“Amanda Palmer and The Littlest Dalek”

This is a cute video of Amanda Palmer, shot by Neil Gaiman.

It also defines a children’s book that demands to be made.

It begins with a similar opening to “Edward Scissorhands.” The Scientist is creating a brand-new, very special kind of Dalek with a brand-new, very special kind of encasement that is completely, totally, and utterly unbelievably impregnable. But the encasement isn’t ready yet — it’ll just take another few days for him to finish the extra-scary paint job — so as a temporary measure, the Scientist’s nana (who makes tea cozies as a hobby) knits the Dalek an encasement out of wool to keep it warm.

But the Scientist dies before he can finish. He’s killed, probably. It has something to do with the new Doctor, who doesn’t wear fezzes and doesn’t seem quite so friendly as the most recent batch. I’m just saying that of all the people standing at the train platform, this new Doctor isn’t the one you’d approach and ask “Is this the 8:15 to Attleboro, or is it the 8:08 to Franklin/Forge Park?”

So this new Dalek has to make his way in the world on his own. He is encased in warm snuggly wool instead of impregnable metal. Which has two effects:

First, unlike the other Daleks, he’s very very VERY very very aware of how vulnerable he is. So he tends to avoid conflict if he can. He’s a talker. His first instinct is to try to understand the nature of the conflict, and see if there’s an alternative solution in which the needs and concerns of each individual can all somehow be addressed or at least acknowledged.

As such, rather than screeching “EX-TER-MI-NATE!” he rolls up to people, stops, waits for a natural opening in the conversation, and then introduces himself as “Alfie.”

(He has calculated that this is the least-threatening-sounding name, what with its lack of hard consonants.)

Secondly. Because he’s made of warm, fuzzy wool, children like to come up to him in the park and hug him. Kitties like to climb to the top and sleep on him. The parents of the children and the owners of the kitties look to see where their little ones have gone off to, and see them enjoying a peaceful and contented interlude with this Dalek. And then, if they have picnic hampers, they ask the Dalek if he would like to join them for lunch.

So he comes to enjoy company, and the taste of potato salad. He realizes that he would get no potato salad and no company if he were encased in completely, totally, and utterly unbelievably impregnable metal instead of wool.

It’s still a real drag when he gets caught in the rain. He also has to remember a lot of names and phone numbers. This is not a problem shared by the other Daleks, who kill people before they can collect any contact info, and would never be invited to call this weekend and make dinner plans, anyway. But overall, he reckons that he made out okay.

Oh, and: stairs are not a problem. He just tumbles down them WHEEEEEEE and rights himself when he gets to the bottom. And! The homeowner is pleased that all of the dust and cobwebs along the banisters have been so nicely dusted clean in the process. He or she offers the Alfie The Wooly Dalek a bowl of ice cream as a thank-you.

Bonus: this story presents a natural opportunity for a “Shawn The Sheep” crossover.

I’ve seen exactly three episodes of “Doctor Who” but I’m pretty sure this can all be canon and it’ll be fine.

Upon reflection, I suppose we can’t establish this as a “Doctor Who” tale unless we somehow acknowledge the presence of death-dealing cyborg pepperpots prosecuting an unknowable but surely wide-angled agenda just outside the boundaries of the story. No need to overthink this problem: I reckon all we really need to do is find a spot in the story for a shot of baffled policemen examining a skeleton that’s been charred into a twisted vulgarity of its living form.

(…In the background of one scene, I stress: this is a children’s story, after all. Can we do this one page of the book as a pop-up? I think that would be a lot of fun and the kids would get a big kick out of it. Pull the tab and one of the policemen bends forward and vomits into his helmet, that sort of thing.)