Sunday, 15 August 2010


A very fitting story title, today actually being the titular day (which is why I was really hoping I could get it posted today!). This is the second replacement story of the series, and Russell Williams has done a fantastic job in the short time he's had to write it. He's also got another coming up very soon, and a story in both series 2 and 3 (so get used to him, 'cos he's not going anywhere!) and I'm very pleased to be putting this story up now.

So, without any more ado, please read and enjoy:

They say that in space, no one can hear you scream. Technically, this is true, as sound can't exist in a vacuum. However if one were able to hear screaming in space – and time for that matter – then said noise would definitely be emanating from the TARDIS. At this point in time, the beautiful and magnificent time-and-space machine is hurtling along the time vortex at double speed. Normally, she doesn't hurtle along in such a manner when she is under the tender control of her owner, the Doctor.
But today, he isn't driving.
Today, the honour belongs to his latest companion, Miss Donna Noble.
Only her second lesson – the first ending after she put a dent in the 1980s – but already she has grown confident with piloting the TARDIS, face beaming, pulling down levers and hammering buttons, becoming almost as masterful as the TARDIS' usual driver.
Not that he'd admit that, of course.
As for the Doctor, he is standing back from his companion, looking slightly bemused, but staring at the year-o-meter. A look of concern, the Time Lord rubbing the back of his head, indicating a level of danger could indeed be approaching.
"47045!?! Donna, you've just taken us past the year 47,045! Maybe throttle back a little bit. Let's keep to the more travelled routes shall we."
"What? You've taken this thing to the year five billion and beyond. You're telling me that suddenly we can't go to the year 50,000?"
"Look, things are tricky the further you go into the future. All sorts of gravitational anomalies and temporal eddies and more stuff with long names. I'm not saying we can't go there, but you need someone who knows what they're doing."
"Alright. Way to spoil a girl's fun."
Donna steps back from the console and the Doctor soon dashes over to retake control. With the speed reduced to normal and the ride softening, the Doctor looks over at his companion thoughtfully, before a grin begins to play across his lips.
"You want a bit of fun then do you? I heard a rumour about a cargo ship dumping anti-matter fuel over the other side of the galaxy. We could pretend to be from environmental health..." He pauses, noticing the look on Donna's face. "...or something a bit more random?"
"Random's good."
"Then I've got just the thing if I can find it." The Doctor sprints off to the side of the console room, before getting to his knees and removing a piece of grating. Almost disappearing underneath, the Doctor pulls out a great wooden chest.
"Don't think I'm playing dressing up, spaceman. I had a boyfriend who was into that once, made me dress up like Xena. Until he ran off with a bloke who looked like Hercules."
"Dressing up? Don't be stupid, this is my little box of keepsakes." The Doctor opens the chest and begins to fumble through the contents, often throwing some over his shoulder. "Recorder. Plunger... or Dalek arm. Sugar mouse. Whistle. Scarf. Ah, here we are." He finally gets up, holding a piece of computer circuitry. "The Randomizer."
"Randomizer?!? What's that when it ain't playing golf?"
The Doctor moves over to the console and begins patching in the Randomizer circuitry. "The Randomizer takes over and randomizes the course settings and materialization circuits."
"Bit of a lame name though, isn't it?"
"Hey, it was the Seventies, we weren't big on names. Besides it does what it says on the tin."
"'Spose. Why'd you have that anyway?"
"Oh, just a bit of trouble with the Black Guardian. Technically this isn't the original – had to leave that on Argolis – but it always pays to keep a spare. Plus, it made for some interesting dates. Ah, Paris in the spring..." A cough from Donna brakes the Doctor out of his reverie. "Ah, right, all patched in. Let's try shall we." The Doctor activates the randomizer circuitry, and the TARDIS changes course.
Destination -- UNKNOWN.
Thousands of years earlier, on the third rock orbiting the star known as Sol, affectionately known as Earth, in a little place called Chiswick, Wilfred Mott, an elderly man in his 70s, is sat by the River Thames engaging in his second favourite past time: fishing. Wilf has always been an outdoors man, going back to his childhood, and it was always good to get out of the house away from Sylvia for a few hours. Sneaking the odd full English when she wasn't around. Heaven.
