Pell mell was a phrase that accurately described the way The Doctor was running along the busy shopping street. He was doing his best not to actually knock down any pedestrians, or to be knocked down himself by cars as he crossed two busy junctions. It was a near thing on both counts. Mind you, he reflected, if the Humans could see the thing he could just make out as a fleeting shimmer in the air with his Gallifreyan eyes, they would be running all over the place, screaming and generally getting in his way.

Then a woman stepped out of a door to his left and crossed his path. He had no time to avoid a collision. She managed to keep her feet, but he pinballed off her, desperately holding onto the rather delicate, hand made alien energy condenser and collector that hung by a strap around his neck. He fell hard on that part of his anatomy politely called the coccyx and rolled quickly to pick himself up. He glanced at the woman who stood looking at him.

“Sorry, Donna, must dash…” And he was off again. He had glimpsed his quarry a few yards ahead of him, turning down a service alley between Boots and Tesco. Both were tall buildings overshadowing the alley and making it darker than the sun-drenched main street. That was just the advantage he needed. If it was a dead end it would be even better.

His luck was in. The creature that was practically invisible in full daylight appeared as a smokey silhouette in the shadowy alley. It was backing up against the high back wall of the Tesco goods entrance. It was humanoid for a few moments, then lost that shape and became a formless cloud before trying Human again, then a sort of dog like shape, Human one more time, and then the formless cloud. The Doctor watched the gauge on the condenser as it powered up.

“No!” the creature cried out in a sibilant voice as it saw what The Doctor was doing. “No, I want to be free.”

“You can’t,” he replied. “You’re too much trouble. I have to take you in.” He pressed a button and the formless mass was pulled like thread being spun from a bag of yarn that The Doctor was winding into the condenser.

“No!” came a plaintive cry that gradually faded as the last of it was reeled in. The Doctor peered into the condenser.

“I really am sorry,” he said. “But I’ll find you somewhere better to live. I promise.”

He powered down the condenser and nodded in a satisfied way. He would keep that promise. He wasn’t a cruel man. Hopefully he could be known as a just one. And he knew a place where creatures like that would be right at home.

He turned and walked back up the alleyway towards a busy street where his peculiar activity had not been noticed.

At least he thought it hadn’t.

He saw the woman he had bumped into, standing at the entrance to the alleyway. Her arms were folded and her left foot tapped on the concrete. She had a cross expression on her face.

As he had already noted, it was a dead end. He was going to have to go up to her.

A Dalek would have been marginally less scary.

“Who are you and how did you know my name?” she demanded as he approached.

“I… didn’t….” he answered, hoping to get away with a lie while he tried to think of some kind of explanation for what he had said, without even thinking, the name that fitted the face coming from deep in his subconscious.

“Yes, you did,” she replied. “You said ‘sorry, Donna, must dash.’ I’ve taken minutes at meetings. Remembering what people have just said is important.”

“Oh.. er… yes… I suppose I did,” he admitted. “But…”

“So how do you know me?” she repeated. “And be warned. I’ve got a panic alarm in my bag.” The way she was wielding her shoulder bag like a nunchaku, he would have been willing to bet she had half a brick in it.

“You should keep your alarm in your pocket where you can reach it,” he told her. “What if your bag is what an attacker wants. And…” He looked at her face and noticed something he hadn’t before. Something that belied the belligerent tone of her voice. “You’re crying. Was that… I’m sorry if I hurt you before. If it’s any consolation I think I came off worst. I was in a hurry. I couldn’t stop. I was…”

“In a hurry to come and lurk in this back alley like some kind of… of… I don’t know… alley lurker? And why should you care why I’m crying… I’m… Anyway, I’m not. It’s just… hay fever or… sun in my eyes… Something…. I’m not…”

Two big tears rolled down her cheeks, proving her a liar. The Doctor reached in his pocket and found a handkerchief first time. She looked surprised by the act of kindness and forgot to be annoyed at him for a minute or two.

