So here it is. The first partial chapter in what I hope will be a full novella. It’s Doctor Who, and I am a very knowledgeable writer. I hope it is still accessible to the casual fan as I had a lot of fun writing it and I am not finished yet. Enjoy!
— The Fantastic Alice Fox
Go West Young Summerfield
by The Fantastic Alice Fox
Can I Play With Madness
Bernice Summerfield fearfully looked for an audience every time she started to get her kit off. ‘I know it’s only been one day but this is ridiculous. At least it’s quiet. I’m glad it’s so quiet, otherwise I really would start worrying about a chorus loudly debating the state of my evening wear.’
The thought was oddly comforting. Benny finished getting into her nightgown and eased herself onto the sofa. Within seconds Wolsey had jumped into her lap and promptly fell asleep. Benny heaved a long sigh as her eyes wandered around the apartment. It was a relief to have so much silence.
She looked lovingly at the ball of fur asleep in her lap. “Well, I always said I would take care of you. I don’t know if I should hope you remember everything or hope you just remember being a happy cat. You seemed so sad about the whole thing. I remember though and I won’t ever forget.” She smiled, and rubbed her hands over Wolsey’s fur mussing it a bit. He always liked that. Benny swore she could see a sadness in his eyes as he looked up at her before falling asleep again. The apartment was still a mess and Benny had just poured a large glass of bourbon with 2 shots of cola. While trying to decide on her next lecture she heard an all too familiar groaning and wheezing sound.
“It can’t be, not now! Goddess, I just wanted to rest!” Benny looked longingly at her glass of bourbon. She had barely had a few hours rest and had been so stressed most of that time was spent reading about 20th century Panto shows. Unfortunately the Doctor rarely made social calls. ‘My hair looks like hell, I’m tired and I feel half dead. Why does he always have to show up at the worst of times?’ Benny thought to herself. She wasn’t even sure which doctor it would be. The pretty one or the one with the umbrella? Considering how her last adventure with him ended, she wasn’t entirely sure which one she wanted.
There were 4 knocks at the door. Benny carefully picked Wolsey up and placed him on the sofa. Grabbing the clothing still lying on the floor, Benny got her kit off, tossing her nightgown on the sofa. Benny hurriedly threw on black trousers and the white blouse she had worn last night. Or was it a week ago? 4 more knocks at the door. “Will You hold on a minute? I’m coming!” Benny scrambled to the door and opened it.
“Ah, Benny Summerfield! Hello.” At the door was a young man with a brown quiff and a large chin. His thin frame was wearing a beautiful purple frock coat and a ridiculous bowtie. On a simple waistcoat was a bright gold chain over a blue shirt. His black trousers looked like they had come from the ‘Rassilon Patent Trouser Press’ Benny smiled as she thought of the Doctor. His humour was frequently obtuse and hard to understand. However, that one always made her laugh.
Being “famous” was good for her ego but she didn’t want to deal with a fan right now. The doctor would be coming at any minute and she didn’t have the patience. Failing to think of a good excuse Benny said “I don’t mean to be rude and I do appreciate it; But is there any way you could come back tomorrow? Preferably early afternoon?”
“Benny I…” the man gave an audible sigh. “It was raining. I had just opened a bottle of Brut Impérial that Napoleon had given me. We were drinking from mugs and we—-”
Benny’s eyes got wide and her face went red “That…..that’s enough. DOCTOR, how lovely to see you!” Her fake smile was so big she thought her face would break. She almost wished it would. Benny gave the Doctor a huge hug and nervously patted his back a couple of times. Still blushing a bit Benny said “So…..I uh see you have regenerated. Is that a bow tie?”
The doctor smiled. “I wear Bowties now. Bowties are cool”
Benny rolled her eyes and shot a look at the Doctor and his “cool” bow tie.”Where are my manners? Come In. The place is a mess, but you probably know that already.” Wolsey was lounging on Benny’s gown. Upon noticing the doctor,he got up and rubbed his head against the time lord’s trousers. “How does he always know you?”
The Doctor smiled at the cat “He spent an awful lot of time in the TARDIS. He always found his way into Romana’s old room. After I left San Francisco he rubbed up against my leg just like he did now. It’s odd though, as he didn’t see me regenerate” the Doctor frowned as if remembering a painful memory. “I had regenerated…outside of the TARDIS. In a morgue. Alone. I went back to the tardis much later as ‘people’ broke into the TAR–”
Benny had to interrupt “Goddess, Broken into? I thought you made sure that couldn’t happen” Her brow furrowed. “Is that why I thought I heard the sound of an american screaming when you helped me move?”
