The Terrifying Reality of Fork People

My wife the elementary school art teacher used to do projects with kids involving ordinary objects. The point was to get them to look at everyday things from a different perspective. She’d hold up a fork, for example, and ask them what else it could be. They’d yell out things like “the devil’s pokey thing” (pitchfork), or “a snowman’s arm”. Especially imaginative kids would shout things like “a rocket” (the tines being flames shooting out the bottom).

There were always kids, though, who’d yell “a fork”. Yes, it’s a fork. What else could it be? “A fork!” they’d repeat. They didn’t grasp that it could be anything beyond the literal.

In my work-in-progress I’ve adapted this anecdote and given it to my antagonist. He dismissively refers to “fork people”, those who lack critical thinking skills, the ability to see the bigger picture, and most importantly, who are incapable of adapting to change. The live according to what he calls the illusion of settled law. If the Bible says this, boom, that’s how it is. When the Constitution says that,  no need for discuss. Whatever tradition dictates, that’s how things need to be forever.

What makes him scary is that in a lot of ways he’s not wrong. He’s a selfish, manipulative son of a bitch, but he’s smart, and observant, and understands human behavior. The villain makes a point.

Whether or not it works as social (rather than political) commentary remains to be seen. It’s a Gothic novel set among the gig economy, dead malls, and strange weather, but I don’t know that acknowledging reality is innately political. My main character thinks that she’s in the midst of a slow-motion apocalypse, literally the end of the world, and spends most of the book trying to come to grips with that. The antagonist thinks so, too, but just wants to exploit peoples’ fears and insecurities for his own gain.

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2 Replies to “The Terrifying Reality of Fork People

  1. “main character thinks that she’s in the midst of a slow-motion apocalypse, literally the end of the world, and spends most of the book trying to come to grips with that. The antagonist thinks so, too, but just wants to exploit peoples’ fears and insecurities for his own gain” Soo… I’m guessing not so much escapism.

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