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

Chris Campbell was enjoying a quiet private meditation in the room given over to that discipline in his Sanctuary. He was not so deep into his trance, though, that he didn’t notice when somebody entered into his quiet place. He opened his eyes and looked at his brother kneeling in front of him. He looked agitated. He looked as if he had been running. He sounded out of breath.

“Not exactly the frame of mind for meditation,” Chris said as he reached out and placed his hands over his brother’s hearts, carefully steadying them. “What’s happened? I thought you were just taking your TARDIS out for a few hours to calibrate the temporal manifolds.”

“I… was,” Davie managed to say. “Only… Chris… you tell me… how long have I been gone?” He grasped his brother’s hand and pressed it against his chest again. “How old am I, now?”

“You’re the same age as me in real time,” Chris answered. “But according to your body clock, you’re… twenty-seven years eight months by a standard Earth calendar. Which just goes to show how often you’ve been outside your natural timeline doing all that endurance car racing.”

“Still only twenty-seven?” he queried. “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure. I’ve been keeping a count. I don’t want you to get too far ahead of me. Why? How old do you think you should be?”

“About fifty-two,” Davie answered. “I thought I’d been gone much longer…”

“Twenty-five years longer? In only two hours?” Chris shook his head. “No. Your body clock is more or less in synch. You don’t even have jet lag. What on Earth made you think….”

“It felt so real,” Davie told him. “I really thought it was real. It couldn’t just be a dream… I really felt as if…. I couldn’t have just dreamt him…. He was so… Everything I felt about him…”

“Davie, I’m the daydreamer who thinks in abstract clouds. You’re the practical one.”

“Not just now, I’m not,” Davie responded. “I’m not even sure I can trust my mind right now. Chris… help me…”

“Granddad says those are two words he never refuses. As if I could refuse you anything, anyway.”

“Then look into my memories and tell me if what’s there… the things I’m remembering in so much detail… tell me if they’re real or not.”

“Lie down,” Chris said. “Relax. You’re still wound up like a coil. I hardly dare look into your mind right now. It’s too active.”

Davie laid himself down on the cool floor of the meditation room. His brother knelt above him and put his hands either side of his head. He didn’t even attempt to reach into his mind, yet. He was afraid to try until he calmed him a little. He made him breathe slowly and steadily and gently soothed him until he felt he could touch his short term memories without unsettling his own mind.

“Davie!” Even when he did risk touching his brother’s thoughts he found a confusion. “Where did all this come from… so many memories. Who is…”

There was a name that stood out from the confusion. Chris fixed on it.

“Who is Kit Nova?” he asked.

“I am,” Davie answered. “At least… I think I am… or was…”

“Your thoughts are like a jumbled ball of yarn,” Chris told him. “Find the start and maybe we can unravel it.”

“The start… that’s easy. It started with me going solo in my TARDIS for the first time in years…”

Spenser was away. He had taken Stuart for a time trip in the Holden Commodore. Spenser enjoyed co-piloting the Chinese TARDIS, but he had no desire to own one of his own. Instead Davie had given him his latest time car and he and Stuart had developed an interesting weekend hobby visiting Northumbrian seaside resorts in their past and future.

Brenda was away, too. Rose, Jackie and Susan had taken their combined brood of children to Brighton for the weekend and Brenda and Carya had both elected to join them. Brenda enjoyed being with the women, especially now, when she was beginning to feel the symptoms of early pregnancy and needed the reassurance of three women who had been through it all before.

Of course, if he’d asked, Chris would happily have joined him for an afternoon among the stars. Even The Doctor or Christopher might have liked the idea. But he didn’t ask them. He decided, perhaps a little stubbornly, that if he couldn’t be with either Spenser or Brenda he would rather be alone.

Why not, after all? The Doctor used to travel all over the universe alone when he had nobody else to accompany him. In fact, it used to be one of the Laws of Time that unauthorised passengers were not allowed to travel in a TARDIS.

He reminded himself that he was happy to be out among the stars on his own, free to explore wherever and whatever he chose.

“A quick adventure and home for tea,” he said as he selected a random temporal and spatial co-ordinate. Of course, he would probably be gone for more than a couple of hours. He rarely made any trip in his TARDIS in real time these days. Chris was always taking him to task about it, complaining about how the few minutes between their birth as identical twins was now stretched to several impossible years by all his excursions in time and space. But he wasn’t worried. He was a Time Lord. He had millennia to live. So did Chris. A few years either way didn’t matter.

He came out of the vortex above a very lovely planet called Erigae. It had two suns and five moons and an unspoiled ecology. It was inhabited by a race whose physiology was remarkably close to Human despite the fact that the two sets of genomes never had any contact before the fifty-second century.

He hadn’t intended to land there. He just wanted to watch the double sunset from space, because it was noted for its beauty.

But that was where things began to get strange.

Because he didn’t remember landing at all.

What he did remember was waking up in a strange bed with a mattress made of some kind of straw ticking, a feather pillow and a coverlet made of luxurious fur. As a rule he frowned upon the use of animal furs for fashion statements, but he knew that it was necessary in non-advanced societies and those that had renounced technology and gone back to living off the land. He guessed he was among one of those.

