We sit down with physics teacher by day, thriller author by night, Kayla–K.M.–Dailey this episode. K.M. is the winner of our flash short story contest with Laura VanArendonk Baugh to write a short story featuring Samwise Gamgee (LOTR) and River Song (Doctor Who.) K.M.’s story had us in stitches, and we’re sure you’ll see why we picked the story as our winner.
We talk about our Harry Potter houses, Kayla’s inspiration for the short story, Christmas trees out of books, Liberty admits to having lower standards in her reading, the ever-present need for more bookcases, Harry Dresden, the new doctor on Doctor Who and Kayla’s and Liberty’s concerns about the direction, Doctor Who indoctrination (no pun intended!), Kayla’s goal of 100 rejections in 2018 (!!!), Captain America…or Captain Jack Sparrow?
Find out more about Kayla on her YouTube channel.
Kayla’s book recommendations:
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
The Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket
The Three Body Problem – Cixin Liu
And now, K.M.’s short story, Alien Artifact.
The alarm bells of the TARDIS chimed as the console room lurched. River’s diary flew from her hands. She jumped up.
“No, no, no!” the doctor shouted, fumbling with the controls.
“I told you, didn’t I?” River grabbed the blue levers to stablize the console room—still, it quaked violently. “Always double check the navigation circuits before entering conceptual space!”
“It’s not the nagivation, we’re being diverted!” The doctor flipped a few switches, and an explosion of smoke erupted from the console.
“Into a pocket universe—” A jolt sent the doctor flying toward the metal rails.
“I’m going to land her!” River shouted.
The old familiar squealing of the TARDIS brakes sounded. Finally, all was still.
The doctor pulled himself upright and straightened his bow tie.
“Scanners online.” River swung the video screen to face herself.
He buzzed the console with his sonic screwdriver. “The TARDIS was drawn to a powerful alien . . . thingy. Where exactly are we?”
Black, rocky structures surrounded them on either side, stretching up to the dark, clouded sky. Just ahead stood a crumbling stone tower, ominous spikes protruding from its ceilings and walls, and large armored men with gray, distorted features stood guard. Orcs.
River’s heart pounded in her chest. Why would the TARDIS have drawn her back to Middle Earth?
“Stay here, Doctor, I’ve got to handle this.”
She darted out of the TARDIS and nearly ran headlong into a scraggly-haired man half her height. A hobbit.
He whipped out a glowing blue sword and pointed it at her chest.
“Who goes there?” His voice trembled almost as much as his sword.
River took her screwdriver out of her pocket and scanned the sword. It was alien, certainly, but not dangerous. It wouldn’t have diverted the TARDIS.
“Who are you, lady?” Sam raised the sword to her neck.
“Oh, put that away, you’re going to hurt yourself. Name’s River Song. What’s yours?”
“I—Sam Gamgee.” He swallowed. “You’re not an orc, are you?”
“Human. Well, more or less. Listen, Sam—”
Two of the orcs from the tower came running toward them. River whipped the blaster out of her pocket and shot down both of them over Sam’s head. Sam cowered, dropping his sword, then whirled around, gaping at the fallen bodies.
Breathing hard, he turned to face River. “Can you help me?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Mister Frodo’s been taken—he’s in that tower.” He pointed behind himself. “I’ve got to save him. If I could just borrow your—whatever that is—”
His eyes were on River’s blaster.
She shoved it back into her pocket. “What are orcs doing kidnapping Hobbits?”
“We were heading to Mount Doom to destroy this.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a chain. A familiar dull golden ring hung from the end.
“Oh, I see. This is my fault,” she said.
“Your fault?” Sam lowered the ring.
“Sauron and I. We used to date. He was planning to propose, even ordered the materials for the ring from another world. He was quite cross when I broke things off. Went a bit power crazy, to be honest.”
Sam stared at her for a long time, his brow quizzical. Finally, he pointed to the TARDIS. “Can your blue box get us to Mount Doom?”
“Ah.” River’s face felt warm. “I’d rather not run into Sauron. But if you’re looking to destroy the ring, we’ve got a decaying star in the TARDIS. It should do the trick.”
Sam glanced from the ring in his hands to the TARDIS. “You have a star in that box?”
Convincing the Doctor to allow Sam into the TARDIS core was no easy matter, but it was nothing compared with dealing with Sam’s outburst at the dimensional folding.
“On the inside, yes, it’s very impressive. Let’s get on with it, shall we?”
“But—but how—” Sam cringed in the doorway, looking back and forth from the blue exterior to the console room.
“You still have to save your friend, don’t you?”
This seemed to harden Sam’s resolve. His jaw set, he stepped into the console room. “Lead the way, Mrs. River Song.”
She’d been Doctor Song for years, but decided against correcting him. Every now and then, she checked to make sure he was still trailing behind her. He always was, though his eyes darted in all directions and he kept his sword in his hand.
Finally, they arrived at the TARDIS power center—the Eye of Harmony. The enormous glowing star hung suspended in midair.
Sam reached again into his pocket and took out the ring. With a cry, he flung the ring into the dying star.
For just a moment, the star flashed a more brilliant shade of orange.
“That’s it?” Sam said. “It’s over?”
His face broke out into a grin. “Mrs. River Song, how can I ever repay you?”
“Repay me? That ring was a great source of power. It’ll save us a fuel stop. Consider us even.”
“I’ve got to save Mister Frodo,” Sam said. “But maybe we’ll meet again someday?”
“We’ll see,” River said. “It’s one thing to be diverted by an alien artifact, but as a general rule, one does not simply land a TARDIS in Mordor.”
The orc snarled as he raised his sword. Frodo struggled against his bonds, but to no avail. This was it, this was the end—
The Orc stopped short, shouting, as the tip of a glowing blue sword jabbed through its chest.
“Sam!” Frodo cried.
The orc dropped. Sam smiled down at Frodo.
Guilt weighed upon Frodo’s chest. “Oh, Sam, I’m so sorry!”
“Let’s get you out of here.” Sam took hold of the ropes binding Frodo’s hands.
“It’s too late.” Frodo sat up. “It’s over. They’ve taken it. Sam—” he stared intently into Sam’s eyes— “they took the ring.”
Sam took a deep breath. “We need to talk.”
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