Mystery Monday: The Silent Twins

I came across this story quite by accident and saddened and intrigued me so much that I felt that it deserved a place in Mystery Monday. I believe that it was either Freud or Jung who had said that it is a parent’s duty to donate one of a twin to science. For years, identical twins have been used to try and study the ‘nature vs. nurture’ concept. Two human beings, identical to their fundamental DNA yet – completely different. Sometimes anyway.

I discovered this story quite by accident, idly browsing through a website. It’s the tale of identical twins Jennifer and June Gibbons who were born the 11th of April 1963 in Wales. They were inseparable, spoke their own language and didn’t mix with any other kids save for their younger sister. When they were 14, psychiatrists tried to separate them, placing each into a different facility of care but the two became non responsive and eventually catatonic. They had to be put back together and a different plan formulated.

During their teenage years, the twins each started writing novels, each with dark themes of crime and abuse. They also started a life of crime, committing theft and arson and was eventually caught and committed to

Majory Wallace, a newspaper reporter who wrote a book on the two young women called ‘The Silent Twins’ interviewed the two extensively in order to try and piece together the psychological pieces of the puzzle that were them. The two told her that they often felt as if they were looking in a mirror when they saw each other, and that they would see their own image distort and dissolve into that of their identical twin. They would then feel possessed by each other to such an extent that they would feel their personalities switching and their souls merging. They lived no life of their own and were bound to each other, unable to be separated like Siamese Twins.

It became clear to them that something had to be done and that all the doctors and treatment that they were being submitted to would not help them. After much debate, the twins decided that for one of them to be free – one had to die. It would forever end the silent war between them.

Wallace spoke of one Sunday evening when she was interviewing the two young women (now 29) in the Broadmoor special hospital (where they had been committed for 11 years) that Jennifer suddenly leaned forward, breaking their usual chatter and whispered to her:

“Marjorie, I am going to die. We’ve decided.”

The woman did not think anything of it at the time, focusing instead of the girl’s transfer to a more suitable place of rehabilitation where they would be able to enjoy more freedom than that which Broadmoor offered.

Ten days later though, Wallace received a call from the twins’ doctor saying that on the day of their release from Broadmoor, Jennifer suddenly collapsed against June and died from acute myocarditis. There was a list of possible causes, though nothing conclusive was found.
Her death was a mystery, unexplained to this day.

After her death, June became a new person, released from the bond of her sister’s presence. She began to lead a normal life, reaching out to the world she could not while her sister was still alive.

I find this story tremendously tragic yet fascinating. There is so much about life that we do not understand, for all our knowledge and our technology. The human soul and how it mixes with others are one of those things. It was clear that the souls of these two remarkable and tragic women were so entwined that – alive – they could not function together. A bitter tragedy and mystery that we would never understand or solve.

Did Jennifer die because she had decided to? Or did she know that she was dying and chose to let it happen?
We cannot say – but I hope that her sacrifice had not been in vane and that somewhere out there, June Gibbons is living a good life.


