‘The Pantomime of Death’, Chapter 2

2. The Pantomime Stage

SCENE #6 – INT – DRESSING ROOM #5, NEW NEW THEATRE – DAY, AFTERNOON
A while later, the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy are now in one big dressing room. They settle in before rehearsals take place.

NYSSA
“This is a nice dressing room they put us in. Pity they couldn’t find one for each of us.”

BILLY
“Yes it’s not bad, is it?” (Pause) “I’m going to enjoy Christmas now!”

NYSSA
(concerned) “Doctor, are you alright? You look preoccupied.”

DOCTOR
“Hmm?” (Pause) “Ann and Howard’s daughter, Nyssa. Hannah. She does exist. She definitely does exist!”

NYSSA
“You seem sure about that, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
“It’s a fact!” (Pause) “The fact that I forgot so many things earlier proves it!”

BILLY
“I’ve never known you to forget things, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
“The air is so close here. It’s like there’s a polluted type of cloud in the atmosphere above our heads. It affects our memories and causes amnesia. When I stood at the theatre entrance…”

Moment of silence.

NYSSA
“Yes, Doctor? When you stood at the theatre entrance…”

DOCTOR
(gradually) “Do you know what?! I can’t remember where Howard and Ann live now. I should have written down their address when I asked them.”

BILLY
“Doctor, after all we’ve been through…I was hoping to spend a nice romantic Christmas with Nyssa. Now you’ve spoilt it!”

NYSSA
(puzzled) “What did you say, Billy?”

BILLY
“I said I was hoping to spend a nice romantic Christmas with you, Nyssa!”

NYSSA
(confused) “When were we going to spend a nice romantic Christmas together, Billy?”

BILLY
(baffled) “At the hotel. You arranged it as a surprise for me, remember?”

NYSSA
(puzzled) “No I don’t remember that.”

BILLY
(surprised) “But you asked the Doctor to bring us here. On your request, remember?”

NYSSA
“No I didn’t.”

BILLY
“But you did! I…”

Moment of uneasy silence.

BILLY
(worried) “Doctor?”

DOCTOR
“Do you know what I’m going to do now? I’m going to get myself changed. Whilst I’m at it, I’ll write a letter to the Intergalactic Cricket Club. Pardon me, Nyssa; Billy. I’m just going in here.”

The Doctor goes in a cubicle to change, drawing the curtains. The Doctor whistles as he changes. Nyssa and Billy are left alone.

NYSSA
“Billy, what’s the matter? Why are you so upset?”

BILLY
“I thought you wanted to spend Christmas with me, Nyssa!”

NYSSA
“Believe me, Billy. I would like to spend Christmas with you. But…I honestly can’t remember arranging something with you on those lines! I wish I could remember.”

BILLY
“But I remember, Nyssa! I was there. We were at…”

Moment of silence.

NYSSA
(intrigued) “Yes, Billy? What were you going to say?”

BILLY
(gradually; disturbed) “You know something, Nyssa?” (Pause) “I…I’ve forgotten the name of the hotel. It was on the tip of my tongue.”

The Doctor pokes his head out behind the curtain.

DOCTOR
“Did somebody forget something?”

Nyssa then sniffs the air.

BILLY
“Nyssa? Why are you sniffing?”

NYSSA
(sniffs; to Doctor) “Doctor, I can sense something with my nose. An ammoniac smell. Rather sharp and harsh.” (to Billy) “Billy, can you smell it?”

BILLY
(sniffs) “No I can’t…” (realises) “Wait a minute…now you mention it, there is some odour in the air or something.” (in disgust) “Ugh! It’s a bit off-putting. Like rusty metal.”

The Doctor steps out from his cubicle and sniffs too.

DOCTOR
“It’s been used again. I wish I had my sonic screwdriver to confirm it.” (Pause; realises) “Wait a minute….”

The Doctor fumbles through his pockets before taking out his sonic screwdriver.

DOCTOR
“Ah! Here we are! I’d forgotten I had this!”

The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to scan the area. After a few minutes…

NYSSA
“Is it something you recognise, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
“I’m not sure. I can’t really define what it is but…”

NYSSA
(gradually) “It could be some form of electrical ozone emanating from a metallic structure connected to the time vortex. And it’s that form of ozone that’s causing our memory loss.”

DOCTOR
(gradually) “Yes. Well…with the time vortex, it could bring on some kind of ramifications of temporal diseases.”

The Doctor puts his sonic screwdriver back into his pocket before he returns to his dressing cubicle, leaving a perplexed Nyssa and Billy.


