Authors: Glyn Jones
Tags: #Science-Fiction:Doctor Who
‘Nothing,’ the Doctor replied.
‘Well, I don’t fancy all that lot barging right through me.’
‘Then get out of the way and against the wall,’ the Doctor suggested.
‘ They backed into the room and moved to one side as the guards, soldiers, or whatever they were, came to a halt just inside the doorway.
‘This is what the boy was trying to tell the others,’ the Doctor whispered, ‘And, for some reason, they wouldn’t listen to him.’
‘What can we do?’ Ian asked.
‘By the look on that man’s face,’ the Doctor indicated the leader, ‘I would say it’s too late to do anything.’ And the officer indeed looked as though he was going to enjoy what was about to happen.
The group beneath the space shuttle were standing silently, at least they were no longer talking, facing the soldiers, and the grim-faced squad looked back at them for what seemed to the travellers like an eternity. Then, suddenly, one of the youths bolted, running for the safety of a small door half-way down the length of one wall. The officer smiled, raised his arm, and a pencil thin ray of vivid blue light momentarily joined the two men before the fugitive was hurled into the air and crashed lifeless to the floor.
There was no battle. It was a massacre and all over in seconds. Only one youth remained alive, the one who had come to warn the others. There was simply no point in his trying to do anything. He stood stockstill as two soldiers advanced on him, seized him by the arms and manhandled him out of the room. The squad did an about turn and marched away. The officer, still smiling, took one last look around the room, at the dozen bodies sprawled grotesquely across the floor, then he turned and followed his men.
‘That was horrible! Horrible!’ Vicki was crying and Barbara tried to comfort her, holding the young girl tight and caressing her hair soothingly.
‘Don’t let it upset you, Vicki,’ she said softly, ‘It wasn’t really happening.
But it was! It was!’ Vicki cried.
‘Yes, indeed it was,’ the Doctor agreed. ‘Or, rather, it will. It might happen tomorrow, it might happen in a few years time, it might take place within minutes, but happen it most certainly will unless...’
‘What are we going to do?’ Ian broke in, his tone betraying his shock and fear.
‘We follow those soldiers, for want of a better word to describe them,’ the Doctor replied. ‘Providing nothing extraordinary happens that allows them or us to break through the field of time dimension, we’ll come to no harm. This way.’
They started to go but Ian could not resist a last look at the room where he had just witnessed such violence.
‘Doctor, look!’ He cried. The others turned back.
The bodies had disappeared.
‘It’s no good,’ Ian said, ‘Let’s face it, we have no idea which way they went and this place is like a maze or a rabbit warren. I’m completely lost. Does anyone recognise anything?’
Vicki pointed through a doorway. ‘Isn’t that the room we were in first?’ she asked. ‘I think it is. I think that’s the case I bumped my head on. I mean, who could forget a hideous creature like that?’
‘His mother probably loved him,’ Ian chuckled, almost back to his old jocular self. ‘But then, on second thoughts
Vicki was moving cautiously towards the doorway. ‘But there’s something different about it,’ she said. And then, pointing excitedly: ‘Look!’
There, in the centre of the room, stood the TARDIS. Ian was the first to recover from the surprise. ‘Now, how did that get in here?’ he almost yelled.
‘And what does this do for your theory, Doctor?’ Barbara asked.
‘It supports it,’ was the brusque reply.
‘Whether it supports it or not,’ Ian argued, ‘Now that we have found the TARDIS, or it has found us, whichever way you care to look at it, we must decide here and now what we’re going to do.’ Then: ‘That’s what I think,’ he added as an apologetic afterthought.
‘I think we should take it as a stroke of luck and leave at once,’ Barbara suggested.
Ian eagerly seconded the motion.
The Doctor turned to Vicki. ‘How do you feel, young lady?’ he asked.
‘I can’t help thinking how awful it was back there.. those poor men.’
‘Yes, yes, all very upsetting. And, as much as I would like to stay and unravel the strange events we have witnessed, I feel like you. The sooner we move away from this planet the better. And yet I also have a dreadful feeling it’s not going to he that easy. Well...’ - he waved an airy hand towards the ‘TARDIS - ‘Lead the way, Chesterton.’
It was only when Ian was at arm’s length from the TARDIS that he suddenly realised what the Doctor had meant. He turned back to look at the others.
‘Well, go on.’ The Doctor encouraged.
