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

Two women whose parents had named them Dorothy, neither of whom answered to that name, sat on a bench by the shores of Lake Coniston and looked at the mountain called the Old Man of Coniston. It had always seemed to them to be a friendly old man, the sort that wore an old cardigan and slippers and smoked a pipe by the fireside.

But in the past few weeks nothing about the landscape seemed friendly and they were worried.

“The Doctor could help.” Dorothy Weir, who answered to the name of Ace to a very select group of people, sighed. “I know he could sort it out, easy.”

“Which one of him?” Dorothy Chaplet, fondly known as Dodo to the few people who knew her, answered.

“Either of him, yours or mine,” Ace answered. “I’ve known him with three faces now. And I’d trust all three to the end of the universe.”

“But mine is fifty thousand light years away trying to stop two planets going to war with each other over ownership of a moon,” Dodo said proudly. “I bet he’ll do it, too.”

“And mine is retired,” Ace continued. “Retired? I just can’t imagine that. I don’t believe he would EVER retire.”

“What did he mean about sending somebody just as good as him?”

“I don’t know,” Ace sighed again. “Who in the universe could be just as good as him? He’s a one in a million.”

“In a billion.”

“In a trillion.”

“And that concludes this meeting of the Cumbrian branch of The Doctor Appreciation Society!” Dodo giggled.

Ace laughed too and hugged her friend. It was good to laugh. Even though there was something terrible happening and they were all nervous and apprehensive, being able to laugh made them less frightened.

That was The Doctor. If either of them had learnt one thing from him, it was that you didn’t have to be scared. You didn’t have to be a victim. You could fight back.

And HE would help somehow.

“I wish you girls would come in.” They both turned as Ace’s husband, Mike, approached the bench. “If it starts again….”

“We’re all right,” Ace said. “We…” She stopped talking. She gripped Dodo’s hand tightly. “It’s…. Oh….”

They had both heard it. The sound like no other sound in the universe. It came with a rush of displaced air. They turned in the direction of the sound and for an eyeblink they both saw a plain grey box-like shape with what looked like a ying-yang symbol on the two sides they could see. Then it shimmered and resolved into a green painted wooden hut with a logo of the National Trust on the door. They both stood and stared as the door of the apparition opened and a young woman and two young men stepped out. They knew now what Ace’s Doctor had meant by sending somebody just as good to help.

“Brenda!” Ace cried as she ran and hugged the young woman. “Oh it’s wonderful to see you again. How have you been since…” She worked it out in her head. “The Doctor’s wedding… I haven’t seen you since then.”

“I’ve been wonderful,” Brenda told her. “Ace… these… do you remember? They were the pageboys at the wedding. So sweet and angelic looking.”

Ace looked at Chris and Davie and smiled as she did remember them as twelve year olds. She looked at them now, two handsome young men, one with long hair in a pony tail, one with short hair streaked with blonde, but unmistakeably still the twins she recalled.

“The Doctor’s grandsons,” she said. “You have your own TARDIS. Its chameleon switch works.”

“Yes.” Davie grinned as he stepped forward and grasped Ace’s hand warmly. “He sends his love to you. And promises he and Rose will come and see you some time soon. But he reckons the two of us can handle your problem here.”

“Three of us,” Brenda added pointedly.

“Three of us,” Davie amended. He took Brenda’s hand and caressed it soothingly. Ace and Dodo were just noticing the engagement ring on her finger and putting two and two together when it began - the thing that had made them contact their oldest and dearest friend and ask him for help.

The trouble came from the mountain.

Chris and Davie both stepped forward and stared with the eyes of scientists at the shimmering energy wave that emanated from the mountain. Davie reached in his pocket for his sonic screwdriver and held it up, taking readings. Chris closed his eyes and seemed to be FEELING the energy with his mind.

“I don’t get anything conclusive,” Davie admitted.

“No, me neither…” Chris began. Then the sound of a dog barking in what was unmistakeably distress disturbed him,

“That’s Connie,” Ace said. “Mr Booth’s dog… the gardener…” It yelped as if something had hurt it as the two brothers took the lead from her in running towards the sound. She would once have been the first, she thought ruefully. She was younger than they were when she travelled with The Doctor and she had never shirked danger.

The reason the dog was in distress was immediately clear. It was being attacked by a sheet of polythene that its master had been using to cover seedlings in a newly laid vegetable patch. The plastic was twisting around its legs and trying to get a hold around its body.

On the ground nearby Mr Booth, the gardener, was being suffocated by a plastic bin liner that seemed to be trying to mould itself around the features of his face.

Davie ran for the man, Chris went to help the stricken dog, both adjusting their sonic screwdrivers at the same time to emit a frequency that would disrupt the signal causing harmless plastic products to turn homicidal. Davie tore at the plastic and exposed the man’s face. He was unconscious but still alive. He immediately began to resuscitate him. He glanced once at his brother. He had been spared having to give mouth to mouth to the small, shaggy terrier, but nobody told the dog that. It was yapping joyfully now it was free of the killer plastic and licking him all over his face.

