MERIPOPINDULAR

Page 20

MERIPOPINDULAR

by Lorraine Anderson

"Doctor," Peri said impatiently. "You're being evasive."

The blond, curly-haired man fixed her with a glare. "Evasive, Perpegillium? Me? I'm never evasive."

"Yeah, right," Peri snorted. "Care to have some examples?"

The Doctor looked down at the Tardis controls. "I may not explain everything I do," he said absently. "But I am never evasive."

She leaned over towards him. "Ok, then. Would you care to explain what we're going?"

"No, Peri. Not really." He tweaked a control.

Peri made an exasperated sound.

"Oh, for heaven's sake, Peri. Stop making that noise! It grates on the ear." He tweaked another control. "Besides, what's wrong with your sense of adventure? Don't you like adventure?"

Peri snorted. "I like adventure just fine, thank you. If I hadn't, you would've dropped me off a long time ago. I just want to know where we're going."

He regarded her with a slight grin. "If I told you, you wouldn't believe me anyway, you Pandora."

"Pandora! Pandora!" she sputtered. "Don't you darecompare me to that..."

The Tardis column stopped moving. "Besides, I'll tell you where I'm going. I'm going out." He opened the door and exited through it. Peri followed, growling noisily...

...and stopped still. She looked back at the Tardis. Yes, the police box was behind her. She looked closer at the room she had just entered. In spite of the similarity to the Tardis control room, there were some differences. For example, she doubted that the Doctor even owned a cane chair...but, on reflection, she could be wrong. There were a lot of rooms she hadn't explored.

The Doctor was standing in the middle of the room with a decidedly piqued expression on his face. "I seem to have...miscalculated."

"You, Doctor?" Peri said with an innocent expression on her face.

"Don't be facetious. Still, I am in the right place." He put his hands on his hips. "Where can she be?" He spun around and opened the door to the rest of the other Tardis. "Meripopindular! Meripopindular!"

"I don't think she's in, Doctor," Peri said, after the echoes had died down. "Whoever she is."

The Doctor pursed his lips. "Then we shall have to go out."

"Logical."

The Doctor ignored her and opened the door to the other Tardis. He started to exit...

"Why can't we go out?" Michael whined.

Mary was busy folding the children's clothes. "Don't whine, Michael, you are not a dog," she said sharply. "If you cannot cipher why we are not going out, then I shall not help you."

Jane looked out the window. She could barely see Admiral Boom's house through the rain. "Still, Mary," she said. "We've gone out in weather like this. Don't you remember?"

"Yeah," Michael said. "Don't you remember?"

She fixed the two of them with an incredulous glance. "Me?" she said, in an indignant tone.

The two knew that glance, and they looked at each other, mollified. "But we want an adventure," Jane finally ventured.

Mary looked at her, then looked at her Bag, and almost smiled. "I suspect the Nursery will be adventure enough today." Just then, the twins came tearing through the room, and Annabel started stirring in her crib. "See what I mean?" she said, grabbing a twin each by their collars and setting them firmly down on their beds.

"But it's not fair!" Michael said.

"Life was not meant to be fair," Mary retorted. "Who- ever tells you otherwise is a liar." She picked up a pile of clothes and started across the room.

Suddenly, Jane heard a Noise. She looked at Mary's Big, Black Bag. It was moving. "Michael," she whispered, then pointed at the Bag.

It moved around, then opened up with a snap. A blond, curly-haired man looked out, smiled at Mary (who was looking the other way), looked down, then withdrew his head. "Oh, bother," he said lowly. Jane and Michael looked at each other, speechless, then drew close to the Bag and looked down into it. They couldn't see anything.

Suddenly, a leg poked out the Bag, rapidly followed by two arms, which grabbed the side of the Bag. The head came out next, then he grinned at the children. "Excuse me, but is this anywhere near London?"

The two children found their voices as one. "Mary Poppins!" they screeched. Mary started.

"Ah, is that the name you're going by these days?" the man said to Mary. He crawled out of the Bag. "Excuse me, children."

Jane and Michael looked him up and down. He was a colorful sight. He seemed to be all red and patches and a big, loose bow tie. "I think he must be the Clown man," Michael said, highly impressed.

The man looked highly indignant, and Mary Poppins looked as if she were suppressing a smile. "No, Michael," she said sternly, pursing her lips. "This is my brother. Hello, Junior."

