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

Vicki and Sukie came into the drawing room, dropping their school bags by the door. Rose was sitting with Peter, reading him a story.

“He’s onto Lord of the Rings already?” Sukie queried. “I was four before I had it read to me in full.”

The two girls sat either side of her and listened. It was one of their favourite books. They loved to exercise their telepathic abilities by making three dimensional pictures of the fantastic characters in the air in front of them. Peter loved it, too. On the other sofa, Jackie was feeding baby Garrick and listening, as well. She smiled to see the pictures, including one of a hobbit which surprised Sukie and Vicki.

“We didn’t do that one. Peter DID,” Vicki said. “His psychic ability is getting stronger.”

“Will Garrick do that, too, when he’s older?” Jackie asked.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to stop him,” Rose answered. “With the genes he’s inherited.”

“On his dad’s side,” Jackie said. “It’s not us.”

“It is, a bit,” Sukie told her. “Granddad says that mixing Human and Gallifreyan is the reason why our telepathy is so advanced. We’ve got Human imagination and ingenuity. Time Lords don’t have any of that.”

“I wish you’d just be children sometimes,” Jackie answered. “You shouldn’t even KNOW words like ‘ingenuity’ at your age. I didn’t even know words like that at your MUM’S age!”

Sukie and Vicki both smiled blithely. They snuggled closer to Rose.

“This is nice,” Vicki said. “It’s nice to be home from school.”

“At last,” Sukie added and sighed contentedly.

“What’s with you two?” Rose asked. “You’re not usually this cosy in the evening. Have you cleaned out the bear pen, yet?”

“We’ll do it in a bit,” Sukie promised. “But we just want to… to talk.”

“Where’s daddy?” Vicki asked. “Is he out?”

“He’s in Kerry,” Rose answered. “He and Christopher went to see Brendan. Government business, about the welfare of the New Gallifreyans living in Ireland. He’ll be back by suppertime.”

“Good,” their daughter said. “We don’t really want him to know… But we think we should tell somebody.”

“Tell what?” Rose asked. She cuddled Peter and looked at the two girls, her daughter and her – technically – great-granddaughter. They were so alike, with their brown eyes and dark hair that she and Susan both tended to think of them as a pair of twins that they shared the parenting of.

“What have you done?” she asked.

“It’s nothing bad,” Sukie insisted. “Not really. Well… granddad might be cross. He told us that we couldn’t. But….”

Rose looked at their faces again and realised they were far too serious. She reached out and touched her daughter’s head gently. “Ok, you’d better tell me. Whether your father has to hear about it depends on what it is. Although he generally tends to find out things anyway, as you well know.”

“It’s about Jimmy Forrester,” Vicki said as they both cleared their throats and began their story.

They had known for a long time that it was going to happen. Vicki had felt Jimmy Forrester’s timeline on her first day at school when he tried to grab her sweets. She had seen him killed by a speeding car. As the fateful day grew closer they had both found various ways to make physical contact with Jimmy and to read again his future, to see more clearly what was going to happen, and when, and work out a way of stopping it. Jimmy Forrester wasn’t a friend to either of them. He was the class bully and didn’t bother with girls unless they had something he wanted. But when they were playing indoor Rounders in PE class, Vicki had managed to ‘tag’ him out and even the brief contact between her hand and his upper arm had given her the information she needed.

“It’s today,” she told Sukie telepathically as they built a snowman on the playing field with four other girls during the after dinner break. The playground itself was the domain of the boys, who had turned it into a snowball battleground.

“I know. On the way home. The car will be going too fast. Jimmy won’t have a chance.”

“Daddy said we shouldn’t do anything.”

“But we don’t always do what granddad says.”

“Mostly we do. If he thinks we can’t do anything, he’s probably right. He knows lots of things.”

“But I think we ought to do something. Because if we don’t, Jimmy is going to die.”

“I think we should, too.”

“All right, then.”

“Oi, Vick-stick!” shouted Jimmy Forrester and as Vicki turned to look at him he threw a snowball at her. It was a hard packed one, and he had put a stone in the middle of it that hurt when the snowball broke against her face. All of the girls shouted angrily at him and even some of the boys thought that was going too far, but he laughed nastily and challenged them to a fight. Vicki wiped the tears from her eyes as Sukie hugged her.

