Featuring The Eighth Doctor
By Shaun Collins
The bell overhead dinged when the door opened, an interesting item of note since there was no one present to be alerted by it. The man paused for a moment, as if expecting someone, some postal clerk to come running to the melodic tone of the bell. He was oddly dressed in an almost Edwardian ensemble, gray smoking jacket over a gold and gray suit with a silver ascot. His stringy brown hair flowed from his scalp, and his piercing blue eyes, though lined and tired were alive with energy.
He took a deep reassuring breath, despite the stale air in the dark and dim corridor. The room was long and narrow and paneled in dark wood, and along both walls stood row after row of locked metal post office boxes. The florescent lights overhead barely illuminated the place.
The Doctor strode down the aisle, deep toward the back row of post office boxes. He pulled from one pocket a key. The man was no stranger to keys. In his many lifetimes, he had owned several, some as alien and exotic as the locks they opened or the items secured behind them. This key was small, brass and quite plain. Almost a disappointment considering other ones that he’d come in contact with. From another pocket, he produced a wrapping of black velvet.
The Doctor continued his search until he found what he was looking for. Post Office Box number 5274. He inserted the key into the slot and rotated, the lock’s mechanism turning true. The door swung open. The box was empty, just another non-descript storage slot in a room full of them.
Next he hesitantly began to unwrap the velvet package. He glanced around again, making sure he was alone in the room before revealing a long, bright white cone; so white it seemed to almost glow against the dark fabric.
A Unicorn Horn.
He held the horn aloft in his hand and let the meager light from the overheads play off its spiraled features. It glinted and gleamed, even in this dimness. The promise of hope, of renewal, of second chances…
The Doctor sighed deeply. He felt a great measure of responsibility for the atrocity in his hand. After all, he’d been the one who spirited the Unicorns off Earth all that time ago to prevent their extinction, but not even he could have predicted that millennia later their new home planet would be, “of strategic importance” in the words of the High Council. Not even he could have predicted that that importance would ultimately lead to the genocide of the unicorns, as their planet was currently the site of some of the fiercest fighting between the forces of good and evil—his own race, the Time Lords on one side, and the mechanical menace of the Daleks on the other.
Planets destroyed, histories altered, whole species fighting for survival, caught in-between the two clashing forces in what was shaping up to be the final conflict. They were calling it the Time War.
The Doctor suspected that many more battles and much more spilled blood was yet to come.
He re-wrapped the horn and placed it gently, reverently in the post office box, then closed and locked the door. Unicorns, like Time Lords, had the ability to heal and regenerate—on Earth long ago, this very scientific process was mistaken for magic—and there was enough residual energy in the horn that in time with a little luck, he may be able to rebuild the population. As a champion of Earth and a child of Gallifrey, knowing that each species had had a hand in nearly destroying the Unicorns, the Doctor felt responsible either way. It was his duty to help.
But all that would have to wait until the war was over.
The horn also contained enough energy to be perverted into a weapon if it fell into enemy hands. He couldn’t be sure, of course, but he hoped that Earth would be spared the carnage that even now raged throughout the cosmos. If it did, the horn would be safe until he was ready. It was far safer here, in a random post office box in a small town on an anonymous backwater world, than in any of the Time Lord strongholds.
The way things were going, the Doctor feared nothing may survive.
He pocketed the key and strode back along the endless rows of boxes, and out into the bright sunlight afternoon. Across the parking lot sat the TARDIS, forever locked into the familiar shape of a Police Box. He took a last look at Earth, and another deep breath of air un-tainted by war and death. Then he vanished inside and a moment later, the de-materialization process started and the box itself vanished.
High in orbit, a satellite re-tasked its orbit to pass overhead. Its cameras and scanners surveyed the area, having detected a brief but powerful temporal disruption, and relayed the information back across the ocean to a tall building in the heart of London. There an overnight analyst poured over the data. She found nothing out of the ordinary, despite the satellite sensors. She classified the incident, filled it in the “Unknown Occurrence” file, and flagging it for eventual follow up by Torchwood field agents. <>