"Have you ever ridden a brontosaurus, Phoebe?" The Doctor exclaimed as he flitted around the control panel, twisting knobs and flipping switches like he always did before he swooshed them off into some new and fantastic place. Phoebe, Arnold, and Gerald weren't aware that usually, by now, they would have encountered some bout of madness. They might have come across cybermen or weeping angels or the much less terrifying oods. Thus far the Doctor hadn't taken the trio anywhere too far in the future. He was revisiting most of the places where he and Helga had visited. With a few exceptions, of course.
In spite of the fact that Phoebe, Arnold, and Gerald were having a brilliant time meeting F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, and Marie Antoinette, after the point in which he and Helga had disposed of the Cerebral Slugs. The Doctor never would have never thought that Helga's idea of feeding those who played host to the slugs a large portion of salt would have worked, yet it had. Phoebe was trying to protest to the doctor's rambling, not because riding a brontosaurus wouldn't have been bloody fantastic, but because she and her friends were growing weary of hopping from place to place and still never seeing Helga. They were told stories about what Helga had been doing and how she'd been doing it, all the friends she'd made and all the extraordinary things she'd done, but they still hadn't seen her. Phoebe tried to get the Doctor off the subject, but it would have been easier turning time back without the Tardis or a vortex manipulator.
"It's not that it doesn't sound lovely," Phoebe began, attempting to talk over the Doctor's rapid rambling.
"It's just great. It's like riding a cow, only they're giant and scaly. They do have a particular...aroma to them." the Doctor continued, paying no mind to Phoebe's attempts to deter him.
"Doctor!" Arnold shouted, abruptly yanking the time lord from his tangent and back into the present. "Where is Helga?"
"Where's Helga?" The Doctor repeated nervously, almost as if he didn't understand the question.
"It's not that we aren't enjoying traveling with you." Phoebe began.
"Are you kidding?" Gerald piped in, "This is the best kind of traveling ever!"
Phoebe rolled her eyes, "Gerald, go to the pool, please."
With a shrug, Gerald obeyed his girlfriend's wish and strutted off for a swim. "Anyway," Phoebe continued once Gerald had gone, "We love traveling."
Arnold nodded in agreement, "Really, it's amazing."
"Absolutely fantastic." Phoebe nodded before getting back to her point, "But...it's just...we agreed to come with you because you said you knew Helga."
"We assumed that meant you knew where she was." Arnold piped in.
The Doctor kept his back to the teens as he tried to compose himself. He knew that this time would be coming. He'd wanted to prolong it for as long as possible, but these kids weren't stupid. It was only a matter of time before they asked about their friend. "I...I do know where Helga is, somewhat." The Doctor admitted hesitatnly.
"You mean she's lost?" Arnold asked, worry filling his voice.
The Doctor heaved a heavy sigh before he finally admitted just one of many truths he was ashamed of. "She's...um...Helga died."
"What?" Arnold and Helga gasped in unison.
The Doctor nodded, "I didn't want to tell you without letting you know what she was doing when it...happened."
Arnold couldn't find it in him to say anything. Part of him wanted to scream at the Doctor and another part of him just wanted to collapse and cry. Phoebe didn't look any better. Her skin became pale and she held a hand over her mouth as if she were trying to keep herself from vomiting. "How did it happen?" Phoebe asked, finally breaking the awkward silence.
"She was killed by a dalek." the Doctor admitted sheepishly.
"A dalek?" Arnold repeated.
"What the hell is a dalek?" Phoebe asked, her tone short. The Doctor silently slid over to a monitor and tapped on a few buttons before an image of a dalek appeared on the screen. Arnold and Phoebe cocked their heads to the side as they examined the image of the dalek before Phoebe snapped, "My best friend got killed by an oversized motherfucking salt shaker."
The Doctor blinked a few times before giving the dalek another look, silently admitting to himself that the dalek did look a bit like a salt shaker. "I suppose if you don't know what a dalek is I suppose that they don't look at all intimidating, but they're much more dangerous than they look."
"Well if they're so dangerous then why did you let one near her?" Arnold snapped.
"It wasn't intentional." The Doctor replied defensively. "One of them got on the Tardis. Helga died getting it out."
"So she died for pest control?" Phoebe snapped.