“I still think we should do it,” she told her telepathically. “Even if he IS horrible.”

They worked out what they would do during the afternoon lessons. It made them look very distracted from long division and the physical geography of Africa, but their teacher, Miss Wright, was used to that. She knew that The Doctor gave the two of them lessons telepathically that had nothing to do with the curriculum she had set for the other children. They came to school to be normal girls of their age and to mix with other children. They learnt that in the playground and gym periods and swimming, not from the classroom lessons. She left them alone most of the time, only occasionally asking them a question about the work in the open books in front of them in order to keep up the pretence that they were taking part in her lessons.

Today, though, they weren’t even paying close attention to the lessons The Doctor had given them in a short burst of telepathic information from wherever he was at that moment.

But they thought they had a plan that would work. They just had to wait until home time. They watched Jimmy Forrester as often as they dared. He was distracted from the lessons, too. But that was because he was a disruptive child who had no interest in long division or the geography of Africa and preferred to play with his hand-held computer under the desk when Miss Wright wasn’t looking at him and get the answers to the sums from the boy sitting next to him.

This afternoon he pushed his luck too far. Miss Wright confiscated his computer and told him he had to stay behind after class. Vicki and Sukie nodded to each other. This, so far, seemed to be a part of it all. Because they had wondered why Jimmy was going to be so late walking along the road tonight. If he had a detention that would explain it.

That meant that they would have to find an excuse to hang around until he was let out of class.

As it happened, that proved easy enough. They were wheeling their bikes out of the school gate, busy with parents meeting their children, others walking home, or cycling as they did. The headmaster was at the gate and turned to talk to them.

“Is your father not meeting you today, Vicki?” he asked.

“No, sir,” Vicki replied. “He’s away on business until later. We’re cycling home.”

“Ah. Of course, I shall be speaking to him at the parent-teachers meeting on Thursday evening. He will be there, I presume? As one of the school governors I shall have some things to discuss with him…”

“Granddad is only on the board of governors because he’s rich and they think they might get him to donate some gym equipment,” Sukie said to Vicki telepathically as the headmaster talked about things neither girl would be interested in.

“Daddy is on the school governor’s because mummy told him it would do him good to find out how ordinary people do things,” Vicki answered. “And he thinks the school has enough gym equipment. He’s going to donate some instruments for the school band.”

Sukie giggled. They both did. They listened as the headmaster talked some more about how good his Lordship had been to the school. It always made Vicki laugh when he called her father ‘his Lordship’. Of course, he WAS that. He was a Lord. At least on the planet he came from. But he still wore a battered old leather jacket every day and looked like an ordinary person. The headmaster was impressed by the title and the wealth, not by the man himself.

They saw Jimmy come out of the school and into the quiet playground now everyone else had gone. He looked mutinous. He had been told off by Miss Wright. He had probably pretended not to care, but he did.

“We’ve got to go now,” Sukie said to the headmaster. They politely said goodnight to him and wheeled their bikes away from the school gate. But instead of turning right as they would if they were going to Mount Lœng House to clean out the bear pen and have tea and do their homework before playing together, they turned left and hurried after Jimmy.

“Jimmy,” they called out together. “Wait a minute. We want to talk to you.”

“Go away,” he replied. “I don’t talk to girls. Especially dumb ones like you, Vick-stick.”

“Are you crying?” Sukie asked, looking at him curiously. His eyes were glassy as if he was trying NOT to give away his feelings. “Why? Miss Wright isn’t so bad.”

“She’s going to write to your father about your behaviour?” Vicki could see his thoughts clearly. “And your father… Oh… I didn’t know he was like that. I’m sorry, Jimmy.”

She had clearly seen the vision of Jimmy’s father punishing him for the slightest infraction; for making eye contact when he was talking, for NOT making eye contact when he was talking, for ‘smirking’, for looking sulky, for disrespect, for not being top of the class, for being a cissy swot, for getting in the way when he was doing his homework, for skulking in his room where he couldn’t be seen. Whatever Jimmy did, he couldn’t please his father and when his temper was hot enough Jimmy got the worst of it.

