RAKSHASA – Part 1

The warm afternoon sun filtered down through the palm leaves, dappling across the cricket pitch. It picked out the whites of the players, the bright paintwork of the pavilion and the crisp uniforms of the servants.  Ruddy faced, be-whiskered gentlemen sat watching the play unfold as their matronly wives sipped on chilled fruit cups. Two figures, sharing afternoon tea, jarred against this scene of seeming peace in a far-flung corner of the fading British Empire.

The first, with the exception of his turban, was dressed in the style of a Hollywood movie director. His plaid ‘plus-fours’ had been conscientiously adjusted, puffing then out the appropriate volume while his yellow shirt had just the right amount of sheen. An unnecessary and unused monocle hung on a lace around his neck, while his beard was neatly, and angularly trimmed. His spoke animatedly and with passion, nervously fiddling with a large manila envelope all the while.

His companion by contrast was almost silent, concentrating on a small device that clicked and whirred in his left hand. He was dressed in dark, sombre colours at odds with his companion and surroundings, and apparently ignoring the tropical heat in his battered leather jacket. Occasionally he would tug thoughtfully at a somewhat obvious ear while still appearing to ignore the earnest young man opposite him.

Suddenly there was an almighty crack, which echoed sharply under the pavilion roof and caused the flamboyant member of the party to drop his envelope in shock while his companion barely flickered an eyebrow. A battered cricket ball had ricocheted off the railings at high speed, indicating yet another six for the swaggering young British officer at the crease. Gathering himself and his scattered papers Sahil continued to stammer excitedly. “Doctor, doctor, I believe you to be a man of science, the only man of science who hasn’t shooed me away like some dog or, or troublesome monkey. But surely as a man of science you will never have seen anything like these?!” And with that he produced some crumpled photographs from within his envelope and displayed them among the tea things with no little triumph.

His obvious pride in the content of the photographs was outshone both by another six cannoning into the wall behind them and the Doctors apparent indifference. For his part the Doctor was lost to his own thoughts, the readings on the small handheld device worried him and he had to keep adjusting switches and dials to try and find improved information. Eventually a small red diode began to flash causing the Doctor to break into a wide beaming smile. “Wrong time. Wrong place!” he exclaimed, “Nearly there though, maybe another eighty years or so, and somewhere in Europe I think. Britain maybe. I like Britain you know, eccentric please, fit right in.” He stood up sharply, offering his hand to Sahil. “Been lovely to meet you, but got to get going before shop dummies start rampaging again.” Bemused, and somewhat dejectedly the man in yellow stood up, rearranging his precious photographs but before he could shake the Doctor’s hand the cricket ball crashed between them again, shattering a periwinkle teapot and sending the teaspoons flying.

For the first time the Doctor appeared to notice both the photographs and the game of cricket. His gaze moved between the two switching from genuine interest to peeved annoyance. The beaten and slightly split cricket ball, having bounced off the rear wall had rolled back along the floor to bounce softly against the Doctors foot. With a scowl the Timelord stooped and picked it up. “Excuse me, Sahil, wasn’t it?” he said with an edge to his voice, before stalking off to the cricket pitch.

Stepping out into the full sunlight the Doctor stopped and blinked before slipping out of his bulking leather jacket and handing it to a surprised young boy on the boundary. He then strode over to the sneering officer who was arrogantly resting on his bat with a look of amusement in his eyes. Glaring at him the Doctor enquired, “you wont mind if I bowl an over or two?” The young captain ran his eyes up and down his challenger, smirking at his unconventional dress before replying, “If you feel you must old boy.” “Right,” said the Doctor before turning and heading down the wicket. Half way he stopped and looked back over his shoulder with a grin, “I have done this before you know” he said before the grin faltered “at least I think I have, seems like lifetimes ago now”. The fielders spread out in amazement as the newcomer marked out his run up. The Doctor turned on his heel, made what all spectators agreed was an unorthodox run up and sent down a beautiful ball, which fizzed and turned in the air. Startled the batsman tried to adjust his stance, clipped the ball with the edge of his bat and, to a great many cheers, lost his leg stump. His job done the Doctor breezed past the stunned officer with a childish grin, “Freddie taught me that, or at least he’s going to” he said before collecting his jacket and heading back to Sahil.

Sahil had gathered his dog-eared photographs together and was, along with everyone else on the terrace, watching in amazement. The Doctor made his way through the now slightly less snooty diners on the terrace and relieved Sahil of his photographs. “Where were we?” he asked “oh yes, wrong time, and wrong place. Just like him.” The Doctor picked an image at random and turned it to show his bemused companion. The photograph was grainy and blurred but it still showed, with relative clarity, a huge figure with hooked talons, a tigers head and two bony growths which began behind each ear and curved into it’s lower back. It appeared to be wearing some form or armour and carrying a huge and dangerous looking weapon. “He,” announced the Doctor, “shouldn’t be here. So now, I need you to tell all about these photographs, alright?”

Part 2>>>