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

Death and Chocolate

Episode Nine

Written by Jeri Massi

In a tiny, single-room bungalow whose front door opened directly onto a dirt path outside, Sarah Jane sat on a metal-framed cot and dozed with her head on her knees. A rattle at the door awakened her, and she looked up. She had very little detailed knowledge of her prison. The window had no sash, and she had not even tried it to see if she could smash through. The handcuffs that she wore with her hands in front of her were merely status symbols. She knew she could not escape. And her captor knew she would not.

The door stuck in the door frame, and with a kick, Dave Highlers flung it open. He came in, one of his factory henchmen behind him, holding up a battery-operated lantern.

"Here she is. Resting beautifully," Highlers said.

She was still stable from the last dose of chocolate. She knew that she could last for another several hours. So she only looked at him without making any move to get off the metal framed cot.

"Get up when your master speaks to you!" he snapped.

She immediately stood, and he crossed to her and snatched up her handcuffed wrists. "You know, youíre still resisting me at some level," he said.

"No," she began.

He shoved her back and pulled her in so hard that her head snapped back. "Please don't!" she began.

"You are! At some level, somewhere in that ugly, stupid head of yours, you're still hanging on to something that doesnít exist." He pulled her in by her arms.

"If you hurt me, I wonít be able to get past the UNIT soldiers," she said.

"Donít tell me how to do my work!" he shouted.

"I'm sorry."

"I have a right to do anything I want to you, and you know why?" he asked. "I respect good women: modest, chaste, humble women who work hard and support their men. The right kind of women. I treat them like gold! But you! You're a misfit! A loud, trouser-wearing, beer drinking, feminist woman! A journalist!" And he said it with a sneer. "Does anybody read your pathetic stories? Or is it all just a gift from your oddball, scarecrow of an aunt, that scientist lady who raised you to think you're a man?"

She didnít answer.

"Well?" he shouted.

"Nobody reads my stories," she said. "Hardly anybody. They are stupid."

He pulled her in. "See, that's resistance. You're just faking compliance! I'm going to have to make you suffer more!"

She looked down.

"What do you think of that?"

"Yes David. You know best."

"Well now we're getting someplace." He had not turned on the lights, and the man behind him with the lantern lowered his arm from fatigue.

"Give us light!" Highlers snapped at him. "Look at me!" he shouted at her. She looked up. The glare of the battery light shone on her face.

He fished in a pocket and produced a small black device that might have been a bit of chocolate. But when he put it into her flinching palm, it was hard and cold. "Get that hidden in the Brigadier's quarters or office," he said. "Where ever he holds his meetings. Be careful with it!" She took it and in the white light of the lantern beam, she glanced at it.

"Yes it's a listening device, you stupid cow," he told her. "UNIT's budget for these things is pathetic. I could give them lessons in what to buy for eavesdropping. Put that in his office."

"It will never transmit this---"

"Shut up!" he yelled in her face. He shoved her and snapped her head back again. She gasped from the pain but said nothing further. "It will transmit to a receiving and broadcast station we'll have nearby. I've hired a professional group willing sell its services. They know tricks that UNIT's never heard of. You just do your part."

"Yes David."

"And then---" He drew out the revolver. "Take this and kill the Doctor." He saw her eyes reveal hesitation as she looked at the gun. It surprised her when he did not shake her or strike her. He merely lowered his voice. "If you donít kill him, there will be no more chocolates for you," he said. "Do you understand?"

"I'll kill him. I promise."

"Good, because if you do, I'll hand over a whole case of the exclusive line to you. A whole case. That's at least a month where you donít have to see me. You'll be glad of the break from me, I'm sure."

She kept her eyes down. "Yes David."

"That's better." He threw the revolver down onto the thin mattress, and then he shoved her so that she fell onto the cot alongside it. He tossed a tiny handcuff key down by the revolver. "Work your way out of those bracelets, and then get on your way when youíre ready. Your car is out in the car park."

"Yes David."

He nodded and then threw a look at his fellow. They walked out and closed the door.

* * * *

The Brigadier nodded at his orderly as the young man looked at the coffee pot. Lethbridge Stewart felt that he needed at least a quart to get the engine running smoothly today. He passed through the outer office and entered his own domain. Outside the east window, a pink and orange dawn offered hope of a new day. He nearly closed the blinds and then thought better of it. He threw himself into his chair and picked up the receiver.

