Telephone Appointment

The TARDIS control room glowed with the light of the console, as the gentle background humm and occasional soft beep of various system notifications filled the air. 

The Doctor wandered around on the mezzanine floor, tidying books that were either in the wrong place or that had fallen off the shelf during that last incident when he accidentally created a superhero that called himself The Ghost.   

“Complicated” he muttered to himself, picking up a pile of Superman comic books and putting them back on the shelf. 

He’d just dropped Nardol off at the shops to get some supplies and spare parts, and so he was having a sort out while the TARDIS was parked, waiting in the car park. 

The phone rang on the console, and so he trotted down the nearest staircase and answered it, flicking a few buttons so that it went hands-free.  

“Hello?” he said expectantly, walking back up the steps, picking up some fallen books along the way. 

“Professor?” a voice called from the other side “You sound weird? Are you still pretending to be Scottish?” 

“Who is this?” The Doctor replied, pausing with the book sorting. 

“It’s Dorothy… I mean Ace..” 

There was a pause as the Doctor considered who he was talking to.  

“Ace?” He said doubtfully  “It’s been…  a very very long time.. Several lifetimes, in fact.. ” 

“It’s only really been one for me” Ace replied, her voice sounded older but the sound of determination was still there “I got your phone number from someone named Osgood, I hope that’s ok? Look, there’s a slight issue here on Earth and I could really use your help” 

The Doctor popped the books down back on the floor and skipped back down the steps.

“Ok - but I just saved Earth about 10 minutes ago, and it was fine then”  

“You’re in a time machine professor, 10 minutes for you could be 5 million years for anyone else”  

The Doctor pressed a big blue switch.. Then he paused and immediately switched it back. 

“Fair point. Where and when are you”   

“The Shard. London. The year is 2020 and..”

The Doctor stopped flicking switches and looked saddened. 

“.. 2020?” he said, turning a dial slowly clockwise. 

“Yes.. 2020…” Ace continued “There’s a…”  

“...A very nasty little virus..” The Doctor finished her sentence “Yes.. I’m aware, and I’m really very sorry Ace, but I can’t help.  It’s a fixed point in time..  If I change anything I could unravel your whole future” 

“You always say that professor”  Ace replied, the frustration audible in her tone. 

“Yes, but this time in particular it’s very true.  The virus is the beginning of what becomes known as The Great Realisation, when humans finally realise the damage that they’re doing to the planet and begin to sort things out. I know it seems bleak right now, but there’s a good future ahead, and if I mess with that, who knows what damage could be caused”   

“I understand that Professor, and I’m not asking you to stop the virus.   I get that we need to do that ourselves.”  Ace replied 

“Then what do you want Ace?”  He turned the dial back again and examined some flashing multicoloured lights carefully.  

“I just want you to turn up, you big lump. And I want to hear the TARDIS make its noise. That sound that says it may not be ok now, but there’s always a chance to fix things.  I just wanted to see you.. at 2 metres safe distance.. just because, selfishly, I want some hope” 

“That” said the Doctor with a grin, “I can do..  Hold on Ace, I’ll be there right away.. Although… I may not look the same as you are expecting” 

He flicked some more switches, spun around on his heels, and pulled the main lever to engage the time rotor. 

Outside the wind began to swirl as the light on the TARDIS faded in and out.   

Nardol walked out of the shop pushing a trolly full of food and supplies. 

“I managed to get the ultra-capacitors, but for some reason they had a shortage of cheese..”  he said, just as he looked up to see the TARDIS dematerialise.   

“And… you’ve left me behind again. Thanks for that.”   

Nardol then sat down on the dusty curb to wait for The Doctor to return, as he had done many times before. He took a chocolate bar out of a carrier bag, unwrapped it and took a large bite out of the top with a crunch.