During this time we’re all staying at home, an awesome company called Fantom–which normally hosts lots of Doctor Who conventions and events in the UK throughout the year–decided to start having virtual Doctor Who conventions! They’ve been really fun and interactive, including quizzes, live interviews, and competitions.
Recently, they held a short story competition for the virtual convention that took place today. The prize? Having your story read by Annette Badland! Of course I entered, and though I didn’t win, I really enjoyed listening to the story that came out on top!
However, I had lots of fun writing my short story, and it also inspired the post I recently made about how to revise your writing! While I originally got discouraged writing this story because it was nothing like how I had imagined it, I made a couple small tweaks and ended up really happy with it.
So without further ado, here’s my Doctor Who short story, “Second Chances.”
On a very dark and very cold night, there was a little girl who couldn’t go to sleep. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw horrid nightmares where she attacked some sort of strange, fleshy-looking beings. However, what scared her the most was not these odd creatures, but the fact that she felt an overwhelming sense of violence and rage in the dreams. She was afraid of herself.
As she lay awake and trembling, she heard a strange noise. The girl sat up in her bed and watched as a giant blue box appeared from nowhere in the middle of her room. She wondered if she was dreaming again. But unlike in her nightmares, she had no urges to kill. Instead, she watched in curiosity as a Thing stepped out of the blue box. It turned its head this way and that before its small eyes met hers.
“Hello!” it said cheerily, displaying its teeth.
The girl shuddered. It was just like the fleshy things from her nightmares, but this time she was terrified of it, and not the other way around. The girl immediately ducked under the covers and hoped it would go away.
“It’s all right.”
She poked her head out tentatively and saw the Thing hold up its hands; quite big hands and long fingers for a fleshy creature, the child thought.
“What are you?” she asked.
The Thing frowned. It shut the door of its box and strode forward a couple steps, raising its eyebrows. Eyebrows. How did she know that word?
“Good question,” the Thing said, “and not the one I’m usually asked. I’m the Doctor. That’s all you need to know, really.”
The girl examined the Doctor, wondering if he was a threat. (He? How did she know it was a he?) His skin was pale, but there was a dark patch on his head–hair, she remembered. And the teeth weren’t there to instill fear–he was smiling.
The girl cowered from her own unknown memories. She squeezed her eyes shut in the hopes that it would all just disappear and she’d wake up to find it was all a dream. “Please make it stop,” she whispered.
Heavy footsteps crossed over to her. “Make what stop?” the Doctor asked.
“My–my head. You’re making it worse!”
The Doctor frowned again. It didn’t suit him, the girl thought. She preferred it when he was smiling. He sat on the edge of her bed, the mattress sinking under his weight. “Have you been having nightmares?”
Tears stung the girl’s eyes. “Why are they always so bad? Why do I remember things I don’t know?”
A new expression formed on the man’s face: determination. He pulled something from a pocket of his leather jacket and waved it over her. It buzzed and glowed with a soft blue light. Despite herself, the girl giggled.
The Doctor, however, didn’t share her joy as he stared at the device. “I’m sorry,” he said softly. “I didn’t expect this to happen. Some of your memories are bleeding through.”
“What memories? What do you mean?”
The Doctor continued to stare gravely at the glowing thing, but in a moment he jumped to his feet and stuffed the instrument away. “Come on. Bedtime for you. How about this: I’ll tell you a story to help you get to sleep.”
The girl smiled and slipped underneath the covers as she lay back down. She would never say no to a story, and somehow she thought that this man looked like the sort who could tell good stories.
“Once upon a time,” he began in a voice so soft and a cadence so perfect that it almost made the girl drift off after the first phrase, “there was a grumpy old man. He tried to do good, but one day he made a very bad choice.”
The girl watched the Doctor as he stared intently at the floor. She wasn’t sure if she liked this story.
“Somehow, even after he did this really bad thing, he got a second chance to live.” He tilted his head to the side. “More like a ninth chance, actually. Or somewhere around there.” He shrugged. “But this time was different. He didn’t want this chance because he still remembered what it was like when he had made the big mistake.” He looked into her eyes. The girl remembered her dreams and all the horrible things she had done in them, how real they had felt.
“But after a lot of traveling, a lot of thinking, and a lot of listening to a friend, do you know what the new grumpy old man realised?” He looked expectantly at the girl. She shook her head.
“He realised that he wasn’t defined by who he used to be. He realised that he was given this second chance for a reason: to do good where he had done wrong before. He didn’t have to become what his old self had been.”
“This doesn’t sound like a bedtime story,” the girl objected, but she was already falling asleep because she was so tired.
“It’s not. It’s my story. And yours.” He smiled at her as he stood by her bedside. “Goodnight, Blon. Sweet dreams.” He touched the side of her head briefly and Blon felt something gentle brush against her mind.
Blon’s eyes began to drift closed. She barely saw the Doctor walk back to his box and glance over at her one last time with a smile. “I think you’re going to be fantastic,” he whispered.
Blon fell asleep quickly then, dreaming of a blue box, a noise like an elephant, and the Doctor who had somehow known her name.