"Just taken a quick hop to the moon and back. To run her in." The Doctor to Amy Pond in 'The Eleventh Hour'
It was a cavernous space of curved walls, bellowing outwards. Geometric designs adorned them in an almost random scattering. Ramps led from open archways, hinting at even more internal space.
But the place was dominated by a central column of massive proportions that stretched from floor to ceiling like a giant tree trunk. At it's mid-point it supported a transparent platform, itself housing a hexagonal console of bewildering complexity.
And a man.
He stood at the edge of the platform, resting against a guard-rail. He had a young face, striking in an incomplete sort of way. It was as if a hand had pressed gently against it whilst it was still in the process of forming. The nose was slightly flattened, the eyes a fraction too far apart and the chin forced forward. He therefore had a constant look of mild surprise.
His hair was a mass that seemed independent of the rest of him.
His clothes offset his youth. A Tweed jacket with elbow-patches and a bow tie.
He stood, an incongruous figure against the beautiful technology, and talked. To himself. Still getting used to a new set of vocal chords as well as a new interior of his ship.
The Doctor looked down from his lofty perch. "It's a good job I don't suffer from vertigo," he said, before momentarily staggering and clinging on to the guard-rail."Oh! Seems like I do now!" He breathed deeply and the dizziness passed. "Either that or a post-regenerative hiccup."
He bounded to the central control console, which was traditionally hexagonal and covered with an array of controls. His eyes scanned them eagerly, like a kid in a sweet-shop.
It was a facet of Time Lord technology that he knew instinctively what 95% of the controls did. It was the other 5% that would provide the fun.
He spotted a couple of hot and cold bath taps and experimentally twisted the hot one. Immediately there was a rise in temperature. "Environmental controls, eh?" He spun the cold tap to equalise the air temperature. Then there was that funny gyroscope standing proud on one of the panels. No idea. But then he spotted the Gallifreyan script it stood on and understood.
A typewriter keyboard! "What the blazes are you for?" He tapped on a few keys and his face broke into a beaming smile as he saw the effect on the rest of the controls. "Oh, how clever is that!"
But the old-fashioned gramophone defeated him. He wagged an admonishing finger at it. "I'll get back to you later."
The familiar engine noise began its descending whine and the transparent time rotor pumped in time.
There was the slightest bump underfoot and the Doctor activated the scanner. "Go on," he said, "be a sport...YES! SPOT ON!"
The bottom section of Apollo XI's Lunar lander stood impassively on the grey surface of the Sea of Tranquility. The Doctor panned the picture, picking out the rigid Stars and Stripes flag and zoomed in on a huge ribbed boot-print that marked mankind's first tentative extra-terrestrial excursion.
"One small step for man, one small step for the Tardis. But you've passed with flying colours -"
The scrolling picture on the scanner focused on an old colonial log cabin, standing motionless on the surface. A wisp of impossible smoke drifted up from its chimney.
"Oh no..." murmured the Doctor. "I am NOT getting involved in that. There's a kissogram girl waiting for me. I can't afford to get sidetracked. Absolutely not. No, no no..."
The Doctor stood outside the door of the impossible log cabin feeling rather pleased with himself.
Of course he wasn't going to ignore such an anomaly! Heaven forbid! Perish the thought! etc, etc.
The problem of getting over to it had reared its ugly head when the Doctor had tried to get into the space-suit he had used on previous occasions, only to find it didn't fit properly and brought on a claustrophobic attack (was this another new aspect of his personality?).
Instead he had extruded the internal Tardis environment across fifty yards of Lunar surface and latched it onto the cabin. All he had to do was to stroll across within the protective corridor containing breathable atmosphere and even standard gravity.
What a clever new Doctor! What a clever new Tardis!
Should he just open the door and barge in or should he knock politely and wait? Just exactly what would this new personality dictate? Whilst he was debating the point the door opened and a hairy fist grabbed him by the collar and dragged him inside!
The man standing in front of the Doctor was a slab of humanity, unkempt, unshaven and smelling...not so good. He sported a moth-holed vest, ragged britches and flapping sandals. He was strong-looking, with a rotund face and a scrub of receding hair.
After looking the Doctor up and down he turned his head sideways to holler over his shoulder. "Ma! Ma! Git yesel in here! We got oursel's a visitor at last!"
A woman appeared in the Doctor's eyeline, scowling and rubbing her hands together on the apron of her pinafore dress. "Landsakes, Pa! What's all the commotion -?" She broke off as she saw the Doctor. "Mercy be! We've been 'specktin you for such a while. The hog's nearly done. Not overdone, mind." She hurried off into a side room.
"Hello. I'm the Doctor," was all he could think to say at this very moment.
"A Medick !" exclaimed Pa, clapping the Doctor on the shoulder heftily. "You're welcome, Medick. Come and sit a spell."
The room of this impossible place reflected its outside appearance. A basic space of wood with the odd stick or two of furniture.
The Doctor perched on a wobbly chair in front of a table made up from two planks of wood, as the pungent smell of cooking meat wafted into the room.
"You ready for vittles, Medick?"
The Doctor stroked his chin reflectively. "Log cabin...vittles...Ma and Pa...hog roast..." He leaned forward. "You're not the cliché family by any chance?"
"Klee-shay?" The man-mountain shook his head. "We're just Ma an' Pa."
"Tell me, Pa. What do you see when you look out of your window?"
"Yer jestin' me, Medick. I see what's there. Rocky Mountain ridge, the stream, the trees..."
"Not the Sea of Tranquility then...No you wouldn't, would you. Considering that this is a Simulacrum and that you and Ma are nothing more than mirages ..." He reached over and tapped Pa's bicep. "Pretty good ones mind. Integral perception relays. Gives a passable sense of touch...and smell."
