Daymares was inspired by a spider in the shower. Why doesn’t that surprise anyone? I finished showering very quickly before letting the idea of thousands of spiders coming out of the water spout get any further developed. I really don’t LIKE spiders very much. The Doctor Who episode Planet of the Spiders which broadcast when I was about eight is NOT actually responsible for my feelings about them. Doctor Who has never scared me in any way because I always know that The Doctor will deal with anything he encounters. I don’t like maggots, either and it is nothing to do with The Green Death.
I have never liked spiders, and my feelings about them were not improved by an incident at school EXACTLY like the one Gwen described. I never liked those changing rooms. They were always the sort of places where creepy crawlies would be found. My bathroom now, has the same problem.
Anyway, the image of one of the Torchwood women imagining herself covered in spiders in the shower settled in my mind. I debated whether it would be Toshiko in a Glasgow story or either Gwen or Martha in the Cardiff Hub. I decided on Gwen because Martha seems less likely to get truly hysterical about spiders and besides, there IS that classic line from way back in series one where Gwen mentions not killing spiders in the bath, and Jack replying that he didn’t either, with a gun.
It also allowed for a nice visual of Ianto and Alun in towels which would please most readers. We all love Ianto, and Ianto nude sitting in the imagination is very nice. Ianto and Alun, his near doppelganger, both nude, rescuing Gwen from the shower was a bit of light relief from the tension.
Martha, here, plays the responsible adult, caring for Gwen, shooing off the men to get dressed properly, and attempting to get to the bottom of the situation.
Meanwhile, crisis number two starts up. Jack, of course, has never been in favour of having Sam the Weevil-Human hybrid around the Hub, and when he apparently attacks Ianto his point is proven. This particular section is inspired by my cat. She is an adorable bundle of fluff most of the time, but every now and again when the medication doesn’t work, she has epileptic seizures, and on three occasions I have been too close when it happened and got very nasty bites and scratches on my hands and arms. I still have the scars to prove it. The idea of Sam, who adores Ianto, attacking him without realising it, came from that.
At this point I was starting to think about why these things might be happening, and hit on the idea of duality. I had already mentioned that Gwen was pregnant. Sam is a hybrid of Human and Weevil. So the only other possible victim would have to be Jack, who has some Time Lord mixed in with his Human DNA thanks to what happened so long ago on the Game Station.
So Jack had to be the next victim. But what could I possibly do to Jack? What did HE have hangups about?
While I was thinking about it, the film Lost Boys was on the DVD player. There is the well known scene where the young vampire initiate is hallucinating and imagines that the fried rice in the take out is maggots and the noodles worms. And I remembered once walking a long way out on Southport beach, away from the tourist area, and seeing anglers digging for worms beneath the wet sand. A foot or so down the sand was writhing with them.
I’m not fond of worms, either, but as long as I don’t actually have to touch them I’m ok. I put that image together with Jack’s origins on the Boeshane Penninsula – aka Pendine sands on the south coast of Wales - and gave him a childhood creeping horror to react against.
A bit of digging on Google gave me the information I needed about nightmares. Melatonin is the hormone presumed to be connected to dreams. Scientists have been monitoring people’s sleep for years to come up with that knowledge. It gave a ring of authenticity to Martha’s findings, but still no culprit until they put two and two together and come up with the duality connection between Gwen, Sam and Jack.
Then, unfortunately the solution turns out to be a desperate deus ex machina. That is the only problem with this story, really. At no point have I ever mentioned that there is a dragon living in a sealed room at the bottom of the Torchwood Hub. Of course, there are so many rooms, and so much history that anything is possible. But I do wish I had done something to make this a bit less of a clumsy solution.
The most compelling reason for doing that ending, though, was the fact that dragons, in mythology, ARE hybrids themselves, as Jack explains to Martha.
“Funnily enough, that fits with Human mythology, too. Dragons are supposed to be winged serpents. The Egyptian serpent goddess Isis and her son, the Hawk God Heru in one combined being. Even the Welsh dragon, Cymur, derives somewhere along the way from Isis-Heru. Ianto can talk about it for hours if you ask him.”
That is pretty much the dumbed-down version of some very complex information about dragons on the internet, and at least it makes the story plausible, but I’m still not altogether happy about the way it fits together.
Gwen being pregnant, I introduced so that I could bring in the baby, Anwen, that she has in Miracle Day. I have no intention of going down the same road with the storylines, but I think it is time the only ‘normal’ heterosexual relationship in Torchwood bore fruit. After all, Jack and Garrett and Ianto and Alun have their families now.
And, yes, I did do a similar story where the Glasgow crowd had nightmares. The difference between the stories is subtle. But after all, there are very few new ideas in science fiction, or fiction generally, only different ways of telling the same story.