Vicki always thought the bruises were from fighting other boys. Jimmy gave the impression that he could beat anyone and often did. But in truth, the bruises came from the one person he couldn’t beat.

“What are you talking about?” Jimmy demanded. “I don’t care what Miss Dumbo writes to my dad about. He won’t read it anyway. I don’t care. And why are you following me anyway? Dumb, stupid girls. Go away.”

Then he kicked Vicki in the back of her knee so hard that she fell down. Sukie helped her to stand up, but he was running ahead.

“We’ve got to stop him,” Sukie cried out. “Come on.” They mounted their bicycles. As they did so, a car passed them, going far faster than it should have been going. They saw it turn the blind corner a few yards ahead and then they heard the peculiar sound that hover cars make when they brake hard - something like a screech and a roar like a jet engine going into reverse thrust. They looked at each other and pedalled hard as they turned the corner.

“Oh, no, we’re too late,” Vicki murmured as they took in the scene. The driver of the car was standing there murmuring incoherently, and as they drew closer they saw Jimmy, lying on the ground, bleeding from a head wound and looking very pale and still.

They both dropped their bicycles and ran to him. Vicki touched his head gently.

“He’s still alive, just,” she said. “I can feel brain activity. But he’s very bad. He’s not going to…”

“We can try. We both know how to heal…”

“Simple things,” Vicki argued. “Like broken arms. Or when it’s psychological.” Any other time the fact that she used words like ‘psychological’ would make both girls laugh, because they knew that was one of the things that set them apart. But right now there was nothing to laugh at.

“At least we can make it painless,” Sukie told her. They both put their hands on the dying boy’s head and soothed the agony he was suffering in the long minute it took him to die. By the time they were sure he WAS dead, there was another motorist who stopped to try to help and the headmaster, who had come running when he realised that something was wrong.

“Children,” he said, reaching to them. “Come away. There’s nothing you can do, and you shouldn’t see….” He held them both and turned to the driver of the car whose hysteria was increasing. Snob he may be about his board of governors, but he was a man who went into teaching because he cared about children and their education. He saw one of his pupils lying dead and a car driver who was clearly drunk, and expressed his disgust in the strongest words he could in the presence of two eleven year old girls.

After that, things happened very quickly. An ambulance came for Jimmy, a police car for the driver. Tape was put around the scene of the accident. Rose and Susan both came to take the girls home. By the time they got there The Doctor had rushed home, picking up David on the way. The two distressed girls were comforted by their parents who assured them that there was nothing they could have done and it wasn’t their fault.

Before bedtime, The Doctor spoke to them both quietly, without their mothers hearing.

“You knew it was going to happen,” he told them. “Long before today. But you knew you couldn’t have stopped it.”

“Yes,” they replied.

“I’m sorry you were there to see it. But I’m proud of you for trying to give him comfort at the end. That was very grown up and brave.” He hugged them both. His praise was comforting. But they still felt wretched because there was nothing they could do.

Sukie stayed the night. The Doctor and David both agreed that the girls would be happier together this night. Happy wasn’t quite the right word, but they WERE glad to be together. They talked sadly about how they did it wrong. They shouldn’t have waited by the gate, but gone up the road ahead of Jimmy and waited for him.

“If we had a TARDIS of our own we could go back and try again,” Sukie said.

“We wouldn’t be allowed to,” Vicki answered. “The Laws of Time and the Laws of Physics would stop us. And DADDY definitely would. Do you remember about what happened when mummy tried to stop her daddy, Grandma Jackie’s first husband, from dying. It was terrible. We’re not allowed to go back in time. What we tried to do was change the future and that would have been ok. Daddy would have been cross about it, but only for a little while.”

“Jimmy was horrible,” Sukie said. “Do you think he deserved it?”

“No!” Vicki was adamant. “Nobody deserves it. He doesn’t deserve a nasty father who beats him when he’s in a bad mood. Which is why Jimmy is nasty himself, I think. But he didn’t deserve to die.”

“Maybe…” Sukie added. “Do you believe in Heaven, Vicki?”

“I don’t know. Daddy says there is more to the universe than we know. Do you think there is?”

“I sort of hope there is. Because maybe Jimmy is ok there. Away from his father, and not in any pain.”

“Maybe,” Vicki conceded. “But I wish we’d managed to stop him from dying.”

