The Birthday Present (2017)

Story A Week (SAW) 1: Jan 1st, 2018

by Adam O’Sullivan

Kate looked out at the pond in the middle of the field. It was her day off from work, and she was spending the morning looking out across the still water as the sun finished it’s ascent in the sky. Tomorrow she would have to return to the drudgery of changing sheets and cleaning up after the kids that came to stay at the camp, but for the moment she was alone, her thoughts to herself the way she liked it. She had to get up early to avoid the kids, who would sleep until they were forced to wake up by the sound of the morning bell. She also had to wake up early to let her room mate have her coffee, specially prepared from an ancient Bulgarian recipe. Kate suspected she brewed this intricate recipe for the ritual, but also secretly hoped it was some sort of magic potion that she brewed to ward off evil spirits. It certainly wasn’t for the taste.

Here and now, watching this beautiful picture of nature, Kate had the morning to herself. She stood on the small pier that overlooked the pond. The pond wasn’t huge but could modestly fit about 100 kids swimming in it, so it was close to the size of a swimming pool. She found it peaceful here. About 500 metres away from the pond was the start of the forest. Not for the first time was Kate reminded of the layout of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies. It’s almost like the person describing the camp had never been there before and was using a fantasy reference to fill in the blanks. Oh well, she thought, it would do for now.

Her phone buzzed and she pulled it out of her pocket. 7am. She should probably head back. The day would start soon and she didn’t want to be around when the kids started to overrun the grounds. She was hoping to spend the day to herself. She planned to stay in the room she shared with her two roommates, who were both working today. She could probably find the time to watch a movie or two, get some reading done. Kate hoped they would be out of bed and at breakfast by the time she got back to the room. She preferred her personal space, and that was difficult to get here.

She turned to make her way back and noticed a sizeable blue box about 5 metres away from her. The blue box was instantly recognisable. Not only would Kate recognise it anywhere, she could launch into a history of its appearances. Such boxes had been commonplace once upon a time in the UK, but now the sight of the blue police box meant one thing – Doctor Who. How had someone got a replica of the Doctor’s TARDIS onto the campus? The finale of the last season had been months ago, so it would have made more sense for it to be at the campus back then, especially if the camp was having a Doctor Who themed event. But Kate hadn’t heard of any such event being planned, and the staff were usually warned about these things in advance.

The other strange thing was the location of the police box. It was standing a few metres away from the edge of the pond, in a grassed area. She searched her memory and couldn’t remember the box in her line of vision when she had walked her. She was sure she would have noticed it if she walked past it. Maybe she had been deep in her own thoughts? She had a tendency to do that sometimes. The world around her only mattered when she was forced to deal with it. Or maybe the TARDIS had been hidden under a tarp and it had fallen off?

She walked close to the police box and noticed the detail. The sign was a perfect replica. Whoever had made it had out a lot of effort in. The box even looked like it had some wear and tear to it, like it had bounced around through the time stream in its travels. What a thought! More than likely it had just been bounced around on the back of a lorry between events where people would have their picture taken. She wondered if the door actually opened.

Her hand almost touched the handle when she remembered the tarp. She needed to figure out for her own piece of mind how the TARDIS had got there. She walked around to the back but couldn’t find any covering, nor were their any tyre tracks around to suggest a lorry had dropped it off. How had the device gotten to such a remote location?

“Hello little lady, do you have a ticket to ride?”, Kate was startled by a voice. The Voice sounded familiar but the accent was strange. It sounded Liverpudlian. No, it sounded… like a bad Liverpool accent. Like someone do a bad imitation of The Beatles. She only knew one person who did such a ridiculous impression, and he was half way across the world.

She walked back to the front of the TARDIS and noticed the door was now open. In the entrance stood a silly looking overweight man with a dumb grin on his face. Adrian. He was supposed to be back in Australia.

“How did you get here? Where did this come from? How did you get this here?” she gasped out all at once.

“A hello would be nice.”

“I wasn’t expecting you.”

“Can I have a hug?” Kate moved forward and begrudgingly have him a hug. She was happy to see him, but annoyed that he was here in her UK world. He hadn’t warned her. He had a lot of explaining to do. She wasn’t sure how she would explain this to the people at the camp. She wasn’t sure what to think.

As she hugged him, she felt him move into the TARDIS and close the door behind him. She hoped he wasn’t getting any ideas… and then she opened up her eyes.

The room was enormous – bigger than any room outside of a hall she had ever seen. There was a lot of black brushed metal and a giant spire that made it’s way up through the centre of the room. It was lit from the inside by an otherworldly glow. Couches and recliners sat on a top level that could be reached by deep blue carpeted steps. Four large archways led out of the room, a shiny chrome segue standing beside the archway across from the door of the TARDIS. The giant spire met a circular console about waist high – as it always seemed to, no matter what iteration nor decoration. There were the usual knobs and levels and screens and gadgets, suitably sci-fi. However, they were accentuated with at least three different types of console controllers, two keyboards with keys that lit up in a variety of colours, and what looked like a virtual reality helmet suspended from the room by a long silver metal cord. Emblazoned on all of the screens was the Batman logo.

“What..” she started, but she couldn’t find the words as she pulled out of the hug.

“Do you like it?” He grinned that stupid grin of his and made his way over to the console in the middle of the room. He turned back to her. “You should see the costume room now!” He started playing with the knobs and levers and typing on one of the keyboards. “Plus a whole room just for Lego!” He grabbed the nearest controller.

Kate heard the familiar sound of the TARDIS disappearing, only this time with her inside of it. She moved towards Adrian and noticed that he was playing a video game. A small, pixelated blue box was making it’s way through a green star field. Adrian appeared to be controlling the box, dodging the specks to make his way to the top. He pressed a button and a laser shot out of the top of the blue box to destroy the green star field and make a path through.

“I find it’s the best way to fly her, you know”. Seconds later, the blue box collided with a large green cluster of pixels and they exploded into a burst of colour.

“Well, maybe not.” He said, a little deflated. He looked at Kate and smiled. “You haven’t said much yet.”

“How?” she paused and chose her words carefully. “Are you the Doctor that’s regenerated into Adrian, or are you Adrian that somehow found a TARDIS?”

“Which would you prefer?” he asked mischievously. “No, don’t answer. Stand here.” He pulled her over near the console in front of one of the keyboards. The keys turned purple as she approached.

“Oh, I think she likes you.” Adrian said. “So, where do you want to go?”

“Medieval England!”

“So predictable. Wouldn’t you rather travel to the ends of the universe, or the start of time itself? Or we could see the dinosaurs?”

The Jurassic Park theme ran through her head, joined by the goofy words Adrian had made up to go with them. “Nope,” she replied. “Medieval England”.

“Okay then, you’re the boss!” He fiddled with levers and pressed a bright red button marked ‘don’t press’ before spinning a bronze dial. “Okay, you just need to type it in and we can go.”

Kate pressed a key on the keyboard and a little screen in front of her sprang to life.

“It says I need a password.” she said after reading the screen.

“The password, my love, in HastingsRain”

She entered the password, a shared memory between the two of them, and entered her destination. As she hit Enter, Kate felt the TARDIS lurch to the side. She stumbled but Adrain was there to hold her. He was always there for her, whenever she needed him.

“Would he always be there?”, she wondered, as the TARDIS hurtled towards the past.

To (never) Be Continued…


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