Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Troubled Waters [1st Doctor, Ian, Barbara & Susan]

[With thanks to Craig Williams for the mock cover. No copyright infringement intended - all DW images and logos (c) BBC]

They had been together for a long time now, and a strong bond had formed between them. Through numerous trials and perils, fear had indeed made companions of them all. From the wastes of pre-historic Earth to the terrors of revolutionary France, the time travellers had grown to trust, like and rely on each other . . . and yet for each of them, under the surface, there still lurked a slight area of unease, memories of exchanges from early in their relationship that were easy to verbally forgive, but not mentally forget…

John Davies

Vast, un-chartered waters cover the Earth’s surface, and yet with all those potential discoveries, those unsolved mysteries, mankind strives to explore the skies. Humanity has always looked upwards for answers, be it through religion, astrology, astronomy or deep space exploration. The truth is up there, and there to be sought.

By aspiring to the heavens, the world is blinkering its view of the horizon, and the hells underneath. Unwatched, or lazily acknowledged, things occur that need closer scrutiny, but it is never given. Hypnotised by dreams, we stumble through life accepting the ordinary, the catastrophic and the horrendous events around us unquestioningly. That happened, it is fact. It can’t be rewritten, not one line, so why waste time dwelling on it.

Why indeed?

Maybe humanity should concentrate more on these truths before moving onto exploring others?

Even now it still amazed her. Although she had accepted the possibilities, the realities, of the situation long before her colleague, a sudden noise, a verbal exchange or a momentary flash back to her previous life would make her start, and marvel at the life she now lived.

“I suppose we are doing the right thing, aren’t we?”

The line, spoken by her in another life, another time, made her jolt in recollection. She looked deep into her mirrored eyes, the can of hair lacquer momentarily frozen, and noticed that she was blinking rapidly. No, her new life wasn’t always a marvel; it was sometimes a harsh lesson – certainly harsher that any history lesson she had ever taught. Of course, she has been taught the harshest history lesson of them all… in Mexico.

The can fell from her hand, landing with a harsh, metallic clatter on the floor, and Barbara buried her face in her hands sobbing, her hair only half coiffured.

Would those memories never fade, or be easier to handle?

“Grandfather! Grandfather!”

Inside a vast room, dominated by computer banks and a central hexagonal devise, a young, arch-faced teenage looking girl was stood staring around her anxiously. Her black hair was layered in a flat bob, albeit ruffled, and her eyebrows were raised in concern.


A loud, slightly exaggerated “harrumph” came from under the base of the hexagonal construct, and looking down, the girl, Susan, saw a pair of check-trousered legs horizontal on the floor. Dashing over, she knelt by the man lying there, “Grandfather, there you are!”

The man extracted his head from inside the column that held the mushroom shaped console, his long white swept back hair bouncing at the nape of his neck. He was an elderly looking man, but his eyes betrayed a hidden fire, a hidden youth and vitality for life. This was the Doctor.

“Well of course I’m here child, I told you I had a few repairs to do!” So saying, he theatrically produced a large handkerchief from his blazer’s top pocket and “harrumphed” deeply into it. “Noxious fumes in there, Susan … the Ship is experiencing some … some deep trauma that the fault locator can’t define. Some times I feel Barbara understands this –“ the man waved his hand, the handkerchief clenched tightly in his grasp, in an wide, large arc around him indicating the Ship – “more than I, or we do!”

For the first time, the Doctor noticed that Susan was still in her dressing gown, and the look on her face. “Susan, Susan my dear – you look distressed. Whatever is the matter?”

Susan started to speak, but her eyes brimmed with tears, and she started to cry, her body convulsing in huge, wracked sobs. The Doctor, in a surprisingly agile move, positioned himself in a protective manner around her, cradling her in his arms.

“So, “ he said, quietly and calmly, “You’ve had the dream again?”

Susan, nodded, and wiping the back of her hand across her nose, said, “Yes, Grandfather … this time even stronger. I could see their faces glaring at us. Hating us.”

The Doctor patted Susan on the head, holding her tightly as she wept. “There, there, Susan, everything will be alright, I assure you.”

However, the look in his eyes as he looked away toward a far wall in the TARDIS, the wall where the fault locator was housed, betrayed his evident lie.

He’d fallen asleep! How had he fallen asleep? He’d tried so hard to stay awake, to actually see him this time. For weeks he’d promised himself he’d stay awake, to be the one, the only one, to actually see him … but the excitement had overwhelmed him again.

Coming to fully, the sleep in his eyes making his eye lids stick until he wiped it away, the boy swung his 6 year old legs out of his bed, and onto the floor – the soles of his bare feet reacting to the icy temperature of his bedroom carpet.

It was dark, but he knew the layout of his room so well that he simply ran to the light switch and flicked it on. His disappointment at not seeing Santa suddenly forgotten, Ian ran from his room, shouting, “Mum, Dad – it’s here! It’s Christmas Day!”

It wasn’t the crash of his bedroom door slamming open that woke his parents, or his shrill voice proclaiming the day, as they had been awake for a while … their own desires to make this day special for their son paramount in their minds. They had saved for this present for months …Extra hours at the factory, an additional cleaning session here are there … But he had shown such potential they had to buy it … them …

Anyway, their son was awake … he was crying out for Christmas Day. As they heard him run down the stairs, they got out of bed themselves and made their way to the living room.

Ian stood in the middle of the main room, his eyes wide and displaying the excitement he was feeling. On the floor beneath the Christmas tree were a number of boxes, all wrapped in brightly coloured paper. Dropping to his knees, he let out a whoop of joy as he realised that most of the parcels were addressed to him.

Ian turned around as he heard his parents enter the room. They were smiling broadly, and quickly moved to sit on the floor with their boy. Answering the eager plea she read so easily in his eyes, Ian’s mother nodded, “Go on then, Ian… open your first present.”

Ian clapped his hands together excitedly and chose a gift at random – an oblong, hard package. His young fingers struggled with the wrapping for a brief time, but soon the gaudy Christmas themed paper was ripped apart, and the treasure within was revealed: The Boys Own Adventure Book.

Ian loved these books – and often imagined himself as the main character while reading them. Adventure, excitement, and a safe kind of danger on every page.

“Thanks!” He enthused, and then, unbidden moved onto the next gift, and the next. Before long Ian was sat in the middle of a mass of ripped paper, all his presents opened … all gratefully received … but now, it was over. In the bathos, Ian’s parents were still smiling … recalling their own memories of this particular moment of their very own Childhood Christmases.

Quietly, Ian’s father stood up, and went behind the sofa. “Oh, Ian?” he said, a playful note in his voice.

“Yes, dad?”

“Would you like one more present?”

The gleam immediately returned to Ian’s eyes. “Yes, please!”

Ian’s father chuckled, and winked at his wife. “Well, seeing as you’ve been such a very good boy this year, Santa agreed with your mother and I that you deserved something that extra bit special.” Ian’s dad bent down, and lifted a sizeable box from behind the sofa. It wasn’t wrapped in paper, in fact it looked a bit drab, just a regular cardboard box. And yet Ian felt great anticipation upon seeing it.

