For the first time in several years, the TARDIS was at rest on Gallifrey, where it was built. It was parked in the corner of the guest drawing room in the mansion of the Hadandrox family who were hosting the naming ceremony of their grandchild – an event that was fast becoming as complicated as a State Reception.

Even so, Riley Davenport was lost.

He thought he knew the way back up to the console room from Christo's workroom. He had been down there with his mentor and friend helping him to make a unique gift for the baby. It was a rattle in the shape of a dolphin made from ivory and gold left over from their adventure at Olympus. The child, born on the other side of the galaxy to Earth, would probably never see a real dolphin or know anything about Olympus, but Riley had agreed with Christo's idea of a gift made from two of the most precious substances of human decorative art. He had applied the skills he learnt under the great Greek sculptor to assist in the work.

But Chrístõ was a workaholic with twice the stamina of a mere Human, and Riley began to tire. He had been sent away to get some food and drink.

Food and drink had been his first thoughts, but after wandering for an interminable period he was turning more to thoughts of sleep.

He WANTED to sleep. He thought longingly of the luxurious beds in the guest suite – mattresses as soft as feather beds that moulded to the perfect shape for the body lying upon them, duvets that automatically adapted to the best temperature for the sleeper’s comfort. He thought of the button that would summon a butler any time of day or night for a hot or cold drink as required.

But the more he walked, the further he felt he was getting from those wonderful beds. The gunmetal grey hexagonal corridors felt as if they were endless.

And perhaps they were. Chrístõ had said that the TARDIS was ‘infinite’ in many ways, that it had endless configurations which could be changed at will.

Perhaps he WAS walking in some infinite configuration. It certainly felt endless.

"Pull yourself together, Davenport!" He told himself firmly. “It isn’t endless. You’ve just taken a couple of wrong turnings.”

Then, emboldened by his own self-administered pep talk, he turned and walked back the other direction, hoping to retrace his way back to something he recognised.

Twenty minutes later he came to a door he was sure hadn't been there before. Surely the corridor had been open all the way, with no bulkheads or doors barring it.

He opened the door and stepped forward. Almost immediately he was plunged into a darkness such as he had never experienced even on the darkest of night.

He turned and realised, to his horror, that the door had closed. But he had taken only a few steps inside the room. A few steps back would bring him to the door, again, surely?

A dozen steps later he had found neither a door nor a wall.

"Stupid," he told himself. In the dark, of course , with nothing to measure his turn against, he had not retraced his steps but gone laterally. The wall must be somewhere to his right and working back would bring him to the door.

That SHOULD have been right. But he failed to touch any sort of wall after at least twenty paces.

He stopped again and tried to look through the pitch darkness for a tiny hint of anything, but the absolute absence of light pressed against his eyeballs as if it were a physical presence.

Then his foot caught against something on the floor. He stepped back and felt about for the thing. His foot again struck something metallic. He crouched and felt about. His fingers closed around something metallic. He carefully felt the length of the object - about a foot long with a switch along the edge.

He held the object out in front of him and pressed the switch. A small naked flame shot out of the end - unfortunately it was the end he was holding towards him and it singed his wrist. He let go of the switch and turned it around. The tiny flame struggled to illuminate the dark. He slowly turned and strained to see something, anything, but he seemed to be in a much bigger room than he thought. The walls, any door out of it, were beyond the meagre glow of the little yellow a red light.

But having any light at all was a comfort. He felt a little less isolated in the oppressive darkness.

And yet, how long could this light last him? It wasn’t Chrístõ’s sonic screwdriver with endless energy. It must have a limited amount of fuel.

He switched it off, reluctantly, but decisively, knowing that he had to conserve the light. The darkness closed around him and he shivered as if he was cold, too. He wasn’t sure if that was his imagination or if it had become colder. He reminded himself that he WAS still in the TARDIS. he couldn’t remember being cold in the TARDIS. the temperature within Chrístõ’s amazing ship was always comfortable, neither too hot nor too cold.

The TARDIS was a haven, a sanctuary, from all that was to be feared.

But he was afraid, now. He was alone in the dark and cold, as lost as he might be in the middle of the Negev desert where Chrístõ first found him. The security and comfort of the TARDIS was gone.

He was alone in the dark.

Darkness and cold, the two things that men had feared since the dawn of time. And compounding his misery, he was more alone than he had ever been in his life. Indeed, he rarely had known solitude of this kind. A boyhood of boarding school dormitories followed by university halls had surrounded him by his peers whether he wanted them or not. But now silence oppressed him along with the dark and cold. He almost longed for the sounds of the dorm in the night – a boy trying not to be heard crying from homesickness, another coughing, the unmistakeable creak of a bedstead as a body turned to find a comfortable sleeping position.

