Captivating Netflix subscribers the world over, Stranger Things has filled a gap in pop culture that a lot of people hadn’t noticed until it came along. The characters are well written and incredibly acted and the story rolls out its mysteries with perfect pacing. A group of kids in a rural town get swept up in a dark secret that has a whiff of government conspiracy mixed with a grim, otherworldly horror. What’s not to love about that? As if it couldn’t get any better, the creators have let something even juicier slip – it’s all based on a true story.
Sort of. Maybe.
The working title for the show that became Stranger Things was “Montauk”, before the producers moved the setting from Montauk, Long Island to Hawkins, Indiana. This is an homage to the real Montauk – the home, some believe, to the US government’s deepest, darkest secrets…
The Montauk Project, as the variety of hushed experiments is collectively known, is believed to have first been exposed by a man called Preston B. Nichols. In the 1980s, with the help of conspiracy theorist Peter Moon, Nichols published a series of books that he claims are autobiographical.
The books detail covert activities of almost every description on the part of the United States government. Nichols wrote that he recovered memories of his own involvement in military experiments into time travel, teleportation, mind control and extra terrestrial contact, reportedly ending with “a hole ripped in space-time”.
In fact, if you take his writing at face value, he seems to have had strikingly similar experiences to our beloved Eleven.
Nichols claims that everything he writes comes from his own repressed memories. Some of his more hardcore followers are convinced that he is, in fact, still under their control, regularly abducted and forced back into government experiments, only for the memories to leak back into his consciousness shortly after each release.
His claims are even corroborated, in a way, by a man called Al Bielek. Bielek claims that he, too, was experimented on and had his memories stolen and kept by scientists. Luckily, he managed to recover enough of them to tell the world about the time he and his brother were accidently projected into the future. They got back safe, though.
The stories surrounding Project Montauk also include child abductions, body-swappers and monsters summoned by psychic youths, all of which are eerily familiar… if a bit far fetched.
Most people see these kinds of claims as nothing but fiction. Certainly, those who buy into them tend to be the ilk of ghost-hunters and UFO abudctees and Illuminati obsessors. Let’s face it – most of the people in the US government can’t keep their nasty affairs a secret, let alone decades upon decades of secret experiments that bend the laws of physics themselves.
Still, it does make for a really cool story and, perhaps, the world becomes a little more interesting with the addition of stranger things.