On one bustling street in London, it was market day. A few traders had managed to squeeze their stalls on to the pavement outside the shops. A wheezing, scraping noise in the air preceded the appearance of a BT telephone box, out of nowhere. An old woman screamed and dropped her shopping, a teenager, who hitherto had been minding his own business, running people off the pavement on his skateboard, swerved and fell off the curb. Then a man, chained to another man, leapt out of the telephone box followed by an explosion, that covered the pair and the street in cake crumbs, cherry jam, whipped cream and chocolate frosting. A couple of burly men who hadn’t been facing in the direction of the telephone box scarpered as soon as they heard the disturbance. They had blagged a Post Office on Old Ma’ Dixon’s patch last month and feared a revenge attack.
As it happened, the two shackled men were Time Lords or to be accurate they were both different incarnations of the Time Lord called the Doctor. The two Doctors weren’t escaping from a telephone box either, but the Master’s TARDIS. The Master, who was a far worse villain than Old Ma’ Dixon, had a working chameleon circuit in his TARDIS allowing it to blend in with any landscape.
The taller and younger of the two Time Lords was fully clothed. He wore a velvet jacket and frilly shirt, which gave him the appearance of a dandy, when he wasn‘t covered in pulverised gateaux. The shorter, older Time Lord was naked except for a straw hat on his head and a generous coating of crumbs and sticky cake filling.
Picking lumps of sponge out of his white bouffant hair, the taller Doctor said, “I think we should go somewhere less exposed.”
“Time enough at last?” said the older Dr, with a pronounced Scottish accent, mysteriously as he pointed at a shop, prop. one G. Bulman who, according to a sign hung on the door, repaired clocks. They rushed over to the shop, leaving a cakey trail behind them and several stunned market-goers. The onlookers didn’t follow; George Bulman was an ex-copper, he could handle it, if it wasn’t something to do with him in the first place.
As the Doctors entered the shop, they found it full of junk masquerading as antiques. Safely out of sight of prying eyes, the taller Doctor turned to the naked one. “Couldn’t you have tried to cover yourself up? I see with your regeneration that some areas of your body are no longer the same colour as a human’s. Luminous green is rather eye catching.”
“I couldn’t remove my hat as I didn’t have anywhere to hide the Master’s dematerialisation circuit.”
“You could have slipped it into one of my pockets,” chided the taller Doctor.
“There wasn’t time and it will be of no use to you.”
“Humph.” The younger Doctor couldn’t successfully argue back, because unlike his older self he didn’t know what was going to happen in the future.
At the sound of their conversation, they heard a gruff voice coming from up the stairs at the back of the shop. “Is there someone down there? If you want to buy anything Lucy’ll be back in a minute, if you need help from STG Investigations come on up.”
The two Timelords shrugged at one another; they definitely needed help. “Just a minute,” shouted the taller Doctor. As he spoke, he took his free arm out of the sleeve of his velvet jacket, peeled down the other sleeve as far as the handcuffs would allow and passed the inside out jacket to the other Doctor, who wrapped it around himself like a giant loincloth.
“I was expecting you to wear it like a jacket.”
“I‘ve got enough gunge on me without pushing my arm through a cake lined sleeve,” replied the older Doctor, moving towards the stairs.
As they came into the flatlet, they found a middle-aged man with unfashionably short hair and large sideburns sitting behind an old desk, mending a timepiece.
“Excuse me, my good man,” began the taller Doctor.
George Bulman peered over his half-moon spectacles at the pair, in case the lens he had clipped to them for close work was affecting his vision. As an ex-member of the police force, he had seen couples in the throes of kinkier stuff but he didn’t expect it to walk into his flat.
“Don’t tell me - you were lonely and only wanted a chat and as soon as you knew what was really going on you made your excuses and left,” said George, unimpressed.
“I assure you it was nothing of the sort - it was the Master’s doing,” said the taller Doctor, offended by what George was insinuating.
“The Master, eh? He can’t be very masterful if he didn’t make you wear PVC. I’m not surprised you’re angry if he took your money and left you in that state. Come over here and I’ll see if I have an old, police key that’ll fit.” George opened a drawer, rummaged around and plonked some keys on the desktop. “This won’t involve me in a divorce case will it?” he added, as he reached behind himself to grab a tea towel off the radiator.
“No, and I don’t think your keys will fit,” said the older Doctor as he and his younger self put their cuffed hands on the desk.
“Good. I don’t take divorce cases,” said George, wiping chocolate frosting off the cuffs. “You’re right these aren’t police issue. Is the engraving oriental?”
“Gallifreyan,” supplied the taller Doctor. “It’s a matter of great importance we get out of these chains.”
George delved into his toolbox at his feet. “Yeah, yeah, isn‘t it always? I’m sure I’ve a suitable saw. I know a snout that could get you out in a jiffy but you’d be paying him blackmail money for the rest of your naturals.” As George fished out the saw and set to work on the Doctors’ handcuffs, they heard the bell on the shop door ring as it was opened.
“George! George!” shouted a young woman with a Scottish accent from down stairs. The voice belonged to Lucy McGinty, who had persuaded George to teach her criminology, the school of hard knocks way. “Have you seen it out there? Workmen have plonked one of those new BT phone boxes over Mrs O’Casey’s shopping trolley and half the road is covered in cake and cream. Several people have slipped over in the mess. Apparently, there was a blast from the box. You weren’t caught in it were you? There’s a trail of crumbs in here.”
