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

Rose wandered through the TARDIS corridors, following the route she memorised from the lifesigns monitor in the console room. When she found the door, she congratulated herself on a neat bit of orienteering into the deep recesses of the TARDIS where she rarely went.

It was a sort of workshop - or a laboratory. There were Bunsen burners and racks of test tubes on the bench, a microscope and other scientific equipment, and all kinds of stuff she couldn’t identify, despite being about to marry the smartest scientific mind in the universe.

Then again she certainly didn’t love him for his Bunsen burners!

Christopher was sitting on a stool beside a long worktable, his eyes covered by a pair of protective goggles. He was talking to The Doctor who was also wearing goggles and working at something on the table. They both looked and sounded cheerful. Rose was glad. After all the difficulties and trauma, having his son back in his life had made The Doctor very happy. Almost as happy as the fact that they were going to be married in a few weeks – once they sorted out some crucial difficulties like WHERE the ceremony was going to take place, and HOW her mother was ever going to learn her lines.

“Hello Rose,” Christopher said, turning and seeing her. “You’d best grab a pair of goggles if you’re staying in here.” He passed her a pair and she came up to the table. She watched as The Doctor carried on working, concentrating so hard he hadn’t even spoken to her.

He was engraving something into the inside of a gold ring. A wedding ring, she realised, and her heart leapt as one more detail that made it seem even more real slipped into place. He was making the rings for the ceremony.

He paused in his work and looked up at her with a smile.

“What does it say?” she asked and thought of the inscription on the ring in Tolkein. “One ring to bind them?”

“Something like that,” he laughed. “Two hearts, one ring, one eternal love for you,” he said. “From a Gallifreyan love poem.” She gave a wry smile at that. He laughed again. “Yes, we DO have love poetry. I’m not the only soppy article to come from my planet.”

“We USED to have love poetry,” Christopher said. “Most of it goes back millennia. We lost the art of romance in recent generations.”

“He didn’t.” Rose smiled at her husband-to-be as he put the finishing touches to the ring. How much more romantic can anyone get? He was actually MAKING their wedding rings from gold mined on the planet he was born on. She remembered when he had made gifts for all his friends from the same gold. He hadn’t even asked her to marry him then, but he anticipated the day and kept enough of the gold for that purpose.

“Is this the last gold of Gallifrey then?” she asked him.

“Not quite. There is enough to make Rings of Eternity for the twins when they transcend,” he said. “They will be the last of our kind to receive such rings with a direct link to the heart of our world. In future, we will have to make do with Earth gold.”

“It will be appropriate,” Christopher said. “Future Time Lords WILL be born on Earth. The new generations to come.”

Both of them looked at Rose. She knew what they were both thinking. She was going to be the mother of the first of the new generation of Time Lords.

The mother of a new race of people, Human and Gallifreyan DNA mixing and becoming a new species entirely, through her and The Doctor.

The Doctor, Christopher and Susan were the only Gallifreyans left. It was like Noah and his family, left after the flood in the Bible, having to restart the Human race from scratch.

It was all right for Noah, Rose thought. But she wondered what Noah’s wife thought about it.

Pretty much how she thought about it, maybe. Awestruck, and a little frightened.

“What if we only have girls?” Rose asked.

“They’ll still grow up to be Time Lords,” The Doctor told her. “And when they grow up and marry they’ll have Time Lord children. Just like Susan.”

“You’re scaring her,” Christopher said, looking at Rose and, she thought, seeing right into her. He smiled at her. He had a gentle smile, softer than his father’s, his face younger looking and less careworn, despite the grief he had suffered in his life. She smiled back at him. “Rose, don’t worry about the future generations. What matters is that you and my father are going to be happy together. When you have children, all you need worry about is that they are healthy and loved. The rest will come later.”

“You’ll be their brother,” Rose said. It had just dawned on her. “Their big brother.”

“I’ll do my best to live up to my part,” he said.

The Doctor finished engraving the ring and polished it carefully, then he placed it on the bench. Rose picked it up and held it in her palm. She wanted to try it on, but something told her that shouldn’t happen until the ceremony.

“It's beautiful,” she said, looking at the delicate tracery of Gallifreyan symbols around the outside and the lettering inside the ring. “Two hearts….”

