On the night before my 22nd birthday I was awoken by a strange noise. It's hard to explain. It was a kind of wheezy sound that went up and down. It was a strange sound. It was never exactly pleasant, but that sound was my most favourite sound in all of time and space.
I quickly jumped out of bed and ran to the balcony. There it was. The TARDIS.
To anyone else it would seem a strange sight; a blue Police public call box from 1960's Britain. What was it doing in a lonely garden in a back street in Australia. I looked over at the waterfront and sighed. Was this the beginning of another adventure?
I could still remember when I saw The Doctor as clear as if it was yesterday...
It was a boiling hot Summer's day in the Central Coast of New South Wales. In a city about 2 hours drive from Sydney, I was lying in the shade of a tree along a bike path with a half eaten bar of chocolate in my hand. It was, again, the day before my birthday, but this time I was turning 12.
I took another bite of chocolate and waved away a fly.
Suddenly I heard a strange noise and sat up. It was that sound. I looked around and saw the strangest sight; a blue police box materialising right where my arm had been moments before. I quickly rolled away from it and looked around. Upon noting that there was nobody around to see me, I quickly scrambled to my feet and stood facing the box. Was this some kind of magic box. Was there going to be a whole kingdom inside it or something. No, get your head out of the clouds, I thought, that sort of stuff only ever happens in books.
Only because nobody ever would believe anyone if it was true! I thought. Hahaha. I laughed sarcastically. No. It's impossible. It's bad enough a blue police public call box appearing where there has never, ever been one before. Well, lets see if it's locked.
I pulled hard on the door, nothing happened.
"It won't open!" I muttered through gritted teeth.
"That's because it opens in! Don't you remember? How long has it been? Oh. Very long. You don't know who I am, do you?" said a voice as the door swung open and a man stepped out.
"O-o-0-" was all I could manage. I could not believe my eyes.
The man stepped back and surveyed me. "You look the same as you did in 10 years. Did you know that? You hardly change at all. But am I creeping you out?" he suddenly looked worried.
After several minutes, I finally got my voice back and the first question of many that where spilling out of my head was "Who are you?"
"Oooohhh...." said the man knowingly, "How old are you?"
"Why would I tell a complete stranger, who has just appeared in a blue box that made a funny noise and just materialised out of nowhere and tells me I look the same in 10 years, how old I am?"
"Because it will make you're life interesting, give it a meaning, a point, make you a fantasy character. You can follow in the footsteps of your favourite character from one of your beloved fantasy book characters. Clarice Bean? No, bad example. Ginny Weasley?"
"How did you-? What are y-? Where did you-? "
"How did I find out? You told me, or from your point of view, will tell me. Where did I find out? In 10 years. No, I have not been stalking you. I have never seen you yet in YOUR life. What am I? If I told you, you wouldn't believe me anyway."
I stood there, stunned staring at this man. Taking in his strange appearance. He had reddish brown hair with a tinge of grey, though he was quite young, in his mid twenties I would say at a rough guess. He had brown eyes, a slightly freckled nose and very neat, straight teeth. He wore a dark blue suit, a black leather jacket and black canvas converse shoes.
Finally, gaining courage, I said "Try me."
"My name's The Doctor. I'm a time lord from the planet Gallifrey, but i am the last of my people. I travel in time. This box, the TARDIS (that stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space) can go anywhere in the whole of time and space. I have two hearts and I have saved the lives of everyone who ever lived, is living, or ever will live on this planet over a million times. Oh, and I'm 912. Do you believe me?"
"Doctor Who?" I blurted.
"Why does everyone say that?" He sighed, "It's just The Doctor. Not Doctor anybody. Just The Doctor."
"Umm...Ok," I said, slightly hysterically, "Can I see in your box?"
"Uh, no, not just no-OW!" He lurched on the last word, because just at that moment, the world gave a mighty quake.
"What was that?" I asked.
"I'm hoping it was just an Earthquake..."
"In Australia?" I asked sceptically.
"Well, umm..." he paused, "Oh, OK, follow me." and he ran off down the bike path, his unzipped leather jacket billowing out behind him.
As we were running, I thought it strange how the Doctor had just appeared in a police box, which never even existed in Australia. It was also strange how he seemed to know me, but I had no idea who he was.
Oh well, i thought and that was the last time I ever thought about it.
Finally after about 6 minutes, he stopped running and I nearly bumped into him. He was now facing out to the water and the other side of Gosford.
"There it is!" he said.
"There is what?"
"Just look at it," he said as though it was obvious.
"Where?" I asked.
"There!" he pointed down at our feet. There was a tiny little pink object. I bent down to get a better look. It was shiny and pink. It looked like a tiny water lily. I stretched out my hand to pick it up.
"DON'T!" yelled the Doctor.
