Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil….
Here’s a writing idea for us, for a bit of horror fiction. I don’t really write horror, but I’ve come close, so I’m willing to give it a shot.
Imagine a dystopian society — perhaps post-apocalyptic, Orwellian — in which each week the people permit an armed person to enter a school at random and attempt to kill one or more students. The killer might be an adult or another student. It’s random. It goes on week after week. Children die, so it goes.
The police would do anything of course, but they’re always a moment too late. No champion arrives to protect the children because no one knows where the next shooting will occur. The leadership of the land is helpless, in part because this suffering is accepted as the sacrifice for freedom. And if they try to stand and speak they’re shouted down, rebuked, reviled, and lambasted for their liberal proclivities.
Imagine there is a slowly rising tide of grief, rolling like muddy water in a shallow ditch of tragedies recalled. The people grow tense and tired, though they’re becoming immune to pitiful images of candles and flowers and teddy bears stacked against walls and curbs and chain link fence.
How long should we — the authors — let the present tense arc of bloodshed go on, before that salty wave of past tense sorrow overcomes and washes it all into a poignant denouement?
Do you think we could write such a tale with verisimilitude? I don’t know. It’s hard to imagine a society that wouldn’t put the safety of children above all other motivations, or a country where this could really happen every f—king week, for months on end.
Maybe instead of a treatment in short story or novel, we could pitch it as a movie of the bloody week.
The attack with what police said was a semi-automatic weapon — “Shooter dressed in all black w AR-15 and vest and helmet. Cornered in bathroom by officers” … was the 74th since December 2012, when Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. That’s one about every eight days.
In 2014 so far, there have been 37 school shootings. As of February, about half of the incidents were fatal.
To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again ….
— Orwell, 1984