The Legacy #2: Urban Decay

Introduction to The Legacy

Some called him the Lonely God, but he was no god. I knew him, travelled with him from the beginning. It was I who called to him, encouraged him to leave his home world. I, myself, had been waiting a long time for a soul like his, a crusader. He was a force of nature waiting to happen. A catalyst for great change.

To some he was simply the bohemian wanderer in the fourth dimension. Some worlds, those that belonged to the monsters, feared him; they knew that if ever he visited their worlds the threat represented by them would be destroyed. Even the Daleks, those most evil of creations, called him the Ka Faraq Gatri, the Bringer of Darkness.

Oh, you have never heard of the Daleks? Of course, I keep forgetting, they never existed in this universe. At least not yet, anyway.

That was his fault. His timeline got altered and reality itself was reshaped, just to fit around him. Entire worlds were destroyed; species once destined for greats things now amounted to nothing. Everything in flux because just one man’s future had been altered.

And although the universe was altered to fit him, he found it hard to fit into this new reality. His home was gone, his path unclear, and yet still he went out there, doing what he did. Finding the wrongs and putting them right.

But he is gone now. Some say he is dead, others think he is just lost. Most say his work is done, that the universe no longer needs him. I say they are wrong. He has changed so many, left behind so much.

His legacy lives on in me. I’m here, waiting, for I know he shall return. He always does.

His name is legend.

He is the Doctor.

And this is his story…

————————————————————————————————

Previously; The Catalyst

The Doctor walked at a sedate pace through a tree lined avenue in an unfamiliar city.  Essentially, he’d settled on an arbitrary point in time to land.  Without premeditation, the TARDIS arrived on Earth once again, in the first year of the 21st Century.

Spring was in its budding process and the weather was struggling with itself.  The Doctor was humming a ditty to himself about what he may or may not have seen in the middle of May.  As he strolled through a downtown park block, he was beset successively by chilling wind, the onset of dusk, and hail.

His brow, cheeks, and nose felt quite abraded.  The Doctor turned up the collar of his brown twill coat and grumbled.  Spots of his white linen shirt and polka dot tie were becoming rather damp.

Yellow sodium arc lamps dotted the distance and he continued onwards in his journey towards nowhere in particular.  The gloaming sky, while partially obscured by firs, pines, oaks, and buildings, was turning a bruised shade of gold, russet and purple.  A dozen metres ahead trudged the figure of a man obviously in an advanced state of inebriation.

Belching and stumbling, this man stopped and placed both arms against a nearby wall and expelled the oily contents of his stomach.

Quite put off from the thought of a dinner diversion, the Doctor quickly strode off down Everett Street.  Another spate of hail stones descended.  The Doctor grew decidedly more uncomfortable when he realised he had no idea where he was going… again.

*

Elsewhere in the Rose City of Portland, Brad DeMars was feeling the depths of despondency.  Naturally so, since he’d just attended the funeral of his bass guitar player.

Jacen Lewis had succumbed to a brain tumour after months of intermittent seizures, radiation therapy, and patronising medical practitioners.  Brad was very close to his friend and it did not help that the death of Jacen precipitated the dispersal of the band.  To add injury to insult, ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ had only been gigging for less than a year.

Brad opted to linger behind at Riverview Cemetery and Crematorium for a little while after the service.  He had been hoping to be able to play the last composition of the band at the graveside service.  He was thwarted in this, of course, since he had neglected to bring an amplifier or, indeed, a power source for his synthesiser.  For some reason, the other members did not show up.

Brad DeMars was very angry at them.

Why were things so off-kilter lately?

Progressive alienation and disappointment was wearing away at his hopes to fend off a state of jadedness for another year.

He eventually drove towards his studio apartment long after the rest of the funeral party left him.  Dusk was not dusk any longer.  Night was settling in after the day’s struggle with the weather.

Brad cruised in his green Volkswagen Sirocco down Burnside Street.  He was absorbed and feeling harsh.  The blaring of the car stereo assuaged little of what he was feeling.

Understandably, he was quite suddenly alert when his brakes locked up.  The car spun and skidded, finally stopping dead mere centimetres from a fire hydrant.  The twenty-six year old synthesiser player with a black mop of hair tipped in nuclear red, lost consciousness as his forehead struck the steering wheel.

Kinetic force had to go somewhere.

*

‘Oh, Doctor, you’re bound to get lost if you keep weaving in and out of these blasted side streets!’ The Doctor bemoaned his lack of planning again.

It could not have been so late in the evening that every person had gone home, could it? After all, he was still relatively close to the downtown area wasn’t he? This excursion was revealing itself as quite dreary indeed, despite the greenery and quaint mix of architectures.

With a sigh, the Doctor settled his girth onto a nearby bench to gather his thoughts.  He withdrew his pocket watch in an attempt to regain his bearings.  Apart from being a compact and sophisticated time piece, it was also a wide range scanner capable of detecting temporal variations and geophysical positions.  To the Doctor’s chagrin he saw that the readings were unsteady – indeed they were fluctuating wildly.

‘Why should this be?’ he murmured aloud.

Another piece of evidence revealed that something was not as it should be.  Many certain some things were decidedly amiss.  Ever since the Doctor left UNIT HQ he had periodically been assailed by a sense of disassociation; that a matter of urgent importance was manifestly out of order was clear.

Rubbing his beard momentarily, he replaced his pocket watch to its home.  He brought out of another pocket a deck of playing cards he had found when he commandeered the coat.  He tapped the deck against his forehead and thought.

With eyes closed, he withdrew a card.  Ace of Hearts.

Gloomily wishing for a good game of Blackjack, the Doctor stood.  Perhaps he could find some answers if he returned to the TARDIS.  The watch might simply need recalibration.  Also a good nap in the Zero Room would do worlds of good.  The sense of displacement could possibly be a side effect of his recent regeneration.

Once again steeling his resolve to get to the bottom of matters, the Doctor attempted to retrace his path.

*

Brad awoke with his temples throbbing. ‘Oh, ow. What the…’

Not a car or pedestrian was near.  No ambulance, no fire truck and certainly no paramedics had come to investigate.  Where were the sirens of the law?

The synth player gingerly touched his face and fortunately found no blood.  He checked himself out in the rear view mirror.  An angry looking bruise was forming in a line on his forehead.

There should have been plenty of traffic for the time of day. In a quiet and orderly array, an average number of vehicles were parked as usual.  Yet there was no motion signalling the end of day.  It was as if every single person in the city, as far as one’s eye could see, had tucked themselves in for the night and turned the lights out.

The yellow nimbus of sodium arc lamps still stood their vigils.  From what Brad could see, the city became cloaked in a brooding and mutely subdued mystery.  He shook the tangles of his black and nuclear red hair out of his field of vision.  Getting out of the dead car, he set out on foot towards home.

*

A humanoid shape like a semi-collapsed marionette lowered itself from a tree.

‘Tick tock,’ said the plaintive voice of the Dommervoy.

Across the lane, another featureless mannequin lowered itself down to a height matching that of its counterpart.

‘Tick tock.’ A tittering sound followed, neither here nor there.

*

The stout and bearded Doctor stopped in his tracks, uncharacteristically startled.

He could only just make out the indistinct forms.

He looked closer, and indeed a few blocks away he could see that there were several humanoid shapes milling about like extras in a film.

*

On the West Hills, two kilometres away, the lights of the broadcasting towers flared brightly in a syncopated pulse.  The surrounding hills were intermittently bathed in light crimson ambience.  The surrounding hills were for a while briefly bathed in the glow.  Then they winked out for good.

*

The Doctor stole quietly west on Glisan Street, then bolted down Sixteenth Avenue.  He gasped for breath on the corner of Flanders Street and finally slumped onto a concrete bench before an old blue apartment building with red trim.  Nearby was a sign marked ‘18th Ave.’.

He really had to remember that his new body was not half as agile as his previous lanky form.

Just as he was preparing to open the fob of the newly constructed homing locator linked to his homely timeship, a small gale blew past.  For this reason, the Doctor looked upwards.

A vast ring of angry black clouds formed an icy nimbus around the moon.  Lambent violet arcs of energy strobed through the adjacent sky.  Then the moon blatantly vanished.

Some type of dimensional ‘storm’ was wrenching open the vaults of local space/time.  This the Doctor knew intrinsically and viscerally.

Considering his unusually graceless size, he made rather good time south and found himself on a broad road: Burnside Street.  On the intersection was a small green car parked askew to the curb.  Its tapered nose was scant centimetres from a fire hydrant.  The driver’s side door was wide open.  Yet the Doctor could clearly see a man walking about a block and a half away, hefting a large something on his shoulder.

*

On a gossamer thread of scintillating colour, dangling ten meters above the street, hung a blank faced caricature of a person wrapped in what looked like black packaging material.  Its black button eyes glared towards the receding figure in a brown wool overcoat.  It tittered and without moving its poorly drawn on line of a mouth, said; ‘tock.’

The Dommervoy quivered slightly and jerked upwards, promptly vanishing.

*

Brad DeMars was rightly upset and was experiencing the onset of a cold sweat and a peculiar knotting in the bowels, when he felt the wind and saw the sky swallow itself.  He found himself standing stock still and gawking at the impossible.

Many of the buildings of downtown Portland were usually visible from this stretch of road and for the most part, still were.  They were also somehow… changing.  ‘Big Pink’, the massive banking tower which was done up years ago in Bauhaus style copper collared glass and steel, was wavering and undulating.  Now it appeared that its foundation was set anywhere between thirty five to forty five degrees to the elevation of the surrounding ground.  The process continued to approximately nine storeys below the structure’s apex.

It was happening as far as the musician’s eyes could scan.  Trembling, he may well have stood there forever until he felt a hand on his shoulder.

‘Hello, I’m the Doctor, are you all right there?’

A sturdy looking and burly man he was.  Brad was nearly too shocked to respond but clasped the stranger’s proffered hand instinctively.  Dumbly, Brad managed a nod and closed his gaping mouth.

He swallowed and replied.  ‘This isn’t supposed to be happening, is it?’

He found himself regaining control in spite of the reeling and spinning sensation.  Somewhere in his subconscious mind, the idea was gestating.

‘I don’t know what it is, but I’ve got to put a stop to it,’ said the wide girthed man.

The bearded stranger appeared like some kind of archaic sea captain.  Although he was smiling, this Doctor could not conceal his grave concern.  At any rate, his manner suggested some degree of confidence and weird professionalism.  Brad was vaguely aware of being embarrassed.

‘Believe me, young man, you are not going mad.  I’m surprised you’re even here at all.  Surely some kind of anomaly within an anomaly has spared you? We’re standing in a city’s ghost, after all!’

