The Cloister Bell clanged loudly through the normally calm air. The large iron bell, high aloft in upper recesses of a TARDIS, was the harbinger of trouble for Time Lord Capsules. When the Cloister Bell sounded, things were either going, or about to go, very wrong. The echoes from it filled the whole of the TARDIS, reverberating into every bedroom, the swimming pool, the study and lastly the control room. The loud clonks meshed lovely with the screechy sounds of the Time Rotor. It was a shame then that the Doctor was too occupied to notice the pleasant noises.
“What now!?” he shouted at the console. He looked over the screeching Time Rotor, at the typewriter for course plotting, and then at the atom accelerator. He could find no reason for why the Cloister Bell was going wrong. The TARDIS was flying as straight and true as he could make it, which, needless to say wasn’t very straight at all. Sparks fizzled into the air and the whole thing shook about; it was business as usual. “Ohhh… I really miss you being able to talk to me,” he confessed to the old capsule.
He left the elevated console, running down the small staircase to the masses of wires underneath. All the connections he’d made recently had held and nothing was out of the ordinary. He plugged and unplugged them, waiting for the bell to stop. Nothing worked. Meanwhile, topside at the console, the space time visualizer, which despite its futuristic name actually looked more like a telly from the 50’s lashed to the Time Rotor, showed the destination. The wondrous old Police Box was taking the last of the Time Lords to a small town in the Cotswolds.
The Doctor’s head popped up from the belly of the TARDIS; the Time Rotor had stopped. The Cloister Bell kept sounding, but the Rotor had gone silent. “So, where’ve you brought me this time?” he asked it, going back up the tiny spiral stairs to the Console. One lone spark shot from it as he approached the space time visualizer. He swung the Time Rotor mounted telly around, fiddling with one of the golden knobs on the side to get better reception of what was outside. The sight was something the Doctor didn’t expect.
“Really?” he asked it, “I think you’ve flipped,” he told the Box. His brow furrowed as he looked at the old church, green grass and blue skies on the visualizer. “This isn’t Roboolore; where are the flaming clowns and dancing Manbearpigs?” he asked, looking at the Time Rotor disgustedly. It didn’t answer him. “Instead of the Andromeda galaxy’s greatest cotton candy, I get some quiet little town in who knows where…” The visualizer automatically resized the image, as if the TARDIS itself wanted the Doctor to know where he was. “Ah, Northleach,” he said, reading from the town’s sign, “You’ve brought me to the Cotswolds…”he surmised.
The Cloister Bell continued ringing loudly. It filled every chasm of the massive old capsule. “And something must be wrong, otherwise that horrible bell would stop!” the Time Lord angrily shouted, growing tired of the Cloister Bell. He breathed a deep sigh and collapsed, leaning over on the console. “I know it’s not your fault,” he confessed, still talking to the TARDIS, “You’ve always taken me where I needed to go. I suppose it’s all this Silence business… leaving Amy and Rory behind… witnessing my own funeral… marriage…” he added, recalling the past year.
He shot upwards, suddenly not minding any of his troubles. “But if that bell is still ringing, that means that something has or is going to go wrong. And that’s why you’ve brought me here,” he realized with a smirk. Appreciatively, he looked up at the Time Rotor. “Oh, you sexy thing…” he greeted the old box with a smile. “Well, as I used to say… allons-y.” Rejuvenated, the Doctor sprang down the steps to the doors, stopping only momentarily at the coat tree to put on his Stetson.
The old blue doors creaked inward, despite the signage urging the user to open the doors outward. He stepped out, pulling the door closed behind him. The TARDIS had dematerialized next to a pub, the Red Lion Inn. He was downtown and not too far away from the butcher’s, bakers and the candlestick maker’s. “Oh how fun,” he commented, noting the rhyming shops as he started off down the street.
The Doctor was a sight the locals were unaccustomed to. Old ladies with big hats on who had gathered for afternoon tea at a small outdoor café could hardly believe their eyes as the Doctor walked past, checking the buildings in the town. Here was a man, unknown in their small town, wearing a tweed jacket, bowtie and a Stetson. He looked like some sort of cowboy English teacher and was so skinny, that he could have easily been anorexic. “Good afternoon ladies,” the Doctor spoke, tipping his hat to them as he went past. The old women were dumbstruck as the Doctor’s soft, old eyes smiled at them.