At this early hour of morning, there are few people about. The odd person out walking their dog or more fishermen set up further down the river bank. Wilf is all alone, savouring the peace and quiet, sipping occasionally from his flask of tea. Suddenly, that peace is shattered by an almighty screeching noise. The swans and ducks floating on the water, disturbed, fly off in all directions. The screeching grows louder and louder, then suddenly stops and is replaced with a loud splash.
Shouts from his fellow fishermen lead Wilf to investigate. Rounding the hedgerow, Wilf notices that further up the river bank is one of the strangest sights he has ever witnessed. And that is saying something. Standing up in the middle of the Thames tributary, is a large blue wooden police box, which Wilf guesses could only be the TARDIS. His pace quickens and Wilf notices the Doctor and Donna emerging.
"Well done, Doct-ah. My shoes are soaked through. D'you know how much these were?" Donna wades out of the TARDIS and begins to clamber up the river bank, the Doctor following suit.
"I don't get it. Where are we? I remember why I never used the back-up now. Give me the Black Guardian any day." He pauses. "Actually no, but..."
"Well this ain't Paris in the Spring, Martian boy." Donna notices the advancing Wilf as she makes it to the top of the river bank. "More like Chiswick in late summer. Gramps!" Donna runs to her grandfather, embracing him once she finally reaches him. The Doctor, now also free of the river, notices the old man and starts waving.
"Donna, sweetheart, what a fantastic surprise! But what are you two doing in the middle of the river?" Wilf stops hugging Donna and shakes the Doctor's hand, as he has caught up to them. The Doctor goes to answer his question, but is stopped by Donna.
"Oh, gramps. He thought he'd test out some "razorizer" or someut, take me somewhere surprising, and then, splash! Men!" Wilf and the Doctor share a bemused glance as Donna continues. "Anyway, gramps, how have you been? What are you doing out at this time of the morning?"
"Just fancied a nice bit of fishing darling, y'know, get away from the house for a bit. And what else is there to do on a Sunday morning."
The Doctor looks up at the mention of Sunday. "Did you just say, Sunday?"
"Yes, why?"
The Doctor winces. "Not Sunday. I never land on a Sunday, rule number two."
"What's wrong with a blinking Sunday? Brilliant day, part of the weekend, nursing a hangover, roast dinner. Lovely."
"Exactly. Nothing interesting happens. Boring, boring, boring."
"Well, I tell you one thing. The shops are open, which means that you can buy me some new shoes to replace the ones you just ruined."
Consigned to his fate, the Doctor shakes his head, and plastering a fake smile on his face says, "Yay, great. I can't wait."
Of course, before the joy of shopping could be fully explored, it is traditional on Earth to have the Sunday morning "fry-up", dripping in oil and cholesterol, a varied meal of meat products, baked beans, bread, hash browns and black pudding. Wilf and Donna happily tuck into their breakfasts at the Happy Cook restaurant, based at the edge of Chiswick's main shopping centre, while the Doctor sits looking rather bored, messing with a plate of egg and chips. Unfortunately, his friends are oblivious to his level of boredom as they prattle on about the telly that Donna has missed, and the local gossip.
Taking a sip from his tea, the Doctor reacts nastily, just stopping himself spitting out the warm beverage. Wilf and Donna stare at him surprised.
"What's wrong with you? You haven't been poisoned again have you?"
"I might as well have been. What's wrong with the tea?"
"Oh, all tea in restaurants tastes dodgy. The best way is to just load it up with sugar. Anyway, what do you mean poisoned?" Wilf queries.
"Gramps, I forgot to tell you. I've actually, properly, met Agatha Christie. We solved a murder together and everything, and this plonker got himself poisoned. Y'see..."
