Chapter 1: Episode 1: Genre al Chaos
Episode 1: Genre al Chaos
Through the chaos of the Space-Time vortex sped a police box that was not a police box at all, but a highly advanced craft called a TARDIS. Inside the impossibly large control room stood a tall man in loose, comfortable clothing of a vaguely Bohemian style, topped by an incredibly long scarf and a wide-brimmed floppy hat jammed onto his mop of curly brown hair. This was none other than that mysterious traveler in Time and Space known only as 'the Doctor'.
The Doctor operated a control on the central console. As the scanner screen activated, he turned and saw with astonishment that hordes and hordes of very small fuzzy bipeds had suddenly appeared in the control room, clinging to the tall oak hatstand, ravaging his coat pockets, devouring his jelly babies and yeeking quite belligerently at the befuddled Time Lord, who was beginning to doubt the warranty on his state of Temporal Grace. It was probably high time for an overhaul.
One of the Fuzzies yeeked happily as it noticed the Doctor, and launched itself at his knees. Another began to scurry up his scarf as its companions headed for the console, but they all stopped suddenly when a voice commanded imperiously, "Cease this unbounded savagery at once!"
"Ma-ee Po-pin, Ma-ee Po-pin!" the Fuzzies all exclaimed happily, swarming over to a woman who had appeared at the door. She was dressed in a long black skirt and carried a parrot-headed umbrella and an oversized carpetbag.
"Ah, Doctor, do forgive the antics of my charges. We have come here to inform you of the vast danger that threatens the entire Universe! All freedom shall vanish. Free will shall become a thing of the past – compassion, humanity, kindness, sex, love, jelly babies – all the good things in life – shall be devoured in a single instant! For the Dark, the Dark is Rising!"
From a corner of the control room, Meg Murray watched all this in growing horror. Charles Wallace had warned her that traveling with Mrs. Which would be strange and terrifying, but Meg had promised Mrs. Whatsit that she would stick with the Doctor and she didn't want to fruit out now! To add to her confusion, a short creature with large, hairy, green feet suddenly appeared out of nowhere and rasped, "I am Enas Yorl, and I am here to help. A friend of mine should be along soon."
Yorl made several mystic passes in the air, and a voluptuous three-breasted woman stepped out of a cloud of perfumed smoke. "Va-va-voom!" shouted the Fuzzies, for it was none other than Eccentrica Gallumbits. The Fuzzies swarmed over her as she urged them on with a sly wink. "I've always adored fur," she purred, stroking the head of one that was attempting to scale her magnificent chest. "Mmm, so silky, too."
"All right, that's enough!" snapped a militant voice as a man in uniform marched into the control room. "This is getting silly! This is definitely getting much too silly. You," he announced, pointing an accusing finger at Mary Poppins, "should keep a closer watch on your charges."
"Oh, very well," she replied, opening her carpetbag. "All of you, now, spit-spot into bed."
As the Fuzzies disappeared into the carpetbag, dragging a none too reluctant Eccentrica with them, the Doctor turned to the newest arrival. "Ah, Brigadier. How nice of you to drop in. This is a children's show, after all. By the way, have you noticed that there's a nasty-looking fellow standing behind you, pointing a curling iron at you?"
The Brigadier spun round and surveyed the newcomer. "I say. Terribly gauche. Black leather with silver studs? What dreadful taste."
"Oh, don't be too hard on Avon," the Doctor said. "After all – "
"Hey," said a mischievous voice from behind the Doctor, "this is one hell of a lockpick."
The Doctor turned to find a rather nondescript man in light blue standing beside him, holding the Doctor's sonic screwdriver.
"Well, yes, it does come in handy once in a while," the Doctor replied. "You must be Vila. I'll tell you what – you give me back my sonic screwdriver, my bag of jelly babies, and the yo-yo that you just took out of my pocket, and I'll give you back this pretty bracelet you were wearing." The Doctor held up Vila's teleport bracelet and smiled at his stunned expression.
"Out-conned, by God!" Vila murmured as he made the exchange.
"I don't think I like it here any more, Doctor," Meg Murray said in a plaintive voice. "This is too strange, even for me. I wanted interesting, not weird."
"Perhaps I can oblige," said Enas Yorl, stepping forward. While no-one was looking, he had changed into a tall young man with a curly beard, and Meg really noticed him now for the first time. Yes, this was much more interesting.
They walked away arm in arm. Just before they disappeared in a cloud of perfumed smoke, Yorl was heard to say, "You'll like it there. The storm season should be just beginning . . . "
"Now," said the Doctor. "Would someone mind explaining why – and how – all of you lot are here?"
"Now," said the Doctor. "Would someone mind explaining why – and how – all of you lot are here?"
"That's what I'd like to know," said one of the two men who had just shimmered into existence in one corner of the control room. "Kirk to Enterprise – Mr. Scott, you've got the wrong coordinates. Scotty? Scotty!" He turned to his companion. "It's not working. What's wrong with it?"
"I'm a doctor, not an electronics technician," snapped Dr, McCoy. "Ridiculous way to travel – scattering a man's atoms halfway across the universe – "
"Oh, absolutely, I quite agree," the Doctor put in. "How do you do, Doctor. I'm the Doctor."
McCoy eyed him uncertainly. "You're a doctor? You don't look like one."
Meanwhile, Acon had backed away to the far side of the central console, still brandishing his curling iron. Vila was peeping out from behind him. "D'you see their insignia, Avon?" he whispered. "They must be Federation officers – you know, all twisted up inside!"
"Shut up, Vila," Avon hissed. "Doctor – "
"Yes?" chorused the Doctor and McCoy.
"Oh, do put that thing away," said the Doctor to Avon, pointing at the curling iron. "It won't work in here, you know. And my hair is already quite curly enough."
Avon stared at him in abject disappointment and disappeared through a welcoming open door. Mary Poppins coughed loudly from her now elevated perch, about six feet off the floor. She set her teacup down on her floating carpetbag and spoke primly.
"Gentlemen, please remember, there is a threat to deal with. If we do not take some action, then what of freedom?"
"Yes, yes, quite, of course," the Doctor nodded, pacing furiously. Captain Kirk watched him with a puzzled expression. "I think it's time to call in the Peanut Gallery." The Doctor placed two fingers between his teeth and blew, producing a faint wheeze. He scowled in disappointment at his fingers.
"Fascinating things," he observed. "We should make tools and build a civilisation. Vila, would you oblige?"
Vile put his fingers in his mouth and whistled shrilly. Immediately a door flew open and a dozen young humans flooded into the control room. Avon was being swept along in their midst, a hairdryer clutched in his hand, as a young girl in a white T-shirt with a black diamond logo explained, "So you see, that looks a lot more like a gun, and I'll just look after the curling iron for now."
Several members of the group were wearing suspiciously familiar scarves and floppy hats, and one young woman had a guitar under her arm. Beside her, a girl in equally familiar pink candy-stripe coveralls was looking around in puzzlement, saying, "I don't remember this episode."
"That's because most of it hasn't happened yet," the Doctor explained absently. "This is one of the Lost Episodes." He threaded his way through the crowd of scarves over to the scanner screen, which was displaying a jarring paisley print in purple, pink, and green. "Data Bank," the Doctor barked, "I told you to stay out of the LSD programme."
+Confirmed+ the Data Bank replied metallically. The screen cleared to show a huge triangular ship. "Hmmm, I'd wondered what Vader was up to lately," the Doctor remarked.
"That sounded like Zen," Vila muttered to Mary Poppins, who abruptly dropped back to floor level and shrieked, "The first enemies we must fight are on board that ship!"
"Oh, do calm down, ma'am," said the Brigadier. "It's only a model."
The scanner suddenly shifted to display a lewd image of Eccentrica being molested by a strip of carpeting studded with multicoloured ping-pong balls. "Listen!" she shrieked. "I've found out that there are three tasks that must be accomplished in order to save the universe! The first one is – " The viewers gasped as the image vanished, leaving only Eccentrica's delighted giggle lingering in their ears. The Star Destroyer appeared on the screen as before.
Caption Kirk cleared his throat. "Bones and I are in search of Spock," he said. "Do you think he might be on that ship?"
"Oh, possibly," the Doctor replied. "Why don't you go look? Just step through that door there, and I fancy you'll find your communicators will work again." He turned back to the console as the pair exited. "'Bones'?" he muttered. "He didn't look that emaciated to me."
"Splendid," announced Mary Poppins. "If they survive, they'll have accomplished the first task. Now, Doctor, shall we proceed?"
They were interrupted by a knock at the door. "Well, first let's see who that is," the Doctor grumbled as he opened it to reveal two three-foot-tall humanoids with hairy bare feet.
