Fan fiction. It’s a phrase that carries a surprising amount of baggage, these days – and be it misty-eyed fondness, cautious apprehension or downright apoplectic vitriol, it usually inspires some kind of reaction in just about anyone who’s ever considered themselves part of a fandom.
At some point in the coming weeks, I’m hoping to start examining the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the rare highs and countless painful lows of Dwarf-related fanfic. However, this isn’t it. What I’m posting here – and being, I suppose, a tad hypocritical while also putting my neck on the chopping block of criticism – is a piece of Red Dwarf fic I wrote a few months back. It’s the first piece of fanfic I’ve ever written, and if I’m honest I’m still not quite sure what possessed me to do so. I did, however, and in the interests of widening G&T’s overall remit, I’m sharing it here for the first time…
It wasn’t any sort of life, he knew that.
Pushing trolleys. This was the sort of thing you did if you were a kid looking to earn a bit of cash on a Saturday, or a pensioner looking for something to get you out of the house as you whiled away your last days. It wasn’t something you made a living out of.
But what else was there? He had brains, he knew that. Brains he’d never really used. It was why he’d flunked out of school with barely a qualification to his name. And jobs were hard enough to come by in Liverpool these days. The Megamarket had practically rescued the city. Sure, a few religious types had complained about them knocking down the old Cathedral, but most of them hadn’t even been alive when the Church of England was officially denounced anyway. No, if it wasn’t for the Megamarket, he’d be properly smegged, and no mistake.
Still, though, there were better things than this. He knew it. He knew he was worth more than this. And that’s why he had his plan.
He’d been reading up on it. The Space Corps. Astros were the future. People respected them, looked up to them. They were the few, the brave. It didn’t matter that some of them amounted to little more than catering staff. They probably even had people parking trolleys on the ships’ onboard supermarkets. The thought made him chuckle.
But he could do it, he knew he could. You didn’t need any qualifications to get in on the ground floor. You could go in as a technician, work your way up. The sky was the limit. And the things you’d get to see! He’d always found himself tied down, to this little city, on this little planet. He wanted to see things. New places, new people. And it’s not like he had anything back here – no parents. A lousy job. No self-respect. Out there… he could be someone.
He was going to do it. It was his plan. He’d planned it.
Leaning on the trolley, dreaming of the better times to come, his reverie was broken by a voice calling his name. He looked up, and nodded a hello.
It was Dave, the kid from Aigburth. He liked Dave. He was a funny guy, with a chirpy smile for everyone that forced its way out of pudgy cheeks.
“Listen, man, it’s me birthday on Saturday. Few of us are gonna go down to London, have a bit of a pub crawl, like. Go round the Monopoly board, an’ that. You up for it?”
Chris thought about it. What was the worst that could happen? “Yeah, nice one.”
“Brutal.” Dave flashed a grin, just as a wispy moustache made its way out of the store. It was followed by the manager, whom Chris had once worked out as having been in the year below him at school.
“Lister!” he barked. “Are we paying you to sit around outside chatting, or to do some work?”
Dave’s face flashed with false contriteness. “Sorry, sir, right away, sir!” He slapped his forehead with the back of his hand in mock-salute; a gesture, mused Chris, that never failed to raise a smirk. He watched as the dreadlocked figure bounded back inside the shop. Yeah, he thought, he was a nice guy, the Lister kid. Smarter than he let on, too. But he always acted pretty daft, never took anything seriously. Chris couldn’t understand that. Didn’t he want to get anywhere in life? Make something of himself?
He knew it was silly, but Chris had often found himself – on those particularly long shifts, when even the most mundane of brain activity was a necessity – wondering how he’d stand up if he ever found himself as the sole representative of mankind, if someone was going to judge his entire people on his life, and his achievements. He knew that he didn’t measure up particularly well in this department, but it was thoughts such as these that had spurred him on. He was going to be someone, be proud of himself. He knew that people like Dave were all well and good to have around for a laugh, but could you really trust your future in their hands? Could you imagine someone like Dave as – he chuckled at the thought – the last man alive?
He was better than that, though. He knew it. He had his plan.
( Seb Patrick 2006. Characters etc. owned by GNP. )