Chapter 1: Learning
Written for the 'Beginnings' challenge. This drabble was later expanded into Frontispiece, written for Yuletide 2010.
All he had wanted was a look, nothing more, into the room with the books, the one that was always locked.
But the steward had caught him, beaten him, called him 'thief' and 'whoreson knave', told him that the gallows would surely end his short life. Now the boy was hiding inside the farthest outbuilding on manor lands, stifling sobs as the stripes on his back throbbed.
A long shadow fell across the floor. The boy looked up, cringing, and saw an outstretched hand...and sympathy in his master's eyes.
'Hawkin. Come with me.'
And the boy took the outstretched hand.
Chapter 2: An Ordinary, Sinful Man
Written for the Hawkin challenge.
Of all the countless wonders in this hall, this was one that he had not been prepared for. Softer than the softest rabbit pelt, greener than a clover field in high summer. It shimmered in the strange light -- 'gas-light', his master had called it. And once he had overcome his initial fear that his work-roughened hands were not worthy to touch something so fine, he could not stop running his hands over the sleeves.
Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. But the parish priest had never had a garment such as this.
No matter now. His master was waiting for him.
Chapter 3: Walls Have Ears
Written for the Signs challenge -- in this case, focusing on the Sign of Stone. The text in the fourth line is taken from the litany of the Exhortation and Litany (1544), the earliest English-language service book of the Church of England.
Centuries of music, absorbed by Chiltern flint.
'Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth....'
Absorbing the abrupt shift from liturgical Latin to the rougher vernacular.
'From all evyll and myschief, from synne, from the craftes and assaultes of the devill, from thy wrath, and from everlastyng damnacion....'
Absorbing years and decades and centuries of voices raised in praise, mortal voices calling upon the Light for protection from the Dark.
'Oh ye Light and Darkness, bless ye the Lord, praise Him, and magnify Him forever....'
And waiting, in stone silence, for the exhortation that would call forth that protection for all Time.
Chapter 4: Practice Makes Perfect
Written for the Welsh-geeking challenge, and playing on the tongue-twisting name of a certain village in Ynys Môn.
'Bran Davies, you're off your head if you think I'm going to do THAT in front of other people.'
'Oh, come on, Will.'
'No. It's embarrassing. Especially in front of my aunt and uncle.'
'Only if you don't do it right. Anyway, you've been practising on me for weeks now.'
'The last time I practised on you, you told me you didn't like what I was doing with my tongue.'
'It wasn't in the right position! Look, just try it one more time, all right? And go slow.'
'All right, all right.' A sigh. 'Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.'
'Oh, shut up.'
Chapter 5: Three Dances
Written for the Circle of Old Ones challenge, asking for drabbles about other Old Ones in different parts of the world. This group of six unnamed Old Ones on the Continent had a rather complicated 20th century, so much so that I ended up writing three drabbles about them.
I. Viennese Waltz
They met, once a year, in a café indistinguishable from any other café in Wien. Each time it was something in between a gathering and a Gathering -- though the way events were playing out, this one was far more of the latter than the former.
'So it's happening, then,' one said, after they were more than halfway into their cups of strong coffee.
'So it would seem,' another replied. He came from half a continent away, but the Old Speech knew nothing of the arbitrary boundaries of king or country. 'The Archduke is dead.'
'No. Not this time.'
II. Polish Mazurka
Five people, hudded in a dingy Kraków coffeehouse. Awful coffee, but the food itself was decent...if one ignored the rhythmic tramp, tramp, tramp in the street outside.
The sixth arrived late, and she slid wearily into her seat.
'Where were you?' one of the others demanded. 'We've been here -- '
'The old man's orders,' the sixth said.
The one who had spoken quickly shut his mouth.
'And?' the man next to her prompted.
The sixth held out a circle of white cloth, marked with a six-pointed star.
'"One of us must be there",' she said softly.
