Chapter 16

"Egbert? Seriously? Jack the Ripper's real name is Egbert?" The Doctor said incredulously, his surprised eyes regarding the butler standing there in his well-tailored black frock coat.

"One of many secrets kept from the public, yes." The Black guardian conceded.

"Well, I suppose Egbert-the Ripper wouldn't sound terribly menacing in the newspaper headlines, would it?" He asked the butler.

"No, it would not indeed, sir. Jack is my middle name. Short for Jackson." Said the butler in his upper class diction. He set his tray down on a nearby table and went around the room turning up the gas lamps on the walls, and the electric stained glass Tiffany lamp on the desk. He also added more coal to the fireplace. A fire sprang up, burning brightly, to add some warmth to the chilly room.

The Black Guardian snapped his fingers. Jack the Butler came forward. He gave a slight, stiff-necked bow to the Doctor. "Would you care for a drink, Doctor?"

"Yes, thank you." The Doctor said. He took up a glass whiskey after the butler set the tray down on the table and poured it. "What I would care for is an explanation." He turned to the Black Guardian. "You said 'experiment.' What sort of experiment?"

"You'll find out all in good time, Doctor." The Black Guardian said softly. "I think you will find that this house holds many surprises."

"How 'bout I take the self-guided tour?" The Doctor asked, throwing the contents of his glass into the fire.

Flames exploded upwards and outwards from the fireplace.

Unluckily for the Doctor, he found a pistol aimed at his chest before he could even turn to race for the door. The butler's arm was reaching out, pointing a tiny derringer pistol with a steady, unwavering hand. The gun was small, but the bullets were big enough to stop his hearts from beating. Neither the Black Guardian or Jack the Butler seemed to react to the fire with fear or surprise. Which the Doctor found rather disappointing. In fact, he felt rather sheepish when they both began to laugh at him.

"Oh dear, or dear. You will play your little pranks, won't you, Doctor?" Jack the Butler sneered, looking for approval for his remarks from his master, like a faithful lap dog.

"Why don't we dispense with the formalities, for once, Doctor. Let me show you why all those Londoner's have been disappearing, of late."

The Black Guardian walked to the bookcase and opened the secret panel again. The Doctor could see now that there was a dark and narrow staircase, from which a torch on the wall cast eerie, flickering shadows. Since they were already on the ground floor, the stairs obviously lead down to the building's basement, or perhaps to a secret underground passage.

"This way, Doctor." The Black Guardian said, stepping through the wall.

His intense curiosity overriding his sense of danger, the Doctor followed.

In the gloom of London's alleys, Amy was getting very cross with Rory. She was wet, smelly, dirty, cold, and her feet hurt from walking in soggy shoes. As soon as they left the vicinity of London Bridge, the fog had thinned out and then vanished altogether. Though very worried about the Doctor, all Amy could really think about was getting back to the TARDIS for a hot bath and a change of clothing. Only, Rory couldn't quite remember where the Doctor had parked it.

"Come on, Rory! How hard can it be?" She whinged.

"Look, Amy," an exasperated Rory said, throwing his arms in the air, "this isn't easy, you know. This is London before our grandparents were born. Between the bombing during the war and all the re-building since then, I don't always blinking know where the hell I am. Some of these streets don't even exist any longer!" He whinged back at her. "It's not like we're in some car park at the shopping mall, with signs on the lamp posts to tell you what section you've parked in."

"You mean, the section markers you never remember to look at? Like that Christmas eve we were stuck at the mall for almost an hour, trying to figure out where you parked your car." She jibbed. "But Rory, this London does have street signs. And, a lot of the big landmarks are still around in our time." Amy retorted, unwilling to admit that Rory had actually scored a valid point. "Try to think! There must have been something about the area that you remember."

Rory stopped so abruptly, that Amy, walking close behind him, nearly smashed her nose between his shoulder blades.


"I do remember something!" He exclaimed. "There was this shop on the street near the alley. It had dresses in the window."

"Oh, that's a big help." Amy shook her head negatively. "Rory. Do you have any idea how many dress shops there must be in London? Especially in the early nineteen-hundreds. No female trousers yet. Every single woman wore a dress. I mean, wears a dress." She rolled her eyes, "God, time travel can really screw up your grammar, sometimes."

"Yeah I suppose," Rory shrugged, "but how many of those shops sell posh wedding gowns?"

Being careful not to appear near any policemen, Rory asked the few passersby he met on the street about the shop. They'd raised their eyebrows at him, for asking about a bridal shop at that time of night.

Yet, it finally paid off. Forty-five minutes later, they'd found the shop they were looking for. A few steps further along, and there was the alley where the Doctor had left his TARDIS. Only, the ship was being guarded by two of the Black Guardian's armed men.

The pair of them crept along the side of the building on the other side of the street.. When they spotted someone, they were forced to duck into the shadows. Sheltering in a shop doorway directly opposite the alley, they could clearly see the outline of the TARDIS.

There was a man in a cloth cap leaning against the corner of the building next to the alley's entrance. He was shabbily dressed in an old tweed suit. Leaning on the wall close to his hand was a big club with what might be a railroad spike driven through it. Then, they spotted movement near the TARDIS. Though it was quite dark, a match suddenly flared up. Another man was standing in front of the TARDIS doors. He was occupied with lighting a cigar. Though the brim of his derby hid the man's face, the match-light glinted on something metallic. Cradled in his arms was what appeared to be a sawed-off shotgun.

"Now what do we do?" Rory asked.

"I'll distract the thug with the club, while you take care of Shotgun McGee down there." Amy suggested.

Rory rubbed his hand over his forehead worriedly. "Uh-huh. And how do you propose I do that, Amy? I mean, without getting my head blown off...or other body parts.?"

"I'm sure you'll think of something." Amy said reassuringly, patting his arm.

"Erm-?" Was all Rory could think of to say.

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