The Sunday Serial Christmas Eve Special: Kats and Dogs

Answers are provided and blows are dealt in the first part of our Sunday Serial Christmas specials. Sit back, relax, and let OLD DAL do all the work…

cassandra Christmas Eve christmas finale Eastenders episode 7 kat slater murder mystery old dal sam sarah sunday serial sunday serial christmas special who dunnit

They’d let the stranger stay, you see.

Following a group meeting with Cassandra, it had been agreed that he could stay (“Only ‘till we break up for Christmas, mind!”) as long as he did all the washing up, helped cook, and tidied up the bits of everyone’s rooms the bedders didn’t dare approach. He was, of course, only too happy to do this. Not because he was engaging in seasonal cheer, or indeed because he had no other choice (although these two things did also influence the matter to no small degree). He did it because he knew The Sleepy Corridor could do with a hand.

However, this spirit of good cheer was not to last for long. Little did any inhabitant of The Sleepy Corridor know that when they broke up for the Christmas break this year, only half of them would be returning in January…

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It was the night before Christmas and all through the house, quite a few things were stirring. Most obnoxious amongst said various stirrers was Kat Slater who was mewling without pause on BBC 1 (Digital). This is the episode that advertised a defiant David resisting Janine’s plea to drop his blackmail plan, and a teary Alfie biding his umpteenth emotional farewell to the Queen Victoria.

Sarah was asleep on the sofa. She had returned home to Christmas despite the near-irresistible temptation to stay and write her Arch and Anth dissertation within the safe proximity of Freud’s Complete Works. Next to her on the sofa was the stranger.

“I thought she was never going to find someone, Jeremy.” This was Sarah’s mother talking. She had of course eaten up Sarah’s lies about the stranger being her boyfriend. She had also eaten up the lies about the stranger being a water polo Blue called Simon. History at Clare Hall. Family home in Hartfordshire. Sarah’s father Jeremy wasn’t so sure about the standing of thing. However, if at any point he had suspected something – those shoulders were too narrow for a Blue – he didn’t let on. He was cutting cellotape into easy-to-manage strips and lining them up on the side of the bedside table for his wife to apply to the wrapping paper.

“He’s so polite don’t you think, Jeremy? Awful shame that his fear of flying meant he couldn’t go away with his family for Christmas…”

“Hmm…”

“Hmm?”

“Awful good of him to agree to let them go all the same. That’s what I mean.”

“Oh yes, quite.”

Downstairs the cliff-hanger drums sounded, waking Sarah. Drowsily, she turned to face the stranger. He doesn’t suit Simon at all, she thought to herself with some amusement. “Far too curious looking to be a Simon,” she whispered. “I should have called you Gaige…or Maksim… or Christopher.”

The final weeks of term at The Sleep Corridor had passed almost without problem. The residents had soon put the stranger to work. Cassandra had him writing her bibliographies for her, and delighted in scorning him when a supervisor commented on referencing inconsistencies. Sam and Jamie had been less creative, simply seeing to it that he took care of the washing up. They also made a point of purchasing a real fir that year for their communal room, just so as to delight in having a personal caretaker to brush out the needles and prune the more unsightly of the branches.

Jan, the placid CompSci with wonderful abs yet poor hygiene, had the stranger hold her ankles whilst she was crunching or throw her the medicine ball. She had also begun taking baths, during which the stranger was asked to read to her through the door. First chapter three of “Support Vector Machine Converter” and then “Series of Unfortunate Events II: The Reptile Room”.

Emma, ex-ticket seller for Big fish Ents with a pathological phobia of accidentally biting into the stick in the middle of ice-lollies, gave to the stranger the menial task scraping her favourite Feast ice lollies off the stick with a kitchen knife, and then presenting the remnants to her in a bowl.

Even Sarah was not entirely innocent of some part in the exploitation. If there was ever a particular library book she needed from the UL, it was the stranger who was sent. He placed the stack requests. He had to navigate the overflow shelves. He had to dodge the hordes of Rear Of The Year hopefuls taking photos of themselves wearing nothing but their socks amid the periodicals, North Front floor 6.

The stranger had never once complained. He was happy to stay. He was happy to be close to Sarah. He had to be close to Sarah, it was the only way to stay alive…

“Wake up!” Sarah woke him by firmly brushing away the mince pie crumbs from the stranger’s crotch.
Suddenly a knock on the door.

