‘The End Dilemma’ (Z), Chapter 4

4. Bold Sacrifice

In outer space, the Doctor and Peri journeyed through the iso-dimensional rift. They passed through clouds of energy as well as stars. They were heading for the core of the vortex in space.

“Doctor, this is all very weird,” Peri remarked. “Are we travelling through space? And without protection suits? You know, like for astronauts.”

“We’ll be fine, Peri,” the Doctor reassured her. “Those two lion women Miss Gibbs and Miss Lewis will protect us with their dream influence.”

“But why couldn’t we have used the TARDIS to journey to…whatever this place is?” Peri asked.

“It’ll cause less for the Zorbius entity to suspect,” the Doctor answered. “Besides…we’ll be in a protected atmosphere once we get to the bridge.”

“The bridge?” Peri enquired.

“Yes, the bridge,” the Doctor replied. “We’re coming to it now! Look!”

Peri looked as the Doctor pointed to a strange stone-built bridge before them. They eventually made to land on the bridge.

Once they landed, Peri and the Doctor cautiously walked forwards as they made for a beacon of light ahead of them.

“That’s where we’re going, isn’t it?” Peri asked. “That beacon of light up ahead.”

“Yes!” the Doctor replied. “That’s where the source of the Zorbius energy is emanating from. And we’ve got to retrieve it!”

“Before that wretched creature gets its grubby hands on it,” Peri surmised.

“Yes,” the Doctor said. “And believe me, it wouldn’t do at all.”

Peri was astonished. “I’m still getting over how Sara and Dan happened to be the same person all this time. The same monster in fact. I thought it was Harper. And they were so young.”

“They’ve become a wretched thing all in one,” the Doctor remarked. “Well, if they’re a couple, they’ve always wanted bondage.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t realise they were the Zorbius thing…the creature all this time,” Peri commented.

“Hmm? Oh the Zorbius entity has appeared in many forms,” he explained. “It used to be one person on four occasions. Now it’s recently been two people. Certainly, as I’ve said before, the Zorbius entity keeps its identity a secret. You don’t know what’s to come next. Especially since we’re in this place within an iso-dimensional reality.”

“Yeah, remind me again,” Peri enquired. “An iso-dimensional reality?”

“We’re on the boundaries of parallel realities crashing into each other, Peri,” the Doctor said. “Whatever realities may appear, they’ll depend on the choices we make. I’m suspecting some of these realities will be conjured up by that Dr. Harper and the virtual reality machine.”

But Peri wasn’t paying attention to the Doctor. She was distracted as she saw something that caught her eye. She thought she saw someone – no…some people…walking about on the bridge they were on.

“Doctor, look over there!” Peri cried. “I see four people!”

“Oh what absolute rubbish, Peri,” the Doctor snorted. “There’s nobody else here but us.”

“No Doctor, I mean it!” Peri insisted. “Look! There’s an elderly man with long white hair. There’s also a man; a woman and a young girl. I think she’s that old man’s granddaughter and he’s her grandfather.”

The Doctor became astonished once he and Peri saw who they were looking at. He went white in the face.

“That’s me!” he exclaimed.

“What?” Peri asked.

“Yes! That’s definitely me! When I was younger!”

“What the young man?”

“No! The elderly gentleman with the long white hair! In the Victorian garb! That’s me there!”

Peri was astonished. “It can’t be! He doesn’t even look like you!”

“He is ‘me’, Peri!” the Doctor insisted. “He’s my earliest incarnation. And you should know about regeneration by now.”

Peri became puzzled. “But…that’s impossible! How can he be here at the same time as you are?”

“I’m…he’s with my three companions,” the Doctor said. “My granddaughter Susan and her teachers Ian and Barbara. We were on the space hotel – the Rotenhend hotel 360.” The Doctor paused for a moment, realising. “It was where I first encountered Zorbius.”

“I’m sorry,” Peri said, bemused. “I’m finding all of this too much. You said…space hotel.”

“This must be part of the dimensional boundaries generated by the tripod reality device to create these virtual scenarios,” the Doctor said, more to himself. “We’re looking through parallel windows on the past lives I’ve had as well as the adventures I’ve had confronting Zorbius. This occasion where my friends and I stayed at the space hotel was where we met ‘the creature’ – the Zorbius entity we saw with Sara and Dan merged together! I wonder if that creature came from this space station at the end of the universe to meet me, Ian, Barbara and Susan at Rotenhend’s space hotel.”

The Doctor didn’t have a chance to think about this for very long as he was interrupted by Peri.

“Look!” she cried. “It’s Jamie!”

“What?” the Doctor said astonished.

“It’s Jamie!” Peri repeated. “Jamie McCrimmon! Over there!”


“There! He’s right there!” Peri pointed. “He’s there with you! The other you, I mean! The scruffy dark-haired one that we met in Seville.” Peri became puzzled then. “I’m not sure who that girl is with them though.”

“That’s Zoe,” the Doctor told her. “She was another travelling companion of mine. We were a team: Jamie, Zoe and I.” He paused for a moment. “That scenario must’ve been when we were on the planet Saron. We faced the Skeletrons and the deepening rain for the first time then. We also confronted Albert who actually turned out to be Zorbius. He wanted the dreamscape from that lion girl called Charoc. I remember it all too well like it was yesterday.”

“Perhaps they can help us,” Peri suggested. “If we call out to them.” She began to call out, “Doctor; Jamie! Can you hear us! Hello Zoe! We’re over here!”

But the trio didn’t seem to hear Peri call out to them. Peri became astounded.

“Why can’t they hear us?” she asked. “I shouted out to them as loud as I could.”

“They’re echoes, Peri,” the Doctor told her. “They’re shadows of my own past. They can’t hear you or me whilst we’re here in this dimensional reality.”

Peri became grumpy. “Thanks for not telling me sooner.”

