THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 74

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 74

…Miss Bouchette, can I count on you to help me out here? I will grant you blanket access with Level 1 Security status

security-level-1-001

“You could barely speak English this morning when we spoke this morning,” Roy insists.

“I have not had the honor to meet you until now; I would like to express the gratitude of all the Nepalese people for being part of the great Space Colony. My government sends its deep condolences for the horrible accident.”

This man was genuinely sincere and definitely not the Gherkin Dogma he had met right before the Colony disappeared from the Mars Mockup.

“Are you saying that you didn’t man this station until after Space Colony was taxi-001destroyed?” Roy is more confused than ever.

“That is correct Director Crippen. I was late in arriving because my taxi driver could not find Galveston Launch Facility; it seems he took a wrong turn as we left George Bush Intercontinental Airport, which is odd because you can see Colony Mission Control from many miles away.”

“Sounds fishy to me Director Roy,” Francine interjects her opinion. “I know that many cabbies are new to this country, but they cannot be blind.”

All the while digesting and deciphering, Roy is finally seeing the handwriting on the wall. As Phil Jansky’s replacement continued to ramble on about other trip delaying travails, the pieces of the puzzle are coming together:

 1)   Philip Jansky, Spatial Debris Specialist {20 year NASA employee} dies of a rare & sudden cerebral hemorrhage

2    That death occurs at a critical time in Space Colony 1’s mission, with the McKinneys on Mars surface

3)   In a scramble to replace personnel, a Nepalese technician is flown in by supersonic transport

4)  Space Colony 1 disappears from its orbit around Mars, cause unknown

“From Earth-to-Mars, no one’s laughing from here-or-there.”

5)  A rescue mission involving the premature launch of the New Mayflower is hastily thrown together

6)  One man, two manred man, blue man. A human shell game has been going on, with sketchy timelines and miss-identifications

“Time is winding down Francine and I do not have time to do a full-blown investigation. Can I count on you to help me out here? I will grant you blanket access with Level 1 Security status.”

“A good reporter never turns down the opportunity to do what she does best.” She is developing more than a casual interest in both this interplanetary intrigue and this intriguing man specifically. “You can count on me….as long as I get the exclusive.”

Roy is going to need the help…no matter what she is angling.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 74


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 73

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 73

“What happened to your lousy English and didn’t your hair used to be black?”…

plot-thickens3

The Plot Thickens by Donna MacDonald

“Then why has his hair color changed?” On a thin whim he says, “Let’s pay Gherkin a visit.” With time dwindling, hunches played trump hunches ignored.

Roy Crippen douses power to the what-not room as he and Francine scamper over to the nerve center of mans’ first colony away from Earth. From scamper to gallop, their pace quickens and if Francine had any doubts as to the seriousness of the situation, all she need do is keep up with the bulldog in front of her.

In a big building with odd angles and unexpected transitions, Roy bowls over an unsuspecting  technician, sending him sprawling. He excuses himself, sort of, while acquiring a limp in the process.

Francine mostly ignores the tech, asking, “Are you going to be alright Roy?”

“What…. Oh yes, come on,” not a complete answer.

“I hope I’m not out of line, but are we chasing a ghost here. You are making a pretty big fuss about one little man.” She is not privy to Roy’s unfolding theory.

He stops to collect himself, address her issues with a glance and a right hand thru his floppy brown straight hair. Francine straightens his tie thereby restoring the look of a man in control.

He speaks, seemingly into the thin air, alerting security as to the nature of his pending confrontation, rejoining the previously frantic pace, with a newswoman bring up the rear.

At this late stage of the approaching launch, less than an hour now, nearly every eye sneaks a peek at NASA’s man of the hour. He looks like a man under the gun, acts like a man possessed, and don’t you dare get in his way.

With Roy grabbing the Spatial Debris tech by the shoulders, spinning him around in-your-face style, the man is startled by the aggressive move, “There is no problem in the launch window, Mr. Crippen, only some small stuff out at 500,000 out.”

“What happened to your lousy English and didn’t your hair used to be black?”

“I do not know what you are talking about, Sir.”

“What is your name and when did you get here?”

“My name is Gurkhas Shah Dhangotma and I have been here all day, except for a short break early this morning. I had been on duty for sixteen hours. Someone relieved me for an hour, no more.”

“You could barely speak English when we spoke this morning.”

