As with so many other places, there are many aspects of the culture and geography of Philadelphia that lend the city to flights of fancy. Walking through Suburban Station, I wonder at what I might find just down a back passage, around some obscure corner. What might lurk in the deepest parts of Fairmount Park? What goes on in the places people don’t go?
One place to start is certainly the thriving goth community in Philadelphia. It isn’t too great of a leap to imagine that, among all the strangely-dressed Wednesday-night-denizens of Club Shampoo, there might be something not entirely human. To go with the old trope, I can easily imagine a group of neophytes playing at being occult and unwittingly bringing some ghastly creature to this plane–bringing to life the fear of every ignorant fool who believes that goths are up to anything more sinister than playing dress-up and enjoying loud music or sometimes-odd sexual fetishes.
It’s because of the quickness with which such a scenario comes to mind that I’m reluctant to use it as any sort of hook without some serious rearrangement. Nobody wants to read the story that comes to mind as soon as the scene is set. No, if you’re going to do something like that, it has to be unexpected. Readers can’t be let in on what’s going to happen until there is a gleeful inevitability about it. Everything needs to be so fully in motion that, by the time readers see the occult ritual that’s going to be conducted by the hapless fools who want to play at being edgy and counterculture, readers can do nothing but sit back and watch.
The other thing that goths present in Philadelphia is a group of people who will be at significantly less of a loss for what to do in the event of, say, a zombie apocalypse. They are the folks who have seen every horror movie, every creature feature. I can’t be certain that they would be able to keep it together completely if the dead rose from their graves, but the initial shock would wear off more quickly, and the training of all those movies would kick in like second nature: destroy the brain, destroy the monster.
Anyone considering Philadelphia as a setting for any fiction that is less-than-mundane would do well to keep goths in mind, for they stand to play an important part in any goings-on, before or after dark.