“You are a very lucky girl,” Chrístõ said as he put his arms around Julia’s shoulders and kissed her lovingly. “You get to celebrate Christmas three times this year.”

“I am very lucky already,” she responded. “I’ve got a wonderful boyfriend who happens to be a Time Lord and can make Christmas happen three times for me.”

“Well, since you can’t decide whether to spend Christmas with your family or with mine, and as I wanted us to be together, it is the only solution,” he added.

He was torn, himself, for that matter. Herrick and Marianna had extended the invitation to him to spend Christmas with them, while his father fully expected him to bring Julia to Gallifrey for the family celebration that he kept in honour of Chrístõ’s Human mother.

But he also wanted to spend a little time alone with Julia. He had so many responsibilities and claims on his time these days that it felt a long time since he just travelled in his TARDIS with her as his sole companion.

And with her seventeenth birthday only a few months away now, along with their formal betrothal, it was something he wanted to do – be alone with her, travelling in time and space, sharing the joyful wonder of the universe with the woman he loved. These years between the end of her childhood and her coming of age at twenty-three, when she would, at last, be his wife, were the best chance they both had of enjoying that freedom. After their Alliance it was fully expected that he would join the diplomatic corps and accept a position in some Gallifreyan consulate on a friendly planet as his father had done before him. Or if not that, then he would return to Gallifrey to take his place as patriarch of the House of Lœngbærrow, with a position in the government or the civil service and mastery over the family demesne and all who live and work on it.

Either way, he would have far less freedom and even more responsibilities then. So he was determined to make the most of these years, and he wanted Julia by his side as often as possible.

“We’ve landed,” Julia reminded him. He turned and looked at the time rotor, then at the viewscreen. He smiled widely. They had arrived exactly where he wanted at exactly the right time.

December 8th, 2010 in the city of Lyon in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. It was snowing lightly outside, though probably not enough for it to stick. Julia was warmly dressed in a skirt and jumper with woollen tights, ankle length boots with lapin fur around the tops and a lapin-lined coat with a hood that framed her face prettily.

He, himself was in black pants and shirt as usual with his leather jacket. He didn’t need any special protection against a mere Western European winter.

“Oh!” Julia exclaimed. “Oh, Chrístõ, look! Humphrey wants to come with us.”

Chrístõ looked at the darkness creature. He was hovering by the door, trilling enthusiastically.

“Yes, I know it’s night out there,” Chrístõ told him. “But it’s December 8th, the last, glorious night of the Fête des Lumières. ‘Lumières’ means LIGHTS. You don’t like lights.”

But Humphrey was not to be dissuaded. He trilled again, this time with a pleading note.

“I promise I’ll take you pot holing again, soon,” Chrístõ added. “We can meet up with Pieter and the others and go down the Beta Delta III caves. But tonight really isn’t your thing, old friend.”

“These sort of lights won’t hurt him, though?” Julia asked. “It’s not like sunlight or any sort of dangerously bright light?”

“No, I suppose not,” Chrístõ conceded. “But… all the same…”

Humphrey’s trill took on a deeper note of pleading. Saying no to him felt like kicking a puppy. Chrístõ bent and ran his hand through the darkness of his head.

“You really want to look at the lights?”

Another trill.

“Ok… I suppose… you could go in your backpack. I’ll leave the flap open for you to peep out. If anything does scare you can scoot down into the bag. But no snoring or rude noises when we’re in the basilica, or I will be very cross.”

Julia giggled as Humphrey bounded around making all the rude noises he had learnt from humanoid species, just to get it out of his system while Chrístõ brought the backpack he used when transporting Humphrey by daytime outside of the TARDIS. The darkness creature slid inside and he slipped it onto his shoulders. He laughed as he felt Humphrey squirming around and getting comfortable in his hiding place.

“Settle down,” he said to him. Then he reached out for Julia’s gloved hand and hit the door release.

It was still the two of them together, as a young couple, enjoying a very romantic and very unique night out. Humphrey didn’t take anything away from that. He was, of course, absolutely no weight to carry, being made of nothing substantial. His noises of appreciation of what he was looking at through the open bit of the flap were a source of amusement for Julia.

“Can he REALLY appreciate what he’s seeing?” she asked Chrístõ as they walked along the footpath from the Pont Boneparte to Passarelle du Palais de Justice. Chrístõ had parked the TARDIS on that footpath beside the river, disguised as a section of the high wall built to hold back the river Saône in times of flood. It was a little quieter down there. They both felt they needed to ease themselves into the crowds and the excitement.

