(28DW) Fiction,The Billingham Challenge: Second Chance

The Resident Weeble, being as he is, a talented bastard managed to come second in a writing competition. You can read his entry that should have won here. In this competition crime writer Mark Billingham wrote a paragraph and entrants had to finish the story. So as I love a bit of a contest me, I suggested to the Weeble that we do a similar thing as part of 28DW. Except we cut Billingham out. I wrote a start for Weeble the excellent results of which is here and he wrote one for me. Here is my effort, the Weebles start is highlighted in Green

He looked around the windowless grey cylinder he’d been in for 50 years, although the time had passed instantaneously for Richard Pendleton. Hearing the release wheel turning on the other side of the time capsule, a wave of panic and regret came over him. He knew why he’d agreed to the experiment, but it didn’t make the possible outcomes any less terrifying.

“Richard Pendleton Mk 4” Pronounced a voice, from where Richard couldn’t quite make out. “Pendleton Mk 3 was killed this morning. You will be replacing him on the planet Earth. Please prepare to leave the cylinder for briefing. The chair on which Richard had been placed 50 years ago hissed gently as it slowly moved him forward into the centre of a white room.

After a few seconds a middle aged blonde woman in a lab coat appeared.

“Mk Four.” she said without a trace of accent. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m a little confused to be honest. What’s going on?”
“It’s perfectly natural Four. It’s just the effects of the the Cylinder. Do you remember?”
“I remember the experiment. But why are you calling me Four?”
“You are the forth chance.”
“Forth chance?” said Richard, growing more confused by the second. “There are only supposed to be two chances.”

The experiment was to run for 3000 years, as Richard recalled, slowly through his cylinder hazed mind. It was the brainchild of the boss, who after centuries of being, by his own admission “A bit of a dick” finally decided to give something back to the inhabitants of Earth. The Second Chance program was born. Near clones of a chosen “Alpha” were placed into Cylinder storage to be called upon when the Alpha died and they would be sent back to earth to give the Alpha a second chance.

“Well, you are a lucky boy.” the woman replied with a smile. “Someone up there obviously likes you.”
“Yes it would appear so.” Richard said. “So what happened to the others?”
“Hmm lets see,’ the woman replied as she brought up a screen with just the flick of her wrist. “OK well Alpha Pendleton as you might recall is being kept alive in a similar cylinder. He was the one who got selected. Then from him there sprang Mk Two. He was killed in a motor accident. Then Mk 3 was sanctioned. He died rather stupidly choking on a pretzel.”
“A pretzel? How does anyone choke on a pretzel.”
“I know, I said the same thing. We thought Mk Three was defective, turns out he was just stupid.”
“I don’t have much of an act to follow then.” Richard joked.
“Well no. But this is the last chance, so don’t mess it up.” she said as she folded the video screen away with another gesture of her hand. “I’m Hillary by the way. Three was wearing an hawaiian shirt and sweat pants when he choked, must have been a day off, you’ll find them behind the cylinder. I’ll leave you to get changed.”

Hillary left the room and Richard rather tentatively got up and went round to the back of his cylinder where on a small table there was the most garish hawaiian shirt you could ever wish to see accompanied by some baggy stained sweat pants. He’d worried that life outside the cylinder would be terrifying looking at the shirt he was suddenly aware how much. “Classy.” Richard said aloud. He changed into the clothes and went back to his chair.

He pondered life, his navel and the experiment until Hillary returned.

“You ready?” she asked.
“What for?”
“The final debrief with the big man.”
“As I’ll ever be.”

Richard followed Hillary out of the room and up to some big gates.

“He’ll see you now. Good Luck Four” Hillary said as she waved goodbye.

Richard pushed through the gates.

“President Pendleton Mk Four.” Boomed a voice. “Don’t fuck it up now.”
“I won’t God. I promise.”

Please check out the work of my 28DW colleagues The Resident Weeble and A Piece of Pandemonium



    1. Thanks. It took four drafts, if we (well ok me) hadn’t set the deadline for today I would have probably scrapped it! Thanks for such a challenging but excellent start

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