In the case of the idea drought, an object provides something basic to observe and describe, a starting point that might ultimately lead you into a deeper story.
It was just there. No-one knew how it arrived, but it was sitting on the breakfast table. Julian saw it first of all. He was having breakfast before school and his mum was busy making sandwiches for his morning break.
“Mum, what’s that?”
“What’s what Julian?” and she continued spreading the butter on the bread, not looking to see what her twelve year old son was talking about.
“That thing on the table, it even has a switch and the top half is almost transparent, as if it were a window. Is it some sort of new computer thing dad brought home?”
Julian’s mother decided to see what the fuss was about and threw a glance at the table. It was a rather strange object. A thought of an unidentified flying object came to her mind, but it was not flying, although still unidentified.
“Julian time to go to school.”
“But mum, what about that …….”
“To school, I will have a word with your father.”
Mrs. Smith was now alone at home, but not quite, the strange object was still on the table. She touched it, but it was cold. She took a closer look at the top half and was sure she could see something inside. Suddenly Mrs. Smith’s cat appeared, jumped onto the table and arrived next to the object. It sniffed the object, hissed, jumped from the table and disappeared as fast as she could out into the garden through the cat flap.
Mrs. Smith was now worried. She listened to the object and heard a faint ticking sound. Was it a bomb? The cat was scared and had disappeared. She decided to call her husband at work. She pressed the number and his secretary took the phone.
“Hello, Carol Smith here, can I speak to my husband?”
“He is not in the office this morning. He had to go urgently to the head office. Can he call you back?”
Carol told the secretary that she needed to talk to her husband urgently. There was something wrong in the kitchen and she was frightened and would be calling the police.
The machine was ticking and there was a click and a light shone in the top half. She called the police and described the problem. The police told her to immediately leave her house. They would send the bomb disposal squad. They mentioned something about terrorist problems. Five minutes later a van arrived encased in steel and two men climbed out, both dressed in armoured clothing and a helmet with a vizier pulled over the face. A third man also left the van. He seemed to be the chief and was telling the men what to do. Carol gave the men in the armoured clothing the keys and they entered the house carefully.
Suddenly there was the screeching of car wheels and Fred Smith, Carol’s husband arrived.
“What’s wrong Carol, my secretary called me with an urgent request to go home. Something about the police.”
“There is a bomb on the table Fred. Probably planted by a terrorist group.”
“Is the top half of the bomb almost transparent, and does it look like there is something inside.?”
“Yes Fred, exactly. Do you know something I do not know?”
She immediately though of her husband belonging to a terrorist group.
“Sorry Carol, I had no time to tell you.”
“What did you want to tell me?” she asked, almost believing that her husband was going to give her a confession of being involved with gangsters, terrorists.
“It was a gift from an advertising agency. A mini steamer and I know you wanted a steamer for the vegetables. I thought it would be a surprise if I set it up quickly before I went to work this morning. I put some vegetables inside. It has a timer and will start cooking by steam half an hour before we eat, just the right time to cook the vegetables.”
“Ok, men, everything in the clear” called the chief bomb expert, hearing what Mr. Smith told his wife.
“It was a hoax, no threat.”
The bomb disposal unit left, after Carol had served them a few beers for their trouble. The steamer was a success, and naturally Fred Smith sent some to the helpful men from the bomb removal team to show that it was just a kitchen machine and not a potential danger. The cat returned in the evening, took a sniff at the machine and decided it was not such a threat to his feline life.