symbolize our age-old fear of the unknown in a strikingly contemporary way.


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