Time for the first Short Trip by me to be shared in this blog-a-thon…
…One of the Short Trips I enjoyed writing is ‘Brain and Heart’, featuring Zoe Heriot, travelling with the Second Doctor and Jamie. I enjoyed writing for Zoe in this adventure and I’d like to think that this story is one Wendy Padbury would love to read in a Big Finish audio. 🙂
‘BRAIN AND HEART’
By Tim Bradley
Featuring Zoe with the Second Doctor and Jamie.
Set sometime after ‘The Krotons’
Zoe couldn’t work it out! It had been troubling her since she stowed away aboard the TARDIS with the Doctor and Jamie.
It was something that Leo Ryan had said to her when she was on the Wheel. What was it that he had said to her? ‘Proper little brainchild, all brain and no heart!’ At the time, Zoe just shrugged it off as she normally would. But it had affected her to some degree. Zoe had been troubled by those words and had doubted herself and her skills as an astrophysicist.
In fact, it was the reason why she chose to travel with the Doctor and Jamie. She wanted to see and learn more than what she’d already been taught at the Parapsychology library with facts and figures. She was very good with maths and was excellent at computers and knowing about computer languages and programming. That was why she was considered someone with no heart. Sometimes she tended to act like a robot when reading out numbers and facts. She couldn’t help it if she had a brilliant photographic memory. It was who she was, wasn’t it?
No! That had been quite some time ago. Now Zoe was a fully-fledged travelling companion in the TARDIS. She had had many adventures with the Doctor and Jamie, facing Daleks, Cybermen, Quarks, Krotons and even the villainous Chairman Babs. Zoe had learnt quite a lot from her travels with the Doctor, more than she could ever have learnt when she was growing up on Earth and being one of the children of the so-called Elite.
But had she learnt enough? Was she past the level she was trying to achieve in being more than just a know-it-all? Was she now no longer ‘all brain and no heart’ and perhaps someone with a brain and a heart. She couldn’t help but feel like that Tin-Man from that well-loved Judy Garland film everybody talks about when watching over Christmas.
Zoe had been asking these questions to herself when she woke up one morning in the TARDIS. She had had a pleasant sleep, but she hadn’t had any dreams lately. She wondered if that was a symptom from her training days when growing up. Could her brilliance at knowing facts and figures have removed her ability to dream? Could it be proved that she was a robot, since robots don’t have emotional fantasies? No it was impossible. She couldn’t be a robot! Could she?
She walked into the TARDIS control room where she found the Doctor and Jamie at the controls, waiting for her. The Doctor was busy turning knobs and flicking switches at the table-top of controls whilst Jamie watched him with an air of disapproval and boredom on his face.
The Doctor looked up to see Zoe. He put on that mischievous smile that Zoe knew so well. “Ah Zoe,” he started cheerfully. “Hello there! How are you today? Sleep well?”
Zoe didn’t want to answer the Doctor’s question, going into detail about her lack of dreams during her sleep. She simply said ‘yes’ before she changed the subject.
“Where are we now?” she asked brightly. “Have we landed?”
Jamie nodded dolefully, glancing at the small scanner screen set at the top of the far wall. “Aye,” he stated dubiously. “And a cheerful place he’s landed us in too.”
Zoe looked at the scanner screen and could tell that Jamie was clearly being sarcastic about where they’d landed. Wherever it was, it was far from cheerful. It looked all bland and white outside like the interior of a spaceship or some gigantic laboratory.
“Doctor”, Jamie prodded him in the arm. “Have you fixed it yet? The TARDIS! Have you found what the mechanical problems are?”
The Doctor looked up from his work on the console and smiled, trying to maintain the patience in his voice. “Yes Jamie, I have identified what the fault is,” he replied reassuringly. “Please don’t try to rush me on it, there’s a good fellow.”
“What’s the matter?” Zoe asked inquisitively. “Has the TARDIS broken down again?”
“No, no,” the Doctor said reassuringly. “It’s not that at all. It’s just that the fluid link supplies are low. We need some more mercury to refuel them.”
“I thought you said you refuelled them last week,” Jamie pointed out.
The Doctor gave an embarrassed cough before replying, “Uh yes Jamie. Well, a lot has happened since that time hasn’t it? Now don’t worry. This shouldn’t be too difficult to solve.”
“But how are you going to find more mercury, Doctor?” Zoe asked. “We don’t have enough supplies of mercury in the TARDIS stores.”
“No,” the Doctor said thoughtfully, as he considered their situation. Eventually, he brightened up and said perkily, “No matter. We’ll just go and see if we can find some mercury from out there.”
Zoe and Jamie were astonished and gobsmacked. Could the Doctor be that serious?!
“You mean go outside,” Jamie asked, “wherever we are?!”
“Yes, why not?” the Doctor asked, quite calmly.
“Are you sure that’s wise, Doctor?” Zoe asked, uneasily. “Have you checked the radiation levels out there? We don’t know if it’s safe…”
“Of course it’s safe,” the Doctor protested. “You can see the readings clearly here!” He pointed at the radiation meter on the TARDIS console close to where Zoe was standing. The needle didn’t touch the DANGER point. It was very low.
“See,” the Doctor continued. “No radiation. Therefore it’s safe to assume we can go outside.”
The Doctor pressed a control button on the console, and the interior doors opened for them to go out. The Doctor was about to make his way forward before Jamie pulled him back to stop him.
“Hey hang on,” Jamie protested. “We don’t know what’s out there yet, do we? There could be anything…or anyone that could mean to harm us!”
“Quite possibly,” the Doctor replied. “But then they might not mean to harm us. It’s always best to check. Come on, you two. Let’s go and see where we are, shall we?”
The Doctor cheerfully made his way out of the TARDIS console room and out into the open. Jamie and Zoe waited for a bit before going outside to follow him. They glanced at the scanner screen to see the Doctor standing out in the white room of where they’d just landed. Jamie and Zoe looked at each other, as if considering their options.
“I’m not really sure about this Jamie,” Zoe told Jamie.
“Aye, me neither,” Jamie concurred. “Still we’d better not lose sight of him. He could go wandering off anywhere. Come on. Let’s join him.”
Zoe nodded, agreeing with Jamie as they made their way out of the TARDIS and the interior doors closed behind them.
Outside, Jamie and Zoe found the Doctor pottering around and fiddling with all the utensils and equipment that were on display in the room. It was a laboratory…of sorts. It was all white and gleaming, like any science lab should be, whether it’d be contemporary or something of the future. Zoe assumed it was of the future, since none of the technology before her was familiar by twenty-first century standards.
They could also see windows, showing an alien vista outside. They were on some alien planet obviously, as through the windows they could see green lush vegetation but with purple mountains in the distance. They reached as high as the two suns shining brightly in the sky. Zoe had never seen such a landscape as beautiful as this. She suspected Jamie and the Doctor hadn’t either.
But the Doctor wasn’t particularly interested in the vista outside through the windows of where they were at this moment. He was more interested in the laboratory and its equipment and tools spread across the tables,. He fiddled around, looking very pleased with himself.
“Yes, yes,” he mused to himself, cheerfully. “This is definitely sophisticated technology compared to Earth standards. Crystalline polymers; organic metallic-like alloys…”
Zoe noticed a computer screen displaying rows of algorithms and equations. It was in a computer language unlike any that Zoe had seen before. It certainly wasn’t ALGOL or Java. She wondered if she’d have the time to spend learning such a new alien computer language.
Zoe nudged the Doctor whilst he was continuing to be fascinated by all the technology before him.
“This isn’t Earth at all, is it Doctor?” Zoe stated quite plaintively.
The Doctor looked up to face Zoe, as if he was noticing her for the first time. “Oh no, no, Zoe,” he replied dubiously. “We’re on the planet Renzance.”
“Ren what?” Jamie asked, already confused.
“Renzance, Jamie!” the Doctor repeated. “It’s one of the thirteen planets in the Minop system. It’s quite a pleasant place really, capable of supporting life.”
“You’ve been here before then, have you Doctor?” Zoe asked.
“Oh yes I have, Zoe,” the Doctor replied. “But that was many years ago. When I was young and still a keen student of the stars.”
“Ach,” Jamie said triumphantly.” So you know the kind of people that live on this planet then, do you Doctor?”
“Oh yes,” the Doctor said. “The Renzancians are quite pleasant. They look human – well human-like to say the least. But I don’t suppose the people that live in this house will let our presence go by unnoticed.”
“A house!” Jamie exclaimed, feeling rather uncomfortable. “You mean to say we’re inside somebody’s house!”
The Doctor didn’t seem to be too bothered by the facts he mentioned to Jamie and Zoe. He was more interested in the lab instead of being worried about being intruders in somebody’s house.
“I wonder who owns this laboratory on Renzance,” the Doctor enquired to himself. “What’s it all for, I wonder?”
“Doctor,” Zoe attempted to interrupt the Doctor’s thoughts. “Shouldn’t we leave before somebody finds us here? We don’t want to be caught and accused for breaking and entering into this house, do we?”
“Aye,” Jamie agreed. “I doubt that they’re going to be too happy to see us even if they did come in and find us.”
“If that’s the case,” the Doctor replied, “then where are they? Hmm! We haven’t seen anybody since we arrived in this house.”
That statement caused Zoe to think and ponder for a moment.
“As a matter of fact, that’s true Jamie,” Zoe told him. “We haven’t heard any sound since we arrived in this house. In fact, I can’t hear anybody outside beyond the door to this laboratory we’re in.”
Jamie looked back to see the door providing the exit out of the lab. He looked curiously at it, before turning back to Zoe.
“Aye well,” Jamie began, “we haven’t had the chance to explore the place have we? Maybe we should look around.”
At one point, Zoe was about to object to the absurdity of Jamie’s idea but then she began to think on it. Perhaps it wasn’t such a bad idea after all. It wouldn’t do any harm. And if they did see someone in the house, they could explain…well, they’d cross that bridge when they came to it.
Zoe turned to the Doctor. “Well Doctor? What do you think?”