Then he wondered why he had any opinion about the use of fur at all, since he couldn’t remember anything else.

Not even his own name.

“What?” Chris drew back from the memory instinctively, and then pressed back again. He could feel Davie’s confusion in that waking moment. He was obviously suffering from some form of amnesia. All of his long term memory was locked out and only a few stray thoughts like the one about fur, and the distinction between non-advanced and retrograde societies seemed to be floating around.

He pulled himself up in the bed and looked around the dimly lit room. He took in walls made of wooden slats overlapping each other and a window where a deep blue sky suggested that dawn was about to break. All the furniture was wood and had the look of having been hand crafted and there were rugs on the wooden floor that also looked hand made.

There was a chair by the bed. A man was snoozing quietly in it. He reached out and touched him on the shoulder and he started awake.

“Glory to Zon,” the man said. “You’re awake. When I found you, I thought you were going to die in my arms.”

“Found me…” He shook his head. “I… Where did you find me? How did I get here… and… who am I?”

“Who are you?” The man’s voice had a note of concern. “You don’t know? That’s not good. I’d better ask Physician Groven to look at you again in the morning. He said there was nothing wrong with you that rest and warmth wouldn’t cure. But perhaps you had a bigger trauma than we thought.”

“I must have,” he agreed. “But… please tell me…”

“Here, drink this,” the man said, pressing a cup into his hand. It contained milk and he found it soothing in his throat. “I found you collapsed on the ground near my stable when I got back from my work last night. There was a strange sort of box near to you that I didn’t dare to go near. But I put you to bed and called Groven to look at you.”

“Strange box?” For a moment, it felt as if a memory had stirred. Something on the edge of his understanding. Then he shook his head.

“You don’t remember anything?” the man asked.

“Nothing at all.”

“Groven said you weren’t from around here. And he didn’t mean from over the mountains. He said you were an offworlder. You have two hearts, and he said your blood was an odd colour.”

“Offworld?” He was still puzzled. “What world is this?”

“Erigae,” the man replied. “In the Avalonian cluster. Do you know of it?”

He felt the star charts drift into his consciousness fleetingly. He thought he did know. But then it drifted away again. He shook his head.

“Do you know where you come from?”

Again, some images came into his mind. But he didn’t seem able to grasp them.

“I don’t know anything. I can’t remember anything or anybody.”

“You were well dressed when I found you. Good quality clothes and shoes. And you’ve got fancy rings on your hands.”

He looked at his hands. There was a plain gold band on one finger that caught a glint of lamplight, and another that might have been gold beneath hundreds of tiny jewels that shone with a myriad colours. There was another made of silver with a six-sided shape enclosing a symbol that looked something like a stylised man with arms raised. There was another silver ring on his other hand with black and white enamel symbols forming a circle. He felt as if he ought to know what both those rings symbolised, but again the brief moment of recollection faded.

“I don’t know what any of it means. I don’t know who I am.”

“Then don’t worry about it for now. Like I said, I’ll take you to see Physician Groven in the morning. Meantime, you sleep a bit more. I’ll be right here by your side. No harm will come to you.”

“Who are you?” he asked. “How do I know that I’m safe with you?”

“I’m Aaron Jenna,” he answered. “I’m the landscapesmith of Halle Township. And I’ve never heard it said that I can’t be trusted with man nor beast.”

And that was as much of an answer as he could expect. He laid his head down on the pillow once again and closed his eyes. He was aware of Jenna sitting back in the chair beside him. He could hear him breathing softly.

And the sound was comforting in its way. Whoever he was, wherever he was, he wasn’t alone.

He woke again a few hours later. It was full daylight and Jenna was no longer sitting beside him. He sat up and looked around the room. He saw a pile of clothes on the chair where his guardian had been and a bowl of clean water and a towel on a stand nearby. He washed and dressed in the clothes. They felt strange. He guessed they weren’t his own. But it didn’t really matter. They were clean clothes and that was something he felt he liked.

He found a wooden flight of stairs outside the room that led down to a big kitchen/living room with a scrubbed wooden table and a solid fuel range on which a kettle was boiling. Something that smelt nice was in the oven, but he left it well alone. He turned to the outer door. It opened and he stepped out into a flagged yard with a water pump and a wooden wagon waiting to be hitched up to a horse. There was a sound of horses somewhere. He turned towards their whinnies and found the stable. There, beside it, was the strange box that Jenna had mentioned. He stared at it for a long time. Yes, he had a strong feeling that it belonged to him. But he had no idea what it was.

He drew closer and touched the door. It opened inwards. He stepped inside.

He stepped out again and looked at the rectangular box just about wide and deep enough for a man to stand up in.

He stepped inside and stared at a substantial room with a large, complex computer in the centre. He moved closer to the computer and put his hands on it. He thought he understood in some vague way what it was.

It was his spaceship. It was how he got to Erigae.

But if it was, it wasn’t going to take him away from there. It wasn’t working. The huge computer was completely dead. The only light in the room was coming from the open door. Nothing worked.

It must have been damaged when he crashed – if that was what he did.

He stepped outside again and saw Aaron Jenna coming from the stable with a metal pail.

