The Twelve Blogs of Christmas: Two

I hope I'll be seeing some of you tonight at the signing at Waterstones Reading Oracle at 5pm, or the signing and reading at Waterstones Staines at 7.30pm.  To my delight, London Falling is the Editor's Choice this week across the whole iTunes iBookstore!



What a pleasant surprise that was.  Now, before we get to today's guest blog, I'd like to feature a fundraising calendar produced by some friends of mine.  Long time readers of the blog will know that I'm very fond of Faringdon in Oxfordshire, a little town that punches well over its weight when it comes to the arts, particularly in the field of music.  Well, in order to help fund next year's Follyfest, they've come up with said calendar, which depicts some beautiful views of Oxfordshire, including the Uffington White Horse...



It's a limited edition, and only costs £5 plus postage.  You can order it by sending an email to: follyfest@btinternet.com  And tell them I sent you. 

Now, to the main point of today's blog, which continues our theme of guests writing about 'The Twelve Days of Christmas'.  Today it's writer and editor L M Myles, talking about... Two Turtle Doves.  Hello, L M, who brings a Doctor Who story entitled... 


Three Time Travellers, Two Turtledoves, and a Santa in a Snow Sea

A soft, cooing sound woke Alison: of pair of grey birds perched at the end of her bed, watching her with their beady, black eyes.
     "Hello," said Alison.
     One of the birds cocked its head. "Coo," it said.

Alison arrived in the console room with a bird on each shoulder. They'd refused to leave her alone and since they seemed intent on doing nothing more threatening that making soothing sounds and ruffling their feathers, she was rather taken with them. They'd probably turn out to be some sort of alien metamorph intent on eating her brain, or something, but she could worry about that later.
     "Oh!" she said, looking around the console room in surprise. "This is lovely!" There were fairy lights everywhere, banishing shadows from gloomy corners. Tinsel was strewn liberally around every surface, and in place of the console was an impressively decorated fir tree topped by glittery blue star.
     The Doctor whirled to face her. "Lovely?" he said. His expression contorted energetically. "Lovely!"
     Alison looked around again. Holly and candles and…were those chocolates on the tree? "Yes," she said, more certain. "It's lovely." She paused, then asked innocently, "You don't think so?"
     "It's utterly fiendish," declared the Doctor, one handing waving theatrically. "My poor TARDIS. There are plants everywhere. Who's going to water them, Alison? Tell me that. Look at the console…it's got branches." Finally, he noticed the birds perched on her shoulders. "What on Earth are those?"
     "Oh, they woke me up this morning. They were in my room."
     The Doctor's eyes narrowed as he tried to outstare the bird on her left shoulder. "Two turtledoves," he muttered, portentously.  
      The Master emerged from the one corner of the room that had managed to retain a sense of gothic gloom.
     "I don't suppose there's any possible way I can blame this on you?" asked the Doctor as he examined the console that was now a very merry Christmas tree.
     "Not exactly my style," said the Master, not bothering to disguise his amusement at the Doctor's annoyance, "though I do like the ultimate effect." Somewhere, deeper in the TARDIS, a carol began to play.
     The Doctor huffed and hummed around the console. Alison opened a bag of chocolate coins.
     "He's not very fond of Christmas," said the Master in a low voice.
     "Yeah," said Alison, "I had worked that one out. What's his problem though?" She broke off two tiny pieces of chocolate and offered them to the turtledoves.
     "Oh, it's all a little too cheerful, I suppose. A little too festive." He said festive like other people said plague.
     "So he’ll sing show tunes to save the world, but he doesn't like Christmas?"
     The Master shrugged. "We call have our foibles, Miss Cheney."
     The Doctor spun round, his gaunt face now looking positively undead amongst all the Christmas cheer. "There's only one thing for it," he declared, "we have to confront my nemesis. My one, true shadow-self. A man who defies time itself and has a penchant for impressive facial hair. My greatest archenemy!"
     The Master gave a polite cough. The Doctor ignored him. Pointedly. "Alison," he said. "We're going straight to the heart of this unholy terror that's been unleashed upon us."
     "Where's that?" asked Alison, now nibbling delicately on a snowman shaped chocolate.
     "To the North Pole!" said the Doctor. "To Santa Claus!"

