Authors: Eric Saward
Tags: #Science-Fiction:Doctor Who
Tegan, the young air hostess who quite
unintentionally became a member of the
TARDIS’s crew, wants to return to her own
time, but when the Doctor tries to take her
back to Heathrow Airport in the twentieth
century the TARDIS lands instead on the
outskirts of seventeenth-century London
The Doctor and his companions receive a
decidedly unfriendly welcome – but it soon
becomes clear that the sinister activities of
other visitors from time and space have made
the villagers extremely suspicious of outsiders.
And as a result of the aliens’ evil schemes, the
Doctor finds himself on the point of playing a
key role in a gruesome historical event . . .
Based on the BBC television series by Eric Saward by
arrangement with the British Broadcasting Corporation
A TARGET BOOK
the Paperback Division of
W. H. ALLEN & Co. PLC
A Target Book
Published in 1982
By the Paperback Division of W. H. Allen & Co. Ltd.
A Howard & Wyndham Company
44 Hill Street, London W1X 8LB
First Published in Great Britain by
W. H. Allen & Co. PLC. 1982
Novelisation copyright © Eric Saward 1982
Original Script Copyright © Eric Saward 1981
'Doctor Who' series copyright © British Broadcasting
Corporation 1981, 1982
Printed and bound in Great Britain by
Cox & Wyman Ltd, Reading
ISBN 0 426 20135 3
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
For Paula, with fondest love
It was a warm summer evening. The rays of the setting sun bathed the old manor house in subtle shades of red and gold. Evening stars appeared as the light continued to fade.
From a high branch, a sleepy owl watched a fox break cover and silently pad towards the west wing of the manor house.
Night was awakening. Small furry animals with bright, shiny eyes scurried through the undergrowth in search of food. A grass snake, warm and refreshed from a day spent lying in the sun, tentatively flexed his body and explored the air with a series of short, sharp, flicking movements of his highly sensitive tongue. The owl, now fully awake, stared fixedly, saucer-eyed, at a shadow below. Suddenly he launched himself into space, and on silent wings, talons extended, sped towards a tiny harvest mouse. A moment later, the bird's hooked beak was tearing at his supper. It was the first kill of the evening.
With her day book before her on the window seat of her bedroom, Elizabeth watched the fox as he trotted by below. Smiling, she picked up her quill, dipped it into her pewter ink pot and recorded the sighting in her best copperplate handwriting. She then replenished her quill, and, at the bottom of the entry, set its creaking, scratchy nib to uncoil, in black ink, the date: 5th August 1666. Blotting the sheet carefully, she closed the day book, rose, picked up the candle and crossed to the door.
With long skirts carefully controlled, Elizabeth started to negotiate the steep, narrow stairs from her bedroom. As she descended she heard the distant bark of the fox.
Hoping to catch a last glimpse, she paused at the stairway's tiny lancet window and peered out. But the only moving thing visible was what appeared to be a bal of light slowly crossing the sky. Elizabeth stared at the object, puzzled by its slowness and the acute angle at which it was travelling towards Earth. If it was a shooting star, she thought, it was unlike any she had seen before.
Surprise replaced puzzlement when, at great speed, a tiny but very distinct bolt of light was ejected from the main ball. Elizabeth watched as the bolt not only rapidly decelerated, but also lost light intensity. A moment later the main ball exploded, creating a pyrotechnic display of such magnificence, it looked as though a million fireworks had been ignited at the same moment. Overcome with excitement, Elizabeth half ran, half fell down the remaining stairs.
In the main hall of the house, Sir John dozed before the unlit fireplace. He had just consumed a vast meal along with two bottles of his favourite wine. Although the rhythmic movement of his bulky stomach suggested contentment, his high colour and twitching countenance more accurately indicated the onset of indigestion.
Ralph, the elderly servant, blew out the taper he had been using to light extra candles, and slipped it behind his ear for safe keeping. 'Do you want me to clear away, Master Charles?' he said.
Charles, who was sitting in his favourite chair cleaning a pair of saddle pistols, glanced across at his now-snoring father. 'Leave the bread and cheese,' he said, 'I'm sure Sir John will want a little more to eat before retiring.' He gazed at the undulating stomach and sighed. 'Although heaven only knows where he puts it all.'
The servant smiled and started to shuffle towards the dining table. Suddenly the door burst open and the highly excited Elizabeth rushed into the room. 'Papa! Papa!'
Sir John's face turned deep purple as he coughed, spluttered and then sat bolt upright, placing his hand on his racing heart. 'Fire and brimstone!' he screamed. 'You should know better than to enter a room like that.'
