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

Davie Campbell groaned sickly and tried to open his eyes. When he did, the bright overhead strip lights hurt so much that he closed them again.

“Davie!” He heard his mother’s voice, a sound that had comforted him for as long as he could remember, but the tone this time was not comforting.

She was frightened.

“Mum… where are you?” Her voice was not close to him. It wasn’t far away, just across a room, but he wondered why she wasn’t near him as she had always been when he was ill as a child.

“Davie… don’t move!” His mother’s voice was sharp with fear as he tried to turn his body. He was lying on some kind of hard floor, against an even harder wall. He stretched his arm out across the floor and withdrew it quickly as he felt an electric shock that left his hand numb.

“Davie… really, don’t move,” his mother said again.

“Take your mother’s advice,” said a stranger.

Davie opened his eyes. The room was the size of a large bedroom, but devoid of any furniture and walls painted a white that hurt his eyes with the headache he was currently nursing. The floor looked like polished wood, but it might have been a veneer.

The windows were covered by metal blinds that completely blocked out any possible outside light. The man was standing by the only door, beyond which was probably a corridor but it was in darkness made deeper by the brightness of the room lights.

“Do you know what a singing floor is?” asked the man. Davie did know, but his mother answered first.

“A floor that makes noises when anyone walks on it. Used as far back as Genghis Khan’s Chinese empire by paranoid grand viziers and anyone in line for a usually well-deserved assassination.”

“Think of this as the same thing, but instead of noises, this floor is electrified. It’s not at full power yet, which is why you’re not dead, Mr. Campbell, but after I step out it will be.”

“What… is this all about?” Davie demanded. “Who are you?”

“I’m an investor,” the man replied. “I invested in your rival. Which is why I need you out of the way. Now be quiet and still, unless you or your mother want to die unpleasantly.”

He made to leave. As he did so, Davie shouted something that puzzled his mother but seemed to illicit no response at all from their kidnapper. The door slammed shut. There was no indication that the floor charge had increased, but neither of them were going to test that for the moment.

He lay on his side and looked across the room to where his mother was standing upright against the far wall.

“How did we get here?” he asked. “I can’t remember…. We were all having dinner. You and dad, Brenda, Granddad Robert… Granddad Christopher and Jackie… Sukie and Earl…. Vicki and Jimmy, Chris and Carya… Spenser and Stuart… The Doctor and Rose….”

He remembered everyone around the table. He had booked a whole floor of luxury suites at the five star Silverstone International Hotel, just beside the racing circuit. The children were all in bed. The adults were enjoying a very rare evening together.

The occasion was the last race in a series sponsored by the National Power Company aimed at rejuvenating motor racing in the twenty-third century. Davie was top of the leaderboard but could still be beaten if he didn’t get any points tomorrow. It was promising to be an exciting day with his family sharing it from the Grandstand.

Why had he left early?

“I wasn’t feeling well,” Susan reminded him. “You said you wanted to run the race simulation one more time before bedtime so you came along with me. Your dad was going to come too, but I told him I just wanted to sleep. It… all went wrong in the lift. That man was in there. There was another with him. Both smartly dressed… just like ordinary hotel guests. Then… they got you with a neural inhibitor, first, then me. The next thing I knew… we were here. The electricity wasn’t on. I was lying down at first. But he made me stand up against the wall and drew a line….”

Davie noticed the chalk semi-circle around where he lay. The one surrounding his mother was even smaller. She had no room to lie down, as petite as she was.

“We can’t move,” she said. But that was already obvious.

“How long has it been since we were in the lift?” Davie looked at his wrist. His watch was gone. That annoyed him. It was a very nice, antique watch, analogue, with a winding mechanism that wasn’t messed up by time travel the way even the best digital ones were.

He made a note to get it back at some point.

Meanwhile he had to rely on his internal body clock, which as a Time Lord was better than most other species, especially Human. It wasn’t confused by sleep or daydreaming. He knew about five hours had passed. It was around ten in the evening when they had headed for the hotel lift.

So it was now about three o’clock in the morning.