“You look like you could use a cup of tea,” he said. “Or coffee… hot milk, cocoa… I know I could. And I do need to explain how I know your name. You deserve that much. And… Come on… that place over there looks nice…”

For a moment she looked about to protest or go for the panic alarm, or even lump him around the head with the handbag. Then her face softened a little. It was broad daylight, after all, and he was inviting her to have a cup of tea. Not exactly the actions of a mugger or weirdo. She actually let him take her arm as they crossed the busy road to a little café called ‘mocha’ all in lower case letters, sandwiched – no pun intended – between a Starbucks and a Wetherspoons. Its advantages over its neighbours included full waitress service, white tablecloths and light jazz played at the right level to be ambient and not intrusive. The Doctor ordered a pot of tea for two and said nothing until it was brought. Even then, all he said was “do you take milk and sugar, Donna,” as he poured the two cups.

“Yes, two sugars,” she answered.

“Same as me,” he said with a toothy smile as he put two spoons in and passed her a cup.

“It’s kind of you,” she said, forgetting the other matters for a moment and sipping her tea. She put it down and dabbed her eyes where the last of her tears still spilled over. “I must look a sight. Bet my eyeliner’s all smudged. I’m… being really stupid. But I felt so fed up. I just went to a job interview. Over there… it’s nothing special. Just a company that sells kitchen cabinets by mail order. Which is bloody stupid, anyway. Would you spend thousands on a kitchen you’ve only seen in a catalogue picture?” she glanced at The Doctor but didn’t wait to hear his opinion on such matters. “Well, I wouldn’t. But it was a permanent job. I’m fed up of temping. It’s only a clerical assistant. I could do it with my eyes shut. But they said I wasn’t what they were looking for. And I’m not stupid. I know what that means. They had to interview me because the agency sent me over. But what they wanted was the leggy blonde nineteen year old who was waiting to go in after me. They didn’t want a fat thirty… thirty something…”

“You’re not fat,” The Doctor said.

“I am next to HER,” she replied. “Even you would be. I could have snapped her at the waist. And… Oh, I didn’t even care about the job, really. It was rubbish. The money was rubbish. The office was poky – it’s just three rooms over Mothercare… but they made me feel like I’m rubbish and…”

She paused and looked at The Doctor. “And I still don’t know who you are or why you know my name or… or why I just told you all of that stuff.”


“I must be mad. But you… I don’t know. It seemed like you would be somebody who would listen. But still… How did you know…”

“If I tell you, promise you won’t freak out and get scared and run away.”

“I’m not promising anything. You may be about to say anything, Like…”

“Like?” he raised an eyebrow and a quizzical smile.

“Like… you’re a stalker who has been watching me secretly for months, collecting information about me from the bins or hacking into my computer or… Or maybe you’re… I don’t know… CID or MI5 or something. I heard a while back about this ordinary bloke who got pulled by MI5 because they mistook him for a spy. They kept him for days on end, questioning him…”

This was Donna, all right, The Doctor noted as she came up with a couple more theories. But the Donna he met before was a whole lot less imaginative. He wasn’t complaining. He liked humans when they were thinking. Even when their thoughts were so wildly inaccurate.

“It’s nothing like that,” he assured her. He looked around the café. They were in a quiet alcove and the waitress was busy at the till. He thought he could risk it.

“I know you, Donna, because you and I met in an alternative universe where your life was a bit different to how it is here, and you were in a bit of trouble and I helped you out.”

“Huh?” she looked at him curiously, then suspiciously, then scornfully. “Alternative universe… if you’re MI5, you need to work on your cover stories, chum.”

“I’m not MI5,” he assured her. “Not even MFI. Or CIA or a stalker, either. I wouldn’t dare. I told you the truth, because unlike the people in that office over there, I think you’re a bright woman who can handle it. I am a traveller in time and space. An alien from another world… a world… a long way from here… And… and…” He looked at her. “Donna Noble, please believe me. I really want you to believe me. We did meet in a different place. Your life was different. I’m just trying to work out just how much different it was. Let me see… have you temped at a place called HC Clements? Did you meet a man there called Lance?” He glanced at her hands. She had no rings at all. “You’ve never been married, engaged, going steady with somebody called Lance?”

