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he Doctor whirled to the console panel housing the telephone. He reached for the receiver and then stopped. ‘Phone…’ 

‘Phone?’ Amy asked.

‘I’ve just realized. It isn’t here.’

She pointed at the console. ‘Er, it’s there.’

‘No, no, my mobile,’ the Doctor replied, his face drifting away, his mind searching. ‘I haven’t seen it for ages…’

‘So?’

‘Well, I just suddenly got the feeling I’ve left it somewhere I shouldn’t. If it’s at the wrong point in a life-form’s history it could alter the course of its science and technology. Alter history – damage the time-line of established events...’

One minute earlier

The Doctor threw the “GO!” lever and the TARDIS’s engines roared. ‘So! Off you pop, grab your cossie and your beach bag and – Geronimo!’

Was he serious? Amy wondered. ‘You’re not gonna change?’

‘No.’

‘You said it’s got two suns. In tweed and boots you’re gonna bake!’

‘Apples and oranges!’ the Doctor replied, winking. ‘Human and Time Lord! Step across that big blue threshold, Amy, and boom! You’re through the looking glass – different bodies, different rules. Same reason I won’t need any shades or the Dual UV Cream we’ll have to pick up for you.’

Amy rolled her eyes. ‘Yeah, well, your body doesn’t have a shame gland, that’s for sure. Please tell me that, at some point, you’ll be losing the – ’

‘Keep trying, Pond!’ the Doctor laughed. ‘Smear the gear all you want, it’s staying put!’

‘Oh, I’ll wear ya down,’ she said teasingly.

‘Ha! Not a chance.’ He tweaked the tie. ‘Bow – ties – are – the – best and this one doesn’t come off for anyone. Besides, Space Florida’s one of the very latest holiday spots. Everything built yesterday. I wanna hit them with some old skool cool.’

‘OK, whatever.’ What do you do with someone, she thought, who despite all the evidence, is convinced he’s the galaxy’s slickest looking dude? ‘But I’m not giving up, mister. So, tell me more about it.’

‘Oh, they’ve got the lot: Pool bars the size of the Dead Sea! Air Surfing in the lower atmosphere! Anti-grav Crazy Golf’s my favourite. You really haven’t lived until you’ve knocked a floating golf ball through a floating windmill. Trust me. You’ll be smiling for three days straight. In fact, I’ll phone ahead, book our spot now. It’s very popular.’

The Doctor whirled to the console panel housing the telephone. He reached for the receiver and then stopped. ‘Phone…’ 

‘Phone?’ Amy said.

‘I’ve just realized, it isn’t here.’

She pointed at the console. ‘Er, it’s there.’

‘No, no, my mobile,’ the Doctor replied, his face drifting away, his mind searching. ‘I haven’t seen it for ages…’

‘So?’

‘Well, I just suddenly got the feeling I’ve left it somewhere I shouldn’t. If it’s at the wrong point in a life-form’s history it could alter the course of its science and technology. Alter history – damage the time-line of established events...’ The Doctor smiled suddenly. ‘Or, actually – let’s not over dramatize – it could just be around here somewhere. I’ll give it a ring. With any luck the phone’ll be in one of my bits’n’bobs cabinets. You know me, always dumping stuff there and forgetting what I’ve done with it. Have a listen, would you?’  

‘Actually, I’ve never even seen you with a phone. When was the last time you had one?’

‘One of my first test flights in the new TARDIS,’ the Doctor said, picking up the receiver. ‘Just before I came back for you.’

Amy went down the stairs behind the console dais and followed the wall to the line of wooden storage lockers. ‘Ah, it’s ringing…’ she heard a moment later and began to patrol the row, straining to catch the ring-tone. But there was nothing. ‘I can’t hear anything.’

‘OK, Amy.’

As she came up the stairs the Doctor was plugging the receiver into an outlet. ‘What are you doing?’

He grinned, patting the console. ‘This clever, brilliant and amazing old thing can track the phone from the connection.’

‘Cool.’ The sweet, goofy thing the TARDIS always brought out in him was adorable and never failed to make Amy smile.

‘What?’

‘Nothing, just you and the TARDIS, the galaxy’s great love story.’

‘And who could blame me when she’s so loveable? Aren’t you, dear?’ The Doctor flicked a trio of toggle switches beneath the outlet and studied one of a cluster of adjacent read-outs. ‘Here we are, OK…Earth. 7th June, 1679. Hurrah! That’s a relief.’

‘What d’you mean?’

‘Well, given that on Earth the mobile phone arrived in the 1980s, there’s such a technological gulf between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries it means there’s no way mine could accelerate its invention before the right time. If the phone were nearer the late twentieth century the dangers would be far greater.’

‘Have you changed your mind? You’re not going to fetch it?’

‘Oh no, I don’t want to leave it there. The risks are minimized but it still shouldn’t be there. You know what things are like around me, all sorts might happen.’ The Doctor moved a fingertip across the read-out. ‘Right, OK, narrowing down the location… France… Paris. Oh, of course! Should’ve realized! It’s Louis. Right, two shakes and we’re there.’

‘Louis?’

The Doctor turned to her. ‘Louis XIV. One of Earth’s most famous emperors, created the Palace of Versailles, the greatest in Europe. And, also, he – ’

‘Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard of him. What’s he doing with your handset?’

Spinning to the navigation panel, the Doctor began setting co-ordinates. ‘March 1679, a Dalek squad arrives in France thanks to a leak off a time corridor to a later invasion. They can’t get back and… you know the Daleks. They default to their priority order: blitzkrieg the dominant life-form.’ He yanked the “GO!” lever and the engines surged. ‘Thankfully for Louis the TARDIS can’t do chocolate – ooh, what’s that..?’ The Doctor peered at a dial. 

‘Chocolate?’

He banged the dial with the edge of his fist. ‘Ah, that’s better. Yes, the TARDIS is a gorgeous thing and a joy forever but, as I say, she can’t do chocolate. Monsieur Vauban’s chaps make the scrummiest in the universe. So, I came out of the shop, it’s all kicking off and, long story short, Louis and I are about to be separated so I gave him a phone to keep in touch, help organize the defence. Then things got really out of hand.’

As Amy listened to his story she felt suddenly uneasy – jealous – as she always did at these moments when something from the Doctor’s past selves emerged. There was so much of him, hundreds of years of life, things he’d done, that she’d never experienced. And when they did come up, like this, she felt shut out – like the outsider among a group of close friends; the one always smiling along; on the edge of all the jokes, all the things that mattered. 

‘So! Eye stalks everywhere, Dalek menace – toast. In all the bonkers-dashing about-sonic’y stuff my phone got zapped. You know, I really could’ve sworn that I’d got the other one back... Anyway, that was that.’

Amy swallowed her discomfort. ‘It’ll be awesome to take the Versailles tour.’

‘Sorry, Pond. Versailles isn’t actually in Paris and it wasn’t finished until..? 1682. And we won’t be around long enough for Louis to give us a tour of anything. Believe you me, he’d want to because, frankly, the guy is the biggest bore. And vain! Versailles had a Hall of Mirrors. Over two hundred of them! Why d’you think that is? If he sees you it’ll take even longer to get out of there so you’re staying put.’

 
         

artwork by ANDY LAMBERT
used with permission
 
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