The Time Lord continued down the street, unsure of why the TARDIS had brought him here. It looked to him to be a lovely, peaceful community. Birds sang in fantastic old trees and puffy clouds dotted the sky. He ducked into the Mechanical Music museum, seeing the amazing old self-playing violins, great music boxes and modern looking gramophones. There was nothing amiss here.
He carried on down the street, this time stopping off at the Church of St Peter and St Paul. Zombies and the undead weren’t rising from the graves in the cemetery, no demons were terrorizing the citizenry and no gargoyles flapped their bat-wings high above in the belfry. In fact, the only thing that looked out of place here was one rather sad looking nun who had the task of vacuuming the large carpet laid on the floor of the Church’s nave all by herself.
The Doctor returned to the main road, no closer to an explanation of why the TARDIS had delivered him here than when he began. A quick peek into the butcher’s, bakers and candlestick maker’s showed nothing amiss in the land of rhyming shops. He let out an exasperated sigh. “I could be seeing dancing Manbearpigs right now,” he commented to no one in particular. Only one more building now lay before him: the Northleach Church of England Primary School. Classes had dismissed for the day as it was well past five in the afternoon now. Unexpectedly, the front door to the school opened and one lonely girl came out.
The Doctor watched her as she exited. She made a point to kick a stone setting peacefully on the path. It’d been sometime since he played child psychologist, but he could clearly see that the child, who was no older than ten, was bothered. The thought occurred to him that maybe this small girl was the reason he was here. The last time that something similar happened, his TARDIS crashed out of control, right into the garden shed of a young Amelia Pond.
That was just after his latest regeneration. Little Amelia too was a bothered young girl; she lived with a crack in the fabric of the universe in her bedroom wall. Doing the only thing she could, she prayed to Santa Claus to send a policeman to handle the crack in her wall when suddenly the old Police Box crashed into her shed.
After treating the strange skinny man who had appeared from the box to an apple, yogurt, beans, bacon, bread and butter, all of which he hated, and then finally to some fish fingers and custard, which he loved, little Amelia convinced the Doctor to help seal the crack in her bedroom wall. But fixing the crack would have to wait; the resetting TARDIS, which was damaged by the Doctor’s violent regeneration sounded the Cloister Bell, and the Doctor knew he had leave temporarily to run in the old Box so that the engines wouldn’t burnout the rest of the TARDIS.
Young Amelia asked the raggedy Doctor, who was still in the tattered suit of his Tenth self, if she could come with him in the strange box that smashed into her shed. The Doctor agreed, provided he could have a short run to the moon to settle the TARDIS. As excited as a young girl would be, Little Amelia went and filled a suitcase as the TARDIS screeched off to the moon.
Amelia packed a suitcase, put on her Wellies and hat then returned to the garden to wait for the Doctor to return. Amelia waited and waited. And she grew up, becoming Amy and going through a legion of psychologists, all of them trying to tell her that her raggedy Doctor was imaginary. After quite a long time, Amy started to believe them, and tried to forget the raggedy Doctor.
Eventually the Doctor did return, but as was the case with time travel, it took 12 years from Amy’s perspective. After saving Earth from an alien race called the Atraxi and an escaped Prisoner Zero who came through the crack in Amy’s wall, the Doctor extended an offer to go with him traveling in the old Box to the now older Pond. Acting as the excited as she would have been when she was younger, Amy accepted. Over the course of their journeys, the two of them became best friends. Up to the moment she stepped into the Blue Box, Amy’s entire life thus far had been spent waiting for the Doctor. “Well, I’d best not keep this one waiting as well,” he told himself, missing Amy and her husband Rory but looking forward to meeting the small girl.
The Doctor started across the street, going to the girl. He came up behind her, flipping the Stetson from his head and pressing it onto the girl’s dark hair. Instinctively, she let out a blood curdling scream. The Doctor grimaced, realizing his error and removed the hat. “Ah! Stop, stop, stop,” he urged. “Shh,” he told her, covering his mouth with one finger. The girl complied, stopping her screams. The Doctor looked at her with a blank face. He pressed the Stetson back onto his own brow. “That’s better… sorry,” he apologized.
The girl looked up at the weird cowboy English teacher. “What’d you do that for?” she asked.