‘It’s not there,’ Ian said to himself, facing the Ship, ‘I know it. It just isn’t there. Tentatively he reached out. His fingers met no resistance from the solid-looking blue police box.
‘I should have known it, as soon as I saw it standing there.’
Ian heard the Doctor’s voice behind him. We’re never going to get away from here, he thought and, as if to confirm his feelings of hopelessness, there was a sudden piercing scream from Vicki. Ian swung around, as did Barbara and the Doctor, and Ian felt the hair prickle on his scalp as they gazed in horror at what they saw.
Against one wall, previously unnoticed in the excitement of discovering the TARDIS, stood four transparent domed casings, in shape like those the Victorians used to house dried flower arrangments or stuffed birds and animals. But the animals in the four casings were Ian, Barbara, Vicki, and the Doctor.
It took some time for the shock to wear off and it was Barbara who, in a stunned whisper, broke the silence.
‘Those... things... They’re us. Not models, not pictures... They’re us.’
‘Yes,’ the Doctor said. ‘Exhibits in a museum.’
Ian turned to him. ‘Isn’t it about time you started putting those facts together, Doctor?’ His voice was trembling.
Now it was Vicki’s turn to whisper, almost to herself. ‘Time, like space, although a dimension in itself, also has dimensions of its own,’ she repeated.
The Doctor raised both eyebrows and gave a little nod.
‘Oh, so you know all about it, do you? You must have gone to a more enlightened school than these two taught at.’ ‘This is hardly the time for throwing insults about, Doctor,’ Ian huffed.
"We’re really in those cases,’ Vicki continued, mesmerised by her image staring back at her, almost oblivious to the others. ‘We’re just looking at ourselves from this dimension.
Barbara shrugged. ‘It’s horrible. "Those faces - our faces - just staring.’
‘Does it explain all that’s been happening to us?’ Ian asked.
Of course it does.’ The Doctor took hold of his coat lapels and raised his chin slightly, a sure indication that he was about to pontificate. ‘If you’re not there you can’t f leave footprints, can you? Or touch things.’
‘And you can’t be seen,’ Ian added.
‘Oh, you can be seen, my boy, you most certainly can be seen.’ The Doctor released one lapel to point towards the cases. ‘There!’
‘Doctor...’ Barbara moved to his side. ‘Is there any way of getting out of this mess?’
The Doctor was fascinated by his Doppelganger and couldn’t take his eyes off himself. He moved in closer, leaning forward to peer into the case. ‘Well, we got into it Barbara, I suppose there must be some way of trying to get out of it.’ He straightened up and cocked his head to one side. ‘I’ve never had an opportunity before of studying the 1 fourth dimension at close hand. Fascinating. Quite fascinating.’ He let go of the other lapel and, holding his hands in front of him, tapped his fingertips together. ‘The TARDIS must have jumped a time track. Extraordinary. Passed through into that dimension, this dimension, another dimension, which dimension?’ He cleared his throat. ‘Er... yes... Extraordinary. Hrnm...’
He looked around at the others all waiting eagerly for his conclusion so he took hold of his lapels again and this time his chin rose so high he was looking at the ceiling. ‘There are obvious dangers of course but the answer is quite simple really.’
‘Oh, I’m relieved to hear it,’ Ian said. ‘How simple?’ ‘Just a question of waiting, my boy,’ was the simple answer.
‘Waiting? For what?’
‘Waiting for us to arrive.’ The Doctor stopped investigating himself and, turning around, spread his arms wide to illustrate the simplicity of the solution.
‘Pardon?’ Barbara squeaked disbelievingly.
‘My dear Barbara, before we were actually put in those cases we must have landed here in the TARDIS, been seen by these people and considered worthy enough subjects to grace their museum. But none of that has happened yet. What we are looking at, as with that fracas we saw earlier, is a glimpse into the future. Everything that leads up to it’ he indicated the four cases - ‘is yet to come.’
‘Couldn’t we just go back to the TARDIS? The real one, I mean, and take off again?’ Vicki pleaded.
‘And run the risk of ending up like that?’ the Doctor thundered. ‘No, no, child, we must stay and face it, stop it from happening.’
‘When do you suppose we might arrive?’ Ian couldn’t help feeling the question was a little on the ludicrous side since he was actually doing the asking but it was obvious his other body couldn’t do the questioning. Even had it been animate there would have been no aural contact.
But the Doctor didn’t laugh. He merely shrugged.
