I write horror fiction. Usually with not too much gore, I prefer to get into some really scary things. More psychological horror than plain old slash and burn. So let’s play with an idea.
The premise is, the bad guy wants to wipe out a large chunk of the population. But he doesn’t want to be Vlad the Impaler. He doesn’t want to get any blame for this at all. How could he arrange that? The absolute best scenario is a large chunk of the surplus population wipe themselves out, while everyone thinks he was actually trying to save them. Better yet, that they never know he exists at all.
Save them from what? Well, a virus is a good, scary thing. Especially one that spreads really fast. It doesn’t have to be too deadly, it just needs to be scary. Maybe he can get one bioengineered or just wait for the right kind of flu to appear on its own.
So he has them all scared of this invisible monster. What then? The virus won’t wipe them out. Remember, he doesn’t want to be held responsible for wiping them out. In fact, he need not appear on the scene at all. He doesn’t need to be in government. Government responses are entirely predictable. He just needs to leak certain rumours.
First of all he wants to turn many people’s homes into death traps. He needs them filled with highly flammable dry goods. Like, say, toilet paper.
All he needs to do is let the press get hold of some photos of empty toilet paper shelves. That is really no problem at all. All shop shelves are emptied and cleaned periodically so a photo of the toilet paper shelves during this process is easy. Then sit back and wait for them to panic-buy it. The idiots he wants to get rid of will soon have floor to ceiling fire fodder.
But what will light it?
Well, the government is certain to close the pubs as part of their quarantine measures. People will fill their houses with alcohol, get drunk, and eventually – foosh!
Didn’t work though. They mostly bought beer and wine which doesn’t burn, in fact it would put out fire. Have to try something else.
Tell the press there might be power cuts. The loonies who bought all that toilet paper will have a load of candles. That might set off a few, but one more thing just to make sure.
Ah yes. Perfect.
Soon there will be houses filled with paper, alcohol, candles and stacked up petrol cans. None of the shortages are real. They are caused by the first round of hoarders and exacerbated by following rounds. Yet the shelves and pumps are always restocked, so the hoards get ever bigger.
All it takes then is a power cut. They light the candles, drink the booze, and sooner or later… Every one of them should take out a few neighbours too. A whole street of hoarders would go up like a giant firecracker.
In all this, my bad guy will have done nothing but give the press a few stories. His name is never mentioned. Nobody knows who he is, nor even suspects that he exists. They just follow what the news tells them and react in entirely predictable fashion. The resulting firestorm is blamed squarely on the hoarders.
Well, that’s an outline for a horror story. It’s fiction, of course. What do you think? Is it plausible? Will it work?
I have a feeling it might, you know.
(The petrol station story, like the banning-booze stories circulating today, might be an April Fool joke. If it is, it only proves that the news is staffed by utter fuckwits with no idea what effect they have just had). Oh, and it further separates my hypothetical bad guy from the consequences of his actions 😉