“Given freely to you from me,” he told her.

“What does yours say?”

“One heart, one ring, one eternal love. Because you only have the one heart to offer me.” He smiled. “But don’t worry. I don’t feel short-changed. One heart given up for me alone - I’m honoured.” He took off the goggles and looked at her properly. “So what brings you to my inner lair? Are you escaping from your mum and Susan?”

“Something like that,” she said with a laugh. “I’m starting to wonder whose wedding it is the way they’re going on. Especially mum. She’s so INTO it.”

“Yes, she’s taken to the mother-in-law role VERY well,” The Doctor laughed grimly. “My fate is sealed.”

“I like Jackie,” Christopher interjected. “She’s been really nice to me. And she doesn’t walk on eggshells trying not to say the wrong thing to me.”

The Doctor nodded imperceptibly. Susan and David, and even the boys to some extent were finding it hard to adjust to his presence in their lives. There was no shortage of love. That had to be said. He and Susan had bonded particularly well, father and daughter making up for so much lost time. But it WAS an incredible thing for her. The father she thought was dead all her life was suddenly there. And even she seemed to avoid certain subjects with him. She especially avoided mentioning her mother. Christopher was, of course, still grieving for his wife’s death. The wound was still raw in his heart. But he needed to talk about her, and the only person who was there for him was Jackie Tyler.

The Doctor remembered talking to Jackie about losing his own wife, and finding her a surprisingly good listener. Since she was a widow herself he had no need to tell her about the yawning emptiness and how, even years later, he still found himself crying when he smelled a certain perfume or heard a certain tune that brought her memory clearly to mind. She understood all that. And she had understood Christopher’s feelings, too. She’d been exactly what he needed these past weeks as he came to terms with the new life he had been thrown into.

“Jackie is a one in a million,” The Doctor conceded. “But sometimes it's nice to put a few miles between us and her. To which end…” He put the two beautifully polished rings in a velvet lined box and put it in the small safe set into the wall. Then he took Rose’s hand. “Let’s go for a walk. There’s something I want to show you.”


“What’s the big secret?” Rose asked after they had walked about a mile and a half. Richmond upon Thames was a pretty place. Especially walking BY the Thames itself, which was wide and placid here. In any case she loved walking anywhere with The Doctor. But she suspected there was a purpose to this walk. There was a look in his eyes as if he was up to something.

“You’ll see in a minute,” he said as they came to a big wrought iron gate set back from the main road that they had rejoined after following the river for a while. The words “Longmount House” were spelt out in the tracery.

“There’s a coincidence,” Rose observed. “Your house on Gallifrey was called Mount Lœng.”

“Yes.” The Doctor pushed open the gates. They were a little stiff from under-use. “Could use some work. The place has been empty for a while. But it's been kept up well. Especially the gardens.”

“Why is it empty?” Rose asked. “Does nobody want to live here?”

“From what I understand, it was a school for about twenty years. And before then it had short term tenants. Before that, there is some sort of mystery. David told me that he heard there was a mass murder here. Everyone in the family killed. But I don’t know the details, and I don’t really want to know them. Especially not now.”

When they emerged from the tree-lined driveway Rose thought that Longmount House LOOKED a lot like The Doctor’s ancestral home, as well as the coincidence of the name. There were some differences. The steps up to the porticoed front door were wider and even more sweeping, and the windows were different, but it was close enough.

A man waited at the bottom of the steps. As they approached he reached out a hand.

“You must be Lord… er…” He looked down at his clipboard. “Er…”

“Lord de Lœngbærrow,” The Doctor said. “Of the Gallifrey Lœngbærrows.”

“Oh,” the man said. “Is that one of the Greek islands? I’m afraid geography is not my strong point.”

“Don’t worry about it,” The Doctor told him. “You have the keys?”

“Yes, of course. If your Lordship would follow me. And….”

“This is the future Lady de Lœngbærrow,” Rose smiled at the way he introduced her. It felt good to be a future Lady. “It is appropriate to call her your Ladyship. She has to get used to it, anyway.”

The man was from an estate agency, Rose realised. Longmount House was for sale. And as they were shown the fine original features of the late Georgian house it dawned on her why they were there.

