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06 August 2008 @ 04:41 pm
The Play's the Thing, Part 1  
Fandom: Doctor Who
Title: The Play’s the Thing, Part 1
Author: Kate / byatt_lover
Feedback: Any feedback is welcomed. This is my first Doctor Who tempt.
Pairing: The Doctor and some new characters.
Word Count: 3,241
Rating: PG
Genre: Fiction/ Sci-Fi/ fanfic
Summary: In a dream the Doctor hears the voice of someone crying out for help. He’s falling down the rabbit hole. “Save me!” it shouts. When he awakes the Tardis is in action. He has no idea where he’s going. When he steps out, he’s in 4012 London. He’s in a theatre house; in the West End…the old Vic. Everyone keeps calling him, Len. And the headline of a newspaper tells that 5 more children have gone missing from the Orphanage. And, the play that the Doctor finds himself in has new actors every week. Something odd is definitely going on.
Notes: This takes place after the end of Season/Series 4. So the doctor has no companion. But perhaps he’ll find one. Also, the year 4012 is not all that much different from 2008. Well aside from people living on Mars, but that’s another story.
Special Thanks: Have none, other than to thank the BBC for airing Doctor Who episodes.
Spoilers: If you haven’t seen the end of the season 4 the only spoiler it contains is that the Doctor has no companion now.
Warnings: Don’t utter “MacBeth” in a theatre, ever!
Disclaimer: For entertainment only.

“Help! Help us!” cried out faint voices.  

The Doctor felt like he was falling…falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. Darkness surrounded him as he descended deeper and deeper into the void.    

“Where are you?” the Doctor shouted.

“Help us!” the voices continued to scream in a whisper.  

There was nothing the Doctor could do to stop himself from falling.  He didn’t even know how he had gotten there.

“Help us!” The chorus of voices grew larger and stronger as the Doctor neared them.  They were intensely pleading, almost like the sound of children dying to be rescued from a nightmare.

A chill crept over the Doctor. His blood felt like it was turning to ice. Where am I?  What happened?  He couldn’t remember how he had gotten to this point.   The last thing he could recall was closing the Tardis door and being alone. And wet.  Poor Donna.  And Rose.  Rose was gone again.  Each time he had to let her go.  Their time lines were no longer the same but rather running parallel to one another.  He couldn’t tell her how he felt.  It wouldn’t be fair.  Because in the end, she would always have to be away from him.  That’s the way their story was bound to be.  The Doctor, who could see the past, the future, what has to be and can be, knew this.  And Donna couldn’t even remember him.  Maybe she was better off that way. Not knowing he had ever entered her life.  

He had closed the Tardis door and torn off his wet jacket, and removed his tie.  Then he had felt very tired.  Like the last few years of his life were crashing upon him.  He had closed his eyes, as he sat in his pilot chair.

“Help us!”

He suddenly stopped falling. Suspended merely inches, feet, or miles from the ground; he couldn’t move.

“Who are you?” he demanded.  “Save us!” his own voice replied.

The Doctor opened his eyes; his mind still racing and trying to bring him back up the rabbit hole.  

“What?” he asked the empty room.  “What?”

He looked around.  There was no reply.  There was no one else there.

As he started to get to his feet the Tardis began to rumble.  The machine was operating on its own.  The Doctor grabbed on to the railing.  This has never happened to him before.  Sure, coordinates have gone wonky before, but never had the machine just taken him for a ride.

He jerked himself to the controls, but there was nothing he could do.  The Tardis would not be stopped.  It was taking him on a journey whether he wanted to go or not.  So the Doctor sat down in his chair and waited for the Tardis to finish hijacking itself.

Moments later, with a small bump, the Tardis stabilized.

“You done now?” the Doctor asked the machine.

Of course it didn’t reply.

“So, where were you in a rush to? Hmm?”  The Doctor retrieved his now dry jacket and put it on before his curiosity got the better of him.

