Unfinished Business, Doctor Who, Dr. Who, Chris Eccleston, Christopher Eccleston, Doctor who Fiction

“Mmm,” The Doctor said, flicking between different views of a planet on the big screen.

Marie looked up from marking the efforts of her class to explain the Irish Famine of 1845.

“Mmm, what?”

“Inisfree… that lovely ‘back to basics’ planet where I learnt to dig a potato field and you became adept at spinning wool. There’s rather a dramatic environmental thing going on.”

Marie stood and came to his side. She wasn’t entirely sure what she was looking at to begin with, except that it wasn’t right for the lush, green, fertile planet she had visited before.

“The southern continent is almost entirely covered in untouched forests,” The Doctor explained. “The human colonists haven’t even come close to exploiting it, yet. The north-east section of it – an area the size of France – has been devastated by fire. Nothing unusual about that in itself. It’s nature’s way of clearing the way for new growth. But this one has been a bit bigger than usual and its thrown a lot of debris into the atmosphere.”

“Enough to change the climate, affect crop growth, that sort of thing?” Her mind was still half focussed on those history essays. The one thing even the least imaginative of her students grasped was that crop failures in mainly agrarian societies were bad.

“Quite possibly,” The Doctor confirmed. “Let’s catch up on some of our friends and see how the land lies.”

They didn’t go, this time, to the small fishing village where they had met the Devaney family on their first visit. Instead, The Doctor brought the TARDIS to the town a mere hundred miles inland.

“Béal an Átha Nuadh,” he announced as they stepped out of the TARDIS onto a gently sloping high street of a small, clean town.

“New Ballina,” Marie translated. “Old Ballina is quite nice. I’ve got cousins there.”

The buildings were mostly two storey and tiled rather than the single storey thatched cottages of the village previously visited. The walls were painted in various shades of pastel colours as was common in rural Irish towns of Marie’s generation.

The chief difference between the Ireland she knew and this Irish colony in a distant solar system was the lack of commercialization. There were no supermarkets here, no Top Shop and Next, no Costa coffee shops. The shops here were the sort that old Ballina would have had fifty years before her time – a locally owned butcher, a baker, yes, even a candle maker to complete the rhyme. Electricity was still frowned upon.

The internal combustion engine was eschewed on Inisfree. The horse was the main means of transport, as evidenced by a trough of fresh water and a ick of hay at the crossroads between the two widest roads.

But there were no horses there. The town was quiet.

Too quiet.

“It’s mid-morning. People ought to be about,” Marie commented as she looked at the shuttered windows of the grocers, post office, ironmongers. She looked up at the sky. There was something about it she had been trying to ignore, but now she knew she had to pay it her full attention.

“It’s that, isn’t it,” she sighed.

The sky was a smoky-yellow colour and the sun, an hour before its zenith, was blood red.

The Doctor looked at it, too, and nodded.

“But this isn’t anything to worry about. It happened in Ireland a couple of months back. Sand from the Sahara was picked up by prevailing winds and it blocked certain parts of the light spectrum making the sun appear red. Those forest fires we saw from orbit would do that. It’s just a short term thing. It’ll go away in a day or so at worst.”

The Doctor nodded approvingly at her understanding of the science behind the phenomena. She told him not to be so patronising. Besides, it had been mentioned on the RTÉ News several times.

“The point is, as weird as it looks, it is perfectly natural.”

“But you don’t live in a society scared rigid of ‘Tribulation’,” The Doctor pointed out. “This lot might be taking it a bit too seriously. Ah, here we are.”

He stopped by one of the few buildings without tight shutters. The painted sign declared it to be the headquarters of the New Ballina Herald – a newspaper of all things. Sean Houlihan was named above the door as the proprietor.

“I thought he was a blacksmith?”

“New town, new career.” The Doctor pushed open the door and stood aside to let Marie enter first.

The front office of the Herald was warm and quiet, though there were noises and vibrations from below that suggested the printing press was in the cellar. Copies of the last edition were on the counter. It was a single broad sheet folded in half to make four pages in all. There was obviously either a paper shortage or a news shortage. Marie glanced at the front page and noted that the mayor had approved a scheme to improve waste water removal in the town environs, two men had been given a week’s community service for being drunk and disorderly on a Saturday night and it was unseasonably warm for autumn.