“You’re going to buy this house?” she said as they stood together in an empty room that adjoined the master bedroom. A room that was ideal for a nursery, the agent, with a knowing smile, had told them. He had stepped out to answer his mobile phone and Rose was glad of the respite.

“I’m thinking about it. But only if you like it.”

“I LIKE it,” she said. “But…” She glanced out of the window at the view over a formal garden with flowerbeds and a fountain. It wasn’t working at the moment, but she could imagine it easily, the spray rising from the ornamental centre and falling back into the pool. She imagined sitting by it on warm afternoons. She imagined this room as a nursery and sitting in a rocking chair by this window, feeding the baby.

It was easy to imagine. But…

“Can you…. we… afford it? It must cost millions.”

“We CAN afford it. For one thing, house prices are very depressed at the moment. It's a bargain. And for another, actually, you’d be stunned to know exactly how rich I am. I checked last week. The profits of a couple of gold mines on Gallifrey all went into my account for about five hundred years and I’ve never really had much need for material things. The TARDIS provided everything I needed. Until you and Jackie started hitting my credit cards I rarely spent money. It all piled up.”

Rose smiled. He still wore the same scruffy leather jacket he had always worn. The one he was wearing when she fell in love with him. She recalled how he had once convinced her he was so broke that she had to buy a chip supper for them both. But he had just been kidding - maybe testing her to see if she cared for him and not his assets. In reality, he was the millionaire she had always dreamed of, the one who would sweep her off her feet and take her away from the mundane life. “So how much DO you have in the bank?”

“Call me a male chauvinist pig,” he said. “But I DO think it’s vulgar talking about money in front of ladies.”

“You’re a male chauvinist pig,” she told him. “And another thing… A house this big… I’m not doing all the housework.”

“You’re certainly not. You ARE going to be my Lady de Lœngbærrow. I want you to live as one. We’ll have servants.” He smiled at the look on her face. “If I’m going to give up the life I’ve lived for the past 500 years, I want the life I used to have before then. The life they forced me to give up. If I’m not going to be The Doctor, I’d like to BE Lord de Lœngbærrow.”

Rose looked around the big, spacious room. Nursery? Despite the happy vision she had indulged a moment ago the thought made her feel strange. It was what she had yearned for. To be his wife, to have his babies. But standing in the room the babies would sleep in, while they lay together in the next room….

It wasn’t the babies that worried her. Rather, the making of them. For as much as she had longed for THAT, too, now that it was a possibility she felt a bit scared. Making babies with a man who wasn’t even the same species as her - an alien from the other side of the galaxy. That WAS a scary thought.

The Doctor looked at her and his hearts sank. He wasn’t deliberately reading her mind, but he could feel her uncertainty. The bit about him being an alien was an excuse. It was ACTUALLY more to do with being asked to be Lady de Lœngbærrow, with servants to look after her needs, a big house, and enough money in the bank to make everyone in the block of flats she grew up in comfortable for life. She was doubting whether she was WORTH all that.

“You are,” he whispered. She looked up at him.

“Lady de Lœngbærrow?” she said.


“I’m still not going to call you My Lord,” she told him. “And what will we do with….how many bedrooms did he say the house has?”

“Twelve. I thought Christopher might have one of them. And your mum can have a room of her own when she visits. The rest…. You were an only child. So was I until my father remarried. So was Christopher. How do you feel about breaking the mould and having lots of babies?”

Again the idea, though tempting, scared her a little. But she knew it was what he wanted. And she wanted him to be happy.

“I’ll let you know after the first one,” she said. “The sixteen month pregnancy bit is kind of scary.”

The agent returned to the room. He looked expectantly at them. The Doctor looked at Rose. His face was hard to read, but she knew he really wanted this house and the lifestyle that went with it.

And why not? Lady de Lœngbærrow. Why not? She smiled at him and nodded.

“How soon can we sort out the paperwork?” he asked the agent. “There are some alterations I’d like to have done and we’d certainly want it all complete before the wedding.”

“I have the deeds with me,” the agent said, his eyes seeming to light up with little Euro symbols as he calculated his commission for less than an hour’s work. “We can complete the sale this afternoon if you are certain. But…” The agent looked at his clipboard. “Your Lordship…”

“Is there a problem?”

