Death and Chocolate;Doctor Who;Sarah Jane Smith;Lis Sladen;Third Doctor;Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart;Jon Pertwee;Jeri Massi

Death and Chocolate


Episode Six

Written by Jeri Massi










As Mr. Evans removed the reel of film from the machine and turned it round to take up the leader tape, he continued to talk about Jack Highlers. The training film had acted as a tonic to him, animating him to talk about his beloved chief financial officer. Sarah Jane didnít interrupt.

"You see it's all in determination, Miss Smith," he said. "And a good company like this one requires loyalty. That's a virtue that's become quite temporary out in the world---"

"Out in the world?" she asked.

He waved a hand outward, indicating everything away from Royalty House. "Where people are weak, self-serving, self centered----"

"But surely the selling of anything requires a certain degree of self centeredness," she said. "Or at least, self interest."

"No, that's precisely my point." He slipped the reel into the canister and sealed the lid over it. "That's why corporations come and go. Strength of character comes from working for the common good. Do you have any idea of what this company has been able to do for the St. Nicholas hospital?" he asked. "Donations from Jack Highlers practically built that place---a model of health care for underprivileged children. And how did Mr. Highlers achieve so much good?"

She had lost the point. But he filled in the answer for her. "By the determination and loyalty of the Royalty House sales force. We never quit. You heard him say that on the film."

"Yes," she said. "And yet, well, youíre not in sales any more, Mr. Evans."

"Ah! Promoted," he said. "I have people skills. I have managerial qualities--"

"And so you were made a tour guide?"

He missed the irony in the question. "Giving tours is only a fraction of my duties, Miss Smith. I dispense training materials and offer counseling to our sales people."

He mails out the film canisters and fills out the training records, she thought. He was, in short, a clerk.

"And does your wife work here as well?" she asked.

"Oh yes, she is a technician on the processing floor. Quite skilled."

"And what does the rest of your family think of this place?"

His eyes became sober. "My family originally supported my enthusiasm for working here," he said. "I was a directionless young man. Jack Highlers worked a great change in me. Made me see all the good I can do. At first they were quite impressed. I even persuaded my sister to join the sales force---"

"And has she been as successful as you?"

"No she has not." He clipped the words.

She made her voice sympathetic. "What a shame. I wonder---well, I wonder why not."

"Because she failed to develop her character. She wanted a soft life, a self centered life of making money. Get herself a flat of her own, have boyfriends over, spend weekend nights at the cinema---"

"Is she happy?"

"I have no idea if my sister Victoria is happy or not, Miss Smith. She has a flat in London, just as she had wished, and she works as a secretary for some electronics firm----"

"Not Sparks Limited?"

"No, the other one, General Industries." He let out a breath as a sound of contempt. "Grand name, isnít it? I assure you, Royalty House Chocolates takes in more profit in one day than General Industries makes in a year. It's a silly little business that's found a niche and won't grow any further. Working there is just a job for her and everybody else in there. No future!"

* * * *

"What are you doing back there?" Jack Highlers demanded. He had two uniformed men with him: personal security.

"We're looking at your secret room, Mr. Highlers," the Doctor said. "Or should I say, secret lab?"

"It's a sample room, sir. For quality control, such as any processing executive might have close at hand. Come out of there!"

The Doctor and Brigadier withdrew. Highlers strode to the back wall and slid the door back into position. It slipped back into the wall and closed seamlessly.

"Mr. Highlers, this is the Doctor," the Brigadier began.

"I know who he is!" Highlers barked.

"And how do you know that?" the Doctor asked. "Get a report from the two men who tried to brain me last night?"

"I donít know what youíre talking about. Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, you have abused your authority here. I want you off these premises immediately, and take this man with you!"

The two security guards stepped forward.

"Mr. Highlers, we do have the matter of a graveyard of children suddenly appearing on these grounds," the Brigadier said.

"Then you will confine yourself to that strip of trees along the right of way!" Highlers snapped. "But you are not welcome in these buildings. Now get out of here! Tell your friend here to pack his things and go!" He threw a nod to the two uniformed men. "My men will see you to your vehicles!"

* * * *

Sarah Jane, having finished with her tour, zipped up her suitcase and surveyed her room for any item she may have overlooked in packing up. She strode out to the front room and picked up the telephone receiver. She gave her room number and asked for a porter to come and take her bags.

