|People always ask me, "Does it hurt?"|
This story came from a visit to the dentist. I was given local anaesthetic, and as I waited for it to take effect, I glanced at the magazines in the waiting room. One magazine had a cover headline: "How I Lost Eleven Stone And Found Love". (Here in Britain, a stone is an old-fashioned unit of weight: fourteen pounds, or just over six kilograms.)
The magazine's story was a heartwarming tale of someone finding romantic fulfilment, after losing weight through the conventional methods of diet and exercise. I thought it would be much more interesting if you could lose weight by owning an alien flesh-eating parasite that would crawl across your skin, insert its proboscis deep into your body, then feast upon your flabby torso.
This bizarre image may have arisen because I was numb and woozy from the anaesthetic — or perhaps it was simply because I have a twisted imagination. As I walked home from the dentist, still feeling somewhat unfocused, I mentally sketched out a story based on this initial premise. It was one of the rare occasions when everything popped into my head straight away, with minimal effort.
The result was a short story that combined elements of science fiction, horror, comedy, and romance. All this in under 4,000 words — what a bargain!
Whenever I go back to the dentist, I always look through the magazines, hoping that inspiration might strike again. But it hasn't yet. Perhaps some stronger anaesthetic is required....
In 2015, two other authors published SF stories that also dealt with weight loss, so when my own story was reprinted in 2016, I wrote an article, "Three Ways to Lose Weight in a Science-Fictional Universe", contrasting the three different approaches to the same theme.