Saturday, 22 June 2013

Flashback - To 'The Stuff of Nightmares' from 2009

I'm going to post some flashbacks and excerpts from various old projects of mine. Here's a favourite moment from 'The Stuff of Nightmares' - which was a Doctor who audiobook recorded by Tom Baker and published in 2009. Four years ago already..! 


I spent a very disconsolate evening back here at Nest Cottage. At that point I was still catering for myself – Mrs Wibbsey hadn’t yet joined the household crew – and I made a gloomy supper of a tin of spam and some ginger biscuits topped off with a schooner of some rather sticky sherry. I pored over the local and national papers, clipping any articles to do with animals. The minister for transport, visiting an elderly aunt, had been mauled by wild dogs while in the corner shop buying almond slices for tea.

I sat late into the night, in the sitting room of my rented cottage, pondering on how to get my hands on a specimen of one of these daemonically possessed fauna.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to look very far.

The fire crackled right down to the last hot cinders and the night came creeping in around me, stealing under the doors and the ill-fitting windows of this ancient place.

With the night came the night-beasts.

I held very still. I was alert at the merest scrape of a claw on a cold window pane. The tiniest shriek of the frame as something levered it open.

I was being visited. It was past three a.m.

I didn’t even turn. I sat tensely expectant. Listening for the tread of paws or claws. And, as I said before, there was no hoarse breathing. No obvious signs of life. This was how the dead came stealing in. Pad pad pad on stuffing-filled limbs. The true stuff of nightmares, Brigadier.

Small enough to clamber through my window. Large enough to cause a heavy thump on the carpet when it landed in my room. I turned very very slowly to see. These stiff old joints of mine. I was dreading they would crack and give away the fact that I was awake.

It was a badger. A snuffling ursine brute, piebald and fanged, nudging its stealthy way towards me. Undoubtedly with the idea of doing me in. It knew where I had been that day for I still had the charnel house reek of that factory in my clothes. The badger flexed its talons and its black eyes glittered with hatred…

In a flash I was up on my feet, whirling around with the Times and all the other papers, flinging them over the beast as it prepared to spring. I leapt backwards and – aha! – the poker was glowing orange, smouldering in the remains of the fire. I grabbed it and brandished it furiously as the beast ripped its way through the colour supplements.

It snarled at me and came lumbering around the armchair, thumping its limbs on the rucked up carpet. I waved my burning poker in its face but the creature seemed to have lost its natural instincts. It outfaced the heat bravely and came running at me on clattering claws. I had no choice. I stabbed it hard through the muscular chest with my makeshift weapon and winced at the flying sparks and the horrid smell of burning fur.

Now the creature howled. A ghastly, unearthly noise. I pressed my advantage, withdrawing and stabbing again, urging the flames to catch. My assailant was nothing if not flammable, surely?

The badger twisted and thrashed. Its glass eyes gleamed with torpid dismay. Acrid smoke started to fill the air. And then there came a crash from the scullery kitchen. More of the creatures! The badger had not come alone. With strength borne of desperation I hoisted up the weakened form of my enemy and hauled him over to the coals.

In the kitchen was a scene of chaos. The windows had been smashed and three more beasts were clattering about. Crockery had been pushed off the draining board, smashing on the stone tiles. And here they were, the invaders. Small, but no less deadly and determined for that. Some awful rat thing, grabbing at my dressing gown cord. A snuffling leathery mole attempting to sink its fangs into my ankle. An amphibian monstrosity flinging itself off the Welsh Dresser. And everywhere that nasty smell of chemical preservatives.

I fought that night, Brigadier. I fought for my life. You know how I like to find a better way. A more peaceful solution. But these animals were dead shells, brimming with endless energy. I knew they would go on attacking me all night, with their tiny savage claws and teeth.

Diving onto the floor, I flung open the cupboard under the sink. I rummaged amongst the cleaning supplies which I had up to that point never even looked at. I improvised a rather nifty flame thrower using some kind of aerosol spray and a box of cook’s matches. Then I had the bleach out and I dashed it at the wicked little monsters. That made them squeal.

And then, during a lull in all the action it struck me. I was under attack by the cast of a crazed version of The Wind in the Willows! As the night air came whirling in through the broken kitchen windows, freezing the cottage right through, the battle redoubled and I turned into some kind of savage being, protecting home and hearth from the wild beasts. Really, Brigadier, you would hardly have recognised me.

At last it was over. I had defeated them, by fair means or foul. Whatever malign intelligence had animated these cadavers fled all of a sudden, it seemed, and the damaged beings dropped where they stood. Quite lifeless. And, battered, bruised and weirdly triumphant, I stood surveying the wreckage of my home-from-home.

By then dawn was coming up. Luckily, no one in the village had noticed the small war in my cottage. It’s one of those places where the locals let you keep yourself to yourself, which is rather a relief in my line of work. 

1 comment:

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed this series - thank you.

    Can't wait to start the next series but I'm forcing myself to space them out so I don't burn through them.