But they were able to enjoy, even in that quiet place, the beauty of Lyon after sundown on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Holy Day for Roman Catholics, and traditionally the start of the Christmas season in that region. The Fête des Lumières transformed what was already a very beautiful city into a fairy tale place of colour and wonder. They could already see almost every public building along the Saône spectacularly lit in glorious colours. Those colours were repeated in the reflection in the river and on the wet footpath where the light snow still failed to stick. The sky above them was criss-crossed with laser light beams from different parts of the city that were caught by the snow clouds and lit them up like multi-coloured nebula in deep space.

“He sounds as if he’s enjoying it, doesn’t he!” Chrístõ answered her with a soft laugh of his own. Here, where there were only a few people walking on the riverside, the fact that his backpack was wobbling and trembling and emitting trills and gasps of excitement didn’t matter.

They walked on together, watching a river cruiser lit up with multi-coloured strings of light in honour of the Fête. It was obviously a private party with people out on deck and when they stopped and waved they received cheers and waves back from the revellers.

They reached the footbridge that stretched across to the beautifully uplit courts of Justice on the other side of the river. But they weren’t crossing yet. They went up the steps and across the wide, busy Quai Saint Antoine and then along the Rue du Port du Temple. This was a residential area, with four or five storey apartment blocks either side of the relatively narrow street. At every window on every floor were rows of candles in multicoloured glass containers that not only lit up the street but filled it with an evocative fragrance.

“It’s like… Christmas,” Julia declared. “The smell…”

“The lumignons are coated in cinnamon,” Chrístõ explained. “When they get warm, they give off the aroma.” He breathed deeply and let out a soft, contented sigh that was copied by Humphrey. He laughed. “YOU definitely can’t appreciate that. There is no way that you have a sense of smell!”

Julia giggled at the idea. Humphrey copied the sound mischievously all the way along the Rue until they emerged into the Place de Jacobins, so named after an order of Dominican monks who once resided there. The grand Fountain of the Jacobins in the centre of the square was, on this night, a space fantasy, with illuminated planets and stars revolving around it on a cleverly arranged set of wires.

“They did it just for you, Chrístõ,” Julia told him.

“I don’t think so,” he replied. “Tell you what, though, the smell of that cinnamon made me hungry.” He turned towards a place where a canopy had been erected and chairs and tables arranged beneath. Even with the scent of cinnamon-coated candles in his nostrils he could smell fresh brewed French style coffee and warm chocolate covered pastries. He slipped off the backpack and put it on a spare chair while he sat and ordered their snacks.

“Behave,” he said to Humphrey as the backpack wobbled and mimicked the sound of the coffee machine hissing. His strange pet quietened just long enough for the waiter to bring their order before starting a new mischief. Chrístõ smiled at the father of a small child who insisted that there was ‘un petit fantôm dans le sac’.

“Children have such imaginations!” he said with an innocent air as he put the backpack under the table.

After they had finished their refreshments, Chrístõ decided they had too much walking to do and summoned transport – an open-topped landau drawn by two beautiful white horses. In keeping with the Fête, there were coloured lights on the reins and the carriage lights were fitted with those cinnamon flavoured candles.

It was a delightful way to see all of the things they wanted to see. They were driven from the Place de Jacobins along the wide Rue du Président Edouard Herriot where tall, imposing hotels, opera houses and theatres were all lit up, not only with static uplighting, but animated lighting effects that threw fantastic images onto the facades. Julia’s appreciation of the spectacle was, of course, mimicked by Humphrey who had a very cheeky way of repeating her oooh’s.

“He makes it sound as if I’m a little girl on my first Christmas!” she complained.

“Well, I suppose it’s HIS first Christmas,” Christo pointed out. “He’s enjoying himself.”

“Le petit fantôm dans le sac est tré content!” Julia said in her best French accent and giggled at the idea of Humphrey being a little ghost in the bag.

“He’s not the only one,” Chrístõ replied, slipping his arm around her. He sighed happily as the carriage turned into the Place des Terreaux. The Hotel de Ville – Lyon city hall – was lit up in luminous blue and multicoloured circles of light played across the façade. Above the Place itself hung dozens of luminous blue globes and laser beams danced around them. There was a stage set up with a pop band playing electronic music that seemed in keeping with the laser show, but wasn’t quite the sort of music either Chrístõ or Julia especially liked. They were happy for the music and the chatter of the crowds to be background noise as they travelled all around the Place, enjoying the spectacle there before the carriage threaded its way through more streets lit by cinnamon candles and strings of lights.

They turned down the long, tree lined boulevard called Quai Jean Moulin with the wide river Rhône on their left and the brightly lit river front buildings on their right. From there they came towards the Place de la Republique, where the multicoloured light effects playing on the major buildings were reflected in a wide rectangular pool with fine sprays of water pouring constantly into it. These split the light into dancing rainbows so that nature itself joined in with the Fête.