He dialed the lab, but there was no answer. The orderly came in with a tray laid with coffee, a roll from the canteen, and the morning newspaper.

"Surprising news, I'm afraid sir," the lad said.

"Ey? What's that?" The Brigadier pulled the paper off the tray and looked at the headline: 25 BODIES UNCOVERED, ALL CHILDREN.

"Oh blast that journalist girl! Where is she?" he roared. He leaped up. Warrant Officer Benton strode in.

"So you've seen it sir---"

"Of course I've seen it! Get her in here! In custody!"

"Begging your pardon sir," Benton said. "But this came from a tabloid. They got it first. That's not Miss Smith's paper."

"Donít stand there making a case for her, Benton!" he yelled. "Get her in here for questioning!"

"Yes Sir, but there's this." And Benton offered the Brigadier a large parcel.

Lethbridge Stewart calmed down enough to fish out a pen knife and slit the bundle across the top. He nodded to Benton, and the big Warrant Officer tipped out a bundle of books onto the desk.

"Books on raising children?" the Brigadier asked. The orderly looked puzzled. Benton twitched a paper from among the publications.

"Go on," the Brigadier said.

Benton read aloud,
Deer Mr. Brigadier,

Thise books may hep yoo find why them people do such unspeakable thinggs. Showe them to yur scientific advisor.

A friend

Benton picked one up. "By Jack Highlers. On child rearing, sir."

"First things first," the Brigadier said. "We've got the A.M. briefing! Let the machine take my calls. I expect I'll be snowed under now that this story has gone public. See to it," he told the orderly. He and Benton strode out.

* * * *

Down in the lab, the Doctor pushed away the glass slides that he'd been preparing. "It's not here," he said to himself. "No point in doing it again." Meditatively, he pulled out a slip of paper from his pocket and sketched a room. "Morales was here," he muttered. "At the window. The chocolates sat on the desk. Three had been eaten." He frowned. Then he crossed out the figure he had drawn. "Sarah Jane was here," he said. "At her door. And there were three boxes of chocolate here. And she was distraught. But she had other chocolates out, not Royalty House." His eyes narrowed, and suddenly, a light of realization gleamed in them, and then knowledge.

"Eureka!" he shouted. "I've got it!"

He snatched up the receiver. "Get me the Brigadier!" But then he frowned as the machine came on, and the familiar, recorded voice of the Brigadier's orderly said, "Please leave an accurate message with callback information---"

"Brigadier!" he bawled into the receiver. "I've got it! Where are you? It's what's not in the chocolates that killed them!" Then a new realization hit him. "We've got to find Sarah Jane Smith! She's in danger!" He threw his eyes to the clock and then turned his attention to the receiver again. "Listen to me. Itís the chocolate itself. It's a dopamine reaction that's normal in chocolate. Somehow these people have rewired the chocolate. They're creating emotional dependency in susceptible people and then blackmailing them to do as they wish. Morales and Rogers killed themselves because they were cut out of the circle. They were made dependent and then they received standard chocolate that wouldn't feed their dependency. I'm going to---" He stopped as he saw Sarah Jane in the doorway of the lab.

"More later," he said. He put down the receiver. "Sarah Jane, I've never been so glad to see somebody," he told her. She was neatly dressed and looked very professional, but her face was chalk white.

He held out his hands. "Come here, please," he said. "I can help you."

She had one arm tucked into her smart brown blazer. "You canít help me," she said. Her voice sounded strained and sad, as though she were ready to break down into tears.

He made his voice soothing. "Yes I can."

She crossed to him, her figure rigid, her face drawn and yet tense. "I want you to give me narcotics. Something to put me to sleep. Please, put me to sleep!"

"I canít do that. You would never break free of what they've done to you."

"No you have to do that! I canít live like this! I canít live, but I'm not brave enough to end my life. Please, just put me to sleep. If I could just sleep and not know how miserable it is to be alive! I'm begging you!" She caught his sleeve with her free hand.

He stroked her hair back. "It wonít take long to break out of the dopamine deprivation cycle," he told her.

She drew out a black revolver and pointed it at him. And now she burst out with tears. "They want me to kill you, and youíre too stupid to know what you have to do to stop me! I only want you to stop me, but you won't!"

His eyes widened for an instant, but then he steadied them. "No," he said quietly. "I wonít do that. I canít. I canít even lie to you, because I believe that even now, you have a reserve of strength to face the anguish you're feeling and get through it!"

