16 February 2007

New Companion, Old Earth - Chapter Three - Part 2

"Where are we going?" he asked as they stepped out of the TARDIS doors.
"I thought we might go to the pub," she answered. "Since we know the beastie will be recovering itself, let’s go and test how strong my telepathic powers have become."
"Are you sure you're up to that?" enquired the Doctor mildly.
"Yes," Saskia answered. "Besides, it's not far to go back to the TARDIS if I'm not."
"OK." The Doctor followed her down the alleyway in which the TARDIS stood and into the crowded, noisy pub. "You find a seat, I'll get some drinks," he said into her ear.
She nodded and moved towards a small table she could see at the back of the room that appeared to be the only free one available. She winced slightly at the level of noise both inside and outside her head.
The Doctor appeared shortly afterwards carrying two glasses. "Here you are," he said, setting them down on the table.
"What is it?" Saskia asked, eyeing the fizzing orange liquid. "Not a banana daiquiri?"
The Doctor grinned. "Not this time. It's a St Clements – a mixture of orange juice and lemonade."
Saskia took a cautious sip. "It's a bit sweet," she commented, wrinkling her nose, then took a bigger mouthful. "I think I'll pass next time."
The Doctor smiled. "I didn't think you'd want anything alcoholic," he explained.
"I really wouldn't!"
"How are you feeling?" he asked.
"It's very noisy in here," she answered. "In my head too. I don't think we should stay long."
The Doctor nodded. "Can you distinguish any individual thoughts, or is it just a vast cacophony?"
"If I concentrate on a particular voice, I can pick out the speaker's thoughts," she answered. "There’s a gentleman by the window whose mind is on the meal he had earlier."
"Anyone else?"
"Well there's a gentleman in the private room behind us who’s talking to some friends. He's thinking about a book he wrote that's going to be published soon. Oh!"
The Doctor raised an eyebrow at Saskia's exclamation. "What is it?"
"I know who he is," she answered, sounding animated.
"So who is it?"
"J. R. R. Tolkien. He changed the face of fantasy fiction as a genre of English literature and became famous worldwide." She grinned suddenly.
"Are you going to go all fan-girly on me?" the Doctor asked, quizzically.
"I couldn't, even if I wanted to – The Hobbit won't be out until next year, The Lord of the Rings isn't even written yet, and The Silmarillion doesn't appear until after his death, late in the century."
"So you're not a fan of his?" the Doctor asked, noting that 'even if I wanted to' comment.
"Not really. His fiction is interesting to me from a linguistic point of view, but fiction isn't really my thing. His scholarly papers are more interesting."
"Don't you read any fiction then?" asked the Doctor.
"Not much. In fact, I’ve never read much outside of working hours because I spend 90% of my working day reading. I like a bit of poetry now and again, but that's about it. I prefer doing crosswords or playing word games."
"What about chess?"
Saskia shook her head. "There's no point an empath playing a game like that," she pointed out.
"Oh. That’s true." The Doctor looked nonplussed for a moment.

"Anyway," Saskia said, “Who are you to talk of people being fannish? What about when your former self met Dickens and claimed to be his 'number one fan'?"
"That was him. I don't mind reading a Dickens novel now and again, but I'm not as big a fan as he was."
"You know, your regeneration thing is a bit weird." Saskia commented.
"Thanks." The Doctor looked rueful for a moment.
"Sorry," she said quickly. "I don't meant to be rude, but isn't it weird that you've got all the memories of your former selves, but each regeneration has a different personality and different tastes, as well as having a different body?"
"It seems quite normal to me."
"Yes I suppose it does. Sorry, I didn't meant to offend you." Saskia wished that she hadn’t mentioned it.
"I'm not offended," the Doctor answered.
Saskia didn’t believe him, but she didn’t argue the point. She was starting to get a headache and was just about to suggest to the Doctor that they leave, when the door to the private room behind them opened and several men came out. As one was shrugging himself into his coat, it swung wildly and knocked Saskia’s unfinished drink straight into her lap.
"Oh!" she gasped.
The man immediately began apologising for his clumsiness, whilst his friend offered her a spotless white handkerchief to mop up the worst of the liquid. The Doctor handed over his handkerchief too, and Saskia managed to soak up most of it. She stood up, holding the two handkerchiefs in a ball in her hand.
"Shall we go?" asked the Doctor.
She nodded and, accompanied by the two men, they made their way outside.

