The moon of Clari-Bura hung near the zenith of the pale mauve sky. The sun was dropping lower at a little past the fifth hour of the afternoon. A placid river snaked around a town that was impossible to describe without using words like ‘quaint’ and ‘olde-worlde’ even though it was merely the outward appearance and the people who lived in Clari-Quatro, the fourth town on the great plain, had all the advantages of a technological era.

Beyond the river a fertile plain was a patchwork of mauve, deeper purple and golden yellow depending on which crop was being grown. In the distance snow-capped mountains stretched across the horizon.

Here, where Chrístõ had brought Julia for a picnic, there was a copse of trees that shaded them from the sun while allowing them to enjoy its warmth. Golden coloured fruits were ripe enough to pick and supplemented the food they had brought with them. Julia practiced eating one of them without getting juice all over her face while looking up at the perfect sky.

“I don’t know why, but I like planets where the moon is in the sky at the same time as the sun,” she said. “It’s… like the best of both worlds. The warmth of day and the special feeling of walking in the night time.”

Chrístõ laughed softly and called her a hopeless romantic but he was enjoying the same feeling himself. He was lying on the grass looking up at the moon, noting the very different patterns of craters and mountainous zones to the moon he knew at home on Gallifrey or the one on Beta Delta that was so familiar to him now.

“The moon of Clari-Bura is in geo-synchronous orbit over the major landmass so it is always visible at any time, day or night. The ‘dark’ side of the planet is mostly ocean, so the lack of a moon doesn’t bother anyone. Sailors navigate by the stars without light pollution from the moon.”

“That’s convenient,” Julia remarked, knowing Chrístõ would have more to say, yet.

“It means that there are no tides, of course. The sea is always at the same level all around the coast. The other wonderful thing is that the moon goes through all the phases of an orbital satellite in the course of a day, depending on the position of the sun. We’re actually looking at the ‘dark’ moon but because we’re in daylight it is perfectly visible. By the third hour after midnight it will be gloriously ‘full’.”

“I know. I saw it shining into our bedroom last night,” Julia answered. Chrístõ’s scientific explanation had not robbed the moon of its romance. She liked him doing that. When things were less benign than they were on this world it was comforting to know that there were physical and immutable laws that governed them. When it was something as nice as the sky of Clari-Bura it was interesting to understand the reason why it was that way.

“Why were you awake at that hour of the night?” Chrístõ asked.

“No particular reason,” Julia answered. “I think I had a strange dream, though I can’t remember it now. I went to the bathroom and poured a glass of fruit juice. I sat by the window for a while. There was nobody about at all but the town looked so lovely bathed in silvery moonlight.”

“Pity I slept through it. I’d have liked to sit in the moonlight with you.”

Julia smiled at the shamelessly romantic comment and set aside the core of the fruit, wiping her mouth on a napkin before stretching herself by Chrístõ’s side. He reached to embrace her and they kissed languorously under the Clari-Buran moon in broad daylight.

The afternoon passed quickly in such simple pleasures as that. With the sun starting to lose its heat and radiance and the distant mountains turning to deep purple shadows in stark contrast to the sky, they packed away the picnic remains, leaving the crumbs from the fruit cake and the crusts of sandwiches for the birds to enjoy when they were gone but bringing anything not edible or biodegradable with them.

Their route back to the hotel brought them through the market square. Julia had already indulged freely in the brightly coloured hand-woven fabrics sold there, as well as several kilograms of beads made of semi-precious stones to adorn the gowns she intended to have Queen Cirena of Adano Ambrado’s dressmaker create for her. She had also bought an assortment of spices and dried herbs for her aunt and various gifts for her uncle and cousins and her friends at college. Indeed, Chrístõ reckoned their contribution to the net wealth of the market-holders was considerable – and they still had another week of their holiday to go.

Even though they didn’t want to buy anything, they lingered in the market, admiring the hand-made craftwork and enjoying the assorted smells of spices and cooked food from the vendors lined up along the roadside. They weren’t tempted by any of the smells. They had enjoyed a good picnic and were dining in another couple of hours, but it was nice to breathe in the hot, sweet and savoury tastes that hung in the air.

Julia liked the polite and charming people of Clari-Bura. They were not Human in the sense of being a colony world with a population originating on Earth like her home on Beta Delta, but they were humanoid. They were all, male and female, much shorter than average humans. The men were about her own height, a little over five foot two, while the women were mostly under five foot. The men over the age of twenty or so were all bald or going bald, while the women had long, thick hair that was always fastened into elaborate coiffures on top of their heads. Those who worked outdoors were tanned the colour of milky coffee but the indoor workers and the upper classes who protected their complexions with creams were very delicately pale skinned.