"There you are, Brigadier," the Doctor said in satisfaction. "I told you this was a children's show."
"Oh, don't be silly, Doctor," the Brigadier snapped. "Those aren't children, they're hobbits."
"Maybe they got too much excitement at an early age," suggested Vila. "Stunts the growth, y'know. Look what it did to me."
"A pity it didn't affect your tongue as much as it obviously affected your mind," Avon snarled as he unsuccessfully tried to swap his hairdryer back for the curling iron.
Meanwhile, one of the hobbits was peering up at the Doctor. "Gandalf?"
"No, Frodo, he ain't here neither," said the other one.
"Never mind," sighed Frodo. "Here, you better take this," he said to the Doctor. "Watch out for Black Riders. Good luck!" They turned and hurried away.
The Doctor looked bemusedly at the gold ring in his hand. "There's some sort of writing on it, but I can't make it out. Oh, well." He shrugged and dropped the ring into the cavernous recesses of his pockets.
With a gasping retch, the TARDIS suddenly lurched and began to shudder, the time rotor oscillating violently. "What the holy Zark is going on?" yelled one of the Peanut Gallery, a young man in checked pants and a badly fitting frock coat.
The scanner screen lit up, revealing an emaciated, withered face. "I'm going home, you bloody low-life sneak thief!" the figure shouted.
"Who are you?" asked the Doctor.
"Don't you recognise me, you Arcturian mega-ass? I was repairing the chameleon circuit on this hunk of junk when you and the brat took off with me still inside! I'm here in the tertiary control room – find me and you can have control of the TARDIS again! That's the second task! And you better hurry – we're on our way to Gallifrey."
The face disappeared as the girl in the pink coveralls asked, "Is this where the episode ends?"
Editor's note: It's not my fault. I did NOT bring in the Peanut Gallery.
And I am *not* the girl in the pink coveralls. I'm the one with the guitar.
Chapter 3: Episode 3: Random Rolls
"You better hurry," the menacing figure snarled. "We're on our way to Gallifrey!"
"Nostradamus, don't you dare!" the Doctor shouted. "Just because your mother once did me a favour – oh, drat, he's gone." Doctor scratched his curly head. "Tertiary . . . tertiary control room? Where's that?" He stared perplexedly at the back of his hand, then suddenly looked round the crowded primary control room. "All right, everybody, spread out and search. Mary, you come with me. Off you go, now." As the mob scattered, he called out, "And stow that guitar somewhere before it gets broken!"
Avon and Vila followed as the Doctor led the way down one of the TARDIS' many corridors. At one intersection they found a group of motley-looking characters in various types of armour, arguing furiously over a map that one of them held. The Doctor peered over his shoulder.
"You stupid good-for-nothing thief," the warrior was shouting. "I knew you'd botch the mapping. There can't be a corridor here, unless we've passed through a Dimension Door." He suddenly noticed the Doctor. "What are you doing here? We don't get wandering monsters for another turn."
The Doctor looked offended. "Really! See here, do I look like a monster?"
"Oh, crap, English accents yet," grumbled a scrawny kid with a sword.
"Why don't you let me take care of these poor misguided souls, Doctor," Mary Poppins suggested. She indicated one of the corridors with her umbrella. "See that door down there? Go through it, turn left, second star on the right and straight on till morning."
The Doctor nodded in satisfaction as the party moved off. "The Randomiser must have affected their rolls," he remarked. "Have to take care of that one of these days."
Meanwhile, Vila was scowling in disappointment at the contents of the pouch he'd just lifted from one of the gamers. "Cheap plastic polyhedral dice!" he proclaimed. "What good are those? I bet they're crooked, too." He tossed them onto the floor in disgust.
"Are you sure you could tell the difference?" Avon inquired acidly. His words were cut short as an ominous rumbling filled the TARDIS and the lights began to change colour wildly.
The Doctor dropped to his hands and knees and examined the scattered dice, his eyes wide. "Oh, no!" he cried. "Look, he's rolled a double nought on the percentile dice!"
"And what precisely does that signify?" asked Mary Poppins.
"I don't know," the Doctor replied thoughtfully. "Something really spectacular, I'm sure."
As he scrambled to his feet, there was a great rush of icy air and a smallish dragon with a gleaming white hide appeared in the intersection. Its jeweled, multifaceted eyes whirled at the Doctor and his companions as they pressed back against the walls, trying to give it room. On the dragon's back, a young man in blue leather clothing was looking round in confusion, saying, "Ruth, this isn't Benden – Ruth, have you been timing it again?"
Avon grabbed Vila's arm as the thief tried to slip away down the corridor. "Oh, no," said Vila. "I'm not hanging round that thing – look at the size of it! My mum didn't bring me up to be lunch for an overgrown lizard."
"You'd probably give it indigestion," Avon retorted.
Suddenly the Brigadier reappeared from around a corner. "All right!" he barked. "This is getting very silly again! Large domestic animals on board ship are entirely improbable!" He pointed his swagger stick at Vila. "All right, man, don't just stand there. Get rid of it."
"Me?" squeaked Vila. "Why me? What'd I do?"
"You brought it here," the Brigadier snapped. "Get rid of it!"
"Why don't you try rolling the dice again?" the Doctor suggested.
"With Vila's luck, we'll probably get a horde of Kzinti instead," said Avon.
Vila stopped in the midst of rolling the dice. "You don't really mean that, do you? I mean, you don't think that would happen? I never really liked orange fur, you know. Besides, I'm allergic to cats."
"Anything is possible," Mary Poppins stated primly. "If a million monkeys with a million typewriters typed for long enough – "
"A million monkeys couldn't possibly produce anything this silly," snapped the Brigadier.
Ruth shifted uneasily. Startled, Vila jumped and the dice went flying. The Doctor ducked as a twelve-sided die flew past his ear.
"Non-determinate action! That should liven things up," he said cheerfully. With a scintillating flash, dragon and rider disappeared. In their place now stood a huge lion with a thick golden mane and warm, intelligent eyes.
"I think I'm going to be sick," said Vila.
The lion looked round. "Who has summoned me?" it asked in a deep, profound voice. "The Emperor-Over-Sea?" Its eye fell on the Doctor. "Ah, no. One from a place even more distant."
The Doctor walked over and petted the lion's head. "Hullo, Aslan," he said, scratching behind the ears. "Would you like a jelly baby?"
Aslan emitted a deep rumbling purr. "No thank you, Doctor. I must return to my duties, and jelly babies do take a great deal of chewing."
"Well, I should think so, with those teeth. By the way, you haven't seen the tertiary control room anywhere about, have you?"
Aslan looked extremely wise. "Ah, Doctor, you should know that the seeking counts more than the finding. And a stitch in time saves nine. Also, beware of Greeks bearing gifts. Or was it gifts bearing Greeks? No matter. And so, farewell . . . " The lion vanished in a swirl of golden mist.
The Doctor dug his hands into his pockets, miffed. "Really! How unoriginal! Greeks again," he sniffed. "I did all that years ago!"
"He wasn't much help, was he?" Vila asked.
"Well, he always was given to aphorisms and abstractions," the Doctor replied. "A stitch in time, indeed!" He frowned suddenly. "Hang on a minute – a stitch in time, a stitch in time," he muttered. Abruptly he slapped himself on the forehead. "Of course! A stitch in time!" Whipping out his scarf, he did some rapid calculations. "Nine!" he shouted in triumph, holding up a purple stripe. "Come on, everybody, this way!" He set off down the corridor at full pelt.
The Doctor skidded to a stop in the middle of a large circular room set about with doors.
"Nine!" Mary Poppins counted.
"Exactly," affirmed the Doctor. "This is the exact centre of the TARDIS, the only place a tertiary control room could be. The only question now is – "
"Which door it is," Avon concluded. He walked over and opened one, and leapt back in horror at what he saw. A great shuddering roar echoed from within. He slammed the door violently and leaned against it.
"What was that?" cried Vila. "What's that noise?"
"It looked like a man-eating tiger," said Avon breathlessly.
"A tiger?" Mary Poppins looked indignant. "Really, Doctor, you oughtn't to keep wild animals penned up in here. I'm sure you don't have the time to look after them properly."
A crafty look had appeared in Vila's eye. "Did you say a tiger? Then there ought to be a beautiful lady behind that door right next to it."
"I wouldn't," Avon warned. "Open that door, and you'll probably be devoured by the lady."
"And I most certainly will not condone any such improper behaviour," Mary Poppins announced, tapping her umbrella on the floor emphatically. "This is a children's show."
Suddenly, another door creaked open and a wizened figure scurried out, gazing up at the Doctor with pale, heavily lidded eyes. "What hass it got in its pocketses?" the creature hissed, licking his teeth.
