The students known by their teacher as The Chrysalids were working quietly. They weren’t even communicating telepathically as they wrote their English literature essays. Chrístõ was glad, because he had a headache, and too much telepathic chatter in the same room would make it worse.

It was unusual for him to have a headache. He didn’t usually suffer from those sort of common ailments. He wondered if it was some sort of residual effect of when his psychic nerves had been burnt out. Should he expect this sort of thing more often?

If so, what could he do about it? All the people who could tell him anything about the way his own head worked were trapped on Gallifrey. Even the slowest means of communication was cut off now. He hadn’t heard anything for over a month, and that had only been a note from Penne to tell him that two more intergalactic governments had decided in favour of neutrality.

This was the first time in days he had thought of home. He tried to push the thought away. He was already feeling low because of the headache. He didn’t want a bout of homesickness on top of it.

“Sir?” Chrístõ looked up to see one of his students by his side. He hadn’t even seen her leave her seat.

“Yes, Gretta?” He noted that she had spoken to him out loud. “Is there something you need?”

“I was going to ask you that, sir,” she answered. “I tried to speak to you telepathically but it was like a fog. Are you all right?”

“Headache,” he told her.

“Would you like an aspirin?” she asked. “I have some in my bag.”

“No,” he replied. “Aspirin is poisonous to my species. Don’t worry. It will pass soon, I am sure. Meanwhile, did you want something?”

“No. I just thought you should know that the headmaster is coming, and he has a stranger with him.”

“Oh, Ok. Well, they won’t find anything to worry them in this room, will they? A bunch of bright, enthusiastic students all hard at work. Just what they want to see!”

He smiled despite the headache feeling worse and prepared himself for a visit from the headmaster. Gretta went to her seat and carried on with her work just before the quiet knock on the door that was a mere courtesy to him. The door opened almost immediately and the Headmaster, Mr Gallighan, came in, accompanied by a large woman who Chrístõ vaguely felt he ought to have recognised although she wasn’t a member of the faculty.

The students all stood, dutifully. Chrístõ stood, too and tried not to sway as a wave of dizziness swept over him.

“Good afternoon, Headmaster,” he said. “Madam…” He bowed his head respectfully to the woman. She was of average Human height, but so plump as to be almost oblong, wearing a navy blue skirt suit and blouse. She had her hair in a severe bun that went with a severe face.

Chrístõ was reminded of Madam Chárr, who taught Ethics at the Prydonian Academy. A woman, it was said among the students, who would have made Rassilon himself stay behind after class. Later, when he learnt about Earth culture, he always found himself thinking about her when he saw any reference to the Valkyrie. The pounding in his head had a distinctly Wagnerian feel as he waited to be introduced.

“Professor de Leon,” the headmaster said. “May I introduce Madam Bellatrix Waterson, newly elected city Mayor. Madam, this is Professor de Leon who teaches the Advanced Needs Class.”

“Ah,” Chrístõ thought. “Bellatrix, Latin for Female Warrior. And the Valkyrie’s ride played in his head even more loudly. He realised, too, why she had seemed familiar. Her face had been on any number of posters and leaflets and on the local TV news in recent weeks. He hadn’t taken a LOT of notice, and Herrick had tended to turn off the news every time the Mayoral election was discussed. He said he was sick of hearing about it at work and didn’t want it in his home.

Chrístõ had gone to the polling station yesterday morning along with all the other adults of New Canberra and its environs. But he had voted for the other candidate. He didn’t know a lot about either, but the other one had been mayor for seven years now and the town seemed to be a happy, crime free and prosperous place under his administration. The expression ‘If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ was a general axiom of Gallifreyan politics. It tended to keep good politicians in office for long periods of time and remove bad ones. Which was, he thought, the point of democracy. He saw no reason to do different on Beta Delta IV. But clearly, since Madam Waterson had won, he was in the minority who shared that opinion.

“You may be seated,” Madam Waterson said to the students, despite that being for either their teacher or the headmaster to decide. The students did so, anyway. Then she turned her attention to Chrístõ.

“You seem young to be a professor?” she queried.

“I’m older than I look,” he answered. “My credentials were thoroughly checked when I applied for the position.”

“Yes, I am sure they were. You have a tidy, well behaved class. Very commendable. Although there will have to be some small changes.”

“What sort of changes?” Chrístõ asked, struggling to pay attention to the conversation despite his increasingly worsening headache. He hoped he didn’t look as bad as he felt.

“Segregation of sexes within the classroom,” Madam Waterson answered him. “I believe that it is detrimental to learning to have girls and boys mixing. The headmaster has instructions from me to ensure that all the mainstream classes are split according to gender. However, he indicated that this ‘special’ class would be problematic.”

“These are the Advanced students, Madam,” the Headmaster explained. “They need to be taught separately from the mainstream. But as you can see, there are too few to separate into two classes, and we would not be able to justify the employment of a second teacher for so few.”

“Then at least they should sit in separate seats within the classroom,” she insisted. “Let me see… girls to the right and boys to the left…”

Chrístõ’s students looked at Madam Waterson, then at the Headmaster, then at Chrístõ. He gave a barely perceptible nod and they all stood at once and re-arranged themselves by gender. The Benning twins seemed a little disturbed by the idea, having, Chrístõ knew, sat together at a desk since primary school. But they contrived to be opposite each other across the central aisle and could have reached out and held hands if they chose.

It didn’t make much difference to Chrístõ, of course. He could teach them just as easily like that. But it did strike him as a very pointless curtailment of personal freedom and an unnecessary school rule. He wondered what the mayor expected to achieve by it.

“Yes,” she said with a smile that put him in mind of a chubby shark. “This class will do fine like this. Good day to you, Professor de Leon.”

