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
Christmas Eve, 2008 - Jack’s house...
Santa grabbed the last bundle of presents from his sleigh. It had been a
long night, but then again, he laughed to himself, it always was. There were
billions of children in the world and tonight they were all dreaming of
Santa. He’d lived for centuries and he’d seen all sorts of changes
throughout the world, and he knew that the world wasn’t always a nice place.
But for one day out of the year he would make it special for the people who
would shape its future – the children – and he wanted them to know what it
was like to dream and hope and be happy.
Santa had finished rearranging the presents under the elaborately decorated
Christmas tree. Good job he wasn’t allergic to pines – or tinsel, for that
matter, he thought. He was finished now and he could look forward to a good
long sleep for a month or three before the work started on planning next
year’s Christmas. Although, before he headed off back home – there was that
mince pie on the table. Maybe he would just take a few minutes to eat it and
have that tiny glass of sherry. He loved sherry.
Jack couldn’t sleep. He was far too excited. Mum had promised him a set of
cars for Christmas – he’d loved them ever since he saw the film they were
in. He was sure he’d heard the feint sound of sleigh bells just a moment or
two ago, and – well – it just had to be Santa! He crept down the stairs and
opened the door to the living room. Jack gasped! Santa was right there,
sitting in the room, sherry in one hand and mince pie in the other. Santa
stood up and brushed the crumbs off his tummy, ready to leave. Jack coughed,
drawing Santa’s attention. Jack smiled at Santa and gave him a big hug. He
smiled as he told him he had lots of questions.
Santa grabbed two baubles – one large and one small. He rested the large
bauble on the mantelpiece and then brought the small bauble right in front
of Jack’s eyes. ‘Now which is larger?’ Santa asked. ‘The small one,’ chirped
Jack. ‘Well then, that’s how the large bauble can fit inside the small one,
and that’s how I fit the presents all inside my sleigh.’ ‘That’s silly,’
complained Jack. ‘So was the man who showed me,’ replied Santa ‘But he was
wonderful too.’ Santa was ready for the next question. The magical thing
about children, he thought, was their curiosity and their open minds. Unlike
adults they wouldn’t just ignore or explain away the magical things in life
– they’d want to know more about them. He knew what the question was going
to be before he even heard it. Eventually all the children got round to
asking this. ‘How do you visit all the children in just one night?’ asked
Jack. ‘Let me tell you a story,’ replied Santa.
December 5th, 346 A.D. – Myra, Lycia (modern day Turkey)...
The night was cold. Bitterly cold, and Christoph couldn’t feel him toes any
more. His stomach twisted and grumbled, complaining that it hadn’t had any
food for days. He was sick and tired of the cold and hunger, and though a
fine crisp white blanket of snow had covered the town of Myra, all he saw
was blackness. A figure stood at the end of the alleyway, and Christoph
lowered his head. He didn’t want any trouble. The crisp crunch of snow told
Christoph that the man was slowly walking towards him. There was a glint of
gold in the man’s hand, and a shiny gold coin dropped into Christoph’s lap.
The man smiled at Christoph and told him to get himself a meal in a warm
inn. Christoph cried in relief and asked the man’s name. ‘Nicholas,’ he
Cold weather and scarves go very well together, and given that the weather
was so cold it was a good job that the Doctor’s scarf was probably the
longest ever. Robyn wrapped her fur coat around her and tried to keep up
with the Doctor. She’d been promised that they would see the Christmas
lights being switched on in Oxford Street, but the TARDIS as always had
brought them well off track. The Doctor had wanted to explore the area and
promised that Oxford Street would definitely be their next stop. As the time
travellers walked along the ancient street, an alien shape looked at them
secretly from the rooftops.
Nicholas sat down in his chair. He was the Bishop of Myra, and for
many years now he had spent the cold winter nights wandering the town and
helping the poor and destitute from starving to death from the cold, lack of
food, and worst of all, the lack of human kindness. He was determined that
the even the most underprivileged would not be ignored on the streets of the
city. He would help them until the last day he drew breath, and he preyed
that wouldn’t be for a very long time. He was 76 now and he felt every part
of it as he made his way back to bed for the night, to get some rest before
tomorrow. As he closed the door and went upstairs to his room, a twisted
shape crept into the church...
The Doctor stopped at the entrance to the church. He smiled and promised
Robyn that she was in for a special treat. This, he explained, was the
church of Saint Nicholas – the historical figure who inspired the modern day
myth of Santa Claus. Robyn threw the Doctor a look of mock disappointment
saying that she thought Santa was real, before laughing. She said she was
eight when she found out the truth about Santa. Her cousin was twelve then
and she’d gotten a right good telling off for breaking the news to Robyn.
She remembers feeling like the ground had disappeared when she first heard.