III. French Bourée
It was increasingly difficult to find a decent meeting place. Half of Europe was a loss, and if you threw in Spain, Portugal and Greece the options narrowed still further.
Paris, then, but then the riots started again, and even though they'd all sat through the ones in 1789 and the ones in 1848 and the ones in 1871 and the ones in 1962 without complaint --
'It's getting old,' one muttered as a crowd of students raced past, a detachment of gendarmes in hot pursuit.
'Vive le France,' another said dryly, dodging a stray Molotov cocktail. 'Wish Lyon were here.'
Chapter 6: Tally Ho
Written for a challenge on the Old Ones of Britain. Miss Greythorne came to mind, because we know very little about how she ended up as she did in canon....
She had to choose exactly the right mount for today's hunt.
Brandywine wouldn't do. You could let off a rifle six inches from the old mare's ear and she wouldn't flinch, let alone balk at a fence. Badger, unfortunately, was a little too eager on the jump, and still too inexperienced to deal with a pack of noisy hounds and twelve other riders. Not Drake, or Lexington...it would have to be Hannah, the mare with the four white feet.
'Right, old girl,' Mary Greythorne murmured to the horse as she adjusted the tack. 'Time to have ourselves a little...accident.'
Chapter 7: It's All Fun and Games Until...
Written for the Merriman challenge. I do love abusing him, in this case at the hands of an Oxford undergraduate who has no idea what he's about to unleash.
'Got you now!'
Spoken too soon. A flash of white flew past his cheek, making him duck. The snowball exploded harmlessly on the wall behind him.
'Bad luck, Nick!' he heard Michael crow from behind the pillar.
'Damn you!' He grabbed handfuls of snow, packing quickly, and flung the round missile in Michael's direction.
A beautiful shot, fast and deadly, with a satisfying thwack! when it hit --
-- the back of a dark overcoat.
The expression on Professor Lyon's face when he turned round made Nick wonder if all the horror stories he'd heard about the man really were true.
Chapter 8: Kangaroo Court
Written for a 'scare me' challenge -- and though this story isn't particularly scary the thought of Will ending up 'in the dock' for this sort of offence is almost frightening in its own right. Harsh penalties indeed for an Old One who fails to be sufficiently cryptic.
A hush descended upon the courtroom as the robed figure on the dais stood.
'Will Stanton, Watchman of the Light.'
The prisoner nodded, gazing placidly ahead.
'You are hereby charged that on the 18th day of this month, you did knowingly and willfully violate Article 7, Section 9, Subsection 2, Paragraph 3 of the High Magic Bylaws by speaking in a manner that can only be described as...normal.'
The bang of the magistrate’s gavel quickly silenced the sudden buzz of consternation. 'Order in this court! Prisoner, how do you plead?'
Will adjusted his manacles, and sighed. 'Guilty, Merrim -- er, my lord.'
Chapter 9: Idylls of the King
Written for a challenge about a book left open. Character death in this one, written in a way that startles even me. And though I wasn't able to quote from the text in question in the drabble itself, The Passing of Arthur is freely available.
Bran Davies had accepted the diagnosis of his terminal stomach cancer quite calmly. He calmly left the doctor's office, calmly bought a small coffee, calmly drank it, calmly left the coffeeshop, and calmly walked in front of a passing Number 19 bus.
That night, Will slept in the armchair in Jane and Bran's bedroom. Her brothers would arrive tomorrow, but he could not leave her alone in her grief. So he read Tennyson to her until she slept.
When she woke, he was gone. But his book was there, open to 'The Passing of Arthur' in Idylls of the King.
Chapter 10: Maiden Voyage
Written for the Sailing challenge. In retrospect, I don't imagine Will as being all that prone to seasickness, but sometimes it's a feeling that can't be helped.
'If you weren't so pitiful, I'd say this was rather pathetic.'
'Piss off, Davies, and let me die in peace.'
'Never heard of anyone getting seasick on the bloody QE2.'