The Doctor was too engrossed in all this technology before him in the lab. He then let out a cheer of triumph, as he picked up a test tube containing some liquid inside.
“Yes,” he said, pleased with himself. “Yes, this could do as some form of concoction of mercury for the TARDIS fluid links, couldn’t it?”
He then turned back to Zoe, breaking out of his train of thought. “Hmm? Oh, yes, yes,” he said impatiently. “Yes, go off and explore. See if you can find anybody about in this house.”
Jamie and Zoe were about to head off out of the lab before the Doctor stopped them.
“Wait! Wait, you two!” he said. “Be careful and don’t wander off too far. Stay in close contact with each other and not too far away from the lab. I’ll still be in here should you need to come back to find me.”
“We won’t wander off too far, Doctor,” Zoe said reassuringly to him. She then turned back to Jamie. “Come on Jamie, let’s go!”
“Aye,” Jamie replied. “Hopefully there’s a living soul to find in this deserted place.”
The two youngsters headed out of the lab, opening and closing the door behind them. The Doctor watched them go, before returning his attention to the equipment and tools, curious about their usage and purposes.
Zoe decided that the best possible approach was for her and Jamie to split up in their search for anyone in the house. Jamie wasn’t sure if this was a good idea. But Zoe managed to persuade him and said that they needn’t be separated far from each other whilst searching. Once agreed, Jamie headed off upstairs whilst Zoe explored the ground floor.
The main hallway was quite a contrast compared to the lab where Zoe and Jamie had come from. It was a lot more homely compared to the lab. The hallway had walls covered in an aqua-green coloured paint. To Zoe, the house almost looked brand-new, almost as if it had stood for nearly two years. She suspected that the people who lived in this house must be very rich.
She eventually came across a small flight of steps that lead downwards into a darkened archway with a door at the end of it. Curious, Zoe ventured to walk down this flight of steps to see what was behind the door at the end of the archway. She walked down, finding herself eventually under the darkened archway. She approached the door. It was a basic white door made out of wood, so it seemed. Zoe wondered whether it was locked.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t. The door swung open quite easily and inwards into another room. Zoe felt a sense of trepidation before she decided to enter the room. She wondered whether she could call for Jamie, as he was still upstairs. But she decided against it, thinking that she was capable of handling the situation herself. If there was somebody in the room, she’d do her best to be cheerful and explain the circumstances. She made her way into the room.
The room was another surprise for Zoe once she entered inside. It was quite a relief to be out of the darkened archway she’d just come from. The room was rather cosy and a reassuring homely light filled the room. It was a lounge of sorts. There were sofas; a dining table; vases filled with flowers situated in various parts of the room and what was most astonishing for Zoe to see was that there was a large video display screen situated on the wall mid-way in the room. It was almost the ideal homely lounge that Zoe missed when she was growing up as a little girl in the city where she lived on Earth.
What caught Zoe’s attention was what was being shown on the video screen. She approached the screen at a leisurely pace, taking in all the detail as she looked. There was a mathematical algorithm in progress on the video screen. Zoe had seen these types of algorithms before when she was entering them herself into the library computer on the Wheel. The algorithm was full of equations and logical junctions that she would know instantly off by heart and confident that Jamie wouldn’t get it.
Zoe was surprised to see a mathematical algorithm in progress here on this video screen in this welcoming lounge inside somebody’s house. She wondered how long it’d had been since she’d calculated a mathematical algorithm as complicated as this. She hadn’t been conducting any equations or algorithms since she’d left the Wheel. She didn’t have the time for it. What’s changed for her, she wondered. What is it a good thing?
“Good evening,” said a voice behind her.
Zoe jumped out of her skin, as she turned round to face the newcomer who’d just greeted her. She was about to start explaining and say sorry for their intrusion, when she saw what the newcomer looked like. He was a young man. A young, handsome man it seemed to Zoe. He was pleasant-faced, had short blonde hair, and he was almost the same height as Jamie but not as tall as the Doctor. The young man didn’t seem to be surprised or annoyed by the fact that Zoe was standing in his lounge inside his house. He just seemed to take it rather naturally, as if it was an ordinary, everyday happening for him.
All Zoe could say in response to his greeting was, “Is it?” It came out as being nervous. She tried not to be nervous. It didn’t quite work. “Is it really evening then?”
The young man gave a little bow, before slowly approaching Zoe. “Did I startle you?” he asked rather innocently. “Please forgive me. I’m not used to having visitors. In fact, I don’t get many. It’s always a pleasure to meet someone who I’ve not met before. I hope we’ll become better acquainted.”
Zoe seemed to be quite taken in with the charms of this dashing young stranger she had before her. Somehow, and she couldn’t explain why, she seemed to feel rather safe around him. Was it because he was tall and good looking? Was it because he had a good physique and had muscular strength?
“Hello,” Zoe said rather cheerfully. “My name is Zoe.” She hoped she didn’t sound like an idiot when she said that.
“Greetings Zoe,” said the young man kindly. “My name is Alex. Welcome to my home. I hope you like it here.”
Zoe found herself very entranced by this newcomer. She didn’t question whether she was caught in some magical spell or whether Alex was really a wizard. That was what made Zoe snap out of it. Of course, magic and wizardry doesn’t exist. She should know better than that. She was an astrophysicist, someone who relied on facts and figures. She didn’t believe in superstition.
“You don’t seem to be surprised to see me,” she said rather brusquely. She didn’t mean to sound like that. It’s just the way it came out. “Shouldn’t you be asking how I came to be in your house and whether or not I’m trespassing?”
Alex shook his head regretfully. He almost sounded apologetic. “I know,” he said. “I’m sorry, that never occurred to me. I just accepted you as being a pleasant young person who I’ve never met before. Was that wrong?”
Zoe couldn’t believe what he’d said. He was the most beautiful man she’d ever come across, asking her whether it was okay to accept her on face value and not suspect her as a burglar, simply because he found her pleasant. It seemed quite flattering somehow. She couldn’t but giggle at that.
“No,” Zoe said reassuringly. “No, it’s not wrong. It’s just not the usual thing when someone finds an intruder in his or her house.”
“Yes I suppose so,” Alex said. He then began to get curious. “But please tell me,” he asked. “How did you get in here, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“No! Not at all,” Zoe replied happily. “It’s quite straightforward really. My friends and I arrived in your laboratory by accident. Oh don’t worry! We haven’t damaged anything. At least I’m sure we haven’t.”
“There are more of you?” Alex asked rather surprised.
“Yes,” Zoe replied. “There are only three of us; Jamie, the Doctor and me. We came here in the TARDIS. We were forced to land as the ship is suffering a few mechanical faults.”
“You have a ship of your own?” Alex enquired, rather intrigued.
“Yes,” Zoe replied. “Though it’s not the usual type of spaceship you’re used to thinking of.” Zoe couldn’t help but give honest answers to this young man. But at least she didn’t go into too many details.
“Fascinating,” Alex stated. Zoe noticed a glint of enthusiasm in his eyes. It was almost a twinkle somehow, quite literally.
Alex eventually snapped out of his train of thought and looked at Zoe.
“I wish to learn more about you, Miss Zoe,” Alex said politely. He then offered her his hand and with the other pointed Zoe in another direction. “Please,” he said. “Come join me at the bar for a cup of coffee. Or any drink you prefer.”
Zoe looked in the direction that Alex was pointing. It was a bar that Zoe saw in the far corner of the room. Not a massive bar or a mini bar of any kind. It was just about the right size to fit into the lounge room.
Taken up with Alex’s kind offer, Zoe eventually realised and turned to him saying, “That’s very kind of you, Alex. But my friends…”
She couldn’t help wonder what had become of her friends Jamie and the Doctor.
Alex reassured her. “They’ll come and join us eventually. Don’t worry. I’ll see that I’ll have a drink waiting for them when they arrive.” He then paused for breath for a moment. “In the meantime I wish to get to know you, dear Zoe.” He then eyed her rather keenly, fascinated by her. “You seem…such a kind-hearted person,” he said. “I like those sorts of people. Please. Let me provide you with my hospitality. Make you feel at home here.”
Zoe wasn’t sure what to make of this young stranger. She had been slightly afraid of him at first. But putting forward all the logical arguments in her head, she eventually came to the same conclusion. She could find nothing wrong in accepting his generous offer. There was no harm in him. He didn’t seem to be aggressive. He hadn’t harmed her in any way. In fact, he seemed quite gentle. Almost child-like. It seemed like he was trying to impress her a little. She knew she should never talk to strangers. This time, she made an exception.
“Alright then,” Zoe said cheerfully. “I’ll have a small coffee if that’s okay.”
Alex smiled at Zoe. It was the loveliest smile she’d ever seen.
“This way,” said Alex, as he escorted Zoe over to where the little bar was at the end of the room.
A short while later, Zoe and Alex chatted away as if they were old friends. Zoe eventually managed to ask what the mathematical algorithm was all about on the video screen. Alex told Zoe that it was one of his personal projects that he was conducting before she had arrived here.
“I’m performing a series of logical equations involving mass and relativity on this planet of Renzance,” he explained to her. “It’s all quite complicated and I’m sure you’d find it rather boring really.”
“Oh I’m actually rather interested in these logical equations you’re conducting,” Zoe told him enthusiastically.
“Really,” said Alex with surprise in his voice.
“Yes,” Zoe assured him. “Logic and mathematics are my speciality.”
“Well,” Alex said, astounded. “That’s good to hear. You don’t know how much I’ve missed the company of other logicians.”
Zoe sipped her cup of coffee whilst she and Alex sat at the bar together.
“Is that what you are then,” Zoe asked keenly. “You’re a logician?”
“That and…an artist of sorts,” said Alex, trying to sound modest. “I also try to draw art with mathematical equations. I seem to have a knack for it. I can’t understand where I get it from. It just sort of comes to me.”
“You draw art by mathematical equations!” Zoe exclaimed. She was very impressed. “I should like to see those drawings of yours.”
“And you shall,” said Alex cheerfully. “I keep some of my drawings in my study next door. I never know whether I’m that good. I haven’t been able to sell any of my drawings yet.”
