from the back cover
Through a Space-Time Visualiser the Doctor and his companions are horrified to see an execution squad of Daleks about to leave Skaro on a mission to find the TARDIS and exterminate the time travellers. Eluding the Daleks on the barren planet Aridius the Doctor and his friends escape in the TARDIS. But this is only the beginning of an epic journey. As they travel through space and time, they try to shake off their pursuers by making a series of random landings—but the Daleks don’t give up easily. This is a chase to the death…
“Those who control the TARDIS have interfered with too many of our plans. They are to be destroyed. If necessary, the assassination group will pursue them through all eternity. Exterminate them!”
The Doctor, Barbara and Ian had faced – and narrowly defeated – the Daleks twice before. They had known that there was always the possibility that the Daleks would win. But the reaches of time and space had always seemed so safe – there was always the chance that if they were being overwhelmed, they could flee.
But now, the Daleks can track them through all of time and space. They try to shake off their attackers by making a series of random landings, but this is a chase to the death …
Doctor Who – The Chase, written by Terry Nation, the creator of the Daleks, was first broadcast in 1965, with William Hartnell playing the role of the Doctor. This adaptation is by John Peel, who is also the author of The Gallifrey Chronicles, the definitive history of the Doctor’s home planet and its people.
ISBN 0 426 20336 4
DOCTOR WHO – THE CHASE
Based on the BBC television series by Terry Nation by arrangement with BBC Books, a division of BBC Enterprises Ltd
Number 140 in the Target Doctor Who Library
A Target Book Published in 1989 by the Paperback Division of W H Allen & Co Plc, Sekforde House, 175/9 St John Street, London EC1V 4LL
Novelisation copyright © John Peel, 1989
Original script copyright © Terry Nation, 1965
‘Doctor Who’ series copyright © British Broadcasting Corporation 1965, 1989
The BBC producers of The Chase were Verity Lambert and Mervyn Pinfield
The director was Richard Martin
The role of the Doctor was played by William Hartnell
Printed and bound in Great Britain by
Courier International Ltd, Tiptree, Essex
ISBN 0426 20336 4
- Authors Note
- The Executioners
- A Speech in Time
- The Sands of Death
- The Victims
- Flight through Eternity
- Journey into Terror
- Fallen Spirits
- Who’s Who?
- To the Death!
- The Mechanoids
- The End of the Hunt
This book is not strictly an adaptation of the televised
version of The Chase. It follows, for the most part, the original
scripts for the show, as written by Terry Nation. As is the case
with most series, the original scripts were rewritten for various
reasons—to make scenes less expensive, to perform the
actions in a simpler way, or to add character touches to the
story. In the case of The Chase, the changes made from Terry’s
original scripts were sometimes quite extensive.
Faced with the task of novelizing either Terry’s scripts or
the televised ones (presumably the changes having been made
by then-story editor Dennis Spooner), I have in most cases
opted to stay with Terry’s versions. There are two main
reasons for this. Firstly, the original scripts delve more deeply
into the alienness of the creatures that the Doctor and his
companions meet. On the television, a lot of this was cut
simply because it would have been too expensive to film. In a
book, I am under no such constraints. Secondly, the television
version of The Chase exists in its entirety, and may some day be
seen again by British audiences. (American viewers are better
off, since they have the story in their syndication package.)
Thus, it seemed to me to be more interesting to novelize the
scripts that cannot be seen.
However, I did elect to retain certain sequences that
exist in the filmed version of the tale and not in Terry’s
scripts. I also made a number of changes in the Mary Celeste
sequence, to fit the final novel into the known facts about that
most mysterious of ships. Readers with enquiring natures can
find an excellent account of the facts in Mystery Ship, written
by George S. Bryan, and published by Lippincott in 1942.
Finally, this note would not be complete without
mention of Kate Nation—Terry’s wife—who unearthed the
original scripts for us; and of Nan—my wife—who read and
made relevant comments and suggestions throughout the
work. Accordingly, it is to these two ladies that this book is
dedicated. Without their help and encouragement, life would
be considerably more complex and less enjoyable.
1 – The Executioners
The room had a background pulse, like an electronic
heart slowly beating. The lighting was subdued, too dim for
human eyes. There were no human eyes present, merely the
computer-augmented lenses of the Dalek monitoring staff,
and that of the Black Dalek. On an elevated ramp, it moved
backwards and forwards, slowly and patiently, its eyestick
turned to survey the instruments in the pit below. Flickering
lights played across the many instruments and sensors,
though none in the pattern that the Black Dalek’s inbuilt
computer was waiting for.
Finally, the screens lit up with an electric-blue pattern,
shifting and changing, spiralling inwards on the main
monitor. The Chief Scientist spun around. ‘The enemy time
machine has been located,’ it reported formally, though the
Black Dalek was already aware of the fact.
‘It has just left the planet Xeros,’ the scientist answered.
‘Our projections place its next destination as the planet
‘Acceptable,’ the Black Dalek replied—its highest
compliment. ‘Order the special squad to assemble in the
The Black Dalek moved out of the room, heading for
the Project itself. Years of planning were finally reaching the
day of action. For decades, the Daleks had been balked in
their plans to expand and take their rightful place as the
masters of the Universe—chiefly through the activities of a
single being. Now, however, the balance would be restored,
and their greatest enemy would be destroyed. Ahead of the
Black Dalek, a door slid open, and it entered the special
Project Room. An elevated ramp allowed it to look down at
the featureless box in the centre of the room. This stood some
eight feet square, with a door on what was obviously the front.
Nothing else marked it as being the single greatest
achievement of Dalek technology.
Below the ramp, another door opened, and the special
team entered, to form a precise line in front of the box. Their
eyesticks raised to face the Black Dalek, expectantly.
‘Our greatest enemy has been located,’ it informed
them. ‘His location is being programmed into your
instrumentation. Your instructions are to follow —locate—
and destroy!’ It turned to trigger the large monitor screen on
the far wall. It sprang to life, showing what appeared to be a
London Police Box of the 1960s. ‘The TARDIS!’ the Black
‘TARDIS!!’ the assembled Daleks echoed.
‘Our enemy is the Doctor. His appearance has changed
many times over the years, yet our instruments have
determined his basic metabolic pattern. This has been
programmed into your computers. You are to locate and
exterminate him. Exterminate!’
With satisfaction, the Black Dalek watched as its Daleks
filed into their own time machine. Shortly after the final one
had entered, there was a strange, electrical tension in the air.
With a rush of wind, the box vanished.
The executioners were on their way to intercept and
destroy the Doctor. The Black Dalek paused for a short while,
then turned and left the room. It would wait in the
monitoring room for the inevitable report that the Doctor had
2 – A Speech in Time
The Space/Time Vortex exists outside of any normal
frame of reference. Within it, light, darkness, matter and
energy all blend, divide, shift and change. It underlies the
whole of Creation, touching the normal Universe only
slightly. Its pathways are twisted, unstable and hard to follow.
A journey through these strange dimensions might take a
moment and carry a traveller a million years and a billion
light years from his/her/its origin. Alternatively, a journey of
months in the Vortex might end in a shift of six feet and ten
days in conventional space. Without being able to calculate
the pathways, there was simply no telling.
The TARDIS ploughed through the Vortex without any
kind of plan. It was a time and space craft whose exterior
belied its sophisticated construction. It looked like a Police
Box on the outside, but within its apparently cramped
confines lay a huge, technologically advanced craft. It was
quite capable of choosing any of the myriad paths through the
Vortex and passing along them—provided the navigator
knew what he was doing. In this case, the navigator was
known simply as the Doctor. He had very little knowledge of
what he was doing in terms of guiding the ship. He had
simply—well, he liked to call it ‘borrowed’, but other people
have stronger and blunter words for it—the craft. He had lost
the operational notes he had taken some years before in the
prehistoric dawn of the age of man on Earth. As a result, the
TARDIS simply followed the shifts and changes of the Vortex
wherever they might lead.
The Doctor was not at all bothered by such random
wanderings. He was getting on a bit in years—almost 750 by
now—but had not yet undergone his first regeneration. His
body was a bit worn thin, aged (‘matured’ was the word that he
preferred), and with a mane of flowing white hair. He had
developed a number of traits that marked him indelibly in
people’s memories—brusqueness, self-congratulation and
irritability being among his good points.
This was the third day of the current trip (all time being
measured from the stately ormolu clock in the control room),
and the inhabitants were getting rather bored. Ian
Chesterton—one-time science master of Coal Hill School—sat
reading in an elegant Queen Anne chair. A tall, handsome
and well-built man in his mid-thirties, he had undergone
many changes from teacher to a seasoned traveller in time
and space. He was now quite absorbed in his book, however,
much to the annoyance of Vicki.
She was the latest member of the TARDIS travelling
party, having been rescued from a crashed spaceship on the
planet Dido, some time in the twenty-fourth century. Vicki
was a healthy, cheery teenager, and had accompanied the
travellers expecting excitement and adventure. Three days of
being cooped up in the TARDIS were driving her crazy. She
was, after all, still a typical teen—whatever century she was
born in—and she hated doing nothing. Peering at Ian, she
asked, ‘Is it good?’
‘Mmm?’ Ian, still engrossed in the story, looked up. ‘Not
bad. Bit far-fetched.’ Then he went back to reading. Vicki
glanced at the title, Monsters From Outer Space, with its lurid
illustration of a multi-tentacled alien attempting to clutch a
virtually naked woman. The things he read! Still, he was too
absorbed to pay her any attention, so Vicki wandered off
through the doorways and into the activity room.
Barbara Wright was in there, working away with scissors
on a dress. She was a pretty, strong-willed and capable woman
of about thirty and had once been the history teacher in the
same school as Ian. Both had followed their mysterious pupil,
Susan, back to her home one night. They had stumbled into
the TARDIS and been whisked into a journey stranger than
even Scheherazade could have told. Susan had been left on
the Earth of the future to marry the man she had fallen in
love with. It had been hard for the Doctor to abandon her,
but he seemed to have taken Vicki into his heart as a
surrogate grand-daughter in Susan’s place.
‘I,’ Vicki said, striking a dramatic pose in the doorway, ‘I
am a useless person.’
‘Mnnsnsn,’ Barbara muttered, and then removed the
dressmaking pins from her mouth. ‘Nonsense,’ she repeated.
‘Come and give me a hand.’
‘What are you doing?’
‘Adapting some of Susan’s clothes to fit you. You can’t
wear one dress forever, you know—even if it is dirt-repellent
‘Do you think Susan would mind?’ To be honest, Vicki
had been getting bored wearing the same outfit constantly.
‘I’m sure she won’t. Come over here and put this on.
Let’s see how well I’ve—’
Whatever she might have said was totally lost in an
incredible ear-splitting whine that came from nowhere. Both
of them slapped their hands over their ears in agony, wincing
in pain. They ran into the control room, to find Ian likewise
in agony, and staring at the Doctor.
Giving the Doctor time to tinker about in the TARDIS
was always dangerous, but he had seemed to be happily
absorbed in the harmless activity of working on a machine he
had dragged out of the TARDIS laboratory. It was basically a
screen surrounded by a complex array of instrumentation. A
pile of plastic cards lay scattered about it, and the terrible
whine was coming from the speaker mounted just above the
screen. Ian rushed over, only to be pushed rudely aside by
the Doctor, who was armed with a large screwdriver, and
intent on attacking further controls.
‘What’s the matter with it?’ Ian yelled at the top of his
‘What?’ the Doctor howled back. Then he shrugged, and
turned his attention to the device. After a moment of
concentration, he applied the screwdriver, twisted, and the
howl died out. His three companions shook their heads to
clear the lingering effects of the noise and sighed.
‘I asked what the trouble was,’ Ian said. ‘Are you trying
to deafen us, Doctor?’
‘Deafen?’ the Doctor echoed, as though the possibility
had never occurred to him. ‘No, no, no, no, no, dear boy. Just
an unfortunate juxtaposition of the sonic rectifier and the
lineal amplifier.’ He stared at the machine again, like a lion-
tamer in a cage of hungry carnivores.
‘Oh, of course,’ Ian muttered, sarcastically. ‘I should
have known at once.’
Barbara was staring at the machine in fascination. The
TARDIS was so vast, and so cluttered with the junk that the
Doctor had accumulated, that she had no idea what the device
might be. ‘Just what is this, Doctor?’
Muttering to himself about work never getting done, the
Doctor turned around. ‘I told you,’ he exclaimed, though he
had not. ‘It’s a space/time Visualiser.’
Staring dubiously at it, Barbara pressed her luck. ‘Apart
from making that terrible noise, what does it do?’
The Doctor tucked the screwdriver absentmindedly into
an inside pocket, then gripped his shabby coat’s lapels.
Striking his stance as a lecturer, he informed her: ‘It taps into
the continuum of the Space/Time Vortex, converting the
photons there into electrical impulses.’
‘Oh, good,’ Ian enthused. ‘I’ve always wanted one of
‘Do I detect a note of sarcasm, Chesterton?’ the Doctor
Trying to stave off an argument, Ian apologized quickly.
‘I’m sorry, Doctor, but you rattle off explanations that would
have baffled Einstein, and expect us to know what you’re
Muttering something about small minds of human
beings, the Doctor decided he had better explain or he’d
never get any peace. ‘Oh, very well. Have you heard of
Venderman’s Law? “Light has mass and energy intermixed,
‘—therefore energy radiated by photons and tachyons is
equal to the energy absorbed,’ Vicki finished.
‘Splendid, child, splendid,’ the Doctor approved. ‘It’s
nice to find one sharp mind at least.’ He glanced pointedly at
Ian and Barbara.
‘It’s quite simple, really,’ Vicki interposed. ‘It just means
that anything that happened anywhere in the Universe exists
as light particles within the Space/Time Vortex and can
theoretically be reconstructed electronically.’
The Doctor beamed at her. ‘Couldn’t have put it better
Vicki started to look over the Visualiser in fascination.
‘You know, when I left Earth, scientists were trying to invent a
machine to tap into the Vortex and record the patterns there.
Then we could just tune in and witness any event in history!’
‘And that’s exactly what this does,’ the Doctor finished
for her, with a certain amount of what he felt was justified
‘A sort of… time television!’ Barbara exclaimed.
‘Precisely.’ Having established his superiority, the
Doctor was quite magnanimous. ‘I’ll give you a
demonstration. Chesterton—think of an event in history.’
Ian laughed. ‘All right.’ He thought a moment. ‘Now,
what do you need to know?’
‘First of all the planet.’
The Doctor moved to the control panel, and began
adjusting the controls. Having punched in a long code, he
picked out one of the plastic cards, and inserted it. ‘Now the
time and as accurate a location as you can manage.’
‘Pennsylvania, USA,’ Ian said firmly. ‘November 19th
Nodding, the Doctor worked further controls. The
screen came to a flickering life, as the Doctor adjusted the
settings. Finally, it came into a burst of colour, and the picture
focused. The three onlookers leaned over the hunched back
of the Doctor, staring at the screen. It was as if a camera were
zooming through narrow streets of wood-built houses, until it
narrowed on to a field. There was a rough platform, on which
a tall figure stood. Behind him stretched marker after marker
in neat order. Before him, a crowd of people waited
expectantly. The picture settled on the man, and his familiar
‘Fourscore and seven years ago,’ Abraham Lincoln
began, slowly, clearly, sonorously, ‘our fathers brought forth
on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and
dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.’
Ian and Barbara looked at one another, astounded.
Vicki glanced at the Doctor, impressed. The Doctor, naturally,
gripped his lapels and looked rather smug.
‘That’s—Abraham Lincoln!’ Barbara exclaimed.
‘That’s what I asked for,’ Ian laughed, not quite
believing it. ‘The Gettysburg Address.’
Unconscious of these strange watchers, Lincoln
continued. ‘Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing
whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so
dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield
of that war…’
The time travellers watched, with rapt attention,
through to the end of Lincoln’s speech.
‘It is for us to be rather here dedicated to the great task
remaining before us—that from these honoured dead we take
increased devotion to that great cause for which they gave the
last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that
these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under
God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that the
government of the people, by the people, for the people shall
not perish from the Earth.’
Lincoln paused, his speech over. Thunderous applause
greeted him from the assembled crowd, as the Doctor
adjusted the controls, and the picture faded away. There was
silence a second, then Barbara pressed forward. ‘Can I choose
‘And me!’ Vicki exclaimed. ‘Please—can I?’
Smiling benevolently, like Santa at Christmas, the
Doctor nodded. ‘All in good time, all in good time. You can
both have a turn. Come along, Barbara—you watched me at
the controls. Now you select a slice of history for yourself.’
Barbara bit her lip, concentrating, then moved forward
to manipulate the instrumentation. ‘There is something I’ve
always wanted to know,’ she said, wistfully.
‘Oh?’ Ian leaned over her shoulder. ‘What?’
‘Come on,’ Vicki laughed. ‘Tell us!’
Barbara pulled a face. ‘You’ll see in a minute.’ She
pressed the actuator, and all eyes turned to the screen. The
interference cleared, and a picture began to form. It seemed
to focus on a window, then pull back. About the leaded glass
was highly polished wood. As the picture clarified, it revealed
a tall, thin man in Elizabethan costume. He was staring at a
second, more rotund figure in disgust, as if he had been some
insect crawling over the floor. The picture was finally
complete as it also included a stately woman on a throne. She
was obviously past her best, her skin powdered a pure white,
her hair a hennaed red. This was clearly none other than
Queen Elizabeth the First. She regarded the portlier man with
some degree of hauteur.
‘Master Shakespeare,’ she said, coldly. ‘Many people
have been talking of your latest play. They tell me that your
figure of Falstaff is based on none other than Sir John
Oldcastle.’ After a short silence, she prompted, ‘Well?’
The playwright took a deep breath, wondering what his
chances were of living to pen another line. Finally, he decided
that perhaps telling the truth was his best course. ‘Ah, yes,
your majesty, he is.’
‘Aha!’ Elizabeth exclaimed, glaring triumphantly at Sir
Francis Bacon. ‘I thought so. Well, pay it no further mind. I
myself have an excellent idea of the subject for your next
Shakespeare was caught between relief that he had been
let off so lightly and apprehension that he would be strictly
told what to write in future. ‘And—ah—what might that be,
most gracious lady?’
‘You shall write,’ the Queen began, and then paused,
dramatically, ‘of—Falstaff in love.’
His smile definitely forced, Shakespeare bowed. ‘An…
excellent idea, your majesty.’ He started to retreat, only to
run into Francis Bacon behind him. The two men left the
room, and Shakespeare felt Bacon’s hand on his shoulder.
‘I, too, have an idea that you might wish to use,’ Bacon
Was there no end to this? Shakespeare took a deep
‘Have you heard of the history of Hamlet, prince of
Denmark?’ Bacon sounded as though he had discovered the
Shakespeare sniffed, loudly. ‘Not my style at all, I assure
you,’ he said quickly, and then left.
Bacon stared at the open door in disgust. ‘Scribbler!’ he
snarled in contempt, and turned back to the court.
Outside, Shakespeare paused, in thought. ‘Hamlet,’ he
mused. ‘Then again…’
The picture broke up. Ian laughed, and put his arm
round Barbara’s shoulder. ‘Is that what you wanted to know?’
‘I’m not sure. I only wondered if Shakespeare had really
written his own plays, or if Bacon had been their real author.
It was a chance to find out for certain what literary scholars
have argued over for centuries.’
None of this mattered to Vicki, who cared nothing for
plays or poetry. Instead, now that it was definitely her turn,
she dived for the controls and began to manipulate them.
Finally, she grinned in satisfaction. The other three turned
with her to watch her choice on the screen.
It was clearly some sort of a television programme that
Vicki had tuned into. Judging from the clothes, it was from
the 1960s. Barbara felt a strong twinge of homesickness. One
man, with a microphone, smiled professionally at the cameras.
‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ he announced, ‘the… fabulous…
The camera switched to the famous foursome, which
immediately broke into a song that neither Ian nor Barbara
recognized. It was ‘Ticket to Ride’, written two years after the
teachers had been snatched away in the TARDIS by the
Doctor. By the look on Vicki’s face, though, she recognized
the tune—and seemed somewhat disappointed.
‘Don’t you like the Beatles?’ Ian asked.
‘What? Oh, yes, they’re good. It’s just that… well, I
didn’t know that they played classical music!’
‘Classical?’ Barbara spluttered.
Ian raised an eyebrow. ‘Get with it, Barbara—times
change, times change.’ He couldn’t help laughing at the
expressions on both of their faces. ‘I’11 bet that by Vicki’s
time they’re into something really weird and calling it music!’
Before either of them could respond to this cheek, a
loud tone from the mushroom-like control panel brought
them round. Vicki’s hands caught the settings on the
Visualiser, and the picture faded.
The Doctor, the episode with the Visualiser now
forgotten, moved towards the panel. ‘We’re landing,’ he
announced. Barbara and Ian could not help looking at one
another in a mixture of hope and worry. Where in all of time
and space were they going to appear?
3 – The Sands of Death
The scanner showed nothing but sand and rocks in all
directions. The sky held two suns, which immediately dashed
any hopes that the TARDIS had stumbled back on to the
Earth again. The sky was completely devoid of clouds, and the
whole place looked totally lifeless. After a few more minutes
fussing with the controls, the Doctor looked up.
‘Everything’s perfectly all right,’ he announced,
cheerfully. ‘Oxygen a bit high, gravity a little greater than on
‘It looks hot,’ Barbara observed.
‘And small wonder,’ the Doctor replied. ‘Those twin
suns are very close, cosmically speaking.’
Ian was in good humour. ‘Just right for a day on the
‘As long as you don’t go looking for the water,’ the
Doctor quipped back. ‘I think it’s safe to go out.’ He opened
the doors, and led the way. Ian lingered to put on a flashy-
looking blazer; might as well look the part of a day tripper, he
Outside, the heat would have been oppressive, had the
air not been so dry. It did indeed seem like a day at the beach.
Vicki, ever impatient, asked: ‘Are we going to explore?’
Not fancying a walk in this heat, Barbara said dubiously,
‘Doesn’t look like there’s much here.’ Shading her eyes
against the glare, she looked about. ‘Just miles and miles of
Facts weren’t enough to dampen Vicki’s enthusiasm.
‘But you don’t know that for sure,’ she cajoled. ‘I mean… just
over that sand dune over there might be a city—or a space
station or, or anything!’
Affectionately, the Doctor patted the teenager on her
shoulder. ‘Always have to know what’s on the other side of the
hill,’ he smiled. ‘Well, go along child. I don’t see what harm
you can come to.’
‘Aren’t you coming?’
‘No, no, no, no, no. I’d find walking in all this heat a
little strenuous.’ He glanced around at Ian. ‘Chesterton, you
go with her.’
Laughing at the Doctor’s attempts at avoiding exercise,
Ian agreed. ‘All right,’ he told Vicki in mock tones of severity,
‘but only to see over the next ridge.’
‘Of course,’ Vicki promised, in a tone that suggested
nothing of the kind. She grabbed his hand, bursting with
energy now that they were free of the TARDIS again. ‘Come
‘I’ll stay with the Doctor,’ Barbara said, before she could
get invited along on this little trip. Ian laughed, and then gave
in to Vicki’s insistent pulling, and set off with her.
The Doctor chuckled to himself, then returned to the
TARDIS. In a moment, to Barbara’s surprise, he returned
with two deckchairs. ‘May as well enjoy the sun,’ he suggested.
Barbara accepted a chair gratefully, noticing that it had
‘Blackpool Beach’ stamped on it. As she settled down in it, she
idly wondered what the fines on a chair several hundred—or
million—years overdue were…
Vicki had already made a find. She was kneeling beside
a peculiar stain on the sand as Ian caught up with her. ‘Over
here,’ she called. ‘Look at this.’ The stain glistened wetly, a
dark-red colour. She touched it, and it felt warm and slimy.
Ian crouched beside her. ‘What is it?’
‘I don’t know.’ She looked up, scanning the sands.
‘There’s more of it over there… and beyond that. It’s like a
sort of trail.’ She rose to her feet, and Ian stood too.
‘I think it’s blood of some kind,’ he announced, grimly.
So this world wasn’t lifeless, after all. ‘Let’s just take a look
where it leads—but any sign of trouble, and we go back.’
Nodding, Vicki started along the pathway of—blood?
Ian, still disturbed by this, moved after her. He would have
been even more disturbed had he glanced back.
By the stain, the sand was shifting slightly, stirred from
below. Slowly, something began to emerge from under the
surface, rising vertically. It was a dark, sandy colour, like the
stem of a large plant. In its tip, however, was a multi-faceted
eye which stared after the two figures that plodded off into
Barbara rolled over slightly, luxuriating in the warmth
of her skin. It seemed to her that far too few of the planets
they visited were as peaceful as this. No monsters, no alien
menaces, no running for their lives, no getting involved in a
history that had once only been preserved in books for her—
just relaxing in the sun. ‘I suppose with two suns I’ll get
brown twice as quickly,’ she murmured.
The Doctor wasn’t listening. Instead, he was letting sand
slip through his fingers, enjoying the warmth. Somewhere in
the back of his mind, he recalled a time like this when he had
been young, many centuries ago. He had learnt a song—had
been rather good at it, as he remembered. The words came
back now, and he started to sing it softly to himself, quite
content and at peace with everything.
An electronic whine roused Barbara. Sitting up, she
asked, ‘What’s that awful noise?’
‘Mmm? Awful noise?’ His mood broken, the Doctor sat
up, indignant. ‘Not a nice thing to say about my singing!’
‘No, not that awful noise,’ Barbara said without thinking.
‘The other one. Listen…’ They both paused, and could hear
the whining sound.
‘Oh, yes, yes,’ the Doctor sighed. ‘In all the excitement
of landing, Vicki must have left the Visualiser on. Barbara,
my dear, would you switch it off? Mmm? Thank you.’
That was typical of the Doctor, Barbara knew—blame
Vicki first for leaving on his latest toy, then try and flatter her
into turning it off. She rose to her feet, knowing that she’d
better turn it off; it was obvious that the Doctor aimed simply
to laze about.
Watching her enter the TARDIS, the Doctor settled
back, and started to hum to himself. ‘Awful noise indeed,’ he
muttered. ‘Huh! I could charm nightingales out of the trees
with my voice in my youth…’
Inside the TARDIS, Barbara crossed to the Visualiser.
The screen was showing broken images, the speaker making
this terrible humming. None of the controls was set, and it
was simply tuning in to the random pathways of the Vortex.
Realizing that the Doctor hadn’t told her where the off-switch
was, she began to hunt for it. While she did so, the images on
the screen began to resolve themselves, tapping into the latest
disturbances in the ether. The first Barbara knew about it was
when the speaker stopped humming, and instead a terrible,
familiar voice issued from the box.
‘The Dalek Prime is ready to receive your report!’
Barbara stared at the screen in terror. She saw the Black
Dalek glide through a doorway into a large laboratory. Within
was a Dalek that was larger than most, and painted a uniform
golden colour. Behind it were panels of screens, mounted
from floor to ceiling, from wall to wall. There must have been
a hundred of them, and all showed exactly the same
picture the TARDIS in the very desert where it now stood.
‘Doctor!’ she yelled. ‘Doctor! Come quickly!’
The Black Dalek drew to a halt before the Dalek Prime.
The room contained several other Daleks moving about and
clearly hard at work—but at what? ‘The report is ready,’ the
Black Dalek intoned.
Entering through the door, the Doctor was wiping his
brow with a large handkerchief. ‘What is it?’ he asked,
irritably. ‘Can’t I relax for even…’ He stopped dead as he saw
what was on the screen. ‘Daleks!’ he spat.
The Dalek Prime finally spoke.
‘Give your report.’
‘Our time machine has been completed. Our
instruments have detected the enemy time machine in the
Sagaro Desert on the planet Aridius. The execution squad has
Barbara paled. ‘Doctor… on the screen… the TARDIS—
‘Even more importantly,’ the Doctor added quietly, ‘he
referred to the TARDIS as the enemy time machine.’
The Dalek Prime continued. ‘Those who control the
TARDIS have interfered with too many of our plans! They
are to be destroyed. If necessary, the assassination group will
pursue them through all eternity. Exterminate them!’
Swiftly, the Doctor turned off the Visualiser, a very
worried expression on his face. ‘This machine only picks up
things that have happened in the past,’ he announced grimly.
‘Perhaps only a few minutes ago, but the past none the less.’
‘Then that means the Daleks are already on their way
here,’ Barbara whispered in horror.
‘Or worse—are already here! They’ve obviously built a
time machine that can follow the TARDIS, and you heard
their orders. We are to be exterminated!’
The Doctor, Ian and Barbara had faced—and narrowly
defeated—the Daleks twice before. Both times, they had
known that there was a possibility that the Daleks might win.