'Well, now you've both heard and seen, so kindly piss off.'
'I'll rephrase that: I've never heard of anyone getting seasick on the bloody QE2 when it was still docked at Southampton.'
'You're not going to piss off, are you?'
'Suit yourself, boyo. I'll be on deck, watching the waves going up...and down...and up....'
Luckily, Bran closed the cabin door seconds before Will's shoe would have connected with his head.
Chapter 11: You Can't Think of Everything
Written, somewhat obliquely, for the Tea challenge.
Bran awoke with a jolt.
He'd nodded off at the kitchen table.
There was something he was supposed to remember...ah, yes. Will was coming by. He'd sounded troubled on the phone, said he had something on his mind and needed to talk to Bran ASAP and he'd be over at one-fifteen.
It was nearly two now.
'Stupid...dozing off like that...' Bran sighed, and collected the teapot and his empty cup. But before he could put them in the sink he stopped, and stared.
There was a clean cup on the drying rack.
Hesitantly, he touched it. It was still wet.
Chapter 12: The Craft of the Road
Written for the Technology challenge, following Merriman's implication that Old Ones knew about upcoming technologies long before the original ideas had ever entered mortal minds.
'There'll always be a need for your kind, John.'
John Smith turned round, very slowly. It was true that he was carrying a piece of hot iron in his tongs, but the slowness of his movement had nothing to do with the glowing metal he held aloft.
'What makes you say that, vicar?' he drawled.
'I'd have thought it would be obvious,' the vicar said, beaming. 'There'll always be a need for horses, and where there's a horse there'll always be a need for a smith.'
John smiled. 'If you say so, vicar,' he replied, and picked up his hammer.
Chapter 13: Fidei Defensor
Written for the Religion challenge. I can't recall what inspired the final line, but to this day it's still one of the things I'm most pleased to have written.
They'd already discussed politics, economics and the best place to get a curry, so when the conversation swung towards religious beliefs, everyone started talking at once.
Most professed a vague-ish affection for the good old C-of-E. Nigel rattled on about how he was a committed atheist until the others started yawning, so to keep their attention he rounded on the one person who hadn't said anything yet.
'What about you, Stanton, what's your racket?'
'I'm a humanist,' Will said, smiling.
'Come on, Stanton,' Nigel sneered. 'A humanist?'
'Why not?' Will’s smile widened. 'Someone's got to have faith in you lot.'
Chapter 14: Crunch Time
Written for the Moral Dilemma challenge. A minor one, perhaps, but a dilemma nonetheless.
Jane sighed. Her essay wasn't writing itself, despite her efforts to will it so.
She glanced at the stack of books beside her. Surely, just once -- some paraphrasing, careful rewording, just enough to finish --
Jane. You shouldn't.
She blinked, startled. Her vision cleared enough to see Will's concerned face poking round the doorframe.
'Jane, you shouldn't be fretting so much.' He smiled placidly. 'Tea?'
'No!' she said forcefully, then added more quietly, 'No, thanks. I'm fine.'
Will nodded, and withdrew.
Jane closed her eyes, her breathing uneven. What frightened her most was that it wasn't the first time her conscience had sounded like Will Stanton.
Chapter 15: Lux Aeterna
Written for a Christmas-time challenge that required all drabbles to contain one line from a Christmas carol. I suppose the line in question isn't really a proper Christmas carol, but as the introit for Christmas Day Mass it may well qualify on a technicality.
Heads bowed, hands tucked into sleeves for warmth, the monks took their places for the Mass. Clouds of breath drifted up, heavenward, in the frigid air.
'Puer natus est nobis...filius datus est nobis....'
As the chant rose and fell, Merriman lifted his head slightly. A shaft of weak winter sunlight landed on the back of his head, giving his tonsure of unruly white hair an ethereal glimmer.
One or two of the novices shifted uneasily in their places. After all, Father Abbot looked enough like God the Father as it was without Nature putting her hand to it.