“Well if you’re a good mathematical artist as you say you are, I’m sure they’re very good paintings,” said Zoe. “I’m afraid I was never good at art myself when I grew up back home.”
“So then,” Alex asked keenly. “Where exactly is it that you come from? What is it that you do, Zoe? What do you specialise in?”
But before Zoe could answer, they were interrupted by the sound of people entering the lounge. They turned to look and see the Doctor and Jamie enter. They looked rather flushed to Zoe’s astonishment.
“There we are, Doctor,” Jamie said, trying to reassure him. “I told you we’d find her in the end.”
“Yes, yes, thank you Jamie,” said the Doctor rather dismissively. He made his way towards Zoe, putting an appreciative hand on her shoulder. “Zoe, are you alright? Jamie and I have been worried about you. We wondered where you were.”
“It’s alright, Doctor,” Zoe reassured him. “Alex has entertained me rather gallantly. Haven’t you, Alex?”
The Doctor eyed the young man rather curiously. “Alex?”
“Oh sorry,” Zoe realised, and she began the introductions. “Alex, this is the Doctor. And this is Jamie. They’re my two friends I’ve been telling you about.”
Alex stood up from his seat at the bar and bowed, acknowledging the Doctor and Jamie. “Greetings to you both,” he began very politely. “You’re both welcome here to my home on Renzance.”
“Oh,” the Doctor said, rather surprised by the welcome, “How kind of you to welcome us! Isn’t it, Jamie?”
Jamie noticed the Doctor eying him rather cautiously, and he adopted the friendly manner. “Oh aye,” he said, “Very kind indeed.”
Zoe noticed the apprehension on the Doctor and Jamie’s faces when she looked at them. “Doctor, is something the matter?” she asked.
“Matter,” the Doctor replied, rather caught off guard. He tried to sound cheerful. “No, no, of course not Zoe! There’s nothing the matter at all. It’s just…well…our host isn’t what we expected, Jamie and I.” He then adopted a challenging tone to Alex when he spoke to him. “You’re not like the other Renzancians on this planet.”
Alex shook his head, as if he began to understand. “No,” he replied. “I’m not. I can see your apprehension. It’s quite straight-forward. I’m merely a sole human resident on the planet. The Renzanicans welcomed my presence after I asked them if I could stay on this planet. It’s a quiet place for me to conduct my mathematical and logic equations in the works of art I create. As I was just telling your friend Zoe, I’m an artist here on this planet.”
“And the Renzanicans allowed you to live here?” Jamie asked, “Just like that?”
“Of course,” Alex replied. “The Renzanicans are very peaceful on this planet are they not?”
“Yes,” the Doctor interjected, rather hastily. “Yes they are indeed.”
Zoe butted in. “Alex had just offered to show me his drawings that he’s been making out of mathematical equations and calculations. It sounds so fascinating, Doctor!”
The Doctor looked at Zoe and smiled, sensing the eagerness she was experiencing.
“Yes Zoe,” the Doctor said cheerfully. “I’m sure it’s very interesting.”
Alex interjected, “You’re most welcome to have a look at my paintings as well, Doctor. Both you and Mr. Jamie…”
“Uh no,” the Doctor replied. “Thank you very kindly. But Jamie and I need to go and fix the TARDIS’ circuits in order for us to take off again.” He then began to ask rather hesitatingly, “I don’t suppose you could let us have some mercury to refuel the fluid links to my ship. We need it rather desperately you see.”
“Of course,” Alex declared, happily. “Please help yourself. I’m sure I can find some more with my experiments.”
The Doctor then began to sound serious when he spoke. “You use mercury in your lab, do you then Mr Alex?”
“Of course,” Alex replied, unashamedly.
“You use a lab to conduct scientific experiments and you keep chemical substances whilst calculating your mathematical and logical equations, is that right?” the Doctor asked.
“Yes I do,” Alex replied, becoming puzzled now. “Is there a problem, Doctor?”
“No, no,” the Doctor said reassuringly. “Just checking, just checking. Rather fascinating I must say.” He then turned to Jamie. “Come on, Jamie. Let’s go and make a start on those repairs to the TARDIS.”
“Aye but,” Jamie began protesting, “I’m no good with fixing the TARDIS, Doctor. Zoe here! She’s cleverer than I am…”
“Yes but Zoe wants to see Alex’s mathematical drawings,” the Doctor replied. “Don’t you, Zoe?”
“Well yes I do,” Zoe replied. “But I don’t mind helping…”
The Doctor ignored Zoe, as he dragged Jamie off with him out of the lounge and into the dark archway where they’d come from.
“Come on Jamie,” the Doctor declared. “Let’s leave them to it shall we?”
With that, the Doctor and Jamie were gone. A moment’s silence ensued, both Zoe and Alex realised that they were alone again.
“Curious fellow your friend the Doctor, Zoe,” Alex observed. “Is he always like that?”
“Most of the time,” Zoe told him. “But I’ve never seen him act this way before.”
“Perhaps it’s something about me,” Alex suggested. “Something he doesn’t like about me.”
“Oh I’m sure that’s not true,” Zoe declared. “What’s there not to like about you?”
Alex was slightly taken back by Zoe’s statement. Zoe realised what she’d said, and blushed feeling a little embarrassed. How come she had come to say that, she wondered? She further thought to herself, ‘It wasn’t really appropriate. Goodness, she’d only just met this guy.’
“Come on then,” Alex changed the subject, as well as the atmosphere. “Let me show you those drawings. They’re not great but they should be interesting for you to look at.”
Zoe perked up and smiled sweetly at him. “Yes,” she agreed. “Lead the way, Alex. I’m looking forward to seeing what your drawings look like.”
Alex led the way and Zoe followed as they headed off for the room next door.
Inside Alex’s study, Zoe could see a lot of drawings scattered across the floor and pinned on the walls before her. Most of them were filled in with colours like proper paintings, and the rest were mostly black and white and sometimes incomplete. She hadn’t seen such an array of drawings as this before. And the amount of time and effort being put into these drawings was just…well, phenomenal. Zoe thought that Alex was doing himself an injustice when he implied he wasn’t very good. And all this out of mathematical equations?! Amazing!
Zoe examined one of the drawings done by Alex. It was a picturesque drawing of a countryside landscape. There were flowing rivers, rows of flower beds, little birds flying in the air and on the ground, and she even noticed one or two rabbits scurrying about out of their rabbit-holes.
“This is incredible,” Zoe declared. “You’ve achieved so much with your mathematical skills in these pictures.”
“Thank you,” Alex replied, slightly embarrassed if not to say flattered.
“How have you managed to achieve all this by maths?” asked Zoe. “Are you sure you didn’t use a paint and brush.”
“Quite sure,” Alex assured her. “You can see the textures aren’t hand-painted. They’re more or less printed by computer. Let me show you how it works.”
“Yes,” Zoe said excitedly. “Please do.”
“Come over here,” Alex said, escorting Zoe to a nearby computer terminal with a screen attached to it. He sat himself down at the computer terminal, with Zoe standing beside him. He activated the screen by pressing a few keys on the keyboard. The screen came to life.
“This is what I use to do my computerised drawings,” Alex showed Zoe. “You see, I have a command prompt to allow me to enter the mathematical algorithms I want to compute. Alongside is a preview of my drawing before I can start finalising and printing.”
Zoe saw the two images displayed on the screen. One of the command prompts was on the left of the screen; the other of the preview for Alex’s drawing was on the right. She watched Alex pressing some more keys on the keyboard, as if he was entering some more computations into the command prompt.
“You see now I’m entering a mathematical algorithm of my own in the command prompt,” Alex continued. “I want to create a box within the preview for my drawing. This is how it’s done.”
Alex eventually finished the mathematical algorithm and pressed enter on the keyboard. A short while later, the preview image on the screen displayed a rectangular box inside. Zoe was astonished. She’d never seen such an amazing thing like this before. She looked at Alex, showing her astonishment.
“Incredible,” she said, lost for words in a moment. “And you worked all that out in your head. Just like that. You didn’t find it hard remembering what you had to do to create the box?”
“I am very bright, Zoe,” Alex said, not meaning to sound smug about it or showing off. “I have a photographic memory, being a logician.” He looked curiously at Zoe. “Aren’t you like me, Zoe? You seem to have an interest in maths and logic like I have.”
“Of course I have an interest,” Zoe replied, disbelieving that he would make that assumption. “I am an astrophysicist. I have a photographic memory like you. You should know that…”
She then stopped herself short. She realised of course that Alex didn’t know. Of course, he didn’t! They’d only just met. Yet somehow…somehow…Zoe felt that she had known this young man for a long time. It was that same feeling of safeness of being around him that she felt. She couldn’t understand why. She found him irresistibly pleasant.
Alex saw that Zoe realised her mistake, and didn’t intervene to correct it. Zoe realised that he was waiting for her.
“I’m sorry, Alex,” Zoe said. “I don’t know why I said that.”
“Don’t worry,” Alex reassured her. “It’s easily done. I have that effect on women.”
Zoe looked up at Alex, rather confused by his statement. It was only after a few seconds that they both laughed out loud. Zoe didn’t know how long they laughed, but it felt like a long time.
Eventually they stopped laughing, and Alex made a gesture to get out of his seat from the computer terminal.
“Do you want to try out this machine, Zoe?” Alex asked her. “I’m sure with your interest in maths and your photographic memory; you can achieve a simple drawing with algorithms.”
Zoe started to consider Alex’s generous offer. She’d observed the type of computer language Alex was using for his algorithms at the keyboard. It was a fairly basic computer language. C++, she believed it was.
She then smiled at Alex and said beaming, “Alright, why not?”
“Very well then,” Alex said, getting up from out of his seat and allowing Zoe to sit in his place. Zoe began to set herself ready at the computer terminal, before Alex interrupted her.
“After this,” Alex began, “would you like it if we had dinner together?”
Zoe found herself unable to continue with using the computer terminal for a moment. She looked at Alex with astonishment on her face.
“Dinner?” she asked softly.
“For us to get to know each other more,” he replied. “I would like to know how your computer skills and mathematical knowledge matches mine.”
