Thursday, May 17, 2012

Suspicious Character Reported

I'm working on a surreal horror-survival story (Afterworld), basically for my own amusement but also in hopes of maybe having something publishable at some point. Like most horror stories, it's set in the real world - at least until things start to go wrong. My narrator works for a city government, just as I do; he's a very deliberate author-insert. Now, it would have been easier to use the building I actually work in, but it would also have been tantamount to giving anyone who reads the things directions to my cubicle. Instead, I placed him in a completely different city... which meant that he works in a building that I actually knew very little about.

So, yesterday evening on the way home from work, I stopped by that other City Hall to take some pictures and look around. This would, I hoped, lend some verisimilitude to the upcoming scene where Our Hero gets chased out of his office by a monster. All I really needed was a realistic idea of where the offices were located, and how the people in the offices would get out of the building.

The girl at the information desk was a bit puzzled, but I was wearing a work shirt for [MyCity], and I'm a white male, so she didn't object to me wandering around taking pictures of empty rooms and hallways. Once I had what I needed, I put the camera away and went home to think about how best to arrange the scene.

Well, today I got an entirely different scene of my very own. Apparently the head of my department got a call from MyCity's Police Department. They called him because they had received a call from OtherCity's Police Department. OtherCity's Police Department was concerned (as best I can decipher this) that some terrorist had stolen a shirt and an employee ID from MyCity and was plotting to blow up OtherCity's building. Apparently they were busily reviewing security camera footage and everything. So our CIO dropped by to see if I'd been over there taking pictures. Which, of course, I had been.

"Why?" he asked.

"So I'd have an idea of which way you'd run if you worked in the building and were being chased by zombies," I told him. "It's for a story."

He blinked.

"...Why am I not surprised?" he asked.

"Hey, I can call over to OurOfficer and tell him about the zombies..." I offered.

He answered just a little too quickly. "No, don't tell him that." The CIO shook his head. "I'll talk to him."

So I wasn't arrested, and OurCity's police presumably explained to OtherCity's police that it wasn't anything nefarious, and all is basically right with the world again.

But if anybody does blow up that building, I'm in real trouble.


  1. I've gotten similar reactions from my coworkers too regarding my book - especially since I work with science people and I'm not scared to ask what at the time certainly sounds like some of the silliest questions - but I can safely say I've never gotten that reaction before. I'm almost envious :P

  2. I'm not sure I'd be too jealous about it. I'm pretty sure that if I were just a bit less White Male, they'd have arrested me on the spot. "Honey, can you come bail me out?" is not a conversation I ever want to have.

  3. And now, the next time you travel by air, expect the TSA to give you the special treatment. Hey, at least you haven't been informed by your co-workers that you instigated another co-worker into making napalm. :)


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