“If you brought me to Klenon again, I think we’re going to have to have a talk,” he said as he turned away from the door to face the heart of the Tardis.

“And I’m talking to myself, again. Wonderful,” he muttered.  “If I’m not careful I’m going to become one of those crazy time travelers.”  He straightened his back and smoothed out the imaginary wrinkles on his lapel.  “Right, then.”

He could barely open the Tardis doors.  They had landed in a storage closet.
“This is what happens when you don’t let me drive,” he spoke to the wooden door.

With a little maneuvering he squeezed himself out.

“There now.  Where am I?”

He sniffed the air. It was damp and smoky.  

“No.  Can’t be,” he said.

He opened the storage door.  “It is,” he said with a wide smile on his face.

“Were you suddenly in the mood for a play?” he asked the Tardis.  “Wonder what’s playing?”

As usual, the Doctor started to wander about the place.  

A young stage boy almost knocked into him while running down the corridor.  “Oi.  You’re not supposed to be here.  All cast should be on stage for final bows!”

“Right.  Sorry.  Must have taken a wrong turn.  You wouldn’t happen….”

“You shouldn’t be alone back here.  It’s not safe,” the boy scolded the Doctor.

“I’m perfectly safe.”

The boy stared at him, evaluating him.  “Come on.  Back to the stage.”

“What’s your name?” the Doctor asked.


“Nice to meet you, Tom.  I’m the Doctor.”

“I know.”

“You do?” the Doctor asked.

Tom stopped walking and looked at the strange man beside him once more. “Did you hit your head or something?”

“Hmm,” the Doctor felt his head.  “Nope.”

“Right,” Tom looked away.  “I’d take a nice long rest before tonight’s performance if I were you, Len.”


Tom started to walk on.

“Sorry, did you call me, Len?”


“No, no.  I think you’re confused.  I’m the Doctor.”

Tom turned around, again.  “I’d take that nap now if I were you,” Tom said before leaving the Doctor at a dressing room.  Len’s dressing room.

“Len?” the Doctor mouthed. “I don’t even look like a Len. Well maybe a little. Nah.”

Without lingering in the hallway, the Doctor opened the dressing room door. Supposedly his dressing room door. “Hello?”  Silence.

Flicking on the light switch the Doctor took in the scene. It was pretty bare. Not what one would expect of a dressing room. Perhaps because there were no clothes. There was no sign that “Len” had ever used this room before. The dressing table had a newspaper on it, but not even a script or case of makeup.

“Interesting,” the Doctor muttered to himself.  He still had to get used to the fact that he was alone on this journey. He had no one to hash his ideas off of.

“And where the hell were you?” a female voice screeched behind the Doctor.

“Oh hello. I’m the Doctor,” he said meeting the eyes of an enraged director.

“Exactly. And where the bloody hell were you tonight?”

“Well, my machine I think isn’t feeling well.”

“Your machine? Right. They said you were a bit loopy.  If I catch you drinking, you’re out of here. So make sure you are the doctor tonight, got it?” she asked.

“Right,” he looked at her blankly.

“The actors they bring me,” she muttered under her breath as she walked out of the room.

“Well, that went well.” He turned once more to examine the room.  “Something is definitely very loopy around here.”

He reached for the newspaper and learned that although he had landed in London at the Old Vic, he was in the year 4012. The headline read “5 More Children Missing from Orphanage.”

“I heard Nancy shouting at you,” a young strawberry blonde woman said behind the Doctor.


“The director,” she laughed.

“Right. Of course. I’m sorry. I’m the Doctor,” he extended his hand.

“Are you method?” she asked shaking his hand.

“Method? Oh, method acting, you mean.  That’s it,” he nodded. “What’s your name?”

“Sadie, I mean, well I guess if you’re going to play the doctor, then I’m Pricilla Jenkins your wife. Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you as well, Sadie.”

“That won’t throw you off? Chris was a method actor and went into character right away. He flipped when I told him my name was Sadie.”

“Don’t worry. It won’t toss me. I prefer being the Doctor to, what do you call him, Len?” He made a face of disgust.

