Sunday, October 14, 2012

Idea Garage Sale: City on the Brink

Sometimes the dreams that present as more or less coherent stories retain their shape when you awake.

A city, middle of nowhere, closed to outsiders; but the outsiders in question had a choice between the city and death in the wilderness, so they found a way in. The city had good reason to close itself off. A minority of the population was born with an inability to digest normal food, but had to absorb nutriment through the skin from a bright green ointment derived from a rare local plant. If they couldn't get this, they would go into rapid decline and die - unless they drank human blood. But then they were full vampires, who reproduced by drinking from the same person multiple times.

The plant, apparently, could not be cultivated.

You see the problem.

I had found some of the plant and made what I thought was a considerable quantity of the ointment, so I took it to the nursery where a human woman was trying to save a baby. I took the child and started applying my ointment. At first she turned from sickly yellow to bright healthy green; but the effect faded with startling rapidity. She'd gotten too close to starving. I used up all the ointment and was scraping residue off my skin, trying frantically to save her, but the nurse told me it was too late. If one of us didn't feed her blood, she'd die. I resisted this, explaining the logic of the situation to her - as if she weren't all-too-keenly aware of it already! Yes, she agreed, if we fed her blood we'd make the overall problem worse; but if we didn't, we would watch her die right here, right now, and know we could have saved her.

So I woke up; an option that should be more widely available when we are faced with insoluble problems.

The basic premise here is of course absurd - how on earth would a condition like that arise in the normal course of events? A curse, perhaps. The outsiders who got in could see that the population had gotten so resigned to their untenable situation that they weren't even trying to fix it - using up every bit of the plant as soon as they found it, without leaving anything to reseed, but not even looking for the only long-term solution, a cure for the condition. Even though they knew that the vampires were going to run out of things to eat in the near future, as more and more people turned.

Not my kind of story (I hate vampires), so - why did I dream it?

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