Strange things happen on military bases, and no time is more fraught with such oddities as the span of 0300 to 0400. As a defense contractor doing the work I do, my schedule often has me arriving on post just before or during this peculiar time, classically referred to as the ‘witching hour’. Yesterday morning I swear I locked eyes with a nine-legged coyote as it casually crossed in front of my truck’s headlights. While we let that sink in, allow me to paint the background for a moment.
I am involved in training missions, and there are usually any number of soldiers and vehicles spread out across the training area, which is often many hundreds of acres of raw nature with a few dirt roads. I’ve been doing this for several years now, and working this job has provided me with much in the way of inspiration and information for my work as an author. Prior to working for the military I wrote stories more in the vein of horror, adventure, fantasy, and bizzaro fiction. While I still enjoy all of those types of writing, my work took a hard turn towards military science fiction. I found that writing in this genre allowed me to creatively process my relationship with the real-life military industrial complex and my place in it, not to mention the fact that working with the military has provided me with a vast amount of information and experience that can be drawn upon for my fiction. While I take much in the way of creative license when it comes to my writing, as it is science fiction after all, thanks to my work with the military, especially the combat training scenarios for infantry, medics, armor, and intelligence, I am able to layer in enough of the real deal to give my fiction a feel of authenticity.
What this job also offers is continuous moments of inspiration. There are a number of scenes and characters in my Necrospace series that are derived from things I have witness in the training, people I have met in the service, and even the settings in which we train. Since I am drawing upon the modern US military as my source, those influences can be clearly seen in the writing, and that is why despite being a futuristic sort of setting the weapons and tactics have a more contemporary feel to them, even if tinkered with profoundly for the sake of the story.
Well thanks to the witching hour, I have been given inspiration that is going to take me far into the realm of speculative fiction, even if still somewhat grounded in real world military.
This morning I saw a monster, and it demanded its own story.
I was driving down a dark dirt road, looking to raid our range operations warehouse for picket pounders so that our opposition forces troops could build fighting positions for the day’s war. We are the middle of nowhere, and the starlight and my headlights just weren’t sufficiently piercing the gloom. I threw on my brights just as I turned a tight corner, and saw a row of tanks parked on the side of the road. As I drove past the row I saw a monster, doing its best to pretend it was a tank, and I was instantly reminded of how cockroaches either freeze or bolt when you shine a light on them, depending on how close they are to an avenue of escape. This thing was caught in my high beams, and didn’t move. I rolled by slowly and snapped a photo, just to capture the moment in case the thing was gone by the time the sun came up.
I might write this beast into a Necrospace story, or I might add it to the new series that is gaining momentum in my mind, but I know for sure that it will appear one way or the other. Same goes for my new friend with all the appendages.
Where did I get the ideas for a nine-legged coyote and a monster tank you ask?
On dirt roads at three o’clock in the morning.