“Um…” The Doctor said as the Time Rotor came to a final stop indicating that they had landed. “There’s something wrong. We don’t seem to be where we’re supposed to be.”

“Where are we supposed to be?” Donna asked.

“Wembley in 1964, to see your team beat mine in the FA Cup final,” he answered. “You support West Ham, don’t you?”

“Yes. You’re not telling me that YOU support Preston North End?” She laughed the laugh of a supporter of a team that was sitting in the top half of the Premiership in the presence of a supporter of one languishing in the middle of the Championship table.

“Well, if you’re going to be all superior about it, perhaps it’s just as well we didn’t get there. But the problem is I don’t know where we are. The environmental scanner tells me it’s Earth. But the date and exact location is registering a null entry. And the monitor is very strange. It seems to be picking up black and white television.”

“So… we could be in some vacuum or void with nothing out there?”

“Could be,” he answered.

“So what do you want to do?”

“Go outside and find out!” He flashed her a wide grin and bounded towards the door before she could protest about being sucked out into a void. She sighed and ran after him. She could see that it wasn’t a void. There was something outside.

“Donna, don’t close the door,” he shouted out, a second after the door closed with the click of the latch. He groaned and put his hands on his head in frustration.

“Sorry,” she apologised. “But… Doctor… what happened to… to you… to me…” She looked at the TARDIS and the scene around them both. “What’s happened to the world?”

She held up her own hand and stared at it. Her usual skin tone was a clean cream colour, not too tanned, not pale either. But right now she was a pale grey. So was The Doctor. Her dress which had been green and white, was grey and white. The Doctor’s tan coloured coat was a light grey. His brown pinstripe suit was dark grey. His face was shades of grey. The world around her was like being inside a black and white television programme.

“We’re not in the world,” The Doctor answered her. “We’re in some sort of alternative reality. And… we’ve got to get out of it. This is wrong. Completely wrong.” He fumbled with the key to the TARDIS and pushed the door open. “Oh. Oh. No! No! No! No!”

Donna yelped in shock. The Doctor stared in horror and grief and kept on saying things like ‘No, no, no!’ and ‘It can’t be. It shouldn’t be possible.’

The inside of the TARDIS was gone. Everything that was the TARDIS. Inside the police box exterior was a police box interior – a wooden box with a bench along the back where a policeman could put a prisoner until the van arrived to take him away. The Doctor tapped the wooden walls desperately. Donna walked around the outside, pressing her hands against it and noting that there was no vibration any more such as she had noted the first time she saw the TARDIS, the vibration she had ceased to notice until now, when it wasn’t there.

“How?” Donna asked. “What’s happened to us? Where is the TARDIS? How… are we… And what’s happened to all the colours?”

“One question at a time, please, Donna,” The Doctor begged in a weary, worried voice.

“Would it matter?” she answered him. “Are you any more likely to have an answer one at a time?”

“No,” he admitted as he rested his head against the wooden door and noticed the lack of a psychic connection with his TARDIS, something he had felt for nearly a millennia before this.

“Where are you?” he whispered, talking to the absent TARDIS, not to Donna.

She looked around. They seemed to be in the high street of a small town, outside its police station. She noticed what should have been a blue lamp over the front door and a board with various posters and notes. The most recent one was dated June 20th, 1955.

She turned and looked at the street. There were no big supermarkets or chain stores. There was a greengrocers, a grocers, baker, butcher in a row. Next to that was a cobblers and a small dress shop next to a men’s tailors. A hardware shop was next to that, and a barbers. Right at the end of the row was a cinema, showing a film called The Ladykillers. She vaguely remembered seeing it once on a Saturday afternoon. It was one of the old ‘Ealing Comedies’ as they were called.

That was exactly what the scene around her reminded her of. Those 1950s British made films. The cars, including the black car with ‘police’ on the front grill that was parked on the apron in front of the station, reminded her of that kind of film. The people she saw coming in and out of the shops were all dressed in fifties fashions.

And it was all in black and white.

“It’s like… we’re in…”

She stopped speaking as a uniformed policeman and one who must have been a plain clothes officer stepped out of the station. The uniformed man got into the driver’s seat of the car. The other turned to The Doctor and spoke to him.

“Detective Inspector Smith,” he said. “It’s lucky you’re here, sir. There’s been a murder at the Grange.”

“Er…. Yes, of course.” The Doctor stepped towards the car. Donna followed him. The plain clothes man looked at her curiously.

“Sergeant Waters… are you off duty? You’re out of uniform.”

“She’s been helping me with some inquiries,” The Doctor said. “Discreet inquiries. Might as well bring her along. She might be able to… er… talk to the female witnesses…”

He opened the back door of the Wolseley 6/80 and held it for Donna to climb in first. As he sat beside her she searched for a seatbelt, but there wasn’t one.

