So that’s the sort of thing you do?” Miche said to The Doctor as they left the Megozi system behind. “You help people all over the universe.”

“Pretty much, yes,” he replied. “Not a bad life, is it? Although I think I’m ready for a holiday now.”

“Doctor, I’ve been with you for at least four holidays now,” Susan told him. “And every time something turns up to make it into ‘work’ for you and scare the living daylights out of me. Why don’t you just pick something that SHOULD be dangerous and maybe we’ll have a nice, peaceful, uneventful time?”

“Oooh!” The Doctor drawled with a laugh. “Susan Rawlings, you’re tempting the law of narrative causality by saying things like that. Any moment now we’re sure to get sucked into an unexpected black hole or have a Dagon battleship materialise around us, or land on a planet full of cannibalistic spiders.”

“Ewwww!” she squealed. “Seriously. There IS such a thing?”

“Yes,” The Doctor answered nonchalantly. “Nothing to worry about. They’re cannibalistic. That means they eat EACH OTHER.”

“Oh, yeah!” she laughed. “Course it does. All the same, let’s NOT go there, please. How about some history. Earth history. Could we take Miche to an opening night at the Globe Theatre while Shakespeare was still running it, or to a book signing by Charles Dickens or… or maybe we could find out exactly HOW Aeschylus was killed by a falling tortoise.”

“How who… what?” Miche looked puzzled.

“Aeschylus was a writer in ancient Greece, on Earth,” The Doctor explained. “He died from severe head injuries when a tortoise fell on him. A terrible tragedy.”

“So my English lit teacher said. But none of us could stop laughing. And how DOES a person get killed by a falling tortoise? Like was he standing by a tall building and somebody dropped one on him? Was it an accident or a very elaborate assassination? I mean who lies in wait on the top of the Ancient Greek equivalent of the book depository with a loaded tortoise?”

The Doctor laughed. Miche did, too, although he still wasn’t sure what a tortoise was and the book depository reference was lost on him. But The Doctor’s laugh was infectious.

“The truth is a bit more mundane,” he said when he finally managed a straight face. “Terminal velocity with a tortoise takes a much higher building than Greek’s would build. What happened was that the tortoise was carried up by an eagle. They grab them and drop them from a height to smash the shell and get at the soft bits….” Susan made a disgusted face. “Yeah, I know, not nice for the tortoise. And not nice for poor old Aeschylus. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“We couldn’t go back and shout ‘run’ or ‘duck’ or ‘watch out, falling tortoise’ in ancient Greek?” Susan asked.

“I’m afraid not,” The Doctor answered. “Tempting as it is!” He turned to the console but couldn’t disguise his grin. “No, I really can’t. It IS tempting. But I can’t. It would unravel the universe. And besides, what WOULD keep your Lit. class interested in Greek fables without such an entertaining story to capture your imagination.” He giggled again. “VERY tempting. But no.”

He did take them to Earth in the year 414 BC to see the play by Aristophanes where the phrase “Cloud Cuckoo Land” was first coined and to a performance of A Midsummer Night’ Dream in the Restoration London of 1662. Music was covered by the first night of Handel’s Messiah in Dublin in 1742 and the Beatles at Candlestick Park in 1966.

Then they spent a pleasant afternoon in the Florentine workshop of one Leonardo da Vinci who declared Susan to have the most perfect teeth he had ever seen in a woman and insisted on drawing her. He chatted to The Doctor as an old and trusted friend as he did so and it was only when they returned to the TARDIS, Susan clutching the most unique and unlikely pencil drawing in the history of art, that Miche realised what was puzzling him about that.

“If you’ve changed your appearance nine times, how come he knew you?” he asked.

“Power of Suggestion,” Susan told him. “The Doctor explained it before. He sort of hypnotises people.”

“As far as old Len was concerned this is how I have always looked as long as he’s known me,” The Doctor explained.

“That’s very handy.”

“I’ve always thought so.”

“Anyway,” Susan added. “Where next on our literary and artistic tour of Earth?”

“Oh, let me think. Where would you like to go? Who else did you cover in your literature class?”

