Did a ghost crash his car on the A3 in Guildford?

Car accidents are, sadly, a normal occurrence on Britain’s A3 highway. But there was nothing normal about a crash that took place on it in 2002…

On the evening of 11th December, Surrey Police’s annual Christmas party was interrupted by calls from multiple witnesses reporting a probable car crash on the A3. They said they saw a car lose control and career off the dual carriageway—headlights blazing—about 100 metres before the slip road at Burpham in Guildford, Surrey.

All seemed fairly routine. Police attended the scene, initially finding no evidence of a crash. Continuing to search the area, they came upon a wrecked Vauxhall Astra, nose-down in a ditch just 20 yards from where witnesses had seen it veer off the road. It was obscured by trees and undergrowth that made it impossible to spot from the road.

The driver was found near the car, dead. It appeared that he’d crawled from the car and tried to climb the bank to seek help, but didn’t make it. The driver’s door was badly damaged, so he’d probably crawled out of the passenger side.

And his body was a skeleton.

I know, right. Classic “wait—what?” moment.

Turned out that the man, identified by dental records as 21-year-old Christopher Brian Chandler, was wanted by the police for robbery and went missing in July of that year.

So—unless skeletons are capable of driving—Mr Chandler’s accident actually occurred five months before the police found the car.

Question is, what on earth did all those witnesses see?

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Mysterious buildings that aren’t what they seem

Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest

Do you ever walk past a building and wonder if it’s really as it looks? Probably not, but that’s because we’ve all got too much on our minds. We take our surroundings for granted and we don’t question them. So how do we know that we’re not being deceived left, right and centre? Newsflash—we are.

There are buildings that aren’t what they seem all over the place. Last year I took a jaunt to Budapest with my girlfriend and we visited the grand and ornate Vajdahunyad Castle. Though it looks like it has been the home of kings and queens for centuries, it hasn’t. In fact, it’s only been standing since 1896 and nobody’s ever lived there. It’s a fake, a folly, a fantasy pastiche showcasing Hungary’s architectural evolution.

Vajdahunyad Castle amalgamates copies of parts of major landmark buildings from different time periods across different parts of Hungary. As a result, it’s a mishmash of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architectural styles, and even more telling is that it was originally made from wood and cardboard! It was rebuilt using stone and brick between 1904 and 1908 because it got so popular.

But Vajdahunyad Castle is not alone. There are tons of folly castles all over the world, and dozens in the UK alone. Take this castle, for example, which overlooks the city of Bath, Somerset.

From a distance, this looks like a typical medieval castle—but it’s nothing of the sort. Literally known as Sham Castle, it was built in the 18th century to ‘enhance the view’ from philanthropist Ralph Allen’s town house in the city. The blocked-up windows are a hint, but when you walk through its main entrance, that’s when you realise. There’s no more castle! You can see from the picture below that it’s only supposed to be viewed from the front.

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Nicolas Cage is a vampire

A few years ago, online entrepreneur Jack Mord made a curious discovery in an album of American Civil War-era portraits — a 140-year-old photograph of Nicolas Cage!

According to Mord, the photo is an original carte de visite (a type of small photograph) from circa 1870, taken by Professor G.B. Smith, a Confederate Civil War prisoner of war photographer. It shows a man, apparently from Tennessee, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Face-Off and National Treasure star. Jack Mord believes it really is Nicolas Cage and that Cage is a member of the “walking undead” or an immortal vampire who “reinvents himself once every 75 years or so”.

It’s true that the man in the photo does look remarkably like the Hollywood actor. Jack Mord also noticed an inconsistency between this photo and the rest of the photos in the album — everybody else was named, this man was not.

So could this mysterious nameless man actually be Nicolas Cage?

On discovering the photo, Mr Mord stuck it straight on eBay, selling it for the princely sum of $1million because he believed it constituted proof of a major Hollywood star’s immortality. He also said he’d allow the buyer to authenticate the photo’s age before the sale went through.

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Does Holbein’s “The Ambassadors” contain clues to a Tudor conspiracy?

Everybody’s seen a Hans Holbein. His portraits of Henry VIII and the Tudor court are some of the most famous works of the Renaissance. But his 1533 masterpiece The Ambassadors is not just a painting. It’s a nest of puzzles and codes that hints at a conspiracy to change the course of history…

At first glance, The Ambassadors reflects the glory of the Tudor age, showing two noblemen with an array of musical and scientific instruments, all painted with beautiful photographic precision.

But look closer and you’ll realise that there’s a lot more going on here than just a show of wealth and knowledge.

The clues

  • The most obvious oddity is the distorted shape in the foreground. You have to look at the painting from low down on the left side or high up on the right to see the shape as an accurate rendering of a human skull (turn your computer/phone to the side and you’ll see what I mean). It’s called anamorphic perspective, an invention of the Early Renaissance, which has since been used by artists to disguise all kinds of furtive images in their work. The skull has been interpreted as a memento mori, a reminder of death.
  • In the top left corner you can see Jesus on the cross, half concealed by the green curtain.
  • The lute on the bottom shelf has a broken string, a symbol of discord and disharmony.
  • One of the flutes is missing from the case, reinforcing the discord symbolism.
  • The mathematical textbook begins with the word “divide”.
  • The hymnal next to it is in Martin Luther’s translation.