Their carriage ride concluded at the largest public space in the city – the Place Bellecour.

“Doesn’t that mean beautiful heart?” Julia asked as Chrístõ shouldered his wobbly and over-excited backpack and reached for her hand. The whole city was busy, of course. But this, the third largest public square in France was buzzing with Human activity. For a moment Julia felt a little overwhelmed by it all. She held Chrístõ’s hand tightly and was reluctant to move among the press of people. But she was encouraged by the sight of the great illuminated Ferris wheel that framed the statue of Louis XIV mounted on a horse and threw it into dark relief. She didn’t have to ask if they could ride it. The look in her eyes was enough. Chrístõ brought her through the crowds to the entrance to the ride. When their turn came around they sat in a round boat with a little individual roof over it that kept some of the light snow off them as it began to turn.

Humphrey was born in the depths of a cave, in the dark. Heights – or the fact that they might scare him – never occurred to anyone, though. At least until they were at the apex of the ride and it stopped to let more passengers on. The backpack wobbled even more intensely and the noises coming from it were a perfect imitation of a quailing coward.

“You don’t even have teeth, so how can they be chattering?” Chrístõ asked as he opened up the pack a little more and looked inside. Two mournful eyes looked back at him and blinked. “You’re just a big diva playing to the crowd. Except you haven’t got a crowd. There’s just me and Julia and we’re not rising to the bait. So stop being such a big baby and enjoy the ride.”

He zipped the flap again except for the peep hole that the two eyes looked out of. The sounds continued, but more quietly. Chrístõ sat back on his seat with his arms around his girl. The ride continued and he did what any young man with a girl by his side would do in such a place and on such a night. As a result, neither of them fully appreciated the grand view of the Place Bellecour and the surrounding streets of Lyon that could be seen from the top of the wheel. But they both enjoyed themselves thoroughly.

“That was nice,” Julia said when they stepped back onto solid ground again. “Almost as good as when we rode the Wiener Riesenrad.” The young Lyonnais man who held the exit gate for her looked a little hurt that she had made such an unfavourable comparison between the two wheels, but she smiled sweetly at him and was instantly forgiven.

“It will soon be time to go up to the Basilica,” Chrístõ told her. “I think we should find some more coffee and patisseries first.”

Julia agreed with that idea, expressing regret that Humphrey, who ate, as far as anyone could tell, absolutely nothing, couldn’t enjoy those sort of treats. Of course, the noises that emitted from the backpack gave the impression of somebody noisily enjoying a warm chocolate pastry – something like a child of six who had never been taught table manners.

“He’s good for entertainment value,” Chrístõ pointed out as they left the noisy secular celebration on Place Bellecour and headed across Ponte Bonaparte to the area known as ‘Vieux Lyon’ – the oldest part of the city that now spread across both the Saône and the Rhône rivers. At Place de Saint Jean, where a tableaux of the life of Saint John was being cast in coloured lights on the front of the lovely Gothic cathedral, they fell in with a crowd of both Lyonnais and visitors who had one direction in mind. They walked from the Place through narrow, candle-lit and cinnamon scented streets with names like Rue des Antonins, named for an order of 11th century monks, and a steep place called Montée des Chazeaux. Even Christo wasn’t sure what a Chazeaux was, but montée – meaning ‘rise’ was exactly what it promised to be – 228 steep steps that were a little slippy with the sleeting snow falling on them and would have been dangerous if the candlelight from the surrounding buildings didn’t illuminate them so well. Chrístõ kept a tight hold of Julia’s hand as they climbed, anyway.

“We’re going to be climbing for quite a while, yet,” he reminded her as they reached the top of the rise, emerging in a quieter part of the city where large swathes of tree-covered parkland were a surprising change from the fantastic light shows back on the Presqu'ile.

The trees had one zig-zag path through them that was lantern lit in preparation for the pilgrimage that was ready to go as they joined it. At the beginning of the Chemin du Rosaire, Chrístõ purchased special lumignons with a handle that wouldn’t get hot while they were walking with them. Julia made some other preparations for this part of their evening. She bought a rosary made of red glass crystals that sparkled in all the candlelight much like the far more precious red diamonds in the earrings she was wearing. She also bought a black lace mantilla which she put over her hair. Most of the women around her were already veiled. But it wasn’t just that she wanted to fit in with her surroundings.