“William Blake,” Susan suggested. “But let’s send a note to say we’re coming. I heard he and his wife once spent a week naked in order to fully appreciate Milton’s Paradise Lost. I wouldn’t want to barge in unannounced. Then maybe Evelyn Waugh. I liked him. But NOT Thomas Hardy. I’d have to hit him. His books are the DULLEST I ever had to read.”

“William Blake in his clothed era then,” The Doctor said with an indulgent smile. “Then Mr Waugh. He’s another old friend. He’ll be happy to see me. We’ll leave Thomas in peace.”

The Doctor smiled as he went to set the co-ordinates for late Georgian London. It WAS nice to do something that didn’t land them all in deep peril for once.

Susan was unimpressed by the part of Georgian London they arrived in, it had to be said. She expressed the opinion that Lambeth, still more or less a self-contained village on the south side of the Thames, was dismal.

“It’s horrible,” she said. “I thought Georgian architecture was graceful terraces of houses with all the doors and windows in proportion to each other. Not ramshackle buildings of different heights with the roofs looking like they’re going to fall in any minute and all these windmills.”

“They’re Blake’s Dark Satanic Mills,” The Doctor told her. “He wasn’t keen on them either. He saw them as malevolent giants towering over the Human population and crushing their souls in the grindstone.”

“That’s why he was such a good poet,” Susan observed, thinking that The Doctor wouldn’t be a bad one, either, if he put his mind to it.

“I think your friend is right,” Miche observed as he, too, looked up at the creaking windmills that overshadowed all the other buildings. “And I agree with Suzette. This place is dismal. Not enough trees.”

“There would never be enough trees on Earth for you,” The Doctor said with a smile. “At least not once mankind started to cut them down. But come on, children, let’s go and see if Mrs Blake has the kettle on.”

But she didn’t. The house they arrived at after a weary trudge through the dismal streets of Lambeth, circa 1782, was closed up and empty. The Doctor stared at the shuttered windows and barred door and looked at his watch.

“This is DEFINITELY the right year. And it’s the right address. No. 13 Hercules Buildings. They moved in last year and stayed until 1801.”

“Well, they’re not here now,” Susan sighed. “Come on, Doctor. Never mind. It doesn’t really matter. I got my portrait done by Leonardo da Vinci. That’s a big enough thrill for one day.”

The Doctor conceded the point. They walked back to the TARDIS, feeling distinctly deflated. Back inside the familiar walls and leaving grim Georgian Lambeth behind they did begin to feel a little more cheerful and lunch in Paris followed by a trip to the Louvre to see some of ‘Len’s’ other great works thoroughly made up for the disappointment.

At least lunch cheered them up. But when they reached the Louvre, there was a shock in store.

“What do you mean, you’ve never heard of Leonardo Da Vinci?” Susan demanded of the museum curator as she rifled through the souvenir brochure. “He’s just about the most famous artist EVER. He’s got a whole room in this building and tons of security because the whole criminal world dreams of stealing the Mona Lisa.”

“I did not say I had never heard of Da Vinci,” the curator answered. “Only that he is not a significant artist. He may well have become significant. He is certainly regarded as one of the most promising students of Andrea del Verrocchio, and is believed to be the model for Verrocchio’s David. But he disappeared mysteriously in 1481 not long after he was set up in his own studio. And THAT is only common knowledge among the art world because he left a mystery behind that has puzzled historians ever since.”

“What mystery?” The Doctor asked, intrigued despite his worry. To say that something odd was going on would be an understatement. He looked around the gallery that, as Susan pointed out, was famous for being just about the most security conscious room in the galaxy. The Crown Jewels of the British Monarchy and the Constitution of the USA were both easier to steal than the Mona Lisa and the other great works of Da Vinci in the Louvre.

And The Doctor knew he could tell a story about THOSE.

Except if the Mona Lisa didn’t exist, nobody would be interested in hearing them.

The curator sighed and brought them to a very small line drawing that would probably be missed by most visitors looking for the big masterpieces of the museum. The Doctor stared. So did Susan and Miche.

It was definitely a Da Vinci drawing. There was something about the style, the precision and the detail.

