Friday, 6 August 2010

I Know I Parked It Somewhere


It was the early hours of the morning in a city square somewhere in England. The square was illuminated by the moonlight, like a clearing in the forest of buildings surrounding it, as if this were an area buildings didn’t dare infringe upon. All that was, apart from two squat, oval concrete and steel figures, one each side of the square; two of the buildings known as ‘superloos’, the only structures in the otherwise empty field of concrete.

One of these buildings stood alone and unbothered; the other was under attack. A young man kicked the concrete walls and hammered on the curved chrome door; he banged his fist upon the steel panel on the side, all the time swearing and cursing as though the structure itself had somehow offended him.

An older man, wearing a long overcoat, despite the warm night, emerged from the shadows. “Are you ok?” he asked. “You look like something’s bothering you.”

“This bloody thing has done me,” the younger man replied, “It’s taken my last coin and the flaming door won’t open; I’m absolutely desperate to go.”

“So do you want the door open? Or are you trying to get your money back?”

“Either will do at the moment. I need to pee, badly,” came the reply. “Listen mate, you wouldn’t have any change would you? There’s another loo over there, and I’m going to have to go soon or I’ll wet myself.”

The look on the older man’s face was one of concern, mixed with mild revulsion. He watched the younger man as he hopped from foot to foot, screwing up his face in an expression of agony. It puzzled him. “Are you sure you’re not ill?” he asked, “You look as though you’re in pain, perhaps suffering some kind of injury.”

“I just need to pee!” shouted the younger man, “Why do you keep asking me if I’m ok? Are you a doctor or something?”

“Yes, a doctor... or something,” said the older man thoughtfully, “I’m sorry I have no change. I don’t carry... change. Don’t often carry money at all to be honest.”

With that, he approached the steel panel on the side of the concrete structure. It seemed undamaged despite the other man’s attack. He placed a hand either side of the coin slot and stroked downward. There was a metallic clink as something dropped into the cup for returned coins. He turned and presented the coin to the other man who grabbed it and, without even thanking his benefactor, raced to the matching building on the other side of the square.

The older man watched until his former associate had successfully entered the other structure, then he looked at the one he stood by; he shook his head then approached the steel door. Another pass of his hands, and the door silently slid open.

The doctor, for it was indeed he: The Doctor, stepped inside and closed the door behind him.

The Doctor travelled alone these days. He’d had his fill of companions; indeed it was a companion who’d persuaded him to repair the Tardis’ chameleon circuit.

“Why a police box?” she had asked, “If it’s supposed to blend in with its surroundings, when did a police box not look out of place?”

He’d had to admit there was only a short period of time in the late 1950s and early 1960s when the sight of a police box wouldn’t be looked upon as being out of the ordinary, and then only on Earth and only within large British towns and cities: absolutely anywhere else in the universe, or at any other time and it stuck out like a sore thumb.

“You can fix anything Doctor,” his pushy companion had said, “Don’t tell me a mere faulty chameleon circuit is beyond your abilities.”

It was true; he’d left the Tardis with the same appearance, never attempting to repair the broken circuit. The truth was he quite liked the blue box look; and the fact that it did actually look out of place in most environments, meant that he never had any trouble spotting it, when he wasn’t quite sure where he’d parked.

Since making the suggested repairs though, he’d had all kinds of problems. On his last visit to the forest planet of Chimera IV, his departure had been somewhat delayed while he determined which of the hundreds of trees had a door in it. Then on the desert planet of Manussa, he should have realised that the Tardis would take the shape of a rock, and in a landscape comprised totally of sand and rocks, a really big rock like the Tardis, was absolutely bound to be prized by the natives and dragged away.

He’d set off on this latest journey, letting the Tardis choose its own destination, and was due to materialize again soon. He checked his instruments. Ah! Britain again. It seemed the Tardis had a liking for Britain. The time period was mid sixties. The Doctor half hoped that the Tardis might revert to its familiar shape for this visit, but he realised he was due to land on the rural Lincolnshire coast, so a police box would hardly be a likely shape.

He landed; it would be nice to spend a day or two at the seaside. The sun was just coming up, so The Doctor decided to do some exploring while there were few people about.

He walked toward the beach and eventually people started emerging from little brown and white houses as he passed. He wondered why all the houses were the same. A big sign above his head read “Butlins”. That sparked a memory, and suddenly he realised he hadn’t looked at the Tardis before he walked away from it.

He raced back to his landing site and looked out over a thousand identical chalets. An old man nearby spoke to him: “Look at ‘em, all the same. Which one’s yours?”

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