"Your brother!" Michael said.

"Your brother!" Jane repeated.

"Your...brother?" said a voice from the Bag. Jane gave a small screech and stepped back.

"Yes, this is my brother. Must you repeat everything I say?" Mary said. She walked over to the Bag and looked into it. "Are you going to leave your friend in my Bag, or are you going to be rude?"

"Him?" snorted the Bag. "I haven't known him when he wasn't rude...Well, maybe in his last regeneration." The voice paused. "Well, Doctor...aren't you going to help me?"

"Oh, bother," Mary said, and she stuck her head and arms in the Bag.

The Clown man flushed and Jane and Michael giggled. He gave them a stern look, then leaned into the Bag on the other side. Jane wondered how the Bag opening could be so big!

As Jane and Michael looked, round-eyed, they pulled out a lady. She was wearing denim trousers and a striped shirt. They looked at each other.

"Who is she?" Michael said. "And why does she talk so odd?"

"She's an American!" Jane said with awe.

"Mary, may I introduce Miss Perpegillium Brown," the man said. "This is Mary Poppins -- the name she's going by now, anyway."

Miss Perpegillium Brown looked at the Clown Man like he were crazy, then she stuck out her hand. "Please, Miss Poppins, call me Peri...Doctor, I want to talk with you later."

Mary took the hand and shook it gingerly. "I am pleased to meet you...Peri. I am called Mary." She looked over to the Doctor. "So, you're going by the name 'Doctor' now." She looked Peri up and down. "Doctor, I would think you would know enough to dress your friends in the clothing of the times."

Peri glanced down at her clothes. "What's wrong with my clothes?" she said, slightly indignant.

The Doctor smiled ruefully. "She has a point. Proper young ladies did not go around in denim jeans in the early 1900's."

"Who said I was proper?" Peri said, then she made a face. "Do I have to wear a corset?"

"Hush," Mary said. "Little pitchers have big ears."

Peri blushed and looked at the children, who were giggling. "Oh. Sorry."

"A corset," Jane giggled. "Only Mothers wear corsets." She looked at Peri. "Are you a Mother?"

"No!" Peri said.

"Then you don't have to wear a corset," Jane said practically.

Peri grinned. "Thank you."

"You're welcome."

Mary Poppins looked as if she were torn between stopping the conversation, or pride because Jane remembered her manners. "Humph," she finally said, nonplussed, then her face set into practicality. "Doctor, you must get Miss Brown in some appropriate clothing."

"Ummm, yes," the Doctor said, looking at Peri. "I'm not sure I have anything in her size."

"Oh, Honestly," Mary said, exasperated. "Probably your replicator is broken again. Well, then, I know I do. You will watch the children while we find something appropriate." She set the Bag on the floor on its side.

"Me?" the Doctor bellowed. "I am not a baby-sitter!"

Mary stared at him, while Peri giggled. "You have a point," Mary said curtly. She looked at the twins and Annabel, all of whom promptly fell asleep.

"That's cheating," the Doctor said with a small grin.

"Practically Perfect People do not cheat." Mary said, deadpan.

"'Practically' is the operative word."

"None of your cheek. I will tell the cook that we are going out." She went out the door.

"What about Jane and Michael?" Peri piped up.

"What about them?" the answer floated back.

"They are, apparently, coming with us," the Doctor said primly.

"Doctor. I didn't know there was a real Mary Poppins!" Peri said, looking around her.

"Ah, yes," he said, sighing. "She is very real."

"Not much like the movie, is she?"

"She certainly isn't Julie Andrews, my dear. Disneyalways did take a lot of liberties. For example, they blew that whole Aladdin thing out of proportion." He sighed. "I should know. I was there."

Peri looked puzzled. "Aladdin? They never did a movie about Aladdin."

The Doctor looked indignant. "Of course they..." He stopped. "Oh. After your time. Well, you'll see what I mean someday."

"Yeah," Peri said shortly. She looked down at Jane and Michael, who looked at her with puzzled looks.

"What are 'movies'?" Michael asked.

Jane turned to him. "I think she means 'Moving Pictures'. Don't you, Peri?" She regarded Peri. "Father took us to one last year."

"Well, yes," she said uncomfortably, unsure what to say. "They'll be very popular one day."

