The Idea Mill #33

It’s been a while since we strolled down to the old Idea Mill to see what it’s been grinding out. For those of you new to these posts, they are the kind of things that might feed your Muse. As a speculative fiction author, I choose things that are a bit strange.

Our first story is from India, where an electrician unearthed the carcass of an animal. Not just any animal either, this one appears at first glance to be a dinosaur. That’s cool, you might say, except this one has flesh on it. Anything that’s been dead for 65 million years or so should not have anything that isn’t fossilized.

There is some speculation in the article that it’s an aborted goat fetus. I don’t buy it, because that tail is pretty long, it appears to have canine style teeth, and there is one point where you can see through the sinus cavity. It was less than a foot long which seems to eliminate a dog of some kind. You can read the article for yourself. It has the picture, which I will not steal from them.

If you need a story with dinosaurs in the modern world, this is your foot in the door. This article likely spread pretty wide regardless of what it turns out to be. I believe fiction folks should try to stay close to the possible before asking readers for that leap of faith. A quick reference to the discovery in India and you’re off to the races. Maybe this can be used to explain the disappearance of the lost colony of Roanoke. Fictionally, find a few more of these all over the world and you’re set.

You could make them alien in origin too pretty easily. Ancient sailors used to plant food animals on islands they might return to one day. Maybe the aliens did this too, and they’re going to return.

Next we have a strange burial of a bunch of cauldrons. They were placed in a semicircular ditch and buried. Keep in mind that cauldrons were likely extremely valuable way back when. Valuable enough to be passed down from daughter to daughter. Iron was not something easily available, so access to it would not have been an everyday occurrence. I have no evidence to support my theory, but a cauldron was likely a major investment for a family back then.

There is some speculation about a feast in the article, which you can read here.

What would lead multiple families to part with such a valuable item? Keep in mind that cauldrons are also something referenced in witchcraft. Could this have been some kind of Christian oppression? Are there the ashes of women in them from their burnings at the stake? Could this have been the site of a powerful ancient ritual, the result of which rendered the cauldrons unusable? These might be good stories to tell.

What if the story is of the recent discovery? Could there still be some ancient magic living around this site? Maybe something best left undisturbed? Maybe the only way to keep the demon down is to put the cauldrons back… in exactly the same way they were originally placed. This could lead to some fun puzzle solving for your characters.

Our next story might not fuel everyone’s Muse, but I dig it. It’s about rosewood being given a new status on the CITES list. It’s becoming endangered. This is an important wood for stringed instruments, and now musicians are worried about crossing international borders, in some cases with instruments that are hundreds of years old. This has led to illegal logging, smuggling, and over 150 deaths. Check out the article here. The culprit is a desire for rosewood furniture in China.

People love unique settings and situations. Smugglers, killers, and jungles are great things to pepper into an adventure story. Add a few dangerous animals, maybe some tiny dinosaurs from the first article and take to the jungles. Maybe your adventurer is a musician and you can add a unique element to the character. Tie it back to China by rescuing a few Asian rhinos.

Finally, we have a story that Russian Cosmonauts swabbed the outside of the International Space Station and found bacteria. The speculation is that this is an alien life form. There is a chance that it’s a contaminant from Earth and it’s capable of surviving in space, but where is the fun in that? You can read the story for yourselves.

I like this one, because it reminds me of Jason Fogg’s origin story. You can read it in my first Experimental Notebook. There are all kinds of possibilities for something coming from outer space. Start your zombie apocalypse right here folks. Maybe a new kind of plague, or one that’s happened before, that now has a new explanation.

Maybe you prefer limiting the outbreak to the International Space Station. One of the important pieces of a good horror story is isolation and being a long way from help. How about being quarantined in space with people who now want to shake your spinal fluid into a cocktail before dinner?

One of the fun parts of the Idea Mill is laying down some plot points of a story that is based on all the articles. I’ve got to tell you this isn’t an easy group to use in one story, but I’ll give it a shot.

