It had been a particularly boring afternoon at the Black Swan when the door burst open and a rabble of dockers came flooding in, followed by a skinny lad in a flat cap, braces and a grey jacket. This was Jim, and Caroline had seen him in here a few times before. He’d go away to sea for a while and then come back, always in a good mood and ready to entertain people.
An old couple were sat by the door and Jim pulled up a stool and sat next to them. “You two should get married,” he said in his chirpy, cockney accent.
“I beg your pardon?” said the old man. “We are married.”
“Yeah,” laughed Jim, “then how come you look like you’re ready to throw in the towel?”
“How dare you!” spluttered the old man as the entire pub burst out laughing,
Jim got up and sidled over to the bar, leaning on it.
“You’ve gotta be careful, Jim,” said Caroline, as she began pouring pints for all the other lads.
“And how’s my favourite princess today?”
“Princess? I don’t think so,” scoffed Caroline. “I work in a pub.”
“The finest pub in Thornsby though,” he grinned. “Even finer now you’re working here.”
Caroline smiled. She did like Jim. He made her smile. She liked Will as well, but Jim was just cheeky and appealed to her flirtatious side. A side she hadn’t made much use of since way back before she met Steve.
“You ought to come out with me one night. My treat,” he said, taking off his cap and trying to neaten his ruffled hair.
“You need a bath first,” said Caroline, noticing the smell of fish on him.
Jim smiled. “You get used to it, sweetheart,” he said. “Seriously though, we should go for a drink.”
“We can have a drink now,” said Caroline.
“Nah, it’s not the same,” said Jim, sitting himself down. “You work here. We should go to the Hart.”
“The White Hart down Bethlehem. They do a good ale and sell decent grub as well.”
Caroline smiled at him. She‘d frequented the White Hart with Danny a few times in their day. “Maybe one day.”
Jim shook his head. “It’d be my honour to take you for a drink.”
Caroline blushed. “Thank you, Jim, but I’m a little preoccupied.”
“Oh, with the toff?”
“He’s not a toff,” said Caroline. “It’s just an honest, decent man. He’s lovely.”
“And I’m not?”
“I didn’t say that,” said Caroline. “He’s just…nice. And I’m not after seeing anyone anyway. I’m waiting.”
“For your alien friends?” asked Jim.
“What?” said Caroline, feeling things around her go out of focus.
“That’s what they say about you, love. That you’re from another planet. That you’re the Girl From The Moon and you’re waiting for the Man in the Moon to come and rescue you.”
Caroline raised her eyebrows. “Really?”
“Really. You fell from the moon in a queer metal box.”
Caroline frowned, remembering the wreckage of the filing cabinet-cum-escape pod that had been left near the Central Market. She knew it had been damaged beyond repair, but she still didn’t like the idea of it being left out there.
The door to the Swan opened again and this time William walked in.
Jim turned to look at him and then turned back to Caroline. “Your boyfriends here.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” said Caroline in a whispered voice.
“A pint of Big Flats, please, Caroline,” said William as he approached the bar.
Jim looked him up and down. “How’s it going, mate?”
“It’s going fine,” said William, looking a little nervous standing next to the docker.
“Hard day at work?”
“It was difficult, yes.”
“Hard time sitting there dealing with all those problems?”
William worked in the textile business and worked in an office. He was manager of one of the factories, and so his job was a little more upmarket than what Jim did.
“Yes,” said William, “we almost lost an entire batch order today.”
“Ooooh,” said Jim, joined by a chorus of ‘ooohs’ from his fellow dockers. “We almost lost a person. Waves are whipping up out there. He almost went in, didn’t you Norm?”
From down the bar, Norm nodded.
“I’m very sorry to hear that,” said William, taking a sip from his pint.
“It’s tough out there, I’m sure,” said Caroline, trying to turn this into a conversation, instead of a wind-up from Jim.
“You ought to come out with us one day, Wills,” said Jim. “Get to see a bit of the real world. The hard side of business.”
William turned and looked at him, yet still kept his smile. “Just because what I do isn’t dangerous, it doesn’t mean it’s not ‘the real world’.”
“It’s not every day you put your life on the line though, is it?” asked Jim, turning and facing William.
“Okay. Enough,” said Caroline. “The both of you do a hell of a lot for this town. That’s all that matters.”
William smiled, but Jim continued to look at him. He looked like he was about to “chin” him.
“You ever been out to sea before, Wills?” he asked.
Caroline rolled her eyes.
“I took a trip to France when I was a young boy,” he said.
“So, nowhere near death, then?”
“I think I’ll leave now,” said William, taking another sip of his pint and walking towards the door.
“She doesn’t deserve you,” said Jim.
