January 2nd 2544
Twenty years had past since that long, hot summer when Jayne had found the shed. And in twenty years she had followed her dream. She had always wanted to investigate aliens, and so she had found the secretly government funded Torchwood Institute. Torchwood had been around during the 20th century and the early part of the 21st, but it had fallen on hard times and had almost been lost to the mists of time.
But, as with most things, the Institute had been revived and was currently enjoying a new lease of life. Now, however, it had branched out across the planet with locations in Cardiff, London, Paris, Los Angeles, Canberra, New Delhi and many, many others places.
And the teams were bigger. There were many more people working at each branch now. Each branch had a head and a team of scientists.
Jayne had spent most of her life studying and preparing herself for eventual space travel when she stumbled upon Torchwood purely by accident. Her friend, Margot, had dropped it into conversation that she was starting this new job and she’d be investigating alien appearances.
The rest was history. She’d been at her job for the last 5 years and had worked her way up to head of Torchwood LA. She loved her job. She was married to her job. She was doing what she loved, but so far she hadn’t really had any encounters with aliens, only with alien artefacts, and this frustrated her. Just recently they had stopped coming to Earth. A far cry from the Dalek invasions of a few centuries ago.
Jayne had quite a decent, diverse team. There was Ben Featherstone, the young medical student who was on attachment to Torchwood. He was always slightly nervous, but this was one of his endearing qualities. Jayne was over ten years older than him and had taken him under her wing.
Margot Dunlop, her friend, was her second in command. She was a biologist and would often come across as being a little frosty with people, but underneath that frosty surface was a warm and kind heart. She and Margot had been friends since their schooldays.
April Nivere was a different kettle of fish. She was older than most of them and had her own agenda. Jayne wasn’t sure what it was, and she was a little weary of her, but her interest in archaeology was what kept her in the group.
Donald Turner and his wife Lilly Turner were older members of the group as well. They were both interested in the technical aspects of the alien equipment, and, although Jayne didn’t agree on bringing relationships into the workplace, the two of them worked well together.
And then there was the other couple. A young, beautiful couple in their twenties. Tom and Rebecca Farrington. They were also interested in the archaeology angle of their investigations, but Jayne always had a feeling that the two of them didn’t belong there and she worried that eventually their relationship would be the undoing of them.
On this particularly cold, January morning, Jayne woke to some bad news. She heard the “Mail Delivery” beeper sound on her desk-computer and, realising that she needed to get up for work anyway, got herself out of bed and sat down at the desk.
And then she read the message waiting for her…
Her Granddad had died peacefully in his sleep the night before.
She closed the screen of her computer and let out a huge sigh. She had known it wouldn‘t be long. He was already 89 and his health had deteriorated rapidly over the last year or two. But it was still a shock.
She felt overcome with emotional and so went to run herself a shower. She stood under the hot water for a long, long time feeling the tears fall freely and mix and mingle with the water.
The funeral was a week later. It was a moving, but simple affair. Jayne didn’t have time to hang around though. She had disconnected herself from her divorced parents a number of years ago when they complained about her spending too much time at work. She had not understood their frustrations and had asked them to respect her decisions in life.
So she had paid her respects in the frosty graveyard and made her way back to work.
This particular HQ of Torchwood was built underneath the Hollywood Hills sign. Why? Jayne didn’t have a clue. Apparently it was tradition back in the day to have the Torchwood HQ underneath or within a notable landmark. She always found it funny that Torchwood London was now underneath the New London Eye.
After driving up the road to the sign, she reached the concealed lift in the middle of dense bushes and descended down into the base.
As she appeared she heard the familiar voice of Tom Farrington.
‘Oh, her Ladyship puts in an appearance at last!’ he laughed.
Rebecca looked at him with daggers. ‘Funeral, Tom! Funeral!’
‘Oh yeah, sorry Jayne,’ said Tom quickly.
‘No problem, Tom,’ said Jayne as the lift reached the bottom. She stepped off the lift platform and surveyed her team. All of them were looking at her, waiting for her to speak. ‘I don’t want any of you to pussyfoot around me, please. Me and my Grandfather were close, but I’m okay. Really, I am.’
