A Horror Writer’s Wet Dream

There is some pretty scary stuff going down in West Africa right now.

In fact, what is happening is the stuff of a science fiction or horror writer’s dreams, a biological killer on the loose, with no cure and a 90% mortality rate. It’s called Ebola, and it is very much within the realms of science fact.

To a writer, the emergence of unseen plagues and killer microbes stirs the imagination, but as a parent (or brother/ sister, uncle/ aunt, etc.)  you can’t begin to imagine the angst of living in the midst of this invisible killer. Thankfully, such outbreaks are rare (between 1976 and 2011 there were 1531 deaths), but that is more in part to the virus’ efficacy to kill than anything else: it’s simply too potent for its own good, and that is something to be thankful for.

ebola_field_protection-cdc

Scarily real…not a movie set.

However, unlike prior outbreaks, this one has scientists more concerned. Ebola comes sporadically from the jungle depths of Africa and once identified it can usually be contained, but there is a geographic spread across four countries that is ‘unprecedented,’ and cases have been identified in the Guinean capital, Conakry, a city of 2 million people. And it’s not just Africa’s problem. Maybe not this time, with this virus, but one day, under the right conditions, one might stow away on a plane and spread itself across the globe, just like the Black Death did all those centuries ago on the back of rats.

But this is not just Africa’s problems. It is all of ours. Our western lifestyles are encouraging developing nations to level swathes of forest, disturbing balanced ecosystems and unleashing tiny terror. And imbalances in wealth force impoverished people to eat bushmeat, and somewhere within that lies the link between man and virus. If we push too hard against Mother Nature, she may just start pushing back.

But that’s a different argument for a different post.

It’s not my intention to scare, well, not entirely…although that would be the object were this a fictional piece. There is another facet to a story like this that intrigues, and that belongs to the people who have had adversity thrust upon them. It is the characters behind the headlines – heroes and villains; the good and the bad – that create the real story, and as fiction writers we have to be sympathetic to them all.

Thankfully, in the most part, it is empathy and not experience that crafts our own horror stories, but we must keep in our thoughts the victims and their families for whom this is all too real.

To end this post on a positive note, it is only right to pay tribute to the scientists of Medicins sans Frontieres, and to the local health professionals on the front line of this latest outbreak – the brave people who risk their lives to tend to the sick and keep us safe, so that we only have to read such stories of terror and not live through them.

 

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “A Horror Writer’s Wet Dream

  1. This was a good read, very informative and brought something to my attention that I never really think about. Also, the image you put with it depicting the people in the sterile suits etc. has given me an odd idea for a drawing/painting – something completely unrelated, but an idea none the less 🙂

    Liked the part you included about how it’s not just a problem for Africa, but a problem for us too. Due to our lifestyles and mass amounts of deforestation etc. it’s most definitely our problem too! Destroying balanced habitats and environments and we expect no repercussions from this? We evolved on this planet as what was essentially extreme chance and we treat it like it’s ours and it’s not. We’re a part of it, it doesn’t belong to us.

    • Thanks for dropping by, and I’m glad the piece/ photo was able to provide you with some inspiration.

      I can’t see how we won’t face any repercussions for our profligate lifestyles. Nature will always find a balance somehow.

  2. This is indeed quite scary. I like your point about one of the reasons (if not the reason) this virus, and others like it, are making its way to more populated areas is because of our disrespect toward the forests and jungles and other mysterious places. It’s important to note when such outbreaks occur so that we can figure out the why. Maybe we will change our ways.

  3. Hi Kate,
    Very scary indeed. I’d like to think we’d change our ways but I’m not that confident. It’s very much a live for today/ throw-away society we’re living in.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s