“What’s going on, Doctor?” she asked as the car set off. “I feel like I'm in the middle of an old Saturday afternoon film.”

“We’re in the middle of an old Saturday afternoon film,” The Doctor replied. “I don’t know why or how, but we’re stuck with it for now. I’m DI Smith, you’re Sergeant Waters, and there’s been a murder at the Grange. We’re on our way there.”

“Actually, we’re there,” Donna pointed out as the car turned between two gateposts with lions on top. “How did we…”

“Time contraction,” The Doctor explained. “We’re in a film. Stands to reason. When did you ever see a car journey in a film that was in real time?”

“How can you be so calm about it? We’re in a film. We’re in black and white. The TARDIS is missing.”

“I'm going along with it for now. We seem to be a part of the plot. I’m hoping that when it’s over, when we’ve solved the crime, we’ll get back to normal. Normal for us, that is.”

“So the TARDIS isn’t gone?”

“It’s… obscured,” he said. “We can’t reach it at the moment. And have you noticed how the driveway is just long enough for us to finish this bit of exposition?”

The car stopped on the gravel in front of a substantial stone built house, maybe a century old. There were steps up to the wide front door, which was opened by another uniformed policeman – a constable - who probably owned the bicycle that was propped against the bottom of the steps.

“Good afternoon, sir,” the constable said to The Doctor. “A bad business, this. You’ll be wanting to see the body straight away? It’s in the study.”

“If his name is Professor Plum and there’s a piece of lead piping in evidence I’m out of here,” Donna whispered to The Doctor. He smiled at her and then frowned as he turned back to the constable. “It’s in the study? Constable, however long the body has been deceased, it was a Human being. ‘It’ is still a ‘he’ or a ‘she’.”

“He’s in the study, sir,” the constable corrected himself. “Er… he’s… it doesn’t look so good. I don’t think….” He looked at Donna pointedly.

“Quite right,” The Doctor agreed. “Sergeant Waters, why don’t you go and take down the particulars of the witnesses.”

“I… don’t have a notebook,” she replied. “I’m not in my uniform. Then she reached into her coat pocket and to her surprise there was a police notebook and a sharpened pencil.

“They’re all in the drawing room,” the constable said. “Maid and cook and all. I said you’d want them all to stay together.”

“Yes, do that,” he said. “Detective Sergeant Miles, come with me to the study.”

Funny, The Doctor thought, not because he found himself instantly stepping into the study without having walked to it, but because he had called the Detective Sergeant by name and he hadn’t even known his name until that moment. He decided to worry about later. Right now there was a body to examine. It was lying on the floor beside a big oak desk and an upturned chair. Somebody had put a tablecloth over it. He crouched down and lifted the cloth.

The constable was right about one thing. The body wasn’t pretty. The back of the head was a bloody pulp of hair, skull and brain tissue where the disintegrating bullet had exited. A much neater hole where it went in was between the eyes. The phrase ‘dum-dum bullet’ popped into his mind from somewhere. He also noted that the bullet was fired at very close quarters – the gun pressed right against the forehead. There was a tell tale ring of burnt gunpowder on the flesh.

He quickly looked around to see if the gun was near the victim, which might suggest suicide, not murder. There was none. He turned back and looked closely at the deceased. He was in his mid fifties, slightly overweight as if he was used to being active but had gone to seed a bit in retirement. He was dressed in a tweed suit and had the sort of military moustache that reminded The Doctor of his old friend, Lethbridge-Stewart. He just knew that the victim was going to have a name prefixed with ‘Major’, ‘Colonel’ or possibly ‘Brigadier’.

He stood up and walked around the room carefully. The tipped over chair was the only sign of a struggle. There was no open safe or plundered drawers. There had been no robbery.

He examined the papers on the desk and allowed himself a satisfied smile as he discovered that the victim was, indeed, one Colonel Cosworth.

“Military man,” The Doctor said to the Detective Sergeant. “Might have had an old weapon in the house. Souvenir of his army days. Go and ask Mrs Cosworth - discreetly, if you would – where it was kept. It could well be the murder weapon.”

The Detective Sergeant went to do that. The Doctor reached into his coat pocket for his sonic screwdriver. He was surprised to find it wasn’t there.

“Of course!” he murmured. “It belongs with the TARDIS. I’m Detective Inspector Smith of….” He found what should have been his psychic paper. Instead it was a warrant card identifying him as DI Smith of the Hertfordshire Constabulary, based, apparently, in the station at Hadleywood.

A fictional town. There was no such place in Hertfordshire.

Anyway, no sonic screwdriver, no psychic paper. He would have to sort this out using his own wits.

Good job he had plenty.

He turned back to the body and touched the flesh. He measured the temperature as sixty degrees Fahrenheit, a good twenty degrees colder than a living Human being. Given the ambient temperature in the room, that meant he had been dead at least….