“Looks like you’ve got a girlfriend,” Davie teased his brother.

“I’m trying to explain to her about my vow of celibacy,” Chris answered. “Is he going to be all right?”

“Nothing a cup of tea and a bit of TLC from his wife wouldn’t cure,” Davie answered as he saw Mr Booth open his eyes and struggle to sit up. “It’s all right, sir,” he assured the elderly man. “We got to you in time. You’re going to be just fine.”

“Put a tot of rum in that tea you mentioned and I’ll be right as rain,” he answered, reaching for Davie’s shoulder as he pushed himself upright.

“We’ll see what we can do, Mr Booth,” Mike assured him with a laugh that was edged with relief that this crisis was over as well as nervousness about what was happening.

They didn’t keep a lot of alcohol in a house that was, after all, a residential home and school for girls with ‘social problems’, but Mike did manage to find the dash of rum for Mr Booth’s tea. Everyone else took it unadulterated, including Connie, who got a saucerful from Chris.

“She’s taken to you,” Mr Booth told him.

“So it seems,” Chris laughed, ruffling the dogs ears gently. “Poor thing. Never mind, it’s over now.”

“THIS time,” Mike said. “But its getting stronger. How long before somebody dies?”

“We don’t know what to do,” Ace told the twins. “The authorities won’t take it seriously. They say the lights and the energy waves are just tests by the Digital TV people with their transmitter up on the mountain.”

“It’s a bloody disgrace,” Mr Booth said. “Pardoning my language in front of the ladies. But it was bad enough they put all those windmills up there on the Old Man. Now it’s TV. We managed fine with neither all these years.”

“All the older people HATE the windfarm.” Dodo said. “They say it spoils the look of the mountain. But I think they’re beautiful in their own way. Up there, spinning around in the wind, and producing electricity with NO pollution at all.”

“I agree,” Davie told her. “I’ve ALWAYS liked windfarms. You know, by 2190 the British Isles will be ringed with sea-based windfarms and there isn’t a hill without them. And there are NO nuclear power stations or oil or coal burning ones at all. It’s the way of the future.”

“2190?” Mr Booth wasn’t sure if he had heard the young man right, but he wasn’t going to argue with somebody who had saved his life. “Well, I’m glad I won’t be around, that’s all I can say.”

“I’ll drive you home in a minute, Mr Booth,” Mike said. “If you’re sure you’re feeling all right, now.”

“I feel better for that,” he answered, putting down his tea cup. “But Connie and I can walk. We’re only fifty yards down the road.” He whistled for the dog, who gave Chris a parting lick and came to his side. Mike insisted on walking with him, at least, to be sure he got home safely and he assented to that.

As the two men and the dog left the room five of the girls came in, all squabbling among themselves. Ace, who The Doctor still called his favourite juvenile delinquent, even though she was in her mid-40s now, immediately adopted an expression that was part ‘mother’ and part ‘teacher’, but all ‘authority’.

“Mrs Weir,” one of the girls complained, producing a rather strange piece of evidence for her complaint. “Somebody did THIS to my dolls.”

It was Brenda who reached to take one of the dolls from her. They weren’t play dolls, and the girl herself was sixteen, beyond such things. Rather they were intended to be a collection for display. They were four twelve inch female dolls dressed in spangly dresses and make up and with plastic guitars. A rock-chick quartet with names like Chantelle and Mystic that Brenda vaguely recalled as being connected with a rather garish cartoon TV series. It had been popular in the common room on Saturday mornings when she had been a resident here.

And every one of them had been cocooned in plastic wrapped wire as if something had tried to do the same to them in miniature as had been done to Mr Booth and his dog. Three of the other girls complained loudly that the wire used to tie up the dolls came from the headsets of THEIR MP3 players.

Brenda tried to unwind the bass player doll. The wire was pulled very tight. And when she did get a length unpicked it seemed to have a life of its own, snaking around her wrist and pulling painfully. Davie jumped to her rescue with his sonic screwdriver and the wire loosened at once.

“THAT’S what happened,” the fifth girl protested. “They said it was me, because I was in the dorm at the time. But I didn’t. The wires were alive. So were the dolls. It was like they were fighting something invisible and the dolls were tied up so they couldn’t struggle.”

“That was just a bit of residual energy,” Davie said as he examined the doll and the wire. “I think it’s safe now. But…”

“It’s been happening all over,” Ace said. “First the energy wave, then weird stuff happening. There was an ice cream van, all the ice cream starting pouring out of the dispenser all over the floor, and all the plastic boxes were sort of melted, even though they were in the freezer and the ice cream was still frozen. And another time it was plastic bin bags stuck all over Mr Hargreaves’ tractor. The police put that one down as a prank. But the bags weren’t just taped on or glued. It was like they had fused themselves together in one big mass. Then there was Mrs Glover’s garden furniture that somehow ended up melted onto the roof of her caravan.”

