He stared at the computer screen and tried to remember what it was he was supposed to be typing.

“Order number….” He looked at the hand-filled form from the parks and gardens department. “56734. Spades, aluminium, quantity, 3, ordered by, Mr. G. Rawlings, Authorisation Date, 4/03/2010. Enter.” He put the form requesting three new spades on the ‘done’ spike and squinted at the handwriting on the next form, wondering for a moment why Mr. Rawlings also wanted a set of gold paste.

“Goal Posts!” he thought. Goal posts, for the park, obviously. What would anyone need with gold paste?

“Oi!” A strident voice penetrated his thoughts. “Aren’t you done yet? It’s four-thirty. Those orders need to be processed before you knock off. You’re not on flexi-time, you know.”

He sighed and started to fill in the next order on the computerised system, wondering why somebody didn’t just get Mr. Rawlings and the rest of them laptops so they could put their own orders in for spades and goal posts or gold paste for that matter.

“Because then you’d be out of a job, stupid,” his inner voice told him.

“Not sure I’d care,” he answered himself in reply. “Thirty-five years old, post graduate and still just a glorified typist in the city council requisitions department. Call that a life?”

He started to type faster. He certainly wasn’t putting in any unpaid overtime. Nobody, not even himself, noticed how fast he was going. His fingers were a blur as they moved across the keyboard and he flicked the handwritten order forms onto the spike every few seconds.

He was finished. He pressed enter for the last time then sent the whole day’s requisitions to be printed off upstairs in the print room. He sat back and looked out of the window at the dark, rainswept street below. It looked cold, but it would be refreshing after being stuck in this stuffy office all day.

He pressed ‘ok’ to acknowledge the print run had finished. That was the end of his responsibility for it. He pulled the pile of requisition forms off the spike and dumped them in the waste bin, shut down his terminal and then sat until the office clock’s hands turned to five o’clock before he stood up, pulled his long tanned coat off the hook and put it on.

“Goodnight, Dave,” Jill, the junior input clerk said. Mike, the supervisor and Fiona the office assistant said the same.

“Goodnight,” he replied to them all as he exited the door. “See you tomorrow.”

“Not if I see you first,” Jill answered impishly. He sighed. How many people in offices all over the country were doing that same joke right now?

“Two and a half million,” a voice in his head replied. “Boring, isn’t it.”

“Very boring. I hate this life.”

Was this really all there was, he thought as he trudged through the rain to the bus stop, looking for his bus pass in his pocket. He couldn’t find it. He stopped for a moment in the shelter of the strange old blue police box that had stood on the corner for as long as he could remember. He had walked past it every day he had worked at City Hall. Never gave it a passing thought.

But WHY was it there, he wondered. They stopped using those things nearly fifty years ago. Why had it never been shifted? It must be a museum piece by now.

He read the notice. He had never actually read it before. “Police Telephone. Free for the Use of Public. Advice and Assistance Available Immediately. Officers and Cars respond to Urgent Calls. Pull to Open.

He pulled. He didn’t know why he did it. Something inside made him want to do it. He pulled and the little cupboard opened with an old fashioned telephone inside - the sort where you put a sort of cup-shaped receiver to your ear and spoke through a grill on the phone itself.

“Hello,” he said. “Help me. I am trapped in the most boring job in the universe.”

There was no response. He never expected there to be one. He put the receiver back on the hook and closed the door before anyone saw him. He found his bus pass and ran to the stop by the shoe shop as his bus drew up.

“I hate my life,” he said as he rested his head on the back of the seat in front.

“Have mine, instead,” said a plump girl in the seat opposite. She wore an apron with grease marks that suggested she spent her days in front of a chip fryer and she looked tired. She had a pleasant Welsh accent and he wondered vaguely what brought a girl from Wales to work in a chippy in this wretched city.

He grinned at her.

“On the whole… maybe not.” He looked at her and was about to call her by her name when he remembered he didn’t even KNOW her name.

He had those moments sometimes - like the super-fast typing, like looking at the sign telling people how to get off the bus in an emergency and being able to immediately recite the instructions in German, French, Italian, Welsh, and a dozen other languages, even though the sign was only written in English.

The same weirdness told him that this girl who he had never seen before, was called Blodwyn.

“My stop,” he said after a while. He stood up and rang the bell and the driver stopped the bus. “Goodnight, Blodwyn,” he said. Her head jerked around from where she was idly looking out of the window. Her mouth opened in surprise. He smiled at her and stepped off the bus. He saw her looking at him, still opened mouthed, as the bus continued down the road.

It had stopped raining the next morning when he made the journey in reverse. He got off the bus opposite the shoe shop and crossed the road. He walked past the strange old blue box, across the railway bridge and in through the main door of City Hall along with all the other wage slaves programmed to switch off their dreams and switch on their computers when the clock struck nine. He thought dismally of Mr Rawlings and his almost daily orders for new spades and wondered idly how come he got through so many of them.

He stopped. He looked around. Somebody bumped into him and apologised. Somebody else bumped into him and moaned at him for getting in their way.

