The Discontinuity Guide
Short Stories

Short Trips: A Universe of Terrors

cover
Editor: John Binns

The Exiles Mire and Clay
Ash Face-Painter
Losing Track of Time The Discourse of Flies
The Fear Mauritz
The Comet's Tale Long Term
Soul Mate Whiskey and Water
The Death of Me Gazing Void

The Exiles

Features the First Doctor and Susan.

Author: Mark Michalowski

Roots: Everlasting matches first appeared in David Whitaker's novelisation Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure With the Daleks.

Continuity: The Doctor and Susan have only just left Gallifrey (Lungbarrow). The Doctor claims to have invented Everlasting Matches [he's lying - see The Cabinet of Light]. The Doctor had only one small bag with him when he stole the TARDIS. The TARDIS had not been used for a long time prior to the Doctor's acquisition of it and has been in "hibernation". "Fault locator" is a term coined by the Doctor for the diagnostic subsystem, a term that Susan doesn't understand. The Doctor has worked as an ambassador for the Time Lords before, but technicians piloted most of the TARDISes that he traveled in; he made careful note of what they did. Gallifreyan books [at least in Susan's time - see Lungbarrow] tend to have metal covers. The TARDIS wardrobe already contains racks and racks of clothes, including a split tunic made out of green fabric, a big coat that is almost a cloak, thick patterned top made out of wool. Susan selects a pair of black boots, thick socks, a grey one-piece dress, and a wide belt.

Susan sees a reflection of the past in a mirror in the TARDIS wardrobe; a young man in long dark robes, pale skin, and with fangs instead of teeth. He speaks to Susan in a language that she doesn't understand [and is possibly a Vampire - see State of Decay, Goth Opera].

Location: The TARDIS.

The Bottom Line: 'What you saw was something from the past.' 'But what?' 'That must remain a mystery.' Parkin's grasp of the characters is peerless, but this is an irritating vignette that offers a mystery with little hope of resolution.

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Mire and Clay

Features the First Doctor, Ian, and Barbara

Author: Gareth Wigmore

Roots: There are references to Robinson Crusoe and Hercules Cortez.

Continuity: Ian is held prisoner and tortured for several days by Afghan Gul Zaheer. He grew cavalry whiskers whilst in Afghanistan to amuse Barbara, but these were lost in the beard that grew during his imprisonment. He also adopted a blue-black cavalry uniform. During their time in Afghanistan, Barbara pretended to be Ian's pregnant wife as an excuse to remain with him. Ian's time with the Doctor has made him physically stronger than at any other time in his life, including National Service. He kills Gul Zaheer, pushing him into the pit full of man-eating fish.

Barbara has nightmares about her time in Kabul for some time after they leave.

The Doctor dons a grand colourful coat, ornate silken trousers tucked into long leather boots, and green turban.

The TARDIS crew spends more than three months in Afghanistan. The TARDIS has shaving machines.

Location: Afghanistan, 1842.

The Bottom Line: 'I pushed a man to his death down that pit, Doctor. I didn't have to. I wanted to.' Superbly written, capturing the real life horrors of history to great effect. Ian's ordeal is grippingly rendered, making this an emotionally involving story.

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Ash

Features the First Doctor, Steven, and Susan

Author: Trevor Baxendale

Continuity: Following the deaths of Katarina and Sara Kingdom in The Daleks' Master Plan, Steven and the Doctor reflect on the past. Steven was given learning pills as part of his education. The Doctor tells Steven that his parents entrusted her care to him [possibly a memory of the Other - see Lungbarrow].

Links: The Daleks' Master Plan

Location: The TARDIS; London, 1963.

Unrecorded Adventures: Susan once forced the Doctor to take her to the theatre whilst in London.

The Bottom Line: 'I saw something - hideous.' Intended to be mysterious and terrifying, Ash actually just feels as though Baxendale has thought of a creepy set-up but can't quite get to grips with a decent denouement.

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Face-Painter

Features the Second Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria

Author: Tara Samms

Roots: There are references to Brad Pitt, the Bionic Woman, the Dodgers and Big Macs.

Continuity: Prior to this story, the Second Doctor and his companions arrive in Hollywood and have their faces "stolen" by an unrevealed agency; they are left with featureless heads, but can still eat, drink, see, hear and breathe. They are taken to a tattoo parlour once a week, where they have tattoos drawn in place of their faces; these vanish over the subsequent week. They have been prisoners for eight weeks, but dare not try to escape in case they cannot regain their faces.

Location: West Hollywood, July [late twentieth century].

The Bottom Line: 'Each time we escape we're punished!' The tactic of showing the reader a mere fragment of a larger story has the potential to be irritating, but "Tamms" manages to make Face-Painter both disturbing and nightmarish.