The Doctor glanced down at him in surprise. "Good heavens," he replied. "There are some questions one really oughtn't to ask."
The creature grovelled at the Doctor's feet, pawing at the dangling ends of his scarf. "What hass it got in its pocketses?" he whined. "Wicked masster cheats us, gollum!"
" 'Wicked Master'?" the Doctor murmured. "I don't like the sound of that."
"My preciousss, yess, my birthday present!" Gollum hissed. "We wantss it, we wantss it, we wantss it, gollum!"
Chapter 4: Episode 4: Spiraling Conflation
Gollum groveled at the Doctor's feet, pawing at the dangling ends of his scarf. "My preciousss, yess, my birthday present! We wantss it, we wantss it, we wantss it, gollum!"
The Doctor's eyes widened in sudden comprehension. "Oh, is that it," he said. "All right, then – here you go." He reached into a pocket and produced a bright yellow yo-yo, which he presented to Gollum.
A pale light gleamed in Gollum's eyes as he snatched the yo-yo with a hiss of delight. "My preciouss, yess, my birthday present!" Clutching the yo-yo to his chest, he scuttled away down the corridor.
Smiling broadly, the Doctor watched him go. "I always was good with children," he observed affably.
Meanwhile, Mary Poppins was peering in through the door that Gollum had left open. "Doctor," she called. "there's something in here that I think you should see."
The door opened onto a small, roughly-hewn cave, dimly lit by a single flickering torch. In one corner huddled as man with an utterly depressed expression on his face. Heavy laced hiking boots peeped out incongruously from beneath a tattered and filthy blue robe, and his hands drooped dejectedly over his knees, revealing that the right hand was missing two fingers.
The Doctor regarded the woebegone figure for a thoughtful moment. "Hullo, Covenant," he finally said quietly. "Still having a rough go of it?"
Thomas Covenant started and looked up, his face contorting with disgust and irritation. "Oh, hellfire, not you again," he snarled. "Leave me alone, Mhoram. You don't exist."
"I don't?" asked the Doctor in wide-eyed surprise. "Are you sure of that? How can you be certain that you're not just a figment of my imagination? I could have made you cynical just for a realistic touch – you know, merely corroborative detail designed to lend verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. Would you like a jelly baby?"
Covenant glared suspiciously at the proffered sweets. "You're not Mhoram," he stated accusingly.
"Of course not. I'm the Doctor. Now, what's the trouble this time?"
Covenant heaved an exhausted sigh. "They want me to do another trilogy," he said miserably. "Damn it, I tell you I've had it. I'd rather move to California and write Harlequins."
The Doctor looked appalled. "Good God man, it can't be as bad as that." He returned the bag of jelly babies to his pocket, pondering. Suddenly his eyes lit up. "Aah, that's it," he announced gleefully, withdrawing his hand from his pocket to display the gold ring that Frodo had given him. "Here you go – take this and show it to them, and tell them it's already been done. They'll get so angry they'll probably sack you on the spot and find somebody else to do it."
Covenant accepted the ring with a dubious expression. "What makes you so sure it'll work?"
"Still doubting, Thomas?" The Doctor tsk'd and shook his head. "Just give it a try – can't hurt, can it?"
Pocketing the ring, Covenant clambered stiffly to his feet. As he turned to leave the cave, he paused again. "What do I do with the ring after that? Give it to the next beggar I meet?"
"Well, let me see – you should pass through another large cave on your way out, you know, with two large volcanic fissures in the floor. Just chuck it into one of those, there's a good chap."
As Covenant disappeared down the passage, the Doctor returned to the central hall. "Well, that's not it," he announced cheerfully. "What next?"
"The next door?" Mary Poppins suggested practically.
"Right!" The Doctor strode briskly over to it and opened it cautiously. Nothing leaped out spitting and snarling, so he opened it wide and looked in.
"Sorry, Vila, not your beautiful lady." Vila's face fell, but he recovered with Astonishing Rapidity.
"What is it, then?" he asked.
The others crowded around the door, Vila in the lead. Only Mary Poppins noticed the sardonic gleam in the Doctor's eyes.
"Fellow muckers-about with Time, I see," he remarked to the tall man and the young boy who stood behind the door, looking somewhat bewildered. "You must be Phineas Bogg and Jeffery. Would you like a jelly baby?"
"But this doesn't look like a part of Time that needs fixing," Phineas said, as Jeffery greedily grabbed a handful of jelly babies and stuffed them into his mouth. Phineas began fiddling with a pocket watch. "It's never done anything like this before."
"Let me have a look," offered the Doctor. He studied the watch, murmuring, "remarkable", adjusted it with his sonic screwdriver and wound it briskly. He returned the watch with a broad smile, saying, "There! It should never cause anyone any trouble again."
With an experienced air, Phineas set some dials on the watch and pressed a button. Both Voyagers looked astonished at the complete lack of any results.
"We haven't gone anywhere, Phineas!" announced Jeffery.
"Now, there's a kid with a true grasp of the obvious," Vila muttered.
Phineas frowned at the watch. "I thought you said it was fixed."
"It is. I used the very best butter," replied the Doctor, quickly shutting and locking the door. "Never could abide amateurs," he remarked to Mary Poppins. "That should save me a lot of trouble with the past in the future."
Mary's face was flooded with relief as they followed the Doctor over to the next door. But when the Doctor opened it, she let out a short strangled gasp and fainted.
"Heyyy, freeeoow zappo!" announced the tastelessly dressed two-headed man as he stepped out of the Total Perspective Vortex. "Wowie, like, I mean, the Universe is really big! It's so, so . . . large! It's just . . . big!" He glanced casually around his new environment. "Hey, wow, like, where am I?"
"Just another corner of the universe," the Doctor replied. "But it's a rather large corner."
Vila was helping the revived Mary Poppins to her feet. "I beg your pardon," she said to everyone as she straightened her hat. "But the Universe sometimes has that effect on me. And you must be Mr. Zaphod Beeblebrox, ex-confidence trickster and part-time Galactic President."
"Yeah," said the newcomer absently, as he fingered the Doctor's scarf. "Hey, like, this is a really long scarf. Where'd you get a scarf like this?"
"Hands off, Beeblebrox. All three hands," the Doctor warned. "This scarf only fits a one-headed man."
"Pardon me," Mary Poppins interrupted, "but I'm beginning to think we have very little time left. Hadn't we better try the next door?"
"What about this door?" asked Vila. "Beeblewhatsit here could have come from the control room."
"The tertiary control room is big, Vila," said the Doctor, "but not that big."
"What do you mean? What's in there?" Avon demanded.
"The Universe, man. Dintcha hear me," Zaphod broke in. "The whole belgium universe. And man, is it big! It's, like, so big . . . "
"Yes, yes, Zaphod," the Doctor interrupted. "You've told us."
"Enough!" shouted Avon. "We have a job to do and you fools waste our time with trivialities!" He brandished his hairdryer madly, his eyes wide and obsessed.
With a resounding whipcrack, the hairdryer was struck from Avon's grasp to clatter against the far wall. All heads turned to see a tall man in a battered fedora and leather jacket, holding a long bullwhip. "Hi, Doctor," he said.
"Indy!" the Doctor hurried over to shake his hand warmly. "I haven't seen you since that nasty business with the Ark."
Indiana Jones returned the handshake with a broad smile. "Take a look in here, Doctor. I've found an altar inscribed with a script I've never seen before."
The Doctor's eyes lit up. "The tertiary control room!" he cried.
However, the room they entered was a large rocky cavern. The Doctor heaved a disappointed sigh. "Sorry, Indy, but this temple belongs to Thulsa Doom. It's not the control room."
"What about the mysterious script?" asked Jones.
"Oh, that? It's just the script for another adventure movie. You'll find out soon enough."
A door behind the altar was suddenly flung open, and the Peanut Gallery poured in. "There he is!" cried the girl with the guitar. "Sorry, Doctor – no luck."
"No matter, we'll try another way. Come on, everybody." The Doctor led the way back to the circular room.
Behind them in the temple, Indiana Jones lay against the altar gasping, having nearly been trampled in the rush of fans. "Scarves!" he moaned. "Why'd it have to be scarves?"
"Now," announced the Doctor as he skidded to a halt in the middle of the room. "Logically, well, as logically as these things tend to be, what we want will inevitably be behind the last door that we pick. Vila!" he exclaimed. "Which door would you open next?"
"What? Me? Why, uh, that one."
"That one, Doctor."
"Good," he declared. "Then it must be this one." The Doctor beamed at them all and strode over to the one remaining door.
At that moment, a hollow booming voice echoed through the TARDIS, laughing derisively. "You fools!" the voice mocked. "You can never defeat me and you can never escape me!"