He suddenly couldn’t remember what he was doing there - or why.

He couldn’t remember who he was.

He turned around and headed towards the door. That was easier said than done. It was like swimming against the tide of incoming workers.

He caught a glimpse of himself in the glass panelled door as he went out. He was startled. He didn’t recognise his own face.

What had he expected it to look like?

He wasn’t sure.

“Dave?” He didn’t respond to the woman who called him by name at first. Because he didn’t realise she was talking to him.

He didn’t think his name WAS Dave.

“Dave, are you coming? It’s nearly nine.” It was Fiona from the office.

“No,” he said. “I’m… I’m going home. I don’t feel very well, suddenly.”

“Could be flu,” she said. “Lot of it going about. Buy yourself some lemons and honey and a bottle of whiskey on the way home.”

“Might just do that,” he responded and waved at her as he pushed open the door with the reflection that he didn’t recognise of a man who was apparently called Dave.

He walked as far as the bus stop next to the shoe shop. There was a reflective glass panel in the shoe shop window display, making it look as if single shoes were actually pairs. He never quite understood why they did that. He stood and looked at himself. After about five minutes he accepted that the slim thirty something in a tan coloured topcoat, brown pinstripe suit and white canvas shoes with slightly unruly brown hair, soft brown eyes and a cheeky looking smile WAS him. That WAS his face, and it WAS his body.

But no way he was called Dave.

And no way was he a boring keyboard puncher in a boring office.

The bus came. He let it go by. He wasn’t going home. He vaguely remembered there was a dismal sort of bedsit he slept in at nights, but he knew perfectly well that wasn’t his home, any more than his name was DAVE.

He stepped off the pavement, and jumped back on again as a white van sped by, horn blaring and the driver giving him a signal that was actually a term of endearment on several other planets, but here on Earth a term of abuse.

What the hell was he saying? What was that about other planets? He looked this time before he crossed the road and went into the greasy spoon café that he was fairly sure he had never entered before in his life. He went to the counter and ordered the all day big breakfast and a mug of tea, two sugars, and sat down. A few minutes later the waitress brought him the mug of tea and told him there were no hash browns and would he like a portion of beans instead.

“I’d like you to sit here and talk to me, Blodwyn,” he answered even before he looked up at the girl he had seen for the first time on the bus last night.

Or had he?

How do you know that’s my name?” she asked. “What’s going on? Who ARE you?”

“That’s a VERY good question,” he said. “Actually, three questions. I know you’re Blodwyn, but I have no idea what’s going on, and I don’t have a CLUE who I am. Except I’m damn sure I’m not Dave the requisitions clerk.”

“You’ve lost your memory?” Her eyes actually looked gentle and concerned. She grabbed a seat and sat down next to him. “You can’t remember anything? Did you have an accident or something?”

“I’ve lost a LOT,” he said. “Not just my memory. I’ve lost my life. And I know it was a bigger life than the one everyone else thinks I should be living.” He sipped the tea. “Nice tea. Funny that. I don’t know anything else, but I know I like two sugars in my tea.”

“Maybe you ought to go to a hospital,” Blodwyn suggested. “They could help you.”

“No,” he answered quickly. Very quickly. “No. No hospitals. Nobody examining me, probing me for my secrets.” He must have sounded aggressive then, even a bit unhinged, he thought. “Sorry… I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“How DO you know my name. Especially BLOWDYN. Nobody here knows me as that. It's just Wyn.”

“That’s right, it is, isn’t it.” He smiled. She smiled back. There was something about his smile that MADE you want to smile, she thought. She looked at him for a long moment. He seemed familiar to her. But she was sure she had never met him before last night on the bus.

And she was sure his name wasn’t Dave, too.

“Your name is Blodwyn Grant-Jones,” he said. “And you come from a small town in south Wales called Llanfairfach. Your mother and father are Cliff and Jo and you have three older brothers who drive you nuts. Rhys, Drew and Kian.”

“That’s scary,” she said. “How do you know that?”

“I don’t know,” he told her. “But I do. I know you, Wyn. Better than I thought I did. We’ve been friends for a long while now. No… not a long while, not really. But long enough to trust each other and believe in each other.”

“I almost think I believe you,” she said. “I am sure I know you, too.”

“What do you know about me?” he asked.

“I….” she paused. “I’m sorry. I don’t know. Nothing like you know about me. I don’t know where you’re from or if you have family, or anything. But I do know you. And… yes, I DO trust you.”

“Oi, taffy girl,” a voice called and a man in an apron stormed out from behind the counter. “What do you think you’re doing sitting around when there’s customers to be served?”

The man who definitely wasn’t called Dave looked around the café. It was empty other than him.

“Actually, I cancelled the breakfast. I was just so disappointed that the hash browns were off.”

“You ordered it. I’ve cooked it. You needn’t expect your money back,” the man growled. “And you, jump to it unless you want to be looking for another job.”

“Excuse me,” he said. “Miss Grant-Jones was talking to me. And as I said already, I don’t need serving. So why don’t you go clean your grill pan before it ignites from the build up of congealed fats and burns your tacky little café down.”