The reaches of time and space had always seemed so safe
there was always the chance that if they were being
overwhelmed, they could flee. But if the Daleks could now
track them down through eternity, then how could they ever
feel safe again? Barbara shuddered. ‘Can we get away from
them?’ she asked desperately.
‘Yes, yes, yes, I think so,’ the Doctor snapped. ‘But we
must find Chesterton and the child—and we may have very
little time! They know nothing of this, and are just having a
carefree stroll, remember!’
‘The trail just stops,’ Vicki observed, in disappointment.
Just when things were getting exciting! The sand ahead of
them was devoid of further patches of the gooey blood.
‘Yes,’ Ian agreed. ‘And we’ve come a long way from the
Catching the worry in his voice, Vicki nodded. ‘I
suppose we should start back, Ian. The others’ll just be
worried about us.’
Bending down, Ian tested the sand with his fingers. It
was fine, almost like the kind they used in hour-glasses, he
noted. Then his fingers touched something hard, barely an
inch below the surface. ‘Strange,’ he muttered, hunkering
down. ‘The sand’s only a few inches deep. Then there’s a rock
or something.’ Puzzled now, he began to sweep the rock
clean. Her earlier resolution forgotten, Vicki joined in helping
him, until they had cleaned a patch a couple of feet across.
It was not rock beneath the sand, but glass—or
something very like glass. The rays of the twin suns danced off
it, but there was no way to see into the depths. Light seemed
to fall into it after a few inches. It was like nothing either of
them had seen before. Even as Ian watched, the light seemed
to be a darkening orange hue. Then he realized that it was no
trick of the glass, but the fact that both suns were almost on
the horizon. Vicki followed his gaze.
‘We really had better go back now.’ Vicki started to rise,
brushing the sand from her palms on to her dress. She gasped
with shock as Ian suddenly clutched her hand and dragged
her down again.
‘Look at this, Vicki!’ he exclaimed in wonder. ‘Now the
suns are setting, you can see there’s light below this stuff!’
Faintly, in the depths of the glass, Vicki could see what
Ian had noticed. There were lights in the material, twisting
and moving—or were they under the material? Some hidden
world below the surface of the sands? Both of them pressed
down on to the glass, shielding all stray light from their eyes,
trying to get the utmost definition from the lights below.
Behind them, close by the last drop of blood on the trail,
the sand began to stir, and then rise. Something rose a few
inches, a large trapdoor. There were no lights beneath this,
but an impenetrable darkness. Suddenly, from this Stygian
cavity, a long tendril lashed out, whipping about Vicki’s
No sooner had it touched than its thick muscles began to
contract, drawing its prey back towards the hole. Vicki
screamed, twisting to try and see what had caught her. All that
was visible was the tentacle, thick, rubbery and oozing that
mucous liquid they had mistaken for blood.
At her scream, Ian had twisted around. Veteran of many
combats on numerous worlds now, he prepared to defend his
companion. Both he and she had forgotten that they were
standing now on cleared glass. Neither could catch their
footing. Vicki screamed again, struggling to find a handhold
to slow her slide into the dark hole, but there was nothing
save smooth glass and shifting sands. Ian finally managed to
slide forward, reaching to grab her, but before he could do so,
a second tentacle whipped from the trapdoor and snared him
also. Caught off balance, Ian pitched into the blackness,
The creature below dragged at Vicki. She tried
clutching the edge of the trap, but it had been worn smooth,
and her hands simply slid off. With a despairing cry, she
followed Ian into the depths.
Slowly, the trap began to close on them.
‘Ian! Vicki!’ Barbara stood still and called again,
cupping her mouth. She listened, but there was no reply.
‘Ian!’ she called, getting worried now. Surely they couldn’t
have gone far? It was almost sunset, and they were bound to
have started back. She and the Doctor had been walking for
almost fifteen minutes now, looking for them. Barbara
shivered, drawing the cardigan she had picked up closer
about her shoulders. The days were intensely hot, but as in so
many deserts, the night promised to plummet below freezing.
Already a strong breeze was getting up, caused by the
The Doctor came back into view over the rise, puffing
heavily. It was no simple task, walking in the sand, and his
silver-capped cane was of little use to help him keep his
footing. Before Barbara could ask, he shook his head, and
coughed. ‘I followed their footprints as far as I could, but then
this wretched wind sprang up!’ He drew his silk scarf tighter
about his neck. ‘It’s wiped their tracks out completely.’
Barbara’s eyes glistened, and she wiped them. Pretending that
this was because she had sand in them, the Doctor murmured,
‘It is blowing up, you know. And getting quite cold.’
‘Let’s get back to the ship,’ Barbara said. ‘They might
have found their way back by now.’ She turned and started
back, only to be brought up short by a yell from the Doctor.
‘No, no — this way.’ He gestured off almost in exactly
the opposite direction.
‘It was this way,’ Barbara objected, indicating the way
she was going.
Drawing himself fully upright, the Doctor stared
haughtily at her. ‘You are mistaken, young woman. I have the
directional instincts of a homing pigeon. Now come along,
and follow me.’ He started off on the path he had indicated.
Barbara was too dispirited to argue, and followed along
behind him. She simply hoped that he did have those instincts
he boasted of.
Ian and Vicki had been roughly thrown into a corner of
a cavelike opening. The walls were smooth, and close about
them. The only exit was straight ahead. As their eyes became
accustomed to the gloom, they could both make out some
shape blocking that one exit. It was impossible to make much
out, but it was large, slimy and had numerous tentacles.
‘You all right?’ Ian asked, softly. Vicki nodded,
massaging the leg where the creature had grabbed her, trying
to restore the circulation. Both could hear the wheezing of the
creature, as it breathed. It didn’t sound too healthy, as if this
were not its normal environment. Unfortunately, it was quite
strong enough to deal with both of them. Ian tried to move
forward. A tentacle lashed out, slamming him back into Vicki,
and leaving his chest with a burning welt, even through his
Clutching his arm, Vicki pointed. ‘Look! Down the
tunnel—there’s more of them!’ In the darkness, little could be
seen. Yet both could hear a slithering noise, and more of that
asthmatic wheezing. ‘Dozens of them,’ she finished in a tiny,
There was no way for them to tell, but barely twenty feet
above their heads, a raging sandstorm was in progress. The
wind howled, hurling sand like miniature bullets at the
huddled figures of the Doctor and Barbara. She covered her
head pitifully with her thin cardigan. The Doctor had tried to
spread his coat over them both, clutching it tight to prevent it
from blowing away. There was nowhere to hide, nothing to
shelter them but each other.
‘Cover your mouth and nose,’ the Doctor yelled,
knowing he would be barely audible over this roaring even a
foot away. He gestured for Barbara to take one end of his silk
scarf for the purpose. ‘It’s our only chance!’
Together they tried to stay warm and keep breathing.
Sand poured in every crack of their defences, trying to fly into
mouth, nose, or their clothing. It was easy to see why the
landscape was so featureless if there were storms like this each
night! Their only chance was to last through the hours of
darkness, and pray that the wind would die when the suns
Light eventually came, and the storm did indeed abate.
As light began to penetrate into their makeshift tent, the blasts
slowed, and then finally stopped. Hardly daring to believe it,
the Doctor and Barbara groaned as they straightened
stiffened limbs, then shook their clothing free of the sand that
had forced its way into their clothes. Even simply standing
upright was sheer agony, as muscles protested, and the sand
inside their clothing tore at their skins. Brushing themselves
down—and wishing desperately for a bath—they looked
around, at first in wonder, and then in mounting horror.
‘Doctor,’ Barbara exclaimed. ‘It’s all changed! The
whole landscape’s changed!’ They scanned everywhere, but
could see nothing that looked even vaguely like anything that
they could recall from the previous night. ‘There’s no sign of
‘That sandstorm must have buried it,’ the Doctor
remarked, bitterly, attempting to shake the sand from his
In near panic, Barbara gestured wildly about her. ‘But
where in all of this… where is it? It all looks alike!’
The two suns had started their climb already. The
Doctor estimated that the night had been no more than three
hours, and the days promised to be equally short. That meant
the suns would reach their zenith in about an hour or so. ‘I
think we had better start walking,’ he suggested softly. ‘It’s
going to be very hot again soon—and we have neither shade
Strong as she was, this was getting to be too much for
Barbara. They had lost Ian and Vicki, and now the TARDIS.
They had suffered through a sandstorm, and were now
threatened with heatstroke and thirst. What more could the
Universe throw at them?
The Doctor gripped her arm, and hissed, ‘Get down!’
He followed his own advice.
Barbara dropped, allowing her exhaustion to drag her
down. ‘What is it?’
‘There… straight ahead!’ the Doctor gestured.
She watched as a small dune began to shake, then to
move slightly. Sand began to cascade down, and metal
gleamed in the sunshine as a Dalek pushed its way back into
4 – The Victims
The Doctor and Barbara took what shelter they could
behind the sands, praying that they had not yet been seen. As
they watched, the Dalek finished emerging from the sand,
then its eyestick spun about, facing away from them. Two
more Daleks moved through the sands to join the first one.
One of them, clearly the leader, had instead of the usual
sucker-stick, a small instrument like a compass on its arm.
The first Dalek faced the new one. ‘The enemy time
machine is in this area?’
The leader’s eyestick swivelled to see its companion
fully. ‘Yes. We can locate it with our instruments. Find and
destroy it. The remainder will search for the humans.’
‘Are they to be taken alive?’
‘No. They are to be exterminated.’ The Dalek began to
move off. ‘Destroy on sight! Begin the search.’
The two Daleks chorused, ‘I obey!’ and moved off in
different directions. One came towards the hidden observers,
who buried themselves in the sand, trying to remain unseen.
The Dalek glided past, and continued onwards.
With a sigh, the Doctor dared a glimpse about. The
immediate area seemed clear of their foes. ‘We’ve got to find
the TARDIS before they do,’ he hissed.
‘And we’ve got to warn Ian and Vicki!’ Barbara
reminded him. ‘They don’t even know the Daleks are here!’
The Doctor waved his hand. ‘Warn them, yes—but how?
It’s been hours since we saw them.’ Then, realizing that he
was depressing Barbara even further, he added: ‘However,
we’ll achieve nothing sitting here. Let’s get started.’
They stumbled to their feet, then turned—and froze.
Barbara stifled a yelp.
Two strange figures were looking intently at them. Both
were almost six feet tall, and thin. Their skins were a deep
blue, their heads crested. About their shoulders, they wore
long cloaks, of a dark, sandy colour. These were made from
the skins of the same creatures that had menaced Ian and
Vicki, though the Doctor could not know this. The skins
explained how the natives had been seen neither by the
Daleks nor by the Doctor and Barbara, for they blended into
the sands with perfection.
Barbara glanced at the Doctor, and realized that they
were both wondering the same thing: had they escaped the
Daleks, only to fall into the hands of another foe?
Ian tried to move gently, without waking Vicki, to bring
life back to his deadened leg. It was no use. Vicki woke,
startled, and then remembered where they were. She pushed
herself away from Ian, who gratefully exercised his cramped
leg. They were still in the small cave, and their ‘guardian’
remained wheezing at the entrance.
‘Why are they keeping us here?’ Vicki whispered. ‘What
are they going to do?’
Suppressing the first thought that crossed his mind, Ian
hoped that it was nothing more than the product of reading
too many stories from that book of monsters in the TARDIS.
‘I don’t know, Vicki. But you can be sure of one thing… we’re
Never one to give up, Vicki asked, ‘Can’t we do
something? How many of them are there?’
‘Hard to say.’ Ian peered into the gloom, and then was
suddenly struck by a realization. ‘That’s odd—listen.’
Doing so, Vicki said, ‘I don’t hear anything.’
‘Exactly,’ Ian answered. ‘No wheezing from our captor.
No sounds at all in fact.’
Hardly daring to believe it, Vicki peered over his
shoulder. ‘You… you think they’ve gone away?’
‘No, I don’t.’
Grimly, Ian told her: ‘I think that whatever they caught
us for is about to start…’
The Daleks had organized their search well. They had
followed the wake of the TARDIS through the Vortex, and
knew that they had landed close to the enemy time machine.
They spread throughout the sands, looking for any clues. One
finally halted, and stared at the sand. There were the distinct
impressions of four sets of feet.
‘Tracks of the humans,’ it reported in.
‘Follow them,’ came the instructions. A second Dalek
came to join the first. ‘Perceptors indicate someone is near.’
They looked off, readying their guns. Whoever it was, it
must be either one of their enemies, or else a native—in either
case, there was only one course of action.
An Aridian came around the side of the dune, saw the
two Daleks, and tried to retreat. He had time for barely a step
when the combined fire of the two guns cut him down. He
screamed, fell, and died. The two Daleks moved forward. The
being had fallen in the folds of his long cloak. One Dalek
pushed the cloak aside, until they could both see the
distinctive blue-tinted skins.
‘It is an Aridian,’ the first Dalek grated. ‘Unimportant.
We are continuing our search.’
They moved off, leaving behind them another casual
victim of the violence that they carried with them.
At a safe distance, Rynian indicated to the two aliens that
it was all right to stop. The Aridians seemed unaffected by the
heat even though they were dressed in the thick skins. The
Doctor and Barbara were less relaxed. Both sank to the sand
with obvious and audible relief. ‘The invaders will not find us
here for some while,’ Rynian noted, in his sing-song voice.
‘We may converse freely.’
‘Thank you, my dear sir, for your assistance,’ the Doctor
said, formally. ‘This planet is very hard to come to grips with.’
The second Aridian, Malsan, materialized from the
dunes. ‘This desert was once a vast ocean,’ he informed them,
sadly. ‘We, the Aridians, lived in a magnificent city beneath
the seas. Above our dome of glass, exotic fishes swam. Now—’
he gestured about himself ‘—all our world is as you see. Our
twin suns burned brighter in the heavens, moving closer to
‘The seas dried up,’ Rynian continued for him. ‘All the
beautiful creatures that lived within their waters perished.’
‘All that now live are our people—and the mire beasts,’
Malsan added. ‘They lived in the slime at the bottom of the
oceans. When the waters were gone, they invaded our cities to
escape the rays of the burning suns.’
Rynian took up the tale. ‘We tried to destroy them, but
they multiplied too quickly. We were driven back as the mire
beasts took over larger and larger sections of our city.’
The Doctor had forgotten everything else, lost in his
fascination of discovery. ‘These creatures,’ he prompted.
‘What do they live on?’
The aliens exchanged glances. Malsan, trying to sound
casual, finally admitted: ‘They are flesh eaters.’
‘Most interesting,’ the Doctor exclaimed. ‘Now, tell me—
‘Doctor!’ Barbara had had enough scientific knowledge
for one day. ‘We don’t have the time for this! Perhaps these
people can help us.’
‘Mmm? Oh, quite, quite.’ He smiled at the two Aridians.
‘First things first. Science later.’
‘Two friends of ours went out into the desert,’ Barbara
explained. ‘We haven’t seen them since. Would you help us
Rynian inclined his head to one side, thoughtfully.
‘When did they set out?’
‘Before dark.’ Barbara didn’t like the glance the aliens
exchanged. ‘What’s wrong? Why do you look like that?’
‘The mire beasts hunt at night,’ Malsan answered,
‘You think your friends are in this area?’ Rynian asked.
The Doctor nodded. ‘More than likely. I don’t imagine
that they would have willingly travelled far.’
Malsan made a peculiar gesture with his hands,
evidently of regret. ‘Then if the mire beasts have taken them,
they would have gone through the Taltarian air-lock into the
Suddenly realizing what his companion was getting at,
Rynian exclaimed: ‘The Taltarian! Then it is already too late.’
‘Too late?’ Barbara echoed.
Rynian made another gesture. ‘Yes. The only way we
have discovered of destroying the mire beasts is to entomb
them in the sections of the city that they have occupied. To do
this, we detonate explosives on the roof of the city, and bury
Nodding his approval, the Doctor commended: ‘An
excellent scheme—but what has this to do with our friends?’
The two aliens looked at one another again. Finally, it
was Malsan who gave them the bad news. ‘The Taltarian air-
lock is the next to be destroyed. The explosives are in
position, and will be detonated at high suns.’
Barbara stared at them in horror. ‘But if Ian’s inside…
We have to stop it!’
Pointing to the sky, Rynian said, ‘Already the suns near
their peak. We could never reach the air-lock in time.’
Malsan made another of his gestures. ‘We shall try.
The four of them set off across the sands, heading for
the doomed air-lock section. Unknown to them, that area was
already the scene of feverish activity. A small squad of
Aridians was deployed about the entrance to the air-locks.
One of them had a palm-sized device, on the surface of which
a small light flashed dully in the daylight. From time to time,
he glanced up at the suns. The other Aridians, gesturing in
their sign language, moved away from the mined area. They
had to be well clear by high suns. The mire beasts that they
had tracked down were all below in the tunnels, having
caught something. One of their fellow citizens was missing; if
he were the victim, there was nothing that they could do
about it now. He would have to perish, that the race could
survive. The best time to trigger the explosives was when the
mire beasts were in a feeding frenzy…
Before Aridius had begun to dry up, the mire beasts had
hidden in the ooze and mud on the bottom of the seas,
waiting for passing prey. Their tentacles had snatched tasty
fish, and the beasts had then waited for their next meal.
Expending little energy, the creatures needed comparatively
little food. Aside from the annual mating periods, they never
met with others of their own kind.
When the seas evaporated slowly, the mire beasts had
been the only non-sentient life that could adapt. Their lungs,
though they worked best in water, could function in the
thinner, virtually dry air. Their methods of hunting were
unchanged, and they preferred to lie in wait for passing food
on the hoof. They had, however, become a community, since
there is strength in numbers. Food was far scarcer nowadays,
for the tall, intelligent prey that they shared the planet with
was far harder to catch. When one mire beast caught
anything, it would signal for the community to come and
feast, and during the pause it would keep the food live—and
fresh. When the other beasts arrived, then feasting could
Ian’s surmise that the waiting was over was
unfortunately perfectly correct. Through the abandoned
Aridian tunnels where they hid from the rays of the suns, the
mire beasts moved. They were not quick, and their breathing
sounded like rusty hinges. Towards the spot where one of
their number had found food, they came. When they arrived,
the hunter was ready.
Vicki screamed as a tentacle lashed in, wrapping itself
about her. She tried to struggle but the rope-like limb held
her tightly in its grip. Before Ian could move, he was likewise
a prisoner. Both were roughly dragged from their hole, and
raised into the air. In a scene that could have been drawn
only in some nightmare, dozens of the mire beasts were
gathered about, each waiting for the food to be torn apart and
passed about for them all to share. Slavering orifices awaited
the small titbits that each would get. Ian felt the pressure
increasing, as the mire beast began to squeeze the life out of
Above them, the twin suns reached their zenith. In the
sands, the Aridian took a breath, then pressed the lighted
button, burying his head into his cloak.
Barely a mile off, two more Aridians paused, and
gestured. With sinking hearts, the Doctor and Barbara saw
first the position of the suns, and then a huge spray of sand,
debris and flame rise into the air. All turned their backs
quickly, as the sound, rushing air and heat slapped over
Within the air-lock, the effects were even more
devastating. The explosives had been perfectly positioned to
bring down the roof on the gathered predators. Slabs of
razor-sharp glass were blasted deep into the bodies of the
creatures. Rock and masonry collapsed upon them. The force
of the explosion tore others apart.
Ironically, Ian and Vicki were the only survivors of the
blast. Barely out of the small cave where they had been
imprisoned during the night, the death of their would-be
devourer had sent them spinning back inside. The narrow
confines kept any of the shards of glass or masonry from
falling on them, and the thick, rubbery mass of the mire beast
at the entrance absorbed the effects of the explosion. Aside
from bruises all over from hitting the wall, Vicki was terrified
but unharmed. As soon as she could, she crawled to Ian, who
lay unmoving. Dust and sand made it hard to breathe or see,
so she felt instead. His pulse was firm, and she could tell that
he was breathing relatively normally. A slight stickiness on the
side of his head told her that he had either banged his head,
or something from the blast had hit him.
She had no idea what had happened, beyond the fact
that they had been literally snatched from the jaws of death.
As the noise of the explosion faded away, all she could hear
were dying keening noises from a few of the mire beasts. The
dust began to settle, and she could see glimpses of daylight
through the shattered roof. Between her and safety, however,
there was a mountain of rubble and corpses. There was simply
no way that she could drag Ian outside again. After a
moment’s hesitation, she checked his pulse a second time. Still
firm. She managed to ease him into a position where he was
‘I’ll get help,’ she told him, more to reassure herself
than anything, since he was out cold. ‘I’ll find the Doctor and
get help.’ Reluctantly, but resolutely, she stood up. Carefully,
she began picking her way through the rubble, back the way
that the creature had brought them. Now and again, her feet
slipped on patches of viscous liquid, or bits of the tentacles.
Suppressing the urge to shudder or scream, she worked her
way outwards towards the daylight and safety.
Burying their despair in the urgencies of the moment,
the Doctor and Barbara allowed the two Aridians to hurry
them along. Somehow, the aliens could tell where they were
going in this vast wilderness of shifting sands. Eventually,
Rynian paused, and began scraping at the sand. The glass-like
surface of one of their domes began to show beneath the
‘This is one of the old air-locks that we used when our
city was beneath the sea,’ Malsan explained. ‘It will take us to
a part of our home that is still free from the mire beasts.’
Nodding his comprehension, the Doctor let the words
filter through his consciousness. He was trying to ignore the
pain of having almost certainly lost young Vicki and
Chesterton. He knew it would be harder for Barbara, and
kept the conversation going to give her less time for
reflection. ‘We appreciate your hospitality, but I must warn
you that we are being hunted by a group of evil creatures
called Daleks. They would show you no mercy if they
discovered that you had given us aid and shelter.’
‘We will face that problem when we come to it,’ Malsan
answered simply. He and Rynian had seen the creatures from
the dunes, and both knew that these—Daleks—augured ill for
their people. That was one reason why they had agreed to
help the Doctor and Barbara. The enemy of my enemy is my
friend. ‘Meanwhile,’ he added practically, ‘you need food,
water and rest. After that, we shall help you search for your
Rynian, meanwhile, had uncovered what he had been
seeking. There was a small, recessed panel in the glass.
Pressing a button resulted in a section of the sand opening to
reveal a stairway downwards. ‘Please enter,’ he invited their
The explosion had disturbed the Daleks briefly, and the
Squad Leader had dispatched a Dalek on a flying disc to
investigate the area. From its position inside the time
machine, the Leader received continual updates. Once the
assigned Dalek had radioed back that the explosion had not
been an attack, and had merely caused a section of the tunnels
to collapse on the predatory beasts of the sands, the Leader
gave orders for it to continue the search. As the Dalek did so,
it thus moved away from Vicki, who was stumbling through
Another patrol called in, and the Leader received their
report with satisfaction. ‘The seismic detector is registering a
contact,’ the Dalek informed the Leader. ‘The enemy time
machine has been buried beneath the sands at this point.’
‘Good.’ The Leader paused for a moment’s thought. ‘It
must be uncovered before we can destroy it. Take some of the
Aridians prisoner and use them to dig the machine out.’
The Squad Leader regarded the control panel with a
good deal of satisfaction. The Doctor and his companions
were elusive, but if their ship were destroyed, it could only be
a matter of time before the Daleks could track down and kill
the human targets. It was time to report to Skaro Base that
everything was proceeding as it should.
Soon, their hunt would be over!
5 – Deadline
The city beneath the sands was in many ways
fascinating. Tall buildings, mostly carved from stone,
stretched upwards towards the huge glass domes over the city.
The Doctor could imagine how beautiful the view must have
been when there was water all about the domes, with sunlight
filtering through, the fishes playing… Now, all was dark, with
the driven sands covering the exterior almost completely. The
city had been built with light in mind, and the buildings were
now too thickly clustered. Lighting systems had been
installed, but these additions had destroyed the architectural
sweep of the old city.
Added to that, many of the tunnels to the other domes
had been destroyed, to keep the mire beasts out. The Doctor
realized sadly that they were present during the last stages of
a dying world. There were parks about, supplying the oxygen
that the Aridians needed, but they were empty of people.
Rynian confirmed the Doctor’s guess that the natives now
numbered mere thousands. Soon, the Doctor knew—and
suspected that they did also—there would be hundreds, then
a handful, and then cities empty of all but the ravenous mire
beasts. In time, they too would perish from a lack of food. It
was sad, but the Universe sometimes cast down an advanced
species like this. Probably most of the Aridians clung to life
more from habit than from any real desire.
Rynian and Malsan led them to a spacious chamber, and
then indicated bowls of vegetables, fruit and water. They then
excused themselves, to go and talk with the city elders. Once
they were left alone, the Doctor picked up something to eat,
and then prowled the room. The natives were friendly, but
with the Daleks in the area, it was best to have all of the
available exits memorized. The room was of a glossy marble-
like material, and contained mosaics and paintings that had
long faded with age and had never been renewed. The
furniture, too, seemed old, as did the walls. Several of the
tunnels that would have led from the room had been filled in
with stones and bricks of varying sizes and shapes.
The Doctor returned to the bowls, sampling from them,
and offering various items to Barbara. She uniformly shook
her head and refused to try them after she had slaked her
thirst. ‘You should eat,’ he said, gently. ‘It’s really quite
excellent, you know.’
Turning a tear-stained face to him, she asked, ‘How can
you enjoy food when you know Ian and Vicki are…’ She
couldn’t say it. Instead, she swallowed, and tried to fight back
The Doctor put a fatherly arm about her. ‘Barbara, my
dear, do you really think that I am so callous? No. I feel their
loss very deeply, more deeply than I could ever tell you.’
Looking up into his eyes, Barbara could believe him.
She tried hard to pull herself together. ‘I’m sorry.’
‘That’s all right.’ He patted her shoulder. ‘Try and get
some rest. I have a strong feeling that in a little while we’re
going to need all the energy we can muster.’
She accepted his advice. Taking one of the ever-present
Aridian cloaks, she folded it into a pillow, and placed it on a
raised stone platform. Then she sank down on it. Despite her
grief and her fear, the activities of the last few hours had
utterly exhausted her. She sank into a fitful sleep almost
The Doctor nodded to himself, then padded over to the
door. He aimed to collar their hosts as soon as they showed
Rynian and Malsan finished their report to the city
elders. The First Elder, Prondyn, considered for a moment.
‘These strangers admitted that these Daleks sought to kill
them, and that they might blame us for sheltering their
‘Indeed, they were most candid,’ Rynian agreed.
A second elder spoke up. ‘A patrol reports that one of
the scouts was slain by these… Daleks. He had no chance, no
warning. They appear to be very aggressive. Dare we then
defy them for the sake of ones who are not of our kind?’
‘They are our guests,’ Malsan reminded the meeting.
‘They are our prisoners,’ Prondyn reminded him, gently,
‘until such time as the elders decide that they are guests.’
‘I am corrected.’ Malsan bowed his head.
‘My question is unanswered,’ the second elder remarked
to the meeting at large. Before he could be answered, the
entrance door crashed open, and a Dalek moved into the
Its gun spun to face the council, and then, slowly and
with obvious reluctance, faced down again. Its eyestick
centred on the meeting. ‘You are the leaders of the Aridians?’
‘We are,’ Prondyn said, gravely. ‘You have no business
here unless invited. You must—’
‘Do not attempt to give orders to the Daleks.’ The
machine-like being moved across the room, examining them.
‘You will listen.’
An elder at the far side of the council table rose to his
feet. ‘We are not barbarians,’ he said ‘We do not—’
The Dalek raised its gun and fired. In a stench of
burning, the elder screamed and died. His body collapsed
across the table, but no one dared move to examine it or to
protest. ‘You will listen,’ the Dalek repeated, and all attention
was centred on it, and its gun-stick, which significantly had
not been lowered. ‘The Dalek Leader believes that you have
the humans that we seek. You will turn them over to us within
one hour, or we shall begin destroying your city. You will also
supply us with two natives to clear the sand from our
objective.’ Its eye swung over them all. ‘One hour.’
Turning, the Dalek moved towards the door. Behind it,
a babble of voices broke out. Contemptuously, it dismissed the
Aridians from its concerns. It knew weakness when it saw it.
To save face, the Aridians would talk and debate—but in one
hour, they would capitulate and turn over the Doctor and his
friends. Such weak creatures as the Aridians were too
contemptible even to conquer. Without spirit, they would be
poor slaves. Better to kill them all.
The Dalek noted this in its computers. When Aridius
was needed, the Daleks would take it. Till then, the natives
would be allowed to live—provided they turned over the
Doctor and his companions.
The Doctor was eating more of the delicious fruit when
Malsan entered the room again. ‘I’ve been looking around a
little,’ the Doctor said. ‘Tell me, why are the openings in the
wall here walled up?’
‘It led to a part of the city that has been invaded by the
mire beasts. There are sections like that all over. We have to
block the tunnels to stop their advance. Please sit down. I
have news for you.’
