Rose checked where she was, somewhere in the middle of a large city, not London and definitely the wrong universe where the Doctor had been. She glanced at the readouts on the display of her version of a time vortex manipulator, well it had a better name but it reminded her of Jack. She had 45 minutes to wait for the device to recharge itself and once activated, it would take her back to Torchwood and after waiting a few days, she would try again.
There were an infinite number of possibilities but they had perfected the art of not landing on the same world twice. People were passing by without giving her a second look and so she made her way to a doorway to wait to go back and found herself in a book store. Since she couldn't carry any money with her, all she could do was look, then when the device was recharged, she would go to a quiet corner and disappear. The time soon passed and she went around the back of a bookshelf and pressed the button, expecting to see the familiar surroundings of the dimension cannon room and the technicians that worked there. Sometimes they were a few metres out and they would end up in the next room but there was a failsafe built in so you didn't knock yourself out by ending up facing a brick wall or under the wheels of a truck.
After a few seconds, she felt the familiar motion then before she opened her eyes, she could hear the sound of waves and seagulls. She opened them and found herself on a beach, wherever it was, looking out to sea. She turned around and faced steep golden cliffs and turning left, she could see crowds of people not far away, a harbour with lots of boats and some buildings in the distance. She was wearing black trousers, a purple t-shirt and a blue leather jacket and it was rather hot so tucking the device away, she got out her phone. Great, the battery was almost dead but she was sure it had been fully charged when she had left.
She would have to go find a public phone-box and call the special number or her stepfather and find out where she was and get someone to come and rescue her. She had her debit card with her at least so she could at least spend the night wherever she was, she had no idea what time it was but the device always landed her relatively close to when she had first left. Maybe she should just try to get back using the device, it should still get her back but three jumps in such a close time-frame were not advisable so the phone call it was going to have to be. At least the phones took plastic. She often wished she had psychic paper, it was like having universal credit.
She reached the edge of the beach and walked around some houses and saw the harbour, to her left was a café and a row of what looked like apartments, to her right a church hall tucked into a corner with a pub almost next to it, two shops, a gap and another two shops, one a newsagents and the other said 'Harbour Stores'. She had no idea where there was a phone so she would have to pull the old 'My car has broken down in the car park and my mobile is dead' routine again.
She walked into the newsagents, a man came out of the back. "Can I help you Miss?"
"Yeah, sorry. Do you know where there is payphone around here? My car broke down, I need to call the breakdown company."
"The only one I know of is across the bridge and into the caravan park, there's one just inside the complex."
"Thanks. I know this sounds stupid but I was having trouble with my car up on the main road and I didn't notice where I was turning in to and just got it into the car park when it gave up. Where am I?"
The man chuckled. "Dear, dear, driver's these days. Didn't you see the sign?"
"No, I was too busy trying to let my car break down in civilisation rather than on a busy road since I'm tired and hungry and my phone is practically dead but hey, I looked to see where I was driving into."
The man straightened his face. "Cheeky cow," he thought. "You're in Broadchurch. No-one comes here by accident, there's only one road in and one road out." He thought she looked vaguely familiar.
"I need to let someone know where I am, then I'll call for breakdown recovery. Thanks."
She turned round to leave the shop.
"Are you calling a mobile number?"
"No, just my mum."
He picked up the portable phone from behind the counter. "Call her, go on."
"It's Jack, Jack Marshall."
"I'm Rose, thanks Jack."
She didn't make a habit of admitting who she actually was considering her position. She dialled the mansion's number but got a disconnected tone so she redialled, same again. "Weird," she thought, trying to remember the number for emergencies at Torchwood and not wanting to risk her phone going dead altogether when she got half the number.
She remembered it and dialled it, thankful they had adopted a freephone number but she got the same 'Out of service' tone. This was definitely weird, she had been at Torchwood not much more than an hour ago, they would have told her if the number had changed, just in such cases like this when the traveller got sent a bit off course, much like the Doctor's driving skills.
Trying not to panic, she smiled at the man and said, "They must be out, thanks anyway, I'll go to the payphone. I need to go use a cash machine anyway."
"No cash machine around her love, only in the caravan park and it charges you or in the amusement arcade and that charges more than the other one does. What are we coming to that you have to pay to get your own money out of the bank? It's like regression, not progression."
Rose couldn't agree more but this wasn't getting her anywhere fast. She would just have to pay to use the machine or go find a hotel, get a room and use the phone there and that sounded like a good idea. She thanked the newsagent and went back outside, taking her jacket off. Looking around her, there were a few pubs that looked like they had accommodation and she walked over to a big white one tucked just across the car park and saw they had a cash machine, Jack mustn't have known about that one. She walked up to the reception and asked for a room.
