the factual basis of

Just around the corner, somewhere in the dark, something very strange is going on. Maybe you haven't seen it yet yourself, but a friend might have, and the papers will report something like it every day. It might even be collected in these very pages and delivered to your door once a month. Fortean phenomena happen all around us. Hence the fun.

When you read collections of strange events, like you find in FT, it is difficult to believe that all these wildly improbable events just happen, out of the blue. If they truly are random, then they can happen anywhere, and to anyone. That isn't exactly a comforting thought. Yet it is the thing that appeals to me most about forteana -these strange, unexplained phenomena are happening around us every day. The other theory, that all these things are somehow linked together in some mysterious design, seems less likely to me, but it can be a lot of fun. Conspiracy theories take all the little stories from the news and link them together in some grand narrative. A good theory may seem improbable at first glance, but every part of it is plausible. The whole is built up by seeing every little data point as part of The Big Picture. Together, the two theories make the common thread that links many of my favourite TV shows- however implausible the premise at first glance, it could be happening right now. In the papers, behind the news, right outside your window in the dark.

"I believe there's an order in the universe; that there's purpose; that things eventually fit. Even if you can't see how or why."
-Duncan MacLeod, 'Unholy Alliance I'
"I conceive of nothing, in religion, science or philosophy, that is more than the proper thing to wear, for a while."

Fort's dictum, "One measures a circle beginning anywhere,"
expresses his philosophy of Continuity, in which everything is in an intermediate state between extremes.

Reality merges the random and the planned in a great many odd ways. Truth be stranger than fiction, but fiction does turn up stories that seem far too strange to be true. Could something based on SF conspiracy like X-files really reflect reality? Many people seem to find that in the realm of extreme possibility. Yet the less sci-fi genre shows, the fantasy based ones, such as Buffy or Neverwhere, are pretty much dismissed as impossible. Are they? Lets try an idea on for size-

There are Immortals among us.

The basic premise of the TV show HIGHLANDER is that there are some people, foundlings, who grow up and age normally until they apparently suffer a violent death. They do not stay dead for long. When they rise they are uninjured. They do not age, they heal almost instantly, and they have the chance to live forever. There is only one way these Immortals can be killed- take their head, and with it, their power. Since time immemorial, they have fought each other with swords or axes to gain this power. It is said that the last will win a Prize beyond imagining, and that in the end, there can be only one.

What unrecognised little pieces of this story would turn up in the papers? Stories that would be extraordinary enough even as isolated parts, but when seen together would reveal this fantasy to be based in solid reality... like babies turning up from nowhere, miraculous escapes from injury, people waking up at their own funeral, people running around with swords, decapitated bodies, strangely behaved lightning.

An Immortal life comes into the world in a newsworthy way- found somewhere as a new-born baby, with no clue as to who their parents are. Sadly, there are a great many cases like this every year. New-borns are found everywhere from church pews in Saint Augustine Catholic Church in California to behind the Huggies in a grocery store.[40] The church would at least be a safe place for a baby Immortal- holy ground is sanctuary, no Immortal will harm another there.

After that unusual beginning there would be nothing in particular to distinguish an Immortal child from any other, especially as they would not know that they were born different. Their special power is only activated at extreme need- when something happens that would otherwise kill them. Therefore the next point in their life they would be in the news would be their first death. Or rather, their lucky escapes, or miraculous return from the dead.

A road construction worker in Austria was skewered on an iron rod from his groin to his armpit. He phoned his wife from the ambulance to tell her not to worry - he was going to be fine. The 2m rod had missed all major blood vessels and organs. The man told his family he felt fine, considering the circumstances. Doctors said the man would make a full recovery.[61]

Connor: A mere pinprick.
Duncan: By my count you look more like a pincushion.
- 'The Gathering'

Alison Kennedy was stabbed in the head on 3 March 1997 while travelling by train from London to Guildford. A 5in (13cm)- 6in(15cm) hunting dagger was plunged into her skull almost to the hilt. She was left with some degree of numbness in one arm and a degree of tunnel vision, but was otherwise physically more-or-less unscathed.[37] Travis Bogumill was shot with an industrial nail gun that drove a 3.25in (8.25cm) nail all the way into his skull, and the only difference he can see is that he's not quite the math whiz he used to be.[32] Ron Fenwick tripped and drove his snooker cue through his head. It entered above his jaw on the right of his head and emerged just above and slightly behind his left ear, apparently piercing his earlobe. The only ongoing ill effects he has suffered are mild headaches and a pain in his tongue which slightly affects his speech.[141] In 1991 Kelvin Page, a steelworker in Kent, had a rod of steel shoot off a cooling bed and through his skull. The 280-foot (85m) rod was heated to 700° centigrade. He pulled it out with his bare hands after a workmate sawed it down to a more manageable size. Although he survived, the bar caused severe damage to his frontal lobes, bringing about serious personality changes. He was paid £1million in compensation by the company.[141] Similar cranial trauma survival happened to Reuben Poonkalya in 1991; Phineas Gage 1848; and Bill Horton in Australia.[37]

A suicidal man jumped from the third floor of the Krishnarajendra Hospital in India, hit the ground, stood up, ignored offers of help and walked, unscathed, back into the building. An X-ray and check-up revealed no injuries. The man had been referred to the Mysore hospital for major surgery, but had told his wife he didn't want to go through with it, fearing he would die.[11] Window washer Kerry Burton, 27, fell five stories in Calgary, Alberta, when his rope mechanism failed. He landed in a bucket of water strapped to his bottom, and then bounced about 2ft (60cm). The bucket probably saved his life.[25] Ken Larsen, 34, was laying telecommunications cable on the roof of a five storey office building in walnut Creek, California, walking backwards and pulling. His co-worker, Rick Williver, yelled "Hold it a minute" but Larsen was already stepping back, and off the edge. The cable he clutched slowed his fall. After unwinding 65ft (20m) of cable and crashing through tree branches, Larsen landed on his feet. "It felt like landing after a parachute jump" he said. His arm was scratched and his shoulder bruised, but nothing was broken.[26]

