The Doctor bounded into the TARDIS control room, pulling down the door lever without looking at it and turning to grin at – nobody.

His smile faded quicker than it had arrived. He reached out a hand and operated the door controls again, shutting out the view of golden wheat fields that had barely earned a glance.

Alone again. He was alone again. It wasn’t the first time he’d been alone in the last almost thousand years, but it didn’t seem to get any easier with practice. He sank into a chair as the gloom washed over him – then sprang up almost immediately.

‘No!’ he shouted to the room, to the fields outside, to the universe. ‘I will not do this!’ Melancholy needed to be fought as much as any monster.

A vast machine had been wheeled into the room and installed along one side. The Doctor was kneeling in front of it, nursing a thumb that he’d accidentally hammered, but even standing he wouldn’t have been taller than the huge round device.

‘Behold! My Time and Space Visualiser!’ the Doctor shouted out loudly into an empty Tardis.

He had stumbled on the device years ago. It was potentially used to convert neutrons of light energy into electrical impulses, making anything that’s ever happened visualised on its little screen.

‘Time telly, that’s what they call it’, the Doctor mumbled to himself again. ‘Great for parties. Thing is, it can only be used to watch things that have already happened. Otherwise there wouldn’t be any neutrons to convert, would there? Only logical.’ He wrinkled his nose.

‘But I am a Time Lord!’ he continued his internal monologue gracefully swirling around the machine. ‘Land far enough in the future, and anything that’s going to happen to me will have happened to me, it just won’t have happened to me. Spoilers. Don’t like spoilers. Don’t like knowing what’s going to happen next.’

He sighed. For some reason, he couldn’t find it in himself to destroy it. Not a brilliant piece of machinery like this. And it had been laying back into the TARDIS storage room for hundreds of years– beckoning to him for hundreds of years.

Come here, Doctor. Let me show you what’s to come, Doctor.

The Doctor reached out and flicked a switch on the top left of the device. A small central screen lit up.

‘Well it’s not really spoilers.’ he whispered in a shy voice as he looked at the circular screen. ‘I’ll just watch clips. And I’ll turn the sound down. I’ll just – shake the box a bit. See if it rattles. See if I’m getting any good adventures for Christmas.’

His eyes went distant.

‘See if anyone’s gift-wrapped me a friend…’

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The Arch of Time

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