It was a finely done series of line drawings of a police telephone box. The largest one was about six inches tall, the smallest about half an inch, but every one of them was intricately detailed. On even the very smallest you could SEE the words Police Public Call Box on the fascia – in reverse.

“Leonardo liked to use mirror writing,” The Doctor noted.

There were two words at the bottom of the page, too. Also reversed. Susan used the mirror of her eye shadow compact to read them.

“Il Dottore?” She didn’t know any Italian, but even if the TARDIS didn’t automatically translate everything she read or heard, including the French of the tour guide, she could have made an educated guess. “The Doctor?”

“Oui,” said the curator. “Le Docteur.”

“The Doctor,” The Doctor said. He smiled as he imagined generations of art connoisseurs puzzling over the curio. He wondered what they thought by the 1950s when the model of police box so ably drawn by Da Vinci in 1481 went into general use in Britain. He wondered for a moment what the curator would think if he knew the original model for the drawing was parked beside the Louvre’s modern glass pyramid entrance being photographed by American tourists who thought it was a piece of concept art.

That amusing diversion apart, though, things were just about as wrong as they could get.

“Doctor, what’s going on?” Susan asked when they were back in the TARDIS.

“Show me your portrait,” he said in answer to her question. Susan turned and fetched it from the sofa where she had left it, safely inside a plastic folder. The Doctor opened the folder and silently showed it to her.

“What happened to it?” she exclaimed as she stared at the blank sheet of fifteenth century sketch paper.

“It was never drawn. We visited Len in 1485. But he was removed from the timeline in 1481. So the picture was never drawn.”

“So why can we remember him drawing it and why is the blank paper here?” Miche asked. He was far from a seasoned time traveller but he hit on the very question Susan was about to ask.

“Why wasn’t he erased from our memories the way he was from the curator and everyone who knows anything about art?” she asked instead.

“We’re time travellers,” The Doctor explained. “The time vortex protects us to some extent from anomalies like this. The paper probably WOULD disappear if we took it out of the TARDIS. As it is, the forces of logic and causality made the image vanish.”

“Because the paper would exist even if Da Vinci never drew on it,” Miche reasoned. “But the picture he drew depended on him being there to draw it.”

“Something like that,” The Doctor agreed. He looked around at Susan. She was singing. It was a moment or two before he realised the significance of what she was singing.

“….Bring me my Bow of burning gold;

Bring me my Arrows of Desire;

Bring me my Spear; O clouds unfold!

Bring me my Chariot of Fire!”

I will not…..”

“Will not….”

She paused. She looked around at The Doctor in alarm.

“What’s the next line? I should know it. We used to sing it every other bloody week in assembly. Our school headmaster was NUTS about that song. I could sing it in my SLEEP. But I can’t….”

“I will not cease from Mental Fight,

Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand,

Till we have built Jerusalem

In England’s green and pleasant Land.”

The Doctor finished the lines for her. He understood her alarm. There were songs where it was easy to forget the lines. But that last verse of Blake’s Jerusalem was so familiar to anyone who had even the most average education in twentieth century Britain, that it was inconceivable that they could forget it.

“Start it again,” he said as he ran around the TARDIS console. “From the beginning.”

Susan stood as if she was in school assembly still, with her hands folded in front of her and her head and shoulders held up. She cleared her throat and began to sing.

“And did those feet in ancient time

Walk upon England’s mountains green?

And was the….”

“Was the…”

“Countenance divine…” The Doctor prompted. But she shook her head sadly. ]

“It’s gone,” she said. “I can’t remember it. I know I should. I know there WAS a song called Jerusalem, based on a poem by William Blake. But the words have been erased from my mind.”

“Blake wrote it in 1804 as a preface to Milton: a Poem,” The Doctor told her. “But he wasn’t home in 1782.”

“Doctor, what’s going on?” she asked. “Why have Blake and Da Vinci been taken out of history?”

“Are they the only ones?” Miche asked. “I am new to Earth, but I understand that there are many hundreds of artists and writers of this sort in its history. How many of them are gone?”