SCENE #7 – INT – DRESSING ROOM #5, NEW NEW THEATRE – DAY, AFTERNOON
Later on, the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy have changed into their pantomime costumes. Nyssa is Cinderella, Billy is the Prince and the Doctor is Buttons.

NYSSA
“Well, here we all are. And in our costumes!”

BILLY
“You look gorgeous in that dress, Nyssa.”

NYSSA
“Thank you. And you’re very fetching in your costume, Billy.”

BILLY
(cheekily) “Oh. Very kind of you to say, Princess Nyssa.”

NYSSA
“Likewise, Prince Billy! I do like this costume I’m wearing.”

BILLY
“I like mine too. Though the collar’s a bit tight.”

DOCTOR
(defensively) “Don’t say a word about my costume, you two!”

Nyssa and Billy laugh when they see the Doctor as Buttons.

BILLY
(amused) “Well I must say Doctor, you do look the part.”

DOCTOR
(unconvinced) “Thank you, Billy.”

NYSSA
“Billy, can I ask? I’m new to this pantomime thing, but who is this…’Buttons’ character the Doctor’s playing?”

BILLY
“Ah, well Nyssa. Buttons is someone who has a crush on Cinderella. A sort of unrequited love. He doesn’t get anywhere with her and is the ‘comic’ of the pantomime.”

NYSSA
(to Doctor) “So you get to say the jokes and the funny lines, Doctor!”

DOCTOR
“In a manner of speaking yes, Nyssa. I get to make a humiliating fool of myself.”

BILLY
“Oh it’ll be a laugh Doctor. You’ll enjoy it!”

DOCTOR
(unconvinced) “Hmm.”

NYSSA
“What are pantomimes anyway, Billy?”

BILLY
“Pantomimes are like musical plays. Musical-comedy theatricals that are for children at Christmas time.”

DOCTOR
(uncomfortable) “Oh children! Good gracious me, that’s the worst part!”

NYSSA
“I thought you like children, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
“I do, Nyssa. But when it comes to standing before an audience of them on stage and wearing this ghastly costume, they tend to laugh and poke fun at you. That’s where they get annoying and hyper.”

BILLY
“Well it’s not that bad, is it?”

DOCTOR
(complains) “Bad?! I’m the Doctor. I go zooming around space and time, saving planets, fighting monsters and being…let’s be honest pretty sort of marvellous! Why did I agree to this?” (realises) “Oh. Now I know why. We came here to save a little girl, didn’t we?”

Nyssa then groans in pain.

NYSSA
(groans) “Doctor, my head.”

BILLY
(concerned) “Nyssa, are you alright? What’s the matter?”

DOCTOR
(insistently) “Nyssa, stand over here next to me.”

Nyssa does as she’s told and stands next to the Doctor with Billy following.

BILLY
(concerned) “Nyssa, what’s the matter?”

NYSSA
“My head’s throbbing all over. I feel as if I’ve got a headache. I don’t know why I should.”

The Doctor takes a look at Nyssa, focusing on her eyes.

DOCTOR
“The pupils in your eyes, Nyssa. They’re dilating. Just like Ann’s were earlier. And Howard had a headache too.”

NYSSA
“Doctor, my physic abilities are far more advanced than Ann and Howard’s. Something must be trying to get through. A telepathic message.”

DOCTOR
“Perhaps.” (Pause) “It’s something to do with this theatre. It must be. By the look of things, it could be a weapon of some kind. It’s hard to tell.”

Moment of silence. Suddenly, there’s a knock on the door. Billy jumps with a fright.

BILLY
(shook up) “W-W-What was that?”

NYSSA
“It’s alright, Billy. It’s somebody knocking on the door.”

BILLY
(calms down) “Oh. Oh yes, sorry.”

DOCTOR
“You’re a bundle of nerves tonight aren’t you, Billy.”

NYSSA
(calls) “Come in.”

The door opens and Sally enters in.

SALLY
(cheerfully) “Hello there. I’m Sally, remember.”

BILLY
“Pardon?”

SALLY
“Sally. The girl who brought you three to this dressing room?”

Moment of silence.

DOCTOR
(gradually) “Oh…yes. Hello, Sally. I remember you now.”

NYSSA
“Hello, Sally. What can we do for you?”

SALLY
“I came to tell you that rehearsals taking place will be on Theatre Stage Four.”

DOCTOR
“Right! Come on, you two! Rehearsals taking place on…where was it again sorry, Sally?”

SALLY
(confused) “Theatre Stage Four, sir.”

DOCTOR
“Theatre Stage Four, of course. I knew that.”

NYSSA
(to Sally) “Could you escort us to Theatre Stage Four please, Sally?”