“I wasn’t sure of it myself,” the Doctor said solemnly. Eventually he said, “Let’s get a move on shall we, Peri? We need to reach the core of the Zorbius energy within that vortex in space. We must end this horrible business once and for all!”

With that, the Doctor took Peri’s hand as they journeyed onwards towards the beacon of light up ahead.

“Lab report – Day #210. I was sitting in my comfy chair, watching the monitor screen. I saw the Sontarans and the Daleks fighting it out with each other against the Parntroltans. I must say, this is most amusing entertainment I’ve ever experienced! I’ve never had such pleasure in seeing those filthy Parntroltans getting slaughtered by those dim-witted Sontarans as well as those mechanised Daleks. I even shouted, leaning forward on the edge of my seat, saying, “Go on, get ’em! Get ’em! Give those trolls what they deserve!”

I of course meant the Parntroltans – not the Sontarans. The Sontarans look troll-like of course, but the Parntroltans were uglier and more revolting. They don’t have much dress sense and manners.

As I sat back to continue watching this entertainment, having a glass of champagne nearby, the lab door burst open. I swivelled around in my chair to see my intruders.

“What in the name of…?” I began.

“This has gone on long enough,” Marshall Stoor said. “Call off the attack, Harper! I’m losing my troops by the dozen!”

“And my leg hurts!” Kurl protested. “I’m bleeding green here!”

“I thought you Sontarans were meant to be warriors of honour,” I gloated. “Of glory and battle!”

Just then, the Dalek commander glided in.

“Call off the attack!” it demanded. “Call it off! Call it off!!! Or I will exterminate you now!!!”

“And I thought you Daleks were impregnable!” I continued to gloat. “That nothing could smash you up! Except for bastic bullets perhaps as well as another Dalek death ray.”

I could see that Marshall Stoor and the Dalek commander were getting agitated. I couldn’t help but revel in it.

“If you do not call off this attack,” Stoor said, “I shall slaughter you on the spot! The Parntroltans are ruthless enemies! They are too strong for us!”

“Just as the Rutans are too strong for you over the millennia, Sontaran,” I chided. “But that doesn’t stop you from fighting them, does it?!”

“We demand that this war ceases at once,” the Dalek commander insisted. “This slaughter is meaningless in its execution.”

“I agree!” Another intruder entered the lab. “End this, Harper! End it now!”

I was astonished. I couldn’t believe it! A Parntroltan entered the lab!

“Get out!” I cried. “Get out of my lab! GET OUT!!!”

“This is merely a revenge plan,” the Parntroltan said. “To destroy all Parntroltans! By setting these Sontarans and Daleks against us, you achieve nothing, Harper. But we Parntroltans are strong! We always fight back! The Sontarans, the Daleks and us Parntroltans have reached an agreement! We will help each other. So cease this fighting once and for all!”

“Agreed!” the Dalek commander said. “The fighting must stop. If only to achieve escape velocity out of the iso-dimensional rift.”

“I concur,” Stoor added. “This battle has got us nowhere. We must put our resources together. You cannot carry on with achieving your aim, Harper. You cannot absorb the Zorbius energy.”

“That is where you are wrong, you numskulls,” I scolded. “For I can switch on the Doctor’s implant…wherever he is…and absorb the Zorbius energy for myself.”

I showed them the remote control that I had in my hand. It was to prove to them that I could do what I said I would do. I could see from the looks on their faces (not sure if the Daleks have ‘looks’ on their faces) that I’d impressed them. If not scared them a bit.

“Hand over that device at once!” Stoor demanded. “At once, do you hear?!”

“I shall activate the implant in the Doctor’s neck…now!” I declared, about to press the switch on the remote control.

“Drop it!” the Dalek commander ordered. “Drop the remote device at once! Or we shall blow your hand off!”

At that moment, a strange monstrous deformity entered the room. It was the likes of which I’d never seen before. He – I think it was a he – grappled onto me and caught my neck. He held my hand – the one which held the remote control. He turned to my opposition – the Dalek commander; the two Sontarans and the Parntroltan.

“Don’t you dare destroy this control, Dalek,” the creature said to the Dalek commander. “If you do, you’ll be very sorry for it.”

“Who are you?!” the Dalek commander wanted to know. “Who are you?! Answer! ANSWER!!!”

“I am Zorbius!” the creature replied. “And I want the crystal.”

I became confused. “You can’t be Zorbius. Zorbius isn’t a person. Zorbius is pure energy. You’re lying!”

“Yes, Zorbius is pure energy,” the creature answered. “I have absorbed the living soul of it. More accurately, your two lab assistants – Sara and Dan.”

“You…you…what?” I said, bemused.

“Shut up!” the creature said. “I want you to activate that implant in the Doctor’s neck to absorb the Zorbius energy. Do it for me and I shall absorb all of the Zorbius power and become almighty!”

“But my wife!” I protested. “I want my wife back! I need the Zorbius energy to reshape history and stop her dying! I must have the Zorbius energy!”

“Do not provoke me, scum!” the creature snapped back. “Your life means nothing to me! I’m the one who’s important! Not you! Or anyone else!”

“We’ll see about that!” Kurl spat defiantly. “For the glory of Sontar!”

With that, Major Kurl the Sontaran charged forward. Just then, the creature fired a bolt of electricity out from his hands. He electrocuted the poor Sontaran dead on the spot. The Sontaran became nothing as he crumbled into dust on the lab floor. Marshall Stoor was far from happy.

“You killed my first officer!” he complained. “You killed him yet you didn’t put up a good fight! You disgrace us in Sontar’s eyes!”

“Such is the penalty for those who defy me!” the creature said. “The great Zorbius!”

