Mystery Monday: The Bloop.

In 1997 US Navy officers were being paid to listen to whales on their super secret spy equipment left over from the Cold War. I presume it was a sunny day and perfect for listening to the usual mediocre sounds from the deep blue sea. How big must their surprise have been then when they quite suddenly recorded a sound which sounded unlike anything they had ever heard before? It sounded like this:

The sound was nicknamed ‘Bloop’ for obvious reasons and for the next couple of years scientists and military experts alike tried to figure out what could’ve given origin to such a strange sound. Many theories came up, from giant squid, to mating whales to shifting ice. In 2002 CNN wrote the first news report on the sound, giving the reins to amateur scientists and authors alike (as we all know all answers lie on the internet) to speculate on its origins. No plausible theories arose and one author even speculated that it came from a giant eel.

This sound will remain one of the things that will most probably never be solved, unless another one is recorded and analysed (or the whale caught mid breath). It might not be a super mysterious mystery, but it’s certainly an interesting one. I’m amused by two things that firstly, there are people paid to listen to the ocean at all times (Soviet sub, I know, I know) but also that just sometimes, Mother Nature decides to throw something non destructive at us that we didn’t see coming and can’t explain.

 

 

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Mystery Monday: The Beast of Gevaudan

The Story

On the 1st of June, 1764 a woman living in Langogne, France – was working outside when she saw a large, lupine like creature emerge from the woods and storm right at her. She managed to escape as the creature was distracted and then driven away by some of the farm bulls.

This was to be the first sighting of the Beast of Gevaudan but, most certainly not the last. On the 30th of June 1764, Jeanne Boulet – a fourteen year old girl – was killed near the villages of Les Hubacs – not far from Langone. She had been tending sheep on her family’s farm when the creature attacked her – ignoring all the livestock present. She survived the attack, long enough to recount her tale but unfortunately succumbed to her injuries.

The next notable attack happened on the 12th of January, 1765 when a group of young people were attacked by a ‘beast’. They managed to drive it off and this time, their account caught the attention of King Louis XV who send a troupe of trained wolf hunters to try and catch the beast. At first, these men focused their attention on exterminating the local wolf population but – the attacks continued until 22nd of June when King Louis send in Francis Antoine. He managed to kill one of the largest wolves recorded in history and declared happily that – not only did he slay the beast, but that they had found human remains in his stomach. The wolf was stuffed and sent to the king where as Antoine received a large sum of money for his services rendered.

But.

The best struck again on the 2nd of December 1765. Numerous deaths and attacks followed until a hunter named Jean Chatel killed a ‘beast’ on the 19th of June, 1767 – more than two years after the first sighting. The ‘wolf like creature’ had human remains in it’s stomach and was reportedly (once again) larger than any wolf every recorded in that time. It also had wolf like features, but didn’t look like an average Canis Lupis.

The Mystery

This is one of the most favored werewolf tales told in history. According to Scholastic’s Encycopedia, movie goers have seen over 220 different versions of the tale, all centered around the story of a creature running amuck in France. Now, I have never been one to cry wolf and in history (and fairy tales) I’ve always sided with wolves. I think that they are among history’s most persecuted creatures where our primal fear of them have caused humans to hunt them almost to the brink of extinction.

So, needless to say – I don’t believe the wolves did it. But, I think that there was something very wrong in Gevaudan.

I’ve read accounts where people claimed the creature that Jean Chatel shot was one of his own making, that he had trained a beast to kill for the soul purpose of him killing it and earning fame. There are some that speculate that the various murders weren’t all done by the same creature and that it might well have been a madman. According to the author De Beaufort there were over 210 attacks. 98 of the victims were partially eaten, 25 of those attacked were women, 68 children and 6 men.

That is a lot of people.

Of course, the mystery part intrigues me. This story has not been dismissed as a wolf attack and it’s one of the favorite topics of cryptozoologists when they debate the existence of real werewolves. I like to think that the wolves are innocent, that there was a man out there doing these atrocities. A man, with the likeness of a wolf but the hate of our kind which drove him to kill these people.

Mystery Monday: A Personal Experience.

