A lot of people thought the Office of Tin Scarecrow Productions was
haunted, but it was just the accounting program running.
"...and so, with all expenditures and income factored in, Tin
Scarecrow Productions' total profit for the previous year amounts
to exactly... half a blueberry muffin."
BKWillis yelped in shock, partly from the announcement that he
had no money and partly because he'd been in the act of lighting
a Marlboro and the emotional impact of that announcement had
caused him to stick the lighter flame against his nose. "Say that
again, Seraph," he said around a sick little smile. "I don't think I
heard you right."
The accounting hologram sighed and called up a graphic window
in the air beside her. It was evident that she wished she had eyes
that could properly roll or lips to twist in exasperation, but Seraph's
form was that of a ghostly, faceless white-haired woman in a
shapeless gown with two golden slits for eyes and might well have
been chosen for her specifically to prevent eye-rolling, teeth-
gritting, or lip-curling, given who she usually worked with. But
she'd learned to convey an awful lot with just a pained sigh and
that was what she laid on the Boss now.
"All you had to show for last year's efforts was half a blueberry
muffin," she repeated, pointing at the 3-D muffin graphic in the
window floating beside her head. "It was what you managed to
steal out of the janitor's lunchbox while he was in the restroom.
As for actual money, you have zilch-o."
"Holy crap," the Boss said. "Did we just not _earn_ anything?"
"You actually had a fair bit of income, but expenditures accounted
for the entire sum."
"_Crispy_ crap!" he swore again. "I _knew_ I was paying the
employees too much and--"
"Employee salaries accounted for less than 15% of all expenditures,"
Seraph cut in.
"Then where did the rest of the money go?!"
Seraph called up another window, this one with a pie graph, instead
of a muffin graph. "3% went to upkeep and facilities maintenance,
4% to research and development, 2% to advertising, .002% to the
legal department, 18% to replenishing your ammunition stocks, and
approximately 57% to purchasing miscellaneous goods including:
17 anime DVD box sets; a life-size Seras Victoria plush doll; a set
of books titled _Space Opera Babes Revealed_; a commissioned oil
painting of Miss Nyssa and Miss Kasumi Tendo by one 'Paxfield
"Okay, okay," BKWillis hastily interrupted. "So it all went on
necessities. That's all I needed to know. Thanks, Seraph." He
flicked the 'off' switch on his desktop PC and the hologram woman
vanished instantly. "What to do, what to do," he mumbled. "I guess
I can start by announcing an across-the-board pay cut, maybe scale
back the legal department's budget. Cut research altogether; it's not
like I ever bother to use it... Hey! Maybe that'll give me enough to
get that 'Dirty Pair' box set!" He banged his fist on the desk. "No!
That's the kind of thinking that got me into this predicament. I have
to come up with a new source of revenue... Charge the employees
for the air they breathe? Nah, they'd find some way around that."
He stared out the window for the longest time, frowning in thought.
"Aha!" he exclaimed after several minutes had passed. "I know just
how to deal with this! I'll watch a movie and not think about it!"
He rummaged through the box of DVDs beside the computer until he
found one that suited his mood. "'The Patriot'! Yeah, that'll work!"
He popped it in the player and started flipping through the scene
index. "To Hell with plot, let's just skip right to the blood and gore
and tomahawks in the forehead." But just as the Redcoat blood
started spraying, he froze, a look of semi-profound revelation on
his face, then a smile. A smile so nasty, evil, cunning, and self-
serving, you could have put a stupid beret on it and made it Prime
Minister of France.
"Nyssaias! Embericles!" he bellowed into the intercom speaker.
"Into the Office, stat! A four-alarm stroke of genius has just broken
"Well? Am I the cleverest guy in the world, or just this hemisphere?"
Nyssaias looked at Embericles. Embericles looked at Nyssaias. They
both looked across the desk at the Boss.
"Well..." Nyssaias began, searching for the most diplomatic words.
