Corrie (as if by Grant Morrison)
by Richard Barr, co-plotted by Andy Luke
The Superhero had never before in his existence felt such powerlessness hollow out his multidimensional soul. In Earth Year: 1992, via the Word Processor of series creator Hamish Dillinger, he was incarnated into the village of Glendarroch, in the soap opera Take the High Road. Here he was Nigel Jenkins, cockney wide boy and bringer of Capitalist Shopping Resort doom to the sleepy Scottish village.
Standing on a hill overlooking Glendarroch, as he did in that final episode, as the set props and backdrops suddenly took on a garish, artificial feel (something common in all final episodes of cancelled shows, he later reflected) he listened to the velvety intonations of the mysterious Mister Spinetti, Mall Entrepreneur and Serial Community Leveller, telling him to persuade those gentle country folk below to accept his plans for village annexing and Consumerist Terraforming.
Such a waste, he thought, such a workaday tragedy. Another daytime Soap Opera crescendo squandered. On his final return to the set of his (now) Balsawood home, he did wish that for once he could control the destiny of those hard-done-by characters he found himself inhabiting…
Between the veils The Superhero perceived a number of work men coming onto the set and lifting the props away. In this world, his world, the world of make believe and multi-recycled story narratives, the bits and pieces of his life as Nigel Jenkins disappeared into thin air, and then, finally, he did, too.
…And back into Fractal Time Hyper-Conscious Anthropologiverse he went. Travelling through a multi-laned, multi-coloured hi-way of hi-def, fibre optic pixilation, across landscapes of dusty literature and comic book tropes. But he always knew it was the dimension given to Soap Opera in which he belonged.
His essence, transmuted via the sweaty fingertips of veteran TV writer Gildare Hazzenbottom onto the very grimy screen of his Commodore PC monitor by way of a well-bashed keyboard, did then pour into one Ken Barlow the second, prodigal son of Coronation Street patriarch, Ken Barlow, who, he was none too surprised to find, was much put out at his impromptu arrival.
But that staple of Soap Opera interpersonal relating was the very least of his worries…for there was something happened on his arrival on the hollowed, cobbled Coronation Street, something that’d never happened before in the usually flawless processes involved in spawning a new Soap Opera character.
As usual a portal opened in a place much mentioned but never seen in-soap, in this case Bessie Street Post Office. Ken Barlow the second, as again was usual, stepped through the portal, hauling with him that year’s entire set of outfits in a big old suitcase. And this is where this particular character spawning cast aside normalcy…
…A shift occurred in the chest of Ken Barlow the second. He noticed this first. Suddenly his stomach was engorged, blooming like an aggressive tumour. From out of his arse spilt the liquid matter of Other Ken, played by Prince William (in an EarthPlane cameo appearance aimed at making the Royals relevant and down with it…)
“I am Prince William, your heir to…I mean, sorry…I am Other Ken. I am here to herald the Great Convergence. A resident of Coronation Street Roy Cropper has been using his idiot savant genius to mess with SoapPlane’s laws of Space/Time. The convergence of Soap Realities, an event not prophesised to happen for at least another millennia, is happening now due to that oddball’s meddling, and there is nothing you can do to stop it!”
With a stagey laugh, Other Ken disassembled his amorphous liquid essence and ran down a gutter. Ken Barlow the second had a lot to do.
All around Coronation Street, The Convergence was manifesting in the most fantastical ways, signs and portents which sent the children of Bessie Street Primary into a cannibalistic, lustful rage. Little Simon Barlow hopped on octogenarian Emily Bishop, causing SoapPlane’s first ever colostomy- (as opposed to gym-) –slip pregnancy. But none of the other characters seemed to take much notice – they were all much too concerned with their own Convergence visions.
Hard Man Owen, aged beau of Anna, began a steamy affair with Coronation Street veteran seductress Sally Webster. Then Sally, spotting her reflection in the windows of The Rover’s Return, began to have an affair with herself, resulting in her carrying on her back a near full-length mirror every episode. Sally and her mirror, housing within its frame her always-shocked expression, then did a declaration of their love bit in the Rovers during the Christmas special, where, by this point, Ken Barlow the second had found work as a barman.
Yet Ken Barlow the second wasn’t the only prodigal child to return to Coronation Street in the episodes (not days, see) before The Convergence. Norris Cole didn’t even recall having his son Norris Jr., who arrived with a great Cole family fortune, made from his exploitative dating website loversreturn.co.uk. Alf Roberts (of Summer Bay) crawled through a pregnant Emily Bishop’s washing machine (via Dot Cotton’s laundrette on Albert Square) claiming he’d help Mrs Bishop raise her colostomy-slip baby. Unfortunately Alf Roberts was still suffering his PTSD hallucinations from the ‘Nam and with a rifle he’d made using the 3D-printer at Dev’s shop, he went out onto t’street and did a Hungerford.