From the tone of his voice, the Doctor suspected that it
would not he good. He eased himself down onto a wooden
bench, and leaned on his cane. ‘Very well, what is it?’
After a short hesitation, Malsan admitted: ‘The Daleks
have contacted us. They have issued an ultimatum.’
‘Yes, I suspected that something of the sort might
happen.’ The Doctor glanced sharply at the alien. ‘What is it?’
‘We are to hand you and your companion over to them
—or they will finish the destruction of our city.’
It was just like the Daleks. ‘Yes, yes. I’m afraid they
mean what they say, you know. The Daleks don’t waste time
with idle threats. Have you replied to them?’
‘Not yet. The elders of our people are still discussing it.
We have a half-sun to give our answer.’
The Doctor shook his head. ‘You really don’t have any
alternative,’ he said. ‘We certainly don’t wish to inflict you
with our troubles. We’ll leave at once and take our chances.’
He started to rise, but Malsan gently pushed him down again.
‘No,’ he said with regret. ‘The Daleks have said that we
must hand you over. We cannot do that if we allow you to
‘Then you mean—’
‘Yes. You are our prisoners until such time as our
arrangements with the Daleks are complete. Then, at the
appointed place, you will be handed into their custody.’
The Doctor stared at him with a mixture of annoyance,
surprise and sheer contempt. Unable to face the accusing
eyes, Malsan retreated. As the Aridian closed the door, the
Doctor listened for—and heard—the sound of a bar being
Their status as prisoners was quite evident.
It had taken a good deal of scrambling for Vicki to reach
the surface again. A large section of the tunnels had caved in
under the effects of the explosions, and she had been climbing
for a while. She heaved herself over the edge of the last bit of
rubble—and then dived back down again.
The climb had taken her almost back to the TARDIS,
which stood just over the rise from where she now was. That
would have been fine—except that there were two Daleks
standing by it.
Though she had never personally met the creatures, she
knew her history well enough to have recognized them
instantly. Added to that, her companions had told her often
enough of their past encounters with those terrible foes. She
had no idea why they were here, but she was quite certain it
spelled serious trouble.
Luckily for her, the Daleks had been concentrating their
efforts on seeing that the TARDIS be uncovered. The two
Aridians assigned to the task moved away from the battered-
The first Dalek studied it, then spun its eyestick to face
its companion. ‘Are the prisoners to go free?’
‘No. They are worthless, inferior creatures. They have
no value. Destroy them.’
The Aridians began to back away in horror. Both Daleks
fired, and the natives crumpled to the sand. Ignoring their
victims, the Daleks looked back at the TARDIS. Vicki, peering
over the rim, shuddered at the sight.
‘Use full power,’ the first DALEK intoned. ‘Destroy the
enemy time machine!’
Both fired again, a long, sustained blast. The TARDIS
was bathed in crackling electrical forces, tearing at the
structure. Even at her distance, Vicki could smell ozone and
the stench of various substances burning off the surface and
from the surrounding desert. Then the firing stopped.
The TARDIS was unscathed. Even the paint hadn’t been
One of the Daleks moved forward slightly, as if unable to
believe this. ‘Again!’ it snapped. ‘Fire!!’
Again, both fired, and again the TARDIS was
‘It must be constructed of a material that can resist our
weapons,’ the first Dalek said.
‘Remain on guard,’ the other replied, ‘until the
prisoners have been handed over and exterminated.’
Vicki slipped back quietly into the depths of the tunnel.
It was obvious that she could not return to the TARDIS, but it
was equally apparent that the Daleks had not yet caught the
Doctor or Barbara. There was only one possible thing that she
could do—explore the tunnels, and hope that she could find
someone native to this world. The Daleks had spoken of
prisoners, which had to be the Doctor and Barbara; perhaps,
instead of their helping her, she might be able to help them…
Barbara awoke with a start, feeling guilty that she had
slept at such a time. She sat up, and saw the Doctor sitting,
brooding. Reaching out, she touched him and he jumped.
Recovering his calm, he smiled at her. ‘Feeling better?’
‘Yes.’ Barbara was amazed to find that she did feel
better. The loss of Ian and Vicki was still acute, but she could
push it behind her for the moment, coping with what must
come. ‘What happened while I slept?’
‘Nothing very good, I’m afraid.’ The Doctor glanced at
the door as there came the sound of the bar being withdrawn.
Rynian entered the room, somewhat reluctantly. Malsan,
looking equally glum, trailed him. The Doctor sniffed. ‘This
looks like it might be the bad news now.’
‘Bad news?’ Barbara echoed. ‘What bad news?’
‘The elders have made their reply to the Daleks,’ Rynian
‘Well?’ the Doctor snapped.
‘You are to be handed over when the suns set. The
Daleks have promised that when the executions are over, they
will leave Aridius—and our people—unharmed.’
Shocked, Barbara realized what he was saying. ‘You’re
going to give us up?’
‘What else can they do?’ the Doctor asked, being terribly
reasonable. ‘The Daleks threatened to destroy their city if they
‘But… but…’ She didn’t know what to say. ‘Just to be
handed over like that… Taken out and killed by a Dalek
The Doctor shushed her. ‘Somehow, some time,’ he
promised, ‘an opportunity will occur. When it does, we must
be ready for it. We must grab it as if our lives depended upon
it—which, incidentally, they do.’
This hardly reassured Barbara. Ignoring the bearers of
bad tidings, she settled back against the wall behind her.
Almost unnoticed, a few flakes of mortar fell on to her.
Fighting his way up from the darkness, Ian finally
managed to stir. He had had this terrible dream… That book
he had been reading had come to life. The monster with
tentacles had chased after him and Vicki… Silly, really. He
opened his eyes and sat up, expecting to see his familiar room
in the TARDIS.
The blackness remained, and his memory returned. The
tunnels, the monsters—both were real. His head hurt, and
when he touched the spot, there was blood matted into his
hair. He moved forward, and stumbled into the corpse of the
mire beast that had caught him. Already, it was beginning to
smell. There was no sign of Vicki. On his unsteady feet, he
began searching for her.
Elsewhere in the tunnels, Vicki made her way
cautiously. She was praying that there would be no more
monsters, no more tentacles reaching out for her… Every step
was a nightmare, but she forced herself to continue. Then,
from behind her, something clutched her and pulled her
backwards. She screamed, but something clamped over her
mouth, and stifled her cries. Terrified, she was hauled from
her feet, and carried backwards.
Finally, Barbara noticed the small shower of mortar that
was dropping on to her. She glanced up, and saw that the
trickle was coming from one of the walled-off sections of the
tunnels. As she watched, one of the stones moved slightly. She
elbowed the Doctor. ‘Do you know where this walled-off
section leads?’ she whispered.
Interrupted in his chain of thought, the Doctor snapped
back. ‘Mmm? Oh, some other part of the city, I gather. A part
that’s been invaded.’ He sank back into calculating their
chances of escape all along the route that they would be
forced to take to meet the Daleks.
As Barbara watched, another of the blocked-off tunnels
showed signs of life. Again, the stones rocked, and mortar
began trickling down. This time, the Doctor noticed it also.
Before he and Barbara could confer, the door burst open. In
stalked an Aridian, carrying in his arms…
Barbara jumped to her feet, astounded. Vicki, seeing
her companion, kicked out, hitting her captor on the shins.
With a howl of pain, the Aridian clutched his leg, releasing
her. Vicki ran to Barbara, and hugged her tightly. ‘Oh,
Barbara, Barbara, Barbara,’ she sobbed in relief.
‘Vicki…’ Barbara held her out, drinking in the sheer joy
of seeing her. ‘We thought that you… Ian! What about Ian!’
‘Yes, quite,’ the Doctor broke in, trying to hide his
cracking voice. He had not expected to see the child again,
but he had no intention of making a fool of himself by
clutching at her. ‘Is he alive?’
‘He got a bad knock on the head,’ Vicki answered. ‘I
made him as comfortable as I could, then came to get help.’
Barbara sighed. ‘It might have been better if you had
‘No, it wouldn’t!’ Vicki said, excitedly. Now that her
visions of being eaten were over, she could start thinking
positively again. ‘On my way here, I found the way back to the
‘Well, now,’ the Doctor said, his eyes sparkling again—
with tears?, Barbara wondered—‘That puts an entirely
different complexion on things. Can you find your way back,
do you think?’
With the assurance of youth, Vicki nodded, eagerly. ‘Oh
yes, I’m sure of it. There was a big iron door, just beyond the
entrance over there.’
Barbara allowed herself to hope. Ian alive—and the
TARDIS found! ‘Maybe we’ve still got a chance!’
At that moment, Rynian and Malsan entered the room
again. Their discomfort was written upon their features, but
they were resolved. ‘It is time,’ Malsan said, sadly. ‘I am to
take you to the main air-lock.’ He reached out to touch
Barbara, but she slapped his arm down.
Suddenly, the wall erupted above them. Bricks, stone
and mortar showered down on them all. Behind it, a tentacle
lashed out, seeking prey. With a scream, both Aridians dashed
‘Sound the alarm!’ Malsan howled. ‘Mire beast attack in
section five! Abandon… abandon…!
As the tentacle groped about, the mire beast began to
haul itself forwards. Other blocked-off sections showed signs
of there being mire beasts behind them. Hidden from the
mire beast because they were below it, the Doctor, Barbara
and Vicki pressed against the wall, watching the tentacle
probe about. With a chuckle, the Doctor gestured towards the
door. The panicking Aridians had left an escape route clear!
‘Just as I planned!’ the Doctor murmured to himself,
smugly. He tapped his two companions, and gestured for
them to precede him. They dashed for the door, as he
covered their escape, brandishing his cane fiercely at the mire
beast’s tentacle. Luckily for him, the creature was too intent
on forcing its way through the opening to attack him. With a
final defiant gesture, he ran after his friends.
Following the collapsed tunnel, Ian was actually
retracing Vicki’s route. Like her, he stumbled after the light.
He rose from the tunnel exit, and then prostrated himself
The Dalek by the TARDIS glanced in his direction, but
decided that there was nothing there but falling stones. It
resumed its patrol about the time machine.
Back in hiding again, Ian paused for thought. A Dalek!
Here! He hated to think what that meant, but his first course
of action was obvious—he had to get it away from the
TARDIS, preferably permanently. Struck by an idea, he
started hunting around for fragments of the dark native wood
he had spotted as he had stumbled through the tunnels…
Not far away, Vicki led the Doctor and Barbara back
down the route she had been carried by the Aridian. As
quietly as they could, they ran for the haven that the TARDIS
The Dalek on guard at the TARDIS spun to face
another as it approached. The newcomer halted. ‘The
prisoners have escaped from the Aridians,’ it reported.
‘Are we to proceed with the destruction of the
underground city?’ the guard asked.
‘No. Our leader has given them one hour to recapture
the humans. If they fail, we shall act.’
‘I understand,’ the guard acknowledged.
‘It is likely that the humans will attempt to return to
their time machine. Remain alert.’
The second Dalek glided away, to join the patrols
searching for the Doctor and his companions. The guard
Dalek began patrolling once again, alert for any sign of
Ian was working well on his collection of wood. He had
almost enough for what he planned when he heard footsteps
in the tunnel. Swiftly, he selected the stoutest piece of timber,
and waited, silently. To his intense relief, he saw Vicki leading
the Doctor and Barbara. He stepped out of hiding, grinning.
Despite Vicki’s urgings for silence, Barbara ran forward
and grabbed Ian tightly. Ian didn’t protest the embrace for a
good ten seconds. Then, quietly, he pushed her away.
‘What is it, Chesterton?’ the Doctor hissed.
‘The TARDIS is about twenty yards over the rim, but
there’s a Dalek on guard.’
Caught in the euphoria of seeing Ian again, Barbara
hardly worried about a mere Dalek. ‘Then we’ll just have to
get past him.’
Grinning, Ian showed them his collection of sticks. ‘I
think I’ve got a way,’ he whispered. ‘Barbara, you and Vicki
go on up. Be very quiet, and move towards the sand dune to
The women nodded, and began to move. Ian grabbed
Barbara’s arm. ‘Oh, leave me your cardigan.’
As she slipped it off, Barbara said, ‘I’m not going to have
any left, the way you use these up!’ It seemed as though all of
Ian’s escape plans tended to use her cardigans. There was
that time on Cetus Alpha…
‘It’s not for me,’ Ian protested. ‘It’s for the Dalek.’
‘I hope it suits him,’ Vicki said, then stifled a fit of
giggles. Barbara grabbed her arm, and hauled her up, out of
the pit. Ian turned to the Doctor.
‘Now it’s your turn—let’s have your coat.’
‘What is this?’ the Doctor hissed. ‘A plan to defeat the
Daleks or to start a jumble sale?’
‘You’ll see in a minute. Stop complaining, and help me
with these strips of wood…’ Ian started to dig them into the
sand and rubble by the tunnel entrance. Catching on, the
Doctor began helping. After a moment, they had a rough
framework set up. Ian spread his blazer and Barbara’s
cardigan over the frame. The Doctor shucked his coat, and
added that. Then they started spreading sand over the rough
trap. After a moment, Ian grinned. They both moved back, so
that their framework was between them and the Dalek.
‘Right,’ Ian whispered. ‘You go that way, and I’ll go this.
Find cover, and then we’ll take turns…’
Ian crawled off about five yards, then hauled himself to
his feet. Below him, the Dalek on patrol whirled about,
catching sight of the motion. ‘Dalek!’ Ian yelled, and then
dropped back out of sight. ‘Oh, dear,’ he added, in a loud
The Dalek fired, but its target had vanished. Annoyed, it
began to move after Ian. At that moment, the Doctor popped
up, said, ‘Whoops!’ loudly, and then dived for cover. The
Dalek’s next blast barely missed him. Furious at having missed
two targets, the Dalek moved forwards—on to the trap. With
a crash, the whole construction gave away, and the Dalek
plunged into the tunnel.
Laughing, the Doctor shook Ian’s hand. ‘Well worth the
loss of a coat,’ he grinned.
Their triumph was short-lived. Vicki clutched his arm,
pointing into the sands. ‘More Daleks!’
One of the patrols had been alerted by the destruction
of the sentry, and was moving towards the TARDIS. The
travellers cut short further congratulations, and ran to the
TARDIS. There was an uncomfortable second as the Doctor
struggled with the lock. and then they all shot inside the
TARDIS. As the doors slammed shut, the Daleks arrived.
They began firing at the TARDIS, but with its customary
groaning and wheezing, the time machine faded out of
The Patrol Leader ordered the firing halted. It
regarded the traces in the sand, and then said: ‘Return to our
time machine! We are to follow our enemies wherever they
may flee! We shall not be deterred! They are to be found and
6 – Flight through Eternity
Within the TARDIS, the mood was considerably
different. As they watched the rise and fall of the time rotor in
the central console, the travellers laughed and clapped each
other on the back, glad to be alive. Vicki, the most boisterous
as usual, was hopping up and down. ‘We did it! We did it!’
‘Well, of course,’ the Doctor said. ‘I never doubted for a
moment that we would.’
‘Oh, come on, Doctor,’ Barbara remarked, though not
severely. ‘You were hardly bubbling over with confidence
when the Aridians held us prisoner.’
‘Ah, a—momentary qualm, young woman, a momentary
qualm. Nothing more.’
‘I’ll admit I had a few qualms myself,’ Ian added. ‘Those
mire beasts were as nasty as anything we’ve ever come across.’
He picked up the lurid book he had put down several hours
earlier. ‘This is going right back into the library, believe you
me. I think I’ll pick something a little cheerier next time!’
Barbara put an arm around him and hugged him,
happy just to have him back from the dead. ‘Well, I’m glad
those monsters decided to attack the city. If they hadn’t…
Well, I’d rather not think about it.’
Vicki grabbed Barbara’s arms, and swung her round,
giggling. The euphoria of their escape had quite gone to her
head. ‘The main thing is we’ve got away from the Daleks!
That’s all that really matters.’
Rubbing his hands together in satisfaction, the Doctor
beamed at her. ‘Yes, I don’t think we’ll be seeing them again.’
Unfortunately, the Doctor had never listened to Plato
(assuming that there was precious little that some Greek
peasant philosopher could teach a man of his
accomplishments). The pot-bellied philosopher had squinted
at the Doctor, and warned him of hubris—the overwhelming
pride that makes the gods strike mortals down. Perhaps one
day, the Doctor would pay heed to that bit of good advice. No
sooner had he spoken than the console began emitting a
regular, musical tone, and a small instrument lit up in time
with the pulses.
Alarmed, the Doctor began fiddling with the controls,
trying to lose that sound and rhythmic light. Nothing that he
did had any effect at all. His features fell, and his perpetual
frown deepened. All traces of his bonhomie had vanished like
the seas of Aridius. ‘The time-path indicator,’ he muttered to
himself. ‘It’s been in the ship ever since I took it, but it’s never
registered anything before.’
His companions had sobered up, too, realizing that
something was wrong. Barbara voiced what they all
wondered. ‘What does it show?’
‘It surveys the time path through which we are
travelling,’ the Doctor said, rapidly, drumming his fingers on
the panel in frustration. ‘Both the past and the future. The
fact it is registering can only mean one thing…’
‘Well?’ Ian asked. ‘Go on.’
Turning to face them, the Doctor announced gravely:
‘There’s another time machine travelling on the same route
that we are taking.’
‘The Daleks!’ Vicki whispered.
‘Yes. I’m afraid our celebration was a little premature.’
Ian looked at the flashing light grimly. ‘At least we know
what we’re up against. The Daleks are chasing us through
time and space…’ They all fell silent, as the implications of this
began to dawn on them.
Wherever they went now, the Daleks were certain to be
just a step behind them…
The inside of the Dalek time machine was both similar
to and different from the TARDIS. It, too, was dimensionally
transcendental—much larger inside than it looked from the
outside. It was smaller than the TARDIS, though, containing
two main levels. The instrumentation was all on the ground
level, close to the main doorway. Two small laboratories led
off from the main control room. Between them, there was an
elevator to the upper deck. This housed the taranium power
core from which the ship’s systems fed. Three Daleks were on
permanent duty here, monitoring the highly unstable power
levels. Taranium was both the rarest and most unstable
element in the Universe. One gram of it could power the time
ship for centuries—and it had taken the Daleks two decades to
assemble such a large amount of taranium.
By the control panels, the Squad Leader monitored the
flight of their ship, and also of the TARDIS, whose path they
had locked onto. At the tracking panels, a second Dalek kept
them stable on the pathway.
‘Compute time lag,’ the Leader demanded.
‘One five Earth minutes. Reducing.’
Satisfied, the Leader spun to another Dalek behind it.
‘We are close. Order the executioners to prepare to
disembark. Time to landing—seven minutes.’
The leader faced the panel again, watching the twin
lights moving towards their destination—and the inevitable
destruction of their prey!
The inhabitants of the TARDIS were considerably less
pleased with the state of affairs. No matter how they tried,
none of them could drag their eyes from the flashing light for
more than a few seconds. Then, they would look at the
Doctor, struggling to override the TARDIS’s flight path
‘Useless!’ he cried in fury, slamming his hand on the
panel. ‘Useless!’ There had to be a way to do it, but he simply
didn’t know it, or had forgotten it long, long ago. If only he
hadn’t lost those notes!
‘No luck,’ Barbara sighed, seeing his raging.
‘Well,’ Ian said, practically, ‘if we can’t lose them, I
suppose we’ll have to stop and fight.’
The idea was far from appealing. Vicki looked hopefully
at the Doctor. ‘We are in front—we could just keep moving.’
‘But for how long, Vicki?’ Barbara asked, gloomily. ‘We
can’t run forever.’
‘And even if we did give them the slip,’ Ian added, ‘they
found us once—presumably they could do it again.’
‘Let’s ask the Doctor,’ Vicki suggested. ‘He should know
by now one way or the other.’
As they approached him, the Doctor glanced up and
shook his head. ‘It’s no good, I’m afraid. I can’t shake them
‘Then what happens when we land?’ Ian demanded. ‘Do
we just wait for the Daleks to catch us up?’
The Doctor waved a hand, dismissing the notion. ‘It
takes our computers about twelve minutes to reorient and
gather their power. It is vital that we hold on to that twelve-
minute lead until I can find some way of eluding them.’
The idea of running forever didn’t appeal to Ian. ‘Yes,
The Doctor had had enough. ‘Chesterton!’ he snapped.
‘Leave this to me, will you? Leave this to me!’
Vicki clutched his arm. ‘Look, Doctor—the time rotor is
‘Mmm?’ Cooling off again, the Doctor patted her hand
fondly. ‘Oh, yes; then in a few minutes, we’ll be landing.’
Barbara stared at the rotor, as though willing it to carry
on. ‘But where, Doctor—where?’
Assuming he had a best friend, this hypothetical friend
would have been hard pressed to say anything even vaguely
complimentary about Morton C. Dill, native of the state of
Alabama. At school, he had been unaffectionately nicknamed
‘Dill the Pill’, a reference to his being rather hard to take.
Since his school days—or, as some critics called them, ‘school
daze’—Dill had not improved. On the contrary, his tendency
to spout whatever came off the top of his mind (there being
no deeper level to his thinking) was worse than ever. He
rarely worried about having any content in his speech. He
constantly intruded on others, generally in loud and
obnoxious ways. Convinced that he was the life and soul of
every party, he would make his way into any gathering and
try to take over as quickly as possible.
The general response to his actions was usually a distinct
drop in the air temperature, a general move in any direction
away from him, and from time to time a proffered fist or a call
for the nearest police officer. None of this did much to
dampen Dill’s enthusiasm; he simply moved on and tried to
ingratiate himself into some other gathering, firmly convinced
that the original group merely lacked taste. The original
group was extremely relieved to merely lack Dill.
It came as a matter of much surprise to anyone
unfortunate enough to be acquainted with him that in the
summer of 1967, Dill was promptly locked up in a home for
the bewildered, where he resides to this day—attempting to
drive professionals in the sphere of mental health crazy with
his constant, long, rambling discourses. Many of these deal
with the event that led to his being incarcerated in the ‘joint’
(as he insisted on calling the Newman Rehabilitation Clinic)…
It had been one of those rare, glorious days in New
York City. Fresh in this city—having worn out his welcome in
several others—Dill caught sight of the Empire State Building,
then the tallest building in the world. Duly paying for a ticket,
Dill crammed into the elevator to the observation deck. It was
a fast ride, but by the time the car reached the 102nd floor
and the doors opened, the rest of the tourists hurried away
The view for once actually kept Dill occupied awhile. As
he gazed over the edge of the building, he stared in wonder at
the Manhattan streets laid out below him. To the east, Long
Island faded into the distance. To the west lay the New Jersey
territories, and the Palisades Amusement Park. To the north,
the city lay in all of its grandeur. Most notable was the large
rectangular of green, Central Park. From his altitude of 1,250
feet, it all seemed so small.
He took the elevator back down to the open-air
observation deck on 86th floor, where the pay-binoculars
were located, and he could get a better view of the city. Armed
with his array of cameras, he knew he’d impress the folks back
home with his adventures in the Big Apple. He had very little
idea just how unusual those adventures would turn out to be.
He wandered about to the southern side of the building,
and the rest of the tourists headed for the other three sides,
leaving him alone for a while. He stared out at the Statue of
Liberty and the Upper and Lower Bays, then looked about,
suddenly realizing that he wanted to talk, and he was alone.
Actually, not quite alone. There was a large, odd-looking
blue box that he was certain hadn’t been there a moment or
two before. Scratching his head, he examined the thing. ‘I
coulda swore that weren’t here just now,’ he muttered. ‘Well,
I guess that’s New York for you.’
He was staring at the door handle, working up the
courage to open the box, when it opened itself, and an
attractive young lady emerged. It was hard to say who was the
most surprised, but Barbara was the first to get her wits back.
She looked at Dill —dressed in fake cowboy style to ‘make a
statement’ (which most people claimed was ‘I have no taste’)
‘You look like you’re from Earth,’ she said.
‘No, ma’am,’ he said, proudly. ‘I’m from Alabama.’
‘Can you tell me the time?’ Barbara asked.
Dill pulled out his genuine gold pocket watch and stared
at it. ‘About three after twelve, ma’am.’
‘No, no, I meant—what year is it?’
Dill was aware that this wasn’t the normal kind of
question even New Yorkers with British accents would ask.
‘You have different years here?’
Smiling sweetly, Barbara changed the question. ‘What
year is it in Alabama, then?’
‘1967,’ he answered, then slapped his leg and laughed.
‘You wouldn’t be funnin’ me, would you?’
‘Oh, no, I assure you.’ Barbara was pushed aside, and
Vicki poked her head out, staring about her in wonder.
Noticing Dill for the first time, Vicki nodded.
‘’Morning,’ she said brightly.
‘’Mornin’,’ Dill answered. Then, glancing at the watch
he still held in his hand, ‘1967.’
‘Thank you,’ Vicki said, as though it was the most
common thing in the world to be greeted with the year. She
moved to the rail, and peered about in delight. ‘This is
ancient New York!’
‘Ancient?’ Dill echoed.
‘Oh, yes.’ Vicki smiled, happily. ‘There were pictures of
it in our history books. Mind you, it was mostly destroyed in
the Dalek invasion a hundred years from now.’
This was getting to be a little much for Dill. He took off
his Stetson, and wiped his forehead. Then he noticed an old
white-haired man and a younger man coming out of the box.
‘How many more of you folks is in that thing?’ he asked.
‘Just the four of us, young man,’ the Doctor replied.
‘Must be a tight squeeze,’ Dill remarked. He moved
forwards, wondering how four people could fit into such a
small box. And a battered one at that… How had it gotten
here in the first place?
Ian surveyed the cramped confines of the observation
deck, then shook his head. ‘I don’t think this is the place to
meet the Daleks,’ he said, firmly. ‘A lot of innocent people
might get hurt.’
‘Yes, quite so, quite so.’ The Doctor was a trifle annoyed
at not having had a chance to say that first. ‘The computers
will be ready to take us on in a moment. I suggest we re-
Nodding, Ian called the two females back from their
pointing out sights to one another. They headed back for the
ship. Dill was still staring in wonder at the little box.
‘You goin’ back in?’ he asked Barbara.
She dragged her eyes back from the horizon with regret.
How unfortunate that when the Doctor had returned them to
their own time —and only a few thousand miles off course! —
they simply couldn’t stay. ‘Yes,’ she said, with real regret. She
offered Dill her hand. ‘Bye.’
He shook her hand, grinning. ‘I saw you all come out,
but I doubt seriously you’ll all fit back in there—even with
your trim figure, ma’am.’ As he spoke, all but the Doctor filed
back into the box. ‘Hey!’ he yelped, hit with sudden
realization. ‘Now I got it! I’ll just bet you folks is from
Hollywood, makin’ a movie! Now that’s the truth, ain’t it?’
‘No, no, that ain’t it,’ the Doctor snapped. ‘Isn’t it,’ he
hastily corrected himself.
Clutching the Doctor firmly around the shoulder, Dill
howled secretively into the old man’s ear, ‘You can tell me—
your secret is safe with Morton C. Dill, yessir!’
Forcing his way out of the unwelcome grip, the Doctor
repeated blankly: ‘Secret?’
‘Sure —I seen this trick afore. Great long rows o’ folks
comin’ out of small rooms. It’s…’ he groped for the right
words. ‘Special effects!’
The only way to evade this idiot seemed to be to
humour him. Smiling secretively, the Doctor tapped the side
of his nose. ‘Special effects, that’s right. You just wait, young
man—I guarantee you’ll see some of the most special effects
ever.’ He chuckled at his own joke. ‘Well, nice to have met
you, Mr—ah, Dull, but I have to be going.’
‘I knew I was right,’ Dill said, pleased at his astuteness.
‘You’re filming a chase, I’ll bet.’
‘A chase? Quite right, quite right.’ The Doctor popped
back into the TARDIS and closed the doors behind him.
‘Them movie folks—great sensa humour.’ Dill banged
on the door. ‘Hey, do you know John Wayne?’
With its usual howling, grinding, and complaining, the
TARDIS vanished. Dill looked at the space where it had
stood, and then shook his head in admiration. ‘Now, that’s
real clever special-effects stuff. They’re gettin’ better at makin’
movies all the time.’ With his source of interest literally
vanished, Dill turned to check the New York skyline and
make certain that at least that was still there.
Behind his back, and far quieter than the TARDIS, the
Dalek time machine materialized. After a few seconds, Dill
turned round, and almost jumped out of his neatly pressed
cowboy suit. ‘Goddarn it, they’ve done it agin!’ he exclaimed,
with a whoop. ‘Them movie folks!’
The door to the box opened, and a Dalek emerged,
looking about for any signs of the TARDIS. What he saw
instead was a remarkably foolish-seeming human, laughing.
