By Neil Hogan
The TARDIS was scared.
The Doctor could feel it. A deep sense of fear and foreboding. A cold
dread seeping through the gloom of the Ship.
It was night in the TARDIS and the lights had dimmed. Now they
flickered as though the Ship was trembling.
The Doctor stroked the six-sided central console. He'd travelled in
his Ship for hundreds of years across space and time. He'd soon be
approaching his 953rd birthday and was definitely feeling middle aged.
A sense of disquiet had been dogging him for the last few days and
the TARDIS seemed to be amplifying it.
The interior door opened and a decidedly anxious red-headed Mel
stumbled into the control room.
Mel had only been on a few adventures with the Doctor. She'd gone from
being a shy computer programmer to an active, outgoing champion of
justice. Does he have that affect on everyone? Humph. The TARDIS was
making him maudlin.
"I can feel it." Mel said, in a high strung voice. "The TARDIS is terrified."
"Oh, don't be so preposterous Mel. She's a bit perturbed, or maybe
even concerned, but terrified? Nonsense!"
"You always bluster when there's something wrong. There's something
wrong isn't there?"
"No, of course there isn't. Go back to bed and forget it. You've had
"Doctor." Mel looked at him in a way that meant that she wasn't about
to go anywhere.
"Hmm. I always forget that perspicacity is your strong point." He sighed.
The TARDIS lights increased and the flickering intensified. It wasn't
night inside anymore. Mel looked concerned. "Where are we?"
The Doctor poked at a couple of buttons on the console to a laboured
chorus of beeps, and read the results. "That is what I am trying to
find out. We're still in the vortex but the TARDIS is behaving very,
He could feel that the TARDIS seemed to be slowing down. Even the
ubiquitous hum that meant the TARDIS was in flight seemed to be
struggling to maintain its rhythm.
A deep bell began tolling in the bowels of the TARDIS. The sound
reverberated around the walls of the Ship.
"Uh, oh." muttered Mel.
"Uh, oh, indeed Mel. The understatement of the century. That, my dear,
is the cloister bell. It means danger, disaster, or even total
destruction." The Doctor's eyes were alive with excitement.
He rushed around to one of the other computer screens on the mushroom
"Look at this Mel. It says that there's something out there,
travelling in the Vortex with us." The Doctor peered closely. "It
seems to be the remains of another TARDIS. Maybe it was left over from
the war. I'll run a scan and find out what Type it is. Maybe we could
pick up some spare parts... oh"
Mel was peering over the Doctor's shoulder. "What is it?"
"Oh, nothing at all. Just a derelict. An empty hulk. We'll continue
The Doctor's troubled voice belied his bluff. Mel reached over and
twisted the knob that activated the TARDIS scanner, allowing her to
It looked like broken pieces of wood, just turning slowly in the
Vortex. The scanner automatically zoomed in for her and she got to
it closely. As the flat pieces turned they revealed the other sides
be deep extradimensional pockets containing what looked to be parts
rooms. She could even make out a hat stand inside one piece, a bed
The scanner zoomed closer and Mel was able to pick out colours. As the
pieces rotated again she gasped. On one side, they were blue. Police
The Doctor sighed. "The readings say they are pieces of a type 40.
This type 40. Sometime in the future, that will happen to my TARDIS.
Mel stood there dumbfounded. "What could have caused it?"
"What, indeed? The TARDIS may look like a simple London Police Box on
the outside, but that is just a result of the chameleon circuit
changing the outer plasmic shell. It is supposed to be
indestructable." How it was destroyed, I hope never to find out.
"So, what should we do?"
"We've seen a glimpse into the future, Mel. Nothing more. It may not
happen to the ship we're travelling in for hundreds of years." He
looked downcast. "The curse of being a Time Lord." He stroked the
control console. "I'm sorry that you had to see this, old girl." he
The cloister bell continued to toll.
"Though," he said louder, "why are you continuing the alarm?" He
rushed around the control console again, flicking switches and
Then he stopped, his mouth agape. "I don't believe it" he muttered.
Mel, looked back at the scanner. The shattered TARDIS looked more like
an animated Jackstraw game.