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Losing Track of Time

Features the Third Doctor and Jo Grant

Author: Juliet E McKenna

Roots: There are references to H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds and Sir Isaac Newton.

Continuity: Tynakars have two many-faceted ruby eyes, solid lumpy heads, and clay like-bodies with no legs. They have arms and hands, but no fingers. They steal knowledge from other races and sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for the salts and minerals that they need to reproduce. They can change shape, but collapse into piles of slime if their eyes are shattered; however, they can be reconstituted if another Tynakar adds one of its own eyes to the remains. The Doctor claims that they have destroyed whole civilizations and planets in the process, by passing dangerous knowledge to various species. They are known to the Time Lords and it is implied that the Time Lords have intervened to stop their activities in the past on various planets including Kelak II.

The Doctor takes Jo to visit Oxford in the twenty-first century because he is investigating a strange piece of metal sent to the Brigadier from a dig on Salisbury Plain and vaguely recalls reading something about it in an issue of the Journal of Roman Studies published after the year 2000.

Jo dons a black trouser suit.

Links: The TARDIS is fully functioning again, setting this story after The Three Doctors.

Location: Oxford, the early twenty-first century.

The Bottom Line: 'I've wired their dimension device into the mains. It'll blow in a few minutes.' Enthusiastically written, but with a horrible cod-SF feel that brings back memories of the old World Distributors Dr Who Annuals.

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The Discourse of Flies

Features the Third Doctor and Sarah-Jane Smith

Author: Jeremy Daw

Continuity: The people of Hezrah (and their entire continent) worship the Eternal Machine. Holy texts of their religion include The First Book of the Machine, which includes The Prophecy of Pyas and The Book of Aybel the Heretic; The Meditations of Gorun; and Jonen's The Impossible Journey. Pyas is one of the heroes of the Machinist faith. Titles in Hezrah include the King of Dust, a position once held by Felljar the Firebrand, and High Engineer. The "Eternal Machine" is actually an incredibly old alien life form that landed on the planet a thousand years earlier wounded from a battle. The creature entered a deep regenerative sleep, during which it psychically manipulated the planet's inhabitants, influencing the planet's development and creating the Machinist faith. It feeds on despair on death and manipulated the Machinists into sending it sacrifices, who thought that they were to journey to the stars but were actually dismembered and had their minds sucked clean. The creature is a multi-limbed monstrosity with claws, no eyes, and which exudes "slime and filth". It is seemingly destroyed by fire, but it is implied that it survives psionically in the flies that infest Hezrah.

Sarah attended a few Church of England services as a child.

Location: The city of Hezrah on an unnamed planet, date unknown.

The Bottom Line: 'Look at it! It is a creature of evil and death!' Still firmly in World Distributors territory, with a generic evil entity and some appalling prose, although the attempt at world building is passable.

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The Fear

Features the Fourth Doctor and K9 Mark II.

Author: Alexander Leithes

Continuity: The Doctor's greatest fear is losing his sanity.

The TARDIS is working perfectly, much to the Doctor's surprise and suspicion.

The Entity claims to have suffered as a result of the fear resulting from the economic and social upheaval of common people caused by the Doctor's well-meaning intervention on various planets. Its origins are not elaborated on, but it claims that it was once a more "common" being. It cannot interact physically with the real world, its attack on the Doctor apparently psychic in nature.

Location: The TARDIS.

The Bottom Line: 'Perhaps my greatest fear... is you!' Nice concept, and the Doctor's means of escape is quite ingenious.

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Mauritz

Features the Fourth Doctor and Adric

Author: Jonathan Morris

Continuity: Mauritz's citadel is a four-dimensional space mapped into three dimensions, in which it is possible to walk into every possible future by moving from room to room. It is a closed system, with no "outside". He created it as a place to meditate and to gain knowledge, since every possible outcome within the citadel can literally be explored and every possible future Mauritz can pass information to his past selves. The citadel itself is made of breaks composed of bones from the almost infinite number of dead Mauritzs; their skins are used to make books, their bodies turned into food for their past selves. Plants provide oxygen, and are fertilized by any leftovers from the corpses of Mauritz that cannot be otherwise recycled. Because every possible outcome exists within the citadel, there are an infinite number of Doctors and Adrics who never left keeping the Mauritzs company.

Location: Mauritz's citadel [outside time and space]

The Bottom Line: 'You have always been here. Here, by my side. Welcome.' Easily the highlight of the anthology and a truly nightmarish scenario.

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The Comet's Tail

Features the Fifth Doctor

Author: John Binns

Continuity: Although it is not explicitly stated what is going on, the events depicted here appear to be a nightmare of the Doctor's.

Location: Not applicable

The Bottom Line: An irritating exercise in obfuscation that once more enters Annual territory.

