The idea for the Bean Counter and The Aliens came from an appallingly bad piece of slash fiction that I came across in which a government inspector came to the Torchwood Hub and made a nuisance of himself before something vile happened to him. The story was very badly written and descended into bad sex scenes before long, but the idea of an inspection of the Hub stuck in my mind and I knew I could do better.

Of course, this is the damaged Hub after the explosion. That in itself could have been a reason for the inspection, since the crown were paying for the repairs, but I made it a regular thing that they have to put up with every year.

The highlight of the visit, of course, was the vault. And that’s a story and a half. I was writing this story outside under the gazebo canopy. The children next door and next door but one were playing very noisily in their garden. One of them is a small girl who has a very limited vocabulary, but uses the few words she has repeatedly. On this particular afternoon she had discovered a way of making a very sinister laugh. Having repeated the laugh several times one of the adults remarked ‘Goodness, Tanya, that sounds so creepy. It’s like a monster from Doctor Who.’ At which point, the monster child of the Torchwood Hub was inspired. The other inmates of the vault definitely don’t live in my street. The iron eating monster is always good for a gory and unexplained death. The salt eating one was a more comedic alternative.

The geography of cardiff lent itself to the story. I wasn’t intending to have the final scene in a quarry until I found out that the depot where the city council keep their winter salt for gritting the roads was actually only a short distance from a large quarry. Thanks, Google Earth! That made for a great chase scene and Jack making that sacrifice he so often made in order to destroy the salt-eating entity and save the man from the Treasury from an unpleasant death. It couldn’t have worked out better.