It was nearly one in the morning by the time Raymond Whiles left the King George inn and made his way back to halls. A dark, curling mist had settled on Oxford, dimming the streetlamps to dull beige. The thick fog had settled in for the night by the time he had been forced out of the warm interior of the pub by the landlord. It was hard enough for a sober man to distinguish between road and pathway, brick and iron, let alone a man who had just completed a six-hour jolly round some of Oxford's most notorious drinking establishments.
Needless to say, Raymond Whiles was not a sober man.
His head was spinning nineteen to the dozen, and if he didn't concentrate hard enough, he'd find the cobbled stones of the street approaching him far too quickly for his liking. One hand against the crumbly slabs of a nearby wall steadied him, however, and painfully slowly he meandered on.
Not that he had the vaguest idea where he was headed, of course. In fact, his swirling mind thought, I haven't got the foggiest. He laughed then, a woozy, jovial kind of laugh that split the night's silence but was quickly dampened by the worsening weather. Falling into a drunken silence, thought clouded his face once more.
He had to get back to halls- he knew that much. But the actual locating of the halls, especially in these conditions and in his current state, was another thing entirely. Then, without realising quite how, he found himself upon a bridge. The fog had cleared slightly, and he was able to look around. It wasn't a particularly large bridge. Raymond recognised it. It was made of crumbling, sandy bricks and was covered in rows and rows of cobbles. Although small, it would often be filled with the hubbub of life in the mornings when he would cycle over it to get to and from lectures. Or was it from and to? Raymond sighed and rubbed his forehead. His mind was still swirling, and it felt like Raymond was filled with those blue and yellow-y whorls in that Van Gogh painting his mother had on her kitchen wall.
"Time for a little sit, methinks." And he clambered onto the bridge wall, and swung his legs over. He shut his eyes, and felt a cool breeze caressing his face. It was peaceful here. He could hear- although he couldn't quite see- the Thames running beneath him. Raymond had always liked the sound of running water- it reminded him of peaceful summers spent at the seaside as a child. Yes… Raymond liked the ocean. He liked the incessant lapping of the waves on the shore, the fizz of breaking waves. He liked how the sea seemed to stretch for miles, a never-ending abyss in which one could lose oneself forever. There was sanctuary to be found in the ocean. How much he'd like to be back at that holiday resort now… what was its name? Bright Seas? Sea Heights? Oh, drat it! It doesn't matter now, Raymond supposed. No, what mattered now was getting back.
Somewhere a clock chimed the hour – whatever it was-, and its bell chimes rumbled through the air like summer thunder. The black waves beneath him rippled, like beautifully melted velvet. Raymond made to swing his legs back over the wall, but somehow lost his balance. He fell down, down, until the ravenous waves of the Thames engulfed him. He barely had had time to cry out.
As quickly as he had entered it, Raymond Wiles had been claimed by the velvet river, and any trace of him had vanished. The water went back to being as silky smooth as it had before, and silence blanketed the riverside once more.
Somewhere in the opaque sky, a bird cried.
"Martha, you're gonna love this place. Stargate 4- what a planet! The busiest planet in this galaxy. It's like the high street on Black Friday but so much bigger. It's the warmest planet for miles around- no rain for sixty decades. Better than Barcelona, this place. They like their music, too, the Stargatians. They've got chapels with full size replicas of Elvis that hold weddings! Imagine that! 'Do you take this Hound Dog to be your lawfully wedded husband… uh huh huh!' Well, when it happened to me with the real one he didn't actually do the 'uh huh huh' thing which was a bit disappointing… but I guess that was because the Earth was about to implode and there were aliens in the pews behind us-
"Coming," Came a voice from deep within the TARDIS.
The Doctor grabbed his long, dark coat from the TARDIS console and made his way to the time machine's doors.
"Hurry up then. We've got places to go, people to see, Elvis statues to study…" The Time Lord pulled open the doors and stepped into the deserted street. Rain dripped down the back of his neck.
"Oh." Was all that he said. He could hear Martha approaching from within the TARDIS.
"Next time, if you wouldn't mind waiting for mebefore rushing off onto a new planet, I might actually be able to keep up and not find myself in the library! I mean, books are great and all, but-"
She stopped short and stood next to the Doctor. They watched the rain form in murky puddles on the street, reflecting an overcast sky. In the distance they could see a grey sea lurking behind an equally grey beach, with litter and old deckchairs strewn along the shore. Thunder cracked in the distance.
"Space's answer to Barbados." Martha said.
The Doctor quickly replied; "I said we were-"
"You said space's answer to Barbados. "
"Well, yes, but I said we were going to Stargate 4…"
"Doctor, if you've taken us to the wrong place…"
"…but the TARDIS could have possibly interpreted it a- "he coughed. "Margate."
There was a pause. Rain spattered down.
"Margate? You have a space ship and you take us on holiday to Margate!"
The Doctor grinned.
"Don't you grin at me." Martha warned, her expression almost as stormy as the weather.
