Doctor Who: Ghosts of Halloween
The Cyberman stumbled into the console room, waving its arms in a futile attempt to regain its balance. It fell with a crash and stared up at the ceiling, moaning in pain.
"Hello, Doctor," said the witch at the console. Romana leaned her broom against the wall and went to help him to his feet.
"Yes, hello," the Doctor said. He steadied himself. "Excuse me for a moment."
He lurched out of the room, and returned a moment later in his usual coat, hat, and long scarf.
"There," he said. "Much better."
Romana crossed her arms over her chest. "That's not a costume."
"Isn't it?" He fished around in his pockets and came out with a plastic jack-o'-lantern on a black string. It flashed purple and orange, and the Doctor hung it around his neck. "Is that all right?"
"I still don't understand what this is all about."
"We're going trick-or-treating!" beamed the Doctor. "It's an Earth tradition. I've already explained it to you." He began to fiddle with the controls.
"Yes, but what's the point? We put on ridiculous costumes, beg for candy, and then what?"
"We eat it."
"Why couldn't we just buy candy?"
"Because it's Halloween!" the Doctor said. "Honestly, Romana, you're very closed-minded. Isn't that right, K-9?"
They had glued a rainbow afro to K-9's head, and had given him a red felt clown nose. His ears clicked, but he remained silent.
Romana joined the Doctor at the console. "Where exactly will we be debasing ourselves this evening?"
"A small town, preferably. Small town Halloweens are always the finest. Ah, we've arrived."
Romana studied the readout over his shoulder. "River Springs, New Hampshire. October thirty-first, 1990."
"A good year," said the Doctor. They stepped out of the TARDIS. They had landed in a grassy field behind a line of parked vans and recreational vehicles. The cool night air was filled with the roar of a crowd, and they could smell popcorn and fried dough and baked apples.
"A carnival!" the Doctor said, grinning. He grabbed Romana's hand. "Come on!" They ran out from behind the vehicles, K-9 whirring along behind them, and emerged into a melee of costumed revelers, men and women and children dressed as ghouls and fairy princesses, devils and mermaids. The carnival had been erected in the middle of a huge gravel lot, and all around them were booths selling food and drink. Others were devoted to games where, it was promised, everyone was a winner. At the far end of the lot there were a collection of rides: a carousel, a Ferris wheel, spinning saucers and a spherical contraption that whirled in wild circles and dispelled dizzy patrons who stumbled from its bowels looking shaken and sick.
"This is marvelous!" said Romana. She spun around, trying to take in everything at once. "Doctor, is this where we go trick-or-treating?"
"Hmm? Oh, that. I suppose we could go trick-or-treating tomorrow, if you'd rather poke around the carnival." He pulled a small cloth bag from his coat pocket and tipped a few coins into his hand. He bent down and held them for K-9 to examine.
"They are the correct currency for this date and time, Master." A few curious children had gathered around the tin dog. One reached out to pet him; another plucked at his afro.
"Looks like he's made some new friends," Romana said, a wry smile on her face as she and the Doctor made their way through the crowd.
"Children love K-9," said the Doctor, sniffing the air. "Are you hungry?"
"A little. What smells so wonderful?"
"Oh, any number of things. Let's have some fried dough balls."
They joined the queue at one of the booths. Romana regarded everything with wide, inquisitive eyes, and as they waited, she pointed out this or that and asked the Doctor about it. He was detailing the fascinating history of the hot dog when he stumbled into the man in front of them, a short, wide brute in leather armor and a huge, gleaming black helmet. The man fell over with a crash.
"Terribly sorry!" said the Doctor. He and Romana helped the man to his feet.
"You'll have to excuse my friend," said Romana. "He's very excitable."
The man lifted his helmet from his head and she screamed.
"Well done!" said the Doctor, clapping him on the shoulder. "That's a remarkable Sontaran costume."
Romana rolled her eyes. "Doctor? A word."
He leaned in, his ear close to her face, and she punched him in the arm.
"He is a Sontaran," she said, and the Doctor's eye widened.
"A keen observation," said the Sontaran. He took a menacing step forward.
Romana was surrounded by Doctors: short, squat Doctors, tall and skeletal Doctors, Doctors with warped faces and Doctors who were little more than whirls of color and curls.
Someone grabbed her hand.
"This way," said the Doctor.
"What is this place?" Romana asked, looking around wildly.
"It's called a Hall of Mirrors." He led her through the shifting images (she now saw herself, reflected in a hundred warped versions) and into a small clearing encircled by mirrors.
"On the ground," he whispered as a grotesquely misshapen Sontaran appeared around them. They watched from the wooden floor as the warrior stumbled around in the maze. He grunted in surprise and frustration. Suddenly the room was filled with the unmistakable shattering of glass, and they saw one giant, stick-thin Sontaran explode in a spray of glittering shards. A moment later, the Sontarans that surrounded them raised their collective fists and broke yet another mirror.
"Plan B!" the Doctor said, leaping to his feet. He tripped on his scarf and fell back to the floor. Romana helped him up and she held onto his coat as he ran.
"The mirrors don't seem to bother you," she panted.
"Ah, that's because there's a trick to it. You see—" At that moment, however, they collided head-on into the Sontaran. The Doctor and Romana bounced off his thick armor and fell to the floor in a tangled heap.
"To your feet," the warrior commanded.
"Sorry about that," said the Doctor, picking himself up off the floor. He prodded Romana with his shoe. "Don't be rude, Romana. To you feet. There's a good girl. Say hello to our new friend."
"Hello," said Romana.
"Yes, hello. I'm the Doctor and this is my friend Romana. Would you like a Jelly Baby?"
The Sontaran, to Romana's surprise, plucked a candy from the proffered bag. He bit off its head.
"It has an unpleasant, rubbery texture. I much prefer spun sugar and fried dough."
Romana had never before seen the Doctor at a loss for words.
The Sontaran looked down at the broken glass under his boot. He shook his head. "My apologies. Even I sometimes fall prey to my baser instincts." He clutched the Doctor's hand. "It is a pleasure, Doctor. Romana."
"Yes, likewise." The Doctor offered his bag of sweets to Romana. "What did you say your name was?"
"I am Odtaa." The Sontaran mopped his brow with a pink handkerchief.
"It's very nice to meet you," said Romana. "I hope we haven't offended you by fleeing. It's just that most Sontarans we meet aren't quite so...eloquent."
"Shall we step outside?" Odtaa asked. He was sweating profusely and his handkerchief was soaked through and wilted.
"Yes, of course." The Doctor led them out of the Hall of Mirrors, out into the gravel lot.
"Walk with me, Time Lords." Odtaa began to trace the perimeter of the carnival.