As she cradled the receiver, she sensed a motion behind her and turned. Dave Highlers stood in the doorway to the Doctor's half-suite.

"How did you get in here?" she demanded.

"I have keys to everything," he told her. "After all, I'm Dave Highlers."

"There's a porter on his way up here right now!" Her voice was frightened and defiant.

He smiled and made no move to come closer. "I'm not here to hurt you, Miss Smith. Did you get the box of the exclusive line of chocolates I left for you?"

"Yes."

He glanced around the room and noted the empty glass dishes. "Yes, you've emptied out the less exclusive stuff. Shows good foresight, but the exclusive chocolates are better." Then he looked at her, his eyes large and calm. "When will you be back?"

"I'm not coming back."

"Oh yes," and he nodded, unoffended. "You'll want to come back. And when you do, you'll need to see me." He withdrew a chit of paper from his shirt pocket. "Here's my contact information. Don't lose it."

He stepped up to her and would have pushed the note down into the breast pocket of her blazer, but her hand stopped him. Her eyes blazed. "Donít touch me!"

He stopped and fixed his eyes on her for a long moment. Sarah Jane swallowed and slowly withdrew her hand. But then he seized it with his other hand and turned it palm up. He inspected it for a moment. "You're shaking already."

Then he released her and fixed his eyes on her. She lowered her hand. But she kept her eyes on his.

"Good," he said. "Youíre starting to come around." He pushed the note down into the pocket of the blazer. She didnít move at the overly familiar touch, but she tensed with stone-like rigidity. "You have several things to learn yet," he said. "You're like the hard little beans that the harvesters bring in for processing. There's a lot of bitterness and acid still in there. Resistance."

He put his arm around her shoulders as though to draw her in, but she remained rigid. He didnít struggle with her but brought his face close to hers. "Listen to me, Sarah Jane Smith. Do you hear me?"

"Yes," she said.

"There are some hard truths I'll grind into you before I bring you to my craft table. You're not intelligent. And youíre not pretty. And you're not really anything except what is given to you. Do you understand?"

"No," she said quietly, her voice subdued and yet adamant.

"I know all about you. You became a journalist because your aunt got you in a good berth. And youíre the prize of that old man's eye because he's an old man who needs a young girl for his vanity. But you're going to find out that you're nothing. And that's for the best." He held her, eye to eye, his lips at her lips.

"No it isn't," she said.

"Yes, and you'll know it soon. I'm going to put you through the necessary process to make you something. I'm going to make you suffer, and I'll force all the resistance and bitterness and acid out of you. And when you're reduced to nothing and know it, I'll make you what I say you will be. I'll give you sweetness or beauty, or nothing at all, as I see fit."

"No," she whispered.

"You'll come to me and beg me for it. There's nothing special about you. Youíre just a woman. And when youíre ready for the next step in the processing, you come find me. That note will get you to me." And then he leaned closer as though to kiss her. "I'm going to make you suffer, Sarah Jane." She didnít move, but he thought better of it and let her go. A knocking on the door told her that the porter had come. Highlers opened the door, nodded at the young man who came in to get her bags, and strode out.

* * * *

"Actually, I'm sure we've been thrown out of much nicer places than Royalty House," the Doctor said as he and the Brigadier sat down to plates of country ham and slices of pale cheese at the small pub they'd found.

"Not over anything as ridiculous as an empty and cleaned out old sample room!" the Brigadier barked. "It was madness to let you in there with me. Highlers had a perfect right to throw us out!"

"Oh? And you think he would have opened up that secret door for us at our request?" the Doctor asked. "Tell me, why would a sample room, a quality testing room if you like, for chocolate samples require a blood spinning machine and several powerful microscopes?"

The Brigadier was already doggedly working his way through the enormous slice of ham before him with the doggedness of a man who has had a bad morning and believes that food will comfort him. He glanced up. "I donít know. To check for allergies, maybe?"

"Maybe. Maybe something very like allergies but not quite allergies."

"Some people are severely allergic to chocolates, Doctor. May be necessary."

"Not if they were doing quality testing," the Doctor said. "Safety and allergy testing of foods are done when a new product is being introduced. At the start. But sample testing---or quality testing, as it's sometimes called----is not meant to bio-analyze foods. It's meant to assure that retail product samples meet the manufacturing requirements for taste, purity, appeal, etcetera. You check the taste, texture, and purity of the end product."

