She didn’t remember why she’d gone inside.
It was alright to be curious: natural, even. At first, she’d thought someone must have taken the box from its home on Buchanan Street and dumped it on the site for a laugh, but that didn’t make much sense if you thought about it. Even on the coldest November night, the centre of Glasgow thronged; you couldn’t get the police box out of it without you being seen. Perhaps this was another one, a shyer one, who hid away for not liking to be seen.
But even so, you do not go inside. She knew this. Curiosity rarely killed, but it left scars, and she’d been burned many times in her life so far. Perhaps it was the impression of light from within the box that made her press her hand against its door, perhaps it was the thrum that pounded like the bassline of the world. No matter. In the end, the only point worth noting was that she shouldn’t have gone in and had, and all that happened later did not have to happen to her.
Inside the box was a space that could not be the inside of a box, because it stretched out bigger than the world. Inside that space was a man, who looked too young to be as old as he was and too old to be as much of a child. With a sad smile, the man told her that the box was a magical device, capable of going anywhere in time and space. And there were a million questions to be asked about that, but she didn’t think to ask a single one.
The man took her to the past, where she saw pain and disease of a level she’d never dared to imagine. He took her to the future, where the dead ruin of her city smoked after nuclear war. And he took her across the vast void of the universe where no living creature lived, and told her as gently as he could that mankind would always be alone. She’d stared at an abyss that was vaster than she thought that vastness could be, and she’d felt something inside her break apart forever.
She did remember why she’d gone outside. She’d gone at a run, across that vast, endless space that filled up the tiny box. She’d run as fast as she could from the man, whose cry rang out like the loneliness of the stars.
Outside, the box seemed normal: a blue, tall thing, as ordinary as the rest of the abnormal world, full of meaning in a way only her world would ever be. All of space and time, she thought through tears, was tiny. The outside of the box was the only lie and truth in the world.
No-one else could go with that man, she knew.
She picked up the box’s phone, and sadly dialed the police.