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'Pocket Monster'


'A Gentleman of Leisure'.

"Has anyone got a spare pen? Mine's just packed in," said Gwen Cooper. She sounded only mildly irritated.

"Stationery supplies are in the top drawer of that filing cabinet," Toshiko told her, waving a vague hand without even looking up from the eyepiece of her microscope.

Gwen hopped up from where she was completing a report for the archives, and wandered across the cluttered underground chamber that was Torchwood's Cardiff Headquarters.

There were three sets of shallow drawers, side by side, so she asked which one had been meant, but Toshiko was now miles away, deep in study, and she didn't reply. Gwen shrugged, did "Eeny, meeny, miney, moe," until she'd got a choice, and opened the drawer that she'd been told to. It was a little stiff, and she could only get it half way open, so without being able to see what was inside she squeezed her hand in and scrabbled round for the replacement pen she wanted.

A few seconds later Toshiko was brought back to the present by a pained shriek, to find Gwen wringing her hand and swearing in a mixture of English and Welsh.

"I'm bleeding, dammit! There's a bloody rat in there! Look, the little bugger's taken a chunk out of my fingertip!"

"Which drawer did you open?"

Both women looked up to see Captain Jack leaning idly on the railing of the upper level, showing little apparent concern that one of his staff had sustained damage in the line of duty.

"This one! I'll have the so-and-so!" Gwen snapped, trying to yank the drawer fully open one-handed, her injured fingertip dripping little red dots here and there on the floor.

"Oh, dear. You shouldn't have opened that one. Didn't you see the warning sign?" asked the Captain mildly.

"What bloody warning? There's nothing here."

"Mmm. Must have fallen off again." He slid down the handrail of the stairs and strolled across to her. "OK. Let's see the damage, then."

Somewhat miffed, Gwen showed him her injured second finger. A tiny piece of flesh had indeed been neatly bitten out of the tip.

"Good thing it's not your trigger finger," he said.

"No, but it's my longest. And it's a very useful one, I'll have you know."

"I hardly dare ask what for."

"That's not the point. You keep a rat or something in there and it's bitten me. I might get bubonic plague, or rabies!"

"She's more likely to get dandruff!" said Toshiko a little unkindly, and went back to her microscope, giggling.

"What's so funny?" Gwen sounded indignant, and rightly so, but Jack pushed the drawer shut and led her over to the first aid kit on the wall. While he was rummaging around for a sticking plaster he tried to explain and reassure her.

"First of all, it's not a rat," he said, "and there's absolutely no risk of catching something off the thing that bit you. It's alien, and its DNA would be far too different for it to harbour anything able to infect you, if it actually has any DNA, so you can stop worrying on that score. In fact the reverse is probably true - the likelihood is that you've made it feel quite unwell."

"Good!" said Gwen, relaxing a little at that, and Jack Harkness smiled.

"You know about the Rift," he continued, "and the fact that other little gaps and holes also exist in the continuum around Cardiff, which allow all sorts of weird stuff to slide in from other places? We've already encountered a few of the consequences since you joined us. Well, we keep one of them in that drawer. Or more properly we found one in there. Don't know how it got there, or when - it was already in there when I first joined the organisation - but we think it's a wormhole."

"Worm hole? Bloody small then! I thought they were supposed to be huge things needing a star going nova to create them."

Jack shrugged. "We don't know that all of them do. Anyway this one lives in that drawer."

"I see. So where does this wormhole lead to then?"

"Ah. No idea. It could be two galaxies away, or just into another drawer - somewhere else. We don't really know. So far as we can deduce, it connects to somewhere very small, like a sort of little pocket in space, that the creature, monster, whatever it really is, can't get out of. It just lives there in the pocket."

"Thank goodness for that! I wouldn't want to be getting a pair of clean knickers out of my undies drawer on a Monday morning, and suddenly find I'd lost a hand! Or worse!"

"You sound like you're feeling better already."

Gwen looked at the neat piece of Elastoplast over her fingertip, smiled and nodded. "Nearly," she said.

"Like me to kiss it better?"

"There's cheeky! No thank you, I'll get my boyfriend to do that tonight, thank you very much. We're going out."

"Anywhere interesting?"

"We're going to see an old classic film - late showing at the Multiplex."

"And what might that be?"

"'Play Misty For Me'," she said.