The Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS and heard the crunch of gravel underfoot. This was not the destination he intended, but it rarely was. That was half the fun. Since he first stole her, all those years ago, his beloved transport through time and space appeared to have got to know him and now worked out exactly where he needed to be for the biggest adventure, adjusting their course accordingly. He could tell he was on Earth again this time, so at least it was the planet he’d been aiming for. But, when?
A pathway meandered through the formal gardens of a very large house, which was just visible in the dark. Although his eyes hadn’t yet adjusted from the cozy glow of the TARDIS interior to this night time exterior, he glimpsed an ethereal figure in the distance which swiftly disappeared behind a carefully trimmed hedge. His inquisitive nature and childlike sense of adventure were triggered by the sight of this being and so, closing the door behind him, he followed.
Peering around the corner of the tall box hedge, he spotted the figure again, just as it vanished from sight once more. Once in pursuit, he quickly realised he was in a maze. Perhaps this was Hampton Court. He’d always wanted to go there, since that writer he met in the nineteenth century told him about it. What was that chap’s name again? Jerome something.
A pale hand extended from around the next corner, gripping a short length of chain, at the bottom of which dangled a shiny key. The Doctor recognised it instantly. Who was this strange creature and why did they have a TARDIS key? He only gave those out to a select few trusted individuals, with a handful of spares hidden in very secure places that he was convinced no one else knew about. As he took a step forward, the unseen figure quickly pulled the key out of sight.
“Ooh, I love a good mystery!” he exclaimed aloud in pure delight, before remembering he was now alone on his travels. Keen to have a conversation with someone other than himself, he sprinted to the corner only to see the figure he was chasing disappear around the next.
The Doctor’s Converse skidded across the gravel as he rounded each corner, with his long coat billowing behind him like a cape as he ran. That’s partly why he’d chosen the coat. It looked much better than his leather jacket ever did when travelling quickly on foot. He did a lot of running and felt it was important to look impressive whilst doing so.
Taking the next left turn, he came to an abrupt halt. There was a tree, with a wooden seat underneath it, but no sign of the figure he’d been pursuing. Clearly now alone at the centre of the maze, The Doctor sat down to catch his breath and survey his surroundings.
He soon realised his eyes had adjusted to the low light and that the moonlight was strong enough to see details, like the gravel which had been disturbed near the base of the tree. At first he thought this was his own doing but then saw his footprints, which were separate to these marks and much less defined. These indentations looked deliberate and angular. There were more to his right and so he stood to get a closer look.
As the Doctor circled the tree, looking at the marks on the ground, he slowly realised that he knew what he was seeing. R.
It wasn’t a picture, or a map. E.
The marks were letters. V. E.
Forming a word. In English. N. G. E.
“REVENGE.” As he said the word aloud, The Doctor heard a familiar noise in the distance. A distinctive sound that he would recognise anywhere. The creaking and groaning echoed across the garden as the engines fired up and someone, something, stole his beloved and only mode of transport.
This is the forth in a series of creative writing blog posts, written during or inspired by a creative writing short course I took at Central Saint Martins in 2017. The image is from Sherwood411‘s Flickr photostream and is used under Creative Commons licence.
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