And that was their thought as they went to sleep.

Vicki woke the next morning feeling sad and wondering what it would be like at school when the headmaster told everyone the news. She wasn’t looking forward to it.

She sat up and looked at the other bed in the room where Sukie slept when she stayed over. Sukie wasn’t there. The bed was neatly made up and Vicki’s collection of dolls and teddy bears were arranged on it, as if it hadn’t been slept on at all.

“Sukie?” she reached out telepathically to her cousin. “Where are you?”

“I’m at home, in my room,” she answered.

“How come?” Vicki asked. “You were with me here last night.”

“I know. Something funny is happening. I don’t know why.”

“I’m going downstairs,” Vicki said. “I’ll talk to you soon.”

She put her clothes on and went downstairs. In the dining room her grandmother was feeding Garrick, and one of the maids was giving Peter his breakfast while her mother sat and drank a cup of tea and ate some dry toast. She looked pale and sickly. Vicki knew it was because she was pregnant again. She knew her father was worried about her, but she wouldn’t let him make a fuss.

Her father wasn’t here. He hadn’t been yesterday. He had gone off early in the TARDIS with Christopher.

But today he was meant to be here. He said he was going to take her and Sukie to school.

“Where’s daddy?” she asked before Sukie’s excited telepathic voice overwhelmed her senses.

“Vicki, it’s MONDAY MORNING,” she was telling her. “It’s MONDAY.”

“What?” Vicki looked around the dining room. There WAS something very much the same about it. But that was just the way it was at home in the morning. She got up and had breakfast. Peter had his. Her mother and grandmother were always there. She liked the reassurance of those unchanging things in her life.

But now she realised it was all EXACTLY the same. This was how things had looked yesterday morning. She thought about it a bit more. What happened yesterday that would definitely confirm it?

Then Mrs Grahams came in to ask about the supper menu. She smiled at Vicki and said she would make her favourite pudding, baked Alaska. She remembered THAT from yesterday. She remembered the baked Alaska at supper, but she had been too upset and sad to enjoy it.

It WAS Monday morning.

“Why is this happening?” she asked Sukie as they wheeled their bicycles and walked part of the way to school slowly, thinking things through. “And how? We’ve gone back to yesterday morning again. Can that happen?”

“Seems like it can,” Sukie answered. “Vicki… it means we can try again. We can get it right this time. We can stop Jimmy from dying.”

“CAN we? Won’t it all just happen the same way?”

“Not if we do it right this time. We know a bit more now. Before we only knew when it was going to happen. Now we know EXACTLY where and how.”

“The driver was drunk.” Vicki shuddered. “How can anyone be that stupid?”

Sukie had no answer to that. They mounted their bicycles and carried on to school. They went through the same lessons again, the same school dinner, the same conversations with their friends. The only difference was when they were building their snowman. When Jimmy shouted and threw his snowball Vicki didn’t look around. She pulled up the hood of her coat and the snowball didn’t hurt as much, although she felt the stone. And a moment later Jimmy yelled out loud as a suddenly loose shoelace tripped him up into a hard-packed drift of snow.

Again, Jimmy got caught playing his computer game and made to stay behind. This time, though, the girls didn’t wait at the school gate. They said goodnight politely to the headmaster as they passed him and rode their bicycles up the road and around the corner.

“This is where it happens,” Sukie said with a shiver that had nothing to do with it being a cold January afternoon. They both looked at the ordinary patch of road where something terrible was going to happen very soon.

“What are you doing there, Vick-Stick and Pookie?” Jimmy demanded as he turned the corner and saw them. They looked back at him and noted his glassy eyes. He HAD been crying. He knew his father would be angry because he was just ten or fifteen minutes late home.

“Waiting for you,” Sukie answered.

“Why? Do you want to get your face kicked in? We’re not in school now. No teachers to tell me not to hit girls!”

“No. We…” Sukie stopped. She could hear the car coming. Its engine sounded different to other cars because it was going faster than it should be. At the same moment, Jimmy kicked Vicki in the shins and dashed away across the road. Sukie ran after him, grabbing his arm and trying to hold him back. Vicki screamed as the car rounded the corner too fast to see the two children in the road. They didn’t have time to scream as it hit them.