Tears streamed down her face as she realized that he was adamant. "Doctor, please----"

"Listen to me, child," he began. "Just listen---"

Out in the hallway, walking quickly, the Brigadier glanced at his watch and called, "Doctor! You're late for briefing! Again!"

A single gunshot, and then another, cracked through the morning quiet and echoed in the hallways. He drew his sidearm and broke into a run. "Doctor!" he shouted. "Doctor!"

He got to the open lab door and looked around the edge. The Doctor's white and gray head was just visible at the base of the workbench, on its far side, on the floor. The lab looked empty, otherwise.

"Doctor!" he shouted. He ran in, looked around for an assailant, and then came around the workbench and knelt down.

"Close off the lab," the Doctor gasped. "At once!" But Lethbridge Stewart pulled back the jacket and shirt to see the wound. He did not see a nimble figure duck through the open door and race up the hallway.

* * * *

Men were racing down the hallway, alerted by the gun shots. Sarah Jane tried to ask two or three of them what was happening, but they rushed by her. She hurried up to the Brig's office and exclaimed to the orderly, "Corporal, something's happened downstairs. I heard gunfire and came up here!" Just then the corporal's intercom beeped, and he picked it up. He listened and then said, "Yes sir, right away!"

He double punched the receiver prongs and started dialing. "The Doctor's been injured. I'm calling an ambulance. Perhaps youíd like to wait in there Miss," he said with a nod at the Brigadier's office.

"Oh no! Shot!" she exclaimed. "Is the gunman still down there?" But he was busy, reporting the incident and giving directions. She slipped into the inner office.

She crossed to the answering equipment. With quick expertise, she slipped the reel out of the equipment and hunted around in the cabinets until she found a replacement reel. She quickly put it into place. She pushed the used reel behind several books in the shelf of books, and then she looked around. A framed picture of the facility in Geneva hung on one wall. She withdrew the tiny listening device from her pocket and perched it on the top of the frame.

Within a few minutes, she heard the siren of the ambulance as it rushed up the lane from the main road. She bit her lip. Her hands were shaking.

From the outer office, she heard Benton barking out orders to seal off the exits and account for every person. She pulled herself together and stepped from the office. Benton looked up.

"Is the Doctor all right?" she asked.

"Miss Smith!" he exclaimed. "Donít leave!" he ordered, and then he caught himself. "Please."

"Is he alive, Mr. Benton?" the corporal asked.

"Yes," Benton said. "Said he never got a look at the bloke who did it. Even though he was shot full facing."

"I--I want to go be with him," she said faintly.

"I'm sorry, Miss. The Brigadier's gone spare over those headlines. He has to interview you." And Benton's eyes were level and business-like. She pressed her lips together and nodded. He softened. "I know you're shaken up by this, Miss Smith. But he could very well pull through. You know the Doc."

"Yes," she gasped. "Yes."

"But how bad is it, sir?" the Corporal asked.

"Bad enough, right into the midsection. The Doc was able to say a word or two and then went out. But he was breathing, last I saw. Account for all personnel," Benton said. "Seal those gates and lock down the campus. Miss Smith, I'll have somebody bring you tea as soon as I get a moment." And he strode out.

* * * *

"I went down to see the Doctor," Sarah Jane said ninety minutes later as the Brigadier, his face set and firm, blood stains still on his sleeves and cuffs, interviewed her in his office. "I heard gunfire and ran back to the main level. Then I heard men say it was the Doctor." She lifted her eyes. "Will he live?"

"Frankly, I wish that I could tell you," he said. "But I fear that you have betrayed my trust, Miss Smith."

She looked down and blinked, nearly overcome.

"Did you leak that story to the tabloids?" he asked.

"No, I did not. I would not do that."

"How did you find out about the bodies then?"

"I canít reveal that source to you."

"Do you realize that I could have you locked up for the duration of this investigation? This is a national tragedy."

"I haven't harmed your case! I never leaked that information."

He leaned back in his chair. Rather than meeting on either side of his desk, they were in the slightly more comfortable office chairs. But she did not seem comfortable.

"I cannot tell you that Doctor's status," he said at last. "Because I cannot take the risk of trusting you."

"I've never abused your confidence in me---" she began.

"I know." He made his voice kind, but he added a sober rejoinder. "That's why I'm not going to detain you---here, that is. But you are to go to your flat and stay there."

