A SERIES OF DOCTOR WHO STORIES (DOWNTON ABBEY CROSSOVER)
ELEVENTH DOCTOR CHRONICLES:
A series of Doctor Who Stories, which is a sort of Downton Abbey crossover too.
The Doctor has recently lost his former companions Amy and Rory and is now in need of new ones. He inadvertently arrives in 1925, Yorkshire...does he know that above all else he needs companionship? Do his new companions know that what they really need...is him?
(The Downton side of things continues on from Season 6 Episode 7 (5 minutes in)
CHAPTER 1 - Thomas Barrow
Thomas closed his eyes and leaned against the concrete pillar in the servant's courtyard.
His head thumped and his heart thumped in sync - Mr Carson clearly wanted him gone as soon as possible, he had made no bones about that - but was there anyone at Downton who hoped that he didn't have to go?...Thomas bowed his head at the bleak realization.
15 years!..15 years of service!...had that counted for nothing?
He dropped his used cigarette and stubbed it out with his foot. He couldn't help noting the metaphorical similarity to his own life. That's me he said to himself. Crushed...put out of my misery....gone....
He screwed up his eyes to stop the tears that forced their way out and blew out an anxious sigh. Need to calm down...need to relax...time to put my brave face on again, show the world I don't care....
He frowned. What's that...that faint noise?....Thomas wondered if it was merely the sound of blood pumping in his ears.
The low whooshing sound slowly ascended into audible existence and steadily grew to a deafening crescendo.
Thomas opened his eyes and stared in disbelief at the large blue object that slowly faded into reality, just metres in front of him.
"What on earth?" he exclaimed to himself. His jaw dropped as the object became solid, the light on it's roof stopped blinking and the noise ceased.
Thomas read the sign above the doorway. "Police Box?"
The squeak of a door hinge gave way to the appearance of a man...a young man, floppy hair, dressed a bit like a mad professor.
The man approached him and clapped his hands together.
"Ah...is this 1536?" he asked eagerly.
"What?" Thomas asked bewildered and confused.
"1536" the man repeated. "I need to prove Anne Boleyn's innocence, very important!"
Thomas shook his head and winced. "You were in there?"
The man walked up close to him, uncomfortably close, and looked him up and down. "Judging by the clothes...maybe not" he said more to himself than to Thomas. "What year is this please?"
"What year??" Thomas asked, his head starting to spin.
"1925" Thomas answered automatically. "Who are you?"
"No, no no!" the man yelled, slamming his hand against the blue box ferociously. "Don't keep doing this to me!"
"Listen, you can't keep that box here!" Thomas reprimanded him as he pulled himself together a little. "Mr Carson won't be happy, and you wouldn't want that....more to the point though, how did you get it here? I saw it just...appear."
"Sorry, no time to explain!" the man answered over his shoulder as he rushed to the door of his box. He held up a key, slipped it into the lock and...nothing. "No!" he cried once more. "Let me in! Why do you keep locking me out?"
Thomas shook his head. "Is somebody else in there?" he asked bemused.
The man tried the lock vigorously several times but in vain. Finally he gave up. He gave a heavy sigh as his shoulders visibly dropped. He turned to look at Thomas, his face red with effort and embarrassment.
Thomas didn't know why, but he felt sorry for the young man. "Is it like a magic act or something?" he asked, trying to work out the whole bizarre fiasco.
"Sort of" the man answered dejectedly. "Anyway, sorry if I'm trespassing or anything. Didn't exactly mean to wind up in 1925..."
"How did you get that box in here?" Thomas pressed.
The young man scratched his head in frustration. "Ah...you won't believe me, but...it's a time machine."
Thomas shook his head. "That box?...is a time machine?" he chuckled with the absurdity. "Straight from the pages of H.G. Wells I suppose?" he quipped.
"Said you wouldn't believe me" the Doctor replied sulkily.