SALLY
“Of course. Right this way.”

With that, the Doctor; Nyssa and Billy follow Sally to Theatre Stage #4.


SCENE #8 – INT – THEATRE STAGE #4, NEW NEW THEATRE – DAY, AFTERNOON
Eventually, the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy arrive on Theatre Stage #4 with Sally.

DOCTOR
(puzzled) “Uh, Sally? Where is the stage?”

SALLY
“Right here, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
(startled) “This is Theatre Stage Four then?”

SALLY
“Yes, Doctor. I’ll leave you three to it.”

Sally heads off, whilst the Doctor looks around the stage with Nyssa and Billy.

DOCTOR
(amazed) “This is so multi-staged and highly advanced. It doesn’t look much like a stage. It looks more like an auditorium than a stage.”

NYSSA
“There are lots of holographic projectors and technical stages above our heads, Doctor. The audience seats are very unusual too. The design’s all peculiar and the positional structure is very complex.”

DOCTOR
(delighted) “Oh look! They’ve got a Christmas tree here on stage. With a gold star on the top. Well…that completes the setting for a pantomime, doesn’t it?”

NYSSA
“Yes. The tree looks artificial though. The lights don’t seem completely wireless either.” (to Billy) “What do you think, Billy?”

BILLY
(takes it in) “It’s not like the theatres I know where I come from, Nyssa. It looks like a jumble sale of a theatre.”

NYSSA
“Have you performed in a theatre before then, Billy?”

BILLY
“Oh I did a few school plays, yes. I took part in drama camps for several summers too. What about you, Nyssa?”

NYSSA
“Oh I’ve been in a horror movie once during the nineteen-seventies on Earth.”

BILLY
(amazed) “Really? Oh I can’t wait to see you in that!”

NYSSA
“I’d advise you not to, Billy.”

BILLY
“Why not? I’d love to see you act on film!”

NYSSA
“That’s not what I meant. You could get infected with a Rahst inside your head, Billy.”

BILLY
“Pardon?”

DOCTOR
(interrupts) “We were told to get on with the rehearsals, you two. So let’s get on with it.”

NYSSA
“Yes. Let’s. We might as well with the theatre being so quiet.”

BILLY
“Let’s hope we won’t have to do a song and dance routine or something.”

DOCTOR
“Oh please no!”


SCENE #9 – INT – THEATRE STAGE #4, NEW NEW THEATRE – DAY, AFTERNOON
Unfortunately, Nyssa and Billy find themselves doing a song and dance routine on stage during rehearsals. The Doctor watches them.

NYSSA; BILLY
(singing) “We dance to the music…and we sing as the world goes round…and live for love…”

Billy then abruptly stops singing and dancing midway whilst Nyssa goes on.

NYSSA
(sings) “We will spend our lives to…”

Nyssa then stops singing.

NYSSA
(realises) “Billy, why have you stopped?”

BILLY
(uncomfortable) “I can’t do this, Nyssa!”

NYSSA
“We were doing so well! You were singing and dancing beautifully!”

BILLY
“I like the dance, Nyssa. But I don’t like this song! It’s too silly!”

DOCTOR
“I agree, Billy. It isn’t my cup of tea either hearing you two singing it. But then, that’s what pantomimes are all about, aren’t they?”

BILLY
(saddened) “Pantomimes were never like this when I was a kid.”

NYSSA
“Well, what were pantomimes like when you were a kid, Billy?”

BILLY
“Well they…” (Pause; tries to think) “Do you know something? I can’t remember! How can I have forgotten what pantomimes were like when I was a kid?”

NYSSA
“This is getting serious. This memory loss we’re suffering from.”

DOCTOR
“It’s happening again! This business we’re having! Someone’s doing this deliberately to erase our memories layer by layer!”

NYSSA
(gradually) “Shall we go back to the beginning of this scene?” (to Billy) “Billy, you’ve just been fighting the villain. Let’s start from there, shall we?”

BILLY
“Yes, let’s!”

Nyssa and Billy get into position on stage.

BILLY
(puzzled) “By the way, where is the villain? I thought he was meant to be here.”

NYSSA
“Yes. We seem to be the only three people here on stage doing the rehearsals. Where are the other actors?” (Pause) “Doctor?”

DOCTOR
(irritably) “How should I know? I didn’t hire them!”

BILLY
(puzzled) “Then who is the villain supposed to be?”

DOCTOR
“I thought I was playing the villain.”

NYSSA
(corrects Doctor) “No! You’re playing Buttons!”

DOCTOR
“Am I? I don’t remember.”