Ian’s father brought the box over to him, and laid it on the floor. “We hope you like it, son.”

Ian opened the flaps on the unfastened box and gave an involuntary jolt at what he saw inside. Reaching inside, he lifted a pristine test tube rack out, and held it in his hands. He stared at it for a good few minutes, not entirely sure of what to say.

His parents shared a look of concern. “Er, we know you’re still a bit young, son, but we’ve noticed how you always show such a keen interest in scientific stuff, and we wanted to get you something for your future.”

Ian blinked, and looked at his parents. “No … no…” he said, his voice shaky for no reason he could think of. “It’s nice …”

Ian’s mother breathed a slow sigh of relief, “Well, there’s more things in the box, darling. Have a look.”

Putting the test tube rack on the floor next to his Boy’s Own Adventure Book, Ian delved into the box again. Locating something metallic, he eased a microscope from within the box.

“And there’s more.”

Ian reached inside the box again …this time producing a box of test tubes … then a Bunsen burner …and jars of chemicals … and litmus paper … and a book concerning Einstein’s Theory of Relativity …

The gifts kept coming and coming, all from within this ordinary, standard shaped box … but surely that was impossible …

Ian looked down at his lap, and let out a yelp … but his voice was deeper than before. He was dressed in grown up trousers … and polished shoes. Scared, he looked toward his parents again … but they were gone. In their place were a white haired old man and a young teenage looking girl. The old man was chuckling to himself.

“No. Not quite clear is it? I can see by your face that you’re not certain. You don’t understand.”

Ian stood up, unstable on his feet. “No, not all of it … But I’ll get there.” Suddenly feeling nauseous, Ian felt his legs buckle and he fell against the box … or rather into it. Expecting the floor to hit him, Ian gazed in wide-eyed terror at the vast expanse of blackness that was now all around him as he kept falling…. And falling . . .And falling …

“Barbara!” he cried, but the only reply he heard was the Doctor’s manic laughter …

Ian woke up violently, and in his calm, softly humming bedroom realised that he was scared.

They were all together in the TARDIS control room, the Doctor was fussing over his beloved instrument panel, Susan was nearby, her personal mini-disc player set a level just below annoying, carefully checking off readings on a checklist, Ian was reclining on a chaise lounge, a pristine copy of a 1912 edition of the Daily Mirror draped over his face to aid sleeping and Barbara was sat on the same chaise lounge, Ian’s legs over her lap, engrossed in a Cadfel novel.

They were travelling through the space-time Vortex, on their way to they didn’t know where, they didn’t know when …and while Ian and Barbara always secretly hoped that their next landing would be in London, 1963, neither would deny that they were enjoying the detours along the way. At least not consciously.


Oblivious to her Grandfather’s call, Susan carried on checking the list on her clipboard. The Doctor looked over to her, and seeing that she was in a world of her own reached over and lifted the clipboard from her grasp. Startled, Susan gasped, her eyes wide – until she saw her Grandfather before her, clipboard in hand, staring at her in that self indulgent humorous manner than only ever seems to exist between grandparent and grandchild.

Giggling, Susan pressed “stop” on her mini-disc player and removed her earphones. “Sorry, Grandfather. I didn’t hear you …”

The Doctor smiled, “I gathered that, child. But why you were listening to a song called “That’s What I Go To School For” I’ll never know. We left all that Coal Hill non-sense behind didn’t we? Hmm?”

Barbara heard the exchange, and closed her novel. “I hope we are excluded from that remark, Doctor.”

The Doctor realised what Barbara meant, and looked crestfallen. “Oh my dear Barbara, that’s not what I meant at all. Please forgive me.”

Barbara laughed, “Doctor, you’re forgiven. Believe me, even though I love teaching, I must confess that my current life gives me more than enough to not miss marking badly written essays.”

“I’m glad to hear that, Miss Wright. I mean, although our paths may not have crossed in a way that we now desire, I’m sure that you can appreciate the benefits of seeing you planet’s history in actual fact.”

“Indeed I do, Doctor.”

“Even when things maybe unpleasant.”

Barbara looked sharply down at the TARDIS floor, and the Doctor immediately realised he had over stepped the mark. “Oh, Barbara – I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to –“

Barbara looked up, just as sharply, her tone measured, “No, Doctor, you were right. I should not have tried to interfere with the lives of the Aztecs, but you have to understand that I was only tying to do good, to save lives.”

The Doctor nodded sagely, “I always did, Barbara, but, and I don’t mean to sound patronising, you must remember that I do have a more, er, expansive knowledge of time and how it works.”

“I realise that, Doctor, but you can’t blame me for trying.”

“I don’t, honestly I don’t.”

A silence followed, and it was left to Susan to break it. “What did you want, Grandfather?”

“Hmmm?” the Doctor muttered, his attention brought back into focus. “What did I want? Oh, oh yes of course … Please excuse me, Miss Wright.”

Barbara laughed, “You are, excused, Doctor. I needed to get back to the monastery anyway.”


Barbara indicated her book, and the Doctor nodded, “Ah, yes, very good … very good… Now, Susan, remember those noxious fumed I mentioned?”

Susan’s face blanched, “The night of my nightmare?”

The Doctor quickly placed a finger across his lips, “Shhh. Shhh, child.” Pulling his Granddaughter closer, the Doctor whispered, “The fumes have stopped … and you know what that means.”

Susan tilted her head back to get direct eye contact with her Grandfather, “N-no… what does that mean?”

The Doctor looked into a non-existent horizon. “It means that we’re arriving at the source of the time interference that caused those vapours.” Closing his eyes, the Doctor continued, “And I have no idea of what to expect out there when we land.”

Susan was about to ask a question, when the entire console room rippled, vibrated and threw all four time travellers sprawling … knocking each and everyone of them unconscious.

Unprepared for the assault, Ian had collided head first with the plinth of the TARDIS console, and a rivulet of blood ran from his forehead, over the base of the unit, and started trickling across the floor . . .

He was aware that he was coming round, but the sensations in his head made him instinctively aware that he didn’t really want to. Tentatively, Ian opened his eyes, but the harsh glare of the console room made him shut them again. Placing a flattened palm against his forehead in a vain attempt to stop his head swimming, he attempted to open his eyes again … this time with more success. The room was in chaos.

Chairs, ornaments and clocks littered the floor of the console room, and amidst that debris Ian could clearly see the sprawled bodies of the Doctor and Susan. Concern taking a primal hold of him, Ian started to attempt standing up … where was Barbara? … but the waves of disorientation hit his senses with force, and he collapsed forwards, retching.

“Ian!” The voice was definitely Barbara’s, and despite being physically sick, Ian felt a rush of relief that his colleague was seemingly ok.

When he nothing left to expel, Ian tried to rise again.