"...it's _evil_," Embericles went on. "I like _that_ part of it..."
"...and it should have, er, _results_, yes..."
"Oh, come on now," Willis said. "It's foolproof. Even a fully-accredited
village idiot couldn't screw this up."
"Yeah," sniffed the Dark Muse, "but there's never a fully-accredited
village idiot around when you need one."
Nyssaias shook her head. "I just don't know. Won't it lack a plot or
The Boss shrugged. "Yeah. What's your point?"
"My point? How can you tell a story with no... _story_?!"
"Ahh," Willis sighed, "but the DVD has forever changed the way we
watch movies. With the ability to go right to the scene we want to
see, nobody cares about actual _plotlines_ any more. A movie is now
just a series of set-piece scenes with some tenuous connection to each
other. Just look at Tarantino's stuff. The amount of money made
varies inversely to the amount of actual _plot_ in his films. And based
on that formula, I should make a fortune off this idea."
"And even if you don't make very much," the Light Muse mused, "it's
not as if _you'll_ be out any money, since you're tricking other people
into actually _making_ the film."
"Exactly! I can't possibly fail!"
Embericles snickered. "That's what you said about ninth grade..."
TIN SCARECROW PRODUCTIONS
a BKWillis (stole this) film
HOORAY FOR BOLLYWOOD!
The harried voice of Clive in "Director Mode" speaks from
"Ok! Ok!... If you say it's a B, then it's a bloody B!" mumble,
mumble... "But I still think it looks like an H. Now, can we get on?...
Ok... Right, people... Yes, and that includes you, Bob. (ye gods,
those trousers are going to be a nightmare to light properly!). Why,
oh why did I ever let myself be talked into this? Places everyone,
we're going for a take... Action!"
The darkness is... well... dark! But the silence is expectant.
A sound suddenly cuts across that waiting silence. The noise is a
little reminiscent of Indian sitar music... But somewhat more like the
sound of Wolsey being tortured.
A dim glow brightens, revealing a marble palace floating in the air.
As the sourceless light grows brighter, the ethereal building looks
less like a floating palace.... And more like a fly-blown and somewhat
out of focus photograph of the Taj Mahal, which has been enlarged
beyond reasonable bounds.
A yellow spot light flashes on and focuses on the wings - stage right.
A tambourine jingles. From behind the curtain emerges a pterodactyl
wearing baggy pyjammie trousers in fluorescent purple, and an
elaborately embroidered Pushteen overcoat which would have
looked splendid on an Afghani Hill Tribesman; but on Bob the
Pterodactyl it just looks like a gaudily embroidered tent. The piece
of off- white linen wound around the bony crest could not qualify
as a turban... No matter how loosely you defined the term. Kooooool
Shades shining in the now over bright lights, the wretched fellow
scampers to centre stage, and strikes a pose before the tatty picture
of the Taj Mahal. He presses wing-tips together, and bows to the
"Greetings all you movie browns out there. Welcome to the
presentation of this year's Adrics Award for Best Drabble posted in
2003. The overall theme for this year's award ceremony presentations
is the glitz and glamour of the movie business... And so CM
Productions have spared no expense to bring you the presentation
from the very heart of Movie Land... That's right folks!.... We've
The Glittering centre of the glamorous Indian Movie business."
Bob produces the Second Doctor's recorder from a pocket, and
proceeds to play with rather more enthusiasm than talent. When
nothing happens for several minutes, an ominous sounding
barracking swells from the auditorium. Bob glances nervously at the
unseen watchers, then down at the floor. He stretches out a clawed
foot, and stamps. With a groan and a shudder, a stand microphone,
got up to look like a Cobra, rises from the floor. It sways stiffly back
and forth, looking not at all like a snake being charmed. When it is
at the right height for a pterodactyl, Bob blows an ear shredding
blast, and the fake snake shudders to a halt, slightly askew.
