Doctor Who Missing Internet Adventure #23 - "False Life"

Chapter 4
"Deterioration of Memory" or "Pardon Me, My Mind Must Be Going"
by Kevin Michael Wilcox


Tommathan's face fills the screen. "Look at the time stamp on this!" he yells. "I'm here, at home!" The image that follows moves by just a bit too fast to be intelligible, but does give the overall impression of a person's den or home office. When the camera finally stops again, it is pointed at a monitor showing Channel 546.

       On that channel, Tommathan is standing over a bloody corpse. "That," says the Tommathan in his home, "is not me! I'm here, at home, miles away, watching this live! Look at the time stamps!"

* * *

The Doctor peered around the door of the darkened infirmary. "Hello?" He squinted as his eyes examined every shadow, every hiding place. There, underneath the third bed along, he saw a bit of movement.

       "You can come out now," he said. "I won't hurt you." He grinned broadly. "I promise." He held up a small paper bag where the light of the hallway would make it plainly visible inside the room. "Jelly baby?" When no one emerged, the Doctor shook the bag gently. "Come on." He took a candy from the bag and ate it, smacking his lips. "Mmm, yummy."

       "Now," said a voice from the darkness, "you're just being condescending."

* * *

Tommathan looked over at Arraina, but she seemed as confused as he was. "How can it be inadmissible?"

       "It does not conform with the rules of evidence," the judge intoned.

       "'Conform with the rules of evidence'? Nothing about this whole proceeding conforms with any rules I've ever heard of!" Tommathan stood up and pointed at the judge. "You know I'm innocent. You know I'm being railroaded, and you know why. For once in your life, Bert, be a man."

       The judge looked down at him, then up at the ceiling, as if looking for inspiration.

* * *

The Doctor helped the emaciated man back down the hall. "The last thing I remembered was riding out to the back forty," the man said. "I needed to check on some fencing after a storm. Anyway, next thing I knew, I was being pursued across the desert by that giant cockroach."

       "Talking of which, how's our friend outside?" the Doctor asked as they entered the console room.

       Romana pointed up at the view-screen. "See for yourself." The creature had stopped a few metres away from the TARDIS and was now scratching at the dirt to get at water trapped underneath. As it dug, it turned so that its back was to the machine.

       "Is that what I think it is?" the Doctor asked.

       "I noticed it earlier," Romana said. "It's a saddle."

* * *

"Honey!" Romana yelled. "Honey! Maurry's here!"

       The tall, erect man at her side, Maurrice Alistair, the Doctor's editor and friend for fifteen years, bristled at the use of the familiar.

       "Can I take your briefcase?" Romana asked.

       "No, thank you. There's something in here I need to show your husband."

       After a moment, the Doctor came out of the garage. "Ah, there you are!" He paused, looking at Alistair quizzically. "When did you shave off the moustache?"

       "What the devil are you talking about? I've never had a moustache in my life."

       The Doctor grinned. "Sorry, of course. Still, come along. Come along." He led the editor into the garage. "I've been working on something to get around my writer's block." He pointed at the door to his workroom. "So what did you want to see me about? The publishers up in arms?"

       "Not anymore," Alistair told him. "There's something that the publicity department's come up with that they want you to incorporate."

       The Doctor groaned. "You know how I hate it when they make these demands."

       "At this point, be grateful for any help you can get." He set his briefcase on the hood of Romana's car and opened it. "They've done some sketches." He took a poster board from his case and handed it to the Doctor.

       The Doctor's eyes widened when he saw the picture.

       "It's a robotic dog," Maurrice explained. "They've dubbed it K-9."

       "Who drew this?" the Doctor asked.

       "I think that young Miss Smith. Why? Is something wrong?"

       "You aren't going to believe this," the Doctor said. He went into the workroom and came back carrying a mass of electronic equipment. Though the metallic shell around it was only half-formed, its shape was easily discernable. The Doctor held it up to let Alistair see where he had attached a plate bearing the name K-9. "Quite a coincidence, eh?"

       "I don't understand."

       "Neither do I, but..." The Doctor felt a sudden pressure on his whole head, like his skull was shrinking. With a cry, he raised his hands to his temples. K-9's body fell to the floor of the garage and shattered.

* * *

Tommathan looked around him. If this was supposed to be a life culled from his own mind, then he didn't know himself nearly as well as he thought he did. He was standing in a little girl's bedroom. The walls were covered with posters of horses and teenage boys he presumed were from popular entertainments. He sat down on the edge of the canopied bed and noticed for the first time that he was wearing a dress.

       "Please tell me I'm not going to have to spend the rest of my life like this."

       The door opened, and a woman with long blonde hair stepped into the room. "Kris, supper will be ready in..." She stared at Tommathan, and he recognised her as the Doctor's companion. "Who are you?" she demanded. "What've you done with my daughter?"

       "We need to talk," he said.

       But Romana only screamed.

To be continued...

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