They were all very friendly. Apart from mineral mining and hand crafts, tourism was the biggest industry on Clari-Bura. People came because of the hospitable and pacific nature of the people as much as the beauty of the planet. Crime was almost unheard of. Any raised voices in the street after dark were almost certainly friendly greetings not the start of disputes.

It was, as Julia had remarked in the first week of their stay, almost too perfect to be real. She had been suspicious at first, looking for some hidden flaw. Chrístõ teased her, asking what she expected, and she had admitted to harbouring some dark ideas about secret cannibalism or a coven of witches in the mountains that stole away children.

Chrístõ had laughed and threatened to censor her reading matter if she came up with ideas like that, but even he had been surprised at how uncomplicated and unthreatening the place was. After a week looking for it he had stopped looking for the ugly truth and decided there wasn’t one. Julia did the same, enjoying every aspect of their holiday.

The hotel was as idyllic as the rest of the town. It had the outward appearance of something built in the Tudor era of Earth history with oak beams and plaster panels. The same theme dominated the foyer and dining room and the spacious lounge where guests relaxed before and after dinner, but the rooms had all modern conveniences including en-suite bathrooms with constant hot water and warm air drying cubicles as well as towels for those who preferred the old fashioned method. There was holo-vid and video-phone in all the rooms and everything a tourist could possibly want in the way of technology. Julia used the video-phone to say hello to her aunt and uncle, but for her the nicest things about the room were the fresh flowers every day and the basket of fruit by the bedside.

Dinner was superb every night. Clari-Buran cuisine was simple but well cooked and flavoursome. Every night so far there had been a different piquant sauce enhancing the taste of the meat, fowl or fish served as the main course and there seemed no end to what could be done with fruit and pastry for the dessert. Clari-Buran coffee with a hint of liquor was a great way to end a good meal.

After dinner they invariably relaxed in the lounge while the daughter of the landlord played an instrument something like a cross between a cello and a harpsichord. It was a pleasant way to spend a few hours before bedtime. Julia sat on a seat in the bay of the big front window watching the moon pass from its crescent to half phase while listening to the music. Chrístõ chatted amiably with the other guests.

He was surprised when one of them, a Mr Aphia Grey from the Venturan system actually had a complaint about the service in the hotel.

“We’re paying for twenty-eight hour service,” he grumbled. “But last night my wife had a stomach ache and I couldn’t find any of the staff at all.”

“Isn’t there a night manager in reception?” Chrístõ asked.

“There ought to be, but if you ask me the man sloped off to sleep for a couple of hours. I kept ringing for an hour, then at three-thirty I went down to look and there was nobody there at all.”

“That’s very odd,” Chrístõ agreed. “How is your wife? I’m sorry I didn’t know. I could have done something to help. I have medical training, and I am familiar with Venturan physiology.”

“She went to sleep eventually, but she hasn’t been feeling right all day, and I blame the staff here. I would send for a doctor, but if this lot are any example I wouldn’t trust the local quacks.”

Chrístõ thought he was being a little unfair and said so. Mr Grey wasn’t pleased. He expected a fellow off-worlder to agree about the local inadequacies. Chrístõ changed the subject skilfully and the conversation remained civil until Julia announced that she was ready for bed and he followed her up to their room.

“No bad dreams, tonight,” he told her. “This is a holiday. You’re not allowed to have anything spoil it.”

“All right,” she promised, snuggling down in the bed beside him. Their relationship was still strictly proscribed, and they did no more than cuddle close, but whenever they were together they shared a bed. Julia wouldn’t have it any other way after term-time in a dormitory full of girls.

When they were woken at a little after three-thirty in the morning by somebody knocking urgently at the door, though, she felt strangely self-conscious about being in the same bed as her fiancée. She pulled the quilt closely around her as Chrístõ went to find out what the crisis was.

“Mr De Le….” Mr Grey was standing at the door in his nightclothes, stumbling over the pronunciation of De Lœngbærrow. “Please… my wife… she’s really sick this time. You said you were a physician.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ answered at once. “I’ll come right away.” He looked at Julia and nodded towards the TARDIS, disguised as a second wardrobe in the corner of the room. “Get my medical kit, sweetheart, and bring it to Mr Grey’s suite.”

He followed the worried man straight away, while Julia put on a dressing gown and slippers and brought the medical kit. By the time she arrived at the room, Chrístõ had already decided it was too serious for first aid. He was trying to ring for an ambulance.

“There’s no answer even on the emergency line,” he said. “This is wrong. I don’t understand it.”

“I told you,” Mr Grey said. “These people….”

