Set in an eerily quiet suburb of Sydney, under the glow of a full moon, the scene resembles an ominous opening of a Hollywood sci-fi film.
But members and guests of the UFO & Paranormal Research Society of Australia (UFO-PRSA) don't meet in the dark of the night simply for dramatic effect.
The western Sydney arm of the organisation comes together at this time, from 7-10pm, because most of them are professionals who have work commitments by day.
Among them are lawyers, scientists, public servants, retirees and students who claim to have had alien, UFO and paranormal encounters.
They say it's the only place they can speak freely about the likes of alien abductions, UFO sightings, telepathy and other phenomena - including the ability to see internal human organs - without ridicule.
Some travel from Wollongong, which doesn't have its own support group of the same nature, to be there.
The group is hosted by guest speakers including ufologists, authors and scientists in public meetings at the Campbelltown Arts Centre once a month.
At the September meeting, UFO-PRSA posters with pictures of aliens, ghosts and UFOs point attendees to the conference room on level one. Inside are rows of chairs, a snack table with biscuits, tea and coffee, and an overhead projector for presentations. About 16 people show up and pay three uniformed staffers the $15 entry fee.
Their experiences and backgrounds vary greatly but they all share one common belief: the truth is out there.
The members mingle before the presentations start. They're unimpressed by the way, they feel, the mass media has portrayed abductees and believers.
For starters, the cliche "little green men" often parodied on television are actually grey, according to several attendees.
One member tells news.com.au that proof aliens have already come to Earth is publicly available and that "all you have to do is look".
"Through the military, the aircraft, the navy," she says.
"We ought to know what's going on instead of having the wool pulled over our eyes by the government.
"Astronauts and pilots are now coming out of the woodworks."
She refers to late US astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who said he had never seen a UFO, but was outspoken in his belief that aliens had probably visited Earth and that the government covered up the evidence.
"He's created freedom," she says.
While the group condemns doubters, non-believers and detractors who label them "delusional" and "crazy", they are often the first to poke fun at themselves. Some of them have "X Files" and extraterrestrial theme ringtones which prompt chuckles from the audience when they sporadically ring throughout the meeting.
'IF ONE OF THESE REPORTS IS TRUE IT WILL CHANGE MANKIND FOREVER'
UFO researcher and author Moira McGhee, one of two guest speakers on the night, says "there is humour in ufology".
"If you don't have humour it's all going to get too much," she says.
But according to her, there's lots of "serious stuff" to cover too.
McGhee is there to talk about her latest book Contact Down Under: A century of UFO sightings in Australasia and the Western Pacific. She promises the audience they will be especially interested when she gets to the chapter about "alien sex".
"We have reports of men being taken on aircraft and women having their way with them," McGhee says.
"Usually they have a smile ear to ear those blokes.
"But there are a lot of cases of women having their eggs taken. They are suffering trauma. There are encounters and abductions that are made of absolute horror stuff."
McGhee says none of it can be explained.
"I don't know the answers," she says.
"Any ufologist who tells you they know the answers is kidding themselves."
McGhee says she's received countless reports of alien encounters from people all over the world during her career. But that hasn't made it any easier to determine the validity of each claim, according to her.
"A UFO is a flying object we cannot identify by conventional means," she says.
"There is an interest in ufology right throughout the world so a lot of what reported is technology and not necessarily alien.
"It can be hoaxes, flares, aircraft, satellites, space junk, foreign spies and optical illusions.
"You start looking at every other explanation before you start looking at the improbable, the impossible, the mind boggling.
"You've got to wonder, is this person disturbed? Have they been exposed to too much UFO information that could colour what they're saying? Is that person telling the truth?
"There are a lot of people who are very, very disturbed by what's happened to them. And one has to be careful. Different researchers have different methods. You can do a lot of damage if you're bringing these memories forward."
McGhee, who studied law before dedicating the best part of her life to UFO research, says she has found that most alien abductees are "chosen for their psychic abilities".
"Poltergeist activity seems to go on around abductees," she says.
"They might notice the microwave oven just exploded or the lights go on and off."
According to McGhee, "blue beams" are one of several common descriptions in witness reports.