“Susan, find out,” The Doctor told her. “Grab the computer and log onto the internet. Google every writer, musician and artist you can think of.”

“I can’t think of any,” she answered, panic rising in her again. “Doctor… what if they’re all gone?”

“That’s just nerves,” he assured her. “Start with Thomas Hardy. Since you don’t like him you won’t be quite so upset if he’s not there.”

“He’s there,” she answered after a moment or two. “But… Oh… He didn’t publish anything after The Return of the Native in 1878. That means the boring Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the sodding d’Urbevilles and Jude the bloody Obscure never got written.” She looked at The Doctor. “I can’t even remember what annoyed me about those books, even though I know I have read them. But that’s not right, is it?”

“No, it’s not. Try Bram Stoker, Evelyn Waugh, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Constable, William Turner, Beethoven, William Walton….” The Doctor rattled off a dozen or so random names and one by one the Google search concluded that either they never wrote or painted or composed ANY of their masterpieces or their careers were cut short before their full potential was recognised.

“No Dracula?” That, to Susan, seemed the greatest tragedy of them all. Quite apart from the novel she found her memory of dozens of movies all disappearing from her mind. She knew they existed. If she tried really hard enough she could almost picture the DVD covers. But she couldn’t remember anything about them.

“The TARDIS is just about protecting your memory from losing those cultural references altogether,” The Doctor told her. “All of these people exist as far as ITS database is concerned. I’ve got their whole collected works in here. But if we don’t do something about it, this is the only place they WILL exist.”

Miche and Susan looked at him. He was almost as distressed at the idea of literature being lost as he was at the lives they failed to save on Megozi IV.

“It isn’t just their great works of art,” he reminded them. “All these people taken out of their proper time – holes in the continuum. Most of them had families, descendents. If something isn’t done quickly… well you know what happens. I don’t think we need any more metaphors.”

“We’re going to do something, aren’t we?” Susan asked.

“Of course we are. First stop, our old friend Len’s workshop.”

Neither Susan nor Miche had even noticed that the TARDIS had materialised.

“We dressed in Florentine costume last time,” Susan pointed out.

“We don’t have time,” The Doctor said as he opened the door and sprinted out. His companions followed him dutifully.

Da Vinci’s workshop was little different from last time. It was still busily untidy with sketches of things far more peculiar and ahead of their time than police boxes pinned to the walls and cluttering every worksurface as well as scale models of mechanisms that would seem fantastic even in the industrial revolution of a few centuries on.

It was short of only one thing.


“Len?” The Doctor called out experimentally. But he knew the great man wouldn’t be around. He looked at the main desk and saw his cryptic message, the ink drawing of the TARDIS, pinned to it by a razor sharp craft knife.

The Doctor held up his sonic screwdriver and seemed to be reading something in the air.

“Traces of residual energy,” he said. “A transmat beam was used in this room. I don’t think they just whisked him off, though. He had time to leave his ‘message’. Could have done with him being a bit less cryptic though.”

“The ‘energy’ does not give you any clue?” Miche asked.

“Only that somebody was here who doesn’t belong to fifteenth century Florence,” The Doctor answered. “There’s not ENOUGH residual energy to identify what or from where. And there’s no use running around after them. We need to get ahead of the game.” He turned and went back into the TARDIS. Miche and Susan grabbed each other’s hands and ran to follow him. He looked nearly distracted enough to close the door and leave them behind.

“How do we get ahead?” Susan asked.

“Find a literary genius who is bound to be on the list and go and warn him. There’s only one I know of that would take this in his stride.” He smiled enigmatically. “Susan, before you met me, what would the words ‘The Time Machine’ mean to you?”

“Book, H.G. Wells. Film with a really cool sequence with the fashions changing in a dress shop to show time passing.”

“You remember the film?”

“Yep. Bit dated, but good.”

“Then we’re in time. Herbert will be thrilled to see me. More power of suggestion, of course. I had blonde curls the last time we met.”