Detective Inspector Smith shook his head. He tried to remember what he was thinking. Yes, the body felt cool. He had been dead several hours. He would guess about…”

The Doctor shook his head and then shivered in fright. That wasn’t good. He actually lost himself for a few seconds. He felt as if he was DI Smith.

“I am The Doctor,” he told himself. “I am a Time Lord from Gallifrey in the Constellation of Kasterborus. I am 1,000 years old. I know everything about everything.”

He went to the window and examined it carefully. It was a casement type and open about an inch for fresh air. But it was only a few feet from the ground. Somebody could have got in that way and closed it on the way out.

He reached in his pockets. Apart from the sonic screwdriver and psychic paper everything he usually carried was in there. including a pair of surgical gloves screwed up in a ball in the bottom corner of the left pocket. He opened them out and slipped them on before he lifted the casement and looked out.

“Sergeant?” he called going to the door of the study.


He was surprised when it was Donna who came to his call, not the Detective Sergeant. Even more so when he saw she was wearing a police woman’s uniform of straight skirt, navy blue stockings, sensible shoes, blouse, jacket and cap.


At least he thought he said Donna. The name that actually passed his lips was Elizabeth. And Donna’s reply surprised him even more than that.

“John…” she breathed in a peculiar way. “Oh…. You’ve never called me by my name when we’re working before….”

She came closer and The Doctor was surprised when she put her arms around his neck and kissed him. He had a strange flash of memory – music played on strings and piano rose dramatically while curtains blew in at a darkened window and a bedroom door closed – a 1950s film flashback on a night of passion that had apparently taken place between Detective Inspector John Smith and Sergeant Elizabeth Waters.

“What kind of a film are they making?” he murmured as she stopped kissing him and adjusted her cap.

“What was that, John?” Donna asked. Even her accent seemed different. She sounded like a middle class grammar school girl who had been taught to speak ‘properly’.

“Donna… catch on to yourself,” he said, holding her by the shoulders and shaking her gently. “Donna… remember who you are. Remember your mum, your granddad… Chiswick. Remember that you don’t fancy a skinny alien like me in the slightest and the thought of kissing me would make you fall over laughing.”

“Doctor!” Donna managed to say in her own voice. Then the persona of Elizabeth Waters took over again. “John… what’s the matter? Why are you holding me so tightly… What is…”

“I'm sorry,” he answered. “D…. Elizabeth, please could you ask Detective Sergeant Miles to get the fingerprint kit from the car and dust the windowsill and sash. And also make plaster casts of the footprints outside the window. I think somebody came in that way. Meanwhile, I shall go and talk to the witnesses. May I have your notebook for reference?”

“Yes, Detective Inspector,” Sergeant Waters answered, remembering her professional relationship with her superior. She gave him the notebook and scurried off. He headed for the drawing room, again finding himself there without doing very much walking.

The two uniformed policemen were there. He sent one of them to go and assist the Detective Sergeant in what would be called forensic policing in another thirty or forty years. He wasn’t sure what they called it now. He stood and glanced briefly at the assembled witnesses/suspects and then very carefully and deliberately opened Donna’s notebook. He noticed that it began with neat and efficient pitman shorthand and then changed halfway through the sentence into longhand when the persona of the police woman took over. Sergeant Waters had obviously no plans to be a secretary.

From the notes he gleaned that the older woman sitting by the window, sobbing into her handkerchief, was the widow, Mrs Margery Cosworth. The younger woman, in her mid-twenties, was her unmarried daughter, Lavinia. The boy, aged eighteen, was Nigel Cosworth, their son. The cook was Joan Fielding and the maid’s name was Mary Walker.

Of them all, the maid was crying the loudest and hardest. She was a plump girl with clean, well scrubbed cheeks and hands that looked like they spent too much time in carbolic soap suds. The Doctor stepped towards her, crouching by her side as she sat on a straight backed chair looking out of place in the room she normally just dusted and polished.

“You found the body?” he guessed.

“Yes, sir,” she answered. “I went in to do the dusting, and he was… Oh, sir… it was horrible. His face. Ohhh….”

That was about as much evidence as she could possibly give even if she could stop crying. The Doctor managed to get a confirmation of the time when she went to begin her dusting. But that was about all.

What more could a maid possibly tell? She was unlikely to be involved in the murder. What could she possibly gain?”

“All right, Mary,” The Doctor said gently. “Why don’t you and cook go back to the kitchen and have a nice cup of tea. The constable will go with you. I’m sure he’d appreciate a cup, too. If I need to ask anything of either of you, I’ll come on down to see you.”

That got the last of the policemen and the domestic help out of the room. Now he could concentrate on the family.

Detective Inspector Smith looked at the witnesses and then stepped towards the widow, first.

“Mrs Cosworth,” he began. “I wonder if….”