She cast a startled glance at him.

He inclined his head, and his eyes cut straight into hers, as though delivering a message of their own. "I mean what I say. I will have my men watching you. If you make a move from there, I shall have you arrested and brought back here."

Her eyes lit up with genuine shock. "That's not fair! That's not---that's not wise!"

"It is my decision and nobody else's. I donít care how valuable your help has been in the past. I am not allowing you out of my sight---figuratively, anyway. You can walk about, but if you leave your flat to venture into your car, or take a cab, or get on a train, I will have you stopped and detained." He leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and said, emphatically, "That is my decision, and it over rides any other arrangements you've made, Miss Smith. You will stay close to home."

"I can't!" she shouted.

His eyes were now troubled, and his voice oddly hoarse as he said, "You must. Any other course is madness."

She stood up, afraid and angry. More slowly, he stood. "We could look after you here."

"Is that a threat?"


"Goodbye, Brigadier!" She strode to the door.

"You'll do as I say," he called after her. "Or I shall bring you back here."

* * * *

As she stormed out, Warrant Officer Benton entered the office. Lethbridge Stewart waved him in and gestured to the chair she had just vacated.

"She all right, sir?" Benton asked.

"Oh who knows? It was probably a mistake to just let her go!" he snapped. "You have two men with the Doctor?"

"Yes sir. The medics have taken him right into surgery."

He did not sit down. He put his fists on his hips. "This whole matter is befuddled."

"The Doctor couldnít give you any description at all?" Benton asked.

"He was conscious for a good half a minute by the time I got to him," Lethbridge Stewart replied. "I asked him---three times if you can believe it. And then he said he didnít know. Like he was dazed---"

"Maybe that was the shock sir."

But the Brigadier shook his head. "No, he was lucid enough, just losing consciousness from blood loss. He didnít want to tell me. You know him. He's so blasted egotistical. He's lying there shot and bleeding, and he's figured out some angle he wants to play, so he wonít tell me until he's ready. And we've got a blasted shooter running about." He turned to Benton. "Did you account for all sidearms?"

"Yes sir. None had been fired."

"So it wasn't an issued weapon."

"You don't---you donít think he did it to himself somehow. Like, a clumsy accident?" Benton asked. "He wouldn't want to admit to that."

"No he wouldn't. But there was no gun. And somebody was in the lab. Hiding. When I went 'round the workbench and got down to get a look at the Doctor, I'm certain that somebody ran out."

"Could he have been hit by some sort of knockout gas that dazed him first?" Benton asked.

"Oh, I donít know. We'll see how he gets through surgery, and then I'll try to get a rational answer from him." He sighed and then stood up and retrieved the parcel of books that had been delivered earlier. "I'll go take a look at these while I wait to see how the surgery goes. Any calls on the machine?"

Benton crossed the room to the answering equipment, frowned, and said, "No, sir, no calls."

The Brigadier was glancing through the books. "Mmm, best news I've had today." He glanced up. "Let's go. We can look through these while we wait for word on the Doctor."

* * * *

Two hours later, their heads bent over the cheap paperback books, both uniformed men had forgotten their surroundings in the hospital waiting area. White coated men and women rushed back and forth, and muted voices spoke over the public address system.

At last, Benton spoke: "This is unbelievable sir. I think it's ridiculous."

"Or nauseating," the Brigadier muttered. He glanced over at the pages that the young Warrant Officer was scanning. "Let's see."

Benton passed it over, and they traded books. The Brigadier read aloud,
The Ten Rules of Developing Manhood

1. Teach a boy strict obedience. A young boy must learn to be an obedient follower, or else he will never be worthy of leadership. He must learn how to handle followers, and so following comes first. Make your son live by strict discipline and obedience.

2. Punish him immediately and properly. Make a big ordeal out of it. Make the punishment private, but make it immediate, proper, and plain.

3. Insist that he participate in athletics. It is a grave danger for a boy to be indoors too much and grow up not knowing how to coordinate his body properly. This will make him effeminate.

4. Teach him to want to win. I taught my boy to play to win. We have bragged on good losers until our boys have received more rewards for losing gracefully than winning properly. I know hundreds of men who couldn't beat their wives at Chinese checkers. I was approached by a chocolatier in the United States. He was somewhat effeminate and less than a man. He came to me and with his dainty voice he said, "You strike me as being a very poor loser. Is that true?" I looked at him, paused a moment, and answered, "Don't know . . . I've never lost!"

