I’ve been getting a bit lazy with these of late, so as it was Wednesday, here they are… As always, read the stories first if you want to avoid spoilers – I have linked the stories to the titles.
This one changed a lot between the first and second drafts. For one thing, I moved it from past to present tense, because it seemed to work a lot better with the narrator’s voice. I made the narrator a nurse, which have them a reason to accompany the police to the scene. And I changed the name of the dog from Fritz to Ginger. Not just because the randomly chosen letter of the week was a G, but because after the first reading, Fritz didn’t seem to work as the name of the dog.
The idea for this one was, of course, a faulty street light. We originally saw the light while out shopping – it was under the bridge while on the way to the supermarket – and I was reminded of it last week while walking the dogs when we saw another one, this time attached to an apartment block.
The name came first here, as Z was the chosen letter from the remaining pile. I then had to do an enormous amount of research – and thankfully, Wikipedia is a thing that exists – into birds. I ended up with the zebra dove, which appear to be able to escape from people’s personal aviaries and set up home wherever in the world they happen to be. That suited my purpose entirely.
The whole conceit of having someone watching, who the person thinks is watching them and turns out not to have been has been swilling in my mind for a long time. Although I don’t think there’s really enough in the plot for it, I originally envisaged this as a novel, with the stalker being an actual stalker who was watching despite a restraining order and ended up saving the life of the person he was stalking. Problem was, I couldn’t make that work. Finally, this clicked into place one day this week and I knew it was time for this one. I pretty much followed exactly the template I had in my head for this one all week and I ended up quite pleased with the way it turned out.
The character of the actual stalker, incidentally, is based on a stalker John Lennon had who was featured in a documentary made about Lennon some time around 1971 or 1972. I can’t quite remember – it’s a long time since I saw it. Lennon invited the man in, explained that he wasn’t leaving him secret messages, and that in fact if he was leaving anyone messages in his songs, it was Yoko. They had a nice lunch together, and the man left.
The idea for this one came to me a very long time ago, and for a few years it was called “As It Was”. The idea of artefacts from a parallel universe – similar to thebeatlesneverbrokeup.com – was a tantalising one, and what could be more interesting than thinking what if things had run completely differently for some people, yet changed almost nothing? It’s only briefly touched on in this story, but it’s something I may go back to at a later date.
In fact, it was supposed to be the story of how Destiny Jones – the medium from “Arcana”, as well as other stories, including some I haven’t written yet – tracked down a missing person who was searching for his dead wife and had come across patients who had crossed over from a parallel Earth. The intention was to leave it ambiguous as to whether there was a parallel Earth, and pick him up at the point where he had been waiting for the anomaly to occur. Needless to say, that idea didn’t work very well.
I’m happier with this one. I’m trying something William Goldman said in “Which Lie Did I Tell?” – arrive at your story as late as possible. I could, I suppose, have had the reason Tom was admitted to hospital as the opening, and that is what I was trying for, but it didn’t really add anything to the story, so I scrapped it.
Weirdly, I didn’t notice until I came to post this that Henderson was presenting the film and was also the one who Doctor Blaisewood called at the end.