How we think it’d play out…
Stephen King awoke in an unfamiliar bed, in an unfamiliar room whose windows (also unfamiliar) looked out onto an unfamiliar garden. How did he get here? The last thing he remembered was getting into his car with the intention of driving to Neil Gaiman’s house and delivering the almighty butt-whupping that would ensure his place as the Ultimate Writer. But then… he dimly recalled losing control of the car, the terrifying screech of brakes, and…
“Ah – awake at last.” King hadn’t heard the door open, but Gaiman was suddenly at his bedside, a steaming bowl of soup in his hands and an eerie grin on his face. “You know, I’ve always been a big fan of yours.”
“No,” said King.
“It’s true,” said Gaiman, “all the way back to Carrie -”
“No, I mean this can’t be how it ends. We’ve both been through too much in this contest for it to finish up as a lame Misery rip-off; it’s demeaning to us both.”
Gaiman frowned. He’d been looking forward to calling King a “dirty birdy”. “What do you suggest?”
“There’s only one way to decide which of us should be the Ultimate Writer. A gruelling challenge of skill and determination – the ultimate test of our abilities as professional authors.”
“You don’t mean –“
“That’s right. A book signing.”
Within hours the local bookstore was full to bursting with fans, and a huge crowd of hopefuls spilled out into the street. King and Gaiman sat at their respective tables, signing pens in hand, each man now beginning to regret this a little.
The crowd was like nothing they’d ever seen. The news that Neil Gaiman and Stephen King were to appear together at a signing – apparently to settle some sort of dispute that had arisen on the internet – had spread so fast that the entire surrounding area had been closed to traffic.
King cracked his knuckles, took a deep breath and signed his first book. “Thank you. I get many of my ideas in the shower. My favourite colour? Red.”
Meanwhile, Gaiman was doing the same. “Thank you very much. I find gardening a great source of ideas. I like your hat.”
Time wore on, and the crowd showed no sign of diminishing– if anything, it was growing larger. The double signing of two of the world’s most beloved authors had by now become national news, and busloads more fans were arriving every minute
The strain was beginning to tell on both authors: cramp was forcing King to sign with his left hand, while Gaiman was finding ever more creative ways to tell fans where his ideas came from. “They’re pre-written by poodles and mailed to me every morning.”
Hours later both men were visibly sweating, and the crowd was growing restless as a combination of heat, dehydration and lack of toilets took its toll. Rumours began circulating that it wasn’t Stephen King and Neil Gaiman at all at the front of the line; it was just Shaun Hutson and some bloke in a wig. The mood was turning ugly.
King looked at Gaiman; his left arm was now cramping up so badly he was giving serious thought to signing with his toes. “Want to get out of here?”
“Had… enough… have you?” sneered Gaiman, but his face betrayed the weariness of over a dozen hours of signing. “Fine. But how’re we going to do it? If we try to leave, they’ll tear us apart!”
“I don’t know. I’d use my killer clown, but Philip K Dick murdered him. Long story.”
“Hmm,” said Gaiman. “Well, Loki owes me a favour…”
Calling on the trickster-god’s powers, Gaiman managed to convince the entire crowd to a man that they were waiting in line for Ed Sheeran tickets. Slowly but surely the mass of people began to dissipate, amid a lot of confused muttering.
“Well, that’s that sorted,” said King, after the last few stragglers had left the building. “But how do we decide who’s the Ultimate Writer?”
Gaiman sighed. “Thumb war?”
PREDICTED WINNER: ????
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