Unfinished Business, Doctor Who, Dr. Who, Chris Eccleston, Christopher Eccleston, Doctor who Fiction

Jo Grant shivered, not only from the cold, but fear and apprehension, too. She watched as the rescue helicopter hovered over the meadow beside the loch and slowly landed. The men who jumped out as soon as the doors were open wore U.N.I.T caps with their uniforms. She recognised Sergeant Benton among them, looking grim and worried. It was he who caught hold of her as she ran forward.

“There’s nothing you can do, Miss Grant,” he told her in a gruff voice as if he, too, was holding back his emotions. “We were too late.”

“No!” she cried. “Oh no, it’s not possible. He can’t be dead. He can’t be.”

Benton tried to turn her so that she couldn’t see as the men brought the stretcher out of the helicopter, but she twisted in his arms and looked anyway. Not that she could see anything much. The body was covered with grey army blankets. The men hurried inside the house that served as the U.N.I.T headquarters in this part of the Scottish Highlands. Jo would have run after them if Benton hadn’t gently but firmly made her walk beside him at a steady pace.

Mike Yates was waiting in the corridor inside. He was wearing his cap, which meant Benton was supposed to salute him. The young captain said nothing about his lack of protocol. He said nothing at all, in fact. He took one look at the sergeant’s face then turned and hurried away.

“Jo!” Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart strode towards them. His face was grim, and the fact that he called her ‘Jo’ and not ‘Miss Grant’ was significant. “I’m sorry. There was nothing anyone could do…”

“They took him in there,” Jo said with a sob in her voice and a nod towards the closed door of the medical room. She was about to say something else when the outer door crashed open and another stretcher was rushed in. This, too, was covered, but an arm hung loose over the side of the stretcher. An arm that wasn’t Human. At least, not homo sapiens.

“He’s dead, too?” The Brigadier asked the stretcher bearers.

“As a doornail,” one of them replied. “I reckon every bone in his body was smashed in the fall.”

“Horrible,” Jo said. Benton was still holding her arm. He must have felt her tremble with emotion. But he didn’t say anything.

“There’s nothing you can do here,” The Brigadier said to her. “I’ll make sure you’re allowed in later, to see him, to… say goodbye. But for now… it would be better if….”

“I’ll take her to the mess and get her a cup of tea,” Benton offered. Jo didn’t want a cup of tea. She knew it would taste like hot water, but she let him lead her away as The Brigadier stepped into the medical room.

She really didn’t want tea, but it tasted better than she expected, at least as good as any tea made by a squaddie. Benton’s company was surprisingly reassuring, too. The square jawed sergeant with those rough, chiselled features didn’t look like anyone’s shoulder to cry on, but there was a kind heart under that dyed in the wool army exterior and he said all of the right things to try to make her feel better.

But what could possibly make her feel better about this?

“It’s just not right,” she said. “He’s lived for hundreds of years, visiting thousands and thousands of planets, fought all kinds of evil things – Daleks and Sea Devils, The Master….”

“Yeti, Cybermen, Silurians….” Benton added to the list.

“How can he die falling off a mountain?” Jo asked. “I mean… it’s just… Do you think…. Is there anyone we ought to inform… on his home planet? Shouldn’t they know he’s….”

Sergeant Benton didn’t know how to respond to that question. He knew all about breaking the news to loved ones. He’d done his share of that sad duty. But usually the loved ones were on planet Earth.

Did The Doctor’s people back on his home world… wherever it was… whatever it was called… actually count as ‘loved ones’? Did they understand the concept of love, of loss, grief, mourning, there?

The mission had started out well enough. There was almost a holiday atmosphere among the headquarters staff who travelled by plane as far as Inverness before forming a khaki convoy that followed behind the incongruous yellow vintage car driven by U.N.I.T.’s scientific advisor.

Of course, Jo was at The Doctor’s side as they travelled along narrow roads in glacial valleys with long ribbons of lochs on one side and craggy mountains on the other.

