I have terrible luck at buying presents. Either the thing that I know someone will like, which has been available in one particular place since time immemorial, will suddenly go permanently out of stock; or the item I go to order will be available in every size but the one I need; or — you get the idea.
This year, of course, it’s been delivery problems. So it’s hardly surprising that my planned gift to you should have gone spectacularly off the rails, as the delivery system that is my brain explained that: “Can’t be done, love. Not our fault: says ‘Short story’ on the packaging, but what you’ve got here’s a novelette. Could even be a novella. Won’t f
ind anyone ready to deliver that by the cut off date, even without the strikes.” And so, dear reader, you will not be getting What Cecil Did On His Holidays as your winter holiday present this year. Instead I offer you a different story: one I wrote, more or less as it came to me, without my usual plotting and planning.
It’s still set in the world of The Vicar Man, still perfectly readable even if you’ve never picked up that book, and gives a glimpse into Dora’s early life at the Inn, and the first winter she spent there. It’s a little strange, a little eerie, and definitely not what I intended to give you, but I hope you like it all the same. You can find it on my Extras page, by clicking the button below. It's there to read on the webpage, or to download and take with you, wherever you like to read it. May you have an excellent holiday and, whether it’s the Winter Solstice, the fourth day of Hanukkah, not quite Christmas yet*, or just another day in the middle of winter, I hope you enjoy your present.
*The story isn't going anywhere, so you can save it for Christmas if you want. Or don’t: I won’t tell anyone.