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Welcome to the Time Tales section of Doctor Who Online. Time Tales are Doctor Who dioramas (picture stories), based on characters and worlds inspired by Doctor Who, and written and shot by Malcolm Orr.


It was bitterly cold in Little Winterton, and Harry Sullivan smiled to himself that the small village certainly earned its name. His first mental picture of the village was that of a snow covered village that one would see on a Christmas card, but that innocent image had been shattered when he had discovered that Little Winterton had a ghastly secret. There had been three missing persons from Little Winterton – all over the last 7 months – and Harry had decided to come and investigate. He had been on leave from UNIT and he found it hard to turn away from the thought of adventure, and harder still to sit on the side lines whilst he thought people might be in trouble. He had arrived here last night and he was immediately met with suspicion. He was sure that no-one smiled at all, and that was an unusual response to Harry. Whether it was his disarming demeanour, or his charming looks, Harry was sure to find that most people smiled back at him, but not in Little Winterton. Maybe it was cold in more ways than one.

The fall of night soon came, and it provided Harry with an opportunity to take a walk, with a dash of investigating on the side. Harry could see the flickering yellow lights inside the village meeting house and he had crept through the bushes to get a closer look. It was dark, and streetlights were scarce round here, so his approach was quite stealthy. He glanced through the windows to see what was going on inside. Lots of people were gathered inside, and all were swaying rhythmically to a folk song. Harry had images of ‘The Wicker Man’ running through his mind and he suddenly felt a pang of danger at the back of his mind. It was familiar – an outsider, a man of virtue, arrives in a local community, largely pagan in nature, to investigate missing people and finds them cold and unfriendly. He started regretting ever coming here – he didn’t want to end up the same way as that poor Edward Woodward. He glanced over his shoulder just to check that there wasn’t a huge Wicker monument ready and waiting on the fields beyond the village. Fortunately there wasn’t – all he could see behind him was a harmless scarecrow…

The Doctor was pacing around the TARDIS. Robyn thought it was all rather comical – the Doctor would walk round the console purposely, then stop, stare at a button for a few seconds, then backtrack to the other side and stare at a second button. By the time he had repeated this a few times, Robyn couldn’t help but ask what he was doing. The Doctor said that the TARDIS had detected an unusual signal – chronon waves, and specifically Gallifreyan ones. He wondered whether there was another TARDIS active on the vortex. Robyn remembered that when she met the Doctor she found that his people, the Time Lords, had the ability to travel in time and space. Their planet though had been forcibly sealed off and the Doctor couldn’t contact them, and all other TARDISes in the universe were ‘scuttled’ by a Talons virus that has fixed them to a single point in space and time. Apparently the Doctor’s TARDIS had resisted this trap because it’s chameleon circuit was faulty and the Talons virus worked by hijacking that particular feature. She knew her father was right when he said MOTs weren’t worth the paper they were written on – it seems not getting the TARDIS MOT’ed had saved the Doctor’s life (and she was sure he’d forever use that as an excuse to never get it ‘sorted’). The Doctor had a wistful look that soon turned into a broad smile. It might just be possible, he dared to suppose, that Gallifrey hasn’t been lost for good. He asked K9 to help him strack down the location of the signal – this was going to be worth looking into.

Harry Sullivan was sitting at the breakfast table in the B+B he was staying at. It was called the Little Oak Guesthouse, but Harry felt far from being made to feel welcome here. The dour waitress had dumped a half cooked English breakfast on his plate and Harry prodded it with a knife. If the locals didn’t get him and kill him by burning him in a wicker effergy then he was sure the undercooked sausage would do it for them. What on Earth would dear Delia say? Harry looked at the newspapers left out for guests to peruse. They were yellowing already, and Harry noticed the date was 9th July 1984 – that was seven months ago – the date before the first disappearance. It seemed to Harry that from that day onwards the village hadn’t moved on. Stuck in a rut, or maybe even stuck in time…

The TARDIS materialised with it’s usual wheezing-groaning noise, and it’s choice of location was no more promising on this occasion than it had been any time before. The time machine had landed, rather unceremoniously, in the middle of a field. Robyn found that her shoes were caked in mud rather instantly, and had to go back into the TARDIS to change into boots, but the Doctor, in stark contrast, found the sight exhilarating. The Doctor had always enjoyed the feel of a winter morning in the British countryside. It almost made him want to be human, or even half-human for that matter, but he was alien, and he thought is was perhaps better that way – at least he could choose to walk on this planet and enjoy it, almost like he’d adopted something. Robyn soon reappeared and dumped K9 into the Doctor’s arms. The Doctor carried the robot dog to a nearby footpath out of the way of the mud and they headed towards a village that was signposted half a mile away. As they made their way towards the village they passed a scarecrow. The Doctor doffed his hat to the straw man, wondering if the straw man had a brain. Robyn laughed – she said it’s be really funny if it suddenly jumped to life and started dancing on the road, just like in ‘The Wizard of Oz’. The Doctor laughed, commenting that he once met Judy Garland. As the Doctor was caught up explaining another of his tall tales to Robyn and K9, they made their way towards the village. And as they did so the scarecrow turned it’s head to watch them.

