The Idea Mill #35

We haven’t been down to the Idea Mill for about seven months. To be honest, I’ve been to busy in other areas to do the research. I still have my feeds, but there hasn’t been a lot to get excited about. There was the vampire burial of a baby, but we’ve had vampire burials on here before.

For those who are new to the Idea Mill, I believe speculative fiction needs a strong dose of reality behind it. We’re going to ask for a leap of faith, but we don’t want to ask for too many. These items are creepy on their own, and can add an air of realism to the stories we might write.

Let’s jump into our first topic. I won’t call it an article, because I never found a specific one. I’ve been researching what is called the Third Man Factor, or Syndrome. In a nutshell, there are many stories of someone being near death describing someone who helped them out. Later it was revealed that nobody was ever there.

These tales date all through history, from Arctic exploration to the Twin Towers. It’s actually kind of a stupid name, because human plus apparition equals two, but there it is. Here is the Wikipedia Entry for Third Man Syndrome.

This works really well for our paranormal tales. If I were to write it, I’d probably write it from the apparition’s point of view, only revealing that fact as my twist ending. How about a werewolf who is tormented by his human self while in lycanthrope form? You could play it for laughs almost like Play It Again Sam. What would you do with Third Man Syndrome?

Our next article is about Giant Hogweed. This is an invasive species that makes a few stinging nettles or even poison ivy look like amateurs. It causes “painful burns, permanent scarring, and even blindness.” It removes something from your skin that allows the sun to cook you like bacon. There are some graphic photos in the article, so I know you’ll want to look. Read the article here. This stuff even destroys the soil where it grows.

I see this as hazardous background to a story, any kind of story actually. Stress, tension, and pressure add something to every story. Why not have your detectives recover a body from a grove of this stuff. Even a temporary loss of vision could put your cop in a bad position when the bad guy comes looking for him.

Moving into the speculative arena, how about planting this stuff outside the treasure cave? Weapons tipped with Giant Hogweed sap, etc. Like I said, maybe not a main player, but useful just the same. Maybe you want to rub it all over someone’s jockstrap. What ideas do you have?

Finally, we have wifi being used to see behind closed doors. Let’s face it, wifi is everywhere now. Apparently, it can be used to spy on people, but not like you might think. This isn’t about your computer camera. It involves observing the radio waves and seeing how they distort around movement.

The article gives a neat depiction about a glass house with a wifi lightbulb inside. It seems as though they need to read the wifi signal from several different angles, kind of like triangulation. After that, they can map your house and determine if you are inside. Read the article here.

Obviously, in speculative fiction we can ramp this up. I have an idea of some kind of infrared vision with more detail. Imagine using drones to take a reading on the building, then the stalker can watch what happens inside. Maybe he sells the fact that you aren’t home to thieves. Maybe he has more nefarious things in mind. Maybe your private moments become the next internet viral video.

What kind of science fiction based horror can you make out of this one?

We usually end these with some kind of corny story outline based upon all of the elements I’ve presented. Here goes nothing.

Our main character is the number one suspect in the disappearance of an underage girl. His workplace told him to stop coming in until further notice. He spots a sequence of drones circling his house. When he looks outside, the police are taking up positions based upon what they learn from wifi spying.

He slips into the cellar and out into the dark before they bash down the door. If he can only find the girl it will clear his name. He wanders into the woods, where he gets tangled up with a patch of Giant Hogweed.

Burning from the sap, and in danger of losing his vision, he wanders deeper while calling out the girl’s name. His skin blisters and bleeds in the sunlight of the following day. His vision is nearly gone, and he’s near death.

The girl shows up and leads him out of the woods to a medical facility. It turns out the girl was never there and he imagined her the whole time.

At this point, I could turn this into an arrest and struggle tale, or have him return to the Giant Pigweed, rewounding himself so he can ask the girl where she is. This would be a tale of madness and mental anguish.

Think you can come up with something better? Be my guest. Use one, or all of them. Tell me about it in the comments. The more the merrier.

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36 Comments

Filed under The Idea Mill

36 responses to “The Idea Mill #35

  1. I’d hate to have that hogweed around, lol. Great ideas!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Interesting to follow your thoughts, Craig. I like your third man syndrome thoughts. I have ghosts in my story but they don’t fall into this category. I have seen this idea used in novels.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I love the way you melded these ideas into one convincing story! You are truly the master of your imagination, Craig!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. harmonykent

    Some fantastic ideas here, Craig. Thanks for sharing. I’ve linked to this for this Friday’s Week in Review. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a tough trio to put together for a story. You have paranormal, environmental, and technological. Here we go:

    A man is trying to discover the source of a sudden rise in Third Man Syndrome cases. He’s using the Wifi technique to find out if anything is around the various locations. This does show that something is there, but it can’t be seen or communicated with. Not until he inhales Giant Hogsweed pollen and has his own encounter. Turns out, it’s a single ghost who is trying to help people in the city. Another ghost is cultivating the Giant Hogsweed to drive the populace away in the hopes of creating a Ghost City. Now, the guy needs to work with the helpful ghost to stop the other one, but he needs to keep himself infected to do it.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yikes. That’s pretty close to Pennsylvania, so I have to assume some has filtered into my home state. I’m kind of afraid to search, and I don’t even live there anymore. Too many family and friends are still there.

    That plant looks suspiciously like Queen Anne’s Lace, except for its size. My creative wheels are turning, Craig.

    Loved your mashup, by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good to see you back at the mill, Craig.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The Idea Mill is always a treat. Naturally, I’m attracted to the Third Man idea. The Hogweed is frightening, but has so much application for use in plots. Hmm…definitely one for me to tuck away for later.
    As always, your mashups are fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The Giant Hogweed reminded me of the short story I ran on my blog about a young man exiled to an island and plants like you described grow there. I could have taken that a bit deeper, I think. I love the Third Man aspect. Mainly because I believe loved ones come to help others cross when they die, even animals like Rusty in your Macaroni Macabre story. There is lots of potentials. A thought-provoking post, Craig!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m impressed! It would take me forever to thread all of those ideas together. Your imagination amazes me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I cannot come up with anything better! Good mercy, Craig, the imagination on you.
    Also, that burning bush thing scares the crap outta me!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That Third Man Syndrome gives me some ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

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