Doctor Who: The Many Hands (2 page)

BOOK: Doctor Who: The Many Hands
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Martha let her hand drop and made a run for the
dubious protection of a pub. She felt a rush of wind
try to pull her jacket from her back, but didn't stop.
As she jumped, she ended up clutching the hand of
a young, red-haired boy, who was himself hanging
precariously from the jacket of a heavy-set man who
didn't look much like he wanted to be hung from.
Other hands came down to sweep her up, and for a
moment she let herself fall into them. It felt like having
her mother hug her after a nasty tumble.

When she looked behind her, the stagecoach
had spun to a halt ten yards down the road. The
cobblestones were scuffed, and the coach was sideways
on to the road, but otherwise you'd be hard pushed to
guess that anything was wrong. The horses pawed at
the ground skittishly, and tried hard not to catch each
other's eye. Martha had the strangest feeling that they
were embarrassed. She smiled, and took her thumb
from the sonic screwdriver.

***

The Doctor rolled.

It wasn't something he'd been planning to do, but
when it came down to it he didn't seem to have much
choice in the matter, and it seemed churlish to fight it.
Everybody needed a good roll every now and again.
Somewhere along the way, he'd got separated from the
pale man he'd been trying to save, but at least it saved
him the trouble of trying to calculate exactly what the
man's ambient skin temperature was. Certainly two
degrees below the human norm, but was it two point
one or not?

Then he stopped. All good things come to an end.

He lay on his back for just a moment, enjoying the
feel of the hard cobbles against his back, admiring the
dramatic beauty of the monochrome clouds directly
above. Gradually the sound of the crowd filtered into
his perception, and he made a rough estimate of how
long it would take before one of them rushed over and
asked if he was all right. He ought to save them the
bother and leap to his feet, but just for the moment
his body seemed to want a nice lie-down.

He managed to lift his head a little.

The soldiers were coming.

The Doctor sighed.

TWO

Martha rushed over to where the Doctor was
lying, kneeling on the ground by his side and
starting to sweep her hands down his body, checking
for broken bones. There was nothing leaking out of
his ears, so he might have survived a fractured skull.
Somehow, she didn't think there was going to be
much opportunity for an X-ray and a lie-down with a
nice bunch of grapes.

The Doctor's eyes snapped open, and he grinned
at her.

She couldn't help grinning back.

'Are you OK?' she asked. 'Do you know what year
it is?'

'1759,' the Doctor answered.

For just a moment, Martha thought he must
have suffered some kind of concussion. Then she
remembered.

'Check on our friend,' the Doctor ordered, bouncing
to his feet. The Doctor nodded, and Martha turned.
'I'll make the introductions.'

Four soldiers were rushing down the street, with a
fifth marching briskly behind them. He had bristling
black hair and dark little eyes that flicked this way and
that as he marched. Martha didn't know anything
about military insignia, but she recognised that the
man was in charge from the look of distaste as he
watched the others running.

'Go!' urged the Doctor.

He pushed her away, towards the body lying just
a few feet from where the horses were snorting and
patting the ground. She'd forgotten all about the
other man, just for a moment. The Doctor had taken
priority. She tried not to blush as she hurried over.

The man wasn't moving, lying face down on the
cobblestones with his limbs splayed out around
him. Without even touching him, Martha could tell
that the left arm was broken, the ulna and the radius
hopefully snapped clean and not greenstick. It stuck
out at an unnatural angle, the flesh below the break
even paler than the rest. If she was back at the Royal
Hope, it would be simple to reset the bones. Here she
wasn't sure if she could save the arm.

'Hello,' she said as she knelt. 'My name's Martha:
I'm a doctor. Can you hear me?'

The patient didn't answer her. Was he
unconscious?

The temptation to get to work on the arm was a
strong one, but it was wrong too. She had done her
rotation in the A&E department like everyone else,
and had been told the stories of the patients wheeled
in with perfectly bandaged broken arms. Dead on
arrival, because the first people on the scene had
forgotten to check the patient was breathing before
they got out the bandages.