"Our reputation precedes us," Romana said, and the Doctor grinned.
"You are known to me, Doctor. Your name is cursed on Sontar, although you have nothing to fear from me. I will cause you no home."
"That's very kind of you," said the Doctor.
"You're a dissenter?" Romana asked the Sontaran.
"In a manner of speaking. To the Sontarans I am considered a rogue, a traitor. I have not seen my homeland on almost a decade. I have eluded Sontaran bounty hunters these long years I have hidden on Earth."
"I've run afoul of those bounty hunters on several occasions," said the Doctor. "Nasty, brutish lot."
"I've never heard of a Sontaran dissenter," said Romana.
"Nor have I," said the Doctor thoughtfully. "Tell me, Odtaa, how did you come to this planet?"
"I would tell you my story," said Odtaa, "but I am unfortunately in somewhat of a hurry. I only stopped by the carnival for a few fried dough balls."
"We're very sorry to have detained you," said the Doctor. "Aren't we sorry, Romana?"
"On the contrary, I believe we have much to discuss." Odtaa produced a small card and handed it to the Doctor. "Please, come by the manor tomorrow. We shall have tea."
He gave them a curt salute and then, looking rather embarrassed, he vanished in a puff of rose-colored smoke.
Romana and the Doctor exchanged a glance.
"Can they do that?" she asked.
"A parlor trick," the Doctor said. He studied Odtaa's card. "Look, his home address. It's in New Orleans."
"Is that terribly far from here?"
"Not in the TARDIS." He slipped the card into his pocket. "Tea with a Sontaran."
"A rogue Sontaran," Romana pointed out.
"Yes," said the Doctor. He looked around. "Well, nothing here could possibly be as interesting as that. Shall we skip ahead a little?"
Romana linked her arm through his. "After you."
"We should have come here yesterday," said the Doctor, stepping out of the TARDIS and onto the rough cobblestones of a narrow street. "New Orleans has such a wonderful flavor, perfect for Halloween."
"I can see what you mean," said Romana. She followed K-9 out of the ship. She had removed her costume and makeup and now wore a red tunic over brown leggings. "It's spooky." It was a gray, cloudy day, and a chill wind whipped her hair around her head.
"I spent a great deal of time here in my youth, studying the arcane. Witchcraft, sorcery, vodou, potions and hexes and all manner of runes and charms."
"Rubbish," said Romana. "I don't believe in magic."
"Nor do I. But it's all terribly interesting." He craned in his neck. "Look at these Spanish Colonials."
"They're beautiful," said Romana. "The iron work is phenomenal."
"Yes," the Doctor agreed. "But there's much more to this city than architecture. We'll go to Mardi Gras after our tea."
"Who's Mardi Gras?"
"Mardi Gras is a series of carnival festivities celebrated before the Roman-Catholic holiday of Ash Wednesday," said K-9. "Common activities include parades, the wearing of elaborate costumes, and the dispersal of colorful beads which can be obtained by—"
"That's all right, K-9," said the Doctor quickly. "Let's not spoil the surprise."
"I take it Halloween is a major event in New Orleans," said Romana as they walked. She pointed to the gutter, where paper masks, streamers, beer cans and orange and purple confetti were piled in huge, wet mounds.
"Oh, yes. Quite an affair. I remember one year I dressed as a witch doctor and accompanied my friend—well, my acquaintance; well, my nemesis, really—Iris Wildthyme to a party at a convent that had been converted into this wonderfully decadent nightclub. Iris was disguised as a man, but that wasn't so much a Halloween costume as a phase she was going through at the time—"
"Why then," Romana interrupted, "would anyone leave the city and spend the evening as a small-town carnival in New Hampshire?"
"Ah, now there's a good question." They had reached the end of the street. "Which way, K-9?"
"Left," said K-9, and they turned onto another narrow street that was identical to the first.
"Are you sure we shouldn't have gone right?" the Doctor asked.
"Affirmative. This is the fastest route to our destination."
"I really must get you out of that frame of mind," said the Doctor. He rummaged through his pockets until he found his packet of Jelly Babies. "The fastest way is almost never the most interesting. This is New Orleans! There are so many wonderful ways to get into trouble in this city."
"Don't listen to him, K-9." Romana plucked a Jelly Baby from the bag and popped it into her mouth. "Doctor, what do you suppose Odtaa really wants? Do you think he's on some kind of reconnaissance mission? Maybe he's gathering information about Earth and its inhabitants for some kind of Sontaran invasion."
"Oh, I don't think so. I had the misfortune of meeting a Sontaran reconnaissance unit once, thousands of years from now. He was very manner-of-fact about his objective. That's what makes the Sontarans so utterly boring: they almost never lie. They're too convinced of their own cunning."
"So you think he's telling the truth?"
"Why wouldn't he? Sontarans have their faults, but they're loyal and honorable. Odtaa is neither. He's a coward and a traitor and that's why I like him. Can you imagine the courage it must have taken to be a cowardly Sontaran?"
"Your argument is paradoxical and illogical," said K-9. "Turn right."
"But why Earth?" Romana asked.
"Why not?" the Doctor snapped. "Earth is a wonderful planet, my favorite in fact. Do you remember when I took you to see the Mona Lisa?"
She smiled. "Which one?"
"No other planet in the universe could have produced such a marvel. Certainly not Sontar. The Sontarans have no concept of art or music or theater or culture of any kind outside of warfare. Earth must seem like paradise to someone like Odtaa, someone who, for whatever reason, has been enlightened to the futility of an endless war."
They walked in silence for several moments. They passed only a few tired people who seemed not to notice the Doctor's unusual clothes or the robotic dog clicking and whirring on the sidewalk between them. Usually, and especially on Earth, they were treated to constant stares and the occasional snide comment.
"There aren't very many people out this afternoon," Romana said. "It feels like a Sunday."
"I imagine everyone is recuperating from last night. Besides, New Orleans is one of those cities that doesn't really come alive until after dark. Like Las Vegas or New York. Or Selixian-7."
"We have arrived," said K-9.
Romana, lost in thought, hadn't noticed that the street had come to a sudden end before a tall cast-iron fence. It was elaborately sculpted so that each bar resembled a thorny vine overgrown with supple fruits and flowers, pineapples and orchids on one, roses and strawberries on another, no two bars with the same combination. Beyond the fence was a lush green lawn. Two enormous oak trees flanked a narrow stone walkway that led to a tall white plantation house. It towered over the street, its front a series of heavy stone columns. Two long front porches stretched the length of the manor, one atop the other.
"It's gorgeous," she breathed. "Doctor, this can't be right. This must be one of the most expensive homes in the city."