“Not merely mountains, Miss Grant,” The Brigadier corrected her when she commented on them. “Such a word hardly does justice to the Highlands. Anything less than two thousand feet is a Marilyn. Up to two thousand five hundred feet is a Graham, three thousand is a Corbett and more than that is a mighty Munro.”

The Brigadier was in a cheerful mood sitting in the back seat of Bessie drinking in the topography of his native land. He was usually so dour that Jo wondered if a trip to the Scottish Highlands was what he needed, even if it was to investigate strange sightings in the mountains – or Marilyns, Munros….

“What’s that one, then?” she asked as The Doctor stopped his car in front of a delightfully sprawling house with whitewashed walls and grey gabled roof. Mullardoch House, an Edwardian hunting lodge, was currently owned by the Ministry of Defence, as indicated by the military checkpoint at the gate and the collection of Land Rovers and Bedford trucks parked in the courtyard, to say nothing of the helicopter on the meadow between the house and Loch Mullardoch. Above it rose a long ridge of green and purple mountain with icy blue-white patches near the top and equally icy streams meandering down to meet the loch in the course of time.

“That is Sgúrr na Lapaich,” The Brigadier replied. “A fine Munro rising to three thousand seven hundred and seventy-three feet.”

“That’s the reason we’re here,” The Doctor added. “Reports of Neanderthal men hunting on the mountain.”

“It’s a hoax,” The Brigadier insisted. “The locals want to generate some more tourist trade. Loch Ness is only forty-odd miles away with its ‘wee beastie’ and they want their own legend. It’s hardly worth our time investigating.”

It must have been the Highland air, though, because The Brigadier didn’t in any way resent this waste of time. He seemed to relish the thought of days leading a team up the mountain on a wild goose chase.

Wild man chase, maybe?

The Doctor stood beside Bessie and looked up at Sgúrr na Lapaich.

“I wouldn’t be so sure about the hoax,” he said, but he didn’t elaborate any further. He turned and reached for Jo’s well-packed suitcase, carrying it as easily as if it was an overnight valise. A young corporal hurried over and took The Brigadier’s luggage into the house. Meanwhile four privates under Sergeant Benton’s watchful eye hauled a familiar blue box down from the back of a Bedford four tonner and installed it in the garage next to the house.

That feeling that this was a vacation remained with them through the evening of their first day at Mullardoch House. Jo enjoyed dinner in the lodge’s main dining room which served as the officer’s mess. She was the only woman at dinner, and she and The Doctor were the only civilians, but The Brigadier kept the conversation light and as non-military as possible. Afterwards, she withdrew in traditional fashion and went for a walk outside. The moon was three-quarters full and shining brightly down onto the calm, clear loch. She fastened her suede coat around her and walked along the water’s edge listening to the night sounds of a Highland glen – the water gently lapping, a bird of prey crying suddenly in the dark, the deeper sound of an animal, perhaps a stag with magnificent antlers such as she had seen in romanticised images of Scotland. Both must have been a long way off, but the sounds carried on the still air.

There was another sound. It was like a voice, but not quite. She looked around nervously, aware that she had walked quite a distance from the house. There were guards on patrol, of course. This was a military instillation for all that it was so beautiful. If she called out, somebody would come running.

But the sound had gone, now. She laughed at herself for being so silly. She was such a city girl, after all, scared of noises in the night now she was out in the countryside.

All the same, she decided against going any further away from the house. She started to turn back.

Then something ran past her, so close she felt it brush against her coat. It was a deer. It hardly noticed her. It was gone before she had a chance to identify it. But then something else ran towards her. She stared in amazement at the short, squat figure carrying a fearsome looking spear. As he passed her by she was aware of a strong smell of untreated animal skins and Human sweat. In the moonlight she saw the spear leave the man’s hand. There was a brief squeal as the weapon found its target, then the man returned, dragging the carcass of the deer behind him. Jo saw the creature’s blood glistening in the moonlight. She saw its glassy dead eyes. For a brief moment she saw the hunter’s eyes. He looked back at her in surprise then carried on along the lakeside.