“Daleks do not fear death!” the Dalek commander said. “You will be exterminated! Ex-terminate! Exterminate! Exterminate…”

But it was no good. I saw the creature fire another electricity bolt and electrocute the Dalek commander on the spot. I could hear the creature shrieking with agony inside the Dalek casing before it blew up into a million pieces. The mutant creature was exposed once the Dalek casing was blown up. Its tentacles frazzled in shock before dropping to the side of its body, proving that the Dalek was dead.

The strange temperamental creature I’ve met today turned towards me. I shuddered once it stared at me.”

“Now,” it began, “you’re going to do exactly as I said. Or do I have to get angrier? Switch on the Doctor’s neck implant.”

At that command, I reluctantly complied. Still baffled, I started to switch on the Doctor’s implant inside his neck. I hoped this would all be worth it in the end with saving my dear beloved wife.”

The Doctor and Peri were now close to the beacon in the vortex. They made their way up the winding staircase. They felt the time winds howling past them as they went up.

“This is such a bleak place,” Peri said. “Not to mention cold and breezy. I wish we can get outta here as soon as possible.”

“Oh do stop complaining, Peri,” the Doctor retorted. “We’re nearly there. The beacon’s right before us as you see.”

“Oh yes,” Peri grumbled. “Very pretty.”

“It’s not supposed to be pretty, Peri,” the Doctor rebuked her. “That contraption could cause the entire…”

“…destruction of the universe,” she finished for him. “Yeah, yeah, I know.” Peri then noticed something about the beacon. “Hey! I wasn’t expecting it to be a box. I thought it might be something…more ethereal. Something we couldn’t touch. It looks pathetic.”

“Appearances can be deceiving, Peri,” the Doctor told her. “Never trust to appearances.”

They continued making their way up the stairs before Peri spotted something that caught her attention again.

“Look!” she cried. “There are some people over there! Can you see them?”

The Doctor looked before he realised. “Oh yes! We’re seeing another one of my past selves through the windows of the time rift.”

“We’re seeing another you,” Peri realised. “Which one then?”

“The one in the flamboyant clothes and the cape,” the Doctor told her. “The one who drove in his…my old car called Bessie. Dear Bessie.” He said this with fond memories.

“That girl sitting next to you,” Peri observed. “Is that…that’s Jo Grant, isn’t it? I remember seeing a photo of her once.”

“Yes, that’s dear Jo,” the Doctor answered. “She was a precious thing to me.” He paused for a moment. “And look! There’s Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart!”

“All those soldiers,” Peri observed. “You used to work for them?”

“Mike Yates; Sergeant Benton; yes,” the Doctor replied. “All who worked for U.N.I.T. We’d save the planet Earth day after day after day from alien invaders. And of course from the Master.”

“The Master?!” Peri felt her blood run cold. “You fought the Master on Earth?”

“Hmm,” the Doctor nodded.

“This past life we’re seeing of you,” Peri began to enquire. “Is it the Master you’re fighting against here?”

“Yes. Though he wasn’t the major threat,” the Doctor explained. “There was Salvador to contend with. As well as Discpulo, who was actually the bearer of the Zorbius energy. We were at a circus at the time. As you can see.”

“Yes,” Peri replied, as she saw images of a circus in the background with the Doctor and his friends from U.N.I.T., fighting against the Master and two other guys she didn’t recognise. Gradually she suggested, “Perhaps we should continue our way up to the beacon. We can’t stay around here, you know.”

“You’re right Peri, you’re right,” the Doctor agreed. “Sometimes seeing these past lives can bring back such fond memories for me. As well as nostalgia.” He paused for a moment. “But no. We must move on. In fact, we’re nearly there at the beacon.”

With that, the two continued on their way, climbing up the steps to the beacon.

Peri then saw something else that caught her eye.

“Doctor, look!” she cried. “That must be another you over there! I’m right, aren’t I?”

“In the bohemian clothes and the long scarf?” the Doctor checked. “Oh yes! That’s me alright. And I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in that body, you know.”

“Who are those other two with you?” Peri asked. “The robot dog and the…girl in the lining cloth and leather?!”

“That’s Leela, Peri,” the Doctor told her. “Leela, warrior of the Sevateem. And that’s my dog, K-9.”

“You had a dog in the TARDIS?” Peri couldn’t help laugh. “A robot dog?”

“And why not?” the Doctor asked, quite affronted. “K-9 was very reliable. If not a little annoying. But he always did what he was told to do. And he didn’t ask so many stupid questions.”

“Figures,” Peri scoffed.

“And it may interest you to know that you weren’t the first girl to wear very few clothes,” the Doctor told her. “Leela preferred to stay in her leotard all the time. She never changed out of it. Except on a few occasions that is.”

“And who was it on this particular occasion that you three were fighting against?” Peri asked. “And where?”

“We were facing Sharic Par on the planet Anothea,” the Doctor said. “And he was the nuttiest of the lot compared to all the other Zorbius manifestations I met so far. He called himself…‘the desperate hunter’.”

“Doctor, the Skeletrons are there,” Peri realised, astonished. “I can see them with you – the other you with the long scarf – as well as with that Leela girl and K-9!”

“Yes. And on that occasion they were called ‘the hunters of doom’, said the Doctor. “A rather silly title if you ask me.” He paused for a moment. “Come on. We haven’t got far to go now.”

Suddenly, the Doctor felt a surge of pain inside his neck. He fell down onto his knees on the bridge whilst feeling the pain inside of him. Peri knelt down quickly beside the Doctor, concerned.

“Doctor?” she began. “Doctor, are you alright? What’s going on?”

“My neck!” he gasped in pain. “I feel…I feel a strange sensation inside my neck.”

Peri checked and noticed. “You’ve got something in your neck,” she told him. “Something metal, I think.”

“Oh no!” the Doctor exclaimed. “I should’ve realised! Harper’s just switched on the implant inside my neck. He’s gone really mad this time.”

“I don’t understand,” Peri said puzzled.