"This is the correct address," K-9 insisted.
"Of course it is," said the Doctor. "Why don't you wait for us back at the TARDIS, K-9? It's not polite to bring your pet to someone's house unannounced. I'm sure we can find our way back from here."
"We'll call you if we need you," Romana said as K-9 started back. She turned to the Doctor. "Well?"
"This can't be right," said the Doctor. "It must be one of the most expensive homes in the city."
Romana rolled her eyes.
"Well, there's only one way to find out." The Doctor pressed a small button mounted on a discreet box next to the gate. He leaned in a spoke into it: "Hello? I'm the Doctor. I believe we're expected."
A moment later, a voice spoke from the box: "Please enter."
They heard a shrill buzz, and the gate swung open.
"After you," said the Doctor, and he followed Romana inside the fence. The gate closed behind them, and they started up the walkway toward the house. They were met at the front door by a distinguished older gentleman in a crisp black butler's uniform. He led them into a cavernous foyer, a huge circular room with a floor of white marble and tall, elegant columns reaching for the high glass ceiling. A cream-colored rug ran from the front door, through the lobby, and up a wide staircase.
"I do love a well-appointed home," said the Doctor. He unraveled his scarf, took off his coat, and handed them to the butler.
"Yes, it's very pretty," Romana agreed.
"This way," said the butler, and they followed him into a parlor. Plush white carpet covered the floor, and two ivory couches faced each other before a white marble fireplace. One wall was dominated by a dozen tall windows which looked out onto the front porch and, beyond it, the lawn. The Doctor collapsed into one of the couches and Romana sat next to him, smoothing her tunic as her eyes swept the room.
"Master Odtaa will be with your presently," the butler announced, and then he left them alone in the parlor.
"Do you see that bust in the corner?" the Doctor asked. He pointed to a statue of a man whose body seemed to end just below his wide shoulders. The rest of him was hidden in a rough, unformed chunk of marble. His hair was swept back from his head, and his face was stern and serious.
"That's a Michelangelo. An original, unfinished of course."
"Who's it supposed to be?"
"Lucifer. It was commissioned by a certain powerful bishop for his private chambers, a warning against excessive pride. When the Pope found out he was furious and ordered the sculpture destroyed. Like everyone else, including Michelangelo, I thought it was lost forever. It must be worth billions."
"What's it doing here?"
He shrugged. "Curiouser and curiouser. I wonder if we have time for a quick poke around before tea?"
At that moment the butler re-appeared. He stood aside as Odtaa entered the parlor. He had replaced his battle armor with a loose, flowing gown, pink silk and decorated with painted orchids and lilies.
"Doctor! Romana! I'm so glad you came." He settled himself on the couch opposite the Time Lords and tucked his legs under him.
"You have a beautiful home," said Romana.
"You're very kind. Martin, the tea."
The butler nodded and left the room.
"This is only one of my homes," said the Sontaran languidly. "I have a villa in Tuscany, a sprawling property with a vineyard where I make my own vintages. I shall have Martin bring a bottle of red up from the cellar. My gift to you. And of course there's the penthouse in Manhatten." He yawned. "I have a condo in Miami, a beach house in Maui, homes in London and Tokyo and Dubai and a wonderful tree house in the rain forests of Costa Rica."
"For a fugitive you live a very comfortable lifestyle," Romana said. She looked at the Doctor. He was slumped on the couch, his hands laced over his chest, studying the bust of Lucifer. He was pretending not to be listening, but she knew better.
Odtaa shrugged. "I find it incredibly dull to discuss my personal finances."
Martin returned with a large silver tray laden with petite cakes and scones, a crystal bowl of fresh fruit, and three delicate porcelain cups which he filled with tea from a silver pot. He placed the tray on the coffee table between the couches and went to stand beside the door.
Odtaa nibbled a raspberry scone. "Tell me something, Lady Romana. What do you know about this city of New Orleans?"
"Only what the Doctor has told me."
"I imagine he told you he has spent a lot of time here." Odtaa looked at the Doctor. "You believe you flit unnoticed through time and space, Doctor, but for those who seek it, there is always a trail."
"Is that why you were at the carnival?" Romana asked. "Looking for us?"
"Perhaps. You are very quiet, Doctor."
"Hmm?" The Doctor seemed to notice the Sontaran for the first time. "Oh, I was just admiring the décor. Tell me, is that a Hansoré?"
Odtaa followed the Doctor's gaze, to a painting that depicted a woman of breathtaking beauty sitting upon a white stallion. The woman pulled her hair back from her ear as she surveyed her reflection in a still pond. The image in the water was hideously distorted, showing a grimacing old hag perched naked upon a giant wasp. She reached out with one gnarled claw as if to pluck her beautiful double from the world.
"One of this later works," said the Sontaran.
"Hansoré was a fascinating man," the Doctor said to Romana. "A Spaniard. He was born in a brothel in Madrid, ran away to Paris in his teens, and became the paramour of a famous actor, a spectacularly ugly man who specialized in playing monster and ghouls, a man who died under quite mysterious circumstances. Nothing could ever be proven, but it was said Hansoré murdered him one night after this actor fellow criticized one of his earliest paintings."
"Did he do it?" Romana asked.
"Of course not. Hansoré was a lamb. He didn't have it in him, although he was notoriously temperamental when it came to the critics. Do you know the most interesting thing about him?"
Romana shook her head.
"He was born in 2053." The Doctor pointed to the painting. "That shouldn't exist for another hundred years or so."
"The tales of your cunning are true, then," Odtaa said. "I'm impressed. Did you notice the Michelangelo?"
"And the Leonardo in the foyer."
"Not him again," said Romana.
Odtaa seemed pleased. He leaned back, sipping his tea. "You are an extraordinary man, Doctor. This, Lady Romana, is why I have sought the two of you."
The Doctor stood up. "It's been a pleasure, but I'm afraid we really must be running along. Thank you for the tea. Come, Romana."
"So soon?" Odtaa asked. "I'm disappointed. Please, join me for dinner this evening. I am hosting a lavish party. All of the city's dignitaries will be in attendance. I'm sure they would be delighted to meet the both of you."
"Yes, that sounds wonderful. Say goodbye, Romana."
"Goodbye, Romana," she said. Odtaa called for the butler, and Martin returned with the Doctor's coat and scarf. He led them to the door and held it open for them.
"Have a pleasant day," Martin said, and closed the door.
"Come on," said the Doctor impatiently as he strode down the walk.
"Where are we going?"
"I have a suspicion. Did you see the way Odtaa looked at the butler?"
"Martin?" Romana asked.
"Yes. I don't suppose you're familiar with the works of Christopher Marlowe?"