"Ahem!" Mary said, slipping in the door. "I think this conversation has come to a halt." She gave a warning glance to Peri and glared at the Doctor, who actually blushed. "I believe it's time for Peri to be properly dressed." She walked towards the Bag. "Spit, spot, children."

"In the Bag?" Michael asked. "We can't fit in the Bag."

"Don't be silly, Michael," Jane said, patronizing. "They came out of the bag, and they're much bigger than we are, aren't they?"

"Yeah," Michael countered. "But they're spooky."

"Oh, for Heavens sake," the Doctor spouted. He picked up the bag, set it on the floor on its side, then crawled through the opening...

"The Clown man is shrinking," Michael said with awe.

"He is," Jane said. She looked up at Mary. She certainly didn't seem to look surprised. Swallowing the butterflies in her stomach, Jane hitched up her skirt and got down on the floor to crawl after the Clown man.

After she crawled through the opening, she noticed the ceiling was much taller, and she stood up. She dusted off her skirt, then looked around in amazement. She turned and looked up at Michael. He looked so large! She smiled and shouted at him, "Michael, come in here. It's full of Circles!"

Peri giggled. "No need for shouting," Mary said normally.

Michael dropped to the floor and crawled towards Jane. She flinched back, then she saw that he was shrinking to normal size...or was it? What was normal size in the Circle Room?

"I told you this was spooky," Michael said, standing up. He looked around. "Why is this room full of circles, Clown Man?"

"Humph," the Doctor said absently. "They're access panels."

"Huh," said Michael, puzzled.

The Doctor looked down at him. "It's just full of circles. Don't worry about it."

"Oh," Michael said. He felt a little vexed. He looked around the room, wondered at the Police Call Box, then looked out the door to see if Mary were coming.

"This is rather odd," Peri said. She was getting on her hands and knees.

"I refuse to crawl just because my brother doesn't know any better." Mary reached towards the bag and touched something that Jane and Michael couldn't see. Suddenly, the room was the normal size.

"Oh, drat," Michael said, looking out and seeing the sides of a giant Bag. "I wanted to stay shrunk."

"Never you mind, Michael," Mary said, walking in, very dignified. She touched another control, and the bag was small again. Peri was grinning at her. Jane thought that Mary smiled back, but she wasn't sure. "Now, Peri, if you would follow me? Children, you may explore, but don't touch anything. If you get lost, we'll find you in short order."

"Get lost!?" Michael said. "In your bag?"

"Easily," Peri snorted. "Trust me."

Mary walked across the room and opened a door. The children followed her and looked amazed through the door. "More rooms!" Jane said.

"Let's go!" Michael said. They started to explore.

#

"Are you sure that's wise?" Peri said.

Mary seemed to relax. "Oh, there's no problem. There's nothing in this Tardis to hurt the children. I made sure of that." She smiled at Peri. "I enjoy my work, but I do get tired of being the authority figure all of the time."

"Don't you get a vacation?"

"Every other Thursday," Mary said ruefully. "That's what is rough about this time. They didn't believe in vacations."

Peri followed her down the hall. "You know, I have a million questions."

"I don't suppose Junior told you about me."

"Not a word. In fact, I don't know much about him!"

Mary motioned towards a door. "Well, he probably has his reasons. But you can ask me anything."

Peri opened the door and looked around curiously. It was a bare room, with a couple of chairs in the middle and a closet at the further end, with a slot in the wall right next to the closet. "Just get in the closet," Mary said. "It will measure you." Peri shrugged and got in the closet. Mary pushed a button, then motioned to her to come out. "May as well take a chair. It will take a few minutes," she said apologetically. "It hasn't been tuned up for a while."

"Oh. Well, can I ask you...why are you a nanny?"

"I'm trying to change time."

"So does the Doctor," Peri smiled.

Mary smiled. "I'm afraid that's one of the few things we have in common."

"You're a renegade Time Lord, too?"

Mary winced. "I hate to put it that way. Let's just say that the council and I have...different views."

"And yours is..." Peri hesitated. "If you don't mind my asking."

"I'm trying to foster creativity."

"Huh?"

Mary sighed. "In the original timeline, Jane and Michael grew up as carbon copies of their Father...who is a rather self-righteous, narrow-minded prig. Not a very fun life. If you meet the Father, you'll see what I mean."

"Mmm. I've seen the movie."

Mary blushed. "I once went forward and saw it. Rather inaccurate, but you see my meaning."

