archived 02-06-00
Archive file# e020600a
donated by James Vandale

I developed a skin on my stomach
much like that of a crocodile
by Nikola Tesla

These are the "vampire" related sections removed from Tesla's autobiography.


Nikola Tesla was born in Croatia (then part of Austria-Hungary) on July 9, 1856, and died . . .

My father had been called one winter night to perform an urgent duty and while crossing the mountains, infested by wolves, the horse became frightened and ran away, throwing him violently to the ground. It arrived home bleeding and exhausted, but after the alarm was sounded, immediately dashed off again, returning to the spot, and before the searching party were far on the way they were met by my father, who had recovered consciousness and remounted, not realising that he had been lying in the snow for several hours.

I had two old aunts with wrinkled faces, one of them having two teeth protruding like the tusks of an elephant, which she buried in my cheek every time she kissed me.

In my boyhood I suffered from a peculiar affliction due to the appearance of images, often accompanied by strong flashes of light, which marred the sight of real objects and interfered with my thoughts and action. They were pictures of things and scenes which i had really seen, never of those imagined. When a word was spoken to me the image of the object it designated would present itself vividly to my vision and sometimes I was quite unable to distinguish weather what I saw was tangible or not.

If my explanation is correct, it should be possible to project on a screen the image of any object one conceives and make it visible.

Then I instinctively commenced to make excursions beyond the limits of the small world of which I had knowledge, and I saw new scenes. These were at first very blurred and indistinct, and would flit away when I tried to concentrate my attention upon them. They gained in strength and distinctness and finally assumed the concreteness of real things. I soon discovered that my best comfort was attained if I simply went on in my vision further and further, getting new impressions all the time, and so I began to travel; of course, in my mind. Every night, (and sometimes during the day), when alone, I would start on my journeys -- see new places, cities and countries; live there, meet people and make friendships and acquaintances and, however unbelievable, it is a fact that they were just as dear to me as those in actual life, and not a bit less intense in their manifestations.

in the course of time it became perfectly evident to me that I was merely an automation endowed with power OF MOVEMENT RESPONDING TO THE STIMULI OF THE SENSE ORGANS AND THINKING AND ACTING ACCORDINGLY.

I never had any control over the flashes of light to which I have referred. They were, perhaps, my strangest and [most] inexplicable experience. They usually occurred when I found myself in a dangerous or distressing situations or when i was greatly exhilarated. In some instances I have seen all the air around me filled with tongues of living flame.

When I close my eyes I invariably observe first, a background of very dark and uniform blue, not unlike the sky on a clear but starless night. In a few seconds this field becomes animated with innumerable scintillating flakes of green, arranged in several layers and advancing towards me. Then there appears, to the right, a beautiful pattern of two systems of parallel and closely spaced lines, at right angles to one another, in all sorts of colours with yellow, green, and gold predominating. Immediately thereafter, the lines grow brighter and the whole is thickly sprinkled with dots of twinkling light. This picture moves slowly across the field of vision and in about ten seconds vanishes on the left, leaving behind a ground of rather unpleasant and inert grey until the second phase is reached. Every time, before falling asleep, images of persons or objects flit before my view. When I see them I know I am about to lose consciousness. If they are absent and refuse to come, it means a sleepless night.

During that period I contracted many strange likes, dislikes and habits, some of which I can trace to external impressions while others are unaccountable. I had a violent aversion against the earing of women, but other ornaments, as bracelets, pleased me more or less according to design. The sight of a pearl would almost give me a fit, but I was fascinated with the glitter of crystals or objects with sharp edges and plane surfaces. I would not touch the hair of other people except, perhaps at the point of a revolver. I would get a fever by looking at a peach and if a piece of camphor was anywhere in the house it caused me the keenest discomfort.

I was oppressed by thoughts of pain in life and death and religious fear. I was swayed by superstitious belief and lived in constant dread of the spirit of evil, of ghosts and ogres and other unholy monsters of the dark.

