Tag Archives: Niall Turner

Legacy 1.1: Requiem

It’s here!

I am very pleased to announce that volume 1.1 of Legacy is now officially available in print. Requiem collects the first half of season one stories, from The Catalyst right through to The Flames of Chambrook. That’s 188 pages of Doctor Who action!

Followers of this blog will be familiar with a few of the stories, as I’ve run them on here recently. However, as an incentive for buying the print edition, it includes two stories not published on this blog. First up we Greg Miller’s The Ugly Bug Ball, a story which originally saw ePublication in 2006, and secondly we have The Flames of Chambrook from the imagination of A. R. Montacruz. This story is an exclusive to Requiem – although originally written in 2006, it never got finished in time and has thus never been seen nor read by anyone other than the editors.

Requiem is being published by Frankallen Books, and distributed by Lulu. It costs £5.25; but for the first week only it’s going for £4.99! As a labour of love, the contributors do not make a penny from the publication of this book, and all royalties go directly to Cancer Research. So, in effect, not only are you buying a series of interesting stories, but you’re also helping those suffering from cancer.

Edited by Andy Frankham-Allen, Greg Miller and Elizabeth Medeiros, Requiem features stories by Andy Frankham-Allen, Christoph Lopez, Niall Turner, Greg Miller and A. R. Montacruz, with an exclusive foreword by Montacruz and a cover by Andrew Orton.

You can buy it directly from the Requiem page…

A small note; I shall be running more season one Legacy stories in the new year, as a lead in to volume 1.2…

Advertisements

Legacy #7; ’70s Cutaway

Previously on LEGACY - Three Night Engagement.

Not for the first time that afternoon, Doctor Langton found himself wondering about drugs. He’d already seen two of his regular methadone patients and had handed out the usual scripts.  The man sitting in front of him now wasn’t obviously asking for methadone or anything like it, yet his behaviour certainly mirrored that of someone experiencing a chemical come down.

‘You don’t understand,’ said the man for the umpteenth time.

Yes, thought Doctor Langton, he’s finally going to come right out and say it.

He leaned forward expectantly, fascinated to see that his patient did literally appear to be wringing his hands. A drop of sweat fell heavily onto the blotter pad on top of the desk.

‘I can’t go to sleep you see,’ continued the man.

Okay, so maybe he wasn’t going to bare all, at least this was getting somewhere.

The man fixed him with an unnervingly intense stare, now speaking slowly and deliberately. ‘You don’t have to look at me like that, I know what I’m doing, you know? Doctors…’ He laughed, a short, harsh sound. ‘This decade is so lame, I’m glad I missed it first time round…’ He stopped dead, aware of what he’d just said.

Scratch the drugs, thought Doctor Langton, definite mental health case. Or maybe both. And I’m in here alone with him. Fantastic.

The man sighed heavily, looking distractedly at one of the watercolours on the office wall. Doctor Langton took the opportunity to ease his chair back a few inches from the desk.

‘Look, forget that,’ said the man, noticing the movement.

‘It’s okay,’ began Doctor Langton, in what he hoped was a calm and reassuring tone.  ‘Can you tell me how long you’ve been having trouble getting to sleep?’

‘What?’ snapped the man fractiously.

‘You said you’d been having trouble sleeping.’

‘No, no, I don’t want to go to sleep.  Sleeping is the problem.’ He fixed Doctor Langton with an impassioned look. ‘I can’t sleep.  Not now. If I do, I’m as good as dead. You’ve got to help me!’

Doctor Langton cleared his throat, trying to think of an appropriate response.  None came immediately to mind, beyond notifying social services.

The man stood up abruptly, coming round the desk to lean over the doctor. Without meaning to, Doctor Langton also stood up, backing his chair noisily into the wall.

‘Oh, come on!’ His patient was looking at him petulantly, and his eyebrows rose archly. ‘You think I’m crazy, don’t you?’

Before Doctor Langton could respond, the young man appeared to slip rapidly back into quite floridly psychotic speech.

‘They’ve probably got the Doctor already. I’ve got to do something and I can’t afford to go to sleep. Do that and they’ve got me.’ He looked up abruptly. ‘You must have some kind of one-shot system stimulant?’