Zoe again considered Alex’s generous offer to her. This was unlike any situation she’d been in. She’d never been asked to dinner or even out on a date by anyone. Even when she was on the Wheel in space, nobody dared asked her to dinner when she was so busy in that library of hers. Yet here and now, far away from home, she was asked to dinner by the handsomest stranger she’d ever met in her travels. She wondered how she could take it.
“Alright,” she eventually said. “I’d like to have dinner with you. Yes. Talking about our computer skills and maths knowledge over dinner would be most ideal.”
“Splendid,” Alex said delightedly. “And then after that,” he continued, “we can sit under a canopy and count the stars that’ll be out tonight.”
Zoe wasn’t sure what to make of that additional aspect to the evening after dinner. But she didn’t question him. Her mind was now back to working out how to use this computer terminal and how to draw like Alex did earlier with his mathematical computations. She began entering keys on the keyboard.
It was a while later that Zoe and Alex had dinner together. It was a very pleasant meal. Zoe remembered her and Alex laughing and joking with each other. They were getting on with each other like a house on fire! Zoe didn’t remember much about her and him talking about maths and computers as they intended to. They more or less talked about their families and who they were before they got swept into their adventures, with Zoe travelling in the TARDIS and Alex coming to the planet Renzance to conduct his algorithms and computations in art form.
They were now sitting under a canopy, looking up at the night sky before them. It was a beautiful night. The stars were out and there were plenty of them according to Zoe. The stars seemed to be closer to her and Alex as they stood under the canopy together. Zoe had never felt as relaxed as this in a long while. Alex was good humoured all the way throughout the evening, and she couldn’t help feel happy and laugh at some of his merry quips.
“I can tell you how many stars there are up in the sky,” Alex told Zoe confidently.
“There’s too many of them Alex,” Zoe remarked. “And most of them are far away. You can’t count them all.”
“I can,” Alex protested. “I’ll show you.”
He then began counting the stars using his fingers whilst Zoe watched him in amazement. She couldn’t believe the rate he was counting those stars up in the night sky at a millisecond per second. At least it felt to Zoe as if it was a millisecond per second. Also the way Alex spoke as he counted. It was faster than she could keep up.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four…”
“Alright, alright,” Zoe interrupted, rather exhausted herself from hearing Alex’s rapid counting. “You’ve made your point, Alex!”
But Alex wouldn’t listen. Despite not counting out loud, he managed to finish his calculations of the starry night-sky.
“There are about two hundred and fifty-eight stars in total,” Alex declared. “At least within view of where we’re sitting under this canopy.”
Zoe double-reacted to Alex, astonished in that moment. She looked up to the starry sky again, before glancing back at Alex again. Then she looked back up at the starry sky again. She smirked, trying to contain her laughter.
“Now you’re just showing off,” Zoe scoffed. “How can you count how many stars there are in the sky like that?”
Alex seemed puzzled for a moment. It was as if he wasn’t sure what to make of it himself. He was sure he knew how many stars there were. Just how sure he was, he didn’t seem to know yet.
“I don’t know,” he admitted. “It’s just a knack I have. I don’t seem to have an explanation.”
Zoe could see Alex was troubled at that moment. She couldn’t understand why. Yet he was.
Eventually, Zoe looked up admiringly at the night sky. “I’ve always wanted to count the stars myself,” she declared. “Even when I was on the Wheel, I was confident I could count the number of stars within the sector of the galaxy we were in.” She then felt sad for a moment. “And yet…somehow…I couldn’t seem to find the time. Not even to relax and do some star-gazing. I was always focused on my work within the library. Never took the time to do the small things in life.”
Alex could see the sad look on Zoe’s face. He gently placed a hand on her shoulder to reassure her, causing her to look up at him.
“You can do the small things in life now if you want to,” he told her. “Here on my world, in this home on Renzance, I’m able to find the time. You can stay here as much as you want to. To do the small things in life you were never able to do.” He then hesitated for a moment. “That is…if you want to, of course.”
Zoe stared at Alex in astonishment. She didn’t know how she could respond to that. No-one had talked to her in that way before. She’d never met anyone like Alex before. Earlier, she felt safe around Alex. Yet somehow, it wasn’t the same anymore. Did she feel uncomfortable for some reason? Was everything moving too fast for her?
Zoe then shrugged it off with a laugh and asked cheerily, “Is there anything else you can do that you haven’t showed me yet, Alex?”
She knew that Alex would give her a answer to that question somehow. She wasn’t disappointed.
“Have you ever tried ballroom dancing before, dear Zoe?” he asked her.
Zoe giggled, slightly embarrassed. “No!” she replied. “And I don’t intend to.”
Alex then stood up from his seat underneath the canopy and focused on Zoe directly.
“How do you know unless you at least try it,” he asked. Alex then offered a hand to Zoe, as if inviting her to the next dance at the ball. “Come on. Let me show you how it’s done.”
Zoe backed her hands away. “Oh no!” she said. “You’re not getting me onto any dance floor, Alex.”
“Come on,” Alex said encouragingly. “I’ll teach you a few basic steps. It’s not that difficult. You can easily get into the hang of it. And it’s really quite fun.”
“No,” Zoe declared. “Absolutely, definitely no!”
Before long, Zoe found herself laughing away as she danced with Alex on the dance floor in the lounge inside his house. She hadn’t realised what nimble feet she had and she’d done well in keeping up with her health and fitness training aboard the Wheel and recently in the gym aboard the TARDIS. Zoe felt she had the grace of a ballet dancer whilst she danced with Alex. It wasn’t a perfect dance, as she and Alex were mucking about and joking around whilst they moved around. Maybe that’s why she enjoyed it so much as she danced with Alex. It was harmless fun and not to be taken seriously.
Alex was clearly enjoying his time with Zoe also as they danced together. Zoe could clearly see that he liked her. Was this a good thing, she wondered? Maybe she was mistaken. All of this was going too fast.
“You seem to have a way with your feet,” Alex remarked delightedly.
“So have you,” Zoe replied. “You must have danced with many other girls before me.”
“Yes I have,” Alex confessed. “But they weren’t like you.”
Zoe wasn’t sure what to make of that remark. She felt a sense of unease at that moment as she danced with him. But she managed to shrug it off easily and asked casually, “So who else do you get to visit you, Alex?”
“Not many visitors,” Alex replied. Then he looked down at his feet as if somewhat embarrassed. “In fact,” he continued, “You and your friends have been the first visitors to my home ever since I came here.”
“Really,” Zoe said, rather surprised as she kept dancing with Alex. She didn’t realise that they were slowing down with their movements on the floor.
“I haven’t had much company since I came to this planet,” Alex told Zoe. “I mean I have had contact with the Renzancians on the odd occasion. But they’ve never really kept me company or invited me to one of their social dos.” He then looked sad. “I suppose I’m not Renzancian material.”
“Oh Alex,” Zoe said sympathetically. “I’m so sorry to hear you say that.”
Alex then perked up a bit as he looked into Zoe’s eyes. “Your visit today has made me feel so good about myself,” he said. “I would like you to stay a little longer, Zoe. I’ve never met a girl who’s as pretty and intelligent as you. You’ve managed to brighten up my day somehow.”
Zoe blushed at the compliment. But it wasn’t a compliment that she could take in so easily. This was something she didn’t understand, or didn’t know how to respond to. Her parapsychology training had prevented her from developing her emotions. She knew that. So how could she form an answer to it?
She then stated quite truthfully, “I’m afraid I can’t stay here much longer, Alex.” She began to notice the disappointment in his eyes. “We have to move on, the Doctor, Jamie and me. Once the TARDIS repairs have been completed, we’ll be setting off for our new destination.”
Alex tried to sound cheerful when he spoke. “Do you have to move on so soon, Zoe?”
Zoe was quite perplexed by that question of his. “Not necessarily,” she replied. “It’s just something we usually do in our travels. We visit one place and one time. Then we move on to the next.”
“Couldn’t you be persuaded to change your mind?” Alex asked her. “Can I persuade you to stay, Zoe?”
Zoe was becoming more uncomfortable and uneasy than she’d been before. She did her best to sound reassuring to Alex, but it wasn’t easy. “Please Alex,” she said. “You’ve been very kind to me and I’ve enjoyed my time with you. But…I don’t belong in this time and place. I can’t stay here with you. Not for very long. I have to move on. I have to keep on travelling, until I find that my life in the TARDIS is over. I don’t feel like settling anywhere at the moment. Not yet. I have no place and time to settle in yet.”
Alex moved closer to Zoe. Rather too close for her liking.
“You could settle in this place and time, Zoe,” Alex persuaded her. “You can stay here with me.”
Zoe felt Alex touch her hand and began stroking it. She couldn’t resist it. Somehow she felt caught in his power. She looked up into Alex’s eyes now. Zoe was now caught in his trance.
Then the most extraordinary thing happened to Zoe. She found herself kissing Alex. Or more accurately Alex was kissing her. It was a gentle kiss. Zoe had then felt such feeling and warmth in that moment than she had ever had before. Within ten seconds, according to her, it was over. Alex stopped kissing her. Zoe found it difficult to catch her breath.
Zoe looked at Alex. She felt as if she almost saw right through him. Somehow she didn’t feel right. She couldn’t explain it. She didn’t have facts and figures to explain what had just occurred. It was like too many computations all at once filling her head. Except these weren’t computations. They were emotions she was feeling. How could she handle these emotions? She didn’t know how. There was only one thing that she was thinking of in that moment. Or at least two people she was thinking of.
She snapped out of her trance from Alex and began to speak. Trying to contain the unusual emotions inside her and trying not to be unkind to him, Zoe said, “I’d like to find my friends now. I’d like to find the Doctor and Jamie. Please take me back to them.”
Alex could see the confusion and uneasiness that was showing on Zoe’s face. He wouldn’t push his luck. He couldn’t somehow. Perhaps it was a mistake to kiss Zoe in that moment. Perhaps he had acted wrongly and gone too far.
“Yes of course,” Alex replied. “Come with me. Let’s go and find them.”
