The Deputy surveyed his surroundings: an empty control chair; lifeless
television monitors; dusted doorframes. This was the first time he’d
been down here in years, and it showed. He took a tentative second step
inside what was once the operations hub of Paradise Towers, noting the
half-drunk cup of tea sitting cold on the table next to the abandoned
Following the demise of the Chief, the Deputy recalled there had been a
full investigation into goings-on in the Towers. It had transpired that
when the city had been abandoned, twenty years or so previously,
everyone had forgotten about Paradise Towers, hence the dilapidated
equipment they’d been lumbered with - including the Rulebook. That one
little book had caused a lot of trouble. Every day of his life for year
after year, the Deputy had served the Chief Caretaker, before the Great
Architect had somehow risen from the dead and possessed him.
But that was all a long time ago now. The Deputy was getting close to
retirement. He smiled at the memories of those mad, mad days and nights,
trying to control the Cleaners, and the Rezzies, and the Kangs... He
remembered the stiff grey uniform and the terrible salute. They’d all
done their best though.
A hand fell on the Deputy’s shoulder. “Clive!” a cheerful, but aging,
The Deputy turned round, answering to his name. “Richard?” he said,
surprised to see his former colleague.
“What are you doing down here?” asked the fair-haired man, who was now
himself the deputy chief of the establishment.
“I just came down to have a look.” Even though he had long-since given
up his formal stance on the running of the Towers, the abruptness and
precision of speech hadn’t left Clive.
“Oh right. Remembering the old days, eh?”
“Yes.” he paused for a minute, and turned to Richard, quickly assessing
his neutrally-coloured clothing. “Do you remember that Inspector?”
“Hargreaves, you mean?” asked Richard, referring to the co-ordinator of
the investigation into the Towers after the Chief was killed.
“No.” Clive replied curtly. “At the time of Kroagnon...”
“Oh yes! The funny little man with the hat and the garish jumper!”
“Yes. His dress-sense was even more 20th-Century than all this garbage.”
A sideways smirk crept onto Clive’s face as he gestured to the equipment
of the former control centre.
Richard laughed and checked his watch. “Yes, yes. I’d better be going,
Clive; my shift starts on Potassium Avenue in five point three four
Clive nodded and tipped his head slightly, condoning the action. “Very
Richard clicked his feet abruptly and Clive repeated the action.
Although the out-dated mannerisms of the management were gone, he liked
to keep some order going in the place.
As Richard headed off across Chromium Bridge, Clive leant over the
balcony overlooking the Fountain of Happiness Square. People of all ages
were swarming through the shining white, clean and modern square. This
was one of the fifty-three shopping floors, but it had by no means
forgotten its origins. On the new, white wall, hung a section of its
predecessor, bearing the phrase “Pex Lives!”. Clive looked at the
artefact and recalled the brave, if slightly dim-witted stowaway who had
eventually killed Kroagnon.
It was a few months since the new chief had descended this low.
Normally, he liked to remain on Floor 250 upwards, but today, he’d
allocated himself the afternoon off to survey his emporium. He strolled
peacefully along the current corridor, noting the unusual attire of some
of his visitors, and nodding his head to the odd resident or staff
member he recognised. His existence now was arguably more enjoyable,
Clive considered, but the regularity, rules and enforcement of all those
years ago was still with him, even now.
The board had appointed him as soon as the investigation was over,
concluding that it was the work of Kroagnon that had brought the Towers
to its knees, although Clive had secretly disagreed. He’d thought the
Chief to be rather poor at his job, and that the disrepair of the Towers
was down to him. In the intervening years, much renovation had been
undertaken, with the new 305th floor reaching completion only last
cycle. Someof the Kangs had left, but the youngsters that remained were
now the not-so-youngsters. Many had children and were in partnerships.
The one person who had been key to the downfall of Kroagnon, though, and
had possibly the most influence on his life of anybody though, was that
With his peculiar need to carry an umbrella whilst inside, and his
conspicuous panama hat and the glint of intelligence behind his eyes, he
had been a most strange character. And there had been no sign of his
friend either - Penelope, as Clive recalled she was named, probably
incorrectly, he surmised. He reached the airlock and looked out the
window at the vista beyond. Ever since the atmosphere had collapsed, the
views from the Towers had been much improved. It had done no end of good
At that moment, another airlock, docking onto an expensive silver ship,
slid open with a hiss and a man and a woman stumbled out.
“Sabalom!” the woman began, shrieking shrilly, “Remind me never to let
you take us through the interstitiary temporal toll-bridge ever again!
That took longer than if we’d just waited the hundred and ten years to
“Yes, alright my love, alright!” the exasperated man sighed and tried to
trudge away from the airlock as quick as he could.
A shock of red hair caught Clive’s eye and he turned to look after the
pair. “Could it be?” he murmured quietly to himself, recognising the
high-pitch and disorderly hair-line.
Suddenly, the screaming began again. “Where’s Phill? Where’s
Philomena?!” the woman yelled.
Her husband - presumably - pulled his garish jacket up a tad and stamped
his red boot down, marking the gleaming floor, Clive noted. “I thought
she was with you!”
The woman sighed and as she turned back to huff towards the airlock,
Clive’s suspicions were confirmed; it was that Penelope - or whatever
her name was. “Never had this trouble with the Doctor.” she scowled as
she traipsed back.
“Never had this trouble with Dibber.” the man muttered, infuriated, as
he waited for his partner to return.
The woman exited the craft again, this time with a young girl - aged
five or so - or her arm. “Come on Philomena,” she nagged, “We’ll go to
the doll shop soon. Mummy just wants to look at the Microsoft exhibition
The man rolled his eyes. “Again?” he squeaked. “We came only last month!
Bad enough you make me bring us here let alone looking at all that old
trash. They shut down eighty-four cycles ago; it’s all ancient history!”
“Sabalom! Don’t you start your whinging again! Would you prefer to take
Philli to the doll shop alone?” enquired the woman, already knowing the
“Come on then, let’s get this over with.” sighed the man.
The three left the airlock-concourse area and Clive looked after them,
that sideways smirk re-appearing. Business as usual in Paradise Towers,
© Copyright Dave Spilsbury, Simon Brett & Doctor Who Online,