The Anne Boleyn conspiracy

At the beginning of the 1530s, Catherine of Aragon had been unable to give Henry VIII a son and heir, and Henry had become determined to marry his latest mistress Anne Boleyn. At the same time, the Protestant Reformation was in full throttle across Europe, sparked by Martin Luther’s criticisms of the Catholic Church and his calls for reform.

And while Henry VIII was a devout Catholic who despised Luther and considered him a heretic, the King was surrounded by a close-knit cabal of secret Protestant supporters who wanted to end the Pope’s dominion over England.

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Princess Diana’s secret daughter Sarah is the true heir

A real-life game of thrones is upon us. We’ve always believed that Prince Charles is next in line for the throne, followed by his son, Prince William. But it’s come to light that Prince William has an older sister, Sarah, who is the true heir to the Iron — uh — British throne…

Diana, Princess of Wales, is no stranger to conspiracy theories. Normally they’re to do with her untimely and tragic death 20 years ago, the official story of which has more holes than a colander. This one’s a lot weirder.

This one alleges that during a recent trip to the United States, Kate Middleton had a secret meeting with a woman claiming to be her husband Prince William’s long-lost sister. This was at the behest of William, who thought it inappropriate to meet her himself and wanted Kate to scope her out first. Reportedly Kate and William have since requested DNA tests.

This woman, ‘Sarah’, told a fascinating story: in December 1980, 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer, then a virgin, was ordered by the Queen to undergo gynaecological tests to establish whether she was capable of bearing Charles’s children. Diana’s eggs were harvested and fertilised with Charles’s sperm. After the tests proved successful, their engagement was announced and the embryos were destroyed.

Or so everyone thought. As it happened, a ‘rogue doctor’ secretly held back one of the embryos and implanted it into his wife, who unknowingly became the surrogate mother of Charles and Diana’s biological child.

This child, a girl, was born 10 weeks after Charles and Diana’s wedding, in October 1981 — 8 months before the birth of Prince William. Not only does this make her William’s older sister, but it also makes her legitimate, since Diana and Charles were married when she was born. She is, therefore, the rightful heir to the throne after Charles.

Jaw off the floor yet?

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Did Rudolph Fentz time travel? My short story about the famous urban legend is now published in Storgy Magazine

Who is Rudolph Fentz? was the first of the Million Eyes Short Stories to be published, way back in 2015 in Issue 68 of Scribble Magazine (and it won 3rd prize in their quarterly comp too).

Since that issue of Scribble is long out of print, I’ve been looking for a magazine to re-publish it. Now Storgy Magazine, who published Paul last November, have published Who is Rudolph Fentz? online — which means you can all read it for free!

The story is based on the famous time travel urban legend of Rudolph Fentz (who you can read about here) and centres on a man, Forrest Thomson, determined to get to the truth of who he is and how he ended up in the middle of Times Square in June 1950. But could Forrest be entering dangerous territory as he investigates those responsible?

You can read Who is Rudolph Fentz? by clicking this link to Storgy.

Enjoy, folks, and thank you Storgy Magazine for publishing another of my stories!

Coming soon: Princess Diana had a secret daughter?!

My short story “The Home Secretary is safe” is now published in Phantaxis Issue 6

A new Million Eyes Short Story is now published and available to read in science fiction and fantasy magazine Phantaxis!

The Home Secretary is safe is included in Issue 6, which has just been released. (I’m even named first on the cover – think it’s just alphabetical but still – WHOOP!)

In the story, Cody Evans is taking the train to visit his cousin Rachel (the eponymous star of Rachel Can See, published in Metamorphose Volume 2, and Rachel Can Still See, which will be published by Phantaxis in November).  When bizarre things start happening on the journey, Cody finds himself at the centre of a heinous plot and the unwitting target of assassins…

Click on the cover image to buy the magazine from Amazon, or click here.

Enjoy!

Coming soon: Princess Diana’s secret daughter

TWO “Million Eyes” short stories to be published by Phantaxis Magazine

What a month! After a very slow first half of the year in terms of publication news for the Million Eyes Short Stories, my story Eryl Mai’s Dream just got shortlisted by Dark Tales, and Who is Rudolph Fentz? got accepted for re-publication by Storgy Magazine. Now, within 3 days of one another, I’ve had two further stories accepted for publication by Canada-based science fiction and fantasy magazine Phantaxis!

Phantaxis rejected both The Quiet Invasion and Operation Loch Ness previously, so I certainly wasn’t expecting them to suddenly accept two of my stories. Obviously these ones struck a chord.

The story to be published first is called The Home Secretary is safe and is about a teenage boy who experiences probably the strangest train journey of his life before becoming the unwitting target of assassins. I’m told this story will appear in the August issue of Phantaxis — so not long!

The second story to be published is called Rachel Can Still See, which won the Rushmoor Writers Hyde Cup 2016 and was highly commended by Writers’ Forum a few months later. This, as you might guess, is a sequel to Rachel Can See, which was published last year in Metamorphose, Volume 2. You don’t have to have read Rachel Can See to understand the sequel, but I’d definitely advise doing so. (There’s a sneak peak of Rachel Can See on Metamorphose’s website, and Volume 2 is currently available to buy half-price.)

I’m told that Rachel Can Still See will be published in the November issue of Phantaxis. So a bit longer to wait for that one but hopefully it’ll be worth it!

Hope you all have a fabulous week! I’m off to Disneyland Paris! 😀