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doctor...who?

The face staring back at me was very familiar. The expression was tired and worn with the suggestion of a boyish smile about to break forth. But the image was frozen, like a photograph; like a ghost, it seemed to hover within one of the roundels on the TARDIS walls, and it was there for but a brief moment before my attention was suddenly drawn by my peripheral vision to a green light flashing on the console. I blinked and spun around, but the image had vanished. So many lives ago...

The flashing ceased and the gentle hum of the ship in flight dropped a tone or three as my hands swept over the stabilising controls. We would be landing soon, the TARDIS and I; I had been travelling unaccompanied for several months now, and K9 was in bits and pieces in my laboratory. Just me now - all by myself...

Myself...Yes, the fleeting apparition had reminded me that I hadn't really been feeling quite myself lately. It was understandable, I suppose. I mean, after all, my first body had lasted for well over seven hundred Earth years, but recently I had been going through regenerations like there was no tomorrow. Or a yesterday, come to that.

You see, the frightening thing is that one never really knows just how many regenerations one has left, and I realised that if I were to keep on living as dangerously as I had been - what with running straight into giant radio-active spiders, and what not - well, I should very quickly find out! Still, I told myself, that is what makes my life so particularly interesting. Mmm...Much more exciting than wasting thousands of years with crusty old Time Lords. The problem was that I never got a proper chance to settle into any new incarnation and get to know 'me' better, and just then I was under the alarming impression that my identity was slipping away from me. And now this ghost from the past, staring at me from the TARDIS wall. Strange, you know...

~~~

The Time-rotor ground to a halt. Materialisation had taken place, and new adventure lay beyond the TARDIS doors.

At once, I busied myself around the console, checking read-outs on atmosphere, gravity, and radioactivity. They were all quite normal. rather like Earth, in fact, which meant 'life'. Could be interesting, or were those read-outs too normal? The scanner was on the blink again; that was the trouble with clock-work television - sometimes you just had to go out and look for yourself...

I was shocked to find myself in a cavern. Although it was dark, the walls seemed to glisten with a green and purple light, the source of which I could not readily discern. The ceiling was several feet above my head, and yet I somehow felt the need to remove my hat and keep looking around me for I sensed danger!

Moving away from the ship, I suddenly tripped on something. I knelt down and produced my atomic pen-torch. I had stumbled upon a metal rail that ran along the floor of the cavern and into the shadows. Could this possibly be a mine-shaft?

And then I saw it! Silently did the ugly form move along the rail and into the eerie light - Davros! Yes - Davros!: that ghastly mutant, half Dalek, fused into his weird wheelchair. He did not see me, he came to a halt a yard or two from me and simply sat there, muttering away to himself, that third eye winking with a cold blue light as he spoke.

And then - I should have known - Daleks! Two silvery Daleks glided out of the darkness and conversed with their maker, their shells reflecting the green and purple glow. But what were they saying? I crept closer. They repeated something twice or thrice. What was it? Did they say, "The Doctor"? They were talking about me! But how could they have known...? Of course - they must have heard the TARDIS! Noisy TARDIS!

~~~

I decided to return to the ship at once by slowly edging along the rocky walls, but as I turned to do so I was confronted by a third Dalek - a red one - coming straight for me!

‘You-are-the-Doc-tor!’ it snapped, ‘You-will-be-ex-ter-min-ated! Ex-ter-min-ate! Ex-ter-min-ate!!’

‘Ex-ter-min-ate-the-Doc-tor!!!’ the other two chanted as they closed in on me.

I clenched my fists and shut my eyes tightly, bracing myself for the inevitable thunder-bolts of death from the Dalek guns as those horrid little monsters screamed with insane hatred. In my mind I saw the ghosts of my former lives, and realised that my earlier experience in the ship must have been some kind of premonition. Here we go, Doctor, I thought - there's no escaping this: this is you death! ‘Ex-ter-min-ate!!!’

All was black. All was calm. All was quiet. Silence. And then a low murmur...of voices...behind me. Did I hear K9 speaking? I opened my eyes and found that I was alive.

The cavern was dark and the Daleks were gone. Confused, i dashed blindly for the TARDIS and slumped over the hexagonal pyramid that was the console, setting the ship in flight; the time column resumed its steady rising and falling action.

What could have happened? Only the Time Lords could have intervened in such a way to save my life. I mean, everything had just stopped! My head was too sore to even think about it...I wasn't myself anymore. My identity was slipping away, I needed a good rest. A century or two would do the trick. But the awful realisation dawned on me that this nightmarish experience was not yet over, for I still had this dreadful murmuring of voices in my head.

‘K9?’ I mumbled, raising myself from the console and then standing in wide-eyed amazement at the astonishing scene before me. Humans! Earthlings! In my TARDIS?! How...? Some cruel game concocted by the Master? Were they real humans? Autons, perhaps?

‘What are you people doing in my ship?’ I demanded.

But they simply stood there, staring at me. At me! As if it was I who were out of place! My TARDIS...! Of all the nerve!

There were titters from a group of youths all whom were dressed in frock-coats and long scarves - they'd been in my closet! - and giggles from small children standing there with their parents who chortled in their silly hats and sunglasses flashing their instamatic-cameras at me! What was this - a guided tour? Of my TARDIS? MY TARDIS?! Laughing at me - they were laughing at me!! This worthless species whose miserable planet I had so often risked my own life to save, thereby sacrificing centuries of existence in wasted incarnations!

‘Wretched ingrates!’ I bellowed. ‘Get out of here now!’

‘Just come along with us, sir. I'm sure we can sort this thing out,’ said a voice as someone behind me grabbed my arms. Policemen! Autons, after all?

‘You are making a mistake, officer.’ I appealed. ‘This isn't a real Police Box. Please let me go. You know. I'm really not feeling too good. Listen to me - get in touch with U.N.I.T. Ask for Brigadier Gordon McAllister...oh dear...I haven't been myself lately..I...I...feel rather dizzy...I must warn you, young man, that I am an expert in Martian Kung-fu! I am...Dr Who, and this is my time and space mach...ine...the...TAR...DIS...Ughhhh…’

written by
IAN McPHERSON
copyright 2009

artwork by
IAN McPHERSON
copyright 2009