I’ve always found the practice of pardoning turkeys to be really bizarre. We don’t pardon any other animals. Why do we pardon individuals of this one specific animal species that we eat out of dozens? And it’s even stranger that we pardon turkeys instead of just setting them free. It changes the dynamic from predator-prey to this bizarre dystopia where simply being a turkey is not only a capital offense, but that the penalty is death by consumption, and every year a few lucky, random individuals are pardoned for it.
It seems like it’d make for a pretty easy horror scenario. Just replace turkeys with either a group of humans or humanity as a whole. The example I was thinking about would be to have a world where a small group of vampires are the dominant predator with humans as their prey. Every year, by some process known only to the vampires, a few humans are “pardoned,” and made inviolable by other vampires. While their friends and family and neighbors must live in fear of a vampire attack, these few can live in peace from those monsters.
But would their lives be peaceful? Or would other humans grow envious of them and attack them themselves? Why should they be safe from the vampires? What did they do to deserve it?
Generally, I believe that pretty much all human-animal relationships, as well as a lot of animal-animal relationships, can be immediately turned into the premise of a horror story simply by making humans the affected party. Hell, even a few human-plant relationships. Just look at wild cabbage, which has been so thoroughly artificially selected by humans that its descendants include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, savoy, kohlrabi, and kai-lan. Imagine if an alien race bred humanity into such a diverse array of specialized forms for their own convenience, your entire species nothing more than another race’s design. (I’ve read a story that had that premise online, but can’t find it now…)