"I say, I'm awfully sorry," said the clumsy man for the seventh or eighth time.
"It's alright," Saskia answered automatically. "I'll live."
"I do hope your clothes aren't ruined," said his friend.
"I expect they'll come clean," she answered vaguely. Now they were outside she realised that she recognised the second man's voice from earlier.
"I'm Jack, by the way," said the first man. "and this is my friend Tollers."
Saskia shook their proffered hands. "Professor Tolkien, your handkerchief," she said, offering it to him.
He looked at her in surprise. "Do I know you?" he asked.
"No sir, but I’m familiar with some of your work."
"Oh." He took his handkerchief, then mumbled something inaudible.
"Can we offer you a lift home?" Jack asked brightly. "To make up for your inconvenience."
"No, thank you," answered the Doctor. "We're staying close by."
"Then let us walk you back to your accommodation," Jack said, and no amount of demurrals from the Doctor would persuade him not to accompany them. They set off along the alleyway and the Doctor was surprised when Saskia slipped her hand through his arm, until she touched the back of his hand and spoke into his mind.
"That's C S Lewis," she said. "Tolkien's great friend. He's going to write a science fiction trilogy shortly, about a man who journeys to Mars in a capsule. I think he’ll cope with seeing the TARDIS."
"I hope you're right," the Doctor answered. "Otherwise we may find ourselves in very hot water."
"They both seem fairly relaxed and cheerful, not drunk, just convivial," Saskia said. "I think we’ll be OK."

A few minutes later the four of them could see the TARDIS.
"I say Tollers, I didn’t know there was a police call box in Oxford," said Jack in some surprise. "Odd place to put it, don’t you think?"
Tolkien looked at the call box and then at their two companions. "Is this your accommodation?" he asked.
Jack looked at him in surprise.
"Yes," answered the Doctor simply. "Would you care to see?" He unlocked the door and Saskia walked inside, looking over her shoulder at the men outside. The Doctor made a courteous gesture, inviting them inside.
Jack stepped inside, then stopped in surprise when he saw the size of the Control Room. Tolkien followed him more slowly.
"But – that's impossible!" stammered Jack. "It's bigger on the inside."
"Yes it is," Saskia replied calmly.
"There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio -" muttered Tolkien.
"Than are dreamt of in your philosophy," Saskia finished.
He looked at her. "You're a scholar?" he asked.
"Yes I am."
"We're not local, though," the Doctor interjected.
"I didn’t imagine you were," answered Tolkien wryly, watching his friend examining the console. "Who are you?"
"I'm the Doctor, and this is my friend Saskia."
"Saskia Scolere," she amplified.
Tolkien's eyes widened. "But that's an Old English word," he said.
"Yes it is. My ancestors came from this world."
"You’re time-travellers?" asked Jack, suddenly joining the conversation.
"Yes we are," answered the Doctor.
"And are you human?" asked Tolkien.
"I'm not, Saskia is. I'm a Time Lord."
"Why are you here?" Jack asked.
"There's an alien of some sort roaming around your world. It's been here, near Oxford, quite recently. We're trying to track it down and find out what it wants, and stop it or send it back home," the Doctor answered.
"Are we in any danger?" asked Tolkien, and Saskia remembered that he had four young children and a wife at home.
"Not so far," answered the Doctor.
"Then we shall leave you to it. Come on Jack." Tolkien caught his friend by the arm and urged him towards the doors. "Goodnight to you both," he said.
"Goodnight," called Jack cheerily. "Thanks for showing us your spaceship."

The Doctor went over to the doors and watched them go down the alleyway.
"I hope they'll be OK," he said.
Saskia gave a little laugh. "They will be," she said confidently.
"How do you know?" the Doctor asked curiously.
"I've just remembered that it's around this time that the two of them decide that Lewis will write a space-travel story and Tolkien will write a time-travel one."
"Oh. Oh! Didn't you say Lewis wrote a trilogy about a man going to Mars?" he asked in concern.
"Indeed he does. It was fairly popular. But don't worry, we're not in it."
"What about Tolkien's story?"
"It was never finished," Saskia answered, a little sadly. "He started two but never finished either one." She smiled at the Doctor. "English literature knows nothing of us."

She walked over to the bench and sat down heavily.
"You're tired," the Doctor said. "You should go and get some sleep."
"Will you read to me again?" she asked. "Keep the nightmares at bay?"
He nodded, and they set off down the corridor together. "I'll go and get a book," he said.
"Bring The Hobbit, if you've got a copy," she said.
He nodded and carried on towards the library whilst Saskia went into her room. A few minutes later he knocked on her door.
"Come in."
He walked over to the chair beside Saskia's bed, carrying a small book. Sitting down he pulled out his glasses, put them on and opened the book.
"In a hole in the ground there live a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole..."
Saskia smiled, closed her eyes and fell asleep to the sound of his voice, reading aloud.

2 comments:

skippy said...

Keep going Sass, I was enjoying the subtle inuendo of the Dr and Sass! At least thye are not going to get passionette on the floor anytine time soon! LOL

Michele said...

Um, there's not meant to be any inuendo, and there definitely won't be any hanky-panky in this story...

And please don't call her "Sass" - she's definitely not me !

But thanks for the comment!