Bob tosses the recorder aside, and waves a wing. From stage right
lumbers a dubious looking elephant. It looks like Tuck the Walrus,
rowing himself on his ice block, with great cloth ears and a piece of
vacuum hose pipe strapped to his head. The dubious elephant is
towing a large video screen on a trolley, which is brightly painted
with what Bob swears are authentic Indian cultural symbols.
Bringing up the rear is a temple dancer in bells and a red sari, bearing
an uncanny resemblance to Pellucida Pelican. She twiddles a little
The fake trunk on Tuck's face curls up, and a loud trumpeting sound
shakes dust loose from the rafters. Tuck rows himself off on his
block of ice leaving the screen behind. Pellucida gives the unseen
watchers a wave and dances off, jingling merrily.
Bob steps up to the microphone. "To set the scene for our little
extravaganza this evening, I have been out and about in the town,
soaking up the heady atmosphere of this fine Capital City of India's
booming film industry."
The screen lights up with a shot of Bob leaning over a pot of curry.
He is clutching a spoon; he looks eager; but when the lid is lifted,
his Koooool Shades roll up, and he swoons dead away.
"...And hob-nobbing with the glamorous stars of stage and screen..."
On the screen is a shot of Bob chatting with what appears to be
various glamorous Hollywood personalities. For some strange
reason, they all appear to be dressed in colourful Indian garb, and
staring fixedly over Bob's head. Just before the shot dissolves, a
breeze swirls around and blows the cardboard cut-outs over on top
There are ominous noises from the unseen watchers. Taking his cue
from this, Bob decides it would be wise to curtail this part of the
show, and move things right along.
"...And so, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado..."
Bob waves a hand to the wings, stage right.
"Maharani? The envelope if you please?"
That dubious elephant rows itself back onto the stage. This time,
atop his back is perched a precariously wobbling Howdah. Inside,
nestled among plush cushions, is Pellucida Pelican in the bright
scarlet sari. She is waiving to the crowd with one wing, an holding
a golden envelope in her beak. The strange elephant stops next to
the microphone. Pellucida twiddles with the tiny control device in a
claw. The length of vacuum cleaner pipe curls up to pluck the
envelope daintily from the beak of the fake Maharani. In jerky
swoops, the envelope is presented to Bob.
Pellucida waves a wing gayly at the camera; with the other hand,
she fiddles with the control box. The "trunk" curves up and releases
a gigantic trumpeting which blasts through the auditorium. Pellucida
starts. The control box flips from her grasp and plonks to the ground.
There is a flash of blue sparks from the device.
Instantly, the fake trunk goes wild. It shoots out straight in front,
then stands bolt upright. It begins to spin like a propeller. A
moment later Tuck whizzes off stage right, the cloth ears flapping
like Dumbo attempting a take-off in a vacuum. The Howdah tilts
off and is dragged along in the wake of the rocketing Walrus,
scattering cushions in its wake. Pellucida, laying on her back, is still
waving, a real trooper to the last. From off stage comes the sound
of a walrus, gone supersonic, discovering an eternal verity about
"unstoppable forces and immovable objects".
Bob winces. He waves the golden envelope, showing it to the
"The quality of this year's crop of drabbles has been as high as
ever, higher even, since this year there's been a super-abundance
of offerings to choose from. However, from all those nominated,
the list has been whittled down to five finalists..."
Bob makes a show of opening the envelope.
"...And so, without further ado, let us have a look at this year's
hopefuls. As ever, they are presented in alphabetical order. First
up we have... 'Degeneration', by Merripestin..."
The lights go down, and the screen lights up.
Recently, unmentioned to the children, he has gone blind. No
matter; he can see the future flipping like pages before him, and he
is chained to it as surely as he is locked into place in this chair on
He wants his own Ship, wants the comfort of that tiny stolen sliver
of home. Yes. Back to the Ship. And then . . . Briefly he imagines
walking the paths of an ornate, peaceful garden. He shuts his eyes,
slumping with the relief of acceptance.