Pa looked at him sideways. "Yer not makin' much sense, feller. We're jest simple folk. Not some 'fistickated New England Medick -"
"Don't like your reality being challenged, do you my friend -"
He was interupted as Ma appeared, bearing a huge plate of food which she dropped on the table in front of the Doctor with a beam of triumph. He looked down onto a mound of fatty pink meat, piled high and smothered with boiled potatoes.
"Err...thanks." said the Doctor. He paused, looking down.
"Well? Ainthcha gonna tuck in?" asked Pa.
"Not really." said the Doctor, rising. "You see, if I concentrate...think hard enough... then that plate of anonymous bio-plasma could be anything I wanted it to be. Even fish fingers and custard."
"Them's good vittles!" protested Ma. "Pa went out and shot a hog jest this mornin'. An' I've been cookin' it slowly fer hours!"
"No you haven't," said the Doctor, dismissively. "When I first came in here there was no smell of cooking. That only started when you talked about food. There's no kitchen through that door. This room takes up the whole interior space compared to the exterior dimensions of this building. It's just for show."
Ma and Pa looked at each other.
"Then there's this room. I only extended the Tardis' environment to the front door, yet we have a breathable atmosphere and standard gravity. Oh, if only I had a sonic I could answer this in a moment!" He spun round, glancing this way and that. "Aha! Anomalous technology!"
The Doctor bounded over to a tall grandfather clock, ticking away in the far corner of the room. "Now this is not right. Not right at all..."
"Hey feller. You keep away from that-" warned Pa.
The door of the clock opened to reveal an array of buttons, sensors and an LED screen. "Oho! What have we got here?"
"I told you to keep away from that." Pa growled.
The Doctor straightened up and found himself looking straight down the barrels of a shotgun. "Now that gun wasn't there a moment ago. Security protocols kicked in have they?"
The Doctor turned back to the grandfather clock.
Pa fired. The noise of the double-shot sounded thunderous in the enclosed space. The Doctor glanced over his shoulder. Ma and Pa were frozen in place. "Just as I said, mirages."
"We're stuck" said Ma.
"We're stuck," said Pa.
They repeated like a broken record.
"Let's see what we can do," murmured the Doctor. He tapped experimentally at a couple of buttons in the clock housing and the little LED screen lit up. A procession of symbols scrolled across it and the Doctor's face lit up. "Simple!" With a flourish he pushed a combination of buttons.
Around him the room shimmered.
He straightened up to find himself in a medieval castle.
'Pa' was dressed as a Knight of the Realm. Down a winding flight of stairs came the knight's lady, every inch the princess.
"Quite simple," said the Doctor. "You're supposed to be on Slideshow but the controls had locked."
Pa approached. "Foresooth, Sire..." declaimed Pa. "The banquet awaits..."
The Doctor grimaced and stabbed another button.
The cocktail bar, circa New York 1958 was bright, breezy and occupied by two figures, apart from the Doctor. The bartender and the floozy..yes, you guessed it...'Ma and Pa '.
For the next couple of minutes the Doctor had some fun scrolling through the program.
Buckingham Palace...the White House...The Kremlin...Mission Control, Houston...Villa Park...
Eventually he got fed up and reverted to the log cabin scenario.
The frozen images of Ma and Pa remained silent but the Doctor's eyes narrowed when he saw the word 'AD?' pop up on the little screen. He touched it and immediately there was a tinkle of annoying music, accompanied by an equally annoying mid-Atlantic voice.
"Welcome one and all! Our latest venture. The last word in Interstellar tourism. We've built them all over the Galaxy for your delectation. Located at prime visitor destinations. The Moons of Bahox; The Chasm of the Repeated Chime, Andorrax 3: The Lake of Five Moons, Tharoddos; Tranquility Base, Luna. Just some of our fifty prime locations. Take your pick. See how the natives live in our lifelike holo-pods. You won't want to miss this. Opening soon. Pre-book to guarantee your first choice destination. Contact NavTours NOW!"
There was a little jingle, then silence.
"NavTours!" the Doctor snapped his fingers. "The Navarinos! The great package holiday merchants of the Galaxy! Where did I meet you...that's it...The Flight of the Chimeron...no no...Delta and the Bannermen. I always get that mixed up! NavTours,eh? I remember now...They built all these holo-pods and nobody ever came. The company went bust in the Great Magallenic Credit Crunch..."
The Doctor stopped. "I'm saying this all out loud. To a pair of holograms." He looked at the frozen Ma and Pa. "AND I just said that out loud as well! AND this! Oh I really need someone to talk to!"
He turned back to the control panel. "I need to turn you off. When humanity gets off its collective backside I don't think they really need to find this here...uh oh...it's on a repeating loop powered by a Venskarii Battery. That's got a half-life of three thousand years..."
The Doctor stroked his chin. "! can't turn it off. What to do?" He smiled and began tapping at the buttons. Hacking into the program.
Back in the Tardis control room the Doctor looked at his watch.
On the scanner the log cabin wobbled, then vanished. The Doctor peered closely at the screen. "Best I could do. Reprogrammed it using the exterior view as a model." It was still there, the Navarino holo-pod, only now it had taken on a permanent view as a piece of the Lunar landscape. Ma and Pa were now a couple of Moon rocks.
"Not bad," declared the Doctor. " A bit like hiding a brick wall in front of another brick wall."
Maybe he'd pop back in five thousand years to make sure it had gone. But that would have to wait.
The Doctor adjusted his bow-tie and then adjusted his new controls.
"I've got a date with a kissogram girl! "
As he slammed over the dematerialisation control his brow puckered.
"Just what exactly is a 'kissogram girl' anyway?"
The End (or a New Beginning!)