“Plastic garden furniture?” Chris asked.


“Ok,” Davie said very calmly as he examined the doll collection with his sonic screwdriver to make sure there was no more residual energy. “I know what we’re dealing with here.”

“Yep, I thought so,” Chris agreed.

“Girls,” Ace said. “You can go. Sheila, nobody is to blame for your dolls. This is something unusual. And you three, I’ll let you have some petty cash tomorrow and you can get the bus to Kendal and buy new headsets. NONE of you will pick on Andrea. It wasn’t her fault.”

The girls left, Sheila gathering up her abused dolls. As soon as they were out of earshot Davie pulled out his mobile phone and dialled a number that was slightly longer than standard since he had to reach the Eye of Orion in the year 3557 where Christopher had piloted the TARDIS on a family trip to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the planet and watch a particularly spectacular comet passing through that part of the galaxy. Just the thing, he said, to keep The Doctor from getting totally bored with his convalescence.

“Granddad,” Davie said in a carefully calm voice as The Doctor appeared on the tiny LCD viewscreen of the mobile videophone. “Do you know the recipe for anti-plastic off the top of your head? And are they the sort of ingredients you might get in a domestic kitchen?”

The Doctor frowned with deep concern as he understood at once why his great-grandson was asking such a question.

“The answer to both questions is yes,” he said. “I take it you have a Nestene problem?”

“I think so,” Davie answered and gave a digest of what they had seen and what had occurred before they arrived on the scene.

“The ice cream is odd. Low temperatures usually inhibit the animation of plastic. But it’s not impossible.”

“But this IS something you’ve dealt with before?” Ace asked, looking over Davie’s shoulders. “We never had creepy plastic things trying to kill people when I was with you.”

“We had Daleks, Cybermen and Haemovores in the space of a month once,” The Doctor reminded her with a smile. “Killer plastic we could well do without. I had Nestene to deal with the first time I met Rose. And the first time I met Jo and Liz, for that matter. Nestene seem to LIKE Earth. It’s got all the resources they like to devour. Trouble is, WE like the planet undevoured. So you need to deal with it.” He paused and looked around and smiled indulgently as he told one of the children that he would come and play with them in a minute. “Is there any official interest in these occurrences yet?”

“None at all,” Ace told him. “The local police don’t think there’s anything to worry about. Nobody has been hurt… at least not until poor Mr Booth and Connie this afternoon.”

“I’m surprised Torchwood aren’t on the case. Or U.N.I.T. Davie, do you think you and Chris can handle the situation without getting any of them involved?”

“It depends how big the problem is. Torchwood would just get in our way. They always want to be in charge. But U.N.I.T. might be useful if it looked like we need some firepower.”

“If you think you want to call them in, use my Code 9 password and tell them I’ve regenerated again. They’ll be yours to command,” The Doctor grinned a conspiratorial grin then became serious again. “The Nestene is a nasty piece of work. It has no regard for life of any kind. I have confidence in you boys. I’ve taught you everything I know. But be careful, won’t you. If you get killed your mother will blame me for it.”

Davie laughed. But he took the warning seriously. He was doing The Doctor’s work now. The fact that he had his Code 9 password to bring him in contact with the Earth authorities of the 21st century was proof of how much he had accepted the mantle of responsibility. Even so, he valued any advice his great-grandfather could give him about an enemy he knew of old.

The Doctor sent the ‘recipe’ for anti-plastic by text message after he had said goodbye and wished him luck. Davie and Chris studied it with interest, but it was Ace who was most enthusiastic.

“We’ve got a science lab,” she said. “It’s not very big. But we have Bunsen burners and stuff. And all these ingredients are easy. Most of them are in the cleaning cupboard. How much of it do we need?”

“A small phial of it is enough to kill a Nestene,” Davie answered. Ace looked disappointed. He remembered some of the stories The Doctor had told them when they were children. Ace as a teenager had been a kind of walking armoury with makeshift explosives in her bag. That was why The Doctor had called her his favourite juvenile delinquent.

“Sorry,” he said with a grin. “But we really just need a bit. All we have to do is track down the Nestene to its lair and anti-plastic it. A small bit is enough.”

“Up on the mountain?” Ace asked.

“Yes,” Davie answered. “I can get a lock on exactly where with my TARDIS.”

“Sounds simple enough. I’ll come with you.”

“Come with him where?” Mike walked into the drawing room, hanging his jacket on a peg behind the door. “Dorothy, if this is something dangerous…”

“Mike, this is just the sort of thing me and The Doctor used to do.”

“I always thought…”

“What? I told you all about The Doctor, about meeting him on Iceworld, the Daleks, Cybermen…”

“And I always just thought… or at least I hoped… that you just had a really fertile imagination. Then there was all that business with the fires and Brenda… And now this. Dorothy, why is it happening to us? Is it BECAUSE of these people? Did they bring this dangerous situation to our door?”