A 23-year-old Chinaman survived temperatures about minus 27C and shortage of oxygen at an altitude of 32800ft (10,000m) in the wheel well of a jumbo jet on a three hour flight from Shanghai to Tokyo on 29 July.[33]

A woman walking on the tracks at Sjomarken near Boras, Sweden, was hit by an express train at 60mph (96km/h). After 300 or 400 metres (984-1312ft) the train finally stopped and the driver and guard went out to look for the body. Instead, they found the woman staggering about on the embankment some 200 metres (656ft) away. She angrily straightened her crumpled clothes, brushed her coat with her hand and walked away. The two men were too dumbfounded to stop her. Judging from the impact, the police thought the woman must have been seriously hurt, so they made a fruitless search with dogs and helicopters. Two days later it was discovered that the woman was a 59-year-old patient at a mental hospital in the vicinity. She didn't recall the accident, but had minor bruises on her left arm and forehead, proving that it's not absolutely safe to get run over by an express train.[34]

An Immortal would also remain healthy and would live to a great age after their supposed fatal incidents. Like Kenneth Andrews. He was accidentally poisoned with the wrong medicine in 1930 following an appendix operation in Hong Kong and was told he only had a short time to live. In World War II he was shot twice, stabbed, bitten by a rabid dog and contracted malaria. He died last March in Bournemouth, aged 106.[50] One wonders if his heir perhaps bore an uncanny resemblance to their benefactor...

Stick around, I'll be right back
Richie Ryan

None of those escapes involve people actually dying and reviving. Here are some stories of the legally dead, the nearly buried and other Immortals with good timing.

Anja Rueschel, 19, of Stenda, Germany, was pronounced dead after being run down by a car, but woke up inside a zinc coffin used to carry the dead from traffic accidents. She banged on the lid and fainted as medics unscrewed it. She recovered from her head injuries.[42] Chen Chun-nan, 34, started to sweat while his wife was crying over his 'dead' body at a funeral house in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, after a car crash. Also in southern Taiwan, Kuo Lee-huang, 61, was found 'dead' in his house, but when a policeman went to inspect the funeral, Mr Kuo "moved all of a sudden".[44] Asuncion Gutirrez, 100, startled her mourning family and friends in Managua, Nicaragua, when she sat up in her coffin at her wake and asked for food. "This is the third time she has done this to us," said her grandson.[45] Micaela Velasco, 101, was declared dead by a doctor in Zamora, north-west Spain. A few hours later, undertakers were preparing her for her burial when they saw her lips move. Three days later, she was "as fit as a lady of her age can be".[46] Miguel García in Havana, Cuba suffered a heat attack and was pronounced dead. He came to on the slab and, at the time of the report, he was recovering at Havana General Hospital.[47] A 93-year-old woman was rescued from cremation at a mortuary in Gungzhou in southern China's Guangdong province when a mortuary worker tried to tie an identification tag to her hand and realised she was breathing. Doctors found the woman was suffering from low blood pressure brought on by diabetes. Her condition was said to be improving.[48]

SPO1 Hector Bongat and PO1 Roberto Sombregon of the Pasay City Criminal Investigation Unit found a man lying on his side in a gutter with bloodstains on his forehead. They called for a van from a funeral home to pick up the cadaver. While being prepared for loading onto a stretcher, the 'dead' man suddenly stood up and asked what was happening. The cops and funeral home employees were too shocked to answer. There was so much confusion that the police officers even failed to get the man's name. The 'dead' man simply said he was fine and that he was going home.[49]
A woman in Malawi's southern district of Mulanje, presumed dead by her relations, pleasantly surprised them when she sat up and started talking some 16 hours into her 'death.' Margaret had been sick for over a year and died around 0700 (0900 GMT) Tuesday in June 2000. "We prepared the body for burial and all was set for the funeral service when we noticed her shaking," Mose said. She added that mourners in the funeral parlour got confused and frightened when Margaret sat up and started talking to them. Margaret said that in her sleep she saw visions of her late parents. Neighbours felt Margaret was bewitched by people who confused potion instructions, leading to her 'resurrection.' But Amon Nkhata, a clinical officer at Mulanje District Hospital, said Margaret might have just become unconscious.[51]
September 2000, Braila, Romania, Ionel Olteanu, 46, certified dead and laid out in his coffin, walked to his local unemployment office to sign up for benefit. All his neighbours had seen him in his open-top coffin. Doctors say they have no explanation for Mr Olteanu's resurrection.[128]
Dr. George Rodonaia, 46, is a medical doctor who returned from the dead. He was a doctor in the former Soviet republic of Georgia when, in 1976, he was run over by a car and 'killed' as he made plans to leave Russia. A death certificate was issued. George's corpse was put in a mortuary fridge and left there for three days. On Monday morning, it was put on the autopsy table. But when the doctor began to cut open George's abdomen, he opened his eyes. George spent nine months in hospital recovering. A former agnostic, he became a committed Christian as a result of his experience. He believes that he did die but was then resurrected by divine intervention. "I'm not scared of anything any more," he says. So powerful was the alleged experience that Rodanaia took a second Ph.D. in the psychology of religion and then became a priest in the Eastern Orthodox Church. On arriving in America he became an associate pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Nederland, Texas.[53]
Abdel-Sattar Abdel-Salem Badawi, a chauffeur in his 60s, suffering from fibrosis of the liver, was pronounced dead in the Nile delta city of Menoufia, and was put in a morgue refrigerator. Revived by the cold, he awoke from a coma after 12 hours, slid open the coffin lid, chanted verses from the Koran and shouted for help. No-one heard, but then three hospital orderlies came in to remove his body and found him standing up. One of them fell dead from shock. Mr Badawi vowed never again to go to hospital.[56]
13 May 1996, undertaker Richard Blake, 27, was attacked by a 'corpse' which came to life as he was embalming it. Blake suffered broken ribs in the New York assault. The attacker then suffered a massive heart attack and died again.[143]
Jaber Mohammed al-Abdelli was hit by an illness that threw him into a coma. His family washed the body and wrapped it in a burial shroud. The Saudi man narrowly escaped being buried alive when he sneezed loudly just as his relatives were preparing to seal him in his grave.[59]

An Immortal with bad timing and who couldn't or wouldn't disappear due to ties to a particular life i.e. children, could end up with multiple deaths on record.