Chrístõ bowed his head again and wished he hadn’t because it felt as if it might explode with the next movement. He reached to grip the back of his chair as the Headmaster and the Mayor left the room. He tried to pull it out and sit down, but somehow managed to miss the seat completely.

He must have blacked out for a few seconds. The next thing he knew two of the older boys were helping him up and Gretta ran to get him a glass of water.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like an aspirin?” she asked him.

“No,” he repeated. “They really are poisonous to my species.”

“You mean we could kill you with a little pill?” asked Noreen Massey who now sat in the front desk of the ‘girls’ row.

“Do you want to?” he asked, smiling despite himself.

“No,” she assured him. “You’re the best teacher we ever had. But… if we did?”

“No, you couldn’t kill me,” he answered truthfully. “Not unless you did some other things to me, first. Normally my body can detect and expel any poison automatically. But it would make me very sick meanwhile. Worse than now. I don’t think I have ever had a headache as bad as this.”

“We could feel it,” Marle Benning told him. “It was like your mind was being blocked off from us. And there was a sort of dull ache when we tried to reach you.”

“It’s starting to ease off now,” he said. “But all the same, might be better if you didn’t try to contact me for a while. You lot are all relatively new to telepathic communication. I don’t want to harm any of you.”

The crisis and the interruption over, they went back to their work. He sipped his water and felt the headache slowly pass. He was beginning to feel himself again by the time the lessons were over and he could go home.

“Did you have a visit from that old bat?” Cordell asked as Chrístõ drove them home.

“Oh, don’t mention her!” Julia protested. “The fuss she made about the girls gymnastics club being in the gym at the same time as the boys playing five a side football. And we’re all in different classes from next week.”

“She doesn’t want mixed groups in the gym?” Chrístõ sighed. “That means I’ll have to take my class somewhere else for Tai Chi.” He sighed. Then he groaned as the car passed an interactive billboard by the roadside with Madam Waterson’s face on it and a slogan ‘The New Way for New Canberra.’ “There was nothing wrong with the old way!”

“Somebody with that many chins shouldn’t be on a billboard that big!” Michal commented. Chrístõ suppressed a laugh. As the responsible adult he should have told the boy off for disrespecting an elder, and a woman at that. But he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. He was annoyed with Madam Waterson, too, and even though it was an uncharitable and ungentlemanly thought, he couldn’t disagree with Michal.

And it must have been coincidence, but just looking at the huge version of her was bringing on his headache again. He just hoped he could get home before it got as bad as it was in class.

It didn’t get any worse, but it stayed with him, a sort of low level irritation, and he was glad to get home. While Julia and her cousins sorted out their homework he went to his room and slipped inside his TARDIS. Humphrey came out from under his bed and followed him into the console room, hopefully.

“Sorry, old thing,” he said. “We’re not going anywhere. I just need to check something out.”

Humphrey purred anyway. He enjoyed living in a house that was almost always occupied. He liked following Marianna around when she did the housework with the curtains closed for his benefit, and he loved the energy the two boys exuded, and being near Julia. And he was always happy when Chrístõ was around. He followed him joyfully through the TARDIS corridors to the medical room and watched with his big, soulful eyes as Chrístõ ran a CAT scan on his own head.

He was relieved to know that there was nothing physically wrong with him. And inside the TARDIS, even the low level headache seemed to have gone. Perhaps it was just the tension of what had been a very annoying afternoon.

He went down to join the family at their tea. Herrick was home from work and it was Friday night. There was always a good feeling of the end of the working week, the weekend of leisure ahead of everyone.

Except not tonight.

“We need to put the TV on,” Herrick said after they had finished their meal. “There’s a special news bulletin. An announcement from the Lady Mayor herself.”

A small miracle followed that. Julia and her cousins actually agreed with each other. They were united in their protestations. So was Marianna. But Herrick said they’d better listen, just in case it was important.

Chrístõ said nothing. But he had seen and heard enough of that woman already.

And his headache was back.

He sat by the open window getting some fresh air as the rest of the family gathered around the TV to listen to the special bulletin. They watched as Madam Bellatrix Waterson announced a series of measures that she said were necessary for the better government of New Canberra. They included a curfew from sundown to sunrise for anyone not on essential business, and the closure of all places of entertainment from midnight Friday to midnight Sunday. There were some other measures, too, but the enraged shouts of the three children drowned them out.

“That means the bowling alley!” Michal protested. “And the cinema and….”

“And EVERYTHING!” Julia complained. “Coffee bars and pizza shops…”

“Why?” Cordell asked. “None of those things do any harm.”

“Madam Waterson is a strict Orthodox Adventist,” Herrick pointed out. “It said so in her election leaflets. But I’ve never even heard of the OA being THAT strict about these things.”

“They’re not,” Chrístõ pointed out. “They don’t believe in drink or drugs and they think that all life in the universe will be judged at the end of time, and we should prepare for that judgement. But I have never heard any of them proclaim that pizza or coffee or bowling alleys are sinful. And what does she think the children will do instead?”

“Get bored and start doing the sort of vandalism and petty crime and nuisance that we never had here on Beta Delta before,” Marianna predicted gloomily. “I don’t get it. This is as near to a perfect society as I could imagine. There’s almost no crime. There’s no real poverty. There’s education and culture and clean streets and parks and unpolluted air. We were fine. Then this woman gets elected and…” Marianna groaned. “And I voted for her. I thought she sounded like a sensible woman and I always thought Kyle Georgeson was a bit too sure of himself. I thought it would do him good to have some serious opposition.”

“What were the policies you thought you were voting for?” Chrístõ asked her.

“I…” Marianna paused. “I can’t remember, now. It’s funny, I really can’t remember. But… Well, this certainly isn’t what I voted for.”

Herrick didn’t say anything, but there was a guilty sort of look on his face and Chrístõ guessed that he had voted for Madam Waterson, too.