Doctor Langton could only shake his head by way of reply.  He wondered what age the man was. Early to mid twenties? It was a sad case. ‘I can see you’re under considerable stress,’ Doctor Langton heard himself say eventually.

‘Oh go on, say it,’ muttered the man in a dejected tone.

‘Say what?’ wondered the doctor.

‘I’m mad,’ said the man, running a hand through his black hair. ‘I am, you know.’ And he smiled, a little unnervingly. ‘If I understand it right, I go to sleep now and the whole of reality buys the farm. Me too, come to think of it,’ he finished a little disconsolately. ‘Oh well.’ He held out his hand, which Doctor Langton took a little uncertainly. ‘It’s been fun. Have a nice life.’ With that, he turned on his heel and was gone.

‘Yes, well…’ Doctor Langton continued to lean against the wall for a moment, regaining his composure.  Eventually he sat down and pressed the intercom on his desk. ‘Jean, could you come in here a minute?’

A few seconds later his secretary, Jean Brooker, entered the room, smiling enquiringly.

‘Is everything all right, Ian? We could hear raised voices in reception.’ She lowered her voice confidentially. ‘He left in ever such a hurry you know.’

‘That’ll be reality running out,’ said Ian Langton, nodding sagely to himself.

‘Oh.’ Jean looked flummoxed.

‘I’m sorry, Jean.’ He rubbed his eyes tiredly, aware he still had another six patients to see. ‘Chap was definitely a few cards short of a full deck.  I need to put a call through to social services before I see anyone else. What was his name again?’

‘DeMars,’ said Jean with a frown. ‘American I think. He didn’t give a first name.’

‘Okay, thanks, Jean.’

‘No problem.’

As he began to dial, Ian Langton smiled wryly to himself. He’d only agreed to see the chap as a favour; he wasn’t even on the books.  Ah well, no peace for the wicked.  He stared out into the reception area.

*

Unseen by Doctor Langton, Jean Brooker or the bored patients in reception, a needle limbed creature hung upside down from the reception’s wall mounted clock by its feet.  Button eyes stared as it mouthed a soundless ‘Tick’ then ‘Tock’ in an absurd call and response.  Swinging serenely to and fro, a malignant pendulum, it grinned a rictus grin.

*

Mooching dejectedly down the road Brad reflected that his doctor’s appointment could, on the whole, have gone better.  Trouble was he’d never particularly liked or trusted doctors, with the one honorary exception. So why he’d actually come up with such a stupid plan in the first place was a moot point. Desperation perhaps? Yep, he thought that pretty much covered it.  Those last minutes in the TARDIS had been pretty surreal. Well, more surreal than usual.

He’d been headed for the control room, intent on talking to the Doctor about Jacen. In fact, he’d got to the control room, he was sure of it. The Doctor had grinned a greeting, no, scratch that, they’d even started talking.

Then it had happened.

There was an ear-splitting shriek and buzzing globules of what looked like TV static had started spilling from the scanner. Operating controls frantically the Doctor had engaged ‘Emergency Materialisation’, stuffed a bag of unfamiliar notes and coins into Brad’s hands and literally bundled him out of the doors.

‘Construct bounty hunters,’ he’d said in a stage whisper, then raised a theatrical finger to his lips.

‘Construct what? Doc, what the hell’s happening here?’

‘Construct bounty hunters, they’re trying a time jump.’ He’d paused, looking up and down the unfamiliar street.  ‘I’ll try and put them off the scent.’ Then he had given Brad the ‘deadly serious look‘. It was so absurdly pretentious it couldn’t be anything but deadly serious.  ‘Whatever you do, don’t go to sleep.  Reality’s liable to break down without you and I’ve not got the leads for a jump-start.’

‘What?’

The Doctor just grinned his enormous half-moon grin.  ‘You’ll be magnificent, Bradley, I know you will!’ With that he was gone, the TARDIS vanishing with its familiar asthmatic trumpeting.  A final sentence seemed to hang on the air.  ‘I’ll be back!’

And that had been it.  Now, having spent nearly forty-eight hours in London, 1975, Brad had had enough.

Who were these bounty hunters? Would they be coming for him too?

Finding himself standing outside a newsagent, he rummaged in his pockets, stuffed with various denominations of legal currency. Plus, he noted forlornly, a TARDIS homing device. Much good it would do him.