Allison BURCHELL, 65, has been pronounced dead three times.
In 1952 Allison, then 17, from Horsham, West Sussex, 'died' for the first time. She spent nine months in hospital before being diagnosed with severe narcolepsy catalepsy. Narcolepsy causes extreme drowsiness. Catalepsy leaves the sufferer totally paralysed, yet fully conscious. You can see and hear everything going on around you, but there's no way to convey to anyone that you are not dead. The second attack occurred a few years later. Both times she woke up in a mortuary, surrounded by dead bodies. Her next major attack happened in the mid-Seventies in Melbourne, Australia. Paramedics pronounced her dead. Luckily her 15-year-old son Stephen returned home and persuaded them to put Allison in a ward cubicle at the hospital. A few minutes later, she came round. She says: "...In Australia, they don't just put you in a mortuary, they put you in a cold unit and I knew I'd freeze to death. So I was thinking, 'That's right Steve, keep pleading because if I'm not dead when I go in the ice-box, I will be when I come out'.

Many conditions mimic death- catalepsy, epilepsy, apoplexy, hypothermia, shock, smallpox, cholera, and electrocution by lightning. (QUICKENING?)

Despite the assurances of mortuary workers, who say that being buried alive is impossible, since the signs of death are so distinctive, premature burial is a genuine risk. Sometimes the victims live to tell the tale.

History provides the case of George Haywood, a teenager from Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, who was pronounced dead. In fact, he was still conscious and could hear the sound of earth falling on his coffin lid. Two doctors arguing about the cause of George's death decided to exhume the body. George was on the autopsy slab when he finally succeeded in moving his eyelids. He later became a jeweller, moved to America and eventually died at the age of 82.

In a much more recent case, on 24 August 1997 a two-year-old girl was recovered alive from her grave after three days. She had been buried in eastern Ivory Coast after being pronounced dead from a mystery illness. Grave diggers brought little Minata Lafissa back to her village of Yakasse-Feyasse after hearing her sighs while digging a grave nearby for someone else. The report said the child had been sickly from birth.[64]

Startled mourners fled when a mobile phone went off from inside a grave at a cemetery in western Poland. The phone had apparently been interred with its owner the previous day. One woman fainted.[23] Personally I'd have been worried when it stopped ringing... "Hello?"

These incidents can cause legal problems, for both the survivors and the ones that certified them dead.

Jako Lekorotsoana was admitted after a hit-and-run accident in 1996, certified dead on arrival and put in a morgue. "I was put in a fridge but I arose," he said. "Everyone in the mortuary ran away in terror when I gained consciousness after three days." A South African lawyer, Mojafela Ramphai, representing the Lesotho man is threatening to sue Pelonomi hospital in Bloemfontein for certifying his client dead and then placing him in a morgue for three days while still alive. Hospital records confirm the story.[52]

In India, members of mritak Sangh (Union of Dead People) are campaigning to prove they are still alive, years after being declared dead. Most of the known cases are intra-family fraud for land. The association's founder, Lal Behari Mritak (the late Lal Behari), learnt he was deceased when he applied for a bank loan in 1975. He contested two elections and committed a kidnapping to force police to register a case against him, and finally his strategy paid off. By 1994 Mr. Bihari's name was fetched from oblivion. Others are not so fortunate. Many have been fighting their cases for 25 years and at least two have died while still trying to prove they were alive. Some estimate there are 10,000 such 'living dead'. [60][132]

"Would you look at the bright side too -- I mean she already saw you die once; at least you're not going to have to kill yourself again in order to prove it."
-Richie Ryan, 'Testimony'

Conversely a little death can help avoid legal trouble. Peter Archer, 47, was arrested for running naked down a street in Melbourne, but he was released when it was discovered that he was fleeing from a mortuary where a doctor had officially pronounced him dead.[20]

The newly resurrected do run into some problems with shock. In Almaty, Kazakhstan, a man who was electrocuted and buried shocked his friends and family by turning up for his own funeral feast. The man was wrapped in a cloth shroud according to Muslim tradition and buried in a shallow grave after apparently dying while trying to steal power cables. Two days later he regained consciousness and rose from the ground naked except for his shroud. Apparently he had difficulty flagging down a vehicle to take him home.[22] Imagine if he had to carry his sword too... mind you, it's amazing how quick you get a seat on the bus that way.

Sword wielding men make the newspapers fairly often. It is an odd coincidence that many of them are rather under dressed. Not enough time to grab your pants, but could catch your death without a sword..?

22 March 1997- a naked man walked into the Big Apple store in Portland, Maine, at 4am during a snowstorm carrying a 3ft (1m) double-edged sword. Michael L. Hicks, 29, came into the store and walked to a beer cooler without saying a word. According to police Lt. Nelson Bartley the clerk asked Hicks to leave, whereupon he raised the double-edged sword and pointed it at the clerk's chest, saying: "I'm thirsty." The clerk raised his hands and backed away. As he called the police, Hicks left the store without taking anything. He walked a few blocks before being spotted by the police. He was arrested without a struggle. Police told him to keep away from the Big Apple store, whether he had clothes on or not.[63]

In Australia a Sunshine Coast man, dressed only in red boxer shorts and wielding a samurai sword was arrested at Caloundra early 01.04.2000 (1st of April? guess we have a motive.). Police said the man, 21, was wandering outside a night-club. Council security operators tracked him on security cameras and contacted police. When police arrived, the man ran off but was caught in bushland. [65]

These guys should sell tickets!
-Richie Ryan

In September 1998 Police described as abysmal the behaviour of a crowd of 2000 who watched a two-hour stand-off with a sword-wielding man. The stand-off with the 41-year-old man began at 6.30pm Sunday 6th September in Melbourne. Members of the Special Operations Group subdued the man with capsicum spray and scare guns. He was taken to hospital.
"(The onlookers) were treating it as a bit of a joke, when our concerns were for their safety and the safety of our members in case the man did something silly," said Superintendent Tony Warren.
Some people yelled out "Use the sword, we're getting bored."
"They were attempting to stir him up with stupid comments that can only inflame the situation," Mr Warren said. "I have no doubt some people thought it was a bit like street theatre (but) ... if he had decided to become violent towards the crowd, we would have had great difficulty protecting them."[67]

That crowd was very lucky. Other incidents have had extremely serious outcomes.