He had never had many friends at school, but right now he would have even embraced the school bully who so often made his life a misery. Any fellow Human would have been welcome, the touch of a warm arm against his own, the sound of another man breathing close by.

But there was nothing.

He kept walking. There HAD to be a wall somewhere. He had come through a door, after all.

But then again… maybe there wasn’t. this alien craft didn’t conform to any other rule of physics, why should it have walls and doors where there were such things a half hour ago.

Or however long it had been. How many minutes, hours, had he been walking in the dark? Could time be as flexible as the other dimensions here? Maybe it had been a day already?

“No,” he told himself. “Stop, calm down. You’re letting your imagination get the better of you.”

It could only have been about an hour. He told himself that. That was why nobody had come looking for him. They didn't yet know he was lost.

his foot touched against something new. He reached down and felt for the object.

A candle! He held the stump of wax in his hand for a long moment, wondering why something so mundane got there.

Then he took the lighter from his pocket and used it to light the candle. As the warm yellow light grew he felt more hopeful. He still couldn't see anything beyond a few paces, but a candle was a potent symbol of hope. Not for nothing were they lit in churches, even those with full electric lighting. A candle was far more than a source of light in the darkness.

For a few minutes he felt comforted by it.

Then the candle went out.

That in itself should not have been worrying. He still had the lighter. He relit the candle and watched the glow spread once more.

But what had made it go out? There was no wind, not a breeze, a draught of any sort. His own quiet breathing was the only movement of air, and he was sure he had not breathed hard enough to extinguish a candle held at arm’s length. It was a good candle. The wick was strong. It ought to keep going for an hour at least before burning down.

It went out again. he relit it.

It went out.

He relit it.

Five times more it went out before he gave up and put the candle in his pocket. He carried on walking in darkness, reassured a little by the knowledge that lighter and candle were both in his pocket, but now with an added concern.

why did the candle keep going out if there was no wind?

A horrifying answer presented itself. Candles burnt oxygen. When there was no oxygen they would not burn.

only a little while ago when the TARDIS was trapped in Rhodes harbour Paracell Hext had explained about carbon monoxide and its dangers to people in enclosed spaces.

He laughed hollowly and noted the lack of any echo as his laugh reverberated off walls. Enclosed space? It hardly seemed to be his problem.

He wasn't suffering any physical problems associated with oxygen depletion. He felt as if hr was breathing properly. His legs were weary from walking but not heavy as they would be if he was not getting oxygenated blood to his muscles. He was thinking logically and clearly.

there must be enough oxygen. He told himself rationally and he thought he believed himself.

But it was hard to stay rational when he was in such an irrational place. The more he walked the further from the end he seemed to be. There were no walls, no door.

He yelped in pain as his knee and shin connected with something heavy in the darkness. He felt carefully and realised it was a table.

A table? What was a table doing in this personal hell of darkness and nothingness?

The question encompassed all his thoughts as he relit the candle using the lighter and set both upon the surface.

then he reeled in shock. It wasn't a table. It was a sarcophagus.

It was at least seven foot long and four wide, made of obsidian or black marble , something that sucked in light.

There were no markings, nothing to identify WHOSE sarcophagus it was.

It is yours, Riley Davenport!

The thought streaked across his mind and lodged firmly in place. He trembled in fear. His knees felt weak and he clung to the sarcophagus just to stop himself from collapsing, before realising how absurd it was to seek support from the very thing he was afraid of.

How could it be mine? He chided himself. What an ass I'm being, letting my imagination control me.

Then the candle went out again and he screamed. Again, the sound of his terror reminded him of the vastness of the place he was lost in and he kept on screaming for several minutes before he pulled himself together and lit the candle.

It was as the glow spread that he noticed something else about the sarcophagus. It had candle holders at all four corners and the long sides. Tall, slender candles were already in place.

He grasped his used candle just as it went out. He relit it from the lighter and used it in turn to light the sarcophagus candles. Light and heat filled his immediate area even though blackness still reigned a few paces away. He had let the glow of the candles as he lit them spoil his night vision, but he turned and let his eyes become accustomed to the gloom again.

Still there was nothing to be seen. The oasis of light around the sarcophagus was all that could be seen. Beyond it, as far as he knew, there was nothing.

He turned back to see the candles at the far end of the sarcophagus go out. He dashed around and relit them. as he did so, the two at the other end went out. He dashed again and relit them. The pair either side of the length of the sarcophagus extinguished themselves.

He repeated the mad dash around the sarcophagus four more times before he stopped, drew breath and asked himself why he was bothering.

“Because the light is comforting,” he told himself. Then he walked along the length collecting the candles. He fixed each one to the one end of the sarcophagus and lit them from his candle stump. The glow of eight long tapering candles warmed his soul for all of thirty seconds before they began to go out, one by one.

