Chapter Six

The next morning around five a.m., the Doctor heard the first signs of stirring upstairs. He was lying with River on the sofa. He was awake while she was fast asleep. He guessed by the time that it was Jim. He heard someone walking around upstairs before hearing the front door open and shut around 5:30 a.m. Then the house was quiet again until 6 a.m. when he heard Lori yelling for the children to get up. The Doctor carefully got up, taking care not to wake his wife while she slept. He walked upstairs and smiled when the children saw him and said good morning to him as they rushed around. He helped pass out their lunches and saw that they had everything they needed before they headed out to the end of the driveway to catch the buses. He turned around at the doorway and saw Mandy standing behind him.

"Now you deal with me!" Mandy said, pointing to herself.

Lori bent over laughing at the stunned look on the Doctor's face.

"Oh, is that so?" the Doctor said, closing the front door and folding his arms over his chest.

"Yup, that so," Mandy said.

"I've face worse than you, little preschooler, bring it on!" the Doctor said.

"Come on, you weirdo, let him step away from the door," Lori said, laughing as she took her daughter's hand.

Mandy walked away from the door while the Doctor closed it.

"Is River still asleep?" Lori asked him.

"I think so, yes."

"She can stay here if she wants. She doesn't have to come if she wants to sleep in, that's fine. I trust her," Lori said.

"I'll see what she wants to do then," the Doctor said.

He went downstairs while Mandy followed him. River was still sleeping so he went up to her and gently shook her.

"Hmmm?" River said, frowning in her sleep.

"Lori wants to do some errands but she said you can stay here and sleep if you want to," the Doctor said, laying his hand on her cheek.

River opened her eyes.

"I'm exhausted, love. The past couple of days have drained me as well but unlike you, I can't sleep for two hours and recover. So if you don't mind, I'd like to stay here while you go with her."

"No worries, I'll tell Lori."

Mandy came up to the sofa and leaned in.

"I'm going too," she said.

River smiled fondly and tousled her hair.

"Then your job is to watch him and make sure he doesn't get arrested or embarrass your mother, yeah?" she said.

Mandy giggled and nodded. River leaned up and kissed her cheek before the Doctor took her hand. River watched them go back upstairs before he lay her head back on the pillow and shut her eyes.

"She's not coming, Lori," the Doctor said when he found her in the kitchen. "She's exhausted from everything that's happened and she needs more of a rest than I had."

"I understand," Lori said. "I kinda figured that. The last thing she needs is to sit in a car for a few hours."

"What's wrong?" the Doctor said when he saw her frowning while she thought.

"I'm just thinking of everything we need before I head out. I need to stop at the post office so I have the stuff I need to mail," she said, patting her black pocketbook on the counter. "Oh yeah, I need to take some DVDs back to the hardware store. Be right back."

"Hardware store?" the Doctor said.

"Yeah, we go to this hardware store in Shirley. You can rent DVDs there and usually if you rent two, you get one free."

She left the room and came back two minutes later carrying three DVD cases, she slipped them inside her pocketbook and thought.

"I want a toy, Mommy," Mandy said while she thought.

"We might get you a tiny toy if you behave yourself today," she said to her. "Nothing huge or expensive. You have enough toys as it is."

Mandy nodded. Lori grinned.

"And if you behave yourself," she said to the Doctor, "I might get you a toy too."

"Really?" the Doctor said while Mandy giggled. "Wow, thanks Mum!"

She chuckled and patted his cheek. She made sure Rex had food and water before the three of them went downstairs to the garage. Lori paused when she saw River.

"Is she asleep? I wanted to make sure she knew that she can eat and relax while she's here," she said to the Doctor.

The Doctor held up his finger. He walked over while Mandy followed him.

"Hey, Munge," the Doctor said aloud while standing by the sofa. "Lori is too polite to beat you on the head and tell you to behave while we're gone doing human things so I'm here to warn you to be on your best or I will show you what for. That is all."

River raised her head up and looked at Lori.

"Hey, if I were you, I'd make him stay here because this man will drive you insane, trust me," she said groggily while she pointed to the Doctor.

"Oh, you are awake. Good, you heard me, carry on then," the Doctor said while Mandy giggled.

"Like I said, take this man with you at your own risk," River said to Lori.

"I'll keep an eye on him," Lori said after chuckling. "Have a nice rest, the house is yours."

"Thanks but I think I'll use the TARDIS," River said. "I don't want to impose."