Sun, 28 Nov 1999 10.30am.
St Andrew's Roman Catholic Church in Thornton Heath, Surrey.
A naked man armed with a sword and a knife burst through doors at the back of a church and attacked the congregation. Marie Parcou, 66, said of Jules, 73, "My husband was spouting blood and I had to pull him to the ground before the maniac chopped his head off." He was taken to hospital with injuries to his neck and shoulder. There were about 400 people at the service. The attacker slashed through the congregation leaving eleven churchgoers, including an elderly nun, needing serious hospital treatment. Two men aged 66 and 68 were treated for stab wounds to the shoulder, one man, 74, for minor injuries. Three women in their mid 70s were hurt, one with a cut to the head, one a broken hip and one a back injury. One 36-year-old man needed plastic surgery after suffering a forearm and tendon injury. One man in his 70s, (probably Jules Parcou, 73) had a neck and finger injury. One woman in her 70s had a wrist fracture, and one woman in her 60s grazed her leg. The most seriously injured was a man with severe injuries to the face and hand. Paramedics followed a trail of blood to find him two streets away. He had run from the church pouring blood after having his jaw and neck deeply slashed and his finger and thumb chopped off. Attempts were made to sew his thumb and index finger back on after another churchgoer handed them to a paramedic. Paul Chilton, 50, was so severely injured that in June 2000 he still needed constant nursing. The attacker was treated for minor injuries at Bromley hospital then taken to a South London police station. Eden Strang, 26, believed the congregation was made up of demons who had taken on human forms. Strang heard "voices from God" telling him to go to the church and fight devil worshippers. He plead not guilty by reason of insanity to seven counts of attempted murder, three of grievous bodily harm and three of actual bodily harm in the attack. He was ordered to be detained in a secure hospital.[79]
The case was very nasty, and widely reported. It is not an example of Immortals at work. The indiscriminate killing has nothing to do with the Game, especially when it should be sanctuary on holy ground. It is rather an example of the serious consequences of the actions of a madman with a sword.

24 July 1999 A man who stopped city traffic for two hours while swinging an antique sword had been on the run from "demons" for five days. Bruce Eggett MacDonald, 42, wanted to do battle in public so people would know what happened to him. He was given a 12-month good behaviour bond for disrupting traffic on September 6 1998. He plead guilty to causing a public nuisance and possessing a regulated weapon. Mr. MacDonald believed if he remained in a private place he would die and simply disappear. While in public, although he could not stop an attack by demons, at least the battle would be seen and someone would know what happened to him. Mr. MacDonald was a paranoid schizophrenic who had suffered a relapse. He was released without conviction as his prognosis was good as long as he continued his treatment.[66]

Peter Bradley, 38, of Germiston, Glasgow was jailed for five years for assaulting two policemen with a home-made sword. He tried to strike the constables with the 2ft weapon while high on a cocktail of alcohol and sleeping pills. Both officers managed to escape serious injury.[68]

October 16 1999, New York- Sword attack on Long Island. A woman arrived home to find her husband in bed with another woman -- whom she attacked with the sword. 32-year old Delores Andrews of Huntington suffered a pair of sliced off finger tips as she apparently attempted to defend herself from the onslaught. Police say 43-year old Euadne Legrottaglie chased Andrews out of the house naked and bleeding. The fingertips were reattached. The wife is charged with assault.[81]

Monday April 16 2001- Three men were attacked with a sword in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, outside a restaurant in the town's Regent Street in a dispute between the swordsman and door security staff. A 21-year-old local man was arrested. He was charged with two counts of wounding, one of attempted wounding and one of causing criminal damage. Two doormen, one aged 27, the other 34, and a passer-by had to be taken to hospital suffering from cuts.
Robert Ashman, a 50-year-old former surveyor, attacked and killed county councillor Andrew Pennington with a sword at Cheltenham's Liberal Democrat offices. The town's MP Nigel Jones was seriously injured in the attack. Ashman denied murder and attempted murder and was found unfit to stand trial at Bristol Crown Court.[136][137]

Christopher Scott Decker, 24, of Clay Center, a small town just east of Hastings, Neb., was charged with first-degree murder and second-degree assault in connection with a brutal attack. Decker is also charged with using a sword and a firearm to commit the crimes. The jilted boyfriend took a 4-foot sword to the trailer where his ex-girlfriend was staying and in a surprise attack hacked away at her male companion before forcing her to watch him shoot the bleeding man to death. 46-year-old Kenneth Skidmore was found dead with over 20 wounds in the bedroom of the trailer. 19-year-old Sonya Ballard received a single wound from the sword near her left ear and received 22 stitches. The two victims were talking in the bedroom when the suspect barged in and, after exchanging a few words, began his attack. On top of multiple sword wounds Skidmore was shot five times. After the shooting stopped, the suspect drove directly to the Police Department, where he turned himself in. Some reports suggest that the suspect -- who stands 6 feet 10 inches tall and weiighs 300 pounds -- was seen by neighbours in preceding weeks practising with the sword in his yard.[80]

Sunday August 6, TEHRAN An elderly Iranian woman, angry over a court verdict, pulled out a sword from under her black chador and attacked a judge, state radio reported on Sunday. Taj Moazzemi-Gudarzi, 63, badly wounded the judge in the head and hands, in revenge for a ruling giving her daughter-in-law the right over her son's estate. Moazzemi-Gudarzi had hoped to be an heir to her son after his death in the western town of Borujerd.[140]

Immortal sword attacks would inevitably lead to death by decapitation. When the head leaves the neck, it's over. News reports about such murders give many reasons why the heads of the victims are removed. Though sometimes it might be an attempt to hide the identity of the deceased, like many of the sword attacks, it seems primarily inspired by rage.