The Doctor blinked, shocked at Phoebe's outburst. "I know you don't know...anything about daleks, but a dalek in the Tardis is far from just 'pest control'."
"And what did Helga getting a pepper shaker out of the Tardis accomplish?" Phoebe continued, yelling now. "Is it like some kind of robot rat? Were you too afraid to pick it up and throw it out the door yourself?"
The Doctor stared at Phoebe, befuddled before saying, "That particular dalek was actually about two meters tall."
"Oh." Phoebe's tone indicated that she realised that she underestimated the robot salt shaker's size, but not that she had calmed down at all.
"It's ok Phoebe." Arnold said calmingly, setting a hand on her shoulder.
She ripped her shoulder away from him, "No it's not ok." Finally, she stormed over to the staircase and took a seat on the bottom step. "I just want to go home."
The Doctor frowned and looked at Arnold. Arnold bit his bottom lip before agreeing that he wanted to go home too. Without the prospect of seeing Helga again and after learning she had died traveling with this madman riding a brontosaurus lost its appeal.
"Back to Hillwood then." The Doctor said sadly. He understood why Phoebe and Arnold would want to leave. He couldn't blame them. But he would miss them. He missed everyone he traveled with.
Before he could even touch the control panel, one of the levers pulled itself downward and the Tardis took off in a lurch. The Doctor flew backward into the railing around the outer edge of the room, keeping him from falling beneath where the gears and cogs were mad at word. Phoebe screamed and clung to the stair bannister. Arnold was thrown forward and crashed against the control panel.
"WHAT DID YOU DO?" Phoebe screamed to the Doctor, knowing full well that this sort of thing wasn't normal.
"Oh yes, blame the time lord." The Doctor replied sarcastically. "I didn't even touch her."
"How do I stop it?" Arnold bellowed back, doing his best to pull himself upright against the controls.
"There's a red lever to you right. Push it upright." The Doctor shouted his instructions.
Arnold scanned the befuddling collection of buttons, knobs, and nonsenese before he found the lever, "Just push it? Nothing else?"
"I'll get to what else after you push the lever!" The Doctor said shortly, wrapping his arms around the metal bars to keep him from falling.
Arnold nodded and pushed the lever up.
"Now there's a yellow spinny thing." The Doctor began again.
"Oh no!" Arnold screamed.
"Oh don't be so dramatic, Arnold, I know it's there." The Doctor chided.
Arnold shook his head and began to wrestle with the lever, that had begun to lower again. "The lever won't stay down."
"What?" The Doctor asked, confused by the Tardis's new behaviour.
"It' won't stay down!" Arnold repeated.
"Let it go then!" The Doctor bellowed. "It looks like we're just going to have to ride it out!"
"What?" Phoebe and Arnold shouted together.
"Let her go, Arnold!" The Doctor repeated, laughing this time. Arnold gave Phoebe a weary look before finally doing as the Doctor said. Once the lever was released the Tardis took off in a jolt. As they zoomed into the unknown the Doctor could be heard screaming one word. "GERONIMO!"
When the Tardis finally came to a screaching halt that knocked the air out of Phoebe, Arnold, and the Doctor, it took the two teens a few moments to collect their wits. Meanwhile, the Doctor jumped right up and skipped to the control panel. "Alright, old girl, what was all that about?"
"Why do you call this thing 'old girl'?" Arnold asked as he wrestled with his will to stand up.
"Because she's an old girl, of course." The Doctor answered as if it were the most plain answer to be found.
"Guys, what the hell happened?" Gerald asked, stepping back into the control room, still fully dressed and soaked.
"A little malfunction with the Tardis." The Doctor answered breifly before asking, "Better question is what happened to you."
"I fell in the pool before I could get out of my trunks." Gerald grumbled.
"Sorry about that." The Doctor said shortly.
Before he could start another thought a clear 'click' caught everyones' attention. All eyes shifted to the door. "Did you do that?" Arnold asked, his voice lowering.
"I'm afraid I did not." The Doctor answered, slowly taking a step towards the door.
Before the time lord could get any farther, the doors swung inward. A person stood in the doorway that filled most everyone with fear, mostly because of their access to the Tardis. The Doctor, however, was not afraid. The seemingly human specimen smiled playfully at all of them before locking eyes with the doctor and saying two words. "Hello sweetie."