[We return from commercial in the middle of a horrible slaughter...]
"We'll have a good time then, Dad," the squat figure rasped. "You know we'll
have a good time theeeeeeeen!"
He bowed three times as the studio applause track roared. Amber ran out onto
the stage, marked by masking tape on the floor, and put her arm around his wide
"Wasn't that amazing?" she asked, wiping away a tear. "I don't think that song
has ever moved me as much as it did just now. A big hand for Strael, everyone!"
Strael bowed again and left the stage. "It's easy to see why he won Sontaran
Idol, isn't it?
"But now, let's look at the toteboard and see how much we've raised for the
kiddies!" She turned to the electronic display as the old amount was replaced
by the new total. When she saw the new number, Amber turned away from the
camera and bit her lip to suppress the scream; somehow, the total had actually
dropped ten percent!
She calmed herself before turning back around. "We can do better than this,
surely! Come on, ladies and gentlemen! It's for the children! Now, to show
you just what I mean, here's Sarah Jane Smith with some of the kids your money
goes to support!"
[SCENE: Back in the playroom, KIYONE, a harried young woman with green hair, is
engaged in a tug-of-war with a little boy over what looks to be, for all the
world, like an ordinary wooden mask. Finally, KIYONE manages to get the mask
away from the young boy, who pouts up at her before crawling away.
[KIYONE sighs heavily, then makes her way over to SARAH, still carrying the
KIYONE: You must be... Adult Sarah, is that right?
SARAH: Yes. You're... Kiyone, right?
SARAH: Okay. Um... [indicating the mask] What were you just doing?
[KIYONE glances down at the mask.]
KIYONE: Oh, this? The kids were throwing it 'round again, so I had to confiscate
SARAH: Ah, right. So what else do you do here?
KIYONE: [sighs] What else...? Okay, um, we make sure the kids eat and sleep on
time, help them go to the potty, change their nappies, clean up after them,
um... welcome the new toddlers, get roped into their playtimes, read them
SARAH: [interrupting] This'd be from the "Big Story Time Book" of repute,
correct? The book that stars characters from the 'Round in the stories, and
selects the most suitable characters for the roles - like Chris and Fitz as
Cinderella's Ugly Sisters?
KIYONE: [sigh getting even heavier] Yes, _that_ storybook. The kids love it, for
some reason. Besides, are _you_ going to take their favourite storybook away?
[SARAH considers this. Meanwhile, KIYONE continues.]
KIYONE: -Break up their fights, give them their medicine... the usual, pretty
SARAH: Does the fact that Look Who's Talking is outside continuity cause any
KIYONE: [considering] Not really. Okay, so we've got a bit wider clientele than
your standard day care centre - but equally, that also means we've got the
knowhow to deal with most of the problems that come up. Of course, kids being
kids, sometimes they come up with stuff so weird even _we_ have trouble dealing
SARAH: [semi-seriously] So who would you say was in charge around here? The
adults or the children?
[KIYONE appears to be seriously considering this.]
KIYONE: Personally? I don't think _anyone_ knows. We're all in the same boat,
after all - even if the kids don't always get that.
[SARAH raises her eyebrows at that one.]
SARAH: Well, thank you very much for that, Kiyone-.
KIYONE: ...Hey, would you mind doing us a big favour?
SARAH: ...What did you have in mind?
KIYONE: Well... we've got a lot of junk - like this [flourishes the mask] -
building up around the place - stuff the kids found, stuff they threw away, and
some I have absolutely _no_ clue where it came from...
KIYONE: And I wondered if you'd do us a big favour, and take it off our hands -
have a jumble sale, or a raffle, or something. [considers] For charity.
SARAH: [cautiously - she _knows_ Outside] How much of it is dangerous?
KIYONE: None. Trust me on this - I've had a lot of practice in handling
hazardous materials. [twitches]. A _lot_ of practice. None of this stuff's
SARAH: ...All right.
KIYONE: Great. I'll get the crates.
SARAH: Thank you, Kiyone. And now, it's back to the studio.
SARAH: Wait, _crates?!_
As the video played, Amber ran offstage and grabbed the first Doctor who came to
hand, who, contrary to what you might expect, wasn't the actual First Doctor -
he had left to protest the next performer - but was, in fact, the Third.
"How the frell can the pledge total actually go down?" she yelled.
"Well," he said, rubbing his neck so hard the hairs started to smoulder, "people
have been calling to take their pledges back."