Jo turned and ran towards the house. One of the guards shouted for her to halt. She did so, identifying herself breathlessly.

“I… just… saw… a caveman hunting by the lake,” she managed to say between gasps.

A very short time later she was sitting on a comfortable sofa being plied with tea while she repeated her story to The Doctor and The Brigadier. The Doctor was interested in every detail. The Brigadier was too busy revising his ‘hoax’ conviction to think of asking any questions at all.

“The spear, Jo, what was it like?” The Doctor asked.

“I don’t really know,” she answered. “It was dark. I know what I saw, but the details.…”

“The details are in your head, even if you don’t know it,” The Doctor told her. He reached and took one of her hands in his. He placed his other hand on her forehead and his face tightened as if he was concentrating hard.

“Now describe the spear,” he told her.

“It was… a long piece of wood, cut and smoothed with a sharp tool. It had a flint fastened on the end with strips of leather.” Jo was surprised by her own words. She didn’t think she knew that much about the spear. The Doctor prompted her to describe the animal that had been killed. She did so.

“Now tell me about the man,” The Doctor said patiently. “Describe him to me.”

“Short,” she answered. “Shorter than me, but broad-shouldered, strong. He was wearing fur. It smelt bad. He had bad teeth… his face was rough. He had a matted beard and hair. The hair was long…. And… when he ran…. He was stooped, as if his spine wasn’t straight.”

“There, Brigadier,” The Doctor said. “Jo has just described perfectly a stone age hunter… right down to the smell.”

“I’m sure that is what Miss Jones thinks she saw,” The Brigadier answered. “And as a rule, I would consider her a truthful and reliable witness. But I don’t believe it. If this isn’t part of some elaborate charade, then it’s a poacher. Either way, it’s trespassing on MOD property and he’s going to be very sorry when we apprehend him.”

Jo was surprised by The Brigadier’s response and a little hurt by it, too. Even if she was excitable sometimes, he knew she wasn’t the sort of person to make things up. She knew what she saw.

It was a caveman.

The Brigadier turned and left the room. Whether he was aware of Jo glaring at his retreating back she didn’t know.

“I did see him, Doctor,” she said.

“I believe you, Jo,” The Doctor replied. “I think he does, too. He’s just being stubborn… and Scottish.”


“The Brigadier is of the firm belief that his race is impervious to fancy. He thinks anyone who lives in such a rugged, hard landscape as the Highlands has no time for fancifulness, for making up stories and seeing things that aren’t there. He blames things like the Loch Ness Monster on tourists.”

“Is he right?” Jo asked.

“Not in the slightest,” The Doctor answered. “Hardy people in harsh landscapes are as prone to fanciful ideas as anyone else. Do you have any idea how many types of fairy legends there are originating in Scotland?”

“A lot?”

“A lot. And as for things that really are there, like the Loch Ness Monster and our Neanderthal men… well, The Brigadier really ought to know better by now, the time he’s been in charge of U.N.I.T. He should know anything’s possible. Don’t you worry, my dear. He’ll change his mind when he looks at the evidence properly.”

“But there isn’t really any evidence apart from people like me who ‘think’ we saw something,” Jo reminded him.