‘We’re really sorry for your loss,’ said Rebecca, speaking for the whole team.
‘Thank you, Rebecca. Thank you.’ She smiled. ‘Now, back to work.’
The room became a hive of activity again. The main hub of the centre was circular. The lift Jayne had stepped off led to a platform and a walkway that ran around the circumference of the room, effectively creating an upper level to the room.
Below was the main area with various doors leading off. In the centre was the main computer console and around the walls, banks of instruments, screens, computers…it looked like what it was: a research facility.
Jayne walked down the steps leading from the platform and headed towards the doorway that led to her adjacent office.
It was a small room with a simple, mahogany table inside and a map of the galaxy on the wall behind her.
A small, blonde woman with long curly hair followed her in. She was dressed in a smart, black jacket, blouse and skirt and sat down at the table opposite Jayne.
‘You sure you’re alright?’ asked Margot.
Jayne nodded. ‘I’ll be fine. I hadn’t spoken to him in a couple of months.’
‘Was he ill?’
‘He’d been getting worse over the past few years, but nobody really wanted to admit it.’
Margot smiled sadly. ‘At least he’s at peace.’
Margot cleared her throat and pulled a data pad from underneath the desk. ‘We had a delivery,’ she said, changing the conversation.
‘A delivery?’ said Jayne, reading the pad.
‘Yeah. A big, metal crate. It’s down in the storage room.’
‘Who’s it from?’
‘I haven’t got a clue. I didn’t know whether to open it or not. I called President Harkness and he just told us to go with gut feelings.’
Jayne nodded. ‘Let’s go unwrap our present then.’
Jayne, Margot, Donald and Lilly stood in front of the crate. They had run the usual tests, but it hadn’t shown any signs that it was dangerous.
‘Okay,’ said Jayne, ‘open it up.’
‘You sure about this, Miss Robson?’ asked Donald.
‘Don, just open the damn thing. We’re too overly cautious sometimes.’
Donald sighed and pulled out the cutting torch. Eventually, after a few minutes, he had managed to cut the front panel off and it came crashing to the floor with a bang.
Standing inside the crate made Jayne’s heart leap. It was the old, wooden shed that she and her Grandfather had found in his garden all those years ago. It’s wood was slightly worn down and it looked like it had seen better days, but it was the same shed.
‘A shed?’ said Lilly, a little disappointed.
‘I’d almost forgotten,’ said Jayne, trying not to laugh with delight.
‘What is it?’ asked Margot, stepping towards it.
‘It’s a TARDIS.’
‘You’re joking! An actual, real life TARDIS?’
Jayne nodded. ‘Yep. It landed at the bottom of my Grandads garden when I was eleven.’
‘Don’t you think Head Office should be informed of this?’ asked Donald, lifting the visor on his welding mask.
‘No way,’ said Jayne. ‘If they found out we’d got a TARDIS down here they’d send in the heavies and we’d never see it again.’
Margot stepped forward. There was a note scribbled on lined paper attached to the door of the shed. She handed it to Jayne.
If you’ve finally received this then it means that I’ve no doubt shaken off this mortal coil. I know this meant a lot to you when you were a kid. You spent days hanging around it, pretending it was a spaceship. You always said you wanted to make it fly. Well, now’s your chance.
Take care, sweetheart
Jayne finished reading the note, trying to hold back the tears and remain composed in front of the others.
‘What do we do?’ asked Margot, running her hand along the wood and gazing up wide-eyed at it.
Jayne smiled. ‘We make it fly.’
The next few months were spent in and around the shed-TARDIS. Jayne had also been sent the key to the box, which she hung on a chain around her neck. They had continued to operate in secret, deciding not to report their finding to Head Office. The President of Torchwood meant well, but he was always eager to carry out the work for himself. Jayne didn’t want anybody other than her team getting a hold of this.
It was on a cold and frosty Monday morning when Jayne’s brother, Brandon, managed to talk his way in for a visit with his sister.
Brandon was a skinny, slightly weedy looking guy with thick, bushy auburn hair. He wasn’t the most attractive of people, but he had made a name for himself working as a reporter for the LA Times.
‘Hey, Sis,’ said Brandon.