Alex offered a hand to Zoe to escort her out of the lounge. Zoe looked at the hand rather awkwardly, feeling uncomfortable inside.
“If you don’t mind,” Zoe began, “I…”
She couldn’t form the words to finish her sentence somehow. Alex seemed to understand.
“Of course,” he replied. “Come on.”
Alex led the way out. Zoe eventually followed him, sub-consciously keeping a distance away from Alex as she followed. But it wasn’t a large distance. For some reason, she had a small smile on her face. She didn’t let Alex see it though.
Zoe decided that she and Alex would return to the laboratory where they’d left the TARDIS. It was where Zoe guessed the Doctor and Jamie were conducting repairs to the TARDIS and she assumed they would still be there now.
When they entered the laboratory, Zoe got a shock and a surprise waiting for her.
“The TARDIS!” she declared. “It’s gone!”
Alex became confused. “Gone? What do you mean ‘gone’, Zoe?”
“I mean that it’s not there,” she said. “It’s vanished.” She looked around the lab to check her surroundings. “And the Doctor and Jamie aren’t here either. Where are they?”
“Well what does your TARDIS look like,” Alex asked. “Is it a big ship you have?”
“It’s a tall blue box,” Zoe told him. “The TARDIS simply couldn’t have vanished.” It was then a thought struck her. She couldn’t bear to think about it in that moment. “Unless…” she began.
Alex saw the anxiety on her face. “Unless what, Zoe?” he asked her, concerned.
Zoe looked up at Alex, distraught. “Unless the Doctor and Jamie took off in the TARDIS by accident and left me behind,” she replied. “The Doctor couldn’t control the TARDIS to return here. He and Jamie could be anywhere in the universe.”
Zoe began to burst into tears. But she composed herself quickly knowing that breaking down was not going to help.
Alex did his best to be reassuring to Zoe. “I’m not sure that’s the case, Zoe,” he told her. “I’m sure that your two friends haven’t abandoned you.”
It was at that moment that Zoe lost patience with Alex. “How do you know that?” she asked quite sharply to him. “You don’t know the Doctor and Jamie like I do.”
Zoe soon realised that she’d overstepped the mark. She could see the hurt in Alex’s face once she had said that to him. All she could do was to look away from him. After all the time she had spent with him, she didn’t think she would shout at him. Here was this handsome young man who had been so kind to her. She was embarrassed to say sorry to him at that moment.
But Alex wasn’t to be taken aback by Zoe’s outburst. He still tried to be reassuring towards her. “Well, there must be something here to indicate where your blue box could have got to,” he told her. “Perhaps a clue or something? On the wall? Or perhaps on the floor?”
Zoe couldn’t think straight. It was not like her. She’d never been one for being unable to concentrate and keep her focus on the task at hand. She tried her best to be positive. And that was to follow Alex’s suggestion and spot a clue in the laboratory to find out where the TARDIS had gone. She struggled to find one.
Eventually, out of the corner of her eye, Zoe spotted something that almost made her heart jump.
“Wait,” she said. “There’s something on the floor there. Leading out to the corridor on the far end of the lab.”
Zoe made her way over to the floor at the far end of the lab with Alex joining her. Both knelt down to inspect what it was on the floor that Zoe had found. Zoe picked it up. It was a small weapon of a peculiar design to Alex. But Zoe recognised it well as she held it in her hand.
“It’s Jamie’s dagger,” she declared.
“Pardon?” Alex asked.
Zoe repeated. “It’s Jamie’s pocket dagger that he keeps with him at all times,” she said. “He never goes without it. It’s always with him. Why would he drop this on the lab floor?”
“Perhaps he dropped it in a struggle,” Alex suggested. “Perhaps somebody came into this house and he tried to use it before dropping it onto the floor in the struggle.”
Zoe nodded her head at Alex’s suggestion. It all seemed to fit. Then something struck Zoe in her mind in that moment. She slowly turned to Alex, feeling a grim sensation inside of her.
“Alex,” she said. “You could have some burglars in your house if that were the case.”
Alex gradually realised what Zoe was talking about. Zoe could see the anxiety on his face, as he thought of someone invading his house. She was relieved in a way. Alex didn’t seem to be someone without human scruples and foibles.
“Yes,” he concurred. “That is possible.” It was Alex’s turn to look gradually at Zoe. “We have to be very careful from now on,” he said to her.
Zoe nodded her head, before glancing up at the door leading out into the corridor from the lab.
“The burglars could have kidnapped the Doctor and Jamie and dragged the TARDIS out of the lab into that corridor. They could be anywhere, somewhere. Either in this house of yours or outside in the grounds.”
“You want to check to be sure, don’t you?” Alex said to Zoe.
“Yes,” she replied anxiously.
A moment of silence ensued between them. Eventually, they got up from the floor and began to follow the trail up to the door leading out of the lab into the corridor. Before they advanced further, Zoe turned back to Alex.
“Alex,” she began. “This could be very dangerous. I don’t want you to get into trouble…”
“I’m coming with you,” Alex insisted. “I need to look out for you.” He paused for a moment. “And besides, it’s best to have two as company than face the danger alone.”
Zoe looked at Alex in astonishment and admiration. She placed a hand on Alex’s right arm, stroking it gently and smiling appreciatively at him.
“Thank you, Alex,” she said. “Come on then. Let’s go and find the Doctor and Jamie. Hopefully we’ll rescue them in time.”
With that, Zoe led the way out of the lab. She opened the door that led into the corridor outside, following the trail to find the Doctor and Jamie with Alex’s help.
In the corridor, Zoe and Alex treaded very carefully as they went. It was very quiet. You could almost hear a pin drop. For some reason, Zoe felt uneasy. She couldn’t understand why that was.
“Alex,” Zoe interrupted the silence.
“Yes Zoe,” Alex replied.
“Do you get the feeling that you’re being watched?” she asked.
“Why do you say that?” Alex asked her.
“Because it’s so quiet in this corridor,” she replied. “If there were any burglars in your house, shouldn’t we be hearing them by now?”
Alex thought about this for a moment. “Hmm,” he thought. “Perhaps they’re a long way from here, Zoe. We don’t know how long they were here for in the time we spent together. They must have done the job very well to prevent us from hearing them. That includes capturing your friends, the Doctor and Jamie and stealing this…TARDIS blue box of yours.”
“Yes I suppose you’re right,” admitted Zoe. She then thought for a moment. “But why should they want to steal the TARDIS. Who would know about it? And why kidnap the Doctor and Jamie as well.”
Alex had no answer to give Zoe. It was at that moment that Alex noticed something peculiarly odd about one of the walls in the corridor they were in. Zoe stopped too.
“What is it?” Zoe asked. “Have you spotted something?”
Alex went over to the wall in question in the corridor. He placed his hand on it.
“This isn’t right,” he declared.
Zoe joined Alex to take a look at the wall.
“What’s not right?” she asked him. “Is it something you’ve seen on this wall?”
“Yes,” Alex replied. “There’s a small square video screen on this wall.”
And there was, as Zoe looked at the wall now. There was a small square video screen in plain sight. It was interesting that she hadn’t seen it there before.
“So it is there,” she said. Zoe then looked at Alex. “You’ve not seen this before I take it.”
“No,” Alex replied. “I don’t seem to recall it there during my time in this house. It’s most peculiar.”
Zoe looked at the small square video screen again. What could it mean she wondered?
“Does that mean there’s somebody on the other side watching us?” she asked.
“And if there is,” Alex added, “does it mean that this is where your friends the Doctor and Jamie are?”
At that moment, the wall rose up, taking the video screen with it. Zoe and Alex were shocked as they stood back away from the wall. Out came a squad of…well…they looked like tall lizard men according to Zoe from where the wall was. Lizard men in strong battle armour. And they carried guns. Zoe didn’t like this one bit. The lizard men hissed ferociously, as they trained their weapons on them.
“You,” said one lizard man to another. “Take these two prisoners! They must not be allowed to escape!”
“No!” Alex shouted, as he took Zoe with him by the hand. “Run Zoe, run!”
Just as Zoe was dragged with Alex by his left hand, one of the lizard men raised his gun and opened fire. A beam of phase-light shot out from the barrel of the gun. The beam hit Alex on his right arm…and his right arm came off…literally. The right arm dropped to the floor. But Alex did not cry out in agonising pain as Zoe expected him to. Alex and Zoe stopped a fair distance away from the lizard men to see the result of the arm coming off.
“Alex,” Zoe cried. “Your…”
But before Zoe could finish the sentence, she was shocked by what she saw now. For out of Alex’s right arm, didn’t come blood, as she expected, would pour out. Out of Alex’s right arm, came wires and circuitry dangling from it. Alex felt no pain. He was as shocked as Zoe was, to see what state his arm was in.
“My arm,” Alex began astonished. “It’s not…my arm is…”
He didn’t have the words to form at this astonishing discovery.
The lizard men came advancing behind them. “Seize them!” the leader cried.
Zoe pushed Alex to run forward. “There’s no time for this,” she told him. “Come on! Run! Head back for the lab! We can lock ourselves in and talk about this later!”
“But Zoe!” Alex began to protest.
“Come on, Alex!” she cried. “Run! Run!”
Alex didn’t argue with her any more. Both he and Zoe made a run for it back down the corridor from where they’d come. They left Alex’s wrenched right arm where it was on the floor. The lizard men ran past it, as they chased after Zoe and Alex. They hissed as they went along.
Very soon, Zoe and Alex found themselves back in the lab from where they had started their search for the Doctor and Jamie. Alex and Zoe managed to lock the door to prevent the ferocious lizard men from getting in. They also locked the other door to the lab at the far end of the room to increase their chances of safety. But the lizard men were persistent, as they kept banging on the doors to break their way in. Alex and Zoe were trapped. They had no idea how to get out of this mess.
Alex inspected his broken arm. He was shocked by seeing all this circuitry and wires dangling out from it. Zoe came by him to examine his arm closely.