“Hey!” snapped Caroline.
“I beg your pardon?” asked William, stopping, but with his back still to Jim, Caroline and the bar.
“She’ll never go with you. She’s waiting for the Man in the Moon.”
“Caroline is a lady,” said William, calmly, but with a hint of annoyance in his voice, still with his back turned. “She doesn’t just ‘go’ with anyone.”
“That’s enough, boys,” said Caroline, realising she wasn’t getting through to anyone.
“Yeah. Time to leave, Will,” said Jim.
William turned around, his face stern and his eyes fixed on Jim. “Now look here…”
“Calm down, mate,” said Jim. “You might break a finger nail.”
And that was that. Caroline can’t remember who threw the first punch, but neither of them won. They both ended up sitting at the bar with cuts and bruises nursing sore heads.
Caroline spent the rest of the afternoon tending to cuts and bruises and trying her very best to talk the local constabulary out of arresting the both of them.
As the sun began to set and Caroline had watched William get taken to the hospital to fix his broken arm, she had stood by the window looking out at the world passing by her. Despite the fact that she was lost, she was starting to feel somehow at home.
The last few weeks had gone well. Now that they knew exactly where Caroline was, said the Doctor, they would be able to pinpoint her and go and collect her. But all of this was academic anyway as they had no way to actually travel back and find her. The Doctor said that that was one of the problems he was still trying to overcome as he worked on his mysterious device back at the pub.
Danny was pleased that the summer was coming to an end. August had been a particularly hot month and he was pleased for the cooler weather that September had brought. He hadn’t spent much time venturing into the town centre for fear of bumping into his parents or his younger self. As fascinating as it would have been, he knew that the urge to tell them what was going to happen to Adrian would be too much. So he had restricted himself to the shops in the town centre and the pub.
Today, however, he had been getting one of his regular headaches caused by the Apparite inside him. Until now it had been pretty dormant. Probably because the TARDIS wasn’t around to amplify it’s affects. But now he just needed some fresh air.
He made his way past the Barge pub and along the main road. He was confused for a moment because in his day a bridge had been built over the river to gain access to the other side, effectively cutting off the Barge’s part of the water, but right now the road just continued around the Barge and down another street. This was completely crazy to him. It was like being in a weird, twisted version of your home town. He’d seen the changes in old pictures, but never remembered them himself. Maybe in a hazy, memory from far back in his mind. He wondered how Caroline was dealing with the even-greater changes back in 1901.
He laughed and turned the corner to where the old bus station was. And stopped dead. On the side of the river where there should have been a warehouse (formally a children’s home - later converted into a nightclub) there stood a large, garden-like space and a grey, stone monument. He immediately knew that this was impossible because the building that should have been there was still there in 2012. But this familiar building that he had always past in his life was no where to be seen. It had been erased from history.
He crossed the arching bridge over the river towards the monument. It looked a little dirty and it had suffered from the effects of acid rain over the years, but he could just make out what it said.
“TO ALL OF THE CHILDREN WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT FIRE OF 1903. MAY THEY REST IN THE ARMS OF OUR FATHER FOREVER”
Daniel frowned. This wasn’t right. He knew that years ago this place was, at some point an orphanage, but it had never burnt down. And 1903...Caroline was stuck in 1901. Perhaps this was significant. Either way, he had to tell the Doctor.
Once he got back to the pub he found the Doctor on his hands and knees, hammering a nail into a blue, wooden pallet that had been put down at the back of the White Hart, near the Pool tables.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Harry says he could do with a stage up here.” He said, pulling at the pallet and smiling at his handiwork. “He can’t afford to buy one, so I said I’d put one up.”
“Pallets?” said Danny, eyebrows raised.
“Yes. Pallets. Put a couple of them together and cover them with some form of wood or covering and then you’ve got yourself a mini stage.”
Danny nodded. “Proper little DIY man, aren’t you?”
“I dabble,” smiled the Doctor, putting his coat back on and crossing over to the bar.
“Doctor, there’s something I need to tell you,” said Danny, following him.
“I was out walking around the back of the shopping centre, near the river and I saw this monument to some children killed in 1903.”
“Oh dear,” said the Doctor. “Such a sad thing.”
“Well, this is the thing. The building that was there is still there in 2012. Except it’s gone now. Burnt down.”
“So someone has messed with time,” said the Doctor, darkly. “I knew something was wrong when we arrived here. I could taste it in the air. I still can.”
“Could it have anything to do with Caroline? She’s in 1901. Two years before this fire.”
The Doctor sank on the stool. “It could well have something to do with her. We desperately need to get back to her. Her life could be in danger.”
“Then what do we do?”
“Nothing until we can locate the TARDIS.”