“It’s still an hour to sundown,” Chrístõ said. “I’m going to get a walk. It might help this headache.”

“I’ll come with you, Chrístõ,” Julia said. “I’ll do my homework after it gets dark. Let me enjoy a bit of time outside, first.”

The boys came as well. Chrístõ didn’t mind. They walked together up towards Earth Park. They were surprised when they got there to see police all over the usually peaceful green space.

“What are they doing over THERE?” Cordell asked.

“They’re locking up the children’s playground,” Chrístõ answered. “For Rassilon’s sake! It’s just swings and a climbing frame and monkey bars.”

They went over to watch the police completing their task.

“Move along now,” said one of the officers. “The curfew will be starting soon. We’re not going to arrest anyone this first night, but we will be taking names and addresses.”

“Why are you locking the playground?” Chrístõ asked. “That’s insane.”

“Not for us to say, sir,” the officer replied. “If you’ll take my advice, you’ll not be seen on the street holding hands with the young lady. I’ve seen our orders for tomorrow. Public displays of affection between genders are to be discouraged.”

“Well, if those are your orders for tomorrow, we’ll make the most of tonight,” Chrístõ answered, clinging all the tighter to Julia’s hand. “And if I were you, I’d think about getting a new job.”

“I don’t think so,” the officer answered. “There’s going to be promotions for time served officers when the new recruits start to come in. Plenty of overtime, too.”

Chrístõ didn’t say anything more, because he did want to get the youngsters home before the curfew. But he did think about what the officer had said. More recruits to the police. Why? There was very little crime on Beta Delta IV. The police force were largely there for civic duties such as finding lost children in the shopping centre, directing traffic, crowd control at sports events or concerts. They didn’t need a huge force.

Or at least they didn’t yesterday. If this was going to become a place with curfews enforced by the police, where eating pizza and holding hands were deemed to be offences, then they would need a LOT of police - just to arrest people doing ordinary things that weren’t even a crime yesterday.

They reached home before sundown and Julia did her homework as she promised. Chrístõ worked on his lesson plans for next week and then the two of them played chess together. There was nothing unusual there, except that Julia won most of the games. Chrístõ found himself unable to concentrate for more than a few seconds. His head still ached dully and he couldn’t focus himself properly. It was affecting his telepathy, too. Usually he could easily see her surface thoughts. It always made her laugh when he answered a question before she had asked it. But tonight he felt as if his head was full of fog.

“Chrístõ, you really don’t look well,” Marianna said to him. “Are you coming down with something?”

“He’s had headaches all day,” Julia told her on his behalf. “I think he’s allergic to Madam Waterson.”

“I don’t think so,” Marianna answered, though she chuckled slightly at the thought. She came closer and looked at him. “What will we do if you get ill? How can we look after you?”

“It’s just a headache,” he assured her. “I’ll be all right. I think I might get an early night. I’ll keep the window open for fresh air. That hasn’t been judged to be illegal, yet.”

“Small mercies,” Marianna murmured in reply as he kissed Julia on the cheek and said good night to them all.

He went to his bedroom. He showered and brushed his teeth, shaved, and got into the bed with the window wide open letting in the cool night air. It should have eased his head and let him sleep easily. But it didn’t. Even in the darkened room his head still hurt.

“What’s wrong with me?” he whispered aloud, not expecting an answer.

“Chrí…stõ sad…” Humphrey mourned somewhere near by.

“Just a bit,” he replied. “Do your sort get headaches? I don’t suppose you do. You don’t really have heads as such. Lucky you.”

“Friend, Chrí…stõ,” Humphrey added and Chrístõ felt him moving closer to him. He was going to ‘hug’ him by surrounding him with his dark essence. Usually it was a wonderful, exhilarating feeling, one he would gladly enjoy every day.

But this time it didn’t feel joyful. His positive emotions just seemed to aggravate the pain in his head and make it ten times worse. He groaned aloud and Humphrey backed off fearfully.

“It’s all right,” he assured him. “It wasn’t your fault. Something isn’t quite right. But it really isn’t YOUR fault, Humphrey.”

“Bad noise,” Humphrey replied. Chrístõ didn’t know what that meant. But he DID know that sleeping in the bedroom wasn’t going to be an option.

“The TARDIS,” he said. “I felt all right in there. My Zero Room, even better. I can sleep in there and I’m sure I’ll feel much better tomorrow.”

Humphrey followed him into the TARDIS, but he didn’t go into the Zero Room. The light in there was soft and diffused, eradicating shadows. It couldn’t HURT Humphrey. Only very bright light did that. But it felt unnatural to him. He purred reassuringly and took up his post outside the door, like a bodyguard on duty. Chrístõ closed the door and laid his body down on the empty air, levitating in the room where all outside influences were cut off, where time itself was banished and gravity obeyed different rules.

He sighed blissfully. The headache was gone and he felt at peace. He breathed deeply the scent of fresh rose petals after a summer rain shower and thought of his mother. He dropped into something halfway between ordinary sleep and a meditative trance that would see him through the night.

Yes, he felt a lot better in the morning after a pain free sleep. But the morning brought a new chapter in the saga of Madam Waterson’s administration. After breakfast he went for a walk with Julia and the boys, to see if the orders were carried out fully. As he expected, the town centre was closed. Without the leisure facilities to draw people in, most of the shops hadn’t bothered to open. A few teenagers hung around dismally, wondering what they could do with their day.

“Let’s try the park,” Julia suggested. “Even if the swings and the coffee bar are shut, they can’t stop us walking on the grass.”

“I wouldn’t bet on that,” Chrístõ replied in a tone sharper than he intended. Julia looked at him curiously.

“Do you still have that headache?” she asked him.

