There is not much to do in these quick, quiet seconds besides think.
He thinks of his family, left behind so precipitously. What will they think if he never comes home? His mother, his father, his brothers and sisters, even his new little niece; will they tell her about Uncle Ian who disappeared one day? He hopes so. Every family tree should have a mysterious disappearance somewhere in its branches, and he should like to be remembered. A pity he won't be around to see it.
The pointer has ticked a further half-step towards the star. He wishes he had the strength to not look.
He thinks of his mates; friends from college, some fellow teachers. He hasn't missed them as much as he should, and he feels a bit guilty for it, but when he's seeing things like this, watching the Doctor work his alien wonders, it's hard to think of pub crawls and raunchy jokes with quite the same level of longing. Perhaps a little wistfulness; they were good times, after all, and good friends. He should like to have a pint with them again, right now, before he dies.
It won't happen, though. A tick, like metal on bone. One minute less to live.
He thinks of the Doctor, and Susan. Poor Susan. She will blame herself, he thinks, and the Doctor too, though he cannot say for certain exactly how much the old man will really mourn his death. But perhaps that's unfair. The Doctor has been kinder, less determinedly antagonistic, since they faced destruction at the beginning of the universe. And Susan, so old in some ways and so very, terrifyingly young in others. He is glad, in a way, that the authorities have denied them time to visit. It will be easier on Susan if she can pretend somehow that he is merely gone for a moment.
And Barbara. His breath catches, and he looks at the star before he can stop himself. Five minutes.
He cannot think of her in only five minutes. Better, perhaps, not to have thought of her at all, except that is so totally against his nature now that even the idea is alien. He still finds it odd, when the thought crosses his mind, that they were not really very close at Coal Hill. Friends, yes, and comfortably so, and there was no denying that she was—is—beautiful. But he had his mates, and she had hers, and they never saw each other outside work until the night she insisted that they follow Susan Foreman home.
Now he can no more stop thinking of her than he can stop breathing. Ironic—he would laugh if it was in any way funny. As soon as a more—personal relationship becomes not only impracticable but impossible, he goes and…
It hardly matters now. In… dear God, in a minute and a half it will never matter. The space between the seconds is too short and he has not told her.
He wonders if she will miss him. He thinks that she will, but he dares not answer for her. She will get home, he knows that. She is too clever, too persistent not to. Will she tell his family what has happened? What will she do with her life—write books, marry, have children, grow old and garden in the sun? He hopes so. He is neither foolish enough to imagine that she will spend the rest of her life pining for him, nor selfish enough to want her to. But he could wish…
He has no time left; the door is swinging open.
He will never tell her now.