“There’s plenty of evidence. Otherwise we wouldn’t have come all the way up here at such huge expense to the Great British Taxpayer,” The Doctor assured her. “Quite apart from so many sightings it’s quite impossible to ignore, Flint spear heads have been turning up in unexpected places. The best specimen was a carefully sharpened flint fastened to a broken off piece of the shaft with strips of untreated leather. A clever chap from Edinburgh University confirmed that it was a perfect specimen of a Neolithic hunting spear – the tooling of the flint, the leather strips, taken from the hide of a giant elk that hasn’t been seen in Britain since the end of the last ice age. The wood is from a tree that has been extinct in these islands since the tenth century AD. But it isn’t a fossil. It wasn’t found in a burial chamber that has lain undisturbed for millennia. It was found in the haunch of a farmer’s prize Aberdeen Angus. It was deep in the animal, the shaft broken off as if it had bolted away from the hunter before he could go in for the kill. That happened two nights ago, and that’s what sealed it for the civilian authorities. They called the army. They decided it was too mysterious for the regular troops and summoned U.N.I.T. to the scene. Tomorrow, I’m joining The Brigadier and his team on a search of the mountain. All the evidence suggests the stone age men come from there.”

“You’re joining him?” Jo queried. “Just you? Not both of us?”

“You’ve got no experience of mountain climbing,” The Doctor explained. “And not at the pace an army mountaineering team would be setting.”

“And you do?” Jo challenged him.

“In my younger days I climbed some of the highest mountains in the galaxy – none of which are on planet Earth, you may be sure. I remember ascending Mount Ararubau Sigma in the Erizig system….”

Jo usually enjoyed The Doctor’s stories, but she was still feeling a bit put out about these plans that didn’t include her.

“Why am I here, then?” she asked, cutting him off. “If I can’t climb the mountain and I wouldn’t be able to keep up with all you men, anyway, why did I come up here? I might as well have stayed in London.”

“The Brigadier would have been happy to leave you behind. I thought you might enjoy a little Scottish holiday while we do the hard work. It’s a very lovely place, and I didn’t expect anything too dangerous.”

“Right, so The Brigadier is a misogynist and you’re just patronising. I ought to be mad at you both. But it really IS lovely around here, and I suppose I can find something to do for the day while you’re off being real men up the mountain.”

She smiled her elfin smile at The Doctor. He smiled back. They understood each other well enough. Her crossness was only superficial. She couldn’t even be properly mad at The Brigadier. She reminded The Doctor that he was in the middle of an anecdote about the mountain of… whatever it was!

The Doctor recommenced his anecdote. Jo made herself comfortable and listened to his story, lulled by the sound of his voice. She almost fell asleep listening to him and only went to bed properly when he prompted her gently.

She woke the next morning to the sound of army Land Rovers moving out of the courtyard beneath her window. She saw The Doctor and The Brigadier climbing into one of the vehicles and waved. The Doctor looked up and waved back. Then the little convoy was gone. She felt a twinge of regret, even though the reasons why she was left behind made sense.

She showered and dressed and went down to the dining room. Breakfast was served to her by a young private. Mike Yates was there, too. He had already had his breakfast, but he was served a cup of coffee on request and sat at the table with her.

“I’m in charge around here until the Brigadier gets back,” he said. “I could get quite heady with the power.”

Jo laughed at that idea.

“They’ll be back later, won’t they?” she answered. “It’s not a HUGE mountain – or Munro or whatever it is.”

“Of course, they will. Though perhaps not until very late. They need to do a thorough search. Meanwhile, I can probably delegate my huge authority over the day’s duties to somebody else and take you for a walk around the lake. Not that you’re not perfectly safe on your own, of course, in broad daylight. But if you’d like the company?”

Jo thought he probably HAD been told to accompany her, either by The Brigadier or The Doctor, but she didn’t mind. Mike was a very nice man, dishy, too, cutting a fine figure in his captain’s uniform. A walk around the lake with him would be a pleasant way to spend the morning.

And so it proved. He fell into step at her civilian pace, rather than the march he was used to, and he talked to her easily as they walked. He liked much of the same kind of music as she did and the same kind of films. He shared her interest in ecological issues.

“You’re a bit of a hippy, really, aren’t you?” she said to him. “How did you come to be in the army? If… that’s not a personal question.”