"You can't do that! Once you make a bid, it's made!" She screwed her eyes
tightly shut. "Why," she asked, "are people cancelling bids?"
"They're complaining that the show's becoming boring. Okay, so there was the
thing with Adric and Nyssa, and Willis shooting the books, but they want
_blood_. Explosions, bloodbaths, fatal accidents..."
"They're upset that things are going well?!" Amber shrieked. "What in
Gallifreya's sacred name do they _want?!_ " She brought herself under control.
"All right. All right. ...You know, I can believe that..."
"Really?" Just then, the Doctor's hand cramped. In a bit of extraordinarily
bad luck, the fingers tightened around the nerve cluster at the base of the
neck, and he lost consciousness.
"And people don't think anything's going wrong?" Amber asked the world at large.
Two minutes later, she was back in front of the cameras introducing the next
act. "Unless you've been living under a rock for the last two years, you know
all about this megastar. His debut album, 'X term N 8', produced five Top Ten
singles, and the first single from his follow-up, 'Day of the Dilly', has
already shot up to number one on both the rap and pop charts! He's here to
perform that very hit in our studio! Put your hands together for Dilly K and
'Bling Bling Booty'!"
She got out of the way as the smoke pots went off and the women in the gold
bodysuits danced onto the stage.
"Bling, bling! I like the booty that goes bling, bling!" In the midst of the
gyrating dancers, a Dalek rolled into view. It was crimson with gold bumps and
accents, and it wore gold chains around its vents and plunger arm. "I like the
bling bling booty!"
"I thought," the First Doctor said, "that he wasn't going to be doing that song.
I only came on because I was assured that-"
"No, but we _are_ using a cleaned-up dub."
Amber nodded. "Right. You do know he's just light-synching the song?"
Before the Doctor could answer, Dilly K shouted a word definitely not from any
edited version of the song. He abandoned the stage while the song continued to
"Oh no," Amber said as the Dalek came toward them. "I was told they'd cleared
this with his people."
"It appears no one cleared it with him, hmmm?" First said. "I believe _I_ shall
talk to him, and see if we can settle this like gentlemen."
Amber made a split-second decision. "All right. You do that. I'll cover by
presenting the next award."
She made a quick spell of protection in First's direction, and hurried past
Dilly K and Seventh, who was following the Dalek with a handheld camera.
Meanwhile, First had stopped in front of the rapper. "Now young man, surely you
didn't believe that it would be appropriate for..."
"Sorry about that, folks." Amber said. "Just a few minor technical difficulties.
While we're tending to them, let me just announce the winner of the award for
'Best Drama Long Fiction', Bradley K. Willis for 'A Family Affair'!
The sounds of blaster fire died down, and First staggered on, smoking slightly.
"I believe... I have reached an accommodation with Mr. K's people... my dear."
"Thank you, Doctor." Amber said. "Do you want to go and lie down? Maybe have
something to recover?"
"I believe... I shall do that very thing... my dear..." So saying, First
Amber turned back to the camera. "And now, to present the 'Best Series/Story
Arc' award, here's a man always ready with a jelly baby and a winning grin, a
man who should need no introduction - the Fourth Doctor!"
[The FOURTH DOCTOR walks on, apparently distracted by the bundle of knitting
he's holding, and by the half-knitted scarf which trails along the floor behind
FOURTH: Knit one, purl two, knit three, purl four... Ah, hello, all! Just doing
my own part for tonight's cause. [holds up the half-knitted scarf.] Apparently,
I'm being sponsored for each foot of this I knit before time's up. Which, I
imagine, would normally be the lead-in to a strained metaphor about how knitting
can be like writing a series, and, in fact, rather like my own adventures, for
that matter - sometimes, you have the pattern before you, you know where you're
going, sometimes you find you've come up with something completely different
from what you originally started with, and sometimes you have to forge ahead by
sheer guesswork and improvisation - but we're not going to do that now, are we?
However, that _does_ lead us nicely into the matter of the Best Series/Story Arc
Award. So let's get down to business, shall we?
[As FOURTH describes each series, selected scenes flash up on the screen behind
FOURTH: First off, we have 'To Die For', that now-infamous series chronicling
the twists and turns of the relationship between a homicidally psychotic Nyssa
and her eternal victim Adric. Add in Adric's well-meaning friends, a veritable
plethora of secret organisations devoted to one side or the other, and an
aquatranssexual Cigarette-Smoking Bastard with divided loyalties, and you have
the setup for a saga of truly bizarre proportions, even for me.