"I donít follow."

"A business executive who insists on his own sample testing lab does so because he personally assures that his workers are following all the processing specifications: conching sufficiently, keeping temperatures at the mandated levels, observing sanitary conditions, like that."

Lethbridge Stewart nodded, still chewing. It was good ham. He swallowed and said, "So a sample lab wouldnít need equipment to run on human beings, like blood spinning machines and those small tubes we saw."

"Precisely." At last remembering to eat, the Doctor started in on his own meal.

"Well what do you think?" the Brigadier asked.

"The lab we found hadnít been used in a while----"

"Perhaps it was once part of an initial testing process for allergens, but Highlers doesnít want us to know how they develop chocolate products. Would it matter? It's abandoned, after all."

"Well, the room was fully equipped with shelves of blood work tubes, gloves, cotton sponges and swabs, antiseptic wipes. It's in a scrubbed and ready state," the Doctor said. "Not being used at the moment, but not abandoned, Brigadier. It's in a state of readiness. Waiting."

Lethbridge Stewart cocked an eyebrow. "Waiting for what?"

The Doctor shook his head. "I donít know."

* * * *

"Miss Smith, the Brig wanted me to make sure you got away safely," Warrant Officer Benton said as he approached the Doctor's gleaming yellow roadster. Sarah Jane was just climbing in. He offered her his hand to help her.

Startled, she looked down at his hand and then at him. And then she rested her hand in his and climbed in. He closed the door for her.

"You all right, Miss?"

"Yes, a bit shaken---" She forced her voice to sound more steady, but the trembling quality in it did not escape him. "I was a bit sick," she said hurriedly. "Probably too much to eat and drink---all those chocolates."

"Are you certain that you're well enough to dr---" He stopped himself. "Are you crying, Miss?"

"No!" she exclaimed and looked straight at him, but two tears gave her away as she met his eye. "Not at all, Mr. Benton. I'm not crying."

His eyes became concerned and alarmed. "You certainly are crying! Has something happened to you?"

And Benton put his foot on the running board as she started the engine. Bessy roared into life.

"Did that Dave Highlers do anything to you?" he asked.

"No---donít be ridiculous. Just leave him alone." And she stepped on the accelerator, giving him just enough time to step back. She roared away in the Edwardian auto. The wind in the open car whipped her hat off her head, but she didn't stop to retrieve it.

Benton watched the car as she hurtled toward the entrance gate and passed through. He walked up to the hat where it had rolled to the side of the paving and picked it up.

* * * *

"Back to UNIT HQ?" the Brigadier asked as he and the Doctor strolled to the waiting UNIT staff car. "Or back to the pathologist?"

"The pathologist, I think," the Doctor said. "That information about the incidence of strokes shooting up once Highlers and company got here. That's interesting."

"This brings us back to the question of the two suicides," the Brigadier said. "Is there a link to the chocolates, or isnít there?"

The Doctor leaned against the warm hood of the black car and rested his chin in his hand for a moment, his eyes thoughtful. "I couldn't find anything wrong with the chocolates found in their rooms," he said. "Well, the one fellow had only opened the box and not eaten any before he did himself in. There's no link to say that either of them ate a Royalty House chocolate and was thereby caused to destroy himself."

"Could there have been some sort of hallucinogenic powder or spray that hit them when they opened the boxes?" the Brigadier asked. "Something in the actual box of chocolates that was a mechanism, rather than in the chocolates themselves?"

"I can test for that, but if that's true, then you may be dealing with a killer who simply hijacks parcels going to wealthy investors and doctors them to release some type of agent when they are opened. We would have no direct link to Royalty House."

"Yet you donít trust Royalty House," the Brigadier said.

"No, I do not." The timelord glanced at him.

"What are your reasons?"

"That secret lab for one thing. The absolutely beastly behavior of Dave Highlers for another---"

"I told you, his father---"

The Doctor's piercing eyes arrested the Brigadier's protests. "Do you really think Jack Highlers is taken by surprise by such beastliness from his son, Brigadier?"

The Brigadier was caught off guard.

"Donít measure Jack Highlers by your yardstick of personal decency," the Doctor told him. "Jack Highlers took a man's wife from him, and when he got tired of her, he exiled her out to some remote cottage. Do you really think he had no idea until today what kind of bounder his son is?"

