Trumpkin;Doctor Who;Jo Grant;Katy Manning;Third Doctor;Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart;Jon Pertwee;Jeri Massi
by Jeri Massi
She expected the gun to fire, but suddenly an arm like an iron bar covered her throat and pulled her back. The gun, which was a long and sleek .45, was put to her temple.
"Stay back!" Her captor exclaimed.
For a moment, Jo couldn't see who the man was addressing. And then she realized that Trumpkin Senior was standing against the pens at the enclosed end of the fenced hallway. He had entered silently, and she had no idea how he had gotten through all the doors, nor how he had gotten past her, for he stood further up the aisle of pens than they, as though he had been waiting for them.
The blank, masked face was steady. "Human," Trumpkin Senior said quietly to her captor. "You have brought enough trouble and grief onto your head." His voice was still the Doctor's voice, and yet it had taken on a tone of such quiet and dread that the Doctor himself could never have duplicated it. The fear Trumpkin was sending was directed at her captor, but Jo closed her eyes, unable to withstand the waves of dread that went out from him.
She had not trembled under the threat of the gun, but she trembled now, and she felt the same tremor run through the man holding her. If she had been able to keep her wits about her, she might have made her own escape right then. But she couldn't move any more than he could. The muzzle of the gun against her temple was shaking, sliding against her skin.
"I'll kill her Doctor," the soldier said, mistaking the voice. Then almost in a whimper he added, "I just helped. It wasn't really me. He thought it up. Another bloke. He said he would kill me, so I helped."
Trumpkin stepped forward. Jo had her eyes closed, but she sensed the footstep just the same, and she felt the soldier quake. Dragging her back with him, he took a shuffling step in retreat, pinning her to his chest with his arm across her throat.
"Your gun will not fire, poor wretch," Trumpkin Senior said. "Drop it and let my friend go, and I will forgive you."
The masked alien stepped nearer again, and there was no place else for her captor to go. He and Jo were backed against pen 15, the last pen in the aisle. Sidestepping out into the main hallway was impossible, because Jo was merely deadweight. She was as frightened as the soldier, and she would have fallen if he had let her go.
She knew what Trumpkin would do, and in spite of the kindness he had offered her, she was still terrified of his face. She wasn't sure that closing her eyes would protect her if he should unmask himself. Suddenly, men's voices rang out by the fenced door to the pen area. The Brigadier and others were coming.
By now Trumpkin Senior was within an arm's reach of Jo. The UNIT man holding her suddenly straightened his gun arm and would have fired at the masked alien, but nothing happened. The gun did not discharge. All in an instant Trumpkin stepped in, covered Jo's eyes with one gloved hand, and stripped off his cloth mask with the other.
For a moment, everything swam. She fell to her knees and she heard the same screaming she had heard when she herself had seen his face, and then the loud exclamations of the Brigadier, Sgt. Benton, and Mike Yates as they caught the panicked renegade out in the main hallway and tried to bring him down. She was crying. She felt again that death like a great shadow was bearing down on her. But this time she couldn't move or flee or do anything. The great weight of dread sank onto her like a boulder she could not lift.
"Jo, Jo," Trumpkin Senior said, and then suddenly something furry and rotund climbed into her arms. Huffing breath that whistled slightly in the long snout, and quick taps against her chin brought her back from her darkness. Relief replaced her fear. She felt the rush of Trumpkin's concern and grief for her, and for a moment she did not know which Trumpkin she was sensing. But her dread and fear receded sharply. She was merely shaken, as anybody would be after being taken captive.
"Open your eyes," Trumpkin Senior said gently. "My face is masked again." The whip like tongue of Trumpkin Junior tapped her chin and then whisked out several times with quick and very gentle touches and took up her tears.
The same aphasia had struck her, but she suddenly blurted out in a whisper, "Trumpkin, are you good?"
"Yes," he said instantly. "And I am your friend. He was going to kill you."
"But--but he's just human. It's unbearable!" She meant the sight of his face. The stranger passed a hand quickly over her head. "Jo, once he recovers from what he's seen, he will never dare to think of killing again. I have cured him of some of his evil." Out in the main aisle, on the other side of a row of the pens, the UNIT men were still struggling to restrain the man who had held her captive. He was screaming and sobbing, but Trumpkin Senior said soberly, "For all his tears, he is not really sorry for what he was ready to do. But terror, if not remorse, will reform him." He turned his masked face to her. "I must go. If they question you, tell them that the man was frightened by Trumpkin. It will be the truth, and you need say no more."
