Note: the characters and situations in this piece are © BBC. Oh, and some lines were originally written by Lennon/McCartney.
Wednesday morning at five o'clock as the day begins ...
Ace was awake with that curious suddenness that attacks without warning. You know. Like you get a fright, and you wake out of dreamland, only nothing had happened. It was still dark outside. Her alarm hadn't rung, and the street that runs past her window was as quiet as death. Even the cats were silent.
Ace clicked on her bedside light and checked her clock. She groaned at the morning's early hour and flopped back onto her pillow. "Shit." There was something that told her that no matter how she might try, she wasn't going to get back to sleep in a hurry. And she was so damn tired.
A few minutes passed. Ace sat up and looked around her room. Clothes everywhere. T-shirts tossed willy-nilly over chairs, jeans draped over her open wardrobe doors. Her stereo sat patiently in front of her sticker-plastered mirror, a cassette in it, waiting to be played. She got up and shuffled over to it and turned up the volume control. Her finger hovered over the play button, but thought better of it. It'd only wake her mum up and round two of last night's fight would start. Instead, she grabbed her headphones and jammed the jack into its slot. She left the volume where it was, and jabbed her finger down. She grinned as the music thudded and rolled in her auditory canals, shaking her eardrums. An aural assault causing damage she didn't care about.
Making sure the extension cord didn't snag on anything, Ace clambered back to her bed and leant back on her pillow. At last she could think. Uninterrupted. Uninterruptable.
She thought back on the previous day. She'd slammed home after a bog-awful day waitressing. Christ she hated that job. The gang had called in, saying they were skipping school and goofing off on Horsendon Hill. "Come on, Ace," Ange had begged, sniffing. Ace had wondered if it was caused by more than allergies.
"Can't. Gotta stay here."
"What," said Midge with that cynically teasing look in his eyes. "Got responsibilities now, eh, Ace?"
But Ace wasn't in the mood for it. "Bog off, Midge. I'll see if I can get up there later. Maybe light a fire." It was their code for grass.
"Okay." That was Shreela. Ace smiled at her, glad her friend was trying to be accommodating. Like Manisha would have.
They'd gone then, and the customers seemed to get worse than normal. Whine, whine, whine if she didn't get their order right. There wasn't that much difference between the small and regular fries anyway. Everyone knew that, except the loud-mouthed Aussie woman who wore clothing as garish as her opinions.
Ace had tried her usual trick of thinking of chemistry to make the outside world go away. Her current project was to see if she could extract nitroglycerine from that stick of gelignite she and Julian had nicked. She wanted to make an explosive with more wallop. Already thought of a name. Nitro 9. Patented to Ace.
But, of course, such daydreaming had only got her into worse trouble. Nearly got the sack about twenty times, she reckoned. So, Ace had been in one well foul mood when she'd got home, and definitely in no humour to talk to her social worker. And, of course, she was there. Nagging, nagging, nagging. Her mum joined in, doing the thing she was second best at: "Look, Dory. You could always do it by correspondence. You got the prospects I never had, being in a single-mother family."
"Audrey's right, Dorothy. You can still get your A-levels. It's not as though you don't have the ability."
Ace just shrugged. She'd learned a long time ago that neither was really interested in what she had to say, so she never bothered to say anything to them any more. She didn't even really listen to them.
"I've left the forms on the table. You can have a look at them, Dorothy."
She shrugged again, and the social worker left having achieved nothing but make Ace's temper worse. And then her dad rolled home from whichever slag hole he'd been in for the past six months. The shit, so the cliché went, hit the fan. The two of them shouted at her, dredging up the usual problems: Ace blowing up the art room at school, torching that old house. Not to mention the hash, which really hadn't been hers. Her dad brought Manisha and Shreela into the fracas - "You shouldn't mix with Pakis, Dory. Only brings trouble."
Then her mum turned on him, "Oh, yes. You really know what goes on here, don't you. I might as well be bringing her up on my own, for all you're ever here. Oh, I should never have listened to you when you said to keep the baby. Christ, after what my mother went through bringing me up after the war. And the war itself, losing dad, and those things she talks about . . . "
"Mum. Gran's loopy. Flipped her stupid head. Vampires don't exist."
"And what would you know about it, Dorothy? You weren't there. And watch your language when you talk about family."
And on it had gone. And on. For hours. Each of them dragging up things thought forgotten. Her mum started in on her dad, and it was then Ace managed to slink up to her room. The front door had slammed at about two a.m., and she'd heard her mum bawling.
Just as Ace's memories of the night before got to this stage, the tape playing in her deck began to warp and gurgle. She leapt from her bed and slammed down the stop/eject. Too late. Spooled through the capstan was the tape, just where it shouldn't be. Ace clamped down a swearword, but that didn't stop tears of anger swimming to her eyes. The world sure was conspiring against her. Time she fought back. Leave this dump called Perivale.
Without any real plan, she looked around and spied her old rucksack propped up against a spare bit of wall. She crossed to it and pulled out the junk crammed inside. She still had her chem book. The only lessons she'd ever enjoyed. That and computer studies. She looked over at her chemistry set, thinking of how she'd scrimped and saved for it.
But first, she must set about packing. She pulled out some necessities from drawers, and some of her favourite bits of clothing. Jeans, shirts, leggings. A skirt or two. She dressed in jeans and a Cure shirt, trusty Docs on her feet. She shrugged on her jacket, and pulled her hair into a simple ponytail. That done, she looked back at her chemistry set. Wondered how to pack it.
An idea came to her, in the proverbial flash. Excited, Ace pulled out the box under her bed that stored the gelignite. She started to work, humming a Communards' tune. Who cares about family fights when you've got a new explosive to work on? Not Ace. She's calm and contented, now. A zillion light years away.
The explosion was nothing like what Ace had expected. Howling winds - cold as ice and fiery hot all at once. Like she imagined the rawness of space to be. Whirling. Hurling her through the void of time and space.
Later she would call it a time storm.
Later still she would learn it was the being called Fenric.
But, as Wednesday morning in Perivale reaches nine o'clock, she is far away.