1. RabidChipmunk

    RabidChipmunk Member

    Feb 10, 2011
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    Cleaning up the site of a massacre

    Discussion in 'Research' started by RabidChipmunk, Jan 11, 2018.

    A pivotal scene in my story involves a supernatural dragon-demon thing showing up at a church service attended by 300-odd people and slaughtering them all to a man. As is so often the case in writing, I've worked out the big details of this event but I've stumbled on the smaller ones -- namely, how is such an event cleaned up?

    This is actually somewhat plot relevant since a follow-up scene I'd like to include involves the Church (who are the ruling authority in this universe) laying out the bodies of all those killed in the attack so their families and loved ones can claim them. I wasn't sure if this could be done though, since 1) I don't know how much time organizing something like this would take and 2) given the nature of how they were killed, many of the bodies are going to be in bad shape.

    So, given this, what's the likeliest way the aftermath of an event like this would be handled? How long would cleaning the site realistically take given the setting (a fantasy expy of 18-19th century Paris)? Would bodies be presented for families to take even if they're mangled, and if not, what would be done with them?
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin There's no basement in the Alamo. Contributor

    Jan 8, 2017
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    Rhode Island
    Not sure the parisians ever had to deal with that. A full day, maybe?
  3. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

    Aug 1, 2016
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    East devon/somerset border
    mass grave with plenty of lime probably - after that sort of massacre most people wouldnt be identifiable anyway
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  4. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic Supporter

    Dec 6, 2016
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    England, UK
    I'm not sure how Parisian law goes exactly, but I know in England the next of kin usually has to identify the body, and I'm sure many other countries have this procedure, too. So, in my opinion, families are more than likely going to see the dead, yes. They'll be identifying them, and that will be a task they'll have to do as soon as possible after things are cleaned up.

    I don't know how helpful this will be to you, but after the Hillsborough disaster -- and I'm talking immediately after, these bodies were coming in while people were still being treated or hadn't even been rescued yet -- a gymnasium was used as a makeshift morgue for family members to come in and identify the bodies. While the bodies were being moved in immediately, as you'll see in the links below, I don't think the identification happened all at once. I think family members who were there did have identify them on that day, but it may have happened during the day afterwards, or even several days afterwards, too. I can't find anything specifically detailing how long it went on for.

    Here's an article on what the Hillsborough disaster actually was: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19545126

    And here's some that talk about the morgue: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-29885377

    I thought you might find the description of what it was like in there interesting. And, you may note, once dead the bodies could not just be whisked home by the families. They were only there to identify them.
  5. Lifeline

    Lifeline Into the Cold Contributor

    Oct 12, 2015
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    'Emergency sex (and other desperate measures)' has such a chapter or two.
    by Andrew Thomson ,‎ Heidi Postlewait,‎ Kenneth Cain

    Gotta warn you: Nonfiction.
  6. Privateer

    Privateer Active Member

    Dec 14, 2017
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    In an 18th/19th century French-analogue culture they might lay them all out in a (different, undragonified) church for the families to come claim their own or they might just shove them all into a big hole- back then the exact nature of many diseases was still unknown, so the logic went like this: 'plague creates big piles of corpses, ergo big piles of corpses create plague'. While there's no immediate public health risk from a bunch of crispified stiffs, they wouldn't necessarily know that and might want them gone with some urgency.

    In the 18th/19th centuries death was much more a part of every day life than it is now and people were altogether less uncomfortable with actually *seeing* it, so that might colour their reaction, as would the teachings of whatever religion they practice in these 'churches', assuming it isn't still Catholicism

    There'd be none of the forensic investigation you'd get today or anything like that, of course, so as far as literal 'cleaning up' goes...lots of guys with scrubbing brushes?

    What did the thing do? How badly damaged is the building? Would they need to pull down a badly fire-damaged church, or just mop up what's left of the parishioners?

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