"It's up to you but your welcome here."

River smiled at that and nodded.

"Thank you," she said.

"Now go back to sleep, Mungebucket, before I take a small hammer and knock you out."

Lori and Mandy laughed when River shot him a look, groaned and flopped her head back on the pillow. The Doctor patted her head and kissed it before he turned and took Mandy's hand.


"So…" Lori said as she drove down the country road. "We're going to go to Kennard for a quick tour before going to Shirley."

She was driving while the Doctor sat beside her. Mandy was sitting in the middle of the back seat, secured in a booster seat with a seatbelt across her lap.

"There's not much here, obviously," she said as she drove. "Just small farms and houses. It's very rural here. So I hope I don't bore you with my tour."

"No, I want to know about this area," the Doctor said. "I'm fascinated by humans."

"Well…" Lori said as she slowed and stopped on top of a small rise in the gravel road. "This right here is where a railroad track used to go through. When I was young, it was still in use and then they discontinued it and took out the tracks but…" she said, pointing to the right. "The children like to walk through here to Kennard when it's warm enough. It's about two miles, give or take. There's trees on either side of the little hill where the track used to be so it's very pleasant and shady."

"I like that," the Doctor said while he and Mandy looked where she was pointing. "It might be boring but your children have freedoms that children in the city don't have."

"And that's why we moved here," Lori said as she drove on. "We like that freedom. It's terrible when it snows heavily like it did this past winter but we have privacy and the kids can roam without fear of being kidnapped. We know most of the people around here and everyone looks out for everyone else. Most people move out here to raise kids or retire. The only problem is everyone knows everyone else's business. Actually, I'm surprised no one knows you're an alien around here. That kind of information spreads like wildfire but the children are very protective of you and I know they don't talk about you to outsiders. I think they're scared that someone might take you away," she said, turning onto the main road. "You know, all those movies like Men in Black or scary alien movies where they have scientists who like to cut up aliens. They don't want that happening to you so they keep quiet."

"I appreciate that. I want to blend in and just observe," the Doctor said. "I've been to Earth countless times but I always manage to find something new to marvel at and you might think it's boring here but there's always something fascinating about a place like this. Especially the history and the stories you hear when you get a tour like this."

"Well…if you want stories…" Lori said as she drove towards Kennard.

"Tell him the story about the butterfly and the birdie, Mommy."

Lori frowned and the Doctor chuckled when she shot him a confused look.

"What story, hon?" she asked, glancing back at Mandy.

"You know, the one about the butterfly and the birdie," Mandy said, shrugging.

The Doctor chuckled when Lori looked at him with a clueless look on her face.

"Um…one upon a time there was a bird and a butterfly landed on her head and she said to the butterfly, go away, and the butterfly flew away. The end," Lori intoned while the Doctor giggled.

They laughed when Mandy clapped enthusiastically.

"She's easy to please," Lori said to the Doctor. "Um, as for a story about Kennard. I hate to tell you that it's pretty dead now. It used to be more thriving when I was a kid but about all they have now is a crappy little store, the post office, a couple of churches and the elementary school that Tom and Shelly attend. Oh. And they have Goods Candies which is actually pretty well known in the US. They make very delicious and very expensive chocolate. Other than that, it's houses. But in 1974, they had this monster tornado outbreak and an F5 came through the town and nearly wiped it off the map.

"Ouch," the Doctor said, making a face.

"Yup, it flattened the elementary school but everyone in it was spared because they managed to make it down to the basement. The only fatality was the janitor. He tried to shut a door and it blew off the hinges and smacked him in the head and he died six months later of complications from that. I have some photos some of my family members took of the town after the tornado if you'd like to see them."

"Yes, please," the Doctor said.

They drove up a gentle hill into the town. There were houses on either side of the road along with plenty of trees. The town was quiet since most of the children were at school. He also saw plenty of Easter decorations on people's houses. Lori stopped at a crossroads and turned right into what the Doctor figured was the "downtown" section of the town since he saw the businesses up ahead. As they went over the rise where the train tracks used to be, the Doctor could see Goods Candies to the right, a yellow two story house with white trim and a little sign hanging above a shaded entrance. Off to the left were more houses and the remains of an abandoned bank with a sign on a pole out front. The sign was dilapidated and the Doctor could tell the bank building was very old.

