Friday, October 28, 2011

The Lemming Syndrome

I wrote the following short story in the tenth grade for extra credit towards my English class: the exact date was April 26, 1996, to be precise. I think it could be classified as my first "horror" story, and despite the Michael Crichton-ish title it seems that I'm actually channeling the misanthropy of Thomas Ligotti... around 10 years or so before I discovered him, of course. I'm kind of charmed by the notion that even before the Lemming Syndrome began, apparently 10% of Portugal's population was killing themselves off on a yearly basis. My (somewhat mortified) English teacher wrote the following comment at the end of the story: "Good gravy, James- pretty freaky! I'm glad this is only a story and not reality. I like the world being populated- don't you? You have an interesting style of writing. Can you write something perhaps a little less morbid? You have a talent for writing- you should continue. Good title."

The Lemming Syndrome

by James Champagne

Suicide was, as a definition, the act of killing oneself purposely. Only two creatures on Earth were known to commit suicide everyday. The humans, of course, and the lemmings. Lemmings were hamster-sized rodents, most of whom lived underground who, for no apparent reason, occasionally gathered in huge crowds and, single-file, jumped off cliffs to their deaths or drowned themselves. There were speculations done on why they did this, but none were proven. Anyway, the world would soon be experiencing suicide, and many people would die.

It began September 4th, 1995, in Portugal, and from there the evil began to spread, and no one knew it would soon envelope the entire world and its inhabitants.

Portugal’s suicide rate before the 4th was only a mere 10%. One week after the forth, it was 30%. This worried the leaders of the countries. By the end of the month, they were up to 50%, and the suicide rate was rising.

News coverage began, and more and more people in Portugal began to kill themselves, without warning. A man went to work one day, jumped off a bridge the next. Portugal’s population began to drop, slowly at first, then like a wildfire. Soon, no one was left.

Everyone in Portugal was dead. No one could explain this phenomenon of nature, but it was soon dubbed “The Lemming Syndrome”.

People in Spain began to kill themselves. When everyone in Spain was dead, it hit France. The countries were littered with bodies. People began to flee the country. But there was nowhere to run. To avoid contamination, soldiers were sent to the countries, but they just killed themselves, too.

Italy. Greece. Poland. Germany. It was spreading all over Europe. People, normal one day, just killed themselves. Guns, knives, jumping off buildings, any way they could, even drowning themselves.

The world was shocked when everyone in England died. After that, everyone in Europe was dead.

Then it hit Asia. China was the worst off. Millions of people, dead. Japan became a ghost town.

Africa was hit hard too. Like the awful famines and the Ebola virus, hundreds began to die. People just simply killed themselves. Soon, they were all dead, just like Australia, and Europe, and Asia. Billions of people had committed suicide, and the continents were devoid of human life. Buildings, homes, streets empty. Bodies, skeletons everywhere.

South America was next. To avoid contamination, and for the preservation of the human species, North America bombed the South with nuclear bombs. South America was destroyed, and all that was left was the United States and Canada. Everyone else died.

The problem was gone. The self-proclaimed “Lemming Syndrome” was gone. Things were back to normal.

Then, in America, a man killed himself…

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

backcover blurb for a non-existent fantasy novel

To the humans, dwarves and elves who have lived there all their life, the city of Belladonna is the only world that exists. For as long as anyone can remember, the city and its surrounding countryside has been encircled by a vast ring of impenetrable darkness, a darkness that, every year, inches closer and closer to the city, consuming everything in its path. Attempts to pierce this darkness has only led to the disappearance of those who step beyond the circle of night. For Belladonna is a city where long ago the Sun vanished, ushering in an endless night and a devastating ice age. By all accounts, all life should have died out long ago, were it not for the advent of the Bido, a mysterious artificial star that simulates day and night and once again made life in Belladonna possible. But who (or what) created the Bido and set it in place above the city? And how long until its rays are extinguished by the slowly creepy, ever-expanding ring of darkness?

The elven spy known as Severin Feymarch doesn't bother himself with such speculations. Making a living as a thief of information, he prowls the borders of Belladonna's eternal twilight, its claustrophobic and twisting labyrinth of streets and towering apartment blocks, carrying out risky data heists for clients who can afford his illegal services. But Severin soon finds himself getting drawn into a vast conspiracy which will not only expose him to the sinister past of Belladonna, but also to what lies behind the outer dark, and how it came to be...