“Well, of course they didn’t,” Ace protested. “I called THEM because I knew it was something they could help us with. They know about these things.”

“They’re just boys. They’re only a couple of years older than some of the girls we look after.”

“They’re Time Lords,” Ace insisted. “And they really can…”

She stopped talking. She could feel something was wrong. Dodo ran to the window and confirmed that the energy wave was coming again from the mountain.

“It’s stronger this time,” she said. “It’s…. Ohhhh! Look at your TARDIS.”

Davie ran to the window. He gasped in alarm. The hut that was his disguised TARDIS was being covered with plastic. The energy wave must have focussed on every piece of plastic bin liner, carrier bag, polythene wrapping in the district and it was wrapping around and around until it formed a shrink-wrapped shell around the TARDIS.

“It knows we’re here. It knows we’re its enemy,” he said. “If we tried to get to it now we’d end up like Mr Booth.”

“You can’t use the sonic screwdriver?” Ace asked.

“No,” he said. “Not while the energy is still transmitting, anyway. It’s stronger than a hand held tool. Even one I made.”

Dodo let out a scream as something darkened the window. It was the top of a plastic picnic table and it closed off the window completely. They could hear other debris battering against it as the house became the next target of a plastic wrapping that was nothing to do with post-Modernist concept art.

“It’s everywhere,” Ace cried out as she heard girls calling and running downstairs from the dormitories and from the common room. Chris and Mike were neck and neck running out of the drawing room. They both called out to the girl who was reaching for the front door.

“No!” Chris yelled. “Bolt the door and get back from it. Lock all the windows.” He looked around as Ace stood by her husband. “Is there a big room that everyone can get into that doesn’t have any plastic?”

“What room has no plastic at all?” Ace pointed out. “The classrooms all have moulded plastic seats. Everything has something made of plastic.”

“The dining room has wooden seats,” Dodo said.

“Go there,” Chris ordered. “Dodo, take all of the girls to the dining room. Mike, you go, too. Throw out anything plastic, even a salt pot, a plastic fork, anything, and lock the door. Brenda, Ace, come with us to the kitchen.”

“Why?” Ace asked.

“Because we DO need a big vat of anti-plastic,” he said. “We’re under siege.”

“WHY are we under siege?” Ace asked as they reached the kitchen. Two women in cook’s whites and hair nets were crying hysterically. She did her best to calm them and assure them that everything was going to be all right. The older one took her word for it, but the younger one was nearly hysterical. Chris stepped towards her and put his hand on her forehead. He willed her to calm down but she still looked terrified. And no wonder. It WAS terrifying.

“I think it MIGHT be because of us,” Davie admitted. “Mike was wrong about this starting because of us. But now we’re here, the Nestene has identified the TARDIS as a threat to it. And it’s identified us with it… It’s after us. I’m sorry.”

“Why should YOU be sorry? You’re here to help us.” She reached inside a cupboard and pulled out a huge stainless steel cooking pot. “Will this do to brew up the anti-plastic?”

“That will do fine,” Davie said. “Brenda, Chris, start looking for the ingredients. Ace, make sure there’s nothing plastic loose in here.”

The kitchen was fitted to the exacting regulations laid down for any residential school or institution. All of the cupboards and surfaces were made of stainless steel. So were all the utensils. As he looked about he could see none of the plastic things that filled his mum’s kitchen; no plastic carousel with plastic handled cooking spoons and spatulas. No plastic cutlery tray or drainer on the sink. No plastic bread bin and biscuit jars and funny fridge magnets and trinkets. Everything in here was made of reassuringly strong metal. It was a plastic free kitchen.

Davie filled the big pot with water at the sink. He averted his eyes from the window, darkened by the thickening layers covering them. The Nestene must be controlling every bit of loose plastic in the neighbourhood, he thought. It looked as if the ground floor of the house was being wrapped around with the thick, strong, green polythene that farmers used to bale up hay.

“We’ll suffocate,” Brenda said as she and Ace piled the cleaning products that contained the anti-plastic ingredients on the stainless steel counter next to the cooker that Davie transferred the pot to. “If the whole house gets covered, we’ll run out of air.”

The two cooks groaned in new terror.

“No we won’t,” Davie assured them all. “I’ll get us out of here before that happens. Trust me.”

“If we’re going to die, at least we’re together,” she said to him.

“That’s a good thing?” Davie looked at her seriously. “Brenda, I like you being with me. It feels right. We’re out there doing it, just like The Doctor and Rose used to, and The Doctor and Ace before her. I’m The Doctor now, and you’re there for me. But if I thought that it was so that we can both die in the same hazardous situation, then I wouldn’t want that. Besides, it sounds a bit too much like the sort of thing the helpless heroine in some daft film would say, not a smart girl like you.”

“We’ll be fine,” Ace told her. “I never doubted The Doctor and Davie is The Doctor now. I have faith in him.”