"Do you have a credit or debit card Miss Tyler?" the receptionist asked.
Rose handed her card over and the woman put it into the machine. Apparently in this town, they didn't trust you to pay up when you left.
The woman took the card out of the reader and re-inserted it and tried again. "I'm sorry Miss Tyler, it's been declined and there was a message telling you to contact your bank."
"But that shouldn't happen, there's always money in that account."
"If I try again and it fails, they will void the card anyway. There's no branch in town now I'm afraid, they closed it a few years ago, nearest one is in Dorchester. I'm sorry, maybe you can come back later?"
Rose was disappointed the woman hadn't recognised her name, she was easily recognisable to most people though they tended to leave her alone and always went after her mother. Rose checked the time on the clock above the reception desk. It was 2.30 pm and she had left Torchwood around 10am so she had landed a few hours out but it was nothing to worry about. She never bothered about the date, why should she check that?
Apologising to the woman, she stepped back out into the sun and looked around. If her debit card wasn't being accepted, there was a huge problem. Had Torchwood been compromised in the short time she had been gone? It was a Torchwood debit card, she never carried her personal one on missions nor a personal phone, you never knew where you were going to end up and they were easy to trace. If you were captured on another world, you had to blend in and hope you could talk yourself out of it. She'd had enough practice on her travels with the Doctor.
There was only one thing she could do under the circumstances, go find the local police station. They had limited knowledge of Torchwood plus Pete Tyler was a public figure and a very influential man and Rose was his stepdaughter. Her unusable debit card should be enough ID plus the Torchwood number in her phone, if someone would charge it for her. She had two other numbers, Mickey's and Jake's, for absolute emergencies whilst in the field but with no charge on her phone, she couldn't even call them for help.
Looking around, she had no idea where the police station was so as there only seemed there was one road leading across a bridge over the harbour, she followed it, passing the amusement arcade in front of which was a green complete with a bus shelter, a row of catering stalls and realising just how hungry she was but once at the police station, she could get all this sorted out in no time at all. Passing over the harbour, noting to her right that there was a river with plenty of birds on it and a bright blue waterside chalet stuck out from three other chalets huddled next to each other and across the other side were rows of caravans.
Once over the bridge, there was a mini-roundabout, a road going straight ahead where she noted was a fish and chip shop, reminding her again how hungry she was and to her left, still the harbour area where she could see more outdoor caterers and a seating area and to the side of the road, some new-looking fancy apartments then just past there she could see the road curved to the right but no sign of the police station. She thought she must have somehow missed it or it was in another part of the town, surely they had one here?
She crossed over the road towards the harbour, the road ahead seemed to lead alongside the caravan park and some houses further up and wondered how to get to the rest of the town or was this actually all there was. She saw some public toilets and realised she needed them, not liking them very much once inside and afterwards, smelling the food cooking, she knew she had to eat soon or pass out although why she was so hungry when she'd had breakfast prior to leaving on her latest mission to get back to her old world and the Doctor, she had no idea.
She turned left along the edge of the harbour and she could hardly believe her luck when across the road and up some steps she saw a welcoming blue sign lit up at the side of a door to a round fronted building saying 'Broadchurch Police Station'. She crossed the road and bounded up the steps thinking at least when she said who she was, they would be courteous and offer her tea and biscuits while she got sorted out and Pete would get her some emergency funds and she could go back to that hotel and wait for someone to collect her, probably tomorrow and she could get some food.
A uniformed officer was just coming out and held the door for her and she went up to the desk. The desk sergeant looked up.
"Good afternoon Miss, may I help you?"
"'Erm yes, I hope so. I seem to be lost. My phone had died on me and I need to contact my stepfather. I'm Rose Tyler."
The sergeant dropped his pen and stared at her. "I think you had better take a seat Miss Tyler, while I call a senior officer."
Rose smiled and stepped over to a chair just by another door. At least they knew who she was and she wouldn't have to explain but why call a senior officer? Was she that important that he couldn't call Pete for her?
The desk sergeant picked up the phone. "DI Hardy Sir, I think you and DS Miller should come down here, Rose Tyler just walked in."
"What? What do you mean she just walked in? On her own? No-one with her? We'll be down in a minute, make sure she's looked after."
"Yes Sir, right away." He turned to the female officer behind him. "Ask Miss Tyler if she wants a drink while Hardy and Miller get themselves down here."
Rose asked for coffee and if they had any biscuits she would be more than grateful for some. The WPC went off to the canteen, puzzled as to why the woman was getting special treatment. In the year she had been assigned to the station, this was a first time except if someone had fainted. The desk sergeant got up and crossed over to Rose.
