Prologue: Martha and Molly
Just outside of St Bart’s Hospital in London, England, there was a loud scratching, humming, whirring, buzzy noise that sounded like a key being drawn across piano wires. A light began to glow and underneath the light, the TARDIS faded into existence until it was solid and blue and looked as if it had always stood, inconveniently, in the middle of a sidewalk in front of the hospital. The door opened and the Doctor stepped out with Martha close behind.
“See, I told you I could do it. London, England, what you call ‘the present’,” he said, turning in a slow circle to make sure he really had gotten it right. “And look, I’ve even brought you right to the hospital doors and everything.” He beamed at Martha and she could do nothing but smile back. She would never be able to figure out how the Doctor had perfected the ability to smile so innocently as his eyes sparkled with such mischief.
“Yes, very impressive, Doctor,” she said. Then she turned back to the TARDIS and whispered, “thank you.”
“Only a few minutes, though. We have to make sure everything is ready for our to-do tonight with Doctor Lazarus.”
“Yeah, ‘course. Won’t be five minutes,” Martha smiled as she hurried inside the building.
Molly Hooper was working steadily and carefully on the latest victim of the most recent serial killer terrorizing London. Lestrade had called her and told her to drop everything to find out how the man on her slab had died. Of course, she couldn’t say anything but ‘yes’. Sherlock would be coming in later for her report. Just a usual day.
Until the doors to the morgue swung open to reveal the last person Molly expected to see: Martha Jones. They had been friends in university when they were both studying medicine and had kept in touch after Martha had chosen to work with the living and fixable.
“Oh, Martha, hi!” she said brightly, if a little confused. After setting down the scalpel, pulling off the bloody gloves, and turning off the voice recorder so that it wouldn’t pick up their conversation, she shrugged out of her lab coat so that when Martha inevitably grabbed her in a hug, the bits of Mr Cross wouldn’t transfer to her lovely red leather jacket.
“Molly,” Martha said, hugging her as expected, “I’m so glad to see you.”
Molly hugged back but her mind had jumped into pre-panic mode. “Is there something wrong?” she asked cautiously, wondering what on earth would have brought the woman to see her in the middle of a work day. “I mean, I’m glad to see you too, but it hasn’t been all that long! You’re acting like you’ve been gone for ages but we had coffee just last week.”
“Oh, right, yeah. It’s just been a long…week. But how are you? Everything going well? Nothing too out of the ordinary?”
“Sit down, please. Sorry, I have to keep working, but I can talk at the same time.”
“I won’t be staying terribly long, I’m afraid. But tell me how you’ve been!”
“Okay, uh, pretty much the same as usual. What about you, though? What kind of a week have you had? It must have been pretty crazy.”
Martha paused with a strange expression on her face, but then it was gone. “Just, uh, lots of work. I’m sure you know how it is,” Martha said with a dismissive wave of her hand.
“Oh, do I! I’m helping on two other cases this week, on top of my regular work. I mean, I don’t mind, but sometimes a break would be nice.”
“Cases with, uh, Sherlock Holmes, right?”
Molly went red and cursed herself for it. He wasn’t even here but he could still make her blush like a schoolgirl. Stupid cheekbones. Still, she tried to play it cool even though she knew Martha could see right through it. “Yeah, he’s still around. Breezing in whenever he feels like it, asking to see bodies I’ve already processed the paperwork for and demanding body parts for whatever experiments he’s doing at the time.”
“He sounds like quite the character, Molly. You’ll have to introduce me sometime.” Martha said this cheerfully enough but Molly got the impression that her friend was distracted by something. She kept looking toward the door as if someone else had come with her and she was waiting for them to show up. Or hoping they didn’t.
“Oh, he certainly is. But I get the feeling that you came here for a reason? You usually call ahead if you’re going to stop by and it’s the middle of the afternoon when you’d usually be at work.”
“That detective of yours must be rubbing off on you,” Martha said, winking at her. Molly blushed again, “But yes, I have something important to give you,” she handed over a piece of scrap paper with a telephone number written on it.
“Is this your number? I already have it…”
“It’s mine, but I had to change the number. Sort of an update. This is the first chance I’ve gotten to give it to you and I promised my ride I’d be quick, but just-” Martha took a deep breath, “if anything, I dunno, weird ever happens around here, call me, okay. This is important. Because there was some weird stuff happening at another hospital and I can’t really explain because you wouldn’t believe me,” she trailed off, saying the last bit more to herself than to Molly.
“Martha, what’s wrong? Why do you sound like you’re going off to war or something? And as for weird, I cut open dead people for a living and, on the side, I help solve crimes with a detective who can’t tell me apart from the rest of the lab equipment. My life isn’t exactly average.”
“No, I guess not. But seriously, Molly. If anything happens in a way that is weirder than what you’re used to, please call this number, okay? Promise me.”
Molly didn’t know what to think. I mean, weird stuff happened with Sherlock all the time, it was part of the job, but somehow she got the feeling that Martha wasn’t referring to chasing serial killers around the back streets of London. She was obviously upset by something and wasn’t going to tell Molly what that was, so it was easier to just agree and try to figure it out later.
“Yeah, of course I will. Promise,” Molly agreed, sticking the paper in her lab coat pocket.
“Thank you,” Martha said, looking a bit relieved. “And now, I’m sorry but I’ve got to dash. I’m going to a party tonight with the- uh, a friend and I need time to get ready. And I promised him I’d only be five minutes.”
Molly desperately wanted to jump on the “him” Martha had referenced but decided that if her friend was in a hurry now wasn’t the best time to talk about it. “Oh, okay. Will you be free for coffee sometime?”
“Probably. Not sure when, exactly. I’ll call you though, alright?”
“Sure,” Molly smiled as Martha waved and then hurried out of the morgue. Then she turned back to Mr Cross who was waiting very patiently for her to resume her work. The dead were considerate like that.
Thankfully, the TARDIS was still where it been; she had been afraid that the Doctor might change his mind and fly away as soon as she was inside. Doctor Lazarus had obviously gotten him interested enough that he was staying…at least for now.