‘THE FIVE DOCTORS AT CHRISTMAS: THE FOURTH DOCTOR’S STORY’
By Tim Bradley
Featuring the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9
‘The Fourth Doctor’s Story’ is set after ‘Foundations of Life’.
The TARDIS materialised close to a red phone box in a snowy-covered English village.
The doors opened and the Doctor stepped out with Romana and K-9 behind him. They looked around. Romana was wearing her white dress and white fur coat to keep herself warm from the snowy cold. She brushed her dark hair back with her right hand whilst K-9 waggled his ears. The Doctor adjusted his scarf over his left shoulder.
“Aha!” the Doctor declared ecstatically. “It’s Christmas time! I sense it with the winter air!”
“And of course the fact that it’s snowing, Doctor,” Romana remarked.
“Nonsense,” the Doctor replied. “That aspect never crossed my mind.”
Romana rolled her eyes, as the Doctor walked past her and looked about the place. He then turned to K-9 and knelt down.
“What do you think, K-9?” the Doctor asked. “Where are we, hmm?”
K-9 raised his head and waggled his ears before he answered. “Location unknown, Master,” he replied. “Suggest we are in an English village in the countryside on the planet Earth.”
“Yes,” the Doctor said, “My thoughts exactly!”
“Couldn’t the TARDIS have picked that up when we arrived, Doctor?” Romana asked.
“Oh no, Romana,” the Doctor replied. “The old girl couldn’t. There was that temporal anomaly we came across when we travelled through the vortex. Thus we ended up here!”
Romana nodded, acknowledging the Doctor’s reasoning. She then shrugged her shoulders and put her hands behind her back, examining the English village.
“Well I suppose it could be Christmas time,” Romana remarked.
“Could be Christmas time?!” the Doctor replied, annoyed. “Of course it is! Never doubt it for a moment, Romana! We arrived just in time for the festive season!”
“How can you be so sure?” Romana asked. “Apart from the snow and the winter air, you have no concrete evidence.”
“No concrete…?” the Doctor began, astonished by Romana’s words. “No concrete evidence? No concrete…you obviously haven’t been paying attention, have you? Not listening with your ears.”
“Oh do forgive me, Doctor,” Romana said sweetly through her hint of sarcasm. “Please tell me what it was I neglected to pay attention to.”
“The music, Romana!” the Doctor said “The music!”
“Music?” Romana asked, now puzzled.
“Confirmed,” K-9 acknowledged. “The sound of festive, joyful music belonging to a CD slash digital player on sound speakers is being played.”
Now Romana had to admit it. She could hear the sound of festive, joyful music the same way the Doctor and K-9 had been able to. How come she had failed to notice it until now?
“Well,” Romana began to ask. “What do we do then? Do we follow the sound of the music and explore or do we leave in the TARDIS?” Romana was keen to leave soon.
The Doctor seemed to be considering options for a moment. Romana watched him, trying to maintain her patience. Eventually, the Doctor put on his toothy grin, which Romana knew meant he was being mischievous.
“We’ll follow the music and explore,” the Doctor said eagerly. “Join in the celebrations!”
The Doctor led the way, trailing his long scarf behind him. He turned back to K-9.
“Come along, K-9,” the Doctor said. “Heel! Heel!”
“Affirmative, Master,” K-9 replied.
With that, K-9 trundled after the Doctor deeper into the snowy English village. Romana placed her hands by her sides, wondering if this was such a good idea. But knowing the Doctor, it would be pointless to argue. So she decided to follow.
Eventually, the Doctor, Romana and K-9 came to where the celebrations were being held in the English village.
Some people were sitting around a long table whilst others were standing around it. It was a Christmas party and the festivities were in full swing. Many were eating food at the table, whilst some were dancing to the Christmas songs performed on the CD/digital player through the sound speakers that K-9 had detected earlier.
“They look so happy,” Romana said astonished.
“Of course!” the Doctor replied. “They would be! It’s Christmas!”
“Yes, but,” Romana began, more astonished that the Doctor didn’t seem to notice. “They’re not affected by the cold and the snow whilst having their Christmas party outside.”
The Doctor realised the point Romana was trying to make. The local village residents were happy, yet they didn’t seem bothered by the continual snow that was coming down. This was while they were eating food and dancing to the music.