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Long Term

Features the fifth Doctor

Author: Andy Campbell

Roots: There are references to J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan and Sartre's Huis Clos.

Continuity: The "school" doesn't have perimeters. It was built as a prison for children who have been predicted by psychometric tests to grow into society's most dangerous criminals; because they remain children forever, the prison was built as a school. Parkins has been at the school long enough to forget where he came from and to work out what the school's purpose is for. It isn't explained who built the prison, but it is implied to be an incredibly advanced society in technological terms. Had the boys not been incarcerated they would have committed crimes on Scavenius, Kory Prime, and Dispo. The entity that starts killing the boys is the corporeal manifestation of the death and destruction that would have been caused by one of them had they not been imprisoned.

Links: Nyssa remains in the TARDIS throughout this story and is still grieving over Adric's death (Earthshock).

Location: A prison outside time and space.

The Bottom Line: 'My strong advice is not to look.' Rather too reminiscent of Robert Shearman to be genuinely impressive, but this is a gripping and nightmarish tale with some dark humour.

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Soul Mate

Features the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, and Nyssa

Author: David Bailey

Continuity: The Doctor is unable to explain the manifestation of Anna, who seems to be a ghost.

Location: An unnamed Earth colony, date unknown.

Future History: Aliens attacked the colony several centuries before the TARDIS arrives, and wiped out its population, save for a single survivor. The human race was drive back from this sector of the galaxy by the war [possibly the Dalek war], and never went back.

The Bottom Line: 'A dream? Now this is just getting ridiculous!' A passable ghost story, but fairly forgettable.

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Whiskey and Water

Features the sixth Doctor

Author: Marc Platt

Roots: There are references to King Ludwig, Alexandre Dumas, Franz Liszt, Chopin and Ten Green Bottles.

Continuity: The Doctor wears an embroidered cloak. He drinks whiskey and claims that he has never been intoxicated in any of his lives [a blatant lie - see Slipback]. He carries a tubular key and a tuning fork and knows how to tune a piano. He has had many homes, but never any that he has felt comfortable settling in.

The life form is composed of sentient gold dust; it is native to the rings of Saturn, but was dislodged by a meteor storm and landed on Earth, where it found its way into the waters of Ajax Creek. Part it was taken by gold prospectors. It can reanimate human corpses and control them. Once it has reconstituted itself, it leaves for the magnetic pole, where it will be colder, although not as cold as its native environment.

Links: The Aridian desert is mentioned (The Chase).

Location: Ajax Creek, California, the 19th century.

The Bottom Line: 'The real question is, what does the water want?' Lyrical, imaginative and thoroughly charming, even the ending is rather too uplifting for the theme of the anthology.

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The Death of Me

Features the sixth Doctor

Author: Robert Shearman

Roots: There are references to King Lear, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Asda.

Continuity: The Doctor claims that he doesn't believe in luggage. On the subject of death, he says that it is "good to know that the moment has been prepared for" (Logopolis). He is frightened of death. The Doctor dies and is reborn approximately fourteen times during this story.

The cause of the temporal loop in which Arthur and Chloe are trapped is never explained.

Location: England, the late twentieth century.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor claims to have heard Shakespeare's last words [which flatly contradicts The Empire of Glass, which shows Braxiatel alone present at Shakespeare's death].

The Bottom Line: 'You both live on one egg a day?' There is a slight feeling that The Death of Me is Shearman on autopilot, but that still means a great little story with an unsettling, claustrophobic feel, and considerable wit.

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Gazing Void

Features the eighth Doctor

Author: Huw Wilkins

Dialogue Triumphs: "You killed half a million people... not monsters, not even enemies most of them. People!"

Continuity: The Doctor was the only Offworlder named a Hero of the Hundred Days war and was awarded a medal. He gained a scar running from his jaw down his neck. The war took place four years earlier; the Doctor was present at a crucial battle at Nova Croix. He drinks whiskey.

Jeremiah Maru-Stahl was a dictator who ruled the colony before he was overthrown. He was a former steelworker who fermented rebellion and overthrew the ruling Imperial Family; his good intentions of building a new world gradually gave way to tyranny. He was responsible for the deaths of half a million people. The DGSI enforced his rule.

Offworlders weren't on the lists of fallen dead from the war. Orleans is another city on the colony. Nowy Bihac was an industrial town.

Location: Encardia City, in Autumn, date unknown [the future].

The Bottom Line: 'I don't hate him... not even a little.' An absolute masterpiece, Gazing Void is a fine end to a shaky collection, presenting a recognizable human terror and showing the Doctor's response to it. Maru-Stahl's past actions, and the Doctor's attitude towards him, make for a moving and often disturbing read.

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Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

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