Which meant that everyone knew they were missing. There would be efforts to find them, both official and unofficial. The police wouldn’t be able to claim that adults weren’t officially missing until twenty-four hours had passed once Christopher pulled his ministerial rank, and The Doctor wouldn’t leave a stone unturned, either.

But he had to assume that they were very well hidden, or they would have been found already.

“Were we brought here in a vehicle of some sort?” he asked. “Wherever here is.”

There was something about the shape of the room that he felt he ought to know, but he couldn’t quite grasp what it was.

“I don’t know,” Susan answered. “I can’t remember anything until I came around with them standing over me. You were still unconscious. One of them said something about giving you too much of the ‘juice’. They thought it was funny. I was scared they might really have overdosed you. I was so relieved when you came to.”

“Neural inhibitors…. The worst idea since the electronic taser. Do they know we’re not fully human and could withstand ordinary dope or did they just get lucky?”

It was a rhetorical question. Susan couldn’t answer it. When she shook her head to indicate that, she swayed dizzily and pressed her hands against the wall to steady herself.

“You can’t keep standing up. Try to… I don’t know… crouch down, but within the zone.”

She managed it, though it wasn’t much better. After a little while her ankles would be hurting.

“What did you shout to him as he was leaving?” Susan asked, just to take her mind off the discomfort of her body. “It sounded like….”

“Thunderbirds Are Go,” Davie answered.

“The television programme…. From the 1960s? It was after my time. We left Earth before it began, but I’ve heard of it.”

“Chris and I watched it on DVD in the 2000s at Grandma Jackie’s flat,” Davie explained. “Back when we were kids and you two liked to go shopping together. The reason I mentioned it just now… daft as it seems…. We seem to be in an episode.”

“Of Thunderbirds?”

“Alan Tracy was a racing driver in his spare time, and on his way back from a race with his granny travelling with him they were kidnapped and made to stand on a bridge that was rigged to explode if they moved. Chris and I agreed it was a daft plot. The kidnappers resented that Alan won the race and wanted to get hold of his car. We thought they should have done it BEFORE the race, not after it.”

“It’s before YOUR race,” Susan pointed out. “Do you think these people are trying to recreate a children’s TV story?”

“He didn’t look like he knew what I was talking about. Besides, that would be so stupid…. Just to stop me winning a race…. That’s insane.”

“He said he was an investor… in another car?”

“It’s an expensive hobby,” Davie admitted. “It costs tens of thousands to run a team all year. But even so…. Nobody could be that ambitious. I thought he meant a business investor. A rival to the National Power Company. But that doesn’t make sense, either. The fact that I’m involved with them, after selling them my solar panel technology, is a secret.”

“I never understood why. That was a wonderful invention and you should be proud of it.”

“I am. But I couldn’t compete in races they sponsor if it were known.”

“Well…. Is somebody trying to expose you? To embarrass the company or the race organisers or something?”

“I don’t see how kidnapping us would do that,” Davie answered. “It makes no sense at all.”

He sighed deeply, but it wasn’t because the kidnapping was senseless. He had realised there was something else he didn’t have as well as his wristwatch.

“I left my sonic screwdriver in the hotel room. It spoiled the line of the dinner jacket.”

“Never mind. You weren’t to know. I always think the way grandfather carries his everywhere is a bit obsessive. It’s good that you like to live without Time Lord technology sometimes.”

“It would have zapped this floor in a doddle, though,” he admitted.

“I don’t blame you, sweetheart,” Susan repeated. Then she groaned despite herself. Davie looked at his mother urgently. She was trying to move her legs into a more comfortable position. She looked tired and sick.

“Are you all right, mum?”

“I’m… trying not to worry you.”

“That only makes me more worried,” Davie answered.

“Your father doesn’t even know, yet,” she said quietly. “I was waiting for the right time… to surprise him.”

Davie put two and two together quickly.

“Sukie will be pleased,” he said. “She has thought for a long time you wouldn’t worry about her so much if she wasn’t the baby of the family anymore.”