“Ian, don’t try to move. You’ve taken a nasty hit on the head … here, I’ve got some bandages.” Barbara knelt beside Ian, gently cleansing, and then bandaging his thankfully not too severe head injury. “I’ve tried to revive Susan and the Doctor, but they’re out cold. I’ve just put them in the recovery position until they come to …”

Ian winced as the bandage was finally secured with a safety pin. “Is it too tight?”

Ian laughed, immediately regretting it when the noise caused his head to expand and echo his laugh in the huge, gothic cathedral that now seemingly housed his brain. “No, no, it’s fine, Barbara. What happened?”

Barbara looked around her, and Ian saw the bewilderment in her eyes. “I d-don’t know, Ian. The Doctor and Susan were checking the console, you were asleep … I was reading … I remember having a brief conversation with the Doctor, and then the whole room simply … went crazy. I fell, and the next thing I recall is waking up, and seeing you … unconscious, and bleeding. Why is it that every time things are peaceful, something has to go wrong like this? It’s as if there’s someone watching us, somewhere hidden, out of sight, trying to make sure we can never be truly happy.”

Ian sighed, “I know what you mean, Barbara … but we always survive, don’t we. We get through.”

“But that’s exactly it, Ian, we ‘get through’… but what are we picking up as we pass through? It’s not like we simply revert back to square one after all these adventures, is it? People die, others are hurt … it’s changing us. I’m not the same person I was that night when we explored that junk yard … I-I quite honestly don’t know who I am at times.”

Ian gazed in concern at Barbara, and gently squeezed her hand, “And the dreams don’t help, either, do they?”

Barbara looked shocked, “You get strange dreams as well?”

“Occasionally. I don’t recall much about them when I wake up, only that they are very vivid, very real at the time. I don’t know Barbara, maybe it ties in with what you were saying … We are changing, and our minds are striving to adjust to these changes as we sleep … Something else that’s lurking unseen, eh?”

Further conversation was halted by the sound of the Doctor coughing.

“Ian, are you – “

“Yes, yes I’m fine, Barbara – you go and see to the Doctor. I’ll just concentrate on getting this room back into sharper focus!” Closing his eyes, Ian fell into a light sleep.

Barbara crossed over to where the Doctor lay, and as he rolled over in an attempt to re-orientate himself, she noticed the burns on his right hand for the first time. They were not too deep, but they would need treatment, and protection from infection.

“Miss Wright, is that you?”

Barbara smiled, “Yes, Doctor. How are you feeling?”

“Groggy … decidedly groggy. And my hand …”

“I think you’ve suffered a few mild burns … maybe part of the Ship exploded in the .. the, well whatever it was.”

“Hmmm… Yes…” Suddenly back in the real world with surprising ease, the Doctor looked Barbara straight in the eyes, concern deeply etched in his expression, “Susan? How is Susan?”

“She’s still unconscious, Doctor, but sleeping soundly. I think Ian and yourself took the worst of it. I’ll just go and get the first aid kit to treat your hand.”

“Yes, thank you Miss Wright … A proper Florence Nightingale, eh? He he.”

Barbara laughed softly at the Doctor’s joke, and went to fetch the first aid kit. As the TARDIS’ inner door closed behind her, the Doctor stood up and, locating his fallen Granddaughter, inspected her for injury.

Detecting no visibly signs of harm, the Doctor closed his eyes, and sighed heavily. “Oh, Susan, Susan my dear. I’m so terribly sorry. You always seem to be getting harmed these days. You were so safe back home. Maybe it was a mistake to bring you with me when I left …”

“Doctor? Doctor, is that you?”

“Chesterfield!” The Doctor enthused, brought out of his reverie, “How are you, dear boy?”

“Well, apart from a very sore head, I think I’m alright. Must have nodded off for awhile after Barbara tended to me.”

“Barbara is tending to everyone, today, it seems. I think we’d all be quite lost without her.”

Ian paused, a random, stray thought passing through his mind, but then he cleared it, “Yes, indeed, Doctor. So, how are you?”

“Me? It appears I sustained some mild burns on my right hand, but nothing too drastic.”

“Well, drastic or not,” Barbara exclaimed while returning to the console room, they still need treating. Now, sit down on that chair, and I’ll see to your hand for you.”

The Doctor and Ian exchanged a knowing look, and the Doctor chuckled, “Very wise, very wise my dear. My hand, as they say, is yours…”

As Barbara administered care to the Doctor’s injuries, Susan regained consciousness. Physically unharmed, she sat upright, and after a few seconds of looking extremely disorientated, appeared to regain her natural composure very quickly. Seeing her Grandfather was being attended to, she let out a sudden gasp, “Grandfather! Are you alright?”

Noticing that Susan had come round, the Doctor turned to address her, “Ah, decided to stop snoozing have you, my child? He he. I am very well, Susan – although my hand has suffered a few minor burns.”

“As long as that’s all.”

Having bathed the burnt hand in water for several minutes, Barbara was letting it drip dry before applying the cling film to protect and keep the area sterile. “It may only be superficial, Doctor, but I’m still going to insist you wear a sling for awhile.”

“But there’s no need for that, Barbara -!”

“Aha – let someone else be a doctor for once, will you, Doctor. I think I know best on this.”

“Barbara’s right, Grandfather. She’s very good at first aid, she even taught me when I was at Coal Hill.”

Clearly not overly happy, the Doctor grunted, but agreed to the sling. Looking at Susan, he said, “You do realise this means you’ll have to help me fly the ship now, don’t you.”

Standing, Susan nodded, “I know … but don’t worry about that. Just concentrate on getting better.” Seeing Ian propped against the chaise lounge for the first time, “And you, Mr Chesterton. I hope that injury looks worse than it is!”

“It is, Susan, “ Barbara assured her, “I think we’ve all escaped lightly considering what happened. Whatever it was.”

“Quite right, Miss Wright. We need to focus on the positives.” As the sling was secured around the Doctor’s neck, he added, in a voice to quiet to be audible, “Because the negatives here maybe indefinable.”

Ian, once again on his feet, crossed over to inspect Barbara’s handiwork, “Hmm, very good, Barbara. If ever we land in Egypt we can let you loose on the Mummies!”

Barbara gave Ian a withering glance, but smiled none the less. “So, Doctor, what do you think has happened?”

“What?” The Doctor said, clearly trying to affect the air of being distracted, “Hmm? Happened? Oh you mean the anomaly? I don’t know, I simply do not know … but we still seem to be in flight. Susan? Can you check the readings for me?”

“Yes, Grandfather, of course.” Having inspected the console, she reported, “Yes, everything seems to be fine … apart from two minor circuits which seem to have fused.”

“The pesky ones that caused me to have to wear this, eh?”

“I imagine so.”

“So,” the Doctor said, addressing his three companions as he walked across to the console. “We’re all relatively fine, no major technical problems … and we’re still in flight. I suggest we simply forget about the whole incident. It’s happened. It’s done.”

Ian nodded, gently massaging his cut temple through his bandage. “Agreed, Doctor. But you must confess, it is a curiosity.”

“Hmm? Curiosity? Do I look like a cat, Chesterton? Hmm? Let’s just move on. Now, let me just check the fault locator for those two circuits.”