“It's… not something I would usually bring up. But there is the legal question of ‘full disclosure’. I have to tell you that this house has a reputation.”

“You mean the murders?” Rose asked.

“There is nothing to worry about,” the agent assured them. “It was nearly fifty years ago. The house passed to a distant relative of the family in Australia. HIS heir decided to sell the house recently. It is a fine property. But it would be remiss of me not to mention….”

“It's not haunted, is it?”

“Not as such,” the agent said. “But you know… People do gossip.”

“I don’t,” The Doctor said decisively. “The events of the past do not bother me in the slightest. What matters to me is that this is the kind of house I wish to bring my wife to when we are married, and in easy reach of my family.” He did frown though as he ran over what the agent had said. “Fifty years ago? That would only be a few years before the Dalek invasion.” He noticed the agent shiver when he said those words. The man was about fifty-five. He’d have been a child. “You lost family?”

“Both parents,” he admitted.

“It was a hard time for many people,” The Doctor told him kindly. “Humanity’s ability to recover from such catastrophe is one of its most admirable qualities.”

Rose felt almost the outsider for the moment. The Doctor, of course, had fought the Daleks. So had David and Susan. The three of them knew more about it than anyone else on Earth. They had been the ones who had, eventually, defeated them. But for the estate agent and people like him it must be like those of her day who still remembered World War II. They were less and less each year as their generation died out, but they never forgot.

And yet it was just a memory now. The scars on the world had healed. Human society had picked up where it left off, and a generation later it was possible to forget the horror they all went through except in moments like this when two people who were there reminded each other.

“Well…” the agent said as the silence lengthened. The Euros in his eyes glowed again. “As I said…if you are sure… We can do the paperwork right now. The house will be yours within the hour.”

It seemed easy, Rose thought. Less than an hour later Longmount House – Mount Lœng House it would be from now on – was theirs. The deeds were signed and electronically transmitted to the registry of ownership and the agent went away happily thinking of what he could do with the commission he had just earned. Much easier than it was in the 21st century.

To celebrate, The Doctor took her for a walk in the extensive grounds. He showed her the old stables at the back of the grounds and talked about giving them to Chris and Davie as a workshop when they were ready to build their prototype TARDIS, and a place by the river where, if they chose, they could keep a boat. They took a closer look at the ornamental fountain and the big lawn where, he said, they could put up a large marquee for the wedding. He seemed to have it all planned out. Rose didn’t mind. She was glad he was enthusiastic about it. She was glad so many more of the problems she thought they had were now solved.

Something caught her eye as they crossed the lawn. At the boundary of the property, screening it from the river, was a wooded area. They looked, from a distance, like chestnuts and oak, what you might expect in England. But close up she spotted some more exotic foliage. She stared at the trees in amazement.

“Those are…” The Doctor grinned and reached up and plucked two of the fruits. “Cúl nut trees! How?”

“Takes about fifty years to grow a tree to maturity,” he said. “But with a time machine, all we have to do is go back fifty years and plant them, and they’re ours, part of our property.” He picked several of the nuts and put them in his pocket, then he summoned the TARDIS to him. “This is VERY naughty of me, of course. Messing with such things. A tree providing its own seed is the vegetable equivalent of the Grandfather paradox. But the fact that the trees are here proves we’ve already done it. And the sky hasn’t fallen in.”

“We’re not going to murder the owners of the house while we’re there are we?” Rose asked.

“No,” The Doctor assured her as he programmed the co-ordinates into the TARDIS. “Just a quick adventure in time and home for tea.” He smiled. That used to be his motto when he and Ace knocked about together. Sometimes they DID get back for tea. Sometimes they didn’t. Ace hadn’t cared much either way. In the past, Rose hadn’t minded much, either. But things were changing for both of them now. They had a house. They were putting down roots. Things like teatime would matter from now on.

And did HE mind?

Not a bit. It felt right. For all the freedom he had in his wandering life in the TARDIS, with the whole of space and time to explore, it was an empty life in so many ways. David had been right when he offered Susan a chance to put down roots. They WERE important.

They didn’t have to give up the travels in space and time anyway. They just had to get home in time for tea.

“Suppose we arrive on the day the murders happen?” Rose added.

“The chances of it happening on the night we’re homing in on are…”

“Knowing our luck, just about 100%.”