“Ah! Yes,” the Doctor replied. “Well…they must keep themselves warm with the clothes they’re wearing!” he argued.
“They don’t look like clothes to keep them warm, Doctor,” Romana pointed out again. “The material for their clothes is too thin!”
Again, the Doctor realised this excellent point Romana had made. The local village residents were wearing Christmas pullovers, but they were hardly clothes to keep them warm from the harsh winter weather. None of them were wearing woolly hats or thick coats. This puzzled the Doctor.
“Ah! Yes,” the Doctor repeated. “Good point there, Romana. We’ll make a keen-eyed TARDIS traveller of you yet! Won’t we, K-9?” He asked this final question to the robot dog. The robot dog didn’t answer. He just buzzed, waggling his ears.
“Suggest we join the festivities, Master.” K-9 then said. “Then the answers that you and the Mistress seek will be clearer.”
“He’s right, Doctor,” Romana said. “What harm could there be in asking these people what’s going on?”
“No harm at all,” the Doctor replied cheerfully. “Come on! Let’s join in! I’m peckish!”
With that, the Doctor, Romana and K-9 stepped forward to reach the buffet table…
The Doctor took a mince pie from one of the plates on the buffet table. He munched on the mince pie, gulping it down. Romana watched as the Doctor enjoyed his mince pie.
“Any good?” Romana asked.
“Hmm,” the Doctor nodded. “Not bad. But not as good as jelly babies.”
At that moment, the Doctor saw a plate of jelly babies on the buffet table before him. He picked the plate up and passed one over to Romana.
“Would you like a jelly baby?” he asked, taking one for himself and popping it into his mouth.
“Uh, no thank you, Doctor,” Romana said politely.
The Doctor bent down, with the plate of jelly babies in his hand. “K-9?” he asked.
“Negative,” K-9 replied.
“Suit yourself,” the Doctor said. He then put the plate of jelly babies back on the buffet table, before scooping some into his hand and putting them in the right pocket of his coat. This did not go unnoticed as Romana tugged him.
“Doctor,” she said.
“They’re good jelly babies,” he insisted. “Better not to waste them.”
At that moment, a man who appeared to be in his late forties approached the Doctor, Romana and K-9 at the buffet table. He had a thin black beard and smiled, showing gleaming white teeth to the newcomers.
“Greetings,” the man said.
The Doctor looked back at the man and grinned happily.
“Greetings,” the Doctor replied, waving his right hand at him.
“I’m Dr. Sretam,” the man said. “The village doctor around here.” He took a moment to look curiously at the Doctor and Romana. “You’re newcomers in the village, aren’t you?”
“Indeed we are,” the Doctor replied cheerfully. “I’m the Doctor; this is Romana and this is our best friend K-9.”
“Hello,” Romana said cheerfully to the village doctor.
“Say hello, K-9,” the Doctor told the robot dog at his feet.
“Greetings,” K-9 declared.
“My, my,” Dr. Sretam said, looking admiringly at K-9 on the ground. “Is that the latest in Japanese technology you’ve got there?”
“Oh yes,” the Doctor said, trying to sound reassuring. “It’s all the rage now. K-9 was built by Professor Marius himself.”
“I see,” Dr. Sretam said. Romana wasn’t sure Sretam was convinced by the Doctor’s statement about K-9. She had to admit she wasn’t convinced either.
The Christmas music and dancing at the party got the Doctor’s attention as he attempted to change the subject.
“So,” he began. “A Christmas party in the village, eh?”
“Indeed,” Sretam replied cheerfully. “We always have our annual Christmas party in the village whenever possible.”
“In the snow I see too,” the Doctor remarked.
“Oh indeed,” Sretam said. “It wouldn’t be a Christmas party without snow, would it?”
“But shouldn’t the villagers keep themselves warm?” Romana asked. “They don’t seem to be properly dressed for these wintry conditions.”
“Whereas you are yourself, my dear,” Sretam said, noticing Romana’s white fur attire.
Romana wrapped her fur coat tightly around herself, feeling the cold. Not just from the wintry weather, but from Sretam himself too. She couldn’t place it. There was something odd about the man. Romana wondered whether the Doctor noticed it too. But if he did, he failed to show it.
“If you’re the village doctor,” the Doctor said. “Shouldn’t you be concerned for the villagers’ well-being out in the cold? A villager catching pneumonia isn’t ideal especially for Christmas time. It’s your priority to see that the village people are enjoying themselves without illness hindering them.”
