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I assume you're familiar with the Davyhulme, Urmston, Trafford area. Is the Leader Of The Council in Trafford like a Mayor?
I say we have our main character be a former council member for Davyhulme West, who should have been the Leader Of The Council for Trafford, but some false accusations about the goings on at her pub, The Garricks Head, forced her to resign.
Day One: In the bar we are introduced to the main character. We see her mental cunning when she defuses a bar fight. Just as the fight is defused there's a car CRASH outside. People stampede past the front windows fleeing something. A light fog rolls past the window. "It's just a bit of fog." A low RUMBLE noise as a thick fog blots out most of the sunlight.
Inside the bar are TVs that we can use to learn about the fog. The American backpackers are sitting in the bar waiting to walk down to Chassen Road to catch the train to Manchester Airport to fly back home.
Someone comes in bleeding. There was an accident on the tracks. A driver couldn't see the road and drove his off a bridge onto the tracks and was destroyed by the train. He's on his way to Trafford General but got lost in the fog.
The main character tells the regulars (good time to introduce some other characters) to go home and offers the backpackers a place to stay "until the fog clears" (Could be a running joke) and they can find a ride in to Manchester.
I like the idea of the pub being the unofficial town hall. There are TVs for information, it's where people congregate, there's food, water, beer. This specific pub actually has a hospital down the street, and a golf course directly across the street.
I'm not sure how a golf course could come in to play. Maybe there's someone who knows the course blindfolded and can navigate it regardless of the fog. Maybe someone who works at Brookedge Nursery can be our horticulturist/farmer/hydroponic expert.
Well it's late now. My brain is fried. And the fog is rolling in... DUN Dun dun!!!! Ahhhhh!
In terms of our central character, I'm still not sure what she should be.
However, I did realise something.
The central story is essentially about "what is true" ? We, as the audience, don't know what it is, what the truth behind it is.
We'll be presented with dozens of possibilities through the story by the different characters. People who think it's aliens, the Government, terrorists, an act of war, a supernatural occurrence, Biblical End Times, climate change, a purely random event etc
The central character should be a surrogate for the audience, stuck right in the middle of all that. She doesn't know what is happening, and can only listen and learn... She doesn't know who, or what to believe.
So whatever she is, it's best if she doesn't have any massively strong ideas about what it is, nor should she have any privileged access to information or to resources... Such as the very rich, or the head of the military.
She's in the middle of everything. Agnostic, average wealth, average job.
Like Rene mentioned, she can grow into a leadership role over time. So she doesn't need to be a civic leader, or former civic leader, just now.
There's something that puts me off the idea she runs/owns the pub as well, though I'm not sure exactly what. Whether it's the type of women I know who run bars, I'm not sure! Or because I don't want her to be stuck to the pub, for the sake of the story...not wanting to abandon it, or whatever.
So I feel she's in the pub, maybe for a glass of wine with a colleague, sister or friend after work. Or she's there to work... Maybe her latest book, or local newspaper report (but reporter feels like a bit of an overused trope).
Later on, husband wants to come for her, but she insists he stays with the younger son. So she has to make her way back herself through the fog. Which shows her independence, and makes her vulnerable at the same.
It could be an industry town too. I thought about mining, but there isn't much active mining in England any more. It would be neat if the mine wasn't workable because of fog, instantly threatening the industry the town relies on for everything. The main could be a foreman or even the CEO of the industry, someone who wouldn't necessarily be a leader anywhere else but in this town they're hugely important for the town's livelihood.
Mining town would have been interesting. All gone in England now.
Some reasons: The canal runs from the centre of Manchester City centre all the way through to the Countryside...so when the Diaspora leaves the City they would head straight down the canal side as it's a straight line all the way to a place called Lymm, where the farming communities begin.
But the canal runs parallel to Urmston and Davyhulme, so some of them would travel into the town on their way.
It also has a Hospital (the first NHS Hospital) so it fits in nicely with our existing template.
By the by....one of the notable people listed in that Wiki is a close friend of mine..a musical artist called Jim Noir. He was round my house last week for a drink. He's extremely talented and I'm sure he can provide music for us. He releases Beach Boy inspired 60's style music, but he's capable of making anything.
In a small town, there isn't much of that. But fair enough.
Maybe it shouldn't be someone who starts off in a position of authority. Maybe it's someone who rises to the occasion. Teacher, coach, search and rescue pilot, respected author, farmer, librarian, university dean, ship captain, retired park ranger...