“Who are you to give me orders?” the café owner demanded.

“I’m The Doctor,” he replied, to his own surprise as well as anyone else’s. “Now run along.”

The man found himself, to HIS own surprise, doing as he was told.

“The Doctor?” Wyn looked at him. “Doctor who?”

“Why do I feel people have asked me that question a lot?” he asked. “Just The Doctor. That’s who I am.”

“Definitely not Dave?”

“Nope. Not Dave. Definitely not Dave. No idea who Dave is. Pity the poor sod. He’s got the most boring job in the world – well, except maybe for yours. But he’s definitely not me. I’m The Doctor.”

“Well, we’re getting somewhere,” Wyn said, “I’m Wyn, you’re The Doctor. We neither of us belong here.”

“That’s for sure. You come from Llanfairfach and I come from….” He stopped. No. He wasn’t sure about THAT yet.

But he knew he didn’t come from here.

He looked out of the café window, across the rainswept street to City Hall. It was an impressive Victorian building marred only by the monstrous sign up on the flat part of the roof. It was a huge coat of arms with the words City Hall on it and in slightly smaller letters the Latin motto Panem et Circenses.

Strange motto for a city, he reflected. And there was no mention of the name of the city, either. He supposed he ought to have been able to work it out from the design on the arms, but he wasn’t QUITE himself yet. He wasn’t up to doing pictogram puzzles.

“What’s the name of this city?” he asked.

“Well, that’s a silly question,” Wyn answered. “It’s…..” She stopped. She couldn’t remember either.

“Wait a minute,” she said. “It’ll come to me.”

They both thought about it. She remembered arriving here from Llanfairfach, hoping to find something more exciting than her parents’ farm and rural life in Wales. He was aware of Dave’s memory of moving from London because of a girl who came from up here who had dumped him two weeks into the new job.

“It’s just such a generic city,” The Doctor said. “Look at it. The same old shops you see anywhere. Nothing to distinguish it from anywhere else in Britain.”

Behind the counter the café owner was in the middle of cleaning his grill pan when he suddenly stopped and wondered why he was doing it. He came back to the table where The Doctor and Wyn were still trying to work out the name of the place they thought they had lived in for months.

“You’re fired,” the café owner said to Wyn.

“Ok,” she said. “It's a rubbish job anyway. I’ll have a cup of tea then, please. Two sugars.”

“You can get out of my café,” the owner growled. “And you as well.”

“I don’t think so,” The Doctor replied. “The young lady asked for tea. Go and see to it. And make sure the mug is clean and without chips.”

The café owner did as he was told then went back to cleaning the grillpan.

“How do you do that?” Wyn asked as she sipped her tea.

“I have no idea. It’s good though. I think I’ll make him clean the pizza oven next.”

“No, the sump under the sink unit. That’s yuckier,” Wyn grinned.

“Seriously,” The Doctor said, having put the idea of spending the day thoroughly cleaning his kitchen from top to bottom into the mind of the café owner. “What is going on? Why are we here? And where SHOULD we be?”

“I don’t know,” Wyn said. “But… the more I think about it, the more I know I’m not supposed to be here.”

“Me neither.” He glanced at Wyn and noticed something. “What’s that round your neck?” he asked. She pulled a chain out from under her apron. There was a key on it.

“Funny,” he said looking in his pocket. “I have one just exactly like that.” He compared his key to hers. They were exact duplicates. Right down to the unusual design on the fob. Six stars in a double arrowhead formation.

It was like he had turned a key in his head and opened up a cupboard full of his own memories.

“Kasterborus,” The Doctor said. Though for the moment he wasn’t sure what that meant. The memories were still jumbled up. They needed sorting out before they would make sense of all this.

“You can get pills for that,” Wyn told him.

“It's the constellation where my planet is,” he said, very slowly as the memory crawled back into his mind as if it had walked a long way to get there and was tired.

“You come from another planet?” She looked at him, but not in disbelief. Rather as if it was all, finally, coming together. “Oh my…. YES, you DO. Only… your planet….” Her face paled and she blinked back tears as she remembered. He looked as if he was remembering, too.

“Yes,” he said. “I know. Don’t… don’t go there. That’s one memory that I wish had stayed hidden a bit longer.”

“But if you’re an alien, how come you sound like you’re from London?”

“Somebody asked me a question like that before. I had a smart answer then, but right now I can’t think of one. But I am… I am an alien. I don’t come from Earth.” He glanced around the still empty café. “That’s right, Mr. Lang. Keep up the good work,” he called to the café owner. “Don’t forget to get into the corners REALLY well.”

“So where is your ship then?” Wyn asked. “If you’re an alien you must have a spaceship. Let’s get it and get out of this dump.”

“It’s over there,” he said, pointing to the blue box in the street as he stood up. He found money to pay for the two cups of tea. “I don’t think he deserves a tip.”

“That’s a funny looking space ship,” Wyn said as she ran to keep up with his long-legged stride.

“It's a disguise,” he explained.