"There are a lot of children in that situation."

"Yes. But I have to help, even in a small way."

Peri grinned. "The Doctor saves the universe everyother week."

Mary smiled. "Maybe, with my help, he had an easier time of it. If I change five or ten or a hundred lives, I will eventually change Terra. Perhaps the universe. I hope."

Peri leaned forward and patted her knee. "I'm sure of it."

Mary got up and looked at the slot in the wall. "Thank you. I'm not so...um...self-assured as my brother. Even though I have to act that way." She looked at Peri. "Keep this talk to yourself, please."

"Of course. Not a word."

A package slid out of the wall. Mary looked at it, then tore the access panel off, and started looking at the circuitry. "What's wrong?" Peri asked hesitantly.

"I must have Junior look at this," Mary muttered, almost to herself.

Peri picked up the package, then started laughing. "Perhaps Jane can use it for one of her dolls."

"That's it." Mary said. "That's what happened. I forgot to reset it!" She pulled a screwdriver out of a pocket and twisted something. Immediately, another package came out. Peri picked it up. It looked more the right size.

"I'll leave you to change your clothes. I had best check on Jane and Michael." As Peri watched, the Mary Poppins persona almost visibly descended on Mary. She shook herself, straightened her dress out, then went out of the door.

Jane looked in awe at the furniture in the room. There was wood furniture and camel hair furniture and cloth furniture of bright colors. There was furniture of a shiny material that looked hard and absorbed the light. There was a bag in the middle of the floor that Michael was looking at.

Michael poked at the bag. It gave. He pushed on it. The dent stayed in the bag, and the bag made a wooshing sound. He pushed at it and turned it over. On the other side, there was a spot made of metal and fabric with a little tab sticking out. Michael pulled at the tab, and the fabric pulled apart on either side. Inside was a cloth bag filled with tiny beads. He found a bead on the outside of the cloth bag. It was made of something squishy.

Jane looked over Michael's shoulder. "You've broken Mary Poppin's...thing."

"No, I haven't," Michael said. "Look." He pulled up on the tag, and the fabric came together.

Jane felt at the opening. It seemed solid enough.

Michael flopped down on it and giggled. "Look, Jane," he said, sitting on it. "It's a chair."

"Don't be ridiculous," Jane said in her best Mary Poppins voice. She looked at it. "It must be something else."

Michael pulled her hand, and she flopped on top of it on her stomach. In spite of herself, she giggled. She tried to get up. It kept giving, and she couldn't push herself up, and she kept giggling. She finally rolled off onto the floor and sat up.

A hole appeared in the wall in front of them. Through the hole, they could see swings and a slide and a metal framework of something with children climbing and swinging all over it. They saw a nice river bank, and ducks in the river. The two looked at each other in amazement, then grinned.

"Mary's bag is wonderful!" Michael said and headed towards the hole. He poked at it and his arm went through. He dove through the hole towards the swings.

"Michael, wait," Jane said. "We're not supposed to leave Mary's bag!"

"We're not leaving Mary's bag!" Michael yelled.

Jane looked around her and smiled. "That's true," she said as she stepped through the hole.

The hole disappeared behind her.

"Uh-oh," the Doctor was saying when the two women re-entered the room. "You have a recurring temporal displacement in this Tardis."

"I most certainly do not," Mary said calmly.

"Yes, well, when was the last time you had this thing overhauled?" The Doctor said, punching at the controls.

"No doubt, long after you did."

"Touche, Mary," Peri grinned. The Doctor glared at her.

"Nonetheless..." The Doctor pulled a panel from underneath the structure and adjusted something. "There."

"If you say so." Mary sounded unconvinced. "However, I have a more immediate problem. I cannot seem to find the children."

"Well, where did you leave them?"

"You are being asinine, Junior."

"Language, my dear Mary. You don't wish to swear around the children, do you?"

Mary closed her eyes. "Will you activate my locator, please?"

Peri looked at Mary. "Locator. The Doctor's Tardis doesn't have any such..." She looked at the Doctor, who had pursed lips. "Or does he? Doctor..." The Doctor punched a button.

Mary smiled. "No doubt it has gone the same way as his chameleon circuit."

The Doctor looked down at the board. "Either your locator is not working, or the children have left the Tardis."