He grinned and told her not to worry.

“Suppose we run into the murderers and stop them. The house might not be up for sale after all. The descendents might be alive and well and might not want to move.”

“We’re not going to stop any murders. We’re not going to have anything to do with it. What’s done is done. Rough on the victims, but we’re just planting a couple of trees. That’s enough of a paradox. Stopping people dying who are meant to have died isn’t allowed. You know that as well as I do.”

The TARDIS materialised in the woods just after sunset. It was already quite dark. Rose felt a little giggly as she stepped out onto the path. What they were doing was just a little bit illegal, which added to the excitement. She wondered what would happen to them if they were caught trespassing.

“We won’t get caught,” The Doctor assured her. He strolled through the woods with his arm around her. It was quite nice being there together. And to think that, in the future, this WOULD be their place to walk in when they pleased. It was a nice thought. She pressed closer to him as they walked.

“This is about right,” he said presently. “In sight of the house.” He knelt and pushed away the leaf mould and dug a small hole in the soil with his hands. He put the first nut into the ground and covered it, then moved a few metres and did it again. Rose stood in the shadow of the trees and watched him for a while. Then her attention turned to the house. There were lights on all over it, showing that quite a lot of people were living there. She smiled blissfully and tried to imagine it as THEIR house. On a warm night like this they could come walking – maybe they would get a dog. That would be nice. She had never been able to have one living in the flats. They could walk in their woods and then come back to a warm fireside and drink wine and listen to music and cuddle up together. Or maybe some nights they would have dinner parties in that lovely big dining room they looked at, and music and laughter would come drifting over the night air through the open French windows.

And then there were the nine spare bedrooms they had to fill. Plus the nursery itself. Was he joking? Did he really want ten children? Did SHE want ten children?

With him?

YES. She hugged her arms around herself and smiled at the thought. She couldn’t even start to think of names for that many. Would they all need to have long Gallifreyan names? Well even if they did, she’d have ordinary Earth names for them, too. Chris and Davie did. So did Christopher.

One of her sons would have to be called Peter, she thought. Her father’s name. That would be nice.

“There, that’s done.” The Doctor stood up, brushing the soil off his hands. “We’ve created our own Cúl Nut Paradox!” He stepped towards her and put his arms around her neck. “I could feel your thoughts,” he said. “Yes, I want as many babies as we can manage. But it doesn’t have to be right away. We can space them out. One every five or six years. We have plenty of time.”

“Yes, because we’ll live to be a thousand years old,” she said with a laugh. “Or in your case, 2,000.” She paused. “It's an amazing thought.”

“1,000 years as your husband. Yes, it's amazing. It's fantastic.” He pulled her close and kissed her lovingly. “Our first kiss in our own woods.”

“But not the last.”

“Not by a long shot. I….” He stopped kissing her and pulled her closer to him protectively. He heard a noise. It sounded like a large animal in a very bad mood. He reached for his sonic screwdriver and set it to welding mode - the only setting that in any way could be used as a weapon.

It wasn’t an animal. He almost screamed aloud as he saw what it was.

It was a child!

Child? Maybe it had been once! It still had the size and shape of a child - a blonde girl aged about eight years or thereabouts. But the face…..

He’d seen just about everything in his time, but the face that looked back at him as the creature stopped and seemed to be regarding them thoughtfully would go down as one of the reasons why he preferred meditative trance to sleeping. He didn’t ever want to dream of that grey, waxen, corpse-face, with peeling skin and open red patches. He didn’t want to remember that this had once been somebody’s daughter. The red eyes seemed to burn into him and when the mouth opened, revealing sharp teeth stained with fresh blood, the sound that came out was an animal snarl. His stomach retched as she dropped the remains of a squirrel that had apparently been her most recent snack.

Why snack on squirrels when you can feast on people?

He raised the sonic screwdriver and pressed the switch. The harmless blue light became a hot cutting tool and he sliced the air a few inches away from the creature’s neck. Actual physical contact wasn’t necessary. Just getting the tool close would do it.

The creature that had once been a child snarled and struck out with a hand raised like a claw. The Doctor noticed as he stepped back out of its reach that the nails were broken and there was soil under them as if it had scratched its way out of the grave.