“Funny disguise,” she said. “It sticks out a mile. Disguises should blend in.”

“Hidden in plain sight,” The Doctor told her. “Actually, when I first came here in the 1960s it was a terrible disguise. People kept trying to use the phone. These days people don’t take any notice. Sometimes they wonder what it is, but then they move on. It is Human nature to be curious and adventurous. But Human conditioning tells them they haven’t got time to be bothered with it.”

He reached the blue box and inserted his key in the lock. A memory from somewhere told him it had to be turned a certain way or some kind of nasty security system would kick in. He turned it the correct way.

“Did you miss me, old girl?” he said as he stepped inside the ship that he suddenly knew was called a TARDIS. He patted the strange looking console like a faithful dog. It responded by dimming the eerie green light in the centre momentarily.

“Doctor….” Wyn stood on the threshold and looked into the strange ship. It looked very familiar, but things had not quite slotted into place in her mind. She was not yet ready to step into the alien ship, not even for The Doctor.

“Grab her!” somebody yelled and Wyn found herself grabbed from behind and dragged away from the TARDIS door. She pulled it and it clicked shut as she was bundled into the car that drew up at the kerb. Two men in dark suits rattled the door in frustration but they could not open it again. She pushed her key down under her jumper as the car pulled away.

The Doctor saw her kidnapping on the TARDIS viewscreen. He had been in two minds - whether to run out and attempt to stop her being bundled into the car or to get a lock on the vehicle and trace its journey so that he could rescue her and, hopefully, find out what was going on at the same time.

He was glad he did the latter.

He was surprised where the car DID go.

“You’re LATE,” the receptionist at City Hall said as Dave from requisitions punched his time card.

“Traffic was murder,” he muttered and headed on in. He didn’t go anywhere NEAR requisitions, though. He was heading up to the top floor, following directions on a portable lifesigns monitor strapped to his wrist. It was not quite as effective as the one in the TARDIS. He only got clear signals for the floor he was on. But it was good enough. It showed him the way he needed to go to reach the section of City Hall that was off limits to all but certain personnel.

Right at the top, literally as well as figuratively. The Mayor’s suite.

“Can I help you?” the receptionist asked as he emerged from the stairwell.

“Probably not,” The Doctor answered. He made eye contact with the receptionist and smiled disarmingly. “The last time I had dealings with the Mayor of a city she turned out to be an alien in disguise. Just doing a routine check to make sure your one is fully Human.”

“Oh, that’s quite all right, sir,” the receptionist answered. “Go right in.”

He was getting good at that, he thought. Power of suggestion. But he couldn’t make a habit of it. It didn’t do Humans good to keep having their minds messed with, and he had a hunch a lot of people around here already DID have their minds pretty much scrambled.

He glanced at the lifesigns monitor. Actually, the Mayor WAS Human. No question. Humans showed as a pale blue on the monitor. And he was definitely pale blue, whatever his politics. There WERE a few aliens in the City Hall. There were a few red and yellow spots around, even a green. The receptionist out there was a pale purple. She probably didn’t even know that one of her parents wasn’t of Earth origin. Aliens had been coming to Earth for centuries in search of a place where life was a little better than where they came from. Despite being constantly at war with itself, Earth had no great interstellar conflicts and actually it was quite easy for humanoid species to adapt themselves into Earth society. He expected to find a sprinkling of them in a big building like this with so many workers. It was the one thing about the place that was NORMAL.

There was an irony there, but he couldn’t be bothered dwelling on it for too long.

He glanced at the monitor and noticed his own dark blue spot, Human mixed with Time Lord. A pure blood Gallifreyan would have been an even darker blue. His Human genes lightened it.

But he was still the only dark blue spot in the universe.

He sighed as that stray thought came into his mind.

He WOULD have been happy to keep THAT memory suppressed for a little while. Dave the requisitions clerk might have had a boring life, but at least it didn’t have the darkness in it that his own past had.

Dave’s memories were fading now. He examined them carefully before they went completely. They were VERY good. A whole life history of an ordinary man in an ordinary city: parents, school, work. Somebody had gone to great lengths to implant a convincing alternative life in his brain, even if it WAS a stultifyingly boring one.

Wyn’s had been less fictional. She knew where she came from, her family names. But her parents had been ordinary people, farmers, not the incredible, wonderful people they were, a former spy and a twice Nobel prize winner. And Wyn herself had been reduced from the bright, quick thinking girl he had so admired that he ASKED to take her along with him in the TARDIS, to somebody who served tea and chips and went home on the bus too tired to take off her apron, too weary to think for herself.

What was it all about? WHY were people being modified to make them into sheep? Too many Humans were already doing the kind of dull jobs his poor bloody alter ego did, mindlessly obeying orders from people no better than them, who happened to be their superiors in some office, going home, watching TV, saving for their holiday in the sun once a year, getting old before they even realised it.

Why make those few people who DO show a bit more spirit into the same unthinking sheep?


Humans who had travelled in the vortex also showed up differently. Wyn’s spot was pale blue, but with a white glow around the edge. It didn’t show up very well on the wrist monitor, but if he squinted at it he could make it out.

