Category Archives: Original Writing

Doctor Who(use): All Aliens Lie.

Hugh Laurie: Doctor Who(use)

Karen Gillan: Pond

Arthur Darvill: Williams

 

Act One: Scene One: Regeneration

Int. TARDIS. Previous Doctor has regenerated and has now taken on the appearance of a fifty-something Golden Globe Award-winning actor. He looks British but he doesn’t sound it. Instead of smiling, he snarls. A lot.

Enter Pond and Williams. Pond is wearing (surprise surprise) a short skirt. Williams is just happy to be alive.

Pond: Doctor. Doctor. Are you okay? We thought you had gone to…hold on. Do I know you?

Doctor: Who were you expecting, Pond? Smith? Tennant? Eccleston? Or – God forbid – McCoy? It better not be McCoy. And what are you wearing?

Williams: Where’s the real Doctor?

Doctor: He got a part in a hospital drama Stateside. I hear it’s called Homes or some shit like that. Now, where’s my cane?

Pond: What do you want a cane for?

Doctor: Bend over my knee and let me show you.

The Doctor takes out his sonic screwdriver, pushes a button, and out pops a small white pill. He repeats the action four times and then swallows all the pills. He takes on a manic look and then rushes over to the console. He pulls up a screen.

Get me Cuddius. Now.

Williams: Who is Cuddius?

Doctor: She is the Master’s Mistress, the most evil being in the universe. She has my motorcycle and I want it back.

Pond: Why does she have your motorcycle?

Doctor: While you two were busy pissing about trying to work out who exactly River Song was, I was even busier getting high and laid. Though not necessarily in that order.

There is an explosion outside the TARDIS. It is the Daleks.

Dalek: Where is the Doctor? Exterminate the Doctor! Exterminate! Exterminate. Extermin…hold on. Do I know you?

The Doctor hits the Dalek with his cane and pops two pills down its back. It explodes immediately, killing Williams. 

Pond: OMG. My husband is dead…again. (She looks at the Doctor) Hey, you don’t suppose you and I could…you know…

Doctor: Get me some more pills and I’ll diagnose you for life.

Pond: Deal. Where to next? I hear the Salfragians are having a terrible time of it with their nasty overlords. I think it could be the Lupus.

Doctor: Oh for the love of Hippocrates, Pond. Have you not learned anything? It’s never the Lupus.

He looks straight ahead and smirks…

Cue music…

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The Case of The Porterhouse Queen

The following is a story I wrote on WEbook.com a couple of years ago. It’s a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, fan-fiction if you would. It’s not very accurate in a historic sense, so take its claims with a pinch of salt. Just read and (hopefully) enjoy. Thank you.

 

“I think we’ve been rumbled, Holmes,” I said, casting a quick glance at my companion. We’d been sitting in the Stag’s Head near the south bank of the Liffey, the river that runs through Dublin, the principal city of the Irish Free State, for nearly seven hours. Holmes was nursing a brandy and port. I was drinking a Gold Label.

“Never fear, Watson. I daresay our stipend will cover another round. Would you do the honors?” Holmes did not look at me while he talked. Instead he was carefully examining a large oil painting that hung on the wall behind the serving counter. It was, I estimated, seven feet in length across and four feet down. It had been hung dead centre and was the only decoration the proprietor had deemed suitable for his premises. The rest of the public house was bereft of any such embellishment, save for the obvious and necessary gas-lighting.

“If I must. Are you staying with the brandy? I have to admit I’m not really taken with Irish whiskey and I don’t feel too comfortable asking for scotch.”

“Nonsense, Watson. The Irish and Scottish are linked in history. They are but one people divided by a sea. I would assume our good host would stock a fine range of malted, if you would but ask. In fact, ask for two Glenfiddich. That should brighten up his day.”

I went up to the counter. The proprietor was busy polishing a tray of stemmed champagne flutes. He was making quite a fuss of it too. I caught his eye and ordered for myself and Holmes. Indeed he did stock the bottle my friend had suggested and poured two generous measures. I paid the man and was on my way back to our table when he called me back.

“Your friend,” he said. “He seems very curious about my painting. He hasn’t taken his eyes off it since the two of you came in.” The proprietor, who was a stocky man in his mid-fifties, spoke with a Dublin brogue that was very rarely heard in London. His shaven head reflected the gas-light above him. “Is he a buyer or a seller?”

“Neither, I should imagine. He knows what he likes. He has a painting almost like that back home in his flat.”

