The 13th Floor

The Real Life Story Behind the Alien Abduction from AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM

One of the things I love so much about AMERICAN HORROR STORY is its ability to pull stories from real life and adapt them for the screen. This season we’ve seen AHS’s take on the Roanoke Colony as well as an adaptation of Gwen Graham and Cathy Wood, two nurses from Michigan who murdered five of their patients. Last season saw adaptations of HH Holmes and the Black Dahlia, while COVEN covered the infamous slave owner Delphine LaLaurie. But my favorite by far is the story of Kit and Alma Walker, an interracial couple forced to keep their love secret because of the political climate of the time. However, this wasn’t the only obstacle they faced. Kit and Alma were also the victims of repeated alien abductions. And, of course, like most AHS story lines, the story of Kit and Alma were based on a real life event.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY Spilt Milk — Episode 211 (Airs Wednesday, January 9, 10:00 pm e/p) — Pictured: Evan Peters as Kit Walker — CR: Byron Cohen/FX

In the early 60s, Barney and Betty Hill were residing in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Barney, an African American, and Betty, a woman of European descent, were both members of the NAACP and highly regarded in their community. The Hills were the type of people who didn’t make up outlandish stories. That’s why it’s hard to believe that they would have made up something as strange as being abducted by aliens. However, as the Hill’s claim, that’s just what happened on September 19, 1961.


Around 10:30pm, the Hills were driving back to their home in Portsmouth after vacationing at Niagara Falls. One of the few cars traveling on US Route 3 that night, Betty claimed to see a shooting star in the sky flying upwards. The light then began to move erratically as it grew in size as though approaching them. Betty demanded that Barney pull over so she could investigate. Barney pulled over at the next rest stop, but grabbed his revolver from the glove box before getting out of the car because the area was known to be inhabited by bears.

Through her binoculars Betty could make out a strange-shaped craft in the sky covered in multi-colored lights. Barney dismissed it as just a commercial jet, but Betty was convinced that these were flying saucers. However, when the object made a rapid descent followed by erratic movements, Barney realized this was no commercial jet. Barney out the car in drive and took off after the unidentified flying object. Still curious, Barney drove the car down an isolated stretch of road through a mountain pass called Franconia Notch.


Betty and Barney watched as the object bounced across the sky, but when it turned and rapidly moved towards them, Barney slammed on the breaks. The object hovered above their vehicle one-hundred feet overhead. It was a large disc that filled the sky over top of Barney’s 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. With his pistol still in his pocket, Barney stepped out of the vehicle. Barney placed the binoculars up to his eyes and looked closer. He would later claim that he saw ten of the crafts occupants looking down at him.

The craft inched it’s way closer to the Hills. Sensing that their intentions were anything but good, Barney jumped back into the car and sped off. Betty looked back at the object which was now pursuing them. Then suddenly, Barney and Betty felt a strange sensation vibrating through them. For a split second it felt as though they head left their bodies. Then and almost instantaneously the Hills found themselves 35 miles south of where they were with no idea of how they got there. Their watches no longer worked and would never work again.


The Hills arrived back home in a state of confusion. They tried to piece together what had happened, but found that there were significant holes in their memories. When Betty finally decided to go to sleep that night, she undressed and discovered a torn hem on her dress. Barney noticed that that leather strap on his binoculars was broken and that his dress shoes were scuffed.

Ten days later, Betty began to have extremely vivid dreams that lasted for five nights and never occurred again. In her dreams, Betty remembered being at a roadblock and men surrounding their car. She then found herself being walked through the woods by two small men, with Barney walking behind her. She tried to yell out to Barney, but Barney was in a trance and did not respond. She looked down at the small men and saw that they were wearing some kind of military uniform. They appeared human, but with a grayish skin tone. The men then walked her into a disc-shaped craft. Betty and Barney were led to separate rooms and examined. After the examination, Betty and Barney were taken back to their car and told to drive, which they did.

The Hills kept this story secret until 1963 when they discussed it with members of their church. One of those who heard their story suggested that they go to hypnotherapist in order to recall the memories. Through Barney’s hypno session, he remembered breaking the strap on his binoculars when he attempted to run away from the aliens. He then ran back to his car, but for some strange reason was compelled to return to the ship. He then recalled an examination similar to the one Betty had recalled from her dream. In fact, many of the accounts Barney recreated under hypnosis were identical to the ones Betty had experienced.  And when Betty went through her hypnosis, her story varied very little from what she had recalled in her dream.


Their hypnotherapists believed that both were merely recalling Betty’s recount of her dream. However, this did not explain why their stories differed in several unique ways, yet still fit within the same narrative. The Hills both were now thoroughly convinced that they were abducted and would spend the rest of their lives wondering if their abductors would ever return.