‘What are you doing here?’ smiled Jayne, running and giving him a hug.
‘Just thought I’d come visit you.’
‘Don’t lie,’ she said, smacking him on the shoulder.
‘Okay,’ he said, ‘I heard Granddad had sent you the old shed.’
‘You heard right,’ said Jayne, escorting him from the platform down into the central area to where the shed was standing, surrounded by Thomas, Rebecca and the others.
‘Wow!’ said Brandon. ‘It looks just the same.’
Brandon had been in the shed before, but he had never taken as much of an interest as Jayne had. He was always more interested in the real world, rather than fantasy.
‘Now,’ said Jayne, sitting him down at one of the desks. ‘Tell me why you’re really here.’
‘I told you-’
‘Don’t lie, Brandon,’ said Jayne, holding a finger up to him. ‘You know a story when you see one. “TORCHWOOD WORK ON MYSTERIOUS TIME MACHINE”’
Brandon shook his head. ‘It’s not like that.’
‘It better not be. Because I don’t want anyone else knowing about this.’
‘I know, I know,’ said Brandon, ‘but if you do get it working, then I’d at least like to be here and take some notes, just in case you ever do decide to let anyone else know about this.’
‘Okay,’ said Jayne, nodding slowly, ‘but you leave your notes with me.’
‘Don’t you trust me?’ said Brandon, sounding hurt.
‘No,’ laughed Jayne.
Suddenly there was a cry of delight from inside the shed and a humming of power.
‘I’ve done it!’ shouted April Nivere from within the shed. ‘I got the power back on.’
‘Jesus…!’ said Jayne, jumping up from the desk and running into the shed.
It hadn’t changed inside. The same console, the same gun-metal grey walls and dark, indented circles, but now the power was on and lights were shining down all around. Buttons and LED’s and lights flickered and blinked on the console, and the white-crystal-like structure inside the time rotor tube glowed.
‘What did you do?’ asked Jayne.
‘I managed to bypass the circuits. I re-routed the power from the central core of Torchwood HQ and jump-started this console.’ April looked very pleased with herself, a smile playing across her round face.
‘Look at this,’ said Rebecca with glee in her voice. ‘It’s the flight records of the ship.’
Thomas pushed in front of his wife to get a look.
‘Hey!’ said Rebecca, whacking him on the back.
‘Alright, calm down folks,’ said Jayne.
Thomas looked down at the data. ‘Looks like it was travelling at a massive speed through the space/time vortex and it was damaged. Whoever was inside at the time abandoned ship. Wow! He must have fallen through the vortex. Poor bloke. Then it went into low power when it crashed in your Granddads garden. And then it finally shut down.’
‘Let’s take it for a spin!’ said Brandon, excitedly.
‘No,’ said Donald. ‘We need to run more tests on it.’
‘The only way we’re going to be able to run tests on it is whilst it’s in flight,’ said Thomas, squaring up to Don. Thomas and Donald had never really gotten on. Don was older than him and often felt as though Thomas was being a little reckless in his enthusiasm for all things alien.
‘Easy, easy,’ said Lilly, putting a hand on Don’s shoulder. ‘There’s no harm in us taking it for a spin, is there?’
‘I think Jayne should decide on this one,’ said Margot, looking across at their commanding officer.
Jayne nodded. She knew it was irresponsible, but this was something she had wanted to do since being eleven years old. This was what her whole career had led to.
She took a deep breath.
‘Right. Okay, we’ll go.’
‘Yes!’ said Thomas, clenching his fists.
‘But we all go. Rebecca, you’ve been studying the schematics we got from Head Office regarding TARDIS control. See what you can do. Margot, Thomas, Donald, Lilly, Brandon, April…where’s Ben?’
‘Here,’ said Ben. ‘Sorry, I had a few medical samples I had to get into the cryo-chamber.’
‘Right. Everybody what they need. We need as much equipment as we can get. And gather up a few of the rest of the science bods, yeah? We’re going for an adventure in time and space.’
The group cheered. All except Don. He turned to Lilly. ‘She’s acting like she’s eleven again. This is all going to end in disaster.’
Next time: Bang! Coming Friday October 4th.