“In London?”

“Yes. My accent gives it away.”

“Not just your accent, sir. I’ve been expecting you, Dr. Watson. Your good self and the gentleman with you, the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. I must say it’s quite an honor having you both in my establishment.”

I was stunned speechless, but managed to squeeze out a muted thanks.

“What’s wrong, Watson?” Holmes asked when I returned with our drinks. “You look like someone told you the Baskerville hound was outside waiting for us.”

“Holmes, this is no time for your attempt at humor. I told you we’d been rumbled. Our host has been expecting us. Why is that? And why is it that you don’t look in the least bit concerned?”

“Sit down, Watson, there’s a good chap. We’re in no immediate danger here. We’re on a mission for His Majest’y’s Government.”

I was perplexed to say the least. Holmes had once again neglected to tell me the full nature of our visit to Dublin. I was disappointed with my close friend’s behavour. I really didn’t think he was the same man when he came back from near death at the Reichenback Falls. Moriarty had perished that fateful day while trying to murder Holmes, and a part of me believed that Holmes was actually missing his insane nemesis.

“Do you care to explain more?” I asked. “He knows who we are. He even referred to you as the ‘famous detective’.”

“My brother Mycroft believes there is something hidden somewhere in that painting. Something of national importance to both British and Irish govenments. I can’t tell you as yet.”

“Holmes, I thought you had retired from all that. I haven’t written of your adventures for over ten years now. Your loyal followers are convinced you’ve died again. Even the Baker Street Irregulars have grown up and gone into banking.”

“A reference from Sherlock Holmes is worth its weight in gold, Watson. Children have to be allowed to leave and pursue careers. I’ve been following Lestrade’s progress. He’s still a pompous ass, but he’s made considerable progress up the ladder in Scotland Yard. He’s an Assistant Chief Constable now. What are you smiling at?”

“Lestrade being a pompous ass. I wonder sometimes from whom he learned that particular trait. It most certainly wasn’t from me.”

“Careful, Watson. I may just leave you here in this den of iniquity.”

At this point a group of travelers came through the door. There were ten of them. They congregated at the serving counter. The landlord busied himself serving them porter from a barrel he kept out of sight. It was jet black with a thin head of creamy foam. All ten had the same in large tankards. I turned my attention back to Holmes.

“I won’t have you keep me in the dark. Why is that painting so damn important? It’s just a steamer.”

“Not just any old steamer, Watson. It’s ‘The Porterhouse Queen’. It was being built in Belfast around the same time as the ‘RMS Titanic’. It made only one journey, but fortunately didn’t meet with the same fate as her more illustrious elder sister. She lies idle in Southampton however. Her owners can’t find anyone to take her out again.”

“The ‘Titanic’ sunk 25 years ago, Holmes. I’m still not seeing any connection.”

“The two ships are not why we’re here, Watson.”

“Come on Holmes. Out with it.” I was starting to lose patience with my companion.

“Do you see our fellow travelers?” he said, meaning the group that had just come in. They were enjoying a lively discussion and I noticed that one particular gentleman was paying close attention to Holmes and myself. He was quite tall, over six foot, thin but athletic. He wore a small pair of round spectacles, resting at the top of a nose that could only be described as Roman. Caesar would have been proud of it.

“Have a look at the tray with the champagne flutes, Watson. How many glasses do you see?”

I counted them from where I was sitting. “A dozen,” I said.

“There are ten of them, are there not?”

I thought for a moment. “And two of us.”

“Correct, Watson. That’s the first piece of the puzzle.”

“What’s the next?”

“The gentleman looking over at us is the next piece. His name is Eamon de Valera.”

“De Valera? Isn’t he………?”

“The President of the Irish Free State? Yes, he is. He is also the man we have come to see. The man Mycroft wants to do business with. He owns the painting. The landlord is minding it for him.”

Holmes raised his hand to de Valera. The President lifted his glass of porter in salute to Holmes and myself. He turned around to his own companions, spoke with them for a bit and then beckoned us over to join him.

Holmes was first to greet him. “Mr. de Valera, it is an honor for me to represent my King and government on this historic day.”

“Mr. Holmes, Dr. Watson, the pleasure is all mine. You’ve been a bit quiet of late. Have you retired?”

“For all intents and purposes, yes. Occasionally I take up smaller cases to alleviate the boredom I sometimes feel. Isn’t that correct, Watson?”