Chrístõ was the son of a diplomat. He had travelled the universe with his father and on his own cognizance. He had learnt long ago to respect the religious devotions of other species. But it was still something of a surprise to him when his own girlfriend took part in them. Of course, he had always known that she had religious beliefs. She often went to church on a Sunday morning with Marianna. She had been late making her confirmation, because she was lost aboard that doomed ship at the time when she should have been preparing for that, but it was one of the reasons he had wanted her to live an ordinary life with her Human family - so that she could catch up on those sort of things.

Her religious practices didn’t usually extend beyond church on a Sunday and prayers before meals when they ate formally. But it was really no great surprise that she would want to take part in the religious aspect of the Fête. In fact, Chrístõ was pleased that she was prepared to do so. After all, the purpose of the festival on December 8th was the celebration of the Immaculate Conception. It wasn’t always obvious in the streets and plazas below where the emphasis was on making a bigger spectacle of light and colour than last year. As enjoyable as all that was, Chrístõ was glad that Julia wanted to join in with the religious festival, too. He smiled as he lit her lumignon for her and she held it in the same hand as her rosary.

The devout procession made its way up the wide, illuminated zig zag path at a dignified pace. Priests and other Religious walked with them reciting the prayers with the people. Chrístõ walked at Julia’s side. He didn’t join in with the prayers, but he listened to the gestalt voice of the people. The repeated prayers of the rosary had much the same purpose as the meditative mantras he had learnt from the Shaolin of Henang and the Buddhists of Tibet. The monks of Malvoria and the Brothers of Mount Lœng who had first taught him to meditate didn’t use mantras, but he understood their purpose. The Brothers weren’t monks in the sense that the cowled and habited monk walking ahead of them now was. They didn’t worship any god. They simply lived an ascetic life and gave themselves to contemplation. And even though he was always deemed too impatient to achieve the fullest measure of harmony and too much of the universe to give himself up to the cloistered life, Chrístõ understood the purpose of it. And he understood the need for prayers such as those going on around him now.

Of course, the fact that Julia wanted to participate in her own religion was something he had given some thought to. One day, she would be his wife, mistress of Mount Lœng House, on Gallifrey, living under a burnt orange sky and a copper moon, a long way from Earth or the Earth-like colony she called home. She would be among people who had never had a concept of religious worship such as she understood it. And could he expect her to give up what she believed for him?

No, he had decided. He could not. And he would not. He would bring his wife to the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière on December 8th just as she would come with him on the 20th of Decima to celebrate the Gallifreyan Winter Solstice. While he had his meditation room with the symbols of devotion to Rassilon’s vision of Time Lord life surrounding him, there were plenty of rooms in his ancestral home that could be made into a prayer room for her. There was no conflict.

He was aware of a noise that didn’t belong to the gestalt prayer recital and he knew at once what it was. He stepped aside from the procession and opened his backpack.

“Stop that,” he said to Humphrey. “Making fun of the people saying their prayers is very bad manners. I know this bit isn’t as much fun for you, but it’s important to Julia, so behave yourself.”

“Shoo…lia!” Humphrey replied suitably chastened.

“Yes, Julia.” Humphrey had NEVER learnt to pronounce a ‘j’ properly. “Ok, let’s catch up with her.”

He started to close the pack again when Humphrey let out a different noise. His upturned slit of a grin which hadn’t changed even when he was being told off for his impious impersonation of the Ave Maria, turned down into a frown and he squealed fearfully.

“What is it?” Chrístõ asked. But Humphrey wasn’t able to tell him. His communication skills were rudimentary at best. He was scared of something, very scared. But he couldn’t tell him anything more than that.

Chrístõ looked around warily into the trees. They were deciduous and their leaves were all mulching into the ground now, so they weren’t as thick as they would be in summer. But they still made for a dark place where danger certainly could lurk. Muggers or sexual predators would be out of luck with so many pilgrims walking together, and even if there was some kind of large animal, a panther or something of the sort running wild, the sounds from the procession, the lights, and again, the numbers of people, would surely frighten it off.

And in any case, why would any of those things scare Humphrey?

“You’re not telling me you’re scared of the dark, are you?” he asked. Humphrey gave a strange sort of trill as if he was saying ‘yes’ to that question. But that seemed unlikely. Darkness was his natural environment. Humphrey was a creature of the darkness.

Unless he had been living in the TARDIS so long, with shadowy corners rather than actual darkness, that he had forgotten his origins? Was that possible?

“I can’t see anything,” he said. “Maybe you’re just letting your imagination run away with you. Anyway, let’s catch up with Julia.”

He zipped the bag, again leaving a slit, but Humphrey’s eyes didn’t peer through this time. He was hunkered down away from the perceived danger.