5.Make him play with boys and with boys' toys and games. Let him play with guns, cars, baseballs, basketballs, and footballs. Invariably, when I see effeminate young men., they relate to me that they played a lot with girls and participated in feminine activities.

6. Teach him to defend himself. Yes, you read it right. Teach him how to fight. Teach him to be rugged enough to defend his own, his home, his loved ones, and his friends.

7.Be sure he knows how to work and how to take suffering, pain and punishment. When David was just five years old I got a ball, went out in the yard rolled him grounders. I promised him a shilling for every one he could catch. He didn't make a single shilling. I pitched them too hard. They bounced up and hit him in the chest, in the nose, in the head, and in the shoulder. He came in bruised and broken, but more a man.

8. I never let my boy do feminine chores. Washing dishes and sweeping must be done by girls. A boy must never do the ironing, laundry, or mending, etc. He must keep his room clean and tidy, but his chores must be masculine chores such as cleaning the basement, painting the house, cutting the grass, etc.

9. Teach him to have proper masculine heroes. Point out men for him to emulate. It is wise for the parents to choose older boys who are gentlemen and yet real men and set them as examples for boy. Proper athletic heroes, great generals and soldiers, and older boys could be chosen.

10. Teach a young man to respect his mother but obey and admire his father. That will make a man out of him. He must understand that it's acceptable for a woman to be soft and yielding and kind, but a man must be a leader, the aggressor, and the enterprising individual who captures new ground and makes decisions.

"If you really raised a boy this way," the Brigadier muttered. "I mean, followed it to the letter----"

"What?" Benton asked. "I mean, my old Dad gave me a couple of hard knocks when his mood was black and I got in his way, but he never took me out and threw balls at me to make me black and blue while I tried to catch them." He shifted on the hard plastic chair. "And he'd never have been daft enough to think it would have made a man of me, to promise me shillings and then frustrate me by throwing things at me!"

"I'll pass these over to the police. They probably have a psychologist who can review them for us." The Brigadier frowned and looked over the front and back cover of the book. "His theories on raising little girls are just as balmy. Ribbons and lace and never matters of integrity or forthrightness or courage."

"Yes, or independent thinking," Benton muttered. "As though she's not allowed to think for herself."

"It's a load of what my puritanical old granny would have called 'stuff and nonsense'!" the Brigadier exclaimed. "Somebody thinks we should be aware of these teachings." He looked thoughtful for a moment. "I mean, could these silly ideas really be dangerous? Highlers has money, influence, and an army of devoted young people----Is he inculcating them with some insane way of life?"

"Is it a cult, sir?" Benton asked.

"If it is, it's a cult with 25 dead bodies on its grounds." He glanced at his watch. "We canít wait here forever. I'll leave you here to send word back to UNIT about the Doctor. I'll take these books and contact the Met."

* * * *

Dave Highlers sat slouched over the broadcast amplifier like a little boy listening to his first radio play. At the moment, nothing was coming over the airwaves, as Lethbridge Stewart had departed the office to follow-up on the Doctor's condition. But Highlers was riveted in place. At times, he drummed his fingers on the wooden tabletop in the brick bungalow where, 24 hours before, Sarah Jane had been kept prisoner. At thought of her, he stood and paced furiously.

A knock at the door caught his attention. "Come in!' he barked.

One of his chosen men entered, cautiously. "News has come to your father from St. Nick's, Mr. Highlers."

"What do they want, the filthy money grubbers? We're still handing it over to them by the sack full."

"A letter terminating the Royalty House volunteers program, sir." He was obviously uncomfortable telling it. And he hurriedly added, "Just until the investigation is over, they say. Owing to pressure from the families---"

"Itís because somebody leaked the news!" Highlers exclaimed. "That Brigadier most likely. Leaked it to the press and made us look like we're harboring a load of child killers up here---"

"Well, sir," And the man's eyes roved back and forth as he tried to find a way to explain away the obvious and the completely true. "The hospital people never did come out and say such a thing---"
"Let me tell you something. We have a few problems here," Highlers snapped. He thrust a finger at the man. "But if those hospital people are trying to say that every single chocolate salesman is some sort of monster who preys on children, well, they're painting with too broad a brush!"

"Oh yes sir," the man agreed. "We got a lot of fine folk out there, putting in an honest day's work every single day of the week."