“Harper intends to absorb the Zorbius energy out from my body, Peri,” the Doctor told her. “If he does that, he’ll kill me instantly.”

“No!” Peri cried. “He can’t do that! I won’t let him kill you! We’re not beaten yet, Doctor!”

“Indeed we’re not!” the Doctor agreed. “That’s why we must get to that beacon as soon as possible! Come on!”

Getting back onto their feet, the Doctor and Peri were nearly reaching the top of the stairs.

Peri then called out again, “Doctor, look! It’s you!”

“Yes, I know it’s me,” the Doctor said dismissively. “Now come on! We’ve got to concentrate, Peri…”

“No, no! I mean…it’s you, Doctor!” Peri repeated. “The first ‘you’! The first ‘Doctor’ I met back when I was on Lanzarote! When you were young and sweet.”

“Sweet?” Then the Doctor realised. “Oh yes! That one! The one with the feckless charm.”

“It’s so good to see him again,” Peri said. “I’ve really missed him.” Pausing, she took a look at the companions with the young Doctor. “Who are those two with him? That young couple there. They look sweet.”

“They were my friends, Peri,” the Doctor said. “Nyssa and Billy. We were a team, the three of us. Nyssa and Billy became a couple when they were travelling with me. They fell in love.”

“They do seem a lovely couple,” Peri observed. “You must really miss them, Doctor.”

“Hmm? I miss all my companions, Peri,” the Doctor said sadly. “Every one of them goes. Soon it’ll be your turn, you know.”

“Not if I have anything to do with it, it isn’t,” Peri retorted.

The Doctor smiled before he said, “But you’re right, Peri. Nyssa and Billy were the closest I ever came to know as friends. They confided in me. And Nyssa…she was very happy when Billy came along. Those times were the happiest days of my life. Much like a holiday in fact.”

Peri then noticed where her first Doctor, Nyssa and Billy were through the time windows. “Is that a country house you and your friends are at?”

“Cranleigh Hall, yes,” the Doctor answered. “We were dealing with a deadly mirror. Our enemies at the time were Chuffy and Freddie. They were two ferocious cricket players. But we defeated them! And that was the last time I ever encountered Zorbius.”

“Before today, you mean?” Peri checked.

The Doctor nodded before he said, “Come on! We must get to the beacon immediately. Already I feel the pain inside my neck growing worse.”

After gasping for a moment, the Doctor and Peri continued towards the bright light ahead of them.

“Lab report – Day #210 supplemental. As I watched the chain of events unfold, I observed the Zorbius creature. He was almost becoming triumphant. He was laughing away like a maniac. He couldn’t seem to contain himself. He was goading over the Doctor’s seemingly demise.

“Success!” the creature said triumphantly. “I shall change the universe to my definition! The whole of time and space shall be mine! I shall overthrow those who have oppressed me! The Doctor will die! All planets and stars will be mine to control!”

The monster cackled away with glee. He raised his head up to the ceiling. As I saw this…parasite before me, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d made an error in my calculations. All I wanted to do was to save my wife from the dead. Bring her back to life again. That was all. The chance to touch her pretty face. To feel her warm breath. To have the reassurance of her kiss and gentleness. Now it seems that all I’ve done…is cause more chaos.

Just then, the alarm went off. None was too happy about this than the creature who claimed to be Zorbius. He yelled in a furious rage.

“Who is disrupting my conquest?!” he demanded. “What fool has caused that alarm to blare off?! Who I ask?! WHO?!!!”

“Perhaps you aren’t in control as you think,” Stoor suggested. “You’re not as calculated in your strategy as we Sontarans are.”

“The Doctor must be interfering again,” the creature said. “He must’ve found the beacon! No! He must not succeed!”

At that moment, a number of Skeletron Hunters entered the lab. They seemed to be under the creature’s control now. I wondered how that was.

The creature addressed them. “You will go out there and hunt the Doctor! Stop him and his companion from spoiling anything! Don’t let them touch the beacon! Go I say! GO! GO!!!”

“Understood, master!” the first Hunter said, who must be the leader. It turned to the other Hunters. “Come! We must hunt the Doctor!”

The Hunters chanted, “Hunt the Doctor! Hunt the Doctor! Hunt the Doctor!”

They left the room, chanting away as they searched for the Doctor. I hoped the Doctor would reach the beacon in time before the Hunters got to him. The creature then addressed Marshall Stoor, the Parntroltan leader and a Dalek that just came in. I assumed it was the Dalek commander’s second in command.

“You are all to serve me!” the creature declared. “Sontarans; Parntroltans and Daleks. The Androgums I have no use for. They’re so stupid with their eating habits. You are all to obey my commands!”

“Sontarans do not take orders from wretched creatures like you,” Stoor said defiantly. “We seek battle and conquest! Not slavery and submission!”

The Parntroltan leader said proudly, “We Parntroltans would rather die with our children than serve you! Kill us all you like!”

“Daleks are the supreme beings,” the second-in-command Dalek said. “We are the masters of the universe! You cannot give orders to Daleks! Daleks do not take orders from inferior beings!”

“I warned you for opposing me!” the creature said.

At that moment, two old ladies appeared out of thin air. I recognised them at once. They were Miss Gibbs and Miss Lewis – the two old women who serve dinner to me and my guests from time to time. They were different somehow. They looked colder and seemed more determined. They showed a certain wildness about them. They looked to the Zorbius creature and scolded him like a little child.

“Enough Zorbius!” said Miss Gibbs fiercely. “The wild lion women have found you out!”

“You have gone too far, Zorbius,” Miss Lewis added. “Far too far!”

I don’t know if anyone else noticed but me, but I could see from the creature’s wretched expression that he became scared of the two old ladies.”