“It… isn’t working,” he said. “I can’t go home… even if I knew where my home was.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Jenna told him. “Come on, boy, let’s have some breakfast and then I’ll take you to the physician. After that… well, we’ll see.”

Breakfast turned out to be freshly baked barley bread and a lump of bacon cooked on a spit inside the oven. Jenna carved thick hot pieces off the joint and gave his guest a generous portion. There was hot coffee as well. They both ate and drank their fill.

“You live alone here?” he asked, just to make conversation. “You have no wife or…”

“Not now,” Jenna answered. “My partner died five years ago.”

“I’m sorry,” he said because he felt he should say that. Jenna looked about forty-five if his species aged the same way that humans did. He was handsome in the rugged, sun-bronzed way of somebody who worked outdoors. His hands were broad and capable with old calluses on them. But his eyes were a soft blue.

“I’ve got by,” Jenna said a little gruffly as if a raw nerve had been touched. “My work doesn’t give me much time for brooding. And if I feel lonely at times, there’s always the tavern. I can get a drink and a game of chess with one of the old men. I’m… managing.”

He couldn’t think of anything else to say. They lapsed into silence over the meal and afterwards he watched Jenna hitch up the horses to the wagon before being invited to climb up on the seat alongside him. They set off towards the township called Halle.

Most of the buildings in the township were made of wooden overlapping slats, from the inn to the general store, to the physician’s office where Jenna hitched his horses and brought him inside.

Surprisingly, given the handmade look of the town, the physician had modern equipment in his consulting room, including a full body scanner which he made his unusual patient lie down under.

“You were expecting leeches and quack medicine?” Groven asked as he noted his expression. “The people of Halle Township chose a simple lifestyle. No engines and pollutants, just working on the land, living according to the seasons. But they have all the ailments and troubles of the technological society they left behind them and I think they deserve the best medical care possible. I have a wind-powered generator to produce electricity that powers the equipment.”

“I wasn’t thinking anything,” he responded. “I don’t know what to think. My mind is like a fog with shadows in it, but I can’t grasp any of them. I don’t know what belongs in this room and what doesn’t.”

“And I’m not sure I can help you, young man,” Groven answered him with a sigh. “This equipment most certainly is the best. But it’s made for Erigaen physiology. Your brain is different. I can’t tell if part of it is damaged or not. As for the rest of your body… two hearts… I’ve never heard of such a thing. Your blood is without haemoglobin… and your tears contain sugar as well as salt. You’re almost frighteningly alien.”

“I’m sorry,” he told him. “I don’t know what to say about that.”

“It’s not your fault. Jenna here thinks you fell from the stars. Maybe you did. Maybe your memory will come back on its own and you’ll be able to return to where you came from.”

“And if it doesn’t?”

“Until it does, I’ll take care of him,” Jenna said quickly. “He’ll be safe with me. He can make himself useful around the place. I could use a spare pair of hands. If he’s not afraid of hard work.”

Physician Groven took hold of his hands and examined them carefully. He noted the rings on his fingers. But he noted something else, too.

“Clean hands. But he has calluses from manual labour. I’d say he’s capable of doing a day’s work.”

“Does that suit you, boy?” Jenna asked.

“I don’t really have much choice,” he answered. “I’ve nowhere else to go.”

That settled the matter. He left the physician’s office with Jenna. He climbed up on the wagon again and they moved on.

“Where are we going?” he asked, noting that they weren’t heading back to the house.

“To the park, where I work,” Jenna answered. “I’m starting late, since I had to take care of you. So you can give me a hand catching up on my duties. People work hard for their living here in Halle Township. I expect you to do the same, boy.”

“Ok. Fair enough. But… I’d rather you didn’t call me ‘boy’. For one thing, I’m not a boy. For another… well… look… don’t.”

“Then I’ll have to give you a name.” Jenna thought about it for a few minutes. “I think I’ll call you Kit. You look like a Kit.”

“Do I?” He wasn’t sure he did. But somehow the name appealed to him. “Kit… short and to the point. Nothing fancy about it. Yes. That will do. Do I need a surname?”

“Nova,” Jenna added. “You’re new to this place. Nova… old Erigaen for new. Kit Nova. That’s who you are. And if anyone asks… it’s probably best if people generally don’t know that you’re from offworld. Groven won’t say anything. Patient confidentiality. If anyone else asks, we’ll say you’re down from Galso City come to stay with me for a while and learn to be a landscapesmith.”

“I don’t know who I really am… but I have a made up history.” He felt the shadows in the mist of his mind moving as if they disapproved in some way, but he still couldn’t grasp anything.

So Kit Nova accepted his fate. He went with his new friend, Aaron Jenna, to the place where he was going to work.

He was quite impressed by the park. It was already partially laid out. When it was finished it would be a perfect place for the citizens of Halle to spend a summer afternoon. The flower beds had been marked out and the place where the bandstand was going to be. Plinths had been put in place for outdoor sculpture. A children’s adventure playground was going in one corner and an aviary in another. The centre piece of it all was a fountain. It was nothing more than a circle cut in the turf yet, but Kit smiled as he heard his friend describe how beautiful it was going to look when it was finished.