ABC, Martha told herself.

Airway, Breathing, Circulation. Then the arm.

She knelt down with her hand next to the patient's
mouth and nose, but couldn't feel the comforting rush
of air from his lungs. She pressed her fingers against
his jugular, but couldn't feel the swell of pumping
blood. If she turned him and he'd damaged his spine,
she could paralyse him. She'd definitely make the arm
worse. If she didn't turn him, then he would die. There
was no contest.

She rolled him sharply onto his back, and saw...

'Oh!'

The Doctor strolled over to the soldiers as breezily as
he could manage having just jumped from a speeding
stagecoach. All things considered, he thought he
managed it quite well: he kept smiling the whole
time, to suggest to the soldiers that the idea of them
thinking him a threat hadn't even crossed his mind.
Their captain studiously ignored him, continuing his
steady march onwards until he reached the coach's
driver and could bully the man to his feet. The four
soldiers, on the other hand, stopped about two feet
from the Doctor and raised their muskets.

The Doctor smiled broadly, as if they'd offered him
tea.

'Hello,' he grinned, slipping easily into a gentle
Scots burr. 'I'm the Doctor, and that's my friend
Martha Jones.'

'What are you doing?' Martha asked him.

He gave the soldiers another smile, and looked
awkwardly over his shoulder. Martha was standing
behind him, her arms folded across her chest. It
occurred to him that he probably should have thanked
her for stopping the horses.

'Blending in,' he stage-whispered in his natural
Southern twang.

'In that coat?'

The Doctor looked down at his long coat, his
bottom lip sticking out like a small, sulky child. There
was nothing wrong with the coat – it certainly fitted
better in the eighteenth century than it did in the
twenty-fifth: all that tinfoil clothing and heavy eye
make-up. He looked back up at Martha.

'He's dead,' she said.

Another failure.

'I'm sorry,' he told her.

But she was shaking her head.

'No, I mean he's dead,' she repeated. 'Really dead:
he's got an autopsy scar and everything.'

The Doctor blinked. He threw a quick look over his
shoulder: the Captain was talking to the stagecoach's
passengers, and the soldiers were giving him that
look which said they weren't quite sure what to do
now that their weapons hadn't got them the attention
they were used to.

He gave them an apologetic smile and turned back
to Martha. He held out his hand, and she dropped the
sonic screwdriver into it with a smile.

'Well, I'd better take a look then,' he announced.

As soon as the sonic screwdriver was in the Doctor's
hand, Martha knew everything was going to be all
right. The glasses came out of his jacket pocket,
and then he squinted over them at whatever the
screwdriver was telling him. Only the Doctor would
put on glasses he probably didn't need to treat a
screwdriver like an MRI scanner. She looked at the
soldiers with a smile and shrugged.

'Hmm,' the Doctor said, pushing his glasses further
up his nose.

'Well?' Martha asked.

He looked at her and frowned. 'He's dead. Has
been for two days at least. Brain haemorrhage: that
explains the blown pupil. There's all sorts of funny
energy floating about in there, but...'

Martha looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

'And you can tell all that with a screwdriver?' she
said.

'A
sonic
screwdriver – Hey!'

Martha jumped as the Doctor tore his glasses off and
stormed across the road, waving them angrily around.
She spun around as fast as she could – noticing with a
smile that their armed guard was equally surprised –
and saw the stagecoach pulling away. The driver gave
the Doctor a brief glance over his shoulder, and then
gave the whip a crack. The horses changed gear from
canter to gallop and, by the time the Doctor reached
the head soldier, the stagecoach had turned to the
right and disappeared.

'What did you do that for?' the Doctor shouted.

Martha hurried over to join him, followed closely
by four soldiers. Their leader merely stood and let
his hands meet behind his back, perfectly at ease. He
looked at the Doctor with two dark eyes that glinted
underneath thin little eyebrows.

