Vicki hurried into the grand gates of the alien fair. In all her years she’d never seen anything like it. Oh she’d seen space ships, and moons, and other worlds from the observation deck of her ship on its way to the planet Astra, and with the Doctor she’d been back in time to Rome, and seen a planet inhabited by giant insects- but she’d never done anything as ordinary as visiting a fair, and never had a chance to have a fun day out with a family.
“Ah, its like a more impressive world’s fair,” Ian noted and he nudged Barbara. “Do you remember that Coal Hill trip to the seaside? The big dipper was a thrill wasn’t it?”
“Not sure ‘thrill’ is the word I’d use. I think I left my stomach at the top.”
“Oh that’s nothing,” Vicki butted in. “At school we had these anti-gravity machines you see and we used to…”
Ian put his arm around his young friend, showing her a wry smile. “Ah yes you had all that anti-gravity stuff and had complete technological advancement compared to the primitive ways of the 1960’s, but have you ever eaten pink sticky candy floss?”
“Or been in a house of bizarre mirrors, or ridden the tea cups until you felt sick?” Barbara added.
Vicki scratched her head, trying to recall any such moments in her short life before coming to the conclusion that nothing like that had ever happened, not that she wanted to admit that to her gloating friends. “Well, not exactly, no.” She turned her head away from them quickly, certain she wasn’t going to let them see that she hadn’t a clue what they were talking about.
“Anyway, how can you ride a tea cup, aren’t they suppose to be drunk out of?” she said with childish arrogance. “And mirrors, how is looking at yourself at all exciting?”
“I don’t know,” Ian said tapping his chest proudly. “I don’t mind a quick glance at myself from time to time, check everything’s in order.”
The Doctor chuckled from beside them. “Oh, don’t pester the child. You must forgive her- after all she was born into a very advanced age. Her people had no time for distractions such as these.”
Ian and Barbara glanced at one another and felt they were being mocked again by the alien and the future Earth teenager.
Ian’s eye’s rolled upwards. “Yes, well it never hurt anyone to enjoy the simple pleasures of life even if they’re primitive or otherwise. I’m glad we came to this fair. I can’t wait to see it.”
Barbara nudged the Doctor. “You may even enjoy it.”
The Doctor mopped his brow with his handkerchief as he saw his young friends running to the nearest attraction in the distance of the vast theme park. He smiled as Vicki waved at him, and made himself comfortable on the seat by the side of some sort of eating plaza. It was a hot day, and he found himself wavering, so he decided to purchase some refreshments and take them back to his seat. Alone, the Doctor sat on his chair slurping a large cola and eating the candy floss treat that Ian and Barbara had recommended.
“Hmm…rots your teeth, but it is delicious!”
Meanwhile, Ian stood with his hands on his hips, standing in the queue for a waltzer type spinning ride, and getting frustrated that the queues seemed to go on forever. Barbara fanned herself from the heat with her funfair map and gestured to her friends that in a few moments they would finally get on the ride after quite a while of queuing among an assortment of alien species. Vicki’s eyes widened with excitement as the line got closer to the entrance to the ride- not that she let on to the teachers her enthusiasm, but she had to admit the fair seemed a genuinely exciting way to spend a day rather than fighting off emperors or giant insects.
Finally after the tiresome wait, they slid into one of the circular compartments on the ride and Vicki made sure she sat in between the two of her friends purely to be mischievous and so they couldn’t sit too close to one another like they usually did. The ride sprung to life with much more speed than Vicki had anticipated and she screamed gleefully as the landscape whizzed around her. She sat up excitedly as she saw the world blur like an impressionist painting, and she could hear Ian and Barbara laughing beside her, though their faces were stretched and out of focus, this time making their features appear wide and distorted. The ride finished pretty quickly though and as it ground to a halt she could still feel her heart thumping in her chest. Ian steadied her as she wobbled getting off the ride.
“And the verdict?” Barbara asked as she turned to look at Ian who was clutching his churning stomach as they made their way onto steady non-spinning ground. She clung onto him, feeling rather dizzy herself and asked if he was alright. Ian nodded casually that he was fine and directed his attention to Vicki, still curious to what her reaction was to the ride.
She looked at the teachers and shrugged, not wanting them to think she enjoyed it as much as she did. “Oh it was alright I suppose, I mean in my time we have all sorts of simulators, that was nothing in comparison.”
She rushed away before they could question her further, and Barbara looked at Ian.
“She enjoyed it!”
“You know the young, Barbara- they can’t bear to think anything before their time is cool or enjoyable. They’re the generation that invented everything!”
“I’ve got to say though,” Barbara said looking around her. “I’m very impressed with all the variety of old fashioned and modern rides here together side by side.”
“Yeah, that sign on the door was right, seems like they’ve got things from all time periods and all planets.”
“And none of it is as advanced as Vicki!”
They both laughed.
“Come on,” he said with a big grin. “Let’s see what the Doctor’s up to.”