Chapter 16: The Devil's in the Details
Written for a 'flash' challenge, where the intent is to jot down an idea that springs out at you. In my case, a missing scene from the middle of Over Sea, Under Stone -- I always did think that Mrs Palk's explanation was a little too elaborate.
Hunched over the wheel of the car, his expression grim, Merriman was the very picture of urgency.
Or he was, until the moment the Grey House was out of sight.
At that point, a thin smile touched the corners of his mouth.
'Cunning,' he murmured. 'Very cunning. With a little less attention to detail, it might well have worked.'
He checked his watch, and his thin smile widened slightly. If the Dark had only known that they’d given him the perfect pretext for leaving Trewissick an hour ahead of schedule...well, that would be something to tell Penhallow, when he arrived.
Chapter 17: Plain Hunt on Six
Written for the Sound category of the Six by Six Challenge, asking for drabbles on the five senses plus the sixth 'sense', and the Six who are central to the fight against the Dark. One sense for each character, with no two repeated twice, and if possible all done as a set. This one, in my opinion, was the best of the lot that I wrote.
When Will heard that the rector wanted to revive the art of change-ringing on the six bells of Huntercombe's St James the Less, he sprinted out the door to sign up. Pulling a bell-rope before service couldn't compare to ringing a peal.
Several weeks of handbell practice followed, and Sunday before Christmas was the first test -- Cambridge Surprise Minor, a quarter-peal.
Afterwards, the other five ringers met for a pint to congratulate themselves on a job well done. But they couldn't quite forget the expression on young Will Stanton's face during the ringing -- he played perfectly, but from the look in his eyes, he might have been listening to something else entirely.
Chapter 18: In Vino Veritas
Written for the Quote...Unquote challenge, incorporating a famous quotation into the drabble as an actual line or in a reference. The quotation in question has been attributed to many speakers, but the one I like best has Winston Churchill saying it of the ascetic Labour MP Sir Stafford Cripps.
It was a bitterly cold night, and the men had to keep themselves warm as best they could. Unsurprisingly, some drank until they could no longer feel the cold...or much of anything else, for that matter.
Yet alcohol loosens tongues, and deadens common sense. And so the sight of the tall figure, white-haired and dark-cloaked, stalking toward the king's tent, prompted one young squire to raise a nearly-empty wine skin in mock salute and declaim drunkenly:
'There, but for the grace of God, goes God!'
His comrades cringed. Blasphemy was one thing -- the lord Merlion was another thing entirely.
Chapter 19: In the Shadowlands
Written for a Crossover: Literature challenge, requesting a crossover drabble with another work of printed fiction. Writing a proper crossover between the Sequence and C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia would consume my life, so I'll leave this drabble as it stands.
The service was simple, subdued.
No wife, no siblings, no children. Only those who had known him professionally, perhaps a distant cousin or two. The readings given by three former colleagues. The Master of his old College said a few words, and even as he spoke his gaze kept flickering nervously to the casket.
(How had they managed to find enough of him to bury?)
At the end of the service, Merriman did not linger outside the church -- the train station was a mile away. A well-thumbed copy of Plato's Republic was in his coat pocket, his reading for the train.
Kirke had lent it to him, after all.
Chapter 20: Back to School
Written for the Summer's End challenge.
Before their holiday in Wales, Simon had talked of nothing but boarding school until Jane and Barney were thoroughly sick of it.
But now, all three of them were sitting on Simon’s bed, trying to pretend he wasn’t leaving tomorrow.
'Look at it this way,' Jane said at last. 'If Barney's English marks improve, he could join you there in another year or so.'
Barney huffed. 'And if Jane's maths marks improve, she could join you there for lower sixth -- they take girls in their last two years, right?'
Simon forced a smile. 'Maybe.'
But the thought cheered him, a little.
