Willa was running a broom over the floor in the last minutes before closing. She'd been here for a little over a week and it seemed like the walls were getting closer and closer every night. It had been years since she'd spend this much time in one place. There wasn't, as one might expect, much money to be made in real metaphysics. So Willa had traveled with a Renaissance fair for the last six years. It was an odd life of never being more than four or so days in one place, but she made enough money for food and chocolate. What more could a girl want really? As it turns out, quite a bit more.
But money was starting to get a little tight, so when an old friend in Bath needed someone to watch her shop while she was on vacation, Willa couldn't really say no. She put the broom up, and was turning to lock the door when she heard the bells jingle violently as a man entered and slammed the door behind him. He crouched beneath the glass panel on the door – barring it shut. "Do you have any lemongrass?"
"Yeees…," Willa replied slowly. "Would you like it fresh, dried, or dried and ground?"
"Oh…ah… which would you say gives off the best smoke?"
"Dried it is then!" he leapt up, but then remembered himself and hit the ground again. "Would you mind shutting the blinds?"
"Well, I-" Willa began, but was immediately cut off by a couple of men shouting on the street.
"No time!" the man on the floor fished a wallet from his pocket and held it up to her. "I'm undercover police, you see – and -"
"No," Willa shook her head and peered at the paper, "That's blank."
"Your license is blank, sir."
"Oh," he glanced at it. "So it is. Buggar. Must have put the wrong one in there. Well you see…"
"Doctor!" the voices outside screamed.
"You're not the police are you?" Willa started toward the front door.
"No, but I am in trouble."
"I figured as much." Willa began to drop the blinds. "Past the counter is the door to the cellar. The light switch is on your right."
"Thank you!" The strange man army crawled as quick as he could toward the cellar.
Willa calmly flipped the sign from Open to Closed and was about to lock the door when a large brooding bald man in a nondescript black suit shoved it open, nearly knocking her over in the process.
"Where is the Doctor?" he shouted at her. His breath was awful, and the accent was a strange one that she couldn't quite place.
"Sorry, sir. No doctors here. And I'm afraid we're closed for the night; you'll have to come back tomorrow."
"I know you're hiding him here." The ugly man grabbed Willa by the throat. It wasn't enough to choke her, though the potential was definitely there. It serves me right, she though, trying to help someone out. Thanks Karma. And then it occurred to her that something was wrong with this picture. Not that she was being choked by a strange man because of a stranger man in the cellar; what bothered her more was how the man's hand felt around her neck. It was dripping wet, though his clothes were bone dry, and it sucked at her skin. She screamed and attempted to kick at him. "Tell me where he is, vermin!" The man's eyes bled blue. A sickly blue-black filled the pupils and whites. She screamed again, hoping it would have some effect of the man downstairs.
Before her scream could die away the flustered young man burst from the cellar waving what appeared to be the entire stock of dried Lemongrass in flames. The large man reeled at the smoke and took a couple of blind swings at the flames before giving up and rushing out the door.
By the time he had let her go Willa was seeing spots; she collapsed to the floor. When the ugly man has disappeared around the corner, the lanky young man helped Willa to her feet. "Are you alright there?" he waved an odd looking flashlight in her face for a few moments. "It looks like no serious damage was sustained. But take a couple of aspirin and call me in the morning."
"What? Who the hell are you?"
He had opened the door to the shop, but he turned back to her and straightened his lapels. "I'm the Doctor," and then he was gone down the quiet English street.
Willa turned slowly in a circle surveying the damage. "Really?" She glanced out the door to the now empty street, "Really!" With a long sigh she flipped the dead bolt and turned back to get the broom again. But a moment later the lanky Doctor's face was pressed up against the glass of her door again.
"Let me in! Let me in!" Willa unlocked the door and the Doctor slammed it shut as soon as he was in. He bolted it again and threw a chair in front of it for good measure. "We need to leave. We need to leave now." He took her by the shoulders "Do you have an out? You know like a back out? An elsewhere out?"
"A back door?"
"Oh! That's prefect. Let's go," he pushed her through the shop. She let them out the back door and locked it behind them as well. When the were safely in the back alley he circled for a moment and then, "This way. Definitely this way."
"Where are we going?"
"A safe place. Don't worry." For no other reason than lack of a better idea, Willa followed him. They dashed down a few streets until it became apparent that the Doctor was heading for a small blue police box. It also became apparent that the ugly man and a dozen of his identical ugly twins were headed for them. When they reached the police box the Doctor turned to her, "Prepared to be mind boggled." He opened the door, shoved her in before him, and slammed the door shut as the strange men closed in on them.
Willa and the Doctor found themselves standing awkwardly close in the dark police box. The Doctor hissed as her, "What is this?"
"It's a police box," she whispered back, "was this your plan for escape?"
"Well it wasn't supposed to be a police box. This was supposed to be a time machine that looks like a police box."
"Oh that makes much more sense."
"Besides, why is there another police box sitting around? Isn't this 2010?"
"Of course it is. We're sitting in front of a law enforcement museum."
"Ah, what an unfortunate coincidence," he pressed a few buttons on his flashlight and stood it up on floor of the small box. "At least that will keep them from hearing us."
Luckily there was a bench along one small wall of the box and Willa collapsed wearily onto it, "What are those things? A daemon of some sort?"
"Oh," he sat next to her, though there wasn't much room and patted her head, "nothing quite as bad as all that. They're Sikalam. Kinda like slugs. Big wiggly space slugs. Like Earth slugs – but bigger – and meaner."
"But why are they after you?"
"Ah, yes. Well like I said – bigger, meaner, and they hold grudges longer. See I helped them out of a tight spot a while back and as thanks they wanted me to marry one of their Princesses. But she was a little…ah…."
"No she had quite a pretty sheen. But such a temper. It would have been a terrible marriage. Oh no!"
Willa sat up straight, "What! What's wrong?"
"I singed my bowtie…," the Doctor whined.
"You poor thing," she drawled. They sat in silence for a while listening to the space slugs pace about the police box.
"So… what's your name?"
"Willa," he smiled a dopey smile at her, "that's pretty. You got a last name?"
"You got a first?"
"Touché, my dear."
"So why aren't they breaking down the door?" Willa watched the lock fearfully.
"They probably think this is my Tardis as well. It's a remarkable likeness. That's her name," he sighed, "my beautiful sexy time machine."
"Ok, that's weird."
"So they're afraid to touch it."
"They think we're about to make a dashing getaway," she tapped her heel against the floor.
"Yeah," the Doctor put his hands behind his head and leaned back as well as he could.
"Are we about to make a dashing getaway?"
"Oh…," Willa leaned back as well thankful for the strange flashlight that kept them from total darkness. "Is there a plan for one?"
"Not yet. It's more of an inkling than a plan at the moment. But it'll come, don't worry. Hopefully it'll come before they get too bored." The sat like that for some unmeasured time until the half-darkness and stuffy warmth lulled them both to sleep.