"Well he seemed quite sincere, but then, the best liars always do."

"Everything about him strikes me as a lie," the Doctor said. "The rags to riches story, the front of quality he puts forward---everything."

At a familiar sound, they both looked up. Bessy, the Doctor's bright yellow roadster, was speeding down the narrow lane towards the pub.

"That must be Sarah Jane," the Doctor said. "Let's check in with her." They strolled from the staff car to the side of the lane. But Bessy hurtled onward. The Doctor had one glimpse of Sarah Jane's face, her eyes large and frightened and yet set with some fixed purpose of her own, and then the car passed them and was soon a mere dot down the long lane.

"I donít think she even saw us," the Brigadier said. "Do you think she's all right?"

"I donít know. Come on, let's see what the pathologist has found. And then there is someplace else we should check."

They strode around to either side of the car as the Brigadier's driver, a corporal named Sanders, quickly exited the front seat and opened the door for the Brigadier.

"Where is that?" the Brigadier asked the Doctor.

"Jack Highlers' number one charity, the hospital for children---St. Nicholas."

* * * *

By the time that Sarah Jane reached one of the many crowded suburban areas outside London, the afternoon was past its height. In an ordinary car, of course, she would never have made such good time. But in spite of the comparatively shorter drive in Bessy, she felt weary and windblown. She stopped in at a chemist's shop to purchase aspirin, and in the restroom she combed her hair and freshened her make-up. From the pay phone out front, she checked with her stringer and jotted down a number. Then she placed another call, spoke for a few moments, and hung up.

Twenty minutes later, she presented herself at the front door of the flat of Victoria Evans, sister of her tour guide from Royalty House.

"I do want thank you for seeing me, Miss Evans," Sarah Jane said in her best journalism interview voice.

"Not at all, do come in," and Victoria Evans ushered her inside a small but elegant and tastefully arranged flat. It was not, Sarah Jane thought, an expensively furnished flat. But it was tasteful: beautiful. Only on close inspection did one realize that the furniture and accents were all quite ordinary.

"I suppose that my poor brother has not been speaking highly of me," she said as she followed Sarah Jane to a matching sofa and chair. She gestured that Sarah should sit on the sofa.

As Sarah did, the other woman gestured at a tea arrangement.

Sarah shook her head. "No, I couldn't, but you go ahead."

"Well, I will, then. Talking about Harbor Chocolates---or Royalty House, as it's called now---requires a certain strength of nerve," she said. She sat in the chair and poured a cup of tea for herself. She was thirtyish, Sarah Jane thought, perhaps a year or two older than that.

"Your brother did express rather sharp disappointment in your decision to leave the sales force, Miss Evans," Sarah said.

She let out a snort. A real snort of derision. "Sales force? I work for a sales force now, Miss Smith, and do well enough. Royalty House has never had a sales force. They have a stable of slaves. A very large stable and quite a lot of slaves."
Sarah Jane pulled out her notebook and started writing.

"There's a fellow you should talk to---Ischink," she said. "He wrote a book about it---"

"Yes, we've spoken briefly, but Mr. Ischink actually rose pretty quickly in the ranks. I wanted to speak to somebody with more experience on the front line----"

"Yes, the infantry. The disposable force. Well, I was, for just over two years. You can't earn enough to live on the Highlers commissions. And he creates such an atmosphere of dedication: loyalty and determination. That was our motto. Loyalty and determination."

"But some people do get ahead---"

"Men," she said briefly. "Men are selected at times for higher level positions. Their wives go with them of course and get staff jobs as well. But donít let the magnificence of the main house of the headquarters fool you. The housing for the staff is wretched: small, cramped studio flats where some of the people even have to share washrooms on a common hall."

Sarah Jane was writing steadily. "You say men are treated with preference---"

"Treated with preference? Miss Smith, let me show you something."

She stood and walked out, down the flat's short hallway. Sarah Jane heard a closet door open, and Victoria Evans returned with a large pasteboard box. Sarah pushed the tea things aside, and her hostess set the box down on the coffee table.

"Here it is, right on top." And Victoria Evans handed a large blue notebook to Sarah Jane. The young journalist flipped it open.

"Looks like a dress code," Sarah Jane murmured. "Quite extensive."

