Monday, February 11, 2008

I can't believe I actually wrote this...

Well, here's one from last year's vault... the start of a re-write to Sparacus' immortal classic Dark Yuletide. Unusually, it's in prose. This is because I wanted to make Katie a central and sympathetic character, from memory.

Anyway... enjoy.

Prescott gulped down the brandy glumly, as he stared out the window. His paranoid mind pictured lights in the distance flickering out already, but he strongly assured himself that this was not the case...

"Sir? The people from... 'Odyssey' are here to..."

"Yes, yes, send them in!" snapped Prescott.

Odyssey. An idiotic name that made no sense. Still, it suited them, thought Prescott, as the resident double act walked in: Paul Farraday and Corinne Walters. He was an alcoholic air force commander who'd had a nervous breakdown and sworn he'd flown into an alien mothership. She was an ex-MI5 PR spokeswoman with the M.O of a "sexual predator" and a gung-ho attitude to self-promotion who'd proven indiscreet a few times too often. And was also an alcoholic. A match made in hell. The two of them had been the perfect fodder for an attempted coup some years back - superficially they could be seen as qualified to investigate 'inexplicable occurrences' within the UK due to their connections, but really they were there to be scapegoats for the "Operation: Delta" initiative. It had been the single most embarrassing affair in British Cabinet history.

But the two of them survived, somehow, impressing the oh-so-easily impressed prime minister with some evidence of aliens they'd uncovered, some doubtlessly fabricated reports, and like the parasites they were had re-branded themselves as "Odyssey" - a brand new organisation with the same old remit - enjoying the government funding which, Prescott figured without a shadow of a doubt, went straight into their dying livers.

He surveyed them both - Corinne's features were barely distinguishable underneath the mass of make-up she wore, her head near-buried in over-elaborate hair that had to be a wig. She had made some effort but clearly too much. Farrady looked like he had crawled out of an alcoholic stupor five minutes ago - which he probably had - wearing a crumpled suit and his thin, wrinkled face framed with hair that shifted in all directions. Prescott felt they were so beneath him he wouldn't even deign to give them common courtesy, so turned his eyes down to a completely irrelevant file and waited.

"You wanted to see us?" asked Farrady after a time, with extreme trepidation in his wavering voice.

Prescott made a non-committal grunt, before lowering the file and leaning back in his chair. He surveyed them further for another half a minute, timing the pause to give them the maximum discomfort.

"No," he finally said "But I've been informed that I have little choice in the matter. London is near a crisis stage."

"Crisis stage?" parroted Corinne, in shock.

"Yes, crisis stage!" exclaimed Prescott. "You've heard something, surely?"

Farrady mumbled, looking for an answer. Most of their intelligence probably came from Google...

"Regardless," said Prescott, waving him to stop "London is experiencing... a power drain. I am told, an unusually severe one."

The two 'agents' exchanged worried glances. "Currently the plants are compensating but... it won't last long. Soon there'll be a complete black-out. A terrible loss of face this time of year"

"How long's 'not long', sir?" asked Paul.

"It can only get shorter, Farrady!" snapped Prescott. He slammed a photograph onto the desk. Corinne put on a pair of spectacles and examined it - strange lights in the sky, the usual thing. "Wyvern Hill, Sussex. Sighted approximately the same time this drain started. And I don't believe in co-incidence.

"You want us to investigate?"

"I don't want you lounging around on Ministry time any longer, that's for sure! Maybe it's about time you justified your rather generous Cabinet funding."

The two agents exchanged glances. They knew the score, no doubt. Even as thick as they were they knew about Torchwood by now. They knew that something had to have gone wrong for them to get this assignment. And they knew that Prescott hated them and wanted their funding. This could well be the last trip they ever made...

The decision was reached as one. They'd need some cannon fodder.

"For a job of this priority," explained Corinne calmly "We'll need another agent."

"Chatham," explained Farrady, completely unnecessarily, as they only had one agent.

Prescott ground his teeth. Benjamin James Sebastian James Chatham. A loud-mouthed Cambridge snob who'd falled in with Operation Delta and, thanks to their low standards, passed himself off as some sort of agent. He'd caused endless trouble by passing on top secret information to any tom, dick or harry; and disrupted important work by constantly phoning up agencies about half-baked conspiracy theories. He even claimed that the US president was an alien in disguise, for Christ’s sake! Chatham was, simply put, a complete embarrassment to the entire British Government. But, given the fact that Prescott had recommended to the appropriate personnel a prompt assassination for Chatham, he could hardly complain when he was sent on a dangerous assignment.