"Wasn't he Shakespeare's rival? What does he have to do with any of this?"
"There's a collection of his plays in the TARDIS library. There's one in particular I want you to have a look at."
They reached the gate. It buzzed and let them out onto the sidewalk.
"Where will you be?" Romana asked.
"I have to pay a visit to an old friend of mine. I'll meet you back at the TARDIS." He started down the street, then stopped. "Oh, Romana?"
"That play. It's called Doctor Faustus. Bye bye!" And then he ran off, leaving her standing in front of the gate and wondering what, exactly, was going on.
Although the Doctor had been telling the truth when he told Romana that he had spent a great deal of time in New Orleans studying the occult, it was difficult for him to remember exactly when. For that matter, it was hard for him to recall which body he had been wearing during those happy years pouring over books by academics and lunatics, heretics and holy men, each with their own theories on magic and witchcraft. The Doctor had, in those days, traveled with a woman called Mina, a woman with skin the color of strong, dark coffee. Her complexion had made her a goddess on her home planet, whose inhabitants lived in caves under the earth and had developed thin, translucent skin that shriveled and burned minutes after exposure to the sun. Mina, eager to escape the fanatical devotion of her followers, had hidden aboard the TARDIS, and she had revealed herself at a rather unfortunate moment, when the Doctor had been captured and the TARDIS had been taken over by Daleks.
"Of course, Mina had never seen a Dalek before," the Doctor said to no one in particular as he walked down the sidewalk. He had gotten so accustomed to having an audience that the lack of one didn't immediately register. "She stepped out of the cupboard where she'd been hiding and introduced herself to the Emperor. He would have had her killed except she happened to be wearing a necklace the Daleks recognized as a part of a temporal interface. She had seen it on one of the old console rooms and, mistaking it for a piece of exotic jewelry and quite used to getting anything she desired, she took it. For the life of me I can't remember how we got out of that one."
Mina had decided to stay with the Doctor as his assistant. She was with him when he landed in New Orleans to begin his studies, and had been captivated by the city and its people, especially its African-American population, with their skin like hers, people who didn't fear or revere her. She had fallen in love with a jazz musician, a delightful man whose name the Doctor couldn't recall, and were married.
"I wonder what year that was," he said to himself. "Mina might not be around any more. She might not even be here yet." He reached an intersection and scratched his head. "Ah, where's K-9 when you need him?"
He wandered around for another half-hour or so before he finally found himself on a street he was familiar with. This was a poorer part of the city, and the buildings weren't as big or well-maintained. Trash from last night's festivities was scattered across the road and the sidewalks, and there were more people here, children skipping rope in the road, a group of women in revealing clothing huddled at the mouth of an alley, and two old men sitting on the steps of a crumbling brick building and passing a bottle in a brown bag back and forth between them. The Doctor walked over to them and held out his hand.
"Hello. I'm the Doctor. I wonder if either of you might know where I could find Madame Eden Bonaparte. She's an old friend of mind, only I might not have met her yet. She almost certainly won't recognize me."
The men exchanged a glance.
"Forgive me," the Doctor said. He offered them his packet of Jelly Babies.
"Go on," he urged, "take one."
The men took the bag. One fished out a purple candy and popped it into his mouth. He smiled up at the Doctor.
"You a cop?" the other man asked, slowly chewing.
The Doctor pointed at himself, his eyes widening. He shook his head.
"What you want with Miss Eden?"
"I need her help," said the Doctor.
"Yeah, all right. Maybe we know where she is, understand? Maybe we know and maybe we don't."
"Ah, I see." The Doctor rooted around in his pockets. "I'm afraid I don't have any money, but will this do?" He held out an enormous ruby. One of them snatched it and they stared at it, entranced.
"It's real, I'm sure. I happened upon it during while visiting my old friend Mary Read. It was lying around her room and I thought someone might want to take it, so I took it for safekeeping. I must have forgotten to give it back to her, but then again our visits are always getting cut short. If I remember correctly the last I saw of her she was fighting off half a dozen Sea Devils as her ship sank into the Black Sea. Anyway I'm sure she wouldn't mind if I gave it to you."
"Yeah, yeah, sure thing." They were paying no attention to him. They were still staring at the ruby.
"Right," said the Doctor. "I'll just be on my way, if you could point me in the right direction."
"Huh?" One of the men looked up and seemed annoyed to find the Doctor still standing there. "Oh, Miss Eden. Down the street, over there." He pointed to another decaying building across the street. "Third floor, back of the building, behind the elevators."
The Doctor crossed the street and hopped up the chipped concrete steps, into the cool darkness of the lobby. He noted that one of the mailboxes did indeed have E. BONAPARTE written on it, and he walked past the lifts, taking the stairs two at a time to the third floor. Her mailbox had indicated that she lived in 3F, and he found it easily, exactly where the old man had said it would be.
He thought about using his sonic screwdriver to let himself in, and then he realized that might be considered rude, especially if he hadn't quite gotten around to meeting Madame Bonaparte yet. He knocked three times and took a step back.
A moment later the door opened slightly and someone asked, "Who are you?" The accent was thick, the voice coarse and gravelly.
"Madame Bonaparte? It's me. It's the Doctor."
Silence. Then, "You ain't him. You don't look like him."
"Ah, that's one question answered. So we have met."
"I never met you before in my life."
The Doctor mopped his brow with the end of his scarf. The hallway was dark and desperately hot. "Oh, but you're wrong, Madame. I came here with a woman called Mina, a long time ago. Or maybe yesterday."
The door closed. The Doctor heard the latch slide and then the door opened again. She stood there, just as he remembered her, a short black woman in a long housedress, her hair tied back with a velvet ribbon. She looked older, much older.
She studied him, her eyes narrowed in suspicion. "How do I know it's you?"
The Doctor fished about in his pockets. "It must be here somewhere," he muttered. "I never leave home without it, as they say. Aha!" He held out his hand. In his palm was the tiny white skull of a baby chicken. A leather cord had been run through its eye sockets and nostrils.
"It is you," said Madame Bonaparte quietly. She heaved a great sigh. "You'd better come inside."
"Thank you very much." The Doctor walked past her and into the dingy apartment. The curtains were drawn, and it was cooler and darker than the hall. There was incense burning somewhere, and the smell made his nose itch.
"Sit down," Madame Bonaparte instructed. She closed the door and made certain it was locked and latched. She gripped a wooden cane in one hand and leaned heavily upon it as she made her way through the small living room and into the kitchen. She filled a pot with water from the sink, dropped a handful of tea leaves inside, and set it on the stove.
The Doctor watched her from the sofa. He unraveled his scarf and threw it over the back of an old recliner. "It's funny how smells take you back, isn't it? How long has it been?"