“It’s a fair question,” he answered. “I joined the army because it was expected of me. My father and uncle, my grandfather, were all soldiers. My family are very proud of me. I’m quite young to have a commission, you know. That’s U.N.I.T., of course. Promotion is easy. All you have to do is avoid being zapped by a yeti or a Dalek or something equally nasty.”

He said it jokingly, and she laughed with him, but it was a dark kind of humour that she had got used to being around soldiers and there was a cruel kind of truth to it.

“I’m sure you deserved to be a Captain,” she assured him. “And you look very nice in uniform, even though I think you’d be just as handsome with longer hair and a jazzy shirt in civvy street.”

“Thanks,” he said. He actually took her hand, then. They were far enough away from the house, out of sight of the soldiers he was in command of, and he could be a little more informal. She liked the feel of his hand on hers. She liked walking with him. She thought she would like to do other things with him. She wondered if there was anywhere in this glen that would qualify as a ‘date’ if he asked.

Then she forgot about that sort of thing altogether. She and Mike both spotted the strange figure at once. It was squatting by the water’s edge, drinking the water by reaching down and scooping handfuls.

“That’s not safe, surely!” exclaimed Jo, a city girl, used to water that was filtered and purified before it came through her taps. Then she noticed that Mike was reaching for his side arm. “Oh, no. There’s no need for that, surely? Let me…”

It was very definitely one of the cave people, just like the one she had seen last night. But this one was smaller, slimmer – it was female. Jo took a few tentative steps towards her. She was alert immediately, going from a crouch to upright – or nearly upright, anyway – in one movement. She shied away from Jo, crying out wordlessly, but in a tone that conveyed fear.

“No, it’s all right, really it is,” Jo said to the cave woman in a gentle, reassuring tone. “I won’t hurt you. I’m Jo. My name is Jo. Do you understand? Jo… I’m your friend. Jo… friend.”

“J..o….” The woman struggled even with that one syllable word. Jo realised that all her other words must have been incomprehensible sounds to her. Even ‘friend’ meant nothing.

“Jo,” she repeated. “Friend.” She was aware that Mike was behind her. She could sense him standing very still, his hand on his side arm, because he was a soldier, even if he was a frustrated hippy one. His first thought would be to protect her from something wild and potentially dangerous.

Jo didn’t blame him for that. But she hoped he would hold his instinct in check for now, because she was sure the cave woman wasn’t a threat to her. She reached out her hand to the woman, trying to be as unthreatening as possible.

But the lack of communication between them was a problem. The woman just didn’t understand that Jo was just trying to be nice to her. She gave another fearful cry and turned to run away.

“Please don’t,” Jo called out. Then she cried out fearfully, too. The woman was in such a haste to fly away from her that she didn’t see a large piece of brushwood across her path. She tripped and fell sideways, into the loch. She screamed in shock. The water must have been very cold, and it was deep even very close to the shore. There was a current, too. When her head bobbed up from her initial plunge she was already several yards from the shore, and she obviously couldn’t swim.

Mike dashed past her, throwing off his jacket, cap and gunbelt before diving into the water. He swam a few strong strokes and was beside the woman as she sank under the water a second time. Jo literally held her breath as he grabbed the woman and lifted her head above the water before swimming back to the edge of the loch. He passed the woman safely up to Jo before pulling himself out of the water. He was shivering with the cold, but his first thought was for the unconscious woman. He began compressions on her chest, pumping the water she had swallowed from her lungs. She coughed and cried out again, then fainted. Mike wrapped her in his jacket and lifted her in his arms.

“She’s light,” he said. “I don’t think she’s had a decent meal in her entire life.”

Jo grabbed up his gunbelt and cap and ran to match his stride as he hurried back to the house. As soon as he was in shouting distance he called for help. A stretcher was quickly brought out and the woman was transferred to the medical room. Jo stayed with her while Mike went to get showered and changed. She watched the medical officer administer a sedative before he thoroughly examined the cave woman.