Lucy followed the trail and carried on talking, as she bounced towards the stairs, the binoculars slung around her neck swinging from side to side. “Some stall holders are trying to force the phone box open to call the police, but as soon as they open it a crack they hear the sound of despairing maniacal laughter and the door slams shut. I don’t think the cake is edible; one of the local tramps tried eating it and he’s gone into a catatonic state and his eyes are swirling green and yellow. Your sax, you lent to busker Boz, isn’t well either; it’s got half a gateaux lodged in it and — oh!” Lucy had arrived at the top of the stairs and from her point of view she was looking at a naked man bending over George‘s desk. As the Doctors looked over their shoulders at her, Lucy switched to autopilot: “We don’t do divorce cases and it's £200 a day plus expenses.”
“Avert your eyes, Lucy,” said George, as he sawed away at the links of the handcuffs.
“It’s nothing I haven’t seen before.”
“If your time spent studying under the gleaming spires of academia meant seeing two men chained together and covered in food was a common occurrence I’m not surprised you left. It wasn’t like this at Oxford.”
“You went to Oxford? I thought you were with the OU,” said Lucy, with genuine interest.
“Willis and I went undercover there to investigate a case of fraud. He punted me down the river, crashed and lost me my Turkish delight. He still owes me half a quid.” The memory still rankled with him.
Lucy grinned. “You and Willis punting? George, you old romantic and I thought you were unreconstructed.”
“I still am,” growled George, sawing through the last link, “Ah, freedom, gents! I guess you don’t want to be the only one in here without proper clothing.” George looked pointedly at the older Doctor, before pulling his ‘Will Power’ T-shirt off and proceeding to undo the buttons of his denim shirt, he wore underneath.
The taller Doctor was alarmed. “There’s no need to get undressed in sympathy.” Time wasted on an impromptu nudist party was time the Master could use to escape.
George briefly looked up at the clothed Doctor, “What? Oh, I’m not joining your friend, all my other clothes are in the wash and I like the T-shirt better than the shirt.”
“Ah yes, the bard, I met…” began the taller Doctor but finished, as the older Doctor elbowed him and cut in with, “This isn’t the century for name dropping.”
“I’ve got a spare suit but I don’t fancy sacrificing it to the cake gods. I make a point of only buying a new suit every decade and it has two years left on the clock. Have you anything suitable, Lucy?” George took off his shirt and held back from giving it to the older doctor, while he waited for Lucy’s reply.
Lucy gave George a funny look. “I’ve got a clown suit that might fit”
“Nah, the frilly shirt has fulfilled our wacky outfits quota for today. A dandy and a clown in the same space would be too much. I was thinking more of a kilt. I’m surprised I don’t have one as I’m continually besieged by wee tartan terrors. It’s like being Hadrian’s Wall. I might use it as an example in my next philosophy paper,” said George, as he threw his shirt to the older doctor.
“Now you’ve freed us could we have the use of a telephone, please? I need to put a call through to UNIT,” said the taller Doctor.
From inside his T-shirt, George said, “UNIT? I’ve not heard of them. Are you a new division? Vice? The names get more non-descript by the year and I thought Inter-City Squad was unoriginal.”
“They’re army,” said the older Doctor.
“Ah, I don’t know much about the armed forces,” said George.
“The phone is over here,” said Lucy, fishing it out from under a table.
The taller Doctor moved over to the telephone and dialled a number. “Hello, can you put me through to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart? It’s urgent… What do you mean ‘who‘?”
The older Doctor took the receiver from the other. “I’ll take the call, you’re out of date. Hello, sorry about my associate, He used to work at UNIT many moons ago, his memory isn‘t what it is. Is Brigadier Bambera available?… Yes can you put me through, please… Hello Bambera? It‘s me, the Doctor, yes, the one who used to work for UNIT. Haven‘t we met yet? It‘s the Master, a dangerous criminal mastermind, he has the largest file in your archives, I believe. I’ve managed to foil his plot to take over the British Government by serving cakes laced with a solution that would allow him to control their every move by telepathy. He was going to serve them during the tea break at the next full cabinet meeting. ”
As he listened, George turned to Lucy. “Army? Intelligence more like. You can always rely on spooks to be at the bottom of oddball stuff.”
Lucy whispered back, “Weirder than double agent pigeons?”
The Doctor carried on talking. “I’ve managed to contain the Master inside a frosting force-field in his TARDIS, but if you don’t send a squad round soon the force-field will melt as it heats up.”
“Can’t Ace handle him with her baseball bat?” the other Doctor interrupted.
“Unlike her butter-cream blended Nitro 9 bomb, the Master’s TARDIS neutralises non-cake based weaponry and I’m trying to curb her enthusiasm for smashing things up.”
“Less weird than double-agent pigeons,” decided George.
“Really?” said Lucy.
“There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. I can imagine a cake powered arsenal - have you tried Mrs O’Casey’s rock cakes? But I’ve never worked out how they trained those pigeons. It’s against their nature. It‘s best to let sleeping birds lie when it comes to spies.”