He looked down at Sophie’s drink and realised she’d finished her coffee. ‘Would you like another drink?’
‘Yes, okay,’ she smiled.
‘Yes, please.’ She watched the Doctor get up and then stopped him. ‘Actually, I think I’ll have something a little stronger. How about a glass of wine?’
‘Coming right up,’ said the Doctor as he headed off for the bar.
He soon returned with the drinks. He placed Sophie’s wine on the table in front of her and then had a drink from his refilled glass of mineral water. ‘So, tell me a bit about your life.’
‘There’s not much to tell really,’ said Sophie dissuasively.
‘Oh, come on. You seem to know everything about me. It’d be nice to know some more about you.’
Sophie took a sip from her glass and then put it back down. ‘Well, as you know, I’m from Seattle. I grew up there and I’ve lived there all my life. I never even left the city to go on holiday. My friend Roz used to tell me that I’d never see the outside world.’ She laughed. ‘Well a few years back I began work at the Seattle Times. I had to start travelling a bit and it opened my eyes to the rest of the world. That’s when I discovered you.’
‘Literally it seems.’
‘Well, not quite. It seems the paper had reports of alien invasions across the century in their record archives. They were only news reports which, of course, were dismissed as rubbish, but throughout the century your name would always crop up. “The aliens were defeated by a man known as the Doctor”, “The Doctor, UNIT’s scientific advisor, refused to comment on the invasion”. Both the US and UK governments had refused to allow the stories to be printed and each invasion was-’
‘Covered up? Yes,’ said the Doctor grimly, ‘your people have a habit of covering up the truth. Maybe one day they’ll realise that it won’t help them.’
‘My boss told me not to talk about the stories I’d have to keep quiet or he’d fire me. I spoke. He fired.’
‘Oh dear. I’m sorry to hear that.’
‘It’s no problem now. The point is that I made copies of these reports and then I started finding leads. I met some of your old friends, Doctor, and began to build up this picture of you. Of course I was sceptical about you at first, but I was soon convinced. There are so many people out that have a lot of faith in you.’
The Doctor smiled. ‘It’s good to know.’
‘Of course I could only find out stuff over the past century, but it was enough.’ Sophie took another sip of her wine. ‘And I’m determined for the world to know the truth about these alien invasions.’
‘Surely the authorities will just block any information you try and get out. They have done before.’
‘Maybe. But then again maybe public demand will be so high that they’ll have no choice but to tell the truth and release it.’
‘I suppose it might be a step in the right direction for this planet. Goodness knows they need some kind of direction,’ said the Doctor, half to himself.
‘What do you mean?’
He looked up at her green eyes. They were so full of questions that demanded answers. The Doctor sighed. ‘Sophie, this planet is going to come up against a lot of tests in the near future and you’ll be around to see them.’
Sophie frowned. ‘What tests?’
‘Terrorism. Then maniacal leaders and terrible, ongoing wars. Then there’s the actual alien menaces that come here.’
‘Oh god! You make it sound like a nightmare.’
‘Life goes on, but life is tinged with an air of fear. Eventually, though, things will get better.’ He could see she was concerned. ‘Things will get better, Sophie. By the mid 21st century there’ll be a moon base and space stations orbiting the Earth. Intergalactic space travel is only a few decades away.'
Sophie smiled. ‘I suppose it must be difficult to know the past, present and future of an entire planet.’
‘Sometimes it’s difficult, but sometimes I learn to cope with it. Earth will live, die and then be reborn again. It’ll happen a number of times. But life will go on for you Humans.’
Caroline and Phil had taken a bus which had stopped just outside the college. Phil lived nearby. It was weird for Caroline seeing this place. In a few months her younger self would be a student at the college, studying politics. Right now, though, she was just a sixteen year old dating Danny and working towards her school exams. And right now she was living with people who knew more about her life than she did.