"Oh, no," moaned Vila, as the lights slowly faded to a sulky red. "Why do the megalomaniacs always show up just when we're about to take an episode break?"
Chapter 5: Episode 5: The Power of Hodge-Podge
A hollow booming voice echoed through the TARDIS, laughing derisively. "You fools!" the voice mocked. "You can never defeat me and you can never escape me!"
"Oh, no," moaned Vila, as the lights slowly faded to a sulky red. Mary Poppins raised her nose into the air and sniffed loudly as Vila tried to hide behind her skirts.
The Doctor sighed loudly and called out, "Right, right, I've heard all this before. Just let me get it straight. You're invincible and unstoppable?"
Maniacal, triumphant laughter responded.
"All-powerful? The most fearsome being in the universe, destined to conquer all?"
"Yes, Doctor, and so much more. Yes!" the voice taunted.
"Since I assume everyone in the TARDIS can hear me," the Doctor continued, "I'll ask the obvious question. Who are you?"
"I am the spirit," came the reply, "the living entity formed of all the botches and flubs that each of you has ever made in your lives. Heroes? Hah! I am your folly, your embarrassment, self-consciousness, and shame. I shall haunt you through all Time and Space, driving you hopelessly mad. I am your collective idiocy. I am – the Hodge-Podge!"
As the voice reached its taunting climax, Vila backed away into the only corner in the otherwise circular room, only to collide with a large, heavy curtain. Grateful for the added cover, he slipped behind it to find himself in a small alcove with one wall lined with machinery. A small man in a frock coat was standing in front of the contraption, pulling levers and throwing switches madly. He leaned forward to speak into an old-fashioned microphone. "Yes!" he boomed. "I am the Almighty Hodge-Podge!"
"Not so fast, Sir Angus!" A man in red robes suddenly popped out of a door and yanked the curtain down.
"Oh, no!" cried the man in the frock coat. "I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!"
"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" cried the Cardinal, turning to his assistant. "We have him now! Where is the Comfy Chair?"
His assistant mugged in silent consternation.
"Through that door there," the Doctor said. "You'll find sofa cushions, too."
"Bwahahaha!" they laughed maniacally as the dragged their captive through the indicated portal.
"Are they gone yet?" Vila asked plaintively as he struggled out from underneath the curtain, which had fallen on top of him.
"Yes, yes, don't worry," the Doctor assured him. "and now that he's out of the way, perhaps I can begin to make some sense of all this. Mary ... "
He was cut off by a howling bellow that resounded throughout the room. Another door opened and a very hairy nine-foot-tall biped carrying a bowgun and wearing a dreadfully vicious snarl pounded into the room. Behind him, a young dark-haired woman in a flowing white gown came running up, looked around hastily and yelled, "Wrong turn!"
The hairy biped gave a questioning howl as he followed her out the door. "We'll just tell them we ran into some old friends!" The woman's answer echoed down the hallway.
"That's funny," remarked Indiana Jones, who had emerged from the temple. "Those two looked familiar."
The Doctor peered down the now empty hallway as he closed the door. He put a hand to his head. "Mary, I think I'm going to need a holiday after this ... "
He was interrupted by a whirring sound as a strangely shaped contraption materialised in the middle of the room. Inside was a man in Edwardian dress and wire-rimmed glasses, who looked around and exclaimed in a shocked voice, "Oh my . . . this contraption actually works!"
The Doctor had broken into a broad smile and bounded over to shake the man's hand. "Mr. Wells, how delightful to meet you at last! I've been a fan of yours for centuries. Having problems?"
"Eh? Uh, well, I suppose not. I'll just be on my way. Thank you, Mr. . . . "
"Just 'Doctor' will do, Herbert. Here, allow me, please. Stand back, everyone." Waving the crowd aside and pulling out his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor made a careful adjustment to Mr. Wells' Time Machine, and it whirled away in a shimmer of sparkling prismatic light.
"Nice special effect," Vila said admiringly. "Why can't we get anything like that?"
"Well, now that he's safely tucked away, it's high time we looked behind that door." The Doctor walked to the door he'd picked earlier and opened it. "Aha!" he cried. "I knew you'd be in there, Nostradamus! Just the man I wanted to see."
"Really, Doctor? Are you sure?" To the Doctor's chagrin, the man's features melted away and reformed into a tall, sneering man in blue robes, with a dead bluejay on his head.
"The Blue Guardian!" Mary Poppins gasped in horror.
"Yes, my dear. How very astute of you," the being cooed as he sidled over and seductively stroked her hip. "What do you think of that?"
"No sex please, we're British!" Mary Poppins retorted, dealing the Blue Guardian several well-placed blows with her umbrella. "After all," she added, straightening her hat, "this is a children's show!"
"Well, you can't blame a fellow for trying," the Blue Guardian grumbled, and vanished in a small blue huff.
A young man in brown robes was peering out from around the door. "In here, Doctor! The tertiary control room!"
"Nostradamus at last! And what have you to say for yourself?" the Doctor demanded, making a quick circuit of the console and checking to see that everything was in order. "Does your mother know the kind of company you're keeping these days?"
"It wasn't my fault, Doctor – it was the Blue Guardian all the time, making me say those things. We're not really on our way to Gallifrey at all."
"Then where are we headed, Doctor?" Indiana Jones asked. He was leaning against the wall by the door, as far from the fans' scarves as he could get.
"Already there, Indy," the Doctor replied as the time rotor stopped. His eyes twinkles as he turned to the Peanut Gallery. "You'll like this bit!"
"The coordinate register indicates Earth, Australia, August 1985 Anno Domini," Mary Poppins announced.
"Worldcon 45!" shouted the girl in the T-shirt, waving the curling iron in the air. Unnoticed in the excitement, Avon switched it for the hair dryer.
The Doctor opened the door and the fans queued up eagerly to leave. Nostradamus joined the end of the line.
"Ah, are you going too, Nostradamus?" the Doctor called out cheerfully as he passed out jelly babies to one and all. On the other side of the line, the ever-practical Mary Poppins was handing out con passes and return plane tickets from her carpetbag.
"Well, I wanted something to write home about," Nostradamus explained.
"Mmm. Well, just be sure to use language sufficiently vague and mysterious as to be completely incomprehensible," the Doctor said. "You never can tell who might read it. And if you see your mother, tell her thanks for the scarf."
Indiana Jones heaved a sigh of relief as the last scarf-wrapped form left the TARDIS. The Doctor closed the door, and cocked an eyebrow at Mary Poppins. "The third task?" he queried.
"Perhaps the Data Bank," she suggested.
The Doctor activated the Data Bank, read the indicators and set coordinates, nodding in satisfaction.
"Where are we going, Doctor?" asked Indy.
"The Data Bank says 5-8-7-4-3-4 by 8-0-6-5-6, which is a planet circling the star Rukbat in the Sagittarian sector, called Fred."
"Fred?" Indy said. "Who would name a planet Fred?"
"Someone very unimaginative, I would say," Avon put in.
"So what's that mean to us?" asked Vila.
"It means," said a voice from behind them, "that if you want to find a way to get out of this story, you'll have to come with me."
The entire group turned to see a man in ragged leather clothing sitting on the edge of the console, picking his teeth with a long knife.
"Max!" the Doctor said. "What are you doing here? What makes you think you can help us?"
"Are you kidding, Doc?" Max replied. "You know I can drive anything, anywhere. I can get you where you need to go."
"Max, don't you think 'driving' is a bit simplistic when you're referring to travel through Time and Space?"
"Doc, you just don't know my depth."
"Well, all I can say is . . . " the Doctor suddenly looked round to see that he and Max were alone with Mary Poppins in the control room. "Hang on, where are the others?"
"Gone," said Mary Poppins with a wave of her hand.
"Gone?" Max and the Doctor said in unison.
"Yes," she replied sadly. "I think they were cancelled."
Chapter 6: Episode 6: Not Dead Yet
"The others are all gone," Mary Poppins said sadly. "I think they were cancelled."
"Yeah? Well, what about you?" Max demanded.
She smiled demurely. "You needn't worry about me. I'm a classic."
"And you, Doc?"
The Doctor looked about nervously for BBC executives. Seeing none, he became more confident. "In my own TARDIS? Ridiculous. The most anyone could contrive would be a hiatus. In fact . . . " He suddenly grinned and punched through a long and complicated series of buttons. A great whooshing noise suddenly filled the air, snatches of old theme songs could be faintly heard, and indicator lights on a huge bank of machinery began to flash.
A cloud of dense smoke suddenly obscured the wall, and two figures stepped out, coughing. One was Indiana Jones, his bullwhip coiled over his shoulder. He was perusing a thick script, shaking his head in disbelief. The other was a tall, handsome, curly-haired man dressed in loose, comfortable clothing.