“The big problem is the water supply,” Jenna admitted. “It’s going to take ages cutting up that lawn all the way down to the treeline and laying pipes to pump the water in from the river beyond.”

Kit thought about it. Then he stood in the middle of the place where the fountain was going to be. He held out his hands in front of him and closed his eyes for several minutes. Then he opened them again.

“No need to pump the water,” he said. “Just dig down. There’s an artesian aquifer right here. If you sink a shaft…. Twenty-five feet at most… you’ll get water coming up at pressure. Enough to plumb in your fountain and keep it running forever.”


“Artesian aquifer,” Kit repeated. Then he frowned. “I don’t know how I know that. But what it means is that there is groundwater trapped in a permeable layer of rock between two impermeable layers. It’s under huge pressure, so as soon as the shaft is sunk the water will rush up to the surface.”

Jenna looked at him again. Then he smiled.

“I’ve heard of something like it. But I never knew there was a special name for it. And I certainly never knew it could be done here in our park.”

“Tonight, I’ll do some drawings,” Kit promised. “To show you how it should work. Meanwhile, I should help you get those beds planted out.”

Aaron Jenna was impressed by his young apprentice, not only for his ideas about the fountain, but the diligent way he set to work planting the flowers in the ornamental beds for more than an hour before they moved on to laying the red-grass turf that was going to make the children’s play area look attractive. Later, after a lunch of barley bread and cheese, they worked on the aviary, bolting together the sections of the wrought iron structure and then painting it with weather proof paint.

At the end of the day they went home. Aaron prepared their evening meal while Kit sat at the kitchen table and drew plans for the ornamental fountain fed by groundwater from the aquifer.

“You know, that’s the odd thing,” Aaron commented as he put a plate of nourishing stew in front of him instead of the drawing and passed him the barley bread and butter. “I understand the principle of this. But how do you know there is this groundwater beneath the park?”

“I could feel it,” Kit answered. “I just had to concentrate and I could feel through the layers of soil and rock, feel each strata beneath my feet. I… suppose it must be something my kind of people can do?”

“They must be powerful people,” Aaron remarked. “I wonder if they’re looking for you. It seems incredible that you should just be lost like this and nobody wondering where you are.”

“If they are… perhaps I won’t be under your feet for long.”

“You’re not under my feet. It… was pleasant today, having somebody to work with. And it’s a long time since I’ve had company at the supper table. I... am glad to have you as long as it takes.”

“I hope I’ll be here to see the fountain completed, at least,” Kit said quite absently. “I’d rather like to see my idea put to practice.”

Aaron said nothing in reply. But there was something in his expression that could have been interpreted as hope.

“I like to sit out this time of a summer evening,” Aaron said, changing the subject adroitly. “The moons are up and at least one of them is full. It’s a pleasant way to round off a busy day.”

By sitting out, he meant on a wicker rocking chair on a covered veranda with a view across the Halle Valley. Kit joined him and sat on a second chair. They both drank whiskey. Kit found the taste unsurprising. He must have drunk whiskey before.

That was something else he knew about himself.

Later he was urged to take the one big bed in the house once more. He was, Aaron reminded him, very tired after his first day’s work. He could have the bed this once. The sofa was comfortable enough.

“Just this once,” Kit told him. “This is your house. I can’t take your bed from you.”

The next day, they rose with the sun shining and ate breakfast. They drove to the park and worked hard all day. They returned home to a nourishing supper and a quiet evening on the veranda before sleeping soundly through the night.

The same happened the next day. And the next. On the day after that, there was no work. It was the Erigaen equivalent of the Sabbath. Not that there were any formal church services. But Aaron read aloud a passage from the Book of Zon and a prayer that went with it. Kit listened politely. Afterwards they ate lunch and then walked into the township. Aaron introduced Kit to a group of sun-bronzed, middle-aged and elderly men who talked about stock prices and played a game that the shadows in Kit’s mind suggested might be called Boulles somewhere else. Here, it was called Jackball, but for reasons none of the old men knew. Young Kit got quite good at it very quickly, though not so good that the old men thought he was being presumptuous.

Another week of hard work in the open air followed. Kit began to look sun-bronzed, too, and his hands developed calluses he never knew he could get. But he was content. He smiled as he worked and sometimes sung songs that puzzled and even slightly disturbed Aaron.

“That one… ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’…” he said as they sat under the moon on the veranda. “Curious… And ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’…”

“I don’t know where they come from,” Kit admitted. “But I feel as if I’ve known those songs for a long time. They feel familiar to me.”

“Nothing substantial has ever come back to you, though?” Aaron asked. “Only these odd scraps of songs and random pieces of knowledge like your aquifer.”

“Nothing else,” he confirmed. “I still don’t know who I am.” He rose from his seat and perched instead on the wooden parapet looking out over the moonlit valley. “And nobody has come looking for me.”

“Have you looked inside your strange box this past week?” Aaron asked. For the first week Kit had gone in there daily, as if reassuring himself it was still there and trying to work out how he was connected to the strange, alien technology within.