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THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 73


page 68

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 72

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 72

…the man he is watching is as cool as a comet in between stars and manning his post like he belonged there…

comet

Jim Scotti’s Comet Artwork

“There is somebody in this complex from Nepal, that strange little tech named Gherkin who replaced Phil Jansky. I wonder if there is a connection.”

“And you don’t dare question someone’s qualifications. Political correctness has been the ruin of this world,” Francine adds her opinion about questioning anything about anybody… and the fallout.

Without hesitation Roy brings the room consuming monitor to life. Francine can see that it is not an ordinary one, seeming to follow Roy’s slightest gesture, the picture races through various angles of Colony Control.

A Happy Gherkin

It does come to rest, Roy’s steely blues focused on a shot of Gurkhas {not Gherkin} Shah Dhangotma. Of all the Hindi/Arab/Buddhist, Middle and Far East cultures in of this selective space community, this particular man has left him with an uneasy no-peaceful feeling; replacing a previously healthy and indispensable man in Phil Jansky. And what is worse and more telling, is that he doesn’t even know who is doing the hiring since the death of Fred Cabell. It’s enough to put his spinning head on a swivel.

But if he were the informant or the mole or the mastermind, any of the three, the man he is watching is as cool as a comet in between stars and manning his post like he belonged there. But Roy cannot clear his mind’s ear of the man’s clumsy English in the moment before Space Colony 1’s ruin.

“Keep an eye on that guy,” Francine is told, “if he makes any sudden moves, give a holler.”

She obliges and can actually be helpful after getting a few quick tips about controlling that section of the screen… with a blink of an eye.

2018 Map Before the formation of Talibanistan

Roy turns to text searches that may support his flimsy suspicion, or not. Dhangotma’s personnel file is bland and incomplete, though the Baikonur Cosmodrome is listed as experience. Even his file picture has mug shot written all over it, but it is not viewed by someone who knows a hoot about the man.

In alternating between the files and the live video, comparing it to their meeting earlier in the day, his eyes tell him ‘not the same guy’; his memory screams ‘he had jet-black hair, not dark brown’. He knows that you don’t change Spatial Debris techs like you change passwords.

“What’s he been up to?”

“He raised his hand, got up and came back a minute or two
later. My guess it was a quick pee.”

“Then why has his hair color changed?” On a thin whim he says, “Let’s pay Gherkin a visit.” With time dwindling, hunches played trump hunches ignored.


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 71

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 71

…There is no reason to panic yet, but Miss Bouchette is here to help me put some pieces together, she being the only person who spoke with either a genuine informant… or a really good guesser…

Image result for informant painting

Informant from the 1980s by Mohammad Omran

As they dash inside Roy explains, “If I did not think this was of the utmost importance, I would not have asked you here. But I need to confirm the source of a smell in my control room, before I can act on any hunches.”

The freshly minted investigative duo and one armed {with two arms} escort enter Colony Mission Control, heading straight for Braden King, who will have the latest of the late news.

“The New Mayflower has been reprogrammed to liftoff at 11:57 to dodge a meteor… oh and and the downrange tracking is ready. That puts us on t-minus 1:49.55.” Braden has really pushed the whole ground crew in Roy’s short absence.

There is no reason to panic yet, but Miss Bouchette is here to help me put some pieces together, she being the only person who spoke with either a genuine informant… or a really good guesser. And we’re not talking about an old-fashioned-Chinese-like-cyber-attack.”

“Thank you for the professional manner in which you included us in your story. Those folks on Mars are dear to us and had you just blurted the news out, we would have lost control of things.” Braden doesn’t bother her with the wrenching details of Deke and Gus’ reaction to her report.

“We will be in the briefing room Braden, and not to be disturbed!”

“If there is a hitch in the countdown, I’ll let you know – t-minus 1:42 and counting.”

He nods, checks his PDA and opens the door to the classified room by placing his palm on the encoder on its right side. It is not as neat or pristine as she would have guessed one long littered table that is used for confidential meetings, taco parties and card games. Roy enters a ten character code into the comprehensive NASA database, brightening the 75” monitor on the wall to display personnel files that may hold the clue to an inside traitor.

But it is Francine who holds the key that unlocks the dark secret. She tells him every detail she could recall from that very hectic and eventful 10 minutes, which seemed much longer than 9 1/2 hours ago.