Back in the rift, the Doctor found himself working underneath the beacon. He tampered with wires within in the control units, adjusting them slightly in order to power down the beacon safely. Peri became anxious as she stood beside him.

“Doctor, how much longer are you going to be?” she asked. “I’ve got this intuition we’ll be caught if we’re found tampering with the beacon.”

“Don’t rush me, Peri,” the Doctor said, focused on the task at hand. “I’m working as fast as I can. Give me time.”

Per became sardonic. “And you’re a Time Lord who can’t keep track of time.”

“I thoroughly resent that,” the Doctor retorted.

A moment of silence ensued.

Then Peri said, “Hey, Doctor! What about all those future selves we saw of you when we got to this beacon. Didn’t that scare you in the slightest?”

“I prefer not to dwell on it, Peri,” the Doctor replied. “For a Time Lord like myself, it’s best not to know these things.”

“Suit yourself,” Peri said. “Sorry I mentioned it.”

“Though I’m glad to know a little of what to expect when I encounter Zorbius next time,” the Doctor remarked. “It’ll be in Mozambique next. I’ll have to keep that in mind once I become the schemer. Along with that streetwise kid.”

“Then there were those other future selves we saw of you,” Peri went on. “The Byron-looking one with that blonde girl; the one who looked old but I couldn’t quite see him because he was so blurry-looking in the time windows; the Northerner with another blonde and an American captain; the geeky one with that redhead; the one with the bow-tie and that…’impossible girl’ I think he called her; the Scottish one with the gay girl; and the blonde woman with those three companions of hers…”

“Yes, thank you, Peri,” the Doctor interrupted her. “Like I said, I’d rather not dwell upon it. Mind you, the one with the bow tie was a one bumping into us like that whilst I was working here. He should’ve known better not to cross his own time-stream with me.”

“We were both startled, yes,” Peri agreed. A thought then occurred to her. “All of this must be second nature to you by now. Meeting your future selves, I mean.”

The Doctor seemed to be embarrassed by this point before he answered whilst he worked. “I’ve tried to avoid the occasion, Peri,” he said. “Sometimes it’s necessary when the crisis is urgent. Just like it was when I tackled Omega and the Death Zone on Gallifrey. There was also the occasion when my previous self – the one that you liked – met a future version of me – the geeky one. Their TARDISes bumped into each other and it nearly caused an explosion the size of Belgium!”

“Like I said,” Peri began to reply, “it must be second nature to you by now.”

The Doctor said nothing. A moment’s silence ensued before he continued his work. Eventually…

“There!” he declared. “That should just about have done it!”

“You’ve nearly finished?” Peri asked.

“Yes,” the Doctor said happily. “Just need to put everything back together; close it all up and switch on the OFF button.”

The Doctor refitted wires back into the control units and sealed up the panels. Just then, Peri turned with a fright as he saw figures coming towards them. She gasped with fright, warning the Doctor.

“Doctor! Those Skeletrons!” she said. “The Hunters! They’ve found us! They’ve come to get us! They’ve got that raincloud above their heads! Hurry Doctor, before they get here!”

“Hold on, Peri,” the Doctor replied. “I’m just about to set it off to explode!”

“Hurry, Doctor! Come on!”

“Be patient, I said!”

Eventually, the Doctor pressed buttons and switches on the beacon’s desktop terminal. This was just as the Skeletron Hunters nearly arrived. The rain continued to pour down upon them whilst they were under their raincloud. The Skeletrons gnashed their teeth and raised their swords up high in the air.

“Be afraid!” the Hunter leader said. “Be very afraid! The Hunters are coming for you, Doctor!”

Peri was panicking. She tugged at the sleeve of the Doctor’s multi-coloured coat. “Doctor, they’re nearly here!” she said urgently.

“There!” the Doctor cheered. “Done it!” Then he shouted, “Get down, Peri! Away from here! The beacon’s going to explode!”

Peri could just about hear the beacon’s systems overloading with power. The Doctor pushed her off from the podium as the two ducked for cover away from the beacon. The Hunters howled as they approached. The beacon soon blew up into smithereens as it burst into flames. Fragments of the beacon scattered all over the podium, as they knocked out the Hunters.

Once the explosion was over, Peri and the Doctor got up from the floor. They recovered from the blast, feeling very relieved.

“We’ve done it, Peri,” the Doctor cheered. “Look! The Hunters! They’ve lost their raincloud! They won’t be able to survive without their deepening rain now, will they?”

“Well,” Peri said relieved, “at least we won’t have a wet journey going back to the space station. I’m fed up with having to travel in these sopping clothes. I can’t wait to get back to the TARDIS and change into something warm.”

“And we won’t have to dream,” the Doctor added. “Without the deepening rain.”

“Doctor,” Peri realised. “The Skeletron Hunters they’re crumbling to dust. Their bones are decaying. Ugh! That’s horrible!”

The Doctor nodded. “All that remains of them is their robotic skeletal structure. They can’t survive on metal one. The Skeletrons need the bones as life support.”

At this moment, the Doctor took out a strange box from one of his coat pockets and opened it. He held it up in the air.

“What are you doing with that box, Doctor?” Peri asked. “Collecting something?”

“Yes,” the Doctor replied. “I’m collecting some of the Zorbius energy that’s still in space. I’m doing it in the hopes that Zorbius – the wretched creature – won’t get his hands on it.”

With that, the Doctor pressed a button on the box. The box began to absorb energy contained within the air. Eventually, a river of energy flowed into the Doctor’s box. Peri watched, fascinated. She soon saw the reaches of space getting clearer and its stars shining brighter. Once all of the Zorbius energy has been absorbed into the Doctor’s box, he immediately closed it. He sighed contented.

“There!” he said, pleased. “Once we get back to the TARDIS, I hope to build a new crystal and compile all of the Zorbius energy contained within this box I’m holding. And this time, it won’t be a makeshift crystal like on previous occasions.”

