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

It was late in the afternoon, already starting to get dark outside the floodlit Brands Hatch race track, but Davie wanted to do one more practice lap before he headed home. Sukie, who had done for the day, watched him drive off from the pit garage. Over the coming weekend they were both involved in big races. She needed just eight points to secure the 2015 Junior Ginetta championship and he needed two top four places in the three races on the Sunday to be British Touring Car champion. He was almost certain of getting it. Team Campbell was already the leading team with Spenser driving the second car. They were the stars of the competition, and this last weekend of the season was on their home track. Davie trained at Brands Hatch. He was intimately familiar with every turn and every straight, every change of light as he turned into the sun or towards the shade.

The fact that he trained in the twenty-third century and raced in the twenty-first didn’t matter. The track was the same. The only difference was there were no longer any private houses in the area, so there was no track curfew and he could take this last lap in the semi-dark of an autumn evening.

Spenser and Stuart came to join her after bringing their cars into the rented pit garage. They stood together in their matching Team Campbell firesuits and waited for the one car still out on the track.

“Something’s wrong!” Sukie exclaimed suddenly. “He’s stopped the car.”

Spenser knew it, too. Stuart wasn’t telepathic, but in the quiet of the evening he could hear the engine almost all the way around the circuit and it was clear that it had stopped. The engine was still ticking over, but it was stationary. The pit manager confirmed it on the computer screen that showed the car stopped on the gravel trap where Hawthorn Bend turned into Derek Minter Straight.

Spenser and Sukie both contacted him telepathically, but he wasn’t answering. They felt his mind blocked to them. That was strange. Both of them were used to sharing his thoughts when he was driving.

“It’s ok,” Stuart said presently. “He’s moving again.”

He had heard the engine firing up again with his ordinary hearing. The other two were so concerned with contacting Davie with their extra senses that they missed the sound at first. Sukie breathed a deep sigh of relief. Nothing serious was wrong. But what would have made him stop halfway around a circuit? It ruined his lap time and it didn’t do the engine any good to brake suddenly like that.

It was less than a minute before he came into the pit lane and stopped the car outside the garage. He climbed out, helped by his pit manager and Spenser. Sukie grasped Stuart’s hand as she noticed how deeply her brother was breathing. Of course, racing was something he did on pure adrenaline. He was always excited and a little breathless when he got out of the car. But this was different. He sounded as if he was in shock.

And he was still blocking his thoughts from her.

“What’s wrong?” she asked him when he took off his helmet and fire retardant balaclava and ruffled his fingers through his hair to give it a little style again. He was sweating and desperately needed a shower before he went home to his wife, but she was sure there was more. He was trembling slightly. “Are you ok?” she demanded. “Are you sick? Is that what made you stop the car?”

“No,” he answered. “I thought I saw a dog on the track. I didn’t want to hit it.”

Sukie was almost certain he was lying.

“A dog on the track?”

“It ran off.”

“If you see a dog on the track in the middle of the race, just run over it,” Spenser told him. “You want that top podium.” Sukie shot him a look of disgust. She liked animals. But then again, she wanted him to have the podium, too. Besides, what would a dog be doing on the track in the middle of a race? That was even less likely than one on the track tonight.

“WE want it,” Davie reminded them. “Team Campbell. I’d better get changed. Can you get the cars into the TARDIS for me?”

The Chinese TARDIS was almost certainly the first of its kind to have a parking garage beneath the console room. It was carrying three cars today, the two Fords that he and Davie were driving on the BTCC weekend and Sukie’s Ginetta. Tomorrow there would also be the 1960’s Ford GTS that Stuart was driving in an exhibition ‘classic’ race and a relatively ordinary Mercedes people carrier that Davie used for driving on the ordinary roads of north Kent when they were in the twenty-first century. It was fitted with two child seats in the back as well as room for everyone else in the family who chose to join him. Spenser and Sukie transmatted Davie’s car into its parking bay and made sure all the vehicles were carefully gravity clamped in case of turbulence in the time vortex then went back to the console room. Davie returned from the shower looking cool and unruffled, his brown hair shot through with silver streaks freshly dried and the sweat cleaned from his face. He was wearing a cotton shirt under his usual black leather jacket and looked stunningly handsome as he went to the console and programmed their journey home.

“He’s your brother,” Spenser told her telepathically. “You’re not supposed to notice things like that.”

“Neither are you, you’re married to Stuart.”

“Doesn’t stop me noticing the one that got away from me,” Spenser answered with a teasing grin. Then he turned his face so that Davie couldn’t see. The grin was gone. “There’s something wrong with him, isn’t there? He’s still blocking us.”

