have a lot of ideas for stories. Like,
if I wrote a novel’s worth of them every month, I’d still most likely die
before getting through them all. I will
admit that some of the ideas probably suck, but I think there are some that a
good writer could make something of them.
I’ll just never get a chance to.
So, I give them to the world. If
you can make something of these, go right ahead. And if these are the ideas I’m giving away,
maybe check out the ones I keep.
– not his real initials – was a friend of mine from college. We stayed in touch, but starting a few years
ago it was mostly through arguments on Facebook. Basically, since I didn’t agree with him that
capitalism is the bestest thing ever and CANNOT be question, it just meant I
was a dirty socialist bent of using the dark arts to resurrect Stalin. To be honest, he didn’t sound that crazy, but
…. I haven’t talked to him for about two
years, but I would not be shocked if I found out he was firmly in the “The
government can’t tell me to wear a mask, because … FREEDOM” camp.
after some argument – probably over the “socialist plot of climate change to
take away people’s guns” – I wanted to write a story on how, if his ideology
was actually practiced by the world, things would suck. Specifically, the idea that only individuals
should be able to make decisions on their lives. If anyone makes decisions for other people,
that’s tyranny. Well, if it’s a
government that does it. In the name of
capitalism, corporations can do whatever the fuck they want to anyone. It was while I was trying to hammer out an
idea, that we had our final argument where I think I hurt his feelings by
crudely stating a – for him – unpleasant fact and he unfriended me.
since then I’ve hammered out a little bit of this story I called CB’s
Wall. The barebones plot could be a
short story, but it doesn’t feel like there would be enough meat to be a good
story. Fleshing things out could bulk it
up to a novella, but unless you dive deep into several social issues, I don’t
think you could get a novel out of this.
story starts with Person (I had been leaning towards having the main character
be a woman, but I hadn’t fully committed to it.) who is four or five. They live with their father in a log
cabin. It’s very 1800’s, but there may
be some odd knickknacks that don’t fit that time. Their mother died a few ago, possibly while
giving birth to a baby sibling, who also died.
Anyway, the week before, there was a storm that ripped a hole in a
neighbor’s barn roof. The man of the
house was away on business, so the wife asked Person’s Father to fix it. He did, but she didn’t have enough money to
pay for it all, so she offered a way to make up the difference, which Father
accepted. When the man came back, he
knew something was off with the price, and probably got the full story after
beating his wife. So he came and nearly
beat Father to death. He probably only
stopped when a crying Person shielded Father’s body. The man swore that they could both “Go to the
Wall,” then stormed out.
the next week, Person had to tend to Father, and try to keep the farm
going. Once Father was feeling better,
Person asked him what the man had meant by “Go to the Wall.” Father sighed, and
said it was probably time for Person to find out.
pack up supplies for a long hike. They
head East through the woods, taking a few wide turns around Plague
Villages. Disease of some sort had hit
them decades – or longer – ago, and they were abandoned and nearly taken back
by the forest. They also pass a few
Ancient Sites which – the reader will hopefully figure out – are the thousand
or so year old decayed ruins of modern cities.
Eventually, they come to a small hill, and when they get to the top they
see the Wall on the horizon. It’s a
couple hundred feet tall, smooth, unbroken, and stretches as far as can be seen
to the north and south.
explains that there are apparently other Walls in other directions. Nobody has walked far enough to know if they’re
separate Walls, or if there’s one Wall that encloses them. Nobody knows how the Ancients built it, or
why. Were they walling something out, or
them in? Person wants to know all the
answers, but Father tries to discourage them because there’s too much work that
needs done – harvesting crops, hunting meat, cutting firewood, etc. – to waste
it pondering the unknowable. “Only
worthless drunks wonder why the sun rises in the east.”
Father doesn’t want Person thinking about the Wall, why did he take them to see
it? I think in this society seeing the
Wall is like a rite of passage. You see
it once so you know there’s stuff out there you’ll never understand, so you
stay focused on the more important stuff like having food for the winter. Also, this is the farthest Person has been
from the farm, and it was a chance for Father to teach them some forest skills
like tracking game and what plants you can eat.
few years later, Father is killed, possibly by another outraged husband. So Person has to learn to support
themselves. This would be a great place
to flesh stuff out. Person is strange –
for this society – so they probably don’t fit in well with their peers.
becomes a hunter and trapper who spends months at a time out in the forest, and
who frequently goes to the Wall. They go
right up to it, and see that it’s smooth and there’s nothing to climb. They try digging under it, but the Wall goes
down as deep as they can dig. With a
compass, they find that the Wall curves ever so slightly. With their observations, and possibly the
help of a scholarly type – a worthless drunk as Father would say – They work
out that the Wall is about a 1,000 miles in diameter. And the eastern most point, is just a few
days walk north of the spot Father showed Them.
If there were any doors, or markings, or anything on the Wall, it’s
likely they would be at the four cardinal points.
Person sets out, and they almost miss the door.
The only thing that marks it is that there is the tiniest crack and moss
is growing in it. Person manages to pry
the door open, and it leads into a tunnel twenty or so feet deep. Person lights a torch and goes in, but once
they’re in, the ceiling of the tunnel “magically” lights up. Then a strange voice says something. It sounds like Their language, but the words
aren’t right. Person says something, and
then these images appear on the wall of the tunnel. Some are basic, like “human, dog, tree,” but
some show items They don’t know. The voice
starts talking, and slowly it becomes more and more understandable. Basically, when Person entered the wall, They
woke up an AI that had been turned off for a thousand years. In that time, the language Person speaks has
altered from what the AI was programmed with, so it had to relearn the
they are able to understand each other, the AI tells Person that about a
thousand years ago, humanity split into those who wanted to stay unmodified Mark
1 Humans, and those that wanted to evolve.
So the evolved made a reservation for the Mark 1s. Person is excited and wants to meet these
evolved humans, but the AI – after contacting a more advanced, hibernation AI
on the outside – says that these evolved humans left Earth centuries ago to
explore the universe. Besides, to these
evolved humans, Person would probably just be a primitive being worthy of
study, but not interaction.
that’s it. The reason I was trying to
hammer this story out for CB, was to counter his argument that only he should
be able to make decisions about himself.
But the only reason he is where he is, is because of decisions other
people made long ago. And the decisions
he makes now “that only affect him,” will change the options for future
generations. It’s like a skill tree in a
game. He could put everything on
strength, which could work very well for him, but his kids may be left out in a
world that requires speed. Because, let’s
be honest, the playing field onto which we are all born is far from level.
easier way I could have gone about this would be with a generational
starship. The first generation decides
for themselves that they want to go on this journey, but the result is that
their kids and grandkids have no choice but to be stuck on a ship they can’t
leave. Person’s ancestors decided they
liked things the way they were and didn’t want to evolve. But now Person – who to be honest wouldn’t
have existed if they had decided differently – who is at least curious about this
evolving can’t because that’s no longer an option. Someone else’s decision removed an option
from their choices.
choice not to care about climate change means future generations won’t have the
option to not care. Probably, using his
logic to point out that his choices will have negative effects on other people
he’d just dismiss as socialist propaganda.
Which is probably why I stopped working on this story. The person I was writing it for would refuse
to see the point of it.