"Our two senior officers will be down in a moment. Are you alright Miss Tyler?"
Rose was about to say nothing that a good meal and some sleep wouldn't cure but kept silent about it. "Yeah, I'm fine. This is Broadchurch, yeah? Where's Broadchurch?"
"It's in Dorset Miss, on the south coast of England."
"Right." Only over 100 miles away from London, this was new. The dimension cannon never threw anyone off this far before and hours out as well.
The WPC came back with coffee and a plate of biscuits and handed them to Rose who said, "Thanks."
Just then, the door to the side of her opened and a tall man with a scruffy beard and a woman with curly hair stepped through and saw her with the mug in her hand. Rose put it on the chair beside her.
The woman spoke first. "Miss Tyler, are you alright?" Rose nodded, trying to swallow the half biscuit in her mouth and not splutter crumbs all over the place.
"I'm DS Miller and this is DI Hardy. Come with us please."
Rose picked up her mug of coffee and the biscuits and followed the two officers, not really getting a good look at the man but he looked vaguely familiar though Rose saw the Doctor in every man so it was nothing new to her, unless he came up to her, gave her a big hug and said 'Did you miss me?' She even swore the first time she had seen an actor on TV, David something or other, that it was him and had long since stopped bothering so much, concentrating on it being her going to find him, not the other way around because she could break the rules, he couldn't.
She was led to an interview room, a less formal one and the woman put a file onto the coffee table, in front of Rose. The man had another folder under his arm and got his notebook out.
"Miss Tyler, we have a few questions, if that's ok?" Hardy asked.
"You have to understand, we have to establish you are indeed who you say you are. Anyone could come in here claiming to be Rose Tyler so please, answer a few simple questions."
Rose loved his Scottish accent, it so reminded her of their time with Queen Victoria. "Ok, go ahead but will it take long? I'm really tired and I'm starving. I could eat all these," Rose replied, pointing to the nearly empty plate.
The other woman smiled, wishing Hardy would just get on with it instead of messing about like he seemed to like to do. She had only known him a week and he was a right royal pain in the ass.
"We'll try to keep it to a minimum. Please tell us your full name, your address and date of birth." Hardy picked up another file he had on his lap and opened it.
Rose could understand, although no-one had yet tried to impersonate her, well not to her knowledge. She gave the answers and he consulted the file. She knew full well that a full life history had been invented for her, right from medical and dental records to school reports and other essentials and a DNA sample on record, just in case. Torchwood took no chances and everything had been covered.
"Miss Tyler, can you tell us the last thing you remember, before you arrived in Broadchurch?"
"Yeah, I was in London, at Torchwood, preparing to go on another mission. I don't know how much the police know about our organisation so I can't tell you much else. We have this on-going project, myself and two others go on these special missions using this device we have and when we've completed them, the device brings us back to Torchwood but it seems to have gone wrong and I ended up on the beach, in this town. Funny though, it's not usually been that off before and it threw me ahead a few hours as well."
Hardy consulted his file and looked at Miller. Rose looked at both of them, wondering what the other file was, it seemed quite thick and since she didn't have a criminal record, doubted it was about her but there again, her home telephone number was unobtainable, the Torchwood number was out of order and her debit card was no longer valid, despite her being one of the wealthiest women in Britain so in the few hours she had been thrown forward in time, anything was possible. Had Torchwood been invaded or taken over? Were her family in danger? She could now be wanted for their demise or something or for crimes against the state, who knows what could have happened in those few hours and come to think of it, the dimension cannon had never been known to be that off. What was going on?
"What's going on? I tried my home telephone number, the newsagent was kind enough to let me use his telephone and the number I use to contact Torchwood in emergencies was out of order. My mobile battery is almost out and it was fully charged before I left this morning so I can't ring anyone else and why is it so hot out there? Are you having a heatwave or something? It's April isn't it?"
Miller got up and went to sit next to Rose. Rose moved over. "Oh my…" she clasped her hands over her mouth. "Has something happened while I've been away, my family, are they ok? Oh no… tell me, what happened, has Torchwood been invaded or something? Is that why I landed a few hours in the future and the phones were out of order? The device brings us back even if something's happened at Torchwood, so we don't get stranded. Please, tell me my family are ok."
Miller put her hand on Rose's shoulder and took her hand. "Rose, tell us the date."
Rose looked at her, tears forming in her eyes. "28th of April 2009, why?"
Hardy moved forward and pushed the file in front of her. He got up and sat at the other side of her. "I'm sorry Rose. It's the 25th of July and it isn't 2009, it's 2013. You've been missing for over 4 years and your family, as far as we know have disappeared and no-one knows where they are."
Rose broke down and Ellie Miller folded her arms around her and let her cry.