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

“Where are we?” Rose asked. She was no expert, but she thought The TARDIS was acting very strangely. The engines were stopped and they ought to have materialised by now, but clearly they hadn’t. The viewscreen had - well no view for one thing, just darkness. The Doctor was even more puzzled than she was.

“According to the settings, we should be in Jackie’s kitchen.”

“I hope not,” Rose frowned. “Mum will go ballistic. She spent tons on the lino.”

“I wasn’t meaning to,” he protested. “I was aiming for the usual place down in the yard. But I still don’t see what’s wrong or where we are. And for the moment, I don’t even know how to sort it out.”

“Are we trapped in here?” Rose asked sounding just a little scared.

“No. I’ll think of something.”

The TARDIS is ancient. And you can’t just drop it into KwikFit for a tyre change and a tune up. What if it’s broken down altogether… forever?”

The Doctor looked at her in alarm. That thought had NEVER occurred to him. The TARDIS, like him, was a last relic of his dead homeworld. There was, indeed, NOWHERE in the universe he could get spare parts for it. If they were dead in space there was one, just one, strictly one-way trip by emergency transport that would get them out of there – the equivalent of abandoning ship. Cold remembrances of the Titanic crossed his mind mockingly.

The TARDIS’s ‘lifeboat’ would send them to the last inputted co-ordinates – Jackie’s kitchen. And then he would be stranded there, on Earth in the early 21st century, with no time machine. He would have Rose, of course, that was the one good side of it. He would be with her in her world. But, he thought with a sad, sinking feeling, he WOULDN’T have Susan. He needed the TARDIS to reach her.

“We HAVEN’T broken down,” he insisted, though he knew very well that saying it didn’t make it so.

“It feels as if we have.”

“Ring your mum,” the Doctor said.


“On your mobile. Ring your mum. I can get a bearing on the signal from where we are to where we ought to be.”

Rose did as he said. Her mobile, which he fixed long ago to reach any phone number anywhere in time and space – and without telling the billing department of the operator – had her mum’s mobile on a preset speed-dial button. She pressed it almost without thinking.

“Keep her talking for a few minutes.”

“Mum,” she said when the phone was picked up at the other end. Her mum was, as ever, excited and tearful to hear from her. “Aren’t you going to wish me happy birthday?” The Doctor guessed that something was said about her not being home for it. “That’s why I’m ringing. We’re on our way to you right now… should be there in half an hour.” She hoped that was true, anyway. “No, you don’t have to make a cake. The Doctor wants to take us out…. Yes, Mickey can come.” She laughed silently at the grimace the Doctor gave her at that. “Yes, Shireen can come too, as long as she keeps her hands off The Doctor. She can be a right slapper at times.” Rose laughed at some comment on the other side of the line.

“And you can keep your hands off him, too,” she said. “You can be a right one as well.”

“That’s good.” The Doctor told her. “Keep on talking. I’ve got a lock on it.” He looked at the readings. “Strange. Ask your mum is she in the kitchen and is there anything unusual there.”

“She IS in the kitchen and there’s nothing unusual unless you count Mickey scrounging a fry up from her because he’s got no food in his fridge.”

“Doesn’t sound unusual to me. Sounds typical Mickey.” The Doctor still looked puzzled but he told her she could end the call now.

“This is totally weird. We should be IN the kitchen right now according to these readings. It was as if your mum was right outside the door.”

“She’s not, I suppose?” Rose asked. “What if we opened the door?”

“I don’t know. There could be anything out there – and your mum waiting to hit me over the head with a frying pan would be the least scary.”

Rose laughed despite her growing anxiety at their situation.

“We’d better try. Come over here and stand beside me. If there’s no air out there we could get decompression before the emergency override kicks in.” The Doctor had her hold tight to his waist and he clung to one of the firmly bolted struts of the TARDIS console as he reached to open the door. He half expected a vacuum to suck all their air out. That was the most likely thing to happen.

The LEAST likely thing was the glistening wall of greenish-white vegetation that blocked the doorway. Tentatively, they both approached it. Rose put out her hand to touch it before The Doctor had chance to warn her not to.

“That was dangerous,” he admonished her. “It could have been radioactive or acidic or it could have frozen your hand off at sub zero temperatures. You NEVER touch something like that.”

“It’s… fruity,” she said holding her hand up to her face. “Like apple.”

“So it is,” he admitted, taking her hand in his and smelling it. “Very strange. And I have still no idea what’s going on.”

The smell of apple actually began to permeate the TARDIS before the Doctor closed the door on the strangely benign entity that still left them trapped and uncertain of where they were. It was a nice smell, but one that made Rose feel oddly homesick. Jackie was a bit of a culinary nightmare but she ALWAYS had a bowl of fruit somewhere in the kitchen where people could help themselves. Rose had grown up almost addicted to a daily portion of apples, and though she had eaten all kinds of exotic new fruits on strange planets it was the smell of apples that most struck a chord with her.

“I will get you to your mum’s,” the Doctor promised, sensing her melancholy.

“I know you will,” she said. “I trust you. And I trust the TARDIS, too. It takes care of us.”

Almost as if giving the lie to that comment, the TARDIS suddenly moved, though not, it seemed of its own volition. The engines were off, the central column glowing silently and motionless. But they both had the sensation of rapidly upwards movement. The sensation was over in a few seconds, but it was enough to unnerve them. The Doctor wondered if he ought to think about the ‘lifeboat’ yet.