Failing to draw his friends attention, the Doctor slumps back into his chair and begins eating his chips. After tasting a couple, curiosity begins to play across the Doctor's mind. As he eats a few more, he becomes certain that he has tasted these somewhere before. He butts into the conversation and asks Donna and Wilf to try a couple of chips themselves. They both agree that they are delicious, and when Donna starts talking about the chips they used to serve up at school, it all comes back to him. These chips were prepared in a similar way to the ones soaked in Krillitane oil at Deffrey Vale High School.
Excusing himself, the Doctor walks over to the counter and tries to sneak a view of the kitchen area beyond. About to jump over the counter, he is approached by a surly young man bearing the name badge "Dom", and challenged about his intentions. Thinking fast, the Doctor reaches into his top breast pocket and takes out his psychic paper.
"John Smith, Health and Safety. D'you mind if I take a look at your kitchen? Some customers have asked questions about the preparation of chips."
With "Dom" nodding his ascent, the Doctor pockets his psychic paper and moves into the kitchen area after being let in through the counter. The kitchen is just the same as any other kitchen in any other restaurant across the length and breadth of the universe. He examines many of the cooking pots and containers, failing to find any incriminating evidence. As he examines the contents of a large vat of beans, the Doctor is approached by a slightly older man in an ill-fitting suit.
"Excuse me sir, I'm Daniel Fairbridge, duty manager. My colleague informed me that you're a Health and Safety inspector. Is there some kind of problem?"
"Ah, yes, hello. John Smith." The Doctor shakes Fairbridge's hand. "We've received some inquiries about your chips. Apparently there's nothing quite like them."
"Our chips? OK. Well they are specially made using a secret recipe. They've only been rolled out recently, but they've gone down quite a storm with customers."
"Special recipe?" The Doctor muses. "Mr. Fairbridge, could you possibly tell me what the special recipe is, please?"
"I'm afraid I can't do that, sir. I've seen no evidence that you are Health and Safety. You could work for a rival restaurant."
The Doctor once again produces his psychic paper and Fairbridge carefully examines it. Seemingly convinced, Fairbridge still seems to be unmoved in revealing the recipe.
"It appears to me as if you are trying to hide something. Something dangerous like... oh I don't know... Krillitane oil!"
"Krillitane oil?!? What on Earth is that? Look, if you absolutely must know, the chips are prepared in a special kind of organic sunflower oil. That is all. It's over there in that large vat. Now please, just leave."
The Doctor moves to examine the vat of oil, and convinced that Fairbridge is telling the truth, courteously bows and leaves the kitchen and back over to Donna and Wilf, who are just finishing their breakfasts and are seemingly unaware of everything that has just occurred.
With breakfast concluded and the bill paid, the Doctor and his friends make a sharp exit from the restaurant. Just a short walk from the restaurant is a large shopping centre. Even the sight of it makes the Doctor wince just a little bit. He prefers a little shop, all tiny and insignificant and full of some of the most interesting knick-knacks in the galaxy.
After trailing around a couple of clothes shops, Donna's enthusiasm for shopping has yet to abate, but the Doctor and Wilf begin to lag behind. As Donna looks at the tenth pair of shoes, trying to match them up with the top she has just bought, the two men sit down on one of the benches provided. A bit of idle chit chat, broken up with Donna asking them what they think of this shoe and that. By this point, the Doctor's boredom threshold has been reached once again. Glancing around, he fixes his gaze on one of the store mannequins. Draped in the most ridiculous of outfits, he suddenly notices that the arm twitches.
Immediately he gets up and runs over to the mannequin, almost knocking over an elderly couple in the process. As he goes to examine the mannequin, Donna and Wilf notice what he is doing and move over to ask him what's going on.
"What's the matter, Doctor?" Wilf asks, puzzled.
"Yeah, if you like it, you can have it y'know. I can always lend you the money," Donna states, smiling.
"No it's not that. The hand just twitched."
"'The hand just twitched'. It was probably just the draft, moved it if it isn't secured properly. I wouldn't worry."
"Orrr, it could be an inert Auton." The Doctor produces his sonic screwdriver and begins scanning the mannequin's arm.
"Auton? What's an Auton?" Wilf asks.
"Don't know, gramps. Let me guess, another cool name from the Seventies?"
