Scary October – Day 18

Last night, I lay awake thinking about what I would post today and decided, because of a recent event in my life, that I would talk about the speculative aspect of horror stories. Almost everyone has either seen a horror flick or a suspense-filled movie, read a thriller or murder mystery. As with most stories, these also have a ‘what if’ that the author builds upon to create their plot. Examples of this could be: What if an alien parasite used humans as hosts? What if a seemingly harmless fog was really poisonous gas emitted by weird beings intent on taking over the Earth? What if a giant shark began eating swimmers off the coast of Florida?

But what if something horrific happened to a family member or friend that left you with more questions than answers?

The other night, Hubby’s mom called to tell us that his older brother was taken to hospital with 3rd degree burns over 30% of his body and had severe smoke inhalation. In order to save money while living in the next province, he’d been sleeping in his van on his boss’ property when it caught on fire. We’ve all been sitting on pins and needles, aghast that something so horrific has happened to a member of our family, the suspense nearly killing us and keeping us awake at night, wondering and worrying.

As a fiction writer, so many ‘what ifs’ sprang to mind after hearing this, especially when the RCMP would only say the fire was ‘suspicious’, at first. What if he’d pissed off a homicidal maniac who set fire to his van? What if some random arsonist saw his van sitting in the parking lot and decided to light it on fire? What if his van was struck by lightning? What if he fell asleep while smoking and dropped a lit cigarette onto his mattress?

Some of those questions border on the edge of the fantastic and unlikely – speculative fiction. Only one of them seems closest to the truth.

Hubby’s mom went out with her youngest son, yesterday morning, to get some answers and try to make arrangements to have my brother-in-law sent to a hospital closer to home where he’d be among family while he recovers. We feared it would be some time before we’d learn what actually happened, but we were sent an email this morning telling us that the fire was not arson, after all. It appears that the fire started in the front cab part of the vehicle, although we can only speculate whether it was a mechanical problem or he did, indeed, leave a lit cigarette smoldering in the ashtray before going to sleep in the back of the van.

We also found out that the burns were not as severe as we were first led to believe, that they only covered 20% of his body with his hands and legs being burned the worst. The doctor’s biggest concern, now, is the toxins he breathed in during the fire. They have suctioned out his lungs but he’s still coughing up a lot of black gunk. Remarkably, he will be going in for the first of his skin grafts today and should be out of surgery within the next few hours. They have been keeping him sedated as the burns are extremely painful. Once he regains consciousness and the RCMP finish their examination of his van, we should find out more about how the fire actually started.

‘What ifs’ can produce some wonderfully horrifying stories, but sometimes reality is stranger than fiction.

So, now, if you haven’t been creeped out enough by this real-life story, here’s a link to Random House of Canada’s recommendations of 5 Creepy Creature Novels. There’s also an interview with Kelley Armstrong, a Canadian writer of paranormal and speculative fiction that you can find here. 🙂

22 comments on “Scary October – Day 18

  1. How dreadful. I do send all my good wishes to your family now, and the very best to your brother in law. I hope he is soon on the road to a full recovery. Scary stuff or the real sort!!

  2. My wishes for your brother-in-law’s speedy recovery. Considering what they make car interiors out of, if he was asleep and breathing in that stuff as it burned, that’s got to be a whole sub-set of long-term worries right there to be fearful of…

    In terms of getting that phone call, as far as a scary story is concerned, this reminds me of a piece: “Sorry, Right Number” by Stephen King. This was an original script he wrote for TALES OF THE DARKSIDE about a panicked but incoherent phone call in the middle of the night that sounded as though it were made by someone familiar and left the receiver and her husband ill at ease as they tried to figure out who placed such a call. Let’s just say that when the reveal comes at the end, it’s one of the more satisfying resolutions such stories have ever had…

    • That sounds like a pretty freaky story, Jim. Fortunately, my brother-in-law is in better shape than our phone call seemed to suggest, although you’re right about all that toxic stuff he must have breathed in. Hopefully he’ll be able to cough up the worst of it. 🙂

  3. Oh my goodness, that’s awful! My best wishes for your brother-in-law. I send happy thoughts his way.

    I know exactly what you mean about ‘what-ifs’… As soon as I hear something that could potentially worry me, my mind runs through all the what-ifs. It’s a difficult thing to turn off, especially when you begin to frighten yourself. When my sons were in the worst of their flus, I thought that for sure we’d have to go to the hospital because neither sounded good, and their fevers weren’t going down. My oldest had a low to medium grade fever on-and-off for two weeks, and my youngest had a dangerously high fever. Believe me… lots of ‘what-ifs’ went through my mind that I don’t care to remember.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your brother-in-law. I hope he has a quick and full recovery.

  4. Pingback: Scary October – Day #19 | mywithershins

  5. Dear withershins–Susan–I am so sorry to hear about your brother-in-law. How frightening and scary and awful. I do hope you hear that he recovers fully. It was interesting how you compared this to writing a horror story. (I have lots of trouble reading horror stories–real OR imagined.) Feeling so sad about this one… Hugs…

    • Thanks for your concern, Kathy! Yesterday, he went through the first set of skin grafts on his hands and legs, taking skin from his back. We are hoping they do not get infected or they will have to be done again.

    • Thank you for your concern. It looks as though the skin grafts are taking and not getting infected. He’s up and alert, now, no longer sedated, and will be starting rehab soon. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Crafty Wednesday | mywithershins

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