He seemed almost pleased, like a child with a brand new book that came with a funky stain on it.  ‘Never mind that for now.  If you’re willing to trust me, we can find shelter from the quantum storm.’

What a mouthful! Still, he seemed far less crazy than whatever was happening to the city.

*

Gradually, while both of them watched on, the entire vista gained the aspect of becoming somehow digitised.  It was as if the place was an environment created for a first-person perspective computer simulation.  Pixels and stilted looking patterns appeared in formerly natural patterns.  The improbable pair of men ambled off at a pace towards the Holocaust Memorial a short distance away.

‘I’m, uh, Brad DeMars.  I was in a car accident.  Um…  My friend died last week.  I’m a musician.  Do you…  How…? What the hell did you say was going on?’

The Doctor’s booming laugh was like a war cry against the poisoned architecture.  Even over the keening of the wind and the thrumming of the shifting non-linear planes of reality, he could be heard clearly.

‘There’ll be time enough for that when we get inside.  Let’s go!’

*

Brad and the Doctor made good time in reaching the Memorial grounds which were a mere fifteen blocks from where the two initially met.  The young keyboardist was noting his unusual companion’s endurance.  Whoever he was, this man had not even began to sound winded in the slightest.

‘There we are!’ exclaimed the Doctor.  A meaty finger gestured to an object behind a copse of alders and cedar trees just off the inlet road to the Memorial; an object Brad had never seen before in his north-western American state.  He could just make out the markings on it which read, ‘POLICE Public Call BOX’.

‘Hey, man, where are we going?’ he asked, now totally out of breath.

‘Why, right in there, of course! Unless you’d rather stay out here and contend with that!’

‘This is too much.  I think I’ll bail out towards my place.  Nice meeting you, man.’ Brad turned away and tried to trot off, readjusting his gig bag containing his portable synthesiser.  He made it back to the main road and saw… next to nothing.

Brad DeMars spun on his heels and sprinted apace back towards the Doctor’s blue Police Box thing and banged on its narrow double door with both fists.

‘All right! I believe you! Talk to me, Doctor!’

The right hand door opened silently inwards, an arm clasped Brad’s forearm and pulled him inside and shut again.

*

The world turned abjectly grey while a gang of sawdust filled figures converged on the spot where the TARDIS once sat…

*

In a white control room, intensely scanning over a console, the Doctor gravely looked at Brad.

‘Well, Brad, I don’t have your answers.  What I do know is that the place we have just left was not Portland.  Your survival is a… miracle.  That place was a sort of analogue to your home.  A great force has wrested an entire temporal and spatial nexus out of its proper place.  For what cause or reason, I just don’t know.  I don’t know.  But I intend to find out.’

Fields distended and Brad DeMars lost consciousness. For being such a hard bohemian kind of guy (at least in his own estimation), this turn of events was too much.  The consciousness as a whole had to find a way to compensate for the sudden and somewhat violent wrenching of expectations…

To be continued… Sunday 31st October


Edited by Andy Frankham-Allen, Greg Miller & Elizabeth Medeiros.
Cover © 2010 by Ewen Campion-Clarke.
Urban Decay © 2001, 2010 by Christoph Lopez,
Introduction © 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen,
The Legacy © & ™ 2001, 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen. 
Doctor Who © & ™ 1963, 2010 by BBC Worldwide. All Rights Reserved.
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Let The Sale Begin

It’s October! Do you even know what that means? It’s my month. Yup, it’s true. I’m an Autumn baby after all, and to make things even more interesting Hallowe’en is just around the corner. And for a fan or all things supernatural and horror… well, you can guess where I’m going with this, right?

To celebrate the coming of All Hallow’s Eve, my ePublisher, Untreed Reads, is having a month-long sale. That’s thirty-one days for you wonderful people to browse through their horror and mystery shelves and buy buy buy. Selected titles have 25% off all month long, including my two eBooks. So, do the right thing before the Witching Hour is upon you, and gobble up my tales of the macabre.

Off Flesh & One Mistake

Also, for today only, my print publisher, Hirst Publishing, is having a 10% off sale on all products (except ‘Auton’, which is doing exceptionally well without the need for a discount). This means you can all pop over and pre-order my forthcoming novel, and claim your 10% off simply by typing the word ‘friday’ into the coupon box at the Checkout.

Seeker: The Garden Book One of Four

As my Welsh relatives would say, ‘you can’t fault it’, and they’re right!

Writers’ Wednesday

Welcome to Writers’ Wednesday, a new weekly guest spot for my author friends who have been invited to come and talk about anything they fancy. All readers like to see how their favourite authors tick, me included, and so to launch Writers’ Wednesday I am very pleased to welcome my favourite author of September, Tricia Heighway. As followers of this blog will know, Tricia wrote the novel Paddytum, released less than two weeks ago, which has quickly become my favourite book this year. She’s here to tell us a little about the origins of Paddytum as well as introduce us to something called NaMoWriMo…

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How I Wrote (most of) My Novel in a Month

by Tricia Heighway

Have you heard of NaNoWriMo?  Two years ago I hadn’t either.  Well, I won’t go into detail, because you can find out all about it by visiting the site, or looking on Wikipedia.

I’ve completed (or won, as we ‘Wrimos’ are supposed to say) NaNoWriMo for the past two years.  Without it, I doubt I would have one completed novel, never mind four.

I did NaNo for the first time in 2008, using it to write the Young Adult novel I’d had in my head for a few months. I finished that in sixteen days, and, having told everyone I’d be novel-writing for the whole of November, decided to use the remaining fourteen days to write another one, this time without any preparation.

Last year, I managed fewer words (well, TWO 50,000 word pieces of fiction is pushing it), but my murder mystery story (which I have never even looked at since because I hated the thing) came to nearly 70,000 words.

So, when Paddytum was accepted for publication by Hirst Publishing in January this year, I knew I had a daunting task ahead: Paddytum, at the time, stood at 11,000 words, and I knew that I had to extend it by at least another 60K to turn it into a decent-length book. But, I had the training and the tools to do that, thanks to NaNoWriMo!

Paddytum started life on a brilliant Canadian-based collaborative fiction site called Protagonize.   I wrote the first chapter or two as a bit of fun, and as a collaborative story. The trouble was, nobody wanted to collaborate. People kept coming along and reading it and saying; ‘We like this – add some more!’ And over the next two years, that’s what I did – very, very slowly.  It was only eight chapters long when Hirst agreed to publish it, and I had absolutely no idea where it was going or how it would end.  I did know what the ‘big secret’ was, however, and I was starting to have an idea or two how I’d develop it.

So, I started planning ‘PerPadWriMo’ (Personal Paddytum Writing Month).  PerPadWriMo was to take place in March, and I set a target of 62K words, just 2,000 words a day. Easy!  I would use the rest of January and all of February for thinking up a plot, write it in March, and ‘rest’ the book for two months, coming back to it in June and July to revise, re-write, edit and polish it.

Phase One: Planning and Pre-writing.

I had my beginning. I still needed a middle and an end. I had already decided that my main character was going to be a happier chappie at the end of the story than at the beginning, so I just had to decide how to get him there.  I bought a couple of new notebooks. (I had dozens of notebooks already, but I never need much of an excuse to buy stationery.)  One was A4, for my notes and planning, and a second A5 one, which I called ‘The Paddytum Diaries’, in which I decided to write every day, for ‘thinking aloud’ about the plot.  For six weeks, I thought about the story, wrote ideas for scenes and characters, plot twists, either in my head or in one of the notebooks.  In the last week of February, I sat on my bed with a big piece of cardboard and a pad of Post-it notes, and jotted down a scene on each post-it – just a couple of words or a sentence – referring to my notebooks. When I’d run out of scenes, I arranged all the post-its on the cardboard, until I had them in the correct chronological order. When I was happy with the sequence, I wrote the scenes down as a list in my A4 book, so that I could cross them off as I wrote them.  The final stage was to rewrite my existing eight chapters, ready to start the ‘new’ writing on March 1st. I’d also taken my ‘proper’ diary, and noted against each date in March a running total of my prospective word-count for each day, so that I could track my progress and see whether I was on target.

Phase Two: Writing it.

I did the majority of the writing in the mornings, starting as soon as my children left for school, and carrying on until around lunchtime, with an option to continue in the afternoon if I hadn’t done my word-count for that day.  I began, always, by doing some more ‘thinking-aloud’ in the Paddytum Diary, not just about the writing itself, but also about my mood, how I was feeling about the whole thing. If something from ‘real life’ was on my mind, I got that out of my system before I started to write. There are a good few rants in the Paddytum Diary!

One of the most important things I’d learned from NaNoWriMo was ‘Don’t Look Back’.  Once the writing was done, I forbade myself from looking back at a single word of it, not even to correct a single typo.  This is vital!  Once you start looking back over what you’ve written, you’re on the slippery slope to self-doubt, which leads straight to the lake of ‘Why Am I Even Bothering When I’m Such a Crap Writer?’  Don’t do it!  You’ll just end up with an abandoned novel.  Looking back is the main cause of failure during NaNoWriMo.  Rule One is: ‘Don’t get it right, get it written.’  There’s plenty of time afterwards to get it right, and I’d allowed myself two months to do that.  That’s why it was so useful to write in the diary, because it helped me to focus on the process without being tempted to look back at my work.

At the end of each session, I filled in my word-count, in both diaries, and worked out the surplus or the deficit.  I fell behind a bit during the first week; I hadn’t got into my stride yet – but from day 10 onwards I was ahead, managing an average of 2,200 words a day.

Sometimes, I found myself deviating from the plot and the scenes listed in my notebook, when the characters took me off in a completely new direction. When that happened, I kept writing, following the lead of my subconscious, but I still carried on as if I hadn’t been sidetracked at the next session, writing the scenes in my planning notebook but not getting rid of the deviations, confident (well, sort of) that I could tie everything together during the rewrite.  One of the amazing things about writing is that something that doesn’t make sense when you’re writing it makes perfect sense when you come back to it.  I knew there’d be plot holes, and I knew there’d be things I’d have to cut and things I’d have to add in order to patch the holes. But during the writing stage is not the time to discriminate.

At the end of March, I had written 68,510 words, exceeding my target by over 6,000. Job done.  Well, not quite.

Phase Three: The Edit

In April and May I did other things, leaving Paddytum well alone.  I spent June editing, concentrating on a different aspect on each ‘pass’. The first edit was for typos, the second for grammar and punctuation. I went through it about ten times in all, gradually trimming scenes, cutting, and sometimes adding. The word-count went down, and then up, and then down again.  At the end of June I was told I could launch my book in September if I had it ready by mid-July, and I felt that this was possible, as I was sure I was almost there.  On the next read-through, I decided it didn’t have enough conflict, so I added two new characters and a few more scenes.  The finished manuscript was around 87,000 words when I sent it to my publisher, feeling somewhat bereft now that it was out of my hands (and my control).