He stopped.

The Doctor shook his head. It almost happened again. Donna was gone. He was fading in and out. If he lost himself completely, could he ever get back? Would he be trapped here, as Inspector Smith, forever? What would happen to The Doctor if Inspector Smith took him over?

And just how real was this monochrome world, anyway? Were these people even real? If this was a film, weren’t they just fictional characters. They seemed pretty much stereotypes anyway, the sort that pop up in every run of the mill detective story. The bit of back story about Smith and Sergeant Waters was about the only different bit. That was a touch of spiciness for a British film of the nineteen-fifties.

Fictional characters or not, his instinct was to sympathise. Mrs Cosworth had lost her husband. She was inconsolable.

“Did your husband have any enemies?” The Doctor asked gently, in between sobs and gushes of tears.

“Only the Nazis that he fought in the war,” she answered. “He was a hero, you know. He got a medal from the king himself. Who would want to kill an old war hero?”

“Who, indeed?” Detective Inspector Smith asked. “What about his will? Who is the beneficiary? Yourself and your children, is it? I…”

Smith paused. He felt strange. He didn’t remember asking the first question.

Ohhh, The Doctor thought. It’s getting more frequent.

“I am The Doctor,” he told himself. “I am a Time Lord from Gallifrey in the Constellation of Kasterborus. I am 1,000 years old and I could solve this simple little mystery with my eyes shut.”

“Inspector?” He opened his eyes and found the daughter, Lavinia, touching his arm anxiously. “Are you all right? You looked as if you were going to faint.”

“Yes, yes,” The Doctor replied. “Quite all right now, thank you. Just… a touch of malaria, you know. I was in the Far East towards the end of the war…”

Assuming Smith to be in his mid to late thirties, that was a plausible answer to the question, and one that gained him some kudos in this family with military history of their own.

“I thought I recognised officer material in you,” Mrs Cosworth said. “The bearing of authority. The Colonel always says….” She breathed deeply and composed herself. “Nigel, get Inspector Smith a glass of water.”

“Yes, mama,” the boy said and rose from his seat to go to the drinks cabinet. He half filled a glass with slightly melting ice from the dispenser drawer and then topped it up from the soda siphon. The Doctor accepted the drink gratefully as he paid attention to Mrs Cosworth again.

“You were asking about my husband’s will,” Mrs Cosworth said. “I am afraid there is no motive for murder there. This house, in fact, belongs to me. I inherited it on the death of my father, there being no other heir since my brother died in the Great War. My husband’s assets are relatively small. He had a portfolio of stocks and shares, some savings, a few good antiques. But nothing worth killing him for.” She hiccupped and sobbed again before remembering something else. “There is the insurance policy, of course.”

“Life insurance?” The Doctor asked. “On the Colonel? Who stands to benefit from that?”

“All of us,” she answered. “He took it out intending it to be a nest egg for us all. Lavinia is getting married next summer – it would set her up in her new home. Nigel has university. And I…. I would have to sell The Grange and move into a smaller property if there were not something to fall back on. He meant for it to provide for us all.”

“So,” The Doctor thought. Three suspects, three motives.

“I see… well, that seems to be in order. All I need to know now is where each of you were at the time of the murder – which we believe to be about nine o’clock this morning. That’s when we believe the intruder broke into the study and disturbed the Colonel.

“An intruder?” Lavinia queried. “You mean you think…”

“Detective Sergeant Miles is at this very moment following the footprints left by person or persons unknown under the window,” The Doctor replied. “If you look out of the window you will see him heading towards that small copse of trees that marks the boundary of the property. The sort of place an intruder could watch the house from. Perhaps he noted some of you leaving to go shopping or…”

“Mama and I were at the church, flower arranging,” Lavinia said. “We do that every week. Yes, we were there about nine o’clock. That was when the thunderstorm broke. I remember. Oh, inspector, do you suppose that’s why nobody heard the gunshot?”

“Quite possibly,” The Doctor answered.

“Quite possibly,” Inspector Smith echoed. He looked around at the window to see Sergeant Waters hurrying across the lawn towards the house. Detective Sergeant Miles and the uniformed Constable were coming along at a slower pace, carrying something.

“Do excuse me for a few minutes,” he said. “There is something I must attend to.”

He left the drawing room and reached the hall as Sergeant Waters ran in.

“Sergeant,” he said. “Compose yourself. You are flustered and breathless. It is neither professional nor ladylike.”

“I’m sorry, John,” she answered. “But… I thought you should know. We found… found a pair of boots and gloves… over in the trees. The killer… must have used them. Detective Sergeant Miles didn’t find any fingerprints at all. He thinks the killer used the gloves. And the boots match the prints by the window.”

“But the trail goes cold in the woods?” Inspector Smith mused. “Why did the intruder leave such clues behind? And why did he attack the Colonel anyway? What possible motive is there?”