Then she saw it. Another flickering piece was gliding through the
Vortex. The new piece seemed to have a green glow about it. The other
wooden pieces were starting to move together as though getting ready
to greet it. Like orbiting pieces of rock coming together to
eventually form a planet?
"Is it possible? Is it regenerating?" she whispered.
The Doctor was flustered. "Strap yourself in, Mel. We have to get out
The room started to judder as they came closer to the flickering and
spinning mass. Faster and faster the ball of pieces whirled as the
piece approached. Suddenly the pieces dissolved, merged and a new blue
Police Box was floating in the Vortex.
The Doctor tried to dematerialise but nothing happened. There was a
massive grinding noise as the engines struggled vainly to leave the
The Doctor kicked the console. "Oh, why didn't I just leave?"
"You never leave."
"True, but this time I should have."
"But if the new TARDIS has repaired itself, it'll go and find you,
wherever you are, right?"
The Doctor pursed his lips. "Mel, I thought that was this Ship. It's
"It's not?" Mel raised her eyebrows and glanced back at the identical
Police Box on the screen, floating nearby.
"Imagine if you lost a leg in an accident but were able to grow it
back. Now imagine the leg you lost forgot that it wasn't part of a
body anymore and started to regenerate what it was missing. What
"Well, I assume it will try and grow the rest of the body, then the
"But your mind isn't grown; it is created through many years of
learning. So, you get a brainless body. It might even become animated,
walk around, but it won't think."
"So, what you're saying is that this was a piece of the TARDIS and it
has somehow continued to grow?"
"I recognise some of the pieces. That last piece was Romana's room.
She had a lot of energy experiments running when I had to jettison
Suddenly the bell stopped. A screeching noise screamed through the TARDIS.
"Oh, no you don't" The Doctor madly dashed around the console room
again, desperately pressing buttons and pulling levers. A few sparks
flew and Mel helped put out a minor explosion as the TARDIS shuddered
to a halt.
"Now what?" Mel screamed above the screeching engines.
"The other TARDIS is trying to steal our power." The Doctor yelled back.
"Can't you stop it?"
"No, stop this TARDIS. It can feel the engines so, shut everything down!"
"Good idea, Mel. It's worth a try."
He pressed a few buttons and the TARDIS noises started to subside. The
lights flickered off and then there was silence.
The other TARDIS disappeared from the scanner but the Doctor could
feel its presence. Perhaps it had lain in wait since the beginning
time. He could remember he jettisoned quite a large amount of the
TARDIS when he once got trapped at the beginning of the universe.
Perhaps even enough to build a new TARDIS. He shuddered. It's been
slowly gathering up all the pieces, waiting to be whole again.
But it can't be whole because he has the mind of the TARDIS. It is
one thing that the mindless monster TARDIS doesn't have, yet.
What would be its next step?
A whooshing, scraping noise, sundering time and space, echoed within
the console room. Mel looked about in alarm.
"It is coming for us." The Doctor's shadowed face looked grim as he
stood and waited.
The Police Box materialised in the middle of the control room. There
was no flashing light on top and the glass windows were cracked. The
sign on the front seemed to be peeling, a reflection on the condition
of this TARDIS.
The doors opened and it was dark inside. A faint hum came from within
that sounded more like a low growl. The Doctor knew this TARDIS wanted
him to enter but he knew he couldn't. If he entered he may never
Mel screamed. Something invisible was attacking her.
She was being pulled towards the yawning Police Box doors. The TARDIS
had extended its force field around her and was pulling it towards
itself. Mel struggled against the inexorable invisible wall. She
screamed again as she tripped and fell, rolling towards the doors.
"Alright!" yelled the Doctor. "I'll go"
Mel stopped rolling as the wall dissolved. The Doctor straightened his
multicoloured cloak, run his hand through his curly blonde hair,
adjusted the cat clip on his lapel, checked a reading and strolled
nonchalantly up to the dark TARDIS doors.
"I'm going now Mel, and I may be some time"
Inside the dark TARDIS the Doctor could barely make out the control
console. It was dead and seemed to still be rebuilding itself. Parts
of the roundel covered walls were burnt black, others faded into
nothing, as though the block transfer computation calculated to create
them had somehow been half completed.
