What do school shootings, crazy drivers mowing down people on busy sidewalks, and rabid-like raccoons have in common?
Perhaps nothing. Or maybe everything.
My next three-book series, MADNESS Chronicles, portrays a fictional apocalypse which is set in motion when mammals go crazy from a parasite that not only currently infects as many as 3/4 of all mammals around the world, but roughly half of you reading this.
Yep, you heard me right.
But I’m jumping ahead of myself.
Have you noticed the craziness in the world around us lately? My wife and I have literally stopped newspaper delivery, in part because it seems impossible to make sense of so many insane actions by so many (there were other reasons for our cancellation, including the overt political leanings of the paper’s “reporting”). We found it’s easier to deal with our own little world and areas of interest, than to loose focus on the larger world outside of our confines. Especially since it seems like we have so little control over it.
Fiction, in both book and movie form, is often our escape from the craziness and one way of confronting issues or otherwise unexplained mysteries around us (through the fictional characters who are thrust into surreal or sometimes very real situations). Its certainly feels easier to tackle a world-ending apocalypse, when it’s through a character we identify with, than it is to process why some real-life crazy man shot up a concert in Vegas. You can certainly make sense of one, but not the other.
During these mind-numbing times, I find solace in my faith, but also in science. More often lately, I find myself reading science journals… I know “geek” or “nerd” come to mind, and that’s okay. But that’s how I came across a little guy named T-Gondii.
That’s when all of this “madness” came together.
So what do crazy people and crazy animals have in common? My next series postulates that it’s all because of a parasite.
Taxoplasma gondii or T-Gondii for short, is a tiny parasite that mostly finds itself inside the gut of cats and is spread through cat feces–I know, pretty disgusting. And yet, this thing has managed to infect (by some estimates) over half of the world’s human and mammal population. So in fact, you may be infected and just don’t know it. That’s because for the most part, T-Gondii remains dormant in its hosts. However, sometimes it becomes active, and that’s when we see its madness. Only recently have scientists discovered this parasite actually reprograms its hosts brains for aggressive and seemingly psychotic behavior, while at the same time removing all fear from the infected. Some have hypothesized that the increase in psychotic behavior by animals AND PEOPLE, has been the direct result of… you guessed it, T-Gondii.
Check out this story about crazy raccoons (Zombie Raccoons or Harbingers of Madness?) and tell me if that doesn’t give you the creeps.
This little devil has been busy for a long time, but it’s only recently that some of the crazy behavior of animals and people in the past have been attributed to a parasite. Think back to stories or experiences of the past when people or animals were violent and did something that was explainable. Now there may be an explanation.
A few years ago, when I stumbled upon this, it got my creative writing-juices flowing. Then while on a cruise and researching a story set upon a cruise ship, my story of madness took root.
Can all the craziness we’ve experienced recently be attributed to a parasite, and worse, is this some sort of pandemic?
Probably not. But it does get you thinking, doesn’t it?
MADNESS Day (M-Day) is June 1st. Mark your calendars.