Locating a crumpled one pound note he pushed open the shop door.

*

Inside it was dark, cool and blissfully quiet compared to the street outside.  Garish racks of confectionery jostled for space alongside newspapers, magazines and sundry household items.  Wondering vaguely how a packet of dusters might help him save reality, Brad’s gaze settled on the rows of chocolate bars with their various unlikely names.

‘You got ten pence mister?’ Looking down Brad saw an Afro-Caribbean kid in denim, all of six years old, staring hopefully up at him.

‘Hey you!’ growled a white haired old shopkeeper from the back of the store.  ‘I’ve warned you before. Hop it!’

‘Hey, it’s cool.’ Brad raised his hands in a placating gesture, found a coin and gave it to the boy.

‘You shouldn’t encourage ’em,’ the shopkeeper rumbled.

‘Hey, seeing as he’s going to spend it in your shop, I don’t see why you’re complaining,’ Brad said tartly.

‘Smartarse.’

‘Yeah, right, whatever,’ Brad muttered as the shopkeeper proceeded to serve the boy.

He grabbed himself a random handful of chocolate. Definitely needed the sugar. Coffee would be good, too. ‘Hey, do you sell…’ He tailed off.

The shopkeeper had the boy’s coin and was inserting it into some sort of indentation on top of the cash register. Weird looking cash register come to think of it.  A look passed between the boy and the man.

‘Definite match?’ the boy asked.

‘Definite.’ The shopkeeper nodded. ‘DNA strand’s unmistakeable.’

They both turned to face him, eyes glowing a luminescent green.

Brad dropped the chocolate.

How come it was he who got to walk into the only trapped alien newsagents in the whole damn world?

‘Hope you’re not thinking of going anywhere,’ said the shopkeeper, turning a weirdly glowing ball of energy in his hand.

‘Big price on your head, man,’ added the boy nonchalantly.

‘You’re Construct bounty hunters, right?’ Brad saw a grin pass between them.

‘Well,’ said the old guy, tossing the ball from hand to hand.  ‘We are. But the contract’s changed.’

Brad didn’t need to hear the rest. As the ball of light hurtled towards him he wrenched at the central rack of shelving. Stumbling backwards out of the door he saw the middle of the store was now a mess of items encased in a web of viscous light strands.  He ran.

*

Soon he was aware of shouting from behind him.  The old man and the boy were in pursuit. In the middle of the air, balanced like surfers on futuristic skateboards, zipping in and out of the traffic.  They were gaining fast.  Brad went to catch at the arm of a traffic warden, but his hand went straight through the warden.

‘Don’t know you’re there, man,’ mocked the boy.  ‘Playing by different rules now.’

Brad stared wildly from side to side. The boy swooped overhead, turning for an attack, another ball of energy to hand.  Brad ducked sharp left, into the stairwell of a multi-storey car park. The familiar smell of urine and rubbish hit him. Lifts or stairs, lifts or stairs? One of the lifts was opening.  Brad stared.

It was the Doctor.

‘Well, come on!’ his friend boomed.

Brad needed no further encouragement.

*

Inside the lift he turned to the Doctor and stared again.  He was in the console room. The Doctor grinned triumphantly.

‘Yes, the chameleon circuit’s operational!’ He nodded to himself. ‘I would have done it sooner but necessity often proves the mother of invention.’ He grabbed Brad by both hands. ‘It’s good to see you, Bradley!’

‘You too, Doc, you too.  Now can you please tell me what’s going on?’

The Doctor beamed, plucking the homing device from his jacket pocket. ‘A small matter of splitting our resources. I had to throw the Construct off the scent, so I dropped you off and –’

‘You did what?’

‘I dropped you off and –’

‘You were using me as a decoy!’

The Doctor nodded, eyes gleaming. ‘If you like, yes. And a very good one too! Well done, Bradley!’

Brad sighed. ‘Great.’ He noticed the central column was moving. They were in flight again. ‘So what are the Construct again?’

The Doctor waved a hand. ‘Oh, creatures of pure causality.  With the causal nexus unravelling, and me being at the centre of it, those that watch such things have doubtless declared open season on us. The two you just met are Bartholomew and Anotyne.  Very dubious company.’