'I am sorry, Papa,' she bubbled, setting her candle on a side table and running to the window, 'but you must see them.'
Sir John craned his neck as he endeavoured to keep his daughter in view.
'The lights, Papa.' She tugged at the curtains. 'They're so beautiful.'
'Lights?' Sir John clambered awkwardly out of his chair. 'What lights?' It was clear he was uneasy.
Elizabeth continued her tussle with the drapes, but her final victory was a hollow one.
'Oh, they've gone,' she sighed, staring into the blackness of the night.
Sir John turned from the window, clearly disturbed. 'What were the lights like?' he muttered.
'Like a million shooting stars. The whole sky was ablaze.'
The old knight made his way to the dining table, picked up a quarter-full bottle of wine and emptied it into a goblet. Charles watched, concerned by his father's reaction. 'Are you all right, father?'
'Of course I'm all right,' he growled. 'It's just this talk of lights.' He paused, staring into the goblet. 'I don't like the sound of it.'
Elizabeth moved to her father's side. 'Oh, Papa.' Her tone was slightly disapproving of his superstitious response.
'Strange lights do not bode well for the future. Take my word.'
Elizabeth reached up and kissed her father affectionately on the cheek. 'You're so sweet.' The old man snorted. 'You're so sweet... and so old-fashioned,' she laughed.
Sir John took a long swallow from his goblet and then looked down at his smiling daughter.
'Maybe you're right,' he said at last. 'Maybe you're right.' But in his heart he was less certain.
The fox Elizabeth had watched earlier with such pleasure continued his nightly patrol.
Now clear of the house, he raced across the open ground to the high brick perimeter-wall of the estate. He paused to sniff the air. Something was wrong.
Undeterred, he made his way along the wall until he came to a small gate. Without hesitation he squeezed through its narrow bars. Ahead lay the forest and a good night's hunting. But something was definitely wrong.
Cautiously, the fox moved into the silent forest, ears cocked, nose keenly analysing the night air. He sensed danger. The game keeper? The local poacher? But no. He knew their smells only too well. This was new.
Something was burning.
The fox moved on. Thin, whispy twirls of smoke hung in the air and bushes, its acrid smell irritating his nose and eyes. He sneezed hard and shook his head, trying to clear the irritation. A little way ahead he noticed an enormous, dark shape surrounded by flattened, smouldering undergrowth. Frantically he tried to make sense of the silhouette.
Then the shape seemed slowly to split open, purple light pouring from the crack. This was too much for the poor old fox, who panicked and fled into the night.
As the split grew larger, an open hatchway could be seen behind what was now clearly a ramp being lowered. As it descended, a figure appeared, his massive form dividing the flood of purple light and casting an enormous shadow across the forest.
When the ramp was fully lowered, he began to move. Wheezing and gasping, his lungs unaccustomed to the Earth's thin atmosphere, he lumbered down the ramp and across the charred undergrowth. He paused for a moment, sniffing the air in much the same way the fox had. He then let out a loud hiss, turned and started towards the manor house.
By the light of a large candelabra Elizabeth and her father were playing cards. Sir John had always fancied himself a good card-player. Indeed he was, as his winnings far exceeded his losses. But Elizabeth, his pretty, shy, excitable daughter was better; much better. Her fast, nimble mind quickly grasped her opponent's stratagems. She had an excellent memory and could always remember which cards had already been played.
Reluctantly her father had acknowledged her superior skill, but it still irked him to lose.
Shoulders hunched, lips pursed in concentration, Sir John watched his daughter pick up a card from the pack face-down on the table. Impassively, she slotted it into those she already held, barely pausing before discarding an unwanted card. Sir John glanced down at the neatly fanned cards in his hand and smiled. She had thrown away the very card he wanted. The game is mine, he thought, reaching for it.
'Too late, Papa.' Elizabeth placed her own cards on the table. 'I think I've won.' Sir John scanned them with piggy eyes hoping for a mistake. But no, she had won again.
Charles laughed, 'Well done, sister!'
The old knight scowled as he gathered the cards together. 'Luck,' he muttered, 'pure luck.'
'Be fair, father. You were beaten by the better player.'
'My concentration was spoiled,' he growled, as Ralph entered the room. 'I could feel a chill on my neck.'
'Impossible, Papa. It's a perfectly warm evening.'
Charles pushed his chair back from the card table, making a harsh, rasping noise on the flagstone floor, and stood up. 'Father always feels a chill when he's losing,' he said, crossing to where he had left his pistols. 'It's either that or his gout bothers him.'
'Arrant nonsense. I felt a definite chill about my neck and shoulders.'