8.35 pm

The snow - delicate, intricate, unique sculptures of frozen crystals - floated to the ground. They would occasionally lift on an icy updraft, but would soon resume their one-way trip, creating an white, ethereal curtain which filled the entire city.

, thought Jennings, as he watched the snowfall in New York City. He thought that the snow formed an appropriate analogy for MasterMind Inc, the company he served - once bright and full of potential, now useless but ever-present mud that nobody could get rid off unless the sun shone.

And the sun would never shine while his boss, the CEO and majority stockholder, Lenard Kendricks, ruled with an iron fist. The man himself emerged from the bathroom - fifty, but carried himself like a thirty year old. Iron grey hair, expensive dark blue double breasted suit and a perpetually stern expression.

"Now where were we then Mathew?"

Jennings waited until his former friend sat behind the massive mahogany desk, and mentally steeled himself.

"We were discussing the MasterMind holdings in England - the... downsizing" Nice, inoffensive little word - hiding the massive amounts of unemployment and personal ruin of careers and lives. Jennings hated the whole concept.

Kendricks operated his ever-present laptop. "Well, we do the usual .... fire half the staff, make the other half take a 50% pay cut and total loss of benefits. The stock of that company rises dramatically, and we sell it to that Iranian Corporation."


A shrug of expensively clad shoulders. "They have the money - oil, Matt, oil! We can get rid of a company that hasn't been performing so well-"

"Only earning a fifteen million annual profit instead of seventeen million like it's competitors..." muttered Jennings.

Kendricks nodded, not grasping the sarcasm. "Exactly! And we clear half a billion in profit. Incredible what's possible with a little ... creative accounting, isn't it?"

Jennings took a deep breath. "Lenard ..... do you have to do this?"

Kendricks gave Jennings a quizzical look. "Sorry? What're on about?"

"We talking about nearly five thousand trained employees. That many people who won't ever get another job because they're over forty. People with bills to pay, mouths to feed and not that many prospects when they're stuck out in the cold."

Kendricks groaned. "God, Matt. Have you been watching Christmas specials again?"

"No. Just wondering how we can get away with putting so many people on the scrap heap for the company's profit."

Kendricks gave a shark-like smile. "We are a multi-national corporation. We span across the globe, controlling industry, retail outlets and media. We can get away with whatever we want!"

Jennings couldn't argue, never could - that was part of his boss's ability, to charm, to subtly manipulate anyone he wanted into doing whatever he wanted....

.... abruptly, Jennings got up. He walked towards the door. Kendricks looked up at him. "Matt, for God's sake, what do you think you're doing? We're not even half way through this yet!!"

Jennings stopped at the door to the office, head bowed. "Lenard, it's Christmas Eve. I have a wife-"

"Ex-wife, wasn't it? Hell, my lawyer made sure you kept at least half of your property."

"I also have three children. I want to see them, give out presents, do some dad things before I have to go home. Maybe I can convince my kids that I'm not totally heartless."

Kendrick still persisted. "Matt, two hours ago I got a certain phone number on my e-mail. If we can negotiate with the Australian Broadcasting Commissioner, we can get a Cable TV contract at half the price Murdoch paid, just when the Aussies are just getting used to the idea of pay-TV."

Jennings gave a humourless grin in the shadows where Kendricks couldn't see it. "When did you ever need my help anyway? God Lenard, anything I've got now, I got from riding on your tail."

Kendricks sighed. He knew when a battle was lost. "Okay. Say hi to the kids for me. Just get back here on the 26th to prepare for the final negotiations with the British Unions."

Jennings opened the door and left, expensive shoes making quick padding noises on Italian Marble.

9.05 pm

Kendricks placed down the phone, eyes tired. He needed a drink.

He crossed over to the wet bar at the far end of the office, and poured himself a generous dose of whisky. Looking out the window, he saw that the snowfall had abated, and that there was a brilliant field of white that lay across the normally grey city landscape.

