When the editor contacted me a year ago, I was invited to write a Mystery/Noir story for them. "What, me? Mystery? But... but I write horror..." I said. To myself, of course. There was no way in freaking hell that I'd reject this opportunity, right? I mean, this was only the second time a venue asked me for a story! My short answer to them was "When do you need it for?"
And so began my struggle to find a non-paranormal story worth telling. Now, I like to have nuggets of historical facts in all of my stories. If you do it right, the combination of fact and fiction lends itself to a "Blair Witch Project effect" where the reader starts to wonder what came out of the writer's mind, and what did actually happen. And that's a lot of fun, but very hard to pull off. And time-consuming.
I jumped into two week-long, fifteen-hours-a-day internet search for just the perfect mystery that tickled my fancy. By day four I was exhausted and stressed out of my mind.
Then, when I was about to lose my faith, I found a blog about The Mystery of the Somerton Man. Angels sang in a chorus, and a ray of heavenly sun touched my screen. Considered one of the biggest mysteries of the last century, it has inspired volumes of books, blogs, and millions of house-bound sleuths. And because I know what kind of a creepy-stuff-lover you are, here are the facts to that story.
Also known as the Tamam Shud Case, it began at 6:30 in the morning of December 1st, 1948 in Somerton Beach, Australia. Police were called after the body of a man was found lying on the beach under a street lamp. The dead man was wearing a dress shirt, black suit pants, no jacket, and neither his shoes or socks had any sand on them.
Did I tell you he was found on a beach? And I don't mean on the edge of the beach where you sit to smoke a cigarette and enjoy the view, but way inside the beach where you go to work on your tan. Wearing work clothes.
But it gets better...
Police found no wallet or ID, only a used bus ticket and an unused train ticket. While the forensic team worked on the autopsy, police went to that train station and retrieved a single piece of luggage the man had left in consign. No luck finding a person to identify him.
Upon their return, police learned that all of the tags from the man's clothes had been previously cut. There were no signs of a violent death or any other apparent cause for the man to stop breathing. The only clue found was a piece of paper hidden inside a secret pocket on the man's trousers. It said TAMAM SHUD, which is Persian and means "Finished" or "Ended". Inside the suitcase they found the missing jacket, yet again with the tags removed and no means of identification.
Eventually investigators found out the piece of paper was actually from a very rare copy of an old Persian book of poems called The Rubaiyat by Omar Kahyyam. The rest of the book was found on the back seat of a car. The car owner didn't even know the book was there. He had driven around the beach area on the evening before, searching for a friends house. Inside the book, a note was scribbled. In code. No one has ever been able to decipher it.
|Think you can crack it? Fame can be yours!|
And now you see why this creepy and baffling mystery was the perfect inspiration for my first Mystery/Noir tale.
If like me you have to know everything there is to this case, follow the link. There's plenty more mysteries I didn't write here. Maybe later you can share with me your theories...