For this, and any other Wacky Writing Ideas, I happily release them into the wild for anyone to use. If you like the idea and want to write it up, do so with my blessing! If you want to change it or use it for something else, have at it! If you really want to do something nice for me, feel free to acknowledge me and let me know if you’ve used one of them (I’ll link to your creative work from my blog). If you don’t feel like it, no worries. If there’re a few comments with enthusiasm for an idea, I may write it up, so please comment if it sounds like something you’d like to read.
The idea behind this story is that everyone in the world simultaneously begins hallucinating about a person. Everyone sees (and hears) the same person, but each one is a different “version” (e.g. if you and I were in a room together, we’d both see and hear “our version”, but not the other person’s).
The world goes crazy trying to figure out how this is possible. A number of artists sketch who they can see and it’s confirmed that everyone is seeing the same person. When people interact with the figure, he doesn’t know his background or why he’s there, but he endeavors to be helpful. He’s either naked or dressed in a nondescript way.
Very quickly he picks up different languages (or knows everyone’s language on day one). He learns other skills and knowledge quickly and each version helps the person who can see him as much as possible. When some people get angry and don’t want to experience him, he agrees to stay out of their field of vision and not talk.
There are countless theories about what’s going on from mass schizophrenia to alien contact to some sort of mental warfare.
The sci-fi book would follow people around the world who interact with their version of the figure in different ways as the phenomenon evolves and the world figures out what’s happening. Maybe structured somewhat like “Spin” by Robert Charles Wilson.
I’d be very interested in anyone reading this idea what their guess about what is going on with the figures. When & if someone guesses what my plan was, I’ll identify it as such. I’ve asked 3 people about the idea in person and one of them guessed what my idea was.