“I worry about all of you, no matter how old you are,” Susan told him. “But I have sometimes wished that Sukie hadn’t followed in your footsteps so closely.”

She had never blamed him for Sukie’s interest in fast cars. Besides, the currently youngest child of the family was too much her own girl – her own woman – ever to admit to being influenced by anything other than her own ambitions.

He was going to say something more when they both heard the door opening. Davie tensed, wondering if there was a chance of escape. But although the electrified floor had obviously been turned off, the two men who entered the room had guns and though he might take one, the other could hurt his mother too easily.

“Water,” said the one who had been there before while the other handed Davie and his mother small bottles of Evian. Very small, all things considered, and plastic, not glass, not something that could be used as a weapon.

“What about food?” Davie asked.

“You had a good dinner. You’ll not starve,” was the answer.

“Wait….” Davie said as the men turned to go. “Look… whatever this is about…. Ok, I won’t stop you. But let us swap places. Let my mother have room to lie down. I’ll stand up.”


“Because she’s my mother. Don’t you have a mother? Would you do this to her?”

Whether either man had a mother or not was unclear by their expressions, but the one who had been there earlier nodded and waved his gun with an impatient grunt.

“Get on with it, then,” he said.

Susan was stiff as she stood up from the hunched up crouch but she managed to cross the floor and sank down in the narrow space where she could lie on her side with her aching legs stretched out. Davie had slipped off his dinner jacket and left it there for her to rest her head on. He took the space at the other side of the room, his back pressed against the wall.

“The power will go back on full as soon as we’re out of here,” they were told. “So don’t get any ideas.”

“Perish the thought,” Davie answered.

When he was sure they were alone again, he asked his mother if she was all right.

“I’ve had worse beds,” she answered. “When we were escaping from the Daleks. Your father and I were separated from grandfather and the others and we were stuck in the sewer system for hours. Since London had been deserted for nearly a year it wasn’t the worst sewer you could imagine, but….” She laughed softly. “That was our first date!”

“I hope you had better ones,” Davie answered. It seemed like an odd conversation in these circumstances. He was scared. So was she. They were talking to take their minds off their current situation.

“Not at first. There was too much to do. Rebuilding a society doesn’t leave much free time.”

“You and dad and the other survivors… you wanted a better world. But the greed and the selfishness came back. People like those who grabbed us….”

“It never went away. Even when humanity was fighting against the Daleks for their very existence, some sold each other out for profit… or to save their own skins. I don’t blame them. They were desperate. That’s why we didn’t hold war trials or harbour any recriminations afterwards. But human nature is like that. And I don’t mean to say that we’re any better being half Time Lord. Maybe all sentient beings have their faults.”

“Not many people would be so forgiving in our current situation,” Davie told her.

“Oh, feel free on my behalf to kick those two where it hurts when we’re out of this,” Susan answered. “I’ll forgive them after they’re in prison for their crimes. They’re not doing this for a box of food or to get the Daleks to release a loved one. Not that they ever did. They… the Daleks… really ARE unforgivable. They have no mercy, no compassion. They wouldn’t have let me lie down.”

“I don’t think those two did it out of compassion. They probably think I’m an idiot for giving up my comfy spot. Or they think I’ll faint and fall into their nasty trap.”

“Oh, don’t say that,” Susan begged him.

“It’s all right. I’ve got more stamina than that. All that practice at meditation that granddad put us through.”

“I wish I’d learnt some of that myself. Then I wouldn’t worry about falling asleep and rolling over.”

“Granddad never taught you those things when you lived with him in the TARDIS?”

“I didn’t want to learn it. When we landed on Earth, I wanted to live like a human, do the things a girl my age did… go to school, listen to music, the cinema… look at boys.” Davie must have laughed a little, though he didn’t mean to. “Just look,” she insisted. ‘I WAS only fifteen. But I didn’t want to be an alien who could do meditative trances and communicate telepathically. I wanted to be ‘normal’.”

“Chris and I knew from the start that we weren’t ‘normal’. When granddad told us what it was all about, we couldn’t wait to embrace what made us special.”