“What are you talking about?” she asked. “Married. I’ve never… I mean… not that I’m a total loser… I just haven’t met the right man… My mum goes on about me being an ‘old maid’ and the rest of it. But…” Again she remembered that she was talking to a total stranger, even if he claimed to know her. “What am I rabbiting about? Why AM I talking to you?”

“What year is it?” he asked, wondering if he might have come into her life a bit sooner than he thought.

“2009,” she answered. “June. How can you not know that?”

“I’m a time traveller,” he pointed out. “I’m only here in this century because I picked up some anomalous readings and came to check them out.”

“This is a wind up,” she said, trying for another explanation. “It’s… one of those things on TV… Noel Edmonds or Jeremy Beadle or something… winding me up with this weird story to make me look stupid. I don’t even believe in aliens. I know there was that stuff a few years ago. The alien in the Thames. But they said that was a hoax, and I always thought the ship looked a bit cheesy. This is another hoax. And I’m not falling for it. not for the price of a cup of tea..”

The Doctor laughed softly, not exactly at her, but at her thought processes as she worked out every possible answer to the puzzle except for the one he had given her. Humans had trouble believing what was staring them in the face. He remembered telling Mickey that after the alien in the Thames affair had been dismissed in the media.

“I am a time and space traveller,” he repeated. “I am known as The Doctor.”

“The Doctor?” She repeated the syllables carefully. “Why? Are you a doctor?”

“Sort of. It’s a long story. I’d love to tell you sometime. But not here. My spaceship is just down the road. Would you like to see it?”

“Do you think I was born yesterday? Time travel… You think I’m just going to go down some back alley with you…”

“It’s parked on the main street,” he assured her. “Seriously, come on and see.” He waved to the waitress and settled the bill. He stood up. Donna stood, too. He held out his arm to her gentlemanly, but she refused it. She looked in her handbag and took out the panic alarm. She shifted it into her pocket as he had suggested.

“I’m going along with you for the moment,” she said. “Because I want to know what’s going on. But first sign of anything funny and I’ll be screaming louder than that thing. I’m warning you.”

“Consider me warned,” The Doctor told her. “But please come with me. Call it a total whim on my part. But I really do want you to see my ship. It feels like the right thing to do.”

She went with him. He held her arm lightly, not exactly restraining or controlling her, but maintaining contact with her as if he might restrain her if she suddenly panicked and tried to run away. They reached the TARDIS. He looked at the closed door and did something so ostentatious he hadn’t tried it for years. He reached out his arm and snapped his fingers. The two doors both opened inwards and he stepped forward before Donna had a chance to protest about stepping into a tiny, confined space with him.

“What the….” She stared around the console room. “But it’s….”

She stepped back outside and looked at the police box. She walked around it, touching the wooden sides. She noticed a faint vibration that was different from the hum of traffic or the pound of feet on the pavement. She noticed that people passing by in cars or on foot completely ignored it and her, even though she must have looked strange as she edged her way around it. She noticed one woman stop while her dog cocked its leg on the side of the box, but she seemed unaware that there was anything unusual about her dog’s choice of toilet. And she couldn’t help noticing that the wet mark disappeared as the dog and owner walked on.

That was the last question in a long list of them that she had to ask when she stepped back inside. She didn’t think to ask herself why she stepped in. Curiosity had overridden all her other thoughts now.

She didn’t worry when The Doctor operated something that made the door close behind her. She could see the inside handle and there was a viewscreen that showed the street outside, with the cars and buses, shoppers and the woman and dog leisurely wandering off. She felt safe enough.

“How come it’s bigger on the inside?”

The Doctor was actually slightly impressed. She didn’t waste time disbelieving it. She asked how.

Over the centuries he had lost count of people who had made some kind of comment about the inside and outside of the TARDIS. His responses, depending on his mood had been tetchy, sarcastic, joking, or varying degrees of technobabble. But this time, he felt he wanted to give her a straight, fair answer that didn’t make her feel stupid.

“The inside occupies different spatial dimensions to the outside,” he answered. He watched her trying to understand that sentence. “I’m sorry, it’s not easy to explain in layman’s terms. There really aren’t any layman’s terms for it. And I think ‘dumbing down’ is a vile phrase.”