They turned into a tree-lined avenue with large houses and sloping lawns heading up to their front doors. ‘You sure your mum won’t mind me being here?’ asked Caroline as they stepped up to Phil’s house.
‘She won’t be in. She works in the library and they always update their records on Friday and Saturday evenings.
‘Will she be mad about you missing your interview?’
‘Mad? She’ll be furious. But there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m happy to just do part time work at the factory, but she won’t have it. She says I waste my time drinking and buying pointless electronic equipment.’
‘Does she know about the radio station?’ asked Caroline as Phil unlocked the door.
‘No way!’ said Phil with a laugh. ‘If she knew about that she’d lock me away forever.’
‘What about other family members?’
‘My sisters at Cardiff Uni and my dad works away in Germany a lot. He’s an expert in power stations or something in Cologne.’
It was a nice place, thought Caroline. An oak staircase rose from the Victorian-tiled entrance hall and upstairs to a balcony. The floor was polished and the air smelt of lavender. It seemed odd that Phil would get involved with someone like Lee and the others at the radio station, but Gaz seemed half-decent as well, so she supposed that must have been the link between the two.
‘Wait in the living room,’ said Phil. ‘I’ll go get us something to eat. Fancy a sandwich?’ he asked as he disappeared to the end of the house and towards the kitchen.
‘Yeah go on then,’ she shouted back after him. ‘Cheese please.’
Phil returned 10 minutes later with a plate of cheese and ham sandwiches and some lemonade. He handed her the plate and then sat down in the armchair across the room from Caroline.
‘It’s nice to have some down to Earth food for once,’ said Caroline as she munched on the sandwich.
‘Why, where’ve you been? Mars?’ laughed Phil.
‘A bit further than that,’ replied Caroline.
Phil laughed, but Caroline didn’t. ‘So tell me more about yourself.’
‘What would you like to know?’ asked Caroline as she sipped on her lemonade.
‘Where do you live? What are your hobbies. Those sort of things.’
Caroline sighed and put down her drink and finished her sandwich. ‘It’s difficult to talk about it.’
‘You can take your time,’ said Phil.
Caroline sighed again. She was dying to get this all of her chest. She was fed up of meeting people and never being able to tell them the truth. She knew Phil would never believe her, but she didn’t care. She was getting on well with him and she had to tell someone. Taking a deep breath and a sip of her drink again she cleared her throat. ‘Phil, do you believe in time travel?’
‘Well, no,’ said Phil with a laugh.
‘You should do.’
‘Because I’m from the year 2012. I’m a time traveller.’
‘Thanks for cheering me up, Doctor,’ said Sophie as she finished her drink.
‘I’m sorry,’ said the Doctor. ‘Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone on about the end of Humanity and stuff like that.’
‘Well it was…interesting,’ she said with uncertainty.
‘Let’s talk about something else,’ smiled the Doctor.
‘Yeah,’ said Sophie. She checked her watch. ‘Actually I better be getting back. I can’t believe the time. We’ve been chatting for hours! I said I’d call my mum tonight. I’m a grown woman, but she can’t help worrying about me when I go away anywhere.’
Sophie got up to leave and the Doctor stood up at the same time. ‘Where are you staying?’
‘Oh, just a little guesthouse up on the sea-front. It’s nothing special, but it’s quiet at least.’
‘Would you like me to walk you there?’ said the Doctor.
‘Walk me there? It’d take about 45 minutes to walk there. I’ve hired out a car while I’m here.’
‘Oh, right,’ said the Doctor. He smiled. ‘Look, what are you doing tonight?’
‘Oh, I’ve got lots of reports to make tonight,’ said Sophie apologetically. ‘I wish I didn’t, but I’ve gotta make a start on the info on you.’
The Doctor smiled. ‘Well at least I’ll be there in some form or another.’
Sophie looked at him and then smiled. ‘Your a nice man, Doctor.’
‘Are you planning on staying long?’ she asked, putting her coat on.