“So do I,” Brenda admitted. “But…” She glanced at the darkened window. “It’s so…”

“Don’t think about it,” Ace continued. “Don’t look at it. Karen, Mrs Knowles, come on, you can both help here. Get the caps off these bottles and measure out the stuff. We’re better off than Mike and the girls. All they can do is wait. We’re DOING something,”

“Exactly,” Davie said as he took the boiled water off the heat and began to mix up the strange concoction. He felt more like Harry Potter than Davie Campbell as he watched several colourless ingredients react to each other and turn into a bright, almost luminous, blue vat of anti-plastic. But it wasn’t a magic potion. It was advanced chemistry. Science - the basis of the Time Lord society he was descended from.

“Now,” he said as the mixture stopped bubbling. “Look around for something we can put the stuff in. We need something that isn’t plastic, that we can throw or spray the mixture with.”

“I have an idea,” Ace said. “But I have to get to my office down the corridor. Do you think…”

“Come with me,” Chris said, dipping a saucepan in the mix and grabbing a large spoon. “Davie, make up another pot. As much of the stuff as we can get.”

Chris led the way. A few steps outside the door he launched a spoonful of anti-plastic at a sort of gestalt figure, vaguely Human shaped, made up of assorted shampoo bottles, conditioners, moisturisers and talcum powders. A plastic frog at the top of the ‘head’ would have looked ridiculous if the thing wasn’t so keen on attacking them with toothpaste tube fingers that flexed menacingly.

“Somebody must have left the bathroom door open,” Ace said as the anti-plastic dissolved what was holding them together as well as what was animating them and the hall was littered with toiletries. “Mike’s always telling them off about that. It lets condensation from the showers out onto the landing and the steam sets off the smoke alarms.”

“Least of our worries now,” Chris said as they ran to the office. “How many plastic things are there in here?” He paused at the door. It sounded as if something was happening inside.

“Loads of plastic ring binders and a vase of plastic flowers. Er… desk lamp… pens, I don’t know. LOTS of stuff. It’s an office. It has plastic stuff.”

“Ok,” Chris said. “Get behind me and keep your head down.”

“No, you get behind ME,” Ace said. “It’s MY office, and I’m older than you and I’ve done weird stuff with The Doctor before.” She shielded her face as she opened the door.

What they both saw inside immediately reminded Ace of a scene in a film that she saw when she was far too young to see it. The scene in Poltergeist when the parapsychologists open the bedroom door. The office was in the same state of chaos. The plastic ring binders were duelling with each other in mid air and pages were being shredded and scattered everywhere. Chris gave a yell and pushed Ace down as the plastic flowers she mentioned came towards them like arrows, the sharp plastic-encased metal stalks embedding themselves in the opposite wall.

“I need to get to that big drawer in my desk,” Ace said and went in at a crouch. Chris stood and flicked anti-plastic around the room liberally. Every plastic object it so much as lightly touched was immediately neutralised. Ring binders soon littered the floor as Ace reached the desk and unlocked the bottom drawer. She pulled out a large cardboard box with the word ‘confiscated’ written on the side in marker pen and ducked again as the marker pen in question along with its thinner biro relatives dive-bombed her until a shower of anti-plastic turned them back into inanimate writing implements.

“Got it,” she said. Then she yelled as something pulled her to the ground. Chris braved a painful shower of plastic tipped drawing pins and plastic covered multi-coloured paper clips to reach her.

Ace was being double-teamed by the telephone and the desk lamp. The phone had snaked its flex around her legs and pulled her down while the lamp was trying to throttle her with its plastic covered power lead around her neck.

Chris grabbed the lamp by its metal stem and dipped its ‘head’ into the saucepan. It immediately stopped trying to strangle Ace while he dealt with the phone in the same way. She scrambled to her feet and ran with the box, Chris covering her back, flicking the last of his ‘ammunition’ at a phalanx of set squares and protractors that tipped themselves off the top shelf as they reached the office door.

The corridor was safe enough except for the danger of slipping on spilt shampoo as they ran through the remnants of their first battle. They made it to the kitchen unscathed.

“It’s mental out there,” Ace reported to Davie as she gave him the box. He opened it and pulled out a small, brightly covered object. “Water bombs,” she said. “There are about 1,000 in there. One of the girls got them from home but I confiscated them before she could make any mischief with them.”

“Aren’t they plastic?” Brenda asked doubtfully.

“No,” Davie answered. “Latex. It’s a NATURAL product. Plastic is synthesized. Different thing entirely. And it’s PERFECT. Everyone grab rubber gloves and start filling as fast as you can.”

Everyone did as he said, including Karen and Mrs Knowles, the school cooks. He was right about one thing, at least. Having something to do helped in a crisis. Ordinary people thrown into situations like this were bound to cry and be hysterical at first. But once they had something to do to help their own situation they were fine.

