Sunday, December 25, 2011

Is Truth,Once Again, Stranger Than Fiction?

The sun rises over ocher-colored dunes, casting them in temporary shades of pink, peach, and orange. Tufts of tough marsh grass clack and crackle in the same stiff dawn breeze that occasionally sends sand and grit flying into your face like tiny pieces of shrapnel. The smell of the salt water and the cries of the gulls are lulling and exhilarating at the same time and you'd like to just relax and take it all in. But you can't. This is Gilgo Beach in Long Island, New York.

A young lady that happens to make her living as a lady-of-the-evening (and no, I don't mean she's a vampire) is reported as missing by her family. As the police backtrack her movements on the day of her disappearance, they make a surprising and gruesome discovery... they find the remains of ten other women's (actually 9 women and one girl) bodies buried in shallow graves! They dig up the remains and send them to labs for identification, but the initial missing woman's remains are not among them. The FBI joins the investigation as it now seems that a serial killer has been at work in Gilgo Beach. But what about the first young lady, the one whose missing person report helped uncover the serial killer's favorite burial ground? Months later they find her remains near a swampy area. Investigators rule her death an accident... she was intoxicated when she wandered into the marsh and died of exposure.

Her death led to the discovery of ten missing people and started a search, in earnest, for a heartless killer. Sounds like fiction doesn't it? Would your readers have suspended belief long enough to have accepted such a story from you? Would they have scoffed at your apparent use of Deux-ex-machina (or whatever) to create this paradigm in your story? Yet, it is all true. The young lady's family continues to state that her death must have been a homicide, along with all of the others, but the police continue to classify her death, out of all the others, as an accident. Was this lady's death a sign? Could she have been some supernatural cause that effected the finding of those bodies and started the search for their killer? Or was it all coincidence? Could you have written it any better?

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