through a glass, darkly

The enemy was defeated, caught in their own trap. The shattered remains of their travel pod littered the green hillside. The aliens, pitiable in death, blankly regarded the sky. That should have been that, Ace thought later, but then a familiar sound began to build around them.

The Professor grabbed her hand and they ran to the tree-line as another Tardis materialized.

She didn't need to ask. She knew. This was one of them, the younger Doctors. 

The Professor hushed her questions so she watched in silence as a red-haired man in a gold coat and two girls -- twins, Ace guessed – studied the wreckage. The man knelt by one of the corpses and closed its eyes. The twins, long-haired and delicate, held hands and bowed heads. 

Their inspection finished, he ushered the two sombre girls into the distant Tardis, and even here his voice sent chills down Ace's spine. So warm, so wise, so joyous. She glanced at the Professor, hunkered behind the wall. His frown was unreadable, his eyes fixed on a faraway place. Compared to the vibrant stranger he seemed small, drab and threadbare. For the briefest of seconds she wanted to run and escape with the other Doctor. But then she imagined herself beside the willowy twins. No, no. She reached and found his hand and he squeezed. His ancient eyes found hers. 

'Every now and again something happens, and the clock shifts,' he said. 

'Time shifts?' 

He nodded. 'And we see, clearly, what we once were, but from the outside. The observer, not the observed.' 

The stranger on the hill now stood patiently outside his Tardis. No, Ace thought, the Tardis. But what was he waiting for? 

Reading her mind, the Doctor stood from behind the wall and tipped his hat to his counterpart. Ace stood too and when the stranger saw her Ace thought his knees weakened a little. 

'They are strange moments, but beautiful,' murmured her Doctor. 

The stranger indicated the wreckage, the carnage, and shook an admonishing finger. But at that moment the heavy clouds parted and brilliant wet sunshine bathed the scene. Red hair blazing, he surveyed the green countryside. Then he faced them and bowed deeply. Doffing an invisible cap, he entered his ship and was gone. 

'Gordon Bennet, that was weird!' said Ace. 'So, which one was that? One, two, five?' 

The Professor smiled, then grinned. 

'I've no idea, Ace. Never seen him before!' 

written by 
copyright 2013 

artwork by
copyright 2013