‘Herbert’ was not getting as much work done as he ought to have been. His eye strayed too often from the blank paper in front of him and to any distraction at all, the grey sky and drizzly rain on the window, a fly buzzing around the lampshade. His mind equally strayed from the point. He felt restless and bored with being a mere writer of adventures. It seemed a long time since he had an adventure of his own. Life seemed to have become terribly run of the mill, even for him, the creator of fantasies that inspired the imagination of so many others.

His mind drifted, as it had not done for some time, to the most amazing adventure he had ever had. He had once met first a lady from another planet, then another lady and an incredible man who not only proved to him that he wasn’t hallucinating, but gave him the inspiration for what, so far, was proving his biggest success as a novelist.

He had tentatively pitched the idea of a wanderer in space and time whose ship was bigger on the inside than the out to his publisher, but the response had been on the lines of ‘steady on, Herbert. The reading public will never swallow something THAT far-fetched. Keep your feet on the ground.”

So he had made his professor a flesh and blood Human who created a time machine from the technology of his own age. The publisher approved of that. So did the reading public. But there was a small kernel in there of a man called The Doctor who came from another planet altogether and whose time machine boggled the imagination.

He remembered the sound it made. A sort of animal, yet mechanical noise. The sound seemed to reverse fade into the hearing from afar and then overwhelm the senses completely. That’s how he remembered it. There was a wind, too, the air displaced from the area occupied by the ship.

As he thought of that, a sudden breeze rustled the still blank page in front of him. He looked around but the window was closed.

Then the noise faded in, just as he had been remembering at that moment. At first he thought it was his imagination playing tricks. He was thinking of The Doctor and his machine and so he thought he heard the sound. But the air displacement was unmistakeable and the sound was growing louder. Herbert’s heart fluttered with excitement and pleasure as he saw the outline of the blue box solidifying in front of the study door. He stepped towards it as the sound died away and reached out to touch the panelled door.

He gasped in surprise as the door opened and a young woman with very dark eye make up and blood red lips pulled him inside. A young man closed the door behind him as he stared around at the interior of the TARDIS.

“You’ve redecorated, old man,” he said as The Doctor came forward to greet him. “And I like your new suit.”

“So do I,” The Doctor told him. “Herbert, how are things?”

“Much more interesting for seeing you, Doctor,” he replied. “But may I ask the reason for this impromptu visit?”

“You’re in grave and imminent danger, Herbert,” The Doctor answered as he bounded across the floor to the console. “By the way, this is Susan who was born in the late 20th century and Miche who was born in the thirty-third century but on a different planet. Get him to tell you about it later. It might make a nice short story. But just now.…” He gave a whoop of delight. “Oh yes, we got here just in time. I’m picking up transmat energy now. They’re coming for you.”

“Who are coming for me?” Herbert demanded. “Doctor….”

The Doctor put his hand up indicating that they should be silent and went to the TARDIS door. He opened both doors wide.

“I need them to see us,” he said. “They need to take us all together. And the TARDIS, I hope. That’s the way to get to the bottom of all this.” He stood at the door and waited. Susan came to his side. Herbert and Miche stood behind them. They all watched as a white beam of light shimmered and resolved into two men in dark blue jumpsuits.

“Hello,” The Doctor said with a friendly grin and a wave. “Herbert, wave. These are literary critics. Make a good first impression with them.”

Herbert was too stunned to wave. He managed a slightly hysterical laugh and a manic grin to match The Doctor’s own. The two men turned and looked at them then raised the strange looking weapons in their hands. They fired as The Doctor slammed both doors shut.

“That was a close one,” Miche commented.

“Doctor, you nearly got us death ray-zapped.” Herbert said accusingly.

“It’s not a zap gun,” The Doctor answered as he ran to the console and flipped on the viewscreen. “Look.”

“Oh NO!” Susan cried out. “Oh, not again!”

The room outside and the two men standing in it appeared to be getting bigger. But Susan realised that in fact, THEY were getting smaller.

“Alice in Wonderland!” Herbert said as he understood what he was looking at. “We’re being miniaturised.”

“Handy way to grab us,” The Doctor said. “I think Leonardo might have given them a bit of a runaround. Even miniaturised he still had a brain the size of a small planet. He used his time to send me that message. It’s how I knew they were using miniaturisation to capture the famous writers and artists. And I knew we had to get them to miniaturise the TARDIS.”

