image found at http://terrencemccauley.blogspot.com/

I’ve now had a whole lot of horror story suggestions which are all fermenting away in the back of my brain (although I still don’t have 31 so am happy to take more – just leave a comment) and last night I decided to put a little bit of research in to speed that process along a bit.  Whilst some story ideas spring to mind fully formed without provocation, others need more help.

The first comment I had was from the enigmatic stranger behind 1 Story A Week, who fears being infected with a virus that makes his own flesh the only thing he can eat.  I think that’s a pretty logical thing to be afraid of, if a bit unlikely.  Anyhoo, the first search term I put into Google was ‘infected with a flesh eating virus’ and most of the results discussed a condition called necrotizing fasciitis.

SWEET MOTHER OF MARMALADE IT’S HORRIBLE.

For those who don’t already know, necrotizing fasciitis is where flesh eating bacteria have at you and basically eat everything right down to the bone.  The pictures are utterly traumatic.  And what’s worse, it doesn’t really make any sense in the context of 1SAW’s comment, which was about a disease making you eat your own flesh – so it’s redundant in terms of this story. I should have just searched ‘cannibal zombie’.  Or maybe ‘self hating cannibal zombie’.  Instead I’m going to spend the rest of my life checking myself for unusual swelling or bruising that might indicate very rare bacteria have got into my system in order to eat me.  Yeesh.

The second comment had several suggestions in one, and whilst I don’t think Babs particularly meant I should include all of them in one story I might give it a bash. Now I just have to think of a way to combine ommetaphobia (fear of eyeballs), teeth falling out, and anthophobia (fear of flowers).  At the moment I think this may feature a central character with a whole range of unusual phobias.  In my mind he is a skinny gent of nervous disposition, probably living in a vague approximation of the 1920s gleaned from occasional viewings of Jeeves and Wooster.

Lottie, commenter the third, suggested I write something about a fear of things going under the skin – be it canula, needle, or rare bug.  This put me in mind of a story I once read in Shout magazine about a girl who went on holiday and had a spider burrow into her foot and lay its eggs there.  EW.  Makes me shudder every time.  And that in turn reminded me of that bit in The Mummy where the jewelled beetle on the door comes alive crawls under the guy’s skin…  So far, so many stories full of ‘eurgh’ factor.

There was a bit of respite in Emily’s memory of a dream where a man used to walk into her room with wolves on multi-leads, although sometimes it was sharks.  That image has a fairy tale quality for me, although not necessarily in a Disney kind of way – fairy tales can be pretty creepy.

Rumrapture’s queasiness at exposed wrists is an interesting one – I think there’s a first person tale of psychological struggle in there, perhaps something other people see as silly or paranoid that turns out to be totally justified for some reason I still have to come up with.

The last comment on the post was from Jim, who is wary of being impaled, or perhaps falling into a pit of spikes.  This, he explained, has been a cause for concern ever since he watched Dog Soldiers.  I liked this one because it’s quite visceral and a narrative suggested itself to me straight away.  With any luck it will turn out to be a good one.

Elsewhere in life and on t’internet:

  • Jaclyn linked me to this news story where a plane crashed into a ferris wheel. Sounds like the Final Destination rip-off Movies 24 have been waiting for, and I love any excuse for melodrama.
  • My sister once had a dream where she got punched in the face by a scarecrow with a leather face and she couldn’t get to the window to escape, which has a filmic quality to it which I could probably do something with.  She also fears slamming on the brakes when driving and them not working, which feels like another first person psychological horror narrative to me.
  • Glempy’s Pictonaut Challenge for October is to write a short story around this image, which is suitably themed.
  • My mum had a few bad dreams, but the thing that grabbed me was the fear ‘of being found out’ which must surely be universal – eg people finding out you’re making it up as you go along, or knowing something embarrassing you did in the past and using it against you.  I suspect anyone who doesn’t experience this from time to time is either deluded or ridiculously over confident.
  • Possibly the maddest one I’ve heard, however, was from a friend of mine who said, “I had an idea for you.  When I was little, my grandma used to give me a book of Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings of hell to read before bed… There were some bad dreams.” 

Who does that to a child?!  And how many years do I have to go before I can be that granny…

Detail from The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch
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