Peri became anxious, “Doctor, we’ve got to get out of this place! It’s not safe anymore!”

The Doctor could see that Peri was right. The stone bridge was beginning to crumble. They tried to get onto their feet and run back across the way they came. But even as they ran, the bridge broke apart before they could get any further. There was lengthening gap for the Doctor and Peri to jump across. They couldn’t make it even if they tried.

“Oh Doctor, we’re trapped,” Peri cried. “We’ll never get back to the station. We’re done for, aren’t we?”

“Not quite, Peri,” the Doctor cheerily said. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

At that moment, the Doctor took out a small device and pressed a button on it. Very soon, the wheezing, groaning sound of the TARDIS echoed nearby. It materialised right before them. Peri became astonished and delighted.

“Doctor! The TARDIS! How did you…?”

“Stattenheim remote control, Peri,” the Doctor told her. “I’ve always wanted to have one. The Rani and my second incarnation were so lucky, so why couldn’t I have one? Come on! Let’s not waste time! Let’s get inside!”

Without arguing, Peri ran for the TARDIS. The Doctor opened the door with his TARDIS key as he and Peri got inside. Once they got in, the bridge was about to give way. The TARDIS dematerialised, whooshing and grinding as the Doctor and Peri made their escape before the bridge collapsed.

“Lab report – Day #210 supplemental. Zorbius – the creature – was getting angry. In fact, if he was turning purple…I can’t be sure with a face like his…I’d say he was going to explode. I couldn’t help be pleased about this.

“No!” he yelled. “NO, NO, NO!!!!! My beacon has been destroyed! The power of Zorbius has been taken from me again! Again!!!”

Soon, everything was happening all at once. I saw the space station crumbling apart. The ceiling was collapsing. The Sontarans were weakening too. Marshall Stoor and his troops got hit by rubble collapsing onto them. Green blood oozed out of them.

“This can’t be happening!” Stoor exclaimed. “This wasn’t supposed to happen! We are Sontar’s finest warriors! Nothing can defeat us!”

The Daleks were dying too. They swivelled round and round, getting out of control as their casings crumbled apart.

“Vision impaired!” one Dalek yelled. “I cannot see! I cannot see! My vision is impaired! I cannot see!”

“Warning: emergency!” a second Dalek yelled. “Out of control! Out of control! Help; help! Out of control! Out of control!”

The Daleks exploded. Their casings exposed the dead mutants within. They withered their last moments of life. I couldn’t help but laugh. Then the two Androgums – Bonecracker and Verazine – entered. They were wailing and groaning as the ceiling toppled down upon them.

“We are all dying!” Verazine cried. “We are dying! We are all doomed!!!”

“And we didn’t get our fair share of meat!” Bonecracker complained. “Soon, we shall all be meat!”

The Androgums were soon swallowed up in the rubble. They were buried deep beneath. I still couldn’t stop laughing. It was then I saw the Parntroltans dying too. My laughter suddenly stopped as I saw the Parntroltan leader breathe his last.

“The end has come!” he declared. “We Parntroltans are dying! And yet this was meant to be. May whoever brought us here to this abominable place be satisfied with himself. For the ending of our race…of our kingdom…is assured.”

And with that, the Parntroltan leader died along with the others. I couldn’t help feel sorry for him. If not a little guilty. For him and all of his kind. As I could see, things were reverting back to normal.

Then I saw the enraged Zorbius creature turn against me. He was far from happy. He held me by the lapels.

“You are an idiot!” the creature said. “You stupid, stupid idiot! Your implant on the Doctor’s neck didn’t work.”

“Your Skeletron Hunters didn’t get to him in time,” I said. “You shouldn’t be blaming me.”

The creature released me as he turned away and let out a furious yell of rage. He shook his fists up at the ceiling.

“I curse you, Doctor!” he yelled. “I curse you for everything! My plans are ruined because of you! I’ll hunt you down, Doctor! I’ll hunt you for the rest of time! In your next life, I will hunt you down!”

Then – and I don’t know how it happened – the creature disappeared out of sight. I was alone again.

As I’m alone in the last remnants of life, with the ceiling about to collapse on me, I regret that I was wrong. I shouldn’t have let the Parntroltans die. I should’ve listened to the Doctor’s words. But then, I was never a wise listener. I wish things could be different.

This is my final log entry. Dr. Henry Harper signing off.”

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor managed to get the implant out of his neck. It stung quite a lot as he gasped in pain. He eventually threw the implant away onto the floor.

“There!” he declared. “No more implants! And no more bother by that Zorbius creature and Dr. Harper. For now at least.”

“But it is over, is it?” Peri asked. “Are we safe? Have we defeated the Zorbius creature?”

“Oh Peri,” the Doctor sighed, “so many questions. I can’t be sure of everything until we get back to the station.”

“But won’t that be dangerous?” Peri questioned further. “With the Sontarans, the Daleks, the Androgums, the Skeletrons, Dr. Harper and that creature waiting for us?”

Before the Doctor could answer, they were met by the two old ladies who appeared in the TARDIS console room.

“Doctor!” Miss Gibbs greeted. “You’ve achieved your objective!”

“We have seen the Zorbius creature defeated,” Miss Lewis told him. “You are very fortunate.”

“Oh modesty forbids,” the Doctor replied. “Thank you for letting me and Peri know. Was he very angry once he’d been defeated?”

“Very angry indeed,” Miss Gibbs said.

“I suspected as much,” the Doctor remarked.

“What about King Tut?” Peri asked. “Where he is? Did you take him somewhere safe?”

“He’s returned to his own time,” Miss Lewis said. “He is back in ancient Egypt when we first picked him up”

“Well, that’s relief,” Peri said. Then she realised. “Wait! When you first picked him up?”