“Marie… Doctor….” A pleased voice greeted them. Marie recognised Sarah Devaney – now with a thin gold ring on her finger that made her Mrs Sarah Houlihan. She looked about ten years older than when Sean took her away to live in the town. When a shy boy of about nine years of age peeped from behind her skirt that confirmed the time scale.

“It’s good to see you,” Sarah continued. “Especially now. We have been praying, and perhaps you are the answer to those prayers. Seanín, run and tell your da that we have welcome visitors. Come away up to the parlour, both of you.”

Sarah locked the front door and pulled down the blinds before turning and leading the two visitors through to the private back rooms and up a flight of stairs to the upper floor away from the sound of the press. There they were installed in comfortable chairs by a warm turf fire while Sarah busied herself with tea-making.

“Turf fires and tea….” Marie commented with a faint smile of nostalgia despite LIKING central heating and preferring coffee. There were obvious long term issues of cutting turf bogs up for fuel, but even so, there was a strange, almost genetic sense that this was how it SHOULD be.

Sean Houlihan, also looking ten years older, came into the parlour holding his son’s hand. He greeted The Doctor and Marie as old and very welcome friends.

“Anthony is managing the print run,” he told Sarah when she inquired. This was, apparently, his apprentice. “I’m doing a hundred copies to put on sale this afternoon, though I don’t know if we’ll sell any at all. Even if anyone comes out from behind their shutters, they’ve all made up their own minds about what’s happening. They’ll turn their backs on the truth.”

He had already given The Doctor and Marie a copy of a paper hot off the presses. The main story was the appearance of the red sun four days ago, the day after the last weekly paper had gone to press. That main story merely acknowledged the fact that the sun was red. It made no attempt to explain it scientifically.

Below the story was a note about special Masses to pray for redemption in the light – no pun intended – of the disturbing sign from God.

“But it isn’t a sign from God,” Marie said. “It’s just dust in the sky caused by a forest fire. It will go away soon.”

“You mustn’t say that in the town,” Sarah warned her. “It would be thought of as blasphemy.”

“Do you really believe that?” The Doctor asked.

“We don’t,” Sean insisted. “I had a kind of an idea it was something like that – dust, I mean. But when I said something like it I was told never to say it again… and not to put a word about it in the paper or my press would be shut down.”

“I wouldn’t have thought you were a man to back down to threats,” The Doctor told him. “The man who took on your own village to stop me being burnt alive.”

“I might have been a braver man then… before I had a wife and child to think of,” Sean admitted. The Doctor nodded in understanding. Family were a wonderful blessing, but they could also be a brake on a man’s intentions.

He knew that only too well.

“We were fine, at first,” Sean added. “A press with moveable type is new. The idea of printing newspapers, pamphlets about subjects other than the Bible was revolutionary, but it was acceptable, more or less. But when Donal Fagin became mayor… he’s old-fashioned… traditional. Since then, every leaflet or booklet I print, every edition of the paper, is scrutinised by the town council for any trace of blasphemous content. I don’t dare print a word about the red sun that doesn’t acknowledge it as a warning from God. And I won’t do that since it is a bare-faced lie.”

“A warning about what?” Marie wondered aloud.

“Sin and backsliding is Mayor Fagin’s favourite phrase,” Sarah answered. “That covers just about everything from hasty weddings to tardy baptisms.”

“As far as his campaign touches me, it’s about the very fact that we CAN print with moveable type,” Sean added. “He hates the idea of anything other than bibles and prayer books being printed quickly and easily. He hates people reading anything other than approved tracts. He hates them buying blank sheets of paper and writing things to be printed….”

“The post office isn’t popular, either,” Sarah continued. “People writing letters to each other… sharing ideas that the mayor might not approve of. He tried to have sealed envelopes prohibited – so that he could monitor what was written - but the council voted against that.”

“Oh, dear,” The Doctor remarked, a reaction quite mild in the face of such a tale.

He had seen it in a thousand places, a thousand times, from McCarthyism to the Usarians he had seen people manipulated through the control of information.

And he didn’t like it.

But he wasn’t there to sort out municipal politics. He had just come to see if the populated areas of Inisfree were suffering any health problems due to the dust in the atmosphere.

Politics and religion.

He didn’t interfere with either of those things.

Mind you, that didn’t stop politics and religion interfering with him.