Last year saw little change in the status quo, letting the subplots take
centre-stage, as Number One made a disturbing discovery about his/her future,
Sandra and Katarina reached a disturbing realisation about the Alzarians, and
most disturbing of all... the Wondrous and Adorable Nyssa's Knights-Errant
Regiment actually fell for a girl who wasn't Nyssa.
[FOURTH shudders, before beaming again.]
FOURTH: Next up, Helen Fayle's 'Book of Taliesin', devoted to the epic saga of
the bard Taliesin, his companion Vivienne, and the Wild Huntsman, Kastchei - all
of whom seem oddly familiar, for some reason - in the universe of the Thirteen
[FOURTH frowns at that.]
FOURTH: You know, I'm _sure_ I recognise them from somewhere... ah, well.
Last year primarily gave us 'The Invisible City', as our protagonists found
themselves caught in a struggle that threatened the balance of power in the
Alliance of Worlds... and the balance of power between themselves. It also gave
us 'Thorns', an insight into the life of the witch-queen Morgaine - and 'The
Shape of Fire', acquainting us with the nature of an old Enemy... and the death
of a dragon.
Next... Paul Gadzikowski's 'King Arthur In Time And Space', as the Arthurian
legends, naturally enough, get translated into space opera, drawing on elements
from series closer to home. Last year, the focus fell on Merlin's apprentice
Nimue, who, having inherited Merlin's time-travelling CAVE - 'CAVE'? Oh,
_that's_ what it means! - found herself involved with temporal anomalies, a
temporal cold war... and the little matter of a rewritten history.
Paul also gave us further installments in his Peri arc, as - ahem - we, by which
I mean my other selves and I - arranged for her to explore all alternative
realities in search of the version of her father that satisfies her best. In the
name of that noble cause, Paul's taken us into the realms of 'South Park' and
'Harry Potter' parody, and explored H. G. Wells High School, the high school
Meanwhile, the Valeyard's found himself in the unenviable position of villain of
the arc. Good luck with that, old chap.
[FOURTH raises an eyebrow.]
FOURTH: Now... B. K. Willis's and Ken Young's Magnus and Varne stories,
featuring the enigmatic mercenary Magnus and his shapeshifting assistant Varne -
and a big hello to both of them! - a collaborative series where Bradley and Ken
collaborate on each story. In this, Magnus and Varne find themselves drawn into
confrontation with a mysterious conspiracy involved in turning ordinary humans
into combat drones - and intent on destroying Magnus and Varne before they
FOURTH: Hopefully, they _will_ find out who's behind it all... And finally, we
have Graham Woodland's 'The Three Jos' - a saga of three different worlds, three
different Thirds, and three different Jo Grants. The first story in the
sequence, 'The Space of I', sees one Jo strike a terrible deal which draws her
into a strange dream-world as its foretold saviour, a world far from everything
she knows, and yet very, very close - and her Third setting out on a desperate
quest to find her once more.
Now... Ahem, excuse me a moment...
[FOURTH manages to cradle his knitting in one hand, whilst picking up and
opening the envelope with the other.]
FOURTH: And the winner is... 'The Book of Taliesin', by Helen Fayle! If there's
someone to collect Mistress Helen's award...?
And now I must be off. Thank you, you're a wonderful audience!
[As FOURTH strides off, the clicking of knitting needles can once more be
FOURTH: Knit one, purl two...
AMBER: And so it comes round again. To present the award for 'Best "Doctor Who"
Character", I'd like to welcome the stars of one of those nominated series,
who've been making a name for themselves on adwc in their own unmistakeable
Let's have a big hand for Magnus and Varne!
[The AUDIENCE applauds.]
[Two columns of darkness form, reaching nearly to the ceiling. When
they dissipate, Magnus and Varne are standing on each side of the
Magnus: "I want to thank Amber for that glowing introduction. Anyway,
we are delighted to be here."
Varne: "Yes, it's nice to be back. As this is the third time we have
presented an award at the Adrics, we thought we would do something
Magnus: "Yes, this time we are going to skip the bad jokes. Instead I
am going to perform two illusions."
[Stage hands push a couch on from the wings on the left and a seven
foot high cabinet from the right.]
Varne: "For our first trick, the classic 'Levitating Lady'."