"See, we used to have a bank here but not enough people used it so they closed," Lori said, slowing down and pointing it out. "And they left the building to rot since no one else wants to move into the town that time forgot. And this..." she said as she slowed down in front of a two story white building, "is the crappy grocery store that no one shops at now because it's crappy."

"Why is it crappy though? Because this is the town that time forgot?" the Doctor said.

"Well, sorta, this place is dying like I said. And the owner of the store was a lady who actually managed the store and made it thrive. She died several years ago, her husband sold the store and moved to Florida and jerks took it over and they basically buy food from New Castle and try to sell it back to people at an inflated price."

The Doctor stared at the building. On the far right side of the house was the store. There was an awning and another old sign above it. Under the awning were two windows on either side of a red wooden door. On the other side of the shop was a large porch that led down to a driveway. There was a black iron fence that started from the side of the store and went all around the property with an opening for the driveway. Lori turned left on the road beside the store and drove down it. She pointed out a couple of churches and then turned right and pointed to a large rectangular brick building at the end of the street.

"That's the elementary school there," she said, backing up and turning back down the road.

She drove back up to the store and turned left. She parked at a small tan brick building. There were two glass doors in the front at the top of five concrete steps. And there were two large plate glass windows on each side of the building. The left window had a sign in it that said NO TRESPASSING and the other side had post office flyers on it.

"Left side was a pizza shop," Lori said, pointing to the No Trespassing sign. "It had really good pizza but it went out of business and once again, no one moved in. The other side is the post office and I need to go inside. Wanna come?"

"Sure," the Doctor said.

Lori got out, shut her door, opened the back door and unbuckled Mandy's seatbelt while the Doctor shut his door and walked around the front of the car. Mandy slid out and took the Doctor's hand while Lori shut the door. She looked in her pocketbook while they walked up the steps. They went inside and the Doctor was shocked at the size of the interior. It was tiny, even smaller than a standard room. There was a closed door down a short hallway where the post office boxes were at. On the wall across from it was a cork board with FBI most wanted flyers on it. Around the corner were the mail slots for local and out of town mail and beside that was the window and counter. Across from that was a large table that had pens and forms on top of it. At first there was no one at the window and then a middle aged woman walked up and looked out to see who was there. She had tight blonde curls, a lined face and reading glasses perched on her hawkish nose. She had an imperious manner to her and she narrowed her eyes at the Doctor when she saw him. Lori ignored her while she put several envelopes into the out of town mail slot.

"What ya doin', Mommy?" Mandy said as she stood beside her.

"Mailing some letters, sweetie," Lori said as she put another envelope into the slot.

She looked at the Doctor.

"Bills, actually," she said, making a face and sticking her tongue out while he chuckled.

The Doctor glanced at the lady behind the counter and noticed she was glaring at them as if they were intruders. There was no one in the room besides them and she wasn't doing anything but she acted like they were inconveniencing her. Lori finished with the envelopes and walked over to her.

"Hi, I need to check my mail and I need a book of stamps," Lori said to her.

The woman turned and walked away and Lori caught the Doctor's eye and rolled hers.

"Bitch," she mouthed to him while she discreetly pointed to the window.

The lady came back and handed her a few envelopes and a book of stamps. Lori paid her, grabbed everything and took Mandy's hand while the Doctor followed her out.

"That was Rachel McAdams," Lori said when they were out of the building and reached the car. "She's the head postmistress. There's another woman that fills in for her when she takes vacation days and holidays which happens quite frequently. She thinks she's better than everyone else and her daughter is in the same grade as Brit and Brit says she's the same way."

"Does she usually look that annoyed then?" the Doctor said as he opened the back door and let Mandy climb inside.

"Yes, that's her usual expression. This post office is dead most of the time and there's nothing for her to do, really, but she acts like we're just keeping her from her work. She's a hag to everyone, not just you so everyone ignores her for the most part."

The Doctor fastened the seatbelt across Mandy's lap and shut the door while Lori got in. He walked around the back and got inside the car.

"So…impressed yet?" she said to him with a twinkle in her eye.

"Well, I know I would run screaming from this place if I were forced to live here," the Doctor said as he shut his door and reached for his seatbelt.

"And that, my friend, is why the town is slowly dying," Lori said while she started up the car. "So…now we go on to Shirley which is slightly bigger than Deadsville here and has a bit more to it. Ready?"

"Lead on, Macduff!" the Doctor said.

Lori chuckled, put the car in gear and drove off.

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