“Ah,” Miche said with relieved understanding. “This was part of your plan!”

“Genius, Doctor,” Herbert enthused.

“Smug git,” Susan told him.

The Doctor winked at her and took hold of the console. Susan noticed that and did the same. Miche caught on quickly, too and grabbed hold of her with one hand and to Herbert with the other, just as the TARDIS lurched and bumped alarmingly. The viewscreen showed them being lifted in a pink, enlarged palm and placed in a metal container. The movement continued a little more smoothly as their kidnapper crossed the floor and stood with his partner. Then the white light of the transmat engulfed them all again. The TARDIS console sounded several alarms. The Doctor silenced all of them.

“The TARDIS is in itself a matter transporter, so naturally it dislikes being transported as mere cargo!”

“Oh, the TARDIS dislikes it!” Susan was still not happy with being reduced to action figure size again, especially since The Doctor COULD have warned her about it.

She didn’t like transmats EITHER.

It was over in a few moments, and the viewscreen showed what had to be the interior of a spaceship of some sort. They had a bumpy view of metallic corridors as the TARDIS was carried. Then everything went dark briefly before the screen was filled by a curious face attempting to look in.

“Jules Verne, if I’m not mistaken,” The Doctor said. “Come on, let’s step out and say hello.”

He ran outside. The others followed more cautiously. Susan gave an excited exclamation as she stepped into what looked like a library with chairs and tables and shelves of books. There were people sitting on nearly every chair, and Susan noticed, right away, that they were all in different period clothes.

“All the missing artists and writers and composers?” she guessed. “Isn’t that Thomas Hardy?” She looked at the middle-aged, middle-class man with a moustache and thinning hair, dressed in Victorian tweed. He was talking to three young women in ‘Empire’ dresses of the late eighteenth century who also seemed familiar.

“The Bronte sisters!” she said with a scornful laugh. “THEIR books are boring, too. Still, at least we’re back to normal size.”

“No, we’re not,” Miche said to her and pointed up. She followed his finger. The walls of the library ended some ten or fifteen feet above and there was no ceiling. At least not counting the ceiling of the room in the space ship that looked like the sky from her perspective.

“The furniture is all miniaturised, too,” she sighed. “Oh!!!”

“It’s all right, Suzette,” Miche promised her. “The Doctor has a plan. He said so.”

“The Doctor is a big fibber,” she answered. “Well, a little fibber right now. But he doesn’t REALLY have a plan. He’s winging it.”

“No, I have a plan,” The Doctor assured her. “First, get everyone on board the TARDIS.”

That was easier than she expected it to be. Apart from Thomas and the Bronte sisters the assorted literary and artistic geniuses were apparently quite fed up of each other’s company, and almost all of them were pleased with the promise of TEA inside the TARDIS. Among the notable exceptions were Dylan Thomas who asked if there was any whiskey and Percy Shelley who requested wine.

Both got tea and had to make do while The Doctor outlined his plan.

“We’re going to be unarmed?” Hardy asked.

“If I’d had chance to grab my pistols before they took me…” said a young man with a soft Irish accent who Susan recognised as a young Oscar Wilde. “But good old fashioned fisticuffs will do fine.”

“That’s the spirit,” The Doctor told him. “And nuts to the Queensbury rules,” he added with a knowing smile.

“There’s enough capable men here,” Herbert said. “We might all make our living writing and painting but that doesn’t make us useless effetes.”

“It does NOT,” said William Blake. “But my wife… and the other ladies here, should not be exposed to these devils we have to fight. They must remain here.”

“Well, I’m not staying here,” Susan answered, though she had to concede that some of the women did look on the fragile side. The Brontes all died young of consumption, she recalled. And she thought Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf both looked travel sick.

“I don’t need to be mollycoddled, either,” said a woman in modern clothing whose face Susan was having trouble placing. “And somebody is going to get sued if I don’t get back home soon. I’ve got a book signing in an hour.”

