The Doctor Who spin-off may have wrapped up its season 1 (or possibly series) run on Saturday night, but that doesn’t mean fans have to say goodbye to Ram, Tanya, April, Charlie, Matteusz, and Quill just yet.
Thanks to a trio of young adult tie-in novels, each set at various points during the show’s first season, readers will get a chance to get to know the characters better as they deal with a myriad of Coal Hill-based problems. In Class: Joyride by Guy Adams — which is set after episode 2 — it would appear that something weird’s happening at the time-and-space-affected school.
The usually quiet Poppy steals a car and drives it through a shop window, nice guy Max kills his whole family “for fun,” and the happy-go-lucky Amar attempts to kill himself by jumping off the school roof. But while people try and figure out why these students are behaving so erratically, Ram wakes up in a body he does not recognize, and if he can’t figure out the cause of his recent trouble, he may just be next.
Adams’ Joyride won’t be available for purchase until later this year. But you can read an exclusive excerpt (the first chapter) of the novel below. Preorder the book here.
Excerpt from ‘Joyride’ by Guy Adams
They Say Shock Does Strange Things
Bizarrely, the first thing out of Poppy’s mum’s mouth when she hears the news is ‘But she hasn’t passed her test.’ They say shock does strange things.
It’s true. Poppy has been saving up for her driving lessons, working weekends and evenings to get the money together. In fact, in saving up her cash, she showed exactly the sort of single-minded determination that is in full evidence when she punctures the betting shop window with the bonnet of a stolen car. It’s the only thing she does that evening that’s true to character.
Poppy has always been fastidious. Her friends mock her for the obsessive way she keeps her room tidy, everything in its right place. There’s no sign of that tidiness as she hangs through the shattered windscreen of the car, bloodied and dusted with crystals of shattered glass, head like a stomped-on jam doughnut. Still, if the confetti of betting slips that twirl around her as she dies upsets her, she doesn’t show it. She’s laughing through a ruptured throat, a wet explosion of humour, spluttering its last across the chrome paintwork of the bonnet long before the ambulance arrives.
Stephen Patrick is still sore from his chosen horse limping its way around Aintree as if it was diseased or suicidal. He hates that laugh. It reminds him of childhood nightmares. A creature in his bathroom sink. Gurgled death threats from beyond the U-bend. ‘She weren’t right in the head,’ he tells the investigating police officer.
No kidding, thinks WPC Delano as she scribbles down his comments in her notebook.
WPC Delano draws the short straw and is forced to tell Poppy’s parents why their daughter won’t be coming home. Ever. She sits on their immaculate, floral-patterned sofa in silence while they stare, argue, stare some more, and then eventually cry. Throughout all this Delano is barely there, her head replaying the sight of Poppy being pulled back inside the car by the SOCOs, her loose face flapping and squeaking on the car paintwork.
Delano’s next job is to trace the full stop of the crash back to wherever the incident started. It isn’t difficult. Poppy—mousey Poppy, insecure and nervous Poppy—tore through Shoreditch like a weather front.
Ten minutes before she dies, she’s in the middle of her shift behind the ‘oven fresh’ counter of Morefields, the supermarket where she works. Her skin and hair are oily from the grease of the roast chickens that slow-dance around the rotisserie.
She’s never given any sign of hating the job; it is what it is, a way of making money. A shortcut to a car and better nights out.
According to the department manager, she simply stops what she’s doing, takes off the plastic trilby hat staff are forced to wear, its brim turned slightly yellow from poultry fat, and flings it into the air like a cheap Frisbee. She then climbs over the counter itself, feet crushing steak bakes and cheese and onion slices, and walks out of the shop, leaving slowly diminishing, meaty footprints behind her.
The department manager catches up with her at the automatic doors but she ignores his angry questions, shoving him into a display of chocolates and making her way out into the car park.
If anyone suspects this isn’t the first time Poppy has stolen a car, the meal she makes of it sets them straight.
After twenty seconds spent trying to break the driver’s window of a silver Honda with a small stone and a lot of screaming, she should, by rights, end her sudden streak of rebellion right there. But the woman who rushes over to stop her is holding her own car keys in her hand. Three vicious punches later and Poppy is running towards the open driver’s door of her new ride, its owner howling on the ground with a broken nose.
Roar of ignition, crump of metal as she reverses back into the car parked behind her and then a squeal of petrified tyres as she’s tearing out of the car park at fifty miles per hour. Behind her, the car she rammed is blaring out its alarm like an indignant old lady, unable to quite believe the sheer audacity of the behaviour she’s just witnessed.