Now the book is out there, and people are beginning to ask about the next one.  Eek! The logical thing would be to dust off one of my three NaNoWriMo novels, except that I don’t much like them.  I think of them as my ‘practice’ novels. Starting something brand new would be far more exciting.  And this year’s NaNoWriMo begins in 33 days time. Bring it on!

Text © 2010 Tricia Heighway
Photographs © 2010 Lucy & Tricia Heighway, All Rights Reserved

Death Run

Cemetery Drive by JT Wilson; a review.

This is the debut novel of JT Wilson, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a recent convention in Swansea. Joe is a very warm, and increasingly funny guy, full of great anecdotes and random facts, with his very own take on fashion. His novel is very like him; it’s warm and welcoming, with a level of humour that increases the deeper you get into it, and it’s full of great and random facts and anecdotes about life. It also follows its very own style.

Cemetery Drive follows the crazy road-trip towards death of Robbie Adams and Alexa Ribiera, two people with very different outlooks on Death. Robbie is intent on committing suicide, but not just any old slash-the-wrist kind of suicide, oh no, for he has to go out in a blaze of glory so that he will forever be remembered, since Robbie is convinced his seventeen plus years so far have been pretty much a waste, and he doesn’t see that changing any time soon. Alexa has somehow cheated Death, although she won’t say how initially, and is now, as a result, seemingly immortal. Only she doesn’t want to be. And so after a chance encounter Robbie and Alexa decide to go on a road trip in an attempt to escape Death, whom Alexa is sure will be after her. Or something like that!

It’s starts off in a very disjointed fashion, but after the first chapter which leaves the reader none-the-wiser, and possibly having second doubts, the story soon levels out. On the downside, I found that there was so much more to this book than we were shown. A much bigger story was going on, and of the months Robbie and Alexa spent on the road we see so little off, merely snapshots of that trip. This leaves the reader feeling as though he never got to see them really hook up, and certainly not fall in love – ‘cause by the end of the book it’s very clear they have fallen deeply in love, in their acerbic and sarcastic, sexually charged manner. What we do get to see of their journey, though, is certainly interesting. They are being pursued by Zan, who’s a soul that got stuck in Limbo and entered the employ of Death; it’s his mission to collect the souls of the lay person while Death takes care of more important cases. Zan gets increasingly frustrated in his search, and occasionally seeks the help of demons Beelzebub and Astoroth, a pair of wise-cracking goof balls. Quite possibly the most inept demons I have ever read about, and although they are, in some ways, a bit caricature, they still made me laugh each time they appeared. Fortunately Robbie, Alexa and Zan are well rounded characters, with plenty of hidden depth and full of potential. Robbie is a particularly good character; a bit odd ball, but he follows his own logic and that keeps him interesting.

Ultimately it was a fine debut, but I do feel the best is yet to come from Joe. That this book came from a short story puzzles me; I imagine many elements were added to the mix when Joe turned it into a novel, and as a result it left the book feeling like only half the story it ought to be (and at only 157 pages it is a relatively short novel). There was something very grand and epic going on in this novel, especially the stuff off Earth, and it’s a real shame we did not get to see Joe explore that more. I for one, look forward to his next tale, and wait for him to really unleash the story within!

Cemetery Drive is published by Hirst Publishing, at £7.99.  You can purchase a copy directly from Hirst, or any good book stockists, including Waterstones and Borders.

http://www.hirstpublishing.com/Cemetery_Drive_by_JT_Wilson/p384445_1157065.aspx

The Legacy Returns

Great news for Doctor Who fans all over! From next month, I shall be posting on this blog every single story written for Doctor Who: The Legacy, one story per month. This will be a mammoth task, covering five years worth of stories. So many people worked hard on the series, and many others missed it the first time around, and so now here’s a chance to read all five seasons of the online series that shattered the world of Doctor Who into little bits. A series that introduced many key concepts that latterly (intentionally or not) found their way into the new Doctor Who series (which began in 2005). Each story shall be freshly edited by me, with a few rewrites when necessary to fix some mistakes made during those crazy early days in 2001. This way, once again, The Legacy is 100% free!

I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as we all enjoyed working on it. The first story is already posted here.

The Secret

This is a story I wrote in 2006 and first published in issue #1 of Pantechnicon.

The Secret

Sim lifted his eyes from his book as his son entered his study.  The door closed, and the two of them looked at each other.  In the study all was silent, bar the occasional flicker of the embers burning in the fire place.  Outside was another matter – a torrential storm was in session, the wind howling the air, the rain hammering against the window.  It was only in these quiet moments between breaths that Sim ever became aware of it, so used to the weather was he.

‘Are you sure you want to do this now?’ he asked gently, running a hand over his white beard.

Jaik, looking much like his dad once had, nodded and went to sit by the fire.  ‘Yes,’ he said slowly, ‘you said when I reached thirteen I would be old enough for the secret.’ He glanced at the fire, watching the wood burn.  ‘We don’t have much time.’

Sim smiled sadly.  His son was right.  A year at the most, and he’d be gone.  It was time for Jaik to know the truth.  ‘Fine.’

*

‘All downhill from here,’ people would tell him.  Not an original observation, of course.  Sure, society liked to present the notion that life pretty much ended at twenty, but Greyford Simak didn’t understand how or why that was supposed to be so.   The previous year, when he reached twenty he had felt great.   Not old like everyone else he knew.   Somehow twenty years just didn’t seem enough.   The average life-span of humans on Rellim was only fifty years, which meant he’d soon be middle-aged, and thus past his prime.   He refuted that, for all of two months.

Now, a year on he was beginning to realise how true that was.   He was supposed to be celebrating his twenty-first birthday, but instead he was standing quietly in a corner, watching those around him.   There but not there.   He’d known most of these people for years, and almost all of them were starting to show their age.   Barely into their twenties and time was ripping into them.

‘Hey, Grey!’

Greyford sighed, and withdrew reluctantly from his musings.   Only one person would address him in such way, and find it amusing.   Anne Roberts.   He could see her sashaying her way through the crowd, coming in for the kill.   She was one of the most single-minded people he knew, but an amazing publicist, which is why he was so willing to overlook her habit of getting in a person’s face regardless of their mood.

He stepped back, not enough for the manoeuvre to be easily noticed for what it was, but enough to prevent Anne from planting a huge kiss on his lips.    Instead he received a brief stroke of his lower arm, which was holding the cocktail glass near his mouth.   Extra protection.

‘Hello, Anne,’ he said carefully, wondering what gossip she was about to impart.

‘Hello, Grey, darling.   Must say, this is a rather splendid turn out.   Who knew you had so many friends? All you ever seem to do is work.’

Greyford narrowed his eyes and looked around the room.   It was bustling with people, all of whom had come to celebrate with him.   After several silent seconds of contemplation, searching for a face not connected with work, he had to concede that none were his friends.

‘Well,’ he began, his voice so quiet that Anne had to visibly strain to hear him, ‘I think I’ve just come down.’

‘Don’t so silly, darling, this is a momentous moment.’

‘Is it?’ he asked sharply, not all bothered by the expression on Anne’s face.   He was sorely tempted to add some physical reality behind it – why look like you’ve been slapped when there was someone close by willing to make it real? ‘I’m twenty-one for feck’s sake, Anne.   Twenty-one!’ he hissed.

Anne waved her arm around at the party.   ‘I think I knew that,’ she said with a smile, pointing at the banner hanging over the main door.   On it was painted the words ‘twenty-one’, sliding down the side of a mountain.   Someone else who was amused by their own cleverness.

And what happened when he hit the bottom of that very steep hill? He dreaded to think.   A success he might have been, career wise, but in his personal life? He shook his head and stared at Anne.

‘How old are you?’

‘Eighteen, as you should know since you sent me a card for my last birthday.’  Anne raised an eyebrow.   ‘Of course, if you had bothered sending the cards yourself and not passed that task on to your personal assistant…’  Anne sniffed pointedly.

‘Then you have no idea what it’s like to be twenty-one.’  With that Greyford placed his cocktail glass on a nearby table and pushed his way out of the room.

He suddenly felt very crowded and miserable.   Let them have their party; most of them wouldn’t have even noticed if he had failed to turn up in the first place.

*

Greyford stood outside, standing on the edge of the cliff looking down at the valley below.   It would be so easy to jump, to step forward and let himself fall.   That would be the end of it, no more worrying about his pointless life.   No one would miss him.   Some other genius would soon rise up to take his place in the Company.   Dispensable.   Like every other person who lived on Rellim.   All here to serve the Company.

He turned his head slightly to look at the hand now resting on his shoulder.   ‘What do you want, Anne?’

She squeezed his shoulder gently.   ‘The same thing I’ve always wanted, Grey.   Ever since I first saw you.’

Greyford frowned.   He wasn’t sure he…

She applied a little pressure and gently turned him to face her.   ‘You know exactly what I mean.   I can see it in your eyes.’  She nodded towards the cliff edge.   ‘Twenty-one is not the end; only if you let it be.’

Greyford swallowed hard.   ‘What?’

Anne smiled.   ‘I’m talking about immortality.’

He shook his head sadly.   ‘I’ve less than thirty years, and that’s assuming I die of old age.   There is no chance of immortality: the Company saw to that a long time ago.’

‘Yes, the Company.   They don’t have to control everything, you know.’

Greyford lowered his eyes.   ‘But they do.’

‘No.’ Anne pressed the palm of her hand against his chest, and using her fingers like spider legs, moved her hand towards the opening between his buttons.   He let out an involuntary shiver as her cold skin touched his naked chest beneath his shirt.

‘The Company decides on who is pair-mated,’ he whispered, his breath feeling suddenly short as her fingers continued to play with his chest hair.   ‘I’m too old to be selected now… and so are…’

Anne leant forward and spoke directly into his ear.   ‘I won’t tell them.’

*

Sim lifted his eyes.   Jaik remained where he was sitting, his eyes never leaving the flickering fire.   ‘She’s my mother?’ the young man said gently, and blinked.

Sim could only try to understand how his son felt.   Jaik had never known who his mother was, and with good reason.   But…  Sim got up from his chair and crossed his study.   He sat on the floor before Jaik and took his son’s hand in his.

For a moment they both looked at each other, identical sea-blue eyes connecting.   ‘No,’ Sim said sadly, ‘she isn’t.’