“I know. I didn’t really want you to, but it was inevitable. Besides, he taught you both well.”

“Not well enough to get us out of this. These walls are lead-lined. I can feel it against my back. It’s a sort of cold, hard sensation that’s nothing to do with actual contact with the wall.”

“Why would anyone do that to a room… or a building, wherever this is?”

Again, Davie felt as if he ought to know. There WAS something familiar, but it slipped away from his mind. He guessed they were above ground. Otherwise why would there be a window. But the lead was having a bad effect on all his cognitive abilities.

“The lead means I can’t reach anyone telepathically. And they can’t reach me. Not even Chris. He’ll be really worried. We’ve communicated through light years of space. We can’t be VERY far away from the hotel and the racetrack with hundreds of people there who know I’m competing tomorrow, but I can’t reach any of them. Mobile phones ruin the line of a suit, too, besides why would we need them in a restaurant. But even if I had one it wouldn’t work. Damn it. Even Alan Tracy had his communicator to call his brothers.”

“That’s how he got free, is it? His family turned up in their big ships?”

“Yes. But all our family’s TARDISes are in London. This weekend was all about internal combustion engines.”

“You haven’t let us down, Davie,” Susan told him. “These people have been clever, that’s all. It wasn’t your fault.”

“I just feel so helpless… and I don’t like feeling that way.”

“Just like grandfather. And your father, for that matter. He wasn’t one for giving up. That’s what I first noticed about him.”

Davie smiled despite his many discomforts, standing upright against a wall, in a stuffy enclosed room that seemed to be getting hotter all the time, his eyes hurting from the artificial light.

And the tiredness. He hadn’t really wanted to run the simulator when he left the table. He’d had a long day of qualifying sessions to get the pole position for the big race and the family meal had really not been the best of ideas. He had needed an early night.

And now he was fighting waves of drowsiness despite knowing how dangerous that could be.

“Mum!” He yelped out loud as an electric sizzle filled the air with an acrid smell. He saw the remains of an Evian bottle that Susan had dropped. It had rolled only a few inches over the chalk line before being incinerated.

“I must have dozed for a moment,” she said.

“We can’t do that. It’s too dangerous. Mum… tell me more about you and dad and granddad fighting the Daleks. Keep talking as much as you can…. That’s what worked for Alan and his granny. They kept talking. So… tell me all the stuff that wasn’t in my school history books.”

“Well, you know, we arrived in the TARDIS near the end. Grandfather and I, Ian and Barbara. None of us saw how it started, or lived through the worst hardship, not knowing if it ever would end….”

What the history books didn’t say, as Davie knew, was that it ended BECAUSE The Doctor and his companions arrived and found ways to defeat the Daleks. It was a story only his family really knew. His father rarely spoke of it. Like many war veterans he didn’t seek to glorify what he had to do to survive. His mother did talk about if prompted, mainly in praise of The Doctor or of the young Scotsman, David Campbell, towards whom fate had thrust her in their desperation.

Hearing it all from his mother was something he never tired of, and it did the trick for them both for at least another two hours with occasional anecdotes about motor racing for variety.

But the time was telling on Susan. She began to falter in her speech, her words slurring. Twice, Davie spoke to her and she barely answered.

“Mum… stay awake,” he called out urgently when she didn’t answer at all. “Stay awake, please. It’s too risky. You haven’t got enough room.”

She tried, but it was too much for her. She had been lying in the same position for so long and it was unbearably hot in the enclosed space. She was sleepy, and fighting it was getting harder and harder.

“Mum!” Despite her efforts Susan had fallen asleep and her head rolled forwards, towards the chalk line. Davie took a deep breath and created a mental forcefield to surround her.

It was a last resort. He didn’t know how long he could keep it up without draining the last of his own energy. That was why he hadn’t tried it before now.

It was eight hours in total since they left the restaurant. It couldn’t be much longer before they were found.

It couldn’t be….

Davie woke for the second time in twenty-four hours from a deep, dark blackness. This time there were familiar voices close around him and a soft mattress beneath his back. He felt a feminine hand stroking his face and his twin brother holding his hand as he had done so often in their childhood.

