Creatures at an Exposition
Author: Metaldog

Chapter 3
A Tourist Trap

-=Chapter Three=-

As we flew through space and time, the ride became less turbulent, and I made my way over to the chair.  "So, tell me, Doctor.  What's so important about those pictures I downloaded?"

"Well..." he said, as he moved about the control console, making slight adjustments, "It wasn't the pictures.  It was that movie."

"The one from Edison?  In 1901?"

"Yes, you see..." the TARDIS lurched suddenly, and he grabbed a control to steady our flight,  "it's inaccurate.  Theodore Roosevelt wasn't supposed to be there.  Neither were you."

"Me?"

"Didn't you notice?  In the video, you were standing near the Temple of Music, talking on your mobile phone."

"No, I just saw the Police... I mean, the TARDIS.  I only watched it briefly."

"Well, you were there.  And apparently so was I.  Somewhere."

"Maybe if we could get our hands on the whole movie, we can see what happened.  Are you sure Roosevelt wasn't supposed to be there?  I thought he was."

"Roosevelt didn't arrive until after McKinley had been shot.  And in regards to finding the entire movie..." the TARDIS came to a landing, with a large clunking noise, "we're here."

The Doctor stepped out the doors of the TARDIS, and I followed.  We were in a large, dark room with a concrete floor.  A single light bulb hung directly over the TARDIS, but its light was too dim to pierce the darkness.  The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver thingy and held it in front of him.  As it glowed and whistled, he turned back and forth, until the pitch of the whistle changed slightly.

"This way!" he said.  I closed the door to the TARDIS and started to follow him, but we had only gone a few steps before I was startled by a loud clanging noise behind me.  A metal cage fell from the ceiling and landed around the TARDIS.  It started to hum, and it smelled of ozone so I knew that it had been electrified.

"NO!" the Doctor yelled, and threw himself at the cage.  As his hands gripped the bars, his body became rigid.  I pulled my hands inside the sleeves of my parka to insulate myself, wrapped my arms around his chest, and fell backwards, pulling him off the cage.  He landed on top of me, then rolled off and groaned.

"Are you okay?" I said.  He was unresponsive.  I looked at his hands, and saw that they had been burned.  I put my ear to his chest and heard him breathing, but then noticed that his heartbeat was strangely irregular.  I moved my ear to the left side of his chest.  His heart sounded normal, but there was another thumping that seemed to come from the other side of his chest.  I moved around him and listened to that side, and heard another, very fast heartbeat.  He had two hearts!

"Hear anything interesting?" he asked.  I moved back, and he sat up.

"You've got two hearts." I said, astonished.

"I told you I was an alien.  Well, alien to you.  You're alien to me, too.  How do you live with only one heart?"  He felt his chest, and winced as his hands touched his shirt. "OW!  My poor wittle hands!"

"You've burned them.  Pretty badly, too, by the looks of them."

"So I see.  Now... OW!  OW!" he gripped the right side of his chest, "Oh, no.  Not again.  Not now!"

"What?  What's happening?"

"Regeneration, I think.  Or maybe not.  Wait..." his hands started to glow yellow.  I stepped back, not sure what to make of it.  I was reminded of that movie from the eighties, when Bruce Leroy had to fight the Shogun of Harlem.  After about half a second, the glow vanished, and his hands were healed.  "Hell-O!  That's new!"  He seemed puzzled.

"What happened?  How did you heal your hands?"

"Localized regeneration, I guess.  Just my hands.  I've heard of it, but it's never happened to me before."

"Regeneration?"

"It's a Time Lord thing, you wouldn't understand.  I'm not sure I fully understand it, either, and I've done it plenty of times."

---

Time Lord?  Okay, weird name for an alien species, but who was I to judge?  At least I could pronounce it.  I wondered if "Doctor" was really his name, or if his name was unpronounceable, or even worse, if his name meant something hilariously filthy in English.  Like in the movie 'Alien Nation' when Matt Sikes was told that his last name meant "shit head" in the alien language.  I laughed a bit at this thought.

"So now what do we do?  Short out the cage somehow?"

"I need a minute to rest.  That took a lot out of me.  Don't worry, I'll think of something soon."  He laid back down and closed his eyes.

I turned towards the caged TARDIS, and walked around it.  There were no wires leading to the cage, so the power source was self-contained, somehow.  This implied the use of batteries, but the charge had been too powerful for any small battery to impart.  I looked at the base of the cage, because the bottom frame was the thickest part.  Around the back of the TARDIS I saw a section of frame that looked slightly thicker than the rest.  "Doctor!  Over here!"  He just mumbled in response.  Then I noticed his sonic screwdriver laying on the floor near him.  I walked over and picked it up.  Upon close examination of this tool, I saw that it was far more complicated than I had imagined.  Two dials, three buttons, and some sort of sliding thingy that I assumed was the trigger.  I worked the slide up and down, and was rewarded with a glow and whistle.  A tiny screen lit up and displayed some alien symbols that changed rapidly.

"Doctor, how do you work this thing?  It looks complicated."

"Don't... touch..." he faded into unconsciousness.

"Sorry, Doc.  I'm going to try."  I walked back around to the back of the TARDIS and pointed the screwdriver at the thicker part of the cage.  I activated it, and the symbols on the screen changed.  I turned the top dial one notch, and tried again.  The screen displayed the international "NO" symbol (a red circle with a line crossing it diagonally).  I thought this was interesting... perhaps the symbol had alien origins?  Wait a second... I turned the dial back and tried again, and looked carefully at the alien symbols displayed.  Some of them were greek letters!  I tried to remember what little I knew of greek letters, but most of that knowledge was tied to fraternity parties, and most of those parties had involved heavy drinking.