“Look!” Brenda yelled out suddenly as they filled the fiftieth water bomb with anti-plastic. Karen gave a squeal that almost undid Davie’s theory. But when he looked around at the window he felt like squealing himself. The siege was over. Now the invasion was beginning. The plastic wrap was extruding itself into a Human shape that was pushing at the window. He saw it raise an arm with what looked like a hammer on the end and yelled a warning just as the window smashed in.

“Eat anti-plastic,” Ace yelled and grabbed a bomb. She threw it like a grenade and it burst over the head of the plastic invader as it was half in, half out of the broken window. In an instant it became tattered rags of polythene, blowing slightly in the breeze that came through the exposed window for a few seconds before a plastic milk crate blocked the gap.

There were sounds of breaking glass elsewhere, though, and screams from the dining room. Ace grabbed the box of filled bombs, Brenda took the empties. Davie grabbed the fullest pot of mixture and Chris refilled his saucepan and formed the rearguard behind the two cooks when they abandoned the kitchen and headed to the dining room. The front door was holding yet. The bolts and two strong five lever locks were standing firm against the battering from more plastic creatures trying to get in. But the windows were vulnerable and the dining room had been designed to be light and airy with three big windows looking out over the beautiful lake view.

“Grab a bomb and nuke the suckers!” Ace cried as she ran into the dining room and dumped the box down before launching two bombs in quick succession at the first of the black plastic enemy to burst through the window. Four of the girls, including the one she had confiscated the water bombs from came forward and eagerly grabbed. Most of the others were too scared, hiding under tables and behind the serving counter. When they saw the creatures reduced to shredded bin liners some of them slowly stood up. Davie called some of them to him and had them fill more bombs.

“We still need to get to the TARDIS,” he said, setting aside a box of bombs. “Chris, you and me. Everyone else defends this room.”

“I’m not leaving you,” Brenda told him.

“I’m coming with you to get this Nestene and kick it where it hurts,” Ace declared. Mike tried to protest but she turned on him. “No, Mike. I’ve NEVER been the sort of girl you have to protect. You know that. You LIKED that I was independent and could take care of myself. Now I’m going to do what I always did when I was with The Doctor. I’m going to stop this thing from hurting anyone else. You look after the girls. Dodo, are you all right?”

Dodo looked up from filling another anti-plastic bomb. She smiled her bright, teenage smile.

“Just like old times with The Doctor, isn’t it. At least nothing is trying to take over my brain.”

“Good girl,” Ace told her. Dodo had done well since coming to stay with her. She had gained a lot of confidence, come to terms with living in a different decade to the one she remembered and made lots of friends among the girls. But Ace knew that she had gone through the mill a bit in the ‘old times with The Doctor’ and she hoped her new found confidence would carry her through this new crisis.

“Come on,” Davie said, picking up the ammunition and giving it to Brenda to carry. Ace and Chris went ahead, armed with a bomb in each hand. He took the rearguard this time.

They reached the front hallway just as the door finally gave way under the concerted attack from outside. For a moment in the silhouette of the sudden daylight they all thought the same thing.

“Daleks?” Ace cried.

“Composters,” Chris answered with relief as he launched his share of bombs at them. The black plastic pepperpot shapes DID look a bit like Daleks, but they were a lot easier to stop. And FAR easier to push aside as they forced their way out through the doorway and Ace and Davie dealt with the row of wheelie bins that formed the second wave of attack on the front door.

“NOW what?” Brenda moaned as another animated plastic creature rose up to block their way to the shrink wrapped TARDIS. It was about eight feet tall and made of milk crates and it swung its huge arms dangerously at the slightest movement they made.

“All together,” Davie said, raising his throwing arm. “Ace, you get the head, I’ll get the body, Chris you aim for the legs.”

“The legs are being taken care of,” Chris said as Connie ran yapping and barking at the lumbering feet. “Connie, come on girl, come away.”

To his relief the dog heard his voice and came to his side, still growling as menacingly as a friendly looking shaggy dog can menace. As soon as she was clear they launched their bombs and stepped back from the rain of milk crates.

“The TARDIS,” Davie cried and they advanced once more, grabbing ammunition and launching it as fast as they could. They managed to hold the plastic wrapping back from the door long enough for Davie to get his key out and open it up. Connie ran in ahead of them joyfully. Davie held the door until everyone was safe inside then ran to his console.

“Why is the dog loose again?” Ace asked as she and Brenda petted it lovingly. “I hope Mr Booth is all right.”

“We’ll check as soon as we get back,” Chris promised as he joined his brother at the controls. “Let’s put a stop to this thing, first.”

“We won’t be able to materialise at the source of the energy,” Davie told him. “It’s too powerful. It’s scrambling navigation. I can get us about halfway up the mountain.”

“Walking shoes and coats in the wardrobe,” Chris said. “Not pacamacs. Nobody needs to be strangled by their own clothing.”