"Look on the bright side, Martha-" They both looked up at a heavy, ominous cloud making its way towards them. The Doctor produced a small pink object from his coat pocket.
"At least we have a bucket and spade."
The worst of the storm had passed, and the Doctor and Martha had found a sort of refuge in a fish and chip shop doorway. There wasn't an open shop for miles, and there was nobody in sight.
"I guess it's not the height of holiday season." Martha commented, as a stray piece of litter blew down the street.
"I'm sure something's going to happen… soon…" The Doctor said with a façade of hopefulness. "Maybe everyone's having a siesta."
"Even in Margate."
A sharp wind blew and Martha drew her jacket tighter around her. "It's a good job I didn't dress for space's answer to Barbados, otherwise I'd be froze." She nudged the Doctor.
The Doctor grinned. "Once I dressed as a vicar for a fancy dress party, but I came across a wedding and, to cut a long story short, if time travel doesn't work out for me, joining the church is my best option."
"Was that the time with Elvis?"
The Doctor raised his eyebrows. "No, no that was a different- hang on." The Doctor grabbed Martha's arm. "Do you hear that?"
Martha listened. "No. Tell me about Elvis."
But the Doctor's attention was elsewhere. He rushed out into the road, turning to try and find out where it was coming from. " It's a kind of… whirring. Like the sound the TARDIS- oh no."
He broke into a run, sneakered feet pounding the pavement.
"Like when the TARDIS what? Doctor, wait!"
"Martha, you stay there!" The Doctor called over his shoulder. He was too fast for Martha to keep up.
The Doctor approached the TARDIS and flew inside. Martha caught up and made to enter when the Doctor opened the door, and positioned himself so she couldn't enter.
"I told you to stay there."
Martha was panting. "And I didn't listen. What's going on in there?" The light on top of the TARDIS was flashing a deep red.
"Martha, stay there. The TARDIS is entering some kind of temporal lock down- wait there!" The doors slammed shut in her face. Even as she banged on them, she could feel them slip away. The TARDIS was dematerialising.
Martha's voice was full of panic as she cried;
But the Doctor was gone, and Martha was left alone in the street.
It was getting on for eleven O'clock when Captain Mike Yates finally finished his paperwork. The lab had become increasingly darker as time went on and now it was near impossible to see. He got up and switched on the light, revealing the lab. He saw the familiar blue shape of the TARDIS, nestled into the corner of the room, so conspicuous and yet at the same time, so unnoticeable. Mike thought of the Doctor- how he could go swanning off after their last adventure, whilst Mike was left with all the paperwork. Paperwork bored him, but, in truth, he was rather relieved to be doing something less dangerous than their recent exploits in Devil's End. He had had just about enough of ancient evils, witchcraft and magic that he could stand. Not that he was adverse to danger; on the contrary, he was often the first officer to respond to calls. He loved his job at U.N.I.T- he loved the thrill he got when assigned to a new task- but, Mike supposed, as he collected his papers, paperwork was just as crucial as the rest of it. Not that that made it any less dreary.
The U.N.I.T building was quiet now- most officers had gone home, and only Mike and the night staff were there now. He had allowed Sergeant Benton to leave at four- his well-meant but useless attempts to help had only hindered Mike's progression further. Besides, Miss Grant had told him earlier that day that Benton had a date with a girl tonight.
Mike was about to turn the lights off and leave when he noticed a pair of headlights making their way up the HQ's driveway through the window. He rushed over to see who was arriving here so late, and was shocked to find the Brigadier's Jag pulling up to a security guard. He saw Lethbridge-Stewart produce his card, and be waved in by the night man. Moments later, the Brigadier strode into the lab, with a slightly panicked air in contrast to his usual composed, professional manner.
"Is everything all right, sir?" Yates was beyond perplexed.
"As of now you're working overtime, Yates." Mike was just about to rely that in fact, he already was doing overtime when the Brig thrust a photograph into the Captain's hands. Mike recognised the man in the grainy photograph at once. It was Raymond Whiles, the young Oxford student who had been on the verge of discovering a cure for some of the world's most catastrophic diseases.
"You've heard about Whiles, I presume?" Mike nodded. The Brigadier stroked his moustache.
"Well, Yates, it's the strangest thing. You see, early this morning, whilst we were detained in Devil's End, Raymond Whiles signed in to a holiday resort in Dorset."
Mike blinked in shock. "But... but that's impossible! Raynmond Whiles… Whiles was pulled out of the Thames! He's dead!"
The Brigadier sat down slowly, and said absently; "Yes, it's most odd. 1956, I think. Drowned, poor boy."
Mike's mind was racing. "But how- how can he be alive? They found his body. Raymond Whiles is dead!"
The Brigadier chewed his thumb, his eyes fixed somewhere in the distance.
"Perhaps we were wrong."
They found his body three days later. An early morning dog walker saw him floating down by the college boat houses, and called the police. Newspaper headlines read; PROMISING YOUNG STUDENT DROWNED IN THAMES.
His mother was notified, and she cried alone in the mortuary, clutching the cold body of her only child. Nobody had the heart to separate them.