“So do I,” Donna told him. “Usually it’s me people are dumbing things down for. I think I… at the back of my mind… it makes sense… I feel as if I understand. But then I lose it, and I don’t.”

“Then don’t worry about it. Welcome to the TARDIS, my space and time ship. Do you like it?”

“It’s the first spaceship I’ve been in. I don’t have much to compare it with,” she answered him. “It’s… It could do with some soft furnishings… a rug or two… And where’s the bathroom? Or don’t people from your planet…”

She stopped. She had just glanced at the viewscreen. It wasn’t showing the street any more. It was showing the British Isles from space, with a hazy cloud formation moving in over Ireland as the weather forecaster on breakfast TV had said it would.

“No… we’re flying. You said come and see. You said nothing about flying. That’s kidnapping. You can’t. Take me back, now!”


“Take me back!”

“I will,” The Doctor promised. “But first… come on a trip with me. Not a long one. Just a little trip.”

“A little trip where?” she demanded. “I’m not going to Mars with you. Or anywhere like that.”

“Disney World,” he answered. “I would have made it a surprise, but since you wanted to know…”

“Disney World!” The old suspicion returned to her. “As if!” She stepped closer to the viewscreen. “Wait a minute… I’m being wound up, aren’t I? You nearly had me then. But this is just a video of space. We’re not really in space… I saw that programme a couple of years ago, you know. When those people were fooled into thinking they were in a spaceship…”

“Go and look out of the door, then,” he answered. “There’s a forcefield. You’ll be safe.” He opened the door. She turned and stepped towards it. He could tell from her body language that she was impressed. He turned to the drive console and flew the TARDIS manually in slow orbit, taking the long way around, across Europe, Asia, the antipodes, and right across the Pacific to reach Florida in three-quarters of an hour in which Donna said absolutely nothing. She was too captivated by what she was seeing.”

“Hold on tight now,” he called out to her. “This is a white knuckle ride.”

She held onto the railing. He took the TARDIS into a steep, fast descent. She screamed, but not in real terror, more the scream of somebody experiencing that first downhill drop of a really good roller coaster.

“Doctor!” she called out as the ground began to loom much more ominously. “You do have a brake on this thing, don’t you?”

“Course I do,” he answered. He applied it gradually. They slowed until they were hovering in the air about fifty feet above their intended landing spot.

“Wow!” she exclaimed. “It really is… Disney World. I thought you were kidding.”

“It looks pretty from up here. But hang on while I bring us in to land.” She hung on to the railing again as he brought the TARDIS down until it landed beside a fake log cabin with a sign reading ‘Cast Members Only’ on the door. Donna stepped out of the TARDIS and watched as The Doctor locked the door and hung a sign on it. “Ride Closed for Maintenance.”

“Won’t people ignore it?” she asked. “They did in the street. Apart from the woman with the dog. And we were just hanging in the sky and nobody pointed and stared.”

“Perception filter is a funny thing. Most of the time people don’t notice it. They see right through it. Dogs are another matter! That’s why the exterior has a special moisture repelling treatment. But we’re in Disney World. People expect to see strange and unusual things. So the filter doesn’t work.”

“Right.” Again, he didn’t dumb down for her. And she understood, more or less. She shook her head and focussed on the bigger picture. “I’m in Disney World… Florida. I’m in Florida. I’m actually IN Florida.”

“The weather is better than on Mars,” The Doctor told her.

“Yeah, but… Florida…”

“Impressed now?”

“Just a bit,” she responded. “But don’t get too carried away, spaceman!”

“I’ve got a little bit of business to do here. Coming with me?”

“You bet I am,” she answered as he slung the strange device he had earlier around his neck. If you didn’t look too close it was a video camera or something perfectly normal.

She actually took his arm this time when he held it out and walked with him through the crowds enjoying themselves under the flawless blue Florida sky.

“I’m at Disney World!” she said again, giggling at the wonder of it. “An hour ago I was at a miserable job interview in North Acton. Now I’m at Disney World, Orlando, Florida… USA. Ok, I lied before. I really am impressed. But you know we didn’t pay to get in. Is that all right? What if we’re stopped by security?”

