A long time ago, I had a dream in which I was reading a short story by Zelazny, and when I woke up I remembered the story that I had been reading. It was a good one (and very Zelazny-esque), and I made some short notes to myself, in the hopes that one day I would write it up.
Then, of course, promptly forgot all about it.
Bruce wrote me the other day, and mentioned in passing the AA phrase, “fake it til you make it,” which reminded me of my own comment recently on the issue of lying, concerning pretending to be something better than you are, in order to become that (and the difficulties associated with that).
Also, for some completely inexplicable reason, Toby has been inundating my poor GMail with countless (read: “two”) articles concerning mind-controlling parasites.
And thinking on these things reminded me, across time and space, of the story idea I’d had long ago.
It goes like:
Somewhere in space, on some out-of-the-way planet, there is a parasitic creature that is capable of mind control, that enhances its victim’s aggressive instinct.
Another advanced race discovers the parasite and cultivates it, using it as a form of rehabilitation on truly horrible criminals, enemies of the state, and conquered enemy soldiers, turning them into state-sponsored assassins and soldiers. Eventually that race’s entire standing army is peopled with zombies controlled by these parasites.
Generally the life-expectancy of one of these zombies is pretty short, given its reckless charge into danger, but one particular criminal is so incredibly lucky and talented, that she lives for years longer than any other. She is quickly promoted from soldier to assassin, and becomes feared through the galaxy (style of thing).
Finally she shows up at some out-of-the-way bar and sits down across the table from some wanted fugitive, who recognizes her and knows that he’s dead. He strikes up a conversation, trying to buy time, and most of the actual story takes place within their little dialogue. And over the course of the story, you discover that the mind-control parasites themselves only live a couple of years, and that this one woman’s controllers died more than a decade ago, but she had become so much what the parasites made her, that even after their influence was gone, she just kept it up.
Then I suppose she kills him, because why not?