The door was locked, but the sonic screwdriver made short work of that. He remembered vaguely now that Dave had thought it was a torch. Good job he hadn’t fiddled with it. Could have had somebody’s eye out - probably his own.

There were eight people in the room altogether. Wyn was there, sitting on the front row of seats, along with two boys a little younger than her. They were sloppily dressed in t-shirts designed to shock the older generation along with baggy denims and dirty trainers that had the laces trailing and the inevitable baseball cap on backwards. Their faces were a bit grubby looking from traipsing around the streets most of the day, and they had the sullen scowls of teenagers who hated the world, hated their parents, hated everything. One of them had a bulging rucksack by his side. The other had a skateboard on the seat next to him.

Behind them on a row of seats all to herself was a girl, a little older, beautifully dressed in ‘goth’ clothing; black lace bodice, tight at the waist and a long skirt of deep red satin with a black overskirt of lace in a spider-web pattern. She had long black hair hanging loose, lots of black eyeliner and bright red lips like a classic female vampire.

Behind her were three adults and he could only hazard a guess at how they failed to conform to the acceptable type. They looked normal enough - a middle aged woman, a younger woman, and a middle aged man. Perhaps they listened to the wrong sort of music, he thought.

All of them were sitting there watching a TV screen. The Doctor could see what was on it better than anyone. Most of the frames were a hypnotic white beam of light that made the brain susceptible. Inbetween certain frames were subliminal images of acceptable behaviour for good citizenship - happy workers in a perfect office, well-behaved and tidy students in school, busy shoppers in the street.

The last missing piece fell into place. He remembered why he was here in the first place. He remembered seeing the reports about the city with the lowest crime, the lowest truancy and the lowest work absenteeism in Britain. He was immediately suspicious. Perfection usually only looked perfect on the outside. Inside it tended to have a rotten core. He and Wyn came to find it.

And they had walked right into the trap. His fault. He had underestimated the enemy. They had been caught. He remembered being put into the ‘educating’ room. He remembered feeling as if his brains wanted to crawl out of his ear even before they came to take him for final processing where they added the new identity to go with the reformed personality.

And then he had been Dave in Requisitions, bored stiff but knowing there was no alternative but to stick it out and hope for promotion in a couple of years.

But grafted memories were never going to stay grafted onto a Time Lord memory. His own sense of identity was too strong for it. Sooner or later he would have got himself back.

Nor did it take a LOT to break through to a bright Human like Wyn.

But now they had her again, ready to be programmed back into an obedient chip fryer.

But they didn’t have HIM. And this time his brain wasn’t going to be messed with.

He looked at the eight victims and then he turned and aimed the sonic screwdriver at the TV screen.

It fizzed and blew up. Even The Doctor was surprised at how quiet it suddenly was. He hadn’t realised that there had been a low kind of white noise in the background all the time he was in the room.

“Doctor!” Wyn jumped up from the seat and hugged him. “I knew you wouldn’t let me down. They couldn’t do it the second time, by the way. I could resist it all the way. You know, I’d only been doing that horrible job for a week. It felt like a LOT longer.”

“Yeah, did to me, too. I suppose that’s part of it. Who would question what was their life for as long as they could remember.”

The others were also starting to stir as the hypnotic effect wore off. The two juvenile delinquents swore rather disgustingly. He hoped at their age they didn’t actually know what the words meant, but considering what they had been put through he hardly blamed them. The Goth girl started to cry, spoiling her make up. The Doctor gave her a handkerchief as he turned to the adults.

“Who are you?” he asked them and discovered that the middle aged two were independent councillors, Mr and Mrs Norris, who had been distributing leaflets in the run up to the next local elections, questioning some of the policy decisions at City Hall. The young woman was a journalist called Nancy Watling, from the local paper, who had started to ask the same sort of questions that had brought him here in the first place.

“There’s some really funny stuff going on here,” she said. “The Mayor is in the thick of it. I was about to file a story that PROVED he rigged his election last year. AND the vote that extended the period of office from one year to five. I knew that was funny from the start. But the education thing intrigued me, too. Since he came into office everyone is going to school, but nobody is excelling. The exam results for every school in the city – they fit exactly to the national average. No failures, no outstanding results at the top end either. It's like everyone is being taught to be AVERAGE.”

“And average people are noted for their reluctance to question the status quo,” The Doctor said. “Well done, Miss Watling. You should get together with my old friend Sarah Jane Smith. She would have been on this like a shot, too.”

“Doctor,” Wyn said with a warning note in her voice. He turned slowly and saw the door opening. Three people came in. One was very definitely the Mayor of the city. He was actually wearing the chain of office over his suit.

Ostentatious or WHAT! The Doctor thought.

The others were the henchmen who had grabbed Wyn earlier.

“So, somebody wants to interfere with my education programme,” the Mayor said.

“Mr. Lewis,” Mrs Norris, the female councillor protested. “What is going on here? My husband and I were asked to come here to discuss our election campaign and we wake up… what day is it… how long have we been here?”