"Go ahead," he said simply "But get moving. You don't get there soon, and even those damned UNIT yobs might beat you to the scene..."

Katie Ryan loved Christmas. She loved the excuse to wear daggy jumpers in awful colours, she loved fake snow as a decorating accessory, she loved crackers and party hats, she loved bright wrapping paper in excess and she loved outrageously large meals.

Ben Chatham, however, did not love Christmas. Ordinarily, this would be no problem for either of them - but Katie's parents were... well, somewhat orthodox. She'd let a thing or two slip about seeing someone and before she knew it they were demanding to meet 'the young man' in the holidays - every man she dated was seen as a prospective son-in-law by them so she tried to keep them under wraps. Now that they knew about Ben, though, he had to be presented... and it wasn't something Katie was looking forward to.

"It's just so common," moaned Ben, from his near-motionless position draped over the couch "So bloody common."

She sighed inwardly. Everything was 'common'.

"It's common because a lot of people like it," Katie said, trying to imbue her voice with cheery enthusiasm she prayed would be infectious.

"Well a lot of people like shoving lard pies down their throats until they balloon up," drawled Ben "That doesn't make it something one should want to do."

Impeccable logic as always...

"Anyway," he went on, after a desultory swig of his precious absence "It's only practical function is to shift cheap chav toys in bulk numbers, which serves only to destroy our culture and heritage, and encourage future generations to adapt chavish lifestyles. As opposed to sensible ones."

"Sensible ones being those spent perpetually rat-faced on someone else's furniture while sniping about their taste?"

There was a long pause.


And that was that. Katie raised an eyebrow and turned back to the tree, shifting some wayward tinsel in the appropriate way of the elusive festive season feng-shui. Ben had to go soon - state of emergency. Maybe she could arrange a break-up in front of her parents? Good odds. Just as there were good odds that her father would punch him out on sight - he'd nearly done the same to Darren from her days in Trinity College, and he was only a Marxist - far more rational than Ben had ever been.


Katie nearly jumped. Ben's weird robot dog moved near-silently, and it was easy to forget about it. It was the only thing around that indicated that Ben was actually ever so slightly more than he seemed...

"I'm over here, K9!" called Ben

"Correct, Master. However, my instruments indicate that you are not currently capable of making reasonable suggestions..."


"You are currently intoxicated."

"I've only just started this bottle."

K9 prudently rotated himself around a handful of degrees, to face towards Katie and away from Ben. "Mistress - as I was in the process of communicating prior to that unnecessary interruption - my sensors indicate that there are unprecedented electronic fluctuations within the general area."

Katie glanced around. "All the electric seems to be working fine, K9."

"Sensors indicate otherwise, and are supplied generously with fail-safes."

"Aliens!" shouted Ben, with great feeling. He would have jumped off the couch, if not for his condition - as it was he ended up falling to the ground weakly in a shambles.

"Don't you think that's a bit-"

"No! It's always aliens! They want me! They’re coming for meeee!"

That did seem to be true - Ben certainly attracted more aliens than anyone else she knew. She supposed, comparatively speaking, he was the expert.

"K9," slurred Ben "Suggested course of action?"


(Probably not)


Youth of Australia said...


That's surprisingly incredible. You really capture the cynacism and mock manners of Chatham's world, kinda like Androzani Major - everyone hates everyone else but only the very stupid or very powerful are honest about it.

Do I detect a few notes of my own (inferior) work clinging like ramores to this brilliance? Odyssey, "Sebastian James Sebastian", K9's treatment of his Master... But no, this is shithot man.

Like whatsisname says, Chatham has the potential to be a very interesting character if treated realistically.

I've still got that semi novelization of his first story knocking around...

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

That's surprisingly incredible. You really capture the cynacism and mock manners of Chatham's world, kinda like Androzani Major - everyone hates everyone else but only the very stupid or very powerful are honest about it.

Yes, it's actually quite faithful to the source material, isn't it?

That's why I posted it - I was impressed that I'd ever written it...

Do I detect a few notes of my own (inferior) work clinging like ramores to this brilliance? Odyssey, "Sebastian James Sebastian", K9's treatment of his Master...

Yep. They're all pretty much nods in your direction..

Like whatsisname says, Chatham has the potential to be a very interesting character if treated realistically.

Yeah, that was what I was attempting here - to try and work out what real people would think of Ben and OD.

Sadly I've got no idea what was going to happen with the rest of the story...

Youth of Australia said...

Well, as false starts go, this is still brilliant.