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

“Brenda, Spenser, come and look at this,” Davie said as he stood at the open door of his TARDIS. “We’re above the Nürburgring. You can see what it’s all about.”

They both came to his side and looked out at the countryside the TARDIS was hovering over. It was truly spectacular, with dense pine forests, small towns with church spires rising into the air, even a castle on a hill with turrets and battlements that looked straight out of a medieval fantasy.

“Beautiful,” Brenda agreed. “Why would anyone want to put a race track all through it?”

“Because they can,” Spenser replied. “And it’s that undulating strip of tarmac that gives our Davie a glow in his eyes, not the forests and the hills, or the castle.”

“Oh, I know that,” Brenda countered. “Anything with an engine attracts Davie. If I had valves and pistons and… cylinders… and petrol in my veins he’d never let me go.”

“I don’t let you go very much, anyway,” Davie replied, slipping his arm around her waist and kissing her cheek. “I love you. But I love engines, too. My TARDIS, my car.”

He closed the door and turned back to the console to complete the materialisation in the main car park for racetrack users. He turned to look at his gleaming black sports car in its own section of the console room. In his own century it was a rare ‘classic’ - probably the only one left outside of a museum. In 2009, it was contemporary, but even then it was one of less than a hundred that were ever made. He was rather pleased by its rarity. Though that didn’t stop him wanting to take it onto an endurance track known for wrecking cars.

Because the one other thing Brenda and Spenser both knew about him was that he loved a challenge.

Just getting it out of the TARDIS was the first challenge. He looked at the viewscreen. The car park was busy. That was no real surprise. This was an open evening at the Nürburgring. People were here from all over the world to try out their cars and their nerve.

He had already materialised the TARDIS there, of course. Transmatting the car out of the TARDIS into the space beside it shouldn’t be any more trouble.

The TARDIS had a certain amount of perception filter technology in addition to its chameleon cloak. Not only did it appear as something that fitted into the surroundings, but it would exert a low level psychic field so that anyone who saw it would think it had been there all the time.

And that field should extend to anything transmatted out.

But a McLaren F1 was not a car designed to blend in or be inconspicuous. It was designed to be looked at enviously and admired. And in a place full of people who were as mad about cars as he was, he wasn’t at all sure the perception filter was going to work.

Still, he would have to risk it.

“Are you two transmatting out with me?” he asked as he opened up the gull wing door.

“No,” Brenda replied. “I really don’t like transmatting, even if it is only a few yards.”

“We’ll join you outside,” Spenser said, grinning and taking hold of Brenda’s hand in solidarity. Davie smiled and sat in the driver’s seat of the car. He used a remote switch on the dashboard next to the satnav to initiate the transmat.

Nobody noticed the car materialise outside the TARDIS - which had disguised itself very appropriately as a deluxe Hymer motorhome – one of a dozen or more parked there by people planning to take part in tomorrow’s race. The perception filter held until he opened the gull wing door and climbed out. Then heads began to turn appreciatively. A young man in a smart suit and a blonde in a mini-dress both stepped closer, trying to look as if they just happened to be walking that way and might engage him in casual conversation. Davie deliberately turned away to watch Brenda and Spenser step out of the Hymer and join him. He just as deliberately kissed both of them on the lips. Spenser and Brenda both laughed.

“Do you know how disappointed those people both are?” Spenser asked. “Also a bit confused when you kissed us both.”

“They were only interested in my car,” he answered. “You two love me for myself. That’s why you get to come with me on my orientation circuit.”

Spenser was enthusiastic about that idea, Brenda a little apprehensive. She had only ever ridden in this car on ordinary roads, at ordinary speeds. Usually when Davie took it to Brands Hatch and raced it at its top speeds she watched from the comfort of the trackside café. She wasn’t sure she was ready to go on a racetrack herself.

Even so, she slipped into the left hand side seat and buckled up. Spenser sat on the right as Davie checked his own racing style seatbelt and started the engine. It literally purred. He spent as much time tuning it as he did on maintaining his TARDIS and working on his other engineering projects. Although it was only a little over two months since he first drove it in real time, he had spent the equivalent of two years driving it because he and Spenser frequently took the car in the TARDIS back to the early twenty-first century in order to drive it on race tracks. A few hours in the evening could be as much as a week of intensive training as he prepared for this event - the culmination of his car racing ambitions.

He had to spend nearly as much time taking Brenda to romantic destinations to make up for those stolen evenings, of course. As Chris had noted, he was, according to his internal body clock, nearly two years older than him now through all those trips out of his own time.

But he was a Time Lord. He had thousands of years to live. He could afford two years.

The queue at the tollgate was frustrating. Cars were only allowed onto the circuit a few at a time to prevent congestion. The McLaren edged forward between three men on classic motorbikes and a Ford Mondeo driven by two women. The Ring was open to any road legal motorised vehicle. Some people would be there to open up the throttle and push a sports model to the limits. Others just wanted to get around the circuit in their family car. It was a bit like being in a fun run, with dedicated runners and people plodding along in strange costumes for charity.

Davie knew that his car was faster and more powerful than anything he could see around him. He would have liked to prove it to all the drivers who glanced his way and wondered how somebody his age could afford to drive a car like that. But that wasn’t the point of this exercise. Tomorrow he was going to be racing on this circuit. He wanted to go around it carefully, at no more than fifty or sixty miles per hour, and find out just what he could expect from it.

That meant he was disappointing a lot of people who expected him to put on a show of power and speed. He was aware of far inferior cars passing him on the left as he stuck to the inner part of the track and let them do so.

“You really want to go faster, don’t you?” Brenda said to him as she watched a bright red Ferrari F430 streak past them. “We could catch that car?”

“Easily,” Davie replied. “But I’m not going to this evening. Tomorrow may well be another story. But you won’t be in the passenger seat, then.”

“It really is beautiful scenery,” she added. “You won’t see much of it when you’re racing.”

“I don’t really notice scenery anyway,” Davie admitted. “Not as scenery. What I notice most is the fact that the road goes up and down hills, and that when we’re between these patches of trees at this time in the late afternoon we continuously pass between deep shadow and bright sunlight that gets in my eyes. That’s something I’ll need to be aware of when I’m at three or four times this speed.”