“Speaking of suing,” The Doctor said to her. “You and me need to have words about ‘portkeys’ sometime. For the record I’m all for equal rights for women, but we’re not going to need guns and there isn’t going to be much of a fight. We have the element of surprise. Just sit tight in the TARDIS and nobody touch anything. And that goes double for you, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.”

He settled everyone down again and went to the console. A study of the lifesigns monitor told him exactly where he needed to go. He programmed their materialisation precisely. He wanted this to be a BIG entrance even for a seven inch tall TARDIS.

Nobody on the ship’s bridge noticed the materialisation of the TARDIS on the empty captain’s chair. The sound was too small to be heard. But they did hear the crunching sound as the said chair collapsed under the weight of the rapidly growing TARDIS. Two men grabbed up their guns and rushed towards the door and were surprised when it opened and they found themselves yanked inside by W B Yeats and George Orwell who were standing either side of the door. Oscar Wilde and a young Christopher Marlowe disarmed the men and led the charge out of the TARDIS, followed by a select group of writers and artists along with The Doctor and his companions.

The fight was brief. Nobody on the bridge wanted to get in the way of the shrinking guns. They’d already seen what they could do. The writers and artists soon had them rounded up, disarmed and tied up.

“Where’s the captain?” The Doctor asked. “Who’s in charge of this ship? And whose idea was it to kidnap people?”

“HERS!” the navigation officer said and The Doctor span around as the turbo lift door hissed its quiet hiss and opened up.

“Oh!” he cried out. “I SHOULD have known. Who ELSE would have come up with such an idea?”

“Her again!” Susan exclaimed.

“You?” B’Talia Vance looked shaken momentarily then recovered her poise remarkably well. She smiled as she raised a weapon that looked just like the ones carried by her people but four times as big. The Doctor took one look at it and knew it would reduce them all to the size of ants in an instance.

“Space piracy is a little bit of a come down for you, Doctor,” she said as she looked around the bridge. “Release my crew or you will suffer the consequences.”

“Space piracy?” he laughed. “More your line of work, Vance. But I think the charges of kidnapping, use of illegal matter reduction ray guns and causing multiple time anomalies will prove a more damning indictment against you.”

“Oh, Doctor!” she laughed. “What’s a little indictment between lovers!”

“We’re not lovers. And I told you what I would do if I caught you at any more nonsense.”

“I think not.” She replied. “Do you really think I am going to let you destroy everything? All this talent at my fingertips. All of them working for me, producing the greatest art and music, poetry and novels in the universe, and I own the copyright on it all.”

“Why would any of us work for you?” Herbert asked. “Why should we? You can kidnap us. It seems there’s nothing any of us can do to stop you. You have your white light and your servants who come out of it to take us to this place. But you can’t make us DO anything. None of us write or paint or make music on demand. We can’t be put in a cage and made to sing for you like captive birds, whoever you ARE.”

“He’s right,” The Doctor said. “That would be the flaw in your plan, of course. Herbert, Susan, Miche, everyone, get back in the TARDIS. We’re done here.”

“Stay where you are!” she screamed, her finger pressing down on the trigger. “Doctor, if you do this, you will be sorry.”

“I’ve had that said to me by the best of them, Vance,” The Doctor said. “And you are FAR from the best. You’re a very sick man.”

“Don’t you mean woman?” Herbert asked.

“Don’t you worry about that,” The Doctor answered him. “Come on, quickly. Oscar, Christopher, keep your guns on her until we’re inside.”

He backed away towards the TARDIS door, last of all. He slammed the doors shut in front of him moments before Vance opened fire with her super shrink ray.

“She’s going to shrink us again!” Susan screamed as The Doctor ran past them all to the console. “She’s….”

“No, she’s not,” The Doctor answered. “Look.”

Susan looked at the viewscreen. So did everyone. But this time the room outside wasn’t getting larger. It was getting smaller. A moment later they weren’t in the room. The viewscreen showed a starfield and those not looking at the viewscreen gasped in astonishment. Susan turned and she gasped, too. A rapidly shrinking space ship lay on the ramp between the door and the console. It kept on shrinking until it was the size of a toy ship for five inch action figures. The Doctor stepped forward and picked it up in one hand while holding the sonic screwdriver in the other. He aimed it at the ship and examined the readout.