I stopped. "Why not?"
"It's not what it looks like," but I had already stretched out my hand and picked it up.
"See?" I said straightening up with the lily sitting in my hand. "It's only a little water lily."
"NO!" yelled the doctor as the Lily began to open and close rapidly. Suddenly a bright blue electric current surged out. It was too painful. I remember wishing I would hurry up and die. Then I heard a strange electronic sound (what I know know to be the sonic screwdriver), and the pain stopped. But so did I. I was petrified. I could not move any part of my body. I could still hear and I could feel my face pressed down in the warm, muddy grass. It smelt horrible.
I was vaguely wondering where The Doctor could have gone when I felt a hard, cold something kick me over. I could feel my heart had stopped, and breath no longer came. If this was dying, then it was truly cruel. To have to watch everyone crying over you, but being conscious at the same time. To have to lie uncomfortably in a dark smelly coffin until your body rotted away around you. I hoped desperately that The Doctor wasn't dead.
Suddenly I heard a harsh gasp. It must be The Doctor. Then I heard another voice. It sounded like a robot.
"She is being upgraded" said the voice in a monotone, "But first, you will be deleted."
"Oh really now?" said the Doctor's voice.
"Delete, Delete, Deleeeete!" said the robot voice, now sounding positively murderous. Suddenly I heard a strange electronic crackling, a thud, and silence.
At the same time I felt my heart begin to beat again, my breath came back, and I was looking up into the face of The Doctor.
"What happened?" I asked.
"The last Cyber man tried to kill me," The Doctor said calmly, "So he could turn the rest of the world into Cybermen like him."
"What's a Cyberman?"
"Sort of part man, part robot, look." he held out a hand to help me up. I took it and scrambled to my feet. I was looking down at a typical sort of silver, metal robot. Exactly the sort you would imagine always trying to take over the world in stories.
The doctor took my hand. "Come on, We'd better get you home." He helped me walk back to my bike. I was still weak.
"Come on, this way will be easier," he said and opened the door of his blue box. I gasped. It WAS bigger on the inside.
"It's....." I was, for the first time in my life, at a loss for words.
"Thankyou!" I said, and ran over and gave him a huge hug. He hugged me back.
"what happened to 'its bigger on the inside'? What are you thanking me for?" he asked when I finally let home go.
"The best birthday present ever!"
"WHAT?" he shouted, "This is too... There must be a reason... How old are you turning tomorrow?"
"12" I said. The Doctor gasped.
"10 years." he said. Then walked over to the big thing in the middle of the room inside the TARDIS and began pulling levers, pushing buttons and fiddling fiddly things.
Then I heard the sound I had heard when the TARDIS first appeared.
"Why can't you stay?" I asked.
"I have to go, I'm sorry." he said calmly
"Can I come?" I asked.
But The Doctor smiled and said "I'm sorry, but you can't."
"Why not?" I demanded. His smile disappeared and was replaced by a grimace if pain.
"I'm dying." he said simply.
"But you can't!" I shouted a little too loudly.
"It's OK, Time Lords have a way of cheating death. But every cell in our body changes. It's like we are a completely different person. And its painful."
"Why are you dying?"
"Because the Cyberman was going to kill you."
"Oh," I said, slightly put out. This man, almost a complete stranger was dying for me. Well, almost. 1, he seemed to know me pretty well, and 2, he wasn't exactly dying.
"You're dying for me?" I repeated.
"It's not the first time I've died for someone, believe you me." Suddenly he fell over. His breath came in gasps.
"Can't I please come with you? How can I Just never see you again."
"Who said you won't see me again?"
"No one, but-" I looked confused.
"This is a Time Machine. It doesn't just move around through space."
"When will I see you?"
"I can't tell you thaaaaaahhhhh!" he gasped and fell over.
"Go, leave, I will be fine!"
"No!" I refused and sat down where I was.
"Oh, humans," he sighed and staggered to his feet. He walked over and pushed a few more buttons. "Ok"
The Doctor went over and leant on a big pillar. His hands and face where beginning to glow with a yellow kind of gas that sparkled when he moved.
"Bye Ellie!" and as soon as he said it, huge pillars of fire were blazing from the ends of his sleeves and the collar of his shirt. It was like he was exploding. I was stunned.
Then, when it stopped, he fell forward gasping and looked up at me, smiling. I was shocked. It was somebody completely different. He had short blonde hair and his nose was a little shorter than The Doctor's. His eyes where blue and his teeth where less straight. Who was this?
"Umm... Hi?" I said nervously.
"Hi!" he said cheerfully, standing up. His clothes didn't suit him anymore.
"Who are you?"
"The Doctor. I'm still the same person, sort of."
"Because I am."
"No, your not."
"No, I suppose not. Do you still want to come?"
