The Idea Mill #27

It's time to revisit the old Idea Mill. This involves a selection of stories I've gleaned across the Internet, and feel like they could make some great speculative elements in your fiction.

For those who want to kick the Muse a little harder, The Idea Mill is a category in my sidebar. Being as this is the 27th edition, you can probably find something to use in one of your stories.

The first story involves a chemical cocktail that settled over London. The amazing part is that it happened in 1952. There was a smaller event documented in the 1960s.

Basically, it was cold. An inversion settled over the city, and everyone lit their coal stoves. I'm a few years (okay decades) removed from high school chemistry, but I know temperature and pressure can influence the outcome.

I dug a bit deeper, and found where scientists were able to duplicate the process in a lab. It appears the perfect cocktail left behind a cloud of sulfuric acid. Officially 4000 people died, and it may have been as high as 12,000 because not all deaths were immediate. The city officials didn't even know it was happening until the florists ran out of flowers for funerals.

One of the reports that stuck with me involved a movie theatre that gave refunds because the patrons inside the building couldn't see the screen because of the cloud. Read the article here.

I'm shocked that this went on in the 1950s and 1960s. To me this screams steampunk, which calls for a Victorian setting. I'm relatively certain this happened then too, but probably wasn't as well documented.

I don't know about your areas, but inversions happen all over the American West. I think you could probably tailor this to some kind of chemical warfare. It might lend itself to a mad scientist story pretty easily. It might even make a good origin for your superhero story.

Out next story should get filed under the “What Me Worry,” category. It appears that scientists have recovered a 17th century strain of smallpox virus from a Lithuanian mummy. My understanding is the goal is to determine when smallpox first jumped from animals to humans. Read this story here.

Okay, I understand the curiousity of scientists, but I'm an author. What could possibly go wrong? It's my job to make something go wrong. The obvious idea is that an older strain isn't influenced by the vaccine. These things mutate and evolve rapidly. It gets loose and kills people on a global scale before your CDC hero can come up with a solution.

This one can also be the basis for a biological weapons story. It plays right into some kind of zombie tale for those who love them. You can easily change the settings to make things more creepy. Maybe a catacomb type environment where the mummy is discovered.

Finally, we have a dinosaur discovery. This one involves a small Dino called coelurosaurus. Scientist found a tiny section of its tail preserved in amber, and this section has feathers. The feathers aren't flight worthy and it seems like they are more like marabou feathers used in boas. Traces of color are still there, and it seems likely that blood is available too. Here is one of many stories I saw on this one. Link.

Obviously, this could lead right into a Jurassic Park type story. But what if it led to designer pets and a battle for the coolest Christmas present of the year. Add in some militant animal rights people, a patent battle, perhaps a greedy Kentucky Colonel type who thinks they're finger lickin' good, and you have a story.

So part of the Idea Mill shtick is for me to rough out a corny story using all three elements. Let's see what I can come up with:

It's the Christmas season, and colorful coelusaurs are the must have gift of the season. The patent battle is settled, and Dino Labs is mass producing these pets to meet the demand. Meanwhile, across town scientists are researching the ancient strain of smallpox virus. It gets loose on the city, just as the biggest inversion in history descends. The polluted cocktail mutates the virus into something unstoppable. People start dying by the thousands. The coelusars are not completely immune to the disease, they get sick and their eggs are mutated.

Soon the city is overwhelmed with new and nastier dinosaurs, and the humans are too sick to fight back. One brave Kentucky Colonel has a solution, and his solution is finger lickin' good. Eating the Dinos provides an immunity to the virus, but getting one isn't as simple as it sounds. The Dinos think we're finger lickin' good too.

I think that outline fits the traditional bill for these posts. What would you do with one of these elements? Tell me in the comments.


Filed under The Idea Mill

22 responses to “The Idea Mill #27

  1. Did enjoy the session but now gotta go. Loved your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d go with the inversion story, and I’d give it a twist. Suppose that large solar panel arrays could create a heat inversion that would trap waste gasses in a particular area and asphyxiate the people nearby. And then let’s suppose that at such a site the investigators realized the problem, but didn’t want it to get out that solar power could be dangerous in this way, and so they cook up a fake biological weapon attack and claim that the people died of smallpox. So a Federal terrorism team is sent to investigate the site, but of course they don’t find any evidence of biological weapons being used and the locals (who have a vested interest in keeping to solar farm open at all costs) start leaning on the Federal agents to go along with the phony bioterrorism story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Let’s see. They clone the dinosaurs that end up being carriers of the smallpox. In fact, it makes them start to mutate. Apparently, all other Dino breeds were simply mutations of this one caused by the disease. The only way to stop them is containment in the lab/city and cause a specific inversion to kill them all.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The inversion. I am stunned that I have not heard about that before, too! Wow. The small pox article, when I read about that last week, I was scanning the article to make sure it was not an infectious particle. All you need is that DNA falling into the wrong hands.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That sulfuric acid thing kinda freaks me out.
    I saw the dino bit earlier this week and hoped no one was planning to Jurassic Park us. I think dinosaurs the size of kittens would be splendid though, and lots of people would want one.
    I always enjoy your idea mills — with the downside being I realize I don’t have your imagination 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “It’s my job to make something go wrong.” I’m gonna use that line justifying my negativity at times. I try not to sweat the small stuff but the state of the world troubles me. I know I would have a small dino…but the Gremlins movie comes to mind. I could see trouble on the horizon. And where would the PETA people be on that one?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love the concept of idea fusion. I have a whole file of ideas (what writer doesn’t), but I didn’t think of doing a mashup with them. Clever. I’m going to have to look through your archives.

    Do you ever actually write any of these idea-mill stories? Or is this just to get the juices flowing?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think I like the dino one best, although the inversion sounds awfully intriguing. I could definitely work a cryptid into that mess….hmmm, which could just take on the dinos, LOL.

    I always enjoy these, especially your mashups. Highly entertaining!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I saw the book “Raptor Apocalypse” for sale at Amazon.

    At first, I thought it was a stupid idea, where would you get enough velociraptors for an apocalypse? But, I read a few reviews, and apparently, someone was playing around with the chicken genome to make bigger and bigger chickens…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hahaha. You might have something there. Loved your story!

    Liked by 1 person

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