“It’s Wednesday, The Doctor told them. “But the rest of your questions I can’t answer.” He turned to the Mayor. “Clearly you can.” The henchmen were closing in on him. He raised his sonic screwdriver and made it buzz alarmingly in penlight mode. It looked enough like a weapon to actually make them hesitate. “Back off,” he said. “Amateur night is over. I really CAN scramble your brain with this.”

“Independent thought!” the Mayor spat the two words as if they were anathema to him. “That’s what makes most British towns and cities so vile. Independent thought. Oh, look, there’s a rubbish bin. But I’d rather throw my rubbish on the floor. There’s a nice clean wall. Let’s put some graffiti on it. I’m bored. Let’s vandalise something. THOSE two spray painted our Queen Victoria memorial statue.” He pointed to the two boys.

“Did you really?” The Doctor flashed a smile at them. “How inventive. Though VERY naughty, too. Very, VERY naughty. Shouldn’t disrespect memorials. But definitely inventive. Got to give you credit for that. Why did you do it?”

“HE banned skate-boarding,” said Kevin Brenning. The Doctor had carefully scanned their memories and found out their names. It struck him as important. In a society that wanted everyone conforming and acting alike, names were the one thing that marked the individual. He wanted to look at him and think, “this is Kevin,” not , “this is a delinquent boy aged 16!”

“He closed down the skate-park,” his partner in crime, Danny Walker added.

The Doctor nodded.

“Skate-boarding is free expression. I suppose you prefer team games, Mr. Lewis. Soccer, rugby, cricket. No harm in those, of course. Great games. But they’re all about rules, aren’t they. All about team spirit. Skate-boarders don’t want rules. They want to be themselves. They want to do it their way. They want to LIVE.”

The two boys cheered him. So did Wyn. The Goth girl smiled in support. So did the others, surprisingly, although Mr. and Mrs. Norris hardly looked like people who would understand the ethos of skateboarding.

He turned back to the Mayor. “Why bring them here? Why the ‘education’?”

“This is a better way. They ought to be punished severely for their crimes. Instead, I’m giving them a new chance. They can be better citizens, neatly dressed, obedient, well-mannered, good students and good workers in their time, working for a better society for all.” The Mayor turned and looked at the Goth Girl. “And her… she will dress nicely, get married, have children, take care of her house. None of this individuality nonsense. I mean… look at her.”

“I think she looks beautiful,” Mrs Norris said, out of the blue. “When I was younger I was a punk, you know. We wore black a lot, too. But I think the Goth look is much more feminine.” She smiled at the girl. “You look very nice, dear. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

“You were a punk?” Mr Norris looked at his wife, who couldn’t have looked more conventional in her neat skirt and jacket suit if she tried. “I didn’t know that.”

“I’ve got pictures somewhere,” she told him. “Anyway, YOU were a glam rocker. I’ve SEEN your pictures. That BAND you were in when you were a student.”

“Fantastic,” The Doctor said in a delighted voice. “Punk and glam got married. Well done. But why did you give it up?”

“Well, you just DO,” Mrs Norris said. “I mean, imagine dressing like that and going to a council meeting.”

“Why not?” Goth girl said. The name she preferred to use was Araminta, but The Doctor knew she was actually Susan Rawlings. Her DAD was the one who went through so many spades in the parks department!

“Why not, indeed,” he agreed. “How you dress doesn’t change how you think. You can sort out the city budget with safety pin earrings and a bin bag dress just as easily as cultured pearls and twin set. But the point is, YOU should decide. You shouldn’t HAVE to conform. But you did. And even that wasn’t enough for Mr. Lewis. HE wanted everyone obedient, everyone marching to the same tune. And it certainly isn’t Punk or Glam or Goth.”

“You prefer spiralling crime, mess… unruliness?” Mr. Lewis asked.

“YES!” The Doctor said. “Anarchy rules!”

“YES,” Nancy spoke up. “Yes, if that is NORMAL for us. It is for most cities in England. And the authorities do what they can to solve it. And maybe one day they will. Or maybe we’ll fall into complete anarchy and society will break down. I don’t know. But… this isn’t the answer. Your solution is monstrous. You manipulate people. You programme them to think. That’s not crime prevention, it's not city planning. It's….”

“It's fascism,” Mr Norris said. “Plain and simple.”

“Exactly.” The Doctor grinned happily. He LOVED Humans when they worked it out for themselves. And he knew they were capable of doing just that. “Most people are probably easy enough to manipulate. Panem et circenses - bread and circuses. The Romans worked it out centuries ago. Give the people enough wages to keep themselves, some entertainment to stop them being bored, and you can have a happy empire. But if people demand better wages, more interesting jobs, if they want skate-parks instead of football pitches, if it's just not enough for them any more and they start to ask ‘is this all there is to life?’ then it all goes soggy at the edges. That’s why the Roman Empire fell. But you think you can do better, don’t you, Mr. Lewis. You rein in the free-thinkers, the questioners, Miss Watling, the Norrises, the kids who don’t want to play your games or dress the way you think they should dress. You have to change them. Because otherwise, that little core of bad apples in your barrel might start to rot the rest of them. Other people might wake up and see the light.”

