Chapter 16

"Well, that's certainly an alien landscape if ever I've seen one." Sarah Jane commented, staring at the moonlit scene outside the TARDIS that was appearing on the monitor screen in the wall. "Where are we, Doctor?"

"It's a quarry in Wales." The Doctor told her distractedly, as he checked various readings on the console.

"Wales?" A chagrined Sarah responded. Giving an ironic grin she shrugged, "I see. So only pseudo-alien, then."

"Yes, I suppose it is, Sarah." The Doctor muttered seriously, though a slight smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "I'm just checking to make sure I don't run into myself too soon. Get two or more TARDIS' landing too close together and the next thing you know..." His voice trailed off as he frowned at a tiny flashing green light on his console.

"And the next thing you know..." She prompted him, tilting her head mischievously, "...your semi-detached TARDIS becomes a terraced one?"

Winding his long, colourful scarf about him, the Doctor walked over to the hat stand. He took down his floppy hat and jammed it on his head. "Not quite, Sarah. No. More like the entire space-time continuum collapses in on itself and implodes, taking everything in existence with it." He lectured her sonorously. Pausing for a fraction of a second, he added more lightly, "Either that, or we'll spend the next hundred years arguing over which one of us took the other's parking space."

"Right. Not a good thing, then. I have an idea, Doctor." She quipped, as he threw the door switch, "Don't land near any other TARDIS'."

"Ah. Good thinking, Sarah. I wonder why that thought never occurred to me?" He smiled, as he started for the door.

As usual, a square of the white wall with the large roundels swung inward. The pair of them walked outdoors, the Doctor leading the way. The moonlight revealed some very unpalatable scenery, Sarah Jane thought. Digging into his capricious pockets, the Doctor took out an old-fashioned square torch. Although resembling paraffin lantern, the battery-powered torch gave off a comforting yellow circular glow out ahead of the Doctor.

"According to the readings, there are already three TARDIS' present. None of them close by. The one we want is on the other end of the quarry, so we'll be some time getting there. Still, it's a lovely night

for a bit of a ramble." He told her, as he strode on ahead.

"Oh yeah, Doctor. I've always wanted to go for a midnight stroll through a Welsh quarry." Sarah replied with mild sarcasm.

Which seemed to be lost on the Doctor. "That's the spirit, Sarah!" He said, as he skirted around a deep puddle. "A little fresh air and exercise will do us both a world of good."

"Providing we don't fall and break our necks first, that is." Sarah whispered to herself, as she strove to keep up with the Doctor through the muddy, stony terrain without doing just that.


"No! No! No! You mustn't do that! Not now!" The Doctor shouted at the TARDIS console. "What about Jamie and Zoe? I can't just leave them in the midst of history's most famous cavalry charge.

That won't do at all. Can't you see?"

However, the TARDIS didn't seem to be paying one whit of attention to him. The Doctor wrung his hands. Staring helplessly at the non-responsive controls, he stamped his foot in frustration. "Oh! Why aren't you listening to me, you stubborn old thing? This is just awful. If anything happens to them I'll never forgive myselves."

As soon as the central column stopped moving and the TARDIS had arrived at its destination, a tiny green light on the console began flashing. Bending down, the Doctor pulled his magnifying glass out of his coat pocket. Peering at the light through the lens, he scowled. Then after going round checking the readings, the Doctor sighed in resignation.

"Protocol number 378, eh?" he said to himself, "I suppose I really don't have much of a choice then, do I? Poor Jamie and Zoe. Well, there's nothing for it, I'm afraid. Dear, me! This is a fine state of affairs."

The Doctor pulled out his well-thumbed diary and consulted it. "Hmm—where did I put that? I'm sure I wrote it down somewhere under the T's." Flipping through the pages he murmured, "Let me see...table tennis, tamale recipe, TARDIS owner's manual...oh, so that's where it got to! Never thought to look in the bathroom magazine rack...tea cozy patterns, test tubes, Theta's Theorem—a classic if I do say so myself, tiara, timepieces, tonsillectomy...ah-ha! Yes, of course. That's the one!" He exclaimed with satisfaction.

Pocketing the diary, the Doctor went over to one of several large antique wooden chests taking up a corner of the control room floor. Opening the lid of a captain's sea chest of mahogany and polished brass, he began rummaging about in there.

"If I'm being forced into mucking about some quarry in the middle of the night, I might as well go prepared." He muttered, as he flung a short purple and gold tunic from ancient Greece high over his shoulder.

Flying through the air, this article ended up draped over a tall, decorative gilt column standing behind him. That was followed by a quick succession of other objects: an old school tie, a packet of cheese and pickle flavoured crisps, a rubber tomahawk, a bowling pin and a powered wig—which made the Doctor sneeze violently. He got out a red and white polka-dot handkerchief, blew his nose nosily and pocketed it again.

"It has to be here! According to my diary, I put it in here right after that little incident with the giant newts in Clearwell Caves." He huffed.

Persisting with his search, the Doctor hauled out yet another object, this time a long red feather boa. Then came a trout fishing net, a paperback mystery novel, a clock face with missing hands, a blue Venusian judo belt, a yo-yo, an authentic Lone Ranger cowboy hat, a pirate flag, a kazoo, a pair of pink ballerina shoes, and finally, a large battery-operated torch.

"Why is it that the thing you are looking for, is always the very last thing you find? Or is that just me?" The Doctor pondered as he carefully closed the chest. Ignoring the mess on the floor, he proclaimed, "Now I really must be off!"

Opening the TARDIS door, he went outside. Flicking on the torch, the Doctor breathed a sigh of relief that it still worked. "That's more like it!" He smiled, setting off into the night, "Wouldn't want to trip over a rock and knock myself unconscious. That would be very silly of me."

Still talking to himself, he said, "Thank heavens I don't have far to go. I just hope that when I'm finished here, the TARDIS has the sense to take me back to the right time period. Four hundred years later and I'll end up at Sebastopol Towers. Though at any other time, I wouldn't mind. I do love roller coasters."

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