Blood began to seep from the wound on the neck and the creature looked at him as if in shock. Slowly it realised that he had severed the neck almost completely. It snarled one more time as, almost in slow motion, the head fell back, held to the body by only a scrap of flesh and sinew. It fell to the ground and lay still. Blood poured from the open wound, but only because blood did that. There was no heart pumping it. The creature was dead.

Can I scream now?” Rose asked.

“I’d rather you didn’t,” The Doctor told her. “Quite apart from being too close to my ears, there may be others about.”


“These things infect anyone they bite. Haven’t you ever seen any zombie films?”

“It was a zombie?”

“Yes. And it came from the house. I think I know how the family were killed.”

“Zombies killed them?”

“By now they’ll BE zombies. WE’RE going to kill them.”

“You told me we weren’t going to murder anyone.”

“Won’t be murder,” he assured her. “It’ll be an act of mercy. For them, and for South London. Because if we don’t clean the nest, the infection will spread.”


He pressed the TARDIS key and summoned it to them. He went inside and came back quickly with two Shaolin swords from the dojo. He gave one of them to Rose. She took it without question. She was as good as he was with it. He had no doubt about her skill.

“Beheading is the sure fire way of finishing them off,” he told her. “Come on.” He started to stride across the lawn towards the house.

“I don’t think I can do it,” Rose said.

“Do what?”

“Kill… Cut off somebody’s head. Not a human being. Monsters, things, yes. But not people.”

“These people ARE monsters,” he assured her. “Rose, when we get in there, don’t hesitate. Even if… even if there are other children. If they’re infected, they aren’t people any more. They’re not children. They’re monsters, things, soulless horrors. And they MUST be destroyed.”

He was telling himself as much as her. When he turned his sonic screwdriver on that child figure his hearts had almost rebelled. Only the sight of the monstrous face convinced him he was doing the right thing. But other cases inside may still look relatively human. It might be harder.

The house was locked. Every window and door was tightly fastened. The Doctor reached in his pocket and looked thoughtfully at the bundle of keys the estate agent had handed to him as the contracts were signed.

“It's fifty years,” Rose said. “Surely they can’t be the same keys?”

“You never know.” He selected the big iron key to the front door and stepped up under the portico. He inserted the key and the lock turned with a reassuring clunk.

“Ok, what do I know?” Rose admitted.

He opened the door and they stepped inside. The hall was lit. A maid with her throat ripped out lay bleeding in the middle of the marble tiles that Rose had liked the look of when they saw the house a few hours ago.

Her head turned and she looked at them with red eyes in a grey, waxen face.

The Doctor cut off her head with one swift movement.

“One down,” he said. “I think somebody locked the doors to try to contain the infection,” he added. “The child must have escaped somehow. But if we’re lucky the rest of the contaminated will be in the house.”


“It’ll save us a lot of work. I wonder how many people live here, servants included.”

They started at the bottom, in the kitchen and servant’s quarters. In the kitchen they were nearly set upon by the cook, who lumbered towards them with a meat cleaver that looked less deadly than the fangs in her own mouth. The Doctor swung his sword just once and her head flew off. He turned and dispatched a man who looked like he might have been the gardener. His throat had been ripped out and he hadn’t yet started to turn into a zombie. He never would, now.

Rose took out the next one. It came out of a side door in the passage leading from the kitchen to the family dining room. It was dressed in a butler’s uniform and it grasped The Doctor’s neck in long, grey fingers before she raised her sword and cut off its head. He stepped back quickly as it fell.

“You need to avoid getting their blood on your skin if possible,” The Doctor told her.

“I don’t WANT to get their blood on me,” she answered. “Do we… become like them if we do?”

“No,” he said. “They do have to bite you. But if you had a cut that the blood got into it might….”

They walked up the steps and found another maid and two people who looked, from their clothes, to be members of the family that lived in the house. All three were re-animated and they came at them with the same staring red eyes. The one advantage they had was speed. The zombies seemed unable to move very fast. The Doctor took two and Rose one of them. His warning about keeping the blood off their skin was redundant, though. They were both sprayed as Rose took the female zombie’s head off. The Doctor reached for a wine carafe on the table and soaked a napkin with it. He used it to clean the blood off them both before they moved on again.

