The Lady, In the Garden, With A Bat
The air was cold when a woman walked towards a brick house
lining the lane with others that looked similar. Her breath was visible in the
glow of the street lamps as she came to the door. A redeye flew overhead
particularly low ready to land in the north part of the sky. She put the key
into the lock. The lady looked up at the blackness at the twinkling little dots
and smiled. That night, there was a quarter moon. A yawn escaped her as she
turned the key.
Locking the door behind her, she flicked a switch to illuminate the foyer and part the living room. A life of posters of extraterrestrial beings and spaceships danced across her walls. There was a map of the United Kingdom marked with red dots. She placed her keys in a dish that looked remarkably like a flying saucer. A crocheted pillow of the head of a Grey alien sat in the corner of a faded pink brocade chair. Science and alien magazines were scattered over the top of a coffee table in front of a dark blue couch. She absentmindedly hung her coat on a rack by the door.
As she walked up the stairs to her bedroom, she took out her earrings. At the top of the steps there was a switch that she clicked off to extinguish the lights downstairs. In her bedroom on the right just passed the bathroom, there was a canopy bed with heavy red curtains. Old portraits hung on the golden yellow walls like a museum. A tapestry with a red and gold background had an image of a castle within a circle. It hung between the two windows that faced the back garden. Against the closest wall, a maple wardrobe stood sentinel and a matching dresser beside it. Opening the door to the wardrobe, she slipped off her court shoes to stow them. Then she slipped out of her office attire and into a set of pajamas. She sighed heavily as she made her way into the bathroom. As she brushed her teeth, she turned down her bed and drew her window curtains closed. A few moments later she was tucked in and pulled the toggle on the lamp on her night stand.
The night was still and quiet on that frosty night. She closed her eyes. There was the sound of the tick-tock of a mantle clock that sat on top of the wardrobe. The woman began to drift off to sleep. She was just about to fall into complete slumber when there was a strange whooshing groan sort of sound echoing outside from the back garden. It was an eerie sound which made her sit up in bed. Immediately, she went to her window to peer out. A big blue box with a small white light on top had appeared towards the rear garden wall. The woman quickly went to her wardrobe to slip on a pair of trainers, then retrieved a cricket bat from beside her bed. All the lights in her house were off and they remained that way as she descended the stairs with the bat raised over her shoulder. After she hastily donned on her coat, she cautiously made her way through the kitchen to the door leading out into the garden. She took a deep breath before opening it.
There it stood, a big blue box with the words "Police Public Call Box" over the door. It was a peculiar thing to see in her garden. She had seen one before near her childhood home. That one was falling apart. The neighbor children used it to play hide-and-seek or cops-and-robbers. This one looked nearly brand new. It just needed a wash down.
The sound of the door opening perplexed her. She wasn't expecting anyone to emerge from it. Enter it, maybe, but not come out of it. Swiftly, she hid behind a large tree in the middle of the garden keeping her back to it.
"This is not Mars," a male voice with a northern accent said as he stepped out of the box, then stopped. "Ooh, new voice. At least it's not gravelly like the last one."
Her brow furrowed as she mouthed the word 'Mars.'
His foot falls rustled the grass beneath his feet as he came closer to the tree. The woman held her breath as he walked passed without noticing her. He went to reach inside his black leather jacket. She thought he was reaching for a weapon before he would break into her house that he was currently looking at. The woman took it upon herself to get the upper hand on her intruder. She rushed up behind him and clocked the man on the back of the head with her bat. He collapsed to the ground with a moan.
"Oh, dear," she said as she went over to him. Placing her fingers on his neck, she checked for a pulse. "Odd, but still alive," she muttered feeling the strange cadence.
About half an hour later the man began to stir. The woman stood there with the cricket bat still over her shoulder ready to swing if there be a need. His eyes flickered open. He tried to move but noticed he was tied to a tree. He looked around. He saw her shoes first and looked up to met her gaze.
"Oh, hello," he said. "Uh, could you untie me?"
"No," the woman said incredulously tightening her grip on the bat. "What are you doing in my garden?"
"Landing," the gent said.
"Landing what?" she questioned.
"That big blue box over there," he answered.
"I don't see a truck or a crane," she observed.
"I flew it in."
"Flew? It's not a ruddy plane. It's a wooden box. You can't fly that thing," she said. She was getting irritated. "Who are you then?"
"I'm the Doctor," he said. "I'd offer you my hand to shake but it's tied against the tree."
"Doctor who? You gotta last name?"
"Nope. Just the Doctor," he said with a grin.