“I never really notice scenery when we’re piloting the TARDIS, either,” Spenser pointed out. “Nebulae and asteroid belts, the tails of comets, travelling through the solar system in cruise control, it’s all just navigation.”

“That’s our curse,” Davie said. “Brenda gets to be the passenger and enjoy it all. The view here, or riding the Horsehead Nebula or the Haollstrom Cluster, she can enjoy them all while we’re concentrating on safe driving.”

He said nothing more for a while. They were approaching a section he wanted to take careful note of. It was called the Caracciola Karussell, and was basically a tight, banked and blind corner and another one following almost immediately after as the road went around a narrow spur of land. Even taking it cautiously it was a challenging turn. Davie and Spenser both thought about what it would be like to take it at speed.

“And at night,” Spenser added as their thoughts merged telepathically.

“If you get it right, hitting the right part of the track at the right speed, you literally spin around it like a fairground carousel,” Davie said. “We have plenty of chances to get it right in a twenty-four hour endurance race.”

“Plenty to get it wrong, too,” Spenser added.

“Don’t say that,” Brenda begged him. “I can’t bear the thought of either of you getting hurt just to prove that you can drive a car around a lot of corners.”

“We won’t get hurt,” Davie promised her. “We’re both good drivers. And we’re both better than most humans when it comes to reflexes, stamina, strength, quick thinking, all the things a race car driver needs. We’ll be fine.”

Brenda responded with a proverb in the dialect of Eastern Tibora. The nearest Earth equivalent was ‘pride goes before a fall’.

“It’s not pride,” Davie assured her. “It’s confidence and self-belief.”

They were well past halfway around the course when the Ferrari lapped them. The driver sounded his horn triumphantly as he did so.

“I’m still not chasing him,” Davie said. “Not while there are people in camper vans and Ford Escorts plodding around the course. He can watch my tail-lights disappear under proper race conditions tomorrow. And that’s not pride, either. It’s belief that I’ve got a way better car than his and a co-driver I have absolute trust in.”

“We’re coming up to the Schwalbenschwanz,” Spenser told him. Then it’s the straight section. Do you want to try for a bit of speed where it’s safe?”

“Might as well,” Davie responded. He easily negotiated the wide ‘swallowtail’ shaped series of bends and then put his foot down on the accelerator with a straight, clear road ahead that brought them to the end of the single lap he paid for at the toll. He got into lane to exit the ‘Ring’ and brought the car back to the car park. Spenser and Brenda waited while he transmatted it safely into its place inside the TARDIS then he joined them for a leisurely walk into the little town of Nürburg where he found a suitable restaurant to buy them all some supper.

“No alcohol,” Davie said as he ordered a litre of sparkling water with their meal. “After dark I want to take the car around a couple more times. We need to see the course at night as well.”

“I think I’ll go back to the TARDIS,” Brenda said. “I don’t think I’ll like it in the dark. When I think of some of those turns by DAY…”

“That’s all right, sweetheart,” Davie told her. “Spenser and I will probably talk race tactics the whole time, anyway. You’ll be bored.”

They talked race tactics most of the time during the meal anyway. The restaurant catered for people who came for the motorsport and it had a big plasma screen on the wall that showed videos of classic and modern cars on the famous racetrack. The two men watched a 1967 Formula One car and then a car from 2007 on the same course that Davie had driven a little while ago.

“We’re not allowed to drive for more than a hundred and fifty minutes at any one time, minimum two hours rest before getting into the car again,” Davie said. “Assuming an average speed of eight minutes per lap, we can do eighteen laps in a little less than that time with one refuelling stop. The F1 is a shameful gas guzzler, unfortunately. Which reminds me, once we’re done testing it tonight we need to empty the tank. It’s running at the moment on 23rd century super-petrol which gives us twice the Mpg it does in this century.”

“Well, that’s good, isn’t it?” Brenda asked. “You can do without the refuelling stop.”

“No,” Davie insisted. “I brought the car to 2009 to race it against cars built in the same era it was, on a level playing field. Our modern petrol is an unfair advantage. We drain it and put in contemporary fuel. It’s not eco-friendly, but it’s fair to the other drivers.”

“Shush…” Spenser warned him and his eyes flickered towards an approaching figure behind Davie’s back.

“You’re English drivers?” asked the man with an Italian accent. “Competing in the Twenty-Four Hour race tomorrow?”

“Yes,” Spenser answered. “And you?”

“Go home now,” the Italian said. “I will – as you say – wipe the floor with you. I saw your car on the Ring. It is pretty and expensive but no match for Italian class.”

“Let me guess,” Davie said in a weary tone. “You were in the red Ferrari.”

“And you were in the black mongrel car with a German engine. They can’t even make a whole car in your country.”

“If you say so,” Davie replied. “We’ll find out tomorrow who has the better car. Meanwhile I’d like to make a selection from the cheeseboard and order some coffee.”

“If you want a side-wager, I will be going around the course at nine o’clock. You may try your mongrel against me, then.”

“I never bet,” Davie responded. “I wonder if the waiter would be offended if I had some of the English cheddar rather than the local cheese? It looks like it might be smoked and I’m not too keen on that.”

Being brushed off for a discussion about cheese annoyed the Italian, but he couldn’t make anything more of it in a respectable restaurant.

The sun was going down on a warm late May evening when they strolled back from the town. The car park was quieter now that most of the ordinary drivers had left. Those that remained were people like themselves who had come to take some practice laps before the race tomorrow. Nobody noticed when the Hymer vanished into thin air.

It materialised disguised as a walk in cupboard in the pit garage that had been allocated to Davie’s team in tomorrow’s race. His pit crew hadn’t arrived yet, and there was nobody to notice when the McLaren was once again transmatted out onto the tarmac in front of the garage. Brenda came out into the cool night air to watch as Spenser took the driver’s seat and Davie the left hand passenger side. She kissed him goodnight and told him she would probably be in bed when they got in. She watched them set off and then closed the garage door before she stepped into the TARDIS. She went to the console and for a little while watched their progress around the course on the lifesigns monitor which picked up their Gallifreyan/Human DNA as distinct to everyone else near them. But it was no easier watching that than being there in the car with them. She still worried for their safety. She went instead to the kitchen and made a warm drink then took herself to bed.