“Nobody will wake up,” Mr. Lewis growled. He turned to his henchmen. “I’ve wasted enough time. Get him, and get more security up here.” The Doctor stepped back as the two henchmen came towards him again. He pocketed the sonic screwdriver. The only function it had remotely resembling a weapon was welding mode, and he didn’t want to actually HURT anyone. But he wasn’t going to be ‘got’ this time.

Neither saw him move. But the next moment they were on the floor, slipping gently into unconsciousness. He straightened his tie nonchalantly. He looked at the Mayor who began to back away. Not quite fast enough. Again, nobody saw him move, but the Mayor found himself in an effective armlock. He was surprised. Like most people who saw The Doctor in this particular incarnation, he took him for a fairly weak, ineffectual person, with his skinny build and his geek-chic clothes. They soon found out how wrong they were.

“You haven’t distributed any free food and you’ve not put on any entertainment,” The Doctor said. “Dave the requisitions clerk would have had to process the order if you had. I’d know about it. So you must be doing something else to keep things ticking over. Even the average Human sheep would have realised otherwise.”

“There’s a huge, big satellite dish on top of City Hall,” Araminta said. “It went up last year. They said it was to do with the wireless broadband for the computers. But we only live down the road at the back of the building and all our Freeview channels went funny on our TV. My dad spent tons on getting a new aerial and we still can’t get ITV2.”

“You’re not missing a lot,” The Doctor assured her. “But it sounds like I’m not the only one hiding my technology in plain sight. Bet your dad never thought to complain to City Hall about the interference with his telly.”

“Yes, he did,” Araminta told him. “They gave him an official apology and £50 off the council tax. Mum told him he should have asked for more. It cost him WAY more than that to put up the new aerial, and she came up here to complain, but when she came back there was nothing more said.” She thought about it again. “YOU put my mum in here, didn’t you!” She lunged towards the Mayor, angrily. “You messed with her just because she questioned one little thing.”

“It’s all right, dear,” Mrs Norris said, holding her back. “We’re onto his nasty little game now. Your mum will be just fine.”

“That she WILL,” The Doctor promised. “Just as soon as we’ve had a look at this big dish.” He turned the Mayor around and pushed him through the door. Wyn followed him. Everyone else looked at each other and did the same. Mrs Norris turned and closed the door on the still unconscious henchmen. The lock didn’t work, she noticed. But hopefully they would be undisturbed for a while.

“Doctor,” Miss Watling said as he turned towards the stairwell that would bring them to the roof of the building. “There’s a room here with computer terminals. “I think I might get online and file my report about the Mayor’s election scam. If I get it in now it’ll be in the lunchtime edition and out on the streets in an hour.”

“Good idea,” he said. “Mr and Mrs Norris, seeing as you are councillors and have a right to be in the building, unlike the rest of us, perhaps you could stay with her and make sure nobody interferes.”

Later, Mr and Mrs Norris discussed between them just why they had taken this young man who called himself The Doctor at his word and done as he suggested. They neither of them could explain why they felt that a much higher authority than was ever wielded by the Mayor lay behind his kind eyes and disarming smile.

But meanwhile they watched the door while Nancy Watling logged onto the computer and found the online system for filing reports to her newspaper. She laughed joyfully as she submitted the article. Ten years on the staff and at last she got the dream of every newspaper writer in the history of journalism. She got to ‘hold the front page’.

“Ok, kids,” The Doctor said, smiling at the youngsters who remained. “Time for some anarchy. Don’t suppose any of you have any cans of nitro-9?” It was pretty unlikely. The last juvenile delinquent he knew who carried high explosives around with her was Ace. She was a genuine individual. She would have made Mr. Lewis’s head explode. Even now, when she was Mrs Norris’s age and fairly conforming, the teenage spirit was still in her. She had never completely lost it. And that was what it was all about.

“Got some cans of spray paint,” Kevin offered. The Doctor grinned as he came out on the roof of City Hall. He looked at the big sign with the crest and ‘City Hall’. The satellite dish was beside it. From the high street it was obscured by the sign, but otherwise it was just like his TARDIS – hidden in plain sight. He looked at the sign and he looked back at the boys.

“How MANY cans have you got?” he asked. Kevin rattled the rucksack he had on his back. He grinned. He knew just what The Doctor had in mind.

“Enough,” he said, passing them out to Danny, to Araminta and to Wyn. The Doctor left them to it. He looked at the Mayor. He was looking fairly quiet now but his face was mutinous.

“You stand RIGHT there,” The Doctor said to him, his eyes boring into the man. Right THERE was the parapet at the very edge of the building. A precarious drop. But he was perfectly safe as long as he did EXACTLY as The Doctor told him which he would do for as long as he was under his hypnotic influence.

The Doctor knew he could make just about anybody do as he said. His powers of mind control were phenomenal. The only person he had ever met who could hypnotise people better was his old adversary, the Master.