‘It just gets better,’ said Brad.

‘Yes, yes.’ The Doctor grinned in delight.  ‘It’s wonderful to feel wanted, isn’t it?’

‘No,’ said Brad pointedly.

The Doctor gaped. ‘I’m sure you can’t mean that. Oh, that’s interesting.’

‘What is?’

‘We’ve arrived somewhere else already.’ The Doctor operated the scanner. They were on top of a multi storey car park. In 1975 judging by the two figures hovering a good ten feet above the roof.

‘Tranquillisers,’ said Brad.  ‘I should have asked that guy for tranquillisers.’

‘Bradley, be a star and distract them would you?’ the Doctor asked. He was staring thoughtfully at the central column. ‘If they’re operating a linear inductor the only option’s to bypass it with a randomiser.’ He met Brad’s gaze. ‘It’ll take a minute. It won’t take them too long to get in here and I hate interruptions when I’m working.’

‘Right,’ said Brad.  ‘I’ll go and do the distracting thing.’

*

He found himself getting out of the passenger seat of a chrome blue Land Rover. This chameleon thing seemed to be working.  Turning he saw the bounty hunters hovering over the far wall of the car park. Brad backed around the Land Rover and looked over the rim of the wall. At least a hundred and fifty feet down. The boy was approaching at alarming speed, a shimmering ball of energy crackling in his hand.

‘Hey, so who are you?’ called Brad weakly.  ‘Bartholomew or Anotyne?’

A grin was all he got by way of reply. The skateboard sped closer. Heart pounding Brad took a step forward. The boy brought his arm up, bowling underarm.  Brad grabbed for him.

Confusion.

Brad fell heavily, very heavily, at first he thought the kid was on top of him but it was the skateboard thing.  It was incredibly heavy for something so small, an absolute deadweight.  Struggling up Brad saw the boy prone against the wall.  The light ball had exploded around him. A tracery of luminescent lines seemed to be eating in to him.

With an electrical fizz, boy and light disappeared.

‘You got Anotyne! You’ll pay for that!’ The old guy was incredulous.

So was Brad to be honest, but his shoulder and side were aching too much to think clearly.  Now white hair was coming for him.  The driver’s side door was opening.  The Doctor leaned out.

‘Bradley, strap yourself in!’

Brad stumbled to the passenger door.  Buckling himself in, his stomach lurched as the Doctor performed what felt like a three hundred and sixty degree turn. Bartholomew was very close now; Brad could see him in the wing mirror.

‘Time for the unstoppable force to meet the immovable object!’ announced the Doctor. And drove straight for Bartholomew.  Head on.  At the last minute Bartholomew seemed to realise the Doctor was serious and tried to swerve.  It was too late.  There was a clang of impact from the roof and the bounty hunter went sailing over the edge of the car park, complete with skateboard. There was an unnatural silence.  Brad shook his head.  He wasn’t sure if he felt like crying or laughing. The Doctor placed a hand on his shoulder.

‘What the hell is happening?’ said Brad.  ‘Did we kill them?’

The Doctor shook his head. ‘Not a chance. They’ll have reverted to causal particles. They were over confident, that’s all.  We were lucky.’

‘Right.’ Brad became aware he was sitting in the front of a Land Rover. ‘Hey, the TARDIS?’

‘Emergency reconfiguration,’ said the Doctor simply. ‘Inserting a randomiser is a devil of a job, Bradley. We need to lie low for a while, let the temporal trail go cold.’ Gunning the engine he headed for the exit ramp and the next level. ‘So,’ he said, his eyes sad and his smile serious.  ‘Tell me about Jacen.’

Brad looked down, noticing a newspaper in the well by his feet. He picked it up and looked it over; apparently something called UNIT was due to make a world shattering announcement tomorrow.

‘Bradley?’

Brad squirmed in his seat.  Before the Doctor had chucked him out to be decoy, Brad was all for telling the Doctor about Jacen; he even had a plan of how to save his friend. But now… He sighed.  The Doctor wouldn’t let this one go, he had that look on his bearded face.

‘Okay,’ Brad said, and began talking.