A young botanist is sent to the jungles to make a count of the rosewood trees. She runs into smugglers, but there is something wrong with them. They are terrified of the small dinosaurs that are picking them off like plagues of locust. One of the smugglers takes her to the site of a meteor crash. This reveals a seeding of some sort that brought the dinosaurs to our planet… once again.

Lots of running bleeding and shooting later, she discovers a site that’s been looted by treasure hunters. The only way to get rid of the dinosaurs is to repeat an ancient ritual and bury the cauldrons in a specific pattern. However she must run the looters down to determine what patterns the cauldrons were buried in. Can she do it in time, before the dinos spread all over the globe? Ticking clocks etc. Oh, and let’s add some stress by making her a concert cellist who damaged her hands to the point she cannot play. This will give her something to struggle with against the ethics of protecting the trees that provide her lovely instruments.

So what would you do with these as inspiration for your own stories? Do any of them trip your trigger? Share some ideas in the comments, I’d love to read them.


Filed under The Idea Mill

30 responses to “The Idea Mill #33

  1. Interesting [spoken in a long-drawn-out drawl while hand strokes chin]; very interesting indeed …

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 1. First, I keep thinking it’s a baby Dhole, which is an Indian wild dog. Not going with that idea, I’d go with prehistoric mammal. One that was small when everything was going big. They traveled in enormous packs to make up for their size. Swarms of tiny claws and teeth creep me out for some reason.

    2. Dang, you took my witch ashes and buried idea. Going less magical, I would have them contain a collection of long-forgotten diseases. Each cauldron holds a different plague that were locked away after laying waste to civilizations. Once all of them are opened, humanity will be on the run from the invisible danger. Iron was used because they believed the diseases were fae-induced and iron hurts them.

    3. Eco-terrorists that have designed a super seed for rosewoods. They are setting them off in cities to turn them into forests. The hero has to stop them, but he doesn’t disagree with their desire to help nature. So, he repeatedly has conflicts of conscience.

    4. The bacteria is from Earth, but the future. It’s revealed that whenever something leaves the upper atmosphere, they briefly pass through a time vortex. It isn’t enough for people to see anything or any contact besides these bacteria. Yet, this information can be used to create a stable and large portal. We just don’t know what’s on the other side since there’s no guarantee that humans exist any more.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Those are outstanding ideas. I kind of want to do something with rodent swarms, but haven’t come up with the right idea yet. Your idea of iron and the fae is wonderful. Love the conflict of conscience in 3. The time portal is wonderful. I’d read any of these.


  3. You come up with the coolest concepts, Craig. (I love thinking about witches’ ashes still in the cauldrons.)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The one that catches my eye is the Witches’s Ashes! Short stories of each witch one might consider using, telling the story of their specific witchery … I admire your energy, Craig ,,, Lend me some! Hoping your 2018 is fulfilling and richly rewarding.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Intelligent dinosaurs can only breed and thrive among rosewood trees in the jungle. They start attacking the rogue loggers who are plundering their grove.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve written about five different things and deleted them, so I’ll just say, this was an excellent Idea Mill. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love the mini dinosaur concept. Books with creatures normally always find their way onto my read list.
    As always, your mash-up at the end was highly entertaining. Sounds like a movie for the Syfy Channel.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Some very cool ideas. I love the buried cauldrons as that story could have so many possibilities. Thanks for sharing, Craig.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love your fantasy takes on the news stories, but my mind is just going to the mundane today. I think the dinosaur will turn out to be a civet, and the bacteria will have come from an airplane’s or space station’s toilet.

    For the cauldrons, I’m thinking of a cauldron dealer burying his stock to avoid the taxman. Or, on a slightly more interesting note, a whole town had to flee on foot due to raiders, and thought they might come back some day for their heavy cauldrons.

    I guess I’ve just got a case of Mundane Monday.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Enjoyed the visit to the Mill

    Liked by 1 person

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