The Dalek scanned the figure, and realized that it was dressed
in period clothing, so was definitely not one of the TARDIS
Dill slapped the Dalek hard on the casing. ‘Howdy,
mister,’ he laughed, tears streaming down his face. ‘Well, you
sure are an ugly-looking critter!’ he peered into the Dalek’s
gun, then tried to shake it by the arm. Annoyed, the Dalek
moved its arm, throwing the idiotic human aside. Offended,
Dill scowled at the Dalek. ‘Well, there ain’t no need to act
sore. Those other movie folks was downright hospitable.’
‘Where are they?’ the Dalek grated. Perhaps this maniac
would serve some function after all.
‘They just… left,’ Dill explained. ‘They was in some beat-
up old blue box. It just… sorta… well…vanished.’ The Dalek
stared at Dill. For a brief second, his life was almost over; then
the Dalek disarmed its gun. It was far worse for the human
race to allow this fool to live on. Turning, the Dalek re-
entered the time machine.
Readying his camera, Dill looked up in annoyance.
‘Hey, mister,’ he howled. ‘Hold on there! I’d like to get a
picture with you an’ me in—’
The time machine vanished.
Lowering his camera, Dill muttered, ‘Darned if they
didn’t do it agin!’ He moved forward, and started examining
the area where both boxes had stood. There had to be a trick
to it, and he’d find it out. No one could fool Morton C. Dill!
He went on his hands and knees tapping at the structure, and
calling out for the pretty lady or ugly critter, without any luck
At that moment, two of the tower guards came around
the corner of the building. They watched Dill’s feverish
search, and yells for what seemed to be tiny folk living inside
the bricks. After a moment, the senior guard turned to his
‘Keep an eye on him, Sal. I’m gonna get a cop. Make
sure he don’t try to jump, or nothin’. He looks loony enough
to try anything.’
Naturally enough, when the cop arrived, Dill attempted
to explain everything. It did get him a sympathetic hearing
for the first time in his life—and a one-way ticket to the
Within the TARDIS, the mood was grim. All four
travellers clustered about the time path indicator. It was still
‘They’re still after us,’ Ian observed, rather
‘Yes,’ the Doctor agreed, morosely. ‘And I’m afraid the
gap is closing. Their time computers must work faster than
‘Does that mean they’ll catch up?’ Vicki asked.
‘Well, if we can’t shake them off, of course they will,
child!’ the Doctor snapped. His nerves were worn from the
frustration of failing to lose their pursuers. ‘Every time we
make a landing, the Daleks draw closer.’
‘Then sooner or later we’re going to have to face them,’
Barbara pointed out.
‘I’m afraid so.’
Action was what Ian wanted; running away never solved
anything, to his mind. ‘The best we can hope for is that we
meet them in a planet with the right sort of conditions where
we can put up a fight.’
‘Quite so, quite so,’ the Doctor agreed. Though he had
spent many years on the move through space and time, he
also realized that the Daleks would never rest until they had
found his track again. The issue had to be resolved, one way
or the other. Either he would win, or the Daleks would.
Vicki was staring at the controls, willing what she had
seen to be wrong. When it persisted, she said in a nervous
voice: ‘We’re landing again, Doctor.’
‘Already?’ Barbara asked, appalled.
‘Yes, already,’ the Doctor snapped, moving around to
his instruments. ‘Our only chance now is to find a place to
meet and defeat the Daleks!’
Curiously enough, the people that they were about to
meet had also set out from New York — but 95 years earlier,
on Tuesday, 5 November, 1872…
7 – Nightmare
The breeze was stiffening in the sails, the deck creaking
beneath his feet. The waves crashed against the brigantine’s
bows as she ploughed through steady seas, a sound First Mate
Albert G. Richardson loved. The smell of the spray, the feel of
a good ship beneath his feet, the pathways over the deep—at
twenty-eight, he was more than contented with his life.
Raising the telescope to his eye, he could make out the
blurred smudge that indicated land on the horizon.
‘Land about six miles off, to Sou’ Sou’-West,’ he
Captain Benjamin Briggs, master and part-owner of the
brigantine, glanced up. He was a stern-featured New
Englander of thirty-seven, and a devout Christian. He was
also the best captain that Richardson had sailed with, firm and
strict, but also with a gentleness that prevented his being
tyrannical. ‘Aye, that’ll be the island of Santa Maria,’ he
commented, fingering their position on the chart. ‘We’re
making good time, Mr Richardson. If the wind holds, we shall
reach Genoa a good two days ahead of time.’
Richardson nodded, equally pleased. They had had
some rough weather, but nothing that they couldn’t handle
with ease. The ship was a delight, and barely half-laden — just
1,700 barrels of alcohol in the extensive hold. That was
enough to turn a profit in Italy, and not so much as to make
the ship wallow. ‘I’ll mark the reading in the deck log.’
He crossed to the slate board, glancing at the ship’s
chronometer as he did so. Then he wrote, in his neat, precise
hand: ‘At 8 eastern point bore S.S.W. 6 miles distant.’ That
would serve until the entry could be transferred to the ship’s
log as the first entry for 25 November.
‘I’m going aft, if you should want me,’ Briggs said,
leaving. It was his custom to spend a part of the morning with
his wife, Sarah, and their two-year old daughter, Sophia
Matilda. Richardson smiled. The child was a delight to all of
the sailors aboard, and Mrs Richardson was always ready with
a kind and encouraging word.
Alone, Richardson held the wheel loosely, and looked
out to sea. He could hear the noises from the galley, where
the cook-cum-steward, Edward William Head, was finishing
putting away the dishes after breakfast. Head firmly believed
in keeping his galley tidy, and would not be seen until
everything was put into its correct place. Second Mate
Andrew Gillings would be bunked out now, getting his rest
after a night at the wheel.
The four sailors—German-born, but American citizens
now were down in the holds, checking the alcohol barrels. All
of them knew that in confined spaces, those wooden barrels
might leak, and alcohol fumes could build up. Ships had been
known to have their hatches blasted open and fires begun due
to such fumes. Accordingly, the first task for the men each
morning was to check to ensure that this was not so. Though
the ship had three hatches—fore, middle and lazarette in the
after section—the ship’s boat was lashed to the middle hatch,
so it couldn’t be opened unless the boat was moved.
Accordingly the men—Arien Martens, Gottlieb Gottschalk and
the two Lorenzen brothers, Boy and the older Volkert, had
opened the fore and lazarette hatches and aired out the hold.
As he was listening, Richardson heard a strange noise
from the lower deck a sound that in all his years of sailing no
ship had ever made. It seemed like a crashing noise of
timbers, metals and glass, rhythmically sounding. As he was
getting worried, the noise ceased. Perhaps it had been some
noise carried over the surface of the sea?
It was, in fact, the arrival of the TARDIS. It had
materialized below the deck house, out of his line of sight.
After a moment, Barbara stepped out. ‘It’s a ship all right,’
she called back over her shoulder. ‘A sailing ship, at sea.’
Moving up to join her, Ian glanced about. There was no
one in sight, and the place looked and sounded peaceful.
‘Don’t wander away, Barbara. Please.’
Barbara stepped out of the TARDIS, peering about. ‘I’m
just looking,’ she said, defensively.
‘There’s no point in being seen,’ Ian objected.
‘If they don’t see me, they’ll see the TARDIS.’ She
gestured at the empty deck. ‘Anyway, we can’t come to much
harm here, can we?’
‘We’ll only be here a few minutes,’ Ian said, sensing that
he was losing this argument. ‘The Doctor’s resetting the
Nodding, Barbara took another couple of tentative
steps. She had never been on a ship like this before, and the
swaying of the deck was almost restful, in an odd way. She just
wanted to gaze out over the open seas. Walking carefully to
the rail, she stared out at the miles and miles of ocean. The
scent was pure and clean, the air tangy with salt. She breathed
deeply, enjoying the moment for as long as it could last.
It wasn’t long. Richardson had seen a figure on deck,
and first assumed it to be one of the crew, come up to report.
With a shock, he realized that it was a woman, in slacks and a
shirt! Startled, he opened the cabin door quietly, and moved
up behind her, then lunged. ‘Got you!’ he exclaimed.
Struggling, Barbara tried unsuccessfully to break free.
‘Let go of me!’ she cried.
‘Oh, no you don’t!’ Richardson said with a laugh.
‘Captain Briggs will want to meet a stowaway.’
‘I’m not a stowaway,’ Barbara snapped. ‘Take your
hands off me!’
Richardson got a firm grip on both her wrists, then
stood, panting, and looking her over curiously. Apart from
her peculiar clothes, her hair was styled strangely, and she
wore very odd shoes. ‘Where have you been hiding since we
set sail?’ he asked. There wasn’t much room aboard, and
Head had not complained of any missing food. This was a
peculiar matter. Nor did she sound American, but rather
‘Please,’ Barbara begged, ‘you’re hurting my hands. And
I haven’t been hiding. I’ve only just arrived.’
Richardson laughed at that. ‘Right you are! I’ll bet
you’re a mermaid, fresh lost her tail, and just arrived on
board after spying our ship from Santa Maria there, right?
Feeling sorry for us poor, lonely sailormen, I’ll warrant!’
‘If I told you the truth,’ Barbara answered, ‘you simply
wouldn’t believe me.’
‘I believe what I see,’ the mate answered, significantly.
‘Now come on you’re going afore the Captain.’
Despite her struggles, Richardson managed to drag
Barbara forwards. What he didn’t see was Vicki, peering
around the cabin door. She had followed Barbara out for a
breath of sea air, and stumbled across the problem. Glancing
about, she saw a rack of belaying pins. Carefully, she picked
one up, then hefted it. It should just about do the trick…
Within the TARDIS, the Doctor straightened up, finally.
‘There we are,’ he announced. ‘Everything in order.’
‘Good.’ Ian looked at the picture on the scanner screen.
It showed the side of the ship, and the sea beyond. ‘I don’t
think a sailing ship is the best place to fight the Daleks. It’s too
‘Indeed. Anyway, we’re ready to move on.’ The Doctor
waved a hand at the door. ‘Perhaps you’d be good enough to
call the ladies, um?’
‘Yes. The quicker we get away from here, the better.’
Richardson was dragging Barbara across by the cabin
when everything went black for him, and he pitched down on
to the deck. Surprised at this, Barbara glanced up, and saw a
grinning Vicki perched on the ladder to the upper deck. In
her hand, she held the belaying pin.
‘Well done, Vicki,’ Barbara said, with relief. ‘Thanks.’
Giving a half-bow, Vicki laughed. ‘Delighted. Any time.’
Both heard the next set of footsteps at the same time.
‘There’s someone else!’ Barbara whispered in alarm. Vicki
shot back under cover, and Barbara hid behind the cabin
door. With relief, when the person appeared, Barbara saw
that it was Ian. Before she could say anything, though, Vicki
sprang out and hit down with the pin.
‘I got him! I got him!’ she exclaimed, excitedly. Then
she saw who she had hit, and was instantly contrite. Dropping
the belaying pin, she jumped down.
Barbara stooped to help Ian to his feet. The pin had
caught him a glancing blow, so he was stunned rather than
unconscious. ‘Help me get him inside the TARDIS,’ Barbara
said to Vicki, who scurried across to help support Ian’s
‘Oh, Ian,’ she said, ‘I’m terribly sorry. Did it hurt?’
Barbara snorted, as she struggled to drag him across the
deck. ‘That’s a silly question.’
‘I didn’t mean it,’ Vicki moaned. ‘Oh dear!’
‘Hold him up,’ Barbara warned, and together they
managed to manoeuvre him back into the TARDIS.
There was a groan on the deck, as Richardson struggled
uncertainly to his feet. Vicki’s blow had merely stunned him
too, but his head felt like it was splitting. He had seen what
looked like three figures heading across the deck. Staggering
to the edge of the cabin, he was astonished to see a large blue
box on the mid-deck. Then, a second later, he was just as
astonished not to see it.
Somehow, it had vanished.
That blow on the head had done more damage than he
had thought! Shaking his head to try and clear it, he yelled,
‘Captain! Captain! Captain Briggs! Amidships!’
The Lorenzen brothers popped their heads out of the
for’ard hatchway, wondering what was happening. The
Captain hurried on deck himself. ‘What is it, man?’
Rubbing the back of his neck, Richardson tried to
straighten up. ‘Captain,’ he explained, ‘I found a stowaway,
sir. A girl, it was. She… she managed to get away from me.’
‘Stowaway, eh?’ Briggs muttered. ‘A girl, you say?’
Firmly, Briggs nodded. ‘All hands amidships,’ he called
to the brothers, who nodded, and called below in their turn.
Turning back to Richardson, he continued. ‘How did she get
‘I got hit over the head,’ his mate explained, fingering
the swelling lump that was there.
‘No,’ Richardson said slowly. ‘Come to think of it, it
couldn’t have been. I was holding her in front of me. I think I
saw two more people with her… but I was pretty much out of
‘Then it would seem that we have more than one
stowaway aboard.’ He glanced up as the four sailors, the cook
and a yawning second mate appeared. Martens looked
worried, having caught the last part of this conversation.
‘I don’t like it, Captain,’ he said. ‘We’ve been about the
ship too much for there to be room for a single person to hide
out let alone two. Maybe they wasn’t people…’ He crossed
himself, fervently. ‘Maybe they was Krakens, or mermaids.’
Briggs looked at him in pity. ‘This is Eighteen Seventy-
Two, sailor,’ he snapped, ‘not the Dark Ages! Mythical
creatures do not exist. If there’s a woman aboard, it’s a
woman and nothing more. Now, we’re going to search the
ship and do a thorough job of it.’
The sailors didn’t believe that it was possible for them to
have missed seeing a single stowaway, let alone the two or
three that the First Mate claimed were about. Still, orders
were orders, so they set to with as much enthusiasm as they
could muster for the task. As always, the two Lorenzen
brothers worked as a team. They headed for’ard, and looked
everywhere that they could think of on deck. They found—as
they had expected nothing.
‘May as well try below,’ Volkert muttered, and turned to
go back. He froze in horror.
Approaching him was some thing made of metal. It had
no apparent source of motion, yet it was gliding across the
decks towards him and Boy. Volkert managed to get his arm
functioning enough to tap his brother on the shoulder. Boy
turned, then likewise froze, regarding this impossibility with
‘Where are the time travellers?’ the Dalek grated. It had
just emerged from its time machine, and could not see any
sign of the TARDIS.
‘Gods of the deep!’ Volkert cursed. How could such
things come aboard unless they were spirits? Nothing could
induce him to stay on a haunted ship! He regained his power
to move, and shot past the creature, not even pausing to see if
his brother was following. He skidded to a halt by the cabin,
as another of the creatures emerged from a shining box on
the mid-deck. Martens ran across to join Volkert.
‘It’s the folk of the sea!’ he howled, in fear. ‘They’ve
come to drag us down! We can’t stay on this cursed ship!’
Volkert had worked that out already. He began
scrabbling at the fastenings that held the ship’s boat lashed to
the mid-hatch. Martens helped him, working as fast as they
could. The boat began to lurch free, but not soon enough.
One of the creatures had spotted them, and glided across to
the two sailors.
‘Stay where you are!’ it ordered. ‘You will provide
information. Where are the time travellers?’
This was too much for Volkert. Without waiting for the
boat, he screamed, jumped to the rails and then leapt into the
sea. As Martens rushed to join him, the Dalek fired. For a
second, Martens hung on the ropes, screaming in agony, then
his dead body twisted and fell into the sea.
His screams had alerted the rest of the crew. Mrs Briggs,
fearing some terrible shipwreck, ran onto deck, holding a
wailing Sophia Matilda. As the Daleks began to search the
ship, the other sailors panicked, and dived overboard to
escape these infernal beings.
Briggs and Richardson tried to finish launching the
ship’s lifeboat. Mrs Briggs stood, pale-faced and terrified, by
the rail. One of the Daleks saw them, and moved forward.
Knowing how fast the humans could dive into the water, the
Dalek moved too rapidly itself, trying to prevent their escape.
Instead, as their ship rolled slightly, it crashed into the woman
Mrs Briggs screamed once as she fell. The Dalek keeled
forward, dropping after her. The three of them hit the water
together, but only the mother and child resurfaced. The
Dalek, weighed down by all of its metal, sank swiftly from
Richardson abandoned his efforts with the lifeboat, now
almost free, and ran with Briggs to glance over the side of the
ship. Sarah Briggs was desperately trying to reach her
daughter. Briggs dived into the water to help. Richardson
hesitated for a second. The ship rolled again, and the lifeboat,
now completely unlashed, slid across the deck and slammed
into the Mate’s legs. Richardson fell over the side, swiftly
followed by the boat, still upside-down, as it had been stored.
It hit the water, rolled, and sank.
As the sailors, Sarah Briggs and the child tried to stay
afloat, they saw their ship moving swiftly away from them. It
would only be a matter of time before they followed that evil
creature down to the depths. They were better than seven
miles from land, and there was no chance that any of them
could swim that far…
On the ship, the Daleks were totally uninterested. They
completed their search, and then reported back to their squad
leader. ‘There is no one on the vessel.’
‘Then our enemies have escaped us again. We will
continue the pursuit.’ It led the way back into the time
machine. After a moment, the metal box vanished, leaving the
decks completely clear.
The wind was full, and the sails caught the breezes. The
ship moved on, with no hand on the wheel. The decks
creaked, the sails filled, the wheel spun. It would be found on
4 December, floating like this, by a sister ship, the Dei Gratia.
The Dei Gratia had left New York eight days behind this
vessel. They had been in the same dock area. Their captains
had taken dinner together. They would never do so again.
Midway between the Azores and Portugal, the Mary Celeste was
sighted, and then boarded.
No one was aboard. The mystery had begun.
Within the TARDIS, Ian had just about recovered, and
was suffering Barbara’s ministrations. She had bathed the
lump on his skull, which was already starting to subside. ‘That
better?’ she asked.
‘Somewhat,’ Ian agreed. ‘Did you see the name of that
Barbara nodded. ‘The Mary Celeste,’ she answered,
troubled. ‘Ian, you know what must have happened after we
left, don’t you? I mean, we all know that the Mary Celeste was
found abandoned, her crew vanished. The Daleks must have
gotten them somehow.’
‘I don’t know.’ Ian looked at her, gently. ‘That must be
the answer to the mystery. But it’s an answer no one would
‘That’s not what worries me.’ She began to tidy up the
medical supplies, returning them to their cabinets in the tiny
infirmary that the TARDIS possessed. She was working just to
keep occupied, while she tried to quell her troubled heart.
‘Ian, whichever way I look at it, I can’t help feeling that we
killed those people. If we hadn’t landed there, the Daleks
would never have found them and killed them. It’s our fault.’
Ian shook his head, firmly. It hurt, and he tried to fight
down the pain. ‘It isn’t, you know. But well, we learned about
the Mary Celeste when we were just children. It is a fact of
history, Barbara. One thing we should have learned in all our
years of travelling is that, whatever we do, we can’t change
history.’ He smiled at her, tenderly. ‘You tried that with the
Aztecs, and failed.’
‘I know.’ Barbara managed a feeble smile. ‘Yet it doesn’t
help me much. Maybe you’re right, and maybe it was
inevitable that those poor sailors had to die. I still can’t help
feeling that it’s still partly our fault. We led the Daleks there,
‘All right,’ Ian suggested. ‘Think about this. Suppose we
had never travelled with the Doctor. Suppose he alone had
landed on the Mary Celeste, unaware of what she was. Would it
then have been his fault?’
‘Well…’ Barbara began to weaken. ‘I don’t think so. It
would have been an accident.’
‘Then why is it our fault? Just because we happened to
know what the ship was?’
Barbara tried to express what she was feeling. ‘We…
well, we did know. And we did nothing.’
‘And what could we do?’ Ian asked reasonably. ‘Should
we have told the crew that there were Daleks arriving any
minute, and invited them into the TARDIS? Do you seriously
think that they would have come?’
The idea was rather ludicrous. ‘They’d probably have
made us walk the plank.’
Ian stood up and put a hand on her shoulder. ‘I think
that there was nothing that we could really have done. In one
sense, yes, it was our fault that the Daleks found the ship. On
the other hand, we know that if they hadn’t, then something
would still have had to happen to kill the crew. They were
fated to die, I’m afraid.’ He sighed. ‘Come on, let’s see how
the Doctor’s doing.’
They returned to the main control room, where the
Doctor was still struggling with his instrumentation.
‘Any change, Doctor?’ Barbara asked, not really
expecting any news.
‘I’ve altered the time curve we were following,’ the
Doctor said, without enthusiasm. It had taken all of his
ingenuity to manage that without his manuals and notes. ‘For
a moment, I dared hope that we had lost them—then they
must have detected the change and altered their own course
again. They’re still right behind us.’
The way he said this worried Barbara. ‘We still have our
twelve-minute lead, surely?’
The Doctor shook his head. ‘I’m afraid that’s down to
eight minutes now… and it’ll be reduced even further after
our next landing. The Daleks are catching up with us.’
All four of them turned to look at the path indicator. It
seemed to pulse brighter and bleep louder—the signal of
8 – Journey into Terror
It was not a place to be comfortable. The hallway was
huge, made of stones and mortar dating back to the
seventeenth century. It had lasted three hundred years or
more without obvious change, and would last the same again
with ease. Grey stones of immense size and strength laid out
the large foyer. In the background stood a staircase of
immense size. Each step was almost ten feet wide, and all were
carved from a solid block of granite. This led to upper storeys
that were deeply shadowed.
The hall and foyer themselves were shrouded in gloom.
Pictures, faded and covered in dust and cobwebs; had long
since given up trying to brighten the place. Now, they were
content to hide in the darkness and hope to be overlooked.
Large windows, filled with expensive stained-glass
decorations, probably hadn’t been cleaned for centuries.
Outside, lightning flashed, but even that could make little
impact on the blackness within. The crash of thunder echoed
about the empty rooms.
Nothing moved—no rodents, no insects. The shadows
alone seemed to creep about, scurrying from patch to patch of
blackness. Yet, even without any signs of life, there was
something eerie about the whole place. It was more than the
mystique that old things possess. It was as if there were some
brooding evil that had, centuries past, settled into those cold
stones and somehow animated them.
It was not a place to be comfortable.
If there were any strangers bold enough to cross the
oaken threshold, they would peer about, sensing eyes in the
gloom, eyes that watched and hungered—desiring the vitality
of the still-living to feed their dead, yet undying, needs. Even
where nothing lived, there was still that terrible sense of
intelligence—watching, patiently, for its prey…
The TARDIS materialized near the door. For a moment,
the light atop the time machine cast fresh, clean rays across
the aeons of dust. Then the light cut out, and the darkness
settled back down to wait again. After a moment, the door of
the TARDIS opened, and—first as ever—Barbara peered out.
She looked at the hallway, and shuddered. ‘I’m not wild
about this place,’ she muttered. It felt like a tomb. Her tomb.
As she moved out, her three companions followed. Ian
glanced about, examining the place from a tactical point of
view. ‘I don’t know,’ he commented. ‘It might be an ideal spot
to wait for the Daleks.’ He slapped a stone. ‘Thick, stout
walls.’ He gestured up the stairs. ‘An upper storey. The
Daleks aren’t too good on stairs, don’t forget.’ He moved over
to the staircase, to check that the steps were still navigable. He
rested his hand on the carved wooden handrail as he did so.
Instantly, there was the sound of fluttering, as
something came to life in the huge, arched rafters of the
room. Vicki gave a squeal, and they all tried to peer through
the gloom to see what was making the noise. Whatever it was,
it was getting louder. Outside, another jagged fork of
lightning split the sky. The little illumination it provided
helped the travellers to see just dimly. Hundreds of furry
shapes, with outstretched wings and fanged faces… Eyes
gleamed redly in the light. As the lightning faded, the
thunder crashed, drowning for a second only the beating of
hundreds of tiny wings.
‘Bats!’ Barbara shuddered. ‘They’re bats!’
The wings beat on, as the bats flocked out. One of the
windows over the stairs had a section missing near the top.
The four friends could see the cloud-like mass of bats
fluttering through this opening, and then they were gone.
Vicki opened her eyes again, and looked about the
room. ‘Probably vampire bats,’ she said, in a hollow voice.
Ian glanced down at her, and raised an eyebrow.
‘Nonsense!’ the Doctor snorted. ‘Vampire bats are only
to be found in South America.’
Vicki moved closer to him, and he put an arm about
her, protectively. ‘Perhaps that’s where we are?’ she
suggested, with a shudder.
‘Mmm… I doubt it.’ The Doctor gestured at the walls
with his cane. ‘Judging by the style of architecture, it’s more
likely to be Central Europe.’
‘Well, wherever we are,’ Ian said firmly, ‘I’m with
Barbara. I don’t like it here. I think we should go.’
‘In normal circumstances, I would agree with you,’ the
Doctor answered. ‘But with the Daleks to face, it’s essential
that we have a look around. Come along, Chesterton—let’s
see what’s upstairs.’
That was definitely too much for Barbara. ‘Well, you can
go if you want to, but I’m staying right here.’
‘Me too,’ Vicki added. The closer she was to the
TARDIS, the safer she felt. She couldn’t shake the feeling that
they were being observed. The Doctor evidently didn’t share
‘Very well, very well,’ he agreed. ‘We won’t be long.’ He
gestured to Ian, who nodded, and they walked off up the
Watching them leave, Vicki and Barbara drew closer to
one another, both seeking reassurance. Glancing down at
Vicki’s ashen face, Barbara realized that the young girl was
really frightened. Coming from so far in the future, she’d
probably never been in a stately home even. Poor thing, and
here she was a grown woman—acting like a nervous child. It
was up to her to set an example.
‘You know, Vicki,’ she said, with a bravery she didn’t
really feel, ‘there really isn’t anything to be scared about. I
mean, it’s just an old house. We’re letting our imaginations
run away with us.’
Even as she spoke, there was another blast of lightning,
and tremendous crash of thunder. Without thinking, they
clutched one another in panic. Then, ashamed, they released
their grip again.
‘We’ve got to stop this,’ Barbara said, firmly. ‘We’re just
being silly. We need something to occupy our minds. Let’s
help the Doctor, and look around for anything that might
help us fight the Daleks down here.’
Though none too enthusiastic about the idea, Vicki
nodded. She made sure, however, that she stayed close to
Barbara when they began their search of the room. This was
one time when she had no intentions at all of striking out
Close by the TARDIS was a shadowed niche. In it was a
large wooden chest, amply covered with dust and cobwebs.
This was about six feet long, and three feet high and deep.
Barbara brushed at the cobwebs, uncovering deeply carved
reliefs in the dark wood. Vicki shuddered, as most of the
carvings depicted scenes of torture.
‘I wonder what’s in it?’ she said, not sounding as if she
cared at all. ‘Someone has horrible taste in home decor.’
‘It’s probably empty,’ Barbara replied, ‘but we can’t pass
up anything so obvious, can we?’ She reached out to try and
open the lid, then hesitated. Maybe she was wrong; in a house
like this, there could be almost anything inside. As if to echo
her gloomy fears, there came another blast of lightning, and a
deep-throated rumble of thunder. Determined, Barbara tried
to lift the lid. It was heavier than she thought, and she had to
apply both arms and a good deal of straining to move it at all.
Naturally, it creaked terribly as it swung open. Inside,
there was a gleam of white in the low light and, with a
shudder, Barbara realized that she had opened a coffin. A
skeleton lay within, partially clad in decayed garments. Even
as she was repulsed, one of the bony arms jerked.
The thing sat up slightly, turned its head and then the
jaw fell open. Peals of demonic laughter echoed about the
room. With a shriek, Barbara let the lid drop down. Clutching
Vicki, Barbara retreated back to the TARDIS. Both of them
kept their eyes firmly fixed on the coffin, waiting to see if the
spectre would follow.
Things were a trifle calmer at that moment for the
Doctor and Ian. They had climbed the stairs and, after an
obligatory rest for the Doctor to get his wind back, moved on
down the corridor towards a set of double doors. The dark
walls were lined with more paintings, draperies, and several
suits of armour, all needing a good polish to restore them to
As the two figures passed by, several helmets swivelled to
follow their progress. Ian paused to grimace at one
particularly macabre painting. From the draperies behind
him, a thin gauze-wrapped arm groped outwards towards his
neck. Without even noticing, Ian continued after the Doctor.
The arm wavered for a second or two more, then withdrew.
In his usual direct fashion, the Doctor had marched to
the large doors, and then thrown them open. Inside the room
was a jumble of very odd equipment. In the centre of the
stone floor was a table on some kind of support that could be
raised and lowered. Chains from the table led to a capstan in
one wall. The Doctor’s eye followed the path the table would
take, seeing a huge skylight in the roof. Lightning traced a
crooked path across the small patch of black sky.