"Well, yes, but they're also deadly. Do you remember a couple of years ago? Shop mannequins coming to life, shooting up the place, many hurt and killed?"
"No, but..."
"Let me guess. Hangover?" The Doctor quips and gives her a cheeky grin, which she returns. "Now, if I can just find the right frequency..."
The Doctor alters the frequency on the screwdriver and suddenly the mannequin explodes, sending pieces of plastic flying in all directions. Checking around to see if anyone is hurt, the Doctor begins to look daunted as Donna and Wilf look on in horror."
"Not an Auton, then?" Donna asks dryly.
"No. Not an Auton. Shall we go?"
The trio depart the store, as management and security guards sprint over to where they were standing.
Following the excitement at the clothing store, the trio agree that their little shopping trip should end there, and Wilf drives them back to Donna's house. Pulling up outside, Sylvia rushes out to interrogate her father on his whereabouts, when the Doctor and Donna step out of the car first, drawing her fire.
"Oh, you're back then are you? No phone call, no email to say when you're coming back. You're leading her astray, Doctor."
Donna ignores her mother's ranting and gives her a peck on the cheek, nullifying her temper for the moment.
"Well it's good to see you, especially today." Sylvia slightly chokes. "I'd better set a couple of extra places for dinner then, hadn't I?" She turns to Wilf. "Unless you've filled up at the cafe already?"
As the trio shake their heads in denial, they all enter the house.
Dinner is convivial enough, and is certainly quite delicious. Say what you would about Sylvia's temperament and the treatment of her daughter, but she certainly knows how to put on a dinner. Roast pork, gravy, roast potatoes, peas, beans, carrots, apple sauce, Yorkshire puddings. Wonderful. Even the Doctor thoroughly enjoys the meal, wondering to himself what he had missed during his vegetarian phase, and ignoring the odd gravy-souring stare from Sylvia.
After dinner, the family sits down to digest their meals and stare at the television for a few hours. Most of the programmes bore the Doctor, but he is quite fascinated while watching Antiques Roadshow. Quite often, over the course of the programme, he declares that he had one of those chandeliers lurking in the TARDIS somewhere, or he'd once met the Mona Lisa. "Ghastly woman."
As the night grows darker, Wilf announces that he is going up to his allotment for a spot of star gazing. With nothing better to do than watch a rather boring episode of Heartbeat ("How could the 1960s go on for fourteen years? It felt long enough the first time!"), the Doctor decides to join Wilf in his pursuit.
A few hours later, the pair are sat on the hill, Wilf staring through his old faithful telescope, the Doctor through his, recently retrieved from the TARDIS. It is a beautiful starry night over Chiswick, all of the stars are out and the moon is shining. Of course, there is a chill to the air, but Wilf's flask of tea soon staves that off. As the pair sip at mugs of tea, they sit laughing, Wilf telling the Doctor various stories from his Army days and the Doctor regaling with him tales from his adventures across the universe.
During a lull in the conversation, Wilf's expression turns serious. "Doctor, Donna is safe with you out there, isn't she? I'd hate to think that my little girl was in danger."
"Wilfed, she's fine and as safe as she can possibly be. Of course there's always an element of danger, but I protect her, and believe me she can handle herself. I've seen her screaming blue murder at a troop of armed men, and take on a Sontaran battle ship using just a rubber mallet."
Wilf chuckles at that. "Yep, that sounds like our Donna. I just worry, Doctor. It's a grandfather's duty to worry about his granddaughter."
A haunted expression passes across the Doctor's face. "Believe me, Wilfred. I understand that all too well."
"Well, as long as she's as safe as she can be. Thank you for bringing her back, today of all days as well."
"Today? What's so special about today?" The Doctor asks, confused.
"What, she didn't tell you? It was a year ago today that dear old Geoff was taken away from us. Sylvia's been wondering all week if Donna would be coming back. I don't think she could have faced today alone."
"Oh Wilf, I didn't know. But the TARDIS must have read her thoughts and the Randomizer brought us here, today, on a Sunday. The best machine in the universe."
All smiles now, the two old men look once again through their telescopes, out at the night sky.

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