“Brenda,” he whispered hoarsely. Chris hurriedly passed him a chilled bottle of water that he drank slowly. He managed to open his eyes and for a moment he thought he was still in the room with the electrified floor, except with the window letting in sunlight.

“Wait…” He sat up with only a slight struggle. “That’s why the room looked a little familiar. It was a room in the same hotel…. Exactly like this one. We were never taken out of the damned hotel.”

“Police have been searching half of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire all night,” Chris told him. “Then dad noticed that there was a floor of this hotel not listed on the fire alarm system and security code access in the lift. Granddad and Christopher tried to look at it telepathically and found a lead lined room…. and suddenly it all made sense. We got there just in time. You were nearly in a coma, standing up. You could have fallen forward and been fried any moment.”

“Don’t say it like that,” Brenda shuddered. “It was horrible.”

“How did you disable the floor?” Davie asked. He shuddered too at the memory.

“Granddad, unlike the rest of us, always carries a sonic screwdriver in his dinner jacket and to hell with it spoiling the line. He just zapped it. Then we just carried you both out of there.”

“Mum?” Davie asked, feeling a little ashamed he hadn’t thought of her first.

“She’s sleeping, just fine,” Chris assured him. “She wouldn’t let anyone take her to hospital, but granddad looked after her.”

“He knows about….”

“He does now. Dad is still taking it in. He was so worried about losing you and mum. Now he’s been told he’s going to be a father of five. Yes… its twins. They seem to happen in our family.”

“How does dad feel about that?”

“Your father has happily told everyone in the hotel and a sizeable chunk of the Buckinghamshire police and emergency services,” Brenda told him. “Everyone knows… except Sukie. She went straight to the racetrack once she knew you were alive.”

“The racetrack?”

He glanced around and saw his wristwatch on the bedside table. It was half past twelve. The race that somehow seemed less important now started half an hour ago.

“She’s taken your place,” Chris explained. “You DID get her a full racing licence three weeks ago. There is no power on Earth that could stop her.”


Yes, Sukie was qualified to race. And he recalled something else about the rules of twenty-third century motor racing. A rule adopted from the old American NASCAR system meant that it was the number on the car that was registered, not the driver.

Which meant that Sukie only had to get a single point and Team Campbell would win.

“Which is bad news for Michael Carrington, executive manager of this hotel, member of a criminal gang of money launderers and pathetically addicted gambler,” Chris explained.

“He ‘invested’ in a bet on Frank Hobson…. Who was twenty-five points behind me?” Davie smiled wryly. “That’s why he put me and mum through all of that? And he didn’t even know about the Thunderbirds episode.”

His wife and brother both looked at him oddly, but he saved the explanation for now.

“Get me another bottle of cold water and put the TV on. I want to see how Sukie is doing.”

Sukie was running eighth in the twenty-fifth lap of forty on the old Silverstone Grand Prix circuit driving a ‘vintage’ Ford Focus in the black and gold livery of Team Campbell. By the final lap she had moved up to fifth, which was well inside the margin to win the championship.

As she received the Team Trophy with a wide grin and shared hugs with Spenser and Stuart who had come to keep an eye on her, The Doctor slipped into the room.

“I thought you might like to know that Michael Carrington and his brother have both asked for protective custody. Not that they weren’t in trouble anyway. It looks as if that room has been used several times to extort money from people. But they went too far this time. They had put too much of the gang’s money on the race, and their lives are hanging on a thread just now. The police are organising a sting to round up the rest of the gang and take them to separate prisons.”

“So, Sukie brought them down in the end…. By finishing in the points.”

“She’s a chip off the old block. Slap up dinner for her later to celebrate… possibly in another hotel. But your mum says you absolutely are NOT going to allow the new babies to take an interest in fast cars.”

“I promise,” Davie answered but nobody was sure if he might be lying.

“I’ve just worked out the Thunderbirds bit,” Chris added with a grin. “I’ll explain at dinner.”