Thomas walked up to the blue box object and put his hand out to touch it....it certainly felt solid enough....in fact it felt strange, like it was alive or something. It was a little unnerving and he withdrew his hand quickly.
"Well, I saw it appear...straight out of thin air....so either it is a magic act...a very good one mind you...or you're telling the truth."
"Why would I lie?" the young man asked subdued.
"Don't know..." Thomas replied cautiously. "...But, you could prove it."
"I would if it would let me in!" the man replied agitated.
"But it won't?" Thomas tried.
"No! It won't!" the man replied grumpily, folding his arms.
Thomas smiled wryly at the curious fellow. It had been an awful day for Thomas so far, so this new visitor was a welcome distraction. "I'm Mr Barrow" he said, as he offered his hand in friendship.
The young man smiled in return. "Sorry, I'm forgetting my manners. I'm the Doctor." They shook hands.
"The Doctor?" Thomas asked bemused.
"Yes...where is this? Looks quite...grand."
"Downton Abbey. I'm the Under-Butler."
"Ah, hence the posh clothes....Downton Abbey hey?"
"Home of Lord and Lady Grantham."
"Hm. I wonder why the TARDIS brought me here then?" the Doctor mused to himself.
"TARDIS?" Thomas asked intrigued.
The Doctor tapped the blue box. "This."
"So, let me get this straight" Thomas tried. "You think the...TARDIS, brought you here, and now won't let you leave for...1536 was it?"
"Yes and there's usually a reason...the TARDIS often knows things I don't."
Nice fellow, but obviously not all there Thomas thought to himself. Better humour him..
"So...maybe the TARDIS wanted you to come here?" Thomas offered.
"Well, maybe now..." Thomas suggested, looking at the key in the Doctor's hand.
"Worth a try I suppose."
The Doctor ran forward and slipped the key into it's lock. It turned and the door opened with tremendous satisfaction.
He turned to face Thomas, a broad smile now on his lips. "You wanted proof did you say?"
Thomas watched as the Doctor almost jumped into the box. "In there? There isn't the room for the two of us!" he huffed.
The Doctor popped his head back out of the door. "Oh, you'd be surprised!"
Thomas walked towards the TARDIS' doorway. He paused just outside. Should he really follow this ludicrous mad man into a small blue box with 'Police' written on the outside? The whole thing seemed very suspect....
He pushed the door ajar. 'If you think I'm coming in there...' was what Thomas had meant to say, but he didn't get that far. As the vibrant orange glow coming from within illuminated his face, it was as much as he could do to stand up straight.
The Doctor was excitedly pushing buttons and throwing levers as Thomas walked around the control room of the TARDIS.
"It's....it's....incredible!" Thomas exclaimed, gazing up at the rafters of the TARDIS. "It was just a small blue box on the outside!..but inside...."
"Bigger?" the Doctor suggested with a wry smile.
"I'm sorry Doctor, seems I misjudged you" Thomas said humbly. "But can it really be a time machine?" he asked incredulously. He began to laugh.
"Oh yes" the Doctor replied with pride. "Will take you anywhere, anytime...well anytime but 1536 that is!!"
Thomas walked up to the control panel next to the Doctor. "It doesn't like 1536?"
"Apparently not. The date will just not lock in!" The Doctor tried again, but to no avail. "Ah!" he exclaimed in utter frustration as he gave the console a thump . "Behave will you!!"
"Can you not try another date?" Thomas suggested, his eyes mesmerized by the flashing lights of the instrument panel.
The Doctor raised his eyebrows. "Of course but.... actually, why don't you choose, Mr Barrow. The TARDIS obviously likes you, and, I suspect, it opened because of you."
Thomas burst out a laugh. Was this really happening? He pinched himself. No, it wasn't a dream. He was in a small blue box, which was so much larger on the inside and its owner, this 'Doctor' fellow, had claimed it was a real life time machine that could take him anywhere he wanted...it was too surreal...