“She’s a phenomenon,” the MO said. “If I wasn’t attached to U.N.I.T. I wouldn’t believe the evidence of my eyes. Her hair, skin, teeth, bone structure, bacteria in her blood from eating raw meat and untreated water, anaemia from lack of fruit or vegetables to balance her diet. She’s only about seventeen years old, you know, and yet I’d say she’s given birth at least twice. All the signs of a short, hard life. If she lives to twenty-five she’ll be an elder of her tribe.”


“I don’t know. That’s the thing. All I can tell you is that this woman isn’t from our time. She’s barely of our species. It’s as if she comes from a tribe that somehow hasn’t evolved at all for about thirteen thousand years. But how….”

Jo had as many questions as the MO had. But a commotion outside the medical room distracted her. Mike Yates rushed in.

“Jo, there’s been an accident,” he said. “Up on the mountain. They’re sending the helicopter to bring back… the… bodies.”

“Bodies?” Jo felt her legs go weak beneath her. “Who…”

“I’m sorry, Jo,” Mike added. “It’s The Doctor. He’s dead.”

“Tell me what happened,” she said to Sergeant Benton as he filled her tea cup for a second time. “What did you find up there? The other body… what is it?”

“We found a ledge with a cave that wasn’t on any map of the area,” Benton answered her. “The Brigadier said a rock fall in the winter might have uncovered it. But inside we found a whole tribe of cavemen – cavewomen and kids, as well. The Doctor said that was too simplistic a name for them, really. He said they were Neolithic. He went on about what that means. Neo… new… lithic…. stone… you know what he’s like. He never uses one sentence when he can have three or four instead. But they were all hunkered down in the cave, so I don’t know what else we’re supposed to call them. They were absolutely petrified of us with our uniforms and guns. They couldn’t talk properly and obviously had no idea what we were saying to them. The Doctor was the only one who could get close enough to them. He said that their grunts and cries were a proto-language and that he could understand it from the tone and tempo of the sounds and the body language. He was squatting there in the cave, amongst them all, making grunting noises and gesticulating, while we’re all standing at the cave entrance like a bunch of lemons.”

“He could talk to them, then?” Jo asked. She thought of the cave woman in the medical room and imagined The Doctor being able to talk to her. Then she remembered that he was lying in the same room – and he would never talk to anyone again. “But how did it all go wrong? What happened after that?”

“He seemed to have the trust of some of them. But then… a bit of an argument blew up between them. At least I suppose it was an argument. It was mostly grunting. But it got very violent. The Doctor, of course, tried to intervene, trying to calm them down. Then… it was accidental… but one of our men let off his gun. The bullet went astray. Nobody was hurt, but it completely panicked the cavemen. They surged forward. The Doctor was caught up with them and he and one of them went over the edge. They both fell all the way down. There was no hope. The caveman… he looked like every bone in his body was broken. The Doctor was just….”

That brought them back around to the awful, terrible reality. Jo bit her lip to stop herself from crying. Benton’s face was tightly set. He was holding in his feelings. He was a soldier, a sergeant at that, and crying wasn’t something he did.

“Jo!” Mike Yates appeared at the door. “Come quick.”

She didn’t ask why. She ran after him as he turned and followed him into the medical room. She gave a cry of astonishment. The Doctor was sitting up on the bed he had been placed on. He was talking to the Medical Officer and The Brigadier, assuring them both that he was not only alive, but perfectly well.

“Doctor!” Jo dashed past them both, flung her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. “Oh, Doctor, they said you were dead!”

“He WAS dead!” the MO insisted. “I examined him. There was no heartbeat, no respiration….”

“I put myself into suspended animation while I was recovering from the fall,” The Doctor said as if that was an adequate explanation. He looked at the table with the covered body of the caveman who had fallen with him. “That poor fellow didn’t stand a chance, unfortunately.”