Thus saying, he crept up the row of pens, and in a moment she no longer saw him. Trumpkin Junior tapped her chin with his insistent kiss. He was fluffy and clean from his recent bath, and for a moment she took incredible comfort from his grips on her arms, from the faint scent of shampoo and cream rinse that clung to him. She buried her face into the side of his square head. And there was a moment as he comforted her, that she realized he was not simply a furry and amusing creature who was good at math. Part of him was finely tuned to help her bear the presence of Trumpkin Senior and see him beyond her own fears. She did understand, and yet she did not understand. But she gave it up and let him kiss her. A moment later, the Doctor came around the corner, saw her huddled on the floor with Trumpkin Junior, and knelt by her. "What's happened?" his voice was dreadful. "Are you shot? Why didn't you call out?"
"I've just lost the strength in my legs," she said. "The man they have, he was going to shoot me. He was down here trying to find and hide evidence, I think. But he said there's somebody else. He said he's been helping somebody else."
"Well he's clean out of his mind now," the Doctor said. It's going to be a long time before they get anything coherent out of him." The time lord turned quizzical eyes to her. She read the look and nodded. After a moment he said, "You mustn't be afraid of Trumpkin. Perhaps he seems severe to you."
"I don't know what he is," she faltered.
"He is simply himself," the Doctor said. "But he's never been cruel to anybody who has come to him for help. He's never turned down a friend." He assisted her to her feet and let her lean on him. "Come on. Let's get out of here."
"He was searching for something down here," Jo reminded him. "The soldier I mean. I caught him without meaning to."
"Then Lethbridge Stewart can post a guard and we'll search it tomorrow." He was insistent, and she did not argue, but she did not want to postpone the search. Whatever the soldier had been looking for would probably lead to the identity of anybody else involved.
It was past nine in the evening when Captain Yates came down to the lab to give an update. As the lab door opened, Trumpkin Senior, who apparently did not need sleep, stepped behind the cover of the TARDIS with Trumpkin Junior asleep in his arms the webbed feet still gripping their perch, even in sleep. For the first time, as Jo saw them duck behind the TARDIS, she realized that the two creatures shared strong knowledge and understanding with each other, mutual respect, and an ability to act and think as one that outsiders could not comprehend. But she quickly took her eyes off the TARDIS and looked at Mike Yates.
"Dozing off?" he asked her. "You all right after that attack, Jo?"
Busily working at the circuitry with Trumpkin Junior's disks arranged before him in some meaningful equation, the Doctor spoke without looking up. "She's fine, Captain, no thanks to your slipshod security. Just how did that bounder get down there, anyway? The area--as I understand--was to be cordoned off and kept secure."
Yates was a good man, surprisingly tough in spite of his slender build and youth. But he did have the habit of getting huffy when criticized. "I'm sorry Doctor," he said with injured formality. "We were not expecting that type of danger. We only meant to keep the investigation site clean and un-trafficked."
The time lord let out his breath. "No, it's obvious you weren't expecting danger. Who would think that soldiers selling guns to terrorists would do something like shoot one of the prime investigators!"
Before Mike could retort, Jo spoke, "What's the latest, Mike?"
Yates gave it up and answered her. "Shelton is his name, the man who attacked you. He's still out of his head, though, keeps trying to hurt himself."
The Doctor's voice cut in sharply, though he still did not look up from his work. "Did you search his belongings?"
"Yes, but we haven't found much. A bank account with 500 pounds in it--one deposit made two months ago."
"So that was when he sold the weapons," Jo said.
"He never got paid a mere five hundred pounds for 25 automatic rifles on the black market," the Doctor said. "He could have gotten ten times that amount."
"He said he was helping somebody," Jo added. "It makes sense that the other person got the lion's share."
Mike was startled. "When did he say that?"
She faltered, realizing that she was in danger of giving away her rescuer, for Shelton had only babbled his confession in terror of Trumpkin Senior. "After he took me at gunpoint, of course," she told Yates.
