First Doctor Who Story Ever Told;Doctor Who;Jo Grant;Katy Manning;Third Doctor;Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart;Jon Pertwee;Jeri Massi

The First Doctor Who

Story Ever Told

Episode Three

[Note: If you are wondering how the third Doctor and Jo got into this, you need to read the Introduction which sets up the story. END NOTE.]

The cold rain had ceased its fury, but suddenly it regained strength and slapped the wide lab window. Jo Jerked up in her chair. One of the Bunsen burners had gone out. The wide lab was dark, and yet comforting. In fact, she felt so comfortable she did not want to get up.

"I say, are you falling asleep during my story?" the Doctor asked.

She managed to turn to him, though she had been deliciously content to lean her head on her hands. "No. I love your story, and I want to hear what happens."

He peered more closely at her in the dimness, and just then something from inside the open doors of the TARDIS softly chimed.

"There, it's midnight," he said. "Merry Christmas, Jo." He kissed the top of her head and looked at her again. "I believe you have had quite enough brandy, young lady."

Her comfortable feeling was not at all disrupted, but the next thing she knew, he was setting her down in a corner of the lab, on the worn sofa with the ruined springs that he sometimes used for catnaps.

"You will tell me the rest of the story?" she asked.

"Wouldn't you rather sleep, now?"

"No, I want to hear what happens. You'll never get around to telling me the rest if you don't tell me now."

He wandered away, found his cape hung up on the coat rack, and brought it back.

"All right," he said. He drew the cape over her. It was enormous and covered her as well as a blanket. "Let me find a chair." He left and came back with a straight backed chair and the last of the brandy.

"And the candle," she added.

Stopped in the act of sitting down, he nodded and brought the last Bunsen burner back, set it on a lab stool, and settled down. Other than the single flame from the burner, the lab was dark, and the ethanol-induced flame was white, almost clear, shedding a pale glow against the darkness. The lab had taken on the atmosphere of a foreign place, rather cave-like, and somehow solemn and almost sacred. She and he might have been the only people left in the entire world that night.

"Comfortable?" he asked her.

She nodded. "You were just at the part where the bookstore lady had you come in for breakfast."

He nodded and continued the story:

The inside of the shop was like Paradise. The shelves of books went right up to the ceiling, and every volume was intact and readable. The woman would have walked straight to the back, to a doorway that led into a rear hallway, but she stopped when she realized that her guests were moving only very slowly after her, their wide eyes becoming even wider as they looked with open mouths at the feast of forbidden books.

"Do you young gentlemen collect old books?" she asked.

They both looked at her, their expressions automatically softening.

"We only have about five books," Forty-two said gently. "We've never seen so many."

"And all of ours are partly ruined," Eighteen added. Then he asked. "How long did it take you to collect so many books? Have you read them all?"

"Haven't you two ever seen a second hand book store?" she asked. "I buy and sell these books. Come back to the kitchen."

They promptly obeyed her and sat down at a deal table in the warm back room while she put a kettle on at a single burner and brought bread and jam out for them from a narrow pantry.

"There's no butter," she said.

Both boys were nonplussed at this comment.

"What is--" the young Master began, but the Doctor cut him off. "What happened to the butter?"

"We can't get any these days. It all goes to our boys."

The two young Gallifreyens looked at each other. "Do you have many sons?" the Master asked.

She stopped, startled, and then said, "I mean to our soldiers. To the lads fighting."

"The war," the Doctor said softly. "What the school Master wanted us to see." The Master nodded. There was a vacant chair at the table, with a newspaper lying on it. The Doctor took it up and passed it to the Master.

Citizens Digging Out; Two Schools Destroyed.

Their eyes flicked quickly over the first few columns, and then they looked up at her.

"This is a war zone," the Master said.

"Certainly. The world is a war zone right now. But especially London. There's no safe corner in the city. Where are you boys from?"

The Doctor spoke quickly: "From a school. It was destroyed."

"But what about your parents?"

"We have no parents," he said.

"It was a boarding school?" she asked. They had no idea what she meant, but they both nodded.

"And you mean to tell me you've been living on the streets?" She set down the bread and jam for them and poured the tea.

As she sat down, she took the newspaper and set it aside and declared, "We can't have that. We must have you put in a home."