BILLY
(realises) “Oh wait a minute! Yes I remember! You Doctor were standing in for the villain until the actor playing for him had arrived!”

NYSSA
“Yes that’s right, Billy! I wonder how we forgot that all of a sudden!”

DOCTOR
(agitated) “Okay. Let’s just stop! Just stop everything, you two!” (Pause) “Something’s very wrong here! I’m not one for forgetting things, right? I’m not that kind of person! One time I entered a code for a series of digits on a keypad for a Rutan spaceship! Remember, Nyssa?”

NYSSA
“Yes, Doctor! And it’s surprising considering we’re forgetting things now.”

DOCTOR
“Well I remember the electric shocks that came in with entering the codes. And it was with pure luck.” (Pause) “Now we’re all forgetting things without realising it.”

NYSSA
“Doctor, if our memories are being lost, affected or altered, it would have to be someone malicious and capable of reading our minds! A telepath even!”

BILLY
“Who would want to do that anyway?”

DOCTOR
“No-one could be doing this on purpose, Nyssa; Billy.”

NYSSA
“Are you sure about that, Doctor? Children are being abducted from this theatre during the pantomime and it could be for a callous reason.”

DOCTOR
“Perhaps the air we’re breathing could be the result of some exhaust fumes.”

Moment of silence.

NYSSA
“Shall we start again?”

Nyssa and Billy get into position on stage whilst the Doctor watches them.

BILLY
“Right! Here we go!”

Billy as ‘the Prince’ makes his way over to Nyssa as ‘Cinderella’.

BILLY (as the Prince)
“Oh! Oh, my dear darling precious Cinderella! Are you alright?”

NYSSA (as Cinderella)
“Oh, my dear darling prince! You’ve saved me!”

BILLY (as the Prince)
“It’s alright, Cindy darling. I’ve scared that villain off!”

NYSSA (as Cinderella)
“Thank you for saving me! My hero! We must get away from here!”

BILLY (as the Prince)
“Yes! I think that villain came round the…”

Billy stops suddenly. Moment of silence.

NYSSA (as Cinderella)
“Yes, my prince? You think the villain came round the what?”

BILLY
(confused) “I…I…” (comes out of it) “Nyssa, I’m sorry.”

NYSSA
(sighs) “Billy, for once I wish you were a good actor.”

BILLY
“I’m sorry Nyssa, but I forgot my lines.”

NYSSA
“You could have improvised. Though I suppose it’s understandable. We were given the script at short notice. And it’s not well-written.”

DOCTOR
“I wholeheartedly agree, Nyssa.”

BILLY
(agitated) “No Nyssa, I mean I really forget my lines!”

NYSSA
“That’s okay, Billy.”

BILLY
“No Nyssa, it’s not okay. I’m usually good at remembering words off the page. I’ve got a photographic memory, remember? I wouldn’t forget my lines in an instant like that!”

NYSSA
“Billy, you’re over-exaggerating.”

BILLY
“I’m not!” (Pause) “Well maybe I am. But…I’m sure I would have remembered my lines to keep the plot going. As you said, I could have improvised.”

NYSSA
“Then why didn’t you?”

BILLY
(baffled) “I…I don’t know.” (to Doctor) “Doctor?”

DOCTOR
(distracted) “Now that’s interesting.”

NYSSA
“What is it, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
(intrigued) “See that up there, you two? At the far end of the back wall of the theatre?”

BILLY
“The sealed air-vent? Yes, what about it?”

DOCTOR
“There seems to be some kind of crack in the centre. If you look closely…”

NYSSA
(gradually) “Yes, I can see it now. There’s a light coming from it! It looks like some kind of image projection!”

BILLY
“But projecting to where though? There isn’t a screen behind us, is there?”

DOCTOR
“Perhaps it was an accident when that crack was made. Or perhaps…” (Pause) “…now that is strange, isn’t it?”

NYSSA
“What’s strange, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
(intrigued) “There seems to be some kind of crack in the centre of that sealed air vent!” (puzzled) “At the end of that back wall of the theatre. Did I just say that?”

BILLY
“Yes you did, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
“Did I?” (Pause) “Wait a minute. There seems to be some kind of crack in the air vent…”

NYSSA
(interrupts) “Three times, Doctor!”

DOCTOR
“Three times what, Nyssa?”

Moment of silence.

DOCTOR
(realises) “Wait a minute!”

NYSSA
“Don’t say it again please, Doctor!”

DOCTOR
(urgently) “Everyone, get back! Get back! There’s a crack…”

The Doctor pulls Nyssa and Billy back from the edge of the stage.