Young Polly shivers in her own chair. Yes, he mustn't forget to keep
the children warm.
The Time Lords have taken away the rest of his life, cut his story
They put their hands on him and re-shape him, a forcible
metamorphosis that he cries out against. Then he spins off into the
dark, into a kind of terrible sleep.
Like Alice's adventures in Flatland, little Taren's with the Wonderful
Golden Robots, Reepicheep's in the Utter East, the adventures he
will never have are put away on a shelf in the greatest of all libraries.
Sometimes, after telling stories to his children, Jamie dreams of the
little man, but he is never allowed to remember.
As during his exile, he's forgotten how to steer. Then he only
wanted to leave Earth.
Now he just wants to get back.
He falls to the floor of the console room, each individual cell sending
shrieking signals to his brain -- too many to handle.
When he manages to open his eyes, a golden-eyed hallucination of
no specific gender is sitting on the edge of the console, looking down
at him. In its long colorless hands it holds all the secrets of the
universe. And one dead spider. It smiles, a smile like a knife, a
radioactive smile. "Got you."
He falls through blue soup of sky, toward earth green as a krynoid's
bum. Oh well, he's had a good run, a mad ramble, a bit of a laugh.
An old friend's grin above, black with malice and insanity. Humans
below, the size of jelly babies, calling his name in piping frightened
voices like dormice.
A white man-thing is coming, made of sugar candy and time. Is he
still falling? Will he always, always be falling?
Is that Romana laughing? She was a delight. The world is a lunatic
smear of color and it makes him smile a Cheshire smile.
His last desperate effort simply wasn't enough.
Should have known about the spectrox beforehand. Jumping in and
improvising doesn't work any more. Is it the universe that's changed,
or is it himself? Why do none of his stories have happy endings?
The girl's alive, but her voice is just one in the chorus, and there isn't
one of them he hasn't failed.
Time to give up.
Dying on the floor, filthy, he feels a tear slide across his face, and
the salt on his skin feels as if someone has slipped a hook into his
flesh and dragged it down.
He's broken a lot of things. Computers, dictatorships, rules, and
Also golf clubs, tension, friendships, and, perhaps, a heart.
He honestly doesn't know if the trouble with the TARDIS at this
moment is because of something he's broken and not yet fixed. He's
been making changes. It was time for changes. Throw away a bit of
the old, clear it out for the new.
He refused to settle down, make peace or friends or plans or
anything but trouble.
Maybe his volatile approach doomed him.
But really, the universe needs a good shaking up, from time to time.
Aware of the pale, black-haired girl waiting for him, he stops to mop
his brow theatrically with a paisley scarf, "Well that might have been
"I'm afraid it was," she says kindly.
He fakes a double take. "Ah, but I," he confides, "have a plan."
With a stage magician's pass, left hand over right, he produces:
playing cards, frilly panties, a purple plush drashig, a ham sandwich,
more, until his tattered brogues are buried in his worldly effects.
And finally a single white lily. Which he gives her.
She smiles for him.
"Success," he whispers, and there's an end.
"Wow! What a bargain... Seven for the price of one. Right, next up
we have a cheeky little piece from BKWillis..."
FUN WITH DOC AND [SARAH] JANE
(a BBC primer)
See Doc run.
See Jane run.
Run, Doc and Jane, run!
See the Dalek.
See the Dalek chase.
Chase, Dalek, chase!
See the pretty crystal.
See Doc grab the pretty crystal.
Run, Doc, run!
See the Master.
See the Master gloat.
Gloat, Master, gloat!
See the Master's pretty megaweapon.
It is aimed at the Earth.
Boom, Earth, boom!
See the Earth.
See the Earth not blow up.
See the pretty megaweapon's power source.
There should be a pretty crystal there.
See the Master curse Doc.
Curse, Master, curse!
See evil suck.
Suck, evil, suck!