"But couldn't we stay here?" the Master asked. He watched her reach for the bread and imitated her, as did the Doctor. They each took a roll. She offered each of them jam, but the Doctor said politely, "Oh, serve yourself first, madam."

She smiled in spite of her concern. "What airs you both put on." She spread the jam on her roll. "You mustn't become street children."

"We thought perhaps we could stay here," the Master said. "We could help you." The Doctor took some jam and passed it to his friend.

"Say this is good!" he exclaimed as he took his first bite. "Eighteen, have some!" He looked at her. "What did you say this was?"

"It's only bread and jam," she told them.

"Do you have to be very rich to eat bread and jam?"

"No, not at all. What have you boys lived on at your boarding school? Plain bread?"

"Couldn't we help you?" the Master asked again. "We could chase away those people who come to the corner, and perhaps we could find other things to do."

"Why, there's no want of work even in a small shop like this," she said. "But I can't pay you. And you must behave nicely, or out you go!"

"Just tell us what you want us to do," the Doctor said. "What shall we call you?"

"Miss Libby will do. And what shall I call you two?"

"We call each other Master and Doctor," the Master told her. "Because we don't like our other names. I'm the Master; he's the Doctor."

This startled her, and she suddenly laughed. "If you two don't take the prize. I ought to be half afraid of you. I've never seen boys like you."

"But why should you be afraid of us?" the Doctor asked. "You seem so beautiful and good. We would never hurt you."

She nearly made a retort to such an outlandish comment, for she was fortyish and rounded at the hips and shoulders, her hair greying in the front, her clothing clean but very plain. And she was simply a shop keeper. But she suddenly saw their eyes, widened and softly shining, and she realized that he was speaking sincerely.

"I try to be good," she said directly. "But most people around here would tell you I'm not so very beautiful, just plain and ordinary."

"Could you explain the war to us?" the Master asked quietly. "We're very young and have not heard enough about it to make sense of it."

"Aye, the poor children never understand it until it comes home to them," she said. "Yes, we have about half an hour until we open."

"We understand the geography," the Doctor added. "But where are the bombs coming from? Is there some sort of infantry coming behind the bombs?"

"Hitler will send his infantry over once he's destroyed enough of us," she told him soberly. "Let me find an atlas in the front, and I'll show you."

* * * *

There were boxes to unpack and books to sort, and endless dusting to do, especially in the front room where the books were sold. Some of the shelving was unsteady and needed repair work.

Books that Miss Libby had purchased by lot had to be sorted and the bad ones discarded. Both boys found this especially painful to do, and immediately suggested that perhaps they could keep the ruined books for themselves. But given the limited space in the tiny shop, Miss Libby over ruled them, and consoled them by pointing out that she had perfectly good copies, duplicates of the books that had to be thrown away. By the end of the first day she consented to let them read the merchandise after hours, if they were careful and kept their hands clean.

Their living quarters had to be dug out of the back store room, where the purchased second hand books were stacked in columns and seemed to take up every spare inch of floor space. But the Doctor and the Master were gifted packers, and by some sorting and discarding and much rearranging, they cleared out space for themselves to sleep on blankets that they strung up like hammocks.

They had to carry the crates of discarded books down to the rag man, as Miss Libby called him, a somewhat wild eyed older gentleman who smelled very strongly of alcohol. He lived in a narrow room on the first floor of a narrow building, and he didn't speak a word to the boys but watched them intently as they deposited their burden in the doorway of his small room. They left, and the door closed behind them. Then they heard wild laughter as though they had foolishly left an enormous treasure behind.

"Why does he laugh like that?" the Master asked their patron after their first trip.

"Oh, he's that crazy, but harmless enough," she told him. "I think he burns the ruined books for fuel. It's certain enough that he doesn't read them."

By then it was mid afternoon. The customers had been few but steady, but now they wandered away, and the store became quiet.

"Time for a cup of tea," Miss Libby said with some satisfaction. "Young Master, if you'll watch the front, the Doctor and I shall get the tea." She seemed to take great pleasure in having been busy and in organizing things, and now the prospect of a short rest and food also seemed a great pleasure to her. The Doctor and the Master grinned at each other in their own happiness, and the Doctor followed her out to the kitchen in the back.

