A flickering of the lights, a strange sound, possibly heard, possibly imagined, and suddenly in the corridor was a door. A door that hadn’t been there just a moment ago. With a ‘click’ it sprang open, and a man came out backwards. A soft floppy hat topped a head of curly hair, a huge scarf and a coat that he shouldn’t really have been wearing indoors if he expected to feel the benefit when he went outside.
“Right, K9, I feel quietly confident that the last repair should have fixed the old girl. Let’s have a look, shall w...”
He turned as he spoke, and the huge grin on his face froze. He was standing in front of a big blue box, the door of which he had just come through. It stood out from the background, by being the only thing, apart from himself, that was not grey.
“That’s odd.” He suddenly grinned again. “Maybe it’s just the season’s colours!” he guessed.
A voice behind him made him start. “Oh dear oh dear. You really should not be here. Oh well, never mind. Here, have a jelly baby.”
He turned, and was confronted by a small man in a dark jacket and frilly shirt, with a moppish hairstyle that gave him the look of a slightly over-inflated Beatle. What was most noticeable about him, however, was the fact that he was totally monochromatic.
At this moment K9 looked out of the Tardis door. “Negative, Master. All is grey-scale”
The greyscale gentleman looked at them. He put away the jelly babies and produced from the same apparently empty pocket a descant recorder. Instead of playing it, however, he used it to poke The Doctor in the midriff.
“Oh, my giddy aunt. Look at you. Go on, look at you. You shouldn’t be here. Oh dear oh dear. “
The Doctor stepped back out of reach of the recorder, and screwed up his face in concentration.
“I know you. You’re me, aren’t you? We’ve met before, when something meddled with the timeline. I wonder what they want now. And why are you grey?”
“No no NO! This will not do. This just will not do. Can’t you see what’s happened? Can’t you understand the information that is in front of your eyes! Oh my giddy aunt. If this is what I become in the Real World there is no hope. No hope at all. I may as well go back to Gallifrey and make jelly babies!”
“Oh, I say, that’s really not fair. I’ve only just got here. Give a man a chance, won’t you?”
“A chance? A chance you say? I have only just got here too, yet I can see what has gone wrong. Okay, maybe that’s a bit unfair. I have some information you’re lacking, to be truthful.” He gave the recorder an experimental blow, but all that happened was that K9 retreated, muttering “Ouch, Master!”
“You’ve been playing with the Tardis, at a guess? Am I right? Am I right?”
The polychrome Doctor nodded in affirmation. “She’s been behaving oddly, setting off on her own, not going where I pilot her..”
“Not going where you pilot her? She never did, you idiot. You have no more idea how to control her than I do. Than any of us do. We just make it up, and hope for the best!”
“Well, yes, technically! But, I tried to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow. That always works”
The monochromatic Doctor cupped his head in his hands. “Oh dear. You know that is nonsense, don’t you?”
“What do you mean nonsense? It always worked for him!”
“He made it up! It was hogswash. He just meddled! Just happened to be good at it, if you must know. All smoke and mirrors, flannel. Hogswash! Now look what you’ve achieved. You’ve ended up here!”, and to emphasis his annoyance he smacked the polychrome Doctor across his knuckles with the recorder.
“OW! “ The Doctor sucked his stinging knuckles. Grumbling, grudgingly he asked “And where, exactly is here?”
“Finally a sensible question! There could be hope for you yet. Although looking at you I doubt it. You’ve crossed the boundary, haven’t you? Somehow you’ve ended up here. Look around you. You’re in the world of imagination. You’ve left your reality and entered that of someone, or something else. And that someone else has only seen monochrome.”
“Oh, that’s not a problem! I can fix that!” The colourful doctor broke out into a toothy grin again.
“I’ll have one of your jelly babies to celebrate!”
He looked down at the packed being proffered, and the grey sweets in the lighter grey bag. “No, actually I won’t, thank you”
“Master!” K9 called out.
