#349 - (500) Days of Clara

Episode 1 by Mark Simpson
Episode 2 by Steve Lake


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Episode 1
by Mark Simpson

“I don't know where I am. Its like I'm breaking into a million pieces and there's only one thing I remember: I have to save the Doctor.

“He always looks different, I always know its him. Sometimes I think I'm everywhere at once, running every second just to find him, just to save him. But he never hears me. Almost never.

“I'm Clara Oswald. I'm the Impossible Girl, and I was born to save the Doctor...”


Day 1 (Gallifrey)

There he is, with a young woman I know is his granddaughter, bustling her through the door of one of the craft in the repair bay. Time to intervene.

“Doctor.” No reply. Likely he's a little deaf, try again. “Doctor!”

He turns, sees me standing nearby.

“Yes, what is it? What do you want?”

Curt, abrupt. He was wanting a quick getaway, no witnesses, but now he's been spotted. Probably thinks I'm going to turn him in.

“Sorry, but you're about to make a very big mistake.”

He draws himself up, looking superior but also worried. Don't let him interrupt.

“Don't steal that one, steal this one.” I lean against the nearest capsule. “The navigation system is knackered, but you'll have much more fun!”

Now he looks puzzled. “You're not going to turn us in?”

My turn to look superior. “Nah, you do right getting away from this stuffy lot. Wish I could. You two go and see the universe. Run, while you can.”

Seemingly decided that guards aren't about to descend upon them, he calls the young woman out of the other capsule. She is surprised to see someone else down in the repair bay, but he quickly explains.

“This young lady is suggesting we take that Ship instead, child.”

Time to press the advantage. “The transduction barriers will lower in about sixty seconds, routine maintenance check. You had better get a move on.”

He nods and they both move past, entering the capsule I indicated. The door begins to slide shut behind them.

“Oh, and that one also has a faulty recall circuit. Enjoy!”

Seconds later there is an audible thump, then a building hum towards the grating roar of a TARDIS taking off. The craft begins to fade from view, just as two guards rush in from the opposite door.

Now its time to extemporise. 

“We're too late, they've escaped!”

The two guards look at me, then at each other. I shrug.

“Well, there's always the recall circuit...”

***

A couple of days afterwards, the capsule that was not stolen was taken into the vortex to test the repairs done on it. It imploded, destroying the craft and scattering the atoms of the test pilot to the time winds.



Day 312 (Marston's Planetoid)

Scanning the floor with my eyes. It must be there somewhere, it has to be...

There! By the boot of the space buccaneer. I drop to my knees and snatch it up, but he sees me. And grins.

“Hello, my pretty. And just what are you doing down there?” 

The grin turns crooked, like he is making up his own jokes. Or more likely, making plans for later. Better pour cold water on them quick.

“Just tying my shoelace. Don't want to fall on my face in front of my Marine Corps boyfriend, now do I?”

That stopped him in his tracks. The grin has faded quicker than sunshine on a cloudy day. Moving swiftly on.

Best to move to the other side of the bar from the buccaneer though. Lean in and hail the barman. It's busy, but acknowledges me.

Two minutes later it slithers over. I hand over the item.

“I found this. I think it belongs to that gentleman over there.”

I point through the crowded bar, to the man sitting at a side table. He has long, wavy chestnut coloured hair, a dark green velvet frock coat and a cravat. He's talking to two females, both humanoid, one in a form fitting black uniform and the other in a bright star-patterned jacket and purple slacks.

The barman nods. “Drink?” he offers.

I accept a fruit juice in a very tall, slim glass. A couple of coins from my pocket pays for it.

After serving me, the barman slithers over to the table and returns the object I had found. The man reacts with surprise and delight.

“My sonic screwdriver! I didn't even know I had dropped it. Thank you.”

The barman shakes his head. “Young woman found it.” He points a tentacle towards me.

In an effort to disguise myself slightly, I raise my fruit juice in salute as he looks over. He grins (more genuinely than the buccaneer!) and salutes me in turn with his glass.

Then he turns back to his companions and my work is done. I finish the fruit juice and leave the bar.

***

Ten minutes later an alert signal blasted through the bar. The speakers outside the security office across the concourse boomed out a warning.

“Please evacuate to the docking bays as quickly as possible and leave Marston's Planetoid. We have had a bomb warning. Please evacuate to the docking bays...”

The Doctor was all action. He ran directly to the security office, while most others were running in the other direction.

“Where's the bomb?” he demanded, in a tone that dripped with authority.

The young Darcassian on duty swung towards the unexpected intruder. “Outside the tailor's shop!” he blurted.

Nodding his thanks, the Doctor left just as quickly, at the same time his companions caught up with him.

“What are you doing?” Izzy wanted to know. “Can't you hear the warning?”

Now he was leaning over the bomb, sonic in hand. He glanced up quickly.

“You two should get back to the TARDIS, you'll be safe there. This thing is on final countdown. Unless I defuse it, everyone here will die in the blast.”

“We are not leaving you Doctor,” Fey promised.

“Then try not to distract me, we have about thirty seconds!”

The two young women watched, tensions crackling in the air as the Doctor played his sonic back and forth across the device. The figures on the front ticked downwards.

As the clock hit ten seconds, Izzy bit her knuckle and glanced at Fey, obviously about to say something. But she was interrupted by a yell from the Doctor.

“Got it! And with time to spare.” The clock read three seconds. The Doctor had an odd idea of 'time to spare'. “Couldn't have done it without the sonic,” he continued, blowing across the end as if he were a cowboy and it was a smoking gun barrel.

“Good job that girl found it,” Fey commented.

