Destiny, Death, Delirium and Despair: Drabbles a decade on

The beauty of using my blog to keep track of stuff I’ve written elsewhere is that it allows, when time permits, to reflect on the writer I used to be. As I’ve been explaining on Twitter, I usually think that what I wrote in the past is better than what I write now, whether it’s ten years old or ten days.

Perusing some of the neglected categories in my blog (of which there are many) I came to realise that three very short pieces of fiction are almost exactly a decade old.

They are drabbles – short stories of exactly 100 words in length. These particular ones are ‘fan fiction’ (or fanfic for short), unlicensed exploration of other people’s fictional creations. As you scour the internet, you discover that much fanfic is unremittingly awful – but some is not. And from that minority, an even smaller proportion has spawned writers who have gone on to write professionally for the same characters (yes, this is a hint to buy The Ghosts of Christmas while stocks last. I still savour that review in DWM, even if my story was summed up in three words, one of which was “and”).

In this case, the subject was Doctor Who crossing over with the Endless family from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic books.

Reading them again, they do hold up quite well – although of the three, one relies on a punchline that no longer packs the punch it once did and one just has me a feeling a bit meh. The third, though, includes possibly my favourite sentence in Doctor Who ever. That sounds like egotism, and it may be, but it feels like the line was written by somebody else. Which, I suppose, it was: I am not the same person I was a decade ago. I hope 1990s Scott won’t mind me lifting it should I ever find a circumstance to use it again.

Anyway, the three drabbles – to be read in no particular order – are:

If you have no idea who Neil Gaiman’s Endless characters are, a guick google should set you aright. And if you’re a fan of great storytelling, remind me to lend you The Sandman novels some time (or buy your own)…

Requiem for a Songbird

This was my entry for a recent Big Finish short story open submissions competition. The brief – “Doctor Who changed my life”.

It was the hardest entrance he’d ever have to do. Walking into the room, confronted by people who were there to celebrate his wife’s death. How could he face them?

Gilbert looked at their faces, full of sympathy for him. No, not sympathy, pity. They were there out of courtesy, friends of the new nightclub owner. Mickey Hamilton. Word was he was the new gangster around these parts. Gilbert sighed — if it were any other day than today, he’d have squared up to him. Told him exactly how the drugs and the dirty money were changing places like this.

On any day but today. Today was different.

Continue reading “Requiem for a Songbird”

Six little words

Okay, in response to [Rob’s challenge](http://www.the-word-is-not-enough.com/blog/rob/2006/10/the_new_inadvertent_sixword_me.php) — and as responded in his comments — below is my six-word short story.

> Last breath. Expecting salvation. None came.

It’s funny, but the short number of words does really focus the mind — even more than last December’s [50-word limit](http://www.matthewman.net/articles/2005/12/11/two-things-on-my-mind)…

A few others:

> Flowers. Bended knee. Ring. Answer? “No.”

> “How are you?” “Been better. Bastard.”

> His last words: “Mirror. Manouevre. Sig…”

The Face of Boe’s secret

“Welcome for a third and final time, Doctor. And my secret is…

“I am your father… no, wait, that’s not it, sorry, memory’s not what it was… Soylent Green is people!… er… it’ll come to me in a minute… Laura Palmer’s father is BOB? The Apes’ planet is really Earth? Bruce Willis is a ghost? Your companion has grafittied that bloody ‘Bad Wolf’ tag all over space/time with no consideration for other people?

“Give me a minute… yes! I remember now!

“I’ve worked out what the fuck the ending of 2001 was all about. Only took me five billion years…”

Two things on my mind

My local newspaper, [The Bucks Herald](http://www.aylesburytoday.co.uk/) is running a short story competition — and when I say short, I mean _short_. You get the opening line, and then just another 50 words. Now, I had trouble writing drabbles — stories of just 100 words. In those, you have to make every word count; with half that number, it’s probably more important to convey an impression of a story, and let the reader fill in the gaps.

Anyway, my effort is below (with the supplied opening line in bold). There’s a selection of [submitted entries available online](http://www.aylesburytoday.co.uk/mk4CustomPages/CustomPage.aspx?PageID=54884), which shows the great breadth of talent in the county. Good luck to those who enter!

> **There were only two things on my mind that day…** Maybe if I’d been paying more attention…
>
> I’d just bought the flowers. Had it really been a year since…?
>
> Two things: Regret. Memories.
>
> Rushing to the cemetery, dashing across the road… Should have looked both ways.
>
> Two more things, as the light faded: I love you. We’ll be together soon.

Another Year On

She strolled down towards Via Fossa. Three hours to get ready tonight, more than she spent for her first date with Michael Chambers in Year 12.

The door swung open, knocking the gift from her hand. Picking it up, she realized who was passing her.

“Nathan!” she called. “Happy seventeenth!”

He looked at her like she was nothing. “Oh,” he said eventually. “Hi, Donna.”

“I…” got you a present, she started to say. “See ya later,” he called back, already walking away.

See ya later: the last words her mum said to Gary. Words she said when she meant goodbye.

The Cherub

He had skin of gold. In all Stuart’s nights of searching for the perfect man, he’d never found flesh of such perfection.

The boy stared all around, taking in the sights of the cobbled street. Every so often their eyes locked, and a gentle smile emerged. All too soon, his gaze started wandering again, desperately consuming each passing figure. A wide grin broke out as a familiar face approached.

Vince sat down next to Stuart, causing Alfie to gurgle with joy. Stuart cursed. Just his luck – to fall for someone who only has eyes for his best friend…

New Best Friend

Every part of Hazel that wasn’t supported by an underwire sagged visibly as she sat down at the kitchen table.

‘Well, that’s that,’ she said to the toaster in the corner, there being no one else in the house. ‘It’s just you, me and half a loaf of Mother’s Pride from now on. D’you think they’ll send me a postcard?’ She dragged on her cigarette. ‘Will they fuck.’

The toaster said nothing, which she took as being agreement. She liked talking to electrical goods; they never spoke back and interrupted a good bitching session.

Sticking the remains of her last Benson and Hedges in her mouth, she got up and flicked on the kettle. There were no mugs in the cupboard, which was no surprise to her. Vince was the only one who had ever done any washing up around here, even after he’d moved out. Bernie was forever up to his armpits in motor oil, and Alexander – well, there just weren’t enough hours in the day to wash his hair and the crockery, bless him. She picked what looked like the least dirty mug out of the sink (there was a dash of lippy on the rim, but it looked like her colour rather than Alice Band’s, so that was alright) and dropped in a tea bag.

It was as she was pouring in the hot water that she first felt she was being watched.
Continue reading “New Best Friend”

Unconventional

Vince took a deep breath and burst through the door. It wasn’t what he had been expecting. No long scarves, no silver foil Cyberman costumes – some of them even had decent haircuts.

It was nice to feel like he wasn’t alone. There were other Doctor Who fans out there.

He bought a Budweiser (declining the Beck’s out of protest), looked round and spotted a friendly-looking crowd nearby. As he approached, he heard a dumpy looking chap with wandering hands say, “Of course, everybody knows that Russell based the character of Vince on me…”

He turned on his heels and ran.

Imperfect Timing

“You will wait for me, won’t you?”

The warm squeeze of her shoulder told her everything.

Mel began the walk up the driveway. It had only been a few months since leaving home, yet to her parents she had been away for nearly fifteen years. She wondered what to expect: would Dad have given up golf by now, Mum admitted to grey hair?

She reached out for the doorbell — and dematerialised.

In the distance, the Doctor sighed. He knew Mel would be sent back to his courtroom at some point, but… Some Time Lords just had no sense of timing.