"My Tardis locator is working just fine, thank you..." Mary suddenly paled. "Did you say that I had a temporal displacement? What room did that happen to be in, and what room were the children last in?"

"Oh, no." Peri said, suddenly realizing.

The Doctor looked worried as he worked the controls. "They were in the very same room."

Mary rushed to her Tardis controls. "Bloody..." The Doctor glanced at her, then moved to another part of the board. "What time period was the displacement in, do you know?"

The Doctor winced. "I didn't pay that much attention... I believe it was in the United States somewhere between 1950 and 2050."

Mary sighed. "That narrows it down a little. Not much, but a little."

"When one fixes a leak, one doesn't pay that much attention to where the water goes."

"You are right."

The Doctor glanced at Mary, as if he couldn't believe that he was being agreed with. Peri saw Mary's fingers tighten on a control she was working on, and saw she was getting more worried by the minute. "The United States at that time was not very safe."

"What time is?" the Doctor said.

"Doctor..." Peri said, feeling rather helpless while the pair were busy working. "Can you maybe unfix what you fixed?"

Mary stopped working for a moment. "That's not a bad idea, Junior. We don't seem to be narrowing down choices very fast."

The Doctor dropped under the Tardis and undid the panel. He chewed his lip, then reached into the panel. "That should do it."

"You think," Mary said primly.

"Life is full of uncertainties," the Doctor retorted, getting up.

"Not when it comes to my charges."

The Doctor started to say something, then glanced at her. "No. You're right." He looked at the control panel. "They seem to be in a small town in the midwest in 1992... September, give or take a month."

"At least it wasn't winter," Peri said.

"If it were winter," Mary said. "They probably wouldn't have left the Tardis. They're not dressed for it." She chewed her lip. "If they left voluntarily."

"Well, what are we waiting for?" the Doctor strode towards his Tardis.

Mary hung back. "Surely we are not taking that."

The Doctor looked exasperated. "My Tardis is not a pile of junk."

"Oh?" Peri said. The Doctor glared at her.

"I was thinking of the shape, actually," Mary said. "A London Police Call Box will stick out like a sore thumb in a midwestern United States town in 1992."

"That's the point," the Doctor said.

Mary thought a minute. "True."

Peri looked puzzled. "What are you two talking about?"

"Even if we're out searching," Mary said. "The children may find the box. Since it's something they're familiar with, they will stay close...I hope," she added under her breath for Peri's benefit. The Doctor barely glanced up.

"Oh. Yes." Peri felt dumb. But that was the usual feeling where the Doctor was concerned.

Jane and Michael had enjoyed themselves. Although the children were oddly dressed and talked funny ("American", Michael whispered to Jane), they were capital playmates. The only thing Jane could find wrong with them was that they laughed at Michael's pants and they used words that Mother said weren't used in polite company. But Jane shrugged, and besides, Michael soon had his tie and coat off, and had rolled up his slacks, so he didn't look very much different than the rest of the children there. She only wished she hadn't put that mud stain on her dress. Mary would not be happy.

They walked around the park. They saw deer and different kinds of rabbits and ducks and even a couple of peacocks walking around the park. ("I have a peacock feather in my dresser," Michael said with awe.) And they saw a tiny lighthouse on a point in the park where two rivers came together. ("I don't think it works," said Jane. "It looks broken.")

But, soon it was dark. The mothers, oddly dressed as they were in blue denim slacks that Jane and Michael read about in books about the American West, had taken their children and gotten in odd looking horseless carriages and left. ("Automobiles", Michael said with awe. Father had told him about them.) Soon, only the two children were left.

"I suppose we should be getting back," Jane said, giving herself a last push on the swing.

Michael frowned. "I wish we had a place like this in London."

"Yes. I do, too." Jane reluctantly got off the swing and went over to the spot where she thought they had come to this place. Michael followed.

She couldn't find it. "Do you see it, Michael?"

Michael looked up, down, sideways, and even under a nearby bench. "No...o," he admitted reluctantly.

Jane looked around. "Where is that hole?" she said peevishly. "We left it right here."

"Are you sure, Jane?" Michael said, looking behind a water fountain.

"I am positive." But Jane didn't sound positive, even to herself.

"Maybe it moved," Michael said. "Mary's bag is sneaky."

"Well," Jane admitted. "Maybe it did. Come along, Michael." Jane hated to admit she was nervous. After all,being older, she didn't want to make Michael scared.