A B&B Review

I’m not in the habit of reviewing the places where I stay for work because firstly – this is not really a travel blog and secondly, I stay in so many places that I’ve become a bit blunted to the finery and treat of staying in a Bed and Breakfast. For me, mostly, it’s a place away from home, where I’m forced to stay a night because of work.
I’m tired, generally starving and not in the mood to sleep in someone else’s bed.
Sleeping out is an ordeal that I try to get over as soon as possible.
Big was my surprise then – when I stayed at a really nice place.
The lodge’s name was Maruntwane and it’s situated between Groot Marico and Zeerust in our country’s lovely North West Province. It’s a hunting farm during the winter and as far as I can gather, quite a popular vacation retreat. I’ve driven past it a couple of times on my Zeerust trips, but I’ve never had the pleasure of staying there till this week.
The first thing that I liked about the lodge was that they helped me in a pinch. I had not known about my trip till the day before I actually had to leave. Frantically, I had called up my usual Zeerust haunts, only to find out that they were all booked full for some kind of military function. (Booked full in Zeerust doesn’t happen often…). They couldn’t help me, so I phoned up the information centre in Groot Marico. After I explained my predicament, the woman immediately referred me to Maruntwane. I didn’t waste any time to book my night, told the people that I’ll be there after four and went about my day with the usual touch of anticipation that always accompanied staying in a new place (you never know what you’re going to get).
On Wednesday I sailed into their farm well past five with the sun just setting around the Zeerust hills. I was in a good mood I have to admit, because my trip had been successful and the day had been beautiful. For once, I was in a bit of a holiday mood – (despite the fact that I had gotten up at 4am).
The owners greeted me kindly and warmly and, before I knew what was truly happening, they had me sit down for a meal with them and gave me a room in the family house so that I didn’t have to stay in the chalets on my own.
They showed understanding for my demanding job, showed genuine concern whenever I coughed and allowed me to watch the news with them. This sounds silly but it made me feel at home and it made me relax. I have learned in my years of traveling, that there is nothing better than human concern and interest at the end of a difficult day. The simple pleasure of sitting down for a meal with someone is luxury you only learn to appreciate when you’ve spend countless meals eating on your own.
The room that I was given was clean, the bedding warm and fresh – the mattress firm. I had a massive bathroom all for myself and despite the fact that the owners had a pack of Jack Russels, they never barked once (nor did they act in any way that dogs normally do that’s inappropriate).
I slept better there than I had in any Bed and Breakfast before. The farm was quiet, the area beautiful and I’d imagine that if I had kids, they’d have been more than satisfied with the space available to them.
If you’re in Zeerust, and you want a place to stay for the night – go to Marunthwane. It was worth it.

Aheila’s Drabble Day – Breakfast

Another Drabble Day Challenge!
To remind you – this is how a challenge work:

Read the prompt and find your angle.
Write a drabble (100 words story, give or take five words).
Post a direct link to your drabble in the comments (or, if you don’t have a blog, just go ahead and post your drabble in the comments here).
In the post on your blog, make sure to link back to the original post.

Today’s Drabble is: Breakfast.

Scientifically, they are known as Artemia salina, though, most people know them either as Brine Shrimp or Sea Monkeys. They have changed very little since the period in which dinosaurs ruled the earth and can be found world wide in saltwater lakes. They are sold as novelty pets, bringing delight with their short lifespan. Their eggs have the ability to remain metabolically inactive for up to two years.
This ability is called cryptobioisis, meaning hidden life.
For my Betta though, they have only one true meaning, one true name that stands out among the rest.

Mystery Monday: A Case of Spontaneous Human Combustion

The Story

On the morning of July 2nd, 1951 Ms. Pansy Carpenter arrived at the door of her 67 year old tenant, Mary Reeser, with a telegraph. She had knocked on the door several times and, when there was no answer, tried the door. The door knob was uncomfortably hot to touch, so Ms. Carpenter – fearing a fire, rushed out to get some help. She got two men who had been working nearby to help her force the door open. When they managed to get inside the apartment, they were met by a blast of heat, the smell of smoke and the clear evidence of a fire…
Only, the only thing in the room that was burned was the wicker chair in which Ms. Carpenter had seen Mary Reeser in the night before when she came to say good night.
And, Mary Reeser.
The 170 pound woman had been reduced to nothing more than ten pounds of ash and only her one leg remained unburned. Nothing else in the room was burned though it did show signs of extreme heat. Candles were burned and electrical wires were melted. A mirror was cracked and the walls were covered by greasy soot. Her clock had stopped at 4:20am when the heat from the fire melted the plastic wall socket.

The Facts

Police and the FBI were baffled by the strange occurrence of Mary Reeser’s death. There was no evidence of foul play, no indication of an accelerant used. Most of the electrical equipment only melted after the fire started and there had been no lightening that evening. For the body to be burned to such and extent meant that the temperature of the fire must’ve reached at least 2500 degrees F. From lack of a better explanation, they finally accredited her death to a ‘cigarette’ fire, saying that she must’ve fallen asleep with a cigarette in hand which later must’ve fallen onto her clothes and caused them to ignite…

My Opinion

To date, this seems to be the best documented case of spontaneous human combustion. Although the police closed the case, the investigators kept saying that very few of the facts made sense.
There are very little facts to explain this phenomenon and others of its kind, even though spontaneous human combustion has been documented as early as the 1400s. Personally, I cannot even begin to think of a reason why this should happen – but, I still find the cases fascinating.
Sad in some cases.
But fascinating.

