The Best Stories I’ve Never Written

Earlier this week, I perpetuated a meme, providing myself a fine transmitter for psychological conceptual wads: Tell me about a story I haven’t written, and I’ll give you the opening sentence from that story.

Some of the stuff I wrote was pretty neat.  You can take a look at the main thread (on LJ, which will of course be broken by the mere act of my linking to it), but here are some of the ones I’m prouder of.

Flavortext asked:

A story about a woman who discovers a bookbag that has two unusual properties:

1) Its contents show up as a few changes of clothes on airport scanners, no matter what those contents actually are.
2) There seems to be no upper limit to how much the bookbag can hold.

She does some massive-scale smuggling for a while before she’s brought in on an unrelated charge and the feds learn what her bookbag can do. She finds herself pressured into the US Army, and has to deal with the ramifications of being a human personnel carrier in an active warzone.

So I said:

Evelyn had taken a flashlight in with her, a compass, enough food to last for weeks, bringing a bag inside the bag. The compass had been useless once inside The Sack, its needle jittering nervously in every direction, but she’d been smart enough to bring several cans of spraypaint to draw jagged arrows on the wrinkled proplyene surface.

The fabric cavern around her was lightless, sagging, occasionally sighing as mysterious winds rippled the cloth. Nothing lived in here. There was no water. Just a cave that went on until she ran out of paint, and a never-ending line of rough arrows pointing back to to the unzipped entrance.

This was no ordinary book bag.

Stm4e ventured:

The Schoolhouse Rock song “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, get your adverbs here” is about a 3-generation family who run an “adverb store”, selling adverbs and singing their praises. They gloat in the song that the adverbs are “absolutely free”. How do they pay their rent? (How do they eat?) What do the women in this family think, married to a bunch of zealots who don’t ever bring home any money, but run a family business giving stuff away for free?

My response:

Hrm. I’d have to do some serious worldbuilding on that one.

That said, the obvious opening is “We are absolutely, positively, unquestionably, horrifically, and grievously starving,” said Lolly, Lolly, and Lolly, speaking frankly.

Richlayers: “A story about a woman who can plant fairy tales on scraps of paper and grow a garden of variations.”

The mice in her garden tried to turn her pumpkins into carriages. She sprayed them with pesticides.

Pachamama: “In a world where first-person subjective experiences can be harvested and delivered for virtual experiencing by punters, there obviously grows a significant black market in the less palatable aspects of human experience (the virtual experience version of snuff films). ”

The girl was fourteen years old, dead, and laid in pieces upon china plates.

Graeme sharpened his knives, though the cooking – what there was of it – had been mostly done. She was bite-sized, mostly raw, bits of her shoulder laying edge-over-edge on a sashimi tray, her liver in a bowl, both her eyes nestled in ramekins. They had stewed and seared bits of her, and Graeme wondered what had driven her to this. He’d seen the film where she had been dissembled. She went voluntarily though not happily, surrendering herself to the butcher, and Graeme decided that she must have had a family who needed the money. A woman who would volunteer for such a thing as kink was too monstrous to contemplate, even for Graeme.

He adjusted the electrodes on his scalp, nibbled at a Saltine cracker. His technicians gave him the thumbs-up; the other guests, vomit bowls at the ready, also nodded, feeling the salt dryness in their mouth as clearly as if they’d chewed it themselves.

Graeme was ready. His audience, though they would never admit it in public, were hungry to see what human flesh tasted like. And he would bring them every sensation.

(Hey, they’re not all pleasant.)

And my favorite, which Tithenai thinks I should expand into a story, is this prompt: “How about a sentence from that story of yours where drums are a divinatory tool?”

Jules often wondered if John Bonham had known what he was doing.

It was hard for him to listen to Bonham’s extended suicide note in “Moby Dick,” but Julies applied himself to it with the scrutiny that any diviner uses when they pushed their finger through moist dregs of tea. To the rest of the world, “Moby Dick” was the part of the Led Zeppelin concert where you went and got another beer – four minutes of furious drum solo, a dense polyrhythmic stew of paraddidles and crashes, with Bonham arcing up and down the scale in frantic, galloping rolls.

To Jules, though, the beats spoke of darker things. If you listened with the right ears, you could hear Bonham charting his future in detail, his mania, his despair, the rise of Zeppelin and his addictions. And when that final, thunderous beat came, the culmination of everything, he could hear Bonham bringing down both the sticks and the end of his own life simultaneously.

Had he known? Had Bonham understood that he was casting a spell? Or had he just, inchoately, been attuned to something that was nothing but instinct to him?

That’s not really a story for me, as I don’t know what Jules wants or what he’d do in the story, but it’s a fun way to look at Zeppelin.

(If you want to add more requests, dunno when I’ll get to ‘em, but I will.)

10 Comments

  1. alexander hollins
    Nov 30, 2012

    on the sensation one, reminds me of a short story about a beautiful woman who approaches a lonely looking nerd, puts a crown on his head, declares hes the long lost prince of some country, goes to his house, and bangs him raw. She turns out to be a time traveler, and the crown a device to record his memories, and they went back in time to give the biggest awesome feeling to lonely abused people who never get good things, because its a bigger high for jaded people who need a bigger high to enjoy life. I think it was a Spider Robinson story.

    • Ken
      Nov 30, 2012

      Copywrite Violation. I knew I recognized the story, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I figured it out, so I thought I would share. I believe I read it in his User Friendly anthology, although it could have appeared elsewhere.

      • alexander hollins
        Nov 30, 2012

        why is it a copyright violation? its quite different, the only similarity is reading sensation and playing it back. Hell, theres a similar story I read online years back that was part of an erotic sci fi website that had a device that let you feel other’s sensations, often used by partners during sex. Only a guy had a box that was an “inverter” and made HER pain give him direct pleasure. Was a serial killer, raping and torturing women for the ultimate high from their pain. So it’s not a unique idea. PRETTY unique, but still.

        • alexander hollins
          Nov 30, 2012

          Ignore me. Just found my copy of User Friendy, Copywrite Violation is the name of the story. I feel stupid!

  2. alexander hollins
    Nov 30, 2012

    I wanna hear a piece of that story you mentioned where people get implanted smartphones tied to their nervous system, and then get “hacked”. Did you ever decide if you were going to go for a wild virus makes them “zombies” or a, evil mastermind makes them all his personal army, angle on it?

      • alexander hollins
        Nov 30, 2012

        The funny thing is, I have no problem thinking you DO already have a story idea like that, lol.

        • TheFerrett
          Nov 30, 2012

          No, read the link.

          I wrote that story.

          • alexander hollins
            Nov 30, 2012

            Ohh. Umm, hmm. There is no color change or underline on the comment, I didn’t realize it was a link.

            That… Was awesome. I think that was actually creepier and scarier then either of my angles. I really need to just go through your archives and see what I missed one of these days.

          • alexander hollins
            Dec 4, 2012

            BTW, since you DID write that story, would you mind horribly if I used one of the two I posted myself sometime?

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