It took just long enough to don suitable clothing for climbing a mountain before Davie landed the TARDIS as close as he could get to the ground zero of the Nestene energy source. Connie led the way out as he opened the doors. He was last, and he wondered why the dog had begun barking. He hadn’t expected to find any problems in the three or four hundred metres they had to climb. There was no plastic up Coniston Old Man for the Nestene to manipulate.

As he closed the TARDIS door behind him his ears were assailed by the sound of helicopters overhead. He looked up to see two troop carriers passing over. One hovered near the top of the mountain, near the TV mast. A gunship flanked it as ropes dropped and soldiers abseiled down.

The second helicopter, also with gunship support, hovered over them. Davie called to everyone to stay calm as soldiers dropped from the sky and surrounded them. He recognised their U.N.I.T. ID on their uniforms.

“Code 9,” he called out as he raised his hands and nodded to Chris and the girls to do the same. “Code 9, Theta Sigma 907655 Delta Sigma. I need to talk to your superior officer.”

For a desperate moment he wasn’t sure if anyone was listening to him. Then he saw a smaller helicopter approach. This one dropped lower until it was about two feet from the same rough plateau he had materialised the TARDIS on. An officer jumped down and the helicopter rose back up out of the way. Along with the two transporters it flew away leaving the two gunships still hovering menacingly.

The officer approached. Davie ran what he knew about military ranks and insignia through his head and identified the three pips and a crown as denoting the rank of Brigadier.

He looked at the face of the tall, square jawed man and recognised him as Brigadier John Benton.

He had been at The Doctor’s wedding along with several other military types from the early 21st century. Apparently they went back a LONG way.

“Code 9, Theta Sigma 907655 Delta Sigma,” Davie repeated. “I’m The Doctor. Glad to see you. Brigadier.”

“You’re not The Doctor,” Brigadier Benton replied. “You’re one of the twins, aren’t you? His grandkids. That’s the other one there, badly in need of a haircut.”

“I’m The Doctor now,” he answered. “Your Doctor retired. I took over the family business. I’m in charge of saving planet Earth now. And since you’re here as well as us, you know it NEEDS saving right now. So lets get on with it.”

“HE retired?” Benton laughed. “I tried that once. I was happily selling used cars until the Slitheen killed the Prime Minister along with most of our top UNIT operatives and blew up 10 Downing Street. I got reactivated.”

“If its any consolation, it was GRANDDAD who blew up No.10, not the

Slitheen,” Davie answered. “But reminiscing about old times should wait. We’ve got a new crisis to deal with.”

“Ok, Doctor,” Benton answered, bending to the inevitable. “U.N.I.T. is standing by for your instructions, sir.”

“First of all, make sure the men up there stand off and don’t do anything yet. We’re dealing with a Nestene. Like you had to deal with twice in the seventies. Your men aren’t equipped with the right weapons. WE’VE got what’s needed here.”

The Brigadier and his subordinates all looked dubiously at the box of multicoloured water bombs as Brenda held them out. Davie instructed the soldiers to put as many of them as they could in their ammunition pouches of their webbing before he took the lead in the march up the rest of the mountain to join the other half of the platoon.

The men at the top were obeying the order to stand off. They weren’t entirely sure what to do anyway. These were men who had been trained to fight mostly Human or humanoid enemy, at the strangest, Daleks or Cybermen. But they were at a loss as to how to fight the enemy that stood in their way now.

It was a sort of loosely gathered ball of rubber coated fibre-optic cable. Loose ends of it reached out like strangling hands and the soldiers backed away, letting off rounds from their rifles, but none of them entirely surprised when the bullets did no harm to the creature.

“Anti-plastic,” Davie called out as they reached the scene. “Throw it now.”

A half a dozen anti-plastic bombs impacted on the encroaching enemy, but to his disappointment, nothing happened.

“Rubber coating,” Chris reminded him. “Rubber is latex… it isn’t affected.”

“#:£$&@!” Davie swore.

“Rubber melts,” the Brigadier said and he spoke into his headset. “Pull back everyone,” he ordered as the gunship manoeuvred around and fired two incendiary rockets into the target.

As the smoke cleared they could see that it had worked. The rubber HAD burned away. But the plastic fibre-optic inside had melted into one great mass, and before their eyes the mass rose up like the sort of blob monster beloved of 1950s horror films.

“Ok, NOW it’s exposed plastic,” Davie said. “AGAIN, with the anti-plastic bombs.”

This time it worked. The blob shrivelled under the bombardment and the door to the concrete bunker-like building that was the base of the digital tv relay station was unobstructed.

“Me, and Ace and two of your men,” Davie decided. “Everyone else start moving back. `Granddad says that when Nestene and anti-plastic mix there’s a big bang.”

Chris took off his belt and tied it on Connie’s collar and he and Brenda retreated with soldiers flanking them. Davie looked at Ace. She grinned at him.

“You really ARE The Doctor now,” she said.

“You bet your life,” he answered. He looked at the Lieutenant and a sergeant who flanked them, anti-plastic bombs in their webbing and their hands on their rifles just in case there was an enemy of the ordinary sort to deal with.