Alison stood in the open doorway of the TARDIS dressed head to toe in clothing that was both thermal and fluffy. On her way back from the wardrobe room a pair of reindeer antlers with little flashing red lights had appeared on her head. She'd kept them on: the turtledoves seemed to like them.
     Outside, thick flakes of snow fell on a shockingly white, desolate landscape. The Doctor stomped back and forth, scowling as he appeared to look for something in the freshly fallen snow.
     "But Santa Claus doesn't exist," said Alison.
     "Oh, that's what he wants you to believe," said the Doctor. "It's a fiendish double-bluff. The sort of megalomanical plan I expect only from the most diabolical of geniuses. A make-believe game for children is the most cunning of disguises. It's how the Easter bunny hid from me. And the tooth fairy. Not to mention Sherlock Holmes." The Doctor's eyes narrowed dramatically as he stared off at the horizon.
     Watching from the TARDIS, the Master sighed.

After a few minutes of pacing, the Doctor came back inside, shivering. "Wrong place," he muttered.
     "Here," said Alison, handing him a mug, "drink this, you're freezing."
     The Doctor took a deep swig then screwed up his face in disgust. "Alison, is this mulled wine?"
     "Yes," she said, sipping at her own cup, "I found it warming over the fire. Good, isn't it?"
     The Doctor shoved the mug back into her hands, and strode over to the arboreal console. "I will not have these festive foodstuffs on board my ship," he snapped. "No mulled wine, and no cheese and port." He turned on his heel to face the Master who was busy fussing over a generous selection of cheeses that had appeared on top of the chessboard.
     "Oh, don't you worry, Doctor. Lest you forget, being an android, I can't eat." As soon as the Doctor's back was turned he tucked the bottle of port behind a cushion.

Their second stop to the North Pole looked almost exactly like their first, but as soon as the Doctor stepped outside he gave a shout of triumph and stamped on the ground. "I know you're down there, Claus," he shouted at the snow. He stamped at the ground again. "Show yourself!"
     Alison watched, chewing at the end of a striped candy-cane. "Sometimes," she muttered, mostly to herself, "I think he's actually mad." The turtledove on her left shoulder cooed agreeably.
     There was a rumbling deep in the earth and the snow-laden ground in front of the TARDIS fell away. In its place stood a rather large wooden building. It looked very jolly. Just next to the front door there was a small sign. It read Santa's Grotto.
     The door opened. A large man dressed in red and white stepped outside. "Hello," he said.
     "Santa Claus," snarled the Doctor.
     "Ah, Doctor," said the jolly fat man. "A Merry Christmas to you, and if I may be so bold, a Happy New Year!"
     "Happy New Year," said the Doctor, his lip still curled, his snarl still firmly in place. "I'm a Time Lord! There are no new years, just old ones…or forgotten ones. Or ones that have been misplaced by impetuous meddlers."
     Santa sighed. "I'm just trying to spread a little holiday cheer, Doctor."
     "Not in my TARDIS, you're not."
     "But I hadn't even had a chance to deliver your Christmas presents yet," said Santa, looking suddenly sad.
     "Presents?" said Alison, stepping forward.
     "Don't trust him, Alison," said the Doctor.
     "But it's Santa Claus." She looked at him, and, yes, she was quite certain that even though he didn't exist, even though he was as much a product of Coca Cola's capitalist dreams as any folklore about St. Nicholas, this man was absolutely, definitely Santa Claus. He radiated an aura of warmth and generosity and kindness.
     "Don't worry," said Santa, "there'll be stockings hanging up on that lovely fireplace you have in the TARDIS, whether he likes it or not."
     "Hanging on what?" demanded the Doctor. "You're not putting nails in my mantelpiece again. Have you any idea the damage you did last time? I had to get the whole thing sanded and revarnished."
     Alison turned to the Doctor. "That's why you don't like Santa? Because he stuck a couple of nails in your mantelpiece?"
     The Doctor huffed. "Hardly. Dear old Santa has a long history of sticking a couple of nails in the mantelpiece, metaphorically speaking: he's responsible for the invasion of the dead-nosed reindeer, he's decked far too many halls with blood and holly, and he ignited the elf and safety debacle of 1884… need I go on?"
     "Are you just making this stuff up? I don't remember any zombie reindeer turning up at Christmas."
     "Well, of course not! I dealt with it, didn't I? But rest assured, Alison, Santa Claus is nothing but a menace to this planet. Not to mention my TARDIS's interior decor."
     Santa sniffed. "I thought it might cheer you up."
     "But what about all the children's presents?" said Alison.
     "Presents-shemsents," said the Doctor. "He delivers them using stolen time technology, which, by the way, caused a little paradox in-"
     Santa's Grotto exploded. It wasn't a very big explosion. The building was still standing and no bystanders were injured, but there was an awful loud noise and plenty of smoke pouring out from the windows and doors.
     "The presents!" cried Santa as he dashed back inside.
     "Aren't you going to help him?" Alison asked the Doctor.
     "What, so he can cause planetary havoc on yet another December 24th? I don't think so."
     "But it's Santa Claus!"
     "Precisely."
      "Fine!"