“No,” he answered. “Yes, yes, I do. It’s not bad, but it’s there, in the back of my head, like a background noise. It’s interfering with my telepathic nerves and it just doesn’t go away. I can’t think like I should. It’s like it’s dulling my mind.”

“Well, even so, you’re probably still smarter than anyone else in this town,” Cordell told him. “Especially her!” He looked in disgust at another digital poster of Madam Waterson promising a happy, prosperous New Canberra for all. “We WERE happy until yesterday.”

“Can’t you do something about her?” Michal asked Chrístõ. “Something Time Lordish or something?”

“She was elected by a democratic process,” Chrístõ answered. “The ‘Time Lordish’ thing would be to accept the status quo. If she’d taken over the planet by force, that would be different.” He thought about that for a moment and shook his head sadly. “Come to think of it, accepting the status quo would still be the ‘Time Lordish’ thing to do. My people have accepted a hostile take-over of our world. I wouldn’t, though. If I thought there was anything untoward, I would act. But even your own parents voted for her.”

“Oh! She’s EVERYWHERE!” Michal protested as a hover bus passed, empty of passengers where usually, on a Saturday morning it would be full of youngsters heading into the town. On the back was another Madam Waterson poster. “I’m sick of seeing her face!”

“Me too,” Chrístõ admitted. “And I am sure the headache gets worse every time I see one of those dratted posters. I think I AM allergic to her.”

They reached the park to find that it was open, but there were regulations being enforced by the newest police recruits, wearing ordinary clothes with florescent yellow tabards with the words ‘special constable’ over the back. The main regulation stated that under sixteens would be admitted to the park in groups of no more than three unless accompanied by an adult, and could not congregate in groups of more than six within the park grounds. Yellow tabarded people were scattered across the park, in all the places where people might be congregating, enforcing the rules.

“How many are allowed to congregate if there IS an adult present?” Chrístõ asked one of the new ‘officers’. “I’m a teacher at the High School.” He presented his psychic paper, which identified him fully. “I told my class to meet me here this morning for a nature walk.”

“I… suppose that would be all right, then,” the officer said. “As long as they’re all under control.”

“Oh, perfectly under control,” Chrístõ assured him. He smiled brightly as he walked past another poster of Madam Waterson at the park gate. He looked around. He recognised Julia’s usual group of friends, who usually went to the bowling alley before pizza and coffee in the park. They were in groups of no more than three, none of them holding hands, because that was also against the rules. And they looked miserable. He also spotted most of his own students. Michal and Cordell pointed out their younger friends.

“Right,” Chrístõ said. “Go and tell your friends to meet up at the old oak tree in twenty minutes. Julia, tell yours. And pass the message to as many of my class as you can find. I’m just going somewhere, quickly.”

He turned and ran out of the park. He used a timefold as he passed the gate, so that the ‘special officers’ saw nothing but a blur. He did the same several times in order to bring him home as quickly as possible. He ran up the stairs and into his bedroom, finding his TARDIS key in his pocket as Humphrey bounded along behind him.

“Short trip,” he said. “I can’t enter the time vortex, but I should be safe to take a quick hop to the park.”

Humphrey trilled his agreement as Chrístõ programmed a spatial co-ordinate by the old oak tree on Earth Park. By old, of course, that meant it had been planted there no more than about fifty years ago, but the oak tree had been brought from earth as a partially grown tree, nurtured throughout the two year journey in a hydroponics bay and transplanted in the park as the oldest living tree on the planet. It now looked like it had been there forever.

Chrístõ’s TARDIS looked as if it had been there forever, too, disguised as a small tool shed. He stood at the door and watched as Julia led all of the young people they could find to it. There were rather more, in fact, than he expected. The core of immediate friends had been joined by others who had guessed something was going on.

The ‘special police’ were guessing something, too, he noticed, and starting to turn towards the illegal congregation of under sixteens.

“Everybody in here,” he said. “Quickly. Julia, you show them the way to the in potentia room. I’ve set something up there.”

Some of the youngsters looked puzzled. There were nearly fifty of them and the shed didn’t look big enough for four to stand up comfortably. But after the first dozen had gone in through the door a rumour went about that this was some kind of magic box. Which was about true, really.

“Don’t touch anything in the console room,” Chrístõ called out, though he had ensured that all the vital controls were locked off. He ushered the last few youngsters inside and looked around to see the ‘specials’ wondering where the crowd had gone, then he shut the door. He didn’t need to move the TARDIS anywhere else. Once he closed the door nobody could open it and they were all safe inside.

Humphrey followed him along to the in potentia room. He had already settled on what it should look like, something that would accommodate everyone, including himself.

It was Gallifrey. A part of it anyway, where the River B?rrow wound around the base of Mound Lœng. The mountain rose up against the yellow-orange sky, greenish-grey and purple except where the last snows still clung to its peak. A waterfall cascaded down half its height, falling into a roiling pool and overflowing into a fast flowing stream that became a tributary of the B?rrow. It was one of his favourite places within the boundaries of the family estate. He used to love to spend quiet hours here when he was younger. He looked up towards the summit of the mountain. This was just a simulation, of course, created by the TARDIS. Simulations created scenery and trees, even food. But they couldn’t create people. There were no monks in the monastery up there. The only people were his young friends here.

“Sir…” Laurence and Marle came to greet him.

“You don’t have to call me sir outside of class,” he told them. “My name is Chrístõ.”

“Chrístõ,” they amended. They were smiling widely. “This is fantastic. It’s… That’s the mountain you showed us the first day you taught us.”

“It’s called Mount Lœng. It’s on Gallifrey. This is the closest I can get to it, just now. As a simulation. But it’s a very good simulation. You can all play and enjoy yourselves. Hold hands if you want. And nobody can bother you.”