"Almost twenty years," she said, placing two chipped mugs on a tray. She pulled open the door to an icebox that the Doctor thought might be as old as she was and found a glass bottle of milk.
"That long?" He stared at the ceiling as she busied herself with the tea. When she was finally ready he leapt to his feet and whisked the tray into the living room and set it on the coffee table.
"How long has it been for you?"
He grinned. "That's a harder question to answer."
"I always knew you'd be back. I kept my eye out for you."
The Doctor smiled sadly as he poured milk into his tea cup. "How many rainy afternoons did we spend in his room, pouring over books or listening to your stories? How many times were you there to get us out of a tight spot? She owed her life to you. I suppose we both did." He leaned forward. "I've gotten myself into trouble again, Madame Bonaparte. I need your help."
"It's that man, the man in the mask, isn't it?"
He sat back. "What man?"
"He came here a long time ago, asking about you. There was something about him, Doctor. He carried death with him, all around him like a cloud. It choked me, made it hard to breathe."
"The man in the mask," he mused.
"The magician," she said.
She shivered. "He's not a man at all, is he?"
"He's not human, if that's what you mean."
"He's looking for you, Doctor. He's been looking for you for a long time."
"And now he's found me."
She set her mug on the table. "I'll do what I can. You know that."
"Good. Now tell me, Madame," he leaned forward once more, "what you know about demons."
The library was where the Doctor and Romana spent most of their time. It was the biggest room in the TARDIS, although the Doctor had once claimed to have grown an entire rainforest in the depths of the ship, cultivating it from a handful of seeds and only getting rid of it when it began to creep into other areas of the ship and threatened to take over the console room. Romana wasn't sure she believed him, although her knowledge of Type 40's was slim. Newer models were more practical and efficient, but the Doctor insisted the Type 40 was more open-minded, flexible, and customizable. The library was a prime example of this. When she joined the Doctor, in her previous incarnation, Romana had found the room lacking in books of any real usefulness. The shelves were filled with paperback novels and ancient scrolls and huge leather-bound volumes of poetry, all from Sol III. The Doctor had a copy of every pulp mystery and science fiction novel ever written in the Twentieth Century, but when she tried to find a book on the history of the planet Erabella or the eating habits of the ferocious Narabeast she could not. Sensing her frustration, the TARDIS had increased the size of several sections, and Romana had spent several months happily dragging the Doctor across time and space tracking down books she thought they should have. She had also slowly gotten him out of the habit of spending most of his time in the console room, where she would, in the early days of their travels, often find him asleep on the floor, slumped against K-9 and using his scarf as a pillow. They would spend days lost in the stacks, reading to each other from sacred texts and black books of forbidden knowledge, some bound in human flesh, others written in ink made from the blood of ancient and powerful creatures whose very existence was blasphemy against the universe.
She entered the library from the kitchens, K-9 at her heels. She made her way to the Drama section and found Marlowe's Collected Plays easily.
She carried the book into the sitting room. "Tell me about Doctor Faustus," she said to K-9.
"A tragedy written in 1604 by the English playwright Christopher Marlowe," said K-9. "It is the story of a German doctor who gives his soul to the devil in return for knowledge and power. It is based on several earlier folk legends."
"That's a common myth," said Romana. "It crops up all over the universe. On Hyspero there's the legend of Nodus, the man who sold his reincarnations to a demon in exchange for the most beautiful woman in the world. And on Eres-Beta they speak of a professor who struck a deal with the gods of the underworld."
"Affirmative," said K-9. "There are many more examples."
"I wonder why the Doctor wanted me to read this particular version?"
She began to read.
"It's a fairly straightforward telling of the story," she said a few moments later. "Although there is one unique element. A demon, Mephistopheles, is assigned to Faustus and tasked with keeping him entertained and distracted from using his power and influence for any practical purpose. Instead he travels the world, performing tricks for the amusement of himself and the upper crusts of society. In the end he accomplishes nothing save for becoming an admired and quite famous illusionist." She thought for a moment. What did the Doctor have in mind?
"You know him better than I do, K-9. What's he trying to get at?"
"I cannot say, Mistress."
Romana stared up at the ceiling. It rose to unseen heights, disappearing in darkness far above. The Doctor had once asked Michelangelo to paint a mural for him on that ceiling, and Romana closed her eyes and wondered if that was before or after he had started sculpting the doomed bust of Lucifer.
Her eyes flew open.
"Of course," she said. "Of course! Why does he always pick up on these things before I do?" She stood and began to pace the floor. "It's an old legend, told and retold across the cosmos."
"That is correct."
"But where did it come from? What's the origin of the story?"
K-9's ears clicked. He said, "The earliest recorded version was told on the planet of Pegasi. The story is of a poor merchant who became very rich by selling his soul to a demon who came from beyond the stars."
"An alien," Romana said. "They say that legends are often based on fact, K-9. Even the most outlandish tales start with a tiny kernel of truth. What if there were such a creature, a being seemingly able to perform miracles, who could grant wishes in exchange for...for..." She trailed off, shaking her head. "In exchange for what? There's no such thing as a soul...is there?"
"That question is beyond my ability to compute," K-9 said.
"Of course." She sat back down. "I suppose I'd better get ready for our dinner this evening. It's going to be a very interesting night, K-9. I can feel it."
"Affirmative, Mistress." And Romana thought she heard a smile in his voice.
Madame Bonaparte insisted that the Doctor wear the chicken skull around his neck. He watched her throw a sweater over her shoulders and tie a crimson scarf around her throat and he asked her what it was for.
"You asked me about demons," she said. "Ain't no better protection from a demon than that charm, and it don't work sitting like a lump in your pocket.
He slipped it over his head. "I remember when you gave it to me, the day I left. It was raining."
She sniffed. "That was twenty years ago, Doctor." She unlocked the door, and they stepped out into the hall. He followed her to the lift. She still leaned upon her cane, but she walked quickly, with a new urgency. They entered the lift and she hit the button with her cane. They rode down in silence, then walked through the lobby and out onto the sidewalk. The sun had almost set, and what little sky they could glimpse through the storm clouds was pink. The Doctor followed Madame Bonaparte halfway down the block, to an old pickup truck parked beside the curb.
"I'd have thought you would have gotten yourself something a bit more tasteful," said the Doctor, frowning as he peered through the passenger window at the torn cloth seats inside.
"It's been a few months since I drove anywhere," she said, struggling to climb inside the truck. He rushed over to help her, but she shooed him away and settled herself behind the wheel. She handed him her cane and he stood back as she turned the key in the ignition. The engine sputtered, and after a pronounced bit of swearing and some rough stomps on the accelerator, it coughed and reluctantly started.