“Doctor, there’s another one here,” Jo said, and quickly explained about the cave woman who had almost drowned without Mike’s quick thinking. He swung himself off the bed and went to where the woman was still heavily sedated and unaware of her strange surroundings. “Good,” The Doctor said about that. “The less she sees of this modern world, the less there is to trouble her.” Then he put his hand on her forehead and his eyes became oddly unfocussed. He was reading the cavewoman’s mind.

“The spoken language is still very primitive,” The Doctor said. “She doesn’t think in words. She thinks in images. I can see her life in pictures, as part of a nomadic tribe, hunting woolly mammoth, lions, elk… sleeping in the open under the stars in warm weather, or hunkering in caves in the winter with bits of fire to keep them warm. They took refuge from a storm, but there was a time rift centred on the cave they chose. They emerged in this time, in a world they didn’t understand. They couldn’t find their way back to the world they knew, where there were great beasts to kill for food, and the land was quiet and empty, not like this frightening world where there are men in strange skins who have spears that make great noises.” He looked around at Jo, Mike and the Medical Officer. “She doesn’t mean the soldiers. It looks like she ran into a farmer who let off his shotgun at her. She ran away and got herself lost, separated from the rest of the tribe.”

“Poor thing. She must have been so scared,” Jo said with characteristic sympathy for anyone in trouble. “What about the tribe? They’re stuck here?”

“The rift closed behind them,” The Doctor answered. “They can’t get back without my help.”

“Your help?” Jo queried. “Does that mean that you CAN help them?”

“I believe I can,” he said. He touched the cavewoman’s forehead again and concentrated even more intently on her thoughts. He opened his eyes and smiled triumphantly. “She has little knowledge in the sense we understand it, but there is more in her mind than she will ever know. I could see through her memories the night sky in her time, the stars in their relative positions. I can work out what time they come from. And once I know that…”

He left the statement hanging. Nobody around him would have understood what he meant to do even if he had continued. They trusted him to have the answer and that was the important thing.

“Jo, I’ll need your help in the TARDIS. Brigadier, I need your men to remain on base and do nothing. The tribe will be resting in their cave. They hunt by night, when the carnivores roam in their world. The woman was the only one of them to be seen by day and that is only because she couldn’t find the cave before daybreak. They’ll be no trouble until I’m ready. And when I am, I won’t need men with guns to frighten them. They’ll be frightened enough, unfortunately.”

Jo followed The Doctor into the TARDIS where he set to work at the console for a long time, just doing long calculations that were far beyond her understanding of maths. She wondered why he needed her. He didn’t even need tea making. She made some, but his cup went cold on the side of the console.

“I’m sorry you were so upset about me,” he said when he paused in the work, once. “That ability my species has to self-repair… we take it for granted, but Humans just see what they see. Of course, I would have looked dead, even to the MO.”

“Everyone was worried,” Jo told him. “Even Benton was close to tears. I mean, can you imagine that? He’s such a tough guy. The Brigadier was keeping a good old British stiff upper lip, but underneath I think he was as distressed as anyone else. Your ‘death’ nearly knocked the whole regiment for six. I’m glad you’re all right. For EVERYONE. And… especially for me. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“It’s nice to be appreciated,” The Doctor said. He turned and picked up the cold cup of tea and swallowed it down in one gulp. “Ah, that’s just what I needed. Thank you very much, Jo. We’re ready to go, now.”

“You mean, all you needed me in here for was a cup of tea?”

“A cup of tea is far more important than you think. My body went through quite an overhaul. Tea, cold tea, especially, is a source of free radicals that give my brain the extra burst it needs for this complicated procedure.”


“Go and tell The Brigadier I’m ready. Ask Yates and Benton to bring the woman and the body of that poor wretch here to the TARDIS. They’ll be more than enough for this job.”

Jo did as he said. A short time later Yates carried the cave woman into the TARDIS and Benton brought the broken body of the man. The Brigadier accompanied them.

“I may not be much use,” he said. “But at some point I’ll have to submit a report to Geneva about all this. I’d like to know what you’re actually going to do to resolve this situation.”