Chrístõ caught up with Julia easily. She was walking with a group of girls of her own age who were being led in the Joyful Mysteries by a young priest for whom the girls didn’t quite have the most pious thoughts. The priest, for his part, was fully absorbed in his prayers and unaware of the effect he was having on teenage hormones. Chrístõ received a smile from Julia that wasn’t entirely pious, either, but she continued her rosary as he fell into step with her. He didn’t tell her what had delayed him. Even if she wasn’t busy he wouldn’t have wanted to worry her. He glanced around at the trees beyond the lantern light. If he let his own imagination run wild he could probably think that there were shadows following them.

But if there WAS anything there, he would have felt it. Until Humphrey got spooked, he hadn’t even considered the possibility. It WAS his imagination running wild.

Just in case, he closed his eyes and reached out mentally, beyond the prayers of the devout and the hormones of the devout but young. He searched for any sentient minds beyond them. He found one character far below them now, lying among the trees that lined the Montée Saint-Barthélemy. But that was just a foolish man who had combined the excitement of the festivities with too much wine. Chrístõ reached out to him and gently urged him to fight the intoxication enough to stand up and stagger back to the road. If he made it home, all well and good. If he fell down again, at least he was in the open where he might be found. Where he was, before the effects of the drink wore off, he would have been suffering from hypothermia and beyond aid.

But there was nothing else. Nothing sentient, and nothing he could sense in the way of animal life.

He dismissed the idea and let himself enjoy the rest of the procession up to the Basilica. Julia continued her prayers and he put himself into a contemplative frame of mind for the Mass that they were going to take part in when they reached the beautiful nineteenth century church built in grand style as a symbol of the triumph of Catholicism over the secular French Republicanism of the time. As the rosaries ended with the final prayers Chrístõ felt Julia’s hand slip into his again. They both looked around in awe at the splendid interior where the gold produced in the Lœngbærrow mines for a month might have just been enough for the gilding on the ceiling and the Byzantine pillars and arches that supported it.

“Oh, imagine getting married in here,” said one of the girls whose eye had been on the young priest. Chrístõ felt the idea enter into Julia’s head, too. And he could certainly picture it himself. His bride walking down that long central aisle in white lace dripping with diamonds would be a fine, proud moment.

But that was where he had to draw the line, after all. They were going to be married in the Panopticon, with the Lord High President looking even more fantastic than the most elaborately dressed Archbishop to preside over the Alliance. And if it didn’t have quite so much gilding, he thought the Panopticon was fully equal to the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière.

They sat part way down the nave, just behind the group of young girls. Their priest had left them now since he was going to be taking part in the celebration of the Mass. They were much more sober-minded and calm now and knelt to make their private prayers. Julia didn’t kneel, but she sat with her head bowed and her hands clasped together in her lap. Chrístõ resisted the temptation to read her mind and see what she would want to pray about. That was between her and the God she addressed the prayers to.

A bell signalled the beginning of the Mass as the priests, four of them in all, dressed in white albs with gold embroidered red surplices over them led the deacons in simpler vestments and a small group of alter boys as the congregation sang a hymn of praise to the Mother of God before the Mass began. Chrístõ didn’t take any part in it, of course, but like the rosary prayers he found the words of the ritual soothing to his mind and spirit just as his own meditations were.

He was aware of Humphrey making small worried noises in the back pack, but they weren’t so loud as to disturb anyone else and they would be heading back to the TARDIS after the Mass was over. He would settle down back in his familiar territory.

The important part of the proceedings, of course, was Holy Communion. Chrístõ stood to let Julia out of the pew to join the line of people going up to receive the body and blood of Christ from the four priests and the deacons. He noticed that she was in the line that would step to the left and be served by the attractive young priest. So were the girls who had fixed their thoughts on him earlier. He smiled and wondered if the girls would keep their composure for this very important part of their religious devotion and sat quietly in his own seat. He looked around and noted only a very few people, mostly men, who were not taking communion. Doubtless they were, like him, the other half of ‘mixed’ partnerships – though he was sure none of them were as mixed as he was.

From looking around, he looked up at the gilded ceiling. And then all thoughts about the Mass or its participants were driven from his mind as he spotted something that shouldn’t be there. At the same time he realised that Humphrey was keening fearfully again. The sound was deadened by the backpack fabric and masked by the organ playing through the communion. But Humphrey knew that something was there.

“I’m sorry I doubted you,” Chrístõ whispered as he put a protective hand over the bag and reached for his sonic screwdriver. He wasn’t sure what use it might be against the black swarming shadow that was spreading over the basilica ceiling. At least he might get a reading of what it was.

It looked like a huge mass of the same blackness Humphrey was made of. And that made a kind of sense since Humphrey was the one who had detected it in the first place. It explained why he, himself, had detected nothing in the woods. He had been feeling for organic minds.