Chrístõ turned back to Mrs Grey, carefully and professionally feeling her stomach.

“It’s a burst appendix. There’s no time to wait for an ambulance even if I could get through. You’re going to have to trust me, Mr Grey.”

With that, he lifted the lady up in his arms and dashed out of the room. Julia ran after him, guessing what he intended. Mr Grey had no idea what was happening, but he followed quickly. Julia opened the door to their bedroom, then to the TARDIS. Mr Grey was astonished to see Chrístõ take his wife into what looked like a wardrobe. He was astonished at the appearance of the wardrobe interior, but Chrístõ was already rushing through the inner door. Julia was ahead of him opening all of the doors that stood between them and the medical room.

Not for the first time Chrístõ wondered why the TARDIS was configured so that the emergency room was so far away from the front door, but they reached it at last. Mr Grey looked around the technologically advanced medical room with something like relief as Chrístõ placed Mrs Grey on the operating table.

“I need to scrub up,” he said. “I can’t operate in my pyjamas. Julia, can you put on a mask and sterile glove and get the lady prepped for me. I’ll be two ticks.”

Mr Grey was a little perturbed to see a young woman in a silk nightdress, dressing gown and slippers put his wife into a paper gown and then anaesthetise her and swab her stomach with sterilising liquid. Chrístõ emerged from the side room fully dressed as a surgeon and brought a tray of sterile instruments to the table.

“Don’t worry,” Julia said as she stepped back and watched her fiancé at work. “He’s very good. Your wife will be just fine.”

Mr Grey had nothing to say. He was so astonished by the fact that his wife was being operated on in a wardrobe that was bigger on the inside that he was unable to form a coherent sentence. He felt Julia’s hand slip into his comfortingly, but he was too dazed to feel anything else until an hour later when Chrístõ used a laser tool that closed up the incision wound without need of stitches and declared the operation a success.

“She’s doing fine,” he said, checking Mrs Grey’s pulse and respiration. “We really ought to get her to a real hospital before she comes out of the anaesthetic, though. Julia, sweetheart, would you try the emergency line again. If we still can’t get through, I’ll have to use the TARDIS, but it would be better if we let the local services take over.”

Mr Grey still had very little faith in the local services and said so, but he was too relieved that his wife was going to be well again to make very much fuss.

Julia returned to the medical room within a few minutes to say that the ambulance was on its way and that the night manager was coming upstairs to assist.

“I don’t think we need him, now,” Chrístõ said, before Mr Grey could put it less politely. He gently moved Mrs Grey onto a hover-stretcher and guided it through the TARDIS corridors, back to the ordinary hotel bedroom where they were waiting when the Clari-Buran paramedics arrived. Chrístõ gave them exact notes of his emergency appendectomy and a printout of Mrs Grey’s vital signs throughout the procedure and that completed his responsibility for her. Mr Grey went with them to the waiting ambulance. Julia looked out of the bedroom window and watched as it sped down the road and out of sight.

“The moon is waning,” she said. It seemed a strange thing to notice at that moment, but the three-quarters of the silvery circle caught her eye before she turned around to see Chrístõ speaking to the night manager.

“Why was there nobody on duty?” he asked. “And what in chaos is wrong with the emergency telephone service? Mrs Grey might have contracted septicaemia if I hadn’t been on hand. It would have been very bad for your hotel, and for Clari-Buran tourism altogether, if she had died.”

“I can only apologise, sir,” the night manager answered. He looked very sorry for himself, indeed, his head bowed in contrition. “The incident was unforeseen.”

“You haven’t foreseen the possibility of a guest being ill in the middle of the night?” Chrístõ queried. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to do better than that. Mr Grey is very angry, and I am half inclined to make a formal complaint myself about the ambulance service. As a professional, I can find no excuse for the lack of immediate response.”

“Sir, please understand,” the night manager answered. “It is unfortunate, unavoidable. The Time of Shining….”

“The what?” Chrístõ seized upon the strange phrase but the night manager looked stricken at even uttering the words. He would say no more except that he was sorry.

“I think we’d all better get some sleep, now,” Julia said in conciliatory tones. “Mrs Grey is going to be all right. That’s the important thing.”

It wasn’t, but Chrístõ took her point. He dismissed the night manager and got ready for bed again. Julia snuggled close to him in the dim light of the half moon shining through the window.

“Your hands smell of antiseptic,” she remarked.

“I washed them after the operation,” he replied, as if it wasn’t obvious.

“I like the smell. It reminds me that you were really heroic tonight.”