About the walls were huge coils, switches the size of a
man, and what appeared to be large vacuum tubes. One wall
held a bank of panels, clearly marked in English indicating
voltage, amperage and wattage. These measured thousands of
each unit, which struck the Doctor as being more than a trifle
Ignoring this for a moment, the Doctor moved forward
to examine the table. It was covered with a grey sheet that had
probably once been white. Wiring ran from the equipment
across the floor and disappeared under the sheeting. It
seemed connected to what looked uncomfortably like a large,
thick-set body. It all rang a familiar chime in the back of the
Doctor’s mind, but he couldn’t quite place it.
A tap on his shoulder made him start, but it was merely
Ian. ‘Kindly don’t startle me when I’m concentrating,’ the
Grinning in disbelief, Ian answered: ‘Concentrating?
Right. So, what have you found now?’
‘Well, it’s obviously some kind of laboratory, Chesterton,
the Doctor retorted, annoyed at having appeared frightened.
‘Look at this equipment.’
‘Yes,’ Ian agreed, looking around. There was something
awfully familiar about this place, but he couldn’t quite put his
finger on it. ‘Well, I think we’ve discovered one thing—this is
no place to meet the Daleks. Let’s find Barbara and Vicki and
get out of here.’
‘Not until I’ve seen what’s on that table,’ the Doctor
Eyeing the shrouded shape, Ian put a hand on the
Doctor’s shoulder. ‘I’d be happier not knowing, Doctor.’
Surprised, the Doctor looked up at him. ‘You can’t
mean that, my boy,’ he remarked. ‘Where’s your sense of
adventure, your scientific spirit?’
‘It died a slow and painful death when we were buzzed
by those bats.’
Snorting, the Doctor broke Ian’s grip. ‘Well, stay here
then while I look.’ He set off towards the table. As he passed
the first of the huge tubes, they sprang into sudden life. With
a hum, rings of incandescent light began to pulse upwards
through the glass.
Retreating to rejoin Ian, the Doctor stared raptly at the
phenomenon. The rings of light rose in stately motion to the
tops of the tubes, where they vanished. The panels of
instruments began registering as fresh bands of light began
their journey up the tubes. These rings were moving faster,
and the hum from the machinery became louder. The crash
of the thunder overhead was almost drowned out.
Suddenly, two large globes on armatures swung from
the panels, until they were over the shrouded table. As the
light display intensified to nearly painful brilliance, jagged
arcs of electricity passed between the globes, enveloping the
figure on the slab. Then the room went dark.
It took a moment for their eyes to readjust to the gloom.
As they did so, Ian saw that the shape on the table was starting
to move. An arm reached upwards, and then the rest of the
figure followed it. The cloth covering fell free, and Ian and
the Doctor were staring at a horrible apparition.
The creature was made from sewn-together pieces of
cadavers. The stitching was still visible, and not at all pretty. It
had little hair, a squared head, and twin bolts in its neck. Its
clothes were ragged and dark. Twin red eyes burned under
huge brows. They seemed to be staring right at the intruders.
Ian grabbed the Doctor, and began to drag him from
the room. The Doctor started to protest, struggling to remain.
Ian couldn’t understand why—unless the Doctor didn’t
understand what that thing back there was. After all, the
Doctor was not of the Earth. ‘That’s the Frankenstein
monster!’ Ian hissed. ‘It can’t be real! It’s just a story, a film…
It can’t be real. It can’t be!’
‘Will you kindly stop dragging me like a sack of
potatoes!’ the Doctor snapped back, pulling himself free. ‘If
what you say is true, then there has to be some logical
explanation for this.’
‘And that is?’
Smoothing his collar back into place, the Doctor cleared
his throat. He wanted another look at the creature, but now
that he considered the matter, the thing did look rather
ferocious… ‘Well, why don’t we find the ladies and see if they
can shed any light on this, mmm?’ In an abrupt about-face, he
moved very quickly from the room. ‘Come along, come along,
Ian took a last look at the creature, which was still on the
table and watching him. ‘I’m right behind you,’ he assured
the Doctor, and hastily fled the room.
The monster continued to stare at the doorway for a
moment, and then it lay back down on the table. Its huge
hand pulled the sheet back, until the monster was covered
again. The machinery started to settle back into slumber, just
like the creature. All was as it had been in the room.
Above them, from some tower in the castle, a lone bell
began to peal.
In the lobby, Vicki and Barbara had finally caught their
breath. As they heard the bell, they peered around the edge
of the TARDIS. Thankfully, the coffin had remained shut
once Barbara had dropped the lid.
‘Ask not for whom the bell tolls,’ she muttered softly to
herself. ‘I feel as though my hair has turned white.’
Vicki glanced up, and then stifled a yelp. ‘It has!’
Alarmed, Barbara pulled a lock of hair in front of her
face. It was its normal rich brown. Vicki started to giggle, and
Barbara took a playful swat at her. ‘One of these days…’ she
warned the teenager. ‘My nerves aren’t up to jokes like that.’
‘I’m sorry, Barbara,’ Vicki said, calming down
somewhat. ‘I just had to do something to break my gloomy
From behind them, a deep, resonant voice intoned:
They spun about. In the shadows, they could just make
out a tall, gaunt figure and nothing more.
Essaying a tight smile, Vicki managed to answer, ‘Good
‘Who are you?’ Barbara demanded.
In response, the figure moved forward, into the weak
light. He was well over six feet tall, pale of face, but with
brightly coloured lips. His eyes were intense, unblinking. A
long, flowing cape, lined with red velvet, covered a dark suit
and an intensely white shirt. ‘My name,’ he said, with a slight
bow from the waist, ‘is Dracula. Count Dracula.’
‘You can’t be!’ Barbara exclaimed. ‘Not really. Where are
‘Welcome to Castle Dracula,’ the figure said. There was
another crack of lightning and a crash of thunder, and he
moved back into the shadows. After a second, Barbara
followed him, only to meet smooth stone. He had vanished.
‘He’s… gone,’ she whispered, feeling the stone.
‘Thank goodness for that,’ Vicki answered. ‘He gave me
‘There’s something very wrong here,’ Barbara said,
trying to discover a secret panel, a hidden door—anything that
would show her where he had gone to. He couldn’t really have
vanished… could he? He couldn’t really be Count Dracula.
There wasn’t any such person! Or was there? Had the
TARDIS taken them to a time when Dracula—some Dracula,
at any rate—lived? She remembered that there had been
someone named Vlad… Vlad the Impaler, he’d been called.
He had been a Dracula, and a real Count. Could they be in
his home? ‘Why did he just walk away?’ she asked, as much of
herself as of Vicki. ‘There must be a catch here somewhere.
What do you think, Vicki?’
For once, there was no sound from the youngster.
Barbara glanced round, and instantly saw the reason for that.
There was no sign of Vicki anywhere in the hall.
Fighting down the panic that threatened to overwhelm
her, Barbara backed away from the wall and frantically
scanned the room. Vicki was nowhere to be seen. Feeling
weak, Barbara collapsed into a high-backed chair near a solid-
looking wall, and tried to think.
The chair spun around on a hidden hinge, as the wall
section revolved. With a click, the wall had reversed itself. An
identical chair now stood on the same spot as the old chair.
The only difference was that this one was empty. Barbara had
now vanished as well.
Ian and the Doctor came hurriedly down the stairs,
glancing behind themselves as they did so. Thankfully, the
creature they had seen had not followed them. Arriving in the
hallway again, both men looked around. Neither Barbara nor
Vicki was there.
Clicking his tongue in annoyance, the Doctor snapped,
‘Now where have those young women got to?’
Ian shook his head. ‘You know, there’s something
terribly familiar about all of this, Doctor. Yet I know I’ve
never been here.’
‘Mmm? Oh, don’t be so certain of that, my boy.’
Puzzled, Ian examined the smug expression on the
Doctor’s face. ‘Surely I’d remember a place like this if I’d seen
The Doctor waved his hand airily, dismissing the point.
‘Oh, I know that physically you’ve never been here before—but
mentally I think you’ve been here many times.’
‘I don’t understand.’
‘Nor do I, fully,’ the Doctor admitted. ‘But it’s beginning
to get clearer as I think about it. You’ve seen old horror films,
read the scary books I saw you with that ridiculous volume in
the TARDIS, you know! You’ve had nightmares before.
Monsters in haunted houses, creaking doors, thunder and
lightning—and here it is, every bit of it.’ He threw his arms
wide to illustrate his point, almost hitting Ian with his walking
Ducking, Ian tried to laugh off what the Doctor was
talking about. ‘Are you trying to tell me that this place exists
only in my mind?’
‘Oh, not just your mind, my boy, but in the minds of
millions.’ With a far-off look in his eyes, the Doctor began
weaving his theory. ‘Everyone who ever saw a horror film…
All who read the works of Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe,
Mary Shelley… Everyone who tried to frighten an audience
with old, dark houses, rats, bats, spiders and… things. All
those untold horrors lurking just below the conscious mind—
the fear of the unseen, the unknown, the unliving… It’s here,
all of it!’
Fighting the chain of logic that the Doctor was
constructing, Ian protested: ‘All of what you say may be true,
but this is a real house.’ He slapped his hand on a wall. ‘It
exists. It’s solid.’
‘Exists, yes,’ the Doctor said, scornfully dismissing the
facts. He tapped his temple, significantly. ‘In the deepest,
darkest recesses of the human mind—that’s where it exists,
my boy! Millions of minds, secretly believing that all of this
must somehow be real. How many people, on dark nights,
have heard footsteps in the blackness and imagined they were
being followed by some uncanny creature? How many people
have walked into haunted houses, defying the spirits—and all
the time secretly afraid that they would confront the unknown
and unknowable? The immense power of their fears, their
beliefs, their nightmares—that has made this place a reality! A
house of horrors, yanked from the deepest recesses of the
‘You mean…’ Ian struggled to follow the Doctor’s poetic
soaring, ‘you mean that we’ve strayed into some strange
nether world—neither real nor unreal—an illusion, a belief so
powerful that it actually exists?’
‘Precisely,’ the Doctor beamed, patting Ian’s hand
condescendingly. ‘When you think about it, it’s all so logical.
What do they train your minds on in those vaunted English
schools of yours?’
Ignoring the insult, Ian smiled. ‘Then we’re safe,
‘Safe? Haven’t you heard a word I’ve been saying? How
can we be safe here in a dimension of nightmares?’
‘Don’t you see?’ Ian asked, eagerly. ‘If this is a realm
made from the frightened dreams of men, then the Daleks
can’t land here, can they?’
The Doctor was astonished, and then pleased. ‘You
know, I do believe you’re right, my boy. Perhaps they do
teach something worth while at Coal Hill School after all! The
Daleks could never land here. Never!’ Gripping his lapels, he
preened himself happily, certain of his chain of logic.
Unfortunately for the Doctor and his companions,
reality was not quite as accommodating as the Doctor’s beliefs
indicated. In the next room, with its soft whine, the Dalek
time machine materialized.
9 – Fallen Spirits
The Patrol Leader turned with satisfaction from the
screens inside the time machine. ‘The scanners indicate that
the enemy time machine is still here. We have caught them.’
‘Which planet are we on?’ The Second-in-command
‘Earth. They have changed their geographical and
temporal location by only a few units.’
‘They cannot elude us this time.’
‘No.’ The Leader moved away from the controls.
‘Disembark the search force.’
The Daleks began to glide out of their time machine,
ready to seek out their foes. Following the instructions of the
Leader, they dispersed to look through the dark corridors
and rooms. Unlike their four targets, the Daleks had no
innate fear of either the shadows or the unknown. If
something existed, it could be destroyed; if it did not exist,
then it was of no importance. They also had, naturally, no
knowledge of the creatures of human myths and imagination.
Exploring upstairs, one of the Daleks came upon the
laboratory. Scanning the area showed one humanoid figure,
stretched out on a table. Moving forward to investigate, the
Dalek passed between the large tubes.
Instantly, the rings of light began to float upwards,
inside the vacuum tubes. The Dalek spun about, seeking for
whoever had triggered the machinery. There was still no one
in sight but the unmoving figure on the table. Switching to
infra-red, the Dalek saw that a low-level photoelectric eye had
been set up between the tubes. Passing through the beam had
set the machinery into motion.
The light-tubes had built up to their peak again, and the
twin globes moved over the sheeted figure. A blast of
electricity sizzled through the air, and then the being on the
table began to stir. The Dalek had no interest in the
appearance of the creature—all humanoids looked equally
ugly to it—but it was displaying some form of intelligence,
even though it was not registering as a living being.
‘Halt!’ the Dalek grated. ‘You will answer my questions!’
Ignoring the order, the Frankenstein monster pushed
back the sheet, and sat up, swinging its legs to the floor.
Evidently, the creature would not obey. The Dalek opened
fire at it. In the stream of radiation, the monster seemed
totally untouched. Then it simply lay down again and covered
The Dalek was worried over the immunity this being
showed to the lethal radiation fire. No living creature was
supposed to be able to withstand a sustained burst as this
creature had. Before the Dalek could reach the logical
conclusion, a bell began to peal hollowly from some floor
above. The Dalek whirled about, and set off to investigate.
Blissfully unaware of how wrong his conclusions were,
the Doctor was once again feeling confident. As usual, this
made him smug and garrulous. Ian had difficulty in getting
him to listen, but then reminded him that Barbara and Vicki
were still missing.
‘Where can they have gone to?’ he asked. ‘We would
have seen them if they had gone upstairs. And they certainly
didn’t want to get too far away from the TARDIS.’
‘Listen!’ the Doctor interrupted him, holding up a hand.
‘There’s somebody coming, Chesterton.’ He gestured towards
the door leading from the room to the rest of the castle.
Before they could move, something hit the door hard.
The solid oak cracked, split and showered all over the floor.
The bulk of it simply collapsed forwards. In the door frame
stood a Dalek, scanning the room. As it saw Ian and the
Doctor, its gun came into firing position.
‘Get under cover!’ Ian yelled, propelling the Doctor
towards the stairs. Both of them ducked behind the stonework
as the Dalek fired. It had had no time to reset its weapon from
the broad-spectrum energy blast used on the door to the
killing radiation beam. Curtains over one of the windows
burst into flames from the force of the blast, casting an eerie
red glow over the room.
The Doctor tapped Ian on the arm and pointed. The
TARDIS door was facing away from the shattered door. ‘We
have to get back to the TARDIS,’ he hissed. ‘It will protect us
while we enter.’
Ian nodded, and peered round the edge of the stairs.
The Dalek was trying to move the door out of its way on the
floor so that it could enter the room after them. While it was
so occupied, Ian led the Doctor in a sprint for the TARDIS.
The Dalek reacted, but by the time it could fire again, they
were safely under the cover of the TARDIS, which absorbed
the blast without any apparent ill effects. The Doctor fished
hastily in his pocket for the key.
‘So there you are!’
Ian and the Doctor spun around, to see a wall panel
opening beside the TARDIS. Barbara and Vicki, both covered
in dust and cobwebs, emerged, brushing at their hair and
‘Where have you been?’ the Doctor snapped, testily.
Vicki grinned. ‘We stumbled into these really weird
tunnels, hidden in this place and—’
‘Tell us later,’ Ian broke in, pushing the Doctor back to
the TARDIS door. ‘The Daleks are here, and we’ve got to
Vicki glanced around in horror, then screamed: ‘Look
The Dalek that had been examining the laboratory had
now reached the top of the stairs. From there, it had a
perfectly clear field of fire at the TARDIS doors. At the same
moment, the Dalek in the doorway finally pushed its way into
the room, moving grimly towards the TARDIS.
The second Dalek was the closer of the two. The one
upstairs waited. Vicki dived for cover, just as the Doctor
finally succeeded in fumbling the TARDIS doors open. The
second Dalek triggered another of the photoelectric beams,
and a panel behind it in the wall opened. Fearing an ambush,
the Dalek spun about.
A shadowy figure moved forward. ‘Good evening,’ it
said, in hollow tones.
While the Dalek was distracted, Ian pushed at the
Doctor and Barbara. ‘Inside!’ he snapped. It’s our only
The Doctor peered around for Vicki. She was nowhere
in sight. Believing that she had already entered, the Doctor
followed the other two in and slammed the doors.
As Dracula moved forwards to greet the Dalek, he was
met by a burst of fire. The blast had no effect at all. ‘My name
is Dracula. Count Dracula.’ He bowed slightly from the waist.
‘Welcome to Castle Dracula.’
‘Stay back! Stay back!’ the Dalek grated, firing again. It
was in a state of near-panic, as its lethal radiation blasts
seemed to be having absolutely no effect on the humanoid.
The Dalek at the top of the stairs joined in the firing. Alerted
by the noise, more Daleks came into the room.
Such was the state of the battle with Dracula that none of
them saw when the TARDIS dematerialized. The only eyes
that watched belonged to Vicki, crouching behind the stairs.
In sheer disbelief and horror, she realized that her friends
must have believed she was already safely inside. Instead, she
was stuck here, in this terrible house, with monsters and
The one thing that she dared not do was to panic. There
had to be some way to rejoin the Doctor. There had to be!
Fighting down the urge simply to scream and run, she forced
herself to consider her options. with the TARDIS gone, there
was only one way out of this horrible place—but it was a case
of out of the frying pan and into the fire… Screwing up all of
her courage, she began moving towards the doorway.
Intent on Dracula, the Daleks didn’t see her move.
Instead, several more of them began firing at this creature
that refused to die. Finally, something happened, though not
what the Daleks had wanted. The figure seemed to stiffen,
then moved jerkily forwards. ‘I am… I am…’ it slurred. Both
hands came up, as it walked towards the closest Dalek,
ignoring the firing. ‘Dracula!’ it finished. His hands collided
blindly with the Dalek, then began tearing at it.
‘Help me!’ the Dalek screamed, attempting
unsuccessfully to retreat. ‘Help me!’ Dracula tore off its
eyestick, then began to rip at the casing itself. In a shower of
sparks, the Dalek exploded, its power systems disrupted. The
blast knocked Dracula back, shredding his clothing and
burning at his chest.
Instead of flesh and blood, this exposed gears and
wiring. ‘I am… I am…’ Dracula continued, moving randomly
around, as though looking for another victim. The Daleks
The lone Dalek at the head of the stairs did not see the
creature lumbering through the shadows behind it until too
late. The Frankenstein monster had emerged from the
laboratory, moving with unsteady steps. Finally, it groaned,
and crashed into the back of the Dalek, propelling the Dalek
straight down the steps. As it fell, the Dalek tumbled, spun
and finally crashed into the floor. Badly damaged, it then
The monster did not stop, but continued down the
steps. It was unsteady, but somehow managed to traverse
them without toppling over. It then advanced on the Daleks
from one side, as the damaged Dracula moved forward on the
‘Retreat! Retreat!’ the Dalek Leader called. ‘The enemy
is resistant to our fire.’ The rest of the squad needed no
further encouragement to evacuate the room. Two Daleks
were finished and still burning, sending up a cloud of smoke.
From this cloud, Dracula and the Frankenstein monster
continued their slow, unsteady advance.
The Daleks returned to their time machine, and sealed
the doors. The Leader examined the screens, and grated,
‘The enemy time machine has departed. Prepare to follow!’
‘I obey!’ The other Daleks moved to their positions, and
began to power up the time computers. Again, the Doctor had
escaped them—but they were now much closer. The next
time, they would succeed in exterminating him!
Leaning against the TARDIS doors, Ian mopped his
brow with the back of his sleeve. ‘Phew!’ he exclaimed, loudly.
‘This game of hide and seek through time is getting a little
The Doctor glanced up from the controls, as he ensured
that the TARDIS was correctly in flight. ‘Well, at least it has
given us the unique experience of seeing the meeting of
colossi—Frankenstein’s monster versus the Daleks!’ He
chuckled at the thought.
Barbara, standing beside the Doctor, looked puzzled.
‘Frankenstein?’ she echoed, ‘But he’s just a fictional
Moving across to join them, Ian smiled. ‘I know he’s
supposed to be fictional, Barbara, but the Doctor has a theory
to explain what we saw.’
‘A theory?’ the Doctor sounded insulted. ‘Well, call it
what you like, but I personally am convinced that the castle
we were in exists in neither time nor space. Somehow, for
some reason, we were lodged for a brief period of time in a
place that exists only in the human mind. The realm of the
Barbara suddenly realized what the Doctor meant. ‘That
place was just the… the solidified dreams and nightmares of
‘Exactly.’ The Doctor looked insufferably pleased with
‘Well, I for one don’t believe a word of it,’ Ian
announced. ‘If that were the case, how could the Daleks have
landed there? They can’t invade human thoughts.’
The Doctor sniffed, loudly. ‘I refuse to argue with a
closed mind, Chesterton.’ He turned his back on Ian and bent
over the controls again.
‘Have it your own way,’ Ian laughed. ‘But I’m certain
there has to be another, logical explanation.’
(Ian was quite correct; had the travellers gone out
through the main doors of the castle, they would have seen
that there was neither thunder nor lightning outside. A
bright, April day led the crowds through Battersea Funfair.
Standing by the castle was a sign: ‘The House of
Frankenstein: Admission—’ The price was obliterated by a
second sign reading: ‘Closed for repairs’.)
Refusing to contribute to what might turn into another
of those ongoing arguments between the Doctor and Ian,
Barbara looked around. ‘Have you seen Vicki?’ she asked.
Ian was moving towards the door that led to the rest of
the TARDIS. ‘Mmm? Oh, I expect she’s in her room,
changing.’ He sniffed at his sweater. ‘Come to think of it,
that’s not a bad idea. Running through haunted houses does
work up a sweat.’
‘I’ll go and make sure she’s all right, Barbara said, and
left. Ian was about to follow when a thought struck him. he
turned back to the Doctor.
‘Any sign yet of the Dalek ship?’
The Doctor glanced up, uneasily. ‘Yes, it’s just begun to
register now. I’m afraid they’re on our trail again.’
‘We can’t go on running like this!’ Ian exclaimed,
slamming his fist into the door frame. ‘We might give them
the slip once or twice more, but sooner or later we have to
Straightening up, the Doctor nodded glumly. ‘Yes, I’m
afraid that running away will solve nothing. Each time we’ve
landed I’ve hoped for conditions that would allow us to take a
stand and fight the Daleks. When we do face them finally,
Chesterton, it’ll be with no turning back. There’ll be no
quarter given—it’ll be us or them.’
Before Ian could respond, Barbara came running back
into the room, on the verge of panic. ‘She’s not here! I’ve
looked everywhere—Vicki’s not here!’
Three pairs of eyes turned to the time rotor as it rose
and fell. They all knew that leaving Vicki behind in the
haunted house might well have signed her death warrant…
The Dalek Leader turned to its assistant. The second
Dalek looked round from the panel it was checking in the
control room. ‘We are locked on to pursuit course,’ it
‘Calculate destination of the enemy time machine,’ the
Turning back to the panel, the technician Dalek began
to compute the course that they were locked into. The fluxes
of the Vortex made such tracking difficult, but not impossible.
With typical Dalek determination, their computers had been
constructed to perform the complex calculations. Finally, the
technician’s eyestick focused on the Patrol Leader. ‘It will land
next on the planet Mechanus.’
‘Understood. Contact Skaro Control and report our
destination to the Dalek Supreme.’
‘I obey.’ The technician moved into an alcove at the rear
of the control room. In it was a very powerful sub-space
tachyon transmitter. Normal forms of communication were
impossible while in transit through the Space/Time Vortex.
The tachyon beamer could break through the fields of static
and generally reach its target with a tight transmission. The
technician began to adjust the controls to send the message.
The Leader glided to a small room at the back of the
control room. It was one of the two laboratories that the time
ship was fitted with. One of the Dalek scientists had remained
here throughout the flight, preparing the unit in the room. It
was a transparent box on a raised dais. This was linked to a
large bank of controls that the scientist was carefully
adjusting. It was checking the settings against a read-out on
one of the ship’s computers. As the Leader arrived, the
scientist spun its head about, continuing its manipulations as
‘Which of the four enemy is to be reproduced?’
‘Their leader,’ the Patrol Leader answered. ‘The one
they call Doctor. Is the replicator programmed?’
The scientist moved towards the transparent box, which
was just over six feet long. Using its sucker-stick, the scientist
manipulated another control. The glass coloration darkened,
then solidified. Within the box was a vaguely humanoid form,
though without features or definition. ‘All is ready,’ the Dalek
reported. ‘Our data files have been analysed and the
computers are prepared to begin. By the time that we reach
our destination, the machine will have taken all of the data
and built a perfect duplicate of the one called Doctor.’
‘Good.’ The Leader spun about to leave, then swivelled
its head about. ‘Commence operations, and then join me in
the command post.’
‘I obey.’ As the Leader left, the scientist finished its
operations with the machinery. The translucent box began to
pulsate with colours. Satisfied, the scientist also left the room.
The planned reproduction was under way.
After a moment, Vicki peered warily out from behind a
panel of instruments. With the Daleks distracted fighting the
monsters in the haunted house, she had seized her chance to
slip into their ship. Sooner or later, she was bound to meet
with the Doctor and the others again if the Daleks didn’t
discover her first. Biting back that thought, she glanced about
the room she was in. She had no option but to hope that
everything would turn out all right.
She crossed to the replicator, and looked at it in
puzzlement. She had heard what the Daleks had talked about,
but found it hard to believe that this machine could create a
duplicate of anyone. The screens at the base showed images of
the Doctor from various angles, animated by the computers.
Vicki knew that the Doctor had met and defeated the Daleks
twice before. Obviously, then, the Daleks had made visual
records of him at those times. No, more than records—they
must have studied him in detail if they were hoping to create a
copy. Vicki wished she knew how to stop the machine before
it could finish its task and then realized that if she were to
sabotage it somehow, this would reveal to the Daleks that
there was a stowaway on board. If they suspected this for an
instant, then she would be found and killed.
Returning to the panel she had hidden behind, she
discovered that it was a sub-space transmitter, similar to the
one in the control room. Obviously, it was for use when the
scientist Dalek needed to access files back on Skaro. Vicki had
been trained during her enforced stay on the planet Dido in
the use and theory of transmitters not too different to this.
Though the Doctor had rescued her, the memory of her
weeks and months listening for a rescue ship at the radio
equipment was still fresh in her mind. She checked the board,
one eye carefully watching for the return of any Daleks. Signal
amplifier, tuner, power boost, microphone… She traced each
with her hand, making sure she could operate the machine
and then return it to its present settings afterwards. Finally,
her hands flew over the controls, as she fine-tuned it to one
setting. Then she paused, as a sudden thought struck her: did
the TARDIS have a radio receiver?
She had never seen one, but then again, there was a
great deal of the TARDIS she simply had not had a chance to
explore. In fact, even in the control room, many of the
instruments that she had seen puzzled her. One of them had
to be a radio, surely? Who would build a ship that didn’t have
one? She tried to fight down a voice that told her the Doctor
would be quite likely to do such a foolish thing.
There was only one possible wavelength that she could
think of to transmit on—21 centimetres. The chances that the
Doctor would have a radio on and listening for a message
would be slim—but all ships that Vicki knew of had automatic
scanners that monitored this frequency—the frequency of the
hydrogen atoms in free space, the commonest element of all
in the Universe. A modulated signal at that precise
wavelength was standard for all distress calls. Praying that the
TARDIS at least had such instruments, Vicki started the radio
transmitting, and whispered into the microphone: ‘Hello
TARDIS! Hello TARDIS. Can you hear me? Over.’ She
switched to receiving. Nothing but static. She tried again.
Once more, no reply.
The sound of the replicator suddenly cut out, leaving
only the background electronic heartbeat of the Dalek ship.
Curious, she moved over to take another wary look. The box
was again fully transparent, and within it lay a very familiar
figure—the Doctor! His eyes were closed, as though sleeping,
his hands clenched over the silver head of his cane. His
clothing, the ring on his finger—even the lines in his face and
the thin, long white hair they were all exactly as they were in
the real Doctor!
The Doctor himself was far from sleeping peacefully. He
was striding back and forth in the TARDIS control room,
muttering loudly to himself. ‘It’s my fault! My stupid, stupid
fault! I should never have moved the TARDIS without being
absolutely certain that we were all aboard. I shall never
forgive myself! Never!’
Ian interrupted the Doctor’s pacing. ‘No, Doctor, we’re
all equally to blame. I assumed that Vicki was in the ship too.’
‘Isn’t there anything we can do?’ Barbara asked. The
strain was showing on them all. Barbara was drained, pale
and exhausted. The others were no better. ‘Is there no way of
going back for her?’
‘Do you think I’d just be standing here doing nothing if
there were?’ the Doctor yelled. ‘We’re completely helpless.
You—you, of all people, should know how impossible it is to
pilot the TARDIS back to one space and time!’ He didn’t add
that he had been trying to get the two teachers home now for
several years’ subjective time. Each attempt had failed.
‘Yes, but that’s because we’ve never stayed in one spot
long enough to repair all of the TARDIS’s systems,’ Ian
exclaimed. ‘Even when we first met you, back in Totter’s
Lane, the TARDIS was in need of repairs. Since then… well,
you have let the repairs slip a bit. If we had the time and the
facilities, do you think we could find our way back again?’
