Chapter 15

Without knowing quite how they'd gotten there, Ben and Bailey suddenly found themselves inside a small, dimly lit room. The walls were shiny, like stainless steel. Rigidly upright, the two of them were stood against one of those walls. They both were unable to move, though there seemed to be no restraints holding them.

"Ben?" Bailey said, his voice quavering slightly with anxiety. "What's happening?"

"You're askin' me?" Ben answered. "How the hell should I know? But takin' a wild guess, I'd say we've just been kidnapped."

"That's crazy! Why do that? We're not rich or anything. Who would do such a thing?"

"Well, we've just spent half the night being chased by an unidentified aircraft. I'm thinking it's the military. Maybe they want us for some kinda' top secret experiment. If not the government, maybe it's the reds. Or a mob of homo haters. I really dunno', sweetheart. Wish I did. I'll tell you one thing, though. It may be illegal for us to be in love, but so is kidnapping. This is still a free country. We got rights." He stated flatly, covering up his fear with bluster. "Whoever they are, I'm not gonna' let 'em get away with this."

"My God, Ben. You don't think it's aliens, do you?"

"Oh come on, Bailey! Get real!" Ben snorted. "You've been watching too many Twilight Zone re-runs. There's no such thing as strange little men from Outer Space."

Just then, there was a slight hiss and part of the wall next to them slid open, creating a doorway where previously there hadn't been one. A dazzling white light spilled through the opening. When the door shut again, the light remained. Only now it appeared to come down directly from the entire ceiling. Blinking against the sudden brightness, for a moment the two men didn't see who was there. Then at first glance of his captors, Ben inhaled his breath sharply.

"Er—then again..." Ben muttered.

Several of the Gops had entered the room. Smiling, one of them produced a small round device from his overalls. Pressing it with his thumb, he began speaking into the device. The language he was using was one neither human recognized. Another Gop took out a slender wand-like instrument, and began waving it in front of Ben's chest. Stopping this procedure abruptly, the Gop stood back and stared at him.

Puzzled, the Gop with the wand reached out a hand tentatively. He gently fingered Ben's red and black sweater, fascinated.

"Oh, swell. That's just what we need." Bailey said unhappily.

"What? What's wrong?" Ben asked nervously, eyes boggling at the alien in front of him.

"We would have to be wearing matching sweaters."

"What's wrong with matching sweaters?" Ben said, suddenly indignant.

"I hate couples who wear matching outfits. Positively kitschy. Makes me feel like Charlie Brown." Bailey made a face. "It's too...adorable. Bleh!"

Ben threw a hurt look at Bailey. "But, my mom gave us these sweaters. You told her you loved them."

"It was a Christmas gift, OK? I was only being polite. It probably took her months to knit these blasted things."

"Then why did you let me pack them for the trip, if you don't like them?"

"Because you like the sweaters, Ben. And because I love you, you idiot. I didn't want to hurt your feelings."

Just then, the strange door in the wall slid open again. The Gops backed away deferentially as a new person entered the room. This one was different than the others. He was taller and more human in appearance. He was also pushing along a trolley loaded with what appeared to be medical equipment.

"Erm—that doesn't look so good, does it?" Ben said, swallowing hard. "You don't think they're going to kill us, do you?"

"Maybe they're just going to give us a routine check-up. Like at the doctor's office." Bailey said hopefully. To himself he thought, 'Oh, dear Lord. Please don't let us be die in matching outfits.'

Meanwhile, some forty-five years in the future, Donna was having problems of her own.

Ever since she'd left her mum's house that morning, Donna hadn't been able to shake the eerie feeling that something was very wrong. And not only at her new job For the minute she'd stepped foot inside the museum's staff entrance, Donna had felt completely at sea.

Her last job was working in the laundry at the Wanderer's Lodge Motel. The wages were low, the work was tedious, and the hours could be unpredictable. Yet the atmosphere was stress-free and fairly relaxed. Donna smiled, remembering. She could do the 'hotel towel fold' practically in her sleep. And she'd made good friend among the workers there, even though she was the only one on staff who spoke fluent English. She and her mates had quite a few laughs together. It helped to make the long hours seem shorter and the work less taxing.

Unfortunately, her granddad had insisted that she get 'a proper job'. He didn't approve of her doing what he called, 'chav labour.' Nor was he thrilled with her non-British friends. Though Donna hated working in an office environment, she'd gotten weary of his persistent nagging and searched the adverts. Two weeks later, here she was. Stuck in the mouldy basement of a museum, cataloguing dusty old things that she hadn't a clue about. Donna didn't tell her employers, but she detested bookkeeping and filing. She'd tried working as a temp when she was younger and hated every single minute of it.

"Ahem! Miss Noble," came a snooty male voice from behind, startling Donna out of her thoughts, "we hired you to catalog our new collections, not to daydream about...well, whatever it is someone like you does, I suppose. Are you having difficulties already?"

'You don't know the half of it, mate.' she thought. Turning to her boss, the impeccably dressed Mr. Tarrington-Smythe, Donna smiled and said, "Oh no, sir! I was just wondering if you'd like me to make you some tea. I'm sure you must be parched, hard at work in your office like you are."

"Hruumph! Yes, well, thank you, Miss Noble. But I do have a secretary for that." Donna silently gave a sigh of relief, as her boss seemed temporarily pacified. "Carry on with what you are doing. If you have any questions, feel free to ask my secretary, Mrs. Barstow. I'm sure she'd be delighted to assist you."

Though his tone conveyed that he doubted Mrs. Barstow would be anything but. Taking his leave of her, he marched back into his office and shut the door. Donna turned back to her work. She picked up a tiny, intricately carved statue. Holding it before her, she glanced at the tag. It read simply, 'Venus. Pompeii.' along with a date and a catalog number.

"I wore a dress like that, once. Though if I'd of known I was gonna' be sacrificed in it, I might've worn something a lot more practical." She told it, sounding almost like her old self for a moment. The Donna whom travelled with the Doctor.

Then she frowned. Confusion abruptly crossed her face as Donna whispered, "What'd I say that for?"

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