In 1995, my good buddies Ruffin Prevost and Charles Overbeck announced their plans to create an online "alternative news service," which would be devoted to credible and responsible coverage of fringe topics generally overlooked by the establishment media. Or in more colorful terms, conspiracy theories, UFOs, the paranormal, and covert government ops. You know, X-Files stuff.

ParaScope Ruffin and Charles called the project ParaScope, and they signed a development deal with America Online. ParaScope would have a keyword area on AOL as well as its own web site. When I first heard about ParaScope, I had just recently entered the world of the Internet and I was itching to do some writing and online publishing of some kind. So I enthusiastically volunteered (well, demanded, actually) to be part of the ParaScope team.

The guys needed somebody to head up the paranormal department, and thus I was named editor of the Enigma section of ParaScope. One minor problem at the outset was that I was no expert on the paranormal. In the course of my life I had held some vague interest in Bigfoot and ESP and weird stuff like that, which had sometimes cropped up in my fiction writing, but I admittedly didn't know a whole lot about these things. I felt like the dunce of the ParaScope editorial staff, since Charles (Matrix editor), Paul Thompson (Nebula editor) and Jon Elliston (Dossier editor) were all well-versed masters of their respective fields. But a crash course in James Randi books and Fortean Times back issues quickly enabled me to pretend like I knew what I was talking about, more or less.

The real strength that I brought to ParaScope was my wit. Charles said he wanted me to be "the Joe Bob Briggs of the paranormal," and I aimed to deliver. I created a wacky humor column of weird news items where I could really cut loose, which I named "Fortean Slips." That odd title resulted from my own ignorance about the paranormal. In our first ParaScope editorial meetings, the other guys kept mentioning "Fortean" stuff, and I thought they were saying "Freudian." I was baffled as to what Freud might have to do with ghosts and the Loch Ness Monster. After I got cleared up about Charles Fort and forteana, I decided my initial confusion was perfect punning material to christen my column with. Fortean Slips has racked up over 100 dispatches from the paranormal fringe, and contains some of the funniest stuff I have ever written.

With time and tribulation, I became a guru of the paranormal and a seasoned skeptic, considering myself almost erudite enough to stand alongside the true experts on the ParaScope staff. My favorite Enigma topic is weird science and fringe technology, where strange phenomena come the closest to certifiable reality. Much to the chagrin of many ParaScope readers, I have always utterly despised the topic of ghosts, as well as any kind of New-Agey spiritual energy hocus pocus, and I would be content never to write about that bullshit again.

In 1999, things began to go south for ParaScope. Our contract with the evil scumlords at AOL ran out, and suddenly there was no resources to keep the ParaScope machine oiled and whirling. Most of us were getting to the point of exhaustion and felt like moving on to other things, anyway. The ParaScope web site remained online in a sort of hibernating stasis for a while, and we tried out a new incarnation as a printed magazine. But things didn't work out and our grand experiment fizzled out for good, and the archived site has sadly vanished from the web. Nevertheless, ParaScope was a whole lot of fun, and I will remain forever grateful to Ruffin and Charles for helping me get my writing and my life back on the right track.

D. Trull