A church steward who beheaded his teenage son's ex-lover with an axe was jailed for life after being found guilty of murder. Anthony Phillips severed his next door neighbour Lorraine Howell's head after discovering she had given birth to a baby girl fathered by his then 16-year-old son Jamie. Phillips committed the killing on Saturday May 1 1999? after climbing over his garden fence. He believed Mrs Howell had 'enticed and raped' his son and should have been prosecuted. He felt he could only get retribution by killing.[109]

In a case in Michigan 34-year-old Mitchell Lewis' decapitated head and body were buried about 30 miles apart. On April 5 1996, Lewis was kidnapped from his home in Holt. Lewis was murdered and decapitated in Jackson County, either late that night or in the early hours of the next day. His body was buried in a remote spot in Spring Arbor Township. Lewis' murderers kept his head with them in a plastic bag for several days before burying it in Ingham County's Delhi Township. It is believed Lewis was strangled before he was beheaded. The motive for the bizarre slaying appeared to be jealousy and revenge. As to why Lewis was decapitated after he was murdered, authorities could only say: "When people get angry, they do all sorts of things."[110]

Sotiria Loutriotis, 61, was arrested in Greece for the killing of her 68-year-old husband Giorgos. His remains were found in one of the sties on their farm just outside a town 220 miles north of Athens. Mrs Loutriotis killed her husband at dawn as he was feeding the livestock. She was released eight months before from a prison psychiatric ward. She had previously received a life sentence after being convicted of using an ax to kill her son, Dimitris Loutriotis, 29.[113]

Siek Phan, 62, a Vietnamese woman from the Cambodian province of Kompong Speu, was cutting firewood when her husband, Nou Meas, 65, sneaked up and tickled her. She threw her axe, killing him instantly. She turned and found she had nearly decapitated him. She told the authorities "I hate being tickled."[126]

Radio: ...the garage with water from the sprinklers. It also left a man's decapitated body, lying on the floor next to his own severed head,
a head which at this time has no name.
Kurgan: I know his name

A man walking his dog in a Birmingham park on May 29 2000 found the decapitated body of a man, lying in plain sight close to a car park and a wooded area. The area is popular among dog walkers and courting couples. And, apparently, Immortals. The body was a white man, believed to be between 5ft 9in and 5ft 11in tall originally, of slim build with close-cropped dark hair, sideburns and two or three days beard growth. No attempt had been made to hide the man's fully clothed body. His severed head was found lying nearby. A police spokesman said the death is being treated as suspicious. "A full forensic post-mortem examination will take place later to determine the precise cause of death," the spokesman added.[14][15][16][17]

The body was later identified as that of Julian Sanders, 20, and on 31 October 2000 two men were arrested on suspicion of murder.[18]

4pm on 16th March, the railway embankment behind the West Meadows Industrial Estate near Derby city centre, found - a severed head in a bag by the railway liine. The head was a man from Derbyshire who has been missing since August of the previous year. The head was badly decayed- the victim had been dead for some time. [83][124]

November 23 1999- Denver Police identified one of two headless bodies found behind Union Station. 46-year-old Harry Redden is one of seven transients to die violently since September. Although officers have identified the other headless victim, they were having trouble locating his relatives.[85]

Late October 1998 - The body of a man was found decapitated by a train in a tube tunnel near Leytonstone station, London. The only distinguishing mark was a vertical scar on his abdomen. He was wearing a black T-shirt with white lettering saying "Have A Very Bad Day". There were no clues to his identity.[84]

John Hawk, 43, from Toledo, Ohio, was arrested after sawing off the head of his dead uncle, saying he planned to eat the brain to resurrect his spirit. Mr. Hawk was charged with abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony. He was taken to a Dayton psychiatric hospital to be evaluated. John Hawk was polite and cordial and generally kept to himself. He had some beliefs which he explained in flyers. In one, he described a method for resurrecting a loved one by consuming the deceased's brain. "There was nothing malicious or any criminal intent to what he did. In his mind, he was helping." Police Chief Slusser said individuals like Mr. Hawk are in every town, big and small. "Everybody has their John Hawks living in their community, maybe just down the block."[125]

Just around the corner, out in the dark...

Lightning is a Fortean phenomenon all by itself. Lightning strikes what it will, where it will. The amount of energy in a lightning bolt can equal the seismic wave from 1 kiloton explosion. With all the natural lightning every day it would be easy to overlook the lightning of the Quickening. Statistics related to lightning strikes make interesting reading. Most incidents take place in open fields and recreation areas. Most casualties occur between 1200 and 1600 Local Standard Time. Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays have most incidents and lightning damage most often occurs in June, July and August.
Good amount of light, weekends and half day closing, summer holidays- sounds like a list of conditions for a good, private fight that doesn't get in the way of work...

New York is in the top five states for lightning deaths. Kampala, Uganda, has the most lightning on average with 280 thunderstorm days per year.[144] Bremanger, on the Atlantic coast, is probably the most lightning-prone village in Norway. The house of Klara and Kare Svarstad in Bremander was struck by lightning four times last year. There are 11 houses, and all have been struck by lightning at least once in the last 35 years. A nearby power line is blamed for attracting thunderstorms.[39] It is, of course, nothing to do with a man with a sword collection.

In August 2000 a US Airways Express flight from Philadelphia to Worcester Regional Airport was hit by a bolt of lightning. It hit the turboprop in mid-air and tore a small hole in the plane's fuselage. The aircraft landed safely.[90] While this sounds like an example of why mid air Quickenings are a bad idea, it probably wasn't Immortal related- they'd have trouble getting the swords past the metal detectors.

August 2000, Ontario. Lightning ripped through a tree and tore a trench 30cm deep in the ground leading to an empty three-bedroom cottage, igniting a fire . In the ashes all that was left was a plaque of the Virgin Mary .[106] Naturally- no Quickening on holy ground.

Watchers beware- Lightning killed 7,741 people in the USA between 1940 and 1981,[12] with 51 lightning fatalities annually 1992-1994. About five people a year are struck by lightning in Britain.[135] In 91% of incidents there was only one victim. Males in their twenties are the most frequent victims of lightning.