The Doctor considered this for a moment, then shook
his head. ‘Possibly, possibly,’ he sighed. He gestured to the
computers behind the glass wall. ‘All of our flight information
is recorded in those. Theoretically, if all of the TARDIS’s
systems were functioning as they should, it would be child’s
play to retrace our steps. But that could take months… years…
If we could find the right tools to repair the ship. And if my
memory of the correct settings and everything is a hundred
per cent reliable.’
Barbara moved forwards, an anxious expression on her
face. If the Doctor gave up, then there was no hope at all for
Vicki. ‘But if all of us worked on it and helped—wouldn’t it be
worth a try?’
‘Of course it would, yes.’ The Doctor glared at her. ‘But
do you think that the Daleks are just going to sit back and give
us the time to tinker with the TARDIS? They’re after us to kill
us, not to play a game of cricket, you know!’
‘The Daleks!’ Ian’s face lit up, and he slapped his fist
into the palm of his other hand. ‘That’s it! Doctor, don’t you
see? They’re our answer.’ Both of his friends had blank
expressions. ‘We can get back to Vicki! Not in the TARDIS —
but in the Daleks’ time machine!’
Finally getting the idea, the Doctor’s frown vanished as a
smile washed over his face. ‘Capture their machine?’ he asked,
in dawning comprehension.
‘Yes, why not?’
‘It’ll take some doing,’ Barbara snorted.
‘But it’s the only chance we’ve got of getting back to
Vicki. We know that the Daleks’ ship is fully controllable.’
‘If we can only pull it off,’ the Doctor mused, seeking
Barbara looked from one to the other. ‘Well, it seems to
me that we have nothing to lose,’ she said, firmly. ‘As Ian
keeps reminding us, we can’t run forever. Now we have even
more reason to stop and fight.’
Ian turned to the Doctor. ‘Well, what do you say?’
‘I say — yes!’ Resolved, the Doctor scuttled back to the
control console. ‘Yes, yes, yes! The Daleks have hounded us
for quite long enough. Wherever we land next will be our
battleground. Either we shall win, or they shall—but it will be
Vicki backed away from the replication machine, unable
to tear her eyes away from the figure that looked so much like
the Doctor. She bumped into the radio panel, but before she
could begin to send her signal again, she heard an
approaching Dalek. Quickly, she reset the controls, then
ducked back behind the panel.
The Dalek Leader and the scientist returned to the
room. Behind them came a third Dalek, which moved to the
radio panel Vicki had just vacated.
‘Report the position of the enemy time machine,’ the
The Dalek at the panel checked the controls. ‘Its
movement through time is ending. It is now approaching the
‘How long before we arrive?’
The Leader turned to the scientist. ‘Is the robot
The scientist had been examining the replicator’s
controls. ‘Affirmative. The computers are now feeding data to
its memory cells. Physical duplication is completed. Energy
cells are fully charged. The brain unit is almost complete with
characteristics and personality traits.’
The Leader grated: ‘Prepare to activate.’
Closing a switch, the scientist began the process. The
coffin-like structure housing the duplicate Doctor started to
rise to the vertical. As it did so, the instrumentation scanned
the apparently sleeping form for any flaws or malfunctions.
Nothing showed adversely on the screens. The front panel
then slid soundlessly downwards, exposing the robot.
‘Activate!’ the Leader ordered.
The scientist moved the final controls. The three Dalek
eyes and Vicki’s two human ones stared at the robot, waiting.
Its eyes abruptly opened, and it looked back at them.
The time rotor stopped its rise and fall, as with its usual
wheezing and complaining the TARDIS finished its journey.
The Doctor activated the scanner, and they looked out at the
battlefield that fate had selected for them. Here they would
face the Daleks.
After a moment, Ian observed: ‘It looks a bit swampy.’
It did indeed. Mists wreathed the ground and, in the
dim half-light of evening, this limited visibility considerably.
Tall growths were covered in what appeared to be vines. Pools
of water were visible, indicating the nature of the area. There
was no sign of animal life.
‘All to the good,’ the Doctor answered. ‘This sort of
terrain should make it difficult for the Daleks, mm?’
‘Well, we don’t have much time,’ Ian said, practically.
‘We’d better start exploring before the Daleks do arrive.’
‘One moment!’ the Doctor cautioned, as he completed
his environmental checks. ‘Mmm… Well, however it may look,
it seems to be perfectly safe for us to venture outside.’ He
activated the door switch, and the double doors hummed
open. As they did, a rancid smell filled the room.
‘Phew!’ Ian exclaimed. ‘Well, it smells like a swamp, too.’
They ventured out of the TARDIS and looked around as the
Doctor carefully closed and locked the doors.
As they watched, they could see that some of the
overhanging tendrils were twitching, and then these began
moving slowly towards the three new arrivals.
‘Look at that!’ Barbara exclaimed, pointing. One frond
was creeping quite visibly down the bole of some huge, multi-
‘You realize what that must mean, don’t you?’ the
Doctor asked coldly. ‘No plants have to move that fast if they
feed by photosynthesis. They have to be carnivores—and I
suspect that it’s our flesh they want to sample!’
The Dalek Leader moved forward to examine the robot,
comparing it to the read-out panel of the computer. As it did
so, all of its movements were followed by the piercing eyes of
the duplicate Doctor. Finally, the Leader swivelled back to the
scientist. ‘It is impossible to distinguish from the original.’
At the panel, the third Dalek lifted its eyestick. ‘We have
landed on the planet Mechanus,’ it reported.
Spinning its head around, the Leader ordered:
‘Assassination squad to prepare to disembark.’ Refocusing on
the scientist, it added: ‘Activate the mobility unit for the
The scientist did so, and moved away from the robot.
The replicated Doctor then came smoothly from the glass
case, and stood, looking over its creators.
The Leader faced it. ‘Your orders are understood? You
will infiltrate and kill… Infiltrate and kill.’
‘Understand?’ The voice was perfectly like that of the
Doctor. ‘My dear fellow, of course I understand. Don’t fuss
so!’ It waved its hand in a gesture only too familiar to the
hidden observer. ‘I shall infiltrate and kill. Quite so, quite so.’
Vicki was horrified. The robot was all too perfect… It
was behaving exactly as the real Doctor would…
10 – Who’s Who?
As they looked about the jungle they had landed in, Ian,
Barbara and the Doctor all felt extremely uneasy. Whenever
they stood still for a moment to catch their breath, the vines
would begin moving towards them, their tips quivering as if
they could scent their prey. When the travellers moved on,
there were all kinds of shuffling noises paralleling their
path—noises that ceased when they did, and resumed when
they started out again.
One particularly nauseating plant looked like an eight-
foot tall mushroom with creepers stuck to the edges of its cap.
It appeared to be firmly rooted in place, but the creepers
were in constant motion. One of them had caught what
looked like a tiny rat with six legs. The squealing creature was
borne aloft, struggling, to vanish within the large cap. Then
the creeper reappeared, empty.
‘What is it, Doctor?’ Barbara asked, shuddering.
‘I don’t know,’ he answered. ‘Some sort of fungoid
growth, I expect. On Earth, many fungi feed on decaying
remains, you know.’
‘Yes,’ Ian observed grimly. ‘And on this world, these
fungoids seem to have taken that a step further—they feed on
the remains while they’re still alive. I expect if we got too close
to one of those things, it’d be having us for supper.’
‘I don’t like to ask,’ Barbara said, nervously backing into
Ian, ‘but isn’t the jungle closer to us now than when we first
Ian had no chance to reply. The darkness was getting
deeper, but suddenly twin rows of lights sprang to glaring
brilliance. The travellers blinked, shielding their eyes from
the sudden intensity. The two rows were straight and parallel,
set about six feet apart. They were standing in the middle of
the twin lines, which led in one direction back towards the
TARDIS. In the other…?
As the lights flashed on, there was a squeaking sound
from the plants. The incoming wall of vegetation stopped,
and then began a slow, reluctant retreat.
‘Our friends don’t like the light, obviously,’ the Doctor
‘Yes.’ Ian tried to follow the dazzling pathway, but could
see little for the glare from the path and the impenetrable
blackness of the jungle. ‘What I want to know is who switched
them on—and why they were placed here.’
‘Does it matter?’ Barbara asked, anxiously. ‘Just so long
as they stay on. We can get back to the TARDIS now.’
‘No, no, no,’ the Doctor interrupted. ‘It is important. It
suggests that there is intelligence of some kind on this planet.’
‘There’s a definite pathway through the swamp,’ Ian
pointed out. ‘A corridor of light.’
‘Yes, quite—a definite pattern. As you say, Chesterton, a
corridor.’ The Doctor looked at them both, and the gleam in
his eye wasn’t purely from the lights; the Doctor loved
nothing as much as a mystery to be solved. ‘I suggest that we
‘Follow it?’ Barbara echoed, incredulously.
‘Yes, of course.’ Seeing that Barbara was less than
enthusiastic, the Doctor donned a conciliatory air. ‘Our plan
was to capture the Dalek time machine and then return for
Vicki, remember? Nothing’s changed and it may be that at the
end of this… this handiwork of civilization, we may find
friends or allies to help us to defeat the Daleks. After all, they
have already stopped us from becoming the first course for a
mushroom! Now come along—and remember, it’s highly
probable that the Daleks have already landed here…’
Without looking back, he set off down the path. Barbara
glanced helplessly at Ian, shrugged, and followed after. Ian,
looking over his shoulder from time to time, brought up the
rear. Despite the Doctor’s optimism, he couldn’t help but
wonder if the lights were switched on to save them—or simply
because it was night-time. Perhaps the native intelligences of
this world would not be as benevolent as the Doctor seemed to
The Daleks had indeed landed, not too far from the
TARDIS. In their metal shells, they were not as tempting
titbits for the local flora as the humans had been. As a result,
the jungle was less thick about the Dalek time machine. From
the entrance to the machine, the Dalek Leader surveyed the
area. Its infra-red vision helped it to see perfectly in the night.
All looked relatively peaceful. The Leader turned to the
‘Is the replica Doctor ready?’
‘Yes. It awaits your commands.’
On cue, the robot Doctor came from within the craft,
and looked about. It sniffed, obviously finding the
‘Our enemies are moving through the jungle,’ the
Leader reported. With its infra-red vision, it would be able to
see their prints clearly on the muddy jungle floor, once their
time machine was discovered. ‘You are to join them.’
‘Yes, yes, yes,’ the robot said, impatiently. ‘Infiltrate and
kill, infiltrate and kill. I understand perfectly. Well, the sooner
I get started, the sooner I shall accomplish my mission,
mmm?’ Waving his cane cheerily, it set off down the pathway
after the three travellers.
Turning to two other Daleks, the Leader ordered:
‘Follow it as escorts, but remain out of sight until it has made
contact. The rest of the patrol will seek out the enemy time
machine in case the humans elude the robot.’
Under the Leader’s instructions, the Daleks began to
deploy throughout the jungle. For a moment, the space about
the Dalek ship was still. Then Vicki peered cautiously around
the doorway of the time machine. Seeing that the path was
clear, she set off after the robot Doctor. She had to find and
warn her friends!
The Doctor, Ian and Barbara were progressing down
the light pathway. Fired on by his enthusiasm, the Doctor was
making good time. Barbara was doing less well, and she
stumbled again over something in her way. Before she could
fall, Ian grabbed and held her firmly. Aware that he was
ahead, the Doctor turned impatiently.
‘Come along, come along!’ he snapped. ‘Don’t dawdle.’
Laughing, Ian gestured for him to start on again. He and
Barbara then followed.
A moment later, the robot Doctor stepped out of the
jungle. It had been untouched by the predatory vegetation,
and had made good time. Watching carefully, it then set off
along the pathway after its prey. It was intent on the chase,
and unaware that it was being followed in its turn. Vicki was
moving cautiously after it, unaware of the lethal nature of the
plant life. As she saw one of the Dalek patrol, she backed into
hiding. Unfortunately, she had chosen badly.
The fungoid was waiting, almost eagerly, as a large piece
of food moved into its fringes. It was perhaps a trifle too
eager. As Vicki moved backwards, its tentacles lashed out.
Two caught the young girl. With a squeal, Vicki tore free,
stumbling to her knees. If a fungoid could be said to have
emotions, this one showed every sign of frustration. Like
snakes, its tentacles whipped back and forth. On her hands
and knees, Vicki scrambled back on to the path before
straightening and then continuing after the robot, shaking
The lights led into a cave, and then stopped. The final
few lights were set into the cave walls. The opening was large,
and the cave was about twenty feet deep, and ten tall. There
were rocks scattered about, and a raised section to one side,
roughly three feet above the general floor. As Ian and
Barbara arrived, the Doctor was already poking about. He
looked up at them.
‘Our corridor of lights has ended,’ he announced
dramatically, as if he were responsible for this miracle. Ian
picked up a small rock and started to tap the walls.
They all sounded alike. ‘Seems solid enough,’ he
commented. ‘But why would anyone arrange such an
elaborate system of lighting, just to lead into a cave?’
Barbara was looking about behind the rocks, and
straightened with a cry of triumph. ‘Over here!’ As the Doctor
and Ian came across to join her, she showed them what she
had discovered. It was a rod about three feet in length. The
end she was holding was thicker, obviously a handle. On it
was a small box and a button. She pressed this, and a bright
light shone from the end of the rod. Grinning, she showed it
to her friends. ‘There’s more back there,’ she informed them.
She handed hers to the Doctor and took up another for
herself, passing a third to Ian.
He examined it for a moment, puzzled. ‘What do you
make of it, Doctor?’
‘A weapon, Chesterton, a weapon!’ Chuckling, the
Doctor triggered his rod, and the brilliant light issued from its
end. ‘Don’t you see what its purpose is?’
‘To be honest, no.’
The Doctor shook his head, sadly. ‘My dear boy, your
lack of perception distresses me greatly on occasions. Never
mind, never mind.’
Barbara’s face lit up. ‘They’re designed to scare off those
fungoid things we saw in the swamp!’
Patting her arm condescendingly, the Doctor smiled.
‘Very good, my dear—excellent! Of course that’s what they
are. Really, Chesterton, you should have guessed. High-
intensity light, to scare off those plant creatures.’
Ian looked up at the roof, with a feigned expression of
long-suffering. ‘When you’ve both finished revelling in my
ignorance, perhaps you can tell me what we’re to do next?’
Airily, the Doctor dismissed the problem. ‘Well, if we’re
to capture the Dalek time machine, our first task is obviously
to locate it.’
Shuddering, Barbara added, ‘And that means going
back into the swamp again.’
‘Yes.’ The Doctor held up his rod. ‘But now we’ve got
some sort of defence.’ He started to wave the stick like a
‘They might keep the fungoids at bay,’ Ian commented,
‘but they do have a disadvantage.’
Pausing, the Doctor asked: ‘And what might that be?’
Seizing his chance, Ian grinned. ‘Really, Doctor, on
occasions your lack of perception distresses me greatly.’
For all his faults, the Doctor could accept being the
brunt of a joke. ‘Mmm—I do believe that the word is touché. ‘
Barbara wasn’t as patient. ‘When you’ve quite finished
acting like a pair of politicians at the polls, will you tell me
what the problem is?’
‘If we flash these things about to scare off the fungoids,’
Ian observed, ‘then we’ll give our position away to the Daleks.’
‘A good point,’ the Doctor conceded.
‘But what about the light path?’ Barbara said. She
gestured to the mouth of the cave. ‘It’s a dead giveaway,
leading right to this cave as it does.’
‘Quite right, quite right.’ The Doctor put down his rod.
‘We dare not advertise our position. I think the best thing we
can do is to wait here till the morning.’
‘And the outside lights?’ Ian asked.
‘We had best look around and see if we can find the
cable that supplies their power. If we can break it, we should
be fairly safe.’ He started to search, and Ian and Barbara
joined him in his exploration. After a few minutes, Barbara
called them over. She had found the wiring, buried under the
thin layer of sand in the cave.
Ian gripped the wire, and tested it. ‘It’s tough..
Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a pocket knife. Using
this, he sawed through the strand.
Outside, the lights died abruptly, and the whole area
Vicki stood still, as the darkness closed in about her.
While the lights had been on, she had felt fairly confident.
Now, in the darkness, she froze in fear. She could see nothing,
but she could hear too much… Rustlings, creakings, rattling
sounds… All about, it seemed that the jungle was on the move
She was perhaps braver than most people would be, but
this was simply too much for her. The scream began deep
within her, breaking out loudly. She lost her nerve
completely, and fell to the jungle floor, covering her head and
wishing against all hope that everything would just go away
and leave her in peace.
The vegetation started to creep towards her..
In the cave, the three travellers stiffened. They had
heard the scream perfectly.
‘There’s someone out there!’ Ian exclaimed. Grabbing
two of the light sticks, he thrust one at the Doctor. ‘Come
‘Yes, yes, of course,’ the Doctor agreed, looking none
too happy at the thought of venturing into the jungle, even
with his light weapon.
‘Barbara,’ Ian called over his shoulder. ‘Stay here!’ He
and the Doctor vanished into the blackness, their sticks’ tips
glowing for a moment before they were swallowed into the
dark. Barbara took up her stick again, and lit it. It seemed a
very feeble defence against the horrors without the cave.
The Daleks had been thrown into some confusion as the
lights died. Then they switched back to infra-red. The jungle
was perfectly clear to them again.
‘Patrols will continue to advance,’ the Leader ordered.
‘Perceptors show movement in the area ahead.’
A second Dalek moved past to follow the path. As it did
so, it ventured too close to a fungoid. The vegetable brain the
thing possessed was too feeble to realize that the animal life it
sensed was housed within metal. Its fronds slapped down,
gripping the Dalek and dragging it backwards. It could not
lift the creature—it was too heavy so it simply lowered its cap.
The Dalek was not immediately concerned until the first
of the digestive juices secreted by the fungoid spattered on to
its casing. They were of concentrated acid, and with hissing
sounds began to eat through the metal.
‘Assist! Assist!’ the Dalek called, in near panic. It was
being held too firmly in the tentacles to bring its gun to bear.
The Patrol Leader spun and fired. The fungoid caught
fire, and instantly released its prey. It withered, collapsed and
‘Continue the patrol,’ the Leader ordered. The Dalek,
its casing scarred with the acid burns, moved off.
Ian broke through the already overgrown pathway,
seeing a figure stretched unconscious in the darkness. He
waved his stick at the vegetation closing in. Reluctantly, the
fronds and tentacles backed off, and Ian could see who it was
he had saved.
‘Vicki!’ he cried. ‘Vicki!’
The Doctor had caught up with him. ‘She must have
stowed away aboard the Dalek time machine, Chesterton!’ he
exclaimed. ‘Which means that they can’t be far away!’
Barbara had tired of waiting, and set to work being
useful. Picking up the end of the wire that Ian had cut
through, she followed it back, hoping to discover another way
from the cave. Instead, the wiring vanished into a small hole
in the roof. Using the stick, she could just reach the rock
there, and started to tap at it. Was there a hollow section?
Suddenly, she was aware that there was someone else
present. Looking around, she saw with relief that it was the
Doctor. ‘That was quick,’ she commented.
‘Mmm?’ He looked at her with unusual concentration.
‘Yes, yes, I was.’
‘Who was it?’ When the Doctor looked blank, she added:
‘Oh, that. Oh, um, nothing, no one.’
Puzzled at this odd series of responses, Barbara walked
over to the entrance. ‘Well, where’s Ian, then?’ The Doctor
did not reply, and Barbara was worried. ‘What’s wrong?
The Doctor looked up, and said softly, ‘Barbara, my
dear… I…’ He spread his hands. ‘Chesterton is dead.’
‘Dead?’ Barbara whispered, not believing it. ‘Dead?’ She
felt giddy and sick, and reeled back against the cave wall to
support herself. Then she buried her face in her hands and
began to cry. She couldn’t even imagine not seeing Ian’s
cheerful face again, or not knowing that he was close when
danger threatened. On Aridius, she had thought that she had
felt as terrible as she ever would; this time it was even worse.
She had allowed herself some secret reserve of hope before,
but now the Doctor himself was claiming that Ian had
perished. If Ian had died, how could she go on?
The Doctor put an arm about her, patting her
comfortingly. His face, which she could not see, showed no
such emotion: it held only triumph and a superior sneer. ‘We
are no longer safe here,’ he said, gently. ‘We must get away.’
Faced with the prospect of doing something, however
pointless, Barbara began to drag her tattered spirit back
together. ‘But… Ian… are you sure? Maybe he’s just hurt, and
lying out there needing help…’
‘He was dead, Barbara. The plants got him. There was
nothing that I could do, but it was over quickly. Now, come
along. We must hurry.’ The Doctor steered her towards the
entrance. Uncaring, Barbara stumbled along, and went with
the Doctor into the darkness.
After a few more minutes, light was evident along the
pathway. Up a gentle incline to the cave came Ian, carrying
the unconscious Vicki in his arms. Behind him, waving the
two light sticks at anything that moved, the Doctor followed,
puffing and panting.
‘Nearly there, Doctor,’ Ian called over his shoulder.
‘Another twenty yards.’
Between gasps for breath, the Doctor called back:
‘They’re all around us. You know, Chesterton, they have an
extraordinary range of movement for plants. Quite
‘This isn’t the time for a botany lesson, Doctor,’ Ian
objected. ‘All I’m interested in is that we’ll be safe once we get
inside the cave.’
As he spoke, he crossed the threshold, and gently
lowered Vicki on to the ledge there. The Doctor backed in
after him, slashing with the light stick, as though fencing with
‘Chesterton,’ he commanded, ‘come and keep watch
while I take a look at Vicki.’
Ian glanced around. ‘Now where has she… Barbara?
The Doctor realized that there were just the three of
them in the cave, and a frown crossed his features. ‘She must
be here. Surely she wouldn’t have gone out on her own?’
Grimly Ian answered: ‘That’s what worries me—perhaps
she wasn’t on her own.’ He took one of the light lances from
the Doctor. ‘You look to Vicki, and I’ll just check around
The Doctor nodded, putting the other rod down. He
knelt beside Vicki, cradling her head in his arms. He had
been extremely worried about the child; she reminded him
very much of his grand-daughter, Susan, his first and dearest
travelling companion. Susan had grown and left him, but the
loss was very recent, a loss that Vicki had helped to mask. If
anything happened to the young child… ‘That’s it,’ he
murmured, encouragingly, as Vicki began to stir. ‘Come
along now, come along.’
Vicki’s eyes flickered open, and then focused on the
Doctor. As soon as she realized what she was seeing, she gave
a cry of panic, and tried to move away. Puzzled, the Doctor
moved forward. Vicki threw back her head and screamed.
11 – To The Death!
Ian was looking about for tracks outside the cave when
he heard Vicki scream. Immediately, he dashed back inside.
There was nothing threatening there — merely the Doctor
bending over her. ‘What is it?’ Ian asked, worried.
Pushing past the Doctor, Vicki ran across to Ian and held
him tightly. ‘Oh, Ian, it’s you! When I saw… it must be
the Doctor, or you wouldn’t be with him.’
‘What on earth are you talking about?’ Ian asked,
Vicki wiped her nose on her sleeve, and tried to smile.
‘I’m sorry I acted like that,’ she said to the Doctor, ‘but when I
saw you, I thought you must be the robot.’
‘Robot?’ the Doctor repeated. ‘My dear child, neither of
us has the faintest idea what you mean.’
‘There’s a robot,’ she explained. ‘The Daleks made it.
It’s exactly like you.’
‘A robot that looks like me?’ The Doctor couldn’t quite
‘Exactly like you, in every detail.’ Vicki looked at them,
and could see that the two men were wondering if she was
quite in her right mind. ‘When the TARDIS took off, I snuck
into the Dalek ship and hid. The Daleks made a copy of you,
to infiltrate our party. Infiltrate and kill, that’s what it said.’
‘So that’s it.’ The Doctor looked at Ian, worried. ‘This is
serious. Barbara would never have left this cave—unless you
or I had suggested it.’
Ian realized what the Doctor was getting at. ‘Or a robot
that looked like you. We’ve got to find her, and quickly.’ He
ran from the cave, into the night.
‘Chesterton, wait!’ the Doctor called, futilely. ‘Ah, there’s
no point… This is the time for action, not words.’ He returned
to Vicki. ‘Do you feel well enough to move?’
Vicki nodded. ‘And I’m going to stay close to you, so I
know who the real Doctor is.’
Smiling affectionately at her, the Doctor handed her a
light rod. ‘Come along, then, child. Pray that there’s still time
to save Barbara!’
Barbara had not been at all reassured as she had set off
into the forest with the Doctor. He seemed so strange, but she
put it down to his having seen Ian killed, and his sense of loss
over Vicki. Yet, even making those allowances, he was still
behaving very oddly. Barbara peered through the gloom,
frantically brandishing her light stick if she heard any noises
from the vegetation. She could barely see the Doctor, who was
scouting the way ahead.
‘Is there anything there, Doctor?’ she called, anxiously.
After a moment, he said, ‘No… No, I don’t think so.’
‘Then hadn’t we better be moving on?’ Barbara asked.
She kept her mind fixed on rescuing Vicki; it made the pain
of losing Ian seem a little easier to bear.
‘I think we’ll stay here,’ the Doctor answered, coming
back towards her. ‘Yes, this place will do very nicely.’
‘But I thought we were going to get the Dalek time
machine!’ Barbara couldn’t believe that the Doctor was simply
going to stay out in the forest at night.
‘Mmm? Oh, there’s no need for that, Barbara.’ The
Doctor was almost up to her, and in the light from her rod,
Barbara could see that he looked like a hawk that had just
seen a wounded pigeon.
‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ she asked,
backing away. Somehow, the Doctor frightened her, with that
eager expression on his face. Abruptly, she noticed that he
didn’t have his light stick, and yet apparently had no trouble
seeing in the dark. What was happening?
The yell had come from quite close in the trees, back in
the direction from which they had come. Barbara’s heart
soared as she heard the familiar voice.
‘That was Ian!’ she exclaimed. ‘You lied to me, Doctor.
You lied. Why?’
The Doctor didn’t answer. Instead, he simply advanced
towards her again. Barbara continued to back away from him,
waving her rod at him. She took a deep breath and screamed
out Ian’s name.
‘First you,’ the Doctor said, extending his arms. ‘Then
As Barbara moved backwards, one of the tendrils from
the vines snatched at her feet. As she felt the sharp whipsaw,
Barbara cried and stumbled. The Doctor moved far faster
than she imagined he could, and pounced at her. His arms
shot for her throat, but Barbara dropped her rod, grabbing
his wrists. His strength was incredible, and she could barely
even slow his attack. His hands were almost on her throat
when Ian ran up behind the Doctor. Swinging his rod, Ian
dealt the Doctor a blow to the head that sent him flying aside.
Without apparent pain, the Doctor rolled over, glared back at
them, and then ran off into the jungle.
Before Ian could follow, Barbara clambered to her feet
and gripped his arm tightly. She didn’t want to lose him
‘What’s happened to him, Ian?’ she whispered. ‘Why did
the Doctor try to kill me?’
‘That wasn’t the Doctor,’ Ian answered. ‘It was a robot
manufactured by the Daleks.’
‘A… robot? But… it was so… so real.’ Everything was
getting to be too confusing for Barbara, but one thing was
clear: Ian was alive, and she was too glad about that to worry
about a robot.
Ian realized that she was scared and exhausted. He
placed his arm protectively about her shoulders. ‘It’s all right,’
he assured her. ‘It’s all right. It won’t fool us again. Let’s get
back to the others. They’re just back this way.’
Barbara was happy simply to hold on to Ian, and let him
lead the way. Over the course of their journeys, they had
grown very fond of each other. Just how fond, she was
beginning to suspect from the loss she had experienced on
hearing of his supposed death twice so recently.
It was a short walk before they saw another light, and
then Vicki, slashing about with it. Ian laughed, and called out:
‘Doctor Livingstone, I presume.’
‘Ian!’ Vicki saw Barbara, and ran over. Barbara could
hardly believe her eyes — both of the people she had given
up for lost and dead! She grabbed Vicki, almost asphyxiating
her in a tight embrace.
‘Where’s the Doctor?’ Ian asked, prising the two women
‘He’s right behind me,’ Vicki said, happily.
Right on cue, the Doctor stepped out of the bushes to
the left of the trail. At the same moment, the Doctor also
stepped out of the bushes to the right. The three friends
stared at both figures — and could not tell them apart.
One of them pointed to the other. ‘Chesterton! Don’t
just stand there —that’s the robot!’
The other Doctor spluttered in fury. ‘Me?’ he howled.
‘You’re the impostor!’