[She lies down on the couch and then went rigid as Magnus makes mystic
passes over her. Magnus then throws a cloth over her. Slowly she rises
into the air with her form clearly visible beneath the cloth. Magnus
snaps his fingers and a large hoop appears in his hand. He passes the
hoop along the dangling body showing there are no wires. Then he
grips a corner of the cloth and jerks it. It comes clear in a billowing
cloud revealing a total abscence of Varne. Moments later she enters
from stage right.]
Magnus: "After the award, we will present the infamous 'Cabinet of Dr.
Caligstro', but now it is presentation time."
Varne: "We are here to present the best Doctor Who character."
Magnus: "I always had a weakness for Morbius, such a classic rip off
of fifties horror films."
Varne: "Sorry, Lord, we are limited to characters in last year's fan
Magnus: "Don't call me Lord, Varne. How many times have I told you
Varne: "I stopped counting when I reached fifty thousand."
[Varne picks a large envelope up from the podium and gives it to
Magnus: "Right. The nominees are
Destrii, 'The Dark Half' series
Peri, 'Peri arc III'
Third Doctor, 'The Three Jos'
[The video screen lights up, showing the first clip.]
She looked around the yard, taking it all in. 'So *this* is Earth.
Looks a lot bigger on TV, y'know?'
Destrii raised an eyebrow. 'Tough audience. You'd think people would
be more impressed by a miracle resurrection...'
Chang Lee shrugged. 'Been there.'
'Done that.' Sam said.
'Bought the postcard.' Fitz finished.
Destrii raised her other eyebrow. 'No kidding. So where /was/ the
little stick insect? Didn't see /her/ when handsome over there
brought me in Inside...' She nodded at the Doctor.
Magnus: "Well, that was Destrii, a girl after my own heart."
Varne: "Fried, no doubt. Anyway, here is the next clip, featuring
"Better, probably, the bloody mouse wanker," offered Spike.
"What colorful language you have, Gramma," Peri said to him.
"The reason I'm here isn't because the author likes the way I
fill out a t-shirt, cupcakes."
"No, that's why you're in 'Clash Fiction', which is the only
reason you're here."
"'Gramma'?" said Adric. "Is there an aspect of this quest for
Peri's ancestry that I've missed?"
"There's this Earth fairy tale -" Peri started, but was
interrupted when the elevator started.
Magnus: "Well, now for the final clip, featuring the Third Doctor."
The Doctor drew himself up to his full height, and swirled his cape
flamboyantly about him. "I, sir, am a Lord of Time and Peregrine
of Space; an Illuminate of the Crystal Light, Scholar-Soldier of
the Invisible College, and Initiate of the Venusian Mysteries! I
shut the Thresholder's Gate in its face, and set bindings on
reapers. I know the shadow behind the Guardians, and why Osiris
died unto death, and what the Pythoness promised would come of it.
I know the true names of the cancer in the Hyades, and the Vagabond
Truth, and Whatchumacallit of Tunisia." Jo's heart wrung, but the
Doctor seemed oblivious to his clanger. "Also, I am well versed in
block transfer mathematics, and would remind you that your
dz(theta) parequal rw.kf-over-T'ang wirt C(aleph, zain), whereas
Ob(yes) Fft-power-matrix iota = Jot!"
Varne: "Before we reveal the results, remember, this is for charity."
[Magnus opens the envelope and looks at the contents.]
Magnus: "Right, the winner is Peri, for 'Peri arc III'.
"And now, for our final trick, I present the Cabinet of Dr.
[Stage hands move the cabinet to centre stage. Magnus opens the
door and removes an assortment of edged weapons.]
Magnus: "In you go, Varne."
Varne: "Do I have to? Why not get a volunteer from the audience?"
Magnus: "Get in."
[Pouting, Varne enters the cabinet and Magnus secures her arms and
legs with straps. When the door is closed her hands are extended
through two holes in the sides of the cabinet.]
Magnus: "As the audience should have noticed, the cabinet is a tight
[Magnus picks up a sword and thrusts it through a slit in the back of
the cabinet. The point emerges through another slit in the front. He
moves around to the side and inserts another sword. When he reaches
the fifth sword he encounters resistance and has to lean on it. Blood
starts to leak from the cabinet.]
[Hastily he pulls the swords out and opens the cabinet. His form
hides the interior as he looks inside. Suddenly he is jerked inside
the cabinet, the door closes, and then the whole thing catches fire.
A cloud of smoke forms and then forms into words.]
That's all, folks!
[The smoke clears, revealing an empty stage.]
AMBER: [applauds] A big hand for Magnus and Varne, everyone!
