29 Sep 2013

The Story of the Ancestors: Chapter 1 (The Shed at the Bottom of the Garden)

The Doctor looked at the time rotor. Smoke was beginning to billow from underneath the console and the whole room was vibrating.

‘Leave it, Doctor!’ snapped Caroline. ‘Last time you tried this we ended up getting trapped in different times, remember?’

‘How can we forget?’ said Danny.

The TARDIS shuddered.

‘Stop it!’ shouted Caroline, slapping his hand.

The Doctor growled and pulled the dematerialisation lever back into the stationary position and things began to calm around them. The TARDIS gave a shudder of frustration and then settled.

‘I need to get you two home. I need to deal with this situation.’

‘Not by ripping the TARDIS apart.’

The Doctor grabbed his walking stick and thwacked the top of the console, and then slumped down onto the sofa. ‘Stupid ship. Why won’t it let us land? I had no problem the first time I landed. We can land in 1987, 1902, 1998 even! But not 2012. Why?’

‘Because the TARDIS doesn’t want you to get involved,’ said Caroline. ‘Maybe it knows something we don’t.’

‘Maybe,’ said Danny, ‘it knows that if we land something bad will happen to us.’

‘But we can’t continue to skirt around the issue,’ said the Doctor. ‘We need to get some answers to what’s been going on.’

There was a flash and the TARDIS shuddered. The air beside the console shimmered and the Doctor jumped to his feet.

The shimmer in the air began to form into the image of a woman. A red-headed woman dressed in jeans and a black top. She was holding a device in her hand and was furiously fiddling at a dial on top of it. She suddenly realised she was being watched. The image flickered as she looked at the Doctor, Caroline and Danny, and she smiled.

‘Who are you?’ asked the Doctor.

The woman extended her hand, and then pulled it back again. ‘Better not,’ she said in an American accent. ‘It’s only a hologram.’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Well, this is clearly working,’ she said. ‘I’m broadcasting from Thornsby. August 2012 to be precise. It’s a holographic messaging system.’

‘Ah, like you tried to make that time, Doc,’ said Danny, remembering when he and the Doctor were trapped in the 1980’s.

‘Yes, yes yes,’ said the Doctor, irritated. ‘Who are you, miss, and what exactly do you want?’

‘My name’s Jayne Robson, and you may have heard a little about me.’

‘Finally!’ said Caroline with glee. ‘We’ve been trying to get to you.’

‘Calm down, sweetheart, I’m nothing special.’

‘I think you are though,’ said the Doctor. ‘We need answers. We need answers now!’

‘Take it easy, Doctor,’ said Jayne. ‘Just give me a moment.’

‘Why have you contacted me now? You have something to do with the Apparites don’t you? All we’ve heard are snippets of information. It’s like the world’s most complicated puzzle.’

‘I’ve contacted you now,’ said Jayne, ‘because I need you. We need you. Things are getting out of hand.’

‘Then let us land.’

‘I’m not the ones stopping you. It’s your time ship.’

‘I knew it!’ grumbled the Doctor.

‘But I am in a position to give you a few answers to what’s been going on here.’

‘Go on then.’

‘Will you help us if I tell you?’

‘I’ll let you know after I’ve heard what you have to say.’

‘Okay,’ said Jayne. ‘You might wanna take a seat cos this is gonna take a while.’

Caroline and Danny joined the Doctor, either side of him on the sofa.

‘Right. Where do I start?’

‘How about the very beginning?’ said the Doctor. ‘And don’t leave anything out.’

Jayne turned to Caroline. ‘Caroline, you may wanna brace yourself for a few revelations. You might need to help fill in some blanks as well. You as well, Danny.’

‘About time,’ said Caroline, grabbing a bag of Jelly Babies from the Doctor’s coat pocket.

The Doctor looked uncomfortable as he watched Caroline closely.

‘Right then. A lot of this is from personal memory, and the rest from information passed onto me from the sources themselves.’ She took a deep breath. ‘It all began in the future. In LA to be exact. Los Angeles, 2524, when I was just eleven years old…’

May 7th 2524

Jayne Robson loved visiting her grandparents. She would stay at their house in the school holidays and every now and then she would stay at the weekends. Her grandparents always told her that one day she would grow out of it, especially when she became a teenager, but right now, Jayne knew that she would always love coming here.