Spenser was enjoying himself. He was on his second lap of the Ring and driving a little faster than Davie was earlier, partly because Brenda wasn’t with them, and partly because he was familiar with the track, now. He approached the Carousel intrepidly, even so.

He was a little annoyed when the red Ferrari flew past just at the last possible moment when it was safe to overtake before such a crucial turn.

“I hope he wraps his car around a tree,” Spenser said ungraciously. “Show off.”

“I don’t,” Davie responded. “Even obnoxious people don’t deserve to die here.”

Spenser said nothing in reply. He was too busy taking the car up the banked surface and managing that magical sling shot around the corner that gave them both the same kind of feeling in the pit of their stomachs as riding a solar storm in the TARDIS. It was their Earth-bound equivalent of that sort of high.

It took only a minute and a half to come around the wide curving section called the Wippermann and around the Schwalbenschwanz. Spenser was getting ready to put his foot down as they entered the straight section heading back towards the start, with Nürburg Castle beautifully uplit in front of them when both men yelled in surprise.

“What was that?” Davie asked. “Lightning?”

“Must have been. But… it looked more like… as if for a second or two it was broad daylight. Just for….”

Spenser yelled again as he slammed on the brakes. The brake lights of the red Ferrari were almost touching the headlamps of the McLaren. They were that close to a collision.

“Hazard lights on,” Davie said as he reached for his mobile phone and dialled the number for the Nürburgring’s breakdown services. Then he unfastened his seatbelt and got out of the car. He found his Sonic Screwdriver in his pocket and used it in penlight mode as he approached the Ferrari.

A few minutes later, the breakdown lorry arrived. Davie came back to his own car and told Spenser they could go back to the garage now.

“What’s wrong?” Spenser asked as he reversed and then overtook the Ferrari and the breakdown lorry that it was being winched onto now.

“The driver, our belligerent Italian, is nowhere in sight. The engine is switched off and cold as if it hadn’t been driven for hours. And, seconds before you jammed on the brakes, did you see that car ahead of us?”

“No,” Spenser answered. “I swear it wasn’t there one moment and the next…”

“Something very odd happened back there. Something I think we ought to be investigating. Time Lord kind of odd.” He held up his Sonic Screwdriver and looked at the tiny LCD readout on it and frowned. “The Ferrari had ion particle residue around it.”

“Ion particles?” Spenser was surprised. “THIS car is soaked in them. Ion particles get left after a transmat. But why would the Ferrari….”

“I don’t know. Let’s get our car locked up for the night and then we’ll run some diagnostics in the TARDIS. Might be able to find something out.”

“You’ve got a qualifying lap scheduled at nine o’clock tomorrow morning,” Spenser told him. “You go to bed. I’ll run the diagnostics.”

Davie sighed. The conflict was in his eyes as he unfastened his seatbelt and got out of his car in the pit garage. On the one hand there was a mystery worthy of his Time Lord skills. There was his natural urge to be the one in charge, in control. He wanted to do the investigating.

On the other, there was this race he had been dreaming of since the day he bid for what looked like a scrap value wreck of a car and dared to guess its real potential.

“Ok,” he decided. “But you have your own qualifier at eleven. Don’t forget to get some sleep as well.”

Davie locked the garage door and followed Spenser into the TARDIS. He gave him his Sonic Screwdriver to interface with the console and paused to kiss him goodnight. Then he made his way through the TARDIS corridors to his own bedroom.

Brenda was there already, curled up in the bed in a long silk nightdress that covered her demurely.

He quickly changed into a pair of pyjamas and slipped into bed beside her. She stirred slightly as he slipped his arms around her shoulders and held her close. He kissed her cheek and closed his eyes and cleared his mind of everything that might disturb his sleep, including races to be run tomorrow, and missing Italians, abandoned Ferraris and lightning that wasn’t lightning that might possibly be tied in with it all.

All three of them were awake by seven the next morning. They dressed and ate breakfast and were waiting outside the pit garage when a lorry and a minibus arrived. Davie smiled widely. He had ordered the livery, black with white lettering and his fiery ying-yang symbol. But he hadn’t yet seen the vehicles painted that way.

“Team Campbell,” he said with a grin as the lorry and the minibus came to a halt. “Looks good, don’t you think?” He went to meet the pit crew he had got to know in the course of his practice racing at Brands Hatch. They greeted him cheerfully as they set to work at once, setting up the pit garage to be ready to service his car throughout the twenty four hour race.

“You know,” Spenser pointed out. “Historically, Campbell is not a good name to associate with fast cars. We should have called it Team Draxic.”

Davie laughed and hugged him and Brenda. He watched Team Campbell at work for a while, then took his two sweethearts for a walk in the clean morning air. He filled Brenda in on what had happened last night and then Spenser told him what he had discovered in his diagnostic.

“There’s absolutely nothing there now,” he said. “I did three full sweeps of the area. But the TARDIS automatically detected a temporal disturbance for three seconds at exactly the time we thought we saw the lightning – just before the Ferrari appeared in front of us. The data you got from your Sonic Screwdriver confirmed it.”

“A random temporal disturbance?” Davie frowned. He walked up to the fence that divided the pit area from the Ring itself. He looked along the straight where they had experienced the phenomena. It looked peaceful. Beyond it the lovely town of Nürburg with its castle rose up and beyond that the stunning northern German countryside. It was hard to believe there was anything sinister in that landscape.

But a man was missing. Spenser confirmed that the Italian driver had still not turned up. The local police had been issued with a description of him, hospitals had been checked. His car had been placed in the pit garage he had rented for the race, but unless he turned up for practice he would be disqualified.

“It’s definitely random?” Davie asked again, just to be sure. “It’s not a permanent time rift centred on this place, like the one we had in Northumberland, or the major temporal and spatial rift that runs through Cardiff?”

“No,” Spenser assured him. “It was a random moment. They happen, sometimes.”

“They may happen more often than we think they do,” Davie added. “It’s one of those ‘if a tree falls in the woods’ things. If there’s nobody to witness an anomaly that lasts for seconds, and is so localised as this one was, then there’s no way of knowing it happened at all. Our Italian was unlucky. WE were very lucky. A few more seconds, and it could have been us.”

Spenser shivered at the thought. So did Brenda. They all thought about it – the two of them randomly plucked out of time, Brenda left behind, not knowing what had happened. It was an unpleasant thought.

