Monday, March 12, 2012

Nightmarish Inspiration. . .

I recently read a quote from Stephen King:
"So where do the ideas—the salable ideas—come from? They come from my nightmares. Not the night-time variety, as a rule, but the ones that hide just beyond the doorway that separates the conscious from the unconscious."  —Quotes by Stephen King, “The Horror Writer Market and the Ten Bears,” November 1973 Writers Digest
When talking horror--suspense, thriller, or mystery for that matter--nightmares and your worst fears can really drive a story.  Maybe it's human nature, but I often find myself "fantasizing" about horrible things happening.  Not because I want them to, but because I'm terrified that they will.

The other night I had a dream.  I know, we all have dreams.  But this one wasn't a good dream, and it wasn't a nightmare, exactly.  It was fantastically vivid, with details that are still burned my visual cortex, earning this dream a place--if somewhat temporary--in my memory banks.  

There are the makings of an incredible story, short or long, if you happen to like apocalyptic, zombie-type stuff.  Now, let me reassure all of you who are anti-zombie, this doesn't involve zombies like you've ever seen before.  Like watching the remake of Dawn of the Dead, with Ving Rhames, where the zombies actually run--and fast!--this story would have you second-guessing everything you know about zombies.  

The zombie epidemic is caused by some sort of virus, but it's airborne. No body fluid contact necessary, here. The good thing about this is that, at this point, humans seem to be immune. The virus affects only predatory animals, canines and felines playing a large role as the pictures played in my sleeping brain. The bad side to that. . .your beloved pet cats and dogs are no longer safe to have around. Eventually they will all morph into slavering beast that just want to eat humans.
Now, since humans are physically unaffected by the virus, we are able to rebuild as a species, but slowly.  And in very tight-nit, self-sustaining communities.  Only a small percentage of people survived the initial outbreak because the world was uncertain of how it spread.  In fact, the odd behaviors of these predators was unexplainable at the outset, and thousands of people died at the teeth of their own pets or wild predators that lived in their corner of the world.

Crazy, right?  You can imagine how it felt to be "living" in this world as a survivor.  Or maybe you can't.  As a lover of "all creatures, great and small," it was difficult to pull the trigger on a massive double-barrel aimed at the head of a Doberman--three times.  But it was me or the dog, and I was fighting for my family, too.  It's amazing what you can do--or what your mind thinks or subconsciously knows you can do--when your life and the life of those you love most is on  the line.

There was also the fact that, during this "end of the world as we know it" situation my husband told me that he was done with us.  If I wanted to go to another community I'd found, I could go without him, but either way, we were over with.  That was the worst part of the dream.  I knew we had to leave, for the safety of our kids, but he would go.  And he didn't want me either way.  So I packed my things, and I packed my son's things.  And nobody helped me because they saw it as me abandoning him.

I left out crucial details that help this story stand apart from every other zombie/killer beast story out there to protect my sub conscience's idea.  (Not that I think any of my readers would steal it, but there are those out there who would.)

What do you think about this type of story?  Do you like Zombies?   Do you like "end of the world" tales?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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