Now, for our third special tenth anniversary award, we have a man who's been
with 'Doctor Who' from its inception right up until the present day - the man
who was there at the beginning, without whom none of us would be here tonight.
You've already caught a glimpse of him once tonight, but here to present the
award for 'Best Story 1993-2002', it's the First Doctor!
[The FIRST DOCTOR comes up to the podium, seemingly none the worse for his
earlier escapade, and bows to AMBER.]
FIRST: Thank you, my dear.
Now, I happened to be fortunate enough to be there at the very inception of
alt.drwho.creative, and it has been my privilege to see it grow and develop over
the decade since, and to read the many, many fine stories posted by authors past
and present, both those long gone and those who've remained. Stories which have
spanned the, mm, very gamut of style and genre, from humour to horror and all
the points between.
In that time, I have seen many stories which could be counted worthy of being
among the best of the decade - and tonight, for the tenth anniversary of the
newsgroup's founding, I shall reveal which _you_ have voted the best of the
best, the one to be awarded the title of Best Story from the decade of adwc's
[FIRST tugs at his lapels.]
First, we have Lance Hall's crossover with, mm, 'The Andy Griffiths Show', I
believe, 'Southern Exposure' - a story still regarded as one of the best
crossovers to appear on adwc.
The Courthouse door flew open and the sound of footsteps echoed
through the back room. Andy and Barney returned to the main room to
find Briscoe Darling and his family standing in the center of the
floor, looking suspiciously at the Doctor, who was fumbling with a
'Don't mind me,' the Doctor smiled, 'just a gravitational reading.
Be prepared, that's my motto.'
'Sheriff,' Briscoe said slowly. His low raspy voice sounded like he
hadn't used it for talking in a long while.
'Mr. Darling,' the Sheriff grinned and shook the man's large callused
hand, 'what can we do for ya?'
'Tell him Charlene,' Briscoe ordered, not taking his eyes off of the
Time Lord, who was now standing on one foot and balancing a spoon on
FIRST: Next... Douglas B. Killings' portrayal of, mm, one particular Christmas
night, not too long ago, and a meeting of two lost souls, in 'A TDF Christmas'.
In their eyes, they saw it. The distant glint. The thing they
held in common, that had seared each to the core. The dread that
had always dogged them, but for which each had assumed could
never quite be assuaged.
They saw loneliness, and the fear that it would always be so.
His hand came up, hesitantly, reaching forward. He had expected
resistence, but none came. Instead, her hand reached as well, a
mirror to his.
In the moonlight, their fingers gently touched the cheek of the
other. They watched as the pale, diffuse glow cast shadows on the
contours of their faces, still not entirely certain as to the
why, but finding in it a hint, just maybe, of a cure.
Then, from below, someone called her name.
They scrambled to roll as far apart from the other as possible.
FIRST: Next, we have Becky McLaughlin's tale of my Eighth self, of a future
devastated - and the struggle to reclaim it - in 'Plague World'.
"Damn! We're busted! Move it, Doctor!"
"Go!" replied the Timelord without looking around. "Find Anna -
she'll lead you back to the TARDIS!"
"The hell with that!"
"GET OUT OF HERE!"
The screen blanked, came to life again displaying new codes. He
began inputting data as fast as he could. Danner's hand settled on his
arm; he shook it off.
"Doc - Anna's probably going to kill me."
The Doctor spun around. The two Dev sprawled face up below a
nearby cylinder, heads at a grotesque angle, eyes wide and glassy. He
looked away. It was hard to meet the blackstone's eyes.
"She won't kill you. The TARDIS will know what to do with her!
You'll be safe enough there. Now go!"
He had a glimpse of Danner's doubtful face before turning
resolutely back to the interface. The alarm continued its grating screech
overhead. Footsteps approached from the right. Lots of them, moving
FIRST: Now, only one young man has had _two_ stories nominated for this award -
a gentleman by the name of Clive May. The first of those stories, 'Gift of the
Garm', addresses the final gift granted Miss Nyssa... and the gift she granted
her friends, in turn...
Tegan caught her breath at the thing that hovered there, framed in the
doorway. It had the form of Nyssa, but it was wavering and insubstantial.
It rippled like the walls, as if seen through a heat haze. The figure
stabalised under her eyes, growing more solid.
Tegan grew aware of a tugging sensation deep inside her mind. The touch
was light as gossamer threads settling. They wove carefully about all her
memories of Nyssa, and drew them forth. She surrendered them gladly and
Soon the thing becoming Nyssa took on the form Tegan most vividly
remembered - dressed in the blue outfit she had worn before the Terminus.