“What I’m going to do is send them all home, including these. I don’t want anyone getting any ideas about experimenting on either the woman or the dead man. They don’t deserve that.”

“I’m sure there is a LOT that could be learnt from them,” The Brigadier contradicted him. “About the origin of our Human species. There are scientists who would…”

He caught The Doctor’s stony expression and remembered that he was not Human and yet he was the one who was exhibiting the meaning of the word ‘humane’ right now.

“Quite right, Doctor,” The Brigadier agreed. “Let’s send them home where they belong.”

“This is where it could be frightening for them,” The Doctor said as he reached for the dematerialisation switch. The central time rotor moved up and down and there was a groaning, grinding noise. On the viewscreen the garage dissolved and almost instantly the cave on a ledge high on Sgúrr na Lapaich came into view. The Neolithic tribe were at rest, but the sound of the TARDIS materialising startled them awake and by the time The Doctor stepped out with the still sedated woman in his arms they were surrounding the TARDIS with their spears in their hands. Safely inside Jo, Yates, Benton and The Brigadier watched him place the woman gently on the ground then speak in urgent grunts. The spears were lowered, but still held ready to attack again. The Doctor turned and signalled to Benton. He brought the dead body out and laid it on the ground, then retreated back into the TARDIS again.

The Doctor stepped back as far as the TARDIS door. He was still speaking in Neolithic grunts and pointing towards the far wall of the cave. He must have been getting through to them because almost all of the tribes-people started to turn and look at the wall. The Doctor stepped backwards into the TARDIS and closed the door, then he ran to the console. He flipped several switches and turned dials. Everyone looked at the viewscreen. There was an odd shimmering outside the TARDIS and then that back cave wall was no longer a wall. It was an opening looking out onto a snow covered mountain side with an iron grey sky over it. A less inviting landscape Jo couldn’t imagine, but it must have been familiar to the tribe. They started to walk towards it. One of the men lifted the woman in his arms. Another brought the body of the dead man. They stepped out of the cave into the grey light of their own time and place. The Doctor slowly turned all of the dials and knobs he had turned before and the air shimmered again before the solid cave wall returned.

“You’ve done it,” Jo said.

“It certainly appears to be so,” The Doctor admitted. He opened the door and stepped out of the TARDIS. Everyone else followed simply because he didn’t say they couldn’t. They looked at the wall curiously. It wasn’t just a bare wall. It had cave drawings on it. Most of them were predictable pictures of Neolithic hunters chasing mammoth, mountain lions, giant elk, but there was one image in the middle of them all that was worthy of attention. It was a rectangular object with rays of light coming from the top. The stick men representing the Neolithic tribe were standing around it and even though they were just stick figures, it was possible to imagine they were in awe of it.

“Well, I dare say some anthropologist from Edinburgh University can have a fine time working out what that signifies,” The Brigadier said. “I doubt he’ll ever hit on the truth.”

“Mmm.” The Doctor stepped back and drew his sonic screwdriver from his pocket. He aimed it at the image of the TARDIS and the rock crumbled, distorting the drawing until it was impossible to see what it was. “On the whole, it might be better not to give them anything to speculate about.”

“Perhaps you’re right, Doctor,” The Brigadier agreed. “Well, that wraps this case up, and in record time. I think we’d better stay another week at Mullardoch House, just so that the locals think they’re getting their tax-paying money’s worth out of the military. It gives us time to establish a cover story, something on the lines of it all being a hoax, I expect.”

“What you really mean,” Jo said to him. “Is that you want to spend a bit more time in the Highlands.”

The Brigadier didn’t answer her, but she knew she had hit the mark. She didn’t mind. A Scottish holiday seemed like a good idea to her, too. And there was a look in Mike Yates’ eyes that suggested he was amiable to the idea of some more quiet walks along the loch side.

Maybe there was even somewhere around here that they could go that would qualify as a ‘date’.