"Alpha beta gamma delta epsilon zeta eta theta iota kappa lambda mu nu xi omicron pi rho sigma tau upsilon phi chi psi omega." I recited.  Didn't do much good, but in my college days that recitation would have given me a reprieve from hazing for a while.

"Mispronounced... mmmmmmm..." the Doctor mumbled.  Maybe he wasn't completely unconscious, after all.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," I muttered in response.  "Silly Brits."

I turned the dial two settings this time, pointed it at the cage, and got another "NO" symbol.  I turned it again.  Another negative.  I turned it back to the original setting, then tried the other dial.  The whistling was louder and the blue glow was brighter... that one must control the power, I reasoned.  I noticed that the screen was filled with more symbols than before, though, and there was also a flashing question mark.  I tried touching the screen with my little finger, and the question mark expanded into what looked like a menu.  The lower button lit up, and I pressed it.  The menu scrolled down, and now the upper button lit as well.  I pressed that button and the menu scrolled back up.  Well, that made sense.  I scrolled down through the menu, but I couldn't read any of the choices.

"Doctor, wake up.  I have no idea how to work this thing."

His response was an inglorious fart.  So, aliens fart.  At least it made him seem more human.  I continued to scroll through the menu.  Wait!  There was a symbol I recognized!  A lightning bolt!  I touched the middle button, and the menu closed.  The dials moved by themselves, and the buttons lit sequentially from bottom to top.  I pointed the screwdriver at the bulge in the cage's frame, held it at arm's length, squinted my eyes, and pulled the sliding trigger.  A bolt of electricity seemed to shoot from the tip of the screwdriver, and the handle grew very warm.  The lone light bulb flickered, then shattered, and electricity arced from the socket to the cage.  Then, suddenly, it stopped.  We were in absolute darkness, except for a green light that shone from the tiny screen on the screwdriver.  The light shut off after a second had gone by.

I tried to make my way over to the Doctor in the darkness, but bumped into the cage.  It was no longer electrified, thank goodness.  Then I kicked the Doctor, accidentally, and he groaned.

"Oy!" he said.

"Doc!  You okay?"

"Don't call me Doc.  Give me that screwdriver.  NOW!"  I held out the sonic screwdriver, and he snatched it from my hand.  I saw the green glow again as he deftly fiddled with the controls.  "Ah, you've recharged it!  Good thing, too.  I forgot to plug it in last night."

"I recharged it?"

"Yep.  Sucked up about 1.21 gigawatts in three seconds.  Probably blacked out half of London in the process."

"We're in London?"

"Didn't I tell you?  No, I guess I forgot.  We're in London."

"Nice.  I've always wanted to visit London."

"Well, we're here.  What do you think of it so far?"

"Pfft.  Tourist trap."  I replied sarcastically.

"A trap!  Of course!"  I heard him jump to his feet.  "It's a trap!"

"It's a trap!" I parroted, doing my best impression of Admiral Akbar from Return of the Jedi.

The Doctor laughed.  "I love those movies!  They're so funny!  And yet, so true."

The Doctor reached through the cage and touched the side of the TARDIS.  The light on top lit up, and a glow emanated from the little windows.  "There we are.  Parking lights.  Should be able to see what we're doing, now."

"Doc..." he shot me a look "... I mean, Doctor... shouldn't we be worried about whoever set this trap?"

"I'd wager that your little power disruption should keep them busy for a while.  Now help me get this cage."  Together we were able to lift the cage above our heads, and carefully eased it over the top of the TARDIS.  It fell to the floor with a resounding crash.  The Doctor pulled a key from his pocket, and stepped towards the door of the TARDIS.  He put the key in the lock and turned it.

I heard a loud click like a bolt being thrown back, and the TARDIS fell through a trap door.  The Doctor jumped back as the TARDIS disappeared from sight.  "NO!  NOT  AGAIN!"

I stood at the edge of the trap door and watched the lights of the TARDIS as it fell.  It seemed to be falling down a curved shaft, and I heard it hit bottom after a second.  "Don't worry; it didn't go far." I said.  Just then, the trap door snapped shut again, and I heard the bolt being pushed back in place.  It sounded like somebody had done it manually.

The Doctor stepped closer to me, by the trap door.  "Steal my TARDIS, eh?  I think not!"  he aimed his screwdriver at the wooden trap door, but nothing happened right away.

Suddenly, the lights came on.  They were blindingly bright, especially considering how dark it had just been.  I squinted and looked around the room.  It was HUGE.  The walls were at least a hundred yards away, in any direction I looked.  I looked up towards the ceiling, into those bright lights, and saw at least a dozen more cages dangling there, above seemingly random locations in the room.  Worse yet, beneath each of those cages was another trap door, identical to the one we stood beside.  I pulled a cigarette from the pack in my shirt pocket, and lit it.

The Doctor looked at me, disapprovingly.  "Didn't I tell you to quit smoking?  You should always listen to your Doctor, you know."

"Sorry, Doc."  I dropped the cigarette atop the trap door and ground it out with the sole of my boot.  "You're right, I should quit."

Just then, we heard a loud scraping sound coming from one side of the room.  The Doctor and I turned to face the noise, and watched as one of the walls split open in the middle.  Eight armed men in black suits came rushing through the opening, and leveled their weapons at us.

 

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