*

Greyford stood on the back patio, watching Anne and little Rhys play in the sandpit.   He smiled softly.   Four years on, and his life had more purpose than ever before.   That night on the edge of the cliff, with Anne making her first move on him, he’d never have believed things would work out.   And yet, here he was.   Here they were.   A family unit.

What followed had been one of those whirlwind romances he often heard about, full of passion and desire.   How they managed to keep it secret from the Company for so long was beyond him.   Perhaps because his work never suffered he failed to register on the Company’s radar.   That was to change, when after two long years Anne became pregnant.   At that point they both knew it would be time to fess up to the Company.   Rellim law demanded that no child be born out of wedlock, and so they had to get married.   The Company were not happy about it, but a child was growing inside Anne’s body and they were bound by law to allow the child to come to term.

And now he and Anne were married, and Rhys was born, ensuring the Simak line would go on.   What could go wrong?

He narrowed his eyes.   There was something in the distance.   A dot, riding low in the sky.   Coming lower.   His eyes widened in horror.   A transport shuttle, and there was smoke pouring from its rear.   It was heading directly for his house.

‘Feck,’ he whispered.   The shuttle was getting bigger and bigger.   He had to move, to shout, to call out to his wife and son.   But he couldn’t.   He opened his mouth to yell, but no words came.   He tried to move, to force his muscles to work, but the pure shock of the moment was taking over.

He could only watch, helpless.

Rhys heard the roar of the damaged engines before Anne did.   The child looked up and pointed, smiling at his mother.   Upon seeing the shuttle, Anne reacted like any mother would.   She dived forward to cover her son, no doubt hoping that if the weight of her body forced him deep enough into the sand he’d be protected enough.   Ultimately a futile act.   The shuttle hit the ground with an audible crack, but it did not stop.   It ploughed forward, kicking up the grass around it, the nose of the vehicle inches above the ground, low enough to rip into the little bundle of bodies in the sandpit.   The shuttle continued on, towards the house: toward Greyford, on the patio.   All he could see was the splattered remains of his family on the shuttle’s nose.   A single tear formed…

*

He wiped the tear away with the back of his hand and sniffed.   Jaik was staring at him, a mixture of emotions on the young man’s face.   Sim was pretty sure this was the first time Jaik had ever seen his dad cry, and wasn’t sure how to deal with it.   Even with their limited life span, thirteen was still a young age, really – at least on an emotional level.

Jaik looked down, then back up, settling on; ‘Why didn’t you tell me this before?’

Sim forced down a sob.   ‘You were too young.’

The sadness was replaced with anger.   ‘You should have told me ages ago, Dad! You should have told me I had an older brother!’  He stood up, his body shaking, and walked away from the fire.

Sim remained where he was, watching Jaik pace around the study.

‘You should have told me,’ Jaik said when he finally stopped his pacing.   ‘I had a brother,’ he added, clearly trying to get his head around this new fact.

‘No,’ Sim said, not wanting to mislead his son anymore.   ‘No, you didn’t.’

*

He opened his eyes, but had to close them immediately, such was the brightness of the light around him.   For a few moments he remained as he was, trying to remember where he was, how he’d got there.   Nothing came to him.   Literally, nothing.   Not even his name.   All he knew was that he existed.   A profoundly deep moment of personal realisation that was interrupted by a soft voice.

‘Mr Simak?’

A name.   Presumably his.   Once again he opened his eyes, slower, hoping that they would adjust to the brightness this time.   It took longer than expected, but he forced his eyes to stay open.   The light started to fade, to be replaced by an odd shape looming over him.

‘Don’t worry, Mr Simak, your eyes will fully adjust, but it will take longer than normal.   You haven’t used them for a long time.’  The voice, and the odd shape that was now made of strange colours moved away.   ‘A very long time indeed,’ it added softly.

Wait, he called out.   Only he didn’t.   What came out of his mouth was more of a croak.   The shape, the person, came back into view.   There was a warm sensation as the person leaned in closer.   Where was it coming from? He concentrated, certain it was the warm hand of the person somewhere on his body.   His arm, maybe.   It was hard to tell since, as he began to realise, he could not feel the rest of his body.

‘That’s right,’ the voice said, ‘we’ll get you there.   You’re too important to the Company.’

It all came rushing back to him.   Four years of memories forced their way to the surface.   He screwed his eyes tightly shut.   The tentative first contact of Anne on the cliff, the covert nature of their relationship, the news of her pregnancy, the birth of Rhys… The support the Company offered.   The shuttle!

He could see it all again.   It was happening in slow motion, every second emphasised.   The nose of the shuttle ripping Anne and Rhys out of the sandpit, their bodies splattering like so much fruit against the hard surface of the shuttle.

Taking deep juddering breaths, he opened his eyes, but although the light was easier to deal with he could still see very little.

His family, dead.   Yet, somehow, he had survived.

Too important to the Company? They had saved him.   He remembered the shuttle, racing towards his house.   He remembered diving aside at the last moment, an almighty boom, and then…? Waking up here.

‘Rhys.’  The word came out unexpectedly, barely a croak, but still a word.

*

‘What happened then?’

Sim opened his eyes, being drawn back from his painful memories by the comforting sound of his son’s voice.   He wiped away the tears, still painful after all these years.   ‘I recovered.   It took a long time, many many long months of physiotherapy.   It turned out that the Company had found my body in the wreckage of my home, battered but not beyond repair.   They put their best cyber-techs on the job.   Reconstructed my body, replaced the limbs that were beyond repair.    When I woke up I didn’t know it at the time, but twenty-five percent of my body was now cybernetic.

‘What I also didn’t know was that I’d been in a coma for four years.   Four very long years.   The Company spent a lot of money on keeping me alive, using the latest drugs to prevent my brain from liquefying.’

‘I don’t understand,’ Jaik said, retaking his seat by the fire.   ‘Why would the Company care? You’d broken so many rules, surely they’d be better off without you around to cause them more problems.’

Sim smiled at that.   His son was right, as ever.   ‘And so they would.   But they were close to a major scientific break-through, and when it came to genetics I was the best mind they’d have had.   They couldn’t lose me so easily.   So I became theirs.’  He lowered his eyes.   ‘Or so they thought.

‘For years I worked for them, but my mind was never on the job.   Sure, I was still the best they had, but I was failing to make the intuitive leaps I was known for.   Work was progressing at only a slightly faster rate than when I had been in my coma.   My mind was filled by my loss.   I was slowly reverting to the state of being I had occupied before that fateful day on the cliff.’

Jaik was frowning.   ‘Where do I fit in to this?’

‘Well, the Company was aware of the reason behind my lack of motivation.   So they offered me a deal.’

Sim stopped, noticing the way Jaik swallowed then.   His was slightly ahead of him, so Sim nodded sadly.

‘Yes, they created me a clone.’

‘Me.’ It wasn’t a question.   Jaik peered at Sim more closely than he ever had before, no doubt seeing for the first time just how much like his dad he was.   He stood up, his eyes never leaving Sim.   ‘You lied to me… you said I was your son.   But I’m not.’

Sim stood up and grabbed Jaik’s hand in his.   ‘Yes, yes you are! Most kids are a product of the genetic material of their parents.   Just like you are.’

The muscles in Jaik’s jaw twitched, he eyebrows knitting together.   ‘Yes…’ he began, as the light returned to his blue eyes.   ‘I’m…’

Sim kissed Jaik on the forehead.   When he pulled back he saw that muscles on Jaik’s face had relaxed.   ‘You’re special, son.   To me.’  He guided Jaik back to his former position of the floor, this time joining him in front of the fire.   ‘The Company’s deal was this,’ he said, refusing to let go of Jaik’s hand.   It was important for the young man to realise that Sim was not going anywhere.   ‘They would grow the clone, keep it… Sorry, you, in a controlled environment until you were thirteen.   And then, when the brain was developed enough, they would transfer everything of me into your brain.   Give me a second life, to serve the Company and continue my work.’  He sighed.   ‘Not the immortality Anne and I had expected, but for a while it seemed the only option…  But the more I thought on it, the more I realised I couldn’t allow that.    I insisted that I had to grow the clone myself.   I promised them I would remain objective.’

‘And now it’s time?’ Jaik asked, his voice shaking.

‘No.   Jaik, please understand, because this is the important part.   I couldn’t stay objective, I intended to, but as soon as I held you in my arms… Such a little thing, so innocent.   And you were made from me.   Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone.   The more time I spent with you, the more I watched you develop I knew I couldn’t let the Company go through with it.   You were no different to the other children, you did everything they did.   Burning your hand on the hot stove, taking your first steps.   I’ve loved you, Jaik, from the start.   You weren’t just a clone of me, you were my son.   Always.’

Jaik tried to hold back his tears, and Sim offered him a smile.   These were happy tears, although there was a look of fear creeping into Jaik’s eyes.   ‘But… the Company.’

‘The Company be damned.   This is why I told you.   You have to run away, leave here.   Keep the Simak name alive.’

‘What about you?’

‘I’ll stay, face the consequences.’

‘But they’ll kill you.   No matter how important you are, they’ll not let this one go.   Dad, you can’t stay.’

Sim smiled when Jaik called him ‘dad’.   ‘They can’t kill me.   As long as you’re alive, I’ll never be dead.’

Jaik was about to answer when the entire study was bathed in a bright light.   As one they both turned to look at the windows.

‘No,’ Sim whispered.

‘Dad?’

‘They’ve come too early.’  Sim reached down and held Jaik’s hand.   He squeezed once.   Letting go, he jumped to his feet and grabbed an object off his table.   The light outside glinted off its silver surface.   He looked down at his son.  ‘Go, out the back.  Run, Jaik, run!’

Jaik just stood there, his eyes imploring.  Eventually he nodded, and reached out to hug his dad.  The tears fell freely as Sim watched his son run out of the room, down the passage to the back of the house.  He would give his son time, time to get away.

‘Goodbye, Jaik,’ he said softly, ‘daddy loves you.’

He plunged the letter opener into his chest.

© 2006, 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen, All Rights Reserved

Packing a Punch!

Today, Giovanni Gelati posted a review of my most recent short story published by Untreed Reads.  This is what Gio has to say…

‘”One Mistake” is an interesting 5080 word digital short that had my rapt attention. Andy Frankham-Allen had me hanging on every written word as I was not sure where the story was going but I knew that something was coming around the corner. Don’t be misled by the word count; this story packs a punch and has a deep seeded and sad genesis. Here is a very brief description of what you will find: “When Robert finds a business card in a phone booth advertising astral projection lessons, he thinks he has stumbled upon a way to improve his ordinary life. Unfortunately the instructor has much more sinister plans for his student.”