She asked the Doctor if he believed in Santa when he was a Time Tot. ‘Yes,’
replied the Doctor. ‘All the way up to when I was 106! A friend of mine at
the Academy told me it wasn’t true though. Nothing good came of him – he
always liked to destroy other people’s dreams.’ ‘Great friend,’ replied
Robyn sarcastically. ‘He was, once,’ the Doctor replied wistfully, a distant
look in his eyes. ‘Humbug,’ he said, offering her a bag of sweets.
Nicholas was about to get into bed when he heard a sound behind him. He
turned around and was relieved to see that there was no one behind him, but
there was a small pool of slime on the floor. He bent down to examine it but
a sudden swiping noise made Nicholas instinctively looked up. A glistening
worm-like shape lowered itself down from the ceiling. It was literally
demonic, Nicholas thought, and he could feel his heart pounding. The
creature bore it’s thousands of teeth as it closed on him. ‘Where is the
Astoli?’ bellowed the creature. Its voice reminded Nicholas of the harsh
winter storms that blew high-pitched through the roofs and rattled the
tiles. Nicholas was scared – he had no idea what the monster was demanding.
A loud hum suddenly seemed to fill the room and the monster howled in pain.
It leapt out of the window to escape, gone as quickly as it had appeared.
Nicholas looked up to see what manner of thing had scared the monster away.
The Doctor smiled back and put his sonic screwdriver back in his pocket.
Robyn helped Nicholas onto a chair where the old man took a few moments to
catch his breath. The Doctor stared out of the window to see where the
creature had gone to, but there was no sign of it. Dawn was breaking and the
Doctor guessed they’d be safe from the creature for the moment, but he knew
it would come back.
December 6th, 346 A.D...
People waved at Nicholas as he walked through the town. Nicholas was the
Bishop of the local church and his miracles and blessings were well known
throughout the region. People already were calling him ‘Saint Nicholas’,
though that was a little premature, he’d laugh to himself. The Doctor and
Robyn were walking with Nicholas as they talked about the events of last
night. The Doctor was concerned that the monster would return again when
night fell, and suggested that Nicholas should stay away from the church
whilst he found a way to deal with the monster. Nicholas pointed to a man
who was walking through the streets, clearly a wealthy man who was carrying
gifts for his family. He explained that for every man who could afford to
live a life of luxury in this city, there were a dozen people who could
barely afford to survive – huddled in the cold, or forced to sell more than
their possessions to make ends meet. He couldn’t desert them in their time
of need. Nicholas entered the house of a man he had come to bless, whilst
the Doctor and Robyn waited outside.
As they waited, Robyn asked the Doctor what he had heard about Saint
Nicholas. The Doctor said that his kindness and generosity was legendary
throughout time. He would give gold coins to those in the greatest need, but
because the local people were very proud, they could not accept his gifts
face-to-face. Nicholas would leave the gold coins in purses, either through
windows or doors, or sometimes dropped down a chimney. He told Robyn the
famous tale of a man with three daughters who couldn’t afford their dowries.
The women would remain unmarried, and in the absence of any other work would
have had to turn to desperate measures. Saint Nicholas heard of the man’s
plight and climbed onto the roof of the his house that night and dropped
three purses of gold coins down the chimney, landing in some stockings that
were hung to dry over the embers of the fire. Robyn smiled at the story, but
the Doctor’s face was grim. He explained that Nicholas of Myra died on the
6th of December, 346 A.D. aged 76 years old. Robyn knew what the Doctor was
about to say next before he even spoke the words. ‘That’s today’s date,’ the
Doctor said, staring into the distance.
Back at the church, Nicholas had served the Doctor and Robyn some food.
After they had eaten, the Doctor asked Nicholas what the monster had wanted
here. Nicholas said that the monster wanted something called an ‘Astoli’ –
but that was not a name he recognised. The Doctor asked Nicholas about the
church – any legends or stories about it. Nicholas explained that the church
replaced the first Christian church on the site that was said to be where
some local people saw the star of Bethlehem shining in the sky. Local legend
says that the Star of Bethlehem shines down on the city every year, to bless
the people. Nicholas laughed, and the Doctor saw that he clearly didn’t
believe the legend. Robyn turned to the Doctor and Nicholas, and warned them
that she had just seen the monster again, out the window amongst the
rooftops. The Doctor stared out of the window to get a better look. Suddenly
he saw the monster climbing on a rooftop in the street opposite. Then
another, and another, and soon there were many, all surrounding the church,
squirming like nightmarish killer maggots as they sensed their prey was
The Doctor asked Nicholas where the strongest part of the building was –
somewhere with good acoustics preferably. Nicholas led them down towards the
crypt of the church and bolted the heavy door shut. Within seconds it was
being hammered very hard indeed. The Doctor was wandering around the room,
trying his sonic in different places. It was no good, he thought. There was
little chance he could amplify the acoustics on the sonic to drive away the
worm-like monsters enough to keep them safe. Nicholas and Robyn were looking
for anything to barricade the doors, and not enjoying any more success than
the Doctor was. The Doctor turned around and noticed a small stone carving
on the wall. In its mouth were some gold coins. As he looked at the carving
he could see a couple more coins appear from nowhere. The Doctor walked up
to it – it seemed a simple stone carving, but he’d just seen that there was
more to it than that. The Doctor turned to Nicholas and asked him where the
gold he gave came from.