"Only a small minority ever lifted a hand against any children, and you listen to me!" And suddenly Dave Highlers was in his face.

"Yes sir Mr. Highlers." The man had that look on his face that betrayed a worry about Highlers and his rages, but Highlers ignored it. "Our average for abusing children is right at the national average. Nobody can say we're worse than anybody else! So a child or two was harmed here! That happens in other places too, you know!"

"Yes sir! Our desire to harm children is certainly no greater than the national average!"

"There are child predators among chewing gum processors, and candy cane distributors, and even in the taffy industry!" he yelled.

"Oh, right you are sir!"

"So it's only mindless persecution of us and---and hatred of chocolate---that makes Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart and that Doctor and the police in London come after us. They just hate decent folk that work hard!"

"That they do, sir, and there's no mistaking it!" The man bobbed his head several times.

"But I want that journalist, that Sarah Jane Smith, brought to me! I'll show her I'm a decent person. She should never have interfered with the big boys! She's got this coming to her!"

"Yes, she deserves whatever you do to her, Mr. Highlers." He was edging towards the door to carry out his orders, but Highler's seized him by the shirt front. "By the time I'm finished with her, she'll agree that this is a lovely place and we're lovely, gentle, decent, upright people. And if she doesn't come out and say it, she'll never be heard from again! Now go find her!"

The man drew in a shaky breath. "She canít get past UNIT, sir. They won't let her leave the city."

"That's not good enough!" And Highlers brought his fist down on the heavy table. "Find her! Get her up here! You people do anything my father tells you, and now you'll do what I tell you! Because I'm David Highlers! So do it!"

"Yes sir. Weíve sales folk down there. I'll ring them and tell them to keep trying."

"She'll be ready to come. She's not got much chocolate left. Let her help you find a way. She's willing."

The men nodded and ran out. Highlers, still agitated, strode back and forth for a moment, but at last the radio speaker sputtered, and he quickly sat down to listen to whatever was transpiring in the Brigadier's office.

* * * *

The Brigadier leafed through Benton's report on the incident in the lab. "So you've let the men know that the surgeons have given the Doctor a good prognosis."

"Yes sir," Benton said.

"And you've contacted Miss Smith?"

"Tried to sir. No answer."

"What's the report on her? Theyíve got her in sight, haven't they?"

"At the cinema," Benton said.

He grunted. "I passed those items over to a psychologist at the Met. She may be able to guide us."

"Do you have any orders for me, sir?" Benton asked.

"We still cannot justify getting onto the grounds at Royalty House openly," the Brigadier said. "But we need to take a second look at them."

"You think they are behind the mass deaths sir?"

"I think it's possible. And I'm uneasy about those two suicides."

"Have you heard from Inspector Jaffe yet sir?"

"No, this business with the Doctor has distracted me. I'll ring Jaffe momentarily." He hesitated. Miles away, Dave Highlers crouched forward uneasily at the pause. Then the Brigadier added, "I wonder about going in undercover. We may have to risk it."

Benton gasped. "But our undercover work is limited by the statutes of the host country---"

"I know that, man!" the Brigadier roared. "What else are we to do? Sit here and let more children be killed. We must get to the bottom of this!"

"If we're found out, sir, it will be the end of your career."

"Then I must take that risk, Mr. Benton."

Benton paused, and then he said, quite guardedly, "Should we call in the Masque sir?"

"Yes, I was thinking of him. The very person. I've secured the Royalty House guest lists for the next several weeks. We can swap him in as an invited guest."

"But can we get him on such short notice?"

"Yes, I think so. He's always keen to work for us. And he's the best at getting in and getting out of a tight spot."

"The only way to reach the Masque is over the secret line, sir," Benton said.

"All right. See to it. I'll be down shortly."

* * * *

Highlers was still digesting this news when a second person knocked on the door. He stood up. Without waiting for permission, two of his salesmen entered, one of them still limping from the discipline he had been given the night before with the chain.

Sarah Jane Smith was between them. "She came to us," one of them said.

"I did what you asked," she said. "Please, give me the chocolate you promised."

"Give you the chocolate?" he asked, incredulous. "You shot the Doctor. You never killed him. He's alive!" He glanced at his men. "Why is she free? Handcuff her!"

"There's no need to do that!" she exclaimed. "I've been helping you all along."