‘Then prove it, my dear fellow,’ the first Doctor said,
smugly. ‘There’s really no need to lose your temper. Just
prove that you are the Doctor — if you can!’ He smiled at Ian
and the girls, obviously certain that the other Doctor couldn’t
prove any such thing.
The other Doctor straightened, and gripped his lapels.
‘I don’t have to prove anything.’
‘You mean you can’t,’ the first Doctor snapped back.
This was too much for the other Doctor. He raised his
cane, and brandished it. ‘Why you…!’ He moved forward.
The first Doctor backed off slightly. ‘Look out,
Chesterton!’ he snapped. ‘It’s getting violent!’
Ian could see this. Holding his light lance firmly, he
moved to stand between the Doctors, staring levelly at the one
waving his stick. ‘Put that down,’ he said, softly.
‘Get out of my way!’ the Doctor roared, still furious.
‘And if I don’t?’ Ian asked.
‘Then you’ll get the same treatment as that confounded
impostor!’ To back up the threat, he brandished his cane at
The other Doctor moved in front of Vicki and Barbara.
‘Watch him, Chesterton, watch him,’ he cautioned.
Ian was watching him. He had no desire to be brained
by either the real or the fake Doctor. The problem was that he
still wasn’t certain which of them was which. ‘You’re still
insisting that you’re the real Doctor?’
‘You don’t want to listen, one way or the other, do you?’
The Doctor had had enough, and whacked at Ian with his
cane. Ian parried the blow with his lance, and then riposted.
One advantage of having served briefly in the retinue of King
Richard the Lionheart was that Ian had picked up some fine
sword-fighting techniques. The Doctor—real or robot—was
hopelessly outclassed. In a second, his stick went spinning.
Ian poised, ready to make the final blow with his lance. Yet,
he was still uncertain.
‘Chesterton!’ the other Doctor called. ‘Now’s your
chance destroy it! I know it looks like me, but it’s just wires and
electronics. Destroy it!’ Ian still hesitated, so the Doctor
added: ‘You have to defend us! Barbara and Susan are
relying on you!’
‘What did you say?’ Barbara grabbed at the Doctor.
‘What did you say?’
‘What do you mean?’ the Doctor asked, confused. ‘You
said Susan!’ Barbara exclaimed.
‘Of course I did.’
‘Ian!’ Vicki cried. ‘That’s not the robot—this one is!’
At the cry, Ian turned, his rod held ready. The robot,
realizing that it had somehow made a mistake, turned and ran
into the undergrowth. The real Doctor picked up his stick,
and he and Ian set off after the fake.
This time, the robot was the one facing the problem.
Since it had no light stick, the native plants did not get out of
its way. It was forced to plough straight through anything that
was in its path. Having infra-red vision didn’t help when
fighting a jungle. In a matter of moments, it heard Ian and
the real Doctor close behind. Faced with little alternative, the
robot spun and raised its cane.
Ian was about to come at it with his light stick, but the
Doctor gripped his hand.
‘This is my fight, Chesterton,’ he insisted. Raising his
own walking stick as if in salute to his opponent, he then
stepped forward and struck. The robot parried the blow,
recovered, and struck back. The Doctor whipped his stick into
the path of the blow, and then closed in.
Vicki and Barbara arrived, panting. In the light of the
three alien rods, the travellers could see two identical Doctors
laying into one another with their sticks, each violently
seeking to brain the other.
‘We’ve got to help!’ Vicki cried.
‘How can we?’ Barbara asked, practically. ‘We can’t tell
‘So how did you, back there?’ Ian wondered.
Barbara smiled slightly. ‘The robot called Vicki Susan.’
‘Susan?’ Ian considered it for a moment. ‘Of course!
Both of the previous times we met the Daleks, Susan was with
us. And Vicki looks enough like Susan for the Daleks to
assume that she still was the same girl!’
The fight came to an abrupt conclusion as they watched.
One of the Doctors caught his opponent a vicious blow to the
head, and then slammed the silver head of his cane down on
to the chest of his fallen foe. The Doctor on the forest floor
didn’t rise again. The victorious Doctor straightened up,
pulled his handkerchief from his pocket, and mopped his
‘Most enervating,’ he muttered. He turned to face three
pairs of anxious eyes. ‘Oh, relax. It’s really me this time.’
Nervously, Vicki whispered: ‘How… how can we be
‘Mmm?’ The Doctor looked as though the thought had
not occurred to him. ‘So I’m to be tested again, eh? Well,
would the Daleks know that Chesterton was dubbed Sir Ian,
Knight of Jaffa, by Richard Coeur de Lion? Or that you,
Vicki, led a revolution on the planet Xeros? Or that Barbara
escaped with the Menoptera from the Crater of Needles?’ He
waved his stick at the fallen figure. ‘And if that doesn’t
convince you, then perhaps this will.’
The figure had been broken by the blows the Doctor
had dealt it. In the light from the rods, the travellers could see
that wires and electronic parts had been exposed.
The Doctor patted each of them on the arm. ‘Now, my
friends, I think it’s high time we returned to the cave. We
could all do with some rest. Especially me—I’m not as young
as I once was.’ Abruptly, he broke into a youthful smile. ‘But
it’s nice to know I can still hold my own in a fight, eh? Even if
it was against myself.’ Chuckling to himself, he led the way
back through the night.
The Patrol Leader stopped in front of the TARDIS.
Another Dalek halted behind him. ‘The enemy time machine,’
the Leader grated. ‘With this in our control, they cannot
A third Dalek, from one of the patrols, arrived. ‘There is
no trace of the humans.’
‘And the robot?’
‘Contact has been lost.’
The Leader considered. They had had a number of
skirmishes with the native fungoids and other plant life. Their
inner power packs were running low. ‘Organize a full-scale
search of the jungle as soon as it is light,’ it ordered. The
sunlight would recharge their solar panels. The energy might
be needed. The Doctor and his accomplices were proving to
be more trouble than had been anticipated.
‘I obey.’ The third Dalek moved off.
The Leader turned to the other Dalek. ‘Remain on
guard, in case the Doctor returns.’ It then moved back to the
time machine. The Dalek Prime would have to he notified of
the progress. It was a report that the Leader preferred not to
have to make. Again it was of failure.
Ian sat in the cave mouth without a light stick. He didn’t
dare advertise his presence to the Daleks, wherever they
might be. As he sat there straining his eyes to see in the
darkness, he could hear the sounds of the jungle all about
him. Strident cries, deep-throated roaring noises, and the
occasional sounds of something crashing through the paths
below told Ian that whatever animal life there was here lived
and hunted mostly by night. He couldn’t blame them—the
plants were probably slower in the dark.
In many ways, this was a terrible planet. It was literally a
world where only the strongest, most deadly predators could
survive. Perhaps that was a sign from fate—here, the small
party would have to face the Daleks now. It was a case of the
survival of the fittest, with the Doctor and his friends on one
side and the Daleks on the other. A ruthless world like this
was probably the most appropriate place for the final battle.
There was a noise from behind as the Doctor moved to
join him. ‘Chesterton, you get some sleep now. I’ve had a little
nap and feel quite refreshed. I’ll watch for a while.’
‘Thanks.’ Ian stood up and stretched. He felt bone-
weary, and rather envied Barbara and Vicki, both fast asleep
in the cave. First, though, he returned to squat by the Doctor.
‘Things look pretty bad, don’t they?’
Evasively, the Doctor admitted: ‘It’s not entirely
encouraging, my boy.’
Ian gestured into the blackness. A raucous cry was
suddenly stifled, and something began to eat. It was better not
to see what. ‘The Daleks are lurking out there in the jungle,
waiting to destroy us. Even if they fail, the fungoids might do
the job for them.’
‘Yes, yes,’ the Doctor agreed, impatiently. ‘Yet there is
some consolation for us. There must be an intelligent species
here. Something put those lights in the jungle. And
something made these light rods that have been so handy.’
‘I know.’ Ian looked grimly at the Doctor. ‘But did it
occur to you that those somethings we haven’t met might be
more dangerous than the things we have?’
‘You’re tired, my boy. Get some rest. Only time will tell;
time reveals all things.’
Ian nodded, and moved back into the cave. Smiling at
how peaceful Barbara and Vicki looked, he settled down near
them. He was even more tired than he had thought; within
two minutes, he was deeply asleep.
In the entrance, the Doctor sat, staring into the
blackness, intent on staying awake. It was up to him to stay
The Dalek Leader completed his report into the sub-
space radio. There was a pause as the Dalek Prime assimilated
the information. Finally, there came a reply.
‘You have lost four Daleks, yet the Doctor and his
‘Your progress is not acceptable. At the first
opportunity, you will pursue and eliminate the Doctor. You
must not fail. You must not fail.’
‘I understand.’ The Leader understood perfectly; if the
Doctor managed to elude him this time, the Dalek Prime
would have no mercy. ‘His time machine is being guarded.’
‘Yes.’ There was a pause, then the Dalek Prime said: ‘We
have no further supplies of taranium in the Dalek Empire.
Yours is the only time machine that can be constructed. You
must not fail.’
The Dalek Prime broke the contact. The Leader
considered the matter carefully. The assassination squad was
the only hope that the Daleks had to track the Doctor through
time and space until further supplies of taranium could be
obtained. Since the closest known deposits lay within the
Terran Empire, there would be little chance of another time
ship being constructed until the Earth had been defeated.
The assassination squad must succeed this time—it must!
Despite his good intentions, the Doctor had fallen
soundly asleep in the entrance to the cave. His gentle snorings
disturbed nothing, but were the signal for activity. In the roof
of the cave, a small section opened like the iris of an eye. After
a moment, a thin cable emerged. This moved slowly down,
flexibly peering back and forth. At its tip was a small sensor.
Like a snake, it checked the sleeping quartet, and then moved
in for a closer look at Ian. It scanned the human, and then
went on. Vicki… Barbara… and finally over the insensate form
of the Doctor. It paused longer with him than with the others,
as though puzzled. Then, just as silently, it retreated into the
roof of the cave. The iris closed, and all was still again.
With a start, the Doctor awoke. His first thought was
that day had broken. His second was a feeling of guilt for
having slept while on watch. His third, as he opened his eyes,
was of sheer astonishment.
All through the evening and the night, he and his
companions had been running through the forest. They had
dodged the carnivorous plants; they had eluded the Daleks;
they had fought and defeated the robot Doctor. And all of
that time, they had missed the most incredible thing. The
Doctor clambered to his feet and stared outwards over the
forest in amazement.
Above the insane growths of the surface of the planet
stood an immense city. Huge legs rooted to the forest floor
held it in place. The underside of the city was smooth. It
seemed to lead from directly above the cave towards the
horizon. About a mile away, the city split into two sections,
leading to the right and to the left. This enabled the Doctor to
survey the incredible architecture of the place. Towers soared
toward the skies; roadways and ramps ran about at all levels.
Complexes abounded. The entire city was like a metallic
fantasy, an architectural rhapsody, blending art and function.
Thin spires gave way to what looked like minarets and prayer
towers. Cathedrals of steel led into sections that were
mirrored glass, reflecting the sunlight downwards. It was a
blending of all the cities the Doctor had seen in his travels that
had been built by sophisticated, technological races. The
entire place was an engineering miracle.
There was no sign of life, however. No cars, hovercraft,
airplanes, helicopters, rockets or people were visible. There
was no movement of any kind.
Forcing himself to look away from this staggering sight
for a second, the Doctor turned his head. ‘Chesterton!
Barbara! Vicki! Wake up! Wake up! Come, look at this!’
Hearing his companions stirring, the Doctor turned his
attention to the city again. From his inside pocket, he
removed the compact binoculars he always carried, and
unfolded them. The construction work of the city was perfect.
Everything melded into a form of beauty and function.
Nowhere was there evidence of decay or repair. Neither—
even under this closer scrutiny—was there any sign of life.
‘Good Lord!’ Ian exclaimed, joining him. ‘That was
above us all last night? And we had no idea!’
‘It’s… huge!’ Vicki whispered in awe.
‘Well, Chesterton, I think you’ll have to admit that the
fungoids couldn’t have built that.’
Vicki was still taken by the vastness of the structure. ‘It
must be thousands of feet off the ground!’
‘Quite.’ The Doctor smiled cheerfully at the others.
‘Come along. We must try and make contact with the beings
that live there.’
‘How do you plan to get in, Doctor?’ Ian asked. ‘Fly?’
This was too much for the elderly traveller. ‘Chesterton,
my dear boy, you are without doubt the most—’
‘I don’t think we’d get very far whatever way we took,’
Vicki said dully. ‘Look.’
As the others followed her outstretched finger, they saw
what she had seen. Three Daleks were moving through the
‘They’re coming this way!’ Barbara exclaimed.
‘They must have found the light housings in the
daylight,’ Ian muttered.
‘We’ll have to make a run for it,’ the Doctor decided.
‘They’d see us in an instant,’ Ian objected. ‘There’s not
much cover from here, is there?’
‘Well, we can’t just stand here and wait to be found!’
Barbara was still scanning the forest. She pointed off to
the right. ‘There are three more over there!’
‘They’re trying to box us in,’ Ian realized. ‘They must
have a good idea where we are.’
‘The cliff above this cave,’ Vicki suggested. ‘Couldn’t we
climb out that way?’
The Doctor glanced down at the Daleks, then upward at
the climb ahead of them. ‘No,’ he decided, sadly. ‘It’s too
steep. They’d be able to pick us off like flies while we
struggled up that path.’
There was only one thing that Ian could think of to save
the others. ‘I’ll make a break for it and try to lead them off.’
Barbara gripped his arm. ‘No, Ian!’
He shook himself free of her hold. ‘It’s your only
chance,’ he insisted. ‘If I can hold their attention for a few
minutes, it’ll give the rest of you a chance to slip off into the
‘You’d be in the range of their guns,’ Vicki objected.
Ian gestured down the slope to the left. ‘There’s a
scattering of boulders there. If I can make it to those, then
I’ve a fair chance of staying one step ahead of them.’
The Doctor looked out in despair. While they were
talking, the Daleks were getting closer. ‘I don’t like your plan,
Chesterton,’ he commented, ‘but I’m afraid there’s no better
‘All right.’ Ian was glad to have the Doctor’s support.
They all knew that Ian’s chances of escape were slim at best,
but at least the Doctor was backing him up. ‘Give me about
thirty seconds after I’ve made the break, then get out of here.’
‘Where shall we meet you?’ Barbara refused to consider
the possibility of losing Ian again.
‘The closest of the city stilts. We should be able to find it
easily enough, even in this forest.’
The Daleks were drawing closer to the cave all of this
time. Ian looked out and saw this. ‘Get under cover,’ he
whispered. ‘I’m going in a moment…’
The Leader turned to its second in command. ‘Report!’
‘Squad two reports strong perceptor readings directly
‘Attack pattern,’ the Leader ordered. ‘Our enemies must
not be allowed to elude us again!’
The patrols began to split, gliding through the trees and
growths towards the cave above them. The Leader surveyed
the ground. ‘Section four will enter the cave. Section two will
circle to the boulders. It is the targets’ only line of escape. If
they attempt to leave the cave, then shoot on sight.’
Section two moved off to cover that avenue. The rest of
the squad continued to close in on the cave.
Ian swore under his breath. ‘Two of them are moving in
the boulders,’ he called back to his friends. ‘They’ve cut off all
‘We should have expected it,’ the Doctor said, glumly.
‘For all of their evil, they are not stupid.’
‘They’ve got us completely pinned down, Doctor,’ Ian
pointed out. ‘There’s no way we can leave this cave alive now.’
At that instant, there was a sound from behind them, in
the back of the cave. Behind it was a room that was almost
blinding in its whiteness. Blocking the entrance was a strange
It was about five feet tall, and as much around. It had a
small circular base, from which it grew like a balloon. Its
surface was not smooth, but broken into triangular sections,
like a miniature geodesic dome. A thin band ran about its
middle. On the top of this being was a small arrangement of
antennae. In several places across its form, there were discs in
motion, several of them quite brilliant. There were no signs of
arms, or features. From this odd being came a single word:
12 – The Mechanoids
The travellers looked at this creature with a mixture of
awe and suspicion. After a moment, it repeated in its
electronic tones: ‘Enter!’
Ian made up his mind. ‘I don’t know what it is, but
we’ve got nothing to lose.’
The others were in complete agreement: with the Daleks
behind them, following this being could hardly prove worse.
They hastily entered the small room that their… host
occupied. As they did, the door closed behind them. Then,
after a second, there was a slight humming noise.
‘It’s a lift,’ Barbara said. ‘We’re going up—into that city.’
The Doctor was examining their saviour. ‘You rescued
us from rather a nasty situation down there,’ he said,
attempting to start a conversation. The creature gave no
response. ‘I suppose you’re wondering who we are, and what
we’re doing here, umm?’ The being made no movement, and
gave no sign that it was even listening to the Doctor.
‘I don’t think you’re getting through,’ Ian commented.
Vicki moved forward, and reached her hand out,
hesitantly, to touch the creature. As she did so, she gave a yelp
of pain, and whipped her hand back. ‘It’s electrified!’ she
‘Yes,’ the Doctor agreed, thoughtfully. ‘No doubt it is
discouraging all attempts at conversation. We shall just have
to wait and see what it has in store for us.’
The first Dalek into the cave looked about in surprise.
‘There is no one here,’ it reported.
‘Not possible,’ its companion replied, entering the cave
also. ‘Perceptor readings indicated that our targets were here.’
There was only one explanation for this puzzle. The first
Dalek turned to the new arrival. ‘Subject the walls to seismic
The other Dalek moved forwards. Instead of the
habitual sucker-stick on its arm, it possessed a small device
that emitted low-frequency sound waves. Scanning with the
device, it soon located the small lift-shaft at the back of the
The first Dalek moved in to examine this area. After a
moment, it communicated to the Patrol Leader. ‘It is required
that we penetrate the wall in the cave. Section four must
return to the time craft for the electrode unit.’ It turned back
to look again at the hidden door. ‘Wherever our quarry has
gone, we shall follow—and exterminate!’
‘I think we’ve arrived,’ Ian announced, as the lift
slowed, and then stopped. The door opened, and they were
looking out into the city itself.
There was a huge open space, stretching for almost half
a mile in front of them. There were trees, and neat floral ,
arrangements. Beyond those were the buildings gleaming
metallically in the sunlight. The only signs of life were
numerous other creatures identical to their host. These were
gliding along the pathways, engaged in their own
The being with them slid out of the lift, then waited.
Taking their cue, Ian, Vicki, Barbara and the Doctor
followed. The metal being led the way through what was quite
evidently some form of park. The grass was cut, the plants
neatly tended, the trees perfect. There was no sign of neglect,
or even of work that needed doing. Whenever the party
passed others of this metallic race, the creatures would stop,
spin and seem to watch, before they continued on their way.
They left the park behind them, and their host led the
way to a tall building. As they approached, a doorway opened.
The creature moved aside. It was obviously inviting them to
enter. Ian led the way, looking about as he entered the room.
As soon as the others followed, the door behind them slid
shut. The creature that had led them there then moved away,
apparently uninterested in further events.
The room that faced the travellers was quite amazing. It
was large and spacious, with a high ceiling. Along the left wall
ran what seemed to be a bank of computers, screens and read-
outs. The far wall was shuttered, obviously some kind of
window. In the right wall was a sliding door, leading off. It
was closed at the moment. Various items of furniture showed
futuristic designs. A low couch, several comfortable-looking
chairs, small tables with lamps upon them. All were of pastel
colours—blues, greens and pinks being the most common
after the basic white of the room. On the walls hung several
abstract paintings. Half-way down the right-hand wall stood
the only incongruous item, a ladder leading to a sliding
shutter in the ceiling.
Barbara headed for the couch and sat down. After a
moment, she smiled. ‘Well, they obviously intend that we
should be comfortable.’
Ian moved to join her, testing the spring of the couch as
though he were sizing it up to purchase. ‘Mmm, yes, not bad.’
‘I don’t like it,’ the Doctor announced, glowering
around the room as a whole.
‘Why ever not?’ Vicki asked, gently. ‘It’s clean and
comfortable, and those robots seem friendly enough.’
‘Yes, yes, the robots,’ the Doctor stressed. ‘Have you not
noticed something very singular about this place, um?’
‘Such as what?’
‘We’ve seen only those robots,’ the Doctor observed. ‘No
animal life, human or otherwise.’
Ian stood up again. ‘That’s true,’ he said, realizing what
the Doctor was getting at. A robot force of the size and
efficiency of the one that they had seen suggested a large
population for them to be serving. So where was everybody?
Right on cue, the door to the other room opened.
Standing in the doorway was a young man in his late twenties,
obviously very human. He had blond hair, expertly trimmed,
and was dressed in a one-piece outfit with what were
obviously military flashes of some kind unknown to the
travellers. As he paused in the doorway, his face showed a
number of emotions flickering past: surprise, disbelief, hope,
and then a great grin spread across his handsome features as
he bounded into the room, hand thrust out.
‘You… you’ve come at last!’ he cried, wringing Ian’s
hand. ‘I’d given up hope,’ he added, shaking Barbara’s hand.
‘I never thought I’d see another human being as long as I
lived!’ he confided to Vicki. ‘I can’t tell you what all these
years alone have meant,’ he added, pumping the Doctor’s
reluctant arm heartily.
The four friends were taken aback—as much by the
stranger’s enthusiasm as by their surprise at seeing him. He
looked at their astonished faces for a moment, and then
‘It’s been so long, I’m forgetting my manners,’ he
apologized. ‘My name’s Taylor, Steven Taylor.’
‘Steven.’ Ian smiled. ‘Well, I’m Ian Chesterton, that’s the
Doctor—Vicki—and Barbara Wright.’
Steven grinned again, and tried to start another round
of shaking hands. The glare that the Doctor gave him stopped
him in his tracks, and he let his hand fall. ‘This is great, huh?’
he said, still beaming away. ‘I don’t know what to say—I’m
lost for words! I thought if I ever met anyone again I wouldn’t
stop talking for a week!’
‘And you’ve made good inroads on that resolution
already,’ the Doctor snapped. Then, softening, he asked:
‘How long have you been here?’
Steven shrugged. ‘As near as I can judge, about five
‘Five years?’ Vicki echoed. Barbara shushed her.
Steven nodded. ‘I am—was—a fighter pilot. I was off
course and had a flare in the main thruster. By the time I
recovered, the ship was hopelessly lost, and I had entered this
system. My fuel was low, and when I approached this planet—
well, the gravity was too strong for me to escape with what
little fuel I had. I managed to land—pretty roughly, and
wrecked my ship. I wandered around for several days,
spending the better part of the time avoiding those fungus
things. One night, I saw this path of lights and followed it to a
cave. The next morning, the Mechanoids captured me.’
‘Captured?’ Barbara echoed. ‘You’re being held here?’
Steven stared at her in astonishment. ‘You think I’d stay
here otherwise? I’m just like you—we’re all prisoners.’
The concern that the four travellers had felt now
solidified. They exchanged glances.
‘I see,’ the Doctor said, quietly. ‘It may sound rather
foolish, but we hadn’t realized our position.’
‘So you don’t know what all this is about?’ Steven asked.
Bitterly, the young pilot laughed. ‘I’ve had five years to
‘Then tell us!’ the Doctor snapped. After a second, he
‘Well, as you know, Earth had an expansionist phase a
couple of hundred years ago.’ Steven assumed that his
listeners were from his time period, not realizing that they
were travellers in more than the dimensions of space. ‘The
Government decided to open up this arm of the Galaxy, and
sent out a fleet of ships to terraform any marginal planets.
This place was one of them, and the shipful of colonizing
robots came down to clear the landing sites, start building and
generally make things as perfect as they could for the
‘Didn’t they arrive?’ Vicki asked, unable to stay quiet too
The Doctor glared down his nose at her. ‘If you give the
young man a chance, I expect he’ll tell us.’
Steve winked at Vicki. ‘No, they didn’t come. Earth got
into the Draconian conflict, then the Third Dalek War. That
ended the population expansions problem pretty drastically,
and this arm of the Galaxy was promptly forgotten. I guess
everyone figured that the robots—the Mechanoids—would
run down, or wear out or something. No one was really all
‘But they didn’t run down,’ Barbara realized.
‘No. When one of them ever shows signs of mechanical
failure, the others repair it. This world has terrific metal
deposits, which the Mechanoids have mined. They’re
programmed to repair one another. Now they live here, just
like a race of people. They built the city, and tend it carefully.
They even water the flowers and weed them, you know.
They’re waiting for the immigrants to arrive—colonists who
will never come.’
Ian thought a moment. ‘But why did they take us
‘Yes,’ Vicki added. ‘For all they know, we might be the
first of the colonists.’
‘No, you don’t understand.’ He led them to the screens
on the left wall. One was a computer screen that he powered
up. Hitting the keyboard, he fed in a string of commands.
After a second, the screen lit up redly. It then said, in large
letters: ‘Password needed.’
‘That happens all of the time,’ he told them. ‘The
Mechanoids would be formidable foes if some alien race
landed here before the humans. So they have some inner
code that Space Central must have known two hundred years
‘But which neither you nor we know now,’ the Doctor
finished. ‘Of course, of course. So if anyone else were to land
who did not know the right codes, the robots would treat
them as hostiles and lock them up.’
‘Exactly,’ Steven finished, bitterly. ‘Just as long as we’re
friendly, they keep us here. Perhaps we’re specimens for the
colonists to interrogate. I think it’s just because I’ve given
them some form of purpose they were lacking. They give me
everything I want—except the only thing I really desire: my
‘And if we try to fight our way out?’ Ian asked.
Steven looked at him in pity. ‘At the first signs of
violence towards them, the Mechanoids were programmed to
destroy their attackers…’
‘Sorry I asked.’
Two Daleks entered the cave. Between their arm grips,
they carried a large ball-like apparatus. This had several
projections and a stand. The Daleks positioned the device so
that the largest array of levers was pointing at the hidden lift
‘Electrode unit prepared,’ one of them announced.
‘Operate,’ the Patrol Leader ordered.
The two Daleks began to work the device. Studying the
small read-out screen, they manipulated the various
projections, setting up an intense, directional electron beam.
The idea was to cut down through the Mechanoids’ control of
the lift, and then use the over-ride device to bring the lift
down the shaft. The electrode unit began to hum, and as the
Daleks tuned it, the whine increased in frequency. After a few
moments, the Daleks could hear the sound of the lift
The Patrol Leader turned to the Daleks that remained.
With the destruction of the four during the chase, there were
now an even dozen. ‘By taking the humans,’ the Leader
stated, ‘the Mechanoids have forced us to take action against
them. We will invade their city.’
The scientist commented: ‘Skaro reports that they have
many powerful weapons.’
‘The orders of the Supreme Dalek are that the humans
are to be pursued and exterminated.’ The Leader surveyed
the group. ‘The Mechanoids must not be permitted to stand
in our way. We will attack!’
At that moment, the hidden lift door opened, revealing
the gleaming white room. One by one, the Daleks filed into it.
All had their weapons primed and ready for whatever might
In the room where the travellers and Steven were being
kept, the five of them were getting nervous. From time to
time, the shutters at the end of the room would swish open, to
reveal a corridor, and two Mechanoids. It was impossible to
be certain, but it appeared as though they were examining
their captives. Since the Mechanoids all looked alike, they
could never be sure whether it was the same pair, or different
ones each time the shutters opened. After the fifth time,
Barbara lost her composure.
‘Why do they keep staring at us like this?’ she yelled.
‘Watching everything we do!’ She rushed to the window, and
pounded on it. ‘Go away! Leave us alone! Why won’t you
leave us alone?’
Steven crossed to her, putting his hand on her shoulder.
‘Take it easy,’ he advised. ‘You’ll get used to it. I have.’
Barbara turned her back on the window, trying to blot
the sight of the sentient spheres from her mind… ‘I’ll never
get used to those things standing and staring…’
‘Why don’t you go into the sleeping quarters?’ he
suggested, pointing to the door. ‘They can’t watch you there.
You know, for the first month, I didn’t come out. Eventually I
got so bored that I actually welcomed them watching me—at
least it gave me something to do.’
Dully, Barbara nodded, and crossed to the door. Ian
caught Vicki’s eye, and nodded for her to follow Barbara.
Vicki understood, and did so.
When the three men were alone, Ian turned to the
Doctor. ‘Barbara’s still shaken from that meeting with the
robot duplicate of you,’ he said, in her defence.
‘Duplicate?’ Steven asked. ‘Just how did you four get
‘No time for that now, young man,’ the Doctor said,
briskly. He had been fiddling with the computers, but his
knowledge of breaking binary codes was not what it used to
be. He was getting very tired of demands for passwords that
he couldn’t supply. ‘We’ve got to think of a way of escape.’
‘That’s not too difficult,’ Steven answered, casually.
‘We can get out of here?’ Ian asked, pleased.
‘We can get out.’ Steven’s face showed no enthusiasm for
the idea. ‘But out to what? I spent two nights in that jungle.