“Yes. He won’t even let me in. I don’t know what it is.”

“We’re staying the night with him and Brenda. I’ll talk to him later. Don’t you worry about him, Sukie. You’ve got a big race weekend, too. You concentrate on that.”

“I wish Chris was home,” she said. “He can always get through to him. But he’s busy on SangC’lune preparing his Gallifreyan students for their transcension.”

“Then I’m at least second best to his brother,” Spenser said. “I’ve loved him just as much, in a different kind of way. I’ll look after him, Sukie.”

Once Spenser’s affections for Davie had worried Sukie. Now she understood that it was something unique and special and if her brother wasn’t going to let her into his secrets, then talking to his former lover might be the best thing for him right now.

Davie dropped Sukie at home. She would have preferred to spend the night in his apartment, talking race tactics with the rest of Team Campbell, but their mother insisted on her coming home.

Davie didn’t really get to talk race tactics, anyway. Brenda had other things to talk about. She had been minding Spenser and Stuart’s girls all day while they were at the track and she was full of praise for the way they were raising their adopted daughters. Then their upcoming trip to Tibora took up the rest of the evening. She was full of talk about her home and family. Davie sat with both of the twins on his knee, messily eating rusks and let the domestic chatter wash over him. Stuart and Spenser were comfortable on the sofa with Josie and Georgie who had enjoyed their day being looked after by Brenda. It was all so very normal and ordinary it helped soothe his unquiet mind a little. He managed to unwind from his worries.

Later, though, when Brenda was asleep at his side, he lay awake thinking dark thoughts again. He knew he needed to sleep. He had a full day of practice and qualifying tomorrow. Then on Sunday there was a classic race with the GTS, then Sukie’s race, before the main event of the afternoon that would definitely see Team Campbell as the top driving team and, if all went well, himself as the champion driver.

But it was none of those things occupying his thoughts and stopping him either sleeping in the ordinary way or even trying to drop into a meditative trance with his mind clear of all mundane thoughts.

He rose from the bed, careful not to disturb Brenda. He didn’t want her to worry. Blocking his thoughts as he had since he came into the pit garage she hadn’t noticed that he was worried. He wanted to keep it that way.

He crept quietly through the living room where Spenser and Stuart were sleeping on the surprisingly comfortable double sofa bed. It was dark with the curtains closed but he knew his way around his own home instinctively. He reached the door without disturbing anyone.

Or so he thought. As he reached for the latch he felt a hand on his shoulder and Spenser’s voice whispering near his ear.

“You need me,” he said. “Don’t deny it. You’ve got something troubling you and you need somebody to share it with.”

“Stuart….” Davie began.

“Stuart told me to look after you. We’re all worried. So whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re going, I’m with you.”

Davie opened the door and slipped out onto the landing. Spenser came with him. They descended together and Davie unlocked the side door to his workshop. His two favourite cars, his McLaren F1 and the Lotus Evora he won his first Endurance race in were mute shapes under custom made covers. Brenda’s hover car that she used for ordinary shopping trips in present time was waiting for a gearbox change. An orange glow in one corner was the Artron Acceleration chamber where he was growing the organic components for a brand new TARDIS. A wide worktable was full of blueprints and components of a solar power cell he was developing for use at the polar research station where there was six months darkness every year. His cells should, he hoped, store enough energy during the summer months when there was sunlight to power the stations in the dark winter. The project was going to make him a lot of money, but also benefit planet Earth and its population. The next step would be cells that could generate power on the distant moons of Jupiter, allowing the Human colonisation of the solar system to progress.

All that within a lock up workshop in the converted stables of a Georgian House beside the River Thames. Davie had plenty of reasons to be proud of himself. Spenser was proud for him.

He opened the TARDIS door and stepped inside. Spenser followed him.

“Where are we actually going?” he asked.

“Back to the track,” he answered. “There’s something I have to do. Something I have to see.”


“I don’t know, exactly. Maybe I was seeing things. Maybe there was nothing, after all.”

“You don’t see things that aren’t there, especially not when you’re behind the wheel of a fast car. What’s going on, Davie?”

“I told you, I don’t know. I’ve got to figure it out for myself.”

He sounded just a little irritated when he replied. Spenser reached out to touch him on the shoulder, reassuring him. He turned from setting the destination on the navigation panel and smiled apologetically.

“I don’t know how to explain it, not even to you,” he said. “At least not without sounding as if I’m too unbalanced to be allowed behind the wheel of a racing car. Just trust me.”

