i was contacted by aliens. at least that is what i believe. i know most people won’t believe me, so i don’t tell them. i’ll never be sure what is and that bothers me greatly. i know i’ll never have an answer i trust. i will continue, in my paranoia, to try and understand. i was in iraq in late 2004 on lsa anaconda. this was shortly before a lunar eclipse that turned the moon red. i was awoken in the middle of the night by a huge thunderstorm and had to use the restroom. i pulled on my body armor and put on my kevlar helmet and headed outside to the porta-potty. i can remember that the storm was huge, but was still to the south. there was a heavy static in the air and there was absolutely no wind. it was an open space between our building and the porta-potty. tall trees were about 100 yards to the west. there was another short building nearby and a small shower facility we had built. if i remember right, there was a pole and a light over the porta-potties. the last thing i remember before losing some time was a huge flash and a boom. then i woke up on the ground. i don’t know how long i was there. it could have been a second it could have been an hour or more. i soiled my uniform. my first thought, of all things, was that i hoped no one had seen. i struggle to remember if i went back to my room first to change or if i went back to the showers to clean up. i threw my uniform away. the hot water in the shower hurt on the sides of my head. afterwards, in the mirror, i noticed that i had two burns on each side by my ears and underneath my chin. right where all the metal parts on the old helmet straps are. to this day, i still grow much less hair at this spots in my sideburns and not at all where the burn under my chin was. the next day i checked to see if there were any mortar attacks that night. there were not. i immediately drew the conclusion that i was struck by lightning. i was an ambitious second lieutenant and was afraid that if i told anyone i would be sent back home for some sort of testing. i didn’t want to leave iraq. i had worked so hard to train for this part of my life. my burns healed, my uniform was gone and i told no one. aside from a small stain amongst a sea of them on my body armor, there was no evidence that anything had ever happened to me. if this was a lightning strike, then it wasn’t the first time. according to the national lightning safety institute the odds of being struck by lightning (in the us, where their data is from), is 1 to 280,000… and i’ve been hit twice. the first strike hit a power pole next to a window i was sitting just inside of. it left a burn on my hand that was next to the window frame and on my foot that was on the floor. my guess is the foot was some sort of exit-wound. my father witnessed this incident. the way i see it is that there are four distinct possibilities for my incident in iraq: i was struck by lightning; there was an undocumented mortar; nothing happened at all and it was some sort of vivid hallucination; or it was some sort of alien encounter. we can eliminate the mortar because of all the state-of-the-art equipment that would have detected it and we were so far in the center of the installation. we can also eliminate nothing happening because i couldn’t hallucinate the small burns. of the two remaining items i completely understand that lightning makes the most sense. even though my disease of schizoaffective disorder was non-existent or very young and minor at the time, it could have been a source for my delusional and irrational beliefs. there is some evidence that points away from lightning though. if i was hit hard enough to super-heat the metal on my helmet enough to burn me and to knock me, maybe only for a moment, unconscious then shouldn’t it have hurt me worse? shouldn’t there have been an exit-wound like my comparably minor strike many years before? shouldn’t the storm have been overhead and not off to the south? i’m left with the remaining item that it was some sort of alien incident. i have no vague memories, no dreams about it. i only have a feeling, no, a firmly held belief. i have no idea if i was taken or not. there is no big reveal here, i didn’t see little grey men or any sort of craft. but i do believe that something in me changed that night. this may have been the moment that my schizophrenic symptoms began. the dragon, my schizophrenic entity, hadn’t shown up yet. i was only an eccentric. and this uncertainty is what really frustrates me. i can remember before schizophrenia had a grip on me. i can remember when my thoughts were organized and i could trust them. i can remember before i invented entire memories. i can never know anything for certain anymore. i feel like this is what is really cruel about a late-onset condition like mine. i can remember how i used to be, back when i had a vivid imagination but an understanding of what is and is not true. could an alien encounter made me schizophrenic? i don’t know if i had an alien encounter. but i believe that i did. i would greatly welcome the opportunity to discuss with an expert if there have been similar encounters - if there are cases of 'madness' developing after an event?