She nodded and said, "Women were required to wear knee length skirts, nylons, full slips, padded bras, plain shirting materials with no design on the front and with coverage for our shoulders, no cleavage showing, no jewelry on bare skin, pale lipstick only, no eye makeup---shall I go on?"

Sarah scanned the list of regulations. "No shoes with open backs," she read. "It does seem quite extensive---"

"And this was not just when we were selling chocolates, Miss Smith. That was our dress code for the way we lived," she added. "I couldn't go to the market dressed in slacks, or wearing open sandals."

"But how did Highlers enforce such a dress code? The sales force was spread out everywhere."

"We had an honor system. We turned each other in," she said. "That was part of our loyalty." She nodded at the notebook. "Go on, turn to the tab on personal conduct. Read what it says about the expected behavior of women."

Sarah Jane flipped through to the correct tab. Then she read aloud:


People respond to women who are ladylike and feminine. Women who serve in the Royalty House/Harbor Chocolates Sales Division must appear feminine. They are encouraged to have long hair and to wear lace and ribbons. Customers respond to women who allow them to feel like they are in charge; therefore women in the sales force must adhere to proper, demure, behavior. When dealing with in-house directives, women employees must obey immediately, without question, and without argument. Appeals may be made in writing, but women employees who display resentment or dominating behavior shall be terminated.

Women who excel in sports develop innate leadership qualities that run contrary to a good sales representation. Therefore, women employees shall not be retained who participate in organized athletic programs or events. Male customers do not respond to masculine women, and little boys and little girls alike respond best to maternal figures who maintain a gentle and feminine demeanor.

For a small percentage of her earnings, the Royalty House headquarters requires a mandatory semi-monthly review of manners and deportment for all female employees. Female employees are expected to be graceful in sitting, walking, etc., and must exhibit propriety and grace in her manners. They must be good listeners.

Because of the propensity for female employees to marry and leave the company (or else marry into the company and join her husband's career), women are encouraged to develop excellent sales skills but shall not be considered for management positions except in extreme circumstances. Losing trained women to marriage and child bearing is too costly for any company, and so the policy of this company is to promote men in order to retain them.

There was more, but Sarah stopped and looked up in amazement. "Do they really run that company along these lines?" she asked.

Her hostess nodded. "Yes, and of course if you complained, you were removed."

Sarah Jane put down the notebook in amazement. "So you were worked to death, underpaid, forced to pay for classes you were required to take, prevented from promotion except through marriage---"

"And more than half of those ended in divorce," the other woman added. "Just ask my brother, except I doubt he would answer honestly."

"Why so much divorce?" Sarah asked.

"Women from the real world who married into the Royalty House system couldnít take it. All of those rules--" and she nodded to the notebook, "also apply to the wives of sales men. A sales man would be dismissed if his wife refused to live by the dress code and behavior code. And the men!' she gave a shudder.

"What?" Sarah Jane asked.

"Well, you never saw so many women who had been hit by the edge of doors or fallen down the steps, Miss Smith. Some of them took tumbles a few times a week when things were bad---"

"Are you saying that Royalty House men beat their wives?"

"Not all of them. Perhaps not even most of them. But some of them. And quite regularly."

"And the women left them?"

"Once they'd had enough. It takes a bit of courage when between the two of you there's not enough to survive. But I suppose when she's lost enough teeth or had to go out one time too many with sunglasses in the evening, she decides to make the break."

Sarah Jane sat for a moment and stared at the blue notebook. "May I take that with me?" she asked.

"With my blessing," her hostess said. "You same very shaken up, Miss Smith. Wouldnít a cup of tea help you?"

"I'm not sure what will help me," Sarah said softly, almost to herself. Then she quickly collected herself. "I will take the notebook and continue my research. Do you know anything about this?" And she opened her purse and pulled out the paperback book she had stolen.

"Oh that!" Victoria Evans was dismissive. "You might find some good material in here, but this is probably what you really want. She rummaged in the box. "For a few years Jack Highlers regarded himself as the Savior of the family unit, Miss Smith. Sales were going great. And he kept his people on an emotional high. You wouldnít believe those training classes of his. I'll tell you, Adolph Hitler could have taken lessons from Jack Highlers when it comes to crowd control. But he self-published a line of books on family improvement. Here they are." She withdrew three slim paperbacks from the box. "Borrow these if you like."