"Oh, Mr Carson! I'll be in for it!! I'm way over my break time!" he suddenly exclaimed in grim realization. "I'll have to go...uh, I suggest you move the TARDIS before he sees it!"
"Not a problem" the Doctor replied calmly. "I can get you back, the exact same moment you left, or even five minutes earlier......'Time' machine, remember..."
Thomas stopped in mid flight. "Not sure I can still believe that part of it yet..."
"But you're thinking about it..." the Doctor posed.
Thomas looked around the inside of the TARDIS...it was a miracle right before his eyes, he certainly couldn't deny that.
"If you really could get me back the same moment I left...then no one would ever know I'd gone..."
"Precisely. Now, where will it be Mr Barrow? When will it be? You have all of time and space to choose from...what takes your fancy?"
Thomas frowned and dropped his head in serious deliberation.
The Doctor waited eagerly. "Pick a year, a place" he added, hoping to speed up Thomas' decision a little. He tapped his fingers on the TARDIS console impatiently. "Anywhere...anytime.......well??..."
Thomas looked up and gazed at him solemnly. "Take me to see a friend."
CHAPTER 2 - A Friend in Need
"Time: The present, location: Leeds...coordinates, locked in!" The Doctor announced as he threw several levers and switches with gusto.
Thomas watched him carefully. He shook his head. "And that's it?"
"And that's it!" the Doctor repeated happily. "So, who is this friend of yours?"
Thomas sighed. "He used to work at the Abbey, as a footman. I got letters from him for a while when he first left. But I haven't heard from him in a couple of years now. Just worried about him, you know?"
The Doctor nodded pensively. "Yes, I know exactly what you mean" he agreed, the faces of past companions flooding his memory. "Amy Pond" he said sadly under his breath.
"Who?" Thomas asked, barely catching the name.
The Doctor shook his head dismissively. "So, Mr Barrow.....uh, actually, do you have another name? Mr Barrow seems quite formal."
"Thomas. But I'm usually addressed as Mr Barrow. I'm not a footman anymore you know."
"Quite" the Doctor replied with a frown. "So...Mr Barrow...where abouts in Leeds are we going?"
"He worked at a club last I heard. Holbeck WMC to be exact. He plays piano."
"Oh I love the piano. Ask anyone" the Doctor waffled in joyous memory. "Don't ever duet with a Rasselhoffer mind you" he warned turning serious. "Fingers like knives...."
Thomas frowned and thought it best not to ask.
"So, you're a Doctor? A Doctor of what? Science? Engineering? Psychology?" he guessed.
"Not a Doctor. The Doctor. There's a difference."
"The Doctor?" Thomas repeated. "Like it's your name or something?"
"Let's say, it's how I think of myself."
"Because I like to help people" The Doctor shrugged dismissively. "Push that green button in front of you, will you?"
Thomas did as he was told. "So what does that do?"
"Prepares the TARDIS for landing....So, Mr Barrow, what were you doing when I met you?" The Doctor asked, trying to figure out why the Tardis had chosen this 1920's under-butler.
"Just on my break" Thomas answered.
"Alone?" the Doctor quizzed.
"That's right...why, what's it got to do with you?" Thomas said defensively, wondering if the Doctor had somehow seen him crying.
The Doctor looked up at Thomas surprised by his reply; Thomas' whole demeanor had seemed to change. "Nothing...nothing....." the Doctor shrugged awkwardly trying to work out how he'd caused offence. He felt it best not to pursue the question anymore and took hold of the big lever on the control panel.
"You might want to hold on Mr Barrow, the landing might be a little bumpy" he directed.
Both of them clung tightly to the TARDIS console, prepared for a jolt, yet the landing was relatively gentle.
"...Or not" the Doctor smiled.
"So we're here?" Thomas asked.
"Step outside. Have a look" the Doctor invited.
As Thomas opened the door he was surprised to be met by the sound of nearby traffic. He stepped outside and felt the softness of freshly cut grass beneath his feet. He gazed around. The TARDIS was surrounded by a small cluster of trees. As he ventured further buildings and roads and a city skyline came into view.