‘Not really. I just need a couple of days to power up the TARDIS. Maybe I can stick around whilst you make some more notes on me.’
Sophie beamed at him. ‘Really? It’ll only take a couple of days.’
‘That’s fine,’ said the Doctor.
Sophie grinned. ‘That’s great. Look, I’ve gotta run, but I’ll meet outside your police box at, say, 9am tomorrow?’
‘Agreed,’ smiled the Doctor.
‘Good. Thanks for the drink,’ she crossed over to the door and then turned back. ‘See you soon.’
The Doctor nodded as she disappeared into the night. He picked up his water, drained the glass and then smiled to himself a warm, comforting smile. He liked travelling with Caroline and Danny, but they didn’t seem to want to be with him. Now here was Sophie. A person who was clearly fascinated by every aspect of his life and he felt sure she’d like to travel with him in the TARDIS.
The white van turned into a idyllic, sloping road lined with tree’s and large houses. It headed down the street and towards the end where a school sat in the middle of a large, sloping field. The van parked up at the gates and then Lee and Gaz jumped out.
‘They’re locked,’ said Gaz as he rattled the gates.
‘Of course they’re locked. This is a school, remember? Private property,’ said Lee as he dug in his pockets.
Gaz rolled his eyes and Lee looked around to check he wasn’t being watched and then unlocked the padlock on the large iron gates.
‘This is bloody dangerous.’
‘In case you’ve forgotten, Gaz, running a pirate radio station is dangerous. Deal with it!’ He opened the gates wide enough to let the van in. ‘Get in and drive it through.’
Gaz did as he was told and drove the van through the gates. When he was fully through Lee closed the gates behind them.
It took them only twenty minutes to unload the gear from the back of the van. Behind all the equipment was Danny who was cowering in a corner of the van and shaking.
‘What’s up with him?’ said Gaz.
Lee crossed over. ‘Dunno.’ He clambered into the back of the van. ‘Come on, Dan, snap out of it.’
Danny gritted his teeth and looked up at Lee. ‘Release me!’ he hissed.
‘We’re gonna do,’ said Lee, trying his best to sound sympathetic, ‘but you’ve gotta work with us. You’ve got to help yourself as well.’
Danny shook his head and closed his eyes. ‘I don’t know what’s going on,’ he whimpered. ‘Tell me what’s going on.’
‘I’m not exactly sure,’ said Lee, putting a hand on Danny’s shoulder. ‘Look, if you come inside with us I’ll try and explain everything.’
‘Yes,’ sobbed Danny. ‘Explain. I feel so close to them now.’
Lee looked back at Gaz and indicated for him to help. The two of them stood Danny up and, between them, helped him out of the van and into the school car park.
‘Now where?’ asked Gaz nervously.
Lee scrambled in his coat pocket and pulled out the keys. ‘One of these will open the door to the caretakers office. C’mon.’
The school was a fairly squat and modern looking building spaced out along a large field that disappeared into the growing darkness. Night was drawing in after Lee and Gaz had spent the last few hours collecting up more equipment from Lee’s house and collecting the portable transmitter.
They had arrived at the back of the school where the caretakers office was situated. They headed for a set of blue double doors set into the wall. Gaz leant Danny against the wall as Lee tried different keys. With each key he cursed and then tried another. Finally the lock clicked and the double doors opened.
Lee turned and grinned. ‘I’ll get Danny boy in here and you start getting the equipment.’
A few minutes passed. Lee had gotten Danny into the small office and sat him down on a stool. He had now passed out. The room was pretty small with no windows. A single bulb cast an orange glow over the wooden walls and a table was set against one wall with a school chair under it. On the other side of the room was another doorway leading to a store room which contained buckets, spades and other cleaning appliances.
Lee and Gaz had shifted all the equipment into the room and eventually the others arrived. Gaz led them into the small room as they prepared to recommence the radio shows.