“But as you can see, Doctor; Miss Romana,” Sretam stressed to point out. “The villagers here are as happy as they can be. Look at them dancing and enjoying the Christmas festivities with the music in the background and food on the buffet table.”
“Yes,” the Doctor replied. “That’s what puzzles me.”
The Doctor leant over to Romana and whispered in her ear. “Do you notice anything, Romana?” he asked. “Anything peculiar about the way the villagers are dancing in their not so warm clothes?”
Romana was about to say she couldn’t before she realised what the Doctor was trying to get at.
“It’s like…it’s like they’re…caught in a trance. Like a hypnotic trance. Where they don’t realise it is cold and they’re deliberately ignoring it because they’ve been conditioned to.”
“Exactly,” the Doctor said. “I knew it wasn’t just me who noticed it.” He paused for a moment. “I would like to examine one of the party-goers and find out whether it’s true. That they have been hypnotised or something.”
At that moment, K-9 waggled his ears and buzzed urgently.
“Danger! Danger, Master!” K-9 announced out loud.
The Doctor got distracted and knelt down to address the little robot dog. “What’s the matter, K-9?” he asked.
“Hostile elements approaching, Master,” K-9 told the Doctor.
Meanwhile, Dr. Sretam, who had been quiet for a while, said without warning, “Mind you, there have been strange things happening in this village of late. Strange things…that involve metal men!”
Romana became startled. “Metal Men?!” she exclaimed. “What do you mean, Dr. Sretam?”
But at that moment, K-9 cried out, “Danger, Master! Danger!”
“What, K-9?” the Doctor demanded impatiently. “What?! WHAT?!”
At that moment, the Doctor, Romana and K-9 heard screams. They turned to see the villagers run and scatter from the Christmas party. The music had stopped by then.
There was a good reason why the villagers ran and scattered. The Doctor, Romana and K-9 ran too. The village was under attack…by Cybermen!
The Cybermen marched forward, stomping into the English village with everyone scattering and running away from them.
“Do not resist!” the Cyber Leader announced to everyone. “Resistance is futile. We are the Cybermen. You will become like us. Upgrading is compulsory!”
The Doctor noticed how different these Cybermen were. They weren’t the same ones when he had encountered them last time in their attempts to destroy the planet Voga, the planet of gold. They had deeper robotic voices and rather than carrying guns in their heads, they had guns on their arms.
The Cybermen open fired as they shot down many of the scattering people within the village. They also electrocuted people by hand when one of the villagers came into contact with Cybermen. The Cybermen were ruthless as they marched on through the snowy village.
“Doctor,” Romana said urgently. “We have to get undercover!”
“What are they doing here?” the Doctor wanted to know. “Why come to an English village of all places?! And why come at Christmas?!”
“Doctor,” Romana tugged at the Doctor’s arm. “Come on! There’s a house over there we can hide behind it.” Romana pointed to show the Doctor what she meant.
The Doctor saw it and goggle-eyed he exclaimed, “Yes! Yes of course! Let’s get undercover, shall we!” He turned to K-9, “Come on, K-9! Heel!”
“Coming, Master,” K-9 piped up, as he did his best to follow the Doctor and Romana, trundling on the ground.
Impatiently, the Doctor picked up K-9 from the ground and carried the robot dog with him as he and Romana made their escape towards the house in the village before them and hide behind it. Fortunately, their escape was unnoticed by the Cybermen attacking the village.
Romana and the Doctor with K-9 made their way behind the house, out of sight from the Cybermen. The Doctor placed K-9 on the ground before he and Romana kept quiet whilst the Cybermen attack went on in the distance. They peeked out from behind the house to see what was going on. Most of the villagers had scattered and some were dead as a result of the Cybermen attacking them. The Cybermen regrouped as they were about to take their next orders from their leader.
“Hopefully most of the people in the village escaped with their lives from the Cybermen,” Romana stated.
“Yes,” the Doctor replied. “I wonder what became of Dr. Sretam,” he then pondered. “We didn’t see him when we escaped from the Cybermen.”
“No we didn’t,” Romana concurred. “He seemed to vanish as soon as the Cybermen attacked.” She then turned to K-9. “K-9, did you see Dr. Sretam escape?”