"We've got lots of reports from people about men in black and aliens with an oriental appearance," she says.
"We get reports of disappearing people, missing time.
"I don't agree with everything people say. There's a lot of conspiracy stuff. You don't know what's true and what's not. Maybe none of us have the right answer.
"But the worst thing a researcher can do is to close their mind.
"They need to believe anything is possible but have a big dose of scepticism too.
"If even one of these reports is true it will change mankind forever."
'I'VE BEEN VISITED BY ALIENS SINCE I WAS NINE YEARS OLD'
Sydney public servant *Jessie, 43, claims to have been visited by aliens since she was nine years old.
She doesn't want to be identified publicly because of possible financial repercussions.
"I have a government job," she says.
"I don't want to lose that."
She says she was first visited by an extraterrestrial being when she was a child living in Uzbekistan.
"I was at home in a room by myself and a grey humanoid about the same height as me appeared from behind the wardrobe," she says.
"I wasn't scared of it, it was my friend. He just wanted to be with me.
"I told my brother and sister and they went and checked and said there was nothing there. He was there with me all the time and then he left. He told me telepathically that he had to go but that he'd come back soon."
Jessie says the alien delivered on its promise and returned to her when she was 14 years old.
"I woke up from a very loud noise when it was quite dark," she says.
"I could see out the window what appeared to me like a huge helicopter with strange lights around it.
"(The UFO) was about 150m above. I could see every single little stone on the buildings. That light magnified everything. Then it disappeared. After the last surge of light everything just went black. There was no anything. And I went back to sleep."
A few months later she saw an article in the local newspaper that supported her story, she says.
"It was about a plane flying above Russia and the people in the plane saw exactly the same thing, dropping the lights down," she says.
"I read the article and I understood 'OK that's what I saw.'"
But the strange occurrences didn't end there, according to Jessie.
"After that things started to happen to me," she says.
"I lied down on the couch after studying when I was 26 ... The window was (opposite) the lounge. I saw an eye looking object, very big, about the size of the window and it started flying towards me. As it was flying towards me, it was like a red cherry colour hologram. There were some symbols inside. And it just stopped near my face. I was like, 'OK, great I've got hallucinations from the study.' I started to blink my eyes and it was still there. I put my hand in it and it just moved away from my hand. I looked at it and was like, 'OK what do you want?' It just stayed there not doing anything. I was buggered. I said to it: 'I'm just very tired ... I'm going to sleep ... and you can stay, I don't care who you are, what you are.' I just lied down and switched off. It went back to the window and I just fell asleep.
"Two weeks after I started to see internal organs in humans."
Jessie says it was these experiences that brought her to the UFO-PRSA meetings, which she attends every month.
"People don't call me crazy here," she says. "People don't look at me like I'm cuckoo. I can get support from others and tell other people, 'You're not crazy.'"
ENCOUNTERS OF THE EXTRAORDINARY KIND
UFO-PRSA president Larraine Cilia says the group is made up of "like-minded people".
"This is an open forum where they can tell their story in an environment that's free of ridicule," she tells news.com.au.
"Most people who come forward haven't got anyone else to talk to because there's still that ridicule factor attached."
Cilia also offers individual counselling services "for people who have been traumatised not just by abduction scenarios but by poltergeist and paranormal experiences as well".
"It's all linked," she says.
She says the organisation's purpose is "to waken people up to what's going on".
"The media might have someone they're interviewing on the TV like me, who is serious about the subject, and they'll have little green men in spaceships on a screen behind them," she says.
"They make light of it. We really need it to be looked at as a serious subject.
"It's more common for people to have these encounters than most realise."
Cilia says she is contacted by at least one new person per week who claims to have spotted UFOs or had alien encounters.
"People don't go to the police about sightings anymore," Cilia says.
"They go online and find out where they can report and go straight to the civil UFO groups.
"We get calls from all over Australia."
She says she typically works through the process of elimination as a first step when responding to witness reports.
"First of all we have a look at the star chart and ask them where what they saw was situated to make sure it wasn't a planet, meteor, plane or helicopter," she says.
