Charles Voortrekker had lived his entire life in the small towns of the Alberta-Saskatchewan-Montana border; few could recall any family members (and even then it was a dim recollection at best) and he was known to react violently to intruders and any suggestion that he leave his hometown. Needless to say, the man’s sudden appearance–famished and sunburned–to the crew of a survey station on remote Kerguelen Island in the southern Indian Ocean was a cause for some puzzlement to many, Smithson most of all.

As Smithson delved deeper into the records, similar cases emerged. A gentleman who lived in and refused to leave the village of Gatteville-le-Phare, near Cherbourg in France, who was known to disappear for months at a time. Rescued by a New Zealand navy cruiser from a castaway hut on the desolate Antipode Islands; died before he could give an account of how he came to be there.

A Vietnamese woman who refused to travel inland or to visit relatives in America vanished, only for her body to be found in the Peruvian Andes.

A Hawaiian man who reacted violently when family tried to convince him to move off the Big Island. Vanished, only for some of his personal effects to turn up in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.

The only thing they had in common? They were all antipodal points, on opposite sides of the globe.