“So where were you doctor? You missed the whole performance.”

“Um. Sorry about that. I had to…I had to do some research,” he answered.

“Research? What kind of research? Did they send you to figure out what’s been happening? It’s Nancy isn’t it?” she asked closing the dressing room door behind her and stepping closer to the Doctor. The Doctor’s curiosity was on the rise.

“Well. Not exactly.”

“Oh,” she sighed.

“Why do you say, Nancy had something to do with it?”

“You don’t find it strange that every week there’s a new actor in a role?” she asked, her blue eyes questioning his.

“That is odd, isn’t it?”

She laughed. “Yeah.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a one week contract,” he said.

“That’s because there isn’t.  I can’t figure it out. But every week there’s a new actor as a character.”

“How long have you been here?”

“Four days.”

“Tell me something.  Have we met before?” the Doctor asked.

“No, why?”

“What do you think my name is?” he asked.

She looked puzzled, unsure of which answer to give.  “You’re the doctor,” she smiled.

“Yes. But before I introduced myself as the Doctor, what did you think my name was?”


“But we’ve never met before,” he stated.


“So why did you think my name is Len?”

“Because you’re the doctor, aren’t you?” she asked.

Well this is going nowhere.  “Yes.”

“That’s how, I guess. Len Broome is playing the doctor. And well you’re the doctor.”

“I see,” his eyes widened.

“Are you feeling alright?” she asked.

“I’m beginning to. Just one more strange question. What play are we in?”

“ ‘The Lady in Black.’”

Never heard of that. Should brush up on my 41st century literature.  

“Could I take a look at your script?”

“Oh my God! You haven’t read it, have you?” she asked.

“Not all of it.”

“She’s going to kill you.”

“Nancy?” he asked.

“Yeah.  Well. Come on then. My script’s in my room. You can read it and memorize it during lunch,” she said opening the dressing room door. “You just have to ignore my stage directions in pencil.”

“Brilliant,” he grinned. “How long has this play been running?”

“About a month now.”

“Is it doing well?”

“Yeah. I think so. The house is usually pretty full.  Why?” she asked, stopping in front of her dressing room.

“Just curious. If it was doing poorly I would understand why there was a change in cast every week.”

“But it doesn’t make sense when it’s nearly sold out every performance,” she said walking into her room.

“No. It doesn’t. Have you noticed anything else strange, other than a new cast?” he followed her in.

“No. Not really.”

“Who’s Tom?” he asked before sitting on her couch. Now this is a dressing room.  Clothes, makeup, magazines, tea still in a mug, and a sofa. Why don’t I have any of this stuff in mine?

“Tom?” she froze in her steps.  

“Yeah. Little bloke. Works backstage. I met him before. He showed me where my dressing room is.”

“It couldn’t have been, Tom.”

“Why not?” he sat down.

“Because it just can’t be. Tom hasn’t been here since the first week of the show.”

“How do you know?”

“What?” she asked.

“You’ve only been here four days.  How do you know he isn’t here?”


“Because why?”

She grabbed the script from the table and handed it to the Doctor.  “Here. Learn your lines.”

“But you haven’t answered my question.”

“I know. I can’t,” she was rattled.

“Why not,” he leaned in.

“Because Alice asked too many questions.”

“Who’s Alice?”


“Are you saying people who ask about Tom….”

“I’m not saying anything,” she said. “It’s just that….”

“Go on. Tell me,” he moved over on the couch to make room for her.

“It’s just that, well, there’s this rumor. On opening night, Tom played the little boy in the story, Charlie. And before going on stage the guy who was then playing doctor tricked him into saying the name of, you know, that play.”

“That play?”

“Yeah. The one no actor should ever say in a theatre.”

“Oh. You mean, Mac…”

“Shhhh!” she covered his mouth with her hand.

“Sorry,” he mumbled over her hand.  “So, Tom said the name and then…”

“And then strange things started to happen. Tom wasn’t around for the next night’s performance.”

