What if? Ideas are all around us

Sometimes people ask me where I get ideas. All you need to do is watch the news, or read a newspaper or online newspaper, or just watch what's happening around you.

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 8.13.01 PMDid you hear about the case of the porcelain dolls being left on the doorsteps of girls to whom they held an eerie resemblance? At least eight families received the dolls, and all of the girls were around 10 years old. It turned out that an older woman who attended church with the girls, and she wanted to give her collection away in what she thought would be a fun surprise.

But what if someone else was behind it?  Wouldn't that be a great beginning to a book?

Or how about this story from the Oregon coast? A few months ago, KGW reported: "
A retired police officer found a decomposed human hand while he was walking along the beach in Gearhart with his 9-year-old granddaughter Friday evening, police said. He moved the hand away from the approaching water before calling police so it wouldn’t wash back into the ocean."

In real life, it turned out to be a decomposed seal's flipper.

But what if it hadn't been?

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 8.47.34 PMOr how about the clean up on the campus of the National Institutes of Health which turned up vials of live smallpox virus, forgotten since the 1950s.  Smallpox is only supposed to be in two sanctioned high-containment labs in the world - and that certainly wasn't one of them.

So what if a bad guy were to figure out there were other forgotten vials?

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 8.47.09 PMOr this story, about a local 17-year-old girl who left a message in her journal before vanishing: “If you’re reading this, I’m either missing or dead."  (She was eventually recovered, but it sounds like she was sex-trafficked, told by her abusers that her parents and boyfriend would be killed if she didn't cooperate.)

I'm not sure I would do it from the girl's POV, but what if she had a friend who tried to find her?

Once on my run, I saw a bored security guy standing on the sidewalk outside a condo. He told me the parking garage's gate was broken, and until it was fixed, they would have security stationed outside 24 hours a day.  He wasn't armed, just a guy in uniform with a clipboard.

What if he saw something a little strange, a little off, across the street? Not strange enough to require the involvement of the real cops, at least not yet, but enough that he decided to do a little investigating of his own...?
I read an article the other day about an abandoned Oregon asylum with the ashes of over three thousand patients in the basement. Abandoned. Asylum. Basement. Ashes. The best part? Some of the ashes are still unidentified. If I wrote horror...