"Maybe I should drive," the Doctor offered.
"Get in," she said, and he knew better than to argue with her. He climbed inside and winced as she bumped into the car parked in front of her as she tried to extract them from their parking spot.
"Watch it!" he hissed as she crashed into the car behind them.
"I've got it," she snapped, and eventually she managed to pull out onto the street. The Doctor let out a breath.
"You're not happy unless you're in control, are you?" she asked.
"Just keep your eyes on the road." He realized he was clutching the chicken skull hard enough to leave a small crack. He settled his hands in his lap and told her to turn right. The rest of their journey was spent in silence, broken only by the Doctor's occasional muttered directions. Finally the truck turned down a narrow street and the TARDIS appeared in the dim headlights.
"Some things really don't change," said Madame Bonaparte as she eased the truck to a stop a few feet from the police box. "I thought you said you were gonna fix that whats-it so it would change shape."
"It's still on my to-do list." The Doctor threw open the door. She allowed him to help her onto the pavement, and she hobbled behind him as he walked to the TARDIS. He rapped sharply on the doors, and a moment later they opened and he led her inside.
"Thank you, K-9," the Doctor said, bending to pet him. "K-9, this is Eden Bonaparte, an old friend. Madame, this is K-9, my best friend."
She stood in the doorway, her eyes wide as she looked around the console room. "I'm sorry," she said. "I guess I forgot....I guess I forgot what it was like to know you, Doctor."
He grinned as K-9 slid across the white floor and she reached down to stroke his head.
"Have you seen Romana?" the Doctor asked.
"Affirmative, Master. She is in the wardrobe, preparing for this evening's function."
"Excellent." The Doctor began to busy himself at the console, setting the coordinates. "Would you like some tea, Madame?"
"No, thank you." Behind the Doctor, a door opened and a young woman in a floor-length black evening dress stepped into the room. Her long blonde hair was swept back from her head and tied up in an intricate knot, and she wore a diamond choker that glittered in the harsh glare of the console room. She stopped when she saw Madame Bonaparte.
"Hello," she said. She crossed the room to take the Madame's hand, and they introduced themselves.
"Romana, do you remember the coordinates for Odtaa's manor? I can't seem to—" The Doctor stopped as he noticed her for the first time.
"How do I look?" she asked, and Madame Bonaparte hid a smile as the Doctor struggled to respond.
"Very nice," he finally managed. "Lovely. You look lovely."
Romana blushed, obviously pleased.
"Show me this wardrobe," the Madame said. "As I remember he keeps a little of everything in there. Maybe we can make me look decent for tonight."
She followed Romana out of the room, and the Doctor collapsed. He crawled over to K-9.
"Did you see that?" he asked.
"You don't have to sound so pleased!" He gave K-9 a thump, then leaned against him and wiped his face with his scarf. It was suddenly very warm in the console room.
The TARDIS materialized at the edge of the property, between the iron gate and a tall oak tree. Spanish moss hung in elegant veils from its branches and concealed the police box in a curtain of green.
"What do you think of that?" the Doctor asked, pointing to the scanner, where Odtaa's estate stood, lit by dozens of small spotlights. It rose above the trees, standing against the night like an impregnable fortress.
Madame Bonaparte shook her head. "I'd always thought it was one of the most beautiful homes in the city, even when it stood in ruins. Do you remember what it looked like twenty years ago?"
"No," said the Doctor.
"Boarded up and falling down. The lawn grew out onto the sidewalk, the gate got all rusted, but still it had its own wild beauty. And then...someone fixed it up, almost overnight. Now it just feels wrong somehow. Like it don't belong."
"Shall we take a closer look?" the Doctor asked. He scratched at the collar of his dark blue suit. Romana had insisted that he change, and he had eventually agreed, but only if he could keep his scarf. She had refused, and in the end they had settled on one as equally long and silly, a deep navy with thin aqua stripes.
"I'm ready," Romana said. She offered her arm to Madame Bonaparte, who seemed to struggle with herself for a moment before taking it. The old woman leaned on Romana as they stepped out onto the wet grass.
"Stay here with the TARDIS, K-9," the Doctor instructed. "There's bound to be shameless hobnobbery and I don't want you corrupted by politicos and other phonies. Why don't you finish reading this week's book club selection? What was it again?"
"The Kama Sutra," said K-9.
"That's the trouble with relying on the randomizer for everything," the Doctor muttered. He locked the TARDIS doors and joined Romana and Madame Bonaparte on the lawn. They moved slowly across the grass, joining a procession of people on the walkway. They made their way up to the porch, where Odtaa stood in a white tuxedo, greeting each guest as they entered the house.
"Tell me why he always wears that mask," Madame Bonaparte said. "Whatever he's hiding can't be any uglier than that."
"That's not a mask," Romana said. "That's his face."
"He's a Sontaran," the Doctor explained.
Before the Madame could ask any more questions, it was their turn to greet Odtaa.
"Doctor!" he exclaimed, seizing his hand. "And that Lady Romana."
"And this is Eden Bonaparte," Romana said.
"Of course," said the Sontaran, quickly recovering from his surprise. "I believe we've had the pleasure."
Madame Bonaparte managed a stiff nod, and Romana ushered her inside.
"I hope you don't mind," said the Doctor. "The Madame is an old friend, and when she told me you'd met I figured you'd be delighted to see her again."
"Not at all, Doctor. I see she has outfitted you with a bit of local color."
"Hmm? Oh, this." The Doctor clutched the chicken skull. His voice dropped, and he said in a conspiratal whisper, "It's supposed to ward off black magic. Very useful this time of year, especially in a city like New Orleans."
Odtaa cleared his throat. "You don't believe in such superstitious claptrap, do you, Doctor? I thought you were a man of science."
"That's a very vague word, Odtaa. Shall we discuss it later? You have guests to greet and I need to make sure Madame Bonaparte isn't inflicting herself on anybody too important."
"Yes, of course. After the show."
He left the Sontaran at the door and entered the house. He spotted Romana and Madame Bonaparte beside the staircase, talking to a little group of men and women in white jackets.
"The staff always has the best gossip," the Doctor said with approval. He waved to them and moved through the crowd, nodding and smiling politely until he had reached the door to the parlor. It was locked, but it was the work of seconds to break in. He slipped his sonic screwdriver into his pocket and ducked into the room, closing the door behind him. The far wall was set with bookcases filled with old and exotic tomes. He reached up, pulled a leather-bound volume from the shelf and stepped back as the bookcase swung inward. He looked at the book in his hands.