“I think I should run a few more tests,” Davie added. “Just on the remote possibility my TARDIS somehow attracted the anomaly. I don’t think it did. But… just in case.”

“Later,” Spenser told him. “It’s time for you to get ready for your qualifying laps.”

Yesterday, Davie had worn his ordinary clothes when he drove the course. But now he was the number one driver of Team Campbell. He changed into the outfit that went with the lorry - a full racing fire suit in black and silver with his name under the Ying-Yang embroidered on the breast pocket. He had a black helmet with his name over the visor that went with it. He looked the part as he got into the car. He waved to Brenda and Spenser and to his assembled team before he drove off towards the starting grid of the first batch of drivers hoping to qualify for the race later this day.

When he returned to the Team Campbell garage three quarters of an hour later, with the certificate to say that he came 65th out of the first batch of one hundred and twenty cars doing the qualification lap, he was pleased to see two new members of his team waiting for him.

“Chris,” he said with a wide grin as his brother acted as driver assistant, unfastening his belt and holding up the door as he got out of the car. He hugged his brother and kissed him fondly on the cheek. Then he turned and picked his sister, Sukie, up off the ground as he hugged her, too. He smiled to see her in her own black Team Campbell pit crew fire suit.

“You’re here to assist me, too, are you?” he asked.

“You bet,” she said. “I want to see you win this race.”

“I’m not really here to win it,” he told her. “The challenge is to finish, hopefully in the top hundred, ideally in the top fifty. But the race will be won by a three man team driving a Porsche. That’s a matter of historical fact. Besides, I know you think I’m the greatest at everything, but I’m only an amateur driver, and relatively new to racing, and it’s my first race on this course. I’m really not supposed to win.”

Sukie looked disappointed, but she accepted his explanation. She stuck beside him, ousting Brenda from that favoured position as Spenser prepared to take the car out on his qualifying lap.

“He looks good in a fire suit,” Chris teased as Davie waved Spenser off. “Then again, so does Brenda.”

Davie smiled widely as he noted that his fiancée was now also wearing a Team Campbell pit crew fire suit, only hers fitted in ways that the ones designed for men never did. He noticed a man wanting to take her photograph and discovered that he was a sports journalist covering the race. He was disappointed to be told that Brenda would not pose for him on her own, but was partially compensated when he got a photograph of her with Davie. He also got a short interview with him about his debut as an independent amateur racer in the 24 Hours Nürburgring.

“You’ll get more of that,” one of his pit crew told him. “You’re a good looking young man with a pretty girlfriend. You’ll end up as a motorsport pin up.”

“Have you considered the problems that might entail?” Chris asked him telepathically. “If you become a famous racing driver in 2009, we could have a paradox.”

“Not really,” he answered. “As long as I don’t win any races that history shows I didn’t. And I’m not really good enough for that, anyway. Despite what Sukie thinks. But… there’s something else you should know.”

Davie told him about what happened last night, and the still missing Italian. Chris was alarmed, but he agreed with Spenser’s conclusions.

“Completely random. Probably go down as one of those ‘World’s Greatest Mysteries’, Motorsport’s Mary Celeste. I think I might use my TARDIS to run a quick check on yours. If you are leaking temporal energy your own computer might not recognise it.”

“Fair enough,” Davie answered. “Just so long as there’s no danger of anyone else disappearing. Apart from anything else, I don’t want the race stopped.”

Chris looked at him cautiously.

“Davie… if there WAS a serious temporal anomaly here, you know the race would have to be stopped, don’t you? We couldn’t risk lives just so you can achieve a fleeting ambition like this.”

“Yes,” Davie responded quickly. “Yes, of course. But it WAS just a random phenomena. There’s no need to panic. I am sorry about the Italian, even if he was a Ferrari driver and a bit of a git. But everything is ok, now.”

“Ok, then. But let me run that secondary diagnostic from my TARDIS, just to be sure. After that, assuming Spenser qualifies, Sukie and I are just here as your cheerleader section, to enjoy watching you race.”

Spenser qualified. They celebrated that fact by taking the whole crew for lunch at the same restaurant where the three of them had enjoyed a more intimate supper the night before. They talked cars and racing, like everyone else around them and didn’t worry too much about temporal anomalies.

“Some people were talking about the missing man,” Spenser said as they headed back to the Ring. “They reckon he just chickened out. His team mates were angry with him for mouthing off to you. They know their car CAN’T beat yours and they think he was stupid to try to challenge you. There was a bit of a row. So they think he just went off in a huff.”

“I don’t buy that,” Davie said. “But if it stops them worrying, it will do as a theory for now. Are they out of the race, then?”

“No,” Spenser told him. “They’re running as a two man team, same as us. That makes us and them the only two teams with less than three drivers. So we really are competing with them on one level.”

“I can live with that. Especially if his mates are a bit less mouthy. I’m still not interested in a personal battle, though.”

They had an hour for last minute preparations, for discussing their race strategy, for fine tuning the car, and for a certain amount of butterflies to develop in the stomachs of the two drivers. Then there was no time for any of those things. It was time for the car and starting driver to take his place on the grid.

“This is your moment, Spenser,” Davie told him. “You get to start the race. I finish it.”

“I’m a bit scared, now.”

“Me, too. But we’re going to be fine.” Davie looked around, wondering if there were any cameras trained on them at that moment, then decided he didn’t care. He embraced Spenser and kissed him on the lips before he put on his helmet, fastened all the safety clips and got into the car. The Team Campbell safety steward ensured he was properly and safely secured in place and closed the door. Spenser drove the car to its place on the starting grid. Davie, with his brother, sister and fiancée at his side watched from the viewing platform above the pit garages as the McLaren lined up with the other 209 cars and the countdown to the pace lap began. It was a matter of moments before his dream race was about to begin.

“Are you with me?” Spenser asked telepathically.

“You bet I am,” Davie answered. He closed his eyes and he could see, instead, through Spenser’s eyes. He felt the forward acceleration as the race began. He wasn’t doing anything to distract Spenser, or to influence his driving. But he was sharing with him the experience of being in that phenomenal pack of cars as they followed the pace car once around the course, warming up their engines.

The pace car withdrew and the race proper was on. Then he really felt the thrill. Spenser was feeling it, too, as he immediately began to pick up speed and gain on some of the cars that were ahead of him on the grid.