*

Brad talked and the Doctor listened.  As he talked, he felt a weight lift from his mind. Nothing changed but he felt easier just for having talked it through out loud.

A good two hours later they were parked high above the suburbs to the south west of the city.  The Thames sprawled lazily far below them.

‘You know, it’s weird,’ said Brad, ‘I can’t even remember the sound of his voice, y’know, what he was like. That’s got to be wrong.’

The Doctor seemed to smile at a private memory.

Brad sighed.  ‘You can’t take me back can you?’

The Doctor shook his head.  ‘I might be able to take you back in the normal course of things but I still couldn’t change what happened.’

It was Brad’s turn to shake his head. ‘But look what’s happening to you.  I mean, if that isn’t someone messing around with time…’

The Doctor laughed a short, uncharacteristically mirthless sound. Brad looked closely at his face in profile. There were anger and passion and questions there to match his own.

The Doctor continued to stare ahead, into the dying evening.

Neither of them spoke again for a long time…

To find out what happens next, look out for the soon-to-released collected stories of LEGACY season one, volume one, Requiem. It will be published by Japaf Publishing and distributed by Lulu Distributions. As ever, LEGACY is a non-profit series and the cost of the book covers printing and postage only – the contributors do not make a single penny from it. As an incentive for buying it, though, there will be two exclusive stories to volume one; The Ugly Bug Ball by Greg Miller (previously only available in the limited 2006 e-anthology, The Other Side of Reality), and The Flames of Chambrook by A. R. Montacruz – a never before released season one story!

Edited by Andy Frankham-Allen, Greg Miller & Elizabeth Medeiros.
Cover & Artwork © 2010 by Ewen Campion-Clarke.
'70s Cutaway © 2001, 2010 by Niall Turner,
Legacy © & ™ 2001, 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen. 
Doctor Who © & ™ 1963, 2010 by BBC Worldwide. All Rights Reserved.

 

The online LEGACY adventures will resume New Year’s Day 2011 with The Millennium People, which follows on from the events of Requiem. But until then I shall be running a new weekly serialised novel, exclusive to this blog, called Vampire Knights. The novel will be an experiment, modelled on the early days of LEGACY. It will be written week-by-week with no absolute direction to follow. The story will grow organically, and along the way will feature guest authors – some of whom will be known, others will be fresh new talent.

 

Legacy #4: Reality Bomb

Previously on The Legacy; In The Blood


‘Brad?’

‘I feel,’ said Brad, with careful emphasis, ‘sick.’

‘Sick? Sick! Nonsense!’ The Doctor spread his arms wide and laughed a life affirming laugh.  He knelt beside Brad on the floor of the lift as it continued its rapid ascent.

Brad was sure he had left his stomach several floors below.  If the Doctor was not careful he was going to find the contents of Brad’s stomach all over him.

‘Probably still acclimatising,’ said the Doctor, clambering back to his feet.  He reached out a great paw of a hand.  Weakly Brad took it. ‘You see?’ The Doctor’s grin sparkled.  ‘Feeling better already eh?’

Fighting the giddy surge of nausea threatening to poleaxe him, Brad attempted to take in their surroundings. Not a good move. They were blurring past at a rate of about two hundred feet a second. The rapid ascent, the unusual gravity and a hefty tankard of Ossoban Soul Killer were putting a whole new perspective on drowning your sorrows.

Abruptly the lift halted.  Brad leaned back against the smoked glass, fighting the urge to retch. ‘So what are we here for again?’

The Doctor was off ahead of him and he had to run to catch up. ‘Professor Sixela Capricornn,’ came the reply. The Doctor disappeared round a glaringly antiseptic corner.

Brad paused, shaking his head.  The air was sterile and mint fresh and seemed to be taking the edge off his nausea.

‘The antitoxicant filtration works best if you remain still, sir,’ piped a high pitched voice from behind him.  Turning, Brad saw a blue skinned octopus headed creature in official uniform.  Its one eye blinked hugely at him.

‘Uh, thanks for the information,’ said Brad cautiously.  Was he in some kind of trouble here?

‘Information dissemination is my duty, sir,’ returned the creature primly and moved lightly away.  Brad stared.  Its lower half tapered to a point like an ice cream cone and seemed to be hovering a few inches above the floor.

