So I’m back from my sojourn in this new universe I’m building in my head. I took a day off yesterday and just got completely lost in a different world, fleshing it all out, meeting the characters.
You gotta ask yourself who they are, who their parents are, are they rich or poor? Are they well educated or stupid? Are they tall or short?
These questions, once you’ve answered them all, start acting as fuel for the inferno that is your story. They lend themselves naturally to situations that your characters find themselves in.
The character I’m working on currently has lain dormant inside my head since 2004. He’s different, it’s difficult to figure him out, he was human once, but he’s something else now and I’ve struggled for the last five years to find his voice.
But I’m getting close. I see him sometimes, in the early hours of the morning, he’s lying inert on a couch, watching stolen med student instructional videos. The screen flickers a ghostly blue colour while doctors perform surgical procedures on their patients.
He watches the scalpels do their thing, in some of the videos the procedures are simple and over in less than an hour, some of them take longer. In one video he watches a man undergoing spinal surgery, it’s a four-hour long operation.
He watches these videos when he can’t sleep. He tries to remember how it felt to be human.
He’s one of many characters that float around in my head. Problem is, like vampires, once you invite them in, they come and go whenever they like, sometimes lingering for weeks in there, half-alive at best.
I made a bar for them eventually, thought it up using the raw material of every bar I ever drank at. At least it gives them something to do – Lane and Bonjo, stoned and playing pool badly, Hank huge and calm, drinking Stroh Rum on the rocks, the Apache, Wagon Axel, sitting in the darkest corner, his eyes full of murder.
There’s a kid who found his way in here a few years back, babbling incoherently about this place he’d found, this island, a kind of Edenic paradise. I got to thinking about that kid this morning driving to work because we were listening to MGMT in the car.
“I’m feeling rough, I’m feeling raw, I’m in the prime of my life.
Let’s make some music, make some money, find some models for wives.
I’ll move to Paris, shoot some heroin, and fuck with the stars.
You man the island and the cocaine and the elegant cars.”
You man the island. This crazy, wild-eyed kid, that was his job. He’ll tell anyone who listens for five minutes or more. He used to man this gun turret, an old and rusted harbinger of death. He used to sit there, watching for red planes.
They told him when he first arrived that his job would be to man that gun and in time he would become a hero.
The red planes never came though and more often than not he shot seagulls down instead. It was a simple enough way to pass the time, but something about watching those birds explode into puffs of feathers filled him with satisfaction.
It was target practise.
But the thing that kept him coming back to that island was her. Her olive skin and jet black hair. Her blue eyes. The way she moved, her feet hardly touching the ground, her hips swaying, she oozed sex and he wanted her so bad he could taste it, even in his dreams.
He wished he was a hero, that crazy kid. He would kill to be a hero.
Back in the real world, we’re all excited because today is our off site day and tonight is our office party.
Good times. I’ll resume transmission tomorrow, expect a fat, juicy one.
That’s what she said.