“I thought it’d be a good ice breaker; a nonthreatening way to introduce myself,” the Doctor told her.
“Ice breaker? Do you make a habit of trying to scare young people?” she asked. She started back down the street.
The Doctor followed a few steps behind. “Oh, young people… you’re all young people. Moses and Abraham was a spry kids compared to me,” the 909 year old Time Lord confessed, looking at the old Church and School. “I even told Moses more people would take him seriously if he would have shaved that beard off... all that ugly face hair… sign of the times I guess.”
The girl stopped and turned to face him again. She peered into him with deep brown eyes. “Like Moses from the Bible? The one who led the Jews from Egypt and carried the Ten Commandments down Mount Horeb?” she asked, raising an eyebrow. The Doctor nodded once in agreement. The tiny girl let a moment pass. “Are you strange?”
“I’m very strange,” he told her, not even hesitating. “Hello, I’m the Doctor.” He introduced himself with a nonthreatening smile.
“What’s with the hat?” she asked, wondering why the skinny Doctor would be wearing a cowboy hat.
He took it off, looking at the loops around the brow. “My friend Craig gave me this. I wear a Stetson; Stetson’s are cool,” he told her.
She gave him a once over, noting the mad man before her. He was tall and skinny with pants too short, a dreadful bowtie and headwear that belonged in the OK Corral. “Hello Doctor. I’m Serenity. Do ya wanna go for some chips?” she innocently asked.
“Hello Serenity,” he greeted, “And I’d love to go for chips.” He extended a hand, like he’d done with so many before, offering it to young Serenity. She took it and started to lead him down the path. “So, I noticed you looked bothered? Everything okay?” he asked, keen on not making her wait.
Serenity kept going down the street, past the church and back to the pub. “Just a bad day,” she told him. Her mood changed from one of curiosity about this mad Doctor to sadness at her present situation.
“Everyone has bad days,” the Doctor told her, “I’ve had enough bad days for ten people.” He pushed the Red Lion’s door open, letting his small friend inside. She shook free from his hand and went to a booth set against the wall. He joined her under a Newcastle Ale sign and some old football shirts. “Do you want to talk about it?” he asked her, taking off his Stetson and setting it on the table.
She glanced over to the bar. “Hey Murray, two orders of chips and two sodas,” she called out, getting the barman’s attention. The order was acknowledged with a wave back in her direction. She turned back to the Doctor. “I’d like to talk about it,” she admitted, “But I have no idea where to start. I don’t remember any of it.”
“Remember any of what?” the Doctor prodded.
“Exactly,” she spoke, “I don’t know. The counselor at school and I’ve been talking, but he gets impatient. He’s a rubbish counselor. I think he got his degree from a box of cereal or something…” The girl disappeared into her own mind, trying desperately to dredge up the past.
“Why do you say that?” the Doctor asked, curious. There was no doubt now that this tiny child was the reason he was delivered to Northleach instead of Roboolore.
She looked at him, hopeful that he could help her. “Well, I get the feeling that what happened was huge, like gigantic, but I can’t remember any of it,” she told him. Murray the barman delivered two fizzy brown sodas to the table. “Thanks Murray,” she spoke.
“Chips will be ready in a minute,” he told them, giving the Doctor the stink eye before heading back to the bar.
Serenity stared down into the dancing bubbles of her fizzy beverage. “I should be able to remember. I wake up every day with a huge feeling of loss in my heart. I’m sad all the time… and I don’t know why. That’s the worst part, the not knowing.” She looked up from the bubbly soda. “Can you help me, Doctor?”
The old Time Lord cracked a soft smile. “Of course I can help. I’m the Doctor,” he told her. “Why don’t you tell me what you do remember?” he asked, leaning down and onto the table, peering at her.
Serenity met his gaze. “Not much,” she admitted. “Specific stuff just doesn’t register. That’s why I wish the school counselors were better; I think that if they could help me remember, I’d feel better. Maybe worse, I don’t know… but the counselors don’t work.” Her gaze wandered out into the pub, first to the jukebox then over to the bar.
“Nothing specific then?” he asked.
“Chips,” she spoke.
“You remember chips?” he quizzically asked.