“Spenser is a natural,” he said as he withdrew from his mind and watched the progress of the race on a video screen like everyone else. “He might manage less than eight minutes per lap. We could do better than I hoped.”

“He hasn’t completed one competitive lap yet,” Chris reminded him. “And there’s another twenty-three hours and fifty minutes to go. Anything could happen in that time.”

Chris was right, of course. But it was hard not to let his mind dream of the possibilities. The dream fired his imagination as the minutes ticked by. And when Spenser’s first lap was timed at only a fraction of a second over eight minutes he was pleased. He knew he would have improved on that before his maximum two and a half hours at the wheel was done. He would have done at least another sixteen laps by then. He would be slingshotting around the Karussell as smoothly as he could pilot the TARDIS through the asteroid belt.

Davie was ready when Spenser brought the car into the pit. He greeted him warmly as the car was refuelled and made ready to go again.

“The sun is your main problem,” Spenser told him. “The shadows between the trees are really deep and when you come out there’s a lot of glare directly in your eyes.”

“I can cope with that. Is the car handling ok?”

“The car is beautiful,” Spenser answered him. “Good luck.”

Davie got into the car. His safety steward checked his harness and made sure his helmet and shoulder supports were securely fitted. Then he was ready. He steadied his two hearts and got ready to join the race.

It really was the same high as when he pushed his TARDIS to the limit. Only he was much more in control of the car. The TARDIS thought for itself at least part of the time. It was a partnership between man and machine. But a car was mastery of man over machine, and over all of the external elements – the road, the weather, the other cars competing with him. When he turned the wheel, the car turned. When he put his foot down on the accelerator he felt an increase in speed. When he changed gear he could feel it in every fibre of his body. And it was fantastic.

Spenser was right about the way the light and shade added to the challenge. It was actually very distracting. There wasn’t much that he could do about it. His Time Lord physiology certainly gave him no advantage over other drivers when coping with that particular part of the challenge. He just had to deal with it.

“You’ve moved us up five places,” Spenser told him as he approached the straight on his last lap of his first driving stint. “We’re in 79th position.”

“Up to you to improve on that, then,” he answered as he brought the car into the pit. “Don’t take any risks, though. You’ve got one of the hardest sessions now. The light is going to be fading fast. You’ll be in twilight for at least an hour, and that’s worse than full dark or full light because it’s neither one thing or the other. Be careful.”

Spenser took his advice on board as he took his second turn on the track. Davie went to join his family in the designated rest area. Brenda brought him coffee and sandwiches. He needed both. He was dehydrated even though he had a water bottle in the car. He was hungry.

“What was it like?” Sukie asked him. “Was it fun?”

“It was great fun,” he answered. “Scary sometimes. Did you see when I was on the straight three laps back, when there was a pack of cars ahead and I wanted to overtake, but there was barely any space. I could have ended up with the car sandwiched between two Porches.”

“Oh, don’t,” Brenda said. “I hated that bit. And that ‘Karussel’. Why must you take it at such speed? Surely it makes more sense to go slowly on such a tight set of bends like that?”

“It makes sense to us drivers,” he said. “Besides, I did slow down. I was over a hundred coming up to it and dropped to nearer sixty-five.”

He rested a little, though he wasn’t tired yet. He calmed his mind and lay back quietly on a long, soft couch. He would be taking over from Spenser again in the dark at around ten thirty and driving through to one o’clock in the morning. Then Spenser would have the small hours of the morning, and he would take over again and face the gradually lightening dawn when the same half light Spenser was facing now would be a problem again. After that it was a long slog through the day until three o’clock came around once more.

“You should be in bed by the time I finish my second race,” he told Sukie.

“Chris said I could stay up as long as I want,” she replied. “I want to watch you as long as I can.”

“Mum won’t like that.”

“Mum doesn’t like you and Spenser racing your car for twenty-four hours.”

“Yes, but I’m a grown up. I can do what I want.”

“That’s not how mum sees it,” Chris told him. “She’ll be glad when it’s over and I call to tell her you’re alive and well and clutching a trophy for being placed in the top thirty per cent.”

“I’m enjoying it,” Davie said. “I am loving every minute of it, on and off the track. I don’t want to wish the time away. I want to treasure it all. Granddad talks about this – remembering to live in the moment that is. We have the power of time and space. We can explore the past or the future. But we should remember to live in the present. And that’s what I’m doing right now.”

Yes, he was doing exactly that. Though he was also longing for half past ten to come around so that he could get into the car again.

“I wish I could ride with him.” Sukie said with a wistful sigh as they saw him off and Brenda brought coffee and sandwiches to Spenser and was almost as solicitous to him as she was to her fiancé. “I want to know what it’s like.”

“I’ll take you in my TARDIS,” Chris suggested. “With the perception filter on I can hover above Davie’s car for a couple of laps and nobody will know except him.”

Sukie’s eyes lit up. He asked Brenda if she would like to come, too, but she opted to keep Spenser company as he rested and prepared himself for his third session. Chris took his sister by the hand and brought her to what appeared to be a tyre store with a Team Campbell sticker on it. Everyone was too busy to notice it dematerialise.

Nobody driving the course in the first hour of darkness, none of the spectators, and not even the helicopter hovering over the track for the television coverage of the race noticed the Gothic TARDIS in cloaked mode as it kept pace a few feet above the McLaren F1. Sukie stood at the door, safe behind a protective shield and looked down at her brother’s car as it passed three competitors, two of which she identified as a BMW Z4 and a BMW M3 and the other a Chrysler Viper GTS-R.

“You know nearly as much about cars as Davie does,” Chris teased her. Sukie grinned. She took that as a compliment. She wasn’t a tomboy. Far from it. Apart from today when she was proud to wear the fire suit she was always feminine in her clothes, and she wore make up when she could get away with it. She and Vicki collected pictures from the teenage magazines of the young male pop stars and giggled about them like any other girls. But she shared her older brother’s love of things mechanical and she understood better than his twin just what it was that made him want to compete in this race.

“It might interest you to know that Team Campbell are now in sixty-fifth position,” Chris told her.

“I think they could win,” she said with sisterly pride.

“No, I don’t think they can,” Chris contradicted her. “But as long as they keep this up, and they don’t get knocked out of the race by crashing or something going wrong with the car, they’ll get a respectable place and almost certainly a trophy. Which will make Davie the first person in our family to win a prize in a sports competition since Granddad’s first wife, Julia, who was a gymnastics champion.”