“Are you sure he had a Pakistani accent, I know that country became part of Talibanistan ten years ago,” asks Roy who knows just about everyone who has not bought into Space Colony 1.

“He said the wordsassalamu alaikum’, I looked that up; ‘may Allah’s peace be with you’ in the Arab culture. And he referred to Korean, Nepal and Taliban joy about the accident… and we are imperialistic infidels.”

The Nepal reference strikes a nerve.

“I wasn’t aware that Nepal had an axe to grind about the Mars project. But there is somebody in this complex from Nepal, that strange little tech named Gherkin who replaced Phil Jansky. I wonder if there is a connection.”


THE RETURN TRIP

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 68

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 68

…Suddenly, like a husband forgetting to tell his wife that his boss and wife are coming to dinner at 6:00 {it’s 5:30}, Roy Crippen’s ears go flush with an influx of warm blood...

Clarity by Natalie Rye

****What if this whole nightmare was a deliberate and calculated plot that is still playing out? Just how far will jealous enemies, like the unified Korea or Talibanistan, go to prevent such an ambitious venture as Space Colony 1 from achieving success.****

SOCIAL MEDIA NIGHTMARE

And then there is the matter of the informant who breached security to leak this embarrassing story to Houston and the World. Were it not for Francine Bouchette’s conscience and cooperation, it would have turned into a social media nightmare, with rumors turning into lies turning into panic.

And just how many details of the New Mayflower’s coming launch are out there, to be used for nefarious intent?

Suddenly, like a husband forgetting to tell his wife that his boss and wife are coming to ah-ha-momentdinner at 6:00 {it’s 5:30}, Roy Crippen’s ears go flush with an influx of warm blood. Reporter Bouchette had mentioned that the informant had an accent peculiar to the Himalaya region. Most everything the informer told her was accurate, as if an insider were involved.

THE SPATIAL DEBRIS MONITOR! That supposed Nepalese technician replaced his friend Phil Jansky, who died from a sudden brain hemorrhage. Some guy named Shah Gherkin is all he can recall from the heat of the mission run-out.

He takes a quick look at the countdown clock; t-minus 3:00.00 with still time to act on a hunch.

“I need to speak with Francine Bouchette from KHST Houston,” he demands of the Braden King.

Francine was in the midst of preparing for the Ten O’clock, but responds tout de suite, upon hearing who was calling her. Coincidentally she had been trying to contact him, ever since her afternoon exclusive but was unable to get through.

columncolumn2“I am so glad you called Mr. Crippen; I’ve been trying………”

“I am sorry for interrupting, but I would like to meet you at the Galveston Launch Facility in 15 minutes. This is concerning our, I mean your informant.”

“Can I possibly get there in 15 minutes?” she ponders how she can go 50 miles in that short time.

“I’ll have an F-77A scrambled for you at Hobby Airport; you’ll be cleared at the gate.”

KHST is located on Houston’s far southwest side. “I have a better idea, I can get to you quicker if I drive, and you clear I-45 for me, meet me at the GLF gate.”

He relents to her plan, while she only has time to grab her purse and streak to the parking lot, “I won’t be able to do the 10 o’clock,” is the only explanation she gives to the producer on the way out of the newsroom.

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 51

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 51

“Assalmu alaikum. Who I am, is of little importance, what I have to tell you may change your life,”…

life-changing

Yes, Francine was lying to the Senator when she told him of her doing real work. The evening cast is 4 hours away and as for the script, she would read whatever they put on the prompter, unless it makes her look stupid or cheesy. No, Francine was headed for the comfort of her personal, fully equipped dressing room.

She flashes her thumb against the print-recognition coder, to gain access to a world no one is allowed to know about… that and her age. In a world of investigative reporters and scheming assignment editors, only her cleaning lady has access to it, lest the governor declare it a disaster area. Queen Francine does not rank #1 in market neatness.

It is a sanctuary fit for the General Manager, or Senior Vice-president for that matter, who coincidently Francine has been engaged to, ever since she was up for lead anchor on the 6 & 10; not  coincidently. The poor sucker guy may be witness to the next Ice Age before she sets a date.

Once inside, she succumbs to her narcissistic ways, her image filling the large lighted mirror. She does a pirouette to verify whether that diet she started was working or not. All it takes is one chauvinistic comment about her butt to trigger that. She nods her approval, complains about why nobody has invented a better pair of pantyhose, and goes about putting herself back together.

