Chris McGowan (.net)


everyone’s grandparents seem to have really cute stories of how they met, and like my grandparents met when my grandma was running away from police during a protest and she jumped on the back of my grandads motorcycle and just screamed “DRIVE FUCKING DRIVE”

Chris Watches… Broadchurch Episode 2 

So here we are at Episode 2 of Season 1 of Broadchurch (series 1 for those in the U.K.).  It should be noted, again, spoilers.  Like, literal spoilers.  And this show should not be spoiled.

Also to note again, these are not recaps for Broadchurch.  I’m basically pretending I’m a 3rd investigator on this, working with the 10th Doctor and the Detective Lady, and I’m outlining the suspects and trying to solve the puzzle as soon as I can…

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Gotta say, kinda jazzed that both Radio Free Skaro AND Verity! podcasts are following me, so I’ll be sure to toss some Doctor Who stuff from my POV (and some Doctor Who Live LA stuff too) on here, in addition to all the other stuff.

Once I get done with my Broadchuch posts, I may do something a little different with Classic Who recaps (at least something I haven’t seen yet).  I’ll save that for when Capaldi debuts.

Also - current image on my laptop background:


Beyond the Neverending Valley (of Ellsworth and Umbrage)

A story in parts

By Chris McGowan

Part 7 (of 13)

Back at the Palace of the Most High Ellsworth and Most Taken Umbrage Kingdom, the 11 in Blue put the Sniffing Hounds back into their cages.

B-8 and Yolo returned from the Upper Valley, a fresh air aroma in their hair.

Xanadu and Biff came back from the Roaring Sea of Water.  They occasionally shimmied and shaked to get the remaining droplets off of them.

All 3 Sniffing Hounds had returned from the Plains of Boredom - Viral, Pewter and Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.  They were actually the first hounds to return, as the Plains of Boredom had nothing going on.  Zilch.

Richter, Kelly and Sweet-suite all came back from the Mountains of Radness, with big smiles on their gigantic chihuahua faces.  Kelly in particular had tiny pebbles around her mouth - she must’ve been eating rocks (oh Kelly!).

But one was still missing.

“Hey, still no Hippo?” Pewter called out from his cage.

The other hounds shook their heads.

“Either he’s on to something or he’s in trouble,” Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys* pointed out. (*The person in Blue that named her liked both the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series of novels from our universe, hence the ridiculously long name).

The 11 in Blue locked the gates.

“HEY!  Our brother is out there,” Yolo barked!

One of the 11 in Blue stepped forward.  “You know the terms of your sentence - it’s sundown.  You stay inside your cages.”

“But what about Hippo?” Sweet-suite asked.

“And the king’s daughter??  She must be in the Neverending Valley since we didn’t find her anywhere else,” Biff added.

The 11 in Blue were silent for a moment.  Then another spoke up.

“Uhm… Apparently the king is going to send someone else into the Valley to find Linda, Hippo and the pony.”

“Who?” Xanadu asked.

* * * * 

An owl cried out, perched outside the Coffee Hut.  The trees surrounding the Hut were extremely tall and had full and lush branches.  The leaves were wide, pale green and veiny.  They overlapped quite a bit, providing a leafy canopy and making the darkening forest even more dreary, at once protected but also hidden.

“Are they still open?” Gus asked, a bit out of breath, having sloshed a pretty long way for a talking tree.

“Let’s see,” Fair Princess Linda said, sliding off Smileyface.  Smileyface looked around, up at the treetops, and felt uneasy.

“I feel like there’s a hundred eyes on us” he said, feeling creeped out.

“Oh, Smileyface, no time for bits!  It’s coffee time,” Linda said, giving the coffee hut door a nudge.

“Oh darn,” Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn said, seeing her Converse shoelaces had come undone.  “I always forget to double knot these laces.  Annoying!”  She bent down to retie them.

“I don’t wear shoes,” Ignatius acknowledged, almost smugly, watching Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn.

“Thanks, Ignatius,” she replied.

The door to the hut opened for Linda.

She poked her head inside.

“Hello?” Fair Princess Linda called out.

* * * * 

Outside and from afar, Hippo slowly approached the hut, having followed the last scream.  He stopped in his tracks, mid-stride.  He watched as a pony entered the hut, followed by a rather large tree, captained by a squirrel, as it struggled to get into the doorway.  A lady all in black remained outside, tying her shoe.  No Princess.

Hippo felt something and looked up.  He saw a host of various flying creatures looking down on him.  Pigeons, owls, robins, blue jays, a couple bats, an eagle, lots of crows, a few large bumblebees, hummingbirds, wrens, vultures, and he’s pretty sure on one tree branch was an iguana with a jetpack.

Hippo remained frozen.

“Pro, I think I’m close.  Con, if I move another step I’ll either be attacked or they’ll alert whoever it is they’re guarding.”

He slowly took a few steps back and laid down in the grass, eyes fixated on the hut and trying to catch a sniff or two over all the coffee smells.  He just needed confirmation that the Fair Princess Linda was inside.

* * * * * 

Linda slowly found a seat at an empty table, as Smileyface, Gus and Ignatius squeezed in.  Even though the doorway was human-size, the hut had a rather large ceiling, so once Gus got in, he could sit and drink coffee comfortably.

The Coffee Hut itself was decorated to look like a grandparent’s house.  Pastel-colored wallpaper, wooden furniture, a fireplace and lots of lace napkins and cloths.  It’s supposed to feel comfortable and disarming.  Familiar.