The young captain was now thoroughly puzzled. "What exactly did happen down there?"
"I went down to check the pens," she said. "Shelton came up behind me and wanted me to go to the car park, but I wouldn't go. While we were arguing, he saw Trumpkin--"
"The alien," she said. "I've named him Trumpkin. I guess Trumpkin startled him--"
Yates was not convinced. "Startled him? Jo, the man was out of his mind with terror! He's been trying to kill himself, and he says he's seen death!" Suddenly resolute, the young Captain turned to the Doctor. "Doctor, that creature is dangerous! It must be! Perhaps we ought to lock it away!"
The Doctor did look up on this, but was suddenly cool. "Why? because he protected Jo when you failed to do so?"
Yates flushed. "I say, that's hardly fair!"
"Look here, I am an alien, and I am dangerous," the Doctor told him. "Are you going to lock me away?"
"No, of course not."
"Then leave off Trumpkin. Had you been present, you would have shot the man to save Jo. At least Trumpkin did it without killing him."
"There are invoices down there," Jo said suddenly. "Outside the pen area, that's where the clerks store the old invoices and shipping receipts." Yates glanced at her, as did the Doctor. "That must have been what he was after--the shipping receipt from the company that sent the replicas."
"All right. Maybe so." Again, Yates seemed slightly taken back by her quick insight.
"Did you find fingerprints on the light bulbs?" she asked.
He nodded. "Yes. The prints of the men from the electrical crew, and one other set. We're tracking it down now."
Satisfied with this report, the Doctor straightened and then stood up. "Well, if the prints don't help you, the paper trail through the shipping receipt will," he said. "All you need to do is find it."
"That could take days." Yates looked glum. "There's stacks and stacks of those things down there, and we don't even know the name of the company we're looking for."
"I'll start looking tonight," Jo said.
Both men were surprised. "Don't you believe in sleep any more?" the Doctor asked her. She didn't answer, and after a moment Yates walked out.
"Jo--" the Doctor began.
"When will you finish the repairs?" she asked.
He looked down. "In a few hours. The damage wasn't serious. Just circuit overload."
"And then they'll leave?" she asked.
"Are you glad?"
"No." She turned as Trumpkin Senior came out from behind the TARDIS.
The alien turned his mask towards her. "I can find the paper that you need," he said. "Trumpkin will help me."
The Doctor did not argue, but reminded them of new complications. "There will be a guard on the area now. Jo can get through, but a man wearing an army blanket mask may cause them to ask for ID."
"They won't see me with her." But he extended a gloved hand and cautiously tweaked Jo's nose, imitating human affection. "Don't forget yourself and talk to me, Jo, or they will think you've gone too long without sleep."
They walked out, Trumpkin Junior still asleep.
* * * *
Down in the basement storage area, they let themselves into the fenced area but went past the pens that housed the ammunition. Further back there were fire proof filing cabinets, called "fire safes," even though they were not safes in the conventional sense.
The fire safes took up row after row, and it took some time for them to locate the stored invoices and shipping receipts from the previous year. But when Jo finally located what she wanted and unlocked the file drawer, Trumpkin Senior seemed to communicate in silence with his Determiner, for Trumpkin Junior stirred. "He must show me human letters and human thought on paper. Yes, how you organize this information." He withdrew several file folders crammed with invoices and fanned them before his face. It did not seem possible that he could have seen any details on them, but he said, "There is one from an American company, Jo: Charleston Historical Manufacturing, USA." He plucked a file from the assortment, and then extracted the correct shipping receipt.
She read it with interest. "Twenty-five Viet Nam replicas, 0000-AR15678," she read out loud. "Anybody reading this without knowing wouldn't even realize that it's describing gun replicas." She scanned the sheet. "Received by Cpl. Joe King," she read.
"Then Joe King must know something of this shipment," he said.
She smiled wryly. "Joe King. Joking. It's a false alias."
"Yes, but the signature is not faked. It is the person's writing, in spite of the lie about his name."
He rested his hand on the files in the drawer and then said, "His signature is on many of these receipts. Different words, but the same pattern of writing." He drew out another file and extracted a receipt. He pointed to the signature. "This is a different name, his real name, but the handwriting is the same as when he signed himself as Joe King."