“Go wait in my room,” Sarah told the stranger. “You might be my ‘boyfriend’ for the holidays, but too many people knowing you’re here could rouse suspicion…”

Sarah ran through the hall to the door as the bell continued to ring in frustration. She trod on the cat’s tail in her hurry, causing her to hiss liquid hatred and sprint under the Christmas tree. Not only had she not been wearing her pet reindeer antlers of recent, she had bitten them to shreds with a delicious sense of satisfaction.

cat in antlers

The door swung open. Sarah could hardly believe her eyes.

Standing on the doormat in a brand new emerald peacoat from New Look was a figure she had not planned on seeing until the comfortably distanced January 16th.

“Cassandra!”

“Sarah, let me in. There are things you must know. You are in great danger.”

“Cassandra, you really didn’t have to come. The drive must have taken you hours! My house is in the middle of nowhere… a nightmare to find!”

“Not so bad actually, I have a Sat Nav. It’s a good one actually – pure Garmin.”

“Look, my parents will be going to bed soon, they don’t want a fuss. We’re going to have to talk in your car.”

“Very well.”

Sarah and Cassandra climbed into blue Ford KA parked on the curb. A Christmas Tree fragrance stick. Nora Jones on CD. A suction-pad Budha for the windscreen.

“He’s dangerous, Sarah. I was going to wait to tell you… I thought we could use him for a while, around the corridor but…”

“But what?”

“I’m worried about you Sarah. I don’t know what I would do if you got yourself killed. Imagine that on my conscience!

I’d have to degrade! Or do my exams alone in the Reddaway room!”

“Hmm…”

“He’s been following you for ages, Sarah. I found all of these pictures of you in his coat pocket whilst he was reading to Jan in the bat…”

“I’ve already seen those!”

“He has poems written about you folded up in his wallet… And he’d stole items from your home before he ever turned up in Cambridge… personal items of yours! From your room! Sarah, he’s obsessed with you!”

“I know, Cassandra!”

Cassandra’s eyes widened. How could Sarah possibly be harbouring in her bed someone she already knew to be her stalker? And at Christmas time?

“I wanted the stranger to stalk me! I was so bored with my life of gymnastics competitions, perfect grades and affirmatives from UCAS that when I became aware that I was being followed, I kind of… let it happen…. The stranger would leave me notes with the milk in the mornings. I would sometimes wake up to find that he had rearranged the books on my shelf during the night. One time he kidnapped my cat for an entire week! AND I LIKED THAT! When he turned up in Cambridge it was just as we had rehearsed: I would pretend not to know him, he would pretend to be on the run… I could go on having the stranger in my life on a more regular basis… closer to home, you know.”

Cassandra couldn’t speak for a good few seconds. The best she could do was to undo the top button on her New Look coat to alleviate some of the claustrophobia pursued by her increasingly raspy breathing.

“But Sarah, it’s not all pretend! He actually is on the run! He is dangerous!”

“I KNOW ABOUT ALL OF THAT. AND ISN’T IT EXCITING!”

Before Sarah realised what was happening, the fist of the stranger fell down upon the car window, smashing it in one go. Everything happened too fast for anyone to scream.

Cassandra dodged the body which leapt towards her, crawling desperately onto the back seats whilst scrabbling in her New Look pockets. She found what she was looking for, and pulled out a syringe filled with a green liquid. “Sleep darts. I came prepared!”

Sarah saw everything happen in slow-motion. The raised hand with the syringe. The stranger shielding his eyes, recoiled.

Sarah threw herself at Cassandra, and the syringe flew out of the broken window and straight up into the air. In the scramble, she managed to open the car door, using her weight to topple both of them out.

“Here, quick!” The stranger passed Sarah a plastic snow shovel which lay on the floor. “Knock her out!”

Sarah dealt the blow, and Cassandra was out cold.

At this very instant, the syringe fell back down through the air, imbedding itself in Sarah’s left shoulder. She too fell straight to sleep next to Cassandra.

“Shit!” This was all the stranger could manage.

The sound of tyres on tarmac. It was the black Clio that had been seen circling The Sleepy Corridor on so many occasions.

“I’ve got to hide you both now!” he said. The stranger, with all the strength that remained in him, dragged the two bodies back inside the house. Upstairs, Sarah’s parents were just turning off the lights and getting into bed.

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Join the Sunday Serial back on boxing day for the thrilling finale…