“Yes, but you never take me along on these so-called ‘smaller cases’.”

“Inconsequential matters, Watson. Today, though, is a different matter. I’m sure the President would agree.”

“Mr. Holmes,” said de Valera, ‘your brother gave me some assurances that this matter would be dealt with today. Am I correct in that assumption?”

“I would need to closely examine the painting to be sure. But if all is in order, the agreement stands.”

“What agreement, Holmes?” I was completely at a loss to explain to myself what was going on.

“All in good time, Watson. Landlord, if you could help me with the painting please.” Holmes and the landlord stood on either side of the painting and removed it carefully from its position. They laid it face down on the cobbled floor. Holmes took a swiss army knife from his coat pocket and, in small deliberate motions, removed the painting from its frame.

When that job was completed, de Valera crouched down beside Holmes. “Take away the backing board. You’ll find what you require beneath it.” This Holmes did.

Underneath were four sheets of paper, slightly yellowing in colour. There was writing on them, as well as diagrams and maps. Holmes put on a pair of black leather gloves that he had retrieved from another of his pockets. He gently lifted up one of the sheets.

“These are written in German, Watson. On them are plans for the invasion of Europe. Hitler intends to take control over Poland, the Netherlands, France and, finally, Great Britain. Can you vouch for their authenticity, Mr de Valera?”

The Irish President smiled. “I’ve had my spies in Germany since we became a state. We worked closely with your government, but had to keep it quiet. As you’d imagine, there is still a lot of hostility between our two countries. There would have been uproar in parliament if word got out. My IRA lads were thorough. The plans are real. Your brother will prove that.”

“I’ve no doubt he will. His office has been keeping a very watchful eye over Hitler and his Nazi party. He thinks, and knows, that a war is coming. Churchill believes him. Chamberlain doesn’t.”

“Chamberlain is a fool,” de Valera said with added malice. “He thinks he can shake hands with that dictator and everything will go away.”

“The Prime Minister is misguided. Churchill will take his place if and when war comes.”

“It’ll come. I can bet my country’s independence on it.”

Holmes folded the sheets of paper and tucked them safely into an inside pocket. “There’s a boat waiting for us at Dun Laoighre harbour. I trust you can provide transport?”

“Already arranged, but first……”

“Ah yes, there is something else. One last thing.”

Holmes had many pockets in his coat. From another one he produced an envelope. With surprise I noted the Royal Seal. King George had written whatever was inside. I had remained silent throughout, but now I couldn’t contain myself.

“Holmes, what in God’s name is going on here?”

It was de Valera who answered.

“My spies found plans that Hitler plans to invade Europe and launch an attack from France onto mainland Britain. My government and yours, without the knowledge of Prime Minister Chamberlain, came to an agreement. We would hand over the plans and, in return, would be allowed to remain neutral should war break out.

“We are a new state, recovering from our own civil war. We can barely afford to be involved in another, more far-reaching one. Your king agreed, in principle, providing the plans were genuine. I believe they are. This letter, which Mr. Holmes holds in his hand, is as important to this country as the Proclamation of Independence was twenty one years ago.

“We will help out if we can, but we won’t be forced into doing so. That goes for both sides. Hitler’s Germany won’t be welcomed here either.”

Holmes passed the letter over to de Valera. The Irishman broke the seal and read its contents. When he was finished he nodded. “This calls for champagne. Harry, I really hope you remembered to chill the Dom Perignon.”

“It would be more than my life’s worth if I didn’t, Eamon.”

De Valera smiled. “Harry and I go back a long time. If anyone else were to call me Eamon, I’d do them an injury. Come gentlemen, join my friends and I for a toast to our sucess.”

We were handed our glasses. We raised them in salute to God, King, Ireland, Great Britain and, above all, peace in our time.

Haiku of the Day: Mantras

I nailed it down hard.

It will struggle nevermore.

My Muse will stay put.

Crazy: An Ode To NaNoWriMo

Crazy is as crazy does.

But where we would we be without the

BUZZ

Of NaNoWriMo 2010.

Armed with nerve and steeled by

GRIT

Bit by bit,

We’ll wield our pen

For 30 days and 30 nights of madness.

We say we’re prepared.

We say we’re ready.

But nothing will be the same again,

Once we reach the

HEADY

Heights of fifty thousand.

We’re rabbits in headlights.

We’re ducks in the rain.

We’re caffeinated to the gills,

To take away the

PAIN

Of sleepless nights and thoughts of

1,666.