Vicki kept on screaming as she knelt by the two twisted, broken bodies, drowning out the driver’s repeated insistence that it wasn’t his fault. Her cries brought the headmaster running. He comforted her as the police and ambulance arrived and Rose came to take her home.

By the time they got home The Doctor was there. He came straight back from Ireland. Susan and David came, too. The Doctor tried to comfort them all, but his own grief was almost greater than the rest of the family put together. He hugged Vicki as he held back his tears for the other little girl he had loved as much as his own daughter. He reached out and clung to his granddaughter’s hand as she tried to come to terms with the loss of her child. Rose and her mother comforted each other. In the midst of it all Chris and Davie arrived from their own offworld trip, and cried heartsbroken tears for their sister.

Vicki knew she would never forget her father’s face when he took her to bed at the end of that terrible day. Away from the rest of the family he finally broke down. He cried as he pulled the blankets around her as she had never seen him cry before. His tears wet her face as he bent to kiss her.

“Daddy,” Vicki said. “It will be all right in the morning. I promise you.”

“No,” he answered through his tears. “No, it won’t. I wish it could be, but it won’t. Sukie’s gone. We’ve lost her.”

He didn’t know. Vicki had thought he might, since he was a Time Lord. She had thought he might have guessed what was happening. But he didn’t. Her hearts broke for him as she hugged him and felt him shaking with sorrow.

Finally he kissed her again and left the room. Vicki closed her eyes and willed herself to sleep. The sooner this awful night was over, the better.

This time she woke up much earlier than usual. It wasn’t quite light. Though it would be in another hour or so when it would be time for her to get up for school.

“Sukie, are you there?” she asked.

“Yes, I am,” Sukie answered her telepathically.

“What did it feel like, dying?”

“I don’t know. It felt horrible when the car hit me. I hurt EVERYWHERE. But then there was nothing. I woke up here in my bed this morning. It’s Monday again.”

“I HOPED,” Vicki said. “I really hoped it would be. I told daddy it would be all right. But he didn’t understand. He was so upset about you. Everyone was.”

“Do you think Jimmy Forrester’s daddy was as upset?”

“I think he must have been. But…”

“I can hear my daddy getting up for work,” Sukie said. “I think… I would like to… I’m going to say hello to him. I just feel I want to have a few quiet minutes with him.”

“I think that’s a very good idea,” Vicki answered her. She slipped out of her bed and put on her dressing gown and slippers and made her way down a much wider and longer set of stairs than in Sukie’s more ordinary sized house. She went into the dining room and saw her father and Christopher, her grown up, older brother, eating an early breakfast. The Doctor looked up at her as she came in and held out his arms. She ran to sit on his knee.

“You should be in bed, still,” he told her. “Little girls need their sleep.”

“I’m not SO little,” she answered. “Are you going away?”

“Just for the day. I’ll be home by supper. The President and Chancellor of the Gallifreyan Government need to visit some of their subjects in Ireland and make sure there is nothing they need to worry about.”

“I’ll miss you,” Vicki told him. “I always miss you when you’re not here.”

“I’m always with you, Vicki Katarina,” he answered. “You’re my little girl. I’ll never be so far from you that I won’t be here when you need me.”

“I’m glad,” she said, and sighed. He looked at her curiously.

“Is something worrying you, my little love?”

“No,” she assured him. “I’m just… It’s nice… I’m lucky. There’s a boy at school, and his daddy doesn’t love him. He hits him all the time, for no reason.”

“Sometimes people get it all wrong,” The Doctor said. He couldn’t think of anything else to say. It wasn’t his place to judge other people. Certainly not in front of his daughter. He hugged her again and savoured those last two words. HIS daughter. He remembered when Christopher was a child and feeling the same pride in HIS son. He loved all his children and couldn’t imagine hitting any one of them.

“You could never make me angry enough to hurt you,” The Doctor told his daughter.

He held her tightly until it was time for him to leave. Then he kissed her cheek and told her to have a nice day at school. And he was gone. She felt a little lonely afterwards, even with Sukie talking to her as they both got dressed for school in their respective homes. She went back to the dining room and found her mother and grandma Jackie with their babies. She chatted to them and ate her breakfast and set off on her bicycle. She met up with Sukie as usual on the way and they formulated a new plan of action.