"Who're you?" Max growled suspiciously.
The newcomer smiled and hooked his thumbs through his belt, his right hand resting conveniently near a sheathed curling iron. "My name is Blake," he replied calmly. "You may have heard of me."
"Delighted to meet you, my good fellow! I heard you were dead," the Doctor said, shaking the rebel leader's hand with brisk dispatch. "Or was it the other way round?"
"We were renewed," Avon growled as he and Vila emerged from the bank of deus ex machinery. "Haven't you heard of resurrection stories?"
"Ahem!" reprimanded Mary Poppins. "The religious issue is not to be raised in our format."
"But wait, Mary," the Doctor said. "If this is a resurrection story, then those two chaps from the Enterprise have probably succeeded. So we only have to complete the third task now to save the universe."
"But what is the third task?" asked Blake.
"And who's that fellow holding a sword at your throat, Doctor?" asked Vila.
Ignoring the steel point, the Doctor studied the newcomer speculatively. "He looks rather like the leader of a rag-tag band of multi-talented misfits who exist outside the law, on the fringes of society, waging a hopeless struggle against an oppressive, dictatorial regime." He glanced thoughtfully at Blake. "Blake, I'd like to introduce you to Robin of Lockesley."
"Delighted to meet you," Blake remarked. "Nice shirt."
"But who's that other fellow holding a sword at the other side of your throat, Doctor?" Vila asked again.
The Doctor rolled his eyes and sighed. "Really, this is getting a bit much." He guided the point of the second sword away from his face. "D'Artagnan, put that wretched thing away. No-one's going to fight you in here."
"Ma foi, do not tell me that you uphold the ban against dueling? What of my honour? What of the King I serve? You just now said that this man is a traitor!"
"Verily, I am no traitor! I serve my king, even though he be far away!" Robin Hood snapped. "But if you wish to put it to the test . . . "
"I said, not in here!" the Doctor broke in.
"But where else?" D'Artagnan objected. "The TARDIS is an island in the infinitudes of Time and Space. How do I get off?"
"Very well, if you must have at it, try going down that hall and pick the fifth door on the left."
"Hang on a moment," Vila said in the ensuing relieved silence as the two departed. "Isn't that the door with the tiger?"
"Well, that depends," the Doctor replied.
"On whether or not the doors have shifted while we've been in here. Now, Mary – "
"But – you're not saying you just sent them off to an inevitable death, are you?" Blake exploded.
"In a resurrection story? Not likely. Besides, knowing either of them, they're quite up to the challenge of seducing the tiger in a pinch. Now, Mary – "
"We've landed, Doctor," she said quickly.
"Excellent. Now, there must be a reason the Data Bank sent us here to Fred. All right, everybody, off we go."
The TARDIS doors opened and the Doctor poked his head out, wincing as the sudden harsh light of the setting sun hit him in the eyes. He tilted his hat down for shade and looked around. "How depressing," he observed. "It's almost as desolate as Outer Gallifrey."
Mary Poppins and Max crowded into the doorway to peer out. Max's face lit up at the sight of the endless miles of barren desert leading away to rocky foothills in the hazy distance. "Hey, now, that's my kind of scene," he said. "Catch ya later, Doc." Max strode out of the TARDIS and disappeared into the sunset.
The others emerged into the glaring light and heat. Vila looked around in disgust. "Call this a planet?" he demanded of no-one in particular. "It's nothing but a sandheap." He glared up at the only construction in sight, a large garish billboard reading, 'This Is the Place'.
Blake looked around uneasily. "What strange land have you brought us to, Doctor?" he asked. His face brightened as he noticed a handsome young man in a bathrobe sitting in lotus position under the billboard. "Smith!" he exclaimed joyfully. "Michael Valentine Smith!"
Michael opened his eyes and beamed up at Blake. "Hi, Blake. Thou art God. Whatcha doing here? I heard you were dead. Or was it the other way around?"
"No, no, I'm not dead yet. I'm getting better. But what are you doing here?"
"Waiting, Blake. Waiting is."
"Uh-oh," said Vila. "Hang on a moment, what's all this 'Thou-art-God' stuff? I'm not standing for any of that!"
"Most certainly not," Mary Poppins stated firmly. "We are not going to permit any form of religious controversy."
"You may find that difficult, Mary," the Doctor remarked. "I remember now – Fred was colonised by religious fanatics."
"Fanatics?" repeated Blake eagerly. "Extremists and rebels?"
"Excuse me," Blake said. He and Michael hurried away, deep in conversation.
"Trust Blake to find a fresh source of fanatics," Avon said sardonically.
Meanwhile, Indiana Jones had been poking in the sand at the foot of the billboard. "Hey, Doctor, come here," he called. "I think I've found something." He held up a small leather pouch. "There's some kind of jewel or stone inside."
"No, Indy, wait!" called the Doctor, hurrying over. But Indy had already opened the pouch and tipped the silk-wrapped contents out onto his palm. He took one look at the half-covered blue jewel and lurched dizzily, grabbing at the billboard for support.
"Be careful with that!" said a soft, firm voice. A man dressed in green and gold robes emerged from behind the billboard. "I am Varzil, and as a Keeper I can handle the starstone you have found without hurting its owner."
"Whose is it?" asked Indy.
"My brother's, of course."
Indy handed the stone over to Varzil, who restored it to its pouch and tucked it into his robes. "Varzil, Varzil," Indy muttered. "Isn't that Spanish?"
"The roots are from Spanish," replied the Doctor.
"But he looks Anglo-Celtic. How'd he get a Spanish name?" Indy persisted.
"No more questions." Varzil shook his head sternly. "Nobody inspects the Spanish acquisition."
There was a sudden scuffle and Vila scurried over to hide behind the Doctor. "Hang on a moment, what's wrong now?" the Doctor asked, turning round completely three times in an effort to catch up with Vila, who took care to keep his place directly behind the Doctor.
"Over – over there – it's huge!" gasped Vila, peering round the Doctor wildly.
They all looked across the desert to see a monstrous creature, like a giant worm the colour of sand, humping across the dunes. Tiny human figures could dimly be perceived astride its ringed body.
"Oh, don't worry," said the Doctor cheerfully, waving to the distant riders. "They're probably just on location, filming."
At that moment, a large stone tower suddenly appeared in front of them, smashing the billboard to splinters. Varzil looked at it in wonderment. "I've never seen a tower quite like that," he said.
A door opened with a mouldering creak and a tall, thin man in battle dress emerged. His skin and hair were pure white and his eyes were scarlet. "This cannot be Tanelorn," he said angrily, scowling at the setting sun. "Where, by the Lords of Chaos, am I? You cannot be the Dukes of Hell whom I must defeat."
"You are on a planet called Fred," Mary Poppins replied imperiously, "and I must ask you to watch your language. This is a children's show. Who are you?"
"Really, Mary, can't you tell?" the Doctor queried. "He's wearing a pointy hat. That's status, you know. You can't argue with status." He fell suddenly silent and Vila let out a yelp as the albino warrior drew a long, wicked-looking black sword.
"I," announced the albino, "am Elric of Melniboné, and this is Stormbringer, my soul-drinking runesword. Do you think to mock me?"
Everyone shook their heads hastily as the sword let out a plaintive, eerie moan. At that moment, the tower behind Elric shimmered and vanished, leaving nothing but a large circular depression littered with squashed billboard fragments.
"By Arioch, now how shall I achieve my quest and find Tanelorn?" cried Elric.
"Perhaps we can help," said a casual voice from behind them. The group turned to see a man in rough leather and wool clothing standing beside a large rock that had not been there previously. On the rock sat a woman of indeterminate age clad in long grey robes.
Elric took a few cautious steps towards them, sword held ready. "Who are you, that appear so strangely with such promises? Speak your names!"
The woman scowled and remained silent. The man spoke. "My name is Simon Tregarth, and my wife's name is none of your business."
The woman rose from her seat on the rock. "This is the Siege Perilous," she declared. "It has the power to restore all beings to their rightful homes. But the journey is in one direction only. Be seated, then," she added with a sly glance at Simon, "if you dare."
At her words, Elric stiffened and drew himself up proudly. "A Melnibonéan fears nothing, dares all," he stated. Striding to the rock, he seated himself with the air of an emperor assuming his throne. There was a brilliant flash and Elric disappeared.
"Whew," said Vila, peering out from behind Avon. "Touchy sort. I'm glad he's gone."
"None too soon," the Doctor agreed. "He'd have got a terrible sunburn."
"Simon!" the strange woman cried out. "Look – the Siege Perilous – something has gone terribly wrong!"
Chapter 7: Episode 7: The Sun Never Sets
"Simon!" the strange woman cried out. "Look – the Siege Perilous – something has gone terribly wrong!"
