Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day Seventeen! Doctor Who Adventure Calendar

The Doctor on My Shoulder, Part One by Daniel Roth

It had been nearly four hours since Mason Valentin managed to convince his mother to let him stay home from school. Every moment since then seemed to tick away with the weight of eternity. He wasn't sick exactly. His fifteen year old heart though was very sick. Love sick, that is. Staring out the bay window, his thoughts wandered to Ana Comparetto, the American girl who'd only just transferred that year.

Since the first day Ana arrived, Mason drank in every detail about her: the streaks of purple that shocked through her otherwise long, brown hair, her unfettered laughter that rang above everyone else's, the incredulous way she would say "What!?" at even the least astounding of revelations. While she longed for something called "Swiss Miss" he longed only for her. She lived just across the way and, gazing towards her house, he ran through all the countless times he'd nearly spoken to her but never quite could. "Coward," he thought to himself.

Before he could dwell a moment longer, Mason caught a glimpse of something peculiar out of the corner of his eye. It didn't seem like much at first, just a few vans passing down the road, but a few turned into a fleet, a seemingly endless parade travelling along every street for as far as the eye could see, white, nameless, and all identical. That wasn't normal at any time, certainly not midday when everyone was at work or school. It was almost as if it were planned that way, something so strange in plain sight but only when no one was looking.

It wasn't long before several of the vans pulled to the side of his street. The drivers all filed out simultaneously with a synchronicity that was almost eerie. Fear growing in the pit of his stomach, Mason's instincts took hold as he dove from the couch, dashed up the stairs, and perched himself silently beneath his parent's window, his eyes peeking out ever so slightly from beneath the curtain. The obstructed view was a small price to pay for Mason to feign at least a hint more safety.

A few moments later, the sound of barking dogs began to ring out in the cold air. Unaffected by the cacophonous warning, the drivers methodically went from house to house, dropping a single parcel at every doorstep. Mason could feel the hair bristle at the back of his neck. As one of the couriers walked towards Mason's front door he instinctively drew in a sharp breath and held it. Mason waited, quiet as he could, for what might happen next. "What if the man tried to enter?" Mason thought. Casting his gaze away from the window, Mason looked to see if there was something he might use to defend himself. A lamp shade, a heavy book, a cricket bat, anything would do.

The sound of doors slamming snapped Mason out of his panicked planning. As the vans' engines revved, Mason clambered back towards the window just in time to see a few remaining cars slowly disappear around the corner. The entire bizarre event had ended almost as quickly as it had begun and, thinking it over, Mason felt incredibly silly crouched in the corner of his parent's bedroom. "No wonder I can't even work up the courage to talk to a girl. Scared of a few vans... I really am a coward," he moaned aloud. With that final, self-pitying thought, Mason crept back down the stairs to retrieve the package that had been left on the front stoop.

The lock on the door made what felt like an unnecessarily audible 'click' as it turned. Finally pushing back his unwarranted fears, Mason opened the door. There, at the top of the steps, was a small, brown, thoroughly unremarkable box. Its only distinguishing feature was an envelope taped to its side. Retrieving it, Mason, having had enough of fear for one day opened the envelope and emptied its contents. In it was a simple note that read: DO NOT OPEN 'TIL XMAS.
What a laugh! What sort of kid would ever heed such a warning? "You are so opened, box!" Mason announced, addressing the package as though it were a defendant to be sentenced. He picked the box up with triumph and closed the door behind him.
Crumpling into the sofa, Mason heard the tinkling bell of Max, his Himalayan cat. "You reckon this present's meant for you, Max?" Mason asked as Max curled up beside him looking on curiously. Mason didn't spare another moment, tearing into the tape that sealed the hidden treasure within. Pulling aside the tissue paper, Mason finally laid eyes on his prize: a tiny figurine about six inches high. "What's this meant to be then?" Mason thought aloud, "Some sort of action figure?" Picking it up in his hand, Mason was astonished at all the points of articulation it had. In fact, inspecting it closer, it was almost like a doll. Its brown suit with blue pinstripes was all real cloth as were the white trainers that adorned its feet. Even the hair was incredibly lifelike. It was like holding a tiny, sleeping person which was no end of weird, Mason thought.
Not all that sure of what to do with the doll and thoroughly unimpressed with the final result of all the earlier drama, Mason plopped the figurine back into its brown, cardboard home. "All yours, Max," he said, turning himself round to flip on the telly for a while. As the screen sparked to life, Mason heard the familiar music from "The Snowman". "This again?" Mason muttered. "How many times in a day do I need to see a flying snowman before the entire planet knows it's Christmas?"
As Mason stared, dully, at the dancing snow people, Max crept slowly towards the box, tail bouncing back and forth with each step. Peering in, there was the tiny man in his rumpled suit seemingly curled up in a ball, wrapped in a blanket of tissue paper. Cautiously, Max nudged the figure with his paw. To the cat's absolute shock, the miniature doll responded by batting away the paw and muttering, "Oye, can't a Time Lord rest in peace?" Max's tail shot up to attention and he let out a low, burbling "meow".
Mason turned round at the sound of Max's agitation. "What are you on about then?" Mason said as he slouched over to investigate. "It's just a stupid doll. Nothing to get riled up about." Mason patted Max on the head reassuringly as he turned his gaze towards the inside of the box. That's when he saw what Max was so upset about. The doll was moving! Mason actually rubbed his eyes in disbelief but there, plain as day, was a living doll slowly coming out its slumber. After a long pause, Mason finally managed a weak "Hello?"
The doll wiped away the sleep from its eyes and yawning, responded, "Hello, I must've fallen..." He paused suddenly. The figure's eyes were wide open now. Struggling to get to his feet, amidst the soft tissue paper, the doll pulled out a pair of glasses from his coat pocket and squinted at Mason. "Oh, dear," he said. "I don't suppose there's any chance I'm dreaming, is there? Or, alternatively, woken up on a planet of giants?"
Mason stared blankly for a moment, not quite sure of what to say. "Who are you?" was the only response he was able to muster.