"Is this it? Is this Leeds? Is this really Leeds?" Thomas gasped.
"It's really Leeds!" the Doctor smiled.
"Stone the crows! We're in Leeds!" Thomas laughed. "It would have taken hours on the bus!"
"Ha! This is just a small step for the TARDIS" the Doctor proclaimed proudly as he straightened his bow tie.
Thomas gazed around excitedly, breathing in the morning air and taking in all the sights and sounds. He felt giddy with joy, in fact he couldn't remember the last time he felt so high-spirited.
"We must be in one of the parks of the city" he exclaimed. "Look, I can even see the clock of the town hall from here!"
The Doctor rubbed his hands together contentedly. He always got a kick out of the reactions of those taking their first trip in the TARDIS.
"So is this the same day?" Thomas asked excitedly. "Or have we travelled in time too?"
"No. Same time as it would have been for you at Downton....so Mr Barrow, your friend."
"Oh yes, I clean forgot!" Thomas exclaimed. "I guess we can ask where this Holbeck place is...just a moment!"
With that Thomas bolted across the grass and over to someone who was walking on the other side of the park. Pretty soon he was back. "It's on the other side of the river" he told the Doctor between gasps for air. He pointed in the general direction. "Shall we take a bus?"
"Why not!" the Doctor exclaimed happily. "It's been a while since I took a 1920's bus ride!"
They boarded the bus and took seats right at the back.
"By'eck this is grand!" the Doctor said in his Yorkshire accent as the scenery passed them by and the bus sped down the street at at least 15 mph. "What do you say Mr Barrow?"
"Something I don't understand Doctor" Thomas began, not as taken with the bus ride as the Doctor. "If this is the same time as back in Downton, then Mr Carson has surely already come looking for me and found me missing. And yet, you say, you can take me back to just before that time, so that he doesn't need to come looking for me at all."
"That's right" the Doctor agreed, distracted by the city's sights from his vantage point near the window.
"But that doesn't make sense. He must have already done so."
"Well, not quite."
"You've travelled in space but not time as yet...so the first case would be true....but when I take you back through time, that will negate the first case...so it is at this moment as if I have already taken you back...as long I don't fail to take you back at all that is. It's like it has already happened."
Thomas shook his head. "So, history will be changed then?"
"History has already been changed...that is, the history that is relative to you."
"So Mr Carson won't know at all that I was missing in the first place?" Thomas asked.
"Yes, well...not completely. Sometimes an alternative reality can be vaguely remembered."
"It sort of seeps through. What do you think deja vu is?"
Thomas shook his head in astonishment.
"But don't worry, he won't know that it's true, or rather would have been true. To him it will just be a feeling."
"That's unbelievable!" Thomas gasped.
"And it will be for him too!" the Doctor agreed. "Ah, here we are. Jenkinson Lawn."
They alighted the bus and walked the short distance up the road. The sound of music and laughter met them even before they had approached the Working Men's Club.
They stopped just outside the well worn black painted door.
"Well, here we are then" the Doctor said rubbing his hands together. "I'll wait for you here."
Thomas stared at the doorway and couldn't seem to move.
"What is it?" the Doctor asked.
"What if....what if he isn't pleased to see me? I mean, he stopped writing, didn't he?"
"What! And you've come all this way to see him?" the Doctor retorted. "Talk about ungrateful! Now, in you go." With that the Doctor gave Thomas a gentle shove towards the door.
"Okay" Thomas nodded. "Well, here goes."
Thomas emerged just moments later, disappointment written all over his face.
"Well?" the Doctor asked impatiently.
"He doesn't work here anymore, at least a couple of years" Thomas replied worriedly. "They've no idea where he might be."
"Well, we'll just just have to look a bit further afield, won't we?" the Doctor replied positively, tapping Thomas on both shoulders.
"You what? All of Leeds?" Thomas exclaimed.