Automatically, the Doctor tried to reach out with his right hand to flip a switch on the console. Realising his hand was tethered too late in the day to save face, he coughed, and, looking down at the instruments before him, engaged the appropriate switch with his left hand.

Susan giggled, trying to mask it behind her hand, but Ian and Barbara smiled openly ... as together they all moved to stand around the console, awaiting arrival at their next destination.

“Ian! Barba-ra! We’re landing!”

Susan’s loud, distinctive call carried from the console room to the general resting area a little way down the main TARDIS corridor, and the two school teachers looked up from their respective books.

“Well, Miss Wright, it appears that we are arriving at our next location.”

“I’m not even going to think about hoping it’s London, 1963 …”

Ian laughed, “Probably a wise decision!”

Barbara placed her book on a nearby table, and stood up, “Well, are you ready?”

Ian moved to join her, “As I’ll ever be!”

In the console room, the Doctor was busy making the final adjustments to aid the TARDIS’ landing, and Susan was watching on nearby. Hearing Ian and Barbara enter the room, Susan turned round, her enthusiasm clear for all to see.

“I always enjoy this part! It’s so exciting, the unknown …”

Barbara felt an involuntary shiver travel down her spine, as Susan’s intonation triggered off memories of her making a similar comment about the “English Fog”. Shrugging the memory aside, Barbara commented, “As long as it’s a safe ‘unknown’, I’ll be very happy indeed.”

“Now, now Barbara,” Ian exclaimed, “Where’s your spirit of adventure?”

“At this precise moment somewhere between the Lake of Mutations and the Cave of 500 eyes!” She laughed, “I just feel we could all do with a nice, long break, that’s all.”

The Doctor caught the end of what Barbara was saying, “A break, eh? Well, we’ll have to see what we can do about that, shan’t we? He he. We appear to have landed.”

Immediately, Susan operated the control for the scanner screen, and the four travellers turned to see what it would show them of the outside world.

“Well,” Ian observed, “That’s certainly -“

“Dark?” Barbara concluded, seeing as they all could … absolutely nothing.

“Well, it would seem we might need some torches, that’s all. Don’t be so defeatist! Susan, go and fetch a torch for each of us, and then we’ll explore outside the ship.”

“Is the atmosphere alright, Grandfather?”

“Yes, yes child – perfectly safe. Now, run along.”

As Susan went to the storage cupboard to collect four torches, the Doctor released the TARDIS door opening mechanism, and the heavyset doors whirred inwards.

Ian went to the doorway, and turned round, “I also think we’re going to need our coats … it’s pretty cool out there.”

“Have you any idea where we are, Doctor?” Barbara asked.

“Or indeed when?” added Ian.

The Doctor shook his head, “Sadly not. I fear that one of the circuits that fused feed that information to the location display. We’re in the dark in more ways than one!” So saying, he emitted a series of slightly unnerving chuckles.

At that point, Susan returned with a shoulder bag, and took a torch for each of them from within. The Doctor tested his worked with his good hand, and waved the beam at the underside of the console. “Good, good. Now, Susan if you would be kind enough to help me on with my cloak, when you’ve all got your coats on we can venture outside.”

Rapidly donning their coats, Ian and Barbara waited for Susan to fasten the Doctor’s cloak, and then one by one they filed from the TARDIS console room and out into the cool, dark unknown world beyond the ship.

It was dark, but their torches swathed through the gloom, fending off the pitch-blackness. The beams illuminated ropes, chains, cogs and pistons.

The Doctor broke the silence, “Well, it would appear that we are aboard a ship… what with all this, and the faint motion in the floor.”

“Yes, Doctor,” Ian concurred, “And we’re on Earth – judging by the writing on this metal work.”

“Metal, yes – so we’re not that far back in time, from your period, either.

Susan, her eyes still adjusting to the light deprivation, suddenly let out a high-pitched yelp as she backed against a particularly hot piece of metal behind her. Three torches were immediately pointing at her, and as she blinked in the glare, the travellers could see that Susan has backed against what looked like a boiler.

The Doctor rushed over to his Granddaughter, “Are you alright, Susan?” Barbara could see the concern in his eyes, as well as the frustration that he wasn’t able to provide his customary arm of comfort due to his sling.

“Yes, I’m fine, Grandfather. I backed away almost straight away. I was startled more than anything.”

“Good, good. Well, let this be a lesson to us all, we need to tread carefully. We appear to be in the ship’s boiler room, and in this level of lighting the place could be lethal.”

“Good advice, Doctor,” Ian stated calmly, “And we should strive to keep together as much as possible.”

Barbara started to nod, and realising that no one could actually see her that clearly, stopped. “Yes, most of our troubles seem to happen when we split up. And please don’t think I’m being pessimistic, but I have a strange feeling about this place.”

Ian was intrigued, “What do you mean, Barbara?”

“I don’t know … it just feels … oh, ignore me, I’m probably just reacting to the darkness.”

“No, no my dear, Barbara,” the Doctor said, joining in the exchange, “There’s a definite atmosphere here. I can’t quite put it into words myself, but I can sent, er, sense it. I agree with you both, we must stick together here – on no account should we -!”

A sudden scream from Susan curtailed any further words from the Doctor.

“Did you hear that?” she asked, her voice cracked with emotion. “Please tell me that you heard that?”

“Hear what, Susan?” Ian asked, trying to pitch his voice at a calming level. It didn’t work, as when Susan continued her voice was still as hysterical.

“I don’t know, a sort of shifting, groaning sound.”

Barbara shuddered, “Are you sure, Susan, I mean in a place like this – “

Susan was adamant, “I tell you I heard something!”

At that precise moment, just as Susan had described it, there was a sudden noise that sounding like something shifting, and then groaning … from somewhere close behind.

“Stay there!” The Doctor commanded, and then added, “Keep your torches trained on me - we must not get lost here!”

Ian, Barbara and Susan kept their torches pointing at the Doctor’s back as he started to tentatively inch forward toward the sound. Within a few feet he stopped, and started to chuckle.

Ian was bemused, “Doctor? What’s so funny?”

The Doctor’s chuckled became a fully formed belly laugh, and he reached forward with his left hand and moved to hit something with his torch. A sharp, metallic clank hit and then echoed in the air.

“Pipes, Chesterton. Pipes. Susan heard the sound of pipes in action.”

Momentarily feeling foolish, Susan quickly got an attack of the giggles. “Well, can you blame me in here?” she managed to say in-between her laughter.

“Not at all, Susan, “ Barbara assured her, also laughing. As the Doctor regrouped with them, she added, “So I think the sooner we find the door and a way out of here the better.”

“Barbara,” Ian declared in a very showmanship-esque manor, “Your wish is my command. Or rather,” he concluded, his tone back to normal, “This torches’ here.” Sweeping his torch to a wall nearby, the four travellers could clearly see the studded door Ian had spotted mere seconds before.

As one, the party moved toward the door. “Susan, hold my torch for me, would you?” Ian asked, passing the torch over before any answer was given.

