23rd November, 1987, Coopers Plains, Brisbane, Australia
Anita Llewcots, or Nita, as she was known, started the day with mixed feelings. On the one hand, she was happy and relieved to have finally finished high school. She had enjoyed the Senior Formal a week and a half earlier, which she had attended with her friends Frances and Jane, and her boyfriend, Malcolm. The rest of the week had been filled with fun activities such as a trip to Dreamworld, bowling, ice skating and roller skating. Now her high school years were over.
On the other hand, she was a bit sad. Over two years ago, she had met an incredible man named The Doctor, who had changed her life. She had wanted to travel with him and his friend Peri, but he had insisted that she finish her education. She had made him promise to come back for her at the end of year 12. But a week had passed since her last day of school, and she was beginning to think that the Doctor had forgotten her.
She looked at the backpack hidden under her bed, which she had packed in anticipation of the Doctor’s arrival. She looked at the three envelopes on her desk, the letters of explanation she had written to her mother, her boyfriend, and her best friend, Frances, so they would know where she had gone. She was beginning to think they wouldn’t be needed.
The doorbell rang. She made her way to the front door, which was right next to her bedroom, trying not to let herself get excited. It probably wasn’t him. She opened the door. On the landing stood two people she didn’t recognize. One was a short, portly man wearing an off-white safari-styled jacket with a red paisley scarf worn under its lapels and a matching handkerchief in the left pocket, a fob watch chained to the left lapel, a plain white shirt, a red paisley tie, a yellow fair isle-inspired pullover adorned with red question marks and blue-green zigzag patterns, sand-coloured tweed plaid trousers, white/brown brogued spectator shoes, a white colonial-styled Panama hat with a paisley hatband and an upturned brim and carried an umbrella with a red question mark-shaped handle. The other was a slim woman, with long, red curly hair.
“Hello, Nita,” said the man.
“Sorry, do I know you?” asked Nita, confused.
“I’m the Doctor,” said the man.
“Umm…no, you’re not,” objected Nita.
“Oh!” cried the Doctor, suddenly remembering that he looked different to the last Nita had seen him. “I know I look different,” he said. “But it’s me. I’ve regenerated.”
“What?” asked Nita, confused.
“When the Doctor is critically injured, he can regenerate his body,” said the woman. “In doing so, his physical appearance and personality change.”
“And who are you?” asked Nita, turning to the woman. “If this is the Doctor, where’s Peri?”
The Doctor’s face fell. “Peri was abducted by an arthropod-like creature named Kiv, who apparently transplanted his brain into her body,” replied the Doctor. Nita gasped in horror. “Soon after,” the Doctor continued, I was led to believe that Peri was dead. As you can imagine, I was severely distressed by this. It was later revealed that the evidence of Peri's death was faked. Peri, in fact, survived, saved by, and married King Yrcanos of Thoros Alpha, a warrior king who had assisted Peri and I during an earlier incident. I don’t know what happened to Peri after she married Yrcanos.
This is Mel, or Melanie, Bush, my current companion.”
“Hello!” said Mel, waving with a smile.
“Uh, hi,” replied Nita. She turned to the Doctor. “So it’s really you?”
“It’s really me,” agreed the Doctor.
“And you, what did she say….you were critically injured? So that means you died?”
Nita decided to ignore the fact that he hadn’t come straight to her through time after leaving her in 1985 as he said he would, for now.
“And you’ve come to invite me to travel with you?”
“If you’d like.”
“Absolutely!” cried Nita. “Come with me, I’ll get my bag!” She led them to her bedroom.
“What, just like that?” asked Mel, amazed. “Don’t you want to say goodbye to your family?”
“Ha! Like they would ever let me go!” replied Nita. “The TARDIS is a time machine, right?”
“Yes,” replied the Doctor, beginning to realize what she was saying.
“So, bring me back to this moment, and they’ll never know I was gone.”
Mel snorted, and the Doctor scowled at her. Then he sighed.
“As brilliant a driver as I am,” began the Doctor, and Mel broke out into full-blown laughter. “Ahem…the TARDIS doesn’t always take me where I want to be. I can’t guarantee she will bring us back to this exact time.”
“I have a back-up plan for that,” said Nita, holding up the envelopes from her desk. “I’ve written letters to my family and friends, telling them where I am if we don’t get back at the right time.”
“But won’t your mother be angry for leaving without asking?” asked the Doctor, a little worried. He didn’t usually have much to do with his companions’ families.
“Probably,” conceded Nita. “But there’s no way I’m passing up this chance to travel the stars.”
She picked up her bag. “Let’s go before Mum discovers you’re here. I’d rather not have to explain your presence.”
The trio snuck out the front door, out the gate, across the road, behind the bus shelter, and into the TARDIS.
Nita looked around the console room. She had seen it before but it still amazed her. The Doctor approached the console.
“Where or when would you like to go?” he asked.
“Another planet!” Nita decided.