Good luck to one and all.

I hope we succeed and hope we

SURVIVE

To move to a cottage in Devon.

For it is there we’ll recharge,

It is there we’ll lick wounds

And get ready for

2011.

I, Aardvark: Aardvarkian Origins

I, AARDVARK.

I came downstairs the following morning and found Allie grinding coffee beans. The sound system was on. Coldplay were singing Violet Hill and the aardvark was doing his best Chris Martin impersonation.

“Your taste in music is…”

“What?” I asked, sensing an urgent need for caffeine. It had become clear to me that Allie was neither a prank nor a figment of my imagination. He was here, in my living room, organising breakfast.

“Depressing.” Allie broke open some eggs into a bowl and began whisking. “We can use some of the cheese for the omelettes. I hope you like them runny.”

“I don’t normally eat breakfast,” I said. “Mornings are hit-and-run for me. I hit the shower, then I run out the door.”

Allie’s snout drooped. “I know. I had to go out and buy some provisions. Just because you skip the most important meal of the day, it doesn’t mean I have to.”

I opened the fridge and took out a bottle of Coke. Allie rolled his eyes. “That’s healthy,” he said.

“You sound like my mother,” I replied.

“I’ll take that as a compliment. Did you sleep all right?”

“Good enough. Once I got over the whole talking aardvark thing, I pretty much conked out.” I thought of something just then. “Did you say you went out?”

“Yes,” Allie replied. He was now stirring the omelette mix in a pan. To my surprise, I found I was getting hungry. “You hadn’t any eggs and you were low in milk. I hope you don’t mind. The receipt is on the table.”

“But how…?”

“How what?”

“If I’m the only one who can hear you, how did the people at the shop know what to give you?”

Allie shook his head. “Jimbo, Jimbo, Jimbo. Ever hear of a shopping list?” He scooped out the omelette, divided it up into two plates, and handed one to me. He took his own plate and sat himself down in an armchair beside my CD and DVD shelves. He sucked his breakfast slowly, appearing to savour every morsel of egg and cheese. “I wrote out what you needed and and picked them up at the Spar.” He giggled to himself. “I caused a bit of a stir, let me tell you.”

Ballybough Community Centre

“I’d say you did. We don’t get many aardvarks in Ballybough.”

“I think it was more your Stetson.”

“You wore my Stetson?”

“Yup. Black goes well with blue.” Did I mention that Allie was blue? I am now. “How was your breakfast?”

I swallowed the last of them. “It was good,” I answered. “I have to get ready for work soon. Then I have to figure out what to do with you.”

“What’s to be done with me?” He gave me a concerned look. “I hate to say this, Jimbo, but you’re stuck with me for the time being.”

“But there has to be some kind of law that says I can’t.”

“I checked on the Internet.”

“And?”

“There isn’t. Unless there’s an antiquated Domestic Aardvark Act that I’ve missed somewhere along the line, you and I are a team.”

I put down my plate. “Well if that’s the case, you better come along with me.”

“To your job?”

“Yes.”

Allie’s front paws and snout rose in exultation. “Yippee! I have a job. What do you want me to do?”

I looked at the coffee pot which had just finished brewing. “You can start by getting me some coffee.”

Allie saluted an aardvark salute, which involved both paws and snout meeting at the centre of his forehead. “Aye, aye boss.”

I sighed — again. “No need to call me boss, Allie.”

“Okay, boss,” he grinned. “Can I wear your Stetson again?”

(C) James McShane

Allie and The Witches of Salmon

Ray the chef was having trouble scooping out a pumpkin. Lunch had finished and he decided he had plenty of time to get ready for the pub’s Halloween party on Sunday night. The 4.40 at Haydock Park was two hours away. Loads of time to get a bet on.

“Ping!” Allie the Aardvark was playing with the microwave again when I brought in the last of the day’s dirty cups and saucers. He and it had a special understanding, it seemed. I couldn’t see the attraction myself. But then, my little blue friend found amusement in the strangest of places. Maybe there weren’t any microwave ovens where Allie came from. Which reminded me: as long as I’ve known the aardvark, he’s never really explained his origins. He was just…there. The winning prize of the pub’s weekly lottery and I somehow adopted him. Or he adopted me.

Whichever. I don’t really know.

Ray cursed loudly. “Whose bright idea was it to order a pumpkin?” he said.

“Mine,” Allie said. “Halloween is not Halloween until a pumpkin has been well and truly scooped.”