Never again. I’d sooner stay here for the rest of my life. There
are worse things than captivity.’
‘We wouldn’t have to stay in the jungle,’ the Doctor told
him. ‘There are two time machines out there. One is mine,
the other belongs to the Daleks. If we could reach either of
them, we’d be safe.’
‘Time machines?’ Steven asked, incredulously. ‘Oh, come
on! I can’t believe that!’
‘Young man,’ the Doctor said, irritated, ‘I really don’t
care what you can or cannot believe right now.’
Steven examined him for a moment, and then
shrugged. ‘Well, if there really is a chance of getting off this
planet, I’ll try anything. Even a… time machine.’
‘Then you know a way out?’ the Doctor persisted. ‘You
see that ladder over there?’
Ian crossed to it, and stared upwards. ‘Where does it
‘Up on to the roof of the city. I’m —we’re —allowed up
there any time. For light and for exercise. There are no
guards up there, and nothing to hold us back.’
There had to be a catch. ‘Aren’t they worried about our
‘No. That roof is half a mile above the ground. Why
don’t you go up and have a look?’
‘I think I will.’ Ian gripped the rungs, then looked back.
‘Yes, of course, of course. If you’ll just lead the way.’
As Ian started up the ladder, Steven called: ‘See if you
can figure a way down. If you can’t, I’ll be happy to tell you
‘Thanks,’ Ian said, dryly. It looked like the young man
was attempting to prove he was still the one with the
experience here. Ian pushed aside the roof hatch, and
The roof was flat at this point, leading to blank metal
walls in three directions. The fourth opened up to the sky.
There was a bit of a wind, whipping at Ian’s hair as he crossed
‘Careful, Chesterton,’ the Doctor warned, poking his
head out of the hole like a jack in the box.
Ian nodded, and dropped to his hands and knees.
Carefully, he crawled to the edge and looked down. Talking
about half a mile made it sound so simple. Looking down the
two thousand odd feet was another matter entirely. Ian felt
giddy just staring down the drop. In the far distance, the tops
of the jungle growths could be seen. Ian surveyed the scene.
The closest of the legs was a good five hundred feet off in one
direction, and at least a thousand feet in the other. The wall
down seemed to be smooth for about thirty feet, and then
there was nothing till the tops of the trees. He could see
absolutely no way to get down, short of jumping—and then
the problem would be stopping…
Backing away from the edge, Ian shuddered at the
thought. ‘I can see why the Mechanoids aren’t worried about
us coming up here,’ he commented to the Doctor, who was
leaning on his stick and peering over the edge.
‘And yet that young man—Steven, is it? thinks he knows
how we can get down.’ The Doctor straightened and backed
away from the edge with Ian.
‘I wish I did.’
‘You might,’ the Doctor smiled, ‘if you had five years to
work it out.’
‘I can think of a quicker way,’ Ian replied, not relishing
the idea. ‘Let’s go back and ask him…’
Down below, Steven was lost in his thoughts. He was still
having difficulty adjusting to there being other humans on
this planet with him. The possibility of escaping from the
Mechanoids had tormented him, day and night, for five years.
Yet now it was here, he was suddenly afraid. What did he
know, after all, of these four new arrivals? They seemed nice
enough, and genuine. Yet, if they really did have a time
machine—absurd as it sounded—how come they were
trapped here with him?
Could he trust them? He had no doubt that they were
genuinely what they claimed to be, but just how reliable
would they be in a tight situation? An old man, two women
and that cynical younger man? Dare he place his future in
their hands? On the other hand—could he just stay here and
let them attempt an escape without him?
As these thoughts passed through his mind, he was
suddenly aware that he was being watched. He glanced up,
and saw Barbara and Vicki emerging from the other rooms.
‘Feeling any better?’ he asked.
‘Yes.’ Barbara smiled at him. ‘I’m sorry I acted the way I
‘Well, it was pretty unnerving for me at first,’ Steven
Vicki looked about. ‘Where are the others?’
‘They went up to—’ Steven began, looking at the ladder.
As he spoke, Ian reappeared, and dropped to the floor.
‘They’re back.’ The Doctor took the rungs down more
Ian looked over at Steven, then shrugged. ‘It looks
pretty escape-proof to me,’ he confessed.
Nodding, Steven felt more relaxed. These four worked
like a team, each complementing the weaknesses of the others.
He had felt rather useless at first. Now, certain that he had an
advantage over them, he was happier. ‘The first thing you
have to realize is that this whole city is run on electrical power.
They generate it from vast solar panels on the highest
buildings. This operates everything.’
‘Like the lights we saw in the jungle?’ Vicki suggested.
‘Yes,’ Steven agreed. ‘Well, after I’d been here about a
year, I found that one of the main supply cables leads along
the edge of the roof. It goes all the way around, so there’s
miles of it. Every time I went up top for exercise, I would
loosen the brackets that held it just under the rim. Just a
couple a day, so the Mechanoids wouldn’t get suspicious, you
‘Where’s all this leading?’ Ian wanted to know.
Steven grinned widely. ‘Down to the ground, if you
want to risk it. The cable could be pulled free in a couple of
minutes. It’s more than long enough to reach the ground by
now.’ He looked at their faces, and saw the looks of horror
that first crossed them at the thought of it.
‘Climb down nearly half a mile of wire!’ Ian exclaimed,
voicing all of their thoughts.
‘It’s the only way out that I know,’ Steven said, simply.
‘It’s a chance to get away from here,’ Barbara
commented. ‘We should take it.’
Thinking of the drop that he had seen, the Doctor
shook his head firmly. ‘No, Barbara, we couldn’t. The risk is
Vicki shrank back against Barbara. Looking up, she
whispered: ‘I’m terrified of heights.’
‘The cable’s thick,’ Steven said, encouragingly. ‘It
‘Let’s try it!’ Barbara exclaimed. She couldn’t bear the
thought of staying here, constantly watched, whatever she did.
The Doctor glanced at her, then at Ian ‘Chesterton?’
Ian looked at Vicki, who was plainly terrified of the idea.
‘I don’t know,’ he said, slowly. ‘I don’t like it… but…’
Vicki tried to avoid his eyes, and stared through the
shutters, which were open. She could see across the park,
back towards the lift that had brought them into the city. As
she watched, the doors opened.
What she saw sent chills down her spine. ‘Daleks!’
13 – The End of the Hunt
‘That settles it!’ Ian said firmly. With the Daleks in the
city, they dared not delay. ‘Everyone on to the roof—quickly!’
Steven and the Doctor caught on, and hustled Barbara
and Vicki towards the ladder. It was quite clear that they had
little time to spare. Ian stared out of their prison as the Daleks
began to spread out.
The interference with the lift had not gone unnoticed.
The central computer of the city had noted it, and dispatched
three Mechanoids to check the malfunction. The patrol
arrived as the Daleks were examining the area where they
The lead Mechanoid paused examining these new
arrivals. ‘Stop,’ it ordered.
The Dalek Leader spun to face the alien robot.
‘Surrender the humans,’ it demanded.
This was one point that the Mechanoids hardly had to
consider. ‘That decision is not open to modification,’ the first
Ignoring this answer, the Leader turned to the Dalek
with the sensors. ‘Have you determined the position of the
‘Affirmative. They are in the building directly ahead.’
The Leader turned back to the Mechanoid. ‘If you do
not surrender the humans, then we shall take them.’
The Mechanoid sent this back to the central computer,
which recognized the threat implied. The computer replied
with instructions. One of the triangular panels on the upper
surface of the Mechanoid slid aside. A small barrel protruded,
and then spat a sheet of flame at the closest Dalek. The Dalek,
caught by surprise, exploded, showering burning metal.
This was one answer that the Daleks were used to. The
remaining eleven opened fire instantly. In the withering
blasts, all three Mechanoids exploded.
Before the smoke and debris settled, the Leader
ordered: ‘Section two: intercept the humans and annihilate.
We will cover.’
Two Daleks moved off, through the cheery grounds of
the park. The rest formed an escort, scanning the area as they
moved forwards. There was no further sign of Mechanoids
for the moment. The central computer was analysing this
attack, and preparing a counter to the menace.
The Daleks arrived at the quarters assigned to the
humans. One of them fired at the door controls, and the door
slid open. Two Daleks glided in.
The room was empty. Scanning, the Daleks saw the
open door to the roof. ‘The humans are on the outer surface
of the city,’ they reported.
‘We must find a means of access to that area,’ the Leader
ordered. Even as it spoke, several Mechanoids moved into
view, their flame throwers at the ready.
The Daleks scattered, presenting less of a target. The
two lines moved closer together, and then the fighting began
On the roof, the sounds of the battle were clearly
audible. Ian and Steven were at the edge, groping for the
wire that was suspended just below. Gripping the thick cable,
they began to drag it up, tearing it free from the brackets that
Steven had weakened. The Doctor and Barbara took the loose
lengths from them, and began to haul it in.
Vicki stood as close to the edge as she dared, her
courage deserting her by the time she was five feet away. She
could feel herself shaking at the thought of the drop. Her
head started to spin, and her palms were sweating. She wiped
them on her dress, and took a long, deep breath to try and
steady her quivering nerves.
Without glancing up, Barbara called: ‘Vicki, come on!
Help me with this!’
It took all of her willpower for Vicki to take the final
steps to reach Barbara. She kept her eyes fixed firmly on the
horizon, not daring to look down for a second. She fumbled,
then caught the cable, and helped to reel it in. How Steven
and Ian could dangle over the edge fishing for the wire was
beyond her understanding.
‘Steven,’ Ian called. ‘Where’s the end?’
‘Junction box down to your right,’ Steve panted. ‘It’s
loose—just give it a good pull.’
Ian clambered to his feet, following the wire. The
Doctor accompanied him. Between them, they located the box
and cable. Gripping the wire firmly, they heaved on it with all
their strength. It snapped free, sparking as it came from the
box. The box itself started to smoulder.
‘I think we’ve fused the thing,’ Ian commented.
‘Well, that’s the least of our worries for now,
Chesterton,’ the Doctor remarked. ‘Let the Mechanoids fix it.’
Barbara and Vicki now had the rest of the cable on the
roof in coils. Steven had the other end, and began to wrap it
about a ventilation shaft to anchor it. Barbara joined him, and
they soon had it strongly tied.
Vicki realized that she had little choice but to go
through with this. Glancing over her shoulder, she could see
into the room they had escaped from. The door was open at
the front, and several Daleks were in view. It was down the
wire to escape, or certain death when the Daleks made it to
the roof. Trying to convince herself that the climb down
wouldn’t be all that bad, she forced her feet to drag her to the
edge. Then she slowly looked down.
It was worse than she had feared. Her head felt light,
and she could see that far-off ground swaying. A rushing
sound filled her ears, and she felt sweat breaking out all over.
Abruptly, her knees buckled, and she started to collapse.
Steven had seen Vicki’s faint coming over her, and
dashed to grab her. Picking her up bodily from the rim, he
carried her back on to the roof. ‘She’s fainted,’ Steven told the
others. ‘We’ll just have to lower her.’
Ian nodded, bringing over his end of the cable. ‘Right,
hold her steady. I’ll get this firmly around her.’ He started to
work on knotting the cable comfortably but securely about the
As he did so, Steven glanced up, and sniffed. ‘Smoke,’
he said. ‘Can you smell it, Doctor?’
‘Yes. I think Chesterton and I started a fire when we
pulled the cable free.’
That was exactly what had happened. As the wire had
pulled free, it had sent an electric arc into the other terminals.
This had in turn created a surge through the local network.
Several systems overloaded, and melted. One was in a
disposal area, where cut wood from the parks was stored to be
destroyed. This had caught fire, and began a slow blaze.
That would not have caused too much of a problem had
the city computer system been monitoring the area. Instead, it
was occupied with the continued fighting between the Daleks
and its Mechanoids. This in itself had caused much
destruction, and the shooting continued.
The Daleks were badly outnumbered, but they were
accounting for themselves well. The Mechanoids were
unemotionally attacking, but the Daleks’ superior skill and
fighting abilities were telling. For each Dalek destroyed, five
or six Mechanoids were in flames. Each explosion caused
more small fires, and within fifteen minutes of the start of
hostilities, several raging fires had taken grip of the city. The
ventilation systems and electrical conduits were acting like
chimneys for the flames, spreading the inferno throughout
On the roof, the travellers finally caught sight of the
blaze. Steven pointed back down through the trapdoor in the
roof. The concourse outside their room was now crackling
and melting in the heat. ‘It’s spreading!’ he yelled. ‘We’ll have
The smoke was starting to get to them as well. Choking,
they lowered the limp form of Vicki over the edge of the roof,
and began to pay out their makeshift rope. They had very
little time to escape…
The Dalek Leader realized that the assassination squad
was doomed. Through the growing smoke, it could see that
there were now only two other Daleks left. They had
accounted so far for about forty of the Mechanoids, whose
twisted metal wreckage littered the roads. Sounds of the fires
drowned much of the fighting, and the smoke haze was
getting very thick. Survival would be impossible, but there
might still be a way to destroy the Doctor.
The Leader retreated to the room where the humans
had been kept. There was a computer outlet there, as
anticipated. The Dalek extended its arm, then connected with
the input. Switching to its internal computers, the Leader tied
its guidance systems into the main computer bank for the city.
Then it began to work on the over-ride controls, feeding
selected power surges down the network.
The battle outside was over. A fresh force of Mechanoids
had emerged from a building behind the last two Daleks. In
the withering cross-fire, the intruders had been obliterated.
There was just the Leader left. The city computer tried to
locate the last invader, but seemed to be having problems
getting input from that quarter. Strange codes were running
rampant in the systems. There was interference of some kind.
False figures, incorrect data… The flood of information was
blotting out the real data being fed from the area. It had to be
the last Dalek. The computer ordered the Mechanoids to
search, but it was already too late.
The Leader cracked the final codes, and then held them
in its mind for a second: the self-destruct sequence. If the
Doctor and the humans were still on the roof, this would
finish them off. The Leader sent the signal to activate the
The city erupted in cataclysmic fires. The whole place
was consumed, and the wreckage twisted, melted and then
collapsed into the jungle below.
14 – Home!
As the city above them exploded, Ian threw himself off
the last few feet of the cable. He hit the ground, rolled, and
then looked about. He saw Steven, who had been above him
by about a hundred feet, flung aside, twisted oddly. He
crashed to the ground in the depths of the jungle.
Barbara and the Doctor had already reached Vicki, and
were hauling her away as fast as they could. Ian rushed to join
them. All about them as they ran debris fell, still blazing. Only
the fact that the ground was so waterlogged prevented the
entire place from catching fire. The city above them warped,
as the legs could no longer bear the uneven weight. The
molten fury of the fires buckled the supports, and with an
incredible sound, the whole place collapsed, shattering by
sections. As Ian looked over his shoulder, he saw the main
body of the city crash down on to the place where Steven had
fallen. There was no hope for their young friend now.
Finally, when they had fled far enough, they stopped to
catch their breath. Vicki moaned, and came around. Like all
of them, she was pale, and soot-smeared. She blinked,
coughed, and then looked about. When she realized that she
was on the ground, she smiled.
‘What happened to the Daleks?’ she asked.
‘Oh, undoubtedly the Mechanoids destroyed most of
them,’ the Doctor said, as though claiming the credit for this
ingenious move. ‘The rest must have perished in the collapse
of the city.’
‘Collapse?’ Vicki asked.
Ian grinned, ruffling her hair. ‘You really missed
something there,’ he told her. ‘The whole place came crashing
down about us as we fled with you.’
‘Then we’ve escaped the Daleks,’ Vicki said, with a sigh
‘I think that would be too much to hope for,’ the Doctor
said, as gently as he could. ‘There are thousands more still on
Skaro, don’t forget. Now they’ve acquired the power of time
travel, I doubt they’ll leave us long in peace. They hate us so
much that they won’t just give up trying especially after this.’
‘Well, we’ve beaten them this time,’ Barbara declared
defiantly. ‘We can do it again.’
The Doctor chuckled, and patted her arm. ‘I hope so,
Barbara, I hope so.’
‘Let’s get back to the TARDIS,’ Vicki said, happily. ‘I’ll
bet Steven will be fascin—’ She looked around. ‘Where is he?’
Ian had been wondering when he should break the
news. Obviously the time had arrived. ‘He was above me on
the wire when the city began to collapse,’ he said gently. ‘He
was flung under the city by the force. It… collapsed on to
Though they had known Steven for only a short time,
they all felt his loss keenly. Without his help and forethought,
they would all be dead now.
After a moment of silence, the Doctor cleared his throat.
‘I’m sure we shall miss him,’ he said, brusquely. ‘But we had
better make our way back to the TARDIS while it is still light,
hadn’t we? I for one do not relish the idea of spending
another night in this jungle.’
The others nodded, and the party started wearily off
through the strange growths, hoping to come across the path
back to the TARDIS.
Steven was not dead. As he had been thrown from the
wire, he had fallen on to one of the fungoids. The soft
vegetable matter had cushioned his fall, though the predatory
plant had been considerably damaged. Not wishing to stay
around to see if it would recover, Steven had stumbled away.
He felt very light-headed, and there was a terrible ringing in
his ears. No, that was outside his ears! Giddily, he spun
around, to see the entire city collapse into the area he had just
He put his hand to his head, and it came away bloody.
So that was why he was so dizzy! He needed treatment for
that! Where was the nearest hospital? He started to laugh at
the thought probably about fifteen light years off—he’d bleed
to death before he got there…
As he stumbled through the trees, he saw something
that made him certain he was delirious… A large, blue
container, marked ‘Police Box’—in English! He crashed to the
ground, certain he was dying…
It was harder finding their way back than the Doctor
had expected. In the end, it was not the TARDIS that the
small, tired group found, but the Dalek time machine.
The Doctor examined it with interest. ‘So this is what
has been chasing us!’ he exclaimed, looking over the
‘Inside, it’s huge—just like the TARDIS,’ Vicki told him.
He blinked at her, and then smiled. ‘Yes, yes. You know,
I had quite forgotten that you’ve had a trip in it, child. Most
interesting. I’ll tell you what—why don’t you give me a
conducted tour, eh?’ He offered her his arm. Vicki took it
gravely, then smiled. She curtsied, and led him within.
Barbara and Ian stayed outside for a moment. Both of
them had the same idea at the same time, and turned
wondering eyes on one another. Tremulously, hardly daring
to believe it, Barbara whispered: ‘Ian… we could go home…’
‘I just realized that, Barbara.’
‘Home.’ To Barbara, the sound of the word was
wonderful. For three years, the Doctor had been trying
without success to get them back to London, 1963. The Dalek
ship could take them there in no time—quite literally.
‘You are sure you want to go?’ Ian asked.
‘Positive.’ Barbara looked up at him, her face radiant at
the thought of getting back. ‘I never realized until this
moment just how much.’ She gripped his hands, and asked:
Ian thought back the school days, the walks in the
drizzling rain, driving around London, the drinks in the
pubs, the movies on Saturday nights… He thought about how
nice it would be to put his feet up in front of a roaring fire,
and not have to worry about being set upon by alien
monsters. He missed the simple things in life the most. The
TARDIS’s food machine was wonderful, but he wanted to eat
fish and chips fresh from the shop, to drink a pint of bitter…
He wanted to send Christmas cards, and even mark ink-
stained homework again. He pulled his mind back to the
present. ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘And we’ll most likely never get an
opportunity like this again.’
‘We’d better tell the Doctor,’ Barbara said, firmly. ‘Apart
from anything else, we’ll need his help to show us how the
time machine works.’
Hand in hand, they walked into the Dalek craft. They
could see the Doctor and Vicki over at the controls.
Despite himself, the Doctor was quite impressed by the
Daleks’ machine. It had some interesting insights that had
never occurred to him—though it was more than his pride
was worth to admit the fact. ‘A death trap,’ he said, solemnly
to Vicki. ‘A veritable death trap! You were most fortunate to
have survived your trip in this… this infernal contraption.
Look,’ he explained, gesturing with his stick, ‘It’s powered by
taranium! Talk about unstable elements—and it’s just about
the rarest substance in the Universe! Why, a setting just a
fraction off true could disintegrate this machine into its
component parts. Dear me, the TARDIS may be a trifle wilful,
but I’ll take it over this cobbled-together monstrosity. Typical
of the Daleks—to try and achieve flight through the
dimensions of time and space by brute force! They lack
subtlety and poetry, my dear.’
At that moment, Barbara and Ian wandered across.
With a new audience to impress, the Doctor started up again.
‘Ah, there you are! Capital! I was just explaining to Vicki
that…’ His voice ran down as he realized that the couple were
not paying attention to what he was saying. ‘What’s the
matter?’ he demanded. ‘Aren’t you interested?’
‘Yes,’ Ian replied, totally lost in his own thoughts. ‘Very.’
‘We…’ Barbara began, but had to force herself to
continue. ‘We want to go home, Doctor.’
‘Home?’ he echoed, aghast.
‘You can’t mean it!’ Vicki exclaimed.
Ian stepped forward, and placed a hand on her
shoulder. ‘I’m sorry, Vicki—but we do.’
‘This time machine is our chance, Doctor,’ Barbara
explained. ‘We know you’ve tried to get us home, and never
quite managed it.’
‘But you can’t!’ Vicki cried in horror. ‘This machine is a
death trap! The Doctor was telling me how lucky I was that it
didn’t blow up!’
The Doctor cleared his throat, embarrassed. ‘Ah, yes,
well…’ he began. ‘I was simply drawing the worst-case
scenario, you see. Ah… if things were not done correctly.
Unstable… very…’ He trailed off. ‘If it were set correctly, of
course—by someone such as myself—well, then it might be
‘Quite.’ Ian had a difficult time repressing his smile.
The Doctor was taken aback by the request that Barbara
and Ian had made. Admittedly, in the beginning, they had
been an infernal nuisance—they had forced their way into the
TARDIS, following Susan. All because they were curious
about her! The Doctor had had no option but to whisk them
off into time and space. Now, though, after years together, he
realized just how much he had become fond of the pair of
them, and how much he had come to rely upon them. Losing
Susan when she had stayed behind on Earth had been bad
enough; now he would be losing two good friends also.
Or was it just two? With a terrible sinking feeling, the
Doctor turned to Vicki. ‘And you, child?’ he asked, dreading
the answer. ‘What about you?’
‘Me?’ Vicki was astonished. ‘I don’t want to go back to
their time! I want to stay with you! If you’ll have me.’
Trying hard to fight back any overt sign of emotion, the
Doctor put his arm about her shoulders, and drew her closer
in. He wouldn’t be alone, after all!
Barbara tried to explain more fully. ‘Neither Ian nor I
can begin to say what you mean to us, Doctor. We’ve changed
so much these past few years, since we first stepped into the
TARDIS. There’s been a lot of trouble, but also a good deal of
joy…’ She smiled, fighting back her tears. ‘It’s not you we’re
leaving—it’s our own time that we’re returning to.’
Ian moved to Vicki. ‘Cheer up,’ he said. ‘You had to
know it couldn’t just couldn’t go on forever. Barbara and I…
well, we miss our silly old time, you know. We want to go
Smiling bravely, Vicki nodded. Then she clasped him,
and buried her face into his chest.
It was getting far too emotionally charged for the
Doctor. He cleared his throat, noisily. ‘Well, come along,
come along. I suppose you’ll want me to show you how to
handle the controls.’ He shook his head in mock disgust.
‘After this, you two will simply have to learn to get along
without my guiding hand, you know.’
He crossed to the controls, followed by the other three.
He began to flick switches and set the dials. After a moment,
he glanced up. ‘When do you want to return?’
Ian glanced at Barbara, then replied. ‘The day after we
first met you.’
The Doctor shook his head and clucked his tongue. ‘I
knew you’d have trouble without me to guide you. Think,
Chesterton, think! You’ve aged three years gracefully
perhaps, but you have aged! Look at that tan! No London
schoolmaster could pick that up overnight, you know. No, no,
that won’t do at all! Not 1963, dear me, no. I think we’ll have
you land back in… oh, 1965.’ He set the controls.
‘But how will we explain where we’ve been?’ Barbara
‘Do you expect me to have all of the answers for you,
eh?’ the Doctor snapped in mock severity. ‘Apply your minds
to it! Now, Chesterton, pay attention.’ He indicated one of the
main controls. ‘I’ve preset your course. Just press this, and
you’ll be off. Now this—’ he gestured towards a red lever ‘—is
the self-destruct switch. You have one minute after moving it
to get free of the area. It will be a small, but satisfying bang.
After all, you can’t leave a Dalek time machine lying around in
1965.’ He looked up at Ian. ‘Starting control, self-destruct
switch. Do try not to confuse the two, eh?’
‘I’ll do my best,’ Ian laughed.
‘And there’s just one more thing,’ the Doctor added.
‘When you get home, you may find a need for money. I think
you’d better come back to the TARDIS and pick up all of your
things. I believe your wallet and purse will be among them,
you know.’ He shook his head. ‘Really, do I have to do all of
your thinking for you?’
The journey back to the TARDIS was a fairly swift one.
The Doctor left the main doors open while he and Vicki
helped Barbara and Ian to pack up their souvenirs and
belongings. Finally, they returned to the Dalek time ship.
After another round of goodbyes, Ian and Barbara entered
the ship with their boxes.
Vicki held on to the Doctor. As they watched, the time
Steven came to, his head still a blazing mass of pain.
That strange box was still there, with its door open. He had
thought it a hallucination, but perhaps it was real? Staggering
to his feet, he stumbled forwards, collapsing over the
threshold. Then he was convinced he was hallucinating.
It was huge inside, like some sophisticated control room.
He couldn’t think straight, but he remembered the Doctor
claiming to have a time machine. Could this be it?
He managed to rise to his feet and falteringly cross to
the control panel. Weak at the knees, he clutched at it for
support. There was a door at the end of the room… leading
where? Just how big was this impossibility, anyhow?
There was a noise from outside. People? Friends?
Enemies? Steven couldn’t be sure, but whoever it was, he
didn’t want to face anyone until his head was working
properly. He headed for the far door, more falling than
walking, and once through it, he spotted a side room, with a
bed in it. The thought of rest was too attractive to deny, and
he allowed himself to fall finally, into the softness it offered.
He was unconscious in seconds.
London hadn’t changed much in three years. Ian and
Barbara hastily fled the time machine, to find themselves in
an abandoned garage. Taking their belongings, they walked
outside into the fresh air. Behind them, they heard a muffled
explosion. Their decision was irrevocable—and neither of
them regretted it a bit.
They deposited their luggage at King’s Cross Station,
and then set off to sample the delights of home, in a dizzying,
almost drunken, whirl. They had a pint in a pub by the
Thames. They fed the remains of a sandwich to the pigeons in
Trafalgar Square. Ignoring the puzzled expressions of the
passers-by, they ran through St James’s Park, and looked at
Buckingham Palace as though for the first time.
‘Home!’ Barbara exclaimed, happily.
‘Well, almost,’ Ian said. ‘Let’s take a bus, eh? Beats a
TARDIS for reliability any day.’
They hopped on to the first one they found, and settled
down, still bubbling over. The conductor came over and
looked at them, waiting.
‘Er… two threes, please,’ Ian asked, extending a shilling.
‘Two threepennies?’ the conductor asked. ‘Where you bin,
mate—on the Moon?’
He couldn’t understand why both passengers broke
Later, after they had sobered up somewhat, Ian and
Barbara considered their situation. Three years away…
‘Good job I own my own house,’ Ian pointed out. ‘I’ll
bet your landlady relet your flat years ago.’
‘I hope so,’ Barbara agreed. ‘I’d hate to find I’ve three
years’ back rent due!’ Then she giggled. ‘I’ll bet you’ve got
some dusting to do!’
‘Be serious,’ Ian complained, with a grin. ‘I wonder
what Coal Hill School looks like?’
‘Do you suppose we can get our jobs back?’ Barbara
wondered. ‘Hey—I just thought! What are we going to tell the
In the TARDIS, the Doctor switched off the Space/Time
Visualiser at this point. Grumpily, he looked around. The
control room seemed so much emptier now that there was just
him and Vicki in it. It wasn’t the same without Barbara and
that impudent wretch, Chesterton.
‘Hah!’ he exclaimed. ‘Why should I miss them? Always
fussing and bothering and getting in my way! Come to think
of it, I would have asked them to leave. I would! Yes, yes—
that’s exactly what I would have done.’
Still muttering to himself, he crossed to the controls.
Slamming the levers and dials, he started up the time rotor. It
began its steady rise and fall, as the TARDIS faded out from
the surface of Mechanus. The Doctor turned and glared at
Vicki. ‘I’m quite exhausted,’ he informed her. ‘I’m going to lie
down for a moment. Yes, just a moment. Don’t touch
He hurried from the room, but not before Vicki had
seen the tear on his cheek that matched the one running
down her own.