They lived in an converted barn on the outskirts of Los Angeles and were surrounded by fields and hills and trees. If you stood on the top of the highest hill, you could see LA in the distance, the smog cloud hanging over it, and it made Jayne happy to be here in the fresh air and without her smog mask.

One particular morning, in the spring holidays, Jayne was lying in bed, looking out of her window and watching the stars above the house. She felt like they were spinning around and around and she wanted nothing more than to go up into space and explore new worlds and new planets. She knew they were out there. Expeditions had gone out into the far reaches of space, and there had been alien invasions before. Okay, maybe the invasions weren’t so good, but at least she knew there was life out there.

It was in the early hours of the morning when she heard the noise.

It sounded like the very fabric of space and time was being ripped apart. Engines wheezing and groaning and then finally coming to a stop with a loud THUMP.

She scrambled out from underneath the covers and looked out of the window. Further down her grandparents garden and amongst the trees there stood a shed. This confused her. She was sure that the shed hadn’t been there before. Not only that, but her granddad already had one shed, why would he need two?

She got into her dressing gown, put her slippers on and quietly went out of her room, creeped past her grandparents bedroom door and down the stairs. She quickly searched for the backdoor keys and found them hung up over the counter and, unlocking the door, went outside.

It was quite a warm night and a little bit of a breeze kept it from being too warm. She cautiously walked towards the shed. There was a slight trace of smoke coming from underneath it and the grass around it had been scorched ever so slightly.

Once she reached the shed she got the strangest sensation - the hairs on the back of her neck were standing up. She felt a slight vibration coming from it. Stealing her nerves she reached out her hand and touched the shed. It was vibrating.

She jumped back quickly and then let out a yelp when her Granddads voice came from behind her.

‘What are you doing out here, sweetheart?’ he said.

She turned. He was wearing his dressing gown and slippers too. ‘Did you hear it?’

‘I heard a noise. It woke me up.’ He stepped forward and looked at the shed. ‘Now who could have dumped this here?’

‘Do you think someone was trying to get rid of it?’ asked Jayne.

‘Probably that damn Timmins family from down the road,’ he grumbled. The Timmins were always dumping unwanted stuff here, there and everywhere.

‘But there’s nothing wrong with it. And I didn’t hear a truck. I was still awake.’

‘That’s true,’ said her Granddad, stepping forward and checking the structure. By now the vibration had stopped and the thing seemed as dead as a shed should be. ‘It’s in perfect condition.’

‘Shall we go inside?’ asked Jayne excitedly.

Granddad tried the door. It was locked. There looked to be some kind of Yale lock on the door.

‘Sorry, no adventures tonight,’ he chuckled. ‘Hey, we need to get back inside before grandma notices were missing.’

‘Awww,’ said Jayne.

‘Now, now. Come on. We’ll have a better look at it tomorrow.’

And they did. The next few days Jayne’s Granddad tried a number of ways to get inside. First he tried a number of skeleton keys, then he tried to break the door open. When that failed he took an axe to the wood, but the axe simply bounced off the surface and didn’t leave a dent on it.

Finally it was time for Jayne to go back to the city. She didn’t want to leave, convinced the shed had been sent by aliens, but her parents told her she had to go back to school.

Reluctantly she bid a farewell to her grandparents and went home.

July 20th 2524

A few months had passed since she had last been to see her grandparents. The summer holidays had arrived and she was about to spend a good chunk of them in the wide-open air.

By this point the shed at the bottom of the garden had become forgotten. It had even become overgrown and when Jayne had asked her Granddad he had merely shrugged his shoulders and tell her that he didn’t have the time to get it sorted.

And that’s when Jayne found the key.

One morning she was out in the garden amongst the trees. It was a blazing hot sunny day and she was laid back on the grass, holding her fingers up to the sun and trying to shield her eyes. It was then that she saw an apple fall and land at the base of one of the tallest trees.