Teacher, author, university dean and park ranger all sound interesting to me.
If she's a park ranger, she might have some useful survival skills like foraging for food. Knowing how to find animals, which fungi to eat.
Self help author/life-coach? Writes the kind of popular how to deal with various aspects of life that people buy on Amazon?
There'd be quite a nice irony in the fact she was an expert on sorting out the stresses of modern life...and now all the things she was good at are no longer relevant and she has to learn how to cope when reality bites.
That's pretty strong...her interior monologue is what everyone is having to cope with....a complete change in the way we have to live.
She can also record her thoughts about everything, which is something she used to do when writing her books.
What if she's a minister? People come to ministers all the time searching for truth and guidance.
And when the fog starts to mess with everyone's minds, including hers, she's faced with a crisis of confidence in her faith.
This might lead into the other thing I had suggested earlier about whether the fog might be a portal to something else. Or not. That was just spitballing.
But as a minister, she also can be a central figure in the town that everyone knows and looks up to. Or maybe she's a bit of a rebel in her teachings and so there is also a bit of animosity towards her from some townspeople.
I thought about a minister/vicar. It will probably make the central story too theological though.
Probably best if that aspect is handled with a companion they pick up along the way.
As for the portal. It's a strong idea...it was what they did in Stephen King's the Mist, though. They'd opened a portal to another dimension and the creatures and fog came through.
It is something we can definitely bear in mind for future storylines. Or it can be something someone...either a conspiracy guy, or even a respected scientist could suggest as a cause in the short term.
I wondered whether in a future storyline whether the fog may have an epicentre as well. A place where it seems to have started and spread out from and that in another season (probably the last), the storyline would centre around them trying to reach the epicentre to see what's there...in some inaccessible place.
I'll wait to hear back from everyone before we finalise things,but it feels like we're getting somewhere.
We've got the characters for the COBRA side of things, the sideline where we see what the Government are doing. We just need to give them genders, ages, ethnicities and develop their characters.
We've largely got the main, long-term antagonist. We need to supply his list of henchmen/psychos which he releases from Prison. The starting point for that might be Rene's list of outlandish characters.
The main timeline is slowly coming to fruition as well.
Main Character: Female,Age (old enough to have a daughter in the Army, young enough to be energetic). Occupation: Self-help author????????? Husband: Town Councillor/Police Officer or Former Police Officer/Former Town Coucillor????? Maybe he's a little older than his wife, so he's competent, but he's not the action man he once was... Daughter: Royal Armoured Corps Son: Michael, 15: Rebellious. Attracted to some of the more extreme ideas. Long term, Leans toward the teachings of antagonist.
Story Opens in the Pub:
Characters Present? (Taken from Rene's List and Jordan's List)
Teacher Small business owner psychologist Hardcore drunk Accountant
Freddie, 22: Local gang leader, piece of shit, drug addict, thief, hooligan, probably killed someone but he won't say for sure. Freddie's friends. Heroine addict...customer of Freddie?
These guys often sit outside the pub, and make themselves a nuisance, but not quite enough to have been banned.
Some out of towners staying in the rooms upstairs, as suggested by PK? Family having a meal? Young couple?
Later Arrivals from out of the Fog?
Walter, 42: Davyhulme West Police Sergeant, has a grudge against Main Characters Husband over something in their past from working on the police force together. He has feelings for Jane. Priest???????? Accident Victim, covered in blood? Someone unusually susceptible to the effects of the fog? Eg someone who suffers from Homichlophobia...a fear of fog and unnerves everyone.
Is a self-help author going to be a believable central character? She has to have something else going for her. What ties does she have with the community other than simply living there and being the wife of someone?
It turns the central plot more towards the psychological aspects of the story, and while that's interesting, it's less dramatic. The psychology should be a strong B plot, not the main central plot.
She needs something that makes her relevant to the main plot. Maybe something from her past.
As a side note, maybe animals and birds should behave strangely in the fog. Birds migrating off course (suggests problem with magnetosphere), nocturnal animals out during the day, gentle animals behaving aggressively. Just more ways to turn our understanding of the world upside down.
One obstacle for a later episode can be a pack of now wild dogs.
The crash victim could come from the M60 and report hundreds of vehicle collisions have completely blocked the highway. The same would be happening all over. That alone would tie up emergency services.