On Earth, this would have been a Sunday afternoon. When they first set up home in Liverpool, Marion and Kristoph would enjoy these quiet peaceful afternoons together. They sometimes went out in Kristoph’s beautiful classic car, driving over to New Brighton or along the coast to Southport, or out into the Lancashire countryside.

Sometimes they would go much further in the TARDIS – to a musical in New York or a play in Victorian London. Or if they didn’t feel like going anywhere at all they would sit in their comfortable living room reading and listening to music.

On Gallifrey, this day was called S?re, and to Gallifreyans it was a similar sort of day – a quiet one. It was often spent in meditations that came close to religious practices. Kristoph always made sure he could spend part of his morning doing so. But he was a family man and he didn’t immerse himself in the fifteen or twenty hour rites like other Time Lords. He always emerged from his Meditation Room in time for lunch with Marion and Rodan. Then in the afternoon they might drive to the Lodge or to the Dower House to spend time with his parents. Or they might have an offworld trip in the TARDIS.

Or sometimes they just sat in their elegant drawing room, quietly reading and listening to music and watching Rodan play with her toys under the careful eye of her nursemaid.

And that was what they were doing on a S?re afternoon that they didn’t expect to be any different from so many other such afternoons. It was cold outside. Snow fell steadily from a dark orange-yellow sky. The formal garden was already deeply covered and boasted six tall, dignified snowmen from a Stón afternoon in which Kristoph had forgotten his Time Lord dignity in favour of enjoying that precious time with Rodan.

Today was just a bit too cold even for that. They were all happy to be close to the roaring fire that gave off a pleasant scent of burning Cúl nut wood.

Mid-afternoon, though, their tranquillity was disturbed by a scream. It was a penetrating scream with a Doppler effect as the screamer ran down the stairs to the hall.

Kristoph was on his feet at once. He told Marion to stay where she was, but with a quick word to the nursemaid she rushed after her husband.

It was one of the maids who was screaming. Caolin reached her first, but she was too hysterical to make any sense when he questioned her.

“Quietly, girl,” Kristoph said, touching her gently on the forehead and calming her until she was able to talk coherently about what could have happened in his house that scared her so very much.

“Up… up there, sir,” she managed to say. “In… the… portal room…”

“My portal?” Marion asked. “What could…”

The girl breathed deeply but seemed unable to explain herself further. Rosanda came to her husband’s side and Kristoph told her to take the girl to the butler’s quarters and take care of her. She did so as Kristoph and Caolin headed upstairs.

Marion was concerned for the maid, but she knew Rosanda could look after her. She followed her husband and his butler. If there was something wrong with the portal she used to get to Earth then she wanted to know about it. Kristoph, in any case, was too concerned to even realise she was there as they reached the east wing landing and he reached to open the door to the Portal room.

The Wardrobe door was half open, and the reason for the maid’s distress was obvious. A body had tumbled out onto the floor. A body in a very distressing state. It looked as if the skin and most of the flesh beneath had been flayed off, exposing the ribs and internal organs. The face was a bloody mess with the eyeballs burnt out and the teeth set in a rictus grin without lips or flesh around the chin.


Kristoph knelt beside the body using his sonic screwdriver to scan it carefully.

“This… is what happens when an unauthorised body travels in a time portal,” he said as he held the tip of the screwdriver close to, but not touching the bloody carcass. “Especially a Human one.”


“This blood is red,” he pointed out.

“How… did a Human… get into my portal?” Marion asked. “What happened? Who is he?”

“I have no idea,” Kristoph replied.

“Sir… we should make the body decent,” Caolin said. “There is linen in the storeroom... It should be wrapped…”

“Yes, please do that,” Kristoph said. Then Marion squealed in shock.

“He moved!” she exclaimed. “Kristoph.. he’s alive.”

“He can’t be. It’s not possible. No Human could….”

He turned back to look at the body. The sonic screwdriver buzzed. It was reading a heartbeat. The lungs, beneath the bloody and exposed ribcage expanded as the victim took a ragged breath.

“Oh!” Marion clapped her hand over her mouth and tried to suppress a sob. “Oh… he can’t… Please… end it… Don’t let him suffer like that. He’d be better off dead… Kristoph… you can do that… you can…”

Kristoph was a little surprised that she should suggest something as desperate as euthanasia, though looking at the pathetic sight before him, he understood why she would think it.

Then the victim screamed. It was a scream filled with unimaginable pain and suffering.

“It’s all right,” Kristoph told him. “I’m going to do what I can. Just hang in there.”