'The journey to London takes two weeks,' the
soldier said, chewing the words as if they tasted off.
His accent, surprisingly, was English. 'I don't think
there needs to be any further delay, do you?'

'They might have been able to tell us something
about the attack,' Martha jumped in.

The head soldier gave her a dismissive look.

'I questioned the driver and his passenger,' he said,
just a little snootily. 'I'm satisfied they have nothing
further to add.'

'Yes, but,' said the Doctor, waving a stern finger.
'Captain...?'

'McAllister,' the soldier said. He gave a little snort
to show how surprised he was that there was a man
in the world that didn't automatically know his name.
'And you are?'

'He's the Doctor,' Martha said. She smiled sweetly,
as her mother had told her to when dealing with
idiots. 'I'm Martha Jones.'

'Well, Doctor, Miss Jones,' McAllister said silkily.
'You're under arrest. Get them to the Tolbooth.'

The soldiers took a step forward, but the Doctor
already had his psychic paper in his hand.

'Now I don't think His Majesty would appreciate
that,' he said casually. 'And I really would've liked to
speak to that passenger.'

McAllister read the paper and raised an eyebrow.

'And why would that be?' he asked.

The Doctor grinned infectiously. 'Well,' he said.
'That kite thing was brilliant!'

Martha looked at the Doctor for a moment, and
not for the first time wondered what he was on about.
Captain McAllister seemed to be in on the secret,
though, as his thin moustache twitched a little. He
didn't return the Doctor's smile.

'So you knew who was travelling in the coach?'

'I think I must have seen his photograph in
Heat
,'
the Doctor answered solemnly, with a twinkle in his
eye. 'I do read it rather a lot, don't I, Martha?'
Martha just grinned.

'And that would be why you attempted to ambush
the stagecoach, yes?' McAllister said.

The Doctor's face fell and he glanced from the
Captain to Martha and back again. The Captain
simply stood, his hands behind his back, breathing
softly through his mouth.

'Oh no! We weren't trying to ambush the
stagecoach. You see my friend and I were standing in
the Castle admiring the view—'

'
And
you were trespassing in the Castle.'

'This was a different castle. We saw that dead man
over there jump onto the roof of the stagecoach, and
the horses panicked – probably because he'd been
dead for two days and—'

The Doctor turned to Martha. She folded her
arms.

'He's not going to believe that, is he?'

Martha shook her head.

'I don't care who you reckon you are: you're going
to the Tolbooth. Brown, stop scratching MacDonald's
backside and step to it!' Captain McAllister suddenly
yelled. The four soldiers jumped visibly. 'Connolly, get
that corpse up to the Castle and send a runner to tell
the surgeons where they can find it. Perhaps it won't
be so difficult to guard a man who's already dead.'

Martha saw the hint of a smile pull at the Captain's
mouth: clearly he was pleased at the thought and
wit he'd managed to put into his orders. One of the
soldiers shouldered his musket and set his face with
a grim look as he headed over to the pale corpse,
hefting it up over his shoulder. The other soldiers each
pointed their muskets at Martha and the Doctor.

'What about me?' Martha asked, pushing up to the
Captain. 'I wasn't attacking the coach: I stopped it.
You can't arrest me for that.'

The gathered crowd murmured something to each
other that might have been agreement, or equally
disappointment that the show was apparently
coming to a natural end. All the same, Martha gave
the Captain the same look she would have if the
crowd had all spontaneously cheered and carried
her around the market on its shoulders. If she could
stay out of prison, she'd have a much better chance of
being able to help the Doctor.

Captain McAllister looked her up and down.

'You are wearing pantaloons,' he said pointedly.

Martha looked down at herself, and realised that he
was talking about her jeans. She almost laughed out
loud, despite the funny look on the Doctor's face.

'What, and that's against the law is it?'

'Ah, actually it is,' the Doctor muttered into her ear.
'For women. Sorry.'