Sukie smiled widely at the idea and laughed with glee as Chris recreated the speed and angle of Davie’s car taking the Karussell once again. She was enjoying herself as much as he was.

“Sukie, when you’re old enough, I’ll teach you to drive,” Davie told her telepathically. “You can be our third driver and come to the Ring with us.”

“Mum will have a fit,” Chris pointed out.

“Yes, she will,” Davie admitted. “But she’ll be a little bit proud, too.”

“Maybe…” Chris began. Then he gave a surprised cry, out loud and telepathically. Davie and Sukie echoed him. They had both seen and felt the same thing he did.

“It was only for a few seconds,” he said as he ran to his console. “Like a lightning flash, only more like a snatch of daytime thrown out of its proper place. And…”

Chris actually uttered a very mild swear word. Davie uttered one that wasn’t mild at all, but it was only rude to anyone who understood Low Gallifreyan.

“Do you see him?” Davie asked. “I almost ran him over. Chris, he’s trapped on the inside verge of the track. Can you get a lock on with your transmat beam?”

“Got him,” Chris said. Sukie closed the door and turned around in time to see a man wearing a racing fire suit with an Italian computer company’s logo on his breast pocket appear in the middle of the console room floor. He was standing at first, but then collapsed to his knees. He looked physically exhausted and out of his mind with fear. He flinched when Sukie put her hand on his forehead. Chris stepped closer but let her carry on. She was a natural healer. She could draw away the anxieties that were almost a physical pain much better than he could.

“You’re safe,” he told the man. “I don’t know what happened to you, but you’re safe now. I’m going to send you to sleep and when you wake up you’ll be in the Ring’s medical centre. You’ll remember coming to in a disused pit garage. You had a dizzy spell last night when you were driving and collapsed, only to wake up nearly twenty-four hours later disorientated and confused but unable to remember anything at all about what happened to you.”

“What did happen to him?” Sukie asked as she watched Chris lay the Italian down on the floor of the console room and put his hands either side of his forehead.

“He was caught up in a brief time shift. He found himself and his car on the Nürburgring in the late 1930s, being passed by vintage racing cars. He stopped his engine and got out of the car. The next thing, his car disappeared. And a few minutes later, he did, too.”

“A few minutes?” Davie asked telepathically. “His car felt as if it had been switched off for hours when it came back almost instantly. And he’s been gone a whole day and it only seemed like minutes to him.”

“Time anomalies are funny that way,” Chris answered. “Anyway, he’s back. I think nature just wanted to set things right. You concentrate on the race and don’t worry about anything. Sukie and I will deliver your man here to the medical centre.”

They did just that, claiming to have found him collapsed near the pit garages, then they caught up with Davie on the track. Sukie was still enthusiastic about the race and wanted to follow it for a little while longer.

“I feel a bit guilty about the cover story of him having a blackout,” Davie admitted to them. “The race authorities will insist on him having medical tests. His driving career will be in tatters if they think he isn’t safe to drive. He was a mouthy git, but that’s rough on him, all the same.”

“Can’t be helped. He WAS missing for twenty-four hours. And taking him back in time would have caused a paradox.”

“Anyway, never mind that,” Sukie told him. “You’ve moved up two more places while we were busy. Well done.”

“I haven’t moved up by my own efforts,” Davie replied. “Two cars have been eliminated from the race. The Viper and one of 911’s that were ahead of me span off the road together at the Wipperman.”

“You’re still going,” Sukie assured him. “And we’re with you all the way, Davie.”

“Well, at least until Sukie falls asleep standing,” Chris added. “She’s fighting it, now. By one o’clock she’ll be sleepwalking.”

“It’s nice to have such a big fan supporting me,” Davie answered.

Everything was quiet for the next hour. Davie did well, averaging 8.97 minutes for each fifteen mile lap, more than respectable for an amateur driver in the night portion of the race. He had not experienced any mechanical problems and he was confident of finishing the race in a respectable position.

“Chris,” he said urgently as his brother and sister followed his car along the uphill stretch with the small town of Adenau as a patch of artificial light on the outside of the course. “Something is wrong.”

“With your car?” Chris asked immediately.

“No,” he answered. “With other cars. Tune in and listen to the radio communications. At least six of the pit crews have lost contact with their cars.”

Chris did as he suggested. The overlapping voices in at least four different languages were difficult to make out at first, but then he managed to sift them out in his head.

“They’re all on one frequency range,” Chris told his brother. “The most likely thing is a transmission failure.”

“Yes, I thought that, too. But… Chris…. How many cars are on the course right now?”

Chris could count them easily. The TARDIS environmental monitor could give him an exact position of every car and its Human driver as they raced around the track.

“I make it one hundred and ninety seven,” he reported.

“That’s wrong,” Davie said. “Two retired, four are in the pits right now. There are six cars missing.”

“Ohhh…” Chris was pushing other buttons on his console. “I’m picking up massive ion residue traces just past the Wippermann, on the home stretch coming towards Nürburg.”

“There’s been another time anomaly,” Davie agreed. I didn’t see any of the ‘lightning’ this time. But I was on the other side of the course. It’s very localised.”

“I’m going to investigate,” Chris said. “You keep going and try not to worry.”

Davie didn’t see it, but he had a sense that the Gothic TARDIS wasn’t keeping pace with him any more.

Then he had an even deeper sense that it was gone altogether.

“Chris?” he asked, speaking out loud even though he was reaching out telepathically. “Sukie?”

His pit manager spoke to him by radio, thinking he was asking him something. He quickly assured him that he was fine and concentrated on his driving as he took the Karussell at a little over eighty-five miles an hour and quickly negotiated the Wipperman and the Schwalbenschwanz, instinctively increasing speed as he reached the straight past Nürburg. That was where the cars had disappeared from the track. So had Chris and Sukie in the TARDIS. Chris must have followed them into the time anomaly.

Davie checked his statistics. He had been driving for an hour and fifty minutes. If he cut this session short now, Spenser wasn’t yet ready to drive. He had to have a mandatory two hours. He would have to take another two more laps before he could go into the pit and change drivers.

