August this year was bucking the recent trend for cold, wet summers, instead proving as hot and sunny as Ianto remembered from his childhood. The weather was glorious, a blessing for holidaymakers but not so much for those who still had to work, shut inside stuffy offices and shops, traipsing around the streets keeping the peace, or tending patients in hospitals that felt like saunas. If you weren’t a kid, free to do whatever you wanted in the blissfully endless summer holidays, heatwaves could be a mixed blessing, if not outright torture.
The Torchwood team were faring a bit better than most, or they were while they were in the Hub; below ground where the sun couldn’t reach, they could keep a bit cooler. It was a different matter whenever they had to leave their base and venture forth to deal with Weevils, or whatever the Rift threw at them, but at present the Weevils were sensibly staying in the sewers and the Rift had decided it was going to take a summer vacation of its own, so they didn’t have to go anywhere.
While they were grateful for the respite from Rift and Weevil related emergencies, catching up with paperwork was boring; the only good thing about it was that it didn’t require much in the way of physical exertion. Still, as long as they could claim they were busy, Ianto wouldn’t find them any even less pleasant tasks to carry out, so everyone was keeping their head down, tapping away at computer keys, or filling in forms. Ianto smiled to himself; his threat of roping them in to shift heavy boxes down in the archives for sorting was working a treat.
Up in his office, Jack’s phone started ringing, and as Ianto was just serving another round of cold drinks to his colleagues, he headed up there with his tray to find out what that was about. As he slipped through the door, Jack jumped to his feet, receiver clamped to his ear.
“You’ve gotta be joking!” he exclaimed.
Ianto couldn’t hear the other side of the phone conversation, but whatever was being said had Jack’s face trying to display several emotions at once, with limited success. He eventually settled on confused.
“No, of course I didn’t notice; there aren’t any windows where we are! Secret underground bases don’t tend to have thenm!” A pause and then, “Fine, we’ll check it out and get back to you, but you’d better not be pulling my leg!” He hung up without a goodbye and turned to Ianto. “That was D.I. Swanson. Apparently it’s snowing outside.”
“Snowing?” Ianto couldn’t help the disbelieving chuckle that escaped. “It’s August, not Christmas! Anyway, I was up in the tourist office less than thirty minutes ago and it was wall to wall sunshine, not a cloud in the sky!”
“Well unless Kathy’s hallucinating, there’s been an unexpected shift in the weather.” Jack strode out of his office and called down to Tosh. “Bring up CCTV of the Plas, and see if you can get a local weather report while you’re at it.”
Tosh minimised the open windows on her screens and pulled up some others, accessing the city’s CCTV system and the met office’s website. According to that, Cardiff was enjoying another bright, sunny day, but the CCTV footage told another story. Fat, fluffy flakes were drifting down past the camera lenses, while people we’re milling around, rubbing their arms and looking confused. Ianto didn’t blame them; even for Torchwood, heavy snow on a blazing hot summer day was somewhat unusual.
“Okay, so that’s not normal,” Jack said, glaring at Tosh’s screens as if they were somehow responsible for the less than balmy weather conditions they were showing.
“Is it something to do with the Rift?” Gwen asked, joining the rest of the team clustered behind Tosh.
Torchwood’s tech expert shook her head. “The Rift’s inactive at the moment, there’s no way it can be doing this.”
“Something is,” Jack said, a bit redundantly. “Unless we’re all hallucinating.”
“We’re seeing this on a screen; hallucinations don’t work like that. Anyway,” Tosh added, “my instruments are registering a drop in temperature. The snow is real enough. It’s not settling much yet, the ground’s too warm, but it’s really coming down.” Already there was almost a blizzard raging outside.
“Can you locate the epicentre?” Jack asked.
“Of course; just give me a moment.” There was very little Jack could ask of her that Tosh couldn’t do with the devices and programmes she had at her command. Tapping at her computer keys, she pulled up a map of Cardiff and worked backwards through the data Mainframe constantly collected and collated via monitoring equipment throughout the city until she pinpointed the location where the snowstorm had originated. “There; the bowling club in Roath.”