"Right." The doll retorted. "Not actually an answer to the question but never mind. Hello! I'm the Doctor and, hold on..." The Doctor paused, "Are you watching The Snowman? Oh, love The Snowman, me." He smiled. "Flying around, dancing with Father Christmas, it's brilliant but, if you're watching The Snowman, then that means I'm on Earth which is definitely not a planet of giants. Well, not last time I checked, anyway, which means that I've been shrunk. How did I get shrunk then?"
"I dunno," Mason said, finally finding his voice. "I just got a package and you were inside it. Is there one of you in every box?"
"What do you mean?" the Doctor asked, looking very concerned suddenly. "Cuz there's only just the one me and, believe me, I've checked."
"Well, there were these vans," Mason explained, "and they left a package just like yours at every house. If there's only one of you then what's in all those other packages?"
"No idea," the Doctor said, "but, whatever it is, I can guarantee it isn't good." The Doctor paused a moment, sighing, and then reaching out his arms towards Mason. "Look, this is a bit embarrassing but do you think you could help me out of this box?" Mason smirked and reached out to pick up the Doctor. "Careful there, Gulliver!" the Doctor moaned. "Blimey, I suppose this is how a Lilliputian feels." Mason lifted the Doctor and perched him on his shoulder.
"My name's not, Gulliver, Doctor, it's Mason and if there's people in danger then I reckon we..." Mason paused, uncertain. "Well... oughtn't somebody do something about it?"
The Doctor smiled. "Yeah. Who knows how many people could be in danger? What do you think, Mason? Fancy saving the day with me?"
Mason stared at the Doctor for a moment before suddenly finding himself smiling. "Yeah," Mason said. "Yeah, I think I would."
The Doctor pointed towards the front door. "Only one thing for it, then. Time to find out what the neighbours got for Christmas. Allons-y!"
There was no turning back now. "Ana," Mason thought to himself. "One of those packages was left outside of her house, too! We'll start there." Stealing away his trepidations, Mason opened the door while the Doctor hung on for dear life.
Running across the street, Mason noticed immediately that there was no brown box in front of Ana's house. That didn't make sense. There were boxes at every other house he'd passed. That meant that someone else had already picked it up and brought it inside! Fear sent a shiver through him. Not only was there a mysterious danger lurking beyond the door but it was also the home of the girl he'd spent countless hours mooning over. Hesitant but determined, Mason reached out to knock on the door just as it opened seemingly of its own accord. There, standing in her jim jams, was Ana.

"Mason?" she asked, scratching her head "What's up? I didn't know you were home sick too. And why is there a doll on your shoulder?"
"You know my name?" Mason replied in shock. "But I haven't ever..." Mason's voice trailed off as he peered passed Ana to see an open, brown box sitting on the table behind her. "This is the Doctor." Mason gestured to his shoulder as the Doctor waved. "He's very small. Do you mind if we pop in for a mo'?" Ana, dumbfounded, nodded as Mason was already rushing past her towards the package.
Peering into the box, Mason and the Doctor saw another figurine. This one, though, was decidedly less human looking than the Doctor. Its metal body was cloaked in a long, black robe, its face looked distorted like it had been melted, and a long, reptilian tail stretched out from behind like a metal whip. Tight in its grasp was what appeared to be a magic wand.
Mason carefully placed the Doctor in the box so he could inspect the tiny monster that lay within. "Oh, look at you!" the Doctor said. "Robot mercenary all trussed up for, what, some sort of fancy dress party? What's with the robes, eh? And a magic wand? Seriously? What's that all about?"
"Just looks like a normal toy to me," Ana said.
"Well, he does, doesn't he?" the Doctor said, scratching his head. "Oh!" the Doctor shouted. "I am so thick. Of course he looks like that. Think about it: how else do you trick someone into letting a robot into their house? You shrink them down and make them look like something everybody knows. Oh, that is clever. But what's it all for?" The Doctor brandished his sonic screwdriver. "If I can just work out where it came from," he said, scanning the robot, "then maybe..."
Suddenly, the eyes of the robot opened and glowed red. Its arm extended as it aimed its weapon directly at the Doctor.
"Uh oh, that's trouble", the Doctor said, changing the settings on his sonic screwdriver in an attempt to send the deadly toy back into its slumber. No luck. The wand began to make a low humming sound. "Get out of the way!" the Doctor exclaimed as he ducked and rolled to get out of the way.
A sliver of electrical energy bolted out of the robot's weapon with a loud "Zap!"
With only seconds to react before another round went off, the Doctor swapped settings again. "Come on, come on, come on!" he growled to himself, tinkering with the sonic screwdriver, looking up just in time to see the robot looming over him, ready to attack again.
"A ha!" the Doctor shouted as he leapt to his feet and jammed the sonic screwdriver into the monster's face. The blue, ghostly glow of the sonic screwdriver lit up against the robot's cheek, sending it into a fit of convulsive shock before it finally powered down. "That was close," the Doctor said, breathing a sigh of relief.
"Doctor..." Mason murmured, sounding as though he'd just seen a ghost.
"It's alright now, Mason. The mechanism must've reacted when it detected my alien technology."
"No, Doctor," Mason said again, more forcefully this time. "It's Ana - she's vanished."
The Doctor finally spun around to see Mason standing on his own. "What?!" the Doctor exclaimed.
"That thing," Mason began, "it shot her and then she was just gone!"

To be continued...

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