Sarah Jane glanced at them. The titles were similar: EFFECTIVE WOMANHOOD and EFFECTIVE MANHOOD and RAISING EFFECTIVE CHILDREN.

"Thank you," she said. "I must go. But thank you so much. I'll be in touch." And she stood.

* * * *

"Well that wasn't worth much," the Brigadier said as the staff car sped them away from the pathologist's office and out towards the open road. "Not much progress."

"Itís only been a few hours since the exhumations started," the Doctor said. "The tally is high. Too high for one man."

"I know. Two dozen bodies or more. I jolly well hope we can keep the press out of this until families are located and notified. How far did he say that hospital is?"

"Thirty minutes."

They dropped into silence. The Brigadier removed a post-prandial cigarette from his gold case and thoughtfully smoked it while the Doctor stared out at the rough countryside. The fair weather had held beautifully. It had an almost hypnotic quality to it: a wildness in the empty stretches, and yet a tenderness in the sunlight that flickered through the side windows as the car shot past telephone poles and fence posts.

Within twenty minutes, they were pulling up before a majestic courtyard of buildings. The centerpiece was the tall hospital itself, flanked by office buildings and other medical service buildings. The Brigadier and Doctor exited the car and strode up to the main doors.

Inside, a hushed and yet comfortable atmosphere prevailed: paneling on the walls and framed, pastel colored pictures of scenes from Winnie the Pooh and Beatrice Potter.

The Brigadier and Doctor instantly subdued their energy. Nurses passed by, guiding children on crutches or walkers, or wheeling them in wheel chairs. In a room warmed by a wall of windows that faced the sun, women sat in rocking chairs reading to children.

"Can I help you, gentlemen?" a woman, all business in a neatly tailored, navy blue outfit, approached.

"Good day madam, I am Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, and this is my scientific advisor, the Doctor." The Doctor nodded to her. "We are investigating a very sensitive matter regarding two unfortunate suicides---"

"Do you mean Mr. Morales?" she asked. "And you say there was another?"

Her question caught the Doctor by surprise. "You knew Mr. Morales?"

She threw her glance down the long hallway. "Gentlemen, we owe Mr. Morales most of that wing and the new equipment for kidney dialysis," she said. "We were all quite stunned and most dismayed at the news that he had taken his own life. To be a man of such conscience and kindness, and yet to kill himself---well." Her manner became resolute. "Frankly, I have suspected foul play ever since I got the news."

The Brigadier frowned. "I was under the impression that Royalty House Chocolates underwrote most of your building and expansion costs."

"Yes. Mr. Morales was a part of the donation drive for Royalty House. His gifts came to use because Mr. Highlers recruited his interest in St. Nicholas', and Mr. Morales joined the Royalty House Donation Society. I met him only once or twice, but I understood that the young man had been quite generous with his personal fortune."

"Would you have a list of the members of this donation society?" the Brigadier asked.

"Oh, I'm sorry, no," she said. "I have nothing to do with who joins or who leaves the society. That's a Royalty House affair. But once a year at Christmas, we have a tea with the members of the society and present to them a report of our use of their funds."

The two men glanced at each other. "You hold the tea?" the Doctor asked. "It's a social event given by the hospital administration?"

She nodded. "Yes, and itís for everybody who has an interest. But of course we have an invitation list supplied to us by all of our patrons, and the Royalty House list is the most extensive."

"May we have a copy of that list?" the Brigadier asked.

"Yes, of course. I'll have my secretary get it. Come this way gentlemen." She led them down the hallway toward the offices.

"I think we may have found our connection," the Brigadier said.

"But what made them kill themselves?" the Doctor asked.

* * * *

Night had fallen by the time Sarah Jane reached her flat. She parked, switched on the alarm system in Bessy, and lugged her suitcases upstairs. An early spring chill had descended with the decline of the sun. The flat itself, dim and too cool for comfort, smelled faintly of last week's leftovers. She had forgotten to empty the kitchen scraps into the sealed bins outside.

But in spite of the chill and the odor, Sarah Jane hurriedly lugged her largest case down the hallway to the bedroom. She dragged it onto the bed, closed the blinds, and flipped on the light. Hands trembling, she unzipped it and pulled out clothing and shoes until her fingers contacted the hard surface of the box of chocolates. She pulled it out and opened it.