He stepped out of the house as the Detective Sergeant arrived. He examined the evidence cursorily and told the constable to stow it safely in the boot of the Wolseley, then he sent them both back to the copse to see if they could pick up the trail again, though he doubted it. He really just wanted them out from under his feet while he got on with the job.

“Did you check that the Colonel’s gun was still there?” Sergeant Waters asked. “Mrs Cosworth said it was in a locked drawer in the desk. In a box. It’s in my notes, sir.”

“Yes, indeed it is,” he answered. “Let’s check that now, Sergeant.”

“In the study? Where the body is?” Sergeant Waters looked uncomfortable. “John… I…”

“It’s quite all right,” he promised her. “The Colonel is decently covered. The ambulance should be here soon to remove the body. But meanwhile, you will not see anything to distress you.”

“Silly of me,” she managed to say. “I should be braver. After all, I wanted to be a policewoman. I should expect to see unpleasant things, just like the men do.”

“Elizabeth, my dear,” Inspector Smith replied. “Women in the police were never meant to share the men’s burden in that way. You are meant to direct traffic and look after lost children. For that matter, I wish you were at home directing the household and minding our own children. That would be a much better place for the woman I love.”

“Oh… John!” Sergeant Waters blushed prettily under her cap – in black and white, anyway. “Oh… do you mean… you are asking me… is this a proposal?”

“No,” he answered. “Not here, in the home of a murdered man and his distraught family. But later… when we are done with this affair… there is a fine restaurant I know. Fine wine, good food, candlelight. I shall do it properly. It is time we stopped pretending how we feel about each other and made it official. Even if that does mean you have to resign your position, Elizabeth.”

“Oh!” Sergeant Waters beamed with joy. Despite being in uniform, and on duty, and at a crime scene, she reached up and kissed him with all the passion that a character in a black and white British film of the 1950s could display.

Sweet mother of chaos,” The Doctor thought as he claimed back his own personality for a few seconds. “Who wrote this script?”

“Later, Elizabeth,” Inspector Smith cautioned. “We have a job to do. We must conduct ourselves properly.”

“Yes, John,” she answered. She came with him into the study, averting her eyes from the covered body as the Inspector found the keys to the drawer and unlocked it. He took out a box and opened it with another key. Inside was a handgun. A Webley, he thought at first glance. Standard issue for army officers in the war that ended ten years ago.

“So that wasn’t the murder weapon?”

“Oh, yes it is,” Smith said. “This gun was fired only a few hours ago. There is soot on the barrel.”

“Should it be dusted for fingerprints, then?”

“Waste of time. There won’t be any.” He looked around and his detective’s instinct told him there was something else about this scene of crime that didn’t meet the eye.

“Do you see it, Elizabeth?” he asked. “Something very obvious that even I missed at first. Something quite foolish. The attempt to cover up what really happened here was completely amateur. As might be expected, of course.”

Sergeant Waters looked around. It took her a while, but then she realised what he was getting at. Her eyes widened.

“Oh… that means…"


“Oh, dear.”

“I still need to talk to the boy. I wonder what his story is?”

It took the blink of an eye to return to the drawing room. Mrs Cosworth and Lavinia were sitting together by the window, comforting each other. The son was sitting by the fireplace, very quiet and still.

“Nigel,” Inspector Smith said. “You haven’t told me where you were when all this occurred.”

“I… w…. was…” Nigel stammered nervously. “I was… I was… at the pond, testing… my… my model boat. It’s… it’s…”

“He probably was, sir,” Lavinia cut in as his stammer deteriorated even further. “It’s his hobby. He builds them from bits of wood. They’re quite special. I am sure that’s where he said he was going this morning.”

“Then you don’t have to be scared,” Inspector Smith said. “Why are you shaking? If you’ve told the truth then you’ve nothing to worry about. Have you told me the truth?”

“Inspector, I must protest,” Mrs Cosworth managed to say. “My husband… the boy’s father… is lying dead in… in the study. And you accuse him of falsehood. How can you…”

“Please let me do my job,” Inspector Smith asked her quietly before turning back to the son. “Show me your hands, Nigel.” Nigel raised his hands slowly, palms down. “The other way up.” He turned them around. The Inspector noted that there were blisters on his fingers as if he had touched something hot. For some reason the word ‘epithelial’ came into his mind but as he had no idea what the word meant he passed over it.

“You burnt yourself?”

“I don’t know how that happened,” Nigel replied. “I was… just testing my model boats.”

“Mmm.” Inspector Smith walked around the room, slowly, looking at the three family members. As he did so Sergeant Waters came in to tell him that the ambulance had arrived to collect the body and that Detective Sergeant Miles was dealing with it.

“Good,” he answered. “We’ll be finished here very soon. I’ve got a good idea of what happened.”