"I see," she said as she narrowed her eyes. "Don't want to tell me your name because then I won't have anything to tell the police when I call them."
"You haven't, have you?" he asked nervously.
"Oh, good. Right. I take it you're the one who tied me to the tree and hit me on the back of the head. That hurt!"
"Sorry, but there is a stranger in my garden. What did you expect me to do? Invite you in for tea?" she said heatedly.
"No, but I'm not a stranger anymore. You know who I am now. So, how about untying me?"
"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you are doing here. And how did you get that box into my garden without a truck?" she said frantically.
"You know who I am. I told you, I'm the Doctor. I came here because I my box brought me here. Did you go into the box?"
"No, it's locked."
"Ah, but you tried. The key is in the inside pocket of my jacket. Go on," he said urging her to retrieve the key with a grin.
"I'm not getting the key. You might bite my ear off or something."
"Blimey, you do have an imagination, don't you?"
She didn't answer and just stared at him with frightened eyes.
He looked at her as if he was reading her like a book. His face softened to kindness.
"Look, I won't hurt you. What's your name?"
She hesitated for a moment as she stared into his eyes. They were kind eyes, big and blue. His hair was dark and cut extremely short. The Doctor's build was trim and muscular. She had a bit of difficulty dragging him to the tree. When she pushed him against it, she could feel his solid abs under his jumper. She eyed his jacket. A million pessimistic thoughts ran through her mind of his true intent. Not one thought was about there being a simple key in his pocket. She looked back at his face. He was smiling. He seemed harmless enough. He wasn't enraged about being tied up. She still had her bat in case he did try anything. She decided to put a little trust into the situation.
"My name is Isabelle," she finally answered.
"Well, Isabelle, do you have a last name?" he asked.
She scrutinized him for a moment. "No last name unless you give me yours, Doctor, whoever you are."
"I told you, I'm just the Doctor. I don't have a last name."
"Everyone has a last name."
"Not where I'm from."
"And where are you from?" she asked.
"Is that an island in Scotland?"
"Ha!" he laughed.
"Oi! Just because I'm not proficient in geography doesn't mean you need to laugh about it."
"Gallifrey is not in Scotland. It's a planet."
Isabelle stood up straight and rigid.
"Did you just say planet?" Isabelle pondered this new information. It had to be a joke. A terrible joke that someone was playing. She pointed the cricket bat at him as she said, "Now, I know you are just playing with me. I'm calling the police." She started to walk backwards towards the house not wanting to put her back towards him.
"No! Wait!" the Doctor yelled. "Please, don't phone them. Just get the key and look in the box."
"What kind of game are you playing at? Who sent you?" Isabelle questioned.
"No game. No one sent me," he responded.
Isabelle clenched her jaw then released it. She glared at him with uncertainty. Slowly, she moved back towards him. He sighed and started to smile again. She held the bat out in front of her until the tip of it rested on the centre of his chest. His smile faded.
"Don't try any funny stuff or I'll clock you again," she said. His Adam's apple rose and fell as he swallowed hard.
The Doctor nodded. Carefully, she knelt down and reached into his pocket to dig out the key. Up close, he was rather handsome. He didn't seem to want to hurt her, but then again, she had a weapon. It took her a moment, but her fingers finally grasped it quickly and withdrew her hand. A small silvery key sat in her palm.
"The bat wasn't necessary," he whispered to her.
"Wasn't it? You didn't do anything funny, did you?" she said as she stood up. Backing away from him, she made her way to the blue box.
She kept looking over her shoulder at him as she approached the box. He sat there looking around. Finally, she directed her attention to inserting the key into the door.
"Why are you so keen for me to look in the box?" she asked before turning the key.
"I think you'll be pleasantly surprised," he replied.
"If this is some sort of prank, I'm going to beat the snot out of you to send a message to whomever sent you. I'm all for a gags but when it comes to my love of outer space, you've stepped over the line, Mister." she said agitatedly. With the key pinched in her fingertips, she hesitated. The Doctor perked at her words.
"Love of outer space? Well, this just became more interesting," he muttered but she couldn't hear him. "And it's Doctor!" he shouted.
"Whatever," she returned.
With a great big sigh, Isabelle inserted the key. She turned the key slowly and then opened the door. She flinched, but nothing happened. Instead, there was a vast room within the small box. Her mouth fell open in awe. She stepped inside and put her hands out in front of her. When her hands did not hit anything but air, she lowered them and stepped back out of the blue box. She closed the door behind her and stared at the box. Then, slowly, a grin stretched across her face.
