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Saturday Storytime: The Ghosts of Christmas

Paul Cornell is most broadly known as a writer for Doctor Who, though he’s worked widely in television and comics as well. He wrote the scripts for “Father’s Day” and the two-part “Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood”. He wrote several original Doctor Who novels and created the character of Bernice Summerfield, a character many feel inspired River Song. This short story also explores the concept of time travel, though in a very different way.

I grew numb with fear as autumn turned to winter. I grew huge. I didn’t talk to Ben or anyone about how I felt. I didn’t want to hear myself say the words.

In mid-December, a couple of weeks before the due date, I got an email from Lindsey. It was marked ‘confidential’:

 

Just thought I should tell you, that, well, you predicted it, didn’t you? The monkey trials have been a complete success, the subjects seem fine, mentally and physically. We’re now in a position to actually connect minds across time. So we’re going to get into the business of finding human volunteer test subjects. Ramsay wants ‘some expendable student’ to be the first, but, you know, over our dead bodies! This isn’t like lab rats, this is first astronaut stuff. Anyway, the Project is closing down on bloody Christmas Eve, so we’re going to be forced to go and ponder that at home. Enclosed are the latest revisions of the tech specs, so that you can get excited too. But of course, you’ll be utterly blasé about this, because it is nothing compared to the miracle of birth, about which you must be so excited, etc.

 

I looked at the specs and felt proud.

And then a terrible thought came to me. Or crystallised in me. Formed out of all the things I was. Was already written in me.

I found myself staggered by it. And hopeful about it. And fearful that I was hopeful. I felt I could save myself. That’s ironic too.

My fingers fumbling, I wrote Lindsey a congratulatory email and then rewrote it three times before I sent it so that it was a model of everything at my end being normal.

I knew what I was going to be doing on Christmas Day.

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