Kendricks snorted, sipping his drink. There wasn't room for sentiment in his world. Not if you wanted to get ahead.

The old man looked back at his computer terminal, and quickly punched up the figures on the stock market. The BritMasterMind holdings were holding steady at the moment - Kendricks smiled mirthlessly, and placed an order for ten thousand units on his personal account.

A sound - a groaning roar of some incredibly powerful machinery - echoed through the office. It originated somewhere in the lobby.

Kendricks' head snapped up, body alert. He opened a draw in his desk, pulling out a small but powerful automatic pistol. He took no chances. Not in this city.

He tapped a switch on the desk that dimmed all the lights except for the one over the doorway - that would give him a target when the intruder entered, and leave him near-invisible in the darkness.

Footsteps started ringing through the lobby - quick, steady steps. Kendricks stabilized his right hand with his left arm on the desk, and squinted his eye, aiming along the barrel.

The door opened - and Kendricks was momentarily stunned. Standing in the doorway was a man - slight build, medium height, a shock of long-ish brown hair. It was his clothes that gave Kendricks the inital stab of worry. A nineteenth century velvet frock coat, grey trousers and cravat, ornately woven vest, wing-collar shirt, and work boots.

"Mr. Kendricks?" The voice was English, a tinge of the lower classes. The man walked forwards, while the executive tightened his grip on the automatic, trying to regain control of the situation

"I don't know you are, but you're trespassing. Get out of here."

The man looked surprised for a moment. "Trespassing? Impossible - I'm allowed everywhere."

For a moment Kendricks felt that this intruder was right - then he shook it off. This maniac was starting to infect him with his own self-delusions.

The maniac kept on talking. "By the way, I'm The Doctor. I've gone to a lot of trouble because of you."

Kendricks laughed. "I can tell - I was assured that this was one of the best security system money can buy."

The Doctor smiled - Kendricks noticed that this intruder had very pale blue eyes, and his stare was unusual - almost alien in it's intensity. "Mr. Kendricks, the security system in this building causes me no problems, it's the little trip that I have planned for you that's given me the most problems."

Kendricks cocked back the hammer on his pistol - unnecessary for this particular model, but the sound made was reassuring in the silent office. "I think I'll stay here."

The Doctor made a slight movement with his hand - and suddenly Kendricks grip was empty, and The Doctor had his pistol. Kendricks didn't fully register what happened to him until The Doctor gingerly extracted the magazine and ejected the remaining round in the chamber. He tossed the clip back to Kendricks while pocketing the automatic.

"Now that we've got that out of the way, the first order of business." The Doctor removed something from his coat pocket - a camcorder. One of the ones with a fold-out miniature screen incorporated on the side.

Kendricks watched, hands clammy on the surface of the desk while The Doctor pressed buttons on the camera, making it whirr. "Nice camera there, Doc."

"Doc-tor, please. And thank you, I paid for the camera with your credit card number."

Kendricks spluttered momentarily, and the Doctor smiled in satisfaction, placing the camera down on the desk and unfolding the camera in one deft movement.

The little screen turned black, then light. Then, a scene - white walls, an IV drip, some kind of hospital. Then, a scene that really shocked Kendrick, a jolt of recognition that sent a spear of horror down his spine down to rattle his bowels.

An old man, arms full of tubes, pipes in his nose. Kenricks recognised him as his old partner, Sam Whitehouse.

A man dead five years.

Sam was looking straight into the camera, eyes glazing, but still full of life. "Kendricks? Lenard, you fool, I hope this gets to you."

Undoubtedly Sam. Nobody could impersonate that man that well. But how did he regain consciousness? For his final six weeks in bed he had been smashed mercifully into unconscious by a strong dose of morphine, saving him from the inoperable stomach cancer.

"I spent my entire life learning how to make the most money, and grabbing it despite the consequences. Now I'm going to die, and all I can leave behind is a long line of people waiting to urinate on my grave."