“If it had gone wrong I’d be in huge trouble. I never even qualified as a doctor and I was at medical school in the 1870s. I don’t think Mr Grey would have thought twice about having me done for malpractice or even manslaughter.”

“That’s why you were heroic. You put Mrs Grey before yourself. I love you, Doctor Chrístõ.”

Chrístõ laughed and hugged her even closer as they both dropped back into sleep, hoping for a long lie in after their middle of the night adventure.

And they did. They were the last of the guests to come down to the breakfast room in the morning. The kitchen was still open and they were served by the manager himself who was keen to assure them of the best service.

“I am sorry you were troubled during the night,” he said as he brought a second pot of coffee. “It was an unfortunate situation. My night manager was unavoidably detained elsewhere…. I am… grateful that your intervention prevented a tragedy.”

“I accept your apologies,” Chrístõ said. “But not the excuse. I don’t think ‘unavoidably detained’ covers it. Besides, what was wrong with the emergency ambulance? Was THAT unavoidably detained’, too?”

“I do not know, sir,” the manager answered. “I can only speak for my own staff.”

“I’m not sure that is true, either. I think you know exactly what happened. What is the Time of Shining and why are Clari-Burans afraid of it?”

The manager tried to hide his alarm and pretended not to understand the question, but Chrístõ knew instinctively that he did. He knew, too, that no Clari-Buran was ever going to answer his question willingly.

He dismissed the manager imperiously and poured coffee from the fresh pot for himself and for Julia. He sat back casually in his seat and smiled reassuringly.

“It is another beautiful day. I think we shall hire a car – preferably a convertible with the top down. We’ll explore the countryside and eat out somewhere. There are plenty of roadside inns that do food. No need to come back to town until near bedtime.”

“That sounds good,” Julia agreed. It sounded as if Chrístõ was so annoyed by the mistakes made during the night that he just wanted to get away from the hotel altogether, even missing out on the evening meal that was already paid for along with the room.

That was Chrístõ’s main motive as he paid for the hire of a two-seater sports car and Julia picked up a selection of tasty food at the market for a mid-afternoon picnic. He also just wanted to put aside the mystery for the day. The answers were to be found during the night. Meanwhile he might as well enjoy his holiday.

The countryside north of the town was gently undulating for twenty or thirty miles or so, before beginning to rise steeply into an upland area much like the Pennine area where east Lancashire became west Yorkshire. A wide raised moor with purple gorse and dark green grass was grazed by an animal something like a sheep but with longer legs and a unicorn-like horn between its eyes. Julia was fascinated by them and was delighted when the car had to stop to allow a herd to cross from one side of the road to the other.

Higher up the moorland was wilder and so were the animals that lived upon it. Julia was even more excited when a kind of deer with huge antlers stood grazing at the roadside. Chrístõ slowed the car to a crawl just in case the animal decided to dart in front of them and she got to see it close up.

“Hunting is not allowed on this planet,” Julia noted. “These animals won’t ever end up as trophies on somebody’s wall. I’m glad of that. I hate that sort of thing.”

“So do I,” Chrístõ agreed. “My great-grandfather used to hunt wilde-beests on the plains with a pack of semi-tame leonate, but it is a tradition that died out in my grandfather’s time – on our estate, at least. The Ravenswode demesne still has hunting stock and they love their trophies.”

“I don’t think I will associate with the Ravenswode House very much when I am mistress of the de Lœngbærrow House,” Julia admitted. “They are not exactly friends, anyway.”

“The rivalry goes back generations, and exacerbated by that hunting great-grandfather of mine who married one of their daughters against their wishes,” Chrístõ explained.

Talking about his complex family heritage while driving up into the high hill country of Clari-Bura allowed him to put aside those burning questions he still sought answers for. He was happy and contented with a warm breeze on his face and his fiancée chatting easily with him at his side.

They stopped for their picnic at the top of a limestone bluff with a panoramic view across the lowland plain. The town where they were staying looked like a model village with the river snaking through the countryside beyond it. The distant mountains were much higher and far more rugged than the hill and raised moor country they were in now. The peaks were snow-capped even in mid-summer.

“In the winter season there is skiing,” Julia said. “There are Alpine hotels and ski-lodges, too.”

There was a question in that statement. She was asking if they could come back to Clari-Bura again – if there wasn’t some sinister reason to avoid it.

“There is something troubling here,” Chrístõ admitted. “But my instinct is that these are good people and the trouble hurts them more than it does any visitors to the planet. I want to help them. If only one of them will tell me the truth, I might be able to do that.”

“I hope you can,” Julia told him. “I’m sorry that there is trouble here. We joked about it, about it seeming too perfect. And now that there is something, I feel guilty.”