When Ian and Barbara had reached the Doctor, Vicki had already told him all about the waltzer ride and the Doctor was nodding along as she spoke at rapid speed about how it felt to be twisted about and how everyone looked as blurry as a smudged painting. Ian looked down at the array of snacks and cartons the Doctor had acquired beside him whilst they’d been away.
“Hungry Doctor?” he asked.
“Not especially my dear boy, but I thought I might as well sample some of the cuisine here. I’ve had pink fluffy stuff, a hot dog, and banana-pops.”
“I hope not at the same time!” Barbara added.
Vicki grabbed onto the Doctor’s arm and pulled him to his feet. “Oh Doctor can we do more, can we?”
The Doctor nodded reluctantly and tried nicely to shake her off of him- he could feel the food he’d eaten moving about inside his stomach with the weirdest sensation. The banana-pops had some bizarre side effects!
“Alright my child, lead on. Let’s have a little wander about and see what we can find. Perhaps something not whizzing about hmm?”
“Alright Doctor,” she replied as she linked her arm through his. “We’ll have an old timer’s choice.”
The team circled the length of the fair, taking in the majesty and grandeur of the rides and stalls, and various other things to do. They passed a fortune teller’s tent, a ride that spun you upside down, a room where you could end up on a giant film screen and be chased by mutants and an enormous steam train with a bendy track that travelled all the way around the park. All of it looked fascinating, but of course time with the Doctor in one place was always fleeting and so choice was a hard one. They stopped at the entrance to a grand and colourful hut.
“This looks promising,” the Doctor said as he read the description on the 4-D poster.
“Meet anyone from anywhere,” Ian read aloud. “Dead or alive, bring your heroes back to life in this interactive experience. Impossible surely?”
“Oh my dear Chesterton, can you not believe in something just because it seems radical from your time?”
“Alright Doctor,” Ian said holding his hands up in front of him. “I take your point, but they can really do that? Anyone, actually talk to them and everything?”
“Well that’s what it says,” Vicki added smugly.
“Seems a good way to spend fifteen minutes,” the Doctor said. “I could meet Einstein or Queen Elizabeth the First.”
“Meeting historical figures is something we’ve been lucky to experience already,” Barbara told him. “But at your disposal whenever you want? We could do with this using this experience on the 1960’s curriculum.”
“Well my dear,” the Doctor said, tapping her shoulder. “Any idea who you’d wish to pick? Choose carefully, we’re only allowed four slots between us because of the high demand.”
Barbara was unsure and told them she’d need a little time to decide, after all, she had the entirety of history to choose from - she didn’t want to waste an opportunity. The Doctor bought their tokens for the experience and told them they had up to two hours to select their choice before their admittance was allowed.
Ian scratched his chin in thought, looking at the poster and thinking of ideas. “You mean I could have fifteen minutes with Rita Hayworth or Ingrid Bergman?”
“Yes, dear boy, quite so.”
“So we could have…you know…a casual…conversation…”
Vicki laughed and whispered beside him. “Casual something else more like.”
“So me and Rita Hayworth or Cyd Charisse, or…”
“…or Barbara,” Vicki whispered cheekily.
The Doctor’s eyes widened and then they narrowed suddenly, darting from side to side suspiciously at Ian.
“Debauchery will not be tolerated in this experience Chesterton. It wasn’t created for your manly human lusts.”
Ian threw his hands into the air and hushed him, glancing awkwardly away from Barbara’s amused gaze. “What are you implying? I’m a film buff!”
Everyone laughed except Ian whose cheeks had turned a shade of red, and his bottom lip had twisted into a pout.
After a thrilling couple of hours in various other segments of the park- on rides, buying trinkets in the gift shop, and taking a breather in a beautiful park-like area, Vicki and Barbara took their turns on the ‘meet a person from history experience’. They arrived outside and approached the men who had yet to take their turn.
“Well?” Ian asked. “Who’d you meet? Don’t keep us in suspense.”
“Oh Ian, I met Boudicca. She was fascinating if not a little scary, especially one to one. I was going to see Queen Elizabeth the First after the Doctor had put the idea in my head but I changed my mind, oh the choice.”
Vicki wasn’t sure who Barbara was talking about but she seemed happy for her nonetheless.
“And you my child?” the Doctor said.
“Oh Doctor, I saw my father again. I spoke to him about the old days. It was like he was really alive again.” She wiped a stray tear from her cheek and sighed. “Why did it only last such a short time?”
Barbara’s face suddenly fell. Her cheeks were deathly white and she trembled and let out a sigh. Ian noticed and hurried over to her, leaning in close to his friend.
“What’s the matter?”
“It didn’t occur to me,” she stammered. “I chose a person from history over my own father.”
Everyone let out a series of sympathetic sounds as they tried to tell her that it didn’t mean anything, she just forgot in the excitement, after all she was a history teacher with a whole history to choose from.
“But, I had the chance to see my father again, one more time.”
“Oh Barbara,” Vicki said. “I didn’t mean to upset you, I should have told you my plan and you’d have done it too, but I only thought of it at the last minute myself.”
“I’m sorry my dear, but at least you got to meet a fascinating woman, not such a waste eh?”