The rock had changed shape, subdividing into several sections, distinct yet connected, but hard to tell apart. Even as they watched, it grew yet another. Atop it all sat a small lizard, which could be heard reciting, "Sequel. S-E-Q-U-E-L. Sequel."
"A spelling chameleon!" Avon cried in horror. "We're in for it now!" He bolted for the TARDIS, stumbling over a scattering of large screws that had appeared in his path.
"Don't leaf me behind!" wailed Vila, waving an olive branch. They disappeared into the TARDIS with A Stone-ishing Rapidity.
"Weight a minute," Indy said heavily. "This is a catastrophe." The chameleon turned into a large tabby cat.
"Try putting it in a case with the other trophies," Mary Poppins suggested.
"But what if the case doesn't suit it?" asked Simon.
"You'd have to change suits," Varzil replied.
"But I rather like my coat and scarf," the Doctor objected. The cat smirked and disappeared entirely, except for its grin.
"All right, stop this nonsense! This is much too silly!" shouted the Brigadier as he emerged from the TARDIS, red-faced with exertion. His uniform had changed into a combat sweater. "That's enough of this supercilious – aaaugh!" The Brigadier exploded with a bang and a flash.
"Step in the write direction," the Doctor remarked, scribbling frantically on a notebook he'd produced from a pocket. Indy hastily took a step to the right.
"You're supposed to jump to the left first," said Simon. "But if Mary is too right-wing, she'll be left behind." A large bird flapped by, precariously balanced on a single wing as it sang an Ave Maria. Simon groaned at the sight. "Jaelithe, the machinery's gone haywire!"
"You're grasping at straws, Simon," his wife replied as she pulled wisps of dried grass out of a small device she held in her hand.
"All right, that does it! Enough of all this!" the Doctor exclaimed. He glared at the stone and recited, "Stellar, Atomic, Industrial, Reason, Enlightenment, Middle, Dark, Golden, Iron, Bronze, Stone!" The stone cracked across and collapsed into a pile of sand. "Ah, the sands of time," the Doctor mused. "Dusty death! – Don't worry, the effect should fade directly," he assured everyone.
"What did you do, Doctor? What was that?" Varzil asked.
"The Rock of Ages, of course."
Everyone groaned with relief. The Doctor stooped down and picked up a single grain of sand, which he offered to Indiana Jones.
"A piece of the Rock?" Indy said in surprise. "What am I supposed to do with this?"
"You could build a kingdom," the Doctor suggested.
"I wouldn't advise it," Mary Poppins broke in. "That story would never end."
Simon retrieved the grain of sand. "Thank you, Doctor," he said, bowing. "My wife and I will be returning home now."
"Which world is that?" Varzil asked.
"Careful!" Mary Poppins warned. "You might start the whole thing up again."
Jaelithe pressed a switch on the device she held. As she and Simon faded from sight, he suddenly called out, "Oh, Doctor, before I forget – the third task you must accomplish is – " But they had vanished.
"Oh, drat," the Doctor muttered. He turned to Varzil. "You seem to know your way around here. Where do you suggest we go next?"
"There's an oasis beyond that hill, and a settlement nearby," said Varzil.
As they set off, the Doctor murmured to Mary Poppins, "Do you know, I think something very wrong is going on here."
"Ah, then you've noticed . . . ?"
"That the sun was setting when we arrived, and it's still setting? Makes a very pretty panorama, but we're not here for postcards. Something is wrong with Time."
"At least it's convenient for them," Mary remarked, pointing to a pair of horseback riders off in the distance. It looked like a young man with a girl riding behind him, accompanied by a faithful sidekick. The romantic strains of the sidekick's guitar could dimly be heard as they rode away westward.
"Yes, very convenient," the Doctor agreed. "And after all, the sun never sets . . . "
They reached the oasis and Mary Poppins sank down gratefully in the shade. As the others sprawled on the ground to rest, she reached into her carpetbag and produced a teapot and several cups. She dipped the pot into the pool, poured herself a cup of steaming tea, and offered more cups all round.
"Ah, thank you," the Doctor said absently as he accepted his. He took a sip and started, staring wide-eyed into the cup. "Great Scott!"
"What's wrong, Doctor?" asked Mary Poppins as she handed round biscuits and jam. Wordlessly, he handed her the teacup. She took one look into it, shrieked, and fainted.
Indiana Jones caught her as the cup fell to the sand. To everyone's astonishment, the cup vanished with a cute special effect, and a small wizened creature with huge baby blue eyes appeared. It looked with concern at Mary Poppins.
"Ouch," it said, extending a long finger towards her. A light bulb gleamed at the end of the finger. Indy hastily dragged her a few feet farther away.
With a swift movement, the Doctor snatched up the still-steaming teapot. "E.T. go home," he said, pouring the tea over the creature's head. It yelped "Ouch!" and disappeared with another cute special effect.
The relieved silence was shattered by the sudden brash clamour of an alarm clock. Mary Poppins yawned, opened her eyes, stretched, and sat up.
Indy clutched her arm in warning. "Don't move," he whispered. "Get away from the oasis, everybody. I just spotted a crocodile on the far side of the pool."
An ominous ticking filled the air as the crocodile moved leisurely towards the group. Indy reached for his gun, but the Doctor caught and held his wrist before he could aim and fire.
"Put it away, Indy. That won't be necessary." The Doctor exchanged a glance with Mary Poppins. She nodded. "Now!"
The Doctor and Mary Poppins started applauding loudly. Immediately, a group of athletic young men in evening gowns, high heels and rainbow bunting jumped out of the trees and began to sing show tunes and perform an elaborately choreographed dance number. At the sight, the crocodile screamed, turned tail, and dove into the pool. The young men dived in after it. There was a frothy lavender whirlpool for a few minutes, and then the water calmed and cleared.
The Doctor brushed off his hands with a satisfied expression. "Right, then. Shall we be going?"
"This way," Varzil beckoned. "The village isn't far now."
They heard the sound of a quarrel not far ahead, and just over the next rise, two bands of warriors could be seen in hot dispute. The leader of one band, tall humanoids swathed in black robes and veils, was glaring down at a pale-haired, pointed-eared warrior half his height, whose followers had already drawn an assortment of small swords and diminutive daggers.
"What've you got to say for yourself, five-fingers?" demanded the elfin leader. "That was the Wolfriders' quarry, and you scared it away before we could make sure of our kill!"
"Do you presume to challenge me?" the mri leader replied, his voice as cold as the last hell. "It was our hunt, and your tribe's interference merely prevented us from finishing it."
As the staredown continued, a dark-skinned elf woman turned to the Doctor. "All this argument, and the quarry has vanished anyway," she said. "Where is everyone and everything appearing and disappearing to?"
"Time and Space, my dear Leetah," replied the Doctor. "What was the fish that got away?"
"What's a 'fish'?" asked Leetah. "It wasn't a – 'fish' – it was a creature called a Ewing. It wanted to found a dynasty, and Cutter shot it, but it got away."
"I'm not surprised. Would you like a jelly baby?"
As he offered the crumpled bag of sweets, it was snatched out of his hand by a movement faster than the eye could follow. Looking down, the Doctor saw a very fat orange cat with a smug grin on its face. "Really, Garfield," he admonished, "couldn't you have left a few for the others?"
At that moment a loud voice called "Dinner time!" and Garfield vanished in an orange streak through a doorway in the side of a sand dune, nearly bowling over Indiana Jones in the process. Indy walked up to the doorway cautiously and peered in.
He pushed the door open farther and saw a dimly-lit bedroom. A small blond boy was sitting up in bed looking at him. "You're not one of my anxieties," the boy said. "What are you doing in my closet? Can I interview you for the Bloom County Beacon?"
Outside, the Doctor's voice could be heard shouting, "Indy! Indy! Don't go in there!"
"Sorry, kid. Some other time." Indy shut the door and turned to face the Doctor. "What's the problem? What's so dangerous about a little kid's bedroom?"
"You never know – the last time that happened, we had midgets falling through holes in Time," the Doctor replied. "It took us forever to clean up the mess. Besides, that door leads to the Sunday funnies. If you went in there, you might get serialised, and then you'd never get out."
Indy shuddered. "That's a horrible fate!"
"Not as horrible as that!" shouted Varzil. "Look at the settlement!"
Chapter 8: Episode 8: The Blue Hell
Indiana Jones shuddered. "That's a horrible fate!"
"Not as horrible as that!" shouted Varzil. "Look at the settlement!" Smoke was billowing skywards from the far side of the dune.
"Someone has burned their Holt!!" Cutter snarled, his blue eyes blazing as he brandished his sword.