And that was why he rarely did it - because people SHOULDN’T be used, manipulated. Not even by him. Not even for the RIGHT reasons. Ok, he wasn’t TOO guilty about making that bully in the café do some of his own dirty work for a change, and the receptionist downstairs would have no ill effects from the half a minute she was under his influence. Mr. Lewis, well, making him stand on the edge was just showing off.

Mr. Lewis thought he was doing it for the right reasons, his inner voice told him as he set to work opening up the control box for the satellite dish. Crime and other social problems DID need a solution.

But this WASN’T it. He WASN’T right. This way it was just what Mr Norris had called it, and The Doctor had fought that right across the universe, from Daleks to Sontarans and everything between that sought to control, suppress.

That was why he worked quickly to disable the satellite. Close up, he could feel the signals it was sending out. They were the audible version of the ones being fed to the people in the education room. It was low level, subtle - bread and circuses to the ordinary, average, unquestioning people. The education room was an intense programme for the few whose minds were open and questioning and who displayed individuality.

“Got it!” he cried out triumphantly as his sonic screwdriver welded through the circuits. There was a bang and a flash and a lot of black smoke. The Doctor stood back from his handiwork, coughing slightly. When he could breathe unimpaired again he immediately noticed the difference. It wasn’t just that the noise stopped. The AIR actually felt less oppressive around him. It had been there all along, almost unnoticed, but constantly there.

He felt free. He felt light. He felt like doing something EXPRESSIVE!

“Toss me a couple of cans, would you,” he said, and Kevin grinned and obliged. He shook the cans and flipped the tops off and at a speed that surprised his young companions he began to decorate the satellite dish in swirling shapes. Anyone who could read Gallifreyan would recognise it as saying ‘Heaven is a halfpipe’. To anyone else, the vast majority of people in the universe, excepting a few old friends of his who had travelled in his TARDIS and still had its psychic help in translating languages, it looked like a spirograph design mixed up with one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s daydreams.

Anyway, he was pretty happy with the result. He stood back and admired his handiwork as the kids put the finishing touches to their design showing a happy skateboarder leaping into a clear blue sky off a curving skateboard track called a halfpipe, while a pretty Goth girl waved to him. Between them the word ‘Freedom’ was inscribed in that angular script favoured by spray can artists all over the universe. Down below in the street he could see people looking up in amazement at the new decoration on their city hall.

The same amazed faces – he could see them with his Time Lord eyesight – turned to horror suddenly and he looked around to see that Mr. Lewis was no longer standing there. He ran to the parapet and saw him hanging on the edge of it by his fingers.

My fault, he thought as he leaned over and reached out. For a split second Mr Lewis was in freefall, about to cause a rather unpleasant mess on the pavement he was so keen to keep clean. But then The Doctor had him, and this time the Mayor had reason to be grateful that he was more than the ten stone weakling he appeared to be as he hauled him up.

“My fault,” The Doctor said as he stood Mr Lewis up on his two feet well back from the edge. He immediately fainted in delayed shock and The Doctor let him down safely on the solid roof. “I shouldn’t have let him stand so close to the edge,” he told the kids as they watched in alarm. “I was concentrating on the paint job instead of him. He must have come out of my influence too quickly and the shock overbalanced him.”

He looked around as Miss Watling and the Norrises appeared on the roof, closely followed by two policemen and a city council security officer who put Mr. Lewis under arrest. Miss Watling spoke excitedly for a few minutes about her exclusive newspaper headline that had just this moment gone to press and how Mr and Mrs Norris had already uncovered even more irregularities in the administration. Enough to put Mr Lewis behind bars for a long time and finish not only his political career, but also the satellite communications business he owned. Already, Mr. Norris said, other city and county councils across the country were cancelling their orders for his equipment.

“I think we’re done here then,” The Doctor said, happily. “Come on, kids. Ice cream sodas on me at a café I noticed up the road.” He glanced at Wyn who was looking worried. “No, not the dump you worked in. There’s a nice one with tablecloths and flowers on the tables.”

“You should have let Lewis jump,” Kevin said as they sat around in what WAS, indeed, a nice café. “Serve him right. And people would have just thought it was suicide ‘cos he was found out.”

“No,” The Doctor said. “I couldn’t have let him die. I couldn’t enjoy MY freedom if I had a death on my conscience. That’s the lesson from all this. Freedom comes with responsibility. If your freedom is detrimental to somebody else, it's wrong. So keep your skateboarding to the designated areas, boys. Don’t be knocking down old ladies in the streets. And no more spray painting city monuments, either.”

“Doc, stop preaching,” Araminta told him. “You were doing ok until then. A COOL adult. Even in that outfit.”

He laughed. She was right. The boys weren’t REALLY vandals anyway. Their actions HAD just been a cry of protest. If they were treated fairly they’d be ok.

“You’d probably have liked my previous look better,” he told her with a grin. “My all black period.” He caught a glimpse of himself in the glass of the café window and his grin widened “I reckon this suits me fine now. Just tell me one thing, though, all of you. Please tell me I DON’T look like somebody who might be called DAVE.”