Mystery of the Ourang Medan
“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension—a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.” – Rod Serling
What happened to the Dutch East Indies ship, the SS Ourang Medan in 1948? This story is one of nautical history’s great mysteries and the subject of much speculation. Theories have been proposed that range from the scientifically plausible to something that could be a script from an episode of The Twilight Zone.
The facts are few and far between. I refer you to Wikipedia for a ‘factual’ account of the tragedy, although googling ‘Ourang Medan’ (or its alternative spelling, ‘Orang Medan’) will yield a plethora of theories that range from the paranormal to the extremely bizarre. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the sinking of the Ourang Medan:
The story’s first appearance was a series of three articles in the Dutch-Indonesian newspaper De locomotief: Samarangsch handels- en advertentie-blad (February & March 1948).… the location of the encounter is described as 400 nautical miles southeast of the Marshall Islands. According to the story, the Ourang Medan was sailing from an unnamed small Chinese port to Costa Rica, and deliberately avoided the authorities. The survivor, an unnamed German, died after telling his story.
Two American vessels navigating the Strait of Malacca, City of Baltimore and Silver Star, among others, picked up distress messages… A radio operator aboard the troubled vessel sent the following Morse code message: “S.O.S. from Ourang Medan…whole of crew dead.” A few confused dots and dashes later two words came through clearly. They were “I’m dying.” When Silver Star crew located and boarded the apparently undamaged Ourang Medan in a rescue attempt, the ship was found littered with corpses (including the carcass of a dog) “sprawled on their backs, the frozen faces upturned to the sun with mouths gaping open and eyes staring, the dead bodies resembled horrible caricatures”, with no survivors and no visible signs of injuries on the dead bodies. A fire then broke out in the ship’s No. 4 cargo hold, forcing the boarding parties to evacuate the Dutch freighter, thus preventing any further investigation. Soon after, the Ourang Medan was observed to explode and sink.
What happened aboard the Ourang Medan that night in 1948? Who was the lone German-speaking survivor? Were there any others who escaped alive? What was the ship’s cargo and where was it going? What caused the Ourang Medan to sink?
What a fantastic opportunity to find creativity in this chaos!
I couldn’t resist telling this story. After all, any batsh*t-crazy idea I came up with wouldn’t sound any more implausible than any others. So what did I do? I created Children of The Stars, a short story that is my contribution to the new series Return To Earth by the award-winning authors that brought you The Prometheus Saga.
Want to know what happened to the Ourang Medan? Children of The Stars reads like an episode of The Twilight Zone or The X Files. And the shocking cause of the ship’s sinking now threatens mankind. Available HERE in the Kindle store for $0.99.
In Japan, an American medical researcher discovers the deadly secret behind an eighty year old woman’s ageless appearance and incredible fertility, and her connection to the bizarre disappearance of a freighter in 1948.