"Corporal Tomlinson," she read. "Can you find more?"
He pulled out four more from the same file, all signed by Tomlinson.
"That cinches it," she said. "There's our man."
She looked up at him. "That solves the case, I expect."
"The Brigadier will be pleased, then. He will value you more highly, and thus the Doctor will too."
Honesty made her speak. "But you really solved it."
He hesitated. "I opened your mind further to intuition. I won't close it again after I leave. They will learn to trust your intuition and insight more."
She looked up at him. With Trumpkin Junior asleep again in his arms, he seemed suddenly familiar and safe.
"Are you going to go away?" she asked.
"I will resume my journeys," he told her. "But my means of travel is faster than that of the TARDIS. I am never very far away from anybody."
She was silent. He did not seem inclined to end their conversation, but he said nothing. At last she asked, "If you can do all these things--why did you need the Doctor's help to repair the equipment you use?"
"I burned it out myself, Jo," he said. "On purpose. I knew the Doctor would be pleased to work with Trumpkin, for the Doctor has lost some of his mathematics skill through the punishment of the timelords. Trumpkin restored some of that to him. He asked no questions."
"Did you come to restore some of his skills?" she asked.
"No. I came to see you. You're afraid of my face, but I wanted to see your face."
"Me?" she asked. "But how could you know about me?"
"Your journey. The one that takes up so many of your thoughts. I was not far from you on the planet where the miners meant to kill you. I saw you turn to the Doctor there."
"When I thought we would be killed?" she asked.
"Yes." He hesitated and then said. "I am faceless, Jo. I think it is a wonderful thing to look full into the face of your friend. I wanted to find you. I want to look full into your face."
Trumpkin Junior was still gripping his arms, and so Trumpkin Senior raised his hands and framed her face. As she did not protest, he tilted her face up to his so that his blank mask fully stared at her.
"Can you see my face now?" she asked him. "Through the mask?"
"Yes." He sounded satisfied. She didn't move but let him look at her.
"But why does that matter to you?" she asked. "To see me? I'm nothing like you. I'm blind compared to you, and well--actually pretty stupid, I suppose. I can't even look at you without being terrified."
"There are some things you know that many creatures far wiser than you--in their estimation--never discover." He stroked back her hair. "In time, Jo, you will make plain the knowledge that you have. You will save the Doctor when he least expects it, and by your knowledge you will turn aside a power great enough to swallow the entire earth. You will do all this by your own knowledge."
"That's--that's not possible," she said faintly.
"You'll understand afterward. Don't let it trouble you."
She hesitated as she looked up at the blank mask. "Can I never see your face?" she asked.
"Of course you can," he told her. "If you want to."
"Will it kill me?"
"Hold Trumpkin. He will help you. He will show you how to look at my face and see me."
The whip like tongue, somewhat slowed from sleepiness, suddenly touched her chin. But Trumpkin Junior willingly climbed onto her arms and held her fast. He kissed her again with a speedy tap of his tongue and nestled down.
"Don't be afraid," Trumpkin Senior said. "I would never torment you. When first you looked at me, you saw your own death, Jo. That's what made you most afraid of me, because the truth is there in my face that you will die someday. Humans tell themselves that they are immortal. And when their mortality is driven home to them, they become frightened."
He raised his hands to his cloth mask. "But if you can look past that, you will see my face and not your own death, and you will see that I am your friend."
He took away the mask, and she saw him. Then he took her face in his hands again, and leaned down and kissed her.
* * * *
Bright sunlight was pouring into the lab, practically shouting with joy for a new day.
She opened her eyes and laughed out loud.
"So, you're back," the Doctor said, and he surprised her by taking her hand in his for a moment. She was on the old sofa, with a quilt thrown over her. She felt something in her other hand and looked down to see that she was holding the piece of blanket that Trumpkin had used as a mask.
She was aphasic again, and she knew it, so she didn't even bother to try to speak. "I've got tea on," he said, walking away. "And Yates left an enormous box of muffins and pastries for you. He's been that worried."
Her eyes followed the Doctor back to the tea corner. He was making himself sound elaborately casual, and she realized that he had also been worried. "I can order up some bacon and eggs from the canteen if you like," he added. "Or get oatmeal, or anything that suits you." She heard him pour the tea, and suddenly she felt very hungry. A box of pastries, bacon, eggs, and oatmeal all sounded very good to her just then. All at once. She was enormously hungry.