“I used to know Walt very well,” The Doctor answered. “He said drop by any time.”

Donna looked at him and said nothing in response to that outrageous comment.

“So what’s the business you have to do? With who?”

“Rehousing a bogeyman.”

“Be serious.”

“Well, I say bogeyman. That’s the name Humans give to them. They’re actually called Avekhezhekuhikkans. Bogeyman is easier on the throat. Their planet exploded centuries ago. They were flung out into space – bodiless entities. A lot of them wound up on Earth, and they got mixed up in Earth superstition as the things that lurk under the bed or in dark corners and frighten you for no reason. Actually, there are really bad things that can lurk in the shadows, but these aren’t dangerous at all, except for people with weak hearts or a nervous disposition – the sort that aren’t supposed to go on the dark rides at places like this. Mostly, they’re lonely and looking for company. Humans fascinate them. But you scream when you see them. Over the years they’ve come to think that’s how you communicate.”

“You’re not joking, are you?”

“No, I’m not. Mostly I leave them alone. But occasionally there’s a nuisance one. This one I chased out of a children’s hospital. I couldn’t let it stay there. The kids had enough problems without being scared when the lights were out. That’s what I was doing when I bumped into you. Trying to get it contained so I could relocate it.”

“So… that thing is a bit like how they caught ghosts in Ghostbusters? Ok… So how…”

“Haunted Mansion,” The Doctor said, steering her towards one of the most famous rides in the park. Donna let herself be steered through the entrance and into a ‘doom buggy’ with The Doctor. She only had one question.

“Where did the queue go? There’s only us here. But there were loads of other people.”

“Perhaps they all had something else to do,” The Doctor lied. He didn’t think she quite trusted him enough yet to be told that he used a whole lot of Power of Suggestion to convince fifty-odd people not to go on this ride just yet. She might start thinking he could control her mind, too, and panic again. He could, of course. But he wouldn’t. He felt bad about doing it to the people in the queue. It went against his sense of morality. It was too much like the sort of thing The Master would do – though for more sinister purposes.

And it was exhausting. When he was done here he would need something with lots of protein and salt to balance his body chemistry after the mental effort.

The ride operator secured them in the buggy and it clanked and bumped along the track and into the ride, past ghosts and ghouls created with animatronics, light effects and mirrors. When they were passing the haunted staircase he pulled out his sonic screwdriver and used it to disrupt the power that drove the buggy along. It shuddered to a halt.

“You did that?”

“The maintenance staff will be here in a minute or so,” he said. “Just enough time for me to sort out chummy here.” He pressed a button on the device and the hum of it powering up was just audible over the shrieks and cries of the faux ghosts. When it reached full power he turned a handle and the bogeyman was extruded from it. It took on a vaguely humanoid shape that loomed over them. The Doctor was aware that Donna had gripped his arm. When three more looming shadows stepped towards them her grip started to feel like a tourniquet.

“You can live here. There are others of your kind. You will get to see hundreds of visitors every day. They will see you and enjoy being scared by you in a safe environment. You stay here. You don’t leave the ride except at night when the park is closed. You come back here before dawn. You understand? Is that a deal?”

“Deal,” said the creature in its sibilant voice. “Thank you.”

“All right then, away you go,” The Doctor told it. The creature and its companions slid away into the darkness. Somewhere up ahead on the ride track there was a voice calling and a torchlight and two ride maintenance staff with uniforms and ID tags appeared.

“Sorry folks,” said one of them, helping to unfasten their safety belts. “Looks like an electrical fault. Lucky there was only the two of you on the ride. My colleague will show you out through the emergency exit. On behalf of Walt Disney World, we hope you’ll accept vouchers redeemable at any of our restaurants and cafes for a meal, as compensation for your disappointment.”

“That’s very kind of you,” said The Doctor, helping Donna out of the buggy. “Very hospitable.”

They redeemed the vouchers for a meal. The Doctor replenished his proteins and salts. Donna ate quietly, watching him all the time.

“What?” he asked.

“It’s not ‘what’ it’s ‘pardon’ or ‘excuse me’,” she told him. “Don’t they do manners on your planet?”