“Yes,” Miss Gibbs said as she explained to Peri. “We picked him up from ancient Egypt in order to accompany you dear girl through the dreaming stages that were being forced upon you by Zorbius.”

“His memory and experiences of the event will have been erased by us,” Miss Lewis added. “He won’t remember you as well as what happened to him when he was abducted by us. Don’t worry. We’ve made sure he’s safe back in his own time.”

“Well,” the Doctor said satisfied, “it’s nice to know all is back to normal.”

“Does that mean we’ve won?” Peri asked. “No more trouble from Zorbius? We’re safe?”

“Doctor,” Miss Gibbs interjected. “We came here to give you a warning.”

“A warning?” the Doctor enquired. “What’s that then?”

“Because you tampered with the beacon,” Miss Lewis explained, “the iso-dimensional rift is about to weaken. The reality you and Peri have been in is imploding on itself.”

“Oh no!” the Doctor realised. “That could be catastrophic!”

“Imploding as in…BOOM?!!” Peri emphasised.

“Exactly, Peri!” the Doctor answered. “BOOM!!! This sector of space at the end of the universe will implode instantly. The parallel and abnormal realities would collapse altogether if we don’t escape the rift and close it. The void will become neutralised. Imagine the damage that would be caused for the entire universe. We must stop it!”

Peri watched as the Doctor urgently set about the controls for his TARDIS at the console unit. The time rotor went up and down as the Doctor worked away. The whooshing and the grinding continued. Eventually, the Doctor turned on the scanner screen to reveal a white light in the centre of space outside the TARDIS.

“There!” the Doctor exclaimed. “That’s where the source of the implosion is coming from. I must seal up the rift before it’s too late.”

Peri gradually realised what the Doctor was attempting to do and became anxious.

“You’re not going to pilot the TARDIS into the heart of that thing, are you?”she asked.

“Peri, I have no choice,” the Doctor told her. “The thought of even trying to do this antic shudders me.”

“But we’ll get killed!” Peri protested.

“The entire universe is at stake, Peri,” the Doctor reminded her. “This is our only option! It’s a bold sacrifice I’ve got to take with my TARDIS!”

“There must be another way,” Peri insisted.

“There isn’t,” the Doctor answered. “I intend to reverse everything that’s happened in this reality! If I crash the TARDIS into the heart of the vortex, all of time and space will be restored. It’ll be just as Dr. Harper wanted. Hopefully we’ll be to escape in the end.”

Whilst Peri was sceptical, the Doctor’s determination was unwavering as he finished setting the controls to the TARDIS console. He then clung onto the console, ready for an almighty dive.

“Hold on tight, Peri!” he told her. “Here it goes!”

At that, Peri clung onto the console too. But even as the Doctor and Peri held onto the TARDIS console, the ship shook violently.  They both ended up falling to the floor.

Soon, the TARDIS crashed into the heart of the vortex which contained the iso-dimensional rift inside. A mighty implosion occurred before everything was sealed up. The space station; the stone-build bridge and the TARDIS vanished out of existence. But would time and space be reversed? Did the Doctor and Peri manage to survive?

Eventually, inside the TARDIS, Peri was helped up to her feet by the Doctor. She was groggy, struggling to remember what happened.

“Doctor,” she checked. “Did you do it? Did you seal up the rift?”

“Yes Peri, I have,” the Doctor reassured her. “All is safely gathered in. We’re back in our own dimension. Our own universe. We returned safely once things were put into reverse.”

“But I can still recall what happened to us on that station,” Peri said, confused.

“We’re in the TARDIS, Peri,” the Doctor told her. “Our memories won’t be affected in the TARDS once time and space are put into reverse.”

Peri tried to comprehend that for a moment. It sort of made sense. “And what about the space station with the monsters?” she asked. “Has that gone forever?”

“Contained inside the rift, it’s been destroyed forever,” the Doctor said with almost certainty. “Though as the rift’s been sealed up, it’s hard to be sure without being able to gain access to it.”

Peri soon looked to the scanner screen. She saw the view of space. The stars. The tiny pinpricks on black. She then saw something that didn’t look right.

“There’s a hole in space, Doctor,” she told him. “A black hole?”

“A crack in time and space, Peri,” the Doctor said. “A gateway into the rift itself.”

“Hey, I thought you said the rift was sealed off,” Peri said. “And won’t that suck us into the rift again?”

“No, no,” the Doctor reassured her. “It’s nothing to worry about. Besides the crack’s closing. It can’t absorb anything whilst its closure is imminent. The gateway is shutting up shop. Just ignore it.”

Peri puffed, “Well, it’s a good thing those old ladies warned us when they did. I wonder where they are now.”

The Doctor became thoughtful. Then he said, “I think it’s best we don’t know. Just to be on the safe side.” He paused for a moment before he said encouragingly, “Come on! We’ve got so much to see. I haven’t shown you the mines of Faslaca-Otar yet!”

At that, the Doctor pressed buttons and switches at the TARDIS console. As Peri watched him, a moment of silence ensued between them. The time rotor continued to oscillate up and down as the TARDIS made its journey through time and space.

“Doctor, is it safe to ask another question?” Peri asked.

“Hmm?” the Doctor murmured. “Yes, yes, of course. Go ahead.”

Gradually, Peri began, “I was wondering.” She paused to take a breath. “How exactly did we end up in that rift in the first place? I mean, did the TARDIS slip through something in space unexpectedly? I can’t quite remember.”

“Ah,” the Doctor responded. “I suspect it has something to do with the Zorbius entity floating about in time and space before it caught us. It dragged us off in the time vortex before it took us into that rift where the space station was. And where Dr. Harper was. How exactly he got on that space station, I don’t know.”

“And how come Miss Lewis and Miss Gibbs were able to pick up King Tut from his time and place on Earth?” Peri enquired. “And why him of all people? An Egyptian Pharaoh.”