It’s pure good luck that there’s a break in the traffic as Poppy pulls out onto the road. Fortunate too that the solitary pedestrian on the zebra crossing is quick enough to throw herself out of the way before Poppy hits her.
The sluggish traffic is bothering some people, tutting and complaining, offering frequent insults to the traffic lights. It doesn’t bother Poppy. Poppy doesn’t seem bothered by anything as she hammers the horn and straddles the white line, other cars veering out of her way as she refuses to slow down.
One guy, still seething from a particularly lousy meeting at the head office of the marketing company where he works, decides there’s no way he’s going to be the one to back down. He’s spent the last two hours backing down. Gregson, still swaggering from the success of his pitiful campaign for a broadband supplier, had trashed every single one of his ideas until, by the end of the meeting, the oily little sod had won the damn account off him. No more. This silly cow coming up on him was going to have to be the one to swerve. He’s thinking that right up until he yanks the steering wheel at the last minute and sends his car into the back of a truck delivering building supplies. The second-to-last thing that goes through his head is ‘Why does today hate me so much?’ The last thing to go through his head is a piece of scaffolding. His lousy day ends with his head looking like an angry cocktail cherry.
If Poppy notices she doesn’t care. She’s now four minutes away from the window of the betting shop and a final, brief leap through the windscreen of this car.
Nobody calls the police, they’re far too busy filming Poppy on their phones. The news channels are spoilt for choice when it comes to wobbly camera footage. That evening Poppy will be a TV star, or at least the back of her head will be. There is only one, vaguely useable shot of her from the front and it shows a face that even her closest friends don’t recognise: a wild, screaming, laughing, evil face, all teeth and eyes so big they look like they’re about to bounce down onto her red cheeks.
The last casualty of the journey—other than herself—is a man trying to fit a stepladder into the backseat of his car. It’s not Poppy that hits him, it’s a car veering out of her way, slamming the back door on him so hard you could have folded his remains like a shop display T-shirt.
Two minutes away from the betting shop window.
A group of schoolkids cheer as Poppy goes past. To them this seems fun, a bit of action to break up the long trudge home. Something they can message their mates about later. They won’t let facts get in the way of a good story; each of them will claim they were nearly hit by the car, each of them will claim they heard her laughing as she went by (she was laughing by all accounts, laughing every minute of the way but there’s no way they could have heard it over the roar of the engine and the constant beeping of car horns). One of them will even insist they got off with Poppy at a party, as if breathlessly cupping the breast of someone who would later go on to kill herself confers magic onto them.
One minute away from the betting shop window.
The last race at Aintree has been run. Nobody’s made their fortunes. Stephen Patrick tears up his betting slip, takes a sip of cold, vending machine tea, and wonders whether he can be bothered to cook tonight. Maybe he’ll just stop in at the chippy on the way home. Oh, and, by the way, what’s all the noise outside? Car horns and a revving engine. Sounds like some kind of carnival is heading his way.
When the window breaks it sounds as if someone has let a firecracker off in the shop. The air is full of noise and glass. Nobody screams or shouts, it’s all too sudden for that, there’s just a lot of confused spinning and stumbling. Seconds ago, most people in the room were cursing their bad luck. Five minutes later and they’ll have changed their minds. It’s frankly phenomenal that nobody is seriously hurt. This isn’t a big shop; in fact, on major race days, regular customers complain about the fact—but then they complain about most things. It certainly isn’t big enough that you should be able to drive a car through it without killing everyone. There are injuries of course—you don’t add a rainstorm of shattered glass to a room without drawing a little blood. One of the older customers dislocates his hip as he’s knocked back against the wall.
Strangely, the worst injured of all is Mandy Ridgeway, who’s working behind the counter. She’s so shocked to see a car driving towards her inside her place of work, a building not commonly troubled by motor traffic, that she topples back off her stool and cracks her head open on the low shelf behind her. She’ll have serious concussion and a neck injury that will flare up for years to come.
‘Why do you think she did it?’ WPC Delano’s partner asks her as they lie in bed that night. The police officer’s head is still replaying the sight of Poppy as her dead body is pulled back inside the darkness of the car. It’s like prey being pulled back into a bear’s cave, she thinks, battered and beaten, softened up for easy chewing.
‘I haven’t a clue,’ she tells him. ‘Not the first idea.’
She’s not alone.