Harry was walking through the village away from the police station and stood by the church fence. The police hadn’t been any help whatsoever, telling Harry that the matter was ‘being dealt with’ as they spoke. Harry had no new leads and scratched his head whilst he thought of the next step he would need to take. A man spoke to Harry, causing Harry to drop the newspaper he was carrying. Harry had not heard him approach. The man had a lined face, with contrasting friendly and menacing features depending on how the light caught his features. Harry felt himself being both disarmed and concerned by the man. A thin pencil moustache lightly covered a devilish smile as the man talked. Harry was almost glad of the fact that the church fence stood between him and the man. He introduced himself as Reverend Johnson Pallister, and he had been the vicar at the Little Winterton St. Peter’s Church for over 30 years. He warned Harry that this was not a place to come snooping, that the village was dangerous. The warning was interrupted by a loud ‘Ahoy!’ being shouted across the village square. Harry turned to see that the Doctor, a young pretty woman and a robot dog were making their way towards him. When Harry turned back around, Reverend Pallister was walking back through the graveyard back towards his church.

The Doctor was beaming – he was pleased to see Harry again after such a long time. That was the trouble with Time Travel, Harry thought, because it had only been last month that Harry had met the Doctor during an android invasion plan had been foiled, but for the Doctor it had appeared that a lot had happened. His companion was from the 21st century apparently, and suddenly Harry felt a bit left behind. He wondered whether other companions of the Doctor would feel this way - almost as if when travelling with the Doctor on adventures in time and space the universe is a huge playground, but when you get off the merry-go-round time catches up with you once more. Harry explained to the Doctor and Robyn about the disappearances in the town and the apparent lack of enthusiasm to do anything about it. He mentioned that the vicar was rather sinister too – slightly… ominous. The Doctor felt a sudden wave of panic. ‘They don’t have a maypole too, do they?’ he asked.

Nighttime was falling, and the event seemed to have energised the Doctor. He knew that the monsters came out at night, but it was the only way he would get answers. Something was seriously wrong here and the only lead that the Doctor had so far was Harry’s bad feeling about the local vicar. The Doctor wrapped his scarf around his neck and went for a walk in the dusk, with K9 following him. Harry and Robyn watched them go, waiting until they were just out of view before immediately breaking the promise they had both sincerely made to the Doctor mere minutes ago and went exploring anyway.

The Doctor had crouched by a stone wall and peered into the woods just beyond it, taking the opportunity to adjust his hat. There was movement in the woods – the Doctor could hear it. K9 reported very feint life signs, possibly humanoid. The Doctor asked him to clarify. K9 said that the life signs were only 43% human, but local radiation was causing his sensors some difficulty. The Doctor saw the gothic shadowy shape of the church about half a mile away and decided to head towards it.

Harry and Robyn approached the meeting house that Harry had talked about earlier. Once again the sound of jovial folk songs seeped from the building and Robyn could imagine the debauchery inside. She turned to face Harry. ‘It’s just like that film ‘The Wicker Man.’ Harry nodded in agreement - he had felt just the same. ‘You know,' she continued, 'the one with Nicholas Cage and the bees in that American village.’ Harry rolled his eyes – the Americans ruined everything

The Doctor had found a crypt on the way into the church on the outskirts of the graveyard. Stone scrapings showed that the doors to the crypt had been opened recently, and there had been very little effort to disguise the fact. The Doctor opened the door to the crypt and saw a small drop to an area below. K9 scanned the area and said that there was a passage that led to an area just below the church. The Doctor asked K9 to stay on guard here whilst he went for a look. He dropped a few metres into the passageway and walked towards the basement underneath the church. A loud crack caused the Doctor to fall to the floor. Reverend Pallister was standing in the shadows behind him with a gold candlestick in one hand. ‘At last,’ Pallister said to himself, ‘we can begin.’