"Not only that, we're developing a severe case of exclamation points!!!" the Doctor declared. "We'd better get away from that dune! Put up your gun, Indy – I think that's the perpetrator coming now."
The elves drew back from the tall, muscle-bound figure, except for Cutter, who stepped forward, ready to fight. "Put away your eating knife, little one," the barbarian said in a gruff voice. "The villagers fled before the attack, and the horde was satisfied with looting and burning."
"Why, how dreadfully messy!" Mary Poppins objected. "Really, Conan, can't you keep your nasty vandals under control?"
Indiana Jones was studying Conan with a fascinated gleam in his eyes. "That's not a Vandal – that's a Cimmerian," he corrected.
"All the same, you didn't have to pillage the only settlement for miles around, did you?" the Doctor demanded.
Conan shrugged. "Where else?"
"You can't very well sack a sand dune," Varzil pointed out.
"I think someone should have sacked the scriptwriter," the Doctor muttered.
"That sounds like a worthwhile quest for my men," Conan said with interest. "Where will we find this Skript-Ryter?"
The Doctor pointed off towards the distant hills. "Just head that way, and when you reach a yellow brick road, turn left." He glanced down at Cutter. "Why don't you lot join them? After all, one good barbarian deserves another."
Mary Poppins hurried over to the Doctor. "It is high time we returned to the task at hand. The mri inform me that there is a ruined city just over the next rise. I think we should go there. Time is short." She turned and began to walk briskly.
"No it isn't, it's really becoming rather attenuated – oh, hang on there, I'm on my way. Come on, you lot." The Doctor hurried after her.
"Ruined city?" Indy asked Varzil eagerly as they followed.
At the top of the hill, they stopped at the sight of the crumbled, mouldering ruins. Here and there amid the collapsed buildings and rubble, a wisp of smoke caught the slanting rays of the still-setting sun, or a flicker of movement showed that some hardy souls still clung to a fragile existence in the wreckage. Indy grimaced. "It looks worse than Pompeii."
"The city is called Scortch One," Varzil said. "We'll have to be careful. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy in the entire cosmos."
As the group approached the ruins, the Doctor turned to beam at a young tow-headed boy who was sprawled on the ground, munching an apple as he watched another boy whitewash a fence. "Sprucing the place up a bit?" the Doctor called. "Good, good. Don't overexert yourselves, now."
Indiana Jones took Mary Poppins' arm to help her clamber over a pile of rubble that blocked the beginnings of a street. Suddenly he clutched at her, halting her progress. "Look!" he exclaimed in surprise. "Over there – it looks like Snake Plissken! I thought he was dead! Or was it the other way around?"
A weary-looking figure in fatigues passed the group, affording only a baleful stare in Indy's direction before hurrying down the street. As the followed him, Plissken suddenly ducked into a side street that seemed unusually noisy and well-lit.
Varzil stopped short at the entrance to the street. "Evanda preserve us," he breathed. "I've never seen this place before." The entire street was lined with bars, casinos, and other establishments of dubious repute. Varzil's eyes gleamed as he fingered his starstone. "Let's try this one," he called, and hurried into the most brilliantly lit of the casinos, the 'Blue Hell'.
"Doctor!" Mary Poppins objected. "Are we going to allow this kind of reprehensible behaviour?"
"What you mean, 'we', white man?" Indy muttered as he followed Varzil.
"Really, Mary, it seems this time we have no choice." the Doctor said apologetically. He glanced regretfully at the establishment next door to the Blue Hell. Under the sign reading 'Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon' was a smaller sign, 'Closed Till Next Punday Night'. "Pity," he sighed. "We might have learned something there."
Inside, the Blue Hell was a riot of flashing lights, loud noises, and odd smells. Mary Poppins waited primly in the vestibule while the Doctor threaded his way through the crowd to a relatively quiet corner, where a tall young man in a flannel shirt and blue jeans sat quietly playing a silver-stringed guitar. "Hullo, John," the Doctor said.
"Howdy, Doc. You're looking a mite peaked. Having problems?"
The Doctor sighed. "It's this third task – we haven't even discovered what it is yet."
"Why, Doc, hasn't air philosopher you've met given you ideas? That Aslan, mebbe?" John began to strum his guitar and sing softly. "I know where I'm going . . . "
A smile of pure delight lit the Doctor's face. He seized John's hand and shook it enthusiastically. "Of course, that's it! Thank you very much!" He hurried back through the casino. "Come on, everybody! Back to the TARDIS!"
Indy extracted himself from an amazingly elaborate fight that had somehow started on the dance floor and hurried over to the vestibule. "What's up, Doc? Don't we still have to find out what the third task is?"
"I have found out!"
"Well?" asked Mary Poppins. "What is it?"
"To find out what the third task is!"
Mary Poppins and Indiana Jones looked at each other blankly, then at the Doctor.
"Aslan said it himself – 'the seeking counts more than the finding'. Let's go!"
"I suppose it makes just as much crazy sense as any of the rest of this story," Indy muttered under his breath. "Just a minute. Where's Varzil?"
Varzil was firmly entrenched at a roulette wheel, surrounded by piles of chips. The croupier, a rough-looking man with eleven bracelets of glowing blue metal on one arm, was glaring at him sourly. "Hey, buddy, your friends are calling for you," he told Varzil.
"Wait a minute, just one more spin," Varzil said feverishly.
"Varzil," the Doctor warned, "don't push your luck. You know the consequences if you lose."
"Oh, be quiet. I'm on a roll here," Varzil snarled, clutching his starstone. "Let it ride, dealer, all of it!"
The ball whirled and clattered to a stop on an unnumbered, glowing blue spot. "That's it," said the croupier softly. "The Blue Death. You've lost – lost everything!"
Chapter 9: Episode 9: A Beautiful Friendship
The ball whirled and clattered to a stop on an unnumbered, glowing blue spot. "That's it," said the croupier to Varzil. "The Blue Death. You've lost – lost everything!"
Out of nowhere, a horde of identical six-inch-tall, blue-skinned creatures with large bulbous noses and cute little white hats appeared and rushed towards the hapless Varzil. They seized him and carried him off, screaming, into the dim depths of the casino.
"Let's go," the Doctor said quietly.
As they threaded their way out over the rubble, they stopped at the sound of a loud 'BAMF'. Mary Poppins began to cough at the accompanying stench of brimstone. A strange, blue-skinned humanoid had appeared in front of them, along with a young girl and a very small dragon.
"Kurt, I don't think this is the right place," said the girl. "I don't see SHIELD's heli-carrier."
"Well, then, liebchen, we'll just try again." They disappeared with another BAMF.
"We'd better hurry," the Doctor said with a frown. Mary Poppins nodded.
Atop the rise that overlooked the ruined city, they had to stop again. A troop of metre-high creatures that looked remarkably like teddy bears, dressed as Roman foot soldiers, were marching past. "Onward, Romulus!" their commander called. "Let not the natives detain us!"
The Doctor watched the column pass by. "A pity I've run out of jelly babies," he said with regret.
"It's just as well," replied Mary Poppins. "With the sun in apparent stasis, we can't tell what time it is. You know they musn't be fed after midnight."
Indiana Jones pointed to the end of the column. "Doctor, are they getting shorter, or is that a different species?" A much smaller set of teddy bears were passing; many carried white plastic Stormtrooper helmets, on which they were beating a complex rhythm as they sang cheerfully in a nonsensical language. At the very end walked an individual with silky golden fur and very large eyes, puffing gravely on a tiny pipe. He waved a sharpened steel digging-tool at Indy as the troop passed. Indy waved back.
The Doctor shook his head. "A hopeless jumble."
"Indeed," said a new voice. A large dog wearing spectacles and a bowtie had appeared, leading a young boy in thick glasses by a leash. "Hello, Doctor," said the dog. "Have you noticed the rapidly increasing incidence in trans-dimensional irregularities? Most alarming."
As he spoke, there was a whooshing noise, and two hairy humans dressed in furs appeared. They were sitting in stone armchairs, staring at a stone television set. Snow and static could be seen on the stone screen.
"What happened to the ball game, Barney?" demanded the larger of the two. "I don't think the set's working."
"Gee, Fred, you're so smart, they should name a planet after you," said the other. He got up to change the channel, and the pair vanished.
"Wait a minute!" said Indy. "That contradicts every known archeological theory!"
"You see, Sherman?" said the dog to his boy. "Eddies in the space-time vortex."
"Who's in the where, Mr. Peabody?" A chesterfield sofa appeared and whisked them both away.
"Oh, dear," said the Doctor. "The situation does appear to be worsening."