She quickly scrabbled up and ran to the bottom of the tree. She grabbed the apple and eyed it curiously. And that’s when she spotted the glinting piece of metal, partially covered by grass and dirt.

She reached for it. It was a key. Just an ordinary, metal key.

She turned it over and over in her hands. Could this be the one. Feeling her heart pumping faster and faster (she wasn’t really sure why), she ran over to the shed. She put the key into the lock and heard it clunk-clunk-clunk into place.

And then she turned.

At first it was stiff, but she turned a bit harder and the lock turned around with the key until.


The door creaked open.

Jayne took a step back, unsure of what to do. And then she pulled the door open and looked inside. The inside was black. Like a black void. No sign of light or anything. And it felt cold. She was sure she could hear the dripping of water echoing from somewhere inside the shed.

She suddenly felt a rush of fear, turned and ran back in the direction of the house.

A few minutes later she emerged with her Granddad, hobbling along beside her as she quickly explained finding the key and unlocking the door.

‘You should have got me first, Jayney,’ her Granddad was saying.

‘I know, I know,’ she said, ‘but look!’

She pointed into the shed.

‘It’s a bit dark.’

‘I told you that already, Granddad.’

Her Granddad plucked the torch from his trouser pocket, flicked it in the air and caught it. He looked down at her, his eyes twinkling with adventure. ‘Shall we go?’

Jayne smiled up at him and grabbed his hand. They both stepped into the shed.

The torch flashed around the inside of the shed. Except it wasn’t the inside of a shed at all. It was a bit too dark to make out, but it looked bigger on the inside than the outside.

Jayne’s Granddad stroked the top of his head. ‘What did your Grandma put in my coffee this morning?’

‘I told you it was from the aliens!’ said Jayne gleefully.

‘It must be some kind of government scientific thing.’

Jayne grabbed the torch off him and stepped a little further in. The room was about the size of a reasonably sized living room. The walls were gun-metal grey and set at regular intervals, about 5-inches into the wall, were black circles. There were no other doors in the room, just the ones they’d entered through. Sat in the middle of the room was a five sided computer console with a glass tube rising from the console and into the ceiling.

Jayne ran over to the console and pressed a few buttons.

‘No, Jayne,’ scolded her Granddad.

But it was too late. In the corner of the room there was a flash of light and standing there was a hologram of a tall man. He wore black, had grey hair tied into a pony tail and had a grey, goa-tee beard.

Jayne panicked and stepped back.

The man flickered and spoke.

‘This is Battle TARDIS 80-Q-S. If you are seeing this message then you are an illegal entrant into the capsule. I am General Helix of the 5th Infantry. It is recommended that you abandon this capsule immediately. All power has been shut down. The capsule will be collected by Time Lord rescue capsules within the next few minutes. Once again, you must leave this capsule immediately.’

The figure of the General flickered and then faded away.

And nothing happened.

Erring on the side of caution, Jayne and her Granddad did as they were told and exited the shed. They waited for a few minutes, but there weas no sign of any “rescue capsules”.

After going back in again and trying a few of the controls, they discovered they couldn’t activate the hologram again. They couldn’t get anything to work.

After a few hours of trying, Jayne’s Granddad decided it was best they lock it up.

‘What are you going to do now, Granddad?’ asked Jayne as they wandered back to the house.

‘I’ll have to call the government. They’ll have to take it away.’

‘No,’ whined Jayne. ‘Can’t you keep it here?’

‘It’s obviously government property, sweetheart. We can’t keep it here.’

‘But what if the Time Lords come looking for it? Surely they’d be mad if you let it go.’

He looked down at her.

‘Please, Granddad. Please don’t get rid of it. If someone wants it then they’ll know where to go.’

‘Okay, okay,’ he said, ‘but at the first sign of trouble I’m calling the government. And we’ll talk about this tomorrow.’

‘Good,’ smiled Jayne. ‘When I’m older, I’m gonna find a way to make that thing fly. It’s gotta be a spaceship after all, right?’

He laughed at her as they stepped into the house.

Jayne looked back at the shed. It was still and quiet. She smiled. ‘One day, I’ll make you fly.’

Next: Jayne, 20 years later, and Torchwood. Coming Tuesday 1st October.

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