Kendricks felt a stab in his chest - this was Sam Whitehouse, the pirate of Wall Street? The man known as 'The Jolly Rodger'? Where was his drive, his ambition?

The Whitehouse on the screen seemed to read his thoughts. "What's the good of money for me now? The only person that visits me regularly is the nurse, and she hates my decaying guts." He moved closer, the multitude of tubes giving the old man a macabre appearance. "It's too late for me now. Listen to The Doctor. He'll help you. Save yourself from what happened to me."

The image then broke up into static. Kendricks looked at The Doctor in amazement. "Why didn't you give this to me five years ago?"

"Because for me that was twenty minutes ago - in subjective time."

Kendricks gave The Doctor a strained look. "If you're taking something, give me some of it. That's the only way I can believe that somehow you ... time travelled."

The Doctor gave a bright smile at this. "Well, no time like the present then!" He reached over, grabbing Kendricks by the wrist and pulling him out of his chair and out of the office. Kendricks was just starting to comment on this young man's surprising strength when he saw something standing near the elevators - a bright blue wooden phone booth. The Doctor opened the doors with an ornate key and a flourish, and nearly carried Kendricks inside.

Kendricks nearly felt his bowels crawl out between his knees when he saw the massive Jules Vernes ironwrought and redwood interior. He just stood there in amazement as The Doctor threw levers and flipped switches like a demented mad scientist from centuries past.

Kendricks instincts quickly overrode his initial shock. "I have board seats on one of the finest Aerospace Research facilities in the world. Name your price and we can make a fortune!!!"

The Doctor quietly chuckled. "Money doesn't interest me, Mr Kendricks. Your well being does."

Kendricks wasn't easily deterred. "I'm talking about billion dollar bonuses here-" then The Doctor's comments struck him "-what do you mean, my well-being? Do I die in the future or something?"

"Everybody dies. It's your life that I'm worried about." The Doctor produced a pen-shaped silver rod, and quickly slid it into Kendricks' suit breast pocket, before placing an identical device in his own pocket.

"That's a portable dimensional phase field emitter. Got them on my last trip to Gallifrey"

"A what?"

The Doctor sighed. "You Americans would call it a Cloaking Device. You'll be invisible and inaudible once we step outside. The only things you can touch is your own person, myself, and the TARDIS."

The Doctor quickly led him to the doors which he and Kendricks entered the room. Exiting the room suddenly filled Kendricks with an air of noglastia.

A mansion. Stately, filled with tradition and money. Incredibly familiar to Kendricks - it was the place that he grew up in.

But it wasn't dust filled, and sheet covered, like it was in New England. It was clean, like it had been-

-then a small child started running through the hall, just a few feet away. Kendricks recognised him very well; himself, when he was eight years old.

He turned to the Doctor, who smiled. "Welcome to Christmas Past, Mr. Kendricks."

"What's happening?"

"We're going to examine one of the critical areas of your life with a little more objectivity. Coming?" The Doctor started to follow Kendricks the Younger, the elder soon followed.

Kendricks watched his younger self walk through the halls, to the kitchens. He suddenly had a stab of painful memory as he recalled what would happen.

He grabbed The Doctor's arm. "Something is going to happen, it's...."

The Doctor gave him a look that was full of steel. "I know what's going to happen. We're here to examine it in a new light."

The Doctor walked past the younger, who had stopped to examine the contents of a table drawer.

You won't be too happy with stationary, kid. These thoughts echoed absently as Kendricks raced to the kitchen, wishing that he had maintained at least an illusion of fitness.

The familiar voices, those once happy voices. Now angry, shouting.

"You can't have lost that much, you fool!"

"Shut up, Denise! It's not like I can't afford it....."

"Do you realise that that money has been in this family for generations?!? I'm not seeing my son's inheritance poured down that sewer where the nags run!"

