About a month ago I was in a bit of a rut with the story I was working on, a science fiction tale set on a distant planet. In order to head off an approaching case of writer’s block I decided to take part in a few Twitter challenges, which resulted in the micro stories you can see on this blog.
The one image that stuck with me the longest during that couple of weeks was of Lucien and Aldous, my vampiric characters. It was enormous fun to come up with little vignettes for them and it got me to thinking about vampire fiction in more detail.
It’s not a genre I had ever considered tackling before, basically because every time I think about it I find myself rolling my eyes at all the old (and some new) Hollywood cliches I hate. But the idea that I could write a vampire story that bypassed all that baggage by returning to the pre-Stoker source material was intriguing. There are literally hundreds of mythical blood drinkers from around the globe. Even in Europe there is a staggering variety, ranging from vengeful fairies to zombie vikings and including a blood drinking German succubus called a Trude – something I really should take up with my parents at some point.
Anyway, a lifetime’s interest in folklore, myths and ghost stories, seems finally to have paid off, as a brand new plot idea bubbled up from my brain pretty quickly and within the space of a few days I had plots for not one, but four new stories, covering over 1000 years of history and detailing the relationship between two supernatural characters.
My science fiction tale is now definitely gathering dust on the shelf, as I tackle these new adventures, but I’m extremely excited to do so. Going back to the old myths, and bypassing all the modern concretions that vampires are saddled with has been a wonderfully cosy experience, like sitting by a roaring fire with a cherished book of ghost stories. I feel like I’m rediscovering horror.
For years I’ve been fascinated by the idea that life may exist under the icy crust of Jupiter’s moon, Europa. In particular I wondered how an intelligent species might mythologise their landscape when the limit of their universe is a miles thick ceiling of ice. This is a glimpse in to life beneath a frozen ocean.
The vault of heaven broke open and a beam of divine light surged through the crack, bringing with it colours, the like of which the Gluemn had never seen before.
Heaven had not been glimpsed like this for many generations. A rumour had even started amongst the Gluemn that it didn’t exist, but as the bravest amongst them ventured closer to the light, the doubters began to proclaim their faith renewed. Some even denied having lost it in the first place.
“See! God is watching over us!” They chanted, lifting their tentacles towards the light.
And God was indeed watching. His single, great eye peered down though the crack in the vault of Heaven.
“God is scary.” One young Gluemn murmered, scurrying for cover amongst his father’s many arms.
“God loves us.” His father said, petting him gently with his suckers. “He plucked out his other eye for us. To give us the Deep Fires that keep us warm, and bring the food from below.”
“I don’t know.” The little Gluemn replied, letting one, tentative tentacle drift into the light.
God’s remaining eye glared down at him, red and boiling.
“If you ask me.” He said, as the vault of Heaven shifted once more, and the light began to fade. “God looks mean.”
For the #writethurs challenge in Twitter.
Lucien slurped at his bloody fingers. Gobbets of crimson gore oozed down his chin. Aldous was appalled.
“Manners.” He hissed, proffering a napkin.
Lucien grimaced at the crisp white linen.
“Seriously?” he said, sucking a juicy clot from this thumb. “Who taught you how to be a vampire?”
In response to a one word writing prompt: liminal
Whitechapel is never silent. The ghosts of two millenia crowd the lanes, beckoning, with crimson allure from shadowed doorways, calling to you in brash Cockney from long dismantled stalls. They grasp at your feet as you stroll, oblivious over their plague-rotted remains.
For the #1linewed challenge on Twitter.
“Isn’t this illegal?” He asked, as Lucien twisted the two wires together beneath the steering column.
The car rumbled in to life.
“We’re vampires, Aldous.” Lucien responded. “Everything we do is illegal.”
Inspired by a one word writing prompt: fastidious
“Is that a smudge?” Mr Arfwick went quite pink.
“Erm…” Tom stammered for a response.
His boss decided not to wait for one.
“Here at Nitpicker & Scruple we believe in fastidious accounting. Start again!”
Tom trudged away. Why had he let his father talk him out of being a pirate?
For the #SockItTueMe writing challenge on Twitter.
“Cover us!” Yelled Agent C, as he and Agent D ran for the chopper.
“I thought we were in this together!” Said Agent I, drawing his gun.
“We are!” Agent D threw herself through the chopper’s open door and signaled the pilot to take off. “But there’s no I in this Team”
I have to say it has been bloody tough finding a visual reference for Commander Haas’ sidekick. Dr Silas Strand is a human who arrived on our alien world over a decade ago to assist with the plague relief effort. He’s been stranded inside the quarantine zone ever since.
Away from his home world and with no real human company to speak of, Dr Strand has become a bit worn around the edges. His clothes have seen better days and so have his ethics. The occasional aid drops from outside the quarantine zone are not nearly enough to keep his medical practice supplied, so over the years he’s been forced to do deals with smugglers and turn a blind eye to the dubious business practices of local whore master and Mayor of Badr City, Pin Hunh.
The arrival of by-the-book law enforcer Neylan Haas is going to cause a few wrinkles for Strand to say the least.
I had a pretty definite idea of how I wanted Strand to look; a dark haired man in his forties, disheveled and world-weary but with the self-confidence that many physicians possess. Hunting through my usual sources though I was left with the definite impression that most men in the future will either be steroid enhanced super-warriors, n’er do well thieves or elvish princes.
Finally however, I found my man, in the shape of a video game character. There were plenty of pieces of fan art for Joel from The Last Of Us that were just what I was looking for, but I’ve selected this one as my principle muse. I think he and Neylan will have quite a sparky friendship in the end.