"You have got to be kidding me!" she exclaimed as she turned around on the spot.
"What do you think?" he asked.
Isabelle ran towards the tree and stood in front of him wearing a large grin. He looked pleased to see her smiling. After laying the bat on the ground, she was straddling his legs, touching him all over.
"What are you doing?" he asked anxiously.
"Looking for something," she said. "Aha!"
She reached into the jacket pocket to produce a long metal object.
"Metal? Usually they're made of wood," she said, then shrugged. "Can I have a go?"
He looked at her perplexed and the scrunched up his face. "No. You could, if you knew how."
"Oh, I know how! They don't work as well for other people as they do for their owners," Isabelle said as she stood up. She pointed the long metal object in front of her as if it were a fencing foil.
"True," he responded but appeared to be uncertain about her.
"You didn't come through the chimney. So you must have . . . but that must have been tremendously difficult with the big blue box. Unless the box is a portkey," she rambled pacing about and swinging the metal object around as she surmised how he got there.
"It's called the TARDIS," the Doctor said. He eyed the long metal object with unease as she swirled it around.
"TARDIS?" she questioned. "But that was never mentioned. It's true, isn't it?" Her eyes were bright and twinkling with childlike wonder as she returned his gaze. "The TARDIS has an extension charm on it, doesn't it?" she surmised grinning from ear to ear.
"A what?" the Doctor asked.
"Oh, come on! Everything points to it! The larger on the inside TARDIS. The wand. You popping out of no where! You're a wizard! It's true. It's all true!" she said clapping her hands together and bouncing on the balls of her toes in front of him excitedly. She stopped suddenly and knelt down beside him putting her face precariously close to his. "Take me to it!" she said in a exuberant whisper.
"Take you to what?" he asked nervously.
"The castle!" she said gleefully knowing he was stalling.
"I'm sorry, what?"
"I know! I'm not suppose to know about it, but it's all there in the books," Isabelle started rambling again as she stood up shifting back and forth on her feet. "Muggles aren't suppose to know. I think it is one of those things, if you don't want someone to know about it, you hide it in plain sight. That's why J.K. wrote the books. But everything about you points to it being true. The extension charm, the wand, the . . . ." she trailed off seeing the expression on his face. She could see perplexity in his eyes. "But you must know about it. There are two movies and five books about it, going to be seven. It's all over the news and internet. Are you telling me you have never heard of Harry Potter?"
The Doctor shook his head.
"So, you're not a wizard?"
Isabelle stood still in front of him and allowed her shoulders to sag. She stared at him in bewilderment. Her brow gradually furrowed into anger. Slowly, after pocketing the metal wand, she reached down to pick up her cricket bat again.
"Then, who the hell are you?" she asked again raising her bat above her shoulder. He rolled his eyes.
"For the last time, I'm the Doctor," he said deliberately. "Isabelle, please, lower the weapon. I could explain so much more if you would just untie me."
"No, because, if you're not a wizard, you claim you flew in that," she said pointing her bat at the TARDIS, "and you mentioned a planet, then, you must be, what, an alien?"
Her face contorted into a silly expression that conveyed both uncertainty and positive awareness.
"Yes!" he said grinning.
"Aliens usually want to take over the world and kill off the human race," she said taking a step away from him.
"You watch too many movies," the Doctor said rolling his eyes again.
"What are you doing here? What do you want?" she asked severely. She gripped the bat tightly.
"I don't know why I'm here. I don't want anything. I was trying to visit Atlanna on Mars when I was pulled here instead," the Doctor explained.
"It's not a what, it's a who. She's the high priestess on Mars and today is her birthday."
"You lie. There are no living things on Mars," she stated almost laughing.
"Yes, I do but not about Mars. And yes, there are," he said matter-of-factly.
They stared at each other for a moment. He considered her as she stood there with the cricket bat still on her shoulder.
"Do you believe I'm an alien?" the Doctor asked.
"No," Isabelle replied.
"Do you believe the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than on the outside?"
"Do you think there are aliens on Mars?"
She hesitated. "Uh, no."
"What do you believe is in outer space?"
Isabelle stared at him a moment. She finally lowered her weapon letting it drop to the ground. Frustration lit up on her face.
Throwing her hands in the air, she said, "I don't know what to believe. I've read books, magazines, internet articles, seen television programs on all sorts of things that are suppose to be real, and yet somewhere, someone, usually of higher authority, says it's not true. That's the sort of world I live in. I'm constantly looking for the truth, but I only find lies."
"Ah," he said.