“I always have, Davie,” Spenser assured him.

The journey didn’t take long. They were travelling no more than twenty-five miles in linear space, back to the race track at Brands Hatch. It was closed, now, of course. But there were security guards around. The TARDIS disguised itself as one of the trees beside the course at the section called Hailwood Hill after a former hero of the racing world. They both wore perception filters and walked quietly, cutting through the trees to reach the long incline between wooded land traditionally known as Pilgrim’s Drop. Davie continued to walk up the slope to the corner where the course turned towards Derek Minter straight, another section named for an historic driver. Davie stopped there, on the corner, and looked around thoughtfully.

“This is just before you stopped,” Spenser noted. “You took this corner at sixty five miles per hour. Your excuse about a dog on the track is nonsense. You would have run straight over the dog about here without even knowing it was there.”

“I saw something here,” Davie said. “But there’s nothing now. Not even the sense of anything. I thought I would feel…. Come on.”

He turned and strode away back to where they left the TARDIS. Spenser watched as he carefully operated the temporal manifold manually, moving them back in time just a few hours.

“Davie, you can’t do that,” he told him. “We’re all still here. This is when you were out on the track and I was in the pit lane with Sukie and Stuart.”

“I know,” Davie replied. “That’s why we’ve got to be careful. You and Sukie were sending out telepathic messages to me like crazy. We have to block our thoughts so as not to confuse anything.”

“Why are we here at all?” Spenser asked.

“Because I need to see it again, to be sure.”

He stepped out of the TARDIS and went the same way through the trees. He stood on the side of the track beside the same corner and waited. The lights were on still. Without the perception filters they would have been visible. Davie waited patiently. Spenser stood beside him, still puzzled, still worried about his friend’s behaviour.

They heard the sound of Davie’s Ford Focus long before they saw it. The black car almost entirely covered in sponsorship decals appeared on schedule around Surtees Corner and accelerated up Pilgrim and into Hawthorn. They heard the brakes engage as he approached the bend, slowing the car down to a mere sixty-five miles an hour. Then as he was on the inside of the bend he slammed the brakes full on, almost as if he HAD spotted a dog on the track and attempted an emergency stop. The Ford Focus shot across the inside of the corner and came to a halt in the gravel trap that was there to stop cars ending up in the trees when this kind of thing occurred. They saw Davie turn around in his seat and look back at the bend for a long time before he reversed back onto the track and accelerated down Minter Straight. The engine sound died away and then got a little louder again as he approached Stirlings where the track turned in on itself again. A few seconds after that he had reached the pit lane alongside Brabham Straight and completed the lap.

Spenser looked at Davie. He was staring at a wide piece of the gravel trap at the very apex of the bend. There was nothing there that Spenser could see.

“You didn’t see it, did you?” Davie said. “I was the only one.”

“Saw what?” Spenser asked.

“A burning man.”

“A what?” Spenser shivered involuntarily. “Davie….”

“When I came around this turn in the Ford, I saw a man standing right there on the gravel… a man who was on fire….”

“Davie… that’s not funny.”

“I’m not joking. That’s what I saw.”

“You didn’t see it this time?”


“And there’s nobody here except us. And we weren’t stupid enough to stand in the gravel trap knowing you were coming up the hill towards us at sixty-odd miles an hour. Isn’t it possible you got a flash of sunlight through the trees and let your imagination run wild?”

“Anything is possible,” Davie responded. “But I don’t think that’s what happened. I think I saw… a ghost.”

“Davie!” Spenser’s voice shook when he spoke again. “A ghost of a burning man, at Hawthorn. Are you… serious.”

“Yes. That’s what I saw.”

“I believe you. Because I know you wouldn’t make up something like that. You know the history of this race track as well as I do. You know perfectly well that this is the exact spot where a driver burned to death in the 1970s.”

“Yes, I know that,” Davie responded. “Jo Siffert. I’ve seen the Pathe newsreel. It was one of the nastiest deaths ever in motorsport. He suffocated inside the car before anyone could get to him. They changed all the safety rules afterwards. I know all of that. That’s why….”

“Davie, are you saying you think you saw the ghost of a Swiss racing driver who died over two hundred years ago?”

“Yes… no… I….” He looked at Spenser. “If I said that’s what I think happened, would you think I was capable of racing this weekend? Would you think I’d gone nuts?”

“No to the first question and yes to the second,” Spenser replied. “At least I would if you were an ordinary Human standing in front of me telling me this. But you’re not. You’re a Time Lord - a very powerful one, even though you are still a boy by the standards of our race. You CAN see things other people can’t. So maybe it WAS Seppi’s ghost.”