“I don’t understand this,” Alex declared. “How come I’m like this? How come I’m not bleeding and I’ve got wires sticking out from my arm which has been blown off by a lizard man’s phase-weapon. It doesn’t make sense.”
Zoe looked at Alex sympathetically, once she’d finished examining what seemed to be his mechanical arm. “I’m afraid it does for me,” Zoe began to explain. “Alex,” she said. “You’re not human.”
Alex looked astonished at Zoe in that moment. “What? What are you saying, Zoe?”
“You’re an android,” she told him, “A robot. A mechanical man made to look and think like a human…”
“I know what an android is,” Alex said sharply. He couldn’t believe the anger in his voice when he said that. He looked away from Zoe back at his arm. “How can I be an android?” Alex said in disbelief. “I feel human. I behave like a human. I don’t have a soulless attitude to life. I’ve got emotions. Haven’t I?”
Zoe could see he was beginning to doubt himself.
“Believe me Alex,” Zoe told him. “I don’t understand it myself. I can’t understand a lot of things. Those lizard men, for example. Who are they? Haven’t you seen them before?”
“No, never,” Alex replied, still distracted by his damaged arm. “I’ve never seen creatures like that before in my life.”
“They’re not native to Renzance then, are they?” Zoe asked him.
“No,” Alex replied, “they certainly aren’t Renzancian lizards if that’s what you mean.” Alex began to think for a moment. He felt distraught and bewildered by everything that had happened lately. “I don’t know how they could have got into the house. I’ve never seen them come in or go out during the time that I’ve lived in this house.”
Zoe began to think herself for a moment. “They could have been here well before you came to this house, Alex,” she began. Another thought occurred to Zoe. She took a deep breath as she gently broke the theory she formed in her mind. “They could even have been responsible for what you are. That they built you as an android to think and act as a human. It is possible. And a logical conclusion.”
Alex shook his head in disbelief. “This still doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
“I know,” Zoe replied. “But we’ve got to find a way out of here. Out of this lab before those lizard men get in.”
Zoe thought for a moment. Then she had an idea. She looked to Alex again, trying to break him out of his distracted and distraught state.
“Alex,” she began. “Is there another way out of this lab without having to go through the doors where the lizard men are trying to get in?”
Alex found it difficult to concentrate. “I…” he started. “I can’t be sure…”
“Please try,” Zoe pleaded. “This is terribly important. Our lives depend on it. Even Jamie and the Doctor’s lives depend on it, if I know where they are now. Behind that wall with the video screen I hope.”
Alex shook his head again in agitation.
“Please Alex,” Zoe repeated. “Do this for me! If you can find it in your heart to do so.” She paused for a moment, realising. “That is…if you still believe you’re human and that you can feel that you have a heart inside you.”
This statement seemed to make Alex look to her and change his mood. He seemed perkier and he smiled at Zoe delightedly. Zoe smiled back at him, hoping beyond hope that her little persuasion to him had worked.
Their tender moment was interrupted by persistent banging on the doors from outside. Zoe and Alex could hear the lizard men hissing, snarling and shouting from outside. Alex had to think fast. Zoe persisted in making him try to remember if there was another way instead of the doors.
“Yes,” Alex then realised. “Yes! There is a way out of here. Through the windows!”
Of course, Zoe realised. There were windows in the lab already leading out into the open. Why hadn’t she thought of that before? How come it never occurred to her to think of that?
“Can you open the windows from here,” she asked him. “They’re not air-tight sealed are they?”
“I hope not,” Alex replied. “I’ve never opened a window in this lab before.”
That made Zoe’s heart sink for a moment. Eventually however, Alex pressed a button and within seconds, the windows dropped down to open and let fresh air in from the outside. Zoe jumped up and down excitedly, cheering as she wrapped her arms around Alex joyously.
“You did it! You did it, Alex,” she declared. “Well done!”
“Quickly,” Alex announced. “We mustn’t waste time! We have to get out through these windows before those lizard monsters break in here!”
“Yes,” Zoe agreed. “I’ll go first. You come on out after me, yes?!”
“Right,” Alex agreed. “Out you go first!”
Alex helped Zoe to get up onto the window sill. Then she climbed out through the window and eventually got down to the ground below. Alex soon climbed up onto the window sill himself and climbed out through the window to get outside and join Zoe. They got out just in time, before the lizard men barged their way in howling and snarling as they entered.
Eventually, Zoe and Alex managed to get back into the house via the back door. They entered the corridor from where those lizard men came out through the wall with the video screen on it. They could just hear the lizard men snarling and arguing with each other from inside the laboratory. They treaded carefully, to make sure that they didn’t make any sound.
“They’re busy inside there,” Alex said to Zoe. “They’re probably wondering where we’ve got to.”
“Then let’s not hang around in this corridor for too long, Alex,” Zoe told him.
“Where had you in mind to go?” Alex asked.
“In this cavity where the wall with the video screen was,” Zoe replied. “Those lizard men came from inside there. We need to get in and see where their base is.”
“And hopefully your friends the Doctor and Jamie are inside there,” Alex suggested.
“Yes,” Zoe said, “and the TARDIS too.”
“Very well,” Alex declared. “Let’s not hang around here like you said. Let’s make our way through that cavity in the wall.”
Zoe led the way with Alex behind him, as they made for the cavity in the wall. It was at that moment that the lizard men came back into the corridor to find them.
“Stop!” shouted the leader of the group. “Do not enter that cavity! You will stay right where you are!”
It was at that moment that Alex ran forward towards the lizard men and began fighting with them. He threw punches with his left hand. He used his legs and torso to defend himself against the lizard men. But it became apparent that without his right arm, he had no chance of overthrowing the lizard men as they were too powerful for him.
Alex turned to Zoe.
“Go Zoe,” he shouted. “Get inside that cavity! Go on, whilst I hold these lizard men off from here!”
Zoe hesitated, unable to go inside. “I can’t leave you out here, Alex,” she cried to him. “Those lizard men will kill you! Or rather tear you to shreds!”
“Go Zoe,” Alex demanded. “There’s no time to debate this now! Go! GO!!!”
Alex kept warding the lizard men off with his single fisted punches and kicks at them. But the lizard men entourage was coming onto him like hailstones.
Eventually, Zoe ran inside the cavity where the wall with the video screen was, hoping to find the lizard men’s hideout inside. The leader of the lizard men saw Zoe go in and gestured to his troops.
“The girl,” the lizard leader hissed. “She’s gone inside!”
It was at that moment that one of the lizard men hit Alex very hard with a blow on the back of his neck. Alex collapsed to the floor, ending up unconscious. The lizard leader looked at Alex on the floor and became disregardful of him.
“Take our subject with us back to our hideout,” he demanded. “We’ll go inside to follow the girl. Soon she’ll know the truth. But it will not matter. We have the girl and her friends…in our power now!”
With that, the lizard leader walked forward and entered the cavity where the wall with the video screen was. Very soon, the other lizard men lifted Alex up from the floor and carried him with them back inside the cavity too. Very soon, the wall in the corridor was restored with the video screen back in its place to where it was. It was as if the cavity never existed when Zoe first entered it or when the lizard men came out from it earlier.
Meanwhile Zoe had been running down a very long corridor in darkness, until she stepped into the light and found herself in a large, foreboding room. She stopped running and looked around the room she was in. She was astonished. There were computer terminals and video screens displayed all over the place. The lighting was also dark red from the ceiling with a shadowy green-tint from the lamps on the wall. It was quite a contrast to the homely atmosphere Zoe had been getting used to in Alex’s house.
“Zoe! Zoe!” someone cried.
Zoe turned to see who was calling her. The first thing she noticed was the tall blue box form of the TARDIS. The blue, battered box was reassuring as ever. The second thing that Zoe noticed was her friends, the Doctor and Jamie. They were clamped in irons and strapped on what seemed to be operating tables, raised vertically up from the floor. Zoe was aghast to see her friends this way.
“Doctor! Jamie!” she said relieved. “Oh I’m so glad to see you both!”
“Aye,” said Jamie. “And we’re glad to see you too, Zoe!”
“Zoe,” the Doctor began saying, “You’re not harmed, are you?”
“No,” Zoe reassured him, “Those lizard men attacked us, but I haven’t been harmed by them. Alex however…”
“Where is Alex?” the Doctor demanded.
“He’s back there in the corridor,” Zoe replied, “He was fighting off those lizard men to give me a chance to find out if you two were here…”
It was at that moment that the lizard men with the unconscious Alex entered the room. The lizard men snarled and hissed, as they saw Zoe with the Doctor and Jamie before them.
The lizard leader hissed a throaty laugh. “At last,” he declared. “You’re all here at last! The three of you! Now there’ll be no more interference.”
Jamie grunted. “Fine job your Alex has done to fight off these creeps for you, Zoe!”
Alex at that point was slowly regaining consciousness. He gradually woke up to see his surroundings, blurry-eyed as he was. “Where,” Alex stuttered. “Where am I? What…what is this place?”
Zoe turned to the Doctor. “Doctor, what’s happening?” she asked. “Why are you and Jamie strapped on those operating tables like that? Who are these lizard men? What are they?”
“They’re called Vegrons, Zoe,” the Doctor replied.
“Vegrons?” Zoe repeated.
“Yes,” the Doctor said. “They’re a war-like alien race from the planet Vegros. They’ve been fighting their war with the Terileptils for many years.”
“And we shall soon win that war,” the Vegron leader announced triumphantly. “Those Terileptil scum will be wiped off the face of this universe. We shall see to that!”
The Doctor ignored the Vegrons and continued his explanation to Zoe. “I’m afraid this place we’re in is part of a small experiment they’re conducting. An experiment that’s part of an invasion plan of Earth.”
Zoe was appalled. “An invasion plan?! Of Earth?!”
“Aye they have in mind to seduce the women on Earth, Zoe,” Jamie told her. “With these…andy-doids…”
“Androids, Jamie,” the Doctor corrected him. “They’re like robots.”
“Aye right,” Jamie ignored him. “The androids are meant to look like men and think like men. The Vegrons are going to use these android men to make love to the women on Earth. In that way they’ll be able to control the women and to allow the Vegrons to invade the Earth.”