K-9 waggled his ears, as he computed all the data available to him on what he saw. After a few moments he said, “Negative, Mistress. No record was kept of Dr. Sretam escaping.”
“Typical computer,” the Doctor scoffed.
Just then, the Doctor, Romana and K-9 heard the sound of crying nearby. They turned to look and saw a small clearing in the house wall behind them. The Doctor and Romana investigated, as they found it was dark inside. But there was just enough light for the Doctor and Romana to see who it was that was crying.
It was a little boy, huddled in the clearing. The boy looked up to see the Doctor and Romana before him. His eyes were red from crying.
“Hello,” the Doctor said cheerfully to the boy, before he fumbled in his coat pockets. He then took out a few jelly babies. “Would you like a jelly baby?” he asked.
The little boy however turned away, seemingly scared and unable to take the jelly baby from the Doctor.
Romana helped. “It’s alright,” she said to the boy. “They’re only sweets. Things you eat.”
“That’s right,” the Doctor said. “Look!”
He passed one to Romana and she took a yellow jelly baby from the Doctor’s hands. Romana popped the jelly baby into her mouth and chewed on it gingerly. The Doctor then offered the jelly babies out to the little boy again.
“Here you go,” the Doctor said. “Go on. Have one.”
The little boy seemed unsure at first. Eventually however, the little boy took one of the jelly babies – a red one – and popped it into his mouth. The little boy munched at the jelly baby, before smiling happily at the Doctor and Romana.
“That’s better,” the Doctor said, pleased. “Now,” he began, “tell me! What’s going on here?”
“Who are you?” the little boy asked.
“Well I’m the Doctor,” the Doctor replied. “This is Romana and this K-9, my two best friends.”
“Hello,” Romana said cheerfully.
“Greetings,” K-9 trundled in.
The little boy was surprised to see K-9.
“What’s your name then?” the Doctor asked the little boy.
The little boy seemed hesitant at first. “Simon,” he said.
“Pleasure to meet you, Simon,” the Doctor declared. Just then, the Doctor seemed to notice something peculiar about the little boy. “Haven’t we met somewhere before?” he asked.
Simon looked confused before shaking his head, saying, “No.”
“Ah,” the Doctor uttered. “Sorry. It’s just that you reminded me of someone.”
Romana then took over as she asked, “What’s happening here, Simon? There are Cybermen attacking the village? Do you know that?”
Simon shook his head and then started crying again. He somehow managed to speak again after he stopped crying for a moment. “They’ve been attacking our village for some time,” he said. “Every time we have a Christmas party, the Cybermen come and attack us and take some of us away to their horrible home of horrors.”
“Yes,” the Doctor concurred. “I can imagine what goes on in there.”
“Do you know where they came from?” Romana asked little Simon. “How they came here?”
Simon nodded and said, “I can take you to the Cybermen’s base if you wish me to take you.”
“Simon,” the Doctor began, “That would be a great help. Then we can save you; your friends and family in time for Christmas.” The Doctor grinned to reassure Simon of this.
Simon grinned, liking the Doctor already and said, “Come! Follow me!”
With that, the TARDIS travellers followed little Simon to find the Cybermen’s base…
It didn’t take long, as Simon took the Doctor, Romana and K-9 to the village hall. The Doctor and Romana were surprised as they didn’t expect the Cybermen base to be in this place. K-9 just trundled on behind them, making no comment at this point.
“Simon?” Romana asked. “You said you were going to take us to the Cybermen’s base.”
“Yes I am,” Simon replied matter of factually. “This is the place.”
“But it’s inside the village hall, Simon,” the Doctor pointed out.
“It is,” Simon said. “But it’s not a village hall. It’s the Cybermen’s cover for a base.”
“Ah,” said the Doctor. “I see.”
Romana could tell that the Doctor clearly didn’t see at all. K-9 still made no comment.
“Come on in,” Simon insisted. “I’ll show you. Follow me.”
Simon opened the door and went inside the village hall to lead the way into the Cybermen’s base. The Doctor, Romana and K-9 remained behind a bit before going inside.
“Do we go in, Doctor?” Romana asked him.
“I don’t see any other option, do you?” the Doctor asked her.
K-9 at last piped up at this point. “Caution, Master,” he stated. “I advise caution.”
“Good call, K-9,” the Doctor declared, enthusiastically. “Come on, Romana; K-9!”