A moment later he was even more certain they ought to abandon ship. There was a loud noise that could only be described as a crunch, and suddenly there WAS something outside. The TARDIS was in a large cave, its walls a pulsating red dully lit from outside. The floor of the cave pulsated too and was also a deep red. A semi-circle of standing stones the size of the TARDIS’s exterior could be seen either side of them. They had materialised between the stones. A hot wind was blowing at curiously regular intervals from a dark passage furthest from the semi-circle. It was, Rose thought, the most alien landscape she had ever seen. And her time with the Doctor had introduced her to some very ODD things.

“We still READ Jackie’s kitchen,” the Doctor said. This is the strangest thing. I.…”

Whatever he was about to say, was forgotten as their predicament took on a new and terrifying twist. The pulsating floor of the cavern was alive. It rose up like a huge, blind, featureless version of the Jagrafess. That was what came to Rose’s mind as she watched the creature move closer to the TARDIS.

Would they be enveloped by it? Was it going to somehow EAT them? It was certainly big enough. But it didn’t seem to be doing that. Rather, it was pushing at the TARDIS as if trying to dislodge it from the standing stones. At first the TARDIS did not give at all, but as the creature persisted they began to rock violently. As before The Doctor grasped a firm section of the TARDIS with one hand while he clasped his arm around Rose to ensure her safety. She clung to him tightly. Worried – even a little scared - of the unknown threat, he was glad that she trusted in him to protect her in that way.

But there wasn’t much time to enjoy the intimacy. The TARDIS came loose from the stones suddenly and the strange creature pushed it away. Again the TARDIS began to fall. It turned over as it fell and the Doctor clung to the console by one hand and pushed Rose down against the floor, covering her partially with his own body. The floor became a side as the TARDIS rolled over on itself and he tried to anchor them both. He was glad most loose objects in the TARDIS were kept in well bolted down cupboards against this kind of eventuality. Their two bodies were the only things not tied down as it continued to fall and roll. At last, they stopped with a jolt that threw them together, their heads colliding painfully. The TARDIS was the right way up as they came to a halt, all too aware of how hard the floor was.

“Oow!” Rose complained, rubbing her head. “Those are NOT the kind of stars you promised I would see.” As she scrambled to her feet she heard the so welcome sound of the TARDIS materialising fully. She reached for the viewscreen as the Doctor started to pull himself up from the floor.

“Is there anything on the viewscreen now?” he asked.

“Um… yes.…” Rose answered. “My mum, looking mad as hell with a frying pan in her hand. Do you want me to go out first?”

“Best not,” he said as he joined her in front of the screen and saw that her judgement of the hostile native outside was accurate. “She’d be really heartbroken if she killed you by mistake. At least it will bounce off me.” He sighed as he moved to the door and reminded himself that there were downsides to doing ‘Domestic’.

“WHAT THE HELL IS THAT DOING IN MY KITCHEN,” Jackie screamed and aimed the frying pan she was about to wash up at the Doctor’s head the moment he stepped out. He ducked but still ended up with his jacket covered in congealed egg yoke and beans.

“Oh great!!” he moaned. “And this is my best gear. I wanted to look smart for Rose’s birthday.”

“I’ll give you birthday,” Jackie screamed as she got ready for another swing.

“Mum!” Rose yelled as she emerged from the TARDIS. “Stop that.”

“LOOK AT MY KITCHEN!” Jackie screamed again and when Rose turned around she realised that her mum had a point.

The TARDIS had materialised through the wall between the kitchen and the living room. Broken pieces of plastic kitchen bin were scattered across the floor along with its mangled contents. They must have landed on it. She wondered what would happen when the TARDIS dematerialised again. Would the wall be there or would there be a hole?

She turned to ask the Doctor. He wasn’t looking at the TARDIS, or at Jackie, but at Mickey, who was standing there in the middle of the kitchen, a slightly gormless look on his face, and a half eaten apple in his hand.

“Mickey,” he said cryptically. “For all our sakes, I am very glad you are the kind of guy who spits rather than swallows when you get an apple pip stuck in your teeth.”

It was a full half hour before Rose finally put that sentence together with their experience and understood what had happened. During that time they had placated Jackie by removing the TARDIS from her kitchen and, with the sonic screwdriver's most creative functions turned the hole where the wall had been vaporised into a rather nice arched entrance - roughly TARDIS sized.

The Doctor changed his jumper and jacket - for an identical jumper and jacket without bean and egg motif and they were all finally on their way to the pub to celebrate Rose's birthday.

"Mickey…. nearly ate us."

"The dimension circuit malfunctioned," The Doctor said by way of technical explanation as they walked down the stairs - the lift was out again. "We materialised in miniature form inside the apple in the fruit bowl."

"Which Mickey took a bite out of," Rose continued.

"We got stuck in his teeth….”

“And he poked us out with his tongue and spat what he thought was a pip into the rubbish bin."

"At which point the dimension circuit kicked in."

"Oh!” Rose had a sudden gruesome vision of what might have happened that would have been worse than their materialisation through the kitchen wall.

"The TARDIS won't materialise inside any living organic space," the Doctor assured her. "We would not have decorated the kitchen with exploded Mickey. Actually, my thought was even worse! But let’s NOT, NOT, NOT, go there."

"Shall we tell him?" Rose asked.