He did two of his best laps. His desire to get back to his own TARDIS spurred him to drive just a bit faster. They felt like the longest and slowest to him, though, because he was thinking about Chris and Sukie and the missing drivers and really wanted to be able to help them.

Spenser was ready when he drove in. He knew what was wrong and he was worried.

“I’ll be all right,” Davie assured him. “You just concentrate on the race. Have they noticed the drivers are missing yet?”

“No,” Spenser replied. “They still think it’s a breakdown in the transmitters. There are engineers working on it. Nobody thought of actually counting the cars.”

“Good. Let’s hope we can keep it that way.” Davie watched as Spenser was safely fastened into the car and drove out of the pit, then he headed to the tyre store in the corner of the garage.

His TARDIS had been quietly monitoring all the anomalous temporal activity around the area. It even noted when the Gothic TARDIS had picked up the trail. Following Chris was not difficult.

He was not entirely surprised when his TARDIS emerged in grey pre-dawn light at the side of the Nürburgring as it looked in the mid-twentieth century. The temporal indicator told him it was March, 1940, a few months after the second world war broke out.

The six missing cars were there – Davie’s brain automatically named them as two Porsche 991s, a BMW Z4, a Lamborghini Murcielago and a Lotus E85. The drivers were in a small huddle. They looked around in surprise when the Chinese TARDIS materialised next to them and Davie emerged. Most of them recognised him as a fellow driver. They had met in the driver’s briefings and the Lotus was from the pit bay next to his own. They were puzzled to see him emerge from what looked like an old fashioned AA roadside phone box.

“Wrong country,” he said with a grin, then he turned from the TARDIS to the drivers. They spoke, between them, four different languages, being German, Italian, Spanish and Hungarian. But Davie knew that with the TARDIS so close to them they would all hear his words translated to their native tongues and he would hear them in English.

“Are you all ok?” he asked. “Any injuries?”

“We are all… ok,” replied the Hungarian. “But very confused. Your brother and a little girl were here. They told us to wait.”

“That’s good advice,” Davie said. “I’m going to catch up with them. We’ll get you back where you belong, just as soon as we figure out what has happened.”

“We have been transported back in time,” said the German driver. “I think, to a time when being in Germany was not a happy thing to be.” He pointed towards Nürburg Castle, its tower rising up against the grey sky. A swastika flag flew in the breeze.

“Yeah,” Davie noted. “The good news is the race track was closed at the outbreak of war. Nobody should be here. And it’s early morning, anyway. Just… stay put here.”

He didn’t really know what else to say to them. Leaving them by the trackside wasn’t ideal. He dreaded what might happen if somebody contemporary saw them. The cars, all brightly painted and covered in advertising couldn’t be disguised as anything. Like his McLaren they were designed to be conspicuous. He just had to hope he could sort things out quickly.

“Chris,” he said telepathically as he ran back to his TARDIS. “Are you there?”

“Yes, I am,” he answered. “What are you doing here?”

“Helping you. We’ve found the missing cars, obviously. But I’m guessing you’re going after the source of the temporal anomaly?”

“Found it,” he answered. “It’s a small workshop in Nürburg. I’m guessing that some amateur is trying temporal experiments.”

“By amateur, you mean a Human, of course?”

“Exactly. Lock onto my co-ordinate and follow me in.”

Davie did just that. His TARDIS and Chris’s materialised in perfect synchronisation within the workshop. The environmental monitor told him there were three people outside. A glance at the viewscreen told him that two of them were dressed in German army uniforms and had guns. They were both looking at the two TARDISes in surprise. They were even more surprised when their weapons suddenly flew out of their hands and attached themselves to one of the two grey cabinets with the fiery ying yang symbols on them. Chris had used his TARDIS’s magnetic field to disarm the two soldiers - a wonderfully pacifist way of doing it.

Davie used a warrior’s way of taking out the two soldiers. While they were still surprised he emerged from his TARDIS and knocked both out with swift and decisive Gung Fu punches. Then as Chris came out of his TARDIS to join him he turned and looked at the third man in the room.

He was a stereotype of a scientist. He wore horn-rimmed glasses and a tweed suit under his white lab coat. In front of him on his worktable was a machine of glass, metal and bakelite which Davie recognised at once as a very crude temporal manipulator. It was a lot like the one he and Chris had built when they were eleven, which they used to grow mature trees in an afternoon in the garden of their London home.

Primitive, but powerful, he noted. The power source was a crystal that was giving off ion radiation. Davie knew instinctively it was not of Earth origin. Probably something that fell as a meteorite and somebody recognised its potential.

“Stop where you are,” the scientist demanded. While Davie had been looking at the machine, he had reached under his desk and was now holding a handgun. “I will shoot you both. Who are you? And why are you disrupting my work? I am doing important experiments for the glory of the Third Reich. The Fuehrer himself has taken an interest in the theory….”

“I bet he has,” Davie said. “Time travel! What your Fuehrer could do with that doesn’t bear thinking about. He doesn’t trust you, though. Why else would there be two armed guards with you? Are there any more outside?”

“No,” the scientist answered.

“Is he lying?” Davie asked Chris.

“Yes,” his brother replied. “I could sense it. Besides, Sukie is looking at the lifesigns monitor and she says there are two guards patrolling the corridor outside the room and four more outside the building.”

“Ok, we’ll not hang around here long. We’ll just smash his machine up and burn any blueprints he might have.”

“You will do nothing of the sort. I will shoot you if you move…”

He pointed the gun at Chris. That meant he took his eyes off Davie, who folded time long enough to reach the scientist. His gun flew from his hand and he fell to his knees making a bubbling sound of extreme agony as Davie applied a debilitating neck pinch to him.

“Break that section,” Davie told Chris, pointing to the crystal. “I suspect the whole thing is useless without that. I am fairly sure there are no other ion radiated crystals on planet Earth in this decade. He can keep his blueprints and the rest of the contraption. They won’t work, anyway.”

“No!” the scientist moaned. “If I do not produce a working prototype, I will be killed. The Fuehrer doesn’t like to be crossed.”

“A lot of people in this country are going to realise that in the next few years,” Davie said. “But he’s your problem. You elected him as your leader. My problem is time and people who mess with it. And that problem is solved, now. Goodbye.”