One of the reasons I like mysteries is because on the odd occasion, I have also come across something that I cannot explain. These experiences range from strange occurrences, odd coincidences and occasionally supernatural touches. Now, before you cry ghost or loony, let me explain something. I am not the kind of person who cries ‘ALIEN!’ at the sight of bright lights in the sky. I am a scientist by heart, I like facts, I like all avenues of explanation to be explored. And, I like evidence.
Objective evidence.
It’s therefore that I recount a past experience to you with all the facts as they presented themselves to me and I’ll leave you to decide for yourself what it was that I experienced.
In August 2008 I traveled to Lancaster in Lancashire, England for a job interview. Because I had not been in the north a lot, I decided to make a day trip of it and traveled in early to the town to do some tourist like sight seeing. My first stop was Lancaster Castle and – if this sounds familiar, I should point out that I blogged about it in one of Aheila’s Drabble Days.
After some friendly “My grandfather shot at your grandfather during the Anglo Boer war” banter with the local tour guide, I managed to sweet talk my way into doing a tour of the dungeon for free (I was pretty broke at that stage and bartered for everything.) It was still in the UK’s tourist season so there were quite a lot of other foreigners on the tour. My karmic curse for not paying was that I ended up with the tour with the most uneducated children that I had encountered in a long time. They disrupted everything and irritated me to a point where I wanted to lock them up in the dungeon well and forget about them.
But, then I’m a fairly impatient person when it comes to other people’s genetics.
We traveled through the dungeon to three specific holding cells where they used to keep convicts who were particularly troublesome (like those children for instance). The cells were dark and damp and had been sealed up for quite a number of years until the 1970’s when they were rediscovered. Our guide was quite dry and bored about the concept of loosing three dungeons and blankly asked us if any would like to volunteer to step inside.
I was the first to say yes, seeing the dark deep dungeon as a welcome escape from the irritating children. Smiling at all the men whom had not shown my enthusiasm at going into the cell, I walked in and put myself in the darkest corner that I could find. Immediately, I felt a young child grab my pants, just by my knee, and jerk hard. Unable to believe that the tourist kids had followed me in, I turned to glare at the parents, only to find that all their kids were still outside the cell, quiet suddenly at the idea of being locked up in the dark. There was no way that they could’ve come in with me and run out without either me seeing them or them making a ruckus.
I was still alone in the cell, with my skin tingling where the hand had grabbed my pants.
I decided to say nothing, because I’m not the kind of person to cry wolf. I was still convinced that the kids had somehow managed to do this and resolved to find some way of getting even with them. (Like throwing them in said well…) One or two more volunteers joined me in the cell and the tour guide locked us up for a good three minutes. I kept expecting the kid to grab me again but nothing else happened and we were let out again, the dim light of the corridors strangely bright after the darkness of the holding cell.
We were about to walk away when the tour guide turned to us and said in his dry, droll tone:
“I should tell you something else about these cells…”
In a strange way, I knew what he was going to say immediately.
“I’m not a believer,” the tour guide had continued. “Which is why I always tell this after we’ve been here as I hate to put ideas into people’s minds. But, it has been reported that sometimes some people either sense the presence of a young boy here. One guide, who does not work here anymore, even once reported seeing him sitting in the cell when she opened it for her tour…”
I didn’t hear the rest, the sensation on my leg suddenly burning. I had felt, vividly, that a child had grabbed my leg. I had not been told of the child before hand, so my imagination could not make up wild stories based on suggestion.
The feeling had been real enough and my mind’s perception had classified it. A child had grabbed my leg, one I did not see – but one I had felt with me.
I am still not willing to cry ghost, but I know what I felt that day. Was I tired from traveling? Yes. Was my imagination in overdrive? Of course, it always is.
Did I know that people had seen the ghost of a child there before?
No.
So, I ask you – what was it that I had felt there? What do you think?

Mystery Monday: The Antikythera Mechanism

I have a good one for you today, given to me by a good friend of mine whom I shall name Istari. Due to the pending Rapture, I had not planned Mystery Monday (nor did my dishes – read: I was very very lazy this weekend) and had told her (with a touch of writer’s panic) that I had no idea what to write about.

She suggested this:

The Antikythera Mechanism

The Story

In the 1900’s, sponge divers working at theislandofAntikytheradiscovered a shipwreck approximately 60 metres down. The first diver found what he described as a scene of rotting corpses and horses lying on the sea bed. His fellow shipmates thought that he had gone mad so the captain of their team, a Dimitrios Kondos, decided to dive down for himself.

When he came up with the bronze arm of a statue, the crew knew that they had struck gold and spent several days diving out as many of the small artifacts as they could.

For the next year, the Greek Education Ministry and the Hellenic Navy salvaged as much from the sight as they could, including a bronze lyre, a statue of a young boy and a discus thrower and the Antikythera Ephebe – a 1.94m statue of a naked man (I dare you to call it otherwise…). On the 17th of May, 1902 – a archeologist named Valerios Stais was examining some of the stones that they had brought up from the sea bottom when he discovered a tiny gear embedded in it.

What followed, blew scientists understanding of greek history out of the water.

The Facts.

Valerios discovered the beginning of what we now know as the Antikythera Mechanism. It is thought to be the oldest example of a mechanized clock – believed to be used to study the movement of planets around the earth and for other functions of astrology.

Simple really? Just a giant calculator?

Yes. But…

The technology that it presented did not appear again for another thousand years.

The mechanism had a carefully written set of instructions in Greek, implying that it was intended for use by someone who didn’t know how it worked. The instructions referred to various locations known in ancientGreece. A sort of “When you are here, do this with it…”set of instructions.

It was small and could easily be transported.

And, it could be used to calculate the rising and setting of certain stars on the horizon (implying once again that it was used for navigation).

It even took the fact that there were 365.25 days per year into account. This was only introduced during 46BC, approximately three decades after the ship sank.

For those years, it must’ve been a scientific wonder and – for us – it’s a Mystery.

 

My Opinion.

I can’t stop grinning. Honestly? I love this one.
I have a theory, one which I can’t elaborate on as I’m exploring it in a story, lol, but I can only say that I believe that there was an ancient race of people on our planet. No, I don’t believe they were aliens. But, I believe that they could do things that we can only dream of now. I believe that these people, who might well have designed so many other mysteries on our planet, had made this in order to help the Greeks.

Simple.
But, proof to me, that there were more to our ancestors than we give them credit for.

Now, if only I could prove it… 😉

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.