“The sun is red because debris from a forest fire on the other side of this planet has been swept into the atmosphere by prevailing winds,” he said with a resigned sigh and the tone of a BBC science editor trying to make himself understandable to the general public. “The debris is causing a temporary refraction of the shorter light waves that allow you to see the colour blue. That is why the sky is yellow and the sun red. That is the plain truth of the matter. If necessary, I will go to the town hall with maps and charts and explain it to the mayor and council.”

“No… don’t do that,” Sarah begged him. “You must not. It will be considered blasphemy. You will be punished.”

“Let them try,” The Doctor replied to that, but Sarah grasped his hand fearfully and begged him not to do anything rash.

“Please… just stay a few days with us. It’s always good to have friends visiting. I’ll write to mother at the weekend and tell her you came. She’ll be pleased to know you’re both well.”

The Doctor had every intention of staying. He needed to see how this situation was going to end. He only wondered if there was anything he could do other than witness a snowball rolling downhill towards an inferno.

“How is everyone in the village?” Marie asked conversationally, ignoring The Doctor’s frowns and the deepening furrows of his brow as he gave deep thought to the problem.

“They were all well the last time we visited,” Sarah confirmed. “Áine is stepping out with a young man called Brendan Gillespie. He runs the watermill. It’s a good business… a good match.”

Áine had been a girl of twelve when they visited. Now she was a young woman. That was one thing Marie couldn’t help regretting about time travel – missing seeing her friends in real time. But she enjoyed hearing the news from Baile Caorach all the same. She enjoyed hearing about life in this small town of Béal an Átha Nuadh, where even if there wasn’t much reading matter there was a quietly satisfying community. There were sports and games, There was music, dancing, farmer’s markets and craft fairs, all of the signs of a happy community.

Or there had been until Mayor Fagin started to see blasphemy in it all.

In the midst of the conversation Sean slipped away, getting back to his work qã with the promise that he would be back up when the print was done. Sarah said she had a baking to do. Marie, of course, volunteered to help with that. She didn’t do home baking anywhere but on Inisfree. What was a daily chore for Sarah was a treat for her.

Seanín followed his mother.

The Doctor was at a loose end.

“I’m going for a bit of a walk,” he announced and headed downstairs and through the front office. He let himself out of the building and turned his feet in the opposite direction to where he had parked the TARDIS. He wanted to see the rest of the town.

It was midday on a late summer’s day. There were still several hours of daylight left. The Doctor let himself wonder what the sunset would be like. It was, of course, the refraction of light waves in the atmosphere that made sunsets a blaze of colour even in ordinary circumstances. With the sun already red it would be spectacular.

But nobody in this town was likely to admire it. They were too scared of what it might mean.

The red sun looked, he had to admit, demonic, frightening. In almost every culture he had ever experienced deep, flaming shades of red were ingrained in the consciousness as ‘bad’. It was why traffic lights were red. They said ‘Stop. Danger. Don’t go.’

At a fundamental level he understood why the red sun was upsetting people.

But he also felt frustrated. The reason for the phenomena was quite simple, quite natural. It could be explained easily. Sean could print a single paragraph in his newspaper that would set minds completely at rest.

But he was not free to do so.

Instead, the parish church had a notice outside exhorting people to ‘repent their sins’ before ‘the day of judgement’.

Still worse, the town hall, a clean, grey stone building with a small clock tower above the entrance portico, had even more lurid banners. They clearly placed the blame on sinful behaviour and backsliding from the path of righteousness.

Even worse than politics and religion was when religion strayed into politics.

This was where those of the population who weren’t hiding behind window blinds had gone. There was a press of men and women, maybe a hundred or more, in the square outside the town hall. There was obviously a meeting of some significance going on inside and they were anxious to know the outcome.

Most of the people were praying quietly. That was harmless enough. If people took comfort from such things The Doctor was not going to deter them.

But others were praying aloud and others positively declaiming passages from the Bible.

They were all on a theme of ‘The End is Nigh’, but three particular passages stood out. They were, The Doctor noted, from the Book of Revelations, the Gospel according to Matthew and The Acts of the Apostles, respectively.

“….And I saw, when he had opened the sixth seal, and behold there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair: and the whole moon became as blood: And the stars from heaven fell upon the earth, as the fig tree casteth its green figs when it is shaken by a great wind: And the heaven departed as a book folded up: and every mountain….”

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken….”

“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and manifest day of the Lord come….”