"It's not as hopeless as it might be, Doctor," Mary Poppins said bravely. "Look, the sun is setting at last." She smiled resolutely as the bold colours filled the sky. "In spite of the hardships, we must persevere." The strains of an off-stage orchestra could be clearly heard as she began to sing a cheerful, upbeat, irritating song about the value of adversity.
"Mary, must you?" inquired the Doctor.
Out of the twilight and the rising mist, a man in a battered fedora and a stained and rumpled trenchcoat stepped out from underneath a street lamp. His piercing eyes lit up his handsome, rugged face. "Ah, Doc, you just don't know dames. I never met one that didn't understand a slap in the face or a slug from a forty-five. Listen doll, you better watch what the Doc says. He's kind of a kook, but he's an okay Joe."
Mary Poppins sniffed, but Indiana Jones approached the newcomer eagerly. "Hey, where'd you get your clothes from?" The two strode off through a sudden fog as a 1939 Ford Trimotor coughed to life.
"You know, Indy," the man remarked, "this looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship. But have you got any idea who took my strawberries?"
The Doctor and Mary Poppins looked around, but no new apparitions appeared. "I think that just might do it," said the Doctor. "Come on, Mary." They set off towards the TARDIS.
Once inside, the Doctor glared at the four people waiting in the control room. "See here, now. Avon and Vila I can understand, but how did you two get in here?"
Vila peeked out from behind the console. "It's not my fault," he insisted. "They just popped in out of nowhere. I tried to talk shop with him, but he isn't the chatty sort."
"Wrong Steele, Vila," the Doctor said to the thief. "Well, Sapphire, what brings you two here?"
"Time, Doctor," replied the attractive blonde woman. "We have a crisis on our hands."
"But we completed the three tasks. Isn't the universe safe yet?" the Doctor asked.
"It never is," Avon muttered.
"The universe is safe for the moment," explained the woman's companion, a blond man with a hard, cold manner. "But our own problems have escalated."
"How many strangers have been through your TARDIS today, Doctor?" asked Sapphire.
"Well, um – " The Doctor glanced over at Mary Poppins. "They didn't all come in with you," he said accusingly. "Where did they all come from? How did they get in?"
"A simple question," said Steel. "Avon, would you open that door?"
The door opened onto a vast room, paneled in wood and lined with bookshelves. In one corner sat a man in a deerstalker cap, smoking a pipe. He was watching two gentlemen in Elizabethan dress who were sitting in the middle of the room, flipping coins.
"Heads," said one. "Eighty-nine in a row – beaten the record!"
"Don't be absurd," snapped the other.
"Eighty-nine in a row? Heads?" exclaimed Vila incredulously. "I want to see those coins."
"There are no coins," said Sapphire. "Time has stopped dead, and the single experience of one coin being spun once has been repeated ninety times."
The man in the deerstalker glanced up keenly, indicating the bookshelves with his pipe. "All possibilities converge here." He puffed deeply on the pipe, and a veil of smoke drifted through the room. "But how to keep them separate?"
The Doctor looked at Mary Poppins. Mary looked at the Doctor. "Right," said the Doctor ruefully.
Mary Poppins pursed her lips and shook her head. "I did warn you, years ago, that you would never amount to anything in the universe as long as you retained your propensity for vulgar disorganisation." She swung the door open wider, revealing the near corner of the room, which contained a massive bank of old-fashioned file cabinets in appalling disarray. Every drawer was open, and many were on the floor, their contents disgorged in impressively messy piles.
Mary Poppins sighed. "How long has it been, Doctor?"
"Well, you know, I'd always planned to clear it up some century or other, but with a dimensionally transcendent filing system there's an infinite capacity for disorder, or as near infinity as makes no difference, and with entropy nibbling away at the system . . . "
"Your filing system is dimensionally transcendent?" Steel broke in. "No wonder we're having all this trouble."
Mary Poppins marched briskly up to the mess, to the music of a distant soundtrack. As she approached, the papers, books, tapes and other items stirred and erupted into a whirlwind. The papers sorted themselves and settled neatly into place in the drawers, which replaced themselves in the file cabinets and shut themselves with a decisive click. The books, tapes, stone tablets, data crystals and other media lined themselves up straight and in order on their respective shelves. There was an audible whirring as a master index brought itself up to date.
"I say, that was lucky," said one of the Elizabethans. "It was tails." But his voice was fading away, even as the smell of pipe smoke disappeared. The Doctor turned in time to see Sapphire smile and wave as she and Steel vanished.
The Doctor slowly closed the door to the library and looked round the empty control room with a broad grin. "Well, well, it worked," he declared. "Everyone back where they belong." Rubbing his hands, he strode to the console in a proprietary fashion and stared at the controls for a thoughtful moment. "So. Where next?"
~ fin[ish] ~
Chapter 10: Finale and Closing Credits
Challenge to the Reader
Think you got all the references?
Most of them?
Some of them?
There is a theory which states that if anyone ever identifies and understands all the references and in-jokes in Doctor Who and the Hodge-Podge, it will instantly disappear and be replaced with something even more bizarre and convoluted.
There is a second theory which states that this has already happened.
So take the Hodge-Podge Challenge: write them down. Re-read it if you like whilst doing so. Bear in mind that, in 1983, vast swathes of fandom as we know it did not yet exist.
Then scroll past the closing credits (below) and check your list against the Master List. It's divided into two sections: lead roles (major references) and supernumeraries (passing references, one-liners, vague allusions and obscure puns). This being AO3, the listed fandoms cover most of the speaking roles and major references, but not the second and third-tier items.
When this story was originally written and published, we actually put everyone's full name on it . . . that was a different and more innocent time. Out here on teh intrawebz, the only name I have the right to include in full, without explicit permission, is my own.
It also included illustrations, which aren't supportable by the ff.net interface, so I didn't scan them. But now, bwahaha, I can add them in as soon as I've had a chance to get them through the scanner! Stand by for the Deluxe Edition With Illustrations!
Principal Editor and Evil Overlord:
Louise, aka Beth
Insufficiently Appreciated Miracle Workers:
Oh, yeah -- back when we originally published this, closing credits didn't include Easter Eggs. Now . . .
- - -
The Doctor slowly closed the door to the library and looked round the empty control room with a broad grin. "Well, well, it worked," he declared. "Everyone back where they belong." Rubbing his hands, he strode to the console in a proprietary fashion and stared at the controls for a thoughtful moment. "So. Where next?"
"Might I suggest a holiday?" inquired a voice behind him.
The Doctor whirled around. "Mary!" he shouted in delight.
Mary Poppins shut the library door behind herself and smiled. "I told you, Doctor. I'm a classic."
"Splendid!" said the Doctor. "And I know just the place." He set controls with a few deft movements, and the TARDIS dematerialised from the dismal wastes of Fred. "I always wanted to catch the opening of the Brighton Pavilion!"
~ fin ~
Returning to the credits:
and probably a few more who escaped undetected.
On to the Challenge!
The Master List
(in order of first appearance)
Doctor Who and the Hodge-Podge is a parody work of derivative fan fiction, and is not intended to infringe upon the copyrights of:
Lead roles and speaking parts:
Little Fuzzy (Piper)
Mary Poppins (Travers)
A Wrinkle in Time (L'Engle)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Adams)
The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien)
Dungeons & Dragons (Gygax)
the Dragonriders of Pern (McCaffrey)
Monty Python's Flying Circus
the Chronicles of Narnia (Lewis)
The Lady or the Tiger (Stockton)
Thomas Covenant (Donaldson)
Conan the Barbarian (Howard)
The Wizard of Oz (Baum)
Time After Time/The Time Machine (Wells)
The Blue Guardian (fanzine)
Mad Max/ Road Warrior
The Three Musketeers (Dumas)
Stranger in a Strange Land (Heinlein)
Elric of Melniboné (Moorcock)
Witch World (Norton)
Peter Pan (Barrie)
The Faded Sun (Cherryh)
The Wolfriders (Pini)
Escape From New York
Tom Sawyer (Twain)
Silver John (Wellman)
Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Sapphire & Steel
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (Stoppard)
Sherlock Holmes (Doyle)
The Dark Is Rising (Cooper)
When Harlie Was One (Gerrold)
In Search Of …
Known Space (Niven)
The Iliad (Homer)
The Mikado (Gilbert & Sullivan)
Alice in Wonderland (Carroll)
No Sex Please, We're British (Foot & Marriott)
the prophecies of Nostradamus
Cerebus the Aardvark (Sim)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Neverending Story (Ende)
The Lone Ranger
Callahan's Crosstime Saloon (Robinson)
the Smurfs (Peyo)
Other trace elements and detectable influences:
the infinite monkey theorem (Borel, Eddington et al)
The Journal of Irreproducible Results
popular sayings and proverbs
WWII popular songs
Prudential Insurance Co.
American folk songs