Perhaps the most direct and obvious source of my inspiration is the phrase “Sex is Death”. I’ve heard this said many times before, but when I noticed the open submission call for Fifty Shades of Decay, I said to myself, “Hey, everyone loves a literalist, right?”
That explanation, though, would leave a lot of important things out. You see, the real source of my imaginative workings for this story is that I rarely see, hear, or read any apocalyptic stories told from the point of view of the people responsible for the end of days. The Resident Evil franchise has no tales from the diary of Albert Wesker. Silent Hill does not allow us to experience life as Alessa Gillespie, or any members of The Order. The Lord of the Rings (which was more pre-Armageddon than actual Armageddon, but you catch my drift) did not show us what it’s like to be Sauron.
There are tons of other examples, of course, but I’m sure you understand. And I’m not overlooking the fact that exceptions to this rule exist, but the fact that the rule exists was more than enough to make me want to break it.
Now the only thing I had left to figure out was how good ole’ Maxwell DeRosa was going to damn his entire species.
One of my greatest side interests is biology, specifically virology and genetics. I’m terrible at math, which makes any sort of significant study of these subjects difficult (I’m also broke, so books on the subjects are hard to come by), so for the most part, my fixation is superficial and theoretical at best. The closest I’ve come to any significant engagement with these topics is watching The Amazing Spiderman and playing through pretty much every installment of the Resident Evil franchise.
So, needless to say, there was going to be one hell of a pathogen involved. My manner of first infection, though…?
Considering the name of the anthology, it should seem obvious. I reworked the notion of Typhoid Mary and said, “There you have it- a sexually transmitted viral mutation.”
That led to one of my favorite parts of “Subject Zero-Zero”; the fact the ending is a contrast of the virus, one of the most advanced biological agents produced by human kind, and lust, the most primal and innate aspect of who we are. Sex and death are truly the only equalizers. Humans and animals alike are slave to these two things. We all eat different foods, seek different forms of shelter, form different social bonds, but we all screw and eventually die. In both of those instants, we abandon consciousness, our material bonds, the very fabric of our personalities, for that one fleeting moment. This world and all of our institutions fall away, exposing life for what it is: a conglomerate of sensations and perceptions that overlap, intensify, and fall away, leaving us craving the next best experience.
It’s no wonder some people become addicted to sex.
So, my inspiration in a nutshell? I wanted to craft a character who relied on his mind throughout his life, built himself up to the highest point he could, only to succumb to his most base desire. I wanted a character who would bring about an age of pure, immaterial experiences and would destroy the world to do it. In “Subject Zero-Zero”, sex really is death. The only question is, are you afraid to die?
Alex Chase has been writing since he was 14, but only recently began seeking publication. Since his debut story in July of 2012, he has had ten additional short pieces of fiction published through Siren’s Call Publications, Pink Pepper Press and Angelic Knight Press. He is also scheduled to speak at the Thinking Publicly conference, taking place at DrewUniversity from June 7th to June 8th, on the importance of fiction in public intellectualism. A Touch of Malice, his first novel, is currently under consideration.
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