Goethe's Faust. An obvious clue. The Doctor replaced it on the shelf and let himself into the secret passage. It was a long, low corridor made of ancient stone. It sloped gently downward and as he walked the light began to fade. He stopped and patted the pockets of his suit, cursing under his breath and thinking of his lovely familiar coat with its cavernous pockets. He waited for his eyes to adjust to the gloom and then continued, hoping that Romana could cover his absence if Odtaa started asking questions.
Finally the corridor ended in a small, nondescript wooden door. It, too, was locked, and the Doctor pointed at it with his sonic screwdriver, smiling as he heard a soft click. He opened the door and slipped into the room beyond.
Romana had spent forty-five excruciating minutes making small talk with petty, self-important politicians, egotistical local celebrities, and a handful of dreary academics when the small jazz combo in the center of the room finished their set and Odtaa stepped behind the microphone.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please make your way into the auditorium. The show is about to begin."
Romana and Madame Bonaparte shuffled along behind the rest of the crowd.
"Where's the Doctor?" the Madame whispered.
Romana looked around. "I was just about to ask you the same thing." They walked through a set of doors into a massive room dominated at one end by a stage veiled by a red velvet curtain. The floor sloped down to meet the stage, and hundreds of plush leather chairs were arranged in long rows. Romana led Madame Bonaparte down a row near the entrance. They sat hidden in a shadow next to the wall.
"What do you suppose he's up to?" Romana asked.
"More of his magic tricks," Madame Bonaparte said. "I saw him on Leno the other night. I've had my eye on him, been watchin. He was at the White House last week."
"Is that a terribly important place?"
Madame Bonaparte studied her. "Where does he find you people?"
All of the guests had been seated, and two men in black and white uniforms closed the auditorium doors. The lights dimmed as, on stage, the curtain parted and Odtaa appeared to thunderous applause. He had changed from his white tuxedo into a flowing crimson robe. On his head was a magnificent headdress made to resemble a pair of intricate ram's horns. He raised his hands to silence the crowd.
"My dearest friends, most esteemed guests, thank you all for coming tonight. What you are about to witness is not my regular act but a special performance of illusions never before attempted in public. You will be the first in the world to observe my latest wonders. Please, enjoy this as my gift to you." He bowed deeply as the audience roared its approval. When the room was silent once again he spread his arms and twisted his face into an expression of deep concentration. He held this pose for several moments, and then suddenly two small blue flames appeared in his hands. They grew into two giant balls of flickering, swirling flame. Their colors changed rapidly, blue to violet to pink to red, orange to yellow, green and then back to blue, continuing to grow until they were both the size of a small car. They shot out from his hands and streaked across the room, only feet above the audience. The crowd gasped. The fireballs chased each other through the air, dipping and whirling until they collided with a tremendous explosion. Several people screamed, and Romana tensed. She blinked, and when she could see again there was only one fireball, as big as a house, zipping through the air. Odtaa whistled, summoning it to him, and like a naughty puppy it refused to oblige. The crowd laughed as the Sontaran made a show of trying to wrestle the flame onto the stage, only to get himself tied up in the enormous chain he had tried to capture it with. Finally the fireball allowed itself to be seized, and Odtaa gingerly linked the chain around it. He jogged down the center aisle of the auditorium, the flame trailing behind him like a balloon.
"How did he do that?" Madame Bonaparte asked as she applauded along with the rest of the audience.
"Probably some sort of light projection system, although it was frightfully hot when it passed overhead." Romana watched Odtaa leap back on stage and twirl the chain over his head like a lasso. The fireball split into a thousand tiny flames. Each one flared brilliantly before blinking out. Odtaa held the chain in his hands. He pulled it taunt, and a moment later the metal began to writhe and snap. He dropped it onto the stage, and its metal links started to contract and change shape. Seconds later the chain had transformed itself into a towering viper. It raised itself off the ground and hissed at its master. Venom dripped from its fangs and fell with an audible hiss to the wooden stage.
As Odtaa summoned a giant wolf made of flame to battle the snake, Romana tapped Madame Bonaparte on the shoulder.
"You stay here," she whispered. "I'm going to go look for the Doctor."
She ducked down the aisle and slipped through the door back into the entrance hall. The two uniformed men stood before her, smiling.
"Lady Romana," one said. "Leaving so soon?"
"Don't like the show?" the other asked.
Romana tried to run past them, but one caught her by the hair. She slipped and fell to her knees. Tears welled her eyes.
"Where do you think you're going?" the man asked, giving her hair a rough yank.
"Let me go," she demanded through gritted teeth.
He shoved her onto the floor. "Get up," he spat.
The other man grabbed her arms and hauled her to her feet. "Come on."
"Where are you taking me?" Romana asked.
"We've got a little job for you to do."
"It's real simple. You just have to open a door. Just one door and then you're done and we'll leave you alone."
"What door would that be?" Romana asked, although she had a feeling she already knew.
"Why, the door to the Doctor's ship, of course. The door to the TARDIS."
Beyond the secret passage was a small circular room surrounded by bookshelves. In the center of the room, a huge hole had been cut into the floor, and a wooden ladder led down to another, slightly larger level. The Doctor peered over the edge. Odtaa's butler, Martin, stood before a large round pool in the room below. A thick black cord ran from the base of the butler's neck and disappeared beneath the surface. In the water, the Doctor could see Odtaa in his elaborate costume. He stood on stage, wielding a flaming sword, which he was using to keep a giant scorpion at bay. The Doctor watched the butler swing his arm in a wide arc, and Odtaa mimicked this action with his sword. Martin's other arm lashed out, and in the pool the scorpion flicked its tail at the Sontaran. Martin—and Odtaa—leapt back.
"Hello!" the Doctor called brightly, and Martin shrieked. On stage, the scorpion vanished, only to reappear again seconds later when the butler had regained his composure.
The Doctor stepped off the ladder and walked to the edge of the pool. "Sorry about that," he said. He dipped his scarf in the water, and Martin growled. The Doctor was thrown across the room. He crashed into a bank of machinery and fell to the floor in a heap, sparks leaping and snapping around him.
"Silly me," he said, rubbing his head. "It's been awhile since I've encountered a functional transference interlink. A bit primitive, but certainly good for a few parlor tricks."
"Primitive?" Martin frowned. "I had heard you were arrogant, Time Lord. You don't disappoint."
"Thank you very much." The Doctor stood up and brushed himself off. "Who are you, really? What's your real name, Martin?"
"Touché. I guess Martin will have to do, although Mephistopheles would be more appropriate."
"I am familiar with the reference." Martin kicked the air, and the Doctor saw Odtaa plant a boot in the stomach of a great hairy gorilla. The beast had the head of a shark, and a heavy wooden club was clutched in one massive paw.