They thought that life had a routine on Earth, and they gladly settled into it. Occasionally Miss Libby complained about the endless questions that they asked, but overall she was a good teacher about the things that she understood. It took her a couple days to realize that her boarders were each reading two or three books a night. This amazed her, but when she quizzed them, she found that they had almost total recall of what they were reading. They read everything from Robert Louis Stevenson, and then they followed her suggestions to start on Conan Doyle.

It delighted her when they nicknamed her Mrs. Hudson, though for propriety's sake she pretended to scold them for their "sauce." They had started to conclude that she was as plain and simple as she claimed to be, but they found to their own surprise that there was no book or bit of history that she didn't know something about.

"In all the classes we ever took, we never had a teacher as good as you," the Doctor told her one night as they washed up their few dishes from supper.

"What, with all those professors and masters and teachers that you two talk about?" she asked. "All I know is books, young Doctor. All that I don't know would fill the universe, I expect."

"What about you?" he asked. "Humans usually--I mean, most women are married and have children. Did you ever have a husband?"

"Oh, you and your directness," she said softly, affording him a glance and then passing him a plate to wipe dry.

"Am I being impertinent again?" he asked.

"Well, you don't mean to be," she said. "I don't mind your questions so much. I never was married. My sister now, Rose, she has a fine husband. You'll meet him tomorrow night unless I'm much mistaken. They're coming over to take me to the cinema, and I trust you young men can take care of the shop while I'm gone."

"Certainly. But did you prefer running the shop to marrying?" he asked.

She sighed and glanced at him. "I was a fair enough young woman in my day, Doctor," she said. "And there was a young man I had an understanding with, but things didn't work out properly. That happens in life."

The Master entered on this and stopped.

"Did you have a broken heart?" the Doctor asked. "Did it make you write poems?"

She burst out with a laugh. "That's enough. I have never married, and that's all I'm going to say. We have enough worries in the present and don't need to be digging things up from the past." She went on working, drawing happiness, the Doctor observed, from busyness and making order.

"Rose's Albert now," she added. "He has a car and drives her places. He works for the government and meets important people. But once a week he comes and gets me, and we all go out together. You couldn't ask for a finer husband to your own dear sister."

That seemed to end the conversation on a note that satisfied her.

But Friday night's grand venture out was interrupted by a horrible howling that broke out through the city just as Miss Libby had put on her hat and was slipping on her gloves.

"Oh dear." She caught herself. "Doctor, Master, get the bundles I've got stacked by the pantry door. I must find better shoes. Oh, I hope Albert and Rose are not caught out in this."

"But what is it?" the Doctor asked, alarmed.

"Get the bundles dear, and don't be in a panic. We'll be all right."

They obeyed her while she took off her hat and changed her shoes. Then she took each of them by a hand while they managed the bundles of blankets under their other arms, and she led them at a brisk trot out the door.

All the shops and buildings had gone dark, and people were striding with that same, rather precise stride that was not quite a run but was more than a walk.

"Where are we going?" the Master asked.

"To the underground, dear. We'll be perfectly safe down there."

"Is it bombs?" the Master asked.

"Yes of course, and I know you two have seen some very bad bombing that destroyed your school, but we'll be safe here, and the shop will most likely be fine in the morning."

They followed the people down several streets into a wide, dark entrance and then down several long flights of wide, concrete steps. Miss Libby seemed to be very calm and knew the way, though she kept tight hold of their hands. Something slightly possessive and protective had come to the fore in her thoughts and mood. They knew that they must not leave her.

The crowd spread out when it reached the platforms where the cars normally came in. With a surprising degree of order, the people set up their blankets, cots, and sterno cans in neat rows while one or two men walked up and down and offered advice and assistance.

"The bombs won't entomb us?" the Master asked.

"No," she said gently. "The government has looked into all that. The worst they could do is knock in the entrance, but the tracks lead down to another platform, and so we could just walk and get out. Everything will be all right down here, my boys." She arranged her own bedding between them. "Now then, she said. "It's still early. We shall probably sing for a while."

This happened as predicted. A slightly wizened little man dressed as a streetcar conductor took up an accordion and started the people on a song. The Master and Doctor settled down with Miss Libby between them, their backs against the brickwork, as they listened to the people sing.

"Psychic phenomenon," the Doctor murmured, and the Master nodded.

"They are conditioning themselves to develop a sense of community and altruism," he said.

"What's that?" Miss Libby whispered under cover of the voices all around them. "Why don't you sing?"

"We don't know the words," the Doctor whispered back.