Night had come and Caroline and Phil had made their way back into the town centre. They passed a number of bars, the loud dance music blasting out from them. Caroline had noticed in recent years - back in her time - that the bars had quietened down and most people had chosen to stay in due to the recession, but in 1998 everything was lively again. Everything felt new.
They arrived at a bar beside the train station called Huxters and went inside. Phil had no problem getting in. Probably because Caroline was with him, and she looked pretty striking amongst all the youngsters.
Phil went to the bar and got them a couple of drinks.
They made their way into a quieter area of the bar and sat down at a table. After a few moments of watching people mill around and dance, Phil spoke up.
‘So, you’re a time traveller then?’
Caroline looked up at him and smiled. After she had told him earlier back at the house he had gotten a little flustered and excused himself to take a shower and get ready. They hadn’t really spoken much on the short walk into town, but Caroline had sensed that he was feeling a little freaked out about the situation.
‘Do you believe me?’ asked Caroline.
‘I don’t have any reason to believe you,’ said Phil. ‘But then again, I don’t have any reason to not believe you.’
‘Okay,’ said Caroline slowly, ‘how about I tell you that I’m not from the future.’
‘That would make matters a lot less confusing.’
‘In what way?’ asked Caroline, sipping on her cider and black.
‘In a way that wouldn’t turn my life upside down,’ said Phil taking a huge gulp of lager.
Caroline smiled. ‘Okay. Maybe we can leave the stories for another time. Right now we need to enjoy ourselves. So come on,’ she said, clambering off her stool and grabbing Phil’s hand, ‘let’s have a laugh!’
And the pair of them danced. They danced and then they drank and then they danced some more. Later on in the evening they made their way to a nightclub near to the Riverhead called Gullivers.
Caroline found she was really enjoying Phil’s company. He felt like the little brother she never had. It was nothing more than that and she hoped that Phil didn’t feel any differently. It was just nice to let her hair down and have a good time for once.
The time was approaching 1am and they were both a little worse for wear. And then it happened. The DJ cut the music and picked up the microphone. The feedback hurt Caroline’s ears, which were still pounding with the sounds of ‘Ecuador’ by Sash.
The crowd groaned, but the DJ urged them to stay calm.
‘Well, ladies and gents,’ he said in a fake-as-anything, over-excited DJ’s voice, ‘we have some good news tonight. You’ve all heard of Town FM, haven’t you?’
There was a cheer from the crowd.
Phil drunkenly looked at Caroline and she raised her eyebrows.
‘Well we have come to an arrangement to let them broadcast straight from their studio, right into our club for the next hour!’
The crowd whooped and cheered.
The DJ continued. ‘And if it’s successful, their number one DJ, Lee, has agreed to broadcast the next Saturday night show live from Gullies!’
The crowd erupted in a roar which deafened Caroline and Phil.
‘So, without further ado, I’ll hand you over to DJ Lee!’
There was silence and then the familiar jingle of Town FM came over the air followed by Lee’s familiar, bad-attitude-sounding voice.
This is Town FM and we are broadcasting live to the clubbers in Gullivers. We’re glad to have you lot along for our ride on this wonderful, wonderful Saturday night. Remember to open your hearts and open your minds. You never know what might climb into your soul! This is ‘Brimful of Asha’ by Cornershop!
And so the night continued with Lee broadcasting songs for the next hour into Gullivers. And Caroline and Phil found themselves enjoying the night even more.
That was until a high-pitched whine filtered into the room and everyone started to scream. Caroline managed to grab Phil and drag him off the dance floor and into the corridor outside.
‘What was that?’ asked Phil, clutching tightly at his ears.
The people in the room were still screaming and the bouncers ran inside. And then suddenly everything went quiet.
Caroline still covered her ears and ducked back inside. Every single person was lying down on the floor, unmoving and silent. The music had stopped and soon the high-pitched whine had died away. Caroline ran over to one of the girls and checked her pulse. Nothing. She checked the pulse of the person next to her and then crossed to the DJ. Nothing.
They were all dead.