Afterthought

author: unknown


(i)

Truman hummed away quietly to himself as he applied another squirt of Pledge to the
console top. He watched with mild disinterest as the white liquid congealed around the
nearest planet on the proximity indicator; he wiped and scrubbed gently at the star
littered panorama and grinned at his reflection... he was bored...

It wasn't necessary for him to clean the TARDIS as its auto-repair system also dealt with
such menial duties. (He couldn't imagine a timelord dusting a control panel with a can of
Pledge and a jaycloth, not really) but six months in an East end caf had given him ample
practice in such matters and he found it hard to break the habbit...

The constancy of the low humming noise which permeated every corner of the TARDIS
was corrupted by a slight gurgling chuckle; barely noticable to anyone with something to
occupy their mind, but to Truman it would have been scarcely more obvious if it had been
publicly proclaimed. He span round excitedly just in time to see one of the roundels on
the far wall pop off, rather like the lid of a Smartie Packet, and fall loudly to the floor.

Agog, Truman stared at what lay behind... It dropped to the floor, without wavering
it landed on its two short, furry legs and silently, without wavering, it padded closer to
Truman. It should have been cute... but the harshness of the robotic glare in its eyes
made it less so and the razor sharp claws which slowly slid out of the tips of its soft
furry paws...

Truman shuddered... "cuddlesome!"

"I LOVE YOU" it stated as it raised its paw...

"I LOVE YOU!" it entoned, a stream of fiery red sparks issued from its claws as
its chubby little mouth pulled into a half smile...

"I LOVE YOU!" ...through the explosion of a million stars in his head as the searing
pain his arm was experiencing registered in his brain, Howling desperately, he clawed
his way to the door.

As it clicked shut behin him, Truman heard a faint voice behind him.

"I LOVE YOU"... Somehow Truman found this proposition hard to accept.

Cuddlesome Doll on top of somebody

(ii)

"Christ!" Truman flinched as the Doctor applied the last of the sterilised bandage pads
to his injured arm; now glowing in red anger, raw and throbbing.

"Keep still!" the Doctor chided reproachfully. He fixed the sling around Truman's
shoulder and, standing quietly, he voiced Truman's fears...
"Obviously Askran's egotism didn't completely eliminate the possibility of
defeat from his mind..." the Doctor bit his lip pensively, mulling over their options.

Truman tried to be practical, "Where is it now?"

The Doctor moved to a nearby monitor and, altering the settings on the accompanying
control panel, scanned the immediate vicinity - it was in the control room... A casual
onlooker might be forgiven for having to supress a smirk at the sight of the furry
bundle currently at work on the console. Deftly, it worked at the controls, an
agitated clicking evident in the air...

"This isn't possible..." Truman was at a loss to describe the Doctor's expression,
'gobsmacked' came close...

"This isn't possible..." he repeated. "A sophisticated android would have difficulty in
operating a TARDIS... let alone a machiavellian mechano set like that. I don't understand."

The monitor scanned onwards... "What's that?" Truman had spotted a small, colourful
object in a nearby corridor... "Magnify times twenty" - the monitor complied. A brightly
packaged box loomed large, a note attached -

Doctor,

He who laughs last,
laughs longest...

Askran

Recognising Askran's signature, the Doctor examined carefully the tattered remnants
of the lid, torn apart by razor claws... His deliberations were rudely interrupted as
the silence ended with a familiar sound... "Truly an impossibly capable bucket of
bolts..." the Doctor retorted "we've landed!"

(iii)

"With a certain understandable trepidation?"... the Doctor cautiously eased the console
room door open... Empty. They both scoured the room with nervous stares - Truman
stated the obvious... "It's gone!"

The Doctor ignored him and moved hurriedly to the console.
"Tyrlos - Earth colony 15q... how odd."

Truman equired why.

"Well, the colony was abandoned soon after its completion - I can't remember why"

"Colony?"

"Nothing special", the Doctor sniffed, "fairly rudimentary actually..."

"So you don't fancy a visit then?" Truman hoped to god he didn't, from what he could
see on the scanner, Tyrlos looked univiting; dark and dripping... "I think not, I can't
risk unleashing our furry friend on the inhabitants... We'd better make a sharp exit."
Dextrously, his spindly fingers set a new batch of co-ordinates and activated the
dematerialisation control. Nothing happened. "Oh dear..." the Doctor looked
extremely perturbed - a deep furrow etched into his high forhead. He examined
the location data once again; more carefully.

LOCATION: TYRLOS - SOL. 12 - (X.24/75 - Y.17/08 - Z.109/20)

STATUS: EARTH COLONY (REF. 15q)

SITUATION: EXTREME DIMENSIONAL FLUX ACTIVITY. LOCALISED.

"Curiouser and Curiouser!" The Doctor turned to Truman "We've landed in a tractor
beam - very strong. Is it me or is it too much of a coincidence?"

(iv)

The Doctor sipped his tea... he was deep in thought. However he tried to avoid the
fact, no matter how he viewed the situation, they had only one option... outside.
"Where's the Cuddlesome?" the Doctor indicated the monitor "take a look".
Truman changed the settings on the console, the scanner now displayed a floorplan
of the nearby rooms -

"Nothing, just you and I..."

"Very well", the Doctor's hand hovered over the door control,
"you come with me; straight out and lock the door immediately."

Truman caught the key and held it in readiness. The Doctor activated
the door release... Simultaneously, the nearest roundel clattered to the floor, then
another, then another... Like falling leaves, every one of the circular panels which had
previously littered the walls, littered the floor, and, through the tangle of circuitary
behind... paws, furry feet, twitchy noses... razor claws, cold glaring eyes, a simpering
yet eerie voice...

"WE LOVE YOU!"

"Truman! The doors!" the Doctor bellowed urgently. Truman grappled with the
door lever but to no avail...

"It's jammed!" he exclaimed desperately as the furry fiends dropped, one by one,
to the floor and out into the slushy night outside - claws out.

In bitter frustration the Doctor moved to the tracker device on the console, the
panel was loose... several wires strategically cut...

"Damn!" the Doctor hurled the panel to the floor - "We've been duped".

(v)

A myriad lifeless eyes regarded sunrise on Tyrlos, gaping throats and pallid faces met
the cold light of morning. In amongst the broken human figures lay smouldering lumps
of fur, many colours, all with decaying metal frames peeping out from within...

The Doctor stood alone in the main building - crowded with corpses. He felt a pang
of remorse, of responsibility as another child gazed up at him through dead eyes...

He put it to the back of his mind and made for the exit.

(vi)

Truman stood outside the TARDIS on the Doctor's return - tentatively he enquired
"Is the tractor beam off?"

... the Doctor said nothing. The answer was self evident.

As the TARDIS dematerialised, Truman put another question.

"Doctor?"

"yes?"

He paused.

"How did that thing pilot the TARDIS?"

No reply.

"How did it know there was a tractor beam outside?"

No reply

"and how has my arm healed within ten minutes..."

(EPILOGUE)

A solitary cuddlesome lay smouldering on the floor of the TARDIS lab,
a brightly packaged box nearby - a note...

synchronize