I spent most of the last two days highballing NyQuil and wishing I didn't feel like red-hot pokers were being shoved into my eyesockets. That's right — Con Crud (or Con Staph, ha ha), which is rather surprising since I felt more than fine after I left, followed pretty scrupulous self-sanitization measures, and haven't gotten a case of serious consickness since about 2003 or so.
So I dosed myself, and slept — or tried to — and was plunged into a fever nightmare the likes of which I hadn't experienced in a long time. The good news is that fever dreams are, for me, usually a source of inspiration.
The dream was set in Japan's Taishō Era — sort of the Roaring Twenties of Japan, but also suffused with a heavy dose of dread and deathly decadence. Kawabata's novel The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa and Edogawa Rampo's detective thriller The Black Lizard both do a great job of encapsulating the aroma and flavor of the era — the former in a more literary way, and the latter in the guise of pulp fiction.
My dream, though, revolved around a young man who was caught in the Kantō Earthquake and finds himself curiously "unstuck in time". He journeys to the past before the devastation of the quake, and finds comfort there in things he remembers, but that comfort soon turns out to be short-lived — everything that was familiar and happy there quickly turns strange and terrible. He returns to the present, but there finds himself pursued by hellish apparitions bent on consuming his soul. He finds some shelter with a spirit medium, but even she isn't able to help him. The only answer lies in the future ...
... and if I start talking about how all that works out, I'll ruin one of the best reasons to read it when I finish writing it. Which, by my best estimates, will probably start sometime in, oh, November. Hint, hint.
One key thing is the look and feel of the whole work, which is hard to put into words. My closest point of comparison would be the art of Suehiro Maruo — he of the phantasmagorically evil Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show, the brilliant if also vile Ultra-Gash Inferno, and many others that will probably never see print in the U.S. at this rate. His nostalgia for the Taishō-era look and feel comes through in all of his works — even the ones that are allegedly set in the present day — and so does an all-pervading sense of unease, something else I want to capture in this thing when i write it.
I even have a tentative title: 関東地獄 Kantō Jigoku, or Tokyo Inferno. Kantō is the Eastern part of Japan that contains Tokyo, and there is a certain cachet associated with using that word, although in English "Tokyo" carries more of a meaning than "Kantō", sadly. Hence the substitution.
I'll be tagging posts about this and setting up a separate category for it before long.
Other Lives Of The Mind