Once seated, she leans forward for a closer inspection of her midday makeup, that when it was applied this morning, only served to polish the already perfect face of Aphrodite or Venus de Milo. Even her many enemies cannot dispute how truly pretty she is.

Her nose was a bit on the shiny side, God forbid, reflecting light like the hood of her 2029 Corvette; Nothing that a swirling mass of tinted powder won’t cure.

Satisfied once again, that perfection is achievable, Francine decides to make her routine appearance among the peons in the newsroom. She has lucked out this day, arriving just in time to schmooze a throng of Junior High speech students; Autographs gladly, pictures surely, questions, “Talk to the news director over there.” More pictures?

She was about to see if anything new had crossed her desk, when a telephone call comes through to her cell phone. The 1970s ABBA oldie anthem “The Winner Takes It All”, beckons her to answer. Nobody is allowed to call her at work, “It might be my agent,” she thinks aloud.

“Is this Francine Bouchette?” The voice on the other end of the line has a thick, unfamiliar accent.

She has half a mind to hang up, but anyone who has her number has good connections. “This is she and who may I ask is this? I am very busy, so make it brief.”

“Assalmu alaikum. Who I am, is of little importance, what I have to tell you may change your life,” the caller must be Arab or Muslim.

“I am listening, but you’ll need to get to the point.”

“We have chosen you to tell a story, on a day that will live in infamy, as will your name.”

“Please don’t play games here, whoever you are. If this story requires national attention, you have the right girl.” Francine is playing right into the man’s hand — a full house.cell-hell

“If you meet our needs woman, you will need to listen closely and ask not what your source is.”

“Okay, yes,” and what is with that “woman” reference? It isn’t hard to disrespect this particular female and this old-school moron is lucky she hasn’t dispatched him to cellular hell.


 THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 51


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 48

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 48

We have two people alive on Mars and we will not rest until they are safe, back here on Earth!…

Space Colony!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” A dazed technician stands, face paled by disbelief.

“It’s gone…” All he can do is point at the mission mockup and the flashing light that no longer shows anSC1 explodes orbit line around Mars. With all the distractions, no one had been monitoring the status lights; one green blink on the surface, none in orbit.

“Mr. Crippen, what has happened,” Aldona Afridi has more than a passing interest in the goings on?

Roy frantically seeks out key faces around the room. Total shock applies, with some tears on the move, spreading among most of the assembled 100.

cropped-mars3.jpgThey mourn the realization that any further contact with the McKinneys, now helplessly stranded on the Plain of Xanthe, would be impossible. The orbiting Colony was their only lifeline and that now seems utterly destroyed.

As good a good leader does, Roy Crippen collects his thoughts and regroups. There are contingency plans for such an unthinkable occurrence as this. He must sort through the options; no matter how limited they seem at this point.

“Mr. Frodo… sorry Afridi,” he has Tolkien on his brain. “We will be in touch with you in the near future. In fact I will arrange for you and your family to be picked up by American operatives in Turkey. Thank you for trying to warn us, perhaps we will find a place for you after all. Please leave your contact info with Mr. King.”

“I thank you for your kind offer, but isn’t the Space Colony project now terminated,” assumes the guilt-ridden accidental co-conspirator?

mckinneys-of-space-001“We have two people alive on Mars and we will not rest until they are safe, back here on Earth!”

The McKinneys are aware that Roy Crippen will not give up on them.

“Please ready New Mayflower for immediate liftoff,” Crippen commands, “zero hundred hours. No later!”

A rare midnight launch and don’t spare the afterburners!!


 THE RETURN TRIP

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 47

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 47

…What exactly is your point Mr. Frodo — that that Sang-Ashi thing is really a weapon?…

Related image

What space looks like to kids 2ND PLACE (MULTIMEDIA), 6TH-8TH GRADE Student: Anolani School: Kapolei Middle School Location: Kapolei, Hawaii

“Your story is intriguing Mr. Afridi, but our spatial debris monitor assures me there is nothing in the vicinity of Mars.”

january20“My calculations show otherwise; it was to pass within 10 thousand kilometers on in the 20th day of the first month 2030… today!”

“He should know Crip, he helped build the darn thing,” Braden reminds him.

Image result for frodo

Frodo by Rolozo Tolkien

What exactly is your point Mr. Frodo — that that Sang-Ashi thing is really a weapon? We are currently out of contact with Space Colony, specifically the Mars lander. The McKinney’s are currently spending daylight hours on the surface of the planet.”