"We are observing that the impromptu society that develops down here is far more altruistic and equal than the society on the street," the Master told her.

"If you mean do we all pull together then, then yes of course," she told them, slightly indignant. "What else is an Englishman to do when the bombs are dropping? We must trust God and help each other."

As if on cue from her words, the tenor of the singing changed. The voices became more solemn:
Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O Abide with me.

The lights in the tunnel suddenly went out, and the earth shook. Both boys instinctively clutched her and nearly cried out, but she stilled them. "Now, now," she whispered. "The lights often go out. You mustn't scream or cry, boys. You'll frighten the little children." In support of her words, the song continued as though nothing of very great note were happening:
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death's sting? where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

This singing continued as long as the ground continued to shake and the sirens--their blare dampened by the muffling effect of the earth and concrete above--wailed. Sounds like thunder accompanied the rumbling and trembling. The lights flickered off and on at intervals.

"Where will we go if the shop is destroyed?" the Doctor whispered.

"Oh, Doctor, you must not think the bombing is that severe," she whispered. "It's still at some distance. It would be much worse than this if it were over top of us."

"But why is Hitler doing this to you?" the Master asked. "He must kill you all, for if he kills only half of you, the rest will hate him forever. Does he have the power to kill everybody?"

"Of course not. Hush now. You must sing or be still, dear."

She smoothed their hair and waited, sometimes singing and sometimes humming softly. Nobody else was nearly as frightened as they were, not even the children, for all of them had been through this before. At last as the two young timelords were persuaded that the bombing could not do them any harm, they relaxed. Instead of becoming louder, the rumbling faded. Even the singing finally stopped. The lights were manually turned off, and everybody went to sleep.

* * * *

As the orderly crowd packed up belongings and migrated back to the surface in the morning, they were greeted with all the minor disorderliness prompted by an evening evacuation. Milk was not delivered, and the telephones were out. Most of the shops had to stay closed until nearly noon. The street looked the same, but there was smoke in the west, and every now and then distant sounds of alarms and sirens. Most of the men were gone all day long to help elsewhere in the city. A few policemen stayed on the local patrol. The regular busses did not resume running until mid-day.

Miss Libby stayed at the front window and watched the street, sending the Doctor and Master back to the kitchen to make breakfast. She had been calm and reassuring the night before, yet now she looked very pale and worn, and frightened.

The Master brought her tea and bread that he had carefully cut into orderly patterns and spread perfectly with jam. He set it on the ledge of the small display window and then took her hand. "What are you afraid of, Miss Libby?" he asked. "Isn't the bombing over?"

"For the moment dear. But I do wish I knew what has become of my Rose and her husband." She would not look at him as she said this, but kept her eyes on the street.

"Well, then Mrs. Hudson," he said kindly. "Watson and I shall go out and find them for you. We are London's best detectives." He turned to the Doctor, who was coming in with his own cup of tea and breakfast roll. "Come Watson. It is time we were out of this."

"No, no!" She caught his hand, and the Master stopped and looked back at her. "What would I do if you did not come back?" she asked. "Don't go away. Please don't go away."

"Why, we shall always come back to you," the Master began, but the Doctor caught his glance and shook his head.

"We'll stay," the Doctor said. "I'm sure that your sister is all right. But there's no way for her to contact you. But we'll stay right here and wait."

He settled down behind the cash box, and the Master hesitantly found his own breakfast and sat on the stool they used for reaching to the top shelves.

"The sirens went off last night at least twenty minutes before the bombs fell," the Doctor said. "How were we alerted in advance? Is there a detection system?"

"Radar," she said automatically. "But I don't know much about it."

"Radio," the Master said. He and the Doctor had already taken apart several radios and put them back together. "Is radar like radio?"

"I'm sure I don't know," she said. "I don't know much about either."

The Doctor pushed back his blonde hair. "Detect flying objects by sound wave echo," he said. "How ingenious. Do you think that's what they do?"

"If so, they should be able to provide much more ample warning," the Master said, frowning. "I mean, with such a small amount of lead time, it sounds as though they must be setting up their equipment on their own coast and broadcasting from there. And using this vacuum tube technology of theirs, I'm sure they have tremendous problems with signal stability. They probably cannot determine what is flying at them at any given moment."

She turned to look at them, startled.

"Maybe we could help them," the Doctor said. "Even using vacuum tubes, maybe we could create some filters."