A couple were about the leave the meeting house, so Harry and Robyn retreated behind a corner so they would not be seen. Robyn put her hand in something icky and turned to see what it was. She suppressed a scream as realised what it was. Harry looked at the shape on the floor in utter horror. It was a scarecrow, at least on the outside. The Hessian sack cloth that had formed it’s face had been torn open by the scarecrow’s twig hands to reveal a human skull underneath. Harry had the feeling that the mystery had been solved – the missing people hadn’t left Little Winterton, they had become scarecrows. Robyn looked up and saw some dark shapes standing only a hundred metres away – there were three scarecrows looking at them and they started to move forward. Harry grabbed Robyn’s hand and they ran into the meeting house.

Harry pointed outside to the scarecrows and warned the villagers that they needed to bolt themselves in. The villagers looked panicked and helped Robyn and Harry to blockade the doors. There was no way anyone could get in to the meeting house now, the scarecrows were sealed outside. Harry asked them where the vicar was. Initially there was silence, but a man spoke up and said that they didn’t trust the vicar and they kept their distance from him. In fact no-one in the village had spoken to the vicar in seven months. Robyn looked worried – she was almost certain that the Doctor would have gone to the church…

The Doctor recovered consciousness and found that he had been tied to a pole in the basement area. Reverend Pallister was standing by an altar and reading from a book. ‘Welcome Doctor,’ Pallister said. ‘I have been expecting you.’ Pallister held the book up to the Doctor. It was already glowing, but the closer to the Doctor it got, the warmer the glow became. ‘Do you know what this is?’ asked Pallister. The Doctor didn’t recognise it. It was an ancient book, at least medieval if not older, and contained lots of sheets that had been added over the years. Pallister said it was called ‘The Book of Descendants’ – the Doctor’s descendants, in fact. Pallister explained…

“Centuries ago there was a great battle. Vikings had invaded Britain in the north and their forces had reached a settlement that would be named by the victorious invaders as Jorvik, modern day York. During the battle, a brave Viking – a tall man with a large nose and voluminous curly hair – called Olafsson died in battle. After the battle his body was taken to a place of rest for fallen warriors. Overnight his body became encrusted with a white chalk and in the morning ithad faded and Olafsson was a new man - literally. It wasn’t long until he died again – the man seemed to attract trouble – but this time his body did not renew itself. There have been sporadic cases throughout history, and it became obvious that the people who were able to be reborn were partly alien, some even possessing two hearts. It was also noticed that an alien interfered in Earth’s affairs throughout it’s history and that the Book of Descendants would glow when that alien was close. The Book was held by Dr Bell in Renwick Asylum in the early part of this century and he met the alien – The Doctor – and retrieved a hair sample for the Book. And now you are here Doctor – it seems the Book draws you to it like a moth to the flame.”

The Doctor remembered his adventure where he discovered that key figures from Earth’s history had been taken out of time to an intergalactic party at ‘The Happy Zodin’ as part of a bizarre social experiment. The experiment had been hijacked and Cyberhulks had been sent to wipe out the historical figures thus destroying Earth and it’s history. When the Doctor returned them back to Earth using a Time Scoop, he had been forced to use drops of his own blood to help the fluid conductors. K9 had warned that the people returned to their own times by the Time Scoop contained traces of the Doctor’s DNA, and now it appeared that many people throughout history continued to hold that DNA, some more than others.

Harry and Robyn listened as one of the villagers explained that there were local legends of ‘the Scratchman’ who some thought was the Devil in human form. The legends said that the Scratchman raised an army from the Earth, twisted abominations of nature with arms made from dead twigs and blank soulless faces – scarecrows. It seemed that the legend was true – the Scratchman had raised an army of scarecrows and they were coming from Robyn and Harry – they would become scarecrows just like the missing teenagers did. One of the boarded windows broke as a scarecrow’s arm smashed through it. ‘Reverend Pallister is Scratchman,’ surmised Harry. ‘No,’ the villagers said in chorus, ‘We are Scratchman.’

Pallister said that something had invaded his village and the villagers had become possessed. It appeared that he had been the only one not infected, and for some reason neither the villagers nor the scarecrow abominations they created could set foot on the church’s holy ground. He loosened the Doctor’s bindings, hoping that now he had heard the story that the Doctor would trust him. Pallister said that he had found something in the woods, something alien, and he wanted to show it to the Doctor.

Harry smashed a chair into a window as Robyn swung at the people closing in on her with a second. The window refused to break, so Harry grabbed Robyn’s hand and they ran up some stairs. Angry villagers followed them, but Harry and Robyn went into a room and barricaded the door. When the door was smashed open a minute later, Harry and Robyn were gone and the window was wide open.