‘I didn’t time myself when I read this, all I know is that the time went quickly as my eyes were flying through the read. I couldn’t turn the virtual pages fast enough. Frankham-Allen has written a very captivating, taunt story that stayed with me for a while. As I read more novels, especially those out of my comfort zone, I am enjoying them much more. This is definitely something I wouldn’t normally have thought I would have gotten into, but the writing is that strong , the emotion of the moments that well conveyed, that it just sucked me into it and didn’t let go till the very last word. Do yourself a favor and don’t make the One Mistake in passing this up.’

To read the full review and Gio’s other reviews, pop over to his blog; http://gelatisscoop.blogspot.com/ – I will be guest-spotting on Gio’s blog next Saturday (2nd October) with an article about Hallowe’en.

‘One Mistake’ is available everywhere that sells eBooks, including WH Smith and Waterstones. Or you can buy it directly from http://www.untreedreads.com/?page_id=1315 for only $1.50.

Future releases from Untreed Reads includes two short stories of mine, both due in December 2010. Early December sees the release of the Christmas anthology, ‘Did You Hear What Happened to Nick?’ which features my story, ‘The Forgotten Christmas’ (still being written!), followed near the end of the month with another horror short, ‘Reflection’.

Bear in Mind

Paddytum by Tricia Heighway; a review.

It’s a double-edged sword having so many author friends. We all like our books to be read, and so we often trade. ‘You read mine, I’ll read yours.’ Sounds like a fab deal, right? Tell me any avid reader who would balk at such a thing. On the flip side, though, what happens when you read a book written by a friend and you hate it? The grammar makes your skin crawl, the punctuation displays a serious lack of even the most basic understanding of the rules, and worst of all, the story is such a yawnfest it’s a struggle to reach the end. You’re left in the unenviable position of having to give your review and possibly wound your friend. You could just lie and say how wonderful it was, and be very generic, or you could be honest and try to be constructive. Alas, some authors have fragile egos, so a lie is often the best way out.

Having become a friend of Tricia Heighway, and having already pre-ordered Paddytum, I knew I was taking a risk since this was her first novel and I had yet to read a single word written by her (Facebook not withstanding). I was pretty sure I was going to like the book from the moment I first read the blurb and learned it was about a talking teddy bear whipping its owner into shape. Sounded like the kind of quirky idea I’d love. But there was nothing to say Tricia could pull it off!

Well, no sugar-lies are needed here. I can say, in all honesty, that I loved every single bit of this book. In fact, I will go so far as to say this is a truly special kind of novel. There is such an innocence in the prose, in the humour, in the characters, that’s it’s very difficult not to be pulled straight in. Humour is a tough thing to convey well in prose, being such a subjective thing, but Tricia pulls it off incredibly well. Mostly because the humour springs from the characters, especially the lead, Robert Handle, whose ineptitude at life creates much of the humour. Life is funnier than people generally realise; we do such silly things on a daily basis, without even considering what it is we do, and why. The sheer silliness of life is not lost on Tricia, and she indulges in it swiftly. Any person who still lives with mummy well into their forties is, without doubt, a tragic and often pathetic figure. Sometimes there are good reasons behind such a situation, and Rob’s own reasons add a very sad dimension to his life. His father was killed when he was eighteen, and as a result two people were left behind, so caught up in their own grief that they were unable to help each other. Rob turned in on himself and shut the world out totally, barely venturing out of his bedroom unless forced into it. His mother shut herself down in a different way, internalising her pain, masking it in anger.

I think what makes this book so special is the clever way the humour and the tragedy is merged together to create a wonderful study of loss. It’s a very British thing to cope through humour, and even when we reach the emotional climax the humour is still evident. It’s not thrown in your face, it’s just there, a natural extension of the characters and situations. The story is truly believable; it carries at its heart an honesty that is compelling. Even though, on the one hand you have a tale about a teddy bear that discovers its voice and guides its owner into sorting out his life, on the other you have the very world in which Robert inhabits, the one of disastrous encounters with people previously only known online, the failed first romantic relationships, the first real job and discovering a hitherto unknown talent for being able to say the right thing. Everything about this story just feels real, and you could believe it happened to someone you know.

The end is also powerful, as we get to the heart of the problem and the truth of Paddytum is revealed. I had a few theories throughout the book, and worked out the correct explanation moments before the story revealed it. It’s a conclusion handled with deftness and immense skill, so much so in fact that I found myself slowing down towards the end as I did not wish the book to finish. But, all good things must end eventually, and Paddytum is no exception. Fortunately, it ends with a brilliant final scene, and the last line is a scorcher.

More please, Tricia!

Paddytum is published by Hirst Publishing, at £7.99.  You can purchase a copy directly from Hirst, or any good book stockists, including Waterstones and Borders.

http://www.hirstpublishing.com/Tricia_Heighway_-_Paddytum/p384445_1157030.aspx

The Legacy #1:The Catalyst

In 2001 I started a piece of fan fiction based on Doctor Who. Originally called Doctor Who: 3a it became over the years Doctor Who: The Legacy and moved from simple fan penned short stories to a full on going series of professional-level novellas (an obvious growth as many of those involved in the series became involved in professional publishing). It ended in 2006, and has resisted many attempts at a relaunch.  This year I was intending to self-publish the entire series, with all profits going to a charity, however things got busy in my professional writing and once again The Legacy was put on hold. However, for this reprint I was taking the opportunity to fix some mistakes made in the initial run, including almost rewriting from scratch the earliest tales penned by me. What follows is, therefore, the 2009 version of the original story that opened The Legacy in 2001…

The Catalyst

Andy Frankham-Allen

Historian’s note; this story takes place directly after the 1989 adventure ‘Survival’, and during the 1970 adventure ‘Spearhead from Space’.

If there was one thing Ace hated, it was Sundays in Perivale; boredom city! She hated it even more when the Doctor sodded off and left on her own with no access to the TARDIS. The police box shaped time machine stood on the corner of the street behind her, while she sat on the curb, her legs safely stretched out on the road, crossed at the ankles. Safely, because there was little traffic passing through the streets of Perivale on a Sunday; in fact, there was little of anything.

It seemed, when she and the Doctor had left Horsenden Hill arm in arm, that they were going to be leaving Perivale straight away, off on their travels through time and space. The Doctor had even suggested they go to Ancient Mesopotamia, an idea that made Ace laugh. She vaguely remembered learning something about it in junior school, but it hadn’t impressed on her any desire to visit there. As for the Doctor, he had never really shown much of an interest for delving into history before, unless it was Ace’s history, of course, then it was almost impossible to stop him from sticking his nose in.

There was too much history for her in this suburb as far as she was concerned. She had thought it’d be fun to catch up with her old mates, but things hadn’t quite worked out that way, what with the Cheetah Planet working its way into her system, bringing out her baser instincts, not to forget, of course, the Doctor almost being killed by another Time Lord, calling himself the Master. Yet another nutter that the Doctor knew. Still, things had worked out okay… for most of them.

Midge was a gonner. She had always fancied him back in the day, and she felt an ache in her heart knowing she’d never see him again. But at least the others were okay, even that twat Patterson. Personally she was looking forward to leaving Perivale, leave all the crap behind. Once again.

How many times did she need to leg it from this place before she learned not to come back? Just walking the streets on the way back to the TARDIS, now the trouble had gone, was enough to bring back unwanted memories. Manisha, the fire… Nah, she didn’t want to go through that again. And then there was her mother. Probably still in the same old flat. When Patterson had told Ace that her mum had listed her as a missing person, Ace had momentarily considered that perhaps the old cow actually cared after all. But that feeling didn’t last; it was more likely Audrey McShane was just looking to cause more trouble for ‘Dotty’.

‘Don’t you get bored just sitting there?’ a voice asked her from behind.

Recognising the Doctor’s voice, Ace jumped to her feet and span around. He was leaning against the TARDIS, one hand resting on the red handle of his umbrella, the other patting the TARDIS affectionately. ‘Bored ain’t the word, Professor,’ she said. ‘Where’d you go?’

The Doctor frowned and started fishing in the pockets of his dark jacket. ‘Unfinished business. When I returned from the planet I came here,’ he said, nodding at the TARDIS, ‘so it follows that the Master must have gone to his own ship.’

‘If he escaped, you mean. I touched his mind; he was pretty far gone.’

‘Hmm,’ was the only reply to that. With a flourish the Doctor pulled the TARDIS key out of his pocket and inserted it into the lock of the police box door. He pushed the door open and allowed Ace to enter first. ‘Never underestimate him, Ace; he’s as cunning as he is mad. I’ve never quite understood why,’ the Doctor added, crossing from the double doors to the hat stand that stood in one corner of the console room.

‘Yeah, right! Like you know nothing about cunning,’ Ace pointed out with a laugh, glad to be back in the safety of the TARDIS. Although Perivale stood just beyond the dimensional threshold of the TARDIS, it was still far enough away to not play on her mind any more. She looked around the brightly lit control room, at the comforting roundels of the walls, and the hexagonal console in the centre of the room. This was her home. Always would be.

The Doctor let out a playful growl. ‘I was talking about his madness.’

‘Oh. But what is it you said about all interesting people being mad in some way or another?’

‘Yes, I did say that, didn’t I?’

‘Yeah.’

The Doctor nodded. ‘Which proves my point. In spite of all he’s done, the Master is certainly interesting.’

‘Suppose that’s one way of looking at it, if you’re off your head.’

The Doctor grinned. ‘Quite.’

‘Where to now then?’ Ace asked, once the Doctor had closed the doors and set the TARDIS in motion.

For a moment the Doctor didn’t look at her, he simply regarded the closed shutters covering the scanner screen. ‘Remember what I said to you, about you always being part of the Cheetah Planet; it lives on inside you?’

‘Yeah..?’

‘Well, it also lives on in the Master. And he was much further gone than you. We need to find him, stop him once and for all.’ The Doctor let out a large sigh. ‘I’ve ignored my responsibilities long enough as far as he is concerned.’

‘How are you responsible for him?’

‘Because, Ace, there was a time when we were friends. And I should have helped him back then, steered him off the dark path he had stepped on.’

Ace shrugged. ‘Bit late now, though. That bloke’s gone; lost it.’

‘Even more reason to find him.’

Ace wasn’t sure she liked this side of the Doctor. She’d seem him manipulate people, including her, beat the worst kind of enemies, but never had she seen him take anything so personally. Still, if they did find him that worked out fine for her. She had her own personal score to settle with that nutcase; she owed him one for both Midge and Karra.

‘Alright, then. What we gonna do?’

The Doctor smiled, but Ace didn’t like the emotion behind his grey eyes. He was about to ask her to do something she wasn’t going to enjoy. ‘Well, you are going to be plugged directly into the telepathic circuits, and then with the remaining connection you have with that dead world, we should be able to pick up a trace on the Master, no matter where he is in time or space.’