But in spite of her pleas, one of the men took out the familiar handcuffs, pulled her hands behind her back, and put them on her.

"Miss Smith, you are a person who was useful for a while," he told her. "But your usefulness is short-lived. You're unfit for me to remake into any sort of decent woman, and your constant whinging is getting to be a bore. Where is the revolver?"

"I threw it away."

"That's all right, any piece of cord or a twisted handkerchief will do. You two, listen to that radio and write down anything that's said." He seized her by the arm and shoved her to the door.

"Where are we going?" she asked.

"Where else? The grave site."

"Please, David---"

"Shut up! Move!" And he pushed her out of the brick bungalow. The men behind them quickly closed the door.

"Yeah, look at them," he said as he shoved her up the path. "They're all right against children, but a grown woman makes them squeamish. Keep going. Itís a long walk."

"Why did you kill those children?" she asked.

"I didnít kill those children!" he snapped. "One boy was killed. A whinging brat like you. About the same size, in fact. Steven."

"What did he do?"

"He defied me. Like you!" Highlers told her. The pushing was tiring him out. He seized her arm, and began to pull her, quickly, around the foot of the hill and up towards the woods, avoiding the lights of the main building.

"How did he defy you? He was just a child!"

"A child has to know that he's to be obedient! And quiet! And respectful!" Highlers snapped. He sounded as though her were speaking to somebody else. "But he wouldn't shut up. And he had to let me know. Oh he had to let me know, didnít he, that he hated me for getting to know his mum. I told her I would make him respect me. He would learn to be a proper young man."

"And so you abused him---and killed him!"

"I didnít kill him!" he yelled. "He just died. He wouldnít obey and be a decent young man. He died rather than obey. He did it. I didnít do it!"

"But the others!" she gasped. "What happened to them?"

"You'll be joining them in a moment. Ask them when you see them. You believe in heaven, donít you?"

"I believe in Mercy." And then suddenly, for just an instant, she felt the coolness of the night air, and the velvety darkness, and she felt a kind of triumphant life around her in the grass and trees. Life was bursting out all over the grounds, even though she was about to die. And then he gave her arm a particularly vicious yank as he nearly dragged her along. The sensation of vibrant life around her disappeared.

"Mercy, yes, like a woman," he sneered. "Snuggling down and hearing soft words. Like a man thinks that way. Like he cares about that!"

"You addicted the children like you addicted me?"

"No you stupid cow! I never went near them.. And I certainly wasn't going to waste that level of chocolate on children! I'm sorry I wasted it on you! Youíre not fit for it.. Youíre not fit for anything. But you might make good compost. If you lie a while."

"Then why? Why kill them?"

"I donít know why they killed them. It was them----Fowler and Leonard and Combs. Oh and Ballenger. And I bet that stinking Chester Mulligan took the little girls and did them in. They did all of that. Not me. The idiots. They did volunteer work at St. Nick's."

"But UNIT checked. There was never a complaint, never a---"

"Gosh you're thick! Not the sickly, dying patients. But their friends. Make friends with the young friends at the hospital, and when you see them alone on the street in some town as youíre selling chocolate, you ask about their poor dying pals. Offer to buy a ginger beer and talk it over like two men. Like that. Get them n the car with you. Then you've got them."

Understanding dawned in her eyes. "They're predators who prey on children. It's a way of life for them. And you knew---"

"I knew because one of them grassed to the others about Steven. And so the dolts buried their booty up here. Carried up the bodies in suitcases for the training sessions and buried them right here! I didnít know anything about those bodies until the bodies were uncovered! And here we are!" He pulled her to a stop.

They were among the trees. Low, dim lanterns had been set up on the perimeter, but there was no watchman in sight.

He pushed her to the edge of the digging. "Look in there," he said. "There's your new home. Until they find you." She was wearing a soft scarf. He untied it, jerked it away from her neck, and twisted the ends up in his hands. "You're not going to run?"

She had her head down. "No," she said quietly. "You've won at last. I can't fight you any more. I've nearly killed my best friend. I canít live without the chocolate. I'm worth killing."

"No speeches!" He looped it over her head and pulled her to him. "Too late. And no blubbing. Donít close your eyes or I'll make it go on for ages." Then he looked at her eyes. "You thought you were something, Sarah Jane Smith. But now I'm going to show you that youíre nothing. Some rubbish to throw into a dirt pit. And that's where I'm going to throw you when I'm finished."

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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.