“Of course, Ian,” Susan said, and holding both torches pointed them at the cogwheel set into the door. Bracing himself, Ian gripped the cog and started to turn it in an attempt to open the door.

“Hey,” he said in, his tone suggesting surprise, “This is really quite easy. This must be a new ship, there’s no rust or sign of wear on this.”

With a quick series of rotations, the cog released the door, and Ian cautiously cranked open the door. Strong, artificial light started to poor into the room from the doors outline, and careful to make as little noise as possible Ian opened the door enough for the four of them to ease themselves through and into the corridor beyond.

Blinking rapidly in the new light, Barbara switched her torch off. The others followed suit, and Ian closed the door firmly too behind them.

They had explored the plush, luxurious corridors on the levels above, awed by the splendour and opulence all around them. Barbara had already formed an idea of where they were, but the possibility was so exciting that she didn’t want to vocalise her theories in case it proved to be wrong.
However, as they meandered through the ship, and the passengers nodded, and doffed their tall hats to the time travellers, Barbara was sure that she was right. As soon as they found the magnificent, majestic sweeping staircase, a huge, multi-jewelled chandelier suspended above, Barbara was positive, and could not contain her excitement any longer.

“Ian, Ian,” she exclaimed, “We’re on the Titanic!”

Ian stopped simply gazing in awe, and nodded in agreement. “Yes, I would certainly have to agree with you on that, Barbara.”

Susan was confused, “What’s the Titanic?”

Barbara and Ian exchanged a knowing glance. Here they were again, further examples of the mystery of Susan Foreman that had piqued their curiosity. “Susan, you amaze me.”

“Why, Barbara?”

“You’re knowledge is so detailed in some areas, and yet so patchy in others.”

Susan giggled, “Really, Barbara you can’t expect me to know the names of all the ships that sailed on your planet.”

A nearby passenger raised an eyebrow at Susan’s remark, but politeness meant that they simply carried on their way.

“Susan, but this is the Titanic – one of the, if not the, most important ships in history.”

“Sorry, Barbara, but I don’t know anything about it. Grandfather, have you ever heard of it?”

The Doctor joined in their conversation for the first time, “Hmm? Heard of what, Susan?”

“This ship, the Titanic.”

“Of course, I have, dear child.”

Barbara sighed with relief, “At last. I thought I was going mad.”

“Oh yes, Susan – the Titanic was a gigantic feat of engineering and boasted the most fantastic, luxurious accommodation for its many, many passengers.”

Barbara’s brow creased, “Well, I know it could covey a lot of people, Doctor, but the way you say that makes it sound like this ship had a long serving history.”

It was the Doctor’s turn to look slightly confused, “But of course it did, Barbara.”

Ian and Barbara’s deepening bond showed as they chorused, “But it sank!”

The Doctor’s face was grim. “What are you talking about?”

Barbara was incredulous, “The Titanic sank, Doctor. On Monday 15th April 1912, the Titanic sank.”

“Ha!” the Doctor cried, “None-sense child, absolute none-sense.”

“Doctor, you may know a lot more about certain things than I’ll ever know, but I know this as fact! Ian, tell him.”

Ian noticed that this particular conversation was drawing more interest than “polite ignoring” could sustain for long. “Er, maybe we should find a room in which to continue this?”

The Doctor saw what Ian meant, and as a group they moved back to the passenger quarters, and managed to locate an isolated room. Once settled, Ian readily sided with Barbara, “She’s right, Doctor – the Titanic sank. It’s one of the greatest tragedies of the Twentieth Century.”

Barbara closed her eyes, recalling the newspaper report she had traced at her local library when she was researching the sinking of the Titanic. Bringing the front page of the Daily Mirror into her minds eye, she relayed the text word for word, “ ‘Disaster, it was reported yesterday, has overtaken the great steamer Titanic, the largest and most luxuriously appointed vessel afloat. The liner, which is the latest addition to the White Star fleet, left Southampton last Wednesday on her maiden voyage to New York, and was in the vicinity of the Newfoundland banks, to the south of Cape Race, when she struck an iceberg, an ever-present peril in those latitudes at this time of year. “Wireless” has again demonstrated its immense value, assistance being summoned by this means.’”

The Doctor sniffed, “Very impressive, Miss Wright, but all completely untrue.”

“Doctor, why won’t you believe me?”

“Because the Titanic did NOT sink! It did not! It arrived safe and well in New York, and while it was always a proud, grand ship, it went largely un-remarked on for it’s years of surface, until it was decommissioned and scrapped to aid in one of the real tragedies of your Twentieth Century, the Second World War.”

Ian looked confused, “But Doctor, to Barbara and myself, the Titanic is as much established fact as that War. Our parents told us about it when we were children, and we in turn have taught our school children about it in history lessons.”

“Pah! You’re recorded history is full of erroneous entries, my man. Just because it is there, doesn’t make it fact. No, no – I am telling you that the Titanic didn’t sink.”

“Doctor,” Barbara continued, “I can see your point is this was ancient history, or accounts written after a war when the winning side writes the history, but this is recent history, there are people alive in our time that recall it happening, and there are many accounts written by survivors. For heavens’ sake, Doctor – there was even a film made about it!”

For the first time, the Doctor actually seemed to be hearing Barbara’s words rather than simply dismissing them out of hand. “But Barbara, be reasonable – “

Ian coughed, “Doctor, considering you’re telling us that one of the most famous events we know about never happened, I think Barbara’s been very reasonable.”

“What? Hmm? Oh, yes… I see what you mean. But can’t you see how worrying this is? We are both claiming that our views – sorry, Barbara – facts are the real ones … and we’re all intelligent enough to realise that that is clearly not possible. Hmmm? Now, I know for a fact that according to my history, the Titanic made a very successful, very well publicised trip to New York. You, on the other hand, state quite forcibly, and with apparent documented evidence, that this ship that we are on sank.”

“Yes, Doctor – it did!”

“Well, surely we can’t both be right, can we?”

“Well, no.”

“And have you thought this through, I mean really thought what you’re saying through to its conclusion?”

Barbara was confused, “What do you mean?”

“What do I mean? What do I mean? I mean that if, and I stress if you believe you’re version of history is the correct one, you seriously expect me, with these other memories, to allow this ship flounder, killing all those people, when we could save them?”

Barbara’s face blanched, but her conviction remained, “But Doctor, unfortunately they did die, this ship sank!”

“Not according to my history!”

“Well you’re history’s wrong!” Barbara shouted, and stood up, pacing the room in anguish. Coming to a dead stop, she rounded on the Doctor, “Why does it always have to be your words that are true, Doctor? Are Ian and I so insignificant? Do our views, our experiences count for so little? Sometimes I feel that Susan and yourself just tolerate us, or, even worse allow us to stay for some kind of perverse amusement.”

Ian’s face told the Doctor that he was feeling similar thoughts.

Susan, who had been quiet throughout the exchange, let out a cry, “Their faces, Grandfather! Those expressions! They hate us, they hate us!”