Martha looked from the Doctor to the frowning
soldier. Right, OK – so she was actually going to be
arrested for crimes against fashion. Tish was right
after all.

Martha crooked her arm at the Doctor.

'Doctor?' she said.

'Miss Jones,' the Doctor agreed.

And they walked back up the slope of Fishmarket
Close towards the Royal Mile, arm in arm.

THREE

The soldiers kept near as they trudged back up the
lethal slope to the Royal Mile – one of the three
pacing in front, whilst the other marched behind
under the watchful glare of Captain McAllister. The
street hadn't become any less busy in the last few
minutes, but Martha found going up a lot easier than
coming down. The presence of the soldiers created a
bubble around her and the Doctor: people paused on
the edge of the Close as they were marched by, and
then carried on as normal.

It reminded Martha oddly of a royal parade, but one
that was taking in the less scenic areas of the city and
was dogged by the pungent odour of fish wherever it
went. Every now and again, someone who hadn't seen
the stagecoach drama would cross their path and stop
in wonderment. As they were pulled out of the way
by a throng of clutching hands, the sound of voices
increased as everybody in the crowd tried to tell the
newcomer the news.

Martha clung on tight to the Doctor. He smiled at
the crowds cheerfully.

'So who was in the stagecoach?' Martha hissed.

'Only one of this century's most brilliant minds,'
the Doctor said. He didn't seem to care if the soldiers
overheard. Captain McAllister seemed content to
divide his time between belittling his men and giving
Martha evil looks, occasionally growling warningly at
the people who got in his way. 'You should know him:
he invented bi-focal spectacles. And the catheter.'

'Right,' Martha said. 'I think I met him at a party
once.'

'You don't know?' the Doctor asked, shocked.

'No!' Martha laughed.

'Quiet!' Captain McAllister barked behind them.

'What did they teach you in that teaching
hospital?' the Doctor grumbled, completely ignoring
McAllister.

'Oh you know,' Martha whispered. She wasn't quite
as certain as the Doctor that the Captain wouldn't
order his men to open fire just for some peace and
quiet. 'They just wasted time teaching us things like
how to save lives and ease human suffering.'

'Appalling!' the Doctor cried.

But he smiled that smile, and Martha couldn't
help returning it. No matter what it did to Captain
McAllister's mood.

'So who was it?' Martha asked again.

'Benjamin Franklin,' the Doctor answered.

Martha snorted.

'All right, don't tell me then.'

'I did,' the Doctor protested. 'It was!'

'Benjamin Franklin invented the catheter? You're
kidding.'

The Doctor shook his head, the picture of wideeyed
innocence.

'What would he be doing in Scotland anyway?' she
asked.

'Well,' the Doctor said, scratching the side of
his nose with a finger. 'In 1759... I suppose he'd be
picking up his honorary degree from St Andrews
University. It's not far from here as the crow flies, and
it took him two weeks to get here: he'd want to do a
bit of sightseeing.'

'Two weeks to get here from America?'

'Oh no,' the Doctor said. 'It's two weeks to get here
from London. You're probably talking at least two
months to get here from America.'

'They must be counting the days before someone
invents Travel Scrabble,' Martha said.

The Doctor smiled.

'Benjamin Franklin's living in London now,' the
Doctor explained. 'That's another thing he did:
diplomacy. He's the Pennsylvania Assembly's agent
to the Government of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Ireland.'

'Pennsylvania's?' Martha shook her head. 'Did the
Cotswolds get to send an agent to America as well?'

'Ye-es,' said the Doctor, extending the word out as
long as it would go without breaking. 'Don't forget,
the Americas are just a collection of separate colonies
at the moment. They don't unite for another sixteen
years, when they fight the... Well, before that thing
that unites them.'

'You mean the...' Martha said slowly, looking
nervously at the two loaded muskets pointing her
way.

'That's the one,' the Doctor agreed in a whisper. 'But
that's just the sort of talk that makes British soldiers
nervous, so there's no reason why we need to throw
words like "American revolution" around, is there?'