"It must be tiring, this charade," the Doctor said. "Tell me, what do you get out of it? Don't tell me Odtaa gave you his soul for fame as a human magician."
"Don't be ridiculous. The soul is a naïve and romantic concept. What I'm after is much more practical."
"What would that be?" the Doctor asked.
"Knowledge. Surely you can understand that, Doctor. My species hungers for knowledge of the stars, of life on other planets. We posses technology so advanced that it is practically indistinguishable from magic, and yet we are unable to leave our world. Our food supply consists of a very fickle and particular species of animal that is consumed as it still lives, not its flesh but its psychic energy, and that psychic link is severed when the animal is taken from the planet. My people are stranded. It is our curse. But every few thousand years or so someone will crash on the planet's surface, as the Sontaran did. He was hideously injured, but we nursed him for long months."
"So you could piggyback off his psychic energy," the Doctor said.
"Precisely. The Sontaran could leave the planet, and I could come with him, feeding off the precious energy, rationing it to keep him alive and unsuspecting."
"I don't believe for a moment that any Sontaran, presented with a magical wish-granting deity, would desire to become a magician. They would wish for conquest, for glory. Odtaa has been brainwashed, hasn't he?"
Martin continued his strange, hypnotic movements and the Sontaran in the pool mirrored them. "If I am to break the curse of my people I need to find a way of bringing new sources of portable psychic energy to our planet. Earth seemed like a suitable candidate, and so we did some slight...tweaking on the Sontaran so that he would want to remain here until I had finished my vital research. The original plan was to consume the Sontaran once I had reached Earth, but the psychic energy of the humans leaves much to be desired, a supreme disappointment."
"And so you've had to keep the Sontaran alive to keep yourself alive." The Doctor nodded. "That explains why you urged him to bring us here. I suppose Romana and I are to be your next psychic delicacies?"
Martin grinned. "Odtaa remembers little of his military training, but uploaded onto his mind was a fascinating file on you, Doctor. Apparently you're not very popular in Sontaran circles. I knew that you had to be an incredible source of psychic energy, and I wasn't wrong. And when I discovered your companion was also a Time Lord—what a pleasant surprise!" He threw his head back and laughed.
"Well," the Doctor said, "I'm sorry to disappoint you but I'm not very interested in becoming someone's dinner. But I could take you home, back to where you belong."
"Not a chance," Martin hissed. "Not when I've discovered an infinite food supply, a new race that never dies, a race with technology comparable to our own. We could conquer the universe, bend it to our will!"
"And how do you propose to do that?" the Doctor asked.
Martin waved his hand and the image in the pool shifted. The Doctor's eyes widened as he saw Romana being shoved across the manor's front lawn by two rough-looking men. They were forcing her toward the TARDIS.
"I've looked for you for a very long time," Martin said. "And once your ship is mine, there will be no stopping us."
"Release her!" the Doctor commanded. He bent and grabbed the cord that connected Martin to the pool. "Release her or I'll break your connection!"
"Do that and she'll die," the butler said.
The Doctor sighed and dropped the cord. "She'll never let you into the TARDIS, you know."
"Oh, yes she will. Watch."
Romana had reached the TARDIS. She stood with her arms crossed, not looking at her captors. Suddenly, however, the men vanished in a bright flash. Two small puffs of smoke lingered in the air where they had stood.
As the Doctor watched, Madame Bonaparte came into view. She hurried over to Romana, something small and white clutched in her hand.
"No," the Doctor whispered. He shook his head. "No, I don't believe it."
"What happened?" Romana asked her. "Where did they go?"
"Gone, honey." Madame Bonaparte showed Romana the object that she held in her hand: a chicken skull on a dark leather cord, like the one that she'd given the Doctor.
"You're not serious," Romana said.
"They're gone, aren't they?"
"Don't listen to her!" the Doctor screamed, and Martin laughed as Romana opened the TARDIS doors and she and the Madame stepped inside.
The Doctor threw a hurried glance up at the ladder.
"You'll never make it in time," Martin said triumphantly.
"Watch me," the Doctor said and, clutching his own talisman, he leapt into the pool.
On the stage, Odtaa's sudden explosion elicited a shocked gasp from the crowd. After a moment's stunned silence, they stood as one and their thunderous applause echoed through the auditorium. It was the last thing the Sontaran ever heard as the last vestiges of his psychic energy was sucked into the smoking ruins of the interlink device.
The Doctor landed on his back in the wet grass. The wind had been knocked out of him, and he lay for a moment staring up at the stars and struggling to regain his breath. He turned his head and saw the TARDIS a few yards away, and that got him to his feet. He stumbled, then straightened up and ran to it, fumbling in his pockets for the key., He plunged it in the lock and bolted inside.
"Romana!" the Doctor gasped. She lay on the floor, her eyelids fluttering. He bent down to examine her.
"She's still alive," Madame Bonaparte purred from the doorway that led deeper and deeper into the depths of the ship.
"You're lucky," said the Doctor. He spotted his familiar brown coat hanging on the stand and shrugged it on. "What do you think? It clashes horribly but then again so do most things that I do. Who are you?"
She smiled. "Eden Bonaparte. Your old friend and mentor."
The Doctor took Odtaa's business card from his coat pocket and studied it. "Yes, you must be. Do you know, I couldn't remember your name for a moment, back in the manor. But now...it all comes flooding back to me. All those happy days with you and Mina...all those lies!" He dashed the card to the ground and it vanished in a flurry of colorful sparks. "You tricked me, demon. You manipulated my mind so that you could ensnare me in your nefarious trap."
Madame Bonaparte reached up and clawed at her face, pulling it back to reveal Martin's sinister grin. "Oh, but you almost fell for it. The card acted as a low-level psychic transference, feeding you all those wonderful memories."
"You're mad," the Doctor said.
"No, Doctor. Not mad. Just...hungry." And he launched himself at the console.
"No!" the Doctor shouted, trying to wrest him from the controls. "We're still connected to the interlink!"
The time rotor began to churn as the TARDIS dematerialized.
"You're too late, Doctor! The ship, the universe, is mine!"
Martin's eyes widened as the TARDIS doors flew open. He was sucked, screaming, into the vortex.
Romana stirred. Her eyes opened and she sat up. "Doctor?"
"Romana! You've got to help me close these doors!" The Doctor gritted his teeth as he tried to pull the lever. "It's stuck!"
Romana jumped to her feet. She raced toward the doors.
At that moment there was a huge, blinding explosion and the console was engulfed in flames. Romana was flung into the vortex.
The Doctor hesitated for a moment and then, shaking his head, he leapt out after her.
To Be Continued...
The Doctor and Romana will return in "Black Skies"