"Oh I wouldn't let a little thing like that stop me. Come on, let's get started!"
They systematically worked their way through the main streets of Leeds, asking at all the clubs and bars until at last Thomas emerged from the King Edward.
"He used to work here, just a month or so ago!" Thomas cried excitedly. "And I've got his address!"
"Here it is! Sykes Yard...." the Doctor remarked both excitedly and then deflatedly in turn. He subsequently held his nose from the unpleasant smell wafting from the filthy state of the street.
"It's not what I imagined" Thomas said dispiritedly.
They traversed the street slowly, the pitiful state of the houses and the dirt heaps in the street impressing on them how poor and unfortunate the people must be to live here. Children dressed in rags played in the street. The Doctor smiled at them sympathetically.
"Ah, number 10" he pointed.
They climbed the uneven steps up to the doorway and Thomas gave the door a loud knock.
The door opened abruptly. A teenage girl stood at the threshold. She stared at the fine looking strangers in their smart clothes. Ashamedly, she pulled her torn shawl around her tightly, covering an ill-fitting dress that would at one time have been white and now was coming apart at the seams.
"Yes? What do you want?" she snapped.
"Uh...I was looking for a Jimmy Kent" Thomas uttered subdued. "But we must have the wrong address."
The girl looked over her shoulder. "Jimmy! Someone here to see you!" she shouted. She looked back at them, noticable envy in her eyes before she walked off.
A voice came from within. "Mr Ross, I promise I'll have the money by....." Jimmy stopped mid sentence as he appeared in the doorway. He stared at one of his two visitors in shock.
Thomas stared back in disbelief. The Jimmy he knew was a slight man to be sure, but the Jimmy he saw now was painfully thin and sickly white. His once pretty blond hair was dirty and matted. He wore a dirty white vest and his trousers were marked and ripped. In his arms, he carried a young child.
"Jimmy?" Thomas asked in disbelief. He turned to look at the Doctor who gave him a sympathetic smile.
Jimmy led them into a back room of the house. "I suppose you're surprised to see me like this" Jimmy said awkwardly as he sat down in a solid looking armchair and balanced the child on his knees.
Thomas and the Doctor pulled up two kitchen chairs opposite him.
"Jimmy. What's happened to you? You don't look well" Thomas remarked.
Jimmy gazed at the floor.
"I'm sorry I stopped writing" Jimmy said regretfully. "When I lost me job I lost me tenancy too. Mr Vasey kindly took me in. I'm a lodger. Any bit of money I get now goes for food."
"Doesn't look like you get much of that" Thomas remarked.
"Not really" Jimmy sighed.
"Pretty baby" the Doctor smiled, needing to lighten the mood.
"He's not mine" Jimmy shrugged. I look after him for Mr and Mrs Vasey. They give me a little money when they can afford to."
"Uh, hate to interrupt but I think he wants you to put him down" the Doctor commented. "Holding him up on your knees is giving him vertigo."
"You what?" Jimmy asked perplexed.
"I speak baby" the Doctor explained.
Thomas and Jimmy looked at him a little bewildered.
"Oi, put wood inth 'ole!" the girl shouted from the other room.
"What was that?" Thomas asked.
"She wants us to close the door" Jimmy translated.
"Ah, Yorkshire slang!" the Doctor grinned as he stood up and closed the door. "I love a bit of Yorkshire slang!"
"So how many live here?" Thomas continued.
"Mr Vasey, his wife Jane. This is John. That girl is Jane's sister Mary. There's Jane's other sister Roseanne and her brother Anthony too. And there's another lodger, Michael...and that's just downstairs."
Thomas shook his head. "You can't stay here Jimmy. You'll get ill...or worse."
"I've got no choice Thomas" Jimmy declared sadly. "Where would I go?"
"Doctor" Thomas said, looking at him hopefully.
The Doctor gave an optimistic smile. "Pack your bags Jimmy!" he declared. "You've got new digs!"