A short time ago I was returning to my hotel. It was a bitter cold night, the ground slippery, and no taxi to be had. Half a block behind me followed another man, evidently as anxious as myself to get under cover. Suddenly my legs went up in the air. At the same instant there was a flash in my brain. The nerves responded, the muscles contracted. I swung 180 degrees and landed on my hands. I resumed my walk as though nothing had happened when the stranger caught up with me. "How old are you?" he asked, surveying me critically.

"Oh, about fifty-nine," I replied, "What of it?"

"Well," said he, "I have seen a cat do this but never a man."

About a month ago I wanted to order new eye glasses and went to an oculist who put me through the usual tests. He looked at me incredulously as I read off with ease the smallest print at considerable distance. But when I told him I was past sixty he gasped in astonishment.

I had hair-breadth escapes from mad dogs, hogs, and other wild animals. I passed through dreadful diseases and met with all kinds of odd mishaps and that I am whole and hearty today seems like a miracle. But as I recall these incidents to my mind I feel convinced that my preservation was not altogether accidental, but was indeed the work of divine power.

But my hardest trial came on Sunday when I had to dress up and attend the service. There I met with an accident, the mere thought of which made my blood curdle like sour milk for years afterwards. It was my second adventure in a church. Not long before, I was entombed for a night in an old chapel on an inaccessible mountain which was visited only once a year. It was an awful experience . . .

When we left the forest, thousands of crows had gathered making a frightful racket. In a few minutes they rose in pursuit and soon enveloped us. The fun lasted until all of a sudden I received a blow on the back of my head which knocked me down. Then they attacked me viciously.

Through the continuous tightening of the bows I developed a skin on my stomach much like that of a crocodile and I am often wondering whether it is due to this exercise that I am able even now to digest cobble-stones! Nor can I pass in silence my performances with the sling which would have enabled me to give a stunning exhibit at the Hippodrome.

I was to hurl a stone to meet the fish, press its body against the rock, and cut it in two. It was no sooner said than done. My uncle looked at me almost scared out of his wits and exclaimed "Vade retra Satanae!" and it was a few days before he spoke to me again.

Mechanical flight was the one thing I wanted to accomplish although still under the discouraging recollection of a bad fall I sustained by jumping with an umbrella from the top of a building. Every day I used to transport myself through the air to distant regions but could not understand just how I managed to do it. Now I had something concrete, a flying machine with nothing more than a rotating shaft, flapping wings, and; - a vacuum of unlimited power! From that time on I made my daily aerial excursions in a vehicle of comfort and luxury as might have befitted King Solomon.

My energy was completely exhausted and for the second time I found myself at Death's door . . .

My sight and hearing were always extraordinary. I could clearly discern objects in the distance when others saw no trace of them. Several times in my boyhood I saved the houses of our neighbours from fire by hearing the faint crackling sounds which did not disturb their sleep, and calling for help. In 1899, when I was past forty and carrying on my experiments in Colorado, I could hear very distinctly thunderclaps at a distance of 550 miles. My ear was thus over thirteen times more sensitive, yet at that time I was, so to speak, stone deaf in comparison with the acuteness of my hearing while under the nervous strain.

In Budapest I could hear the ticking of a watch with three rooms between me and the time-piece. A fly alighting on a table in the room would cause a dull thud in my ear. A carriage passing at a distance of a few miles fairly shook my whole body. The whistle of a locomotive twenty or thirty miles away made the bench or chair on which I sat, vibrate so strongly that the pain was unbearable. The ground under my feet trembled continuously. I had to support my bed on rubber cushions to get any rest at all. The roaring noises from near and far often produced the effect of spoken words which would have frightened me had I not been able to resolve them into their accumulated components. The sun rays, when periodically intercepted, would cause blows of such force on my brain that they would stun me. I had to summon all my will power to pass under a bridge or other structure, as I experienced the crushing pressure on the skull. In the dark I had the sense of a bat, and could detect the presence of an object at a distance of twelve feet by a peculiar creepy sensation on the forehead. My pulse varied from a few to two hundred and sixty beats and all the tissues of my body with twitchings and tremors . . .

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