Chapter 21: Finding Nimue
Written for the Dreaded Mary Sue challenge. Coming up with an original Mary Sue character wouldn't have been nearly as much fun for me as taking an existing Arthurian figure and 'tweaking' her a bit. Even Merriman needs a doomed love interest!
Glistening eyes shone at Merriman. Tears flowed down alabaster cheeks. Blonde hair cascaded like...cascading blonde hair.
'O Merlion, why dost thou scorn me?'
Sighing, Merriman checked his watch. 'Go away.'
'But it is I, your Nimue!'
'You mean Vivien?'
'Whatever. O, declare thy love for me, whilst the planets and stars are aligned -- '
'Not for long.'
'What? Oh, sh -- ' And the aethereal creature vanished in a puff of sparkly smoke.
'If the next alignment's scheduled for 1982,' Merriman muttered, putting his watch away and stalking off to his lecture, 'I hope to hell I'm outside Time by then.'
Chapter 22: An Evening of Fun
Written for the Anachronism challenge, with the bog-standard dictionary definition of anachronism: 'The representation of someone as existing or something as happening out of chronological, proper, or historical order' or 'One that is out of its proper or chronological order, especially a person or practice that belongs to an earlier time'.
'Will! Not so hard!'
Will sighed, adjusting his grip on the corset-strings. 'You want this thing laced properly, don't you? If I have to deal with collar-studs and cravats, then you have to deal with the whalebone straight-jacket. You were the one who wanted us to go as Victorians, don't forget.'
Jane scowled, and took the last deep breath she'd be able to have for several hours. 'Shut up and pull, or you'll be the one wearing the frilly petticoats this evening.'
'It's a fancy dress party, not a cross-dressing party.'
'Don't tempt me,' Jane muttered. 'Don't even tempt me.'
Chapter 23: Taking Leave
Written for the Will's Childhood challenge. In this context, Royal Navy officers do their initial training at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.
'You're going away.'
Stephen stifled a sigh. He knew that look -- privately, he'd termed it Will's 'weight of the world' look. It usually meant that something had upset his littlest brother so much that he knew it wouldn't do any good to cry.
So he reached out to ruffle Will's hair. 'Just to Dartmouth, though. Not like I'm going to the moon.'
Will didn't move. 'It's not going to be the same. Not ever again.'
This time, Stephen actually did sigh.
'C'mere, Will.' He opened his arms, and Will fairly flew into them. 'It'll be all right. I promise.'
Chapter 24: Living in Troubled Times
Written for the One Year Afterwards challenge, focusing on where the characters are one year after the end of canon. In this drabble, the Dark was driven out in midsummer of 1973.
'I looked through Westminster Hall and the whole hall was filled with dust. A few minutes later it was possible to see flames shooting up -- '
Mrs Stanton frowned, and switched off the radio.
'Go on outside, Will,' she said firmly, and went back to peeling potatoes for dinner. 'It's too nice a day to spend indoors.'
Will knew better than to protest. He merely shrugged, and waited until he was out the kitchen door before letting his carefully neutral, incurious expression fade.
Strange that his mother should want to protect him, even now. At thirteen...well, he'd thought he was beyond all that.
Chapter 25: Gone But Not Forgotten
Written for the Remembrance Day challenge. The idea for this drabble came from a jumble of odd lines in several of the books, which led to a quick backward calculation of ages and some historical guesswork. Of a number of possible scenarios in my mind, this one worked out the best.
11 November 1944
Another November in Aden.
True, he wasn't slogging through freezing muck in France (David never made it off the beach) or being shot to pieces over Germany (Alex went down over the Channel), but the never-ending heat was its own sort of purgatory, in a way.
His mind wasn't on the chaplain's service. Not with an unopened letter in his hands, the first letter from Alice since the telegram about their son....
Remembrance Day wasn't only about fallen soldiers. Some casualties had nothing to do with bullets or bombs.
Lieutenant Roger Stanton bowed his head, silently asking his brothers to look after their baby nephew -- the boy he'd never had a chance to see.