‘Brad!’ boomed a distant voice.

‘Coming,’ said Brad and realised with a shock that his nausea had completely vanished.  He stared at an illuminated sign on the far side of the plaza: LEVEL 337 – RESEARCH & PSIONICS – AUTODETOX ZONE

‘Great,’ he said, spying the Doctor in the distance.  ‘Don’t go getting totalitarian on me will you?’ There had to be a shop where he could buy an ‘I Love the Future’ badge.  With resignation he saw the Doctor was waiting for him by another of the streamlined lifts.  This was not good.  Sober, the prospect just filled him with alarm.

The Doctor was looking at himself in profile in the mirrored panel to one side of the lift.

‘Doctor?’ ventured Brad.

‘This beard…’ The Doctor wheeled around and faced him seriously.  ‘What do you think?’

‘It’s a good one,’ said Brad, wondering if this was going anywhere. Something small and silver flashed past overhead at high speed.  Brad stared after it.

‘Carrier chip,’ murmured the Doctor distractedly. He laughed. ‘Excellent, excellent, I thought as much myself but a second opinion is always valuable.’

‘Glad to be of service,’ said Brad with a smile so unsure of itself it threatened to walk off the other side of his face.

The Doctor guffawed with alarming good humour and clapped him about the shoulders. ‘Like the hair,’ he confided with a glance at Brad’s red bangs, ‘it’s very you.’  He stabbed at a button and the lift doors slid silently open. ‘Shall we?’

*

After three more upward journeys, they reached their destination: LEVEL 2876 – ADVANCED DIVINATION – AUTODETOX & AUTOSEC ZONE

‘This is where we’ll find her,’ breezed the Doctor.  ‘One of the finest minds of her or any era, present company included.’

Brad sighed.

They were in a functional grey corridor, lit imperceptibly from overhead. The Doctor set off to the right with the air of one who knew where he was going. They passed a reception area with another of the octopus creatures in clerical uniform.

‘Good afternoon,’ blasted the Doctor and walked straight past.  With an apologetic smile Brad hurried after him.

A good half hour later they were back at the reception desk and Brad had seen enough grey corridors to last a lifetime.  True, they were futuristic grey corridors but that really was not cutting much mustard with him.

‘Infallible sense of direction?’ asked Brad with a pained look.

‘Exception that proves the rule.’ The Doctor ignored him and beamed at the receptionist.

‘Don’t tell me,’ said Brad. ‘Information dissemination is your duty, right?’

‘That is correct, sir.  I would remind you that, were you to ask me my function, I would be unable to withhold that information under the statutory protocols.’

‘Right,’ said Brad slowly.  ‘Nice.’

‘Professor Sixela Capricornn?’ interjected the Doctor before the conversation could take a further down turn.

‘The professor is currently lecturing in the holo-suite, she will be free at the forty seventh segment,’ said the creature.  Its one eye blinked slowly and changed colour to a shimmering opaque blue.  The image of a similar creature in some kind of high tech lecture hall appeared.

‘Thank you very much,’ said the Doctor. ‘We’ll follow the signs for the holo-suite.’ He glanced at his wrist as they moved off, which showed the notable absence of a watch.  ‘Segment forty seven, which gives us, ooh, two and a half segments to spare.  Fancy taking in some more corridors?’

Brad was not listening.  ‘Who are these TV set tentacle heads?’

‘Fourth Ossoban Republic.  I told you that when we arrived,’ chided the Doctor.

‘Sorry, it slipped my mind,’ said Brad.  While the Doctor had set about ascertaining the location of the Data Tower he had had his Soul Killer moment in one of the lower level IntoxiKafs.  And had promptly forgotten where and nearly who he was for a good two hours.  Or was that segments?

Brad sighed again.

*

‘Here we are!’ The Doctor’s enthusiasm was palpable.  They had arrived outside a set of silvered double doors.  A small wall mounted screen showed a gowned Ossoban lecturing to a good four hundred plus students. ‘This is the one person, the one person,’ the Doctor pummelled the air with his fist for emphasis, ‘who might be able to help us. Temporal anomalies are her speciality!’

‘As in Portland disappearing into the wild blue yonder?’ said Brad.