“No. There hasn’t seemed much point. It’s the same every time I look. I think one of these days we should haul it into the stable, out of the way.”

One of these days… Aaron noted his words. It was as if Kit had accepted that he was staying a lot longer than either of them expected. He stood and moved closer to him as he looked out into the dark. Kit didn’t object either in words or body language when he put his arm around his shoulder. Aaron kept it there for quite a while before going to pour two more drinks.

At the weekend, they moved the box. Between them they pushed and pulled it into the corner of the stable. Kit piled bales of straw in front of it as if he was happy for it to be forgotten.

Another week of work went by. Another quiet Sabbath day.

“Tomorrow we finish the fountain,” Kit said as they drank on the veranda in the evening. “I’ll get to see it after all.” He was sitting on the parapet again, his half full glass in his hand. He looked up at stars that were starting to seem familiar to him now and one full moon and a crescent one.

“I’m… glad,” Aaron told him. He was standing by Kit’s side with his arm loosely held around his waist. Kit seemed to like that close contact between them.

It was hard work, putting the ornamental centrepiece into place. It needed a half dozen more young Erigaen men along with Kit and Aaron. It took them most of the morning. When it was done, it was worth the effort. The centrepiece was shaped like a beautiful and very naked woman with long hair sparing her blushes. When it was fixed in place and the water pipes plumbed in it looked as fantastic as they had hoped.

Then a valve was turned and water began to pour from the fountain in a perfect curving arc with the stone woman trapped inside. The water fell into the pool below and was drained off into a sump that would eventually lead to it being released back through the porous strata until it became part of the water table again.

Everyone was thrilled. They congratulated Aaron on his work and they congratulated Kit on having the imagination to give them a fountain that would never run out of water.

A month later, with the aviary stocked with birdlife, the bandstand painted in bright colours, the children’s playground fitted and passed safe for use, and the flower beds resplendent, the park was officially opened. The mayor of Halle did the honours and spoke glowingly of the hard work done by Aaron Jenna, the landscapesmith, and his assistant, Kit Nova. They shook hands with so many people they both thought their hands were going to go numb, and if they smiled any more widely their heads might have fallen off.

At supper that night Aaron produced a bottle of wine that he said he was saving for a special occasion.

“To you, Kit,” Aaron said. “Zon bless the day you came to me.”

“Thank you,” Kit answered. “I’m glad I could be of some use around here.”

They made small talk through the supper, but afterwards Aaron brought the remainder of the bottle out to the veranda. They drank another glass together, perched side by side on the parapet, looking up at two silvery crescent moons and one copper coloured full one.

“Kit,” Aaron began after a long silence had come upon them. “I have to tell you something. I… have been happy that your people haven’t come looking for you. I hope they don’t… I know it sounds a dreadful thing to say, and to think. But I don’t want you to leave.”

“I…” Kit looked at him uncertainly. “I… don’t think anyone is coming. If they were… they’d be here by now. And my box is still dead… I don’t think I’m going anywhere. And… and… I’m not sure I want to go anywhere. I like being here… with you.”

“That’s… what I hoped you might say,” Aaron told him. “Kit… I…”

Kit breathed in deeply once as he felt Aaron’s arm snake around his shoulders. He felt his hand cup the back of his head and pull him forward gently until it was impossible for them not to kiss.

“Was that all right?” Aaron asked. “I have wanted to do it for many weeks, now. But I wasn’t sure if you would…”

“It was all right,” Kit admitted. “I’d quite like to do it again.”

“I can do that,” Aaron answered him. “Kit… do you understand… what this means? We’ve been friends since you came to me, but I want us to be more than that.”

The clouds in his mind stirred. Kit understood just what Aaron wanted. He wondered if it was entirely unexpected. The signs had been there for quite some time, especially in these quiet, private moments in the evening.

“I… did wonder why you never asked me to move out of your bed,” he managed to say.

“I’d planned to make a second bed,” Aaron told him. “But… maybe I don’t have to.”

He reached and kissed him again. They drank another glass of wine and held hands for a while.

Then they turned and went back into the house.

“Davie!” Chris had been carried along until now. But he had to stop there. It was just a little too disturbing. “Davie… you and Aaron… you actually….”

“We became lovers that night,” Davie confirmed. “It was… He was so very tender… gentle, yet passionate. I felt so loved…”

“But…” Chris tried to protest. “But Davie…”

“He loved me. I loved him. We had fallen for each other in the weeks we’d been working together, and now we were ready to acknowledge it.”

Kit adapted to being Aaron’s lover easily. They worked together by day. By night they enjoyed each other’s company to the full.

Days turned to weeks. The summer turned to autumn. Autumn turned to winter. Beside the kitchen range Kit sketched his vision for a glorious extension to the park that they would begin in the spring.

“You’re going to make water run uphill?” Aaron was surprised. “Is that possible where you come from?”

“Yes, it is,” Kit answered. “It’s called an Archimedes Screw. It will be driven by this windmill. The water is forced up these channels to the top of the brow. Then it will be allowed to cascade downhill again… over this fall and into a series of ornamental pools at different levels, until it fills this big pool at the lowest level, which will have a bridge crossing it and water lilies, koi carp…”

“What is a koi carp?” Aaron asked.