“Yes, but I’ve lived with Humans for a long time,” he answered.

“Fair point,” she conceded. “But… that creature… You didn’t kill it. You brought it here, left it with more of it’s own kind, where it could be happy…”

“How would you kill something made of shadow?” The Doctor asked. “It can’t be done. But why should I? They can’t harm anyone. They don’t want to harm anyone. I don’t like them hiding under children’s beds. That’s not nice. But in a ghost ride, where people go to be scared for fifteen minutes before coming out into the sunshine and buying ice cream – that’s fine.”

“But why in Florida? What’s wrong with the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussauds or Alton Towers or Blackpool Pleasure Beach or...”

“Already full. I told you they’ve been here a while. I’ve relocated quite a lot of them. The Haunted Mansion is a nice big installation. It can take half a dozen more. Then I’ll start on the California one.”

“But… the thing is… It’s still the kindest thing I ever saw… You’re kind. I mean… not many people are these days. At least… they’re kind to kittens and puppies, and cute kids. But not to each other and not to something… creepy and strange… not to ugly things.”

The Doctor said nothing. He thought she had put her finger on a fundamental flaw with the entire universe. It didn’t have enough kindness in it.

“So, anyway, what do we do now that you’ve sorted that out? Are you going to drop me home again?”

“We’re in Disney World and we have all day tickets. I thought you might like to enjoy it.”

“I should…” she thought of asking him to take her home. She was worried about how long this amazing diversion from her real life had taken already. Her mum would be wondering where she was. But then she thought about it again. “I’m in Florida. I couldn’t afford to be here even if I got that stupid job. I don’t want to go home yet. Yeah. Let’s… let’s enjoy ourselves. Let’s do that ride there. And keep that thing of yours in your pocket. I don’t want that breaking down while we’re upside down in mid-air.”

For the second time that day she willingly took his arm. He let her steer him towards the rides she chose. They did everything, even the Haunted Mansion when it re-opened after maintenance. The sunshine of a Florida afternoon slowly cooled to a balmy evening as they enjoyed themselves thoroughly.

It was dark when they found their way back to the TARDIS. The park was closing up around them. Tannoy announcements were telling people where the exits were. Sideshows were shutting down. Lights were going out.

“Fairgrounds are creepy when they shut down.” Donna said as The Doctor opened the TARDIS door. “Is that because… those things come out in the dark?”

“Partly,” The Doctor answered. “Partly because all the energy Humans expel through a day in a place like this starts to dissipate once the lights go off. Lonely places, fairgrounds at night. Though not so lonely as bus stations.” He paused then, and Donna wondered if he was going to explain why he mentioned bus stations. Instead he closed the TARDIS door behind them and bounded to the console. “Anyway, London… home for you.”

“Gawd, it’s late! What will my mother say?” In the aftermath of the excitement, she felt reality catch up with her. “Or is it… Florida… it’s about eight hours behind London. It might not be as late as I thought… or does it not work that way.”

“Not really,” The Doctor answered. “But that was clever thinking, all the same. Don’t worry. I can get you home a few minutes after you bumped into me. I’ll take you straight home. If we go back to the street where we’re still having coffee that would be a bit paradoxical.”

“Course. You said time machine. You can take me back to teatime.”


“No hurry, then. Can we take the scenic route again? Because, for all the rides we went on out there, THIS is the best of them all.”

“I can do that,” he said with a smile as he put the TARDIS into space above Florida and set the course to take them on a full orbit of the planet before bringing them back to London in time for tea. Donna went to the door and opened it. She sat, wedged between the two railings of the gangway and watched, spellbound. Once he had set the co-ordinate The Doctor came and sat next to her. He loved this view of the planet, too. He shared her joyful experience. Only towards the end did he close the door and tell her to join him at the console as he initialised their journey back in time a few hours.

“We’re here,” she said. “My home.”

“Yeah. Just one thing, though. Call it a post-flight check.” He tuned into local radio and got a time and date confirmation from the weather report.