“That’s just one reason why I have to help,” Chrístõ assured her. “But don’t let it spoil our day. And… yes, I think a ski holiday in the southern mountains would be a lovely idea. You can plan your winter wardrobe accordingly.”

“I’m a student,” Julia reminded him. “I don’t have time to plan my winter wardrobe. Valena does that for me. She’s my style guru!”

Chrístõ laughed at that description of his step-mother. Julia, who loved the sound of his laughter at any time, let it sweep away the shadows and doubts that might spoil the day for her.

The late afternoon and early evening in the hill country was breathtaking. The setting sun was magnificent from their chosen vantage point where it was possible to see all the way to the shining sea on the south-west coast of the continent. As the sun’s light dimmed, the half-moon shone its silvery light across the scene as they found a pleasant country inn for their evening meal. They lingered there listening to a trio playing traditional folk instruments until the legal closing time approached and they set off back under the moonlight again.

It was a half hour after their departure that disaster struck. As Chrístõ turned the car around a corner that he knew led to a small bridge across a narrow stream, he felt something break within the engine. The power drained away and in near silence the car coasted across the bridge under its own momentum before coming to a stop. He tried the ignition, but it was obvious that the car was going nowhere without a mechanic.

“I’ll push it off the road so that it isn’t a danger to any other traveller,” Chrístõ said after concluding that there was nothing he could do tonight. “Then we’ll walk back to the inn where we were earlier. They have rooms. I saw their prices for bed and breakfast and there was a vacancy sign on the front window.”

“Bed and breakfast in the countryside. I can live with that,” Julia said. Her shoes were practical ones for an afternoon that had involved climbing a few styles to get to the best beauty spots, and she was with Chrístõ. The walk in the dark didn’t worry her.

Indeed, on a night that was delightfully warm with a breeze that was refreshing rather than cold, she quite enjoyed the trek. It was a little after midnight according to the twenty-eight hour clock of a Clari-Buran day and she wasn’t even especially sleepy as the inn approached. There was still a light on inside and the door was answered to Chrístõ’s knock.

The landlord provided coffee and biscuits for the two stranded travellers, but he seemed curiously reluctant about Chrístõ’s proposal to take a room overnight. His reasoning that the rooms were not suitable for tall visitors seemed a very strange justification for turning them away.

“Of course they must stay,” his wife told him. “It will be perfectly fine. Look how tired the young lady is. She will sleep till morning, I have no doubt.”

Julia was suddenly feeling more tired than she expected, and could not hide her yawns. Chrístõ was weary, too. He couldn’t understand why booking a room was so difficult. Two rooms, if they felt it inappropriate for unmarried people to be sleeping together, but the landlord seemed prepared to turn them out in the night rather than take his money.

The husband and wife argued sote voce for several minutes before the matter was settled in their favour. They were conducted to a comfortable, clean room with the bed made up and towels in the bathroom, everything they might expect. The landlady lent Julia a nightdress since they had no luggage with them. She apologised for having nothing suitable for Chrístõ to sleep in. He told the woman he would manage.

“I really AM tired, now,” Julia said when she returned from the bathroom in the borrowed cotton nightdress and climbed into bed.

“Go to sleep,” Chrístõ told her. He didn’t tell her what he had found out when she was out of the bedroom. The door was locked. They were prisoners until morning, perhaps, when the landlord chose to let them free.

He slid beside Julia wearing his cotton underwear and cuddled her until she was asleep, but he himself lay awake watching the light of the moon increase in luminosity as it approached its fullness around the third hour. He slipped quietly out of the bed, then, and dressed silently before using his sonic screwdriver to unlock the door. Nothing so simple as an internal door lock was going to keep him prisoner, but he wanted to know why strangers who were proud of their hospitality had acted so peculiarly.

He slipped quietly down the stairs to the public bar and the private drawing room for the landlord and his family as well as the kitchen for preparing meals for guests. Apart from bedrooms and bathrooms these were all the rooms in the old country inn.

And he had established straight away that all of the bedrooms were empty apart from the one he and Julia were allocated.

So where did the landlord and his wife and children sleep? He had checked out the small rooms with tiny slanted windows in the attic space, but they were clearly last resort rooms for guests in busy times with the beds unmade and mattresses airing.

That left the cellar. But who would make that their living quarters when they had such a nice house as this? Surely squeezing in the maximum number of bed and breakfast guests wasn’t worth compromising their own quality of life?

He found the stairs down to the cellar in the kitchen, lit brightly by the moon at its fullest. He crept down carefully, aware that he was invading a private place for no other reason than satisfying his curiosity.