‘Oh come of it, Professor, if you think I’m going to allow you to put wires into me head, you’re off your rocker, too.’

‘Ace!’ the Doctor hissed, using his best ‘disappointed’ tone. ‘This is the TARDIS we’re talking about; one of the finest time ships ever grown in the bio-engineering plants of Western Gallifrey. Wires in your head will not be necessary. No no, all you have to do is simply place your hands on these two pads.’

Ace looked at where the Doctor was pointing. Just adjacent to the red door lever was indeed two palm sized pads, pads she had never seen before. She narrowed her eyes, regarding the console with suspicion. She had lived in the TARDIS long enough now, and she knew for a fact that those pads had never been there before. ‘Okay, if you say so.’

She approached the console and gently placed her palms down, feeling the cold gel like substance of the pad squirm between her fingers. She felt the urge to pull her hand away, but was encouraged on by the Doctor’s smile. Even then, he still looked grim, as if he expected…

The console room flipped over.

Ace groaned, rubbing the small of her back, and looked up. From above, the Doctor was hanging on to the edge of the console with one hand, the other reaching out for the controls. Ace shook her head. ‘Professor, what the hell just happened?’ she asked, standing up on the ceiling.

‘Ace,’ the Doctor said through gritted teeth. ‘Brace yourself.’

‘For what?’ she started to ask, but before she got the words out the TARDIS flipped over again. But she didn’t land on top of the console as she would have expected. Instead she found herself being tossed about like some kind of doll; the entire room was spinning, the walls warping in and out. She tried to find a hand hold on a roundel, but her fingers kept on slipping off the smooth surface, the previous indented wall now as flat and slick as a sheet of metal. ‘Professor!’ she yelled.

‘Ace! Relax,’ the Doctor called back, still gripping frantically to the console. ‘We’re slipping directly into the Master’s time track. The TARDIS is attempting to time ram his; this could end badly! Hold tight!’

‘To what?’ she shouted, as she slammed once again into a flat wall.

Abruptly the turbulence ceased. Ace collapsed into a heap on the floor, and for a moment remained as she was, gathering her senses back together. She looked up slowly. The TARDIS might have settled, but her head hadn’t. It still spun crazily.

She struggled to her feet and crossed over to the Doctor, who was intently studying the readings on the console. ‘Hmm, that was no time ram,’ he was saying. ‘His TARDIS isn’t even in the vortex.’ The Doctor peered at the console more closely, his nose almost touching the little screen. ‘The vortex is out of shape, something else pushing into it. Aha!’ he added, with a snap of the fingers. ‘Of course, of course!’

Without another word he rushed around the console and starting flicking switches on another panel.

Ace just watched him, forcing herself to keep her mouth shut. She had seen him like this before and knew that getting any sense out of him was not going to happen. It was best to just let him ride the wave of mania, and then bombard him with questions when he had settled. Plus, just standing there, arms folded, helped her to regain her inner equilibrium.

The Doctor pushed her out of the way so he could work on the panel before her. Ace shook her head; she had had enough. She forced her between him and the console. ‘I ain’t moving until you explain.’

The Doctor narrowed his eyes, and attempted to get around Ace, but she refused to be budged. He let out a growl. ‘Fine. The end of the universe is upon us. Now, if you’ll just let me work, I might be able to prevent it.’

Taken aback Ace stepped aside. ‘Hang on,’ she said, slowly, ‘how is that possible? All we were doing was following the Master. We didn’t cause it, did we?’

‘No,’ the Doctor replied, not looking up, ‘the Master is causing it somehow. Whatever is happening to the vortex originated at the point in time the Master now inhabits. Oh.’ The Doctor pulled up short, and blinked. ‘He’s on Earth, in a place called Ashbridge, Earth year… 1972.’

‘That bad?’

‘Yes, Ace, very bad.’ The Doctor’s whole body slumped against the console, and he placed his head in his hands. ‘The idiot has gone back on my own personal time stream, attacking me at my weakest. Of course, I bet it didn’t occur to him that by doing so he’s also gone back on his own time stream. Our lives have been interconnected for so long now; whatever affects me will affect him.’

‘Then we need to go and save you, stop him, right?’

The Doctor looked up briefly. ‘It’s not that simple, Ace. If he’s killed me then my entire time line is erased, impacting thousands upon thousands of lives. The things I’ve done since then, the lives I’ve saved, the planets freed. Even the Daleks; their entire history altered by my absence. The universe won’t be able to survive such an alteration.’

Ace grabbed the Doctor by his arm, pulling him from the console. ‘Then we have to change that, prevent him from killing you. The TARDIS is still a time machine.’

‘Yes, one that can’t travel down my own time line.’

‘Yeah, but…’

‘The personal streams of a Time Lord is time-locked, travel through it is impossible.’

‘But the Master has done it, and you just said we’ve followed his path.’

A light flickered in the Doctor’s eyes. ‘Yes, yes, you’re right!’ He spun back to the console. ‘This old girl has a few tricks up her sleeve yet.’ He patted the console and offered Ace a reassuring smile. ‘Next stop 1972… I hope.’

*

Either side the green foliage rushed past; he had to get away. Both from the soldiers and from those men who had tried to bundle him into the ambulance. Exerting his new body more than it approved of, the Doctor span the wheels on the wheelchair even faster.

The TARDIS was out there somewhere, waiting for him. His watch was still bleeping, indicating the proximity of his ship. He had to get home, try and convince the High Council to restore Jamie and Zoe to him. Even now, his head still confuzzled by his regeneration, he remembered what his people had done to him.

Trapped him, put him on trial for interfering in the affairs of other planets, and finally agreeing that he did have a role to play in preventing the evil that subjugated others. They had forced him to regenerate, sent his TARDIS to Earth where he would live his life in exile until the Tribunal saw fit to release him. But if he could get the TARDIS working again, find his way home, then maybe he could convince the High Council to overrule the Tribunal. He used to hold some sway, before he fell out of favour, and there had to be some people left that he could swing to his side.

The watch let out almighty screech, causing the Doctor to twist the wheelchair into a dangerous left turn. The chair fell over and, with a physical dexterity that impressed him no end, the Doctor rolled out of the wheelchair and back onto his feet. For a second he stood there, the cold air wafting through the back of his hospital gown. He smiled beneath the tape over his mouth. Oh yes, he was going to like this new body of his.

He span around, alerted by the sound of shouting coming from up the lane. UNIT soldiers barking out orders, trying to pinpoint his location. He remembered UNIT as allies; they’d helped him against the Cybermen in London. But right now getting to the TARDIS was more important.

He rushed through the trees, checking the readings on his watch.

‘Who’s there?’ a voice called out before him. The Doctor looked up just as the trees gave way to a clearing. Two UNIT soldiers stood between him and the TARDIS. But before he could enjoy the happy sight the blue box afforded, he heard a click and barely registered the sound of a rifle firing before he felt a sharp pain in his head.

Then, just blackness.

*

‘Professor, that was gunfire!’ Ace pointed out, following the Doctor through the dense clump of trees.

‘Yes, an inexperienced UNIT private making my head target practice.’ With that the Doctor’s quick pace turned into a run. ‘Come on,’ he shouted over his shoulder.

Ace didn’t need any further encouragement.

She almost bumped into the Doctor, so sudden was his stop. They stood at the edge of the clearing, watching as events unfolded before them.

A UNIT soldier stood near the TARDIS, his pistol pointed at the Master, who was kneeling next to the body of a tall man in a hospital gown. Ace guessed that had to be the Doctor’s earlier self; it was odd to think that he had once been someone else, looking so different to the man she had come to respect and love so much. She wasn’t too keen on the blood covering his chest, though, nor the way the Master was looking down at him, a frenzied grin plastered on his bearded face, rifle hot in his hands.

‘Professor,’ she said, urging him forward.

‘What?’ the Doctor asked, blinking, clearly shook up by what had happened to him. Seeing yourself dying couldn’t have been easy. Still…

‘We have to stop this, remember.’

‘Yes.’ The Doctor nodded and stepped out of the trees. Ace held back, and watched him, smiling. This was more like it, she knew that walk. It spoke of authority, and danger. The walk that had the monsters shaking in fear. When he spoke his voice was low. ‘This ends now.’

The Master looked up, and Ace shuddered at the amount of blood around his mouth, the dark viscous fluid dripping off his canines. He was even more feral than when she had last seen him, when he had brutally killed Karra. His yellow cat’s eyes starred at the Doctor with hatred. ‘No,’ he growled, ‘it ends when I say so. I told you, Doctor, I now have the power to kill you.’

‘You think you control that power? No, that power has you. You’re becoming an animal.’

The UNIT soldier looked from the Master, his gun wavering. The Doctor noticed. ‘Captain Munro, radio for assistance.’ Munro looked at him blankly, and Ace grinned. He was probably trying to work out how the Doctor knew him. ‘Now!’ the Doctor snapped.

Still keeping the gun trained on the Master, Munro reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver radio. The Master didn’t acknowledge the exchange. He simply continued to stare at the Doctor, his tongue licking the dripping blood.

‘Yes, an animal that has killed you,’ he said.

‘Not yet you haven’t.’

The Master glanced down at the long body lying before him. The younger Doctor, despite the severity of the wound in his chest, was still breathing. Although only barely. The Master’s lips curled into a smile, his yellow eyes roaming the woods. ‘It’s a start,’ he said, and slowly rose to his feet. ‘You might survive this, but the universe won’t. Good hunting, Doctor,’ he added, and moved suddenly and quickly.

Ace saw it too late, but rushed forward nonetheless. A small black cat was watching nearby, but it was no normal cat. Ace cursed herself as she tried to cut the Master off. She should have sensed the Kitling before; the planet lived on in all three of them. Her, the Master, and the Kitling; they were all connected and she should have felt it. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed both the Doctor and Munro also moving, but they were too far away to be of any use. She was the only one who could prevent the Master now; all she had to do was call on the reserves left over from the Cheetah Planet.

The Master reached the Kitling seconds before she, and with a blinding flash both Time Lord and cat vanished. For a moment Ace stood there, looking at the now empty spot, feeling robbed of her chance to get revenge.

That bastard had to pay for Midge and Karra.

She turned sharply as a hand came to rest on her shoulder.

‘Ace!’ the Doctor hissed. ‘Come back.’

Such dark feelings were running amok in her; she could feel the blood pumping through her veins. She recognised this feeling; she hadn’t felt it since all those blokes were heading towards her on Horsenden Hill, about to attack her before Karra had come to her rescue. It was the call of the hunt.