‘You think that’s where it went?’ The Doctor considered.  ‘Dangerous place the Yonder, especially in the blue phase.  No, I can’t agree.  It doesn’t even exist within linear time.’

Brad wondered whether to slap the Doctor or himself.  He had come down in favour of the latter when he noticed the Doctor heading for the doors.

‘Hey, what are you doing?’ He caught the Doctor by the arm.

‘Might as well sit in,’ said the Doctor.  ‘I think she’s doing singular occlusion in fringe timelines.’ He grinned.  ‘I’ll meet you out here?’

‘Good call,’ acknowledged Brad.

The Doctor vanished inside the hall with a pneumatic hiss of air.  Brad watched the Doctor on the wall screen, as he found his seat, and then he set himself down on one of the low couches opposite.  He glanced idly up and down the corridor.  Away to the right the corridor turned a corner by another, internal, lift.  To the left were a number of alcoves.  The corridor itself disappeared into imperceptible distance.  For want of something better to do, Brad wandered up to the first of the alcoves.  He stared in amazement.

Turning slowly in a beam of turquoise light was the most beautiful, well… He did not know what to call it.  It looked like some perfect hybrid of guitar and synthesiser, fashioned from ebony black and silver.  Four crystalline strings ran the length of the instrument, from body to elegantly fluted neck.  The neck was interesting because there did not appear to be any keys for the ‘strings’.  It simply tapered to a sleek crystalline sphere which seemed to glow with an inner luminescence.

Brad looked up and down the corridor.  It was no good.  He could not resist.  Tentatively he plucked at one of the ‘strings’.  He jerked his hand back as a sharp electric shock ran up his arm.

‘Ow!’

Damn thing must be security tagged in some way.  Not surprising, it was a pricey looking item.

‘Do you wish communion with the host?’

Brad looked about himself. ‘Who said that?’

Maybe the Soul Killer had some kind of audio flashback effect.  With a start he realised the guitar synthesiser had drifted imperceptibly towards him.  ‘So you’re a speaking guitar, right?’

‘We are the Atrexian Host.  We are in communion with the Host world and existing here as a cultural exchange.  You wish for communion, yes? Mind meld can cause much pain to inferior species but is permissible nonetheless.’

‘No, no communion. It’s a mistake,’ said Brad. Under his breath he added: ‘I’m here as a cultural ambassador from planet cock-up.’

The guitar seemed to turn on its axis. ‘Please forgive this misunderstanding.’

‘The apologies are all mine.’

As cultural faux pas went, this one had been pretty hot.

*

Observing this exchange from the lift away to the right was a spindle limbed figure. It stared with night black eyes, letting a placard it carried swing idly from hand to hand.  To the left it read ‘Tick’, back to the right and it said; ‘Tock’.

The Dommervoy grinned a needle grin and snickered to itself.

*

Brad shivered as he made his way back to the couch. The lift doors at the turn of the corridor were sliding closed.  He had not seen anyone get in or out. There was movement on the wall scanner. The Ossoban holo-students were winking out of existence. The Doctor and Professor Capricornn emerged.

‘Professor, this is my good friend Bradley DeMars.’

‘Or just Brad,’ Brad suggested.  Having the Doctor calling him Bradley was one thing, but he didn’t want to be introduced as such.

‘Sorry to have kept you waiting so long,’ trilled the professor.

‘No problem,’ said Brad, a little uncertain. ‘It’s been no time.’

‘You are very gracious,’ said Professor Capricornn. ‘I overran terribly but it is rare to have such an esteemed guest.’

The Doctor attempted to look modest and failed.

*

‘So you see my problem, Professor,’ finished the Doctor.  He had been explaining how he had met Brad and something of subsequent and previous events as they sat around the professor’s hexagonal desk in her office.

The professor nodded imperceptibly, her one eye blinking.  ‘Where, or indeed when, to begin.’

‘Exactly!’ The Doctor was nodding furiously.

‘Of course,’ continued the professor, ‘the primary consideration must be the so called First Law of Time, plus a recognition of those who do not subscribe to the theory.’ She paused significantly. ‘In both principle and practice.’

Great, thought Brad.  That’s made everything really clear.  He stared distractedly out of the window, wondering why his teeth were itching.