It is Afridi, Aldona Afridi, and that is not a good sign. You should signal the Colony to activate its energy absorption field.”

This guy is acquainted with sensitive tech info. “You know more about the orbiting station than you should.”

“I am a great admirer of the project and regret not being allowed to offer my talents to it.”

There is a brief pause in the conversation, as Roy directs key personnel to check out Afridi’s assertions. His news is disturbing, yet there is no harm is arming the energy absorption field.

“Space Colony!!!!!!!!!”

A dazed technician stands, face paled by disbelief.

“What are you saying son,” Roy reacts to the commotion caused by the suddenly sullen young man.viewscreen-2-001

“It’s gone…” All he can do is point at the mission mockup and the flashing light that no longer shows an orbit line around Mars. With all the distractions, no one had been monitoring the status lights; one green blink on the surface, none in orbit.

“Mr. Crippen, what has happened?” Aldona Afridi has more than a passing interest in the goings on.

Roy frantically seeks out key faces around the room. Total shock applies, with some tears on the move, spreading among most of the assembled 100 technicians.


THE RETURN TRIP

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 46

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 46

CHAPTER THREE

 Up A Creek

…like I was saying, the Korean Sang-Ashi Probe is not an ordinary satellite…

whistleblower2

Whistleblower © Ben Jennings/Cartoon Movement

 “I think we have reestablished voice-com on the secure channel, listen,” Braden King carries it over to the intercom.

Colony Control

Colony Control

“Mission Control Galveston, can you hear me please?”

“Sam must be trying out a new accent,” comments Roy.

“Is this another of your jokes Sam?” Braden is sorting things out.

Aldona Afridi is just as, if not more confused. Is this the way Americans communicate on their space missions?

“I need to speak to a Roy Crippen, the Mission Director.”

The man himself answers, “This is he and what are you doing on this secure band?” He is firm, yet yielding.

Sang-Ashi Probe“My name is Aldona Afridi. I am the Chief Ordinance and Systems Engineer for the Sang-Ashi Deep Space Probe. I have defected; I am in Turkey in order to give you vital information.”

Roy is holding back, waiting for anyone else with a clue to jump in. He whispers, “I seem to remember hearing that name in connection to Korean Space. Isn’t that probe passing by Mars soon … and could this be the cause of our communication gap with Mars, Braden? Maybe they are doing some spying.”

“No telling Crip, this is strange, but yes that Korean thing is out there somewhere, maybe it’s lost. We are not seeing it.”

“You have obviously gone to some effort to speak to me, so for now, I will listen to what you have to say.”

“Very well, like I was saying, the Korean Sang Ashi Probe is not an ordinary satellite, in the codessense that it has its own defense laser ordinance. It is far more powerful than it needs to be, but I was forced to design it as such.”

“Why does a space probe need defensive systems?” wonders Roy aloud.

“They told me it was for warding off asteroids and meteors; not an unusual reaction for the paranoid Koreans. But I start to suspect that they had something else in mind, when they ask me for the manual override codes for the laser. I refuse and that is why my family and I escape to Turkey and precisely why I need to warn you.”


THE RETURN TRIP

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Masquerade Merrymaking – WIF Into History

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Infamous Impostors

in History

For most of us, the idea of pretending to be someone else day in and day out sounds exhausting, if not impossible. Not for everyone, though. Some people slip into a new identity as easily as you slip into a new pair of shoes. In fact, history is full of impostors who donned new guises and successfully pretended to be someone else entirely for money, power, or, in some cases, just for fun.

8. Lord Gordon-Gordon

The real name of Lord Gordon-Gordon is lost to history, but we know that he was a 19th century British con man who was successful in impersonating a Scottish landowner. He swindled many people, most notable being one of the richest men in America, the notorious railroad magnate Jay Gould.

When the con man decided to adopt the guise of a Scottish aristocrat around 1868, he became Lord Glencairn in London. With the right look and the proper demeanor, he slowly gained the trust of others and persuaded them to grant him money loans or services on credit. When the fraud was exposed in 1870, Lord Glencairn disappeared from London and Lord Gordon-Gordon emerged in America.

There, he was even more successful as real Scottish lords were few and far between. He was aided by the fact that Gordon-Gordon was able to deposit tens of thousands of dollars in a bank. It was the money left over from his British swindles, but it instantly gave him credibility.

