It’s amazing where story ideas can come from. You can be going about your business, thinking nothing of it, and then it happens. You see or hear something interesting, it sparks an idea, and all of a sudden you have one or two possible plots for a story. It’s almost magical.
Here is an example from today. I was having coffee with a friend in the underground plaza beneath our offices, and he made a remark about how many people were milling about in the food court. He was right – it was far more than normal. I suggested that maybe there was a board meeting or something similar in one of the neighbouring hotels that were reachable by tunnel. This led him to mention that he had seen a group of office drones enter a service tunnel next to one of the underground meeting rooms that were nearby, and not come out.
Now this was odd, I thought. I could understand food court or mailroom staff using the service tunnels, but not people like ourselves. You didn’t need to use them to reach the parking lot, so why would they go in, and not come out again? My imagination started firing up, and I jokingly suggested that perhaps they were part of some weird cult, or were going off to gamble or do any number of things generally not allowed while on coffee break.
Naturally, we decided to pop in ourselves. We found ourselves in a grey world few people get to see, full of ductwork and strange panels on the walls, with locked doors of all sizes leading to even more mysterious places. The service tunnel circled around the whole outer perimeter of the food court, and there wasn’t a soul. Without consciously planning to, I began thinking about how a secretive organisation would operate there, how it would use the various rooms we saw, and what it would do to intruders.
It was a fascinating diversion, and now I have a plot idea that I might want to develop into a story. But I still wonder what those office workers were up to. Maybe that will become a story idea, as well…