One of the most dangerous times for a fatal strike is before the storm. Lightning may travel as far as 10 km nearly horizontally from the thunderhead and seem to occur 'out of the clear blue sky'. Another danger is the end of a storm. You are in danger from lightning if you can hear thunder. If you are caught near an electrical storm indoors do not handle any electrical equipment or telephones because lightning could follow the wire. Television sets are particularly dangerous at this time.

If outdoors, attempt to get into a building or car. If no structure is available, get to an open space as quickly as possible. If you are isolated in a level field and you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike), crouch with hands on knees. Do not lie flat on the ground. Avoid being the highest object. Increasing your height, i.e. carrying an umbrella, increases your chances of being hit. Standing there waving a sword over your head is an experiment only Immortals should try.

Two Thai women, Sunee Whitworth, 39, and her friend Anuban Bell, 24, whose bodies were found beneath a tree in Hyde Park, London, at 7am on 23 September 1999, had been struck and killed by a bolt of lightning, after the metal in one of their under-wire bras acted as a conductor.[91][105]

Seventeen people were injured by a single lightning bolt during a junior football match in Aylesford, Kent, on 2 September 1995. Many were thrown several feet into the air. All 17 eventually recovered after hospital treatment. One was paralysed from the waist down for two hours after the strike and had curious symmetrical marks on the skin beneath each breast, possibly because she was wearing an under-wire bra. Ten of the victims had the distinctive pattern of miniature haemorrhages or small burn holes, about the size of a match head. These were on each toe and at one-inch (2.5cm) intervals around the soles of the feet. These were dubbed 'tip-toe signs'. Doctors said they were probably caused as the electricity from the lightning left their body. It was the only common feature of the injuries. It has never been recorded, but may be a characteristic sign of lightning injuries which has been overlooked.[100][101][102]

The origin of the Watcher symbol- a work hazard warning?

All eleven members of a soccer team were killed by lightning during a match in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 25 October 1998, while the other team remained untouched. 30 other people received burns, but none life threatening.[98] On the same day at a football match between the Moroka Swallows and the Jomo Cosmos in Johannesburg a group of players collapsed suddenly after being struck by lightning. Three Swallows players- Jaconia Cibi, Peter Matitse and Benjamin Njemo- were knocked unconscious; lesser injuries were sustained by 4 others, some Cosmos players and one referee.[99]
In November 2000 five Albanian first division players were taken to a hospital with severe dizziness and breathing difficulties after lightning struck a metal crane close to their water-logged stadium. Two players were unable to speak and had severe breathing difficulties. Goalkeeper Erion Kristidhi lost his hearing.[103]

First Wrestling and now Football related Quickenings- Immortals are obviously sports fans. They might also like golf, but it could just be a convenient location.

With such spectacular effects surrounding a victorious Immortal, why is their part in the Quickening not reported? Maybe the light show is actually helpful to camouflage the origins of the energy. I guess if the air is full of lightning bolts and everything is exploding around you then you don't stop to take notes on what was happening just before the storm. Another possible reason is that immediate manifestations in survivors of lightning and electrical injuries include altered consciousness, confusion, disorientation and amnesia. Immediate manifestations in survivors of lightning and electrical injuries include altered consciousness, confusion, disorientation, and amnesia. Subsequently sequelae range from headaches and distractibility to persistent psychiatric disorder and dementia.[131][9] Perhaps being that close to a Quickening, an event involving multiple lightning strikes and magnetic fields powerful enough to lift buildings, induces amnesia in most people and therefore they don't remember the Immortal being at the center of the storm. Or, of course, people find that confusion a rather more plausible explanation for the reports than an actual electrified swordsman.

Joe: Look, if we had of revealed your secret in more superstitious times you can imagine the witch hunts
Duncan: I don't have to imagine
Joe: And today you'd probably end up on page 3 of one of those supermarket rags right next to the 2 headed monkey and I'd be in a straight jacket
-'Prodigal Son'

The fundamental purpose of a Quickening is not the light show- it is the transfer of power. So are there any stories of this? Yes.
Greta Alexander from Illinois, who has died aged 66, claimed a lightning strike gave her psychic powers. She gained national attention for helping police find missing people and bodies. She said she could visualise the past, see the future, and describe events happening 100 miles away.[4]

So- we have foundlings, returns from the grave, miraculous escapes, healing, decapitations, swordsmen, and many sorts of lightning effects, including acquisition of power. Separately we have a wealth of examples for each major milestone in an Immortal life. The pieces are pretty spectacular, but they do not definitively point to Immortals in the picture, especially as some incidents might be in imitation of the TV show rather than evidence for its basis in fact. To prove our premise we really need a single case that combines several of the key points. There is one- and it definitely predates TV.

Written in Sanskrit over the period 400 BC to 200 AD, the Mahabharata, the chief epic of Hinduism, has such an event. It is an account of the death of Sisupala, a minor character. Krishna has forgiven 100 offences of Sisupala, honouring an earlier pact. However, when Sisupala commits his 101st offence, Krishna is merciless:

[Krishna said] 'This present offence I can no longer forbear, and his insolence amidst the full circle of kings deserves death...' But when Sisupala heard it, the mighty man burst into loud laughter and jeeringly said, 'Have you no shame at all Krishna... For what self-respecting man but you would broadcast to the strict that his wife had belonged to another, [Krishna]? Forgive me, if you have that much faith, or don't, Krishna, what could possibly befall me from you, however angry or friendly?' He was speaking when the blessed [Krishna], scourge of his enemies, irately cut off his head with his discus. The strong-armed king fell like a tree that is struck by a thunderbolt. Thereupon the kings watched a sublime radiance rise forth from the body of the king of the Cedis, which, great king, was like the sun rising up from the sky; and that radiance greeted lotus-eyed Krishna, honoured by the world, and entered him. When they saw that, all the kings deemed it a miracle that that radiance entered the strong-armed man, that greatest of men. In a cloudless sky heaven rained forth and blazing lightning struck and the earth trembled, when Krishna slew the Caidya.
(Mahabharata 2:42.14-25)[5]

A challenge, death by decapitation and a Quickening.

