Where stories come from

Reuters news service had a story about a “vampire” unearthed from a Venice plague grave.

The story goes, because folks in the 16th century didn’t understand the decomposition process, they thought the bodies — that sometimes got dug up when adding to mass graves — might be undead.  Their evidence?

  • Hair and nails still growing (as surrounding tissues shrank)
  • Blood and other fluids from the mouth (as the innards expelled)
  • Strange noises (as bloating gases settled)
  • Shredded shroud clothes around the mouth (where mouth bacteria broke down the material)

Yeah.  That’s all it takes to get a story started. 

Because we are pattern-seeking primates, on the flimsiest of evidence, we will create a story — with characters, plot, conflict.  Even an end.

The solution to the problem of plague-spreading vampires was apparently to fill their mouths with an inedible substance.  In the case of the Venice Vampire, a brick.

But even a brick won’t stop the story.

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