But if this entity was the same as Humphrey, he ought to have felt it. Humphrey exuded emotions the way Haolstromnians exuded pheromones, and an entity that size ought to be giving out something, be it negative or positive.

He glanced around at the congregation, wondering if they might be masking the entities emotional output. Julia was just receiving the host from the young priest. Nobody else had noticed the swelling cloud of darkness around the gilded ceiling.

And it was swelling, visibly so. He wondered what to do. Stopping the Mass and evacuating the Basilica was his first instinct. But could he do that without a panic?

He was slowly rising from his seat when he felt a stabbing pain behind his eyes. He suppressed a gasp and rubbed his eyes. When he opened them and looked around he was shocked.

He could still see. But everything was dark. Every colour had been drained from his vision. The gilded ceiling was just shades of grey. The brightly coloured priest’s vestments looked black. The whole basilica and all the people in it were drained of colour.

Avoiding panic was a moot point now. He heard other people crying out as they felt the pain behind their eyes and then found themselves seeing only shades of grey. He saw the deacon who was holding the communion cup to Julia’s lips suddenly stagger back, dropping the cup and spilling the wine. Julia reached out to help him, but then put her own hands to her eyes before staring around in horror.

“Everyone keep still,” he called out. “Sit down, please. Don’t panic… it’s...”

A few people heard him, but most of them were too scared. Besides, he was a stranger to them. Why would they listen to him?

He looked around and spotted the young priest. He seemed to be the only person not panicking. He was holding onto two of the girls and trying to get the other two and Julia to come with him.

“Where are you taking them?” Chrístõ asked, rushing to his side.

“To the crypt of Saint Joseph,” he answered. “It is beneath us here… they will be safe from the… the…” He looked up at the black entity that was covering the ceiling by now. “Le démon noir.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ agreed. “Yes, get everyone down there into the crypt. Julia… Go with him. Try to keep everyone calm. I’ll…”

“Chrístõ!” Julia protested. “I’m scared, too. How can I…”

“You’ve been with me long enough,” he said. “You know there are more things in the universe than most humans can imagine. And you know I can fight most of them. It’ll be all right. Go on, sweetheart.”

He kissed her on the cheek and then sent her with the other girls and the priest. Some of the other people saw what they were doing and began to follow, including the older priests and their deacons who, despite being affected like everyone else, pulled themselves together and took charge of their congregation. Chrístõ moved against the tide, heading towards the great entrance doors to the Basilica. His thought was to lead the entity out of there, away from the people it had affected.

At the door, though, he stopped. He opened it partially and looked out across the city of Lyon. His eyes saw only light and dark, but he knew the Fête des Lumières was continuing. For all the people below there was still a whole spectrum of colours.

He imagined those colours dimming for every citizen and visitor in those streets and plazas, and the entity growing stronger with every victim. He knew he couldn’t let that happen.

He slammed the door shut again and turned to look at the entity. He wondered if closing the door actually made a difference. It was made of darkness. It could surely just melt through the antique wood. But somehow it did seem to halt the entity as it encroached.

He was trying to think fast. He had a few clues now. This WAS a non-corporeal entity like Humphrey, or the creature that was trapped in the windows of the school gym several Christmases back. But unlike Humphrey, it didn’t react to emotions. It didn’t crave company. It seemed to have some kind of interest in the light spectrum – or the absence of it.

It hadn’t ‘eaten’ the colour. Chrístõ reminded himself of some basic physics. Colours, are, of course, formed when an object absorbs all but the wavelength of one particular colour – or shade of colour. The light shows that turned Lyon into a wonderland were clever manipulations of those wavelengths. But no colour could ‘exist’ unless there was an eye to behold it. Colour was simply the brain’s perception of the wavelengths received by the rods and cones – and in his case, hexagons – in the retina.

So what the creature had done was attack the retinas of the humans – and one Time Lord – in the Basilica and somehow affected the ability to see colour.

Why? He wondered. And how could he use that to fight the entity and prevent it from hurting anyone else?

He looked at his sonic screwdriver. In the monochrome world it glowed white instead of blue, but it still gave off light. And it was capable of giving off more light. He adjusted the setting until it became a powerful hand held laser beam. He pointed it towards the ceiling, and saw the way the entity shrank back from the beam. Like Humphrey, it was wary of very bright lights. He could keep it away from the door at least, confine it within the basilica. At least as long as he could hold his arm up.

“Monsieur,” a voice called to him. Chrístõ dared to look around as the young priest approached. “They are all safe. May I help…”

“Only if you can think of something more practical than a prayer,” he answered. “With all respect to your religion, it’s not a whole heap of use just now.”

