There’s something brewing deep within my mind, swirling around like blood in a coffee mug to be thrown onto a canvas, creating a very personal piece of artwork. If you find this analogy troubling then you either don’t understand art or you don’t understand the process from which it comes, or maybe even both. Or I don’t. But it’s there, right where it always is before it appears, like some noise in the brush before you see what has made it, even if it’s nothing there at all. There is a lot to be said for there to be nothing that made the brush move, I like those kinds of ideas, where the absences accentuate the fear, the longing, the dread, and it doesn’t matter if the audience ever sees what is pursuing the victim at all, just as long as they feel it.
But who is to say that the pursued is a victim at all? This thing in my head has stalked me now for the last three or four days, and I have stalked it. I can’t push it away and I cannot contain it. It’s like there is someone, or something, blowing a mist or a fog towards me and if I turn too suddenly the motion of my body, or that of my mind, dissipates it and scatters it. It has to be lured in and seduced. It has to be fed at a distance before it will come in and be fed upon and devoured.
It’s the classic tale of the mighty hunter, one shot left in his rifle, the wounded predator still stalking him, and the claws and teeth block him from returning to camp, and night is falling. What tools does he possess to survive the night? Should he rush the creature and hope to finish it off? Yet what if we spin this classic tale and have the creature speak to the man, and ask him what are they both doing in this fight to the death? What does it serve either to die or be killed or to kill? Or has it become a contest of wills, where each would rather die than retreat? Could the story be told from each beings’ point of view with each heart and mind laid bare for the reader?
This sort of thinking lures the thought closer to me. It wants to tell me that I am on the right track, perhaps, or it wants to laugh at my efforts, one of the two, or maybe both. It’s a thin thing, bare of muscle and sinew, nothing but the outline of a thought, a shadow of a blade of grass in a thousand acre field, casting its darkness within darkness, raising its head within a multitude, and I’m there, walking in the field, not looking for a four leafed clover, but something that looks like everything else, yet is not.
Maybe that’s it, I think, and it feels close. Maybe there’s something stalking the man that can only be seen when it’s at a distance and up close it’s invisible, but at the same time it can only be heard within breath smelling distance for it whispers. Or perhaps at night it’s transparent as the wind and speaks softly, as it is ethereal but in the light of day it is scales and claws and hot venom. It comes closer to me as these thought intrigue it into being bolder.
Or perhaps the story needs a twist; the animal in the day is his lover, turned into a wild beast by an angry wizard. She stalks him and seeks to kill him by day but by night her spirit seeks comfort with him. She is ethereal by night and a monster by day, and he cannot bear to kill her and he knows that he cannot let her live. Yet he cannot seek out other humans for the monster will kill them, or they might kill it, and she would die also. But she will kill him if he cannot elude her while trying not to lose her.
The idea comes closer and closer. It enjoys this and it thinks some of this might actually work. Maybe.
The wheels turn and the cogs mesh and there is some debate as to what point in time this would be most appropriate in. Of course, a medieval knight and a damsel in distress, but what about moving it forward in time but how much forward, and finally, how would this story work if set in 2017? Technology’s rise into the personal life of human beings has to be connected and integrated into each and every story now, and considerations must be given to devices as well as characters. It may finally get to the point some story like this is written where the two star crossed lovers can only communicate through Face Book but it will not be this story. But I could easily see a cell phone being the only place they could meet, Face Time with a spirit trapped in the body of a beast, no, nevermind, I am sorry I brought it up.
But perhaps this works better if the man is turned into a monster and the woman must pursue him as he is trying to destroy her. That’s a better analogy if nothing else, but it does make for a more interesting story when the lead is female. So what if she hires someone to track the beast, who has a certain amount of humanity for brief periods, and he flees as far as he can during these times, and while they are tracking this animal the tracker she has hired falls in love with her. A love triangle never fails when the reader gets to know all three of the parties, yes.
The idea comes to settle down in front of the keyboard and wants to know more like a cat seeking some inconvenient place of rest. This is an idea whose time has come and I must begin soon if to avoid it flitting off again.