The Doctor’s attempts at trying to cheer her up fell flat and she looked down at the ground, clearly distressed and disappointed.
Ian chin bopped her and let out a kind warm smile. “Barbara, here you go,” he said offering her his token. “Take my turn.”
“Ian I couldn’t!”
He rubbed her arm gently. “Please Barbara. Fifteen minutes with Rita Hayworth is not as important as fifteen minutes in the company of Ernest Wright.”
He placed the ticket into her palm, and felt her grab his hand. She squeezed it and looked up at him, tears in her eyes. “Oh Ian, thank you, how can I repay you?”
“You just say hi to your dad for me.”
Barbara hugged him tightly and took the Doctor’s arm as they both went for their meetings with the past. She turned back to look at Ian and smiled.
“Aren’t you upset about not seeing Rita Hayworth?” Vicki asked him as they watched their friends depart and headed to a nearby fountain to sit on the edge.
Ian sighed. “I wasn’t intending to see an actress. I was actually going to pick a scientist.”
“But you said…”
Ian put his finger to his lip. “Sssh, don’t tell Barbara.”
Vicki grabbed the Doctor’s hand and led him to the water flume compartment and they sat down beside each other on an old and rickety boat shaped capsule.
“I don’t know why I let you talk me into this,” the Doctor harrumphed as the boat started to travel down the water rapids.
“Its fun Doctor,” she said holding onto his arm. “Look a bear!”
She pointed to where a stuffed bear leaned over their boat as they passed and the Doctor’s body jumped back slightly startled by the bear’s enormous teeth and outstretched arms with long piercing claws. Vicki laughed.
“So who did you see Doctor?” she asked him as water pelted them right, left and centre.
“What my dear?”
“On that experience earlier, what famous person did you meet? You never did tell us.”
The Doctor hesitated and then replied quickly. “Ah well it wasn’t anyone important my dear, just that fellow Socrates.”
Vicki caught that there was a tear in the corner of his eye, though it was disguised by his wet face from the lashing of water coming onto them from above. She knew he’d chosen to see Susan, she could just tell, she always could. She nodded and splashed him with the water that began to accumulate around their toes.
“Do you think Ian and Barbara are alright?” she asked.
“I’m sure they’re rather mad at you my dear, tricking them to go on that ‘tunnel of love’ thing.”
Vicki’s lips curled into a sly smile.
Ian tapped the side of the swan shaped boat awkwardly and looked at Barbara. “I’m going to kill that kid.”
“Oh she meant well I suppose, and this is quite relaxing isn’t it? It doesn’t hurt really.”
“It’s the principle. Besides these things are rather corny aren’t they?”
“Don’t tell me you’ve never been on one?”
Ian shuffled. “Not recently…”
“So you have in the past? I bet you’ve taken lots of girlfriends on the tunnel of love.”
“Not lots Barbara, one or two perhaps.”
Barbara laughed and splashed some water up at him. “So is it the ride or the company that you disprove of?”
He patted her arm. “Oh it’s definitely not the company!”
She splashed him again and laughed as the water went into his mouth and he spat it out in annoyance over the side of the swan boat. She could see him glaring at her, and he had the same glint in his eye as he had done in Rome- he wanted revenge. He reached towards her and grabbed her arms and began to lower her over the side of the boat. She yelped as he threatened to give her a good bath in the calming waters.
“You’re in deep trouble now Barbara,” he said as he laughed loudly.
After Barbara’s playful scream and grovelling for him to let her sit up again, he smirked as he pulled her to safety, never intending to let her near the pool in the first place. There was a moment of awkward silence before the boat travelled into a new tunnel on the ride. They both laughed as a dozen red hearts lined the track and a man with a violin serenaded them. A flutter of confetti covered them as they slowly made their way as though they’d just been married. Finally after the ride reached the final bend, the boat lurched violently forward until the school teachers found themselves overboard and sitting up to their waists in the water.
Ian spat out some water. “Well, that never happened on any of my dates.”
Hours had passed and the day had turned to night, darkness filled the park, and the stars had come out of slumber. The weary travellers sat on a blanket next to a picnic basket full of delightful goodies. Vicki’s eyes were half closing from the exhaustion of the mad dash around the alien fair and she yawned as the Doctor poured her a cup of tea from a flask.
“And how did you enjoy today Vicki?” Barbara asked with interest. “Were some of the rides too primitive?”
Vicki smiled. “They were primitive, but they were fun too I’ll admit!”
“So the past can have its advantages?” Ian added.
“Yes, I suppose so. I think if I’m ever stuck in the past, I can find ways to enjoy myself.”
The Doctor chuckled and put some more candy floss into his mouth. “These pink clouds are divine; we must set up the codes for these in the food machine.”
They all started to laugh as the Doctor’s face was covered with the pink sugary treat and he didn’t seem to even care.
“Can we come again next week?” Vicki shouted excitedly. “I want to do it all over again!”
The teachers and the Doctor looked at one another. It certainly was exhausting travelling with a teenager!
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