"No," I said, "Who are you, and what have you done with The Doctor?"
"Nothing. I am The Doctor. But I can't prove it... If I told you the first thing I ever said to you, it wouldn't mean anything to you. Not until... Well, goodbye," now he was nearly crying again, but I could tell he was doing his best to keep smiling.
"Tell me anyway." I said.
"Well, actually I said w-what? So if you see me again, you will know. And then, after that, you will see me one more time in this body."
"Well, about now from my point of view, and I'm not sure yet from your point of view."
"So you're going to see me right now, but I have to wait all these years? That's-" I broke off because I seriously had no idea what it was.
"Well, not exactly. Right now I'm seeing you for a different time. Next time you see me was a few days ago for me. Here, take this," he said suddenly, "and keep it safe. Wear it round your neck and never take off." he handed me an ordinary looking key. I had no idea what it opened, but I skipped away smiling all the same. That was the best birthday present ever, but I couldn't go with him. I needed to stay for my birthday. I couldn't go with him, even if I got back 5 seconds after I left it wouldn't really be my birthday anymore.
But I still didn't completely believe that that was still The Doctor. Only one way to find out. Wait. No, not wait, get on with my life. I needed to keep living as though I had never met him. That was why he had wanted me to stay.
But the one thing that did cheer me up was the fact that I knew he would come back for me in 10 years. And at that time, I would be happier to go with him. I would not have a mum and dad whom I would miss after only a few days and they would not worry as much about me.
Now, as I'm standing here, thinking all this, I look down and see The Doctor, and realize I was wrong. I am still not ready to go with him. Maybe next time.
I ran down the stairs four at a time, my heart pounding in my chest. I leapt over the doorstep and tore through the garden.
I saw The Doctor open the TARDIS doors and his surprise at his surroundings, and then the fact that I was running at him, and next thing he new I pulled him into a huge hug. He, didn't hug me back, however and I let go. He had an expression of huge shock on his face. Oh my god, I realized, he doesn't know who I am!
"W-w-what?" he stammered. Oh, he still hadn't regenerated. Wait, no, It was true. That guy knew the first thing he ever said to me. It WAS the Doctor!
"Umm... Hello," (Awkward silence) "My, umm, name is... Er... Ellie, umm... Who are you?"
"Are you sure you don't know who
I am?" he asked uncertainty.
"OK, just forget that ever happened, OK? I umm... Thought you were an umm... Old friend of mine, yeah, that's it, he umm... Used to drive around in an old police box, I mean, no, that fails, how about umm, he looked just like you... Er... Yeah..." I rambled on feebly. "So, Doctor, what's your name?" oh, damn! I thought. You are failing at this. Maybe he won't notice if you don't say anything.
"How do you know...?"
"Damn," I muttered.
"Pardon?" He asked, "I was just passing though, If you'll excuse me?"
"What's the matter this time?" I asked, in a fed up, sort of voice. "Do you have time to come inside, or are you in a hurry? Oh, never mind" I added at the shocked look on his face.
"Who are you?" He said, staring at me with that look of boring right into you that only he (and Dumbledore) could do. "Maybe don't tell me, but how well did I appear to know you when we met? Time travel, confusing. All wibbly wobbly timey wimey."
"Er... OK...anyway. You knew me fairly well, you greeted me as one might greet an old friend. You seemed pretty happy to see me, and I tried to open the TARDIS door, and you said 'That's because it opens in, don't you remember. How long has it been, Oh. Very long. (that was when you looked down at me, because I was only twelve, then you said) You don't know who I am, do you?' Them you saved me from a cyberman and you gave me this." I held out the TARDIS key, which was still around my neck.
"That's my spare TARDIS key!"
"Oh, so that's what it is! You never told me."
"Sorry. Oh, well, I obviously knew you..."
"Oh, Come on!" I said, grabbing his hand and pulling him toward into the house.
We sat down at the table and the Doctor was staring at me blankly.
"What are you thinking?" I asked.
"Whaa?" he said, snapping out of his trance, "Oh, umm, nothing much. Just, umm, worried about that cyber, that's all."
"Oh," I said. There was something on his mind. I could tell, something about me was worrying him. He kept looking at my left hand.
"That watch," he said abruptly. "Where did you get it?"
"It's my mums," I replied, then added, "It's pretty old."
"Who are you?" he asked quietly after a few more minutes.
"I'm Ellie Smith." I said uncertainly.
"Smith?" he groaned, then just looked even more depressed. "Rose," he said in a much quieter and melancholy voice.
"Rose?" I asked.
"Yes. You look very like an old friend of mine who I..." he croaked and broke off.
"Yes. My mum told me all about you after I told her I met you." This was true. My mum is Rose Tyler, or Rose Smith now. And my dad is John Smith, though I don't yet know what he has to do with it.