“No. The chips are ready. At the bar,” she told him. The Doctor realized his error, and then looked in the direction of Murray. “Here’s a fiver, go and get them,” she instructed, giving him a five quid note from her pocket. He took it, then stood. “Do you like Elvis?” she asked, taking 50p from the same pocket and heading to the jukebox.
“I love Elvis,” the Doctor told her, “I taught him how to play guitar.” She stopped mid-journey and gave him another raised eyebrow. “Well, I did. Well, with his stubby fingers, he could never get the g chords… and the hip shaking, that was all him.” She shook her head and walked away, moving to start Hound Dog on the jukebox.
Murray the barman watched the Doctor as he took the fiver and set it on the bar. “I’ve never seen you here before? How’d you know Serenity?” he asked. It was typical in small towns for elder people to watch after the youngsters.
“I’ve actually just met her. I’m the Doctor,” the Time Lord introduced himself.
“A doctor?” he asked, relieved, “Well, that’s great. Just what Serenity needs, poor kid,” Murray commented.
“What do you know about her?” the Doctor pried.
Murray shook his head; she was a truly sad case. “Poor girl… her parents were killed by this crazed teenager or something. Police couldn’t catch him. They were pretty well off, so she doesn’t have to worry about money or anything and they owned their house, and she’s pretty stable I guess, but I mean that’s got to be the worst thing ever, losing your family. I mean, I think she’s been to about ten different psychologists…” his voice wandered, and both men looked at little Serenity sipping her soda. “She comes in here every day after her talk with the counselors, has some chips, puts on some Elvis and then goes home… I do hope you can help her.”
“I do have some practice in that sort of thing,” the Doctor told him, thinking of Amy. “My last case… well, she turned out to be my best friend really, she went through something very similar.” Murray nodded in agreement, glad Serenity would finally get some help. “Of course, Amy’s parents were erased from existence by the crack in the universe in her bedroom wall. But we made that all just dandy and not a moment before she was to wed Rory…” Murray scratched his head, not comprehending what the Doctor was babbling about. “Thank you Murray,” the Doctor told him, giving him the fiver and departing for the booth.
The chip baskets slid across the darkly stained table, each one finding its place. Serenity didn’t waste any time, and drizzled the fried potatoes with malted vinegar that was left on the table. “Murray says you do this every day,” the Doctor spoke, sitting down. “Says you stop off and have some chips and an Elvis tune. What do you do after that?” he asked.
Serenity finished with the vinegar, then took a sip of her soda. “Well, after I’m done here, I walk home, watch telly, take a shower, clean house if I need to… normal stuff,” she told him.
The Doctor also drizzled the vinegar on his chips. “That’s not normal stuff, not for a ten year old girl anyway,” he told her, salting his chips as well. “Your house is paid for and you’ve got money but you’re not old enough to drive… you’re the most adult ten-year-old I’ve ever met. Nothing about that bothers you?” he asked.
“Why would it?” she asked, digging back into her chips. “I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. That’s the thing about forgetting your past; you can’t remember anything of how it was before.” She dug back into the chips, as if afraid, but desperately wanting, to remember.
The Doctor gazed at her, watching as she chewed the golden fried potatoes. “But don’t you have friends at school? Don’t they talk about Facebook and Twitter and all that stuff? Don’t you watch videos on YouTube of cats doing funny things or don’t you ever go and play football or field hockey or anything like that? That’s the sort of stuff that ten-year-old kids do,” he insisted. “Don’t you ever feel like not being an adult? I’m 909 and I’m the most kiddish person I know.”
She thought about it for a moment. “I do like sailing,” Serenity told him, thinking of a past time that fascinated her. “I have dreams about sailing sometimes. There’s one dream I have that I’m on the Moon. I’m out in the lunar seas on a huge galleon. Silly I know, since there’s no air for the sails or water for the boat to float on, but that’s the dream. I have that dream a lot actually… do you reckon that means anything?” she asked, going for the straw in her fizzy drink.
An odd coincidence popped up in the Time Lord’s mind. “It might,” he told her. “Do you know anything about the Moon?”
“Not really,” Serenity confessed. “I saw that there was a MythBusters programme on telly about it once. They debunked all those idiots that said that America didn’t go to the moon in the 60’s.”