“You do?” Sergeant Waters was surprised.

“You do?” Lavinia looked equally surprised. “Do you know who killed my father, then?”

“The evidence points to it being an intruder who came in through the window and killed the Colonel – possibly in a bungled attempt at burglary. There are clear tracks to and from the window and the discarded boots and gloves were clearly used in the break in.”

He paused and watched the faces before him. Did somebody look relieved?

“At least, that is what we are meant to believe. But was it really the case? There are some obvious problems with this theory.”

“What do you mean, Inspector?” Mrs Cosworth asked.

“The intruder crossed the lawn from the woods, in daylight, in plain sight of the study where the Colonel was. And nobody challenged him. But let’s leave that for the moment. It was raining. The area beneath the window was muddy. His boots made a clear imprint. But there is no mud on the windowsill or on the carpet inside. Then there is the murder weapon. Let’s assume that the Colonel saw the stranger crossing the lawn and instead of going to the window and shouting at him to push off he got his gun out of a locked box in a locked drawer, loaded it, and waited until the intruder had climbed into the room – in his socks, presumably, to avoid leaving muddy footprints. Let’s assume that there was a brief struggle and the intruder managed to get hold of the gun and then shoot the Colonel. Improbable but not impossible. But why on Earth would the intruder then put the smoking gun back in the box and lock it in the drawer? Why waste so much time, knowing that somebody might come running any moment, disturbed by the noise.”

“I can’t imagine, Inspector,” Lavinia said. “Perhaps…” She stopped. She couldn’t think of any plausible explanation.

“Perhaps it was put back by somebody who knew exactly where it was supposed to belong,” the Inspector continued. “But who didn’t expect it to be hot. When he had been allowed to handle it before it was unloaded and unused... when he listened to his father’s war stories and pulled the trigger at a pretend target.”

“How did I know that?” the Inspector wondered. “How did I have such a vision in my head of young Nigel sitting in his father’s lap playing with the gun?”

“Because I saw that in his head,” The Doctor replied. “Move over, Inspector Smith. I'm going to wrap this up once and for all. I want to go home and if the only way to do it is to solve the crime, then I’m going to do it. Granted, you did a lot of the work yourself. I’m impressed by the way you figured out the bit about no mud on the carpet. And the gun. Mind you, we’re not exactly dealing with criminal masterminds, here.”

“Inspector!” Mrs Cosworth cried out in an angry voice. “What are you saying? That my son killed my husband?”

“No,” The Doctor answered her. “I'm saying that he hid the gun. In the place he thought nobody was likely to search for it. He picked it up off the floor – by the barrel, little expecting it to be hot. He burnt his fingertips. And it never occurred to him that a gun that has been recently fired has burnt powder, a residue, that can be easily spotted. Perhaps he thought we wouldn’t examine a gun that was exactly where it was supposed to be.”

“I didn’t kill my father,” Nigel protested.

“No, you didn’t. Neither did Lavinia, who laid the trail in the woods, but is so well brought up she didn’t think about leaving muddy footprints in the house.”

“Now this is ridiculous,” Lavinia said. “Why would I…”

“Because I’m afraid all three of you are covering up the truth,” The Doctor replied. “There was no murder here. Colonel Cosworth committed suicide.”

Beside him, Donna, still in the persona of Elizabeth Waters, gasped in shock. The exclamations of the family were much louder, but for very different reasons.

“But why…” she began. “Why would he do that… and why would they cover it up?”

“Why? Health, finance, goodness knows. Why would they cover it up? The most honest reason would be the shame of a suicide in the family. But, let’s ask them, shall we. Mrs Cosworth, what reason would your husband have to end his life?”

“Cancer,” she answered in a resigned tone. “He was diagnosed a month ago. He was only in a little pain, yet. But it was going to get worse. He would be bed-ridden, helpless. He was an officer, he commanded men. He was an active man. The thought of dying piece by piece, looking at the ceiling. He told me he would rather die all at once. And I…. Oh, God forgive me, but I agreed with him. I felt it was better. So… he agreed… he would do it. He told us all last night. We all cried. We… said our farewells. We made plans. We arranged how it would happen and when. You… were wrong about the time, Inspector. It wasn’t nine o’clock when we all had alibis. It was an hour earlier – eight o’clock. Mary wasn’t here yet. She only starts work at nine. Cook has a hearing aid. She wouldn’t have heard an earthquake. We… waited in the hall until it was done. And then….”

“Mama didn’t go into the room,” Nigel said, his stammer much improved now he was not trying to lie. “I am the man of the house now. I… I put the gun away. Lavinia… made the trail. Mama set off to the church. She met her there. They did the flowers. I went out with my boats. We came back… then Mary went to do the dusting.”

