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Doctor Who -The Frozen

Written by RUPERT LAIGHT
Illustrations by MARTIN GERAGHTY

'I haven't been ice-skating since my seven hundred and twenty-first birthday,' muttered the Doctor to himself, as he raced to the other side of the console to pump the vortex loop.

He checked the scanner. 'Year - 5113. Planet - Winter Wonderland. Only place in the Universe entirely dedicated to winter sports.' The Doctor beamed. 'Ice rink the size of Huddersfield.'

He threw the lever to activate the doors.

There was a deep gurgling noise, then a massive wave of cold water - high enough to surf on - crashed into the TARDIS, flooding the floor and soaking everything in sight.

Riding high on the wave was a woman.

She sank to the floor at the Doctor's feet.

He quickly reset the lever, and the doors heaved shut against the oncoming deluge. He winced at the sound of electrical circuits fizzing and popping beneath his feet.

'Nice of you to swim by,' he said, helping the stranger to her feet.

'Where am I?' asked the woman. 'Who are you?'

'I'm the Doctor. Who are you?'

'I'm Mai,' replied the woman. 'Mai Kondo.'

She was in her mid-twenties, with a round, friendly face, glasses and short black hair. She wore a sensible suit. A very wet sensible suit.

'I'm training to be an alien environmental scientist, but I got a little, er, out of my depth' she said, wringing out her sleeves and emptying her shoes of water. 'I came from Earth two weeks ago - with my university exploration group. It's for my thesis. This planet's more far gone than even we thought.'

The Doctor looked at his scanner. An image of snow-less mountain tops and mile upon mile of dismal marshland gave way to a graphic showing a planet swinging along an arc towards its own sun.

'According to this,' he noted, 'Winter Wonderland is getting hotter by the day. Hence the melty thing.'

'It's what's happened on Earth too,' said Mai.

'But this isn't caused by pollution, this is orbital decay. And there's not much you can do about that.'

Mai sat down on the floor. 'I have to confess, I hoped I'd get to see at least a little bit of ice. But there's not so much as a snowflake left here.'

'In that case,' mused the Doctor, putting on his glasses, 'what about a little jaunt through time and space?'

'This is a time machine?'

'Well... it's just a run-about really. Y'know, nip back to 1500 BC. Whiz forward to the year 9000. Pop down the shops.'

'It must use so much fuel. What's your warp footprint, Doctor?'

'Oh, not very big,' he replied, with a dismissive wave of his hand. 'More of a toe-print really. And I try to offset it by growing my own veg. You should see my broccoli.' The Doctor paused. 'You may have noticed my TARDIS is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside,' he added, proudly.

'I was just about to mention that.'

'I thought you might.'

Mai smiled and watched as the Doctor reset the coordinates.

'I'll show you what the Earth was like when it still had winters. And I can get in a bit of ice-skating too. Two birds with one stone and all that.'

And with a wheezing, groaning and a fizzing sound, the TARDIS dematerialised.

***

'We've landed in the middle of the river Thames?' shouted Mai, horrified. 'Are you insane?'

'Don't worry.' The Doctor waved a dismissive hand. 'This is February 1814. It's frozen solid. Well, not solid, but as good as.'

Mai stepped through the TARDIS doors, wearing one of the Doctor's old coats and a scarf, and placed a tentative foot on the ice. Then she looked around her.

The Thames no longer flowed - it had frozen into one vast, smooth ice rink. From Blackfriars Bridge all the way to London Bridge, the ice-topped river was crowded with stalls selling food and drink, clowns juggling burning batons, animals performing tricks, kids playing skittles, and hundreds of cold but happy people chattering, laughing and skating to and fro.

'This is the last time the Thames ever freezes over. Of its own accord.' He paused, leaned against the TARDIS, and started to pull on a pair of ice-skates. 'Of course, they did it artificially for the 2030 Dancing On Ice special. Torvill and Dean's final Bolero. My word, they were good...' He trailed off, realising Mai was looking at him as if he was mad. 'Beautiful though, isn't it?'

'I've never seen anything like it.' Mai sighed sadly. 'Where I come from, nothing ever freezes.' She shivered. 'It's so cold.'

'I can lend you some thermal undies.'

'No, I mean colder than it needs to be to freeze.'

The Doctor rummaged in his pocket and pulled out a thermometer. 'Minus seventeen,' he said, noting the temperature.

Mai took it off him. She glared at it for a moment, then looked up, confused. 'It's just dropped to minus twenty.'

'Minus twenty?' He frowned darkly. 'You know what that means, don't you?'

Mai frowned too, concerned.

'Perfect temperature for skating! Come on!' And he slid off across the ice, leaving Mai to lace her skates.

'I've never done this before,' Mai called out to the Doctor as they whizzed through the crowds, past groups of excitable children, grown-ups discussing the weather, gangs of skulking teenagers, donkeys giving rides, and loudmouthed souvenir sellers.

'You've picked it up very quickly,' he yelled back at her. 'Do you like it?'

'It's okay,' she replied, trying to sound nonchalant.

After several minutes the Doctor came to a stop, exhausted but smiling. Mai skated into him and he caught her in his arms. They laughed, stared at one another for a moment, then he released her.

'They had kings and queens back then, er, back now, didn't they?' asked Mai, once she'd caught her breath. 'Who's on the throne?'

'Who's on the throne?' repeated the Doctor, incredulously. 'Mai Kondo! Did you not go to school?'

'Yes, but we didn't do ancient history. Anything before the Great Exodus is a mystery to me.'

'Who's on the throne... goodness... imagine not knowing that...' He trailed off.

'Go on,' egged Mai, cheekily.

'It's gotta be good old Quee... Kin...'

'You don't know, do you?' Mai folded her arms.

The Doctor stopped a man as he skated in their direction. 'Who's on the throne these days, mate?'




Continued...



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