The Doctor, swinging along and immensely pleased with himself that he’d finally solved the hitch that had been preventing his tracing back to the previous position, strode into the console room to enter the last bit of data he needed. And stopped, aghast.
Ramona was not only in the room, she was riding the central console pillar up and down in tall yellow boots that were much too long for her. The high heels would have made them impossible to walk in, which could explain why she had them on her arms.
No small child, recently cleaned or not, should be up on top of his beloved console. It was practically a form of sacrilege to the Doctor. He immediately lunged forward and without even giving warning, lifted her bodily right off of the pillar.
“Hey!” Ramona protested, kicking. “I wasn’t done with my ride!” She waved her be-booted arms. “I’m a crab and the crab trap got me and the fishermen were going to take me away in their boat,” she told him and waved her high-heeled hands near his face. “Clack! Clack! I’ll get you with my claws! Put me back up!”
Instead, he put her down on her feet and rubbed his forehead. “Yes, well. You go be a Macra or whatever you’re doing, just don’t do it near my console!”
“A Macra…” he blew out a breath in frustration, discarding her trying to distract him. He pointed back at the column. “What matters is that could have been quite dangerous.”
She considered this, not really sure if she believed him. “It’s not dangerous,” she challenged and ran towards the console again.
Reaching out a long arm he snagged her and reeled her back, turning her to look him full in the face. “Oh yes,” he said seriously, suddenly dropping his voice to a depth and resonance that made her eyes go wide. “Verrry verrry dangerous. ” She stared at him. His voice shifted to a terrifying whisper. “You don’t want to know what happened to the last little girl who used my console for a jungle-gym.”
They stared at one another. He won. They both knew it. “Now go keep yourself occupied,” he said in a more normal tone with a pat to her shoulder. “I have work to do.”
Ramona nodded. Grown-ups did always have work to do; she was used to that. She waved the yellow boots in the air again, rallying. “I’m a macaroni!” she said, thinking he might he flattered that she’d taken on his idea. The boots did look a bit like pasta. “I’m a macaroni!”
The Doctor flipped his scarf back over his shoulder and tried to tune her out. Now what was that algorithm?
Lacking any reaction on being a macaroni, the girl behind him dropped the boots and wandered over to the wall where Ribsy lay dejectedly with his head on his paws, reeking of perfume. She patted him and sat down by him for a couple minutes, just watching as the Doctor continued to poke at little buttons on the console, then looking around at the plain swiss-cheese walls suddenly got back up. There was something it lacked to make it a proper fort that she knew she could add, just like she’d told the Doctor earlier.
Digging in her pocket, she extracted a small chunk of green crayon and picked the fuzz off of it, then picking a roundel at random, drew a Martian. He didn’t come out quite like she’d wanted so she moved on to the next one and drew another.
She was on her third Martian and scribbling in his green arms when the entire room gave a little shudder and the lights gave a little flicker. She looked around. The console column had stopped rising and falling and the Doctor was grinning at it happily.
He patted it in a triumphant manner and turned on the scanner.
“Hey!”” Ramona said, pointing. “My two-wheeler is on TV!”
Beezus glanced around, wondering what that odd grinding noise was. It didn’t continue and there was no sign of anything odd, so she went back to working her way along the street checking inside any hedge, woodshed, doghouse or other structure that a child of her sister’s imagination might be able to take for a fort. Ramona had been fascinated with having a fort or clubhouse ever since her friend had made one out of a big cardboard box. “Ramona? Ramona!” she continued to call. “Come out, Ramona! I’ll help you make a fort from the couch cushions again if you do,” she wheedled. “Ramona!” Flipping over a small, empty yellow candy box that had fallen from someone’s trash, she wondered what was in the blue box the prim-sounding woman was looking for. Jewelry, maybe? She hadn’t said and Beezus didn’t want to pry.
On the opposite side of the block, the same sound was heard. A petite blond woman turned and suddenly began pell-mell running back towards the alleyway, one hand to her hat, completely ignoring the stares of an elderly couple on their nearby porch. Their poodle yapped shrilly as they shook their heads over her odd manner of dress and behaviour. Young people these days, they just had no sense of decorum.
The Doctor hit the door control and the panel swung open to reveal the same alleyway they’d started off in, only a couple of yards further in than before. The scent of the damp earth and trees came swishing into the room along with distant traffic noise and birdsong. Somewhere a small dog was yapping.
Ribsy’s head shot up, ears perking. He wasted no time at all, scrabbling his feet, he launched himself out of the TARDIS with a joyful bark and rapidly galloping off towards the street. His nose held high was filled with the good, clean scent of Klickitat Street. He barked in reply to the yapping poodle around the corner, dashing past a woman running the other way with his tail held high and waving in anticipation of seeing Henry again. His only stop was for a good roll in the dirt to get some of the strange smells from his fur.
“Ribsy!” Ramona yelled and ran out after him. She stopped in dismay as the dog rapidly put the distance between them and turned back to where her two-wheeled tricycle still sat against a bush. She was still struggling to get it going as a strange woman came running up to her.
Ramona looked at her wide-eyed and clutched her trike, but the woman just went right on past her with barely a pause.
“Romana!” came the big Doctor’s voice.
She jumped up. “This is my two-wheeler!” she yelled back at him “See?”
“Doctor!” the blonde woman was scolding as she went right into the blue tardis-fort. “Whatever did you think you were doing, leaving me like that?”
“Romana!” the Doctor scolded right back. “Don’t you ever turn into a small child again! Ever, I tell you. I get a twitch just contemplating any repetition whatsoever. I demand that you stay at complete maturity from this point onward!”
“It’s a perfectly reasonable demand, isn’t it, K-9?”
“Insufficient data, Master,” the metal dog replied as the doors swung shut.
‘Hey!” yelled Ramona, who didn’t like being shut out of things. She got off her lopsided trike and knocked on the door. “Hey!” There was no answer. After a couple minutes of this being to no avail, she decided she’d go get Beezus. Her polite sister was always good at getting grown-ups to open up their doors to her.
“There you are! Ramona Geraldine Quimby, where have you been?” demanded Beezus, half angry, half relieved as the kindergartner came squeaking and wobbling on her ridiculous trike down the sidewalk. “I’ve been looking all over for you!”
“There’s a blue box!” Ramona exclaimed, ignoring her sister’s inquiry. She pointed back the way she’d come. “It’s a fort but the doctor in it won’t open the door for me.”
“What?” Beezus said. “A blue box! There’s a lady looking for one. Where was it?”
“Over here!” Ramona said, happy to find Beezus so willing to follow her. She abandoned her tricycle and ran back down the sidewalk, Beezus right behind her. They turned the corner and Ramona suddenly stopped in dismay. “It’s gone!”
“The blue box! It had a doctor in it, and a metal dog. And a swimming pool! Ribsy an’ me almost drownded!”
“Ramona,” groaned Beezus. “You didn’t do anything to Ribsy, did you? You know Mother said you were supposed to leave Henry’s dog alone!”
“Really!” Ramona protested and stamped her foot. “I really did almost drownded with Ribsy. And there was a big, giant doctor! And a whole room full of boots!”
Beezus shook her head at the ridiculousness of it all. “Oh, Ramona, will you ever grow up?”