"Most people realise it's not because the brain is like a computer. It will compute, 'Oh my God, that's not a plane, that's not a star,' and that's when they say, 'It's something unusual I'm going to report that.'"
If no obvious explanation can be found she then encourages witnesses to fill out a sightings report on the organisation's website.
'I WAS ABDUCTED BY ALIENS. NOW WHAT?' (FILL OUT A FORM)
Witnesses are asked to include information on the Australian UFO Report form about where they "first observed UFO" and whether or not it had "seams, windows, lights, pulsating lights, antenna or appendages".
An entire page is left blank for the witness to draw a UFO comfit, of sorts: "Please sketch the object including shape and colour of features", the instructions read. Further details are sought as to the appearance of the UFO and how it moved. "Did it separate into two parts? Moved across the sky, hovered in the sky, hovered near the ground, rotated, moved in a straight line, moved erratically, changed direction, landed, and took off?"
Other things to consider include "possible disturbances of radios, television, engines, lights, animals or witnesses" and whether or not the witness suffered any physical effects like: "Illness, electromagnetic, imprints, residue, vegetation change, smoke, vapour trail, noise, vibrations, heat and other".
A pile of the report forms is left on a desk for members and guests to take from the group's monthly meeting.
'NO LONGER IS LIFE POSSIBLE OUT THERE, IT'S VERY PROBABLE'
Scientist, author and ufologist Bryan Dickeson is there to give a presentation on the electronic UFO sighting databases he has developed for New Zealand and Australia. He shows diagrams of UFOs and aliens based on witness reports and newspaper articles.
"I've put it into electronic format so we can access it and search large masses of data and do this in a much more readily and accessible way," he says.
"The information we're getting up is very, very interesting. On average in New Zealand one UFO appears every six days. That's 60 events per year. I'm not talking about lights in the sky. I'm talking about when people actually see something when they come down and it stays for a while then goes away."
He's also working on an Australian database and says he's got "a lot of material".
"There's an awful lot of commotion there," he says.
Dickeson, who has two science degrees, is a second generation ufologist. His parents were naval aerial photographers during WW2 before they founded a UFO group in New Zealand.
Since taking over their work he has investigated multiple reported UFO landing sites.
"There's a difference of soil samples between the control area and the affected area," Dickeson says.
"We take a series of controlled samples outside to compare with the altered sample. It's very hard to actually detect. Sometimes you find different concentrations of irons, magnesium or calcium."
But how is that linked to alien life?
"That's a good question," Dickeson says. "The thing is we don't really know what we're looking for."
While Dickeson concedes he has more questions than answers, there's one thing he says he knows for sure.
"No longer is life possible out there, it's very probable," he says.
'THE ALIENS HAVE BEEN HERE FOREVER'
As the meeting draws to an end, the group discussion moves to how to cope with life after being abducted by aliens, and returned to Earth.
One woman in the audience raises her hand to share her knowledge.
"Once you start accepting what's happened, you let go of the fears around you," she says.
Another woman mentions that those who have been abducted and returned "get angry" when questioned about their experiences. Others agree.
"It's important to find out how they feel in a general way without creating anxiety," she says.
*Anna says she's had extraterrestrial encounters all her life.
"Since I was a child I've been in contact," she says.
"But I don't speak publicly about it because of the ridicule factor that's attached to it.
"I'm one of those who knows. I just know."
What does she know?
"I don't have to believe I know," she reiterates without further explanation.
Know what exactly?
"That aliens have been here forever," she says.
"I know where we come from. I just know a lot of things that I've never been taught. Some of it I've been told and some of it I've brought here with me. I've chosen to come here in this lifetime. I believe originally we came from Mars."
Several other members nod knowingly and agree as Anna explains that the Orion star system and volcanoes on the red planet "line up with the Giza pyramids".
"There's too many coincidences," she says.
*David, who doesn't want to be named publicly for fear of ridicule, interjects:
"The photograph of the structures on Mars is a copy of Tor Hill in England," he says.
"The structures on the mound around Tor Hill, in England are the same as on Mars."
His girlfriend, *Kylie, adds: "There's also buildings on Mars as well."
And with that, the meeting is over and its members walk off into the yonder, under a twinkling night sky.
*Not their real name