“Then… why?” Davie asked. “I’ve never seen anything like that before. I’ve driven this track so often I could do it in my sleep. I very often do. I DREAM race circuits. I’ve never had the slightest inkling of anything supernatural here. Why now?”

“I don’t know,” Spenser admitted. “But whatever the reason, you can’t worry about it now. Just wait a few more minutes, until the earlier TARDIS with us all aboard dematerialises from the pit garage, because otherwise we might cause a vortex paradox. Then we get back home. You go to bed and get to sleep, even if I have to sing you a lullaby to get you off. Tomorrow we’re all heading for Brands in 2015 to compete for the first big competition that you haven’t secretly sponsored yourself. I know how much it means to you. Don’t let one moment of weirdness spoil your triumph.”

“All right,” he agreed. “I just wanted to see... I wish it had been there the second time. I would have believed I wasn’t nuts.”

“You ARE nuts, Davie. You always have been. That’s why I fell in love with you. But not the sort of nuts that needs reporting to the race officials. So come on. Home.”

He went home. Stuart was awake, and asked if everything was all right. Brenda was still asleep. He undressed and slid into bed beside her. He closed his eyes and felt Spenser reaching out to him mentally, soothing his worried mind and letting him sleep soundly.

Spenser slept soundly, too. In the morning he and Stuart were part of a major operation that began with Brenda insisting that everyone ate a good breakfast and Davie disappearing down to the workshop to make sure all the cars were ready for the trip. Brenda and the twins were coming, as well as Josie and Georgie and getting everything ready for a weekend with nine month old twins and two excited girls was almost as big a logistics operation as getting three cars to the race track.

And they still had to pick up Sukie and her mother.

Arriving at the track was relatively easy. The TARDIS disguised itself as a lorry delivering the cars to the pit garage assigned to Team Campbell. Simon Rowe, Sukie’s race manager, and the twenty-first century pit crew that Davie had got to know well in the course of this race season, were already there, but a little bit of Power of Suggestion and what Spenser had christened a ‘Somebody Else’s Problem’ field meant that nobody wondered about the fact that it turned up out of the blue, or that the cars appeared in the garage in an eyeblink. It was time to get down to work. Saturday morning meant practice laps and qualifying for the Sunday race meeting.

Sukie was busy much of the time with her own race preparations, but mid-morning when the Ginetta practice time was over and Stuart was on the track with the classic car and Davie was in the driver’s lounge introducing Brenda and his mother to his team sponsors, she found time to talk to Spenser.

“What’s going on with Davie?” she asked, cutting out all pretence of small talk. “What happened to him yesterday?”

“He… saw the ghost of a long dead race driver at the corner where he died,” Spenser replied, deciding that trying to lie to Sukie was the worst possible thing he could ever do. She was a strong telepath and she could break down mental walls in anyone except her two brothers.

“What?” Sukie stared at Spenser in horror. “No. Tell me you’re joking. That’s really not funny.”

“I know it isn’t,” Spenser answered her. “But it’s what he says happened. We went for a look last night, but I didn’t see anything. Neither did he the second time around. But he knows what he saw when he was on the track.”

“A ghost?”

“A burning man,” Spenser added. “He couldn’t have been anything else.”

“It’s a death omen,” Sukie murmured. “Davie’s going to get hurt in the race… he’s going to die.”

“No,” Spenser assured her. “No, Sukie, that’s not it. I don’t know what it was all about, but that’s not it, I promise you.”

“But why else would he see such a thing?” Sukie protested. “Spenser, you’re as passionate about racing as he is. You know that drivers are superstitious. They do things on race days to ensure good luck. And if something happens that means bad luck, it can ruin everything.”

“Yes,” Spenser answered. “Davie’s pre-race ritual involves a lot of kissing. Brenda and the babies, first, then me and Stuart before he gets into the car. He’s famous for it. ‘Out’ magazine ran a feature on all three of us after the Silverstone meeting - the only gay race team in the Touring Car Championship.”

“Yeah, I saw the pictures,” Sukie told him. “You all looked gorgeous. But you’re trying to distract me from the point. Which is....”

She sighed deeply. She wanted to believe that Spenser was right, that it wasn’t what she thought it was.

“Do you know that Donald Campbell, the world speed record holder had a death omen the night before he died trying to break the water speed record in Bluebird. He was playing cards and drew the Ace and Queen of Spades, the same two cards Mary Queen of Scots drew on the night before her execution.”

