This story begins with the 900 + year old Time Lord known as the Doctor, a man who, in this, his eighth body (the Time Lords being able to regenerate their physical forms whenever their bodies ran out of steam), was young, had curly brown hair in a sort of mullet, which was extremely messy, and wore an Edwardian-style outfit that was actually a costume from 1999 America (Wild Bill Hickok - the Doctor had met him and found him polite but slightly annoying). He travelled through time and space in a machine called a TARDIS, which was bigger on the inside than it was on the outside, had infinite numbers of rooms (although he stuck to his control room) and looked on that outside rather like a police telephone box.
One day (day being a relative term within the confines of a machine travelling outside of time) the Doctor was going through his videotape collection one day, when all of a sudden, he came upon a tape he had never seen before. This tape was unmarked save for a word; copy - printed on a sticker, in no box. He vaguely remembered something about it but… no, he lost it. He could not remember for the life of him. The amount of memories he had lost in his time… but that was another story.
He picked it up, and shrugged.
"Unmarked tape… ok, best watch it."
It was, in retrospect, perhaps not the best move he could have made.
He went to a nearby video player in his lounge, which had a sofa, an armchair, and, and , pushed the tape in, and pressed play.
There was a glowing white ring, then static. He raised an eyebrow. Suddenly, there was an image of blood in water, then a chair, then a comb running through someone's hair. Then there was a mirror; and a woman in it, smiling; then the mirror jumped to the other side of the wall it was hung on, and a little girl whose hair was covering her face, then back again.
As yet more disturbing images came up, the Doctor faded out a tad, uninterested; until the woman looked right at him. He stopped the tape, and gazed at her for a moment; because you see, there is a difference, as anyone knows, between the eyes of someone looking at a camera, dull and distant as they are, and the eyes of someone who is gazing right at you. He gazed at the tape, and she seemed to be alive; breathing even as he watched.
"Who are you…?" he asked. But the tape did nothing; just those eyes stared.
He continued the tape, and watched yet more disturbing imagery; he was shocked to see a woman fall off of a cliff.
Then the tape ended, and the Doctor took it out, and headed for the console room.
A phone was ringing.
He went to the TARDIS' phone, and picked it up; nobody had this number, it was strange. Then a voice, inhuman, calm, collected, and of course it would be terrifying to any human being, came down the line; a child's voice, he noted with interest.
The line cut off with a snap.
"What?" he said, looking at the phone. He pressed the re-dial button. After a long moment, the phone answered.
"Who is it?" a cheery voice came - a female voice, American accent.
"Oh, hello," the Doctor said, smiling, throwing the charm on. "I'm the Doctor... Doctor John Smith. To whom am I speaking...?"
"Oh," the cheery voice replied, less cheery now. "I'm Anna Morgan... is this about my daughter...?"
The Doctor raised an eyebrow. A daughter... a child? Yes, that made sense.
"Actually, I was hoping to speak with her," he said. "Would that be alright?"
"Oh..." Anna sounded flustered. "Well... yes, I suppose."
"Good," the Doctor smiled. "Please put her on."
There was a moments silence.
"I think it might be better if you came here, Doctor," Anna said. "Can you do that?"
"Certainly," the Doctor said. "If you wouldn't mind just telling me your address...?"
"And the date?"
"Thirteenth of September," she said, sounding slightly nonplussed.
"Yes, sorry," the Doctor said, "I lose track... and the year...?"
She sounded suspicious when she said 1975, but now the Doctor knew everything he needed to know.
"I'll come round when I have time," the Doctor said. "Thank you, Mrs Morgan."
He put the phone down. And then he started speaking to himself.
"So some girl calls the TARDIS, says 'seven days' and the number traces to a house I've never seen, and a family I've never met," he summarised. "Add in a strange videotape, and we've got a mystery."
Then, in a brilliant (he thought) Sherlock Holmes impression, he smiled.
"The game is afoot."
It was a nice, normal house, insofar as the Doctor could tell. Not that he knew much about normal houses. He walked up to the door, and knocked.
A man – stern, with a face like granite – opened the door, and looked at him for a moment, taking in the Doctors eccentric appearance.
"Hello," the Doctor smiled. "I'm Doctor John Smith."
"Anna!" the man yelled. "A Doctor is here!"
The Doctor kept a patient, polite grin on his face – hiding his shock as Anna Morgan came down the stairs; she was the woman who had gazed from the television screen.
"Hello," he said, slightly breathlessly.