Jimmy grabbed his jacket and packed the small suitcase that contained all the belongings he had in the world.
"There you are Mrs Vasey" he said passing John over to her. "Thank you for everything you and Mr Vasey have done for me. I'm indebted to you both."
"Well, if you can't help a poor soul in need....but, we'll miss you Jimmy. Promise you won't go too far away."
"I promise" Jimmy smiled.
The Doctor did his best to suppress a wry smile.
They left Sykes Yard and headed back down the high street.
"Jimmy, it was the Doctor who brought me here to see you" Thomas informed him.
"Thank you Doctor. I'm grateful" Jimmy smiled. "But where are we going to go?"
"Well first, a good restaurant I think. You need a decent meal inside of you."
"And then?" Jimmy asked.
"And then Jimmy, not even the sky's the limit!" the Doctor smiled. "Come on!"
"You came in this..this...Police box?" Jimmy asked totally perplexed, as he pointed at the Tardis.
"Of course!" the Doctor cried. "What else?!"
Jimmy huffed. "Is it like a trailer or something? I don't see any wheels."
"A trailer?" the Doctor replied, mortally offended. "Does it even look like a trailer?"
"Well..." Jimmy shrugged.
"Pay no attention to them" the Doctor directed to the Tardis, giving her paintwork a loving stroke.
"He's talking to the box" Jimmy directed to Thomas out of the corner of his mouth.
Thomas smiled at his friend. "Just you wait till you look inside" he said excitedly.
The Doctor unlocked the door and entered. Thomas followed him in.
Jimmy shook his head quizzically. "Gonna be a bit of a squeeze!" he remarked. ".....Thomas?"
Jimmy followed his friend in. Seconds later he was outside again. He walked all the around the Tardis, trying each side.
He stepped into the Tardis once more and gazed around. "That's...."
"Do you like it?" the Doctor grinned.
"But.....am I seeing things?" Jimmy asked. "I mean...is it just me, or is it a heck of a lot bigger in here?"
"Time Lord technology Jimmy" the Doctor answered proudly.
"You what?" Jimmy asked.
"I'll explain sometime" the Doctor answered. "Now, where would you both like to go?"
"Go? I thought you were going to find me somewhere new to live?" Jimmy quizzed "...and a job you said!"
"Yes. A job. If you so want one Jimmy" the Doctor replied rolling his eyes. "But in the meantime, say hello to your new home!"
"Here? But I can't live here!" Jimmy answered in confusion.
"Why ever not? I do!" the Dr replied disgruntled, straightening his bow tie.
"Better than your last accommodation Jimmy" Thomas noted.
"Less smelly too!" the Doctor added under his breath.
"But..." Jimmy started.
"Doctor..." Thomas cut in. "...before, you said the Tardis can take you anywhere??"
"Anywhere on the planet?" he asked slowly.
The Doctor paused for emphasis. "This planet....and beyond."
The hairs on the back of Thomas' neck stood up as the Doctor spoke his reply.
"The moon?" Thomas dared to ask.
"Or several billion light years further if you wish" the Doctor smiled.
"Ok" Thomas nodded slowly, as his stomach excitedly did somersaults. "I'm up for that.....Jimmy?"
The Doctor gazed at his two new companions. Confusion on Jimmy's face, sheer awe on Thomas'. He broke into a wide grin...the adventure was about to start once more... he threw the lever and the TARDIS groaned into life...
Chapter 3 - Temulus Part 1
The wind moaned eerily over the harsh desert plateau, eddying gusts throwing sand high into the air which slowly descended cloudlike, blurring visibility. Within the clouds of dust, static charges played with the grains of sand, creating displays of random and sporadic bursts of light.
Above the noise of the wind another sound now competed for dominance and slowly the Tardis groaned into existence. As it completed materialization, it's small wooden door opened and two figures slowly stepped out onto the soft surface of the sand.
