Day Ten!

Day Ten!

The Advent of Fear, Part Two. By Mark B. Oliver.

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Day Six!

The blank-eyed maid reached towards Beth as the whistling sound of the Doctor's device ceased. Slowly opening her eyes Beth saw she was back in her gran's kitchen. No servants, no Doctor but she was still clutching the advent calendar he had been examining moments earlier. She leaned on the kitchen table for support as her gran bustled through the door carrying half a dozen bulging bags. Beth let out an involuntarily yelp at her sudden appearance.

'Sorry, dear, didn't mean to startle you!' Her gran's smile flickered. 'Are you alright? You look white as a sheet.'

'I'm fine,' Beth croaked. 'I just didn't hear you coming, that's all.' Before her gran could quiz her further, she mentioned something about homework and dashed upstairs.

Beth was in her bedroom changing out of her pajamas into jeans, trainers, a long sleeved blouse and her warmest cardigan. If she was going back she wanted to be warm and ready this time, and she had to go back, to help the Doctor. Picking up the advent calendar, Beth turned on the torch she had retrieved from her gran's toolbox earlier. She crept out of her bedroom and made her way to the kitchen. Standing in the dark room illuminated only by the torchlight she peered at her wrist watch. Slowly the second hand moved around the dial until all three hands pointed to the number twelve. It was midnight. Taking a deep breath and with a combination of fear and anticipation, Beth reached for the seventeenth window and slowly opened it.

'Beth!' beamed the Doctor. They were alone in the old kitchen and he carried a lantern. 'I knew I could count on you!' He blew out the lantern's candle.

'How did you get away?' asked Beth.

'Ahh, well, the maids were reacting to my sonic screwdriver...' The Doctor brandished his strange gadget before slipping it into his suit pocket. 'Saw it as a threat to the calendar but when I switched it off, the threat was gone and they just carried on with what they were doing... as though nothing had happened.' The Doctor's voice was already trailing off as he took the calendar from Beth and examined it once more. 'Ingenious! I mean, wrong. But ingenious. Whoever is behind this made their equipment look like an ordinary advent calendar. They got their dates a bit mixed up but still... If you hadn't provided the clue, Beth, I doubt I'd have realised that this was the key to everything.' He gave that smile again. 'Thanks.'

'So what's our next step?'

'We find the original calendar, the one that you'll eventually discover in your gran's attic. Now I wonder where - '

'How about the library? It's an ideal place with all that shelving.'

'A library? Oh, I don't - '

'What's wrong with libraries?'

'Nothing. I like libraries. I love libraries. Just that lately every time I visit a library something... oh, come on. The library it is!' As they crossed the hallway the Doctor stopped suddenly. He glanced over at the grandfather clock that stood against the wall opposite the front door. Slowly he made his way over to it staring intently at its face. 'Beth, how long would you say you've been back?'

She thought for a moment. 'A few minutes at most.' The Doctor stood aside and she saw the clock clearly. It was 1.43. Beth's watch also indicated that it was nearly a quarter to two. 'How's that possible?' she asked incredulously.

'Relative time seems to be accelerating. We need to hurry.'

Beth shone the torch around the library as the door closed silently behind them. Hundreds of books lined the walls and it was difficult to make much out in the darkness. Beth brushed against a chair she hadn't seen in the gloom and caught her breath. The Doctor touched her reassuringly on the shoulder.

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