“He went missing?”

“Exactly,” she nodded.

“That’s ridiculous. It’s a superstition.”

“It’s not though,” she said. “And ever since there has been a new cast every week.”

“I’m sure there’s a reason.”

“No one’s around long enough to figure it out,” she sighed. “And I’ve been here four days.”


“I think you should learn your lines, now.”

“Right,” he said opening the first page.  

Two hours later the Doctor had finished memorizing the play and Sadie had gone out for a smoke of green tea. [Aside: cigarettes were now made out of tea leaves in 4012.]

Alone, the Doctor’s mind wandered over the events of the day.  He had fallen asleep and dreamed of falling down a void. There were voices calling out to him to save them. The Tardis had decided it wanted to land in 4012 London. Everyone thought he was an actor by the name of Len. He was to perform tonight as the doctor in the play “The Lady in Black.” Children have gone missing. And the cast changes every week.

Rose would know how to piece all of this together. Because it just doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s not even all connected. Come on! I’m clever. I know I am. I should know what’s going on. But something’s missing. What connects all of this?

“So what do you think?” Sadie asked taking her coat off.

“About what?”

“The play?”

“The play. Right. The play. Sorry. Mind was off.”

“I can see that happens to you a lot,” she laughed.

“It does, doesn’t it?  Well the play is…it’s…this sells out every night?”

“Hard to imagine, isn’t it?”

“Very,” he nodded his head.

“I think it has to do with the telly being banned. People will watch anything for entertainment these days.”

“The telly’s banned?”

“Yeah.  Where have you been?” she asked.

“Around,” he quickly responded.  “Why is the telly banned?”

“It has to do with the new satellite they’re building. The television frequencies mess with the circuits. Blah blah blah. So all television licenses have been suspended and all programs are off the air. Same with the internet, radio, and phones”

“What? What? No television, no computer, and no phone?  How do people talk to each other or get the news?”

She looked at him like he had ten heads. “Read much?” she laughed.  “The news gets printed every two hours on eraser paper. After an hour, every newspaper is collected by mandate and brought to the plant where it’s erased and a new newspaper gets printed. Then distributed again. And people communicate by actually talking.  Or writing letters.”

There was a knock at the door.

“Curtain in thirty minutes.”

“You ready?” Sadie asked.

“I’ve always wanted to try this,” the Doctor said without thinking.

“Try what?”


“You’ve never acted before?”

“Nope,” he widely grinned.

“You’re kidding?”


“Oh God.”

“See you in thirty,” he said leaving her room.

“Don’t get lost this time!”

“I’ll try not to,” he said halfway down the hall.

The Doctor went back to Len’s dressing room to find the newspaper he had left behind. But it was gone. It must have been recycled while he was away. Children are missing. Actors are missing. No television. No radio. No news. No phones. People come to plays, even bad ones. Voices in my dream. Was it a dream? It’s 4012. This isn’t suppose to be like this. I know it isn’t. The last time I was in 4012 everything was flourishing. What went wrong? What’s different? Maybe it’s all the paradoxes that have been happening. Something must have gone missing or got screwed up during retransition.

The Doctor sat in his room trying to piece the puzzle together. Nothing was coming to him.

“Curtain call!” shouted a voice down the corridor.  “Curtain call!”

“Show must go on!” he said.  I can’t believe I’m doing this. I don’t even know what I’m doing.  How hard can it be? I mean, I play a doctor. I can do that.

Sadie met the Doctor halfway to the stage.  “Are you nervous?” she asked.

“Nah. Should be a piece a cake.”

“I always get nervous just before going on.”

“Is this Len?” asked a lanky man dressed in a 1920s suit.

“Yeah. He didn’t get here until after this afternoon’s performance,” Sadie answered.  

“This is Bruce, the detective,” Sadie introduced the two men.

“Excellent. Well break a leg,” Bruce slapped the Doctor on the back.

“You too,” the Doctor reciprocated the slap on the back.