Nicholas explained that for many years he used his inheritance to help the
poor, but even large inheritances could run out. He prayed for an answer, a
miracle, and he found himself drawn towards the carved statue on the wall.
He placed a gold coin in its mouth and suddenly another appeared. This
happened again and again, though only modestly at first. It seemed to give
him just enough to help the poor, as if it knew what Nicholas wanted for his
people. The Doctor started to frantically tap the wall behind it. He grabbed
a stone and started hitting the wall, managing to break through it. There
was a tunnel that led into some caverns below. The Doctor, Robyn and
Nicholas made their way into the caverns just as the old wooden door to the
crypt splintered and worm-like monsters entered.
Nicholas hadn’t been aware that there were tunnels underneath the church,
but the Doctor pointed out that this must have extended from the original
wooden church that had been on the site. The tunnels led down into the
ground before opening up into a wider cavern. At the far end of the cavern
was a huge white star that hummed gently. Small white wisp like creatures
surrounded it. The Doctor realised that these life forms must have been
behind the gold appearing in the church crypt – helping Nicholas to help the
needy. Nicholas realised that these were the Astoli – children of the star.
The Star of Bethlehem, he thought. The original church wasn’t built below it
– it was built on top of it – to contain it. The Star that appeared at the
Saviour’s birth was here, right now, and it had been helping him provide to
Several worm monsters entered the cavern and surrounded the Doctor, Robyn
and Nicholas. The largest monster bellowed in delight as it turned to face
the giant star. It prepared itself to attack the star, but Nicholas broke
free and ran to stop the attack, saying he couldn’t let them destroy it. The
creature grabbed Nicholas causing him to fall to the floor. The Doctor tried
to repel the monster again using the sonic, but it was no good. Nicholas lay
on the floor, unconscious.
The Astoli surrounded the worm monsters and screamed in grief, before
burning them in anger. Nicholas was dying on the floor, and the Doctor and
Robyn crouched next to him. Between tears, Robyn promised Nicholas that his
legend would live on and he would inspire others to help the poor and show
goodwill to all men. The Doctor pulled Robyn out of the way as the Astoli
surrounded Nicholas, infusing his body with light. After a few moments of
silence Nicholas stood up. His hair was wispy, his cheeks glowing and his
eyes sparkling with magic. Robyn gasped as she saw him. Somehow he was now
more than human, and he was immortal. The Doctor smiled as he realised what
he had just seen.
December 10th, 346 A.D...
Saint Nicholas’ funeral was attended by thousands of people. Pilgrims and
townsfolk, rich and poor, all came to pay their respects to the man who made
relieving the suffering of others his life’s work. Some distance away the
Doctor and Robyn stood next to Saint Nicholas. The Doctor explained that
over the years, the legend of Saint Nicholas would spread around the world,
until one day he’d be known as Santa Claus. He was immortal now and no
longer human – the Astoli had changed him forever. He would never have to
stop caring now, and he could care for the whole world. Everyone would know
the name Santa Claus, and whatever else happened in the world, he’d always
represent that little piece of magical happiness that people looked forward
to every year. And the Doctor knew just how he could help him along the way.
Christmas Eve, 2008 - Jack’s house...
Santa smiled at Jack. The little lad had listened to the story in wonder.
Santa explained that it was the Doctor who modified a sleigh for Santa using
some technology from his own time machine – the ‘spare tyre’ the Doctor had
called the parts he installed. So now Jack knew Santa’s secret – his sleigh
was bigger on the inside than out, and it travelled in slowed down time.
Santa could see, though, that Jack was unconvinced. ‘Don’t you believe my
story?’ asked Santa. ‘Nah!’ said Jack. ‘That’s silly. There’s no such person
as the Doctor. Just someone made up for Christmas.’ Santa smiled and
remembered his friends from centuries ago.
Inside the TARDIS, Robyn had changed out of her winter woolies. The Doctor
entered the room bearing board games. ‘The one thing we have to do every
Christmas!’ he beamed, holding a box of Scrabble. ‘Though K9 always cheats,’
he added behind his hand. K9 disagreed with the Doctor’s claim. Robyn smiled
at the Doctor and asked him whether he’d take back what he’d said about not
believing in Santa earlier on that day. ‘Santa Claus?’ the Doctor grinned.
‘We are the best of friends!’
Copyright Malcolm Orr & Doctor Who Online, 2008.
Page Last Updated: