2) Sexy Teenaged Ghouls In Love
It’s a sign of how much Dungeons and Dragons has penetrated our popular culture that I’m guessing most people, if pressed, would think of a ghoul as a kind of souped up zombie with a paralyzing claw attack. But actually they’re monsters from Arabic mythology that eat the dead. Not to be confused with zombies, which eat the corpses of people they kill – ghouls hang out in graveyards and eat corpses after they’ve been buried. In some of the legends, ghouls take on the physical appearance of the last corpse they ate. And this strikes me as particularly ripe for
erotic uhhh, paranormal romantic reapropriation. You can’t have the hottie monster devouring entire corpses — too yucky — and having them look only like the last person they ate is too limited. (What if they accidentally ate an ugly person?) But what if by taking just one bite of deceased flesh, the ghoul has the ability to take on that person’s appearance whenever they want? There are some possibilities there, I think. Imagine a love triangle between the totally ordinary guy (played by Shia Lebouef or Michael Cera, your call), his gorgeous cheerleader ex-girlfriend, and the exotic new girl in town. That’s ex- as in ex-parrot, by the way: she’s passed on, she’s pining for the fjords… and yet, for a girl who’s supposed to be dead, she but keeps on popping up in the oddest places! Then of course the big reveal that apparent undead cheerleader actually IS the new girl, working her ghoulish shape-shifting mojo. This is kinky as hell, of course, and even if you can get past the necrophagia (and wow, there’s a phrase not oft spoken), there are some dodgy consent issues in play here. (If the boy kisses girl 2 only under the impression that she actually is girl 1…) And of course you could turn it up a notch by making it so that girl 1’s personality, memories, and so on DO still exist when the ghoul is wearing that form. I don’t know if you could spin a franchise out of this, but it would make for a good (if messed up) stand-alone novel.
Step 1: Ghoul
Step 2: Hawt Ghoul.
Step 3: The anxiety surrounding ghouls is essentially Cartesian. It’s the difference between our thinking minds and our merely existing bodies. Ghouls themselves can sometimes turn into hyenas (confusing the boundary between rational man and brute beast), and the idea that they eat corpses highlights the disconnect between our living selves and the pile of goop and keratin that will be left when we die. It should be noted that hyenas are carrion animals. Ghouls highlight our anxiety over the fact that, in the long run, we’re all on our way to becoming carrion.
Step 4: The inverse, obviously, is to set up a situation where ghouls allow people to NOT become carrion. So yeah, we’re definitely keeping that idea about the people eaten by the ghoul continuing to exist in some form within the ghoul’s consciousness.
Step 5: Because this story turns out to be so squicky in so many ways, it’s probably the hardest to make conform to our general standards of romance. It does, however, offer a neat way to resolve a love triangle happily for all three parties — well, sort of — without bringing up the dread spectre of polyamory, which is probably an even harder pill for most to swallow than the whole necrophagy thing.
Kind of already exists, because:
The pre-Islamic Arab poet/brigand al-Shanfara (literally, “the guy with thick lips”) boasted of having seduced and married a ghoul that he met in the Wadi Rum. This was probably just a metaphor for his alienation from society, and in any case he does NOT describe her as sexy. And highschools in their modern form did not exist at that time. But still.
Bonus fact: al-Shanfara was friends with another poet, Ta’abbata Sharran, whose name literally means “mischief under his armpits.”