For those that don’t know, Allie is a one-of-a-kind; a talking aardvark that only I can hear. He loves playing up on this.

“What did he say?” Ray said.

“He said it was his idea,” I replied. “What’s the problem with it?”

“It’s as tough as my granny’s you-know-what,” he said.

“That bad, huh?” I didn’t want to ask what the ‘you-know-what’ was. Some things were best left alone.

“I need a chisel,” Ray said.

“You can’t take a chisel to a pumpkin, Ray. You’ll hack it to pieces.”

“It’s either that or it goes in the bin.”

“The bossman wouldn’t like that,” Allie said. “He spent twenty euro on a pumpkin. For that kind of money, he’ll want it to serve drinks, too.” Martin was the owner of the pub. He was as tight with cash as Ray’s granny’s you-know-what was tough. Real tight. Real tough.

“What did he say?” Ray asked again.

“Don’t use a chisel,” I said.

“He’s no bloody use,” Ray said. “Ask him to take a took at the 4.40, will you? I need a winner badly.”

“After the last time,” I said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Especially when you’re thinking of chiseling a pumpkin.”

One of Allie’s many talents is the ability to predict certain events, events in which he has no direct involvement – like horse racing. He found a winner for Ray the day after he got here and was sorry that he did. Even though the aardvark tried to dissuade him, Ray still tried to get one more winning horse from Allie.

“Let’s go, Jimbo,” Allie said. “I want to see what Halloween is like in Dublin.”

“I hope you like bangers,” I said.

***

My new friend wore my Stetson all the time. I brought it home from my trip to the States last year, but it suited him better than it did me. He had a head for hats. I just looked ridiculous. We took a bus into the city centre and got off at Marlborough Street. We crossed O’Connell Street, avoiding chuggers along the way, and strolled up Henry Street. The shop windows tried in vain to entice people to come in and sample the very latest in fancy dress. Allie walked toward one of the displays. His snout perked up.

“See something you like?” I said.

“I’m not sure,” he replied. “It seems to me that the latest fashion designs would have the Witches of Salmon weeping into their cauldrons.”

“The witches of who?” I sensed an aardvarkian history lesson on its way.

“Salmon,” he replied. “I mean, look at these.” He pointed at the mannequins. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say this shop sold school uniforms for Lady Gaga fans. Who in their right minds goes around wearing stuff like this?”

I didn’t know what was more surprising: the fact that Allie had an opinion on fashion or that he knew who Lady Gaga was.

“This is what happens on Halloween, Allie,” I said. “The young ones dress up like tarts, get blitzed on alcopops, and spend the next day throwing up monkey nuts.”

“Charming,” the aardvark said. “Wouldn’t happen in my day. The witches wouldn’t allow it.”

We continued our walk up Henry Street. On the corner of Moore Street, some guys were selling fireworks and bangers, despite this activity being against the law. One of the hawkers approached us.

“D’ya want some fireworks, bud?” he said.

“A witch’s curse be upon you!” Allie replied. “May your spawn suffer the ignominy of perpetual boredom!”

“Allie!”

“What did he say?” the hawker asked.

“He said no.” I grabbed Allie’s snout. “Let’s go, you.” We marched further on. “What’s with the cursing? It’s not nice.”

“If the Witches of Salmon were here, such vendors would be afflicted with boils and plagues of locusts.”

“Really?”

“Yes, Jimbo. On the Feast of Salmon, all witches’ covens got together for their Annual General Meeting and debated ways of making their day of celebration more even and meaningful, less shallow. Hence the term ‘shallow evening.’ Of course, over the centuries, almost everything was lost. Shallow became hallow, Salmon became samhain.”

I stopped in my tracks. “You’re pulling my leg, aren’t you?”

“What, you think all this is to do with druids and ghosts?”

“Well, that and a good horror movie.”

“It’s marketing, Jimbo. It’s St. Valentine’s Day with vampires. The Witches of Salmon would…”

“I know, weep into their cauldrons. Hubble, bubble, boil and trouble.”

Allie’s stomach rumbled. “I need some M&Ms, Jimbo. All this talk of food is giving me an appetite.”

We retraced our steps. “You know, Allie,” I said, “if all this distresses you, you could always Hum them away.” Allie’s only weapon, as far as I knew, was his psychic Hum; a sound that penetrated people’s minds and hearts and made them do his bidding.