'Oh no,' Martha agreed. 'No reason at all.'

And she smiled at the soldiers.

They didn't smile back.

'Halt,' McAllister yelled.

His voice echoed through the air for a moment.
They had emerged out of the passageway and back
onto the High Street, making the return considerably
more slowly than Martha had made her descent. The
soldier in front, a grey-haired man who she thought
was the one McAllister had called Brown, was panting
audibly. She didn't dare think what he would have
been like if McAllister had chosen him to carry the
highwayman's body back to the Castle: that soldier
had disappeared up the Cowgate at a gallop, muttering
pityingly to himself about the stairs he would have to
climb at the end of it.

Without pause, McAllister had turned them to the
left and marched them back up the sloping street, the
old soldier taking the opportunity to duck behind
them and slacken his pace. As they moved, more
people gathered on the edges of the street to watch,
but the reaction was different here. The street was
wider, so Martha wasn't brushing through the crowd,
but she had the feeling that these people weren't as
nervous of the soldiers. After all, the army was on their
side, protecting them from the criminal tendencies of
the poor below the hill.

It didn't take long to reach their destination: they
stopped in a large square, in front of an imposing
church. It seemed to be made exclusively from giant
slabs of stone and dark serrated towers stabbing up
into the air, the product of a time when believers were
reminded God should be feared, as well as loved.
Attached to the church, and blocking off the square
from the Lawnmarket, was a large building four
storeys tall with a tower running down the front of
it, reminding Martha of the Castle that sat at the top
of the hill.

'That's the Tolbooth,' the Doctor whispered to her.

'I suppose it's not the kind I'll need change for?'
Martha whispered in reply.

'It's an old Scots word,' the Doctor answered softly.
'It's where the council meets.'

'Well,' said Martha with enforced cheerfulness.
'That doesn't sound so bad.'

'And they usually have prisons underneath them.'

'Oh,' said Martha.

McAllister studiously ignored his prisoners,
choosing instead to glare at the three red-coated
men.

'You three get the prisoners to the cells,' McAllister
instructed sharply. 'I'll be talking with the Lord
Provost, and if I have to be called out because of any
of you...'

The threat hung in the air for a moment, then
McAllister marched inside.

There was a moment in which the soldiers relaxed
slightly, their shoulders drooping as the tension
created by McAllister's presence eased. Despite all
the years between them, Martha could recognise
her old colleagues in the soldiers: if they'd been back
at the hospital, the soldiers would have been junior
doctors leaning against the wall and starting to
gossip the moment the consultant's back was turned.
Sometimes, she wished she was back with them: since
she'd met the Doctor, there never seemed to be any
time to relax. They'd been in Edinburgh not even an
hour, and already he'd had her running up and down
hills and diving in front of stagecoaches – it was better
than any gym, at least.

It was only when they got thrown into prison that
she got any chance to rest, these days.

Martha could see that the Doctor was already
tensing. He seemed to have an inbuilt aversion to
authority: it would never occur to him, for example,
to speak to the Lord Provost himself and explain
the situation. That there was something abroad in
Edinburgh that had brought the dead to life, and if it
had done it once, it might easily do it again. No, the
Doctor would want to be out there himself, chasing
down the solution on his own. And that meant
escaping from soldiers and prisons whenever he got
the chance, and legs like Paula Radcliffe for her.

The Doctor took her hand, and waggled his
eyebrows.

They ran.

She looked behind and saw that the soldiers had
been just as surprised as she had. Two of them fumbled
with their muskets, one landing on the cobbled street
with a loud clatter that convinced some pedestrians
that it had gone off. The third, however, was a little
quicker than his friends and was already chasing
after them. Perhaps he was the one who feared the
Captain's reaction the most.

'Where are we going?' Martha shouted to the
Doctor.