The Sims 3 for Console Review

This post is slightly belated (as I had planned to do it on Thursday) though – I do have a valid excuse. Last night I had foolishly spilled water all over my laptop. And, sadly – it seems to have fried the circuits in my keyboard (if I have to guess). I didn’t have the patience to fire up my work pc and rather just went to bed to try and sleep off my flu.

So, without further delay – My first review for May:

    Game Review: The Sims 3 for Console.

Up until 2008, I used to be mainly a pc gamer, indulging myself in games like Warcraft, Age of Empires, Tomb Raider, Unreal Tournament, Half Life, Need for Speed and Prince of Persia. Oh, and let’s not forget Black and White, the game in which you are the giant hand of a benevolent (or malicious) god.
And, of course – the Sims.
I played this game just as it was released, spurred to buy it by curiosity (even though I am a blood and gore person by preference). I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of hours that I lost to it and found the social dynamics of the game fascinating to watch. (Yes, I was one of those who would drown unsuspecting visitors in my pool so that I can create a backyard cemetery for all my haunting needs…).

When I purchased a PlayStation Portable in 2008 (handy for the excessive traveling that I was doing) I ventured out and got Sims 2 Pets at a second hand gaming store, knowing that it would probably be harder to manage than it’s pc version. It… was, I’ll make no lie of that, but – after some practice I got the hang of it and enjoyed the game just as much as it’s predecessor.
So, when Sims 3 for the console (PS3 specifically) was released, I knew that I had to get it.

I started playing it about two weeks ago and – as anticipated once again, first found myself struggling to manage the controls, sort out what my Sim needed to do and figure out the deeper dynamics of the game. It offered a lot more functions and methods with which to make your Sim unique. The star sign personality determinator (yes, I just made up that word) fell away to choosing traits and lifetime goals for your Sim. You could now make your Sim a loner, a couch potato, an athletic guru, a book worm, a computer geek, an insane individual (who can fish in swimming pools), a green thumb gardener and many more. What’s more, you had more career options to choose from, a lot of self-employed activities which could keep your financial boat afloat and the best part?
You didn’t need an obscene amount of friends to further yourself in any career.

I like it.

One of my biggest problems with The Sims has been the whole aspect of making friends. My Sims always failed to be successful career individuals and maintain a healthy social life. Organizing parties are too complicated for me and keeping contact with the 25 friends that you needed to further yourself in politics or journalism was a waste of great gaming time (in my opinion – I’d rather just drown them all). Now, you have so many other options available to you.

And the details are brilliant. Although I tend to play my Sims in Fast Forward (I still like to kill them as soon as possible for that unique haunting experience) I find myself dropping down a few paces to observe my occupant (victim). Their facial expressions are wonderful. You can see what they are thinking, you can tell when they are enjoying a book (or when they aren’t) and on the odd occasion, you’ll find some random pregnant woman have a baby on your doorstep. What more do you need?

The interactions are much less artificial, you can fill your house with fish tanks of fish that you caught in local ponds and you can make a living without ever needing to leave your house (or fire your maid because she’s stealing food from your kitchen).

The only down side is the loading times needed for transition between locations. Although they are not lengthy, they are quite a lot. When ever you needed to go somewhere, you as a gamer had to be patient as hell. And, unfortunately, occasionally your Sim will be victim to a gaming glitch which would have them either stuck behind the mail box unable to get out or stuck behind a fellow room mate who is unwilling to move. But – every game has its faults. In Fallout New Vegas for instance I readily get assaulted by random flying geckos who seem to hover in the air like super man. I still get rid of them and carry on with the game. I also struggled with the tutorials, as they didn’t quite tell me what I needed to know. But, then I discovered Carl’s Unofficial Sim 3 gaming guide, and my problems were solved. I can highly recommend reading it.

So, if you have been considering purchasing the console version of this game, but fear that you might loose the gist of it due to the controls, think no further. It’s worth it.