"All I know is that there is something out there and I plan to find out what. So don't lie to me about being alien. Don't lie to me about Mars. Just, don't lie!" she said with venom. "That's it! I'm putting an end to this. Fini!"
Isabelle went behind the tree and untied the ropes that held the Doctor. She let them drop once she was finished. Instead of getting up, she just sat on the cold ground leaning her back against the tree utterly irritated with the whole situation.
"Thanks," the Doctor said as he came to stand in front of her rubbing his wrists. "Although, I was just about to get myself untied from the rope. Your knots weren't tied very well."
"I never do anything right. I can't even tie up an 'alien' properly or even threaten him," she responded bitterly using air quotations then crossed her arms over her chest.
"Oh, come off it," the Doctor said. "I was scared there for a bit."
"Were you?" she asked skeptically looking up at him. He nodded. He held out a hand to her. "What are you doing? You are free to go. You can stop the prank now. Who set this up anyway? Was is Beth? No, I bet it was Steven. Well, you can tell Steven he better try harder next time. He didn't even go to lengths to have you dress up as a proper alien. Pathetic, really."
"Oh, I have a feeling I'm not finished here."
"You're finished here when you tell me the truth. Then, you can go back home to your wife and kids. I'll be having a few words with Steven tomorrow."
"Steven didn't send me. No one did," the Doctor said sincerely.
"I'm telling the truth. I am an alien."
"Get it through your thick skull. The joke is over! Good bye!" she said angrily.
"Come on. I could do with a cup of tea," he said. The Doctor put his hand out for her to take.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm thirsty. I want a cup of tea."
"Cup of tea," he said drawn out.
"Now," the Doctor said wiggling his fingers of his outstretched hand. She looked at it with intrigue.
"I suppose one cup of tea can't hurt and then you can go. I guess it's the least I can do to be hospitable," she said in a softer tone.
Isabelle took his hand. He pulled her up with ease. The Doctor walked towards the TARDIS.
"Where are you going? My kitchen's that way," she said pointing back towards her house.
"You still need convincing," he said walking through the doorway of the blue box leaving the door open.
"Seriously?" she mumbled standing by the tree.
She could see him become smaller as he approached the centre of the room inside the box. Befuddlement once again washed over her features in disbelief.
"Come on, then," the Doctor yelled from inside. Her feet finally moved towards the TARDIS.
Once inside, Isabelle took a proper gander. It was a round room with the shape that resembled a modern turnip with a large six sectioned console in the middle of it. The centre of the console had a large tube with several smaller tubes within it that emanated an aqua light. On the walls were hexagonal cut-outs with lights in them.
"What is this?" she said quietly to herself as she glanced around then meandered towards the center. When she stepped up on the platform where the console stood, the Doctor was busy pressing buttons and looking into a view screen deep in concentration.
She leaned against the console and thrust her hands into her pockets. Her fingers hit his metal wand. She took it out and examined it for a moment. He watched her contemplatively. Finally, she handed the wand back to him. He took it appreciatively.
"Thanks," the Doctor said. She nodded and just stared at the floor in thought. Seeing her far away gaze, he asked, "You still don't believe me, do you?"
The question pulled her out of her reverie. She looked over at him. Again, those kind eyes peered upon her. She shook her head. He nodded his acceptance of the situation.
"Ask me anything," he told her.
"About what?" she questioned.
"Anything! Past, future, space," he prompted.
She thought for a moment, then asked, "Who really killed JFK?"
"I can't tell you that," he answered. "Sorry. Ask another one."
"Where will I be in ten years?"
"Don't know. I just met you. That's saying something, by the way. Anymore questions?"
"Are there really Grey aliens?"
"Yes," he answered.
"Are you really an alien?" she asked.
"Why do you look so human?" she asked spitefully.
"There are two theories about that. One that humans descended from Gallifreyans and the other is that we descend from you lot."
"Ha! So, you're not really that alien," she said with chuckle.
"Oh, no, I'm alien. Our physiologies are different. I have binary circulatory system, two hearts rather than your one. I can withstand the vacuum of space as long as I have oxygen or I'll suffocate after six minutes. My temperature is about 22 degrees cooler than yours. Here, take a look."
He moved her to the view screen. Iit showed the x-ray of a chest. Within the cage of ribs were two beating hearts.
"You're a digital genius, congratulations. That's not a real x-ray."
"Oh, but it is. See?" He bounced up and down, so did the rib cage.
"You could have planned that with timing." He rolled his eyes.