“You know I always told Davie that Campbell was a bad name to associate with fast cars,” Spenser said in reply. “I wanted him to change to Team Draxic.”

“We’re not related to those Campbells,” Sukie admitted. “But that’s not the point, either.”

“Mary Queen of Scots knew she was going to be executed the next day, so I don’t know what that proves,” Spenser said. “As for Donald Campbell… he might not be related but he had a lot in common with our Davie. I’ve heard that story about the cards. I remember the papers the day after he was killed. But nothing in the world would have kept him from meeting his destiny, and the same goes for your brother. But, Sukie, you mustn’t talk to him about things like that. Don’t put the idea in his head. At the moment he thinks it’s a latent memory left behind in the spot where a terrible tragedy occurred. And maybe he’s right. If anyone was going to see something like that, it would be him…. A powerful Time Lord who lives for the adrenaline rush, whether racing cars or righting wrongs in the universe. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to come to any harm. So don’t you worry about him. He’s going to be all right. He’s going to be the British Touring Car Champion and you’re going to be Junior champion in your class. Two Campbell champions in one generation. Even your mum will be too busy being proud to worry about how dangerous it is.”

Sukie smiled and hugged Spenser. Then she ran to greet Stuart as he brought the GTS into the pit garage. Spenser put the idea of death omens firmly out of his mind. It WAS nonsense. He was a Time Lord. He didn’t believe in such things. And neither did Davie.

Time Lords didn’t believe in death omens.

Davie came to the pit ready for his qualifying session. He sent Sukie to the Driver’s Lounge where the Team Campbell sponsors wanted to talk to her, too.

“She’s doing well,” he said. “I saw her lap times.”

“She’s a beautiful petite female version of you,” Spenser answered. “How could she not be brilliant? Are you ready?”


“If you spot anything strange….”

“I won’t let it ruin my chances of getting pole.”


“And if there’s a dog on the track….”

“I’ll run it over.”

It was Spenser who kept up the Team Campbell tradition by reaching to kiss Davie quickly before they put their helmets on and got into their cars. They joined the other twenty-three cars on the grid for the thirty minute qualifying session that would establish their starting positions for tomorrow’s first race. They had done this nine times already in the course of the season. It was almost routine. Spenser was certain of a top ten place, possibly even top five. Davie was tipped to take pole position. He was the favourite of all the motoring pundits, the centre of attention throughout the qualifying session.

When it was over, he had lived up to expectations. He was surprised to find that Spenser had done badly, though. He was placed eighteenth.

“What happened?” he asked him.

“Nothing,” Spenser assured him. “I just got boxed in by a couple of slow cars and couldn’t make better time. It’s ok. You’re on pole. Team Campbell are top of the leader board already. And you’re going to be the overall champion tomorrow.”

“I’d like you to do well, too.”

“It doesn’t mean as much to me. Come on. Let’s go and catch up with our families and get some food, put aside racing for a few hours.”

That was easier said than done. Sukie was full of enthusiasm for the whole thing. She only stopped talking about cars when her mother glanced her way.

Much later, in their hotel room, with the girls asleep in the side room, Spenser had something to tell Stuart, though.

“I saw him,” he said.

“Saw who?”

“The Burning Man. That’s what messed up my qualifying. When I was coming around Hawthorn, I saw him standing there on the gravel trap… dressed in a fire suit and helmet… I saw the shape of them through the flames. It was a driver, on fire.”

“Davie didn’t see it this time?”

“If he did, he didn’t tell me.”

“This is seriously weird.”

“You’re telling me. But Stuart, what’s really weird… I don’t think it IS the ghost of Joe Siffert, or anyone else from his era. The fire suit looks wrong. That was why he died, back in the 1970s, because they didn’t have the sort of safety gear they brought out later. The man I saw….”

“For a few fleeting seconds,” Stuart pointed out.

“Yes, it was brief. But I saw him clearly. And he was wearing a modern firesuit and helmet.”


“So, I don’t know. Except it’s weird, and creepy, and I don’t know why I saw it, or why Davie saw it, either. I’m not going to let it bother me. I shouldn’t have let it before, but I was startled. Next time… I’ll just ignore it.”

“Fair enough,” Stuart said, then kissed his lover and held him close as they drifted into the sort of sleep people who have been busy all day find easy even when they have a lot on their minds.