“I once caused a lot of trouble for a girl and her mum by getting twelve hours and twelve months confused. I don’t want to do that again. But we’re ok. So… Donna… thanks for keeping me company. It was… absolutely wonderful.”

“You’re thanking me?” She laughed. “I should thank you. And… I’m sorry for being mean to you…and thinking you were connected to Noel Edmunds. It’s going to be weird tomorrow, though. Signing on at the dole, remembering all of this. But… Anyway… goodbye, Doctor.”

“Goodbye, Donna.” He watched her go out of the door. He kept an eye on her by the viewscreen as she walked up her garden path and opened her front door. He waited a few minutes in case he HAD got it wrong, though if he had, there was nothing he could do about it. To take her back to the right time would cause a serious paradox once the damage was done. As she didn’t come running back out he decided she must be all right after all and set a co-ordinate for the Horsehead Nebula. He spent a pleasant hour sitting in the same spot by the open door, watching a natural light show caused by bombardment of positive and negatively charged space dust that would have had the entertainment directors at Disney World weeping and declaring that they were not worthy. It was breathtakingly lovely. It was exactly what he travelled the universe to see.

And it felt meaningless to him. He needed to see it through somebody else’s eyes. He needed their joy and wonder and astonishment. He needed a friend to share this with. He thought about his most recent companions. Stella and Wyn, even Jamie, would have been enthusiastic. So would Susan and Miche. He thought how Donna would have found Disney World paling into insignificance compared to it.

But on his own…

He sighed and stood up, closing the door. He went and sat on the command chair with his feet up on the console for a long time. Then he stood again and walked around the console to a computer keyboard and monitor. He opened up a word processor page and typed a letter.

Donna Noble got to the railway station an hour early. She realised that was a bad idea. She couldn’t have sat in the kitchen and listened to any more questions from her mum, but being here, now, gave her too much time to wonder and to worry. What if he didn’t come? How stupid was she going to look? What would her mum say when she went home again?”

She took the letter out of her pocket and read it again.

“Donna, if you need a job, I’ll give you one. You can be my secretary. My travelling secretary. I’ll pay you whatever the going rate is in 2009. And, it goes without saying that all your travelling expenses are covered. And there IS a bathroom on the TARDIS. Tell your mum you’ve got a job on a cruise ship or something like that. Tell her you’ll call plenty of times. I can arrange that. Meet me at Euston Station, on the seats near the Body Shop concession stand at four p.m. next Wednesday.”

“The Doctor.”

She looked up at the station clock. It was five to four. Five minutes to find out if he meant it or not.

“Ps. If you’re not there, I’ll understand. It is a big thing I’m asking you to do. But I hope you will be there.”

She looked at the clock again. Five minutes seemed to take so long. She endured four of them with the butterflies increasing in her stomach. Then the last minute seemed to drag on.

“Donna…” She looked around. The butterflies all settled down but her heart flipped over and her mouth was suddenly dry. He was there. She swallowed hard and stood up. She looked past him and saw the TARDIS parked between two passport photo booths.

He looked at the huge suitcase she had with her, and two holdalls with the zips straining under the pressure from within.

“You didn’t say what sort of weather to expect,” she said. “So I came prepared.”

“I should show you the wardrobe,” he said as he picked up the two holdalls and pulled the big suitcase on its wheels. She followed him into the TARDIS. He closed the door and left her luggage beside the hatstand. “Welcome aboard, officially, Donna Noble.”

“Officially your secretary. So what do I do, first? I hope you don’t expect me to make coffee all the time, by the way. That’s what bosses usually expect. As if I spent all that time learning to speed-type and take dictation to make coffee.”

“Well,” The Doctor answered, knowing he didn’t need any speed typing or dictation doing. “You could start by organising my schedule for the next few weeks. Pick our next destination…” He smiled widely. Donna looked at the viewscreen as Euston Station dissolved into a close up view of the moon. Where could she possibly suggest as their next destination? They had all of time and space to choose from.

“Tell you what, just this once… don’t get used to it… You pick the destination. I’ll go make coffee…. If you tell me where the kitchen is. You DO have a kitchen?”

The Doctor told her where the kitchen was. He smiled widely as he set the course for their first real adventure together.