They walked up the driveway towards a street where a bunch of horseless carriages were whizzing by. They turned right and walked up a hill where a light kept turning different colors. Jane watched the cars, then looked at the light over the intersection. "Red for stop, green for go," she said to herself.

"Huh?" Michael said.

She then looked at the light on the corner opposite of her. "I think...the white man means we can walk across the street, and the red hand means we can't." Just then, the man turned white, and Jane ran across the busy intersection, pulling Michael behind her.

"Ow!" Michael said, rubbing his wrist.

They started walking down the street. "Here's all the shops!" Michael said. They passed a restaurant. "I'm hungry," Michael said.

"Do you have any money?" Jane said.

"No."

"Neither do I." They passed the restaurant regretfully. They passed a furniture store, a hardware store, a store with a bunch of boxes in the window that neither children understood. They passed a theater which was showing a play called "Batman Returns." ("I don't want to see any batmen," Michael said with a shiver.) They passed a store on which a sign said that something (they weren't sure what) was aged at 29 degrees. They passed a sign that said "Subway", but they didn't see a subway anywhere near the sign. They walked by four churches, and tried the doors for all of them. The doors were locked.

Soon, they were through the downtown area. And no hole. "Well, let's keep walking," Jane said. "It must be around here someplace."

"Think we could ask some of these people?" Michael said.

Jane looked at the people. They were running in and out of the stores, and jumping into their carriages and dashing out onto the streets. "No, I think they're too busy. We had better not interrupt them." Jane nodded to herself.

Just then, the police call box appeared in the park.

"Are you changed?" the Doctor yelled into the hallway.

"Yelling is most unbecoming," Mary said, emerging from her room. She was dressed in tailored grey slacks, a long sleeved white shirt with a red vest, and red pumps. Peri popped from her room in her denim jeans and her red-striped T-shirt.

Mary looked the Doctor up and down. "Are you changing?"

The Doctor frowned. "I've changed often enough, thank you."

Mary shrugged. "Well, if you want to make a fool of yourself."

"This outfit," the Doctor informed her, "happens to be stylish in any century."

Peri snickered. The Doctor ignored her.

"Well, shall we depart?" Mary said.

"Any time," the Doctor said. He still looked insulted. He pulled a knob on the Tardis controls and the door opened.

They looked out into a park. It was dark. They were parked under a shelter, filled with picnic tables. Nearby was a jungle gym and a slide, deserted. Beyond the slide was a river bank.

"Do you suppose we're in the right time, Doctor?" Peri said. "It's kinda hard to tell from this."

Mary stepped out and looked around. Striding purposely to a spot beyond the slide, she picked something up. "Oh, yes," she said. "They've been here. This is Michael's tie. He's always taking it off." She looked around, purposely not looking at the river, and Peri shivered at what Mary must be thinking. "The question is, where did they go from here?"

"Let's walk up to the street," the Doctor suggested. "And then what?" Mary said briskly. She started walking up the drive to the thoroughfare.

"We...split up."

Mary looked at the Doctor, a half-smile on her face. "You said that these times weren't safe. If you haven't noticed, it's dark."

"Oh. Well, since when were you afraid of the dark?"

"Never." They reached the road, then turned right on the sidewalk. Peri noticed that they seemed to be heading toward some kind of downtown area. The buildings looked old... from the last century, at least. But, then, she reflected, most of these small towns looked like this.

"We should split up," said the Doctor.

Mary had a small look of triumph on her face. "Agreed. We meet back here in... one hour." She looked up at the downtown, then looked at the street sign. "Junior, I would suggest you go down Main Street. I'll go left along Michigan. Peri..." She looked down Main Street, toward another river. Peri wondered just how many rivers this town had. "Peri... you go straight down Michigan. Michigan looks a little more inviting."

"True," Peri said. She couldn't imagine the children going towards the river again. But, then again, she could be wrong.

They went their separate ways. Peri hoped that they would find the children soon. Most small towns were safe... but one could never tell. Peri shook herself. She was imagining things.

"Oh, look, Michael," Jane said. "Another playground." She pointed to swings and slides in a yard beside a long, one-story building.

"Yeah," Michael said dubiously, rubbing his eyes. He was getting tired.

Jane pinched him, and he yelped. "What did you do that for?"

"We can't go to sleep. We have to find the hole."