“Isn’t it nicer telling the truth?” The Doctor said to him. “I lied, too, by the way. I knew the Major had been killed earlier. I could tell by his body temperature. Though of course that kind of science will never stand up in court in this day and age. But it doesn’t need to, since you’ve confessed.”

“Court?” Mrs Cosworth swooned dramatically and then rallied. “Of course, you must do your job, Inspector. Quite right. But… will we go to prison?”

“Lying to an officer of the law, tampering with evidence, attempted fraud – you knew, of course, that no insurance company will pay out on the life of a suicide. Wasting police time? Have I missed anything? They are all very serious charges with serious penalties. I think the fraud, at least, would carry a custodial sentence.”

“It… wasn’t greed,” Lavinia said. “The insurance… it wasn’t a huge sum. Just nest eggs for Nigel and myself, money for mother to pay the bills with. And they would have paid eventually when father died of the cancer. It was just… we just thought we could make the claim a little earlier. It isn’t really fraud if you look at it that way.”

“But I’m afraid the insurance company won’t see it that way,” The Doctor replied, not unsympathetically. “Though it was an interesting plea, I must say. Very heartfelt.”

“Inspector Smith would call in Detective Sergeant Miles and the constable and arrest them all now,” The Doctor thought. “The law is the law. And they are serious crimes.”

Yes, Inspector Smith would. His persona had occupied The Doctor’s mind long enough. He knew him. He would be kind, sympathetic, but he would arrest them and let the courts decide their fate.

But I'm The Doctor. And I do things differently.

“Detective Sergeant Miles has stored the evidence safely in the car, has he not, Sergeant?”

“Yes, sir. The plaster casts of the footprints, and the results of the finger print test and the gloves and boots.”

“The bullet was what we call a dum dum,” The Doctor said. “Cut in a certain way, so that it breaks apart on entry into the body. Makes a distressing mess, and is certain to kill, and it is impossible to recover the pieces of the bullet and determine what kind it was, what sort of gun it came from.”

“But you know what gun it came from.” Lavinia pointed out. “You…”

“The evidence points to a failed robbery. The murderer got away through the woods. The trail was lost there. We have no way of knowing where he went, whether he was on foot or in a car. With nothing more to go on, its unlikely we will ever know who killed the colonel.”

“But…” Mrs Cosworth stared at The Doctor. “What are you saying…”

“Just one thing,” he continued. “Don’t even think of collecting on that insurance. Everything else, I could put down to shock, grief, you weren’t thinking straight. I can let it pass. But to claim the money, that would be too much. I can’t turn a blind eye to that. You don’t get your nest eggs, but at least you won’t be dragged through the courts. Let that suffice. Try to get the money, and I will re-open the case, even if it means I'm shown up as a fool for missing vital and obvious clues.”

“You really mean that…” Mrs Cosworth was completely overcome. Lavinia and Nigel both looked at The Doctor gratefully.

“Come along Sergeant Waters,” he said. “It’s time we left these people in peace. They need to mourn their loss as a family.”

Sergeant Waters turned and followed him out to the hallway. There she stopped and gripped his arm. He looked at her.

“John… that was…the most magnificent thing I have ever seen you do. You are marvellous. Simply marvellous. And I love you.”

At that she reached and kissed him again. The Doctor sighed.

“Who DOES write these scripts?” he complained. “Donna!”

As he said her name, he looked at her and blinked in surprise. She had red hair underneath the dark blue police cap. She was in colour. He looked down at his own brown pinstripe suit and tan coat. He looked around at colours that startled him after being in a black and white world for so long.

They weren’t in The Grange anymore, either. Nor was it midday as it was approaching when he left the Cosworth’s to their own devices.

This room was in bright sunshine of an early summer morning. The curtains were pulled across to let in light and air from the window. It was clearly a sick room – that is to say that somebody was sick in it, not that the room was sick. The sick somebody was lying in his bed, beside an array of pills and bottles on the cabinet. He was awake and looking at them.

“Hello,” he said in a quiet voice.

“Oh, hello to you,” The Doctor replied with a bright smile. “I’m sorry for the intrusion. I don’t know quite how we got here. But I apologise unreservedly.”

“I think I brought you here,” the man replied. “I’m… could you help me to sit up?”

The Doctor stepped towards the bed and helped the surprisingly light man to sit comfortably with his pillows propping him up. The Doctor poured him a glass of water from a jug and he drank gratefully.

“Yes, it is all my fault,” he continued. “My name is Anthony Montgomery. I am the author of the Inspector Smith Mysteries. You may have seen the series, on TV.”

“I'm sorry,” Donna answered. “I don’t think I’ve heard of it.”

“It’s 1956,” The Doctor said, looking at his watch. “You write a series for the new Independent Television?”

“That’s right. Not everyone has it in their area yet. Maybe that’s why you haven’t seen it.” He sighed. “That means you’ll probably never see my work. I won’t be writing any more. Well, maybe one more. The last one.”