Kendricks looked past The Doctor, who now stopped, to see his parents in the kitchens - his father, harried and nervous, his mother, once stately, now verging on full-blown hysteria.

"We can weather quarter of a million - if that's all you've wasted..."

"I said, shut up, woman...."

"....it's your attitude to this family..."

"My family! You married into my family!!!!! I'm the one who's in charge!"

"..your typical irresponsibly..."


Kendricks watched, his mouth agape. It was like watching a car accident, with hypnotically horrific appeal. He saw his father, reach into a draw-

-he remembered a scraping of a chair across the hardwood floor

-he saw his father raise a snub-nosed revolver to his mother's stunned face

-he remembered a metallic clicking and going to see what happened

-he saw his father pull the trigger....

Kendrick closed his eyes, hearing the crack of the gun. He felt rather than heard his younger self run towards the kitchen door. He heard the gun crack again, heard the slumping of dead weight to the floor.

He felt The Doctor hold his shoulder. "Not exactly the best way to see Christmas in, is it? You were convinced that your father was a madman."

"He shouldn't have killed mother." His voice was thick in his throat, choking.

The Doctor looked back at the grisly tableu. "Yes - any death is regrettable." He quickly led Kendricks back towards the TARDIS. "All that could have been avoided if they had stopped being so hostile to each other. Kept some compassion. It would have stopped you having to take care of yourself for all your life. Not relying, or asking for help from others."

Kendricks was calming down, re-establishing the old barriers and strengths that had made him what he was. "What are you going to do now, Doctor? Show me the cheerleader that publicly rejected me in High School? My divorce? When my child disowned me?"

"Something closer to home."


Kendricks stood, The Doctor's miraculous gadget keeping him unseen and unheard by his best employee, Matthew Jennings. The man was sitting next to his children, helping them open some large and ornately-wrapped presents.

"What's this? I've seen Matt and his kids before."

"Not unobserved. Not from this position."

A brunette woman entered the lounge room, and served the children and Matt hot mugs, serving the man last, her demenour frosting slightly. Kendricks saw that Matt was trying to be more approachable, but she was putting up solid defences.

Kendricks turned to the Doctor, who was trying to see the cartoon on TV that was obscured by a three-year-old. "That's Matt's ex. She had the nerve to name me as one of the reasons their marriage broke up."

"Not surprising. You had him work with you every time that you had to call overseas to talk about a business deal - nearly all the time. He never could refuse you - and you use that influence ruthlessly."

Kendricks felt a flash of real anger across his soul. "Matt is my best employee. I can rely on him, utterly, reliably..."

"There are several people on your staff who you can rely on equally well. Is it because you instinctively know how well you can manipulate a person who honestly idolises you? The only man you know who genuinely admires you and your accomplishments, not because they want to take your job?"

Kendricks was about to reply - when his brain shut him up and told him to look at the statement. "Okay, you're right about the trust. Matthew has been with me since the early days. We've built a solid working relationship..."

"He used to call you his best friend."

Kendricks was silent for a moment. "Used to?"

"You didn't really notice, did you? Ever since his divorce, when it was finally brought home to him that you had helped destroy one of the most fundamental relationships in his life."

Kendricks looked over at Matthew, who was trying to talk to his former wife with more effort than the businessman had ever seen him put."

".... I'm telling you Gloria, I'm not going to be in the office for so long anymore."

"God, Matt, you've always said that, over and over, and there's Kendricks pulling you in for another all nighter. I'm not interested in dredging up old arguments, it's Christmas."

Kendricks saw something cross Matthew's face - a massive steeling, the making of a monumental decision. "What if I told you that I was going to quit?"

Gloria gave Matthew a strange, plaintive look. "Are you serious? Is this some kind of 'what if' situation or something like that..."

"...Gloria, I'm serious. I'll quit tomorrow. If that's what it takes, I'll do that. Take up consulting or something. I'm sure I can get a job like that on my reputation. Some of the companies that Lenard's crossed will pay through the nose if they know that I've gone overboard."