Interestingly, as The Doctor noted to himself, the Bible had no reference to a red sun. In all those quotes the sun was merely darkened while the moon turned to blood red.

Odd, really. The sort of natural phenomena happening here must have happened from time to time in the era when the Bible was being written. It seemed like the sort of thing that would be quoted as a sign of the End Times or the Coming of the Lord, or any other such prophetic happening. But red suns didn’t figure at all and these remarkably similar references to blood red moons were the closest anyone could get.

He walked past the crowds and into the town hall with the purposeful stride of somebody who had every right to be there. Nobody questioned him. Nobody stopped him walking all the way into the council chamber and taking a seat at the back. He picked up a typewritten copy of the agenda and read it quickly. He could spot at least three items that worried him.

Item one was a restriction on many of the recreations that made life in the town interesting and colourful. There was a brief debate before a ban was placed on playing sports on Sundays was approved. Saturday sports were sufficient, it was decided.

A decision to lock the swings in the children’s playground on the Sabbath also narrowly passed under the same part of the agenda. A few councillors argued that children’s play was innocent, but Mayor Fagin, a lean, long-faced man with a beaked nose and eyes that seemed to be on every other man at the same time, insisted that children should be learning their catechism on a Sunday. Anything else was backsliding.

Closing the dance hall was resisted, particularly by the man who owned the said hall who was also Treasurer of the Council. A compromise was reached whereby dancing in which men and women were likely to touch each other was banned.

The theatre was allowed to stay open as long as all plays were examined for moral content, first. Likewise the art gallery could remain open as long as certain exhibits – those Mayor Fagin thought blasphemous - were removed.

After a discussion about raising fines for non-attendance at church on Sundays, the council moved on to another matter, one that Mayor Fagin was particularly animated about. He railed for some time about the easy availability of printed literature that was not of a moral character. He presented as evidence a number of booklets sold at the newspaper office. One was a collection of bread recipes. Nobody in their right mind could have found a problem with the moral character of a loaf of bread.

Mayor Fagin was obviously not in his right mind. He criticised the lack of prayer during the bread-making process. Bread was a God given food, mentioned often in the scriptures. It must not be made without praise and thankfulness.

He was about to expound upon the moral imperatives that were lacking in a book about flower pressing when a new arrival entered the council chamber less discreetly than The Doctor had done. All eyes were on the young man who came forward and presented a copy of the weekly newspaper for scrutiny by the council members. He was addressed as Anthony. This was Sean Houlihan’s apprentice.

“There is no blasphemous content,” Mayor Fagin concluded after taking a very long time to read four pages, two of which were about the sports he had just restricted to Saturday afternoon. “But this article about the reddening of the sun – it merely tells of what we know already – that the sun is red. There is no mention of God’s warning against licentious behaviour. There is no exhortation to end sinful behaviour. It is as I have long suspected. Houlihan is a sceptic. He must be watched, carefully.”

“Sir…” Anthony stepped forward again. He passed a half size sheet of print, crumpled from being in his pocket. “Sir… I… I must show you this. Master Houlihan printed this after the newspaper was finished. He called it an ‘insert’. He means to fold it into the papers that he will sell later this day.”

Mayor Fagin took the insert and read it aloud with a voice filled with indignation and ire. It was, first of all, the simple scientific explanation of the red sun that The Doctor had explained while he drank tea in the Houlihan parlour. Sean had printed it almost verbatim. First prize for paying attention, but not for discretion.

It then went on to explicitly renounce the idea that the red sun was a sign from God.

It accused the Mayor himself of using the natural phenomena to suppress free thought.

In a nutshell, Sean had opened a war of words with God and the Mayor.

But it was not likely to remain a war of words. The Doctor was already slipping out of the council chamber when the Mayor declared the newspaper blasphemous and ordered its immediate closure and the arrest of its proprietor.

He stepped out into the glow of the red sun and hurried through the crowd – noting that it was getting denser and the loud prayers louder.

Around the corner he stepped into the doorway of the closed ironmongers and reached into his pocket for a piece of technology that was long abandoned by the people of Inisfree – a mobile phone.

“Marie,” he said urgently when the call was answered. “Get Sarah and Sean and the boy out of there. They’re not safe. Go to the TARDIS. Stay there until I come to you.”