BILLY
(startled) “What’s happening? What’s going on, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
“You two! Follow me! We must get off this stage!”

BILLY
“Where are we going then?”

DOCTOR
“Just get off the stage, Billy!”

NYSSA
“Are we going back to our dressing room, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
“Yes. Back there, our minds will be clearer.”

The Doctor leads the way with Nyssa and Billy joining him, as they head back to their dressing rooms.


SCENE #10 – INT – DRESSING ROOM #5, NEW NEW THEATRE – DAY, AFTERNOON
Back in the dressing room, the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy talk things over.

DOCTOR
“So that where it’s coming from. The crack in the air vent!” (Pause; to Nyssa) “What was it you said about a light coming from it, Nyssa?”

NYSSA
“Well I said it was like some kind of image projection onto a screen.”

DOCTOR
“Projecting what image, Nyssa?”

NYSSA
“I don’t know. I couldn’t quite see.”

BILLY
“Oh. Well…that’s not much help.”

NYSSA
“But there was no screen for any image to be projected onto it. I’m certain of it.”

BILLY
(gradually) “Well…if it was an image being projected, what image could it be?”

NYSSA
“Perhaps it wasn’t an image, Billy. It could be a form of energy beam of some kind.”

DOCTOR
“Alright let’s just get some things straight here! We are forgetting things!” (thinks) “Yes, we are forgetting things!”

NYSSA
(realises) “Doctor, it’s stronger now. It’s like you said about there being some form of polluted cloud over our heads in the atmosphere.”

BILLY
“But pollution from where though? The space station?”

NYSSA
“The exhaust fumes from this station’s air ducts perhaps. It could pass out through that cracked air vent we saw in the theatre on stage.”

BILLY
“But how could that cause our memory loss?”

DOCTOR
“We were so close to the source when we were on stage. It was distinctly from that air vent and that light directing the energy beam, as you say Nyssa, to cause us memory loss. Or projecting it.”

NYSSA
(insistently) “But there isn’t a screen! There is no screen for the light to project any kind of image or energy beam.”

DOCTOR
“It may be just a beam of light that’s reflected off something that we can’t see, Nyssa. Or it’s staring right in our faces and we can’t see it.”

NYSSA
“Perhaps it’s something on the stage then.”

BILLY
“There was a lot of dust and fragments coming from that light when we were on stage. It wasn’t all that clear, Doctor.”

NYSSA
(thinks) “Let’s go and ask the manager, Mr. Higgins, about it. He might be able to help us.”


SCENE #11 – INT – RECEPTION AREA, NEW NEW THEATRE – DAY, AFTERNOON
Later on in reception, the Doctor; Nyssa and Billy talk to Mr. Higgins about these strange events. However, Higgins is sceptical and ignorant.

HIGGINS
(chuckles) “Really, Doctor. You have a paranoid mind!” (laughs) “Now, I suggest you three get yourselves ready for tonight’s performance. For the kids will be here any minute! And you wouldn’t want to upset them with a bad performance, would you?!”

NYSSA
“Mr. Higgins, you don’t seem to realise how serious this is. Not only are our memories being affected, but there’s also a crack in one of your air vents.”

HIGGINS
“My dear young lady, that air vent has had that crack for as long as I can remember.”

BILLY
(challengingly) “So you admit there is a light coming out of it, Mr. Higgins.”

HIGGINS
“Of course. Why shouldn’t I admit it?”

DOCTOR
(seriously) “Mr. Higgins, there’s a big gaping hole in a wall that’s probably exhausting some form of pollution affecting our memories. And it was on stage when we discovered it.”

HIGGINS
“Doctor, I’m not responsible for moments of amnesia that you and your friends are having.”

DOCTOR
(interrupts) “Oh of course not. But is that pollution being channeled through the vent by someone? If so, who could have done it? And why haven’t you seen to repairing that crack?”

HIGGINS
“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.” (Pause) “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve a lot of things to prepare. Seeing to the stewards and the ushers.”

DOCTOR
(interrupts) “I strongly recommend you call some service to repair that air vent. For health and safety reasons. That’s the last thing you want for your theatre to be closed down, isn’t it?”

HIGGINS
(slightly agitated) “Doctor…I must warn you that I’m not a patient man. I must ask you to stop these insinuations and suspicions! You and your friends are paid to act! Not to make observations! I want you to say the lines and do as you are told! Everything will be alright!”

DOCTOR
(gradually) “Can you vouch for that, Mr Higgins?”

HIGGINS
(gradually) “I have a very busy night ahead of me, Doctor. I’ve done these pantomimes for weeks and I will not have it ruined by you!”