Crying, Susan ran to the door. The Doctor tried to stop her, but with his arm in its sling, he found it difficult, and Susan easily slipped past him out into the corridor.

“Susan! Come back here, child.” The Doctor called out, but she was already a corridor away.

The three remaining time travellers looked about themselves uncomfortably. Under normal circumstances, Ian would have run after Susan, but his loyalty to Barbara was paramount. The Doctor looked torn as to what to say or do, so it was left to Barbara to bring their minds back to the topic in hand.

“I’m sure she’ll be fine, Doctor,” concern for Susan still evident, despite the emotions surging through her body at the moment, “She’s not exactly the child you keep calling her.”

The Doctor nodded slowly, acceding to the wisdom in Barbara’s words. As for Barbara herself, she was immediately on the offensive again.

“What was it you told me in Mexico, Doctor, when we were with the Aztecs? ‘You can’t re-write history? Not one line!’”

“Quite so.”

“You’re asking me to re-write the entire book!”

“No, Barbara I’m asking you to accept the fact that maybe your book is fiction.”

“But –“

“Please, Barbara, let me finish. Suppose just suppose, I am right. That, somehow, something happened to your time line that warped it out of alignment and things happened that simply should not have happened. Are you with me?”

“Doctor, please don’t patronise her.”

“It’s alright Ian. Carry on, Doctor.”

“Thank you. So, maybe we have come here for a reason. Maybe time knows it has been altered, derailed, mutilated – and we are here to set it straight.”

“But that’s interfering, and you said –“

“I said interfering with time was impossible, Barbara, real time. And this is not real time.”

“I’m confused.”

“Yes, well it is tricky to get your head around. But it is a strong possibility. And,” the Doctor said, pausing for emphasis, “If I am right, and we are here to re-align time ,and we don’t, we just sit back, or go back into the ship and leave here – aren’t we committing virtual murder?”

Barbara felt the room start to spin, and rapidly found somewhere to sit. Slamming her face into her hands, she started to cry. “Oh, Doctor … what are we going to do?”

The Doctor grabbed his lapel, and stared straight ahead of him, his face haughty, and determined, declared: “We ensure this ship does not sink!”

From his position next to Barbara, his shoulder affording her protection, Ian glared at the Doctor, “How sure are you, Doctor? How sure are you that our version of events is wrong, and yours in correct.”

The Doctor’s expression didn’t waver. “I know it with every fibre of my being.”

Ian considered the words, the conviction … and the evidence he had seen of the Doctor’s wisdom and knowledge ever since they had opened the threshold to the TARDIS, that unassuming box that had held so many wonders, and made up his mind.

“In that case, Doctor, I’m with you.”

“Ian!” Barbara was aghast.

“Barbara, Barbara – we have no objectivity here. We’re just reacting from gut instinct. The Doctor has insight we could never dream of. He’s demonstrated it on many occasions. Perhaps in a heavy-handed manner, but it is there. If our time line is wrong, if we have been living through a false series of events, I know that the consequences will be grave, but they have to be faced. This isn’t a butterfly effect, it’s a whole army of them.”

“But – “

“I’m a scientist, Barbara – I can see the logic in what the Doctor is suggesting. It’s an equation. As a historian, you must have considered the possibilities of alternate time lines.”

The Doctor harrumphed, “Even tried to create one, I seem to recall.”

Ian shot the Doctor a stern look, “Not now, Doctor, eh?” Returning to Barbara, Ian continued, “What if time has been driven down a wrong path?” A sudden though struck him. “Doctor, that anomaly in the TARDIS?”

The Doctor looked puzzled, “What of it?”

“Don’t you see? What did it destroy? What did it stop us from seeing?”

The Doctor’s face cleared, “Where and when we are! Genius, my boy, absolute genius. The ship doesn’t recognise this time were in, it’s obviously in some state of flux. Aha!”

Barbara turned a tear stained face to the Doctor, “What do you mean, ‘Aha!’?”

The Doctor’s face was flushed, and he visibly exuded fervour, “It’s proof, proof at least that there is a problem with time here. And, as the most experienced dealer with time, I’d say I have the upper hand in the debate.”

Ian crouched down before Barbara, and took her hands in his, “Barbara, just consider it. He may very well be right – and these people’s only hope of survival.”

Barbara choked back her dying sobs, and nodded, “I know what you mean. Both of you,” she said, addressing the Doctor, “But you can see why this scares me, can’t you? How much of what we know is not true, if this can happen? Who’s to say what is reality, and what is not?”

The Doctor nodded wisely, “A good and sound observation, Barbara. And, without meaning to sound patronising, as Ian would have me described, when you were young and just as unsure about things, who did you turn to?”

Barbara looked unsure as to what the Doctor meant for a while, but then realisation dawned, “My parents.”

The Doctor nodded triumphantly, “Those with more experience, knowledge and wisdom. Well?”

“Well what, Doctor?”

“Are you with me? With me, and Chesterton?”

Still looking crestfallen, but clearly resigned to fate, Barbara simply said, “Do I have a choice?”

Susan ran through the corridors of the passenger ship, until she started to hear the sounds of people, and soft, lilting Irish music. Slowing to a walking pace, she suddenly felt exposed …and alone. How far had she run?

They had promised to stick together, and she had run away. But the images from her dreams had been so shockingly visible on the faces of Ian and Barbara … her teachers, her friends …and they hated both her Grandfather and her.

As her fright subsided, Susan’s more rational mind kicked in and she viewed the events of the exchange more clearly, with a level perspective. They didn’t hate them – they hated the situation. They were only humans, after all – scared, trying to accept concepts that their minds should never have been exposed to at this stage of their evolution.

Susan sighed, “And I wonder why Grandfather still thinks of me as a child!”

“Er, excuse me?”

Susan whipped round, startled at the sudden voice. Stood before her was slight young man, in rough, practical clothes and a floppy, blonde fringe. Despite her initial shock at seeing him there, Susan was amused to see someone of his young wears wearing braces just like her Grandfather.

“Are you, alright, lady?” The young man asked, clearly concerned, “A few of us are having a dance downstairs and I just happened to hear you running. I just came up to see if you were alright.”

“I’m fine, honestly, thank you. I think I’m a bit lost, that’s all.”

“Ah, we’re all lost in someway! What is your name?”


“Well, Susan, before I help you to find your way, may I ask if you dance?”

In response, Susan started to twist her wrist in strangle, angular arcs, and the young man’s face paled slightly. “Er,” he said, his faint American accent quavering slightly, “Maybe I should just help you back to where you need to be.”

The door to the cabin opened, and Susan came through – to the evident delight of her Grandfather.

“Susan! I’m so pleased to see you!”

“Grandfather! Oh, Grandfather! I was lost, I ran … but thank fully a young American man helped me find my way.”

“It’s just nice to see you again, Susan. Barbara and I have been worried” Ian added.

“We don’t hate you, Susan, how could we? We’re friends.”