Chris took the crystal with him back to his TARDIS. Davie turned to go back to his. He was at the door when he heard a sharp crack and felt a pain in his shoulder. He half turned to see one of the guards with the scientist’s pistol in his hand. He dived through his TARDIS door and pushed it shut as three more shots rang out. Moments before he dematerialised his TARDIS there was a volley of machine gun fire. The guards outside must have rushed into the laboratory. But it was too late. The experiment was destroyed.

“Are you all right, Davie?” Chris asked him telepathically.

“I will be in a while,” he answered. “I took a bullet in the shoulder. It went straight through, missed the ceratoid artery, so nothing to worry about. It’ll mend in a few minutes. But it hurts like hell.”

“Do you think Hitler will kill that man?” Sukie asked. “Should we have helped him?”

“Can’t.” Davie told her. “We couldn’t take him from his time. He will have to take his chances. If he has any sense he’ll make a run for it. If not, then it’s his own fault for offering a madman the secret of time travel. But we can’t help him.”

“I think we CAN help our missing drivers, though,” Chris told him. “Or you can, with your transmat and your car port in the console room.”

“It’ll have to be one at a time,” he said.

“Better that way. We’re dropping them back into an ongoing race. Less chance of accidents.”

They returned to the trackside and Davie briefed the six drivers.

“Get into your cars and turn on the engines. Warm them up. Ignore anything you might see until you find yourself back on the home straight of the Nordschleife. When you hear from your pit crews, report that you had a communications breakdown but you’re all right now. I’m afraid you’ll all have lost an hour of the race. That’s going to put you a lot of laps behind. But at least you’ll still be in the race. And that’s something to be thankful for. Needless to say, it would be a good idea if you don’t tell anyone about this.”

“Who would believe us?” asked the Spaniard, and that seemed to be the consensus of them all.

Getting them back to 2009 worked better than they could have hoped, or deserved, Davie thought. He transmatted the cars one by one into his console room, then demateralised the TARDIS and re-materialised it above the Ring in 2009. He waited for a suitable lull and transmatted the cars down onto the tarmac. The drivers at once accelerated away, as if nothing had happened and they were still part of the race.

Chris stayed with the drivers in 1940 until he picked up the last one, the second of the Porsche 911s. Then the two TARDISes travelled back together. As soon as the car had been deposited back into the race they headed back to the pit.

Brenda was waiting for them. She was worried, and she was even more concerned when she heard that Davie was injured and examined the place where he had been wounded.

“It’s mended now,” he said. “It aches like hell, though. New muscle tissue after a wound like that always does.”

“Will it affect your driving?” Sukie asked. “You need to take over from Spenser, soon.”

“I’ve got an hour,” he noted, checking his watch and seeing that it was two o’clock in the morning. Spenser would be coming in at about three.

He contacted his co-driver and asked him how things were going.

“It’s going fine with me, and on the radio I’m hearing that the problems are sorted. All six missing drivers reported problems with their communications but they’re ok now.”

“Good,” Davie replied. “We can concentrate on enjoying the race.”

His shoulder still ached a little an hour later when he took over from Spenser behind the wheel. He felt it in the steering, especially on the tight corners. For an hour or more he couldn’t, honestly, say that he was enjoying the race. And he lost a bit of time, dropping back from the fifty-first position that Spenser had gained them to Sixty-fifth. He was a little tired, too. He had not been able to rest very much in his break.

But about four o’clock, it was beginning to get light. It was a clear sky that didn’t turn grey and dingy as dawn approached, but rather pale, clear blue. When he was facing eastwards on the approach to the Karussell a light red tinge heralded a beautiful dawn. He knew that was going to dazzle his eyes in another half hour or so, but he didn’t care. It was beautiful, and it gave him fresh heart for the race. By the time he came into the pit at a little after five-thirty he had regained four of his lost places and was feeling optimistic, as well as ready for an early breakfast.

Spenser’s run through to eight o’clock on what was proving to be a very beautiful morning was uneventful. So was Davie’s turn from eight until ten thirty. There were just four and a half hours left after that. Spenser drove through the midday hour, with the sun in a cloudless sky directly above the Nürburgring and nearly twenty thousand spectators all around the course. That left Davie with a last two hour drive to three o’clock when the chequered flag would herald the winner and the following cars would be automatically assigned their final placings.

The adrenaline was really pumping as the clock ticked towards three o’clock and he knew he was on his last lap. Davie knew there was a lap counter and timer on his dashboard, but he didn’t dare look at either of them. He didn’t let anyone on the radio from the pit crew tell him. And he told Chris and everyone else to stop talking to him telepathically. He didn’t want to know how he was doing. He didn’t want to know who had already won by the time he headed down the final straight, pushing his car to its limits. He saw the finish line ahead and got ready to decelerate as he passed under the gantry where the sensors were that recorded his placing. He slowed down as a steward directed him into Parc Ferme. There the cars and drivers that finished the race were given their official check by the race authorities. He was given water and towels and went to complete the post race procedures before being officially judged to have completed the 24 Hour Nürburgring. He steadied his two hearts as he looked at the printed card he was given with his final result on it.

He smiled triumphantly and finally let all the telepathic voices into his head.

Later, there was a reception where the prizes were given out. Davie and Spenser proudly held up their trophy for coming fifty-sixth overall, third in their class. They were also quite pleased to have come in seven places ahead of the other two man team in the Ferrari.

Something else made Davie very happy. Brenda, Spenser, Chris and Sukie all watched as he had a long conversation with a group of men who wanted to shake his hand. When he rejoined them he was grinning from ear to ear and his eyes were shining.

“Who were those men?” Chris asked him as he slid his arm around Brenda’s waist and sipped the glass of champagne that Spenser pressed into his spare hand.

“That was Ron Dennis, chairman of McLaren Group, and Gordon Murray and Peter Stevens who design cars for him. They designed the F1. And… when they heard that one of them was going to be racing in the Nürburgring 24 Hour, they came to watch. They actually came here for me and Spenser. And… we impressed them enough, they want to know if we’re coming back next year, and could they sponsor us?”

“What did you say?” Spenser asked.

“I said I’d have to talk to my team,” he answered. But the look on his face told everyone what his answer was going to be.

“Mum won’t like it,” Sukie told him.

“Mum will have to get used to it. I live dangerously. I’m not only a Lord of Time, now, I’m also a semi-professional racing driver!”