Chapter 26: Memento
Written for the Pounds, Shillings, and Pence challenge, featuring some aspect of pre-decimalisation British currency.
The tin bank was painted to look like a pillar box, with an open letter slot for depositing coins. Not very big, but easy to open if he needed bus fare or the odd chocolate bar. Most of the time, though, the money that went into the bank stayed in the bank.
One day, on a whim, he takes the tin and dumps the contents onto his bed. A quick count gives him nineteen pounds seventy-three -- and sixpence.
The sixpence isn't legal tender, hasn't been for several years.
But to Will, it's far more precious now than it ever was then.
Chapter 27: Tidings of Comfort and Joy
Written for the Hymns Ancient and Modern challenge.
Every year, it happens. More than once, usually.
This year, it's a visiting fellow who makes the mistake. Bright, cheerful, determined to embrace the spirit of the season. It's almost a pity, really, when he says the five fatal words -- and gets the standard response.
First, the glacial stare.
Second, the booming proclamation, pitched for everyone's ears: 'One thousand eighty.'
Third, the abrupt departure.
'We should've warned you,' the Vice-Chancellor's wife murmurs apologetically, once the shell-shocked young man manages to recover. 'Professor Lyon...well, he's heard "God rest ye, gentle Merriman" rather a lot over the years, I'm afraid.'
Chapter 28: The Radio's Prayer
Written for the Weather Woes challenge. This iteration of Merriman is based on a story that Sweeney Agonistes and I wrote a few years ago, which featured a brief history of Commodore Merriman Lyon of the British East India Company. The drabble title comes from the poem 'Prayer' by Carol Ann Duffy.
The voyage from Bombay had seen one foul wind after another. A rough Indian Ocean, chop in the Cape, a sail-tearing storm round the equator, and a set of truly nasty squalls near Trafalgar that had tossed three men overboard. Even Commodore Lyon looked relieved at the fair breeze that brought the Pridewin within sight of Scilly.
Anyone who saw the commodore's mouth moving then would have taken his words for a barely audible prayer of thanksgiving.
In a way, it was.
'Wight, Portland, Plymouth,' Merriman murmured. 'Variable 2 or 3, becoming 4 later. Mainly fair. Moderate or good.'
Chapter 29: Home on Leave
Written for the Make Do or Do Without challenge. I like writing about Will's parents, though I seldom find the inspiration to put together more than a few snippets. I'm fond of this one, though.
She'd wanted to look nice for Roger when he came home on leave, but the war made that more than a bit difficult. All her dresses showed signs of mending, the cheapest of nylons were impossible to find -- and Utility underwear certainly did nothing to make her feel remotely attractive.
When he kissed her that afternoon and told her she looked beautiful, she almost wanted to laugh at him.
It wasn't until later that evening -- when her old dress and worn-out shoes and awful knickers were on the floor of their bedroom -- that she finally believed him.
Chapter 30: Walkabout
Written for the Celebrity Spotting challenge. I turned the idea of the drabble challenge on its side for a moment, with a bit of politician spotting. This drabble is set in the same timeline as my Eirias Triad series.
Translation note: Aelod y Cynulliad is the Welsh term for an Assembly Member, one of elected members of the Welsh National Assembly.
Will tried not to smile as the teenaged girl with the spiky blonde hair hurried off, triumphantly clutching a scrap of notebook paper with a scrawled signature on it.
'Does this sort of thing happen a lot?' he asked, glancing over at Bran.
'On occasion.' Bran seemed completely at ease as he put his pen away, apparently unaware that a small crowd was starting to gather. 'Then again, most people wouldn't know their Aelod y Cynulliad if they fell over him in the street. It helps to stand out, in my line of work.'
'Understandable,' Will murmured, half-lost in thought.
Chapter 31: Resetting the Clock
Written for the Timezones challenge. I do wish I had this power, for all that it's cheating.
'More coffee, then?'