He settled in Minnesota and announced his intention to invest in railroads. This way, he made the acquaintance of Jay Gould and convinced him that he owned a lot of stock in the Erie Railroad. Keen to do business together, Gould gave him half a million dollars as a sign of good faith – some in money, the rest in stock. This was intended as a guarantee – Lord Gordon-Gordon was only supposed to hold onto the money, not spend it. However, when he began selling stock shares, Gould realized he had been swindled. The industrialist tried to settle matters in court, but the “lord” fled to Canada.

This almost caused an international incident as Gould’s associates crossed the border and tried to kidnap Gordon-Gordon to bring him to justice. They were caught and arrested and a U.S. militia wanted to invade Canada to secure their release.

The con man thought himself safe in Canada, but authorities eventually decided to extradite him. Not wanting to face prison, Lord Gordon-Gordon shot himself on August 1, 1874.

7. Wilhelm Voigt

On October 16, 1906, a German captain walked into an army barracks in Berlin and commandeered ten soldiers who accompanied him by train to the town of Köpenick east of the capital. There, the captain placed the mayor and the treasurer under arrest for embezzlement and confiscated over 4,000 marks from the local treasury as evidence. At first, this sounded like a typical corruption bust, but there was a catch – the “army captain” was just some guy dressed in uniform who changed in his civilian clothes and left with the money.

His name was Wilhelm Voigt. In his late 50s at that time, he had spent half his adult life in and out of prison for various crimes. In 1906, he assembled a full captain’s uniform by buying various used parts from different shops around Berlin. He looked, walked and talked like an officer and, for German soldiers, that was enough apparently. They followed his orders without question, even the sergeant who allowed his men to travel with Voigt.

The impostor was caught ten days after his impersonation and was sentenced to four years in prison. However, unlike most other con men, Voigt’s brazen actions amused the public, both in the German Empire and abroad. He became regarded more as a folk hero than a criminal and Kaiser Wilhelm II pardoned him after two years.

Voigt was keen to take advantage of his newfound popularity and began making appearances in theaters, restaurants, amusement parks, and wherever else he was welcomed. Decades later, the memorable affair even became the subject of a play called “The Captain of Köpenick.”

6. John Deydras

One day in 1318, a one-eared man walked into Beaumont Palace in Oxford and declared himself to be the true Edward II and, therefore, the rightful King of England.

This man’s name was John Deydras, sometimes recorded as John of Powderham, and all we know about his past is that he worked as a clerk and may have been the son of a tanner. According to his story, though, he was actually the son of Edward I, better known as Edward Longshanks. However, when he was an infant, a sow bit off his ear while he was playing in the castle courtyard. Fearing that she would be severely punished for her carelessness, his nanny substituted him with another boy from the village who ended up becoming Edward II of England.

Of course, Deydras had no proof for this wild story and modern historians opine that the man was likely mentally ill since making such an accusation was basically a death sentence back then. However, Edward II was said to have been amused by Deydras and, given that nobody took the story seriously, the king may have even wanted to spare the man and keep him as his court jester.

Unfortunately, Deydras really picked the wrong time for his little stunt. Edward was deeply unpopular at that time for his military failures against the Scots led by Robert the Bruce. Moreover, his wife, Queen Isabella, was “unspeakably annoyed” by Deydras and wanted him gone. Not surprisingly, though, she wasn’t nicknamed the She-Wolf of France for nothing.

As a result, Deydras was arrested and tortured. He confessed that the whole thing had been a lie, claiming that he had been put up to it by his cat who was actually a demon. Both man and feline were executed.

5. Cassie Chadwick

Elizabeth Bigley was a 19th century Canadian swindler who ran cons ever since she was a teenager. She started off with some minor forgery before moving to the United States where she pretended to be a clairvoyant in several different cities. She also married twice, each time under a different pseudonym, but neither marriage lasted long and, eventually, Bigley was sentenced to nine years in prison for forgery in 1889.

She was paroled in 1893 and went to Cleveland where she adopted the name Cassie Hoover. A few years later, she became Cassie Chadwick after marrying again, this time to a wealthy, respected doctor named Leroy Chadwick. This new relationship granted Cassie access to some of Ohio’s richest and most influential people and, with the unwitting help of one of her husband’s friends, Chadwick embarked on her most ambitious con.