It looked similar to his TARDIS, with what could be white walls and
many buttoned central console. Part of the console was wooden, another
part seemed organic. There was even a bicycle pump attached to one
end, though what that was for he hadn't the faintest idea.
"Well, I'm here. What now?"
The TARDIS doors slammed shut behind him and the Ship was in total darkness.
"Look, I came to talk. I can help you. I know, you've just been born
and you need information. I'm sure I can help."
The TARDIS telepathic circuits lit up.
"Oh no! I can't give you my memories. You have to find your own.
You'll need to hang around here for a bit, get your strength and then
you can go off and travel anywhere you like. It won't take long."
He fished in his pocket for anything that he might be able to use to
disable the TARDIS. He should really get around to building another
sonic screwdriver one day.
"Well, it's been nice but I really must be going" He made to reach for
the TARDIS door handle but then he felt a slight draft.
The draft quickly became a breeze, then a gale as the air rushed out
of the room. It was getting difficult to breathe. He realised that
TARDIS wasn't going to just let him walk out.
"Alright! I get it." He muttered, disappointed as the air rushed back
in. "Held hostage by my own TARDIS!"
He thought of reaching for the door control again but a faint smell
ozone stopped him. A crackle confirmed it. Only the lit part of the
console could be touched. Other parts were alive with electricity.
Resigned to the situation, he placed his hands over two round knobs
that had appeared there and concentrated, connecting with the feeble
mind within this ersatz TARDIS.
The TARDIS began to probe his mind. It was a child. It had no idea
about the world around it besides the limited information available
the pieces of itself that it had gathered in the eons it had been
He could feel it unlocking mental doors and rifling through his
memories. But, at the moment, it was being quite specific. It was only
exploring his knowledge of time travel. It was learning about flying,
materialising, isomorphism, dimensional transcendentalism and more.
It was opening more doors in his mind now, accessing age old memories
about the Time Lords. The memory absorption rate was increasing in
speed and becoming painful as the TARDIS tried to take memories that
weren't unlocked yet. The Doctor grimaced.
The Ship began to understand. It began to live. It realised what it
was and what it should do. Its innocence over, the TARDIS leapt into
the Doctor's mind and ripped open everything, including the dark areas
that even the Doctor had forgotten about. He screamed.
"Stop this..." he gasped "you have... enough. You're destroying my
mind" But still the TARDIS tore at him. He could feel it. It was
starting to take his life force too.
"You only need to know how to travel. You don't need anything else.
Why are you doing this?"
Then he realised and was struck dumb with horror.
"No, you can't grow another me. I won't allow it." He tried to
his hands off the circuits but they were stuck. "You can still
dematerialise without me. You don't need me." He could feel his life
energy falling. He was losing decades fast.
"No" he yelled. "You'll kill me. Stop this madness!"
The console seemed to pulse with a deadly malevolence as a green glow
permeated the room. The TARDIS doors began opening and closing as
though flapping with excitement. Energy pulsed through the walls.
The Doctor screamed again and suddenly went silent, crumpling to the
floor. The doors stopped shuddering and the glow and the pulse
Mel put down the book that she had just hit the Doctor on the head
with and grabbed his arms. She dragged him out of the Police Box into
their control room and laid him on the floor.
In the corner of the room the Police Box doors slowly clicked shut.
The broken windows seemed to be like haunted eyes glaring malevolently
at her. She shuddered and went over to the control console.
The Doctor had tried to dematerialise before but the dark TARDIS had
stopped it. With the other TARDIS distracted, maybe she could try the
dematerialisation circuits again. She activated them and waited for
the familiar wheezing, groaning noise to fill the air.
The cloister bell tolled again. The Doctor's TARDIS was trying to
dematerialise while the other TARDIS was inside. It was compensating
but it was going to be difficult. Mel watched the readout screen which
now showed two Police Boxes separating.
Suddenly a flash of electricity shot out from the dark TARDIS,
striking Mel. She fell to the floor unconscious as both Time Ships
disappeared from the Vortex, the dark TARDIS spinning to somewhere
A lone word appeared on the coordinate screen. Lakertia. (2494 words)