Elsewhere, Kevin the Mechanic, standing in aged Thundercat Rita’s kabin, was shocked and ashamed to discover that on the front page of the Weatherfield Gazette was a man named Michael Turner, who looked just the spit of him, that’d been accused of the most heinous and filthy crimes against his own daughter.
Up in the skies above Weatherfield, Other Ken flew around there naked as the day he was born, save for Edna Sharples dusty hairnet which he’d found while rifling through Deidre Barlow’s dildo drawer.
I’m bored, he thought. I know, I’ll speed up this Convergence thing and rip a big hole in the sky.
And as the sky tore, the noise accompanying it was the whining strings of the Coronation Street theme tune.
On the screens of EarthPlane television sets, a purple faced and flustered Julian Simmons announced that night’s televisual entertainment.
“…and so due to the shock conglomeration of the drama departments of the BBC, ITV, actually, every television station in the world, tonight at 7.30 we’ll have Coronation Street’s Days of Our Lives Dynasty Doctors. Tomorrow night, Eastenders of Home & Away Bring Back Their Sons & Daughters…
Back on Coronation Street every strata of soap opera trope and event spilt forth from the hole ripped in the firmament by Other Ken. The shark that ate Tom in Home & Away landed with a splat on Jason Grimshaw, killing the thick fuck instantly. From The Colby’s came the Flying Saucer that abducted Fallon, which hovered over the Kebab Shop menacingly. The Peruvian terrorists who had shot up the wedding party at the end of S01E12 (for this is how the calendars appear on SoapPlane) Dynasty rushed the Rover’s return shooting Peter, Carla and Ken Barlow. Ken Barlow the second, who’d forgotten for many episodes that he was also The Superhero, ran from behind the bar, slumped to his knees, and screamed the place down as he lay cradling the dying head of his father.
With great anger he rushed out onto Coronation Street shaking his fist at the sky.
“I will end you!” he screamed at Other Ken, flying about the sky with great abandon.
“Embrace it, Ken Barlow the second. The Convergence is well under way.”
Remembering that Other Ken had told him it was all Roy’s doing, bringing on the Great Convergence, he ran at Roy’s Rolls, shoulder first, right through the door.
Seated at a dark-wood table next to the counter, Roy was listening intently to George Noory on Coast 2 Coast FM, who at that moment was talking about Time Travel. All around the dim café snaked Roy’s train set with many model trains whizzing along it.
“Ken Barlow the second,” said Roy, his strange eyes squinting.
“What have you done, Roy?” screamed Ken Barlow the second. “You have sped up The Convergence.”
“I was only trying to reach my beloved Hayley, who is dead but is now a comet in space, using my train set as a stargate for a way into outer space. I want to be out there, with my Hayley, floating along, a particle in her tail.”
“But you’ve sped up The Convergence, you fool. What are we going to do?”
“Our only hope is Bob Jiggery.”
“He runs a dance studio/pornographic film studio in the large attic that runs along the tops of the houses of Coronation Street. Also, he has a peculiar hobby reassembling bits of old characters. I think if we go to Mr Jiggery and ask him to assemble all the toughs who’ve left Coronation Street, like Big Jim McDonald, Jez the drug dealer, men like that, then we would have a specimen hard enough to kick the shit outta Other Ken.”
“Take me to him.”
Bob Jiggery was more than happy to help Ken Barlow the second assemble his Coronation Street hardman. In a matter of minutes he had the fists of Big Jim mixed with the brawn of Jez and the cunning of Mike Baldwin. Ken Barlow the second, lifting the hardman by the waist, flew skyward, toward Other Ken, who on seeing the cut of the hardman, cacked himself.
What ensued was not so much a fight as a pounding. Other Ken, played by Prince William on EarthPlane, was beat beautiful by the fists of Big Jim. He fell to the ground in a lump of blue blooded mush, as Ken Barlow the second closed the hole in the firmament, the noise accompanying the whining strings of the theme tune now in reverse, manifesting back-masked words extolling Satan, causing church-going God fearer Emily Bishop to fall to the cobbles and give birth to her colostomy-slip baby, which dim village idiot character Kirk named Schmichael, after his much loved dead dog.
And with the birth of this ugly baby from an elderly mother, things returned to normal on Coronation Street – affairs, incest, alcoholism, gun play, long losts…, arson, skulduggery…and all that other detritus of human juju, and all occurring along that short street in that Northern Industrial Town…