Just Say No to Cannibalism

Ship in Storm(Click image for source)

I think it’s safe to say we’ve all read a scary story and thought, “Golly! I sure am glad that’s not real!” Unfortunately, sometimes it is. Sometimes circumstances permit reality to imitate fantasy. What’s really scary is when the dots connect too well.

In 1838, Edgar Allan Poe wrote a story with a really long title that goes a lot like this: “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.” In the story, Pym is a stowaway on a ship captained by his friend’s father. Things start off badly when the crew commits mutiny and the ship is taken over. Then after Pym reveals himself as a stowaway, he, his friend, and a loyal friend of the mutinied captain manage to regain command of the ship during a raging storm. They spare the life of one well-meaning mutineer by the name of Richard Parker. Remember that name.

The storm is kind enough to leave them shipwrecked with much of their supplies inaccessible or unusable. After some depressing false hope and some weird stuff with an undead first responder team, Pym and his three companions are starving to death. They catch, kill, and eat a tortoise, but eventually they get hungry again. Parker suggests cannibalism and they agree that whoever draws the short straw gets eaten. Parker falls victim to his own suggestion and draws the short straw. I’ll save you the details and just say that they ate him with poor table manners.

In some incredible, twisted coincidence, a young man named Richard Parker was eaten by three starving shipmates in 1884! They even caught and tried to eat a turtle first! Now, I know what you’re thinking: “That’s not a coincidence at all! The other guys ate a tortoise, not a turtle!”

Seriously, though. Like, this actually happened! Here’s a New York Times article about it. Long story short, an Australian named Jack Want hired a small crew to take him from England to Australia in his new yacht, which wasn’t made for long voyages and wasn’t actually new at all. The yacht was caught in a storm, which they survived, but were left starving and dehydrating. Then the real Richard Parker, 17 years old (he told them he was 18), made the mistake of drinking sea water, which worsen his already weakening condition. He became delirious. The others were about to draw straws and decide who would eat who, but they decided Parker was too far gone anyway and they better eat him while he was still good. So they killed him and ate him before being rescued a bit later and facing the law for their murder. In the end their life imprisonment was shortened to six months! Don’t ask me why.

Special thanks to Listverse for inspiring this blog post!

Heard another amazing coincidence or have a question or opinion you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to follow me on social media!


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