DOCTOR
“I would take this into account, Mr. Higgins. Cancel tonight’s performance. Then get this place seen to for a full investigation.”

HIGGINS
(apprehensively) “No! That is not allowed! They will not permit it!”

DOCTOR
“They? Who’s ‘they’, Mr. Higgins?” (Pause) “Mr. Higgins, are you alright?”

Moment of silence.

HIGGINS
(calmly) “You three will perform on the stage, say the lines…”

DOCTOR
(interrupts) “Mr. Higgins…?”

HIGGINS
(raises voice) “…And you will do as you are told! Now leave me alone! I’ve got things to do!”

With that, Mr. Higgins storms off leaving the Doctor; Nyssa and Billy.

BILLY
(perplexed) “What’s he afraid of? He’s manager of this place! He has sponsors and yet he’s afraid of them.”

DOCTOR
(perplexed) “Believe me, Billy. It’s a mystery to me too. I doubt that he likes us anymore.”

NYSSA
(perplexed) “Doctor, there’s something else that’s rather puzzling. Have you noticed?”

DOCTOR
(intrigued) “No, but I suppose you’re going to tell us, Nyssa.”

NYSSA
“He’s the only one who doesn’t seem affected by the memory loss. He remembers everything. When we first met him, ours memories were affected. But Mr. Higgins seems to be immune to it.”

BILLY
“Now that you mention it Nyssa…yes that’s right!” (to Doctor) “Nyssa’s right, Doctor! We’re losing our memories, but Higgins isn’t!”

DOCTOR
“Yes!” (to Nyssa) “Yes, Nyssa! He does seem to be immune to the pollution. I wonder why that is.”

BILLY
“He could be behind what’s going on then. Mr. Higgins could be responsible for setting this up. With the theatre; the pantomimes and the children.”

NYSSA
“I wouldn’t jump to conclusions, Billy. We haven’t got enough evidence to back that up.”

BILLY
“Well…it seems to fit, Nyssa. It would make things straightforward and clear.”

DOCTOR
“Things aren’t always straightforward and clear, Billy. Mr. Higgins may be an agent for someone in a cunning master plan and he’s ultimately the victim.” (Pause) “But for the time being, we must go along with this pantomime.”

BILLY
“I’ll be thankful for a nice Christmas weekend after all this.”

NYSSA
“Yes, so would I. I should have arranged something for the two of us, Billy.”

DOCTOR
“And what about that girl that’s gone missing! We mustn’t forget her!”

NYSSA
“What girl, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
“The girl we came looking for, Nyssa. The reason why we’re here! Howard and Ann’s daughter! Hannah!”

BILLY
“Hannah? Who’s Hannah, Doctor?”

NYSSA
“Who are Howard and Ann?”

Moment of tense silence.

DOCTOR
“Oh dear. It’s affected you two worse than I thought.”

The TARDIS trio soon leave reception and return to their dressing room.


SCENE #12 – INT – THEATRE STAGE #4, NEW NEW THEATRE – DAY, EVENING
Later that evening, the pantomime takes place. There is epic music and the children are cheering, shouting and screaming. A sword fight takes place as Billy, the dashing prince, rescues Nyssa as Cinderella from an actor as a villain who he fights against. They use wooden swords to fight.

BILLY (as the Prince)
(heroically) “Get away, you vile man! You shall not hurt the princess!”

The kids cheer for Billy as the Prince before he makes a defying blow against his opponent with his sword. The villain regains his balance.

ACTOR AS VILLAIN
(chuckles) “You shall never defeat me! The princess is mine!”

The villain rises up again and charges at Billy with his sword, howling as he does so.

NYSSA (as Cinderella)
(cries) “My dear prince! Watch out!”

The villain towers over him. But Billy, as rehearsed, swings round and knocks the sword out of the villain’s hand with his own. The villain trembles once he’s dropped his sword. The children laugh whilst Billy stands and takes the villain’s sword from him.

BILLY (as the Prince)
“Well now, vicious fiend. What are you going to do now?”

The villain then runs off and screams off stage. The children laugh and cheer out, as Billy as the Prince saves the day. Billy runs over to Nyssa as Cinderella on stage.

BILLY (as the Prince)
“Oh! Oh, my dear darling precious Cinderella! Are you alright?”

NYSSA (as Cinderella)
“Oh, my dear darling prince! You’ve saved me!”

BILLY (as the Prince)
“It’s alright, Cindy darling. I scared that villain off!”

NYSSA (as Cinderella)
“Thank you for saving me! My hero! We must get away from here!”

