Ideas: Truth Is Way Scarier Than Fiction

Authors are frequently asked about where ideas come from, or sharing ideas, or how to get ideas. This is a bit funny, because ideas are frankly the easiest part of storytelling, and they can be found everywhere.

But honestly, no matter how weird and twisted I can get as a speculative fiction writer, I can’t match up to real life.

I was assigned a TENS unit yesterday for my back. (If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a little battery pack to gently shock your nerves into forgetting pain, either to treat chronic pain or in my case to allow muscles to relax to normal position.) I’m not a fan of TENS — it’s actually not the electric shock which bothers me, but the involuntary movement which accompanies it, because I’m basically a control freak and I don’t like the sensation of a parasite moving my limbs without my consent — but my chiropractor pointed out that a week of costuming and con had left me in worse shape than carrying a backpack up high mountains for days, and he didn’t really give me a choice.

Because I’m the kind of person who reads the manual, I read the manual. And it was the most terrifying horror work I’ve read in the last few months.

Electrodes should not be placed over the eyes, in the mouth, or internally.

Why? Why? Why does this even have to be mentioned?

I mean, guys, I’ve written impalement, disemboweling, torture, dissection and consumption by a mermaid, all kinds of crazy stuff, and it would never have occurred to me to put an electrode on my eye or in my mouth.

Or someone else’s.


Hold on, be right back.

In the meantime, keep this in mind:

Do not insert the plug of the patient lead wire into the AC power supply socket.

Lest you think at first this is a caution against plugging into the wrong port on the unit, I will point out that there is no AC power supply option for the TENS unit. And the power from the TENS unit itself is DC. This is the typical slightly-stilted English of user manuals warning against cramming your electrode wire directly into a household wall outlet.

I mean, there’s not a chance of that even fitting, for one thing, so it would require someone to be pretty determined as well as stupid. And so I have to ask: Who did this, that we need to caution future generations against repeating this mistake? Who would think this could be a good idea? (And has anyone written about him yet?)

And finally, let’s look at this little gem:

Do not use TENS during pregnancy.

Well, of course. I mean, there’s an 80% chance of nothing going wrong, a 15% chance of affecting the child’s beating heart, and a 5% chance of birthing a new X-Men candidate.

Halle Berry as Storm, X-Men

I’ve actually written this post with the TENS on, and it seems to be helping, and I’m not yet doing anything to suggest the parasite is in total control, so there may be hope. But if I start tweeting anything too odd, blame the TENS.

Note: if you were going to comment to share about the use of TENS on other people in particular private scenarios, please note that I’m already aware, I just wasn’t going there, and that I actually do have a content guide for the site, so please choose your phrasing carefully. Thanks!

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