For a moment she nearly snatched up a handful to cram it into her mouth, But better sense caught her. She quickly ate one, swallowing it without bothering to taste it. And then as she felt more agitated, she ate another. She timed herself, desperate not to eat them all at once. She fixed her eyes on the clock radio by the bed. As a full minute ticked by, she ate a third one, more slowly and with a greater effort to roll it in her mouth and savor it.

She let another full minute tick by, and then with an effort to steel herself, she went to the mirror in the room. She tried to look at herself but could not endure her own gaze for more than a few seconds. She went back to the box and ate a fourth piece. Now as she rolled it in her mouth and watched the clock, she was calmer. She threw her glance to the mirror and studied herself at a short distance from her reflection. She saw the look in her own eyes that betrayed her, but she could bear the scrutiny.

She looked down at the box and arranged the remaining chocolates. "Oh, he ate one!" she whispered to herself in resentment as she recalled the Doctor helping himself. She counted them out in groups of four. And then she dug out the bag of the loose chocolates she had gathered. She counted them as well, in groups of eight, for she knew they were not as effective as the exclusive line.

Her hands began to tremble again, from dread, as she saw that she had four allotments of the exclusive line and three of the loose chocolates. "Enough for a few days," she gasped. "That's all." She turned away from them and sat on the edge of the bed, not seeing the expression of despair and dread in her reflection across the room.

* * * *

In the cool darkness, the staff car sped on its way back to London. The twin beams from the head lamps did not pierce far into the darkness under the trees that lined the narrow country road.

"That's an astounding medical facility," the Brigadier said as he closed one of the many files that had been copied for him. "But it does bring to mind the question regarding the children we've found. Weíve got to look for any ties between them and St. Nicholas' hospital."

"And from there, we would deduce a tie to Royalty House," the Doctor said. "Except that you heard for yourself from several of the hospital staff that there has never been a complaint made against any Royalty House personnel. In the history of the relationship between the hospital and the chocolate headquarters, there is not the slightest whisper of any charge of molestation."

Lethbridge Stewart closed up the folders and slipped them into his briefcase. "Yet who would have more opportunity to harm children than a candy salesman?"

"And yet drag them all the way up here to bury them?" the Doctor asked. "The management staff live here. The sales staff are all over England. Why come here to bury them if they weren't killed here?"

UNIT's commanding officer let out a breath of both contempt and helpless incomprehension. "I donít think that either of us is that well equipped to understand the compulsions and obsessions that drive a man who would do such things to a little boy or little girl, Doctor. That's what it's got to be. Compulsion. To kill a child requires a safe place to hide the body. A man who would do such a thing would take a long journey to hide his crimes, if he could figure out a way to do it."

"Hide the body in a large suitcase then," the Doctor said. "Travel with it. And bury it at night."

"The sales people do come up here for semi-monthly training," the Brigadier added. "And they volunteer to spend their holidays assisting at the hospital. It could have been done that way."

"I donít think--" the Doctor began.

"Look out!" their driver shouted. He slammed on the brakes. The staff car skidded, went off the road between the trees, burst out into an open field at the foot of a rise and slewed sideways. It came to a halt.

The Doctor and Brig had been thrown forward and then into the sides of the car. As they sat up, the Doctor exclaimed, "What happened?"

"Tree down right across the road sir!" the driver said, and then he suddenly shouted, arched up and pulled at his throat, and fell against the door. He gasped once and was still.

"Sanders! Somebody's shooting at us! Get down Doctor!" The Brigadier pulled the Doctor down to the floor. He drew his sidearm.

"Fat lot of good that's going to do," the Doctor snapped.

"He got it right through the throat. There's a marksman out there. Let's get out this way."

Lethbridge Stewart got the door open crawled out. The Doctor followed. A rifle slug smacked into the soft earth just in front of the Brigadier. They flattened down into the grass.

"Whoever is shooting at us has got an infrared scope," the Brigadier hissed. "He's up on that rise!"

"Stay in the lee of the car. We'll have to make him move if we want to get a look at him," the Doctor said. They both inched along on the grass into the shelter of the car. But a marksman above would site on them through the side windows. They dared not lift their heads.

"I told you that the next chaps to come after me would be experts, Brigadier," the Doctor said. "We're trapped!"



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I appreciate comments from readers. Please tell me what worked for you in the story and what did not work. Did any part move too slowly? Was the story hard to get into? Were any of the characters not true to the television series? I appreciate all input.
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