BILLY (as the Prince)
“Yes. I think that villain went round the…” (thinks) “…round the corner and headed off into the sunset. I’m not sure where he’s from or what he’s doing here.”

NYSSA (as Cinderella)
“Well…hopefully we won’t see him again.”

Just then, the Doctor enters as ‘Buttons’. The children cheer for him. Some children also laugh at him.

DOCTOR
(uncomfortable, mutters) “Oh dear. Here we go again.”

Billy and Nyssa look to see the Doctor as ‘Buttons’ enter and go over to him.

BILLY (as the Prince)
“Oh! Look Nyssa – I mean Cinderella! Here’s Buttons!”

NYSSA (as Cinderella)
(calls) “Buttons! It’s me, Cinderella.”

DOCTOR (as Buttons)
(laughs merrily) “Yes! It is I! Buttons! Hello, Cinderella! What has been going on since I’ve been away?”

NYSSA (as Cinderella)
“Buttons, this dashing young prince saved my life! Isn’t that wonderful?”

DOCTOR (as Buttons)
(wearingly) “Oh yes. Wonderful news. Now that the terror is over. But how did you defeat him, sir?”

BILLY (as the Prince)
“With my sword, sir.”

DOCTOR (as Buttons)
“Your sword? Wow! Looks more like you can slice a bit of bread and butter than hurt somebody! Did you spread jam all over the villain’s face?”

The children laugh.

NYSSA (as Cinderella)
“Now Buttons. Let’s have less of the joking!”

DOCTOR (as Buttons)
“Joking? I’ve merely just begun! I was going to say…Have you ever tried to change into a blue suit and cape? It’s worked for Superman!”

BILLY (as the Prince)
“I wear a blue suit and cape, sir.”

DOCTOR (as Buttons)
“Then it’s not an improvement, sir.”

The children laugh again.

NYSSA (as Cinderella)
“Stop it, Buttons! That villain’s still running about! We must keep our guard!”

DOCTOR (as Buttons)
“Well that’s too bad, as I’ve already sacked mine!”

The children laugh again.

BILLY (as the Prince)
“Let’s put our heads together.”

DOCTOR (as Buttons)
“Heads together? Right!”

Both the Doctor and Billy knock heads together and react in pain. The children laugh again.

NYSSA (as Cinderella) 
“Stop it, you two. This is serious.”

BILLY (as the Prince)
“That was my head you hit, sir.”

DOCTOR (as Buttons)
“Yeah. And I felt it, sir.”

At that moment, Mr. Higgins as Santa Claus enters on stage.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(joyfully) “Ho-ho-ho! Merry Christmas, boys and girls! And to one and all!”

There is an uproar of cheer and screams from the children. Whilst Mr. Higgins plays Santa Claus, Billy whispers to Nyssa.

BILLY
(whispers) “You’re doing well, Nyssa! You’re a superb actress!”

NYSSA
(whispers) “So are you, Billy! I’m amazed we managed to remember our lines!”

BILLY
“Yeah. Perhaps the Doctor was wrong. Perhaps our minds weren’t infected as we thought.”

Meanwhile with Santa…

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“Well, children! Santa Claus has returned! Ho-ho-ho!”

Another series of cheers and screams come from the children.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(joyfully) “Did you see the prince save the princess from that dreadful villain?!”

CHILDREN
(cheers) “Yes!”

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“I can’t hear you!” (loudly) “Did you see the prince save the princess from that dreadful villain?!”

CHILDREN
(cheers) “YES!!!!”

As Mr. Higgins acts, Billy whispers to the Doctor…

BILLY
(whispers; to Doctor) “Why is it in pantomimes that they always do the bit where they ask the children to repeat their answers and shout it so loud?!”

DOCTOR
(whispers; to Billy) “I don’t know, but it’s really annoying! The script’s appalling too! I’ve never read such dire dialogue! But then this is pantomime after all.”

Meanwhile, Higgins as Santa clears his throat…

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(startled) “Well that’s wonderful! I’m glad the princess is safe! Let’s hope there won’t be any more trouble from that rogue!” (clears throat) “Well…as you know…Christmas is coming!”

The children cheer joyfully.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“Yes! Let’s hope there won’t be a Grinch! I’ve got a busy night tonight…”

As Higgins goes on, the Doctor notices something.

DOCTOR
(quietly) “What’s that noise?”

NYSSA
(quietly) “What noise, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
(quietly) “I can hear some kind of humming in my ears.”

BILLY
(quietly, puzzled) “I can’t hear anything, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
“Listen! I’m sure I can hear it!”