“When we get it right, will things get back to normal?” Sukie asked Vicki as they built their snowman on the playing field at lunchtime. “Will we ever GET to TUESDAY?”

“I hope so,” Vicki answered. “I am tired of long division and the rivers and mountains of Africa.”

“So am I. But that’s not really the important part of it all. Jimmy…”

Jimmy Forrester was about to launch a snowball at them. Vicki closed her eyes and concentrated. As the snowball hurtled towards her she imagined something else happening. There was a gasp from the girls around her and an enraged yelp from Jimmy as the snowball changed direction in mid flight and hit him square in the face, the stone inside it bruising his nose.

“Must have been an unexpected gust of wind,” Sukie said to the other girls as Jimmy ran off, possibly somewhere quiet where he could cry. Everyone accepted that explanation and went on with building the snowman, even though there WAS no gust of wind. “You know what granddad says about not using telekinesis in school,” she admonished Vicki telepathically.

“I know, but he deserved that one.”

“Yes, he did. But, still…”

Sukie giggled. It wasn’t nice to enjoy somebody else’s misfortune, and they knew now that Jimmy Forrester’s nastiness stemmed from the fact that he was treated badly by his father. They knew they should be kind to him. But Jimmy would never let anyone be kind to him. Certainly not girls.

Today’s plan was a little bit different from the last. They planned to stop Jimmy from leaving the school gate. They stood chatting with the headmaster, listening to him tell them how great Vicki’s father was, and how much he had done for the school. They saw Jimmy and called out to him in a friendly way. Jimmy looked at them but couldn’t say anything rude in front of the Headmaster. He had to speak politely. But they could see there was no way that he would stay talking to them for the several minutes it would be before the car came speeding by. His eyes told of his nervousness. He was already late coming out of school. He knew the longer he hung around the worse it would be when he got home.

“I’ve got to…” he stammered more nervously than the girls would have believed of him and then pushed past them both and ran off up the road.

“Jimmy, come back!” Sukie yelled. Vicki didn’t waste time talking. She ran after him. Sukie and the headmaster stared at them. Then they both gasped in astonishment as the speeding car passed them. They heard the screech and the engine roar and a grief-stricken howl. They both ran. Sukie turned the corner slightly before the headmaster and saw Jimmy Forrester, standing by the car, making that horrendous noise. Sukie tried to go to him, but the headmaster grabbed her. He wouldn’t let her see what he knew she would see if she went a few more steps. Hover cars were meant to be so much safer than the old road cars. But when one of them slammed into an eleven year old girl at speed the result was the same.

“Vicki!” Sukie’s voice woke her in the morning. She opened her eyes and looked up at the ceiling of her bedroom and at all the familiar things around her. “Vicki, are you all right?”

“Yes,” she answered. “It hurt a lot. I remember… What happened after?”

“Jimmy ran off. The headmaster called your mummy. Everyone… everyone was upset. Granddad…. We couldn’t stop him crying. It was horrible. He just wasn’t like himself. He was so upset. He seemed… smaller than he should be. He was sort of folded up. He kept talking about how he had cuddled you in the morning before he went away. And how he had thought about taking you with him in the TARDIS instead of going to school, and….”

Even though it hadn’t really happened, even though Vicki was alive and it was Monday morning again, they both felt deeply the effects of that terrible turn of events.

“If we did nothing, if we left it alone,” Sukie said. “Would it be over?”

“I don’t think so. We did nothing the first time, really, and we’re still stuck here.”

“What if we NEVER get out of it?” Sukie asked. “What if we’re stuck here forever?”

“We won’t be. We just have to find a way… we have to save Jimmy and not get ourselves killed.”

“How do we do that? We keep trying and it doesn’t work. Jimmy and us, and the car…”

“Maybe we’re looking at it the wrong way. Let’s think about it today and try to find another way of doing it.”

They thought about it all morning, and all of the lunchtime break. Then about an hour before the end of their afternoon lessons, in the middle of geography, Vicki had an idea. She communicated it to Sukie.

“That might work. But how do we get out of class?”

Vicki didn’t say anything. Instead she acted very convincingly a girl with a migraine headache nearly fainting. Miss Wright came to their desk at once, asking what the problem was.

