There are times when having a writer’s overactive imagination can give you so many possibilities for a story idea that you don’t know where to start. Seeing something unique, or even ordinary, can set off a chain of ideas humming with potential. Every time you see or experience that trigger, the concept becomes fresh again.
For me, one of those stimuli happens on my morning walks. I have mentioned before that I walk an old road that loops through the desert hills. The trail is remote and can’t truly be called a road. There are no houses or people, just rocks cacti and plenty of wildlife. Access with a vehicle would be difficult.
Along one stretch of this trail, are several mounds like the one pictured above. I would say there are at least a dozen of these mounds. They are grave-shaped and not fresh. They aren’t a natural occurrence either. Every time I pass by, I wonder what made them and what is underneath those piled up rocks and dirt.
Because they are older and are in a remote area, I think about settlers heading west. I’m not sure that would be logical for them to traverse this area, but I can almost hear the thud of hooves and the creak of a wagon. I see the sway of the canvas. Hear the cries of little ones. See the driver, his back bowed, shirt sweat-soaked as he sits on the narrow wooden seat holding the reins, dreading the death and burial of another member of his family. I picture this scene for a historical book.
I also love suspense and thrillers so I sometimes envision a more horrific scene. Once again, the area would not be easily accessed by any vehicle. Instead, I think of a murderer, urging his horse to climb the rocky trail. Stones rattle back down in the dark of the night as he attempt to hide his crime. A blanket-wrapped body slung behind the saddle is being taken to a place where he can bury the person without anyone knowing. I hear the labored breath of the horse. See the moonlight reflected in the canteen as the murderer takes a drink before beginning the process of covering the body with dirt and rock. Maybe hear a curse as he comes too close to a cactus in the dark and gets some spines in his hand. Hmmm. A historical suspense has some appeal.
Because this land is close to, or on, the Apache reservation, there is the thought that this could be a burial place long abandoned. Or, perhaps, after the advent of machinery, the trail was being readied to become a road and some sort of heavy equipment was used to clear the way, making the small mounds out of the debris.
I will probably never know what caused these mysterious grave-shaped mounds. I do know that every time I see them, I will think about story potential. Maybe someday I will write the book.