There are individual stories in the news about Immortal life, and one clear account from ancient writings of a challenge and Quickening. Maybe the writers know more than they're telling. Perhaps the original theory was not so far fetched after all. As Ramirez says-

From the dawn of time we came, moving silently down through the centuries. Living many secret lives, struggling to reach the time of the gathering, when the few who remain will battle to the last. No one has ever known we were among you..... until now.

{7530 words}
There are always more back from the dead stories and other highlander related articles of Fortean interest. My main problem for this article was cutting it down to size.


About the author-

Spends most of her time on her computer, either 'researching' on the web, working on graphics or writing a novel. Like she has been for the last ten years. Those parts of her projects that reach a state that they are fit for public consumption can be found on her web site.
beccaelizabeth can be found at Highlander conventions. She's the one in red wearing a sword ;-)

[4]FT115 10, STRUCK OUT, /AP 19 July 1998/

[5]Thanks to AC MacFru who first found this reference.
see her site for more details and some papers on Highlander.

Behavioral Consequences of Lightning and Electrical Injury

[10]FT138 08, Shock Therapy, /Irish Independent, 3 June 2000/

[11]FT /Metro, 5 July 2000/

[12]NUMBER OF DEATHS BY NATURAL HAZARDS, 1940-1981, LIGHTNING 7,741, Data compiled by National Lightning Safety Institute

[14]Yahoo! Headlines
This is London
Monday May 29
Man found decapitated in park
Copyright © 2000 Associated New Media.
Copyright © 2000 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

[15]Yahoo! Headlines
Monday May 29
Severed head mystery
Copyright © 2000 BBC News Online.
Copyright © 2000 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

[16]Yahoo! Headlines
Monday May 29
Headless body found in park
Copyright © 2000 BBC News Online.
Copyright © 2000 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

[17]Yahoo! Headlines
Tuesday May 30
Appeal to solve headless man mystery
Copyright © 2000 BBC News Online.

[18]BBC News Online
Tuesday October 31, 12:11 PM
Two held in headless body case
Copyright © 2000 BBC News Online.
Copyright © 2000 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

[20]FT Irish Independent Sun, 19 Mar 1996.

[21]Dead man thumbs lift to his own funeral
Wednesday 6th December 2000.


[23]FT133 09/[AFP] 12 Nov 1999/

[25]FT/National Post (Toronto) 6 Nov 1998/

[26]FT/[AP] 24 March 2000/

[32]FT116 6 A splitting headache

[33]FT118 8, High Flyer, /The Times (of Malta) 30 July 1998/

[34]FT/Expressen (Sweden) 13+15 May; Sydsvenskan (Sweden) 14+15 May 1999/

[37]FT109 18-19 Medical Bag

[39]FT136:15 Struck Off/Sydsvenskan (Sweden) 23 Feb 2000/

[40]Wednesday September 15 7:20 a.m 1999
Abandoned Baby Found in Culver City Church
A baby boy was found at Saint Augustine Catholic Church on Washington Boulevard at around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. A church custodian found the baby crying on a church pew. The baby's umbilical cord was still attached. The 8-pound baby, of Latino heritage, was taken to Children's Hospital in Hollywood. The child was listed in good condition.

Jan. 3 2000
Baby abandoned in grocery
A healthy newborn girl with her umbilical cord still attached was found abandoned on a shelf of diapers in a grocery store Sunday morning.
The infant was named "Baby Maxine" by employees at Max Foods Grocery Warehouse, the food store on 1339 South Federal Blvd., where the infant was found wrapped in a blanket behind a stack of Huggies diapers, according to police and witness accounts.
The infant was taken to Denver Health Medical Center where she was reported in fair condition.
Doctors there said they believe the baby was not born in a hospital because of the attached umbilical cord. The baby was most likely born on New Year's Day or early Sunday, hospital officials said.

[42]FT/Daily Star, 8 Mar 1996./

[44]FT/South China Morning Post, 29 April 1996./

[45]FT/[AFP] 4 May 1996./

[46]FT/D.Telegraph, D.Mail, 30 Sept 1996./

[47]FT/People & Places (Ghana), 17 Oct 1996./

[48]FT/[R] 4 Feb 1997. /

[49]The Philippine Star Online 7 Feb. 2000 'Dead' man wakes up just in time before autopsy

[50]The Long Goodbye:FT140 09/D.Telegraph, 16 Mar 2000/

"Dead" Woman Talks And Walks Back To Life
June 2, 2000
Raphael Tenthani
PANA Correspondent

[52]The Independent [South Africa] | 7 July 2000
Morgue treatment makes 'dead' man hopping mad

[53]22/10/00 02:00
Former doctor and now a Methodist minister says he too was once 'dead' for three days
by Michael H. Brown

[56]FT104 6/AP, AFP 15 July 1997/

[59]/[AP, AFP] 10 Aug; Ghana review international, Feb; Sunday Telegraph, 8 MAr 1999; Independent, 15 Jan 1996; [R] 26 Aug 1997; National Post (Toronto), 2 Sept 1999. For resurrection roundups, see FT49:55-60, 63:38, 75:18, 98:17, 104:6

[60]FT 127 13/South China Morning Post 15 June; Times 18 June 1999/

[61]The Independent | 4 June 2000
Man skewered by iron rod, phones wife
Linz, Austria

[63]FT.[AP] 24 Mar 1997.

[64](lost part the ref) according to the daily newspaper /Le Jour/.

[65]The Sunday Mail (Brisbane) 2.4.00 SWORDSMAN ARRESTED

[66]Man stops traffic to battle demons

[67]Tuesday 8 September 1998
Crowd antics abysmal, say police
Copyright (c) David Syme & Co 1999.
Any unauthorised use, copying or mirroring is prohibited.

[68]Yahoo! Headlines
The Daily Record
Monday October 4, 10:40 PM
Sword Attacker Jailed For 5 Years
Copyright © 1999 The Daily Record. All rights reserved. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Daily Record

[79]Date: Sun, 28 Nov 1999 07:18:50 EST
Subject: Naked swordsman attacks
Breaking News on AOL

Date: Sun, 28 Nov 1999 12:02:25 EST
Subject: South London Sword attack, fuller story
By PA News Reporters

Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000 14:30:52 EDT
Subject: Update on naked swordsman
(c) Copyright Ananova Ltd 2000, all rights reserved.

Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2000 08:18:19 -0700
Subject: Man in Court Over Nude Church Sword Attack
LONDON (Reuters)

Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000 13:51:29 +0000
Subject: Samurai attacker ruled insane

Evening Standard - 2 June 2000
Samurai attacker ruled insane
by Paul Cheston, Courts Correspondent

[80]Yahoo! News
Crimes and Trials Headlines
Wednesday July 14 01:50 PM EDT
Sword-Wielding Attacker Charged with Murder
By Pete Brush, an national correspondent.
Copyright © 1996-1999 APB Multimedia, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

[81]Yahoo! News

New York Headlines

Saturday October 16 11:57 AM EDT

Police investigate sword attack on Long Island

Copyright © 1996-1999 WCBS Radio. All rights reserved.

[83]Yahoo! Headlines Friday March 17, 7:35 AM Police search for body after head found on railway LONDON (Reuters)

[84]Make My Day FT119 11/Leyton Guardian, 5 Nov 1998/

[85]Colorado Headlines

Yahoo News!

Tuesday November 23, 1999 6:35 AM ET

Headless Body Identified - (DENVER) --

[90]Subject: Airplane is struck by lightning

Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 21:30:39 -0400

Philadelphia-to-Worcester US Airways flight arrives safely

Tuesday, August 15, 2000 By Emilie Astell

Telegram & Gazette Staff Worcester, Massachusetts

[91]Yahoo! Headlines

Thursday September 23, 7:23 PM

Women In Park Killed By Lightning - Police

Copyright © 1999 Press Association Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of Press Association Limited

[98]FT118 26 Strange Deaths /Johannesburg Citizen, 4 Sept 1998/

[99]FT118 7

This Just In

Football Teams Strike It Unlucky

/Johannesburg Star 26+27 Oct 1998/

[100]/Sunday Telegraph, 3 sept 1995; Times, 12 Feb; Independent, Guardian, D.Telegraph, 4 July 1996/

[101]The Journal of strange phenomena

Lightning burned holes in victims toes

Reported by Mark Bowen

Seen in The Electronic Telegraph on 4/7/96

[102]Record lightning strike left strange marks on skin

The Times on 12 Feb 1996



[103]Oddly Enough News - updated 1:37 PM ET Nov 20


Monday November 20 8:53 AM ET

Soccer Players Stunned by Lightning

TIRANA (Reuters) -

Copyright © 2000 Yahoo! Inc., and Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

[105]FT130 25/Times, Guardian, d.Telegraph, 24 Sept, 28 Oct 1999/

[106]Thu, 24 Aug 2000 13:25:24 -0700 (PDT)

BVM plaque spared by lightning bolt

Victoria (BC) Times-Colonist | 24 August 2000

Bolt burns cottage



Yahoo! Headlines

This is London

Thursday February 24, 5:11 PM

'God's way' axe murderer given life

Copyright © 2000 Associated New Media.


May 4, 1996

Wife, ex-husband and other man accused in estranged husband's slaying

By Jennifer Loven, Associated Press

MASON, Mich.

Copyright 1996, The Detroit News

[113]Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2000 08:34:53 -0700

Subject: Released Ax Murderer Uses Ax to Kill Again


[124]16/03 (09:45)


By Graham Hiscott, PA News

[125]FT142 09 /Scotland on Sunday, 6 Aug 2000/

Toledo [Ohio] Blade | 4 August 2000

Corpse beheading not a shock to all


[127]Premature Burial, Channel 5

[128]Man comes back from dead to sign on

Last updated: 15:55 Friday 29th September 2000.

[130]"Dead" Suspect Resurrects

Panafrican News Agency

September 6, 2000

Nairobi, Kenya

Copyright © 2000 Panafrican News Agency. Distributed by

For information about the content or for permission to redistribute, publish or use for broadcast, contact the publisher.

[131]Behavioral Consequences of Lightning and Electrical Injury

Margaret Primeau, Ph.D., Gerolf H. Engelstatter, Ph.D., A.B.M.P., I.A.B.C.P., and Kimberly K Bares, M.S.

Seminars in Neurology, Volume 15, Number 3, September 1995

Copyright © 1995

Department of Psychology, Finch University of Health Sciences/The Chicago Medical School, North Chicago, Illinois, and


Psychological Health Services, Jacksonville, North Carolina


This story was found at:

India's 'dead' come back live and kicking


2000-10-24 23:53:39

[133]Lightning Injury Facts

Myths, Miracles, and Mirages

Mary Ann Cooper, MD

An article about both lightning and electrical injuries

Adapted from Seminars in Neurology, Volume 15, Number 4, December 1995

Copyright © 1995

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to be a scientific treatise but to be entertaining and perhaps enlightening (no pun intended

since it is a different spelling).


Ronald L. Holle and Raúl E. López

National Severe Storms Laboratory, NOAA

Norman, Oklahoma

E. Brian Curran

National Weather Service, NOAA

Fort Worth, Texas

[136]Monday April 16, 05:07 PM

Three injured in samurai sword attack

Copyright © 2001 Associated New Media. All rights reserved. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are

expressly prohibited without the written consent of Associated New Media

Copyright © 2001 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

[137]Man charged over Samurai attack

Copyright © 2001 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

[140]Sunday August 6, 11:25 AM

Iranian Grandma attacks judge with sword

Copyright © 2000 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are

expressly prohibited without the written consent of Reuters Limited

Copyright © 2000 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.


Kennedy - BMJ, 20 Sep 1997; D. Record, 7 Jan; D.

Telegraph, 7+ 8 Jan; Guardian, 8 Jan 1998.

Poonkalya - D. Mirror, 4 Mar 1991. Fenwick - Sun,

13 Sep; The People, 29 Oct; Welwyn & Hatfield

Review, 2 Nov 1995. Page - D. Express,

Independent, 5 Dec 1995.

[144]From Guiness Book of World Records, per World Meteorological Organization. 1