The Doctor still looked a little sad. “Perhaps. That’s been…sorted. It’s a long story. I died. I didn’t even know if I would regenerate… And other things happened. I wandered for some time before I saw you again. Both times.” The doctor paused for a moment and shifted in his seat. He had been smiling when he came to the door, now he was becoming more maudlin by the minute.
Benny could swear this wasn’t just memories of a painful regeneration behind those boyish eyes. She had now seen 3 versions of the same man and suspected there were many more. Despite that, it was almost heartbreaking to see a young man in so much pain. He barely looked old enough to drink. It was almost inconceivable that he could radiate so much sadness. ‘That reminds me’ Benny grabbed her half finished glass of bourbon. She wasn’t sure it was wise to get drunk but she wasn’t sure she cared at this point.
“Well to what do I owe the…pleasure of this visit? You never made social calls before. I’ve been trapped in a 20th century panto so I doubt anything would surprise me.”
“Trapped in a panto?” The doctor looked horrified. “Well, A… open mind is a good thing I guess. Because I’m not quite sure what we’ll find.”
Benny cast him a sideways glance “What do you mean?”
The doctor had been fiddling with one of his odd gadgets. “I’m sensing a massive time disturbance in 1968. In the US. I have no idea who is causing it or exactly what the disturbance is. If we don’t intervene it could have serious repercussions.” He continued “Apparently the US has a lot of them. The… last one I witnessed was in New York. That was caused by Weeping Angels. I lost some… valued friends there.” He paused and looked away. Benny couldn’t tell if he was just uncomfortable or also noticing how disheveled her apartment was. ‘He’s normally so enigmatic. But even when he’s sad I never know why. But it feels like he’s just telling me everything for once. I’m not sure I like it.’ Benny had no idea what to say. She’d heard of weeping angels but nobody knew what they looked like. And aside from that what could she say? Tell him she was sorry for his loss? Despite having finished her glass of bourbon and starting another, Benny was at a loss for words.
The Doctor finally broke the silence as he pointed to a particular shelf. “ah, you still have it. I used to love that umbrella.” He paused for a second as he surveyed the large red question mark handle. His lips started to curl into a smile. “I like umbrellas. Umbrellas….. are cool.” he giggled a little. Then Benny giggled. In seconds they were both laughing so much they couldn’t control themselves. She had no idea why it was so funny but she couldn’t help herself. It was a nice respite from the sadness she felt helpless to stop.
Feeling some need to respond Benny choked out “Yes they are and that one is cooler than bowties!”
After a mock frown the Doctor started laughing again and squeaked “Yes, yes it probably is!”
Benny suddenly yelled “No it isn’t!”
The doctor, without missing a beat, responded “Oh Yes it is!”
“Oh No it isn’t!”
“Oh yes it is!”
Benny, with great difficulty, was finally able to stop laughing. “Thank you. I’ve barely had a rest in what seems like days and I really needed that.” Benny realized she had spilled the last of her drink on the floor and Wolsey was lapping it up. He made a corkscrew beeline to the Doctor and after 3 attempts managed to jump on his lap. He immediately fell asleep. She and the Doctor just sat in silence while they composed themselves. It was nice to see him again. Even if he did look like a scrawny teenage boy on break from Uni.
She still wondered what had happened to him. She’d never seen him this sad. It was as if he’d lost somebody, somebody close…permanently. The doctor had told her he had lost a young companion who sacrificed himself to save the world from the cybermen. He said he’d spend nights while Tegan and Nyssa were asleep just thinking about Adric…and blaming himself. He only told Benny things like this when Ace wasn’t around. Even a couple regenerations later it still seemed to affect him. After seeing his next… um body she- ‘Wait what was I thinking about again?‘ Benny’s face turned red for the second time and she wondered if the Doctor noticed. ‘I think I was lucky I spilled the rest of my drink. Besides, I have a strange feeling Wolsey needed it. It’s good to see him so peaceful’
Benny stood up. Her head spun and she felt disorientated. She walked, in a similar corkscrew as Wolsey, to what served as a kitchen. “Doctor, do you want me to put the kettle on? I think we could both use it right now.” ‘Myself, more than you. Well maybe. Careful Bernice, you don’t want to fall on your face right now.’
“Yes, Milk and sugar please” the doctor seemed bemused at her attempts to walk straight.