Doctor Who Missing Internet Adventure #18 - "Festivals of Light and Darkness"

Chapter 4
"Time of No Reply"
by Philip Alderman


"Time goes by from year to year
And no one asks why I am standing here
But I have my answer as I look to the sky
This is the time of no reply."

– Nick Drake, Time of no Reply

Up in the room, the box chortled happily, "Time, Tegan. We have all the time in the world." The box laughed maniacally, trying to find something else to dig its mischevious fingers into, figuratively speaking.

* * *

The Doctor sadly waved goodbye to his train as it chugged away.

       It wasn't really his, of course, just borrowed for the purposes of fulfilling a boyhood dream. It had its own destiny to fulfil, new passengers to carry, new places to go, and so did the Doctor. He could quite clearly sense something wrong, back at the house. What had happened on his train journey must have been some kind of delaying tactic, while whatever it was it did its evil work. The Doctor had, literally, been lead onto the wrong track.

       He had to get back to the house, and quickly. He scanned the little railway station eagerly, but was more than alarmed to discover that it was empty. No passengers, porters, guards, luggage, fat controllers or any other of the paraphenalia you associate with railways. Then he remembered that there wouldn't be anyway. This station had been abandoned for years

       "There's never a taxi around when you one," complained the Doctor. It seemed he would just have walk back to the guest house, assuming that he wasn't already too late.

       I'm sorry, Mrs Gormenghast, he thought, as he set off on the long walk back. I shouldn't have come back here. I know trouble follows me like a shadow, and now I've just succeeded in bringing it here, to what is supposed to be a place of tranquility and safety. It probably all be ruined now, and it's my fault.

       The little country road ahead of him seemed to go on for miles. Funny how journeys always take longer when you're in a hurry.

       All of a sudden the Doctor stopped walking and stood stock still in the middle of the road. He ran a hand through his thin, blonde hair and sighed. "You know, I rather think I'm lost," he said out loud, and was shocked to realise that it was true

* * *

Nyssa is suffering from what might be called deja-vu, but as there is no such concept in Trakenite culture, she doesn't call it that. She has no one phrase to describe the sensation of repetition, of reliving the same moments over and over again, but she knows that they could be stuck like this forever.

       As she watches Shigan accept the hamper from Mrs Gormenghast, before bowing and preparing to leave the room, Nyssa knows she only has a few seconds before the loop goes back to the beginning again. Quickly, she reaches out and grabs Tegan's arm

       "Tegan, listen to me," she hisses. "We are trapped in a time-loop. Now, I need you to concentrate. It's the only way to break out of this. Tegan...?" Tegan's not listening.

       "Time..." she says vaguely, "what was that again?" She looks at her watch, then shakes it irritably.

       "Never mind. It's too late now," sighs Nyssa. "In a few seconds it will all start agai..."

       "Here she is at last," says Mrs Gormenghast, as Nyssa comes into the room yawning.

* * *

"I'm bored with this game now," said the box to itself. "I wonder what would happen if..."

* * *

Suddenly, Tegan is out of her chair and has hands fastened around Shigan's neck.

       "You alien scum!" she shouts, as she bangs the Draconian's head against the wall. "I'll kill you! I'll kill all of you!"

       She is pulled off by the iron grip of Mrs Gormenghast. "NOT in this house young lady," she says, with quiet conviction

       "Let go of her!" shouts Nyssa. And she's holding a shotgun. It occurs to Tegan to wonder where Nyssa could have got hold of a shotgun, or how she knows how to use it. But she is so high on emotion that such things no longer seem important.

       "Go on, lover," she says calmly. "Shoot them. Shoot them all. Then we can be alone. You want that, don't you?"

       The gun barrel wavers. A brief flicker of confusion passes over Nyssa's eyes. Then, she is resolute.

       "No. This is wrong." And she puts down the gun.

       "What do you mean, wrong?" enquires Mrs Gormenghast, suspiciously. With the tension apparently diffused, she lets go of Tegan, who looks disgruntled but has apparently calmed down. The shotgun, meanwhile, vanishes. It was never really there at all.

       Nyssa her rationale regained, says, "All this violence. Why do you think we're acting so irrationally? It must be some outside force manipulating us into behaving oddly."

       "That damn box!" exclaims Tegan.

       She and Nyssa exchange glances, then they both run to the room upstairs to where Shigan took the creature.

* * *

"So, you worked it out at last," said the box, as the two girls approached it, cautiously. "Took you bloody long enough. You know, if I hadn't stopped that time-loop, you probably would have been stuck like that for years..."

       "Well, we've sussed you out now," said Tegan. "No more games. Just tell us what you're after, you little creep."

       "Why are these things happening? Are you doing this to get at the Doctor?" demanded Nyssa.

       "What, the blonde guy messing about on the train?" replied the creature in some bewilderment. "What possible interest could I have in him?"

       "You mean..."

       "Oh no, you pathetic time-travelling misfits are only the tiniest part of this whole scheme," said the thing in the box. "The very tip of the iceberg. Soon, all will become clear..."

       "No, I don't think so," said Nyssa. "You've already ruined our holiday, so before you can do anything else, I'm putting a stop to this."

       And with that, she yanked the circular thing out of its container, held it high over her head, and then, hurled it out of an open window. There was a very satisfying sound of breaking glass.

       Nyssa peered out of the window from which the thing had taken flight. Down on the front lawn, the remains of the circular thing lay shattered. "Oh dear," she sighed, "I think I've spoiled Mrs Gormenghast's garden. It was looking so lovely as well..."

       Tegan was impressed. "Brutal, yet effective. You've got a vicious streak, my girl." She kissed Nyssa on the cheek

       "Thank-you," smiled Nyssa. Suddenly, her smile faded. "I'm afraid it's not over yet. Look!"

       Something stirred in the remains of the creature. Thick curls of red smoke quickly rose up, and converged at the level of the window. They took on a shape, the shape of large red eye. It's pupil was a black, vertical slit like that of a feline.

       "Why, thank you Nyssa," spoke the eye. "Now the fun can really start."

To be continued...

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