"I don't think it's this way." Nonetheless, he followed Jane into the playground, then started peering in the windows of the building. He yelped.

"What?!" Jane said. "Did you find the hole?"

"That's a school," Michael said in a respectful tone. "The hole wouldn't be anywhere near a school, would it?"

"No," Jane said with authority, looking in the windows at the desks. "The hole is fun. Is school fun?"

"No. School is nasty." Michael shied away from the school as if it were poison. "Let's go further down."

They walked down the big street a couple of blocks, then saw a park with a tall statue in the center. "Who do you suppose he is?" Jane said.

"I dunno," Michael yawned. He immediately jumped to the side and looked at Jane accusingly.

"I didn't do anything to you," Jane said primly.

"You were thinking about it!"

"Nonsense." Jane looked at the statue. "Let's look at it up close.

"Must we?" Michael yawned.

"What if the hole is behind it?" Jane said logically.

"Oh. Can we sit when we get there?"

Jane looked dubiously at the grass. "It will be damp." She yawned. "Well, maybe we should rest a while."

"Yeah," yawned Michael. "I don't think I can walk much further."

They walked over and circled the statue. They saw names and dates ("1861-1864" was carved on the front), and, on the back, a great big '68' in paint. "Boy," Michael said. "That's old! Eighteen sixty-eight."

"Yeah." Jane sat down, leaning against the statue.

Michael joined her. A few tears ran down his face. "This is a fun place, but I don't want to stay here."

Jane hugged him. Tears started rolling down her face. A few minutes later, they were asleep. A few minutes after that, the Clown Man walked by.

Peri's imagination was playing games. She could swear someone was following her, but when she turned around, no-one was there. Until she felt the tap on her shoulder.

She shrieked and whirled, ready to punch. The other woman -- an older lady with white hair -- backed down. "Are you all right?" the lady said. "You seemed lost."

"No, I'm all right," she panted. "I just don't like walking at night."

"I know how you feel," the woman said.

"I am looking for a couple of little lost children," Peri said hopefully. "Have you seen them come this way? A boy in short pants, and a girl in a dress."

The woman shook her head. "I doubt if they would go this way, though, if they're lost."

"Why's that?"

The lady smiled. "If I was a lost child, and I was frightened, I wouldn't go into a cemetery, would you?"

Peri looked down the street. The street turned, but just beyond it was the cemetery the lady was talking about. "No," Peri smiled. "I think they must've gone another way."

"Have you thought about calling the police?" The lady said. "You can use my phone."

And tell them what, Peri thought. I'm looking for Jane and Michael Banks because they've ran away from Mary Poppins? I'm here because a time-traveling alien and his sister brought me? Who would they lock up first? "No, I think we'll find them soon," Peri lied. "Thank you so much for your help, though."

"Anytime," the lady said. "Good luck." She went back into her house.

Peri turned around and started back towards Main Street.

\

Despite Mary's concern, she was automatically observing the traffic and the buildings surrounding here. Why was everyone in such a hurry?

She kept walking, watching for the children. She passed the police station, thought briefly of going in, then dismissed the idea. She passed dry cleaners, laundromats, car washes, restaurants -- and people, people, people, rushing around in automobiles. She noted near-accidents and bad tempers and crass people. All in all, not terribly different from the time she was settled in, but much quicker and far more nasty. There didn't seem to be any more ladies and gentlemen... at least not behind the wheels of the automobiles.

She passed by fast food restaurants, and thought, cringing, how typical. Fast food, fast cars, fast men and women... she hoped they would find the children soon and get out of this place. This was no place for her charges... or for Mary herself, for that matter.

She reached a dead end at the double-laned highway, sighed, and turned back. She was getting terribly worried. When she passed the drug store again, she stopped dead still and turned around. She could swear someone was following her. But no-one was there.

The Doctor was seething. Not a patient man in the best of times, he wondered how in Time he got into this situation. He scanned the street and the surrounding area automatically, all the while wondering whether a swift swat to the rear end of the two little... children would be in order.

He growled and muttered to himself for a while, then, despite himself, he calmed down. This really wasn't such a bad place. Rather quiet, actually, if you discounted the car noises and the people staring at him. He wondered just why people were staring at him, then dismissed them as ignoramuses. Didn't know a fashionable gentleman when they saw him.