Meanwhile, the Grinch comes on stage laughing hideously behind Higgins as Santa. The children scream, trying to warn Santa that the Grinch is behind him.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“What’s that? What’s that you say, children?”

The children’s screams and shouts grow louder, whilst the Grinch continues menacing Higgins as Santa from behind.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(shocked) “What?! The Grinch is behind me?! No, that can’t be right!”

Meanwhile, Nyssa points something out to the Doctor and Billy.

NYSSA
“Doctor; Billy, look! Look at the Christmas tree!”

BILLY
“What about it? I can’t see anything wrong with it, Nyssa.”

DOCTOR
(to himself) “Something’s not right about all this.”

NYSSA
“Doctor, will you look at the Christmas tree! Or at least at the star!”

DOCTOR
“What?”

The Doctor looks at the Christmas tree.

DOCTOR
“Yes you’re right, Nyssa! No wonder where that light from the air vent was coming from! It’s the Christmas tree!”

BILLY
“What’s wrong with the Christmas tree? It seems perfectly alright to me.”

NYSSA
“It’s the star on top, Billy. It’s glowing brightly!”

BILLY
“What?”

Billy looks.

BILLY
“Hang on, yes! It’s glowing! On and off it is! And now I can hear the humming!” (Pause) “It wasn’t doing that before when we were doing rehearsals.”

NYSSA
“The light from the air vent’s directed towards that Christmas tree! That’s why we couldn’t see it before! It was shining on the brim of the tree to absorb the energy and power!”

DOCTOR
“The star’s the source of our sudden temporal memory loss! The air vent’s right above it! That’s what it is! It’s right above it!”

Meanwhile with the pantomime…

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“Now. If you see the Grinch behind me, I want you to shout together as loud as you can, “He’s behind you!” Then I shall see him! Will you do that for me, kids?!”

CHILDREN
(cheers) “Yes!”

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“I cannot hear you! I asked you will you do that for me?!”

CHILDREN
(cheers) “YES!!!!”

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“Good! Remember…when you see the Grinch… all of you say, “He’s behind you!”” (Pause) “Right! Well that’s sorted then!” (Pause) “Now as I was saying…”

Meanwhile, the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy continue their conversation.

NYSSA
“Doctor…there must be some other form of energy to cause the light on the Christmas star to glow. It can’t be just from the air vent.”

BILLY
“Could it be the audience perhaps?”

DOCTOR
“It could well be the audience…” (realises) “No!”

The Doctor immediately gets up and runs to the front of the stage.

DOCTOR
(calls; to children) “No, children! Stop! Don’t shout out…”

But it’s too late. As soon as the Doctor is on front of the stage, the Grinch comes up behind Higgins as Santa. The children scream and shout…

CHILDREN
(in unison) “HE’S BEHIND YOU!!!!”

HIGGINS (as Santa)
“What?!”

Santa Claus turns around to see the Grinch behind him. But as he does so, a strange whirring noise occurs and everything goes in slow motion. A shot of electrical power emanates from the theatre and the children immediately scream, terrified by this.

NYSSA
(cries) “Doctor, look! The children are being absorbed! By that light emanating from the Christmas tree star!”

BILLY
“Absorbed to where?!”

DOCTOR
“Come on, quick! We must get after them! Good thing I brought this!”

The Doctor takes something out from his coat pocket as he takes Nyssa and Billy with him.

NYSSA
“What do you think you’re doing?”

BILLY
“What’s that thing you’ve got in your hand, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
“A temporal transference initializer. Had it for quite some time. Time to explain later.” (urgently) “Hold tight to each other! Place your hands on the device!”

Nyssa and Billy do as they’re told, as they hold tight to each other and place their hands on the Doctor’s gadget. Seeing the children absorbed into the light of the Christmas tree star, the Doctor, Nyssa and Billy soon phase out.

BILLY
“Where are we going, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
“We’re going through!”

The TARDIS trio cry out bewildered. They become absorbed and soon disappear with the children. The screams die down. The whirring noise and electrical beam stops. Once it’s over, Higgins as Santa; the Grinch and a number of adults in the audience become bemused and puzzled as the children are gone.

HIGGINS (as Santa)
(joyfully) “Ho-ho-ho! Well, well, well! What do you think of that, ladies and gentlemen? The children have gone!”

A man from the audience applauds out loud.

MAN IN AUDIENCE
(from a distance; shouts) “Hey! Brilliant performance! What children?”

A puzzled murmur ensues from the audience. Meanwhile, Higgins looks around the theatre.

HIGGINS
(puzzled) “That’s funny! That Doctor and his two young friends! Where have they gone?”


© Tim Bradley, 2017

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