“Everyone on board is alive and well,” he said. “And enjoying a taste of their own medicine.”

“But how?” Miche asked him.

“Did you really think the TARDIS could be shrunk just like that? I switched off her anti-radiation defences earlier so that we could get aboard and find out what was going on. But I put them back on after I reverted us to full size. When Vance fired the mega weapon it rebounded and was absorbed into her ship. It’s a good job I dematerialised and rematerialised AROUND it or there would be small bits of busted ship making an unexpected meteor shower over the Atlantic ocean by now.”

“That woman is in there?” Herbert took the ship from The Doctor’s hands and looked at it in astonishment. He peered closer, as if trying to see through the windows.

“Hold it up the right way,” Susan warned him. “Even B’Talia Vance deserves not to get space sick being bounced around like that.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” The Doctor said. “Serve her right.” He laughed and took the ship from Herbert. He tossed it up in the air to everyone’s surprise and alarm. But it didn’t come down again. In the same moment he pressed a key on the TARDIS console and it was enveloped in a stasis field, suspended in mid-air.

“That keeps them quiet for a bit. Meanwhile let’s get everyone home. Miche, you’re going to get a real whistle stop tour of Earth history.”

It was a long night’s work, returning all of the writers, artists and musicians to their proper time and place, and as each one stepped out of the TARDIS only a minute or so after they disappeared The Doctor carefully applied a memory modification that let them forget their strange experience.

“I’d rather you didn’t do that to me,” Herbert told him when it was his turn. “Besides, I’ve already written The Time Machine. Could I do any more harm?”

“Perfectly true,” The Doctor conceded. “You and old Leonardo know me for what I am and know there is more to the universe than the wisdom of your own ages allow.”

“Leonardo!” Susan cried suddenly. “Doctor, I just realised. He wasn’t on board the TARDIS. He wasn’t in the library.”

“Then where IS he?” Miche asked.

“I have a horrible suspicion,” The Doctor answered. “We’d better take Herbert home first, then back to 15th century Florence.”

The workshop was still quiet when they returned to it. But The Doctor had an idea it wasn’t as empty as he had thought the first time.

“Mind where you put your feet,” he said. “Look everywhere. Under the bench, mouseholes, cupboards.”

They all searched, apprehensively, dreading the discovery of a five inch body, trodden on or mauled by a cat or crushed by falling objects.

“Here!” Miche cried finally as he opened a small wooden cupboard which proved to contain a barley loaf, a lump of cheese and a five inch Leonardo, eating slivers of the bread and cheese that he pared off with a piece of a broken knife blade.

“I got your message,” The Doctor said as he picked up the miniature Leonardo. “It must have been hard work drawing that with your fingers as small as they are. I got the bad guy. All sorted. Just got to drop her and her lackeys off at the nearest penal planet and reverse the miniaturisation. Speaking of which….”

He put Leonardo down on the floor and stood back, holding out the sonic screwdriver like a magic wand.

“Good old fashioned reverse polarity,” he said as Leonardo began to grow back to normal size. “Nice to see you back to your old self, old friend, I should have known a couple of Vance’s henchmen wouldn’t have been able to take YOU easily. Good job I found you, though. Or you WOULD have been in trouble when the cheese ran out.”

“I really thought you were going to leave her and her ship miniaturised,” Susan said as they left the Ge-Du Rax penal planet with some additional inmates. “It would serve her right.”

“It would have killed her eventually,” The Doctor answered. “The cells of the Human body can only take being messed about with like that for so long. And I wouldn’t be responsible for her death. Especially not that way. The organic body would try to expand back to normal size but the inorganic ship wouldn’t.”

“Tinned Vance jam?” Susan got the picture. “Yukk.”

“Exactly.” The Doctor turned off the viewscreen. Prison planets were never pretty sights. He reached for the drive conrol. “Where next, children?”

“I think it’s time I took Miche to visit my mum,” Susan said. “Can you…”

“Course I can,” he said. “What’s a time and space ship for if not to visit mum?”