It was no wonder... with some of the clothing these people were wearing. He never did care for denim, and that seemed to be the fashion nowadays. Especially the ripped jeans which left nothing to the viewer's imagination and everything to the viewer's gaze.

Well, he thought, even this will pass away... sooner than these people think.

He passed a park with a statue of a Civil War soldier in the middle of it. He smiled. How like humans to erect a monument to a war in which no-one living had ever been in and few people cared about! His good humor restored, he kept walking.

Jane woke up first, shivering. She poked at Michael. "Wake up," she said. "I'm cold."

"I wasn't," Michael complained, drawing his arms around himself, "until you woke me up."

"How long do you think we've been asleep?" Jane looked up at the sky. Stars were starting to come out. She could see the Big Dipper through the trees.

"Not long enough," Michael yawned. He stood up. "I think we should walk back to the park. Maybe Mary Poppins is looking for us."

Jane considered a moment. "I think you're right. We should walk back to the park."

"That's what I just said," Michael said.

"I know," said Jane.

Michael stood up. "Then, let's go."

Jane stood up and looked down at her dress. More grass stains. She really wasn't too sure she wanted to go back, if she were going to be yelled at. Then she sighed and said, "All right."

They retraced their steps. It would have been dark, but fortunately the street lamps were on. "And the signs light up!" Michael said, full of awe.

They walked through the downtown area, sniffing wistfully at the restaurant. "Mary will feed us," Jane told Michael. Michael walked slowly past the restaurant.

They crossed the intersection, and went down the drive to the park. "What's that?" Michael said, staring.

"It's the box that was in Mary's bag!" Jane yelled, and she ran down the drive. Reaching the box, she looked all around it. "But nobody's here," she said wistfully.

"Not even the hole?" Michael said, his lower lip trembling.

"No."

Michael looked up and around. "Is somebody looking at us?"

Jane looked around. "I don't think so," she said doubtfully. She sat down by the box. "Let's wait here."

Michael sat down beside her. In short order, they were asleep.

Peri was getting tired. She dragged up to the main intersection and looked down the other side of Michigan for Mary, then down Main for the Doctor. No sign of either one of them. She sighed, yawned, then decided to go back to the park and check the Tardis. Perhaps somebody had made it back there... hopefully the children.

She walked across the street. What if the children weren't here? What if they were in another time entirely? The Doctor's instruments weren't always reliable, and she suspected that Mary's weren't too much better. She shivered. Suddenly the night seemed much colder. Then she smacked herself mentally. Mary found Michael's tie, hadn't she?

She reached the top of the drive, then stared down at the Tardis. Could it be...? She ran down the drive and smiled at the sleeping children. Yes. It was. Breathing a sigh of relief, she sank down beside Jane, then laid her arms over the children. They snuggled against her. She thought about trying to find Mary or the Doctor, then reasoned sleepily that eventually, they would come back to the Tardis. In a second, she was asleep.

The Doctor was almost back to the park, and his mood had gotten worse. He swore that as soon as he caught up to the children that he would... well, he didn't know what he would do, but it would be pretty severe. He was muttering underneath his breath as he came to the drive going into the park, then stood stock-still. He walked swiftly down towards the Tardis, stared down at the three sleeping figures, sighed, and said, "Thank Time."

"What was that, Junior?" came a low voice beside him. "I don't think I caught that."

"I said," the Doctor spouted, straightening up. "That I am going to wallop them within an inch of their lives."

"Ah," Mary said smiling. "I see... It's been a long night. Let's bring them in the Tardis and take them home."

"Oh, I suppose," the Doctor grumped.

Mary smiled.

The man in black who called himself "the Master" watched the group from the safety of his Tardis, only mildly interested. He had thought some of kidnapping the children, but then decided a kidnapping of two mewling brats would be counterproductive... he'd probably be begging the Doctor and his sister to take them back. Perhaps if he had some cages..

.

He smiled. Perhaps at a later date. Yes, perhaps. The smile faded. But then again, perhaps not.

Jane woke up and snuggled under her coverlet. Had it been a dream? She looked over at Michael, then grinned back at her. "Some fun," he whispered.

She smiled back. It had not been a dream. Too bad they couldn't have said goodbye to the Clown man and Peri. She'll have to say something to Mary in the morning. Not that Mary would ever admit that anything out of the ordinary had happened. She never did. But that was all right.

END