Marie protested, but The Doctor’s tone brooked no refusal. She promised to do what he asked. He shoved the phone back in his pocket and hurried away, walking quickly in the opposite direction to more and more townspeople who were heading to the town hall, but ahead of whatever militia was being sent to arrest Sean.

He went straight to the TARDIS. There he found Sarah and her son sitting on a chair and Marie pacing around the console in an agitated manner. Sarah was blinking back tears of anxiety and fear. Seanín was drinking orange juice through a straw from a carton. He was enjoying a new experience and didn’t know what the fuss was about.

Marie stopped pacing and rushed to greet The Doctor.

“Sean wouldn’t come with us,” she said. “He said… he was going to stop them destroying the press.”

“He’s a big man, but I suspect he’ll be outnumbered.”

“In that case… he said….”

Sarah swallowed hard and spoke for her husband.

“He said he would not run. He wanted to stand before them and admit that he was guilty of all they accused him of… and that he was not ashamed of a single word he had printed except for the dogma that Mayor Fagin forced him to include as ‘news’.”

“Good man,” The Doctor said. “Brave man. But… foolish, too. And now I will have to rescue him as well as sorting out the sun.”

“What do you think they will do to him?” Sarah asked fearfully.

“I don’t know,” The Doctor answered. “It depends how much in awe of Mayor Fagin they are. If he has the whole population under his thumb the way the Parish Priest had in the village….”

Marie shot him a look. Reminding Sarah of what mob rule could do to a captive was not a good idea.

“It’s not going to happen, here. We’re going to deal with the problem. First, we need to take a little trip into the upper atmosphere. Sarah, you’re a third or fourth generation colonist. You’ve never seen your planet from above, have you?”

She hadn’t, and perhaps while she was worrying about her husband wasn’t the best time to become Inisfree’s first astronaut, but when The Doctor opened the TARDIS doors and she stood on the threshold looking down at the landmass she lived on she felt a thrill of excitement.

“Seanín, look, a mhuirnín,” she said, holding her son’s hand. “Look… how beautiful it is. How peaceful.”

Seanín was speechless with wonder. He reached out his hand through the oxygen shield into the vacuum of space and smiled. It was almost as good as orange juice in a box.

After a while The Doctor closed the door and set an orbit around the planet. On the viewscreen, Sarah was surprised to see the huge forested continent with the fires slowly dying down after days of conflagration.

“It’s true about the fire,” she said. “I mean… I didn’t doubt your word… but seeing it for myself….”

“We’re not just sightseeing, are we?” Marie asked. “You’re doing something?”

The TARDIS is cleaning the atmosphere,” The Doctor replied. “It will take a little while. About an hour, maybe. Then we’ll see what we can do for Sean.”

The TARDIS orbited the planet a dozen times in the hour. Neither Marie nor Sarah understood exactly how it was cleaning the atmosphere, but they took The Doctor’s word that it was working.

At last he said the job was done and set their course back to the town.

The TARDIS materialised in a quiet side alley near the town hall square. The Doctor stepped out first followed by the women and Seanín.

“It didn’t work,” Sarah whispered, looking up at the red sun in the yellow sky. “Doctor… it didn’t work.”

“It will. Give it a little time. Meanwhile….”

The scene outside the town hall was of more immediate concern. A dais had been erected and Mayor Fagin was raging against sin and backsliding with unrestrained fervour. Beside him, Sean Houlihan was bound to a thick wooden shoulder yoke that forced him to bend forward painfully. Should he think of trying to escape he was guarded by two burly guards. Two other men were also under arrest, though only bound hand and foot, not yoked. One of them was the Treasurer of the Council, the owner of the dance hall. A tentative inquiry revealed that the Treasurer had protested against the closure of the newspaper, a step too far in his opinion. He had been arrested for supporting a blasphemer, along with Anthony, the blasphemer’s apprentice. Despite being the one who reported the ‘crime’, he had been detained for taking part in the printing of the ‘insert’.

These three were guilty of the sin and backsliding that had caused the terrible warning from God, the red sun in the sky. These three were going to be punished severely.

Nobody was sure what that meant. It could have been a long prison sentence. It could have been public whipping. It could have been hanging or burning.

Any of those prospects made Sarah blanch with concern. Marie held her arm in support while she, in turn, grasped her son protectively.

“Shame,” The Doctor said very quietly. “Sean Houlihan is a decent man. You wouldn’t think he was guilty of any such thing.”