Tegan understood with certainty that it was Nyssa, really nyssa, not some
foul construct of the Guardian.
She moved into the room. The purple shadow came to block her way; but she
dismissed it with a withering look. It darkened and pulsed with impotent
rage; but the Guardian could not interfere here.
FIRST: Next, we have Clive's delightful little tale of a very special planet,
and a very... mm... sozzled companion, in the plural, you might say, in 'Planet
Of The Tipsy Nyssas'.
'I shink we can dispense wish the formalishieze Nyssha,' she slurred.
The Nyssa Queen made a truly noble effort to rise from her throne.
Wavering unsteadily, her head weaving about, she got half up; then the
exquisitely worked tiara slid down over her right eye. To preserve
dignity, she lifted a hand to set it back into position on her piled up
brown hair. This was a mistake.
For a few seconds she floundered around before admitting defeat with a
muttered: 'Oh blow it!' and subsided back into her throne.
She waved an arm. 'Please, Race Prime, Honoured Time Lord, friends,
join me and we...let...let the festivities begin.'
The four at the foot of the dais exchanged looks; all except Nyssa, who,
for some reason, did not seem able to meet their gaze. The Doctor
stepped in to smooth over the moment that was rapidly growing awkward.
'Come along,' he commanded and ascended the steps with great poise.
FIRST: Miss Nyssa does seem to be rather a feature of these stories, wouldn't
you say, hmm? Our next story, however, takes us far from any of the worlds we
know, to a world moved on, and those who must survive there, in the first of B.
K. Willis's excellent 'Badlands' series, 'Lesser Evils'.
"What do you think, Tyson?" Darren called to the man who was
following a short ways behind them. Like them, he wore the
jeans-and-jerkin uniform of the Terminus Sherriff's Department,
only his badge read 'Deputy Hendriks' and he bore a long spear
in place of the shotgun. He was a tall, sickly-looking man who
had been a schoolteacher before donning the badge and still had
a scholarly look about him.
"What do I think about what?" he asked.
Darren jerked his thumb ahead, toward the young woman who
led the little procession. "Dave here says yon witch-for-hire is
actually a Tainted, and we're all bound for Hell for being in her
delicate company. I say different. What's your take?"
"My take?' Tyson laughed brittlely. "I'm afraid that we all bear
the Taint. It just doesn't always show up. And why worry about
going to Hell when Hell is already here?"
FIRST: Our last story reacquaints us with Miss Nyssa and my Eighth self, in a
tale of Miss Nyssa's final legacy to the Universe, and of love that would strive
to the very gates of Heaven itself, in Graham Woodland's 'Nyssa's End'.
"Nyssa-Sheila-Ourania!" The dreadful stars seemed to kindle
briefly. "It's not much of a birthday present, but it's all I have
left to give You." He smiled without feigning, and tilted his elbow
to warn of something up his sleeve. His thumb stroked teasingly
over the side of its fist. The sounds of mayhem clattered
unregarded behind them.
Did Her head tilt a little further towards him? Did the
corners of Her mouth tug wonderingly upwards?
Slowly, he showed Her his gift, offering Her the hollow of his
Her abyss-eyes blazed with morningstars, as they looked back
into him. Si felt an enormous, impersonal presence, frigid as
liquid helium and sharp as a glass scalpel, slide delicately through
every quark and sub-sub-sub-concept of his being: changing it as
little as looking can, and so utterly.
The Dayspring flared zircon-white. Si felt himself enveloped,
known, and subliming into motes finer than light. His next thought
was a wordless trust; his next, _I thought Nyssa would come. She
isn't here anywhere..._
Nor was she; and that was his last thought in the whole
FIRST: But now, it's time for me to announce the winner, hmm?
[FIRST opens the envelope, and reads the card within.]
FIRST: And... we have a tie!
[Murmuring from the AUDIENCE.]
FIRST: In _joint_ first place for Best Story of the Decade, we have, mm, Becky
McLaughlin's 'Plague World'...
[FIRST pauses, a wicked twinkle in his eyes.]
FIRST:...and Graham Woodland's 'Nyssa's End'. If either or both of those fine
young people could come to the podium for the award..?
AMBER: [mops forehead] Right. After all that excitement, let's see how much
we've raised for the kids.
[The new total flashes up: £ 5, 393, 082
[AMBER eyes it sceptically, but ploughs on.]
AMBER: Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back after the break.