A STITCH IN TIME – Part 2

Shortly, as the time travelling pair stepped, blinking out from the quiet cool of the bank Rose had yet more questions. “Are you sure you got enough?” The Doctor looked at the enormous wad of notes held alarmingly gently in his hand “Not sure? Do you think we need more?” and turned to head back inside.

“No, no, no,” Rose grabbed his arm, wheeling him around, “Actually you seem to have withdrawn quite a small fortune there, more than enough. But then you did promise me first class I suppose.” She paused, as the Doctor still seemed to hesitate, and keeping hold of his arm, lead him towards the imposing station, with a determined. “Come on then.”

Later Rose sat fidgeting as she considered the meaning of First Class. She could remember rides at the cheap travelling fairs she had bunked off school to visit that had been more comfortable and had shaken less. Idly she prodded the stiff leather upholstery, gazing at her swinging feet. Her companion, on the other hand, almost literally had his nose pressed against the grubby window. “Look, there,” he whispered, his breath forming a shallow sea across the glass, “It’s begun.”

Rose peered through the dirt and the swirling smoke, trying to follow her companion’s gaze. “Where?” she frowned, “not those re-enactment nutters?” The doctor glanced at her briefly, as if to see if she was joking, before returning to watch the armoured men in the distance. Their bright capes and shining weaponry stood out clearly in the mid afternoon sun. “Nutters they may be,” he replied, “we can’t really tell that from here. But re-enactment they are not. Those, Rose, are your genuine Roman legionaries lost both in the mountains and in time itself.” He sat back with a self-satisfied smile and crossed his arms. Rose considered this, “So they’re here, now?” she asked. “Or we’re there then” the Doctor replied with a shrug, “ooo look medieval peasant farmers, also looking a little lost don’t you think?”

For a while it seemed that Rose and the Doctor were engaged in a harmless travel game, ‘Spot The Anomaly’, all laughter and smiles. Until, having just spotted a party of ramblers from the late 1970’s, the Doctors manner changed. Turning his back on the passing scenery he placed his hands on his companion’s shoulders, his face unreadable, looking coldly into her eyes. Rose squirmed uncomfortably, chewing her lip and trying not to meet the Time Lords gaze. “Rose?” his voice had a hard edge, like a concerned parent, “you do realise how serious this is? If, when we get there I can’t repair it, if I can’t mend the tear. It’s all over, before it’s even begun, literally so. Time will reset itself, if you like. History as you know it will cease to exist and everything starts again. Do you understand?” He almost shook her. Unable to look him in the eye Rose mumbled, “Yes, yes, I understand.”

“Well that’s alright then,” the Doctor beamed sitting back “now would you like coffee, tea or hot chocolate?” He now appeared to be staring straight over her left shoulder while clumsily fumbling with the remains of his large roll of bank notes. Rose frowned and twisted around to see who or what was behind her.

Fortunately the squat SerVoMatiBot had been fitted with the minimum possible AI and the little of that which was still functioning had completely failed to notice it was now serving hot snacks and beverages apparently two hundred years before it was built. It’s primary function was to serve passengers on all forms of public transport, and, as at least these two weren’t screaming or fleeing in terror, it now had customers to serve. The Doctor bought two coffees and something Rose feared to be the evolution of the Cornish pasty, before turning to watch the sunset over the mountains.

Rose had barely started her coffee, which having been served by a futuristic robot she thought a bit bland and tasteless, when the Doctor snatched it from her and tossed it over the seat in front much to the annoyance of the matronly spinster sat there. His face was lit up with childlike enthusiasm again, his eyes glinting.

“Sorry!” he called over to the furious Hausfrau raising his hand in apology before turning to Rose, “get ready, were here, should be, any second now!” and spectacularly nothing happened. The Doctor frowned, “I can’t be wrong, we should be there, we should be there and the…” and with that the train disappeared, along with all the other passengers, the track and the SerVoMatiBot.

The two time travellers tumbled down a gravel bank, a tangle of arms and legs, landing in an undignified and breathless heap. Rose, cursing, was aware of the faint and unpleasant taste of blood as she struggled to her knees in the jagged screed. There was a sharp pain in her left elbow and a dull ache in both her knees. She noticed, in frustration, that both her jeans and her hooded top had been torn in the fall. She squinted at the Doctor as he uncoiled his ungainly frame dusting down his leather jacket, which looked no more or no less tatty than usual. He stood up, towering over his companion and flashed her one of his hopeful grins. “There” he announced, “not so bad was it?”

Mumbling about how bad the whole situation had become Rose struggled to her feet, about to berate the Doctor on ‘his little surprises’ when she froze, eyes wide. “Doctor” she whispered, “look!” The Timelord followed her gaze, frowning with a bored curiosity, before returning to peer at his young companion. “The wolf?” she suggested. The Doctors eyes shone, “oh yes” he said cheerfully turning to face the huge grey wolf that was padding closer and closer, a vicious snarl on it’s muzzle. The Doctor raised his hand in welcome and with a light hearted “hullo” he turned his back on the predator. “Actually, this is a good thing” he began, pointing a thumb over his shoulder, “mammals and all that. We can’t be as far back as I feared. You lot may well have evolved far enough away from the apes already.”

“But, the wolf” worried Rose, “shouldn’t we be doing something? Like getting away maybe?” “Wolves” the Doctor corrected, “there’s more than one.” Then with nods of his head he pointed out a further seven hungry predators circling the pair, and getting closer all the time. He gave an embarrassed smile and shrugged into his jacket. “Doctor” urged Rose, more nervous now, fingers at her mouth, hands hidden in her sleeves. “Right!” he announced, suddenly alert and startling the pack, “see that tree? Head towards it, softly now. Don’t spook them.” His teenage companion nodded and then frowned. The tree that the Doctor had identified was stunted, white, dry and most obviously dead.

“Are you sure?” whispered Rose, “I don’t think it’s all that tall, even if it could take our weight…”

“And if it could I doubt a brace of huge eagles would swoop down and carry us to freedom anyway.”  Smiled the Doctor waving away her confused glare with a glib “never mind.”

Part three>>>