The two red-eyed men in the rumpled suits gazed blearily at the server, and held out their cups.
'Stanton certainly sounded disgustingly chipper during his panel, didn't he?' one said to the other. 'You'd think he wasn't even on our flight from Hell.'
His companion grunted something uncomplimentary and downed half his cup in a single gulp.
On the other side of the conference's refreshment room, Will hid a smile in his own coffee. One day he'd thank Merriman -- one academic to another -- for pointing out the usefulness of stepping outside Time to beat jet-lag.
Chapter 32: Orientation
Written for the Landmarks challenge. This drabble wants to be fleshed out into a longer story, which I may eventually get around to one of these days.
Even after thirty years, there was at least one Trewissick landmark that Jane could use to get her bearings.
She slowed down as she walked past the Grey House. A man was standing outside it, pruning a rather unruly bush. He took a step back and pushed his hair out of his face –- and it was that simple gesture that made Jane stop, and stare.
'...Will?' Her voice shook a little. 'Will Stanton?'
The man looked up, startled –- and then gave her an easy, natural smile.
'Hello, Jane Drew,' he said, as if he’d been waiting for her all this time.
Chapter 33: Time and Tide
Written for the Direction Sense challenge, and giving Merriman a little more screen time than he received in Over Sea, Under Stone.
The motorboat needs some coaxing to get it to start. Only a small delay, but both the driver and his passenger know that every moment is critical.
'Veer east-northeast and come about once we are clear of the cross-currents.' Merriman's cold, fierce gaze is fixed on the horizon. 'And trust that the Lady Mary will also need to compensate for the tide.'
'Aye,' Penhallow says simply, guiding the boat out to sea.
Once they have the grail, he can always remind Merriman Lyon that it looks a little odd for the landsman to be giving navigational orders to the native Cornish fisherman.
Chapter 34: Current Events
Written for the Newspapers challenge. Another Eirias Triad drabble.
'So I saw that your comments on the Ynys Môn by-election made it into the Guardian yesterday.' Will switched the phone to his other hand and picked up his mug of tea. 'I'll have to get another scrapbook, at the rate you're going.'
'You're not still keeping that?' On the other end, Bran's sigh was very loud. 'When I said that you needed a hobby, boyo....'
Will allowed himself a quiet chuckle. 'Just consider me your personal press cuttings service,' he said. 'You'll thank me for saving you the time and effort when you start writing your memoirs.'
Chapter 35: Time and Relative Dimensions in Space
Written for the Mistaken Identity challenge. I have to admit that I've seen only a very few episodes of Doctor Who, in any incarnation, but this drabble would definitely be set during the run of one of the earlier series, possibly William Hartnell's First Doctor.
'Are you the Doctor?'
Caught off-guard, Merriman looked down. A small girl with untidy plaits was gazing right back up at him, her expression pensive.
'Emily, 'f course he's not the Doctor.' A slightly older boy wearing National Health spectacles had appeared next to the girl, and now was also staring at Merriman. 'The Doctor hasn't got a nose that big.'
Emily tossed her head, plaits flying. 'I was only asking,' she said, the last word an exasperated whine. 'He might've been.'
Merriman muttered something vaguely apologetic, and slipped away to find a bus-stop that wasn't near a police call box.
Chapter 36: Strategic Sheep Purposes
Written for the Ends of the Earth challenge, and set at some unspecified point between The Dark Is Rising and Greenwitch -- a little closer to the former.
As the Black Rider slowly regained consciousness, he became aware of two things.
First, one side of his face was throbbing.
Second, someone or something was pulling on his hair.
He could do nothing about the first, not yet. But when he made the effort to roll from his back onto his side, he discovered the reason for the second -- a scrawny black sheep that looked rather indignant at being interrupted in mid-chew.
Cursing in several long-dead languages, the Rider staggered to his feet. Merlion and the Sign-Seeker brat would pay dearly for dropping him in the godforsaken Falklands.