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Off the Bed

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"Coming out," Lucie called, clutching the skimpy motel towel protectively around her. "Anyone who's there, look away."

There being no immediate answer, she emerged from the shower. Of Ozzie there was no sign, but the Doctor was sitting in the room's one and only chair, seemingly engrossed in a copy of Gardening Today left by some previous guest.

"Oi," Lucie said. "I'm here."

"I had noticed." The Doctor didn't look up. "As people go, you're rather hard to miss."

Lucie inwardly debated whether to tell him off for looking at her, or for ignoring her, and settled on "So where's Ozzie then?"

"She offered to take the first watch."

"Rather her than me. I'd be knackered after all that driving." Lucie yawned, and grabbed for the towel as it made a break for freedom. "I'm pretty much knackered as it is. What are we doing about sleeping?"

"I thought you'd prefer the bed." The Doctor indicated the double bed that occupied most of the floorspace. "I'll take the chair."

"You can come in with me if you like," Lucie said. "I know you won't do anything sleazy."

"I think it's better if I don't."

Lucie shot him a suspicious look. "What are you scared of? I'm not going to try anything, I haven't got the energy. Or do you think someone's put a snake in the bed?"

"If I thought the bed was booby-trapped I wouldn't be suggesting you should sleep in it, would I?"

"Suppose not." Lucie shrugged. "Well, I'm turning in."

She climbed into the bed and pulled the covers over her, leaving the towel on the floor.

It was dark, and silent, and Lucie's feet were cold. In fact, most of her was cold. Woozily, she groped for the duvet, and drew a blank. She made a brief attempt to go back to sleep, but the fact remained that without the duvet she was, to use a technical term, chuffing frozen.

As she reached for the light switch there was a soft rustle of fabric, as if something was moving stealthily across the floor.

Enough's enough, Lucie thought, by now thoroughly awake. She pressed the switch. The lights snapped on, and it took a moment for her eyes to adjust. She could make out a white blob on the floor which had to be the duvet. And for a fraction of a second, she got the distinct impression that it had been moving.

The Doctor opened his eyes, and looked across at her. "It's not time to change over yet," he said mildly.

"It's that quilt thing," Lucie said. "I'd swear it was moving."

"Moving?" the Doctor repeated.

"How else d'you think it got all the way over there?"

"Perhaps you did it in your sleep."

"What, chucked it right across the room? I couldn't have done that asleep. Don't know if I could do it awake." Lucie pointed an accusing finger at the duvet. "You give it the once over and make sure it hasn't got any alien stuff in there. Or creepy crawlies. Eurgh!"

The Doctor sighed, produced his sonic screwdriver and a pocket watch, and made what Lucie thought was a far too perfunctory examination of the duvet.

"Well?" Lucie said, once it was clear he'd finished.

"Clean bill of health." The Doctor gently returned the duvet to its place on the bed.

Lucie prodded the duvet. "You're saying there's nothing the matter with it?"

"It's just fabric, Lucie. Just because something looks innocent doesn't mean that it's concealing the tentacles of an alien mind parasite."

"Wouldn't know it from knocking around with you. So I'm just supposed to go back to sleep and forget about it?"

"Unless you've got any better ideas," the Doctor said, leaning back in the chair and closing his eyes.

Great, Lucie thought, as she pulled the bedclothes around her. I'll probably get eaten alive by evil bedclothes. There's no way that'll look good on my gravestone.

Presumably Lucie hadn't been as deeply asleep this time, because she woke as soon as the duvet started to move. Before it could escape completely, she grabbed at it. It stopped, but there was still a noticeable tug on it.

All right, Lucie thought. Let's see what you're up to.

Keeping a tight grip on the duvet, she moved in the direction it seemed to want to go, keeping pace with the errant bedding as it slid off the bed, across the floor, and up onto—

The lights snapped on.

"Lucie?"

The Doctor sounded astonished. With a prickly feeling of embarrassment Lucie realised he had every right to; after all, he'd just woken to find her naked on the floor, clutching at his ankles.

"It's that quilt again," she said hastily. "Told you there was something funny about it. Look!"

She let go of the duvet, which remained exactly where it was.

"It was moving!" she insisted.

"What, and it dragged you across the floor?"

"No, I was following it, of course, so I could see what it was up to. You know it was creeping up on you? Probably trying to strangle you in your sleep."

"I think that's very unlikely."

"So's police boxes that are bigger on the inside. And your hair not being a wig." Lucie rose to her feet. "I'm not giving that thing another chance."

She gathered up the discarded towel, the clothes she'd been wearing before her shower, and a fabric bag that had been left in the wardrobe by some previous occupant of the room. Pausing only to give the duvet a kick as she passed it, she threw everything onto the bed, climbed under the heap, and composed herself once more for sleep.

It seemed to Lucie that she'd hardly closed her eyes before Ozzie was shaking her.

"Wha'?" she mumbled, "'S it time?"

"Yeah. Your turn on watch." Ozzie gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "All been quiet up to now."

"OK." Lucie crawled out of the heap of improvised bedding, extracted her clothes from it, and started to pull them on.

As far as Lucie could see in the dim light of Ozzie's torch, Ozzie looked puzzled. "What happened to the rest of the bed?" she asked.

"Don't get me started," Lucie said. "That quilt kept crawling off every time I..." She broke off as a thought struck her. "Wonder where it's got to now?"

Ozzie obligingly swung the torch around the room. The Doctor was still fast asleep in his chair, the duvet covering him from the neck down.

"Aww, that's so sweet," Ozzie said. "It'd be a shame to disturb him. At least for the next couple of hours."

"He said there wasn't anything wrong with the..." Lucie clenched her fists. "Maybe it's him, then. P'raps he's got a secret psychic power to nick people's blankets." She pushed her feet into her trainers. "Anyway, I'll go out on watch now. Leave you to fight the Doctor for the blankets."

"Can't be bothered, I'm dead beat." Ozzie lay down on the bed and closed her eyes.

"Hope it won't be too cold for you."

Ozzie opened one eye. "It won't be. But if it is I'll wait till you come back." She winked. "I'm sure we can warm each other up, no problem."

Lucie opened her mouth to retort, closed it, and stalked towards the door.

"One of these days," she said, unsure whether she was addressing the Doctor, Ozzie, the nomadic duvet or the Universe in general, "you're really going to regret mucking me around like this."