In 1897, she took a trip to New York City. There, she met an aquaintance of Dr. Chadwick, a lawyer named James Dillon. Cassie asked him to accompany her on an errand and the man obliged. Together, they traveled to Fifth Avenue and stopped in front of one of the most lavish buildings in the entire city. It was the mansion of Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest men in the world. Chadwick went inside while Dillon waited in the carriage, puzzled over what business she could possibly have in there.

In reality, all Chadwick did was ask to speak with the head housekeeper under the pretense of checking the references of a maid she wanted to hire. She never met Carnegie, but that was irrelevant to the con – all that mattered was that she spent some time inside his house.

When she left, Dillon obviously asked about her business. Chadwick confessed that she was the illegitimate daughter of Andrew Carnegie and even showed the lawyer some promissory notes (forged, of course) worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, also mentioning that she stood to inherit millions more. She swore Dillon to secrecy, knowing full well that the attorney would tell everyone in Ohio.

Once her story was out, Chadwick found it easy to secure massive loans from every bank she walked into. She was counting on the fact that nobody would be so bold as to ask Carnegie about an illegitimate daughter and she was right…for a while. Chadwick kept her scam going for seven years. Then, in 1904, a banker demanded she pay back a loan worth almost $200,000. She was unable so the banker asked Carnegie who said he had no idea who Cassie Chadwick was. She was convicted of fraud and died in jail a few years later.

As far as Andrew Carnegie is concerned, we did an entire video about him on our sister channel, Biographics, so check the link in the description if you want to learn more about him.

4. Lambert Simnel

The death of King Edward IV of England in 1483 led to one of the most enduring mysteries in English history – the fate of his two sons, the so-called Princes in the Tower. When they were 12 and 9 years old, respectively, they were locked inside the Tower of London by their uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who took the throne for himself and became King Richard III. He was killed two years later at the Battle of Bosworth Field, putting an end not only to his reign, but also to the House of York and the Wars of the Roses. After him came Henry VII, first king from the House of Tudor.

As for the two princes, it is generally accepted that the two died in the tower, but there have been people who emerged claiming to be one or the other and, therefore, the rightful heirs to the throne.

One of these people was Lambert Simnel who, curiously, was hailed as not one, but two different heirs. As a boy, Simnel was under the care of a priest named Richard Simon who became convinced that his pupil came from royalty. At first, he proclaimed that the boy was Richard of Shrewsbury, the younger of the two princes who survived his incarceration in the tower. Later, he amended his claim, saying that Simnel was actually Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick, a different member of the House of York who had been imprisoned by King Henry VII as a young boy.

Unbeknownst to most people, Simon included, the real Edward Plantagenet was still alive inside the Tower of London and it would be over a decade until he was actually executed. However, Simon’s claim was convincing enough that Lambert Simnel was taken to Ireland where he was crowned King Edward VI and an army was raised to dethrone Henry. The two sides met in 1487 at the Battle of Stoke Field where Simnel’s supporters were decisively defeated.

Fortunately for Simnel, King Henry understood that the boy was simply a puppet used by people to rally Yorkist supporters. Therefore, he pardoned Simnel and allowed him to work in the royal kitchen. When he got older, he became a falconer before disappearing from the history record.

3. Fred Demara

Known as “the Great Impostor,” Fred Demara adopted numerous identities and spent most of his lifetime pretending to be someone else. Some of his alter egos included a psychologist, a biologist, a law student, a Trappist monk, a teacher, a dean of philosophy, a prison warden, and, most shocking of all, a naval surgeon who actually performed medical procedures during the Korean War.

It won’t surprise you to learn that we don’t know a lot of accurate information about the lifelong swindler as most of the details surrounding him were provided by Demara himself after he sold his story to Life magazine. He was born Ferdinand Waldo Demara in 1921 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Allegedly, he had a very high IQ and a photographic memory which helped him take on identities that often required a higher education. His family started off rich, but lost it all during the Great Depression which convinced a teenage Demara to run away from home and embark on his life as a professional impostor.

It would seem that the two career paths that genuinely appealed to Demara were as a monk and a military man. He joined several monasteries and military branches throughout his life, but never lasted more than a few years in each before running away and starting over again.

When Demara joined a religious educational group known as the Brothers of Christian Instruction, he met a Canadian doctor named Joseph Cyr. He later adopted Cyr’s identity and secured a position as trauma surgeon aboard the Canadian destroyer HMCS Cayuga during the Korean War. Apparently, he was successful in performing sutures, minor surgery, and, on one occasion, even extracting a bullet from a chest wound.