"Fine," he said disdainfully. He brought out a stethoscope. He placed the ear pieces into her ears the pressed the chest piece to his chest. There was a heartbeat.
"Yeah, so what?" she uttered.
Then he moved the chest piece to the right side of his chest, yet there it was, the heartbeat. She still looked at him with skepticism. He looked annoyed. He unfolded her arms and pressed the chest piece to her chest so she could hear her heartbeat. Then he moved it to the right side. She couldn't hear anything but air filling her lungs. She was stunned. He did have two hearts. Again, he jumped and moved about as did the x-rayed image on the monitor. He proved his point.
"What kind of alien are you?" Isabelle asked nervously.
"I'm a Time Lord. I'm not from Earth. I just like to travel here. Humans are the most interesting species I've come across. And you! I've never met anyone like you," the Doctor explained as he pointed his wand at her. It made a slight humming sound and glowed blue at the tip. He then looked at it, then back at her, then back to the wand.
"What is that suppose to mean?" she asked taking offense.
"It means your personality is something I have not come across before."
"You're not going to start doing experiments on me, are you?" she asked with uncertainty.
"Oh, I already did that with my screwdriver," he replied holding up the wand.
"That thing is a screwdriver? And it scanned me? I didn't feel anything."
"Yes, it's technically a sonic screwdriver, more or less. Yes, it scanned you. No, you wouldn't."
"What did your screwdriver thingy say about me?"
"You are human from Earth."
"Is that all?"
"What else did it tell you?"
"I can't tell you that."
The Doctor didn't say anything. He just stared at her from the side.
"Why not, Doctor? Is it bad?"
He concentrated on the monitor and started pressing buttons again.
"You're not going to answer me, are you?"
With a pouty huff she sat on the jump seat just on the other side of him with her arms folded across her chest.
"So, where am I?" asked the Doctor
"You're on planet Earth, on the continent of Europe, in the country of England, in the county of Surrey, in the town of Stanwell," she answered indignantly.
"Ah, a very thorough answer, thank you very much. Next question, what drew me here?" he said turning around to face her.
"That, I can't answer."
"No, you can't, only I can, eventually," he said. He examined the monitor again. "Has anything strange happened in the past twelve hours?"
"Some man was arrested over at the airport earlier today. He was carrying bullets in his pocket. I only know that because I work there. Biggest thing to happen there today. I worked late because of it," she answered with a shrug.
"Where was he flying from?" the Doctor asked.
"Dulles in Washington, D.C. He had to stop here to pick up his next flight to Dubai," she answered. "Ever since 9-11 anyone carrying anything suspicious is pulled off the plane."
"Aha! Get your coat. We going to Dubai."
"Now? I was just about to go to bed. I have work in the morning," Isabelle said adjusting her coat she already had on.
"You'll be back in five minutes."
"How? Dubai is hours away."
"Time machine," the Doctor said indicating the TARDIS they were standing in with a small smile.
Isabelle contemplated for a moment. Her face softened before it spread into a smile.
"I'll be right back," she said as she ran towards the door. As she ran through it, she yelled, "Don't leave without me!"
"I won't," he said with a smile.
Isabelle ran all the way inside and upstairs to her bedroom where she flung off her pajamas and trainers. Digging through her wardrobe and dresser, she flung clothes all over her room trying to decide what to wear. Five minutes later, Isabelle came bounding down the stairs in jeans, red t-shirt, and brown leather bomber jacket. She carried a pair of military style boots in her hand. Her long red hair was tied back in a ponytail.
"Lovely place you have here," the Doctor said indicating the posters and such scattered around. "Hobby?"
"You could say that," she answered. She sat in the faded pink winged back chair to put on her boots.
"I took the liberty to correct a few mistakes on your star chart," he added indicating a notebook and a poster on the wall.
"Oh? Which ones?" she said lacing a boot.
"Deneb and Dabih," he answered.
"Really? I thought Deneb would be near Deneb Algedi," she said tying up the first boot.
"Nope. Deneb Algedi is the closest star. Deneb is the furthest away with Dabih somewhere in the middle. From your vantage point on Earth, Deneb is here and Dabih is here," he said as he indicated the stars on the chart.
"Well, considering I've only seen them in a two dimensional capacity rather than your three dimensional view, you can understand my mistake." A puzzled expression graced her features for a mere moment before dissolving into a smile.
"Yes, I do understand. To make you understand, I'll take you to see them."
"What? Seriously?" she questioned with wide eyes as she stood up.
"Because I thought we were going to Dubai," she reminded him.
"Oh, I almost forgot," he said. "Let's go!"