“Thanks,” they both said and ran to join the others. He himself walked up towards the waterfall. On Gallifrey, there was a small cave just before it got really wet. If he was right, it would be the perfect place for Humphrey to spend the day. He could feel his presence nearby, but he was impossible to see. He had programmed the sky to be sunless, for his benefit, but Humphrey really wanted a darker place.

He appreciated the cave. From there he could watch the games of the young people whose energy was making him hyperactive.

“Nice girls, nice boys,” Humphrey enthused.

“Very nice girls and boys,” Chrístõ replied. “And if any come up here for a cuddle, don’t go scaring them.”

He strolled back to the riverbank where Julia and her gymnastic inclined friends were in their bare feet, practicing their floor exercises. He gathered his own group together and they spent a pleasant hour in the Tai Chi he had been teaching them. Cordell and Michal’s crowd enjoyed playing tag and climbing the trees in the nearby copse. Others walked by the riverside holding hands, an activity banned in the real park outside the TARDIS doors. Some just sat together, happily.

“What do we do for food?” somebody asked. And Chrístõ grinned and invited a group of them to come to the trees with him. He showed them which fruits to pick.

“Those with the dark brown skins are called barn fruits, and they actually have the taste and texture of fresh bread. Don’t ask me how or why. And get lots of those. Cúl nuts. They’re absolutely delicious and full of protein. And the red moon fruits have a taste that will make your mouth water.”

They picked enough for everyone and gathered for a picnic lunch by the river. The fantastic fruits indigenous to his home planet went down well with everyone. They asked him questions that he was happy enough to answer, about how all of this, as well as the console room and all the corridors, fitted into a shed, where this mountain really was, and so on. Those who hadn’t heard before about his planet’s difficulties sympathised. Their conversation, almost inevitably, though, turned on their own present difficulties.

“There’s going to be another announcement tonight,” said one of the older boys, nearly seventeen. “More restrictions.”

“What’s left to restrict?” somebody else asked. “She’s already stopped everything that was fun to do.”

“It might be something to do with this,” said one of the girls. She reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out a folded leaflet. Chrístõ looked at the girl as she passed him the leaflet. The jacket was a black silk man’s jacket and his mind went back to the Christmas party at the school. He remembered the girl whose dress caught fire. He had given her his suit jacket and she had worn it over her petticoat for the rest of the evening. He had never asked for it back. It looked well enough on her, over her sundress.

He opened the leaflet and read it.

“My father brought it home from work last night,” she said. “He said I should think about it. He says I spend too much time messing around, and Madam Waterson has the right idea.”

“She wants teenagers to sign up for a citizen’s youth squad that will help the authorities maintain law and order in the town.”

“Hitler Youth,” murmured one of his own students, who had studied Earth history in more detail than their peers.

“Exactly my thought,” Chrístõ answered grimly. “This means that….It means that none of us know who we can trust. She’s recruiting spies.”

“Well, I’m not joining,” said the girl wearing his jacket. “I don’t care what my dad thinks. I’m not going to go around reporting people for holdings hands! And… and I’m certainly not going to tell her about THIS.”

“She’d ban it, if she knew,” Marle Benning commented.

“She’d ban ME, if she knew,” Chrístõ noted. “Good job my citizenship was approved by the Governor of the colony. He overrules her at least.”

“Our dad thinks that’s what she really wants. To be governor,” Marle answered.

“And he also says we’ll be on the first shuttle flight to Beta Delta Three if she does,” her brother added.

“My dad thinks she’s a breath of fresh air for New Canberra,” sighed the girl in the silk jacket, whose name was Ella.

“Can we stay in here until curfew?” asked one of Cordell’s young friends.

“Yes,” Chrístõ answered. “Tomorrow, too, if you want. I don’t mind. I’m not sure what’s going to happen after that, though. It does seem as if things will get worse not better. I don’t know what any of us are going to do, except maybe book a seat on that same flight to Beta Delta Three!”

It was a depressing thought. Being an exile here on Beta Delta IV, where he had friends, where Julia’s family had become HIS family, had been a very small consolation to him. But now this nice, friendly place was turning into a nightmare, and he was powerless to do anything about it.

Despite the depressing prospects before them, everyone managed to put their worries aside for the afternoon. They enjoyed Chrístõ’s TARDIS world, hidden from those who would impose rules on them. In plenty of time for them to get home before the curfew, though, they left the in potentia room and returned through the TARDIS to the real world, stepping out in twos and threes and heading across the park. Julia and her cousins remained behind and came back to the house in the TARDIS. Chrístõ materialised it in his room, and Humphrey slid under the bed, purring contentedly. He’d had the best day of his strange life, soaking up the positive emotions of the young people having fun. Everyone else went downstairs to supper.

“My headache is back,” Chrístõ complained as he sat at the table. “It didn’t bother me all afternoon.”

“You do look unwell,” Marianna observed. “Are you sure there is nothing a doctor can do for you?”

“Nothing,” he said. “A Human physician wouldn’t know where to start. I just wish I knew what was causing it.”

“You’re allergic to Madam Waterson,” Cordell said.

“I might be allergic to something,” Chrístõ conceded. “That’s why I’m all right inside the TARDIS where the air is created artificially. Maybe it’s some sort of pollen in the air. I’ll run some tests later, maybe.”

“It’s time for the Announcements,” Herrick said. “We’d better listen. I don’t think ignorance of the new rules will be taken as any excuse.”

“If she makes many more rules,” Marianna said. “I’m going to have to write them all down in a notebook to remember them. I can’t keep up.”

Again, the family gathered in front of their TV. They waited as Madam Waterson appeared on screen, filling it imposingly. They listened as she spoke at length about the need for structure in the lives of the population, and how there was too much laxity about religious devotion among other things.

And so, as of tomorrow, it would be compulsory for every citizen to attend a place of religious worship for at least one hour of Sunday. Censors would be taking names at every known church and chapel and those not attending would be fined.