Thomas followed his friends out and stood in front of the Tardis doors. Using his arm to shield his eyes from the constant buffetting of the wind tossed sand, he gazed at the landscape which lay unfurled before him. At first glance, he could have been anywhere in one of Earth's wildernesses....but as he gazed into the heavens, the sight of three brilliant suns, all in perfect alignment, assured him that they were not.
For a moment, all three were silent, registering their bleak yet awe inspiring surroundings. Then the Doctor whipped out his sonic screwdriver, intent on scanning the irregularities of the atmosphere and searching for signs of life. A frown of disappointment rewrote his smile and he placed the sonic back into his jacket pocket.
"Doctor....what is this place?...where are we?" Jimmy asked, the astonishment resounding in his voice. They were certainly no longer in Leeds!
"I wish I knew Jimmy" the Doctor sighed. "The Tardis' sensors went haywire as we approached...it's certainly not where I intended to take you." He scratched his head. "To be honest, we could be anywhere..." he said defeated.
Thomas huffed. "Well...you did say you'd take us anywhere" he quipped. He squinted his eyes to see further into the distance; the view was even hazier, yet through the swirling atmosphere, some large and menacing structure loomed on the horizon. "Doctor, what's that?" he asked pointing.
The Doctor followed Thomas' stare. "A structure of some sort...a city perhaps?" he suggested. "Anyway, we'll never find out just standing here. Come on!" he instructed, rubbing his hands together in adventure-hungry anticipation.
"Wait! We're going there?" Jimmy asked anxiously.
The Doctor looked back over his shoulder as he strode on. "You can stay in the Tardis if you'd rather Jimmy" the Doctor assured him. "But I've got this burning urge to see just what this is...coming Thomas??"
Jimmy turned to his friend. "What do you think Thomas? Should we go? Can we trust this Doctor?...I mean, he doesn't even know where we are."
Thomas looked down in contemplation. "I do trust him Jimmy. It's strange but...I feel like I could trust him with my life."
"Why would you say that?" Jimmy asked in total surprise.
Thomas shrugged. "Because he's kind....listen Jimmy, I'll stay with you, if you want to stay..."
Jimmy looked at him and resigned, sensing his friend wanted to follow the Doctor. "No....I'll come."
"Right, well, we'd better hurry if we're going to catch him up."
"What about the Tardis?" Jimmy asked.
Thomas cupped his hands to his mouth. "Doctor! Should we close the Tardis door?" he shouted.
The Doctor turned around where he stood. "That's a very good idea!" he shouted back.
The three of them fought their way against the sand that buffetted their faces ever stronger the closer they approached their goal; the structure, a gigantic ziggurat of some kind, towered high over them. Although still a way off, they now walked in its vast shadow that seemed to engulf the ground as far as the eye could see. Its sheer size was overwhelming and the three of them walked on in relative silence, each lost in their own thoughts.
Just what secrets did this ziggurat hide inside its walls?...and even more disconcerting, what sort of beings had built it?
An hour or so later they could see other ziggurats in the distance; smaller in size, but just as impressive. They stopped momentarily, now just half a mile or so away; the suns had now set and the wind had dropped to almost a standstill. In the twilight sky a moon, half of the size of the planet itself, now took centre stage. The glow from the setting sun set the horizon on fire and the three of them had to gaze in wonder at the sheer magnificence.
As they neared the structure, tall plants and flowers and foliage of every kind appeared in prolific numbers. They were strange and curled and knobbed and ribbed. As they passed by them, the Doctor saw Jimmy walk right up to one of the tall bright flowers. It's petals were scarlet red and almost seemed to glow in the eerie light of this world. Jimmy stretched out his hand to touch one of the flowers....
"No Jimmy, don't touch it!" the Doctor shouted....but too late...
"Ah!!" Jimmy yelled as his hand felt like it had touched fire itself and his skin quickly turned bright red and blotchy.
"Doctor...my hand!...it's gone red!!!" Jimmy yelled.
