So have some, and run with them if you want to.
* * *
Hm, here’s a starting idea for a story.
One graduate student is female-dogging at another how his advisor is aloof and scary, and meeting her is an Encounters of the Third Kind event he always needs the whole remainder of the day to recover from.
The other graduate student asks, why did you choose that kinda spooky advisor, then?
The first tries to answer, but much to his consternation finds he cannot recall that, not at all: he remembers being in the late stages of the M.Sc., and looking for an advisor… and remembers the current endless grind, but has no memory of how one turned into the other.
Unfortunately I have no idea where that would go. I don’t know if it is a psychological thriller, a horror story, or a detective tale. Or science fiction, or portal fantasy, or what. “I took you to my training for I saw in you the savior of the magical land of P’nath-p’naak!”
* * *
A story with bear cavalry in it.
Because, come on, bear cavalry.
* * *
Policemen have a secret religion, like Roman soldiers had Mithras. And that religion demands some crimes are not crimes, and not to be solved.
So a fireman, in the aftermath of a lamentable accident, discovers it was not an accidental death at all; and the police is not refusing to co-operate out of corruption, laziness or covering their asses… but because the matter is one of religion and of a deeply held personal moral code somewhat contrary to the Law. And by the time our fireman sees the religious nature of the death, it’s too late to back out. But don’t worry, don’t go on the run; the Fire Department stands behind you… and they have axes and hoses and jaunty helmets.
Also, insane courage.
Unfortunately I don’t know enough about either policemen or firemen.
* * *
Urban fantasy. Vampires and werewolves exist. An atheist Muggle is drawn into this world, and begins a quest to find out if there is a true religion, too; after all, if vampires, then Jesus.
Turns out vampires do not like this line of inquiry. After much drama, it is revealed Jesus was a vampire. Well, is a vampire. And our atheist has a stake in his fate.
* * *
A Sherlock Holmes character investigates the mystery of why he gets involved in so many bloody mysteries. (Not a story where the main character ends up tapping on the Fourth Wall.)
Maybe the Watson character is a master criminal hypnotist, and frames the “guilty” parties and scatters clues for the considerably less smart than he thinks Holmes to find…
* * *
A million-word novel about the End of the World. (Well, it’s a bit vague, but I think it’s a good idea.)
* * *
Suppose ghosts exist, but are a mystery to science; not for the lack of trying, but because they just are unpredictable and complicated. So complicated that it’s not even certain if they are conscious creatures, traces of memory and emotion, or even humans “in afterlife”: science is trying, but even after evolution and relativity, the Nature of Ghosts is unsolved.
Explore that scenario, which obviously is different from this reality we live in. How did the actual existence of ghosts change human history? (Not much; writers are lazy.) Did the Romans say Jesus was just a ghost? Did the Angels of Mons really, actually appear? Are there places too haunted to bear visiting? Are there vast theological rows over which visions are “from God” (whatever that might be), and which “just ghosts”? (Are there atheists saying that, obviously, all actual visions are ghosts; as an illusion of design doesn’t imply God, so doesn’t an illusion of afterlife.)
How poltergeisty can these ghosts be? Are there lanes with signs that say, “If you are approached by a woman wearing a surgical mask, walk briskly away.”
There are ghostbusters, of course; and if the problem is so puzzling to Science, all are probably frauds whether or not they are aware of it. If so, if there are these apparitions that are not understood (but are universally admitted to exist), and that can harm people, and can’t really be influenced in return… well, that’s a scared world. (“This way to the Ectobunker, Mr. President; we have a report of Grover Cleveland in the Oval Office.”)
That’s a world where people don’t want to go and investigate noises in the night: a claw in the dark, or a face that unmakes sanity, might be found.
The obvious plot would be “So what are these ghosts then?”; that seems difficult and likely to make the whole thing fall flat.
Much better to… what? Tell of a government agent that is called to investigate reports of “human influence on ghosts”; something potentially world-changing, because it has never worked before, outside of legend and tall tale. And eventually not called, but drawn, to look at a government project with that same aim… and a high possibility of a howling vortex of shades driving all of New York screaming mad.
* * *
(Warning: Just a beginning of a story.)
The last page of the sheaf was not mine.
The first twenty of the twenty-one pages, yes: DiBenedetto and Trudinger’s venerable, hoary even, “Harnack inequalities for quasi-minima of variational integrals”; that was what I had printed, and had thought I had fetched from the printer down the hall.
The last page wasn’t that: no mathematical article; no grant application; no teaching matter; no printout I could argue to myself could be printed with good intentions and in accordance with the university’s proper official printer use etiquette.
No, it was a schedule, dated for today; the first line was “c. 9:00 Dean arrives at work; goes to his room (M211, 2nd floor)”.
The third-to-last line was “c. 10:55 Dean leaves for the faculty meeting in room M311, 3rd floor.”
The second-to-last line was “c. 10:57 Dean is pushed down the stairs.”
The last line… well, I was rather stuck at the second-to-last line for a while. If this was the dean’s schedule for today, he had a really funny way of planning his days.
Then the last line registered.
“I am avenged! HA HA HA!!!”
A thought, from the roiling mess of my mind: This is not my paper.
This is. Not. My paper.
If this was a joke, it was not funny. No, rather it wasn’t a joke, even; it had failed so badly it altogether escaped the intended category.
In a daze I got up, went back to the printer, left the paper in the tray, got back to work, and…
And observed a thought, dreadfully clear, rising from the boiling mess of my mind: What if someone saw me return the paper, and took it, and now thinks I’m a lunatic that was actually serious and is going to push the dean down the stairs at 10:57…
A few seconds later I was back at the printer. The paper was gone. There was no-one in sight, and I did not want to holler.
In my frantic gazing up and down the corridor, my eyes encountered a clock. The clock read four minutes to eleven, or something like.
One minute (circa) before the dean is pushed down the stairs, between the second and third floors.
Considering the locations of the rooms mentioned, around the corner, some hundred meters away.