March 14, 2017


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc.) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

Current Event: Ebola Outbreak (

Haysam Akbhar-Sosa shook his head and said, "This is impossible. I can't do it."

Bao Coppage stood beside him. She said, "We don't have any choice. If Ebola spreads any farther, it's gonna take over the world." They looked down at the waves of refugees fleeing Egypt and the Middle East, ravaged by a nearly uncontrollable strain of Ebola. They were on foot, in cars, buses, being pulled by donkey, oxen, and even other humans whom they whipped. She said, "It's stop it here and now or we all go down."

"I don't much care if Europe and the US go down..."

"There are people of faith everywhere, Haysam. They're all gonna die. This strain of Ebola doesn't care if you're a holy man or an avowed atheist."

There was a long pause and she'd known him long enough to expect him to argue. But this time he said only, "I know." He leaned over the sights of the monstrous flamethrower. Mounted on the gondola of the massive helium balloon, they flew slowly along with the river of sick humanity.

"We might not have to do anything," Bao said.

He shot her a look and she was surprised when he said, "Thanks for trying to make me feel better, but it's either kill these...ghūl...ghouls..."

"You know what these things are?"

He nodded slowly, "They're from ONE THOUSAND AND ONE ARABIAN NIGHTS." He paused for a long time, then added, "My brothers would tell me stories about them after I tattled on them."

"Your brothers told you the stories?"

He snorted, "Yeah. They hated me because I was the baby of the family and mom loved me more." She scowled and looked at him. He batted his eyelashes and then burst out laughing.

Leaning into him, she opened her mouth to reply when a commotion broke out below. Directly under the gondola, all they could see was people bunching up instead of trudging on. Bao had to pull back on the throttle and then give it a short reverse spin.

"What's..." Haysam began. Then the faces below looked up at them. There was a wet, gurgling sound, then a mass of humans looked up, opened their mouths. An instant later, what looked like a fountain of tarry black liquid rushed up.

It wasn’t. They’d been  told them to wear gas masks, so they were suited up. What no one had mentioned was tentacles. Black, dripping, horrible, the slender, pestilential whips grabbed them, slammed Bao and Haysham, then tore the masks from their faces. Convulsing in a paroxysm of agony, they screamed until...

Names:  China, England;   Egypt, Bahrain

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