There wasn’t. The station was designed to be unmanned. It was all fully automatic. And surprisingly, all the computers that controlled the relay of High Definition Digital TV to Cumbria and North Lancashire were still working as if nothing was amiss.

As if there wasn’t a big hole in the floor, going down a good fifteen feet into the mountain.

As if the bottom of the said pit wasn’t filled by a shapeless alien entity, orange and pulsating, with brown and green veins through the flesh – if it was flesh – that flashed and arced as if an electrical energy ran through it.

“How did it get there?” one of the soldiers asked. “Can it dig?”

“It would have fallen through space as a glowing globe,” Davie answered. “Probably attracted to the TV mast’s signals. Once installed it can produce an electrical energy that turns its outer skin acidic. It ate its way through the floor and the foundations and into the rock itself, growing and building itself a nest. Takes about six weeks for it to do that. When did the weird stuff start happening?”

“About two weeks ago,” Ace said. “It was mature enough by then to start sending out signals?”

“Yes. It’s not FULLY mature yet,” Davie added. “If it was, it could have sent a strong signal all the way across the county, making plastic everywhere, of every kind, attack Humans. It’s your basic ‘take over the planet from the indigenous population and consume everything until the planet is an empty husk’ ploy.”

“Timeee Loorrrddd…” A harsh voice rasped and everyone realised it came from the Nestene. Davie felt a little shocked to be addressed as such by an enemy. “You cannot defeat me, Time Lorddd….”

“Yes, I can,” he answered and he threw down all three of the anti-plastic bombs from his pocket. A dark gap like a mouth opened and swallowed them. For a long moment Davie thought it wasn’t going to work, that somehow the Nestene had digested the bombs without being affected. But then things began to happen.

The Nestene let out an angry roar and tried to rise up from its pit. As it did so, a black patch began to spread from the centre like burnt pumice on the surface of lava.

And in its desperation it tried to take the architect of its death with it. Davie yelped as he felt a cable he hadn’t noticed snake around his legs and pull his feet from under him. Ace grabbed his arm as he was dragged towards the pit where the Nestene roared with agony and anger. The two soldiers fired their weapons into the pit and threw down what was left of the anti-plastic, which hastened its death but didn’t do anything about the hold it had on Davie. Finally, Ace let go of his hand and reached for the knife on the sergeant’s belt. She sliced at the cable that whipped around his legs. It slackened as it tried to attack her and hold onto him at the same time. It couldn’t do both. Davie kicked out and his legs were free. He scrambled to his feet, grabbing Ace’s hand. They all four ran for it as the ground shook with the last convulsions of an exploding and imploding Nestene.

Outside they kept on running towards the place where the others waited. Connie barked a welcome to them as they threw themselves flat by the old slate cairn that used to be the only thing on the summit before digital tv and wind-power crowded it out. Some of the stones of the cairn dislodged as the explosion ripped through the relay station and the antennae tower crashed to the ground, but they were all safely clear of the danger.

“Wow!” Ace cried as she was among the first to stand up again. “You do bigger explosions than the old Doctor.”

“I’d rather not do explosions at all,” Davie responded. “Is everyone all right?”

“All present and correct,” the Brigadier said. “It’s over, is it?”

“Yes, it is,” Davie answered. “You can call your helicopters back and get out of here. I’m not sure what cover story anyone is going to put out to explain this, but since nobody will have any TV for about a seventy mile radius you’d better make it a good one.”

“We’ve got a department for that. Needed it ever since the 60s, when the old Doctor helped us fight Yeti in the underground. The old Brigadier could tell some stories.”

“Yeah,” Davie grinned. “Heard most of them.” He smiled as Brenda came to his side and Chris, accompanied by Connie. “See you around, Brigadier Benton,” he said.

“Next time the world needs saving, Doctor,” the Brigadier answered him. He watched the four civilians walk away down the mountain, and then turned to organise his men into mopping up squads. Mopping up after The Doctor, whichever one of them it was, had always been U.N.I.T.’s work.

The TARDIS rematerialised in the garden of Coniston View House. The crew stepped out into a scene of devastation. Shredded and broken plastic debris covered the usually neat garden. Mike and Mr Booth, along with some of the girls were beginning a clean up task that wasn’t helped by the fact that everyone approached the plastic wheelie bins with trepidation.

Connie ran to her owner as Chris let her off the makeshift lead and fastened his belt around his waist. He watched as his brother went to tell everyone the crisis was over and the wheelie bins and composters were perfectly safe now. Ace stood by his side.

“I bet it’s even worse inside,” she said as she viewed the devastation. “Do you think anyone would notice if I came along with you three for a scenic route around the galaxy?”

“I think they might,” Chris answered her. “Sorry.”

“Ah well, worth a try. Well, at least you could stay for tea. If there’s anything in the kitchen other than anti-plastic.”