“If I became…. Like them…. would you….”

“I’d do it before you turned,” he said. “I wouldn’t wait. There is a short period – between death and re-animation. This happened only tonight. Maybe less than an hour ago. Some of them are freshly dead.”

“Are you…” Rose began again. “You know like with the vampyres in Ireland… are you immune to this? With your Time Lord blood?”

“I don’t think so. I don’t want to find out.” He looked at her. “You do know that if I was bitten… you would have to…”

“Don’t get bitten,” she told him. She didn’t even want to think about it. “Let’s get this over.”

They moved through the house, bottom to top, seeking out the members of the family and their servants.

In the master bedroom they found what must have been the lady of the house. She was dressed in a long white nightdress and a silk dressing gown and somebody seemed to have laid her out on the bed with a bunch of flowers in her hands upon her chest. She looked as if she might have been beautiful once. Her long dark hair was splayed around her face.

But the face was that of a re-animated zombie, grey, waxen, peeling and suppurating, and the eyes that opened as they approached the bed were red and inhuman.

The Doctor cut off her head before she could move.

He looked at the door that led to the nursery. He looked at Rose. In the very near future he planned for her to bear his children and to put them to sleep at night in that room. He didn’t want her thinking about THIS night every time she did so.

“Stay here,” he said, in a soft but firm voice. Rose looked at him and began to speak, then glanced at the door. He could see by the change in her expression that she understood. He turned and opened the nursery door.

When he came back through the door Rose gasped to see him. His face was pale and he was crying. His hand on the blood-stained sword shook. She ran to him and held him around the shoulders.

“What happened? What was in there?”

“Never….” he whispered hoarsely. “Never ask me. I can’t… I won’t tell you. Just don’t….” He held her and treasured the feel of her warm body pressed against his. Warm, sweet life. He tried to rid his mind of the horror of the past few minutes. He consoled himself with the knowledge that he had sent some innocent souls to peace.

If he didn’t think that, he couldn’t have done it at all.

He wiped the tears that blurred his vision and took her by the hand out of that room. On the landing he dispatched another housemaid while Rose took out a man in a dinner suit.

“Big family, weren’t they,” Rose said. “How many more left?”

“I don’t know. We’ve not got many rooms left.”

Most of the rooms on that floor were empty. So was the second floor. They seemed to be done. But The Doctor wasn’t going to call it a night until he was sure. Even ONE of the creatures left walking around was a danger to Humanity.

They came down to the main hall again and then The Doctor remembered there was a room below the dining room, accessed by a separate staircase. He had earmarked it for a private room for himself.

The room had no window and only one door into it. It was a perfectly peaceful place where a man could get away from his mother-in-law and things ‘domestic’ from time to time.

Or a place to hide and hold out against an attack.

The door was locked. He didn’t bother searching for the key. The sonic screwdriver could open locks by the simple method of melting them.

He melted the lock.

He pushed the door in cautiously.

The room was furnished as a private study. The walls were lined with books and an old fashioned oak desk stood opposite the door. A desklamp threw light upon the room.

A man sat in the chair behind the desk. His flesh was grey but his eyes still seemed to have the light of cognisance in them.

The Doctor raised his sword. The man put his hands on the table in front of him.

“Do what you must,” he said.

The Doctor hesitated. He put his sword down.

“I’ve dealt with the rest,” he told the man. “ALL of them.”

“Even…” The man looked at him. He didn’t need to finish the sentence. For a moment both he and The Doctor had the same anguished expression.

“ALL,” The Doctor repeated.

“I thank you for having the courage to do what I did not.”

“What about you?” The Doctor asked. “You’re the last?”

“Yes, I am,” the man said. “I was the last to be infected. My wife…. she tried. What was left of her inside that abomination tried not to do it. But in the end… She couldn’t help herself. I’m turning now. I can feel it. I have very little time.”

“How did the infection start?” The Doctor asked. He was fully prepared to end the man’s suffering. But he was the only one who could give him the information he needed. “How do I know we’ve contained it? How do I know it hasn’t already spread?”

“Did you get the child?” he asked. “The one who escaped from the house.”

“The blonde girl?”

“What WAS a blonde girl,” Rose whispered with a shudder of remembrance.