"What if we could design something that would project a high frequency transmission to lock up the controls of the incoming planes?" the Master suggested.

"Those aeroplanes must be incredibly shielded."

"It depends on what rate of oscillation we would need and if the humans--the army--could provide something that could oscillate that quickly."

"Whatever are you two talking about?" she asked.

"Miss Libby, Hitler's aeroplanes must use control systems that are electrical," the Master told her. "Any electrical signal can be interrupted if another signal of similar but inverse frequency and sufficient power is mixed with it."

"We could use an ultra high frequency as a carrier wave of a blocking signal," the Doctor said. "But the real question is if we can even generate such a high frequency carrier wave."

"Come on," the Master told him, and the boys hurried out to their backroom. The Master took out a pencil and started writing on the whitewashed wall of the room. "Let X stand for the distance from surface to air, and Y for the distance from the radio transmission point to the originating point of the aeroplanes. The hypotenuse then becomes the path of the planes towards London from Germany. Mark any point as the furthest point that broadcast can effectively reach."

"There's no doubt that they can broadcast radio waves a fair way across that distance," the Doctor said. "But it's going to come down to how high a signal they can generate. Vacuum tube technology has got limits. It's not power but frequency we have to think about."

"But those planes are built to receive each other's signals," the Master said. "Let's assume a range of 60 Herz to 60 MegaHerz. You could oscillate along that band." He started to write up a signal generation algorithm. "We could at least blank out their ship to ship communication."

Miss Libby came back to the backroom and stood watching them, slightly open-mouthed. Unaware of her, the two boys continued to write and draw and sketch their ideas. They crossed out a good many things but did not hesitate as they progressed in their thinking.

This amazing discussion was interrupted by a knock at the front door and a call out front.

The Doctor and Master turned as they heard Miss Libby give an exclamation of surprise and pleasure. "Oh Rose, I was so worried for you! Hello Albert, dear."

Two newcomers were in the hallway, a very pretty woman and a tall, slightly graying man in an overcoat. They looked tired and pale but genuinely glad to see Miss Libby.

"We were late getting out last night," the younger woman said. "And I was that out of patience with Albert, but it was for the best, wasn't it? We've been trying to get through to you all day and decided it would be better just to drive over."

The man, still smiling, came into the back room with the attitude of somebody ready to be jovial and kind to two young war orphans.

"Albert, Rose, you must let me introduce you to my assistants," Miss Libby began. But Albert interrupted her, startled.

"Where did this come from?" he asked with a nod at the pencil marks on the wall.

"We put it there," the Master said. "We'll clean the wall when we're through."

The man took a step forward. "You put it there?" he demanded. "How did you put it there? That's vital information."

"Albert, they wrote it up there themselves," Libby protested. "I saw them. They're ever so keen on radio and aeroplanes. They know all about them."

He turned to her, shocked. "You saw them? They understand this information?"

"Of course," the Doctor said, now annoyed. "It's nothing but signal wave generation and vectors for transmission. Any of your engineers should be able to understand it."

"Where did you learn this?"

"In school," the Doctor said.

"What school?"

"Our school was bombed," the Master said automatically.

"There's no school in Britain that teaches this material to its students," he snapped. "These boys are batting around top secret information. You're both coming with me." He stepped forward and seized each of them by an arm, his face grim. "Libby, somebody's been making a fool of you," he said. "These two are dangerous, perhaps tools for a spying organization."

"We're not!" the Doctor exclaimed.

"Albert, they're just boys!" Libby exclaimed.

"Boys with no history and no family?" he asked. "I'm taking them with me. Even if they're as innocent as they claim, they're endangering us all by writing this stuff up on walls."

"Then we won't write it up on walls," the Doctor said quickly. "We didn't mean any harm."

"I'm sorry, young men. You must come with me." He was trying to make his voice sound kind and firm, but behind the voice and behind the eyes they could both see that he was shocked and afraid of the equations on the wall. He perceived the two boys to be great dangers and wanted to neutralize the danger they represented.

"I forbid it!" Miss Libby exclaimed. "They are under my roof, and you will not take them away."

"That is exactly what I will do, Libby. They represent a danger. They're going to have to be questioned. No British schoolboy could know this information. They've fooled you with a cover story that anybody else could see through, taking advantage of you for being a lonely spinster."

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