"Or you can lie there and doze a bit if you like," he added as he put things on a tray. Yes, clearly he had been worried. She looked at the hilarity of the rays of sunlight coming in through the high windows and wondered how anybody could worry about anything. Gradually, she realized that there was a possibility that she was not waking up the next morning as she had assumed.
She waited patiently while he worked on the tea. After a few minutes she felt the aphasia pass, and she was able to form a question. "What's today?"
"Three days since we found you down among the fire safes. It's now eight o'clock in the morning. Here's a nice cheese pastry. There's protein in that." He stopped at the pasteboard box on the workbench, extracted a large pastry from it, and set it on the tray for her.
"Tomlinson," she said suddenly.
"Yes, yes, we found the receipts that you'd pulled out. Everything's over and done with, and charges have been filed. The two men sold the guns to a dealer for the IRA. The rifles have been recovered--all but two. That's better than what we had dared hope for. You're on the books for a commendation."
He set the tray on a lab stool alongside her and sat in a straight backed chair. She suddenly leaped to a sitting position, startling him. She attacked the pastry and tea with great hunger.
"Hmm, I think I will just call down for a larger breakfast," he said. He went to the phone.
By the time he returned, she had finished the pastry and was pouring herself a second cup of tea. Suddenly, she stopped.
"Trumpkin's gone," she exclaimed.
He nodded. "I came looking for you in the basement and found you sound asleep on the floor by the fire safe," he said. "You were smiling, like at a joke, or as though you knew some secret." His own eyes softened at the memory, wondering what she had been smiling about. But he did not ask. "You had the mask in your hand." He became more grim. "At first I thought you might be dead. I was afraid you had pulled his mask off for some reason. But you were only sleeping. Sleeping and smiling. When I brought you back up here, Trumpkin was gone, both of him--I mean them--were gone. As well as the equipment I had repaired. So I passed the shipping papers over to the Brigadier and tried to wake you the next morning. But it was useless."
"Could I have another pastry?"
He sighed, got up, and retrieved the entire box from the workbench. She pulled one out at random. It had raspberry jam on top. Normally, she hated raspberry jam, but that morning it was delicious.
He called her attention back to him. "Jo, what exactly happened down there?" He seemed slightly uncomfortable by having to ask her for information.
She stopped eating and frowned in thought. "We talked," she said at last.
"Jo, you didn't see his face?" he asked.
She didn't answer. Instead she said, "He told me something Doctor, something I would do someday. But now it's a muddle." She touched her own cheek and said, half to herself, "And he kissed me." She glanced at him. "And then, I think, he was gone."
She returned to eating. She finished the raspberry tart and started on another cheese pastry. For a moment the Doctor watched in apparent fascination as she polished it off. "You called down for breakfast?" she asked hopefully.
"Yes. I'll see if anybody can bring it--"
But she jumped up. "No, I'll get it myself. And then I'm going to change clothes." She threw her glance at the huge blocks of sunlight pouring in. "And then it's off to the park. I'm going to feed ducks today or die trying!"
He was startled. "What about your duties here?" he asked.
She was already striding to the door, but she stopped, surprised. "Well, you don't need me! And surely the inventory has been finished by now!"
He was silent. She turned and went to the door, then stopped in the doorway and looked at him. For a sudden moment the Doctor seemed a little lost at the prospect of not having her in the lab, confused by the happiness that was bursting through her. "Unless you would like to come with me," she offered. "But I'm not coming back to the lab until tomorrow, and that's final! Some days are too glorious to waste on work and duty!"
He stood up. "Well," he said, for once at a loss. "All right then. We'll have a day at the park!" He followed her out.
This story is dedicated with gratitude to my friends, Christian and non-Christian, who have so kindly and graciously helped me in my struggle with my faith. As Easter of 1998 comes upon us, I want to add that I have been restored to the faith I once held and nearly denied four years ago, that I have again found God every bit as gracious as I had hoped. To my readers who have encouraged me to persevere and to take comfort in God's goodness, thank you! I haven't always been faithful to Him, but He has always been faithful to me.
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