“Oh, they went to the Moon all right,” he told her, recalling his own recent adventure involving Apollo 11. “There is on the Moon, many oceans and seas. Not actual, full of water oceans, but flat, calm, dusty oceans. Back in the Renaissance when the first scientists looked up at the Moon with telescopes, they needed ways to make topography easy, so they gave everything a name similar to something on Earth; oceans, seas, mountains et cetera. Anyway, one particularly vast and flat sea, or Mare, from the Latin Maria, was called the Mare Serenitatis… the Sea of Serenity.”
The girl’s mouth dropped, floored thoroughly by the Doctor’s revelation. “There’s a lunar sea named after me?” she asked.
“Well, I think the sea was there before you were,” he told her, “But yes, you share names with a lunar sea. Your second name isn’t Maria is it?” he asked, leaning in. She shook her head no. He looked over her, silently evaluating her. “Should we go?”
“I haven’t finished my chips,” Serenity protested.
“Get a to-go bag,” he urged, “This could be important.” Serenity shrugged her shoulders then stood from the booth. She went to the bar and returned with a Styrofoam container. “Here, have mine too,” he insisted, dumping his remaining chips into the box. “C’mon,” he urged, extending his hand again, pressing his Stetson on and barely giving her enough time to close the lid on the box.
The unlikely duo exited the pub, turning left and going to the small alley next to the place. “I have a confession,” the Doctor admitted, “I’m not exactly from social services.” They stopped and he snapped his fingers quite loudly. The door of an old wooden Police Box creaked open. An orange hue beamed from the larger insides of the small Police Box. She drank in the blue color, and how perfect a shade of blue it was.
Little Serenity could hardly believe her eyes. A whole other world existed here. The ceilings inside were easily twenty feet from the ground, yet the outside of the box was only ten feet. The massive room looked like it could be the size of a roundabout set into the roads, but the exterior was a paltry four feet by four feet. Her jaw dropped, amazed at the size and complexity of the old Box. “It’s… it’s…”
“Bigger on the inside,” the Doctor told her. “I know, I’ve heard them all.” He went to the opened door, motioning her inside. “Come on in. Welcome to my TARDIS,” he smiled. Little Serenity stepped forward, leaving the blue and green world of Northleach and stepping into the orange and golden hues of the only surviving Time Lord capsule in the universe. The Doctor followed, shutting the doors and hanging his Stetson on the rack. “Okay, question time,” he spoke, going past her and up to the console, “What do you want to know?” He turned back, waiting the usual cavalcade of questions. His ears noticed something not happening. “Oh good, the Cloister Bell has stopped. So you must be the reason the TARDIS brought me here,” he explained.
Serenity drank in the whole experience. The walls looked like they were gilded in copper and then had ship port holes set into it. The middle of it looked like a clear warp core, like something she’d seen on Star Trek repeats; not the William Shatner ones but the newer Patrick Stewart ones. It was elevated, about six feet from the ground with stairs going a platform that ran around it. Masses of cables went from underneath the core to every part of the huge ship, acting like nerve fibers going from the spinal cord to all corners of the box. “TARDIS? What’s that mean?” she asked, thinking she’d better ask a question and not look like a fool.
“It stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space,” the Doctor informed. “That’s why it’s bigger on the inside.” The Doctor reclined on the console and crossed his arms, giving a relaxed impression. “Ages ago my people were able to manipulate the trans-dimensional plane crossed by a person when they step through the doorway. The inside of the box really is four feet by four feet by eight, but by crossing different dimensions, we were able to create whole other worlds within incredibly small spaces.”
The words didn’t hold any meaning for her, despite being a perfectly accurate answer. Then, her mind took over, digesting every word and making perfect sense of it. Being caring however, only two words leapt at her. “Your people?” she asked, “You’re an alien?”
The Doctor smiled in soft remembrance. “From your perspective, yes, I’m an alien. I’m from a race called the Time Lords. Our home was called Gallifrey. It was in the constellation of Kasrous, at galactic coordinates 10-0-11-0-0 by 0-2 from Galactic Zero Centre. Go past the Big Dipper about 500 light years, take a meandering left past Cancer, up a bit, then a sharp right and you’d smack right into it, you know, if it was still there.” He dropped his head, remembering his dead world.
“Was?” Serenity asked, “You’ve got no home?” She let her guard down, not minding the fantastic world she was now in. She crossed from the door, up the stairs to the console, next to the Doctor.