“You might call it something different here,” Kit told him. “But we’ll have them. All the people who flocked to the park to see the fountain and listen to the musicians on the bandstand will love the rock pools and the meditation garden.”

“They’ll love to see water running uphill. It sounds like a miracle.”

“It’s just science,” Kit insisted. “Quite elementary science, really. I think… where I come from… I think I was a scientist. These things seem so easy to me.”

“You’re still thinking about where you come from?”

“No, not really.” Kit reached out to his lover and kissed him fondly. “I don’t want to leave you. I don’t want to leave Erigae. I love it here. I love you.”

“I love you, my darling. But I do wonder… If your memory should come back… would you… maybe you loved somebody else before me. Maybe you still love her, deep down in the lost part of your mind.”


“I know I was the first man who ever took you to his bed,” Aaron told him. “But you’re a fine looking young man. Some woman must have a claim on you. I had wondered if… I think I have heard that in some cultures a ring is a symbol of commitment between lovers. And you had so many rings when I first found you.”

Kit stretched out his hands. He didn’t wear any rings now. They weren’t practical in his work. They were safe in a drawer in the bedroom along with the clothes he was wearing when Aaron found him.

“I belong to you,” he insisted. “I belong here. Whatever life I had before I came here… it’s over. I live here now.”

Aaron smiled happily. It was what he wanted to hear.

As soon as the winter snows melted they began work on Kit’s multi-level ornamental garden. The phrase ‘Archimedes Screw’ became as much of a curiosity in the township as the practical application of it. The Sabbath day Jackball club teased Kit mercilessly about his fancy city words for his inventions and they laid side bets about whether water truly could flow uphill. Kit smiled benignly and told them to wait and see.

By late spring the trees and bushes were planted out. The rock pools on each tier of the water garden were ready. The channel along which the water would be raised was prepared. The windmill that would turn the screw was erected.

And as dozens of interested onlookers waited with bated breath, Kit set it all in motion. To the surprise of the sceptics and the triumph of those who had faith in him, water began to move uphill. Within an hour it was falling back down hill, over the waterfalls, filling the pools, bringing the garden to life.

One day a few weeks later, Kit and Aaron planted a tree near the water garden.

“It’s a year this day since you came to me,” Aaron said. “This is to celebrate it.”

“We’ll plant another next year,” Kit promised. “And the year after.”

He had begun to take it for granted that they would. He still couldn’t remember what his life was like before he came to Halle Township, but with each passing day it seemed to matter less. His life was about being a landscapesmith, tending to the beautiful park that he and Aaron had created, and which was becoming famous throughout Erigae for its original features.

By the time five more trees had been planted, the park had been expanded by several more acres. There were three new water features, including a model boating lake fed by another aquifer that constantly bubbled up in the centre of the lake. There were windmills placed in prominent positions which generated the power to light the paths through the park with strings of electric lanterns so that it was enjoyed even after the sun had set.

Mid-winter, with the park covered in snow, icicles hanging from the fountains and the boating lake frozen over, the windmills were put to use generating the power to operate huge coloured lights that cast patterns on the snow and across the statues and sculptures in the park and even in the air itself. Kit called it ‘Fête des Lumières’, but he couldn’t explain where the word came from. Nobody cared. They came out in droves to enjoy the fun.

The years went by and Kit spent some of them finding ways to make life better for the people of Halle Township. He built another Artesian well in the town square with a drinking fountain over it. He built a water purifier into it to ensure no harmful bacteria could get into the water. It was news to the people that crystal clear water that comes up from the ground could be anything but pure. Some of them smiled indulgently at the earnest young man who had come into their midst with his city-borne ideas. Others decided they would draw all their drinking water from Kit Nova’s fountain in future.

There was a healthy copse of trees in the park by the time Kit and Aaron planted the one that marked twenty-four years together. Kit did the digging. Aaron’s back was playing him up. It did so a lot these days, though he still insisted he was as fit as he was when the two of them first met.

“You’re not,” Kit argued. “You’ve got to slow down a little. Let me do the hard work. Let me take care of you.”

“You haven’t changed at all since the first day,” Aaron commented. “You’re still as young as you were.”

“I don’t know why that is,” he replied. “Perhaps…”

“I don’t think about it very often,” Aaron went on. “About the fact that you’re different. At night, when we lie together, I can hear your two hearts beating, but that’s just the sound of my lover’s hearts beating. I don’t think about you as an alien.”

“Neither do I,” Kit told him. “You know, you’re the only one who has realised I haven’t changed over the years. Everyone else in the township seems to see me differently. It’s as if I cast a glamour on them and they see a man in his forties, as I ought to be.”

“I love you,” Aaron reminded him. “I will always see something in you that nobody else does.”

“I love you, too,” Kit assured him. “And to me, you’re as handsome and strong as you were the day we met. But I can still take on the hard work and let you rest. Save your strength, after all. It’s our anniversary and we’re going to open that bottle of vintage wine you’ve saved and I like how you are after a few glasses of good wine.”