“Vicki has these headaches sometimes,” Sukie told her. “Usually she’s all right during the day, but somebody threw a snowball at her at lunchbreak and it had a stone in it.”

“Who threw it?” Miss Wright asked. Jimmy Forrester looked hard at her, daring her to tell. But Sukie shook her head and suggested that Vicki would be all right if she could go outside and get some fresh air. Miss Wright said they might as well put away their books and go home early.

They had lied to their teacher, something they wouldn’t usually do, especially to Miss Wright, who was a very special teacher and a family friend. But this was more important.

“Where are we going?” Sukie asked as they cycled down the road.

“We’re going to find the car,” Vicki answered. “BEFORE the driver gets into it. If the CAR isn’t there, then Jimmy won’t be hurt.”

“Except by his father,” Sukie commented. “I wish we could do something about that. I sometimes wonder if he isn’t better off dead. He has such a miserable life.”

“No,” Vicki was sure of that. “Dead is dead. Life… even a miserable life can get better. But dead is dead.”

She stopped her bicycle. Sukie stopped with her and looked around. There was a big pub and restaurant there. They passed it every morning and afternoon on their route to and from school. They’d never been in it. Their favourite restaurant was in late nineteenth century Rome. But they knew it got quite busy in the afternoon because there were always cars in the car park on their way home.

“WHY do pubs always have car parks?” Sukie asked. “When it is ILLEGAL to drink and then drive a car?”

“I don’t know,” Vicki answered. “But look. THAT’s the one.” She walked into the car park and looked at the car closely.

“Are you sure?”

“We’ve seen the number plate SO many times.”

“So what do we do now?”

“We have to stop the car from starting,” Vicki answered. “I’m not quite sure how, though…”

“The HT Leads,” Sukie replied, very sure of herself now. “They’re electrical wires that connect the ignition to the engine and make it start.” Vicki looked at her quizzically. “Davie doesn’t just build time machines. He’s mad about cars. And he’s my big brother,” she explained.

“Ok,” Vicki conceded. “So what do we do about it?”

“Concentrate on it,” Sukie told her. “We’re both good at telekinesis. It should be easy.” They held hands and concentrated together on that part of the car engine. Sukie knew what it should look like so Vicki followed her lead. They tried their best. In their mind they thought they saw the electrical leads detach themselves from the car engine. But they might have just imagined they had done it.

“What are you kids doing to my car?” demanded a man who they had seen too many times. His voice sounded slurred with drink. “Get out of the way. I’ve got an appointment to get to.”

“You shouldn’t be driving that car,” Sukie told him as he struggled just to get his key in the door lock. The man looked at her and laughed and got into the car. He managed to find his ignition. He turned it. The two girls held their breath. Nothing happened. The car wouldn’t start. They heard the driver swear very serious swear words that no adult they knew would have used in their hearing.

“We can go now,” Sukie said. “He can’t do any harm now.”

“Wait a minute,” Vicki said. She turned and looked around. There was a police car coming down the road. It was the same car that she remembered turning up at the scene of the accident. The policeman had spoken kindly to her. He had probably spoken kindly to Sukie when she was the one lying on the ground in front of the car. This time he was just driving along the road on his ordinary patrol.

She closed her eyes and reached out. She found the policeman’s thoughts as he stopped his car at the traffic lights and put a suggestion in his head. This was something she could easily do, but her father had told her she mustn’t do it. Manipulating Human minds for her own ends was a terrible use of her psychic powers.

So not only had she lied to her teacher, but now she was disobeying her father. Of course they were disobeying him anyway in what they were doing. But this was an even more serious kind of disobedience.

But it worked. The policeman turned his car and drove it into the pub car park. He got out of his car and approached the one with the drunk driver in. The two girls watched as he made the man get out of his car and take the digital breathalyser test. Then he was arrested and taken away in the police car.

“We can go home now,” Vicki said. Sukie agreed. They got on their bicycles and cycled home to Mount Lœng House.

Rose looked at the two girls as they finished telling their story.

“But the things that happened to you. Both of you…” Her face had paled as they described how BOTH of them had been hit by the car in the different versions of the day. She hugged them both, just glad that she could do so.