But what he found when he got down there was beyond anything he had imagined. He stared at the set of comfortable beds with strong metal restraints for arms and legs upon which the landlord, his wife, his grown up daughter and young son were lying. At least he guessed it was them from the age and gender of the creatures he looked upon. Less enlightened people than himself would have called them monsters. The faces were leathery red with flattened nostrils and extended jaws from which fearsomely sharp teeth protruded. The arms were transformed into hairy forelimbs with claws capable of ripping open the soft stomachs of prey. The legs were bent like wolves or dogs, ready to run at great speed.

They all had their eyes closed, but Chrístõ was willing to bet that they were red and bloodshot in a chillingly maddened way.

He bent close to the young female and touched her shoulder gently. He wanted to test her pulse and see if she was sleeping soundly. He was startled when she reached up, the restraint on her left arm having failed through wear and tear or carelessness in fastening it when she came to bed this night. The clawed hand closed around his neck, pricking the skin and drawing blood as it crushed his windpipe.

“I’m sorry about this,” he whispered as he administerd a neatly executed karate chop. The cracking of the bone in the upper arm made him wince in sympathy, but he had little choice in the circumstances.

The female whimpered with pain and withdrew her limb. Chrístõ reached out and touched her leathery forehead, sending her back to sleep. While he was in mental contact he detected a soporific drug within her bloodstream. He realised that they must all take such a drug every night to ensure that they slept through the time of transformation. Perhaps she needed her dose increasing. She had been close enough to waking to know he was present.

There was a very small window high in the cellar wall. Through it a shaft of moonlight was visible. There was another half hour before it began to wane once more. Chrístõ used the time to go upstairs to the kitchen and find a first aid kit. He returned to the cellar and put a splint and sling on the injured female. Then he waited, watching the moonlight as it gradually dimmed.

As he expected, the passing of the full moon allowed them to change back into normal Clari-Burans. The daughter of the family stirred and cried out in pain.

“I’m sorry about that,” Chrístõ said gently. “I had to act to save myself. Will you wake your father and mother, and your brother, while I go and make some coffee for everyone. Then I’d like to talk to you.”

The landlord and his wife came to the kitchen five minutes later looking very worried and apprehensive. Chrístõ said nothing until he had given them all coffee and buttered home made bread.

“You must all need a little protein burst afterwards,” he said. “A proper breakfast can wait until the customary time. But tell me, does this uncomfortable transformation happen every night?”

The family of rural innkeepers looked at each other and seemed unable to elect one of them to answer him.

“Does it happen to every Clari-Buran when the moon is full?”

Again they didn’t know how to answer him.

“Please, tell me. I can help if I know what it’s all about. I am amazed that your people have based your economy on tourism while keeping such a secret. I am even more amazed that I’m the first offworlder to wonder why every single one of the locals disappears in the middle of the night. What if there was a heart attack or a house fire during the hours when your doctors and firemen are all restrained in their cellars?”

“There have been such tragedies,” said the landlord. “It is a painful price of our affliction.”

“Manni, don’t say any more than you have to,” his wife begged.

“Challot, my dear, isn’t it too late for that? The young man has seen part of our misfortune and guessed much more quite accurately. He might as well know the full story.”

Challot grasped her daughter’s hand – the one not in a sling – and clung to her son as her husband shook his head sadly and began to explain the secret of the Time of Shining.

“Our race has always been mutable,” he explained. “A hundred thousand generations ago we turned ourselves into the wild form in order to hunt for meat, then reverted to the thinking form afterwards. Gradually, as we became farmers and craftsmen instead of hunters the need to change diminished. Those who could do it at will died out over the generations. Nowadays only a few are capable of doing it, and even they do not indulge in the wildness. Occasionally there is a child born who is permanently trapped in the wild form. They are looked after in a special centre far from any population centre.”

“Looked after kindly, I hope,” Chrístõ said, thinking of bars and cages and men who would treat them as animals.

“As kindly as possible,” Challot assured him, though she did not elaborate upon how she knew.

“But thirty years ago, when I was a boy, the whole population of Clari-Bura was stricken by a virus. Many died. Those who survived found that they had been changed. Forgive me, I am not a scientist. I do not know the proper words. Something about a code…”

“Genetic code,” Chrístõ said. “DNA. Yes, I think I understand. It meant that you revert to the wild form whenever the moon is full – in the middle of the night.”

“Again, I don’t understand all the science, but it is something to do with a crystal found in the moon rocks – and some kind of filtering that happens as the light passes through the air….”

“I think I understand that, too,” Chrístõ told the innkeeper. “And I think I can guess. There must have been terrible things happening at first – farmers attacking their own livestock, perhaps people attacking each other in their wild form – then somebody decided that the best thing was to take a soporific and tie yourselves to your beds every night.”