Kit kissed his sweetheart and saw the smile in his blue eyes. Those eyes hadn’t changed at all over the years. Even as his body aged, as wrinkles came to his handsome face and his hair whitened, his eyes remained the same age they were that first time they acknowledged each other’s love.

Aaron’s eyes always looked clear and blue. But as the autumn turned and the days got shorter and colder his health began to let him down. Neither thought it was anything more than the onset of winter at first, though.

Then Physician Marta Groven, who had taken over her father’s practice two years before, broke the bad news. Aaron was terminally ill. His lungs had inoperable tumours. She told Kit the worst.

“If he makes it through the winter it will be a miracle. But if he does, he’ll be so weak he’ll probably never rise from his bed again. He’ll be dead before the summer.”

“What will I do without him?” Kit asked. He realised afterwards it was a selfish question to ask. But it was the first one that popped into his head.

“Look after him,” the Physician said. “That’s all you can do.”

Kit had no intention of doing anything else. He spent his every waking hour caring for his lover. At first the hard part was stopping him trying to carry on as if he wasn’t ill. He had been an active man all his life. He had worked outdoors. To be confined to his house, to his bedroom, chafed.

Kit relented just once. He allowed Aaron to wrap up warmly and he brought him on the wagon to the park. He drove around the paths that the two of them had laid out, watching the most spectacular ‘Fête des Lumières’ show that had ever been seen. It cheered him to be able to see it. But he was sad to see the fountains all turned off as they always were in winter.

“I’m going to live to see the fountains running once more,” Aaron told his lover. “In spring, we’ll sit beside our first one and watch it together.”

“Yes,” Kit promised. It was the only thing he could say without crying.

Through the hardest, coldest part of winter, Kit looked after him. He kept him warm, fed him, washed him, held him close at night, never forgetting to tell him how much he loved him. Every day he was a little weaker. Every day it got a little harder for them both. But Kit never complained. He never showed his lover how much his two alien hearts were breaking.

“What will you do when I am gone?” Aaron asked him once.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “I don’t want to think about it.”

“Perhaps you should go home.”

“I am home. This is the only home I’ve ever had. This is the only life I know.”

Aaron tried to press the point, but he was too weak to argue. He couldn’t talk for too long without coughing for minutes on end afterwards. His breathing was ragged and painful.

At times like that, Kit was glad of his alien body, because it allowed him to do one thing for his lover that no Erigaen could. He pressed himself close and concentrated, and he could draw the pain out of Aaron’s body into his own. It was a horrible sensation, but it lasted only a little while and Aaron was grateful for the respite. Sometimes Kit did that many times a night so that he could sleep.

The winter passed slowly and quietly. Few people ever visited their homestead. Nobody visited anyone when the snow was deep and a blizzard could come down any moment. Only in the spring did friends begin to gather together again. And when they did they wondered if Aaron Jenna was alive, still.

They found out one warm spring afternoon when Kit drove the wagon through the town. Aaron was wrapped in blankets, but he sat at his side and waved to those who greeted him.

They went to the park, of course. They sat by the first fountain they had built together, surrounded by beds of spring flowers. Children were playing in their purpose built playground. Their voices rang out. So did the squawks of the birds in the aviary. Gentle scents hung in the air. The tinkle of the cool, clear water of the fountain was a melody just for them as they sat together.

“Yes,” Aaron said as he watched the water falling into the pool, almost hypnotised by it. “Yes.”

He didn’t say anything else. At his side, Kit held his hand and listened to his uneasy breathing until it stopped. He reached and kissed his lover one last time and then held him in his arms for a long, quiet time crying the tears he hadn’t cried all winter. After a while he spotted one of the Jackball team walking by and called for his help. They lifted Aaron Jenna’s body onto the wagon and Kit drove him into town. Marta Groven confirmed the obvious. He had died quietly and with as little pain as possible.

Kit drove the wagon home again. He laid Aaron’s body out in the coffin that had been prepared in anticipation of this day. He made the funeral arrangements.

Two days later most of Halle Township turned out to say their last farewell to a man they all loved. Kit accepted their condolences. When they asked him what he would do now he shook his head and said he didn’t know.

He drove back to the homestead alone and attended to the horses. When that was done, he went to the back of the stable. He moved aside the straw bales that concealed a box left there so many years ago.

Kit pushed open the door and stepped inside.

The door closed.

The overhead lights came on. The console in the centre of the room hummed with life. Kit Nova stepped forward and put his hands on the strange machine.

Davie Campbell looked up and around at his TARDIS console room. He looked at the viewscreen displaying the beautiful planet of Erigae from space while its two suns were setting.

He sighed deeply. There was a lot he didn’t understand. But there was one thing he did know.

He had to go home right now.

“I came straight here,” he said. “To you, Chris. I knew you were the only person I could talk to. The only one who would understand. I have… two different sets of memories. One… is of twenty-five years living as a man called Kit Nova who was a Landscapesmith in the Township of Halle on the planet Erigae. The other… I blacked out for a few minutes… no more than that and woke exactly where I was, in orbit above the planet.”

“Which do you want to be the real one?” Chris asked.