‘And how will we know when we have?’ Barbara persisted. ‘When we will have arrived, I mean.
‘Those’ - again the Doctor indicated the bizarre exhibits, ‘will disappear and we will become visible. We will he able to hear the inhabitants of this place and be heard by them. And, when we touch something, it will be there.’
‘And we’re just going to wait?’ Ian spread his hands in an imitation of one of the Doctor’s gestures.
‘Can you think of something better?’
‘We could die of starvation!’ Ian argued. ‘Maybe that’s what happened. Maybe that’s how we ended up in... those!’
The Doctor shook his head. ‘I don’t think so,’ he reasoned. ‘If you will look again you will see we are wearing the same clothes, here...’ - he pointed to himself
‘and there.’ He gestured towards the cases. ‘And if you look more closely, specifically at Ian’s right trouser leg, the lower half, you will see a small bloodstain... Here... And there. No, I don’t think we’ll have too long to wait.’
Hands clasped behind his back, Lobos strolled slowly around the laboratory, trying to find something to arouse his interest and break the monotony of his existence. All his life he had been a fighter but, unlike a great many warriors, Lobos had a keen and enquiring mind. Winning battles had never been enough. He wanted to see everything, feel everything, learn everything. And here he was on this forsaken planet, his mind stultifying.
Nothing new had been added to the museum to excite his imagination and he was bored, bored, bored. He had done well for the Empire, earned himself considerable honours and yet, one tiny indiscretion, and this was his reward, to be banished to Xeros, the dullest planet in the Empire.
Oh, they could say it was putting the old warhorse out to graze - now where in Nuada had he picked up an expression like that? He tried to remember but it was no use. In a life and career as long as his, one picked up all sorts of things - but, whichever way you looked at it, it was banishment.
One tiny indiscretion. All right, maybe it hadn’t been that tiny, but a Morok has a heart hasn’t he? Two, as a matter of fact. By the great Ork, at least his term as Governor was nearly over. Only one more metone, if he lasted that long, and he could go home.
Lobos saw in his mind’s eye the beautiful shining city from which he had been so craftily exiled, and the beautiful face of the one who had been the cause of that exile. He suddenly thumped the work surface in front of him with the side of his fist, sending a tremor down its entire length, and causing the young technician working close by to visibly flinch. Lobos sighed and moved on. It was enough to make a lesser Morok very bitter. Something... something... anything to break the hideous monotony.
He stopped in front of a scanner and passed his hand across the screen. That same dreary landscape. Those same dreary, crumbling relics that no one visited any more. Except for the labour ship on its regular tour of duty, bringing supplies and taking back with it the requisite number of Xeron slaves and his reports - reports that had nothing to say and which no-one probably took any notice of anyway - he couldn’t remember when last he saw a new face. Who was it? He racked his brains. Oh, yes, the Ometec Ambassador, and he couldn’t get away fast enough. Not that he was all that bright anyway. If he had stayed the conversation would have languished soon enough. He passed his hand over the screen again to see if there was anything new to look at elsewhere. Not that he really expected it but one never could tell. There could be visitors, maybe someone he could have an intelligent conversation with. His second-in-command didn’t have the brains of a Flebbit and they were brainless enough. You could transplant twenty Flebbit brains into a Morok’s skull and there would still be room inside for a Garnbo to orbit.
Nothing. The space station was deserted. Xeros was the forgotten planet, left to rot. This once great monument to the glories of the mighty Morok Empire: their civilisation, achievements, conquests; rotting and forgotten, just as he felt himself to be rotting and forgotten.
He lowered himself heavily into the seat in front of the scanner. Maybe, later, he could have a game of chess with his favourite robot, Matt. Chess fascinated him, ever since he had accidentally discovered a set tucked away in storage - who knows how long it had been there? - and wondered what it could be. Obviously a pastime of some kind, but from where? And what were the rules? Having decided it was a game of attack, defence, and counter-attack, it excited his military mind and he eventually threw it to Matt and told the robot to get on with sorting it out. Mau did just that - in.00001 of a second. And then offered Lobos a game. For a while chess was a total obsession and, even when the obsession wore off, Lobos could never be bored playing with Matt for the simple reason that he was never able to win. Matt was the first adversary who had him totally licked and, no matter how much he studied, how hard he tried, he could not win. It was probably just as well. Had he ever beaten Matt, the game would have lost its fascination. Yes, maybe he would have a game later.