Which brought them all to the actual race day, and even Susan who never quite approved of her son and daughter taking part in such events, and Brenda who bowed to the inevitable, were caught up in the excitement. It helped that both of them were photographed and interviewed several times. The mother of two star drivers got a lot of attention. Brenda was already a favourite of the photo-journalists who were thrilled by the pretty wife of the most talked about man on the track. The twins were photographed, too, and Brenda discovered that everyone at Brands Hatch in 2015 knew why her children were named Sebastian and Mark. When one of the journalists asked if the boys were going to follow in their father’s footsteps, though, her reply was rather short.

Davie, Spenser, Stuart and Sukie all had their share of limelight, too. Sukie was photographed many times. At fifteen, she was a pretty girl in a racing suit, still a fairly unusual idea. The journalists made the most of that. Davie, as the expected champion of the race series was obviously going to get plenty of publicity, but he made sure his team mates weren’t forgotten, either.

Stuart’s classic race was the first on the card. He came third, which pleased him and earned him hugs and kisses from his husband and from his two daughters when he joined them in the lounge. Then it was Sukie’s turn. The Junior Ginetta was two races of sixteen laps, with the result of the first race determining grid order for the second. She came third in the first race, a disappointing result for her. She didn’t tell anyone what had distracted her from the pole position. She didn’t want them to worry.

Davie congratulated her and told her that third wasn’t the worst place to be. That meant there were only two cars in front of her. She pointed out that they were both boys, and they wouldn’t do her any favours. He told her she didn’t need any.

And she didn’t. Even though she approached Hawthorn Bend with trepidation every time, dreading what she might see there, she improved on that position and on the sixteenth and final lap she was in the lead by two seconds. She sped past the chequered flag feeling all the joy and triumph she was entitled to feel. Very soon after she stood on the top podium with two sixteen year old boys either side of her who reluctantly recognised that she was a superior driver to them. She felt fantastic, and the thing that had bothered her before didn’t cause her the slightest twinge of anxiety.

“Sukie, I am so proud of you,” her mother said when she reached the Driver’s lounge afterwards. Susan hugged her daughter, their matching brown eyes shining brightly. “I could kill your brother for getting you involved in this, but when you won, I felt… I really did. I was excited. And I really am proud.”

“Thanks, mum,” she said. “Can you hold my trophy for me. I want to call Earl and tell him I won.”

“Won’t he know?” Brenda asked her. “He lives in the twenty-sixth century. This is history to him.”

“Davie said he wasn’t allowed to look up the results. Nobody was. He said the only way we could compete in races in this century is if we don’t know the results beforehand. Then we’re equal to every other driver. But now it’s over, I can tell him.”

She sat in the corner of the lounge with an ice cold glass of lemonade at her side and opened her mini computer. There was internet access, of course. By 2015 that was taken for granted almost everywhere in Britain. Nobody thought twice when she connected a microphone headset and opened up a webcam connection.

They would have been surprised if they knew she was connecting to her boyfriend in another century.

“Earl,” she said when his image appeared on her webcam screen. “I won. I’m 2015 junior champion.”

“Well done, sweetheart,” he answered her. “I knew you could do it.”

“Course you did. But I need you to do something for me. I know Davie made you promise on your Time Lord honour not to look up anything about today, but on your honour to me, I need you to break that promise. I have to know if anything is going to happen in the main races today. I don’t mean about the winner. That doesn’t matter. I mean, tell me if anything happens during one of the races. I can’t do it here because they haven’t happened yet.”

“What sort of thing?” Earl asked.

“I don’t know exactly, but I think you’ll know when you see it. And… even if it’s really bad… really, really bad, please tell me the whole thing. I would rather know than it come as a shock when it happens.”

“Sukie, what is it that you THINK is going to happen?” Earl asked.

“I don’t know,” she answered. “But I think it has something to do with Davie, and it’s scaring me a bit. But I have to know.”

“Ok,” he said. “I’ll get back to you, soon.”

She closed the call and sat back. Out of the window of the VIP lounge she could see the pit lanes where the drivers were gearing up for the main event of the day, the last three races of the British Touring Car Championships of 2015. She could see Davie and Spenser talking to a man from ITV while a cameraman and sound manager hovered nearby. Team Campbell’s closest rivals, Team Eon, were also getting some attention. Their top driver, Tom Manx, was in second place on the starting grid in an Audi and he was the nearest to Davie on the overall points table. If Davie didn’t pick up at least eight points in each of the three races and Tom Manx did, he would win the championship instead.

But the championship had become the least important thing to Sukie just now. She waited anxiously for Earl to respond to her request, and became even more anxious when there was no incoming call message on her computer.