“Exactly so,” Manni said, relieved not to tell the story in his own words. “The government made it illegal for any citizen to be outdoors in the Time of Shining. There are mistakes, sometimes, and as you guessed, there are tragedies from time to time because no emergency help is available during those hours. Even so, we have kept our secret from offworlders… until now.”

“THAT is the biggest miracle of all,” Chrístõ said. “Tourists, by definition, tend to be curious people.”

“Sir, what do you mean to do?” Challot asked. “You seem a kind man. You were gentle with Milla even though she hurt you. Can we trust you to keep the secret?”

“You seem to be kind people,” Chrístõ answered. “Not just you and your family, but every Clari-Buran I have met. What would you do to prevent me from spreading the word?”

The two adults shook their heads and smiled wryly.

“You are right, my good man,” Manni admitted. “There is nothing we could do without acting in accordance with that wild nature that we abhor. We can only beg you to be kind.”

“I am kind,” Chrístõ said. “At least I hope I am and that people think I am. I won’t reveal the secret. But I don’t think I can just leave things this way. It isn’t right that good people should bear such pain. I mean to do something for you all, if I can. For now, I am going to return to the bedroom I have paid for. Julia and I will take the breakfast that was included in the price about eight-thirty, if that is convenient. Depending on how long it takes a breakdown lorry and courtesy car here, we might still be around for lunch, too. That wasn’t in the overnight price, but rest assured I am good for it. We will probably take a nice long morning walk between meals.”

Manni and Challot were surprised by the utterly domestic arrangements Chrístõ was speaking of. They didn’t know the ideas that were already forming in his head. But he could do nothing about putting them into action until he got back to the hotel in Clari-Quatro and his TARDIS. A morning in the fresh air and sunshine – the very reasons for taking this holiday on this lovely planet – were all he could do until then.

Julia was more than a little surprised when he declared that he knew the secret of the Time of Shining. They were on their way back to the hotel in the courtesy replacement hire car and he told the whole story as he drove.

“You did all that during the night, while I was asleep?”

“You were so tired, I figured you needed the rest,” he said in excuse. Julia wasn’t wholly convinced that he hadn’t deliberately left her out just because it might be a bit dangerous, and said so.

“All right, I admit I’ve been an over-protective male chauvinist pig,” he told her. “And I will keep you in the loop from here on, as long as you don’t mind going to some rather less pretty places in the next couple of days. If you’d rather not, there ARE some bus excursions to the citrus orchards and the wine-making district you could join.”

“I’ll come with you,” Julia insisted.

In truth, the afternoon spent at the hospital, where Chrístõ used his charm and his high position in the Gallifreyan diplomatic corps to gain permission to take blood samples from a cross section of Clari-Burans was not as interesting as watching wine making in progress. Even less enchanting was their visit to the ‘facility’ far from the population centres where the unfortunate people born in the permanent wild state were kept. The place was like a cross between a zoo and a mental hospital. It represented the best of either institution, it had to be said, but it was still rather sad, especially the nursery where the wildlings had their nascent claws and teeth regularly filed down so that they couldn’t injure the people who nursed them through infanthood. Again, Chrístõ took blood samples and spent long hours studying them with a microscope.

He also took the TARDIS into the planet’s atmosphere to gather samples of the particles contained in each layer. That was less disturbing, since the view of the planet with its one big continent covering the northern hemisphere and the big mauve-blue ocean on the other was quite beautiful.

Julia also thoroughly enjoyed visiting the moon. She had to wear a space suit, of course, but exploring a low gravity natural satellite of a planet was an experience few people got to enjoy even among her own generation of deep space colonists. She bounced around in her gravity boots in-between carrying the sack into which Chrístõ put samples of rock from different parts of the moon.

They had extended their stay on Clari-Bura by a full fortnight before he was satisfied that he had solved not just one of the problems facing the people of that world, but two.

The first involved a return to the ‘facility’ for the wild-born Clari-Burans. Chrístõ brought a serum he had developed, which he was certain would help the patients, inmates, or whatever word used for them, to revert to the civilised form. He had again pulled rank, using his position in the Adano Ambrado royal family to administer the serum to the wildlings. It was a terrible gamble, and he wouldn’t have been able to do it no matter where he was Crown Prince if the parents of these unfortunate youngsters hadn’t signed a waiver allowing any and all medical treatment to be administered to their children.

“It will take time,” he admitted after giving the first dose to all of the wildlings. “But you should see some small signs of transformation in a few days – fingernails forming instead of claws, the eyes changing. I’ll be back to check on their progress, anyway, and I’ll be glad to answer any questions, then.”