She ran into the Grotto herself, coughing as the smoke hit her. The turtledoves clung to her shoulders and flapped their wings, dispersing the smoke as best they could. Someone grabbed her arm and yanked her to one side. A turtledove squawked. "Careful," said Santa. "That smoke machine can be quite nasty if you get a lungful of the stuff."
     Alison looked around the Grotto. It was very nice, and very undamaged. "Um…"
     "A ruse," said Santa, smiling just like Santa should. "To get rid of him. He will go on a bit, and sometimes he nicks bits and pieces off my sleigh. Claims it's for the safety of the universe, but I know he just wants spare parts for his TARDIS."
     "Are you…did you really do all those things he said you did?" asked Alison.
     "Well now." Santa looked rather embarrassed, somehow managing to develop even rosier cheeks. "Not intentionally, it's just there have been one or two little slip-ups over the decades. And the problems I've had with all the new technology, well… I tried to mechanise one of the factories last year and all I got for my trouble was an army of giant robotic elves who had some deep-rooted emotional issues with humans. Magic and technology, you see, they don't mix well."
     "Right," she said. "Well, I won't tell. About the Grotto, I mean."
     Santa grinned. "Thank you, Alison."

Alison stepped back outside looking distraught. "The fire's out, but it's a mess in there…all those presents…melted…" She sighed. "Santa's very upset."
     "Just so long as you're all right," said the Doctor, looking fractionally guilty. He glanced at the smoking Grotto. "Well, I expect he'll be too busy cleaning up his own mess to cause much trouble this year. I suppose we can go….once my TARDIS is back to normal."

"Happy now?" asked Alison.
     The Doctor looked round his dark, gloomy, gothic TARDIS, full of melancholy shadows and a disturbing number of spider webs. "Yes," he said, and something not entirely dissimilar to a smile appeared on his lips. "Yes, I rather think I am."
     On Alison's shoulder, a turtledove ruffled it wings.
     "You’re not keeping those," said the Doctor. "No cute animals on this ship."
     Alison ignored him. The turtledoves cooed approvingly.
     "Glass of port, anyone?" asked the Master.

The End.


L M Myles is the writer of some short stories and the co-editor of Chicks Unravel Time, an anthology of essays journeying through every season of Doctor Who. She wishes there were more books about Scottish werewolves and that Character Options would release a Quark action figure. These things are not related. She can often be found procrastinating on twitter (@lmmyles).

Thank you, L M.  It's good to see that Doctor get an outing again.  We'll continue tomorrow with SF writer (and new comicker) Gareth Powell talking about... Three French Hens.  Until then, Cheerio!


4 Response to "The Twelve Blogs of Christmas: Two"

  • Craig Oxbrow Says:

    Lovely. I laughed out loud at the Master's entrance.


  • Erik Says:

    One day I'll figure out what the Master is doing as a robot on the Tardis.

    One day.


  • Fatso Says:

    Very good to see you at the signing at Reading earlier, old chap. Very much looking forward to reading the book. I had a quick look through the Glossary just now and a couple of the things in it made me smile. I know; I'm sad! :)

    And thanks for posing, again, with the wombat!

    https://twitter.com/FatsoTheWombat/status/278590380931424258/photo/1

    Cheers,

    Ash


  • Paul Cornell Says:

    I thought it was very good too. And it's not every day you get to pose with a wombat.