“Sukie!” She turned around in surprise when Earl tapped her on the shoulder. “I thought I should come and show you what I found.”

Sukie’s face went pale in shock but he reassured her quickly.

“It’s not terrible,” he said. “But it is complicated and I didn’t want you to worry.”

He set his own computer down beside hers and opened up the files he had saved. They were pictures and a dramatic story that was on the front page of all of tomorrow’s newspapers. Even the least reputable tabloids had the image next to their bingo numbers and latest celebrity scandal. Sukie read the report and looked again at the pictures.

“It’s not as bad as I thought,” she said, wiping tears of relief from her eyes. “I thought Davie was….”

“Shall we go and watch the races from the Grandstand?” Earl suggested.

“I think we should stay here and watch on the big screen. Mum and Brenda are still going to lose their heads when they see this happen. We’ll be needed to calm them down.”

“Good point,” Earl conceded.

Davie and Spenser kissed each other fondly, not caring what cameras might be witnessing their affection for each other before getting into their cars and driving up to the starting grid. Davie took up the Pole position with his rival, Tom Manx, slightly behind and to the right. Spenser was far down the grid but he spoke to him telepathically and wished him luck.

“You, too,” Spenser told him. “And remember, if you see a dog on the track, just run it over.”

“As if!” he responded before he gave his attention to the lights on the gantry and let the adrenaline rush fuel him as he got ready for a racing start that meant such a lot to him.

The first race was hard fought. He held the lead all the way, but Tom Manx was always close behind and there was less than a second between them at the chequered flag. Spenser finished eighth, which meant he picked up three points for the place plus an extra point because he actually did the fastest lap of the race on lap twelve. They both got ready for the second race with high hopes.

Davie was on Pole again, of course, and Tom Manx close behind, but the second race was almost a re-run of the first, except that two of the back markers went off the track at Druids Bend and sustained enough damage to put them out of the final race altogether, and Spenser moved up to sixth place.

Then it got complicated, because the rules of the BTCC dictated that the Pole for the third race was decided by an element of chance as well as the results of the previous race. A wheel was spun, landing on seven. That meant that the seventh placed car took Pole. The sixth, Spenser Draxic for Team Campbell, was second, the fifth car was third and down to Tom Manx and Davie Campbell who were placed fifth and sixth respectively on the grid before the cars who finished eighth and lower lined up behind them. It was a strange bit of maths, but it was aimed at making the racing more competitive and giving the front runners more of a challenge.

Again Spenser and Davie wished each other good luck before the race began. Davie was running on his instincts as he rounded Paddock Hill Bend and passed two cars in front of him at once, briefly leaving Tom Manx behind in the pack. He knew it wouldn’t be long before he caught him up, though, and by lap five there were three front runners vying for the top placing. Davie and Tom Manx were there, and Spenser who was holding his own after having the advantage of starting near the front.

“There are no team orders,” Davie told his friend as lap ten came up and the positions were much the same. Davie was in second place to Tom Manx by one and a half seconds, Spenser a half second behind him. “If you think you can pass me, do it. Go for your own glory.”

“I can’t win the championship,” Spenser pointed out. “You only need to finish ahead of Tom.”

“And I will if I get the chance,” he answered. “But don’t hold back on my account.”

Spenser didn’t, but three laps later with only two more to go their positions hadn’t changed. The two Team Campbell cars were second and third to Team Eon’s top driver.

Then in an instant everything changed for the worst. Only a second in front of him as they approached Hawthorn Bend, Davie saw Tom Manx’s car burst a tyre and spin out of control in front of him. He slammed on the brakes, but his Ford Focus couldn’t avoid crashing into the passenger side of the Audi, pushing it across the rest of the track and into the gravel trap. The two cars came to a shuddering, painful halt, but it still wasn’t over. Davie was still dazed from the initial collision when Spenser crashed into the side of his Ford, sheering off the driver’s side door and crunching into the bonnet of Manx’s already thoroughly crushed car.

Davie’s head span again for a few moments, then he began to unbuckle his safety belt. He slid out of the car through the broken side door. Spenser was climbing out of his car, too. He looked shaken but unhurt. They both looked towards the third vehicle fearfully.

“He’s trapped!” Davie yelled. He climbed nimbly over the twisted mash of three cars jammed together and reached the Audi. It had been crunched between the two Fords that had broadsided it and the crash barrier that separated the gravel trap from the treeline. Tom Manx was ominously quiet inside. Davie pulled at a loose piece of the broken roof. An ordinary Human shouldn’t have been able to do it barehanded. But he wasn’t an ordinary Human. It took a lot of effort even from Time Lord muscles to peel back steel with his bare hands, but as the race was red flagged and safety officers rushed to the scene he had made a big enough gap to reach in and unbuckle the unconscious Tom Manx from his seat. He pulled him out and passed him carefully to the paramedics.

