About three years ago I wrote a short story called Dead in Drenus. It came about because I was reading an article about the original Dungeons and Dragons game and the writer explained how the standard D&D adventure played out. An adventuring party would be gathered to face some menace, usually with the promise of a reward. I wondered what would happen if the party returned and the people who had offered the reward didn't actually have the money. I figured someone would get killed. The idea intrigued me because A. I thought it would be fun to write a mystery story with elves, dwarves, and haflings as suspects, and B. I also thought it would be fun to begin a story where most stories of that type ended, after the menace had been defeated and the heroes returned home.
I wrote the story and was pretty happy with how it turned out. Unfortunately, only a week or two after I finished it, my computer hard drive crashed. I hadn't gotten around to backing that story up, so I lost it. End of story, both figuratively and literally.
I've thought about that story from time to time and wished I could re-read it but I figured that wasn't going to happen. Then, this weekend, I was cleaning out a box of old files and clippings and what should I discover at the bottom of the box, but two hard copy chunks of Drenus. It wasn't the entire story, but it was most of it, missing only about three pages. These were copies I'd printed out for editing. They were covered with red ink, and crossed out paragraphs. Still it was most of the story, so I sat right down and read it.
It still holds up. Coming back to it after this long I was able to read it almost as if I hadn't been the writer. I enjoyed it, which isn't often the case on re-reading old prose. The mystery holds up and there were a couple of bits of clever dialogue that actually made me grin as I sometimes do at the fiction of others. Wish I had those missing three pages, but hey, what can you do? It was still a nice surprise to be able to return to Drenus.