"Dr Smith?" Anna said.
"Yes," the Doctor smiled, his blue eyes twinkling. "Sorry, I was delayed…"
"You only called half an hour ago," Anna told him.
"Of course," the Doctor bluffed. "But I meant to be here sooner. Anyway," he breezed… "where's your daughter…?"
"Upstairs," Mr Morgan said.
"I see," the Doctor smiled. "And her name?"
"Samara," Anna said.
She had long black hair over her face, and she wore a simple white dressing gown.
"Hello," the Doctor smiled. "You're Samara if I'm not mistaken."
She said nothing.
"I was wondering if the term 'seven days' meant anything to you."
The Doctor crouched down by the girl, and looked her in the eye. Suddenly, to his own surprise, he felt a tremor in the time space continuum (damn Time Lord powers) and he glimpsed her face; but dessicated, dead and mottled. Then he glimpsed a well again.
She looked at him, and her face was pale, but alive.
"You're gonna die," she said.
"Oh yes," the Doctor said, smiling. "I know. One day."
"No," she said. "In six and a bit days."
The Doctor raised an eyebrow.
"I see," he said. "And you know nothing beyond that?"
The girl said nothing. The Doctor didn't move for a moment, then he smiled and left her to it.
He said goodbye to the Morgans
"I'll come back when I have more information," the Doctor said to Mr and Mrs Morgan. "I'll admit, she isn't normal, but she could be much worse."
Mrs Morgan seemed about to say something, but Mr Morgan spoke before she could.
"Thank you, Doctor," he said, a forced smile on his features. "Thank you. Be sure to do that."
The Doctor nodded politely, and then left them to it. He already had some clues. Now all he needed to do was find out when that tape was from, look it up, and then he'd be able to work it out.
Six and a bit days. you're going to die. These words ran through his head as he considered his next move.
The tape would have markings somewhere that said where it came from. And when he found out where; he's find out when.
And when he found out when, he's be able to stop it. Stop what he wasn't sure, but he felt certain that he was about to enter something that he should not have entered.
When did he get that tape, he wondered? It might have been when he was Dark And Manipulative; Dark And Manipulative made it his business to do things as he saw fit, alter time, interfere, meddle; and this sort of thing might be right up his street.
The Doctor went to work.
And behind him, somewhere, a short man in a dark brown coat, a strange jumper covered in question marks (one for every question he had to answer before he died) a panama hat, checked trousers, shirt and tie, watched him go. Then he turned to see the house where Samara lived.
"Six and a half days," he said. "Six and a half days. Oh, come now," he smiled, raising an umbrella with a question mark shaped handle and placing it on his shoulder. He turned away from the house, and turned; to find himself facing a dead girl.
"You shouldn't be here," he said to her.
"And you should?" the low, whispery voice replied. The man actually laughed.
"Come now," he said. "I'm not afraid of you. And neither is he, in point of fact."
"He should be," she said.
"He should be," the man nodded looking up at the sky wistfully, "but we never were very easy to scare."
The girl said nothing. He tuned, and found she was gone. He looked back at the Morgan's house, and saw Samara – the living one – looking down at him. He tipped his panama hat to her, and then he turned from the house.
He walked away.
The tape, the Doctor realised, came from 2003. Nice year. Slightly dull.
He flicked a few switches on the TARDIS console, and smiled. He wasn't finished yet. Six days, roughly.
Oh, and he didn't need sleep.
Thank the powers-that-be for being a Time Lord.
He looked up, and suddenly he had a vision of a girl in a tattered white dress with long black hair standing there, in his TARDIS.
"Hello, Samara," he said.
She said nothing. He walked right up to her, and then she was gone; he hadn't even noticed her vanish until it happened.
"Fascinating," he said. "You can even get in here," he added. He sighed, and went back to pressing buttons. "But all that means is I've got to find out how to deal with you."
It was a normal enough street, he ruminated, but the copy came from a store and the store had sold it to the woman who lived here.
He knocked on the door of the house, and a woman answered.
"Are you Rachel Keller?" he asked her. The woman was blonde, pretty, and looked reasonably clever.
"Yes," she said slowly, taking in his outfit.
"Oh good," the Doctor smiled. "I was rather hoping you might be."
"Would..." the woman hesitated. "Would you like to come in?"
"Oh, yes please!" the Doctor smiled. "I'll have some tea if you have any as well, please..."
With a nervous glance around, Rachel let him in, and closed the door behind him.
Five days, 20 hours.