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he Doctor knew better than anyone that the TARDIS’ rooms and passages tended not to be fixed points in space, but he had always felt as if he knew every nook and cranny like the back of his…well…whatever the back of his current hand looked like.

He had been traveling longer in his TARDIS than any other Time Lord had ever spent with theirs, and so he presumed he had a handle on the rooms and passages not always being where they were the last time they were…well…wherever they were. It seemed now that he was mistaken.

It was a problem the Doctor mulled over as he wandered down one unparticular passage he was sure he’d never seen before. Well, he couldn’t be too sure, but he thought he was sure, at least so far as he could be sure that he was sure. Perhaps he was just in a daze since the urge to see it again had struck him suddenly out of nowhere. It had been nagging at him like a ceaseless whisper in his ear for long enough to become an incessant itch that needed to be scratched. He had to see it!

He was starting to get a headache. He’d been wandering around for what felt like a decade and he still hadn’t found what he was looking for. What confounded the issue was that the Doctor could find some rooms without any problem—or too much of a problem. The control room, for example, always seemed fairly simple to get back to, although there was that one instance, just after having regenerated for the fourth time, when he used his previous self’s absurdly long scarf as a sort of breadcrumb trail to find his way back. But he had attributed that bout of disorientation to a particularly traumatic regeneration. All in all, the control room always seemed to be where and when he needed it. Likewise, whatever rooms his various companions used as their own personal space during their stay generally kept close to the control room and could easily be found. The bathroom, too, always seemed within a hop, skip, and a short jump. It was a feature all his companions had always seemed thankful for.

Even the swimming pool tended to stay in the same general vicinity of wherever it previously was. The Doctor presumed it had something to do with drainage but he wasn’t completely convinced. And the library was always two lefts, five rights, and down the spiral stairs. Except for that one time it wasn’t, but that was K-9’s fault. The silly little dog though it was unnecessary for there to be a library when he had already stored all the books in his databanks, and subsequently decided to delete it. Luckily the Doctor was able to restore it, although not without the tragic loss of an entire collection of choose-your-own-adventure novels. He quite missed those.

The Doctor rounded a bend, strolled down a corridor, made two left turns followed by three right turns, and had no idea where he was. How was this possible? He wasn’t sure it was even remotely probable. Nevertheless, it was undeniable. He was lost in his own TARDIS. If the Corsair was still alive to hear about this the Doctor would hear no end of it!

He sort of recognised the area; this part of the TARDIS, like most areas, wasn’t quite the same as the rest. All the surfaces here were a coppery color, and the floor was made of fibercrete grating that allowed the blue sub-lighting to rise up and illuminate the corridors in a pleasant, if not haunting glow the Doctor always found soothing. He was pretty sure he’d been here before. Yes, he had been here, he was sure of it! A particularly nondescript door to his left looked very familiar indeed. This was it. This was the room he was looking for!

The Doctor rushed over and slammed the heel of his fist onto the access key and stood there with a broad, delirious grin as the door slid open. His joy waned, as did his smile, the instant he saw that he had only found the pantry. Not what he was looking for, although quite useful if he could ever find his way back. He wasn’t sure he could. He starred blankly as the door slid closed. Feeling defeated, he continued onward.

The Doctor kept walking until things started to look different again. This area of the TARDIS was stark hospital white, with a repeating pattern of arrows every two feet along the center of the walls. The arrows on both walls all pointed in the same direction, and although the Doctor couldn’t be sure they were pointing in the direction he wanted to go at least there was a general feeling of heading towards something. So when he skidded to a halt the instant he recognised a door he had just taken two steps passed, optimism quickly took hold. This was definitely the door he’d been looking for!

He slammed the heel of his palm on the access key, and this time he was surprised to be so pleasantly disappointed. It still wasn’t the room he was looking for, but it was a room he had completely forgotten about for some time, a room that had once brought him, as well as a few of his companions, great joy.

he Esher room, as they had called it, was an example of insanity expressed through architecture; stairways going horizontal, or coming down from the ceiling, walkways doing the same, and all sorts of bridges, tunnels, and crevices that defied any rational orientation of a three-dimensional structure obeying the laws of gravity. He had the TARDIS construct it on a dare, so to speak, or more aptly, to prove to his companion Tegan that such a structure could indeed exist. The inspiration came from the mind of M. C. Esher, one of Tegan's favorite artists. Even after fully accepting the TARDIS as an extra dimensional space she didn’t believe it was possible to actually build a room like those in Esher’s paintings. But the Doctor had done it, or, more accurately, he had loosely programmed the concept into the TARDIS and the TARDIS had managed to construct it.

The Doctor took a step into the room but froze before the heel of his shoe landed. All the memories of the times he, Tegan, Nyssa, and Adric had in this room flooded back to him. He suddenly didn’t want to go in. He remembered how it had made Adric smile, which was something of a small miracle. The boy was insufferably serious all the time, but the Esher room had coaxed to the surface the simple folly of youth he kept sequestered deep within himself.

The games of hind-and-seek that had taken place here were the stuff of legend. If he listened carefully, the Doctor could still hear the echoes of laughter reverberating throughout the infinite hallways and passages.


artwork by ANDY LAMBERT
used with permission
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