Behind The Scenes: Xeme

If you want to avoid spoilers, please read the original story – Xeme – before reading this post.

First off, apologies for this post being a day late. That’s really been a bit unavoidable as a great deal of my evenings this week have been spent moving to new web hosting. The new design was chosen by Rebeca, and she also took most of the photographs that are shown in the banner (none of them are stock photos, incidentally, I took at least one of them, I think. Unless I didn’t, in which case she took all of them.)

This week’s letter pulled out of the bag was, of course, “X”. I remembered the word “xeme” not from my researches for Xenon a few weeks ago, but actually from trying to find “x” words to play against Scrabble on the Commodore 64 many years ago.

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“What is that?” Frank asked, pointing.

“It’s a xeme,” the bald man said. “Also known as a fork-tailed gull, or Sabine’s gull.”

“Is it real?”

“Stuffed, of course,” the man said. “It’s about twenty or more years old, I’m really not sure off the top of my head. Came from a retired soldier or something like that, I think. My assistant would have known, but alas I can’t ask him now.”

“Huh?” Frank looked at the man. “Why?”

“Car accident, unfortunately,” the man said. “They’re not sure if he’ll make it.”

Frank nodded in a vague gesture of sympathy.

“Would you like a closer look?”


The man turned around, picked up a small stool and used it to reach the bird from the top shelf. He placed the bird in its glass case in front on the counter in front of Frank.

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Behind The Scenes: Warrington

This is the “Behind The Scenes” post for the story “Warrington“. Please feel free to read that first, if you want to avoid spoilers…

This is 28th story of the year, so it’s the second of the stories using the random letter. Again, I copped out and made it a character’s name – sorry. Warrington is named after one of my favourite actors, Don Warrington. Rossi, on the other hand, I picked from a genealogy list of popular Italian surnames; it was only later that the show “Criminal Minds” popped into my head…

This one came together quite easily. In fact the difficult point was where to begin, and then I went almost straight through to the end quite easily. I was quite happy with the foreshadowings in this one – the orders the painter picked up, the bad review, the fact that Rossi is the only journalist that Warrington would accept to interview him (which I tried to imply, I don’t know whether that came over well enough).

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“Can you tell me the way to the castle?”

The man behind the bar scratched at his moustache and looked at the customer doubtfully.

“Why do you want to go there?” the bartender asked. “He’s a crazy old man.”

“I’m a journalist,” the man said. “Paul Rossi. I’ve been asked to interview him.”

The bartender laughed.

“Another,” Rossi sighed, pushing over his empty glass.

“I’m sorry,” the barman replied, putting the glass under the pump and filling it with cold beer. “It’s just I can’t imagine that man agreeing to anything.”

He handed the beer to Rossi, who sipped. It was just as cold and delightful as the first. It was strong, too. He could feel the effects already.

“He’s already said yes,” Rossi explained, putting down the glass.

The barman raised an eyebrow.

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Behind The Scenes: Marooned

This is the “Behind The Scenes” post for the story “Marooned“. Please feel free to read that first, if you want to avoid spoilers…

This is the first story of the second half, and I wanted to open with something a bit different. I’d had the idea for this story in my head for a couple of days before I wrote it, and I’d originally thought of the name “Aliens”, but that didn’t really work for me. Plus, I didn’t really want to repeat myself by just running through the alphabet again, so…

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Behind The Scenes: Your Death, Foretold / Zero Nine

I wasn’t well last week, and I really didn’t manage to get a lot done on Wednesday other than running a high fever and feeling sorry for myself. So this is a kind of “roundup” of the two. Click the links to read the original stories, if you haven’t already.

Your Death, Foretold

I wanted to write something here that was a bit different from normal, and I came up with the idea quite late on in the week. Again, this was something inspired more by the title than by anything else. The idea of having someone reading more into the prediction than they otherwise would do, and thereby making it a self-fulfilling one, was interesting. As for where the prediction came from, I deliberately left that question up to the reader.

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Zero Nine

The clouds lifted a little, and the sun peeped out. Henry and Harriet, snuggling together on the sofa, didn’t notice. Moira continued her knitting. Graeme put down his book and looked up.

“It seems to have finally got sunny out there,” he said. “Shall we take those dogs of yours out now?”

“All right,” Moira said. She came to the end of the row, then folded the knitting safely away. The dogs, realising what was about to happen, got off the sofa and began dancing around, tails wagging.

“How’s that new girlfriend of yours?” Moira asked.

Graeme winced a little. “I wouldn’t really call her that,” he replied. “She’s a colleague, at least, at present, is all.”

“Mmm-hm,” Moira put a lead on Henry’s collar and passed the end of it to Graeme. She took Harriet’s lead for herself.

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Your Death, Foretold

Michael put the knife and fork down on his plate and looked over the table. Sally was already on her phone, texting.

“Is she coming?” he asked.

“Yep,” she replied. “Going to be late, though.”

“Well, so long as you know where you’re going to meet her.”

He stood up, took the plates and placed them in the dishwasher.

“Udo not around?” she asked, looking up from the phone.

“Don’t know where he’s got to recently,” Michael shook his head. “Not really speaking to him much.”

“Oh dear.”

“Yep,” he nodded. “Thinking I may need to find another flatmate. He owes me three months of his half of the rent already.”

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Behind The Scenes: Xenon

This is the “Behind The Scenes” post for the short story “Xenon”. To avoid spoilers, please read the original story first.

Of course the name came first. I’ve been doing them in alphabetical order all year, so naturally the name came first.

Instead of the idea coming to me through inspiration, it came to me through ignorance. I’m not really that good at cubic metres compared to litres, although I should be – one of the earliest lessons I remember from school was to show how a litre fitted into a ten centimetre cube. Because that’s how arithmetic works, obviously. But when I looked at Alibaba to see how much xenon is worth (spoiler: not that much), I came up with the idea of a scam – one of the characters knowing about as much about xenon and how cubic metres worked as I’d done before I looked it up, getting duped, and then being made an unwitting stooge for counterfeit money.

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