“Not anymore,” he grimly told her, not wanting to delve into the past.
“What happened?” she prodded.
He hesitated for a moment. The fall of Gallifrey and everything else wasn’t a favorite topic of his. “A war... a great, big, nasty war,” he answered. “A war that if I could have prevented, I would have in a heartbeat. But I did end it… it wasn’t exactly my finest moment.”
“You don’t look like a soldier,” Serenity told him.
He smiled, partly trying to hide the pain his past caused him. “You’re absolutely right,” the Doctor agreed. “I’m not a soldier; I never was. I was rubbish at it, mostly. I spent my life up to that point helping those who couldn’t help themselves… all that was gone in an instant. There are parts of myself I absolutely hate… the blood on my hands… but that was a long time ago. I’ve come a long way since then; six companions and two regenerations…” he stepped back, thinking about the problem before him, “And besides, today isn’t about me. It’s about you… this dream of you sailing on the lunar seas…”
Serenity jumped up into one of the chairs that ran around the console. “I’m just out on the moon, on a big old galleon, like the Spanish Armada used, and I’m sailing along,” she told him, reiterating what she’d told him in the pub.
Knowing full well the power of emotion, the Doctor decided to try a different tactic. “Okay, now Serenity, I want you to close your eyes for me,” he told her. She complied. “Now, think of the dream. Put yourself on the ship on the Moon. How do you feel?”
Serenity did as instructed. She could taste the vacuum of space, but didn’t worry about not breathing. She felt the lunar sands shifting under the bow of her ship as it sailed along. The biting cold nipped at her fingers and nose. Before her, there were only stars and gray dust as far as the eye could see. A feeling of dread accompanied her. “I feel… alone. There’s no one here with me.”
‘It’s probably her unconscious coping with the death of her parents,’ the Doctor thought. “Alone? There’s nothing else?” he asked.
Serenity scanned around the empty ship. Behind her, off the stern of the ship, a wave quaked the unmoving lunar dust. She walked to the stern, going past empty cannon mounts and forgotten bulwarks, past the captain’s quarters and up to the wheel. The Moon seemed to shake, and the dream became more vivid. She leaned over the side, watching the sand behind her intently. The chill of space slowly faded. The stings of cold passed, replaced by a slowing, gentle warmth. The silt began to glow, from eight shades of monochrome to a subtle red, then orange.
She backed away from the rearmost part of her galleon. The heat intensified, singeing the timbers and leaving a trail of gray smoke that hung in the incredibly thin atmosphere. Like a phoenix rising, a form shot out from the glowing red sands. It took the form of a shapeless man that glowed red and cracked with intense heat. The beast stood fifty feet tall with only its head, arms and torso leaving the safety of the sea. Its skin was a badly matched collection of dry, cracked lunar dust and radiant heat breathed from its ever-open, glowing red mouth.
The Doctor silently watched from the console, letting her become fully immersed in the dream. She started to sweat and then quake from fear as adrenaline coursed through her tiny body. As she was in no danger, the Doctor saw no reason to bring her from the dream state; they needed to know as much as possible. “Don’t be afraid, Serenity. Whatever you see can’t hurt you. You’re here with me, on the TARDIS,” he calmly told her. He knelt down to her and took her hand. She nodded in agreement. “Okay, now what’s frightened you so much?”
“It looks like…” she started, trying to find the words, “It’s like some kind of lava beast. He looks like a golem or something… it came out of the lunar dust, right off the back of my ship.” She stared down the beast, finding the Doctor’s voice and touch comforting.
“Can you see anything else?” he asked, wondering if that maybe the lava beast was a distraction to keep her occupied on it and not something else.
Serenity fought her instincts and looked away from the glowing ember golem. She scanned the horizon from the deck. The curvature of the tiny moon showed nothing in the immediate vicinity, but something nagged at Serenity; a feeling that something should have been there, something she knew intimately. She turned away from the lava creature and started to the main mast. As quick as she could muster, she climbed and climbed, using her little legs and arms to carry her up the rigging to the crow’s nest.