“Oh hello!” welcomed a beaming Mary, who appeared from the back, an apron around her waist.  “Let me grab you some menus.”

“You’re not closing, are you?”  Linda asked.

“Pish posh, no no no!” Mary said, flying over and setting the menus down around each of them.  She paused for a moment to look at her guests.

“Wow, what an interesting group here.  We have a beautiful young lady, a pony -“

“A talking pony,” Smileyface corrected.  Mary especially liked that.

“Splendid!  And a coffee-drinking tree, I presume?”

“You are correct, ma’am,” Gus said.  Ignatius popped out of the tree and onto the table.

“I’ll be ordering as well!” Ignatius said, somewhat surprising Mary.

“Wow, such a large group.”

“And we have a witch friend who’s joining us as well,” Linda said rather innocently.  Mary’s face went blank.

“Really.  Well, I’ll leave an extra menu here and I’ll come back to get your order in a jiffy.”  She smiled sweetly but everyone was too buried in their menus to notice.  Mary took a couple slow steps away, then dashed to the kitchen area, out of sight.

She blew through the rear door and raced to a tree, whispering an order up to a vulture.  It took flight, then she raced back inside.

* * * * * 

Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn had finished tying her Converse shoes.  “Boy, that should not be that difficult.”  She took one step forward then began floating up into the air?

“Um, what’s happening?  Did I cast a flying spell by accident?”

A team of various flying creatures were lifting Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn up and away.

“HEY!  Put me down!  I want to -“ Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn began to say, but a couple hummingbirds put a large gourd in her mouth.

Hippo, still in hiding, looked up, seeing the birds taking away a struggling Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn.

“I have to see if the Princess is inside.  But… I can’t just let… someone get kidnapped.  ARG.”  Reluctantly Hippo slipped out and began tracking where the team of various flying creatures were carrying the woman in black.  He had to save her; it was in his instincts.

* * * * * 

Back inside…

“And I’ll have the caffé latte, but can you make that upside down and half-caf?  Otherwise I’ll be up ALL night,” Gus joked.

The table laughed.

“Great, I’ll be back in a skippy with your orders!”

Mary walked away, fully intending on giving them all a last meal.

“So, Gus,” Linda began.  “The whole point of this adventure, really, was so that I could learn more about you.”

“OK,” Gus replied, having kind of forgotten about that part of it.  He really just wanted that latte.

“Do all trees talk?”

“I’m pretty sure, but like I said, us bigger trees usually stay put.  Bushes tend to move more often, so that’s how he was able to audition for that play.  Flowers usually stay where they’re planted, too.  Except tulips.”

Both he and Ignatius shivered at even the mention of the word “tulips.”

“I had no idea.  Did you have any idea, Smileyface?” Linda asked.

“Nope, I just loaf around the castle and that little path, Fair Princess,” Smileyface said.  ”Of which we have strayed from greatly today.  I’m in soooo much trouble.”

“There’s a whole world in this Valley,” Ignatius added.  “But is it smart for someone like you to be out here on your own?”

“And why shouldn’t I be?”  Linda protested.

“Well, I think what Ignatius means is… you’re important,” Gus said.

“We all are important, Gus.  We’re all living creatures.  We’re born, we live then eventually we die!”

“Bummertown, Fair Princess,” Smileyface said, in between laps of some water.

“My point is - my life is just as important as Gus’s.  That’s why I want to know more about him.  About his life.  What he wants.  I want to hear about Ignatius!  And you, Smileyface.  I want to hear about what you want to do!”

"Get home," Smileyface said.

"And… where’s Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn?” Linda asked.

They all looked around.  The rest of the hut was empty and quiet.

“That’s strange,” Ignatius said.  “She was just outside tying her shoes.”

“I’ll go take a look,” Smileyface said, coming around the small table they were at and headed to the door.

Mary popped out in front of it, blocking it.  She locked the deadbolt.

“I’m really sorry, but I can’t let you leave,” Mary said.

“Did anyone ever tell you that you look like Yolinda the Magnificent?” Smileyface asked.

“Who’s that?” Mary said, her face resembling Yolinda, who had cobalt blue eyes and a flat face.

“Nevermind - um, I just need to see if our friend is still outside.”

“Yeah, I can’t do that.”  Mary takes out her mirror.  “Here’s the thing - I need to feed on youthful energy and fun to stay young.  This little mirror is a great piece of tech.  I zap you, your essence enters the mirror, then I absorb it.  Unfortunately, you all will cease to exist once I do that.  For being so nice when you came in, I’ll let you decide the order in which I devour you.”

Linda stood up.


“What?”  Mary asked.

“I said NO!  I just want to meet people, have some coffee, then go home.  I don’t want to be afraid of anything or anyone.  I don’t want all the stories about the Neverending Valley to be true.  You’re not going to be mean or hurt any of us!”

“My dear, are you challenging the Great Witch Mary?”

Linda looked around, now embracing the leadership role.

"I’m Fair Princess Linda, but you can just call me Linda… Russian spelling," Linda said.  She picked up the remaining part of her blueberry scone in one hand, and a balled-up napkin in the other.

“Bring it.” Linda said, in her best Boston accent.

To Be Continued…

Part 1 here:

Part 2 here:

Part 3 here:

Part 4 here:

Part 5 here:

Part 6 here:

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My name is Chris McGowan, LA-based and Chicago-born writer and actor.

I say things, write things and make things.

I pretend to be other people and create other worlds.

It's going to be all here.

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