“She’s at peace now,” The Doctor said. The man sighed pitifully but at the same time he nodded with a kind of satisfaction.

“She was the first. If you’ve dealt with her, it's over.”

“She was yours?”

The man nodded.

“My daughter…. Or she WAS. She died of an ordinary fever. We buried her in the family plot. But…”

“She came home.”


“It happens sometimes,” The Doctor explained. “There’s no obvious reason. Some people become zombies because they don’t feel they’re done with life. Usually they want vengeance for a wrong done. Revenge is an emotion strong enough to bring the dead from the grave. In this case - I think the child might have come back because of love - because she wanted to be with her family.”

“Oh!” Rose sobbed at the idea. All this death, this horror, was because of love. It was too horrible. Anger, revenge - that made sense. But not love.

“Yeah, I know.” The Doctor touched her cheek gently. “You’ve had a lousy time. I’m sorry about that. But it's nearly over. Then we can go home.”

“In time for tea?” she asked ironically. But The Doctor was looking at the man again. He stood up from his chair and came around the desk. He knelt on the ground by The Doctor’s feet and bowed his head.

“Let me die as a man, not a mindless thing,” he said. “Do that one kindness to me.”

“No!” Rose screamed. “No. You can’t kill him. Not while he’s still Human.”

“Yes, I can,” The Doctor told her. “I must. Because…. If it was me…. Yes, I’d rather die with my soul intact, knowing who and what I am. And I’d bless the man who showed me that mercy.”

“Do it,” the man said. “Do what must be done.”

The Doctor raised his sword. Rose looked away. She heard the familiar slicing sound. She didn’t turn and look. She DID understand why he did it. She DIDN’T think he was a murderer for doing it. But she didn’t want to see it.

“Come on,” he whispered and took her arm. They walked away out of the house of death. They didn’t look back. They quietly crossed the lawn to where the TARDIS was standing still.

A few minutes later, they were in temporal orbit. The Doctor took the two swords and looked at them. They were both stained with blood. Tainted blood. They were good swords, but he suddenly felt he didn’t want them in the dojo with the other swords. He walked through the console room and along the corridor to where the trash compactors ground any solid waste from the kitchen into the smallest atoms and then expelled them in space. He put the swords in the receptacle and switched the machine on. It made a grinding noise for a few seconds and then there was a sound of the vacuum seal opening to expel the waste. He walked away. His next stop was the bathroom. Rose stepped out of it as he reached it, a big bath towel around her body and another one over her hair. She’d had the same thought. Wash away the feeling of being contaminated by contact with that evil. She slipped past him to dress in their bedroom.

When he felt clean, he dressed in his usual dark clothes and a duplicate leather jacket that he found in the wardrobe. Whenever the one he was wearing suffered more punishment than usual it came up with a replacement. Not a NEW jacket, but a clone of the old one, complete with scuffs and buttons hanging by their last thread. He put the clothes they had both been wearing in the compactor and disposed of them. Then he went back to the console room and programmed their return to the sunny afternoon they had started out from.


The TARDIS parked under the Cúl nut trees which seemed not to be suffering any difficulty from the fact that they seeded themselves retrospectively. He held Rose’s hand as they stepped out. She was still very quiet. He was sorry. His intention had been to do no more than plant those trees and give their new home a unique and special feature. Becoming embroiled in its dark past had not been a part of the plan.

“I almost wish we hadn’t bought the house,” she said. He looked at her and said nothing, but he brought her to the formal garden beside the fountain that didn’t yet work. He sat her on a seat next to a slightly overgrown rose bed that he knew David would love to get his hands on. The smell of the blooms scented the warm summer air. It was almost impossible to believe, in that bright warmth and with that sweet scent on the air, that anything so terrible had happened.

“This IS a beautiful house,” The Doctor said after a long, quiet moment. “And it's OUR house now. What happened here happened fifty years ago. And it was over and done with then. It's not even going to be called Longmount House from now on. Just as soon as I can get a new set of gates made it will be Mount Lœng House, the home of the Lord and Lady de Lœngbærrow and their family. A new start for the house and for us.”

Rose looked at him and she knew that it would all be just as he said. Because he said so. She wasn’t sure why ‘because I say so’ worked for The Doctor, but it did. And she was glad it did.