“This is Bruce’s last night,” Sadie whispered into the Doctor’s ear as Bruce went off to stage right to make his entrance.

“What do you mean? How do you know?” the Doctor asked.

“He’s been here for seven days.”

“I see,” the Doctor replied just before the curtain rose.

All the characters, but one—the lady in black—were on stage. The doctor and his wife, the detective, the daughter, the young boy, and the deceased.

As the detective made his way to center stage, the Doctor noticed a glowing shadow behind him.  Wait a minute.  Shadows don’t glow.  Nobody else seemed to notice what was going on. They were carrying out the actions of the play. Trying to solve the murder mystery of Mr. Hopkins.

“Doctor!” Sadie shouted.

The Doctor turned to face her and saw her raised eyebrows. Oh right. My lines.

Improvising, the Doctor went through the opening act while observing Bruce carefully.  The glowing shadow just behind him was becoming darker and darker.  By the end of the first act, it had disappeared.

When the actors were off stage, the Doctor grabbed Sadie aside.

“Did you see that?”
“See what?” Sadie asked.

“That…that.” How do you describe a glowing shadow? “What was behind Bruce.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You didn’t see anything strange?”

“No. But you did well for your first performance and only getting your lines a couple hours before. Not bad, Len.” Sadie smiled at him.

“I’m the Doctor!” he said firmly.  Enough of all this. I’m going to sort this out!

“Right. Sorry. Forgot you’re in acting mode now. Well, Doctor you did well!”

Bruce started to approach them.

“Hello. I’m Sadie and this is Len but he likes to be called the doctor while getting ready to perform,” Sadie introduced herself to Bruce.

“He knows who we are,” the Doctor stared at Sadie.

“Hi, I’m Gerry,” he shook Sadie’s hand.

“No you’re not. You’re Bruce,” the Doctor said. What the bloody hell is going on?

“No. My name’s Gerry.”

“I think he’s confused because the last guy to play the detective was named Bruce,” Sadie informed Gerry.

“No. No. I’m not confused. You’re all mad. This is Bruce! He was just on stage!” the Doctor shouted.

“That’s impossible.  We haven’t gone on stage yet. And this is the new detective. Gerry!” Sadie locked eyes with the Doctor.


“Are you alright?” Gerry asked the Doctor.

“But…but….”the Doctor stuttered.

“I think it’s just your nerves. Don’t worry. You’ll be fine once we’re out there,” Gerry slapped the Doctor on the back.

“What happened to Bruce?” the Doctor asked Sadie.

Sadie stared at him. “It’s like I said. After a week.”

“Right.” He nodded.

Out of the corner of his eye, the Doctor caught site of Tom moving into the darkness of backstage.

“Places everyone!” Nancy instructed.

To be continued…

jazzygirl918: Doctor Whojazzygirl918 on August 12th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
This was definitely a treat. I could totally picture David Tennant while reading this. ^^ And Sadie was a bit Sally Sparrow-esque, love her.

"It has to do with the new satellite they’re building. The television frequencies mess with the circuits. Blah blah blah. So all television licenses have been suspended and all programs are off the air. Same with the internet, radio, and phones."

Satellite Five? Just had to ask, I'm always on the lookout for in-jokes.
byatt_loverbyatt_lover on August 13th, 2008 12:08 am (UTC)
Thanks. I did love Sally Sparrow. I liked her a lot more than Martha.

i wasn't sure when Satellite 5 went up...but it was an idea that it would be. or perhaps an earlier version like Satellite 4 or 3...if ever such a place existed. Because I know when Satelitte 5 is mentioned, aren't they always way in the future, more than 4012? That's what I always thought.
jazzygirl918jazzygirl918 on August 13th, 2008 12:41 am (UTC)
Oops, the wiki article says that Satellite 5 episodes were around the year 200,000. You're right - my theory just failed by around 15,000 years XD.
byatt_loverbyatt_lover on August 13th, 2008 01:51 pm (UTC)