He adjusted the sonic screwdriver and passed it close to the victim’s forehead. His scream stopped as Kristoph sent him into a merciful and painless sleep. Then he turned to Caolin. “The linen is still needed. We need to try to move him, as carefully as possible.”

Caolin nodded and went to do his master’s bidding. Marion stepped closer. The sight of the pitiful wreck of a Human being appalled her, but she couldn’t turn away if she tried.

“I don’t understand,” she said. “How can he be alive… like that?”

“I don’t completely understand it myself. But this Human is saturated with Artron energy…”

“The stuff that makes Time Lords regenerate… that mends their bodies when they’re injured…”

“Yes. And… it’s very slowly mending his. I am almost sure he was dead when I first looked at him. Then the heart started up again… the lungs. And…”

“But what kind of life is that? It’s terrible… He’s…”

She stared at the victim and blinked. She looked closer. It actually did look as if the flesh was repairing. It didn’t look quite so raw and bloody now.

“Do you mean that…”

“I don’t know. This shouldn’t even be happening. He should be dead. But he’s not. And I have a duty to care for him. Beyond that, I don’t know anything.”

Caolin returned with a stack of clean white linen sheets. Marion stepped back as Kristoph gently lifted the poor victim’s body and the butler slid one of the sheets under him. Then they carefully wrapped the linen around the torn, raw flesh until only the mouth and nose and eye sockets were exposed to the air. Between them they lifted him from the floor.

“Bring him to our bedroom,” Marion said. “It’s the closest. This has got to be hurting him. Don’t make it worse than it has to be.”

That made sense. Kristoph and Caolin carefully carried the wrapped victim to the master bedroom. Marion brought the spare sheets and laid them over the bed before they placed him on it.

“Marion… you should go and sit with Rodan,” Kristoph said. “Caolin and I can take care of him.”

She looked at the figure lying on her bed. He was breathing still. She could see the linen cloth moving up and down. But his face was still a terrible sight.

Even so…

“No, let me stay,” she said. “Rodan will be all right for a while. He was hurt by my Portal. I feel as if I’m responsible for him.”

“For the time being, we’re all responsible for him,” Kistoph answered. “All right. But sit down. This could take a long time.”

Marion sat. Kristoph sent Caolin on another errand and then sat beside her. He took her hand gently in his.

“If he survives, then we might at least find out what he was doing in the Portal,” she said.

“Most likely he was a burglar who bit off more than he could chew. I’ll take him back to a nice warm police cell later.”

That was the most likely scenario, of course. Who else could have come across the portal locked in the flat above the Chinese restaurant in Upper Duke Street. Even so, Marion felt sorry for the terrible agony he had gone through and she was glad Kristoph had been able to relieve his suffering by sending him to sleep.

He WAS getting better. After an hour, that much was obvious. The flesh was coming back. The missing parts of his face were reforming.

After another half hour it was obvious that new skin was forming. It was raw, red skin that looked as if it had been burnt alive, but it was skin. Kristoph unwrapped the sheets and confirmed that the skin was forming over the whole of the body.

“Definitely Human,” Caolin observed. “Male… but no way to tell how old he is at this stage or…”

“Marion,” Kristoph said. “I think, now, you should step out of the room for a little while. Give us half an hour.”

Marion wondered why he had said that. Then she noticed Caolin pass him a folded pair of cotton pyjamas. She had seen the body when it was little more than raw meat, but Kristoph didn’t want her looking at him now he was a whole but naked man. She quietly left the room as her husband and his faithful butler tended to the mystery man. She went downstairs and found Rodan having her tea with the nursemaid. She sat with her for a little while before going back upstairs to her room.

The patient was looking better now. He was dressed in the pyjamas and Kristoph had put him into the bed properly. His skin was still red but Marion was glad to see his face properly formed. He had eyelids protecting newly restored eyeballs, nostrils, lips. There was hair starting to grow on his scalp.

“It’s a miracle,” she said as she sat beside the bed and reached out to touch the mystery man’s hand. That, too, was reddened, but he had fingernails and skin on his fingers and palms.

His hand closed over hers. She was surprised by that.

“He’s still deeply unconscious,” Kristoph confirmed. “But that’s a good sign. He’s responding to outside stimuli. He has a nervous system capable of receiving the stimuli. Even if he is a burglar, you keep on holding his hand, sweetheart. He needs you.”

“He’s…” Marion looked at the almost restored face. There was much more hair on the head now and his features were properly formed. “Oh…” She looked more closely at his face. She clung to his hand still, but now she reached with her other hand and stroked his cheek. “Oh… Kristoph… I know who he is. He’s not a burglar. He’s… He’s the one I told you about… the one I met last year in Liverpool… the Captain from Torchwood.”