Harry and Robyn jumped from the roof to a small outside toilet and then dropped to the ground. Scarecrows were following them and the villagers poured out of the meeting house. Harry and Robyn ran towards the wood where they hoped they would be able to hide.

Pallister and the Doctor helped each other to lower K9 into the passageway under the graveyard. Pallister had shown the Doctor the alien item, and although the Doctor had a good idea what it was he had hoped that K9 would confirm. K9 analysed the item and concluded that it was a Nullifier – part of a Gallifreyan weapon called the Blessing. The Blessing was a weapon that would be used to pacify a world by removing independent thought, replacing it with passivity. It has been hailed as the ultimate weapon of peace. If Gallifrey was threatened by an aggressive race of beings the Blessing would soon turn them into a passive race with no threat level whatsoever. The Nullifier was the antidote – a way of stopping the Blessing and restoring the minds of those affected by it, usually after they had been disarmed. The Nullifier seemed to be protecting the church somehow. The Doctor pocketed the Nullifier and asked Pallister to lead him to the woods where he found it.

Robyn and Harry ran through the woods, but if they had hoped that they would lose their pursuers they were wrong. The thickets and twigs that Harry and Robyn were fighting against seemed to almost move out of the way of the scarecrows following them, almost as if the wood itself was alive and very much on the side of the Scarecrows.

The Doctor and Pallister approached the woods and saw that the villagers were assembled outside. They seemed repelled as the Doctor approached them, probably by the Nullifier he thought. The Doctor asked where Harry and Robyn were. ‘Hunted,’ came the reply. The Doctor ran into the woods with Pallister barely keeping up with him.

Harry had fallen and the scarecrows had caught up with him. Robyn stopped and turned back to help Harry, but she was surrounded too. Scarecrows grabbed her arms. She could feel the twig fingers digging into her. Small shoots started to grow from the fingertips and they crawled over her skin, scratching at the surface as if trying to break through. Suddenly the scarecrows howled in pain and withdrew. The Doctor and Pallister had arrived. The Doctor smiled as he picked up Harry and Robyn. Pallister led them to a stone effergy in the woods. The Doctor examined it – it was the Blessing. He pulled the Nullifier out of his pocket and slotted it into the effergy. Both vanished in a haze of green light. The scarecrows that had been running away had dropped to the ground, no longer animated, and the villagers were asking each other why they were all outside the woods at this hour.

Inside the Little Oak Guesthouse the Doctor, Robyn, Harry and Pallister enjoyed a round of drinks. The Doctor explained that the Blessing had not been intended for Earth, but had arrived here by accident. It hadn’t fully discharged but had caused the villagers to form a group mind, based on local legends of the Scratchman, and allowed them some psychokinetic powers. Some of the teenagers had not been affected by the Blessing and the villagers had ‘converted’ them into scarecrows. Pallister asked whether he should tell the villagers what happened, but the Doctor said that it wasn’t his decision. Pallister offered the Doctor the opportunity to take the Book of Descendants from his church. The Doctor said he would very much like to have it – maybe it could help him put things right.

Robyn and K9 were inside the TARDIS where Harry had joined them. ‘Don’t let him touch anything,’ warned the Doctor. ‘Last time we ended up facing giant insects.’ The Doctor’s face was grim. When he and Pallister had returned to the church the Book of Descendants had gone – stolen. He would have to find out more about his ‘descendants’ the hard way. Harry said he was going to stay around in Little Winterton and help the community recover from the recent events. Harry had contacted UNIT and they were sending a ‘post-invasion’ specialist team to help the community recover. Harry hugged Robyn, patted K9 and shook the Doctor’s hand. As Harry walked away from the TARDIS he could hear it’s wheezing-groaning sound, and he knew it wouldn’t be the last time he would hear it.

Inside the church, Pallister had finished writing down the events of the adventure he had just had with the Doctor on a piece of paper. He carried it over to an alter and slipped it inside the Book of Descendants. He placed it into a small crate and sealed it shut. Now that Mrs Pinkerton had recovered and opened the post office again he could send the book on to his superiors for their analysis. Pallister attached a label to the crate with an address on it – he was sending it to London for the attention of ‘The Target Group.’

Based on an idea by Tom Baker & Ian Marter.

Dedicated to Ian Marter.

© Copyright Malcolm Orr & Doctor Who Online, 2009.
 Page Last Updated: 23/2/2009

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1.8: Target: The Doctor

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1.7: The Victory of Sek'Ral

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1.6: Scratchman

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1.5: The Spirit of Christmas

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1.4: Talent X

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1.3: Night of Mandragora

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1.2: A Curious Case of Madness

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