The Doctor, Romana and K-9 entered the village hall, not knowing what to expect inside.
Inside was not what the Doctor, Romana and K-9 were expecting.
The trio saw an alcove full of people. The Doctor recognised some of the people as the villagers who had scattered and had run away from the Cybermen earlier. The people in the alcove were connected by tubes and wires. There was a green light glowing.
Romana stepped forward to examine the villagers inside the alcove. The Doctor joined her, whilst K-9 used his scanner antenna to assess the condition of the villagers.
“These villagers look dead, Doctor,” Romana remarked out loud. “Like zombies. They aren’t moving. They don’t even seem to be alive.”
K-9 at that moment piped up. “Life-signs are minimal, Master. The villagers are in a comatose state.”
“Comatose!” the Doctor exclaimed.
“Affirmative,” confirmed K-9.
“That’s bad!” the Doctor said, rather absently.
“There must be some way to free them,” Romana remarked. “If only we knew what this machine was for?”
The Doctor then had a momentary retrieval of old memories come back to him, as he smacked the side of his head with his right hand. Romana saw how troubled the Doctor was.
“What is it, Doctor?” Romana asked. “Has something happened?”
There was a moment of silence before the Doctor spoke.
“Don’t you recognise any of this technology, Romana?” he asked her. “Isn’t it familiar?”
Romana examined the technology herself for a moment.
“No,” Romana replied. “No, I can’t say that I have. Why?”
The Doctor shrugged. “Oh it’s just…I’m sure I’ve seen this technology before.” He took a moment to gather his thoughts again. “A long time ago,” he continued. “When…”
The Doctor trailed off, as he then spotted something else about the technology. He bent down to inspect a power source container glowing beside the alcove. He pointed his finger directly at the power source container, fascinated and appalled by what he’d seen.
“That,” he cried. “That shouldn’t be here! Why?! Why is it here of all places?!”
Romana bent down to look and see what the Doctor had seen on the power source container. K-9 trundled forward, as he raised his antenna up to the power source container.
After a few moments, Romana equally became shocked by what she saw. “It can’t be!” Romana remarked. “It just can’t…”
“Oh yes it can be,” the Doctor corrected Romana. “And it is! It’s directly within our sights and it’s as real to touch.”
K-9 bleeped as he waggled his ears at this point. “Confirmed,” he announced. “The seal placed on the power source container of this alcove…is the seal of…”
“Yes alright, K-9,” the Doctor reprimanded K-9, berating the robot dog. “We know! We know what it is! Romana and I have seen it! You have seen it! No need to tell us out loud what it’s supposed to look like.”
K-9 was about to object at this point, when Romana asked the obvious question.
“Where’s Simon?” she asked. “He isn’t here, look!”
The Doctor looked around the area as well as Romana. Clearly Simon was nowhere to be seen. This puzzled the Doctor, as he wondered where he’d got to.
“Simon,” the Doctor called out. “Simon!” he called loudly. No response however.
K-9 waggled his ears and said, “Simon is not in the village hall. His life-signs are undetected at present.”
“Yes thank you, K-9,” the Doctor mumbled to himself. “We get the idea!”
At that moment, the door burst open and Cybermen marched in. The Doctor, Romana and K-9 saw the Cybermen marching in for the attack. They backed away against the alcove as the Cybermen came towards them.
“Remain still,” the Cyber Leader boomed out. “Remain still! You will be taken for upgrading! Upgrading is compulsory.”
Romana felt anxious as the Cybermen made their way towards to them.
“Don’t panic, Romana,” the Doctor tried to reassure her. “Don’t panic! Things could get a lot worse than they are now…”
And at that moment, things did get worse. For it was at that moment…the Doctor was snatched away. Romana and K-9 were alone, with no idea where the Doctor had gone.
“Mistress,” K-9 declared. “The Doctor-Master has vanished!”
“Yes, K-9,” Romana replied. “I know. But where to?! And at a time like this! First Simon, then him! Where did the Doctor go?”
“Insufficient data for a response,” which is all K-9 could say.
But Romana and K-9 had more to worry about. They saw the Cybermen advancing upon them. Romana and K-9 backed away, unsure as to how to get out of this mess…
‘Romana’ and ‘K-9’ originally conceived by Graham Williams
‘Cybermen’ created by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davies
© Tim Bradley, 2017
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