*

Outside the window, an invisible paste white figure floated impossibly thousands of feet above the ground. It held twin balloons.  One said ‘Cause’, the other ‘Effect’.  The balloons burst soundlessly.

*

The Doctor was excitedly pacing the office.  He had already done three circuits of the table. ‘So what you’re saying is it’s a matter of narrowing the field of suspects.’ He paused. ‘Still leaves a pretty vast field.’ He patted his ample stomach.  ‘All this application has given me an appetite. Sixela?’ He looked expectantly at the professor.

‘I don’t think she’s listening,’ said Brad.

The Doctor stared. Professor Sixela Capricornn was clearly speaking but no sound was emerging.  She also appeared to be fading away before their eyes.

‘Oh good grief!’ The Doctor looked anguished.  He found he could pass a hand clean through the professor. ‘Reality bomb.  It must have been primed and waiting for the trigger… Some form of nexus point.’ He looked at Brad in horrified realisation. ‘Me, Brad, me! I’m the trigger!’

The effect was now spreading.  Table, walls and floor were fading out. Snaking lines of nothing ran into one another, widening the void.  Brad stumbled away from the table, or what remained of it. The professor had completely vanished. With mounting concern Brad noted the walls and corridor outside were vanishing as well.  He stumbled towards the window.

‘What the hell do we do?’ He was not sure if he sounded or felt more alarmed.

‘We don’t panic in the face of adversity,’ announced the Doctor passionately whilst also backing towards the window.  ‘We shall face this thing together, Bradley!’

‘That’s made all the difference,’ said Brad. He looked desperately about himself and noted a softly glowing panel on the wall by the window.  ‘What’s that?’

‘What?’

‘That!’

‘Oh, call panel for the external lift,’ said the Doctor blithely.

They stared at one another.

‘Try the lift?’ wondered Brad.

‘A superb choice! And perhaps the only one left to us.’ The Doctor gave his companion a thoughtful look.

Brad shook his head in disbelief, and leaned past the Doctor and hit the panel.

*

It had taken agonising seconds for the lift to arrive but arrive it did and they had tumbled inside, the Doctor hitting the descent button. There was no sign of the work of the reality bomb yet but Brad was not counting his chickens.

‘So what is a reality bomb exactly?’ he asked to pass the time.

‘Oh, terrible things,’ replied the Doctor. ‘Outlawed by all the major conventions. The field of effect can be cosmic or very localised. They level the playing field geographically and temporally. Once they’ve activated physically there’s a kind of mental wipe out for anyone within, but not physically destroyed by, the immediate zone of effect…’ He tailed off as the lift came to rest with a gentle bump.

‘What was I talking about?’ he asked with a frown.

‘Don’t know,’ said Brad, shrugging.  ‘Something about talking guitars… No.’ He winced. ‘I feel terrible.  I knew I shouldn’t have tried that Soul Killer stuff.’

‘Oh, you’ve tried the Soul Killer have you?’ The Doctor threw back his head and laughed a life affirming laugh.  ‘Come on, let’s get you back to the TARDIS.  You might want to sleep this one off in the Zero Room!’

The Doctor frowned again and shook his head.  ‘I can’t think what we’re doing on Ossobos for the lives of me…’

Next time…

Music was not a common occurrence in the TARDIS, and certainly not something she tended to play through the communication circuits, but then his ship had been acting oddly in many ways recently.  Not unlike the universe itself, come to think of it.

Still, he had to admit, it was a lovely tune.  Made him feel all thoughtful and relaxed inside.  Mellow.  Reminding him of times past, and friends lost.

He got up and walked over to the console.  ‘Well, old girl, where did you get this tune from?’

In answer the scanner screen activated.  It was an internal image that showed Brad in his room, sitting on the bed, wearing the kilt he’d become so found of, playing his keyboard.

The Doctor smiled.  ‘Ah, Bradley.’


To Be Continued… Saturday  23rd October

Edited by Andy Frankham-Allen, Greg Miller & Elizabeth Medeiros.
Cover © 2010 by Ewen Campion-Clarke.
Reality Bomb © 2001, 2010 by Niall Turner,
The Legacy © & ™ 2001, 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen. 
Doctor Who © & ™ 1963, 2010 by BBC Worldwide. All Rights Reserved.