Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Creating a Monster: The Hungry (from Shaun of the Not-so-Dead)

Reposted with permission. Read the original article here.

So, I'm lying in bed, waiting to go to sleep, when I get this idea. It's not a story idea specifically, but an idea for a monster. And as I'm lying there, it's almost like I'm just watching the pieces come together, like a puzzle, or one of those mix-and-match playset thingies. It was really fascinating watching it come together into something I could recognize as fairly original and I though I would share it with you all. It may give you some ideas of your own for monsters, demons, and/or degenerates.

This is where it started, a human torso and arms. The version I pictured though, didn't extend down to the pelvis. It more ended just past the rib cage. Why this is where I started, I couldn't really say, but I do have an idea or two. First, recognition. If people see something of themselves in a monster, even if it's just a physical similarity, it breeds familiarity. Things with which we are familiar, coming after us with intent to cause harm, is a very basic fear in that to a degree, we can almost imagine that being us. I think that is one of the things that makes zombies so frightening. They are us, even if they are dead, rotting, missing limbs and walk around with massive, open wounds.

From the torso, I moved up to the head. Sort of. Actually, I didn't get past the neck. It became an extended stump, waving around, with skin covering the end, except for a small hole in the middle. But then the skin retracts, the end of the stump expands, and we have...

Lots, and lots, of sharp teeth. Reaching out, grabbing things, and dragging them down the throat and into the stomach. Of course, it can't exactly chew with a mouth like that, and being attached to a torso, that makes spinning a little uncomfortable. So generally, if something fits in the mouth hole, (reminder, we're only talking about something maybe a bit bigger around than the average human neck.) it swallows it whole. If it attaches to something too big to swallow, it'll point the first row of teeth out, stab the prey with them, and then suck out the blood, like a giant leech. If it happens to grab something which fits, but is attached to something that doesn't, like an arm or a leg, it flings the prey around until the teeth manage to do enough damage to just rip the appendage off. After all, you'll probably have to look around a bit to find someone who isn't squeamish about worms and leeches.

So now the top half is done. I just needed to figure out the bottom half. I figured the torso would use it's two arms to drag itself around, so out goes any need for legs. I also had to figure on where does all that blood and body parts it eats go. How about just a sack?

Yeah, something like that, like a termite or ant queen. Something that just continues to swell as the monster eats more and more.

Fairly disturbing image, yes? Imagine seeing that crawling around the corner of your bed or the couch, A human torso, with a worm-leech mouth straight out of a headless neck, dragging along a bulbous sack behind it full of what it's eaten.

Now imagine more than one.

Now, what I think is the fun part, figuring out the story. First off, there's one more physical detail I thought out. It has no eyes, no ears, no nose, no brain even to speak of. So how does it find people and prey? How about a long, snake-like tongue that flicks in and out of the throat hole while the mouth is closed. Disturbed yet?

Anyway, where was I? Ah, the back story. Well, for being a human-like creature, and having the strength to drag around that bulbous abdomen no matter how big it gets, it makes sense that this is a creature which is demonic in nature. A minor demon, maybe the representation of bloodlust. As such, this also becomes something you probably won't find in the creepy forest or the big, abandoned mansion on the hill. This seems to me to be more of a city dweller, maybe hives of them living in lost and unused subway tunnels, sewer systems, and other underground labyrinths. Oh yeah, they (smaller, unfed ones) would roam in groups. This would prevent them from getting too big, too fast.

Also, being demonic, they don't actually digest what they eat. Everything just sits in the ass end until it rots away to soup. So the sack will literally contain everything the thing has eaten since it was created/summoned/born. Break one open and you will quickly find yourself inundated with blood, bones, and a soup of rotten sludge. Keep in mind that the sacks expand and stretch in order to hold everything. One that makes its way into a nursing home for instance, could, over the course of a day or two, expand to fifteen feet long and ten feet around at the widest point.

Not only that, but they are never sated. They only stop eating when they can't find anything else to eat or when they've been destroyed. Hence, their name: The Hungry.

All that while I was trying to get to sleep the other night. Really, brain?

Anybody want to draw one up for me? My visual arts skills suck. That's why I paint with words.

Sleep tight everyone. Also, don't forget to check the Giveaways link at the top to keep up on Kindle Free Days, contests, and other chances to win stuff!

~ Shaun

Read more from Shaun Horton at his blog, Shaun of the Not-so-Dead.

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