“I thought of that,” he said. “But it would cause more trouble that its worth. If I make these vendors go away, others will take their place next year.” He looked at me with those dark expressionless eyes of his. “I might not be here this time next year.”

I hadn’t thought of that. I felt my face fall.

“Don’t fret too much, Jimbo,” he said. “We have much to accomplish before I go anywhere. But first, I need…”

“M&Ms,” I said.

“Yes,” the aardvark replied. “And I want to have another look at those school uniforms.”

Welcome to Allie’s World: Aardvarkian Origins.

I will be returning shortly to the world of Allie the Aardvark. To massive public clamor, as well as a petition signed by such notables as Barack Obama, Salman Rushdie and the bloke who runs the local chipper, Allie fans will wait no longer.

Tomorrow I shall post the Halloween special; but for now, read and enjoy Allie’s first appearance in my life.


WELCOME TO ALLIE’S WORLD.

The top prize of my local pub’s lottery draw sat in my armchair, eating chocolate peanuts through its snout, and flicking through the channels of the TV with my remote. It looked very much at home.

“When’s Judge Judy on?” it wondered.

“You know who Judge Judy is?” I asked, very much amazed that it could talk.

“She’s must-see-TV.”

I looked at my watch. “It’s five after midnight. It’s too late for Judge Judy.”

“It’s never too late for Judge Judy. You got any pretzels?”

“No.”

“You can sit down, you know. I don’t bite.”

“You suck.”

“I hope that’s not an insult.”

“I mean, you’re sucking up those peanuts.”

“That’s what we aardvarks do. We suck.”

“But I thought you ate ants?”

“Among other things, yes. Please, sit down. You’re making this aardvark uncomfortable.”

I sat down, not taking my eyes from this strange creature. It put down the sweets and extended its hand, paw, whatever, to me.

“My name is Alistair Reginald Boothroyd lV, but you can call me Allie.”

I shook its..whatever it was. “I’m James, but you can call me Jimbo.I didn’t know aardvarks could talk.”

“We don’t.”

“But I can hear you.”

“That’s because you’re supposed to.”

“Huh?”

“Jimbo, come on. You arrive into work this evening to find that the top prize in your bar’s lottery draw is an aardvark. Stuff like that doesn’t happen every day.”

He was right, it didn’t. Usually the top prize was cash, but ticket sales have been down since the economy went pear-shaped. So we rang up suppliers, asking them to sponsor the draw. Only one came through for us. Hence the aardvark.

The winning numbers were 2, 3, and 5, and there were three “lucky” winners of the top prize. All of them took one look at Allie and passed, taking instead the consolation prize of five free drinks. This left me, as stand-in organiser of the draw (the boss was on holiday), stuck with an aardvark. So I put him into an empty cardboard box and brought him home with me. I considered myself fortunate that I didn’t meet anyone I knew on the way back to my apartment.

“So why is it that only I can hear you?”

“The powers that be have decreed it so.”

“The who?”

“I don’t know. I may have made that part up. You got anything else to eat except chocolate peanuts?”

“I have cheese.”

“I can’t suck cheese.”

I looked in my fridge and found some yogurt. “Will this do?” I asked, showing Allie the carton.

“What flavour?”

I checked. “Blackcurrant.”

“Nice. I like blackcurrant yogurt.” I gave him — it was a “he” now, seeing that we’d been introduced — the yogurt. He tore off the foil cover and sucked up the contents. The sound was like that of a vacuum cleaner, sucking up clotted cream.

“I have to go to bed soon. Are you all right down here?”

“I’m fine,” he replied. “Leave your laptop open, if you wouldn’t mind. I want to check my Facebook.”

“You have a Facebook?”

“Doesn’t everybody?”

“But you’re an —

“–aardvark, I know, I know. So you keep reminding me.”

I started up the stairs to my bedroom. I was dazed.

“You got any good books?” Allie called.

I stopped and looked down. “What do you read?”

“Any King?”

“Just Cell and Lisey’s Story.

“No Dark Tower?”

“Not yet.”

“Man,” Allie replied. “You’ve got to read the Dark Tower series.”

I sighed. “So people keep telling me.”

Ten minutes later, when I was about ready to put his whole episode down as some sort of elaborate hoax, I could hear the sound of jewels exploding, followed by hoots of joy.

“122,500 points. Jimbo, when I’m good, I’m very, very good.”

I pulled my pillow from under my head and buried my face in it. Tomorrow, I thought. I’ll sort this out tomorrow.