“I believe prayer is always of use, or I would not have taken my vows,” the priest answered. “But I can be practical, too. You… seem to have some understanding of this demon?”

There was a question there, of course. And it deserved an answer.

“I didn’t bring it upon you,” he said first. “I think it might have been hiding in the trees and followed the procession… followed the lights. It seems to be a creature of darkness that’s fascinated by light. I don’t know why it attacked the people… or why it’s ‘fed’ off their ability to process colour….”

“Where did it come from?” the priest asked.

“It’s alien,” Chrístõ replied. “An extra-terrestrial. How it got here, I don’t know. Perhaps the Fête attracted it. Perhaps…”

He stopped talking. He had felt something at a very basic telepathic level.

“It’s angry,” he said. “It got trapped here… on Earth… in the middle of your woods… and the lights scared it… all the lights of the Fête… they were too much for it. Too many light wavelengths… too much colour. I don’t know why… but this entity… colour hurts it… And it realised that the people… the organic beings… were creating the light… carrying it with them… It saw them as the enemy… and attacked… attacked that part of their brains that processes the colour… to punish them for making so much colour…”

“What can we do?” asked the priest.

“We?” Chrístõ smiled. “I like that. ‘We’. Mostly people ask me what I’m going to do.”

“My job… as well as praying… is to give comfort to those in need… it… it is alien, you said… But God made the Heavens and the Earth. It is one of His creations, too. It is my duty… to relieve its suffering…”

“Interesting theology,” Chrístõ responded. “There are some races out there in the universe that might dispute it. Mine certainly would.” The priest looked at him oddly. “Yes, I’m an alien, too. But you just said your God made the Heavens… including my planet?”

“Yes…” The priest looked at him curiously for a moment then seemed to accept him as one of his God’s creations as well. “Again, I ask… what can we do?”

“To relieve the creature’s suffering and to prevent it from taking its anger out on the people of Lyon, snuffing ohgut the colour for everyone?”

“Yes, monsieur.”

“I like your thinking. It’s what I’d want to do, too. But…”

He was trying not to admit that he hadn’t a clue what to do next.

“What is that noise?” the priest asked. Chrístõ was surprised. He hadn’t noticed a noise until it was mentioned. Then he remembered….

“Humphrey!” he cried out. He thrust the sonic screwdriver into the priest’s hand and told him to keep the entity at bay with it, then he sprinted down the nave to the seat where the keening sounds were still emitting from the wobbly backpack. He opened it up and looked inside. Humphrey was trying to make himself as small as possible. His slit mouth was turned down and his eyes wide with fear.

“I know you’re scared right now,” Chrístõ told him. “But I also know you’re not a coward. I’ve seen you in action. Pull yourself together and come and help us.”

He grabbed the bag and ran back to where the priest was still standing, holding the entity at bay with the powerful laser beam of the sonic screwdriver.

“We’re going to get it out of here,” he said. “It’s a risk… when it sees the city below, it will be angry again. But my ship is just on the other side of the river. I think we can do it…. With a little help from another of your God’s creations.”

He opened the flap of the backpack and Humphrey’s eyes peered out. The Priest’s eyes grew wide in surprised response.

“Humphrey is also a creature of darkness, but he’s not angry. He has a huge capacity for empathy and understanding. I think…”

Humphrey trilled unhappily. He was still scared. But he emerged from the bag like the genie from the lamp and spread himself out, encompassing Chrístõ and the priest in one of his reassuring hugs. Then he moved off towards the basilica door. The angry entity followed him, billowing about the ceiling in its formless way.

“Come on,” Chrístõ said, grabbing his sonic screwdriver back and rushing towards the door. The priest followed. Between them they opened the doors wide. Humphrey dashed out into the night. The entity followed.

“I hope you’re good at running,” Chrístõ said. The priest said nothing, but he pulled off his vestments. Beneath he was wearing a black shirt and trousers and leather shoes, not unlike Chrístõ’s own choice of everyday wear. He matched him for speed as they dashed straight down the Rosary Way, picking shortcuts through the woods. Humphrey was ahead and the entity behind them, still following. They were both hard to see against the black night sky, especially without the capacity to see colours, but Chrístõ knew they were both there.

It was a little under one kilometre back to where he had left the TARDIS, not an impossible distance for two fit men to run, but sleet had been falling all evening, and their route included the 228 steps of the Montée des Chazeaux. Neither of them broke any speed records. But they kept on going, keeping pace with Humphrey’s flight.

“Your creature knows the way?” the priest asked as they reached the less arduous Rue de la Bombarde below the Montée.

“He’s been an attentive little tourist all evening,” Chrístõ answered before they picked up the pace again, reaching the Quai Romain Rolland. Chrístõ glanced at the River Saône and made a decision that would surprise the priest.