Meanwhile, he took the TARDIS up into the stratosphere of the planet’s atmosphere. He put his craft into an orbit within that layer and as it circled the planet he seeded the stratosphere with ionised ozone. He didn’t EXACTLY have permission to do that. He had told the government he was still conducting sampling experiments, but he was sure it would work.

“This is going to take a full twenty-eight hours,” he told Julia. “It is the most boring part of it all. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather do something more interesting?”

“I’m staying with you,” she insisted. Don’t try to get rid of me.”

“I would NEVER do that,” he assured her. “Come on. The process is fully automatic. Let’s go and enjoy the view in a better way than a boring old viewscreen.”

He took her to the cloister room where he had configured the high, vaulted ceiling to show the view below the TARDIS of the planet from its stratosphere. He had installed two sun-loungers and there was cheese and fruit and a very good wine from the grape-growing region of Clari-Bura that Julia had missed out on seeing. They ate and drank and sometimes slept through several of the long hours in which the TARDIS orbited the planet at an average speed of seven kilometres per second – the speed of early Earth space stations as he told Julia when she was receptive to information of that sort.

The wine was gone and so was most of the cheese by the time the twenty-eight hours were up. Chrístõ tested the ionised ozone layer he had created and was satisfied that it worked in principle.

“But what about in practice?” Julia asked. “Will it filter out whatever it is that makes those poor people turn into werewolf things in the night?”

“There is only one way to find out,” he answered. “Let’s pay a visit to some of our friends.”

He brought the TARDIS to the inn where he had first discovered the truth about the Time of Shining. Manni and Challot greeted him joyfully.

“I visited our youngest son yesterday,” Challot said. “His eyes are so beautiful now, and I was able to hold him in my arms. They say that the treatment….”

“They say that it was YOU who developed the serum,” Manni added, shaking Chrístõ’s hand enthusiastically. “There aren’t words enough to thank you. Will you dine tonight ‘on the house’ as a poor way to express our gratitude?”

“We would be delighted,” Chrístõ answered. “But afterwards, there is something I would like to ask of you. It is a little daunting. It is also a great risk. If I have got it wrong it could be painful as well as a terrible disappointment, but if you have the courage….”

Julia was surprised at what Chrístõ asked the family to do. Manni and Challot were even more surprised and at first fearful. It was the lady of the house, though, who persuaded her husband to try Chrístõ’s experiment.

“I trust him,” she said.

“So do I,” Manni admitted. “Yes, we will do it.

So after the inn closed, Challot prepared a late supper for everyone. They ate it after midnight as the time slowly ticked by. As the third hour approached she made another batch of coffee and everyone drank as they watched the last sliver of dark moon turn bright silver.

They looked at each other hopefully, then Challot and Manni hugged and cried softly. Milla, her arm just out of the sling and the bone mended, ran to the front door and stepped out into the night. Her brother followed. The two young people gazed up at the full moon that neither had been allowed to see before.

“It works,” Julia whispered. “The protective layer you seeded the atmosphere with stops the rays that caused them to change.”

“I’m waiting until the moon starts to wane to declare it a triumph,” Chrístõ answered. “And tomorrow I need to make sure the layer is still as strong. I’ll have to pass the secret on to the Clari-Buran scientists. They can seed the atmosphere regularly, just to be sure. But I think… I really think I might have done it.”

As the moon waned two hours later, he was ready to rejoice in the success of his experiment. Later in the day he took the TARDIS into the stratosphere and assured himself that the protective layer was going to be permanent. Only then did he inform the authorities of what he had done.

A fortnight later, a new kind of party was held all over Clari-Bura – an all night one, culminating in fireworks and rejoicing at the Time of Shining, when the people danced in the streets, bathed in the silver light of their moon.

Chrístõ enjoyed the festivities along with Julia, but he was careful not to let anyone know that he was the one who had given the people this new freedom, and the next morning they checked out of the hotel and they left Clari-Bura after their much extended stay.

“We still have to go home to Gallifrey for the Summer Ball,” Chrístõ pointed out when he saw how regretful Julia was. “I’ll have to take us back four weeks in our personal time to do that. That means no extended weekends for the whole of the autumn term, or your birthday is going to end up moved to November.”

“As long as we can come here for the skiing in the winter holidays, I don’t mind,” Julia answered. “And I mean for the skiing, not for moon landings or orbiting the stratosphere.”

“That’s a promise,” Chrístõ answered her. “On my honour as a Time Lord of Gallifrey.”

“That’ll do nicely,” Julia conceded.