They all looked back towards the bar, but the 'girl' was long gone.


Day 67 (Earth)

The Doctor parped Bessie's horn, startling the pigeon out of his way and attracting the attention of the woman standing suddenly at the side of the road.

***

There he is, in the yellow car. Whoa, sunglasses alert! But I'm here for a reason, best get on with it.

“Doctor!”

He's moving quickly up the road, but I think he has heard me. He turns slightly, glancing in his mirror. Try again. 

“Doctor!!!”

That's it, he has heard. The car is slowing to a stop. Job completed.

***

Glancing in the mirror, the Doctor saw a young woman back up the road, shouting. It seemed she was calling his name. Better see what she wanted.

He brought Bessie to a halt and was about to climb down from the driving seat, but at that moment, fifty yards further up the road, a twenty ton truck shot out of a junction, straight across the road and through the hedge, into the field beyond before crashing into a tree.

The woman forgotten, the Doctor ran forward to help the driver, who was staggering from the cab, dazed. Later he would claim he had a dizzy spell at the wheel.

It was as the Doctor reached the hole in the hedge that he realised that, if he hadn't stopped back up the road, the truck would have smashed Bessie off the road and into the field.

Looking back, he could see no sign of the woman who had possibly saved his life.

***

“I'm Clara Oswald. I'm the Impossible Girl, and I was born to save the Doctor...”


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Episode 2
by Steve Lake

Day 212

I always wanted to visit the Moon, but… ugh

Recycled air, stale with dust and perspiration. The dim neon reflects dully off of the worn steel and plastic plate that makes up the walls and ceiling. I’ve only been here a minute and already I feel claustrophobic. Goodness knows how the crew copes. Though maybe they don’t. I suppose at one point this outpost was considered state-of-the-art, a pinnacle of engineering achievement. That probably lasted until after the first astronaut spent a night here. 

No wonder they cancelled their space programme and switched to T-Mat. Better that than this. A hundred years after Armstrong and Aldrin, Mankind had lost its capacity to romanticise the cosmos. 

I blame all those endless repeats of Star Trek

A sibilant hissing fills the passageway, distant at first, but gradually getting louder. But it’s not the air supply, but something else. Something worse. Focus, Clara, focus…

I back up slowly until I reach the doorway at the end of the corridor behind me, feeling behind me until my fingers close around the door handles. I give them an experimental tug. With a bit of reluctance, they give, and the door slides apart. I turn and peek inside. It’s a store room of some kind, full of heavy duty plastic packing crates all stacked neatly on top of one another. They’d make a great barricade for someone who was being chased. Give them plenty of time to slow their pursuers down, to give them a head start through the doors at the other end of the room and out down through the passageway beyond.  Then maybe even all the way as far as that rocketship that was waiting for them in the silo only a few musty corridors away. 

Not that they’d get very far in that rocketship. One take-off and landing too many for its aged engines. It was all just so much junk, now, a monument to one old man’s reluctance to abandon a past the rest of the world would have done better to have remembered. 

A monument... and also now a trap.

Several tons of highly combustible fuel had just been deposited in its tanks courtesy of the base’s long-forgotten storage cells, in readiness for a voyage the ship would never take. A single shot from even a badly aimed sonic blaster would rupture said tanks and ignite the lot. The ensuing explosion would cause a chain reaction that would vaporise the entire base. And everyone – and everything – in it. 

Oh sure, that would certainly nip the Ice Warrior invasion of Earth in the bud, but it would also kill him

That wasn’t part of the plan. Well, my plan anyway. 

Running footsteps coming along the passageway towards me. The hissing sound is getting louder, and it’s being repeated in stereo. I step back through the doors and slide them shut behind me. Stout safety bolts at the foot of the door secure the portal. 

Just in time. The running steps get closer and closer until a body slams into the door. It rattles and shakes alarmingly as the person behind battles vainly to get it open, uttering bird-like squawks of alarm as they realise it’s not going to give. The hissing sound is getting louder and is now joined by the clumping footfall of something much larger and heavier. The door begins to vibrate even more violently, and one of the bolts gives a rusty squeak in its mounting as it begins to give under the onslaught. I find myself taking a step back, my breath catching in my throat. A terrified mantra begins in my head - 

What if it gives, what if it gives, what if it -

Abruptly, the desperate attack on the door ceases. So have the heavy footsteps. All there is for an endless instant is that heavy, menacing, reptilian hissing. Then - 

“Stop!” A wavering – but still oh so very familiar voice cries from the other side. 

The hissing sound is interrupted by a guttural reply, almost matter-of-factly hostile. “You musssst be desssstroyed.” 

God, I hope I haven’t got this wrong…

“You… you've got no orders to kill me! Your… your leader will want to speak to me!” 

That’s the spirit!

Debate was not part of the Martian code of honour, clearly. “Humanssss are our enemiessss!” the warrior insisted. I could almost see its claw tightening to trigger its weapon. 

Come on, Doctor, come on…

“But… but… I can be useful to you! Like Fewsham! Your leader will be angry if you kill me. I… I'm a genius.” 

Hostility suddenly became uncertainty in the alien's harsh reply. “Geniussss?” 

I had to laugh. 

***

Two things bothered the Doctor all the way along to the Moon Base control room. Though strangely it bothered the Doctor less that he was being frog-marched to impending doom between two hulking Ice Warriors, but more as to how and why it was that particular door – the very one through which would have led him back to the rocket and Jamie and Zoe and safety - was locked. Especially as he could have sworn it was unlocked when he passed safely through it not twenty minutes previously. 

He raised his eyes to the metal ceiling and sighed inwardly. Someone up there obviously didn’t like him…



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