Penny Watson from Looe, Cornwall, recalled a terrifying paranormal incident that happened to her in 1976 that she believes foretold the future scenario of a terrible accident and the horrific aftermath that was soon to come.
In December 1975, Penny Wing married Julian Watson, who at 26, was two years her senior, and in April 1976 Julian, who was a chef, got a job in Penny's hometown of Looe in Cornwall. They decided that for the short time they would be there they would stay with her parents, who had prepared a room for them. But as so often happens, the initial euphoria of marriage had dulled, and feeling that the difficult transition to a deeper relationship of affection and understanding would perhaps be hindered by living with 'in-laws' Julian decided to take temporary lodgings for himself in the town while Penny stayed with her parents.
A few days after parting, Penny went to bed as usual: she said that she was not tired, but no doubt the emotional episode left her in a tense state; she lay open-eyed in the tiny pink room staring at the ceiling, lit by the glow from the bedside lamp. Suddenly she felt that the bed was moving up and down slightly: she knew that this was ridiculous, and recalling her thoughts from their wanderings she brought them to focus on the present. With her senses taut she sat up in bed and coldly and logically confirmed by both feeling and sight that the bed was indeed rising and falling rhythmically like a boat in a gentle swell. Then almost at once, Penny realised that it was not a wave motion, but breathing... rise... pause... fall... pause... rise... To corroborate further the impression, there began - quietly at first, but gradually intensifying - the sound of air being drawn in, and then expelled. Terrifyingly, this became increasingly laboured and wheezing like an asthmatic or bronchitic struggling for breath. Penny leaped from the bed and stood watching it under the light: the motion and the torturous sounds died away, but the moment she lay down again the sickening movements and the agonised gasping resumed.
With fear, dismay, and incredulity Penny sat up and looked around the little pink room, and at the almost new divan which her father had recently bought at an auction sale rising and falling beneath her. She and Julian had slept in the bed before many times and apart from being a little cramped for his exceptional height, it had always been what it purported to be - a normal divan. Whatever this frightening experience was she had no idea, but she was determined to see it through - and at this point there came a sharp ringing in her ears which almost at once turned into a high-pitched hum like an electric motor running at speed. The hum whined up to a crescendo, and as it became almost unbearable in pitch and intensity, there was a blinding flash of light, which for an instant turned pink into a shadowless glare of brilliant white, and then faded.
Sound and motion ceased abruptly, and completely shattered, Penny fled to her twin brother's room. Here, huddled in blankets she poured out her story and heard in return that her father too had slept on the divan, and like her, he had felt a heaving motion. This became so violent that he was thrown on the floor in the night, an incident which had been the source of much family hilarity ever since. Penny, not unnaturally, refused to sleep in the bed again: five days later she was summoned urgently to Freedom Fields Hospital where Julian, who had been thrown from the pillion seat of a motorcycle, lay critically ill with chest injuries. The terrible apprehension for his safety as she entered the hospital turned to horror as she entered the little ward where her husband lay inert, kept alive only by a respirator pumping air into lungs that could no longer do it for themselves. The bellows rose and fell, mechanically forcing some semblance of life into the shattered chest: his tormented breath wheezed harshly at each exhalation. It was a sickening re-enactment of the motions and sounds she herself had experienced only a few days earlier.
To the amazement of the doctors, Julian lived for two weeks in this no-man's-land of existence, fighting to hold on to the world he had enjoyed so much. When not heavily sedated to ease his pain his mind was conscious and logical, and though speech was impossible he could communicate in simple terms by blinking. But even his tremendous willpower was not enough to keep him alive.
Penny wrote: "I am convinced that he has not left this earth as it was all he knew. Though he has not materialised there are lots of things that suggest to me that he is still around, transformed into thoughts and energy - things we cannot see."
The bed, with its awful prophetic powers, was burnt immediately.
Penny Watson, Plymouth