The Doctor rushed over to him and examined it. He took out his sonic screwdriver to see if he could determine the toxins. His expression turned from shock to dismay. "Whatever sort of poison it is, I've never come across it before...and I'm afraid I don't know how to cure it....not here" he sighed.
"You can't do anything? What am I going to do Doctor?" Jimmy asked anxiously.
The Doctor couldn't answer.
"Why did you touch it Jimmy?" Thomas challenged him.
"....I don't know...it made me...."
"...It made you?" Thomas asked in disbelief.
"Jimmy, go back to the Tardis and rest" the Doctor suggested.
"No I'm ok" Jimmy replied, shaking his head.
"Do as the Doctor says Jimmy. You should rest" Thomas suggested.
"No. I feel okay. I want to come too."
"Doctor, can we not help him?"
The Doctor sighed, already feeling regret. "Hopefully. Best we carry on for now." He turned to look at the structure. "Maybe, in there...lies the answer" he added soberly.
Several minutes later, the three of them stood at the gigantic structure's threshold. Surprisingly, the entranceway was open, no gate or door barred their way in.
"That's unusual" the Doctor said quietly to himself.
Thomas looked at him. "What now Doctor? Do we go in?"
The Doctor visually scanned the building right up to its very top, searching for clues, but to no avail. He nodded his response to Thomas, and slowly moved into the thick blackness of the entrance. His companions hesitated momentarily, then followed him in.
No one spoke at first, the Doctor using the green light of his sonic screwdriver as their only source of illumination while the others concentrated on keeping as close to the Doctor as possible - their eyes only just able to make out the Doctor's outline infront of them - whilst trying not to trip over their own feet.
As their eyes slowly began to get used to the darkness, they were able to make out details in the rock walls around them. The Doctor felt at the walls along their route as he walked on. "Interesting" he kept muttering at random intervals.
"Wait!" the Doctor suddenly whispered loudly, coming to a complete stand still. Thomas managed to stop in time, but Jimmy ran right into the back of him.
"What is it?" Jimmy asked anxiously.
"Solid floor!" the Doctor exclaimed, tapping his foot lightly against it. "Stone..or something similar." He pointed the screwdriver at it and read the display. "Ah, marble in fact!"
"Does that mean anything Doctor?" Thomas enquired eagerly.
"Yes Thomas. It means we're going the right way. Come on!"
Presently he spoke again.
"Ah!...smooth walls....a corridor!" he exclaimed. "Well, now I feel right at home!"
"Do we have to go much further Doctor?" Jimmy asked petulantly. "I don't think we're ever going to find our way out again....and I hate feeling closed-in like this!"
"Actually Jimmy, I believe we've gone as far as we need to..." the Doctor replied in hushed tones, his screwdriver suddenly flashing a familiar pattern. "...I'm picking up lifesigns...hundreds of them!"
Thomas and Jimmy held their breath. Were they surrounded?...Were they safe?
A few paces more and they could all sense that they were no longer in the corridor.
"Hello!" the Doctor shouted and his greeting echoed around the large expanse they now seemed to be in.
"Let's throw some light on this!" the Doctor declared, holding his sonic aloft. Instantly, the light source that his sonic had detected burst into full illumination....
"Ah...I see" the Doctor remarked.
All travellers stared with widened eyes as they beheld row upon row upon row of hibernation pods that lay the other side of the great chamber in which they now stood. Every pod contained human-looking occupants.
"Are they all dead?" Jimmy whispered with dismay.
"I believe they're in stasis Jimmy...." the Doctor replied distractedly. " Oh, sorry, you won't understand that of course. They're not dead Jimmy....it's like they've all been asleep...for a very long time."
"So...I suppose that means they can wake up then?" Thomas added slowly.
"Yes I suppose they.....oops" the Doctor suddenly grimaced.
"What do you mean....oops?" Thomas wanted to know.
"Unfortunatley, it seems like I did more than just turn the lights on" the Doctor winced, as every stasis pod's glass door slowly began to open....
(to be continued)