“We’re all right,” Vicki assured her. “We’re alive. And so is Jimmy.”

“Are you sure of that?” Rose asked. “What if…”

“Yes,” Vicki said. “He’s all right. I called his house when we got home and asked if he was in and his father was really rude and said he wasn’t allowed to come to the phone. But I could hear him crying in the background. I think he cries a lot at home. But he IS alive.”

“So…” Jackie looked at them. “So we’ve been stuck in the same day for… four days? And we didn’t know it?”

“That’s right,” Vicki answered. “But it’s sorted now. Tomorrow it WILL be Tuesday.”

“How do you know?” Jackie asked. And that was a perfectly sensible question. Vicki and Sukie looked at each other. They didn’t know for sure. Would they have to go through it all again?

“No, you won’t. It’s over,” said The Doctor as he stepped into the drawing room. Vicki looked at her father and wondered how much of the story he had heard.

“All of it,” he said as she sat down next to his wife and lifted his daughter on his knee. Christopher came in, too and sat with his wife and child. “I knew something was happening. I could FEEL something wrong with time. I don’t know what triggered it. Maybe two super-telepaths trying to change the future. Maybe it was just one of those strange unexplainable things. But I knew. The TARDIS knew, too. There were all kinds of readings I had never seen before. I didn’t know what it was, but I was VERY relieved when I saw it suddenly dissipate at about three o’clock.”

“Are you mad at me?” she asked.

“What you heard me say on the third time around,” he answered. “That’s all true. There is nothing you could do that would make me mad at you,” he answered. “But don’t push your luck on that. And please don’t do anything like this again.”

“I won’t,” she answered. “But daddy… About Jimmy.”

“Yes, I know,” he said. “But you’re right about that, too. Dead is dead. Life always has possibilities. Jimmy has his life before him, even if it is a rather sad life just now.”

Vicki sighed and savoured the hug her father gave her, the safety of her home and family, and the prospect of Baked Alaska for pudding later.

But on Thursday night it was Parent Teacher’s Evening. Rose and The Doctor went to the school along with Susan and David. They put up with the headmaster’s sycophantic patronising, and tried to mix with the other parents in as normal a way as possible.

“Mr Forrester,” The Doctor said as he came face to face with a tall man with thin lips and a rather cold expression in his eyes. “My daughter is in the same class as your son. She mentions him all the time.”

“Really?” Mr Forrester answered. “That’s…” He made eye contact with The Doctor, and then physically shrivelled under a will that was stronger than his own.

“Come with me,” The Doctor added, taking his arm and steering him towards the empty secretary’s office. Mr Forrester looked as if he might protest, but The Doctor was not going to take any argument from him. He had stared down harder men than him in the far reaches of the universe.

“I understand that you like hitting your son,” The Doctor said to him.

“What’s that to you?” Mr Forrester answered. “You’re some kind of do-gooder who thinks kids should be molly-coddled.”

“Yes. That’s about right. And I think men who bully children should gets what’s coming to them.”

“You want a fight? You think you can take me?”

“With one hand behind my back,” The Doctor answered. “But that wouldn’t protect your son from your thuggery, would it?” The Doctor stared hard at him. Mr Forrester yelped and his expression was one of fear and horror. His eyes filled with tears. The Doctor smiled wryly.

“You’re feeling what your son feels every time you hit him for no reason,” The Doctor said. “The fear, the pain, the betrayal. Because it’s YOUR job to protect him from harm, not be the cause of harm.”

Mr Forrester said nothing. He whimpered like a scared child. The Doctor had no sympathy. Fatherhood was a gift and a privilege, and a man who abused that privilege stood alongside the lowest forms of life in the universe.

“The next time you so much as raise your VOICE to your son, YOU will feel the fear, not him. If you hit him, YOU will hurt, not him. Do you understand me?”

“You can’t do that.”

“Yes, I can.” The Doctor answered him. “So just think about it. I’m watching you. I’ll always be watching you.”

He turned away and left Mr Forrester sobbing in the darkened room. He knew he had got the message through. Jimmy should have an easier time of it now. It probably wouldn’t stop him being an obnoxious brat at school, but at least he wouldn’t be afraid to go home at the end of the day.