He was, annoyingly, two paces ahead of her and
holding her arm in a way that suggested he could
be six if he wasn't. He threw her a smile, which she
gratefully caught.

'This way,' he said.

Instead of pulling her down the road to their left
that must have led back down to the Grassmarket, he
pulled her upwards, towards the Castle. She couldn't
help thinking that there had to be a better place to
run, but it was too late to argue.

There was a crack of musket fire.

The Doctor pulled on Martha's arm again.

When she saw where he was heading, she tried to
pull away.

Even the Doctor couldn't think that was a good
idea.

***

John Connolly shouldered his musket as he ran. He'd
had his one shot and, if he stopped to reload now, he'd
lose them. Mac and Gordy were close on his heels but,
as good lads as they were, John wouldn't trust them
to find the cludgie before they wet themselves. If the
prisoners had it away, McAllister would have them
all scraping out the latrines with their fingernails and
licking them clean before dinner.

He stayed a breath behind the strangely dressed
pair as they ran up Castle Hill: he expected they'd
try to disappear down one of the Closes and out of
the city that way. Once they were out in the open, he
could risk a few moments to reload and wing them.
He should be able to make the shot. He practically
had his musket in his hands when he saw them turn
the other way instead. Were they soft in the head?
They were running straight into the Castle: once they
were inside, where would they expect to go?

'We've got them now!' Mac shouted.

Gordy didn't say a word: he had a good few years
on Mac and John, and his prime running days were
long behind him. He was already panting hard, the
poor old'un.

As they came out onto the brow of the hill, the Castle
loomed up over them: it looked more like a mansion
than anything John would have called a castle, but the
giant plug of rock it sat on had kept the enemy at bay
since Adam and Eve's time. The ground before the
Castle was just a wide, empty expanse with little place
to hide. Any approaching army would have to march
unprotected before they reached the narrow archway at
the far side offering entry into the main Castle. It was a
system that had served them well those fourteen years
back when the Pretender's men had taken Edinburgh,
but not the Castle. The gates remained firmly closed
now as well, just in case the Jacobite ghost hadn't been
properly laid to rest after all.

At any other time, there might perhaps have been
a brigade of redcoats practising their drill to lose
yourself amongst, but right now the Castle had only a
handful of city guards to call on, and the ground was
empty. All the same, John had expected the prisoners
to at least try: instead, they were just standing there,
waiting to be recaptured. The man was standing
straight watching them approach with a grim look.
The woman was bent double trying to catch her
breath, but her eyes were locked on the three redcoats
from the moment they appeared. The look on her
face said that she had expected to be hiding as well.
She tried to pull away from the man as John moved
up, but he held her tight to him.

Poor girl: if it came to shooting, John thought he'd
try to get her clean.

John, Mac and Gordy all looked at each other,
and slowed to a trot. John took his musket from his
shoulder as he went: he still hadn't loaded it, but
the prisoners weren't to know that. Besides, Mac
and Gordy were holding theirs too, pointing them
meaningfully at the man and his woman.

'What're they doing?' hissed Mac.

John had to shrug.

'Don't come any closer!' the man shouted.

John stopped, involuntarily. The man was holding
the leather wallet with the paper in that he'd shown
to the Captain. It hadn't cut much ice at the bottom of
the hill, and John was pretty sure the prisoner couldn't
expect things to be any different up here.

'You're to come wi' us to the Tolbooth,' John
announced loudly, raising his musket meaningfully.
'The Captain don't care who you are. Neither do we.'

The man smiled again.

'Ah,' he said, gently shaking his head. 'But that was
down there. Now I'm standing here – absolutely right
here – I think your Captain will care very much. You
see, this says I'm Baronet Jones of Nova Scotia, and
you are trespassing on my land. If you try to step one
inch closer, it will be considered an act of war.'

John and Mac looked at each other.

The woman looked at them apologetically.

'So go on,' the man said. 'Off you go.'

They raised their muskets.

BOOK: Doctor Who: The Many Hands
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