She shook her head and closed her eyes. When she opened them again the Doctor nodded at her grimly. ‘That’s better. Now,’ he added, turning back to Captain Munro, who was looking around confused. ‘Captain, you need to get this man back to Ashbridge Cottage immediately.’

Munro opened his mouth to ask something, but changed his mind. He looked back at the barely alive Doctor. ‘He’ll live?’

‘Yes,’ the Doctor said, walking past Munro and over to his other self. ‘If I act fast.’ He stopped, looking around. ‘Oh dear.’

Ace followed him and saw the severed head lying in the grass. The body lay nearby. Never one to shy from blood, Ace still felt a little sad. Whoever it had been was young. She turned away and looked back at the Doctor. ‘What are you going to do?’

‘What I need to do.’ The Doctor knelt in the grass, and touched the temples of his younger, yet oddly older looking, self, and closed his eyes. ‘Contact,’ he whispered.

Nothing more happened, and so Ace glanced over at Munro, who was helping another UNIT soldier to his feet, a dark bruise forming on his head. After checking to make sure the corporal was okay, Munro started issuing orders, and the corporal went away to guide the medical team into the clearing. Munro took a deep breath, and walked over to Ace. ‘Would you like to explain to me what just happened?’

‘Nah, mate, sorry, not my place. That’s down to the Doctor.’

Munro looked at the two Doctors, a frown appearing. ‘Another one? The Brigadier said that fella is the Doctor.’

‘Yeah, they both are.’

‘From the hospital?’

Ace laughed. ‘No, same bloke.’

Any chance for further needling was frustrated by the Doctor, who removed his hand from his former self’s head. He glanced up at Ace. ‘Get me back to the TARDIS,’ he said, his voice barely a whisper.

Ace helped him up, not liking the pallor of his skin. ‘Erm, sure, right. What about him?’

‘I’ll live,’ the Doctor said. ‘But we’ve got much work to do.’

Ace looked at Munro over her shoulder, and gave him a wink. ‘Sorry, soldier, you’re on your own. Give me love to Colonel Blimp, though.’

*

He should have been dying; this fact was immutable. Yet somehow the change was coming on him again. He had survived it twice before, his entire person becoming someone new. The memories, the thoughts, they all belonged to the same man, but each time he became someone different. Back home a life could last thousands of years before giving way to a new one. His own first body had lived longer than he liked to let on, but his second life had seemed to pass him by so quickly. Compared to his third incarnation, of course, his second had lasted an infinity. Such a shame, he had been looking forward to seeing what this new persona would become; he suspected a bit of an adventurer, if his agility was anything to go by.

He would never know now.

The change was beginning. The internal organs were healing themselves, as the body reformed outwardly. The bones were expanding in places and constricting in others.

As the pain overwhelmed him he became aware of a presence, a hint of his future. No, not a hint, a message. No words, just a sense that he had to live, to change the universe, put things right. But what things? Somehow he should know, but the knowledge was slipping from his mind. Regeneration was winning out, erasing his last life.

At the same time mental blocks were being released. Blocks that had been forced on his mind by the Time Lords. Time travel theory… Dematerialisation codes…

He opened his eyes for the final time in his third life.

*

Munro looked down at the Doctor. They were in the back of the ambulance, being rushed back to Ashbridge Cottage Hospital. The Brigadier and Doctor Henderson would be waiting for them.

The Doctor’s eyes snapped open.

Munro attempted a smile. ‘Everything is going to be all right,’ he told the man, although he doubted his own words. The Brigadier hadn’t believed a word of Munro’s report. Munro wasn’t sure he believed it himself. There was much more going on in Ashbridge than meteors falling from the sky.

‘No, it isn’t.’ The Doctor attempted to smile. ‘Sorry, old chap, but this is the end… of everything.’ He closed his eyes.

For a moment there was silence, as the ambulance rocked its way up to the hospital, but the silence was suddenly broken by a yell of pain issuing from the Doctor.

Munro watched him, his concern mounting. That concern turned into wide-eyed horror as the most amazing thing happened.

The Doctor began to change. Not his clothes, but his entire body. It only took a minute, and then there was a new man in the Doctor’s place. He was much the same height, but bulkier. Where his hair had once been a greying brown, it was now so dark as to be almost black. The face was the face of a much younger man, with a thick full brown beard.

Munro peered at the man closely, unable to really believe what he had just seen happen. The man opened his eyes and winked at Munro.

‘Told you, didn’t I?’ The new Doctor yawned. ‘Well, now to begin something completely different. First a nap, though. Goodnight,’ he added and promptly fell asleep.

*

Ace was worried about the Doctor, since leaving his earlier self in the wood clearing he’d got steadily weaker, as if his contact with his past had taken something out of him. He now stood by the console, his eyes closed, hands resting on the pads, connecting him directly to the TARDIS’ telepathic circuits.

She wanted to say something, to offer some kind of support, but she had never seen the Doctor look so ill, and didn’t know what to say. She often told people that looking after the Doctor was her job, but playing nursemaid was beyond her skill base.

With a familiar wheezing and groaning, the time rotor in the centre of the console began to rise and fall. The TARDIS was leaving 1972 Earth; without the Doctor pressing a single button. Ace guessed that he was piloting the TARDIS directly with his thoughts.

She shrugged. Never knew that was possible, but nonetheless a good thing when needed.

The Doctor removed his hands from the console and looked at Ace. He offered her a reassuring smile. ‘I’ll be okay after a rest; giving up a piece of my life force has drained me.’

‘Is that what you were doing with the other Doctor?’

‘Yes, he was dying. But I saved him; a sacrifice I feel most keenly right now. I also passed on a message to him, sent him a path to repair the damage done by the Master.’

‘How?’

‘The universe should survive if I’m… he is out there, getting involved. Five years on Earth will not serve the universe well, sure he might protect the Earth, but the rest of the universe will continue to collapse.’

‘Hang about, though, if he’s not there to help the Earth, then what about Earth? How will it survive?’

‘It’s protected, Ace. UNIT is there; they’ll cope.’

‘Yeah, but what if they don’t?’

The Doctor frowned, and shook his head. ‘You’re here, Ace, proof that the Earth survives.’ He staggered back onto the console. ‘It’s only a suggestion, but enough to make sure my earlier self leaves Earth, restores my timeline.’

Ace nodded, not entirely convinced, but right now the Doctor’s health was more important. ‘Okay, then we need to get you to bed, Professor.’

The Doctor agreed and allowed himself to be led out of the console room. ‘But we must try and find the Master ourselves; he’s a danger from my present. With two of me on the case we should be able to achieve both. Restoration of the universe, and stopping the Master.’

Ace said nothing. Life force sharing or not, last she’d seen of the other Doctor he hadn’t looked so sharp, and neither did her Doctor. She hoped he was right, but something told her that solving these two problems wasn’t going to be as straightforward as the Doctor liked to think.

*

The earlier Doctor, fresh from his sleep, stirred in his bed at Ashbridge Cottage Hospital. He wasn’t quite sure how long he had slept, but he felt much better for it. He had heard many horror stories about regenerations gone wrong. He had been lucky so far to have been saved from post-regeneration psychosis, which was known to be a potential risk, especially when regenerating multiple times in close proximity. The Doctor had always pitied the fools who engaged in such an endeavour, since it was ultimately little more than a vain glorious attempt at self improvement. Forcibly regenerated by the Tribunal, and then due to… what? Eyes still closed, not quite ready to face the world with his new eyes, the Doctor pondered what had happened.

Being unconscious had not helped, although he was pretty sure that the bullet from the young UNIT soldier’s gun had barely grazed his head. Certainly it wasn’t enough to trigger a regeneration. And there was something else there, a memory of…

His future, touching him in the now.

Yes, he could see him; his future self, several incarnations down the line, was a little man in a dark jacket, wearing a straw hat on his head. A man with a mind open to the many truths he had chosen to block from his memory when he ran away from his people. Truths he would rather not share with the universe. This future Doctor had shared something with him. He had known it, but now the information escaped him.

There was something he had to do, something his future needed of him.

Food!

The Doctor snapped his eyes open. He was hungry. No, not just hungry; famished!

He looked around the grey room he was in; no one else was about. Just a desk opposite the bed, upon which sat a bunch of notes and a pair of glasses. That was good; he didn’t wish to be disturbed. He had things to do. Find the TARDIS, fix it, and get off Earth and head for Gregoramani. He hadn’t been there in such a long time, and they provided the most excellent buffets.

The Doctor jumped off the bed and was about to leave the room when he noticed his bulk. He’d always been a thin man; he’d been old, relatively young, and, well whatever he had been briefly in his third life (something, the Doctor thought with a sigh, he would never know), but always thin. He had seen his previous face briefly, in the mirror loaned to him by that red-head who had accompanied Lethbridge-Stewart, and he knew from his almost-escape to the TARDIS that he had been quite tall, probably about as tall as he was now.

He rubbed his chin, pondering his lost life, and frowned. That was new, too. Facial hair. He remembered experimenting with it when he was a young man of eighty-nine, but it had always been more Koschei’s thing than his. Still, change was as good as a rest, and he’d rested enough.

Now he had things to do. He could ponder his missing life later, first he needed to get out of the hospital. And a large, bearded man in a white hospital gown might attract a little too much attention.

Plus, there was a draft going up his back. Where was the sense in having them open at the back like that? Well, that decided it for him.

Clothes were needed.

And a mirror.

He turned around and looked at his reflection. Not too great, but it would do until he found the TARDIS. He had found his clothes in a locker, but they had been way too small for him, which came as no surprise really. This was a pity, since they had a certain style about them that the Doctor found charming. His second incarnation was such an elegant dresser.

He was still dressed in his hospital gown, but he had found a great big brown coat to wear over the gown. It was quite warm, and fitted his new girth well. Only he needed something with which to keep it closed. It would not do to wander around England looking for the TARDIS with the cold wind blowing against his Time Lord delicacies.

He looked around the room, and his eyes alighted on a piece of rope. The Doctor smiled, and stroked his beard. It felt quite a natural thing to do, beard stroking. He could barely imagine how he had survived without a beard for all those centuries past; maybe Koschei had been onto something after all.

The Doctor wrapped the rope around his waist, twice over, and tied it in a slipknot, then turned back to the mirror.

‘Oh yes. Quite nice.’ The Doctor bellowed out a deep-throated laugh, and immediately clamped his hand over his mouth. Grief, that was terribly loud. No doubt such a vocal range would come in quite handy when trying to advise his companions, but it would not do to have the hospital staff finding him so soon.

The thought struck a chord. Companions.

He had been rushing to the TARDIS in the hope of persuading the High Council to help him return Jamie and Zoe, but now he wasn’t so sure it was such a good idea. They were home, happy again, without the added danger a life with him brought. He would miss them, of course, but he was a new Doctor, and he needed new companions now.