“When I remembered myself again all I could think of was Brenda, my wife, my beautiful wife who is having twins for me. I wanted to hold her in my arms and kiss her like kisses are going out of fashion. I thought of you and Sukie and my racing cars, my solar energy projects… I thought of Spenser and Stuart and wondered if they were doing ok on their trip to 20th century Scarborough. Mum and dad… My life that is… the life I love….”


“But then I also remember twenty-five wonderful, blissful, years with Aaron. I remember building all those water features. I remember warm evenings on the veranda, and passionate nights as his lover. And… by the way… that… is as real to me as being Brenda’s husband. It was… good.”

“Davie…” Chris grasped his hands in his. “However real it feels… you have not been another man’s lover for twenty-five years. I can feel you… your body clock… your body itself. I can feel that you’ve only been gone a few hours. Besides… look… you’re wearing your own clothes. You said that Kit Nova had been tending to his horses after coming back from the funeral. And… look at your hands.”

Davie looked at them. He was wearing four rings. One was his wedding band. The other was his own Ring of Eternity that matched the one Chris wore. The two silver rings were a ying yang symbol that Chris had given him for his birthday and the symbol of the Sanctuary that had also been a gift from Chris.

“Kit Nova took those rings off twenty-five years before. Even if he’d put them back on… there wouldn’t be ring marks. Look…” Chris pushed up the Ring of Eternity. Davie had worn that ring almost constantly since he transcended at the age of eighteen. He only occasionally set it aside when doing really messy work on his cars. The flesh beneath it was pale and glossy and imprinted with the ring’s pattern. His wedding ring, which he had worn only a few months, had already begun to make its impression on his finger. So had the two silver rings.

Davie looked at his brother.

“You’re right. But… If it didn’t happen… why does it feel so real? I feel as if I had cried for somebody I love only a little while ago. And the memories are all so very sharp in my mind.”

“Let’s find out,” Chris answered. “My TARDIS is ready for a quick field trip.”

Davie followed his brother through a door that shouldn’t have existed into the Gothic TARDIS. Chris programmed a journey to the lovely planet of Erigae in the Avalonian sector.

The TARDIS materialised in a beautiful park in the summer. Chris and Davie walked around it admiring the stunning water features that used natural applications of fluid mechanics and the properties of wind power to function. They admired the fountain that worked by the pressure of water coming up from an Artesian aquifer.

They found a bench near the fountain with a bronze plaque on it.

“In memory of Aaron Jenna, 2556-2626 and his constant companion, Kit Nova, who built this park for future generations.”

“Constant companion?” Davie smiled at the coy euphemism for the passionately physical relationship Aaron and Kit shared. He ran his hand over the brass plate, feeling the letters with his fingers and remembering some of that passion. He didn’t notice Chris stand up and go to speak to a man who wore a park ranger’s uniform.

“I got the timing slightly wrong,” he admitted when he came back. “This is the year 2643, seventeen years after Aaron died. But perhaps that’s for the best. Apparently, the story is well known around the Township. The day that Aaron Jenna was buried, Kit Nova disappeared. When his friends came the next day to see if he was ok he was nowhere to be found. The kitchen range was cold. The house was closed. Somebody arranged to look after his horses until he came back, but he never did. Some people thought he might have taken his own life. Others just thought he had gone home. But nobody had any idea where his home might be if it wasn’t right here in Halle Township.”

“It… all fits,” Davie said. “It really did happen.”

“It… happened to somebody,” Chris answered. “Maybe… you said you might have blacked out for a while…”

“For a few minutes.”

“But in those few minutes, your mind somehow fixed on the mind of Kit Nova and downloaded all his memories… all that he was. You became him and remembered everything he remembered.”

“Then how did he know about Artesian aquifers - Artesian comes from the French town of Artois, where the first wells were dug. Or the Archimedes Screw. Archimedes is an ancient Greek… from Earth. Do you remember when we were kids… granddad took us to meet him. They talked about hydraulics for hours.”

“I remember,” Chris told him.

“I don’t know how… but I think I really DID live his life… the whole twenty-five years… I WAS him. But time contracted somehow so that it happened in only a few minutes of my own timeline.”

It defied the laws of time and utterly opposed all logic, but Davie clung to it as a theory.

“Is that what you want to believe?” Chris asked him.

“Yes. Because I want to believe that the love I knew… that Kit knew… for so long… was real. Not just the bedroom stuff, which was quite an eye-opener, by the way, even after knowing Spenser all this time - but the perfect loving relationship Kit shared with Aaron. It was beautiful and I don’t want it to be a dream.”

“All right,” Chris told him. “But… are you ready to go back to being a husband and father and a racing car driver and temporal engineer back on planet Earth? Can you pick up where you left off there?”

“Yes,” Davie assured his brother. “Because… as real as it was… It was real for Kit Nova, not for Davie Campbell. I’m still me… but I’m him, too.”

“Granddad always says schizophrenia is an occupational hazard for Time Lords,” Chris conceded. “Maybe you can do it.” He smiled and looked around. “By the way, this IS a beautiful park. Congratulations.”


“Bring Brenda and the kids when they’re old enough to appreciate it. Sit here with her. I think the spirit of Aaron Jenna won’t be jealous. He’ll be glad to know that you went home.”