Gloria looked at him, with a deadly serious expression. "God, Matt ... you're really ready to do something like that...."

Kendricks snarled, his blood pressure running into overload. "You little traitor..."

The Doctor, who had been watching The Superman Adventures with rapt attention, quickly got up to Kendricks side. "You know he can't hear you...."

"He's betrayed me! He's going to ..."

"...try and salvage his marriage? Take radical steps to fix a major problem with his personal life?"

Kendricks took a deep breath. "He's going to my direct competitors!"

"You pushed him into it."

"You don't understand, I need him!!!"

"WHY?!?" This roar from the Doctor took Kendricks by surprise, making him stagger back slightly.

The answer took a long time to come out. "I ... I don't know anybody else to trust, Doctor. I don't know anybody as competent or simply just good at business as him.... nearly anybody these days with an ounce of talent is ready to kick me out of my position - Matthew is the only one who just doesn't want to place a knife in my back."

"Did you bother to find out if there was anybody else?"

Kendricks looked up at the Doctor, eyes nervous. "You can sense it - their blind naked ambition..."

The Doctor sighed, looking up at the roof. "The paranoia of those in authority. The more you had, the more you tried to grab simply to hold onto your position, at the exclusion of conscience, friends, family. Capitalism defined - humanity defined."

Kendricks looked around at the family unaware of his presence. The children were just hearing of their father's decision to quit the company which it's success owed a great deal to his efforts. Kendricks realised how well this little family unit was going now, despite his absence - no, especially his absence. As if Sam Kendrick was some kind of wart that everybody tolerated, but now it was going to be removed from their lives ....

How much he had taken away - and how little he contributed.

Kendricks turned to The Doctor, who was giving him a look that demanded answers. "Shall we stay here a while? See how much better these children are going to be?"

Kendricks waved his hand. "No, no - I've seen enough here. Haven't we got a final destination or something?"

The Doctor nodded, somberly. "I'm not taking any pleasure in this, Kendricks."


The future. Kendricks had wondered if there was anything that he could look at - a book, or a stock report, something to bring back.

Something that was going to stop whatever god awful event that The Doctor was going to show him. It was always something terrible.

The Doctor led him through the corridors of his skyscraper. The massive edifice of glass and steel that his company solely owned, and housed the various departments and personnel that made him the powerful man he was today.

They had to wait for somebody to go to the same floor that the Doctor insisted they go to for twenty minutes - being as unsubstantial as ghosts had it's disadvantages.

They followed a faceless executive into the main boardroom. Kendricks knew the corridors and areas of this building, down to it's storerooms. He noticed the decor had changed slightly.

"How far are we in the future?"

"Not terribly far, actually. Less than a decade."

The executive opened a door to various comments at his lateness. Kendricks looked automatically at the head -

- and saw Matthew. His appearance had changed slightly with a few years, but his hairstyle, his usually modern haircut replaced by a more severe, drawn back cap. His usual slightly baggy tan suit was replaced with an expensive black three-piece that was extremely sharp.

Kendricks looked at himself - Matthew was wearing his haircut and suit style. He looked at The Doctor desperately. "What happened here?"

The Doctor was watching the future Matthew with a detached, analytical gaze. "When he resigned from your company, his attempts at reconciliation with his family led to failure - mainly because you found a way to throw a few spanners in the works."

Kendricks looked back at Matthew - for all his efforts, he couldn't see the man that he so implicitly trusted for nearly twenty years.

The Doctor went on, remorseless. "He knew who to blame. When somebody offered to make him part of a consortium which would mount a hostile takeover, he gladly accepted. His in-depth knowledge of how the company operated - and how you thought - made it all possible. When the dust finally settled, he used some of the tricks you taught him and made himself CEO."

Kendricks watched, as this Matthew made decisions - undercutting of companies, terminating thousands of jobs, bribing politicians, okaying defective products because it would cost less in the potential lawsuits rather than fix the fault in the production line and the existing items in stock.