“What?” Herrick exploded angrily. “Has she gone mad? Compulsory religious attendance? That is ridiculous. She cannot expect to enforce such a rule.”

“She probably does,” Marianna sighed. “She has managed to stop every other weekend activity. I expect she can enforce this one.”

Marianna usually went to church on a Sunday anyway. But Herrick didn’t, and she only occasionally took the boys or Julia.

“Why don’t we ignore her?” Cordell asked. “Dad, what if we didn’t go? What if we just… disobeyed?”

Herrick looked at his son and sighed.

“Nobody could call me a coward,” he said. “But I don’t think I want to be the first man to do that. If there was some kind of organised protest… but I can’t stand alone. I’ve got you all to think about. I can’t afford a fine… or worse. What if she started imposing prison sentences next? I couldn’t…”

His wife reached out to touch his hand. His two sons saw the anguish in his eyes and they ran to him. Julia, too. Herrick hugged his family tightly. It was his job to protect them from all harm, and the only way he could do that was by making sure none of them fell foul of this new, strange administration that was making life that little bit harder every day.

“What about Chrístõ?” Cordell asked. “He doesn’t HAVE a religion. On his planet, they don’t. He said so.”

Chrístõ had been thinking about that. Willingly giving in to such ludicrous orders went against the grain for him, too. His first instinct was to rebel. But he, like Herrick, could not risk it. He wasn’t only responsible for himself. He was part of Herrick’s family and he might bring trouble to them. He was a teacher, and he was supposed to set an example to his students. And yes, he recognised that what he had done today WAS an act of rebellion. But that was a passive resistance. It wasn’t open defiance that would prove futile and hurt more than just himself.

“I’ll go with you,” he said. “To whatever church you choose to attend.”

“You shouldn’t HAVE to,” Marianna protested. “You of all people.”

“It’s all right,” he assured her. “I know it bothers you that I don’t have any faith. Now’s your chance to convert me.”

Again, he found that he couldn’t sleep in the bedroom. He sat for a while by the open window and looked out at the dark, silent town. It shouldn’t have been either. It was Saturday night. There ought to have been theatres, cinemas, bowling alleys, restaurants, pubs and dance halls, nightclubs, all sorts of ways that hard-working people could enjoy themselves on their weekend. Instead it was dark, silent, and still. Everyone was in their homes, under curfew.

The only light to be seen, he noted, was from another of those billboards that were springing up EVERYWHERE. There was one not far away. He could see its glow at the end of the street.

He pushed the window wide open and pointed his sonic screwdriver. He was almost surprised that it worked. The sonic disrupter wave had to travel a long way. And he hoped he hadn’t blown up anyone’s microwave ovens in the line of sight. But the billboard short circuited very satisfactorily.

It seemed to have done his head some good, too. The ache seemed ever so slightly lessened. All the same, he went to the Zero Room to sleep again, with Humphrey on guard at the door.

The next morning he went to Church with the family. Not surprisingly, the service was well attended. Chrístõ did his best to pay attention out of respect for Marianna’s belief. But his headache worsened as he sat in the church and it was difficult to concentrate. He thought the priest was trying to rebel in a subtle way. His biblical readings were ones that praised those who had courage in the face of adversity. But he was also required to stand in the pulpit and read out a digest of Madam Waterson’s new rules for living and to urge the people to obey, and he quoted the curious passage from the Old Testament that said “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft”. A passage that went against all the others he had read which urged rebellion against oppression. Of course, there were policemen at the back of the church. The priest had no choice but to say that.

After lunch, at least, they were able to get away. Chrístõ brought Julia and the boys to the TARDIS and programmed the short hop to the park. He was not entirely surprised that there were at least another twenty young people who turned up in groups of three and slipped inside the shed. Word had got around that here was something exciting and magical, and also contrary to the commands and edicts of the battle axe at the Town Hall.

“I’ve got a surprise for you all,” he said with a grin as he led them to the In Potentia room. This time it was a fairground with a Ferris Wheel and carousels, mechanical swings, and a ghost train with the added feature of Humphrey lurking in the shadows, trilling and purring as the cars passed him by. There were also hot dogs and burgers and sugary sweet treats for everyone who wanted them. It was unanimously voted the best afternoon in the park anyone ever had.

“It’s a bit of a drain on the TARDIS’s power source though,” Chrístõ noted as they all traipsed back to the console room an hour before the curfew. “I’ll have to put her on recharge for the week if we’re to do this again next weekend.”

“Chrístõ,” Julia called out to him. “Wait, don’t open the door.”

He glanced at the viewscreen and saw that the park was full of police officers, regular and ‘special’ who seemed to be searching for something. That something didn’t seem to be the ‘shed’ and they didn’t look towards it, but if they all started to pile out of it, they would surely draw attention.

“Ok,” he said. “TARDIS bus service to your street. Everyone get into groups and tell me where you live.”

That took the best part of the hour, but since he was letting them all out close to their homes it didn’t matter. Finally he brought the TARDIS back to his own bedroom and Julia and her cousins ran out. To their surprise, Marianna was waiting on the landing.

“Thank goodness you’re home,” she said, hugging the boys. “I was worried.”

“There’s still ten minutes to the curfew,” Chrístõ reminded her.

“It’s not that,” she answered him. “It’s…. the park. There was a murder there this afternoon. Or at least the body was found there. Kyle Georgeson, the former Mayor. The news bulletins are saying he was shot.”

“Oh hell,” Chrístõ swore. “Do they have any idea who… or why…”

“They don’t,” Marianna answered. “But I don’t think anyone has any doubts. That evil, wicked woman. May she burn in hell!”

Julia and her cousins were shocked by such a comment from Marianna. It was an indication of just how upset she was. She was not alone, either. Supper was a solemn affair, and after it, they again gathered to listen to what was now regarded as the nightly Announcement.

