Three days after ‘The Day’ when Torchwood Glasgow was getting back to business along with the rest of the city, Owen had as good an answer to his question as he was likely to get. And it came from a very unlikely source.
“Boss,” Dougal said to him as he was quietly finishing an analysis of alien DNA traces found in Dumfries before everything stopped. “There’s somebody upstairs in the tourist office. He says he wants to talk to Torchwood. Marcia is stalling him, but he’s quite insistent. Should I go and do a strong arm on him or...”
“We’d better find out what he has to say,” Owen replied. “If only to find out how he knows where we are.”
He took the turbo lift with Dougal and viewed the ‘customer’ through a spyhole in the concealed door, first. He was a skinny, oddly dressed character who didn’t look like he could be very much trouble physically.
They stepped out into the brightly lit, friendly Welsh tourist office where a satisfied customer was just leaving with a handful of brochures. Dougal flanked the stranger while Owen faced him and introduced himself as Doctor Harper.
“I... have some information for Torchwood,” the man said in a hesitant voice. “From the visitors.”
“From who?” Owen asked, sizing him up and putting him into the fruitcake section straight away. But he had come here and asked for Torchwood. That was dangerous. He couldn’t be immediately dismissed.
“The visitors.” He pointed up to the ceiling meaningfully. “The ones who... you know... The Day....”
It was interesting how those two words had acquired capital letters even in conversation. Owen glanced at Dougal and nodded. He grasped him firmly by the shoulder and guided him towards the concealed door. The man said nothing as he was taken down the corridor and into the lift. He made no comments at all about Hub Central when he got down there. He didn’t seem excited about it. He probably wasn’t an internet conspiracy freak trying to get into the ‘batcave’. They could never get over their disappointment at how much like an ordinary office the Hub was.
They brought him to the interrogation room, but he seemed harmless enough not to bother handcuffing to the table. Darius brought him coffee.
“I’m Gordon Carr,” he said when Owen prompted him. “I live in Burnside, near the station. I’m a medium.”
“Funny, you look like a small to me,” Owen remarked. Gordon Carr frowned.
“I’ve heard that joke many times. The fact remains, I have the gift of sight. I could show you my credentials. I have given horoscope readings to many well known personalities, many of whom are regular visitors to my parlour. I have helped the police with their investigations, and private work for clients trying to find missing people or property. I am not a charlatan, I assure you.”
Owen glanced at the electronic gizmo built into his side of the table. It was a useful piece of alien technology that not only detected if somebody was telling the truth or a lie, but could also indicate if they were telling a lie believing it to be the truth. In extensive tests they had found it capable of penetrating hypnotic suggestion and paranoid delusions of the deepest kind. It told him that Gordon Carr was telling the plain, open truth.
“What do you know about the Visitors?” Owen asked.
“I stayed in the city,” he said. “I knew there was nothing to be scared of. I knew the world wasn’t ending and we weren’t going to be embroiled in an intergalactic war. It would have been in the horoscopes I had given my clients. So I waited in my parlour. Of course it was a quiet day. Nobody needed my services. But just before the space ship left, I felt a voice in my head. It was them. They gave me a message. They told me to tell the authorities on my world. I tried the police, the military, the City Council. I even tried ringing the Scottish Assembly, Whitehall, Thames House. They all laughed. Then... one of my clients, Mr Rocastle, who comes to me to communicate with his late wife, told me about Torchwood. He said to come here...”
“And the message was...” Owen prompted, deciding they could worry about Mr Rocastle later.
“You’re not ready yet.”
“That’s it? ‘You’re not ready.’ Who isn’t ready? The government, the City of Glasgow, the Human race? Not ready for what? Invasion, colonisation, joining the intergalactic equivalent of the EU?”
“I’m sorry, they didn’t say. Only that. I... thought you might understand what it means.”
“Sorry to disappoint you,” Owen commented. “All right, thank you for your time, Mr Carr. Finish your coffee and Mr Drummond here will take you home at absolutely no charge.”
The Retcon in the coffee was good stuff. Only five minutes later Dougal buckled the sleeping man safely into the back of the Ford Escape.
“Don’t worry, boss,” he said. “I’ll get this Mr Rocastle’s details from his records before I leave him. We’ll have a word with him another day about how he knows where we are.”
“His dead wife probably told him,” Owen remarked dryly. He watched Dougal drive away and walked on back to the Hub thinking about the message he was perfectly certain really did come from the alien Visitors.
“You’re not ready.”
A dozen explanations presented themselves. But he was sure of one thing. The message wasn’t for Torchwood.
Because they damned well WERE ready.