The Doctor whispered into his ear. "Interesting, isn't it? Seeing all your worst attributes made flesh in another person. A numbing sensation is starting to creep along your spine...."

Kendricks interrupted. "You don't know what this is like."

"I do. I've seen a potential future for me. It influenced what I am today."

The Doctor beckoned, and Kendricks numbly followed. They soon found themselves out in the street, covered in snow. Kendricks was steeling himself for the next revelation.

"What next? Showing me my grave? Or where I've retired to?"

"Oh, you're still working Kendricks."

They rounded a corner, down into an alley. People in cheaper, shabbier clothing went past them, and a disconcerting experience when a large black man passed through Kendricks. Somehow, they seemed to avoid passing through The Doctor altogether.

The Doctor stopped in front of someone - tramps, and likewise, gathered around a fire burning in an oil drum. Kendricks saw his guide point at a tramp who was rummaging through a dumpster.

Kendricks felt as if a mule had kicked him in the stomach when he saw his own features on the tramp, who was clutching a box with old sneakers in it as if they were the Holy Grail.

The Doctor gave a humourless grin. "You're still working. Hard as ever. See those shoes? Thrown out, holes in the sole, two sizes too big for you. Still, nothing a little newspaper can't fix. Can't be as picky as you used to be, you learned that quickly."

Kendricks looked at the Doctor, mouth working furiously, no words coming out at first. "My house, my personal stock...."

"All mortgaged off in an attempt to save your company. All lost because you had too many enemies ready to see you fall."

Kendricks watched his future self slug something back - my god, Then he heard somebody move up the alleyway. His other self heard it too, and tensed, ready to flee. Several youths appeared, carrying sticks, pipes, knives.

Kendricks saw his future self move, running. Saw a brick strike his head, bringing him down.

Saw several youths kicking and pummelling his future's prone form.

Saw them bring out a jerrycan of gasoline and pour it on the barely conscious form.

Saw a match being struck -

- The Doctor caught the prone body of Kendricks, and carried him off over his shoulder.

Behind the invisible figures, something burned brightly on Christmas Eve.


Kendricks came to, on a leather couch in the TARDIS. The Doctor was standing at the control console, looking at nothing while the Time Rotor rose and fell.

The businessman got up, his hands still shaking. He looked at The Doctor, eyes once always confident, now full of fear.

"Can it be changed?"

"I hope so. The only way to make sure of that is if you change. Become better."

"Better at what?"

"A better person is a good start."

The Time Rotor stopped, and The Doctor threw a brass lever. "This is where you get off. I can't help you any further."

Kendricks came up to The Doctor, and took his hand. "Thank you - for showing me something else."

The Doctor nodded, and silently escorted Kendricks to the doors

Kendricks looked at The Doctor. "I ... I have to know ... why warn me?"

The Doctor smiled. "Business in the next century needs a little humanity. Also ... you also have a daughter. She's working in San Francisco now."

"I heard. She's a surgeon now?"

"Yes. Took her mother's name. She's going to have some personal difficulties soon - loose her ... boyfriend, and her job. She'll need your help for a while."

Kendricks looked up at the Doctor, features pained. "I don't know ... she's very proud, you know."

The Doctor clasped his hands around the businessman's shoulders. "Then try harder. You've got to patch things up with Mathew as well. There's also Christmas shopping in the middle of Manhattan."

Kendricks gave a faint smile, and walked out the double doors.

The Doctor looked at the man walking towards the entrance of Macys, steeling himself for the challenge. Kendricks would survive last-minute Christmas Shopping in New York. Showing him his humanity would help.

And hopefully, knocking off some of his hubris would help his daughter. America was not a place to be unemployed for any length of time.

"Merry Christmas, Grace." Muttered The Doctor, turning back to the Control Console.


Saw most of a Patrick Stewart version of a Christmas Carol, decided to revamp.

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