There were no new rules, but there was a significant development.

“The death of Mr Kyle Georgeson has been wrongly reported in the broadcast news,” said Madam Waterson. “They have stated that he was murdered. This is a falsehood. His death was suicide. Sadly he was unable to come to terms with losing the election. His private funeral will take place tomorrow. However, the tragedy has highlighted a need for greater vigilance. In future, all public broadcasting will be overseen by my department to ensure the absolute truth is presented to the citizens of New Canberra.”

“HER truth!” Again Marianna stated her opinion. “Kyle Georgeson was a decent man. God rest him.”

“May his soul know peace,” Chrístõ added, his own non-deity specific prayer in such times. He sighed and wished his own soul knew some peace. His head still hurt and he wanted nothing more than to get to his Zero Room and sleep away his troubles.

As it happened, it was a while before he got to the Zero Room. In the console room he stopped to check just how much energy had been used in creating the two elaborate scenarios in the In Potentia room. Humphrey hugged the shadows under the console.

“Bad noise,” he complained.

“What do you mean by that?” Chrístõ asked, remembering that he had said that before.

“Bad noise all around. Chr…ístõ is hurting. Bad noise.”

“But I can’t hear anything.” He answered. “It can’t be…”

He paused. Maybe Humphrey had something, after all. Noise, sound, had different frequencies. Some of those frequencies were too high or too low for the Human ear. Some were too high or too low for a Time Lord ear.

Was there a sound that he was unable to hear that was causing these headaches?

“Should I have listened to you in the first place?” Chrístõ asked Humphrey as he moved around the console and opened a communications channel. He looked at the visual display. A line of squiggles indicated a frequency. He was astonished just how high it was. It was a wonder all the birds in the vicinity of New Canberra hadn’t all died of brain aneurysms.

Not one sound, but several overlaid sounds, coming from different places.

He moved around to the environmental console and looked at a map of New Canberra. He overlaid it with the places the sound was being broadcast from, and he made a guess at just what those places were.

“I think we’re going to break the curfew,” he said to Humphrey. “What do you think of that?”

Humphrey trilled in a nonchalant way. He lived in dark places. Curfews were meaningless to him.

He was going to have to recharge the TARDIS soon, he thought. But for now he had power enough to hover over the town, and to do what he wanted to do. He smiled widely as the TARDIS broadcast a frequency that would counteract the one causing him so much trouble. His smile widened further as he saw the way the billboards that were being used to broadcast the sound all short circuited, some of them with phenomenal displays of sparks and one, by the dual carriageway, actually catching fire dramatically.

“Bad noise gone,” Humphrey commented.

“Good,” Chrístõ replied as he set the co-ordinates for home. “I can sleep in my bed tonight.”

And he did sleep in the bed. He woke the next morning feeling clearer in his head than he had for days, and with an idea he intended to act upon.

“I’m taking the TARDIS to school,” he told Julia and the boys after breakfast. “It’s parked on the driveway disguised as a sports car. It likes to be flash when it does cars.”

As he piloted it in hover mode along the same route he usually drove his ordinary car, he noted that workers were already beginning to repair the damage he had caused last night. Madam Waterson’s image was again glaring at motorists on their way to work, and Chrístõ knew he would start to get a headache again once he materialised the TARDIS as a stationery cupboard in the corner of his classroom and stepped out.

If he hadn’t taken some precautions.

He didn’t get a headache. And he had a pleasant morning teaching his students. After lunch, he closed the blinds and turned on the big viewscreen he had set up on the wall so that his students could watch a very interesting documentary about the wildlife of Beta Delta III. He knew it was only a matter of time, now.

“Sir,” Gretta said presently. “There are people coming. Madam Waterson and the Headmaster, and POLICE. They’re coming for you…. for… for…”

“For malicious vandalism to all the billboards in town,” Chrístõ admitted. “Yes, I knew they would never find me any other way, so I sent an anonymous tip off.”

“But… sir…” His students all looked appalled. “But… if you go to jail…”

“I'm not going to jail,” he promised them. “Somebody is, but not me.”

The wildlife of Beta Delta III was forgotten as they all waited and watched the door. Finally it opened. The Headmaster came in with the Mayor and four policemen. He nodded to his students who stood up politely.

“Good afternoon, headmaster, Madam Waterson, gentlemen!” Chrístõ nodded to the headmaster and the police officers and bowed respectfully to the Lady Mayor. She scowled at him. “You may be seated, class,” he added. “This could take a little time.”

“You are under arrest for gross acts of vandalism and rebellion against the law. And you will also be questioned about the murder of Kyle Georgeson.”

“He committed suicide, didn’t he?” Chrístõ answered. “Headmaster, do you recall last night, she was so adamant that it was not murder she took over the news broadcasting networks to prevent that lie being spread.”

“Yes… I remember…” the Headmaster stammered. “I remember that. But before… when she told me that you might have been involved….”

“I'm just going to the stationery cupboard,” Chrístõ said and walked away from his desk up the aisle between the empty seats. One of the police officers drew a weapon and ordered him to stop.

“Is this your idea of a good society, Madam Mayor?” Chrístõ asked without a pause in his step. “Children shocked to the core by a police officer, a respected figure of authority in the community they live in, pulling out his gun in front of them - in their own classroom. Standards have slipped since you took office. Can you imagine it? Guns in a school? Outrageous.”

He didn’t see, but he knew the police officer had put his gun back in its holster. He heard Madam Waterson exclaim in outrage and the officer reply to her with a comment that made her even more outraged. He opened the TARDIS door and then walked back up the aisle to his own desk.

“Arrest him!” screamed Madam Waterson.

“What FOR?” asked the police officer. “There is no evidence of a crime. He certainly couldn’t have murdered Georgeson.”