Susan’s faced betrayed the shame of her earlier outburst, “I know Barbara, Ian… and I’m sorry. I’ve just been having really strange dreams really, dreams in which you really do hate Grandfather and myself, and I never want that to happen. You, you …”

Ian prompted her from her sudden lapse into silence, “Yes, Susan. You can say anything to us, you know that.”

Susan swallowed, then in a face brimming with honesty, she said, “It’s like having a real family when you’re here. I mean, no-one can ever take away or replace Grandfather, but … oh, I’m not making much sense.”

The Doctor chuckled, “On the contrary, my dear. Your eloquence is beautiful to hear, and if your parents, your real parents were hear, they would understand your sentiments when it comes to these two fine examples of the human race.”

“Barbara, I think we’ve just been classified as ‘fine examples’”

Barbara laughed, without humour “At the moment, with what we are about to do I don’t feel particularly fine, but I agree with you on one thing Susan – we are family, but one with a difference.”

“What do you mean, Barbara?”

“We’re a family of choice. And like all families, we will laugh, cry, agree and disagree. We may even have periods of not liking one another, but I will never, ever hate you. Either of you.”

The Doctor held Barbara’s gaze, “Even in this?”

Slowly, Barbara nodded, “Yes, Doctor, even in this.”

“Grandfather, what happened after I left? What have I missed?”

The Doctor didn’t answer.

Time passed, and the TARDIS crew strived to be as inconspicuous as possible – while stealing guilty pleasures as they enjoyed the luxury all around them.

They quickly discovered the date, and realised that they had just two days until the alleged sinking was due to occur. They spent their nights back in the TARDIS, but in the daytime they surreptitiously explored the vast liner, always as a group in order to pass themselves off as a genuine family group. In this way they manages to get a good feel for where everything was … especially the bridge.

After forty-eight hours, the Doctor knocked on the door to Barbara’s bedroom.

“Come in.” she called.

Opening the door, the Doctor quietly entered her room. “It’s time.”

Barbara knew this moment would arrive, it was after all why they had stayed here, but the immediate lurch in her stomach and the numbness that followed still took her by surprise. In a monotone, she said, “I know, Doctor.”

“Are you coming with us?”

“No, Doctor. I’ll stay here. I know we said we’d stick together, but if it’s all the same to you, I will sit this one out.”

The Doctor’s face conveyed his understanding of Barbara’s emotions, “Probably the best decision, Miss Wright. Will you look after Susan, for me? I think the stealth we need will be more achievable at a duo.”

“Of course, Doctor.”

Just as he was about to leave, Barbara called the Doctor back, “Oh, Doctor.”

“Yes, Barbara?”

“Good luck.”

The old man smiled, and gently patted Barbara’s shoulder reassuringly. As he left to embark of his quest to restore history, Barbara found herself contemplating her reflection once again.

The bridge was crowded, so Ian and the Doctor had to be careful as they sidled onto it, each breath measured, every footfall calculated. If they were caught now, and locked away, then history would carry on down Ian and Barbara’s time line, and countless lives would be lost. They could not fail.

The Captain was there, staring out into the nights’ ocean view, clearly disturbed. He turned to address his crew. “Go, go to the passengers.”

His first officer vehemently shook his head, “No way, Captain. If you’re staying, so am I.”

“There’s nothing we can do. Our course is too close to this reported iceberg. Go, get the life boats ready.”

In the shadows, the Doctor whispered, “See the flux, Ian. The iceberg has crossed from your version of history into mine.”

The first officer was not moving. Looking stern, the Captain barked, “That’s an order! All of you, get off the bridge, see to the passengers.”

Defeated, but clearly far from happy, the crew left the bridge, and very shortly the Captain was the only figure left there.

It was Ian’s turn to whisper, “What now, Doctor, do we just rush him?”

The Doctor shook his head, advising caution, “Let’s wait a few seconds.”

“But this ship needs all the time it can get, surely.”

The Captain lifted his pocket watch, and flipped open the lid to study the time. He seemed to stay in that position for an eternity, but in reality it was a brief moment. Ian could feel the blood in his ears as his heartbeat raced.

And then it happened, something neither Ian nor the Doctor could ever have anticipated. At variance with all known naval laws and tradition, the Captain simply walked off the bridge.

Still whispering despite the room now being completely deserted, Ian put both their thoughts into words, “What on Earth?”

The Doctor clearly shared Ian’s bemusement, but saw the opportunity that had been afforded them. “Never mind, never mind. We have to act now. Here, reach into my inner cloak pocket, Chesterton … Found it? A small, box?”

Ian lifted the box into the open. “Yes, but what is it Doctor?”

As vague as ever, the Doctor replied, “Just a little something to boost up any pressure we, or should I say you, may apply to steering this vast ship.” The Doctor darted over to a particular part of the ships steerage, and placed the device securely in position. “Quickly my boy, the wheel!”

Grasping the wheel in both hands, Ian followed the Doctors instructions, and in his mind’s eyes pictured himself in the pages of one of those silly Boys Own Adventure books he used to receive at Christmas. Just like those square jawed heroes, this was all down to him now. It was his duty to save those lives, to allow this ship to dock, and secure history was repaired.

He only hoped that Barbara could learn to forgive him.

As the ships passage through the ocean started to shift, the Doctor chuckled, “Very good, very good!” Sensing someone else was in the room, the Doctor glanced over at the entrance to the bridge. Stood there was the ship’s Captain.

About to launch into some kind of explanation, the Doctor was amazed to see the Captain shake his head sadly, and simply walk away.

From the bridge of the Titanic, Ian, Barbara, Susan and a now sling-less Doctor watched as the skyline of New York came into focus. The Statue of Liberty stood proud, her arm raised permanently: offering peace, hope and freedom for those who sought it. Barbara gazed at the buildings. Even at a distance, they looked hugely impressive … and she wished they were going to be able to disembark, but she knew that their time here was over.

Turning to look at the Doctor, her hair still immobile despite the breeze that was whipping the Doctor’s fairer white hair around his head like thin, dancing shredded paper, she said. “Well, Doctor, it seems you were right. I can actually feel my memories, the false memories of this voyage fading.”

The Doctor nodded, “As I thought they might. You’re not angry with me, are you, Barbara?”

Barbara shook her head, “No, Doctor. After all, you were right. You have a perception that I envy, and one I know I will never have, or fully understand.”

The Doctor smiled warmly.

“And,” Barbara continued, “We managed to ensure these people survived, and are now able to lead the lives our time line deprived them of.”

“Quite so, quite so. Now, I think it’s time we made our way back to our ship, don’t you?”

Susan agreed, “Yes, let’s allow this ship to land, and our bad feelings fade. I hate it when we fall out.”

Barbara laughed, “So do I, Susan. We must strive to never to let it happen again.”

Ian joined in the conversation, “Oh, I’m sure it will.” He announced.

“Really, Chesterton? Why would you think that?”

“Because, as Barbara said earlier, that’s what friends and family do!”

United once more, the time travellers made their way back to the TARDIS.

