Mr. Church felt it before he heard it: a deep grating rumble. He looked up from the stack of reports and moved over to the door of his office. Very carefully, he opened it and looked out. It was two in the morning, and the whole base was silent. What he was still doing up was his own business, and he discussed that with no one. Not even with Dr. Sanchez or Aunt Sally.
The strange sound continued around the corner, and Church slipped down the hall toward it without a sound. Suddenly, it stopped, and he looked around the corner. What he saw was a blatant security breach of the highest level: a blue British police box sitting in the middle of the hall. He was practiced at not forming certain conclusions by now, like on the impossible. Impossibility had a constantly changing definition in his line of work.
He moved quickly over to the box. There was no doubt in his mind he could handle this on his own if it came to that, but he could easily trigger the alarm and bring the whole Hanger to life in an instant.
The doors on the box opened, and against all common sense, four people came out. Church stopped in his tracks as three of them, a boy in a kilt, a teenaged boy, and a blonde teen girl looked all around them.
"Where are we now, Doctor?" the girl asked the fourth member of their party, a short dark-haired man in a pair of very large pants.
The man looked around with a critical eye. "I'm not really sure." His eyes fell on Church. He smiled widely and strode forward. "Hello! Might we trouble you? We would like to know where we are."
Church actually blinked behind his tinted glasses. These four strange people didn't know? How could they not?
Church found his voice. "The Hanger, a US military base."
The man pursed his lips. "Are we really that far off course? Hmmm…."
"Didn't you say we were heading to Mars?" The teen boy asked.
"Yes, I did, didn't I? Well, we probably don't want to stay here. Rather dull, probably," the man told him. The man glanced at Church. "Now, let me see if this man will allow us to go. You three wait in the TARDIS."
The three nodded and went back inside. The man stepped up to Church, who was at least a head taller than him.
"Who are you?" Church asked him.
"I'm the Doctor."
The man smiled. "Just the Doctor. Now, we were just on our way, and we landed here. The old TARDIS throws a fit at times. We mean you or your organization any harm."
"I only have your word for that," Church replied.
"You do, don't you? It's totally up to you, but we have no desire to stay. I promised those lads we would go somewhere else."
"Mars?" Church asked.
"You heard that, did you?" The Doctor smiled. "Well, it's a little joke between us."
Church raised an eyebrow. He had to admit they had done nothing, and they just wanted to go.
"How do you intend to leave?"
The Doctor laughed. "That's the clever bit! We'll even take this box with us!" He gestured to the police box.
Church took a step back and the Doctor nodded.
He turned and walked back to the box. He paused in the doorway. "I didn't catch your name. Just in case we meet again."
"Church," Church replied. The Doctor nodded.
"Well, nice meeting you!"
He closed the door behind him, and Church watched as the rumbling started again. Suddenly, the box started to fade, and then it was gone.
Church stepped up to where it had been and tentatively put his hand out. There was only air.
He smiled. "How interesting," he murmured.
"I've got the results from that MindReader search you asked me to do," Bug said.
"And?" Church asked.
"This is weird! And I mean on the same scale as like Terry Pratchett meets MIB! This is bizarre, even for us!"
"What did you find?"
"That's just it. Nothing apart from a few internet rumors. This Doctor guy is a ghost. There aren't even the scars from someone wiping records! There are some old UNIT files making some references to someone called Doctor John Smith and the blue box."
"What else did you find about the TARDIS?" Church asked.
Bug faltered. "That's how I found the rumors, but there's something else about that. There are sightings of this box, mostly in the UK, stretching as far back as the Great Fire of London. The rumors suggest the Doctor is some kind of cosmic traveler affecting history."
"Is that all?"
"Thank you, Bug."
The computer kid turned to go, and he paused at the door to Church's office. "The rumors can't be right, can they?"
Church gave him the barest hint of a smile. "The word 'impossible' takes on a new meaning every day here. I have to keep an open mind."
Bug nodded and left.
Church sat back and looked at the report Bug had just given him. It was just as he suspected.