“He damaged the billboards last night…”

“How could one man do all of that damage?” asked the Headmaster. “There are several hundred billboards in this town. Many more than we used to have. Far more than we need… But I don’t see how he could have damaged them all?”

“There,” Chrístõ said with a hint of triumph. “You’re thinking straight. You ALL are. There’s a counter signal in this classroom, cancelling out the one that has been broadcasting all over the town for the past weeks.”

“What signal?” asked two of the policemen and the Headmaster at once.

“It wasn’t strong, at first. Even I didn’t notice it. Just enough to have a muted effect on the minds of the people, so that they voted in the election for a woman whose policies they couldn’t actually remember. She moved fast once she was in power, though. By the following morning the billboards were sending out a boosted signal. One so powerful it was playing havoc with my brain. It partially worked. A Gallifreyan brain is basically the same sort of matter as a Human one. I was confused enough not to realise that something was going on. And I did get extremely ill when I was in the same room as the Mayor. But a couple of nights in my Zero Room helped clear my head enough to know what was causing the trouble. Last night I turned off your broadcast. Oh, you’ve got it all repaired. But people have had a night of peace and quiet and clear heads. They won’t be as completely under your thrall as before, Madam Waterson. In fact, I don’t think these police officers are under your thrall at all, now.”

The policemen were all looking at each other as if they had just woken up from a long sleep. Then they turned their attention to Madam Waterson.

“Is this true?” asked the Headmaster. “We’ve all been hypnotised?”

“Not hypnotised exactly. Just made docile, so that you didn’t even think of complaining about her edicts. Or if you did, in private, you’d be too scared to make any kind of public outcry. Nobody wants to be the first one to raise a protest. Nobody wants to be the lone voice crying out. So you all went along with it. But now you see it, don’t you?”

“Yes,” said the senior police officer, stepping close to Madam Waterson. “And… Kyle Georgeson… it WAS murder, wasn’t it. You….”

“I did it,” Madam Waterson admitted. “The man was resisting. HE was the lone voice you spoke of. He DID have the courage to confront me. But so what? Outside of this room, the signal is still strong. You will never have the nerve to arrest me. You’ll go back to doing everything I say. This town is just the start. I will have power over this whole planet soon. Then the entire Beta Delta system…”

“No, you won’t,” Chrístõ answered her. “Look…”

He nodded to Laurence and Marle and passed them a telepathic message. They reached for the remote control for the viewscreen and tuned it into the local TV station. It was broadcasting scenes from all around the city. People were attacking the billboards, pulling them down amidst sparks and short-circuiting fuses.

“That’s a two way screen. Everything you just said has been broadcast live,” Chrístõ told her. “The people are still being affected by your signal, but they are fighting it. They know they’ve been deceived. They know that they can fight you. And the more of those billboards that go down, the more the signal is weakened, the stronger they’re going to be.”

“You are under arrest for the murder of Kyle Georgeson,” said the senior officer, reaching for his handcuffs. Madam Waterson gave another outraged exclamation and ran towards the door. Gretta dodged in her way, but the woman grabbed her by the throat.

“I crushed the breath out of that fool Georgeson. I can kill this CHILD easily enough,” she snarled. “Get in my way and she is dead.”

Chrístõ waved the police officers back. The other students and the Headmaster all kept very still, too. Chrístõ himself didn’t move very much. He just gave a very low whistle.

Humphrey slid out through the open TARDIS doors into the dimly lit classroom and drifted towards the would-be fugitive and her hostage. Chrístõ knew what would happen next. Madam Waterson screamed and backed away. She dropped her hostage who laughed with joy as Humphrey passed straight through her, filling her with happy emotions. He passed through Madam Waterson, too, exuding positive energy. But her mind was so twisted with dreams of underserved power over billions of people that she couldn’t feel the joy. She just felt despair that the joy was denied to her.

She fainted.

“Take her away,” Chrístõ said to the police officers. “Put her in the padded cell. Apart from the fact that she NEEDS it, the walls will act as a dampener on her. I think she’s very slightly psychic. That frequency she used to bamboozle everyone is actually radiating from her like ultra-sonic pheromones. Before she comes to trial she’ll have to be fitted with some kind of portable device to neutralise the effect and stop the judge and jury being influenced by her. And so that I don’t have a blinding headache when I give my evidence.”

Madam Waterson was taken away. The news broadcast switched to an announcement from the studio anchorman to say that the Lady Mayor had been impeached by an emergency session of the town council. The deputy mayor had taken charge until a new election could take place. Meanwhile, the streets were now clearing as people returned peacefully to their homes. The broadcast then switched to traffic news and reported tailbacks on the dual carriageway where the largest of the billboards had been toppled over and were currently blocking the nearside lanes.

“That’s all she achieved?” Marle Benning observed. “A traffic jam?”

“And the murder of a good man,” Chrístõ reminded them. The Headmaster nodded and told him that the school would close early this afternoon. But first, all students and faculty would gather in the assembly hall for a short memorial to that brave victim of the crisis.

There was a more formal memorial for Kyle Georgeson a few days later in Earth Park, where a tree was planted in his memory. The students of New Canberra school attended.

“You ought to have a medal,” Julia told Chrístõ as she stood beside him, holding his hand. A lot of people were holding hands. The fact that they had been banned from doing so for three days made them want to make the most of that freedom. “You stopped her.”

“No,” Chrístõ answered her. “For one thing, I didn’t stop her before she killed that brave man. Anyway, I’m supposed to be keeping a low profile. I’m meant to be an asylum seeker here. I don’t think medals and ceremonies and people congratulating me on being a clever Time Lord would be a good idea.”

“Well, you’re my hero, anyway,” she told him. “And your class think you’re fantastic. So do most of mine.”

“I can live with being fantastic,” he answered. “But keep an eye on me if I get too big-headed about it.”