"Ah - the benefits of education? My, but that brings it all flooding
back! I found those primers very helpful, particularly during my
frequent visits to the headmaster's office. Next up, we have a new
face in the winners' enclosure, Daibhid Ceannaideach, with..."
NOR ANY DROP...
"Hydrophobia is an interesting condition." said the Doctor,
thoughtfully. "To have such loathing for one of the basic
requirements of life. Daleks, of course, can't swim and don't drink,
which isn't quite the same thing, but all races that do need hydration
have their sufferers. I once met a group of telekenetics who could
actually repel liquids with the force of their disgust. But never, in
all my travels, have I seen a reaction like this."
Benny glared at him, before turning back to sweep up the glass
she'd thrown across the console room. "Look, I thought it was
"I think that little corker calls for a round of drinks. Next, by the same
author, a little..."
"Really, Peri, do I have to wear these ridiculous clothes?"
"Ridiculous? Compared to what you usually wear? Look, for once
could you *try* to be inconspicuous?"
"Oh very well." The Doctor had agreed to take Peri to Disneyland.
He had also, reluctantly, agreed to forego his patchwork coat and
dress as a typical tourist, in shorts and T-shirt. And he'd been
complaining ever since.
"Anyway," Peri said, "you're lucky I got some that fitted you at all."
"Oh, come now, Peri. I grant that a forty-inch waist is somewhat on
the obese side, but given the Brobdingnagian proportions of your
"Doctor, where on Earth did you get the idea you have a forty-inch
"From the label in these shorts, of course." He hesitated. "Funny,
according to the T-shirt size, I also have a forty-inch chest. Curious.
I must be cylindrical."
It took Peri a second to work it out. "Doctor, those *aren't* Roman
"Amazing how Daibhid managed to cram a matter of such huge
proportions into only one hundred words. Finally, we have another
by Mr Willis..."
The Doctor fixed Tegan and Adric with a firm, no-nonsense stare.
"It was very kind of Nyssa to offer to cook for us while the food
replicator is down. I want you to remember that Nyssa is still new
to this and is trying her hardest. She's always had servants or
machines to do this sort of work, so please be... charitable... when
supper is served."
And, with a heavy thud and a hopeful Trakenite smile, it was.
"What's... this, then?" Tegan asked.
"Why's it three foot long?"
Nyssa shrugged. "Those were the shortest rhubarbs I could find."
"What a tasty little treat."
the screen goes dark.
"And now, ladies and gentleman, the moment you've all been waiting
for. It's time to announce the winners of this year's Adrics Award for
Bob flings out a wing to stage left. A yellow spotlight centers on a
hideous green plastic Ali Baba linen basket edging out of the wings.
It is being propelled by a long handled broom. The handle is being
gripped nervously at the other end by a pair of thick leather
gauntlets. A foot from the bemused Bob, the broom stops pushing
and lifts to sweep off the lid.
Off-stage, someone begins to torture poor Wolsey again. The
head of a cobra pops from the basket to glare angrily towards the
source of that hideous sound. It's forked tongue flicks in and out.
Obviously, the person torturing the cat understands the "Snake
Tongue", for the noise stops abruptly, and is followed by the sound
of running feet fading into the distance. The Cobra sniggers, and
turns to give the pterodactyl a speculative "once over". Bob
waggles a wing at him in a "gimme" gesture. The snake glances into
the auditorium, shrugs non-existent shoulders, and dips out of sight.
When the head re-emerges, it is holding a large, golden envelop in
its fangs. Reaching from as far away as he can get, Bob snatches
the envelope. The snake makes a playful lunge at the outstretched
wing. Bob squeaks and leaps back, falling on his behind. The
A rope grows up from the basket. The snake curls about the rope,
and climbs out of sight, pulling the basket up after it. Left alone on
the stage, Bob unseals the envelope, and prepares to announce the
"The winner of this year's Adrics Best Drabble Award is a tie between :
"'Degeneration', by Merripestin...
"'Fun with Doc and [Sarah] Jane', by BKWillis!"