Back inside the console room, the Doctor was finalizing things for take off. Susan was nearby, her mini-disc player on, helping with adjustments. Ian was reclining on the chaise lounge, and Barbara was back at the monastery, embroiled in intrigue.

Suddenly, the entire console room rippled, vibrated and threw all four time travellers sprawling … knocking each and every one of them unconscious.

Unprepared for the assault, Ian had collided head first with the plinth of the TARDIS console, and a rivulet of blood ran from his forehead, over the base of the unit, and started trickling across the floor . . .

Barbara was the first to recover, and immediately ran over to the Doctor and Susan. They were out cold. Turning them into the recovery position, she crossed to check on Ian. She gasped in alarm at the sight of the blood oozing from his forehead, but soon realised that it was a tiny cut, and would only require minimal treatment, and a bandage.

Before making her way to the first aid room, Barbara returned to double check on the Doctor. No, he was fine. For no particular reason, she felt the need to check his right hand … it was fine. Shaking her head, unsure why she had even thought about checking there, Barbara continued to collect the medical supplies she needed.

While she was out of the room, the Doctor came too. Momentarily dazed, he shuffled into a sitting position, absent-mindedly rubbing the back of his hand. Concern for Susan over coming him, he checked his prone Granddaughter. Relieved to find her perfectly fine, he noted the way she had been rested in the recovery position. Barbara! The Doctor smiled. A proper little Florence Nightingale. They’d be quiet lost without her.

Barbara … Chesterton? Where was Chesterton?

With amazing speed, the Doctor crossed to where Ian was sprawled on the floor. As he knelt to inspect him, Barbara re-entered the control room.

“Ah, Doctor, you’re well.”

“Hmm? Yes, yes, I’m fine. But look at Chesterton.”

“That? That’s just a slight cut, Doctor. I think it’s just caught a vein.”

“Oh, good. Well, I’ll leave you to tend to him.”

Rising to walk over to check on his instruments, the Doctor spotted a newspaper among the debris on the floor. Impulse driven, he picked the paper up. The Daily Mirror. Tuesday, April 16th, 1912. Under the date, the headline read:


Barbara looked up at the Doctor, and saw the look of intense concentration on his face. Having bandaged Ian’s head, she stood next to the old man, and read what he had read.

“Ah, the Titanic. Terrible tragedy, Doctor.”

The Doctor look momentarily confused, as if he was struggling to remember something vital, something primal … but then it passed. “Yes, yes Miss Wright. Shocking. Such a loss of precious life. If only there was a way we could alter that voyage, eh?”

Barbara nodded, but then laughed, “But Doctor, that’s history, and we can’t re-write history, can we?”

Looking each other straight in the eyes, the Doctor and Barbara chorused in unison, “Not one line.”

Both looked momentarily perturbed, but the moment passed.

That night, the Doctor slept. He didn’t often sleep, and when he did it wasn’t always a smooth ride. Tonight he slept soundly, as if this dream state was where he needed to be.

He was at the base of a mountain. The sky above him was purple. The trees all had silver leaves. Sitting crossed legged at the base of the hill was a hermit.

The hermit smiled at the Doctor as he approached. “Ah, dear, dear Doctor,” he said, his voice soothing, caressing, “You’ve still got a lot to learn about the mysteries of time…”

“What do you mean, hmmm?”

The hermit gestured for the Doctor to sit down. Once settled, the hermit passed a flattened palm across the Doctor’s face.

“Argh!” the Doctor cried, his mind suddenly filled with a multitude of disturbing, conflicting memories and facts. He saw a large four funnelled ship sink, then saw it arrive safely at dock. He saw his right hand burned, and then saw the limb scared, yet healed … before seeing a hand that had never been burned at all. A catalogue of information flooded his brain …

“What are you doing to me?” the Doctor demanded.

“Showing you time.”

“I, I understand time.”

“You understand some of it, Doctor. But not all of it’s many complexities. And you are in danger of becoming arrogant, maybe even, ‘patronizing’, in your understanding.”


“Yes, it was his word, but it was your deeds that led to me having to interfere.”

“You interfered?”

“Of course.”

“How? Why?”

“The anomaly. It was I. I saw you heading toward that liner, and wanted to test you.”

“And I failed?”

“I’m afraid, so. But don’t forget, despite your appearance, you are still very young…. And when young who do you turn to when you stumble, fall or are unsure of something? ‘Those with more experience, knowledge and wisdom’, maybe?”

The Doctor started at the words, recalling them falling from his very mouth.

“But you weren’t unsure were you? You were so certain, I believe with ‘every fibre of your being’”

The Doctor’s head drooped.

“A shame, considering I was there.”

The Doctor looked up, alarmed, “You were there? Where?”

“Anomalies, Doctor. Think anomalies.”

Despite being brow beaten, the Doctor felt his hackled rise, “Look, just tell me. Stop talking in riddles.”

“I will not tell you, Doctor, you have to learn, you have to grow. You have a great gift, and with it comes great responsibility. I will guide you to the truth.”

“Well, get along with it. Don’t patron –“ the Doctor fell silent.

The hermit smiled. “You are now aware of two time lines Doctor. The one that is real, the one your friends believed in, carries a mystery.”

The Doctor considered the words. “The Captain!”

The hermit nodded.

“The Captain was never found! That was you!”

“Indeed it was.”

The Doctor was suddenly furious. Jumping to his feet, he pointed his walking stick at the hermit. “You could see I was wrong. Why didn’t you intercede, hmm? Why didn’t you help me?”

“Doctor, I am your mentor, your teacher. A teacher empowers his charge, they do not spoon feed them.”

“A clue would have been handy!”

“A clue? What else is Barbara.”

“Barbara?” the Doctor was confused.

“It’s no coincidence that your first travelling companions are teachers in their field, Doctor.”

“Science and History.”

“Your charges, Doctor. To educate, nurture and direct.”

“And to learn from?”

“Exactly, even teachers gain insight from their pupils.”

“But I didn’t know that, did I? Hmmm?”

“You do now.”

Deflated, the Doctor sank to his knees. “This is too much, too much … You’re telling me that what I believe in is on loose sand …”

“As you tried to convince Barbara.”

The Doctor looked up, a tear running down his face, “Am I beyond help?”

The hermit shook is head, “In no way, Doctor. No pupil is ever beyond help, they just need guidance. Beware arrogance, it can be persuasive to those with less knowledge than yourself.”

The Doctor wiped his tear away, “I promise, I will ….”

To the south of Cape Race, the latest addition to the White Star Fleet continued on its way to destiny … and disaster. It would sink, as it always had done, and as it descended to the bottom on the ocean, mankind would grieve, and then return its attention to the stars.

They had been together for a long time now, and a strong bond had formed between them. Through numerous trials and perils, fear had indeed made companions of them all. From the wastes of pre-historic Earth to the terrors of revolutionary France, the time travellers had grown to trust, like and rely on each other . . . and yet for each of them, under the surface, there still lurked a slight area of unease, memories of exchanges from early in their relationship that were easy to verbally forgive, but not mentally forget…

The waters remained troubled, the catharsis erased from the time lines forever.

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