The life of a Time Lord, always on the go.

He counted off two fingers. Item one, find the TARDIS. Item two, find some companions.

He sat on the bench and slipped his feet into the shoes he’d found in a locker. Socks and trousers would have been nice, but the coat was long enough to cover most of his legs, so at best he’d look like some kind of tramp roaming the hospital corridors. The Doctor sighed; he’d sort some proper clothes out once he got back to the TARDIS.

He removed all the items from the pockets of his old clothes and stuffed them into his new coat, then walked back over to the door. He stopped; his hand on the knob. There were voices coming from the corridor. He listened in.

‘What are all those toy soldiers playing at?’ asked a voice that was both dignified and self-important.

‘They found the patient,’ a younger voice returned. The Doctor recognised that voice; that of the doctor who was looking after him.

‘And shot him, eh?’

Before his doctor could reply, the Doctor ripped the door open and pointed a finger the owner of the pompous voice.  ‘Yes they did!’ he snapped, not much caring for the man’s flashy cape and fedora hat. ‘Flaming cheek of it.’

Both men looked at him, their mouths open in surprise. The Doctor reached out a hand and shook the hand of his doctor heartily. ‘Thank you for your administrations, but I shall be on my way now. Things to do, people to see.’ He beamed a smile at both and them, and nodded. ‘Capital! Goodbye.’

Taking advantage of their confusion, the Doctor pushed past them and headed down the corridor. He heard his doctor call after him, but chose to ignore it. It could not have been anything important. It never was with humans.

The Doctor reached the doors leading out of the hospital and noticed two uniformed soldiers outside. He pulled up short and considered the situation, peering through the glass.

Clearly the events outside the TARDIS that led to his regeneration had made an impact on UNIT; the Brigadier himself must have given the order to keep the hospital secure, check on anyone coming in and out. Safeguard the freak inside. Lethbridge-Stewart had seemed very puzzled and let down when he had visited the Doctor in the hospital before, obviously expecting to find the short man he knew from the trouble with the Yeti in the Underground and the Cyberman crisis at International Electromatics, but instead he had found some lanky man lying there who didn’t look even remotely similar.

The Doctor laughed at this. Poor old Lethbridge-Stewart; the military mind was not known for its imagination. He could only begin to wonder how the soldier would respond to his new persona. The Doctor smiled to himself; maybe he would have to find out.

He looked back out the window in time to see the two soldiers approaching the doors. His laughter had brought him to their attention.

Oh well, he would do what he had always done no matter what body he wore. He would brazen it. So thinking, he stormed out of the doors and over to the two men.

‘The man you have been left to protect is loose inside. Doctor… erm…’ The Doctor looked around, trying to remember the name. He must have heard it. ‘They need your help!’ he decided on instead. The two soldiers looked at each other, not too sure. Stupid military men, the Doctor thought. Only responded to one thing. ‘Get on with, then! The Brigadier wants him unharmed! Now jump to it!’ he bellowed.

The two men snapped to attention and rushed into the hospital. The Doctor watched them go and smiled to himself. Very useful thing, this bellowing he had inherited since his regeneration. Very useful indeed.

Now all he had to do was find the TARDIS.

He had left it in the woods; that much he remembered for sure. Indeed, he had almost reached it last time. But which way? He had feigned sleep when those men had tried to kidnap him, and then his escape was such a blur, befuddled even further by the usual fogginess that came as a result of regeneration.

Still; means and ways. He consulted the watch tightly wrapped around his wrist – too tightly! The strap was meant for a much thinner wrist than the one he now owned. Oh well, something to sort out later.

Or not, he decided, once he noticed the crack in the glass covering. The insides were ruined too, no doubt a result of the fracas in the woods earlier.

He looked around. He would find a way to locate the TARDIS, in the meantime he couldn’t just stand there dillydallying. UNIT would soon be on to him.

He rushed down the steps and checked out the cars parked in front of a small sign that said Reserved For Doctors. The Doctor smiled; seemed quite apt. He briefly considered the dark red roadster, but decided against it in favour of the small MG next to it. It was the work of moments to get the door open, once he’d found the sonic screwdriver in his coat pocket. Getting into the small car was more problematic though.

*

As it turned out the Doctor didn’t need his homing device; he could almost hear the TARDIS calling out to him. It was a strange feeling. He’d developed a strong bond with his time ship over the years, which was a common place thing with his people after much usage of the same ship. TARDIS’ were grown after all, and they were alive after a fashion, but this was different. He could almost hear a voice in his head.

*

He had a long and uncomfortable drive to London, cramped in the confines of the MG sports car; perhaps the roadster would have been a better choice. Although it was a bit flash for him, and probably not as fast as the MG. It would have been liked him choosing a SIDRAT over a TARDIS.

UNIT HQ existed in the heart of London, the entrance underground. The guard at the gate tried to object, maintaining the facade, but the Doctor knew better and demanded he see Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart at once. His property was inside the building, and he intended to leave with it. Or it leave with him. Either worked.

Eventually, he was escorted through the building, but soon gave his guide the slip. He wasn’t sure where he was being led, but it was away from the location of the TARDIS. Clearly the Brigadier wished to see the Doctor as far away from the ship as possible. Well, tough!

The Doctor barged through the door, and came into what was probably once an open hall, but it had been partitioned off by boards. He walked around the boards, finding an entrance, and found himself in what seemed to be a quickly assembled lab. Assembled by someone who had never actually worked in a laboratory before.

The Brigadier was approaching him, a forced smile on his face, arm outstretched in greeting. Behind him, at a bench, was the red-head, now wearing a lab coat, mixing two chemicals into a phial. She looked up briefly, but returned to her work. Pretending that the arrival of the Doctor was none of her business.

In the corner of the lab stood the TARDIS. The Doctor beamed, stepping past the Brigadier, and walked over to the blue box. He patted her affectionately. ‘There we are, old girl, soon have you out of here.’ He looked over at the Brigadier. ‘Key, please.’

Lethbridge-Stewart regarded him with suspicion. ‘Not until I know for sure you are who you claim to be.’

Claim to be? My dear, Lethbridge-Stewart, I haven’t claimed to be anyone. I know who I am, and all the evidence before your eyes should be confirmation enough. And besides, consult with that captain of yours, he was there, he saw me regenerate.’

‘Yes,’ the Brigadier said, with more than a degree of scepticism. ‘I read Captain Munro’s report. Unbelievable.’

‘And yet it happened.’ The Doctor approached the Brigadier. ‘Listen, I really do not have time for this. I have much more important things to deal with.’

Lethbridge-Stewart raised an eyebrow. ‘Then I suggest you make time, Doctor, if that is who you are. There are many questions I wish to have answers to; like how is it your arrival coincided with a shower of meteorites?’

The Doctor shrugged; he knew nothing of this. Nor did he care. He had something much more pressing to concern himself with, if only he could remember what it was. Beyond food, of course. ‘I think you answered your own question there. Coincidence.’

The Brigadier was about to answer, his body tensing. The Doctor wasn’t sure he much cared for Lethbridge-Stewart anymore; his old self was more suited to the military buffoon. He had no time for such closed minds. Changing tact, the Doctor turned from Lethbridge-Stewart and walked over to the young woman at the desk.

He offered his best smile. ‘And who might you be?’

The woman looked up from her experiments and offered a hand. ‘Elizabeth Shaw,’ she said, shaking his hand as firmly as she could.

‘Liz, I may call you Liz, yes?’ Liz nodded, and the Doctor continued. ‘Would you please explain to your employer that I need the key to my TARDIS.’

Liz looked over at the Brigadier, and the Doctor spotted something in her eyes. At first she had seemed bemused by the exchange, but for a brief second he noticed the contempt. She wasn’t happy about being here. A thought started to form in the Doctor’s head.

‘Well, for one thing, Doctor, I’m afraid it is none of my business, and for another I was not employed by UNIT. I was drafted.’

The Doctor nodded. ‘Then you have my eternal sympathies, to be conscripted into such a blinkered organisation like UNIT.’ He suddenly clapped his hands, making Liz jump. He placed a hand on her shoulder. ‘Sorry, my dear. I really must be going,’ he said, turning back to the TARDIS. ‘And I think she agrees.’

As if to prove it, the police box door opened. The Doctor nodded to himself. He had a feeling that would happen; the TARDIS wouldn’t have called him unless she wanted him inside.

‘Well, nice meeting you again, Brigadier. Good luck with your meteorites.’ The Doctor stopped, one foot inside the police box, and glanced back at Liz. ‘Come with me,’ he said, ‘I could show you science that would boggle your mind. The planet Delphon for instance… A wondrous place; they communicate with their eyebrows. Quite fascinating.’

Liz almost laughed, but shook her head. ‘I don’t think so.’

‘Oh.’ The Doctor was sure she was going to say yes. ‘Then perhaps we shall meet again,’ he said, and stepped into the TARDIS, closing the door behind him.

*

He walked over to the console, and placed on a hand on the pale green panel. It was good to be back home. He flicked a switch and watched as the time rotor began its oscillation.

No co-ordinates had been set, but that didn’t matter, for now all that mattered was leaving Earth behind. He had to move on. Still there was something niggling in the back of his mind, a feeling that his future required something of him.

For now though he intended to just drift in the time vortex, let his new body settle down a bit. Perhaps pop to Gregoramani and stuff himself silly. Yes, that might be the distraction his mind needed. Once his appetite was satiated he could put his mind to other things, drift around for a bit, see if he could find himself a new companion. The life he lived could be awfully lonely without friends to share it.

With that in mind, the Doctor started whistling to himself and set the co-ordinates for Gregoramani.

To be continued…


Edited by Andy Frankham-Allen & Greg Miller.
Cover © 2010 by Ewen Campion-Clarke.

Contains elements from Spearhead from Space, © 1970 by Robert Holmes

The Catalyst © 2001, 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen, 
The Legacy © & ™ 2001, 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen, 
Doctor Who © & ™ 1963, 2010 by BBC Worldwide, All Rights Reserved.

And so it begins…

I have tried several times to start a blog, but rarely keep up with doing them. This time I shall do my best to update it at least weekly. This should prove rather easy throughout October since a lot of exciting things are coming up, not least of all; an announcement of Project Hush-Hush (a very secret project I have been developing for almost two months now, and all will be revealed very soon); a Halloween-sale throughout the entire month for my ‘tales of the macabre’ released through Untreed Reads; an article about Halloween to be published on a fellow author’s blog; and updates on various other projects.

I shall also use this blog to post reviews of the books I am reading, as well as extracts from projects I am currently working on. So keep on popping back. Exciting things are happening.

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