Desperately he lit them all again. This time, he noticed that the lighter took several clicks before the flame emerged. It was running out of fuel. He lit his first stump of candle and held it carefully in his hands, keeping it from going out.

Again and again he relit the candles. There was no breeze to make them go out, no reason why they should do so, unless it were something completely supernatural. He desperately tried to keep the candles lit on the end of the sarcophagus.

When that failed, he sat on the floor with his back against the obsidian and fixed the candles around him. He lit them one by one. He relit them when they went out.

Then all of them went out at once, including the one he held in his hands.

“No!” he cried. He reached for the lighter and flicked the switch desperately, but that, too, was dead. “No!”

His scream was lost in the oppressive darkness. He hunched against the cold edge of the sarcophagus and buried his head in his arms as he cried out his desperation. The darkness closed in around him and he gave in to it.

“Riley!” He opened his eyes, aware that he must have slept in an awkward, cold position. He blinked at the light that surrounded him and looked up at Chrístõ as he shook him, gently.

“You found me,” he gasped. “Oh, thank God. I thought I was going to die here… in the dark and the cold.”

He was trembling as he stood up, assisted by his friend. Only when he was upright did he look around and see where he was. There was no obsidian sarcophagus, no candles. The room was no bigger than any ordinary drawing room in an ordinary house and empty except for a floor length mirror and a pair of walking boots.

“Where is the sarcophagus?” he asked. “The room with no walls…..”

“A room with no walls isn’t a room, it’s a field,” Chrístõ replied. “You need a drink. Come on. Lord Hadandrox is making cocktails in the drawing room.”

Riley was surprised to find that the room with the odd accessories led directly into a familiar corridor that in turn led into the TARDIS console room. In a very short time after that they emerged into the guest suite and went downstairs to where all the house guests were gathered.

“How long have I been missing?” Riley asked as a drink was pressed into his hand. It was dusk outside the country house of the Hadandrox family – dusk of the same evening that he had set off from Chrístõ’s workshop.

But it had felt like so much longer.

Over drinks and some exotic canapes, Riley described his terrifying experience. His friends were amazed, Chrístõ most of all.

“I swear, I followed you up from the workshop no more than ten minutes after you left,” he said. “When you weren’t here enjoying the cocktails and caviar I went looking and saw that you were in the boot room. I couldn’t imagine WHY you were in there.”

Riley had no explanation at all.

“I must say, Chrístõ, that’s a really inventive torture chamber,” Hext remarked. “You will have to show me how to design one for the Tower.”

“I DON’T have a torture chamber,” Chrístõ responded.

“I should think not,” Savang told him, and Julia, Glenda and Madam Hadandrox all agreed. “And let’s not talk of such things on the eve of our baby’s special day.”

“I agree,” Chrístõ said. “Hext, put such thoughts from your mind. That’s why we’re gathered here at your father-in-law’s house rather than your Tower in the first place.”

“But what DID happen to me?” Riley asked. “It felt so very real.”

“I think you somehow tripped a silent intruder alarm,” Chrístõ explained. “I’ll have to check them out. Perhaps the problems we had at Rhodes weren’t all fixed. Somehow the TARDIS identified you as an invader and used psychological methods to confound you. I don’t think the old girl meant it personally. I hope you’ll forgive her.”

“Of course I will. But….”

Chrístõ touched his friend on the shoulder gently.

“Fear,” he said. “Fear worked it all in your mind. ‘The worst of all the things that haunt poor mortal men, and that is, in all its nakedness—'Fear!' Fear that will not have light nor sound, that will not bear with reason, that deafens and darkens and overwhelms.’”

“What’s that from?” Julia asked, reocgnising that Chrístõ was quoting something from memory.

“It must be something Human,” Glenda pointed out. “It talks about ‘poor mortal men’. Gallifreyan texts are not that humble.”

“It’s from a short story by a Human called Herbert George Wells,” Chrístõ explained. “He’s better known for his rather insightful science fiction, but he had a go at a little gothic horror entitled The Red Room. A man was challenged to spend the night in a haunted room in a huge old castle and though he started off a sceptic, in the end he frightened himself half out of his mind. He had trouble with candles going out, too. Darkness is truly the thing that drives fear in men. The primal darkness that his ancestors quailed within until they discovered fire.”

“I’ve never read such a story,” Riley protested. “I wasn’t imagining something from a book.”

“I believe you,” Chrístõ assured him. “I think it possible I might have to introduce you to Herbert and let him hear your tale. It might be a paradox if I don’t. But in the end, it was your imagination that conjured it all, my friend – with a little help from a semi-sentient time machine with a circuit on the blink.”

“Well, all’s well in the end,” Lord Hadandrox concluded, deciding it was time to move on to happier conversation. “And if you are over your fright, young man, may you dine well later, and sleep equally well, getting over your fear of the dark. We all rise before dawn tomorrow for the Naming Ceremony.”