“Right, better grab your coats, kids, it look a bit nippy out there. Let’s go see what we’re dealing with.”
As Ianto steered the SUV through the snowstorm, on streets unsurprisingly almost devoid of people since everyone with any common sense had sought shelter to avoid frostbite, Jack called Kathy back. “We’re on our way to Roath; looks like whatever’s causing this is somewhere there.”
“Keep me informed?”
“Shouldn’t need to. You’ll know it’s dealt with when the snow stops.”
There was little Kathy could say to that. “Fine,” she grumbled, hanging up without another word.
Jack closed his phone and put it away, looking smug.
At the bowling club the greens were empty; all the members had sensibly gone indoors and were warming themselves up with cups of tea. However, one little old lady jumped up and scurried over to them when they came in. “Oh dear, I think this might be all my fault,” she said, wringing her hands. “All I did was wish it was a bit cooler; the heat doesn’t agree with me and it was affecting my game. But then I think I must have accidentally dropped it in the cooler with our bottles of water, and now…” She waved her hands helplessly. “Well, you can see. I tried to find it but it’s so small and the ice is so cold… Am I going to get in trouble? I know I really shouldn’t have it, my late husband found it years ago, but we’ve never done anything bad with it, and…” She trailed off once more, looking beseechingly up at Jack, adding in a whisper, “You are Torchwood, aren’t you?”
Jack nodded. “Where is this cooler now?” he asked.
The old lady pointed out at the bowling green, which by now was under a layer of snow. “Out there.”
“I’ll get it,” Ianto said, heading back out the door, pulling his jacket more tightly around him. Despite the blizzard conditions outside, it didn’t take him long to fetch the cooler; he brought it up onto the bowling club’s covered veranda, where Tosh had spread out a plastic sheet she’d fetched from the SUV, removed the bottles of now almost frozen water from the cooler, and tipped the rest of its contents out onto the plastic.
Tosh soon found the item responsible, a tiny little device no bigger than a modern hearing aid. She brought it to Jack. “I don’t think it’s weather control technology, it’s much too small for that.”
“No dear,” the old lady, who’d introduced herself as Millie Carter, said with a smile. “It’s a wish machine. We only ever used it for small wishes; we were never greedy. When our little dog was hit by a car we wished she wasn’t hurt, and when our son applied for his dream job, we wished he’d get it, but nothing bigger than that. If I hadn’t dropped it… That’s arthritis for you though, makes my old fingers a bit clumsy sometimes.”
“Well, as you already know how to use it I think you’d better be the one to wish the weather back the way it was,” Jack said, directing Tosh to hand the device to Millie.
The old woman closed her hand around it, shut her eyes, and wished. A faint glow emanated from her hand and outside the snow immediately stopped falling and the clouds overhead broke up, evaporating in the heat of the summer sun. “Well, that’s that.” Millie handed the small object to Jack. “I think you’d better take it now; I’ve had my use of it and I wouldn’t want it to fall into the hands of someone who might misuse it.”
“We’ll make sure that doesn’t happen,” Jack promised.
“I’m sorry for causing so much trouble; I really didn’t mean to.”
“Don’t worry about it; accidents happen, and I don’t think any real harm has been done.” Closing his hand around the device, Jack bent to kiss Millie lightly on the forehead, wishing that she’d be healthy and happy for the rest of her life. “Take care of yourself, and good luck with your game.”
“Thank you. I know what a lot of folk say about you Torchwood people, but they’re wrong. You’re very kind.”
“We do our best,” Jack replied with a smile. “We only cause trouble for those who deserve it, not for lovely ladies like you.” He winked at Millie.
“Such a charmer!” Millie flushed with pleasure. “You be careful now, in case the roads are still slippery.”
“We will,” Ianto assured her. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Mrs Carter.”
“And you, young man. All of you.”
The team made their way back out into bright sunshine, stripping off the light summer coats they’d been wearing for what little protection they’d provided against the cold as the summer heat reasserted itself.
Another mysterious problem dealt with; if only all such strange occurrences could be so easily solved.