“You keep on going across the Ponte Bonneparte,” he said. “And down onto the boardwalk. I’ll meet you there.”

He folded time and ran straight across the river. His shoes got wet as he splashed across the surface, but he was going too fast to sink. He reached the boardwalk on the other side and came out of the time fold before running to where he had left the TARDIS. His hand was already on the key and he opened the door and turned down all the lights in the console room before opening the inner door and another door beyond that. He raced back to the console room in time to see Humphrey bowling in, followed by the priest, who looked as if the interior of his space ship was just the latest of a series of wonders he had experienced tonight.

“Get your breath back,” Chrístõ told him. “I can take it from here.”

The priest tried to say something in reply, but he really was too breathless. He stepped back as the entity billowed through the door. So did Chrístõ. They both watched as it followed Humphrey into the TARDIS interior. Chrístõ turned and followed it through the dimly lit corridors. So far everything was working to plan. Humphrey acted as Judas goat, leading the entity into the darkened zero room, then ducked back out again before Chrístõ slammed the door shut. Inside, there was no light, no colour, and no physical connection with the outside world. The entity was contained.

He walked back to the console room with a much happier Humphrey trilling at his side and reported to the priest that the creature was no longer a danger to anyone.

“Later, I’ll find a planet with a permanent dark side where it can exist without being a threat to any other beings,” he said. “I know a couple of them that would do. But for now we’d better get back to the basilica…”

“The young lady who is with you,” the priest said as he watched Chrístõ reach to close the main door and prepare for dematerialisation. “She called you ‘Chrístõ’… and I saw you… I saw you walk on water.”

“That was a little bit showy, I must admit,” he replied. “I could have just used the footbridge like anyone else. No, I’m not the Second Coming. On my world Chrístõ means something entirely different and far less exalted. And… if you don’t believe that…” He paused with his hand over the controls. “I’m actually not very god-like right now. I’m having trouble piloting my own space ship…”

“Why?” the priest asked.

“I’m used to colours,” he admitted. “I can’t read the data on this screen clearly…”

“Ah!” the priest moved around the console and looked at the small VDU set into the drive control panel which displayed green text on a black background. He read the data aloud. Chrístõ touched the keys on the drive control instinctively, without needing to look. The time rotor groaned into action satisfactorily.

“Thank you,” Chrístõ said. “How were you…”

“Je suis daltonien. I have never seen colours as you know them. So I have learnt to differentiate shades of grey.”

“You live in Lyon, home of the Fête des Lumières, and you are colour blind!” Chrístõ smiled sympathetically.

“It is ironique, is it not, Monsieur.”

“It is trés ironique,” Chrístõ replied. “But…” He reached for his sonic screwdriver and adjusted the setting. He stepped close to the priest. “Trust me.”

The priest trusted him. Chrístõ shone a modified beam into his eyes for several seconds. The priest gave an astonished cry and put his hands over his eyes before taking them away again and staring around the console room in astonishment.

“I can… I can see colours!” he said. “Mon dieu… it is… it is…”

“Actually, the console room is rather a boring colour scheme,” Chrístõ told him. “But come on…”

He opened the door and they stepped out together into the Basilica. The priest looked up at the beautiful gilded and highly coloured ceiling and saw it for the first time as it was meant to be seen. He turned to Chrístõ with tears welling up in his newly restored eyes and then ran down the centre aisle and knelt to pray in front of the gilded altar, thanking his God for sending the miracle whose name was so similar to His own Son’s.

Chrístõ left the man at his prayers and went down to the crypt where the afflicted congregation was still waiting. They were all praying, too. The oldest priest was leading them. A few people were crying softly, but most found comfort in the words.

Julia looked around as Chrístõ stepped into the crypt. She left her prayers and ran to his arms.

“Everything is all right,” he assured her. “I just need to perform one little technological miracle. But… later, if anyone asks you my name, tell them it’s Martin or John or something. Being called Chrístõ and making the blind see – even the colour blind – might be misconstrued.”

He adjusted the sonic screwdriver again and when he held it up the same light that had been focussed on the priest’s eyes filled the crypt, making it seem as bright as day and bathing everyone in its reassuring warmth. Chrístõ saw the colours come back into his own vision and he heard Julia gasp joyfully by his side before the others began to realise that their sight had been restored.

“Martin and John are both saints names, still,” Julia pointed out. “They might still think you’re sent by God. I’d better call you Filbert or Wally if they ask.”

“Please don’t,” he answered. “I’d like to visit here again next year, and I don’t want anyone addressing me as Filbert…. Or Wally.”