“You’re dying?” The Doctor said in a matter of fact tone.”

“It’s my heart,” he said. “I’m like a clock winding down to its last tick. Could go any minute. I hope not. I really want to write the last story. They paid me for it. I would feel I was letting them down. I had the start of it written yesterday – dictated to my secretary. I get too tired to sit at a typewriter. But I was stuck. Couldn’t get the story to work at all. Couldn’t think who had killed the Colonel at all. I went to sleep worrying about it, and I dreamt… I dreamt the story. You were both in it. You’re not quite like the usual actors. But I felt as if… you were more like the Inspector John Smith I originally envisaged. You were him.”

“For a while, I was. I lost who I really was,” The Doctor said. “It was dangerous. Not your fault. Your imagination literally ran wild. It caught us up and put us in the story. We had to get to the end, solve the case, before we could get out.”

“How could that happen?” Donna asked. “Doesn’t make sense.”

“No, it doesn’t. And trying to explain would be very tedious. Let’s just accept that it happened. Did you like my solution to the case?”

“It’s excellent. And of course, John and Elizabeth have their happy ever after, too.” Montgomery smiled apologetically. “I know, it’s not Shakespeare. It’s hack stuff for a populist audience. But I have always been rather proud of it. Even though… I’m not sure police dramas are really going to last on television.”

“Are you kidding?” Donna replied. “You can’t turn on the TV without a cop show somewhere. The Bill, Inspector Frost, Law and Order, CSI, reruns of The Sweeney and Juliet Bravo on UK Gold….” Donna stopped talking. Mr Montgomery looked very puzzled and The Doctor was giving her the look he reserved for when she was talking too much.

“Everything seems to have worked out for the best,” The Doctor said. “Now, if I can just find my TARDIS, we’ll be on our way.”

“I don’t know what a TARDIS is,” Mr Montgomery said. “But the police box you were worried about in the start of the story is behind you.”

The Doctor turned, feeling a bit silly for not having done so before. The TARDIS was right there, by the bedroom door. He reached out and touched it and felt the familiar vibration. He reached for his key, which was in the same pocket as his psychic paper and sonic screwdriver, and unlocked the door. He went inside and looked around his familiar console room before stepping back outside.

“She’s all there, Donna,” he said. “The TARDIS is whole again. We can get out of here.”

“Not yet,” she said. She was sitting on the edge of the bed with a notepad and pen in her hand. “Don’t you find, Doctor, when you wake up from a dream, it fades after a while. I’m writing down Mr Montgomery’s story before he forgets it. His secretary can type it up later.”

“Great idea,” The Doctor said. “You do that while I run some diagnostics on the old girl. I might find out what happened, even.”

He didn’t. The TARDIS seemed unaware of anything unusual occurring. Nothing was wrong with any of its circuits – at least nothing that wasn’t already wrong, or that didn’t matter. Instead he moved to the database and found something else to look up while Donna was busy.

When he stepped out again, she was closing the notebook. The story was written.

“My last story,” Mr Montgomery said. “I hope they will produce it, even if I’m not with them. Perhaps you will get to see it?”

“We’ll try,” Donna said to him.

“Yes, we will,” The Doctor agreed. “But you get some rest now. It’s been a long morning already and it’s barely eight o’clock. When does your day staff come on duty?”

“Very soon,” he answered. “I have a nurse and a cook, cleaner, as well as the secretary. They all fuss about me. That’s why I send them home and refuse to have anyone here at night. If I die in my sleep, then all well and good. They can lay me out in the morning.”

“Good philosophy, Mr Montgomery,” The Doctor said. “I always wanted to die in my sleep. Never quite managed it. Anyway, we’ll be off. All the best to you.”

“Goodbye,” Donna said as The Doctor took her arm and they stepped into the TARDIS. He closed the door. She watched Mr Montgomery wave to them on the viewscreen before the TARDIS dematerialised.

“He was a nice man,” she said. “Will they make his last TV episode?”

“Yes,” The Doctor said. “He’ll live long enough to see a preview copy of it. Though by the time it broadcasts he’ll have slipped away, quietly, in his sleep, the way he wanted it to be. I found an archive copy of it, by the way. Inspector Smith’s Last Case. Would you like to watch it on the monitor while I set us on our way to that football match?”

“Give me a minute to change out of this horrible outfit,” she replied, looking at Elizabeth Waters’ uniform that she still wore. “Then you’re on.”

“I thought you looked rather fetching,” The Doctor said.

“Yeah, right.” She looked at him closely. “You know… I seem to vaguely remember… John and Elizabeth… snogging a couple of times.”


“Just so you know, I’m not soppy Elizabeth Waters. I’m Donna Noble and I don’t fancy skinny aliens. Especially ones who support Preston North End.”