The main mast seemed to be miles tall, and it took her a good few minutes to climb it. When she finally got to the crow’s nest, she set about scanning the surface again. The sea was calm and stretched as far as she could see. The beast behind her breathed fire, but being this high up, she found that she wasn’t afraid of it. For the first time since coming aboard, she was calm. The stings of cold and vacuum returned. Ahead of her, she could see the destination. It was a palace, grand and magnificent, yet ancient and lonely, like it’d been forgotten for ages.
Serenity disembarked her crow’s nest, shimmying down the mast of her ship. She gave a yank on the rigging, unfurling the sails. As her speed increased toward the palace, she noticed a curious thing. The heat on her began to get hotter and hotter. She looked back, afraid of what was happening. The fire breather was bearing down on her.
The galleon’s speed increased more, going faster and faster toward her destination, yet each knot faster only served to move the fire beast closer. Within sight of the deserted palace, the beast bared down, biting chunks of huge wooden ship off the stern. Still, her speed increased, the galleon now seemingly rocketing toward the palace and the edge of the sea. Above her, the Earth rose from the Moon’s shadow, casting a lovely blue on the entire place.
The galleon reached its destination, arriving at the old palace. Serenity looked at it, curious about its arched doors and marvelous crafted and carved statues. She started for it, and reached the bow of her galleon when her legs failed. She’d become an unmoving statue on the deck of her ship. Then, she found herself in the mouth of the lava beast.
Her eyes shot wide open. She panted, out of breath and was sweating. Her pulse raced, remembering everything that had just happened. Her excited eyes scanned the Doctor, then everything on the TARDIS, happy to be there instead of on the moon.
“Welcome back,” the Doctor greeted her. He leaned from side to side, checking her pupils. “You’ll be all right, Serenity. Chip?” he asked, holding open the Styrofoam container from the pub. She took it from him, digging back into her potatoes. “That’s a girl. I’ve got a Dr. Pepper machine in one of the storerooms, but I’ll be buggered if I can remember which one…”
She looked up at him from the lump of chips. “What just happened to me?” Serenity asked in between bites. “It all seemed so real. I didn’t leave here, did I?”
The Doctor smiled at her. “Of course you didn’t, well, not physically anyway. I think your mind sort of went all bazooey with sixes and sevens for a minute,” he explained, wiggling his fingers around her cranium. He then stood and did a twirl away from the girl, ending up at the console. “So, should we go?” he asked, looking at the still Time Rotor.
“Go where?” Serenity wondered. “And what do you mean it went all bazooey? What’s that mean?” Her alien was now speaking in nonsense terms.
He turned back to her, again dropping to a knee. “I think that your dream wasn’t really a dream,” the Doctor told her. “I think that your dream is a psychic vision. Before, the only time you could access it was when you were asleep, and your conscious mind wasn’t in charge. But here, on the TARDIS, the psychic energy is amplified and that’s why it was vivid, and you were lucid during it. It’s like someone’s sending a message; whispers in the dark from the moon…” His face went blank, pondering what he’d just said. He looked back to her, grinning. “So, should we go?” he asked again.
“Go where?” Serenity hadn’t the faintest idea what he had in mind.
“To the Moon, pay attention,” the Doctor told her. Serenity’s eyes opened wide in disbelief. “You’re surprised? Oh c’mon, my people put whole worlds inside boxes and mastered black holes, do you think they’d not have space travel sussed out?”
Serenity looked at him as spun around at the console and typing on an old looking typewriter. “So, your little box can travel in space?” she asked.
“It also travels in time,” he informed, facing her. “Hello? Time and Relative Dimension… You’re not paying attention, are you?” She was flabbergasted, unable to speak. “Oh, c’mon. One little jaunt to the Moon. My TARDIS brought me here to help you, and I can’t leave until we’ve gotten everything figured out.” He looked at her, his face bearing his ever helpful and caring soul.
“But I just met you,” Serenity objected, “I don’t even know you.”
He dropped down to her again. “Of course you do. Trust me,” he told her, “I’m the Doctor.”
Serenity looked at him pensively. They’d only met, and so far he was a strange man with a strange dress sense and a strange box that was bigger on the inside… but she felt he was the only person who could help her. Every fiber in her being was comfortable with him, as if she somehow was familiar with the odd man before her. “So, you’re a mad man with a box who helps people?” she asked.
“Yes, that pretty much sums me up,” he agreed.
Serenity decided to listen to her instinct. “Okay, let’s go to the Moon…”