After Demara became a minor celebrity in the late 1950s, he found it much harder to assume new identities. Instead, he tried living as Fred Demara and parlayed his newfound fame into a few TV appearances and even one movie role in the 1960 horror film The Hypnotic Eye.

2. George Psalmanazar

George Psalmanazar is the only known alias of a Frenchman who purported to be a native of Formosa who both dazzled and horrified 18th century London with tales from his homeland.

The man was born sometime around 1679 in southern France. Whilst traveling through Europe, he adopted the guise of an Irish pilgrim. However, people could often tell he was lying, so he decided he needed something more exotic. He then pretended to be a Japanese heathen, but later switched to something even more far-flung and claimed to be a native of the island of Formosa, known today as Taiwan. He even began practicing strange rituals and eating unusual food which was enough to convince most Europeans that he was from someplace far, far away. On his travels, he met a Scottish chaplain named Alexander Innes who “converted” him to Christianity, christened him George Psalmanazar and brought him to London.

The stranger’s story proved popular in England. He claimed to have been kidnapped from his native land by Jesuits who then imprisoned him for refusing to convert to Catholicism. This played well in a country where anti-Catholic sentiment was high, only enhanced by Psalmanazar’s conversion to Anglicanism.

In 1704, the Formosan wrote and published a book titled “An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, an Island Subject to the Emperor of Japan.” It was a hit, although most of the facts were either fabricated, exaggerated or taken from travel reports of other civilizations. It contained a fake language, a fake calendar, and fake religious ceremonies performed to worship the Sun and the Moon.

Most shocking were Psalmanazar’s claims of how common cannibalism and human sacrifice were in his society. According to him, the Formosan High Priest Gnotoy Bonzo commanded 18,000 boys under the age of 9 to be killed each year so that their hearts could be offered as sacrifices. The rest of their bodies were eaten. To ensure a steady supply of children, men were allowed to take on as many wives as they wanted.

Of course, the Formosan fascination only lasted a couple of years before people moved on to the next craze. This eventually prompted Psalmanazar to confess that the whole thing was a fraud, but he suffered no serious consequences for his deception. He even had admirers, most notably the playwright Samuel Johnson, who appreciated his success as an impostor.

1. The False Dmitris

The end of the 16th century brought a succession crisis in Russia known as the Time of Troubles. It started in 1598 after Fyodor I died without heirs. This prompted the appearance of several pretenders to the throne all known as False Dmitry because they all claimed to be the same person – Tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible.

The real Dmitry died in 1591 when he was only 8 years old under controversial circumstances. He was killed by a stab wound – some say he was assassinated, others that the young prince accidentally stabbed himself during a seizure. A few years later, a third story arose purporting that the alleged assassins killed a different boy while the real Dmitry was hidden away, waiting for the opportune time to return. This version opened the door for people to come forward as the rightful heir to the throne.

The first False Dmitry appeared around 1603 in Poland-Lithuania. He was the most successful of the bunch. He gained the backing of the Polish lords and found plenty of Russian supporters as well. He raised an army and intended to challenge Tsar Boris Godunov, but there was no need for this. In 1605, Godunov died of an illness. His teenage son, Fyodor II, became the new tsar, but only lasted a couple of months before being assassinated and replaced with Dmitry.

False Dmitry reigned for almost a year, but he had his own enemies who plotted against him. One of them was Vasili Shuisky. He convinced the people of Moscow that Dmitry was planning to massacre them with the help of his Polish followers. They stormed the Kremlin and killed Dmitry and, according to legend, cremated his body and shot the ashes out of a cannon towards Poland.

Shuysky became Tsar Vasili IV. In 1607 came False Dmitry II who was accepted as the real Dmitry by Tsaritsa Marina, the wife of the first False Dmitry who, presumably, would have accepted anyone to gain back her power. He actually assembled a large army and had several military successes, but was killed in 1610 while drunk by one of his own followers.

Lastly came False Dmitry III. He gained the allegiance of the Cossacks, but was betrayed by a group who kidnapped him and took him to Moscow in 1612 where he was executed. The crisis, as well as the line of False Dmitris, ended a year later when Michael I became the new Tsar of Russia, thus beginning the 300-year reign of the House of Romanov.


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