“The Vegrons have mind-control bracelets in order to do this,” the Doctor added. “They’ll have the androids as male humans to place the mind-control bracelets onto the human females on Earth. Once that’s done, the human females won’t be able to resist the control of the Vegrons, who will then take control of the Earth for them.”
“But I don’t understand,” Zoe stated. “How would the Vegrons be able to get the android males to seduce the human females on Earth when there are real human males already? Such as somebody’s boyfriend or husband?”
“Ah well that’s where the sneaky trick comes in, Zoe,” the Doctor replied. He looked to the Vegron leader. “Would you like to take over from here?”
The Vegron leader was clearly relishing this moment, as if victory was already at his fingertips. “We will replace the human males on the Earth one by one with duplicate android versions of them. This way we will convince the human females that they’re male counterparts are exactly who they say they are. They won’t show that they are in fact androids.”
“They’ll do this gradually, Zoe,” the Doctor told him. “This invasion plan is taking time to come to fruition. That’s why they’ve been working on it here for so long. That’s why they’re conducting experiments to see that the invasion plan works.”
“But I still don’t understand,” Zoe insisted. “How come all of this is an experiment?”
The Doctor and Jamie looked grimly at Zoe.
“That’s where your so-called boyfriend comes in,” Jamie told her.
Zoe then looked at Alex, who had fully recovered by now. He was trying to take in what was going on as much as Zoe. But Zoe had already worked it out.
“You,” she realised, staring at Alex in horror. “You’re the experiment.”
“That’s right, Zoe,” the Doctor said. “I knew there was something wrong right from the start when we were inside that lab. It was suspicious that Alex was the only one in that house when we arrived. I had to find out what was going on with Jamie’s help, whilst you Zoe kept Alex occupied.”
Zoe was still shaken by all of this. “You mean to say,” she began, “I’ve been falling in love with an android…as part of an experiment to help an invasion of Earth! That’s horrible! Horrible!”
Zoe looked to Alex, and gradually approached him whilst he was still held by the Vegrons. She looked accusingly at him.
“Did you know about this, Alex?” she demanded. “Answer me, did you know? Did you know about the Vegrons’ invasion plans?”
Alex was stunned by the anger in Zoe’s voice when she spoke to him. “Honestly Zoe,” he replied, “I did not know. I had no idea I was an android before I met you. Before this…this disturbance happened in my house, I didn’t know that these…lizard men were hiding in my house all this time.”
“It is true,” the Vegron leader told Zoe. “He did not know about this. About our invasion plan and that he was himself an android. We programmed him to be the perfect human. That meant removing any traces of memory that he was an android. It would help to avoid causing suspicion.”
Another Vegron spoke aloud. “We had experimented with your Alex on android females to try and make love to them. But those experiments failed. The hypnotic effect we created for Alex did not seem to work on the android females as they were quite immune to his love-making techniques.”
The Vegron leader spoke again. “You’re the first real human that we’ve had to test with Alex. To see whether he could make love to you. From our observations in this room with the video screens, the results have been successful. We couldn’t be happier with our latest experiments. We thank you for that, young Zoe!”
Zoe felt sick. It was a horrible moment of truth for her. “I’ve been used…as a guinea pig…for your experiments…to have an android man make love to me…so that you can invade the Earth?”
Alex wanted to reach out to Zoe in that moment. “Please Zoe,” he began. “Please believe me, I didn’t know. Honestly I didn’t.”
Zoe couldn’t look Alex in the eye. She felt so distraught by all this. It was horrible for her to conceive. “To think that I thought I had fallen in love for the first time with a real man. Only he turns out to be a machine. Is this how unlucky I am?! Can it get any worse?”
“I’m very sorry, Zoe,” the Doctor said sympathetically to her. “Truly I am.”
Zoe was unable to speak for a long time. She couldn’t bear the painful emotions she was experiencing now. They were so hard to describe. They were a mixture of anger, sorrow and distress. How could she deal with these emotions? She didn’t know how.
“It does not matter anyway,” the Vegron leader then interrupted. “The experiment is over! It has been a success! We do not need you anymore, Zoe! Not you or your two friends!”
Zoe then found herself being trained on with a gun by a few Vegrons. She noticed that the Doctor and Jamie were being trained on with guns by the Vegrons too.
“What are you doing?” Zoe demanded. “Put those weapons down!”
“You shall die all three of you!” the Vegron leader declared, viciously. “You have seen too much of our experiments.”
“Hey,” Jamie cried out loud. “You leave Zoe alone! After all she’s done for you and you’re going to kill her?”
“She knows the true nature of our experiments!” the Vegron leader stated. “She cannot live to know it the rest of her life. She and you two will be killed instantly.”
“Stop this,” the Doctor called out. “Listen to me!”
“Too late, Doctor!” the Vegron leader declared. “Too late!”
But before the Vegrons could open fire on them with their weapons, they were suddenly caught off guard as Alex quickly lifted one of the Vegrons that was holding him captive over his shoulder. Alex used the android strength inside of him, throwing the Vegron at the other Vegrons, shouting, “NO!!!!”
The assailed Vegron ended up falling onto the others Vegrons, including the leader, like a bunch of skittles at a bowling alley. They all fell on the floor.
Alex quickly got to the floor and picked up one of the Vegron phase-weapons in his hand. He checked the settings on the phase-weapon, before he rose up from the floor. He aimed the weapon at the Vegrons, just as the leader was about to get up on his feet again.
“That’s enough, android,” the Vegron leader hissed. “You will obey my orders! Put the weapon down!”
Alex didn’t flinch. He was determined to keep his aim on the Vegron leader as it made its advance to him.
“I said put the weapon down,” the Vegron leader repeated, before Alex opened fire.
The Vegron leader hissed once it was hit and he collapsed to the floor.
Alex saw more Vegrons getting up and recovering from being knocked down. He opened fire on the Vegrons with the weapon in his hand, shooting them down one by one. Eventually, all the Vegrons in the room were hit by Alex’s weapon. None of the Vegrons had a chance to fire back. Alex was too fast for them. They all ended up on the floor, unconscious. It was then that Alex stopped firing and a moment’s silence ensued.
Once all the Vegrons were down, Alex turned to Zoe, Jamie and the Doctor. They were looking at him in astonishment.
“Are you three okay?” Alex asked, quite concerned.
“You…” Jamie began, before he thought for a moment. “Are they all dead then?”
“No,” Alex replied. “I made sure I had this weapon on a stun setting. I couldn’t kill them. It’s against my…prime directive.” The words slowly sunk into Alex, as he came to accept what he was. He was an android. But somehow…he felt he had a heart inside of him. Just like Zoe told him so. He continued, “I just couldn’t let the Vegrons hurt you, Doctor; Jamie; Zoe. I had to save you.”
Zoe smiled at Alex. She could see the real Alex in that moment. Not as an automaton, but as a person. She had hoped it would be the case for him. “Thank you, Alex,” she said happily.
Alex smiled back, before he went over with Zoe to free the Doctor and Jamie from their straps on the operating tables.
As Zoe and Alex were unstrapping them, Jamie asked the Doctor, “What do we do now, Doctor? How do we stop this invasion plan of theirs?”
“Oh don’t worry, Jamie,” the Doctor replied. “We’ll just have this place locked up with the Vegrons inside this room. Then we’ll take away all their equipment and video display units and store them in the TARDIS. They won’t be able to succeed in their invasion plans without that. And we’d also better take away all the equipment from that lab upstairs too.”
“And what about Alex?” Zoe asked the Doctor. “What’s to become of him?”
Alex saw the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe looking at him inquisitively. He knew that he was a nuisance; a purpose tool that should never have been made. And for an evil invasion plan of Earth. He wasn’t going to live that down.
“You’ll have to leave me, Doctor,” Alex told them. “Lock me up in this room with the Vegrons.”
“Oh I don’t think that will be necessary!” the Doctor reassured him. “You can come with us if you like.”
“Hey?” Jamie enquired, astonished. “Can we let him come with us, Doctor?”
“Of course we can, Jamie,” the Doctor retorted. He then turned to Alex again. “It is of course your decision, if you want to come.”
Alex looked at Zoe, as the Doctor’s offer slowly sunk into him. He noticed the anticipation in her eyes and the expression of both joy and anxiety on her face. He wasn’t sure whether that was a good thing.
“Me,” he said, “to come with you? In your TARDIS?”
Zoe caught her breath and gulped silently before she spoke. “If that’s what you want, Alex? You can join us in our travels. With the Doctor and Jamie.” She paused for breath for a moment. “And with me, Alex. You can travel with me.”
Alex was clearly taken with the idea, as he beamed happily to himself. Zoe wasn’t sure whether it was genuine or programmed into his android brain to react for such romantic notions. She wasn’t sure whether Alex really liked her or loved her enough, with the android being that he was.
But he didn’t get a chance to give his answer to the Doctor, as he turned to see something that shocked him. He ran forward in front of Zoe, “No!” he shouted.
The Vegron leader had struggled up from the floor and opened fire with a phase-weapon. He had picked it up from the floor to hit the TARDIS trio, starting with Zoe first. The shot didn’t hit Zoe, but hit Alex instead.
No breath escaped from Alex once he’d been shot. Nor did blood pour out from the wound that was made to him. Instead, circuitry and wires exploded as the shot went throughout his body. He staggered, looked down at himself, astonished and puzzled that he’d been hit so severely by the Vegron leader’s fire power. The shot must have been more powerful than he thought. He collapsed to the floor.
Zoe ran forward to Alex as he collapsed and she shouted, “No! Alex!”
Jamie picked up Alex’s phaser-weapon that he had used earlier and aimed it at the Vegron leader, who was laughing away in triumph. Jamie was disgusted by the Vegron leader’s contempt.
“Take this, you lizard-faced barbarian,” he shouted, as he fired the weapon. The Vegron leader was hit by Jamie’s firepower and he fell back onto the floor again.
The Doctor snatched the phaser-weapon from Jamie once he’d fired it onto the Vegron leader. “That’s enough, Jamie,” he shouted. “Enough is enough! There have been too many people shot today!”