Several people glanced at The Doctor but said nothing.

“In fact,” he continued. “If anyone ought to be under arrest, it’s Mayor Fagin. He’s the crook. All this banning and proscribing… you’re not telling me he’s not making money from it all. One big extortion racket….”

This time several more people turned right around and looked at him. Then one of them spoke.

“Aye, right enough, I never trusted Fagin.”

“There was never any proof, but they say he bought the election.”

“Sean Houlihan is a damn good man. One of the best.”

The Doctor slipped away from the group, now grumbling about the Mayor and extolling Sean’s virtues. He inserted himself into another group and seeded the conversation the same way.

Marie saw what he was doing and approached a group of women. The same method worked just as well with them. Sarah plucked up her courage and wandered towards another clump of bystanders.

It didn’t take long to steer the general opinion in the right direction. As the sounds of dissent started to drown out the prayers and bible quotes, The Doctor moved through the press of people until he was standing right beside the dais.

He chose his moment carefully to climb up beside the mayor. He did so with that same purposeful stride that fooled everyone into thinking he had a right to be there.

“All right, that’s enough,” he told Mayor Fagin who paused mid-sentence to stare at the interloper. “I’m here to tell you all that you’ve been lied to. There is no message from God in the sky. There is nothing wrong with the sun. Look up.”

He pointed skyward. Automatically everyone looked up. There was a collective gasp of relief as they saw clear white whips of cloud in a blue sky from which a yellow sun shone.

“Right on time,” he whispered to himself. But he wasn’t done, yet.

“Unfasten these men,” he told the guards. “There will be no charges.”

“Stay your hand,” Mayor Fagin contradicted. “The charges are blasphemy. The relief of the sun does not change that. This man questioned the work of God.”

“No, he did not,” The Doctor responded. “The red sun was never the work of your God. Nor were any of the directives from you inspired by any God. There may well be sin and backsliding in this town. In my experience such things happen everywhere. They are natural to free thinking beings, and for each free thinking being to reconcile with their own soul. Sin is not eradicated by chaining up children’s swings, banning dancing and persecuting honest men who have the courage to tell the truth.”

“Hear, hear,” somebody cried out above a general murmuring of agreement with The Doctor’s speech.

“You’re a liar, Fagin,” said another voice. “Shame on you for a fraud.”

The voices got louder. The crowd pressed closer to the dais. The guards quickly unfastened the prisoners before melting away into the crowd where they wouldn’t be blamed for being a part of the affair. Anthony, who may or may not have seen the error of his ways, ran away, too. Sean stood his ground and when Sarah and Seanín climbed up onto the dais to hug him fondly he was cheered by the crowd.

The Treasurer of the Council rubbed his wrists meaningfully as he approached Mayor Fagin.

“I move that the Mayor be impeached on grounds of behaviour detrimental to the town’s happiness and wellbeing. Will any members of the council present vote on the matter?”

The council members were all present and they voted for the impeachment amidst the renewed cheers of the people.

“Lynch him,” somebody called out and Fagin stepped back hurriedly as the crowd surged forward.

“No!” The Doctor called out in a voice that silenced the crowd. “No lynching’s, no punishments. Let Mr Fagin consider his own faults in his own time. Meanwhile… you need a new mayor. Who is it to be?”

A promising week later, The Doctor and Marie walked along the clean, fast flowing river that skirted the town. Music was drifting from the dance hall where the new Mayor was celebrating his unopposed appointment.

It was a glorious sunset with the sky a myriad of reds and browns – normal reds and browns, now that the debris was cleared from the atmosphere. Marie looked at it approvingly.

“If it happens again, at least they’ll know it really is nothing to be scared of.”

“The new mayor is scientifically inclined. He’ll make sure they understand.”

“Sean will do a good job.”

“As long as he doesn’t try to change too much, too fast,” The Doctor cautioned. “He does have an ambitious streak that he needs to curb. The old mayor had the same fault. He let his ambitions get the better of him in all the wrong ways.”

“I hear he left town.”

“Good. He can make a fresh start. Everybody deserves that much.”

“We’ll be leaving, soon, too.”

“You want to, don’t you?”

“I’ve got a life to go back to. But I think… when I’m old and grey and ready to retire, you can come and get me and bring me here to enjoy the peace of Inisfree.”

“That’s a deal,” The Doctor promised her.