“I imagine the two old ladies were able to pick him up through a side effect of Dr. Harper’s experiments with time and the Zorbius energy,” the Doctor replied. “Why they chose him, I don’t know. Nothing to worry about. King Tut should be safely back with his own people and in his own kingdom. In his own palace.”

“So,” Peri gradually went on, “that Zorbius energy…was maintaining the rift to exist?”

“Exactly,” the Doctor answered. “And it caused entropy to increase. Other universes as well as our own were about to die as the rift expanded. And as the Zorbius energy was getting stronger.”

“Well, I’m still as baffled as ever,” Peri said. “It’s still hard to comprehend.”

“Oh don’t worry about it,” the Doctor consoled her. “It’ll soon boil over. It usually does with you Americans.”

Peri became dubious. “I suppose to you that’s a compliment.”

“Absolutely,” the Doctor teased. “I wouldn’t have you any other way, Peri. Always looking for answers. That’s the Peri I know.”

Peri giggled whilst the Doctor chuckled.

Gradually, Peri continued, “And the Zorbius energy. You’ve got that safely in the box you used?”

“Yes!” the Doctor said reassuringly, showing Peri the box. “Yes, I have! Once I had the Zorbius energy absorbed into this box from the rift, it caused it to collapse indefinitely. The beacon was shielding the Zorbius energy from ever escaping the rift. It was lucky I was able to tamper with the beacon’s systems.”

“Along with my help,” Peri added.

“Oh yes, that too,” the Doctor agreed. “Once that was done, I was able to collect the Zorbius energy and place it into the box I hold here.”

“You said you were going to place that energy into something else,” Peri recalled. “Another crystal you said.”

“A crystal made out of pure time particles, yes,” the Doctor replied. “Atoms that would protect and prevent the Zorbius energy from ever escaping again.”

“How long will that take?”

“Oh not long. A few hours.”

“Are you going to create the crystal now then? Right this minute?”

“Certainly not,” the Doctor answered. “I deserve a nice rest after all that adventure. I’ll put the kettle on and have a nice cuppa. Do you want one?”

At that, Peri laughed away out loud. The Doctor put his hands on his hips.

“And what do you find so amusing, Miss Perpugilliam Brown?” he asked. “My tea-making habits aren’t usually that funny you know.”

Peri eventually stopped laughing but said with a smile on her face, “It’s not the tea. It’s you, Doctor. I know you get on my nerves but I can’t help enjoy the good times we’ve shared. Seeing you like this makes me feel so much better.”

The Doctor then shrugged as he said, “Oh. Well, I’m flattered to hear you say that, Peri. Having you around makes me feel good about myself too. You’ve stuck with me through thick and thin, especially when I’ve had my tantrums. And when I’ve been…unstable.”

“You’ve mellowed lately, Doctor,” Peri said. “I think that’s a good sign.”

“Is it?” the Doctor enquired. “I can still be quite annoying, you know.”

“I wouldn’t have you any other way,” Peri told him. “I wouldn’t want to leave you for one moment.”

Gratified, the Doctor said, “Well, I’m glad my company hasn’t bored you.”

“Not one jolt,” Peri smiled.

“Then I appreciate your sentiments,” the Doctor declared. He paused for a moment before saying, “Now, let’s see to that kettle, shall we?”

“I’ll lay out the cups and milk,” Peri offered.

“Thank you, Peri. Much appreciated,” the Doctor said happily.

With that, the Doctor went to the door to leave the console room. Peri followed behind him.

“What about Dr. Harper?” she asked. “Will he be alright?”

“What do you mean?” the Doctor enquired.

“Well, you said time and space would be reversed,” Peri reminded him. “Where do you suppose he would be in the universe?”

“Back on his home planet, I expect,” the Doctor answered. “His life will probably have started all over again. I hope he’ll make the right choices this time in life. And not too many wrong ones.”

“Lab report – Day #006. Dr. Henry Harper speaking. It’s a bright clear day on the planet Faslaca-Otar, one of Earth’s finest colonies. I’ve been working in my lab, singing happily to myself. I was sitting at my desk, sorting out a few calculations. Things seem to be going well so far. I might be on the verge of a breakthrough. My wife Millie entered. She looked radiant as ever. And as beautiful as snow. Her blonde hair graced elegantly as she met me at my desk.

“Darling,” she said, “you’ve been working on those calculations for such a long time. Come and join me for breakfast. There’s a nice buffet waiting for you. And the sea’s crystal blue.”

“Thank you, my dear,” I said. “I’ll be with you shortly.”

Millie began to tease me. “Last time you said that, you nearly had your crumpets burnt. And the soufflé melted by the time you arrived at the dining table.”

“I hadn’t forgotten, my dear,” I said knowingly. “I’m sorry. I’ve just been so busy lately.”

“Well,” Millie began to say soothingly, “don’t you think you’ve been overdoing it lately, my dear. Perhaps you should attend to me more often.”

I looked up from my work notes to see Millie. Yes! She was still radiant as ever. “Yes,” I began to chuckle. “Perhaps you’re right. Perhaps I should take a break with you and have breakfast before I overdo it.”

“That’s more like it, my dear,” Millie said, pleased. “Come and spend the day with me if you can.”

“Perhaps I will,” I agreed. “I need a long rest. I’ve been working since five today.”

I laughed as I rose from my desk and accompanied my wife. We went together, holding each other’s hands. I knew when she was lovingly chiding me to sweet-talk me out of my work. I do appreciate that. Perhaps I should listen to my wife more often.

Talking about the future, I wish to note that the purpose of my work is to start a new life all over again. I hope to find more about the work connected to the legendary crystal of time. The people at the university have been talking about it lately. It’s also on the space station hidden in the depths of space. I hope I’ll make the right choices this time in life. And not too many wrong ones. End of log.”

© Tim Bradley, 2020

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