“But they weren’t people!” Jamie protested. “They were…”
“Enough is enough!” the Doctor repeated angrily.
It was then that the Doctor and Jamie turned to Zoe, who was now cradling Alex in her arms. Alex lay there on the floor, his body blown up with a hole through his torso. It was beyond repair. Zoe patted and stroked Alex’s face to try to wake him up.
“Alex,” Zoe cried. “Alex, can you hear me? Please wake up! It’s me, Zoe!”
Alex slowly stirred and looked at Zoe, turning his head towards her. He didn’t seem to be bothered by the fact he was damaged with a hole in his body with circuitry and wires sizzling and falling out. He seemed perfectly content. He smiled up at Zoe, saying, “Zoe? You’re still here! You’re still alive!”
“Of course I’m here, Alex,” Zoe told him. “You saved my life remember?”
Alex was finding it difficult to speak now. His speech became distorted and sounded croakier than before. “Saved…your life,” he said. He shook his head and smiled appreciatively at Zoe. “That’s good,” he said. “That’s very good. I’m glad I managed to do that. To save your life, Zoe. I couldn’t have wished for anything better.”
“Stay with me, Alex,” Zoe pleaded. “Stay with me please!”
“Zoe,” Alex tried to tell her. “My body’s broken. I’m beyond repair. The Vegron’s fire shot really tore me apart.”
“No,” Zoe insisted. “You’re not beyond repair. We can fix you! The Doctor and me! We can repair you in the TARDIS…”
“Zoe,” Alex interrupted her, as he placed his hand on her face. He saw her eyes welling with tears. “I wanted to say, I would have loved to have travelled with you three. The Doctor, Jamie and you in the TARDIS. I would have loved to have travelled with you.” He paused for breath. “Then I could spend the rest of my life with you, Zoe. Be happy…with the woman I’ve fallen in love with. What a dream that would have been…for such a mere android as me?”
“Please Alex,” Zoe spoke through tears. “Please don’t!”
“Zoe,” Alex interrupted her again, and this time he was really low on power in his speech and voice patterns. All he could do to say a few more words before his power died out completely. What he said, would be something that would haunt Zoe for the rest of her life.
“I love you, Zoe,” Alex told her. “I love you so much!”
Zoe, despite being teary-eyed, did her best to smile at Alex. She held his hand in hers, gently stroking it as she held it. “I love you too, Alex,” Zoe told him. “I love you too.”
Alex was satisfied. He smiled a satisfied smile at Zoe. It was then…that Alex closed his eyes…and a power-emitted sound died off inside his circuitry and android body for Zoe, Jamie and the Doctor to hear.
Zoe realised that Alex was not moving anymore. She tried not to break down into tears and examined Alex’s body to see if there was any power left in him still operating. She could find none.
“Alex,” Zoe called to him. “Alex, wake up! Please Alex, wake up! Wake up Alex, wake up!”
The Doctor gently placed a hand on Zoe’s shoulder. Zoe looked up at him, seeing the sad expression on his face. “It’s no good,” he told her. “I’m very sorry, Zoe. But Alex is…” he chose his words carefully, trying not to upset Zoe. “He’s dead, Zoe.”
Zoe shook her head in denial. “No he’s not,” Zoe said, trying not to sound emotional or break down into tears. “He’s not dead, Doctor. He can’t be dead. He’s an android. He’s been deactivated. Androids can’t have feelings, emotions or have a heart. It’s illogical. It’s all…illogical. Illogical…ill…”
Zoe couldn’t help it. She broke down, burst into tears, crying all over the body of Alex on the floor before her. She soon found herself taken into the comforting arms of Jamie. She laid her head on Jamie’s chest, sobbing her heart out, whilst he comforted her.
“There, there, Zoe,” Jamie told her consolingly. “There, there.”
The Doctor placed his hand on Zoe’s head, whilst Jamie embraced her in his arms as she cried. “I’m so sorry, Zoe,” he said, “So sorry for all this to happen.”
The three of them remained on the floor for quite some time, as they mourned the loss of Zoe’s dear friend Alex, the android who thought he was human.”
It was a few days later in the TARDIS. The Doctor had achieved all he wanted before they left Renzance. They took away all the Vegron equipment and video screens in the lab and the Vegrons’ hideout. They stored them in the TARDIS, and had locked the Vegrons up in their hideout with the discarded android body of Alex with them. They left the nightmare of Renzance behind them once they took off in the TARDIS.
But for Zoe, it was a difficult time for her to recuperate. She was in her bedroom, sitting up on her bed cross-legged. She placed her hand underneath her chin, reflecting on the time she had spent with Alex on Renzance. Sometimes it was joyous, sometimes it was painful. Mostly it was painful. She reflected on the loss of someone she could have fallen in love with. And yet he wasn’t real. He was a machine. How could she have fallen in love with a machine? Yet she had.
There was a knock on the door. Zoe didn’t answer. She was so distracted in her own world. The knock came again.
“Zoe,” the Doctor called from behind the door. “Zoe, are you alright in there? Zoe?”
Zoe didn’t look to the door. She sighed, removing her hand from her chin, as she replied, subdued, “Come in, Doctor.”
The door opened and the Doctor entered. She barely acknowledged him once he was in.
“Ah there you,” he announced cheerily. “Hello Zoe. Jamie and I have been worried about you. How are you?”
Zoe didn’t reply. She was still caught up in her own world.
The Doctor tried a different tactic. “You’ve been here for at least two days, Zoe. Jamie and I have been wondering what had become of you?” He paused for a moment, choosing his words carefully. “Is there um…is there anything I can do for you, Zoe?”
Zoe eventually managed to break out of her trance. She slowly turned to the Doctor. She struggled to speak, as choked tears overtook her.
“He was very talented Alex was, Doctor,” she told him. “He could draw art using mathematical equations. He could count stars in a solar system. He could dance and sweep a girl off her feet well with a kiss. And yet he wasn’t real. How come I wasn’t aware of that?”
The Doctor wasn’t sure how to answer that question. So he kept silent on it.
Zoe however continued, “Of all the people I could have fallen in love with, it had to be an android. Someone who shares the same interests as I do in mathematics and logic, it had to be an android.”
Zoe paused for a moment. She then turned to the Doctor, “Am I going to always be like this?”
The Doctor was confused. “Always like what?”
“Falling in love with machines as I usually do,” she explained. “On the Wheel, I was using computers all the time. I knew how to speak and use computers when we were on Earth during the Cybermen invasion. I even knew how to successfully answer the questions on the teaching machines by the Krotons.”
A moment of silence ensued.
“Leo Ryan was right,” Zoe told the Doctor, “back on the Wheel. I am like a robot. I’m ‘all brain and no heart’.”
“Nonsense, Zoe,” the Doctor said reproachfully, “Absolute nonsense.”
He then changed his tune, as he eventually sat by Zoe on the bed and spoke gently to reassure her.
“Zoe, I know you’ve had a terrible ordeal on Renzance,” he began, “With the Vegrons and Alex. You believed you fell in love with a man. And that’s the important thing to remember, Zoe. You fell in love. You loved someone. A machine doesn’t do that, Zoe. Machines don’t love one another. You achieved what a machine can’t do by falling in love. That doesn’t make you a robot.”
“But Alex was…” Zoe began.
“Alex was as real as you believed him to be,” the Doctor told her. “Alex may have been an android, but he believed he was human. He sacrificed himself to save you Zoe and he saved all of us, including you, me and Jamie, didn’t he?”
Zoe was silent for a moment. She pondered on what the Doctor was trying to tell her. It was a struggle to understand.
The Doctor placed a hand on Zoe to reassure her. “By falling in love Zoe,” he told her, “you achieved and proved that you could do what many others said you couldn’t do.” He paused, as Zoe looked at him inquisitively. “Developed your emotions,” he continued. “You were emotionally undeveloped when we first met you, Jamie and I. You believed that facts and figures were the only thing to rely on. Well since you’ve travelled with us, you’ve come to realise that there’s so much more than what you learnt before. Haven’t you?”
Zoe was silent for a moment, before she eventually answered. “Yes,” she replied. “I suppose I have really.”
“You see,” the Doctor told her. “You’re not all brain and no heart, as people have told you, Zoe. You’re both brain and heart after all.” He paused for a moment. “This latest episode was to show you that you are capable of so many things. So many emotions. One was falling in love with this Alex. He may have been a robot or an android, but you still loved him in the end, didn’t you?”
Zoe was beginning to become teary-eyed again. She managed to control herself and not let the tears get to her while she spoke, “Yes,” she replied. “I loved Alex very much, Doctor. I truly did.”
The Doctor smiled, gently placing an arm around her shoulder to comfort her. “Zoe. Jamie and I are very fond of you. You will always be our best friend when we travel together in the TARDIS. We’ll always be there for you if you need us. We know you’ve had a rough time of it lately. But rest assured, we’ll be waiting for you should you need us for anything. You know that, don’t you?”
Zoe sniffed, as she wiped the tears from her eyes. She smiled at the Doctor, her eyes still brimming with tears as she looked at him. “Thanks Doctor,” she replied. “I really appreciate that.”
The Doctor patted Zoe gently, before he rose up and made his way over to the door of her bedroom to leave. He turned back to her before he left.
“Jamie and I will be in the console room if you need to find us, Zoe,” he told her.
Zoe nodded her head, smiling. “Thank you Doctor,” she replied. “I will join you soon.”
“Of course,” the Doctor said, understanding.
With that, he left the room.
Zoe stared after the Doctor once he had left and the door to her bedroom closed. She would get better. She knew she would. It was just a matter of time.
Eventually, Zoe lay on the bed, resting her head on the pillows. She thought about Alex again, and now thought of only the happy times she had spent with him. Very soon and without realising it, Zoe fell asleep.
‘Jamie McCrimmon’ originally conceived by Elwyn Jones and Gerry Davis
‘Zoe Heriot’ originally conceived by Derrick Sherwin
‘Vegrons’ created by Tim Bradley
© Tim Bradley, 2016