“Davie!” Spenser screamed at him. “Get out of there. The petrol line is broken. There’s fuel everywhere.”

He didn’t have time to get out of there. One moment he was climbing over the two broken cars, the next he was engulfed in flames as the petrol tank of his own car exploded. His fire suit protected him from direct contact with the flames. So did his helmet, but he had been sprayed with burning fuel. He could feel the intense heat even through the several protective layers. He stepped down from the burning cars. The paramedics securing Tom Manx on a stretcher were shocked to see him stumbling towards them, a burning man, dazzling their eyes. He was still unharmed. He had recycled his breathing and was concentrating hard on keeping his blood cool. He could do that for a few minutes, at least. After that, he would start to cook.

“Davie, keep still,” Spenser called out to him telepathically. “Close your eyes.”

He did so, and felt himself enveloped in the CO2 foam that killed petrol flames. Almost immediately somebody threw a blanket over him and rolled him to the ground. He felt his firesuit being cut away from his body and his helmet carefully lifted off his head.

The paramedics were surprised to see that he wasn’t burnt and was still conscious. They were obviously expecting gruesome injuries and a body clinging to life. They put him into the ambulance anyway, with Spenser by his side, clutching his hand.

“Tell Sukie you’re all right,” he said. “She needs to hear it from you and so do your mum and Brenda. They’re both screaming in the VIP lounge. They think you’re dying.”

“Sukie, tell them I’m all right,” Davie said telepathically. “Tell them not to worry.”

“I knew you would be,” she answered. “You saved the other driver’s life. You’re a hero.”

“I’m a twit,” he answered. “Not noticing I was standing in a pool of petrol with three car engines still running.”

“That’s what we all saw,” Spenser said. “You, me, and Sukie. It wasn’t poor old Joe Siffert. It was you… some kind of echo, forward to our time first of all, a shadow of the past. But then back as a presage of the future.”

“You and Sukie both saw it, too? If it was some kind of mental echo of me….”

“We both love you. Sukie is totally on your mental wavelength. Why wouldn’t we pick it up? It’s just as well we didn’t read too much into it, all that death omen type of thing. You needed to be in the race, or you wouldn’t have been able to rescue Tom. If you’d pulled out because of superstition he’d be dead. The cars would have exploded before the safety stewards got anywhere near.”

“That’s what it was all about, then? A Time Lord under severe stress, putting out psychic echoes. Ok. That’s ok.”

“Davie,” Sukie said. “Brenda and mum know you’re not burnt. They’re still crying, but not so loudly. And… I thought you might want to know that the race was red flagged with only one and a half laps to go, so the result stands. You, Tom and Spenser were officially out of the race since you were off the track. Three other guys got the top three places. But….”

“I didn’t finish, but neither did Tom. That means our points stay the same. I was two points ahead of him, and eighteen points clear of the next man down. Which means….”

“You won after all. Well done. Not sure when they’ll manage to give you the trophy after all this. But it’s yours. Congratulations.”

Davie smiled widely. After all the dark things he had been imagining since he first saw the burning man on the side of the track, this wasn’t a bad outcome after all.

In the lounge, something like calm had been restored. Brenda and Susan, along with Stuart and all four of the children, were being taken to a car that would follow the ambulance to the hospital. Sukie elected to stay with Earl. The two of them looked at the newspapers that wouldn’t be printed until after midnight for the morning circulation and the video images already being sent to the TV newsrooms. Somebody had managed to get the photograph of a journalist’s lifetime – Davie in his burning firesuit standing on the gravel trap with the three cars on fire behind him. It was a spectacular picture and the word ‘MIRACLE’ appeared in almost every headline that accompanied it. The various versions of the story went on to say that the burning man escaped with minor injuries and the driver he rescued had suffered two broken legs and a broken rib, but was recovering in hospital.

The articles all went on to say that Davie Campbell was likely to be awarded some kind of bravery medal in the near future.

“That’s nice,” his sister commented. “I’m sure he’ll be gracious about accepting that. I’m… glad… it’s all ok. I really thought it was a death omen. I thought Davie was going to be killed here.”

“We’re Time Lords,” Earl reminded her. “We don’t believe in death omens. Now, come on, junior champion. Grab your trophy and let’s go and celebrate.”