“Not now, K9, I’m busy”
“But, Master!” K9 called again.
“K9, wait! I’m telling...erm...myself, I suppose. Or my Grandfather? ...about my clever plan to escape from here. You see, I have a phase-inverter in the Tardis that...”
“Negative, Master. You do not.” Interrupted K9.
“What do you mean?” asked The Doctor, turning back to the Tardis.
He was just in time to see a strange man with a bowler hat, jacket, bow tie, enormous shoes and a cane hurtle out of the door with a bright yellow ball in his monochromatic hands.
“Hey!” both Doctors yelled, but The Tramp was off down the corridor.
“I don’t suppose by any chance that was not the phase inverter?”
The colourful doctor sighted.
“I don’t suppose, by any chance, you have a spare?”
They sat in the Tardis, some time later, drinking tea. It transpired that although the comestibles from both realities looked different, they still tasted and acted as they should, and so monochrome biscuits were being dunked into golden Earl Grey tea poured from a monochrome teapot.
“I could just rebuild the inverter” supplied the colourful Doctor.
“How long would that take?”
“Oh, with K9’s help, and yours, probably about thirty six hours”
“I’m not sure you have that much time. Look at your scarf” The monochrome Doctor pointed with his recorder to the end of the scarf, which had been bright orange, and was now grey. “I’d say about 6 hours, in all, before you become an anachronistic greyscale memory that shouldn’t exist. Then, I fear you may just be flushed from this reality as if you were never here. And I have no idea where you would end up. If indeed you ended up anywhere at all.”
“K9!. Could you trace the phase inverter? “
“Affirmative, master! It has a slight leak of gamma radiation. I can follow that without difficulty, Master”
“Then why did you not tell us this before?” asked the monochrome Doctor, ignoring his colourful companion’s gestures not to ask.
“He told me to shut up, Master!” replied K9, in a tone that indicated that it was his lot to have to obey the orders of an idiot.
“Oh, fine. Now he thinks that I acted stupidly”
“Affirmative, Master” replied K9, in a tone that could have been mistaken for smug.
A short while later the three were heading down the corridor.
“Nobody really knows what the corridors are, or what is outside of them. We live, or exist at least, in them, and get on marvellously, for the most part. I should warn you, though, that you are likely to see some strange things”
Even as he said this they were overtaken by a monochrome Kangaroo, which paused, tutted loudly at them and continued. Close behind him was a rather toothy child in a striped top and jeans. “What was that, Skippy?” he yelled in an Australian accent as he ran past.
Almost immediately, from the opposite direction ran a rough Collie, which also stopped, and sniffed the monochrome Doctor’s pocket. He grinned and pulled out a jelly baby, which was grabbed and swallowed by the dog. The Doctor reached out to stroke the dog, but it barked and ran off. An elderly man and child ran after them. “What was that, Lassie? Jeff has fallen down the well?” called out the old man.
As they ran out of sight the young boy could be heard complaining “Gramps! I’m right here!”
“There you go, I told you so” said the greyscale Doctor. “Weirder and weirder...”
“They seem familiar” opined the polychromatic time traveller.
“Look at your scarf! We need to be going. Oh my sainted aunt, you’re fading faster than I thought! K9, can you trace the device?”
“Affirmative, Doctor. But the gamma radiation is fading. It is possible that it is unable to remain radiating in this reality. We must hurry, masters!” The edge of urgency in K9’s voice injected a frisson of panic into the two Doctors, and off they set again.
Twenty minutes later the two Doctors were arguing.
“I don’t care what you think, I say it was a Bottlenosed Dolphin!” said th greyscale incarnation.
“No, you’re wrong. It was a porpoise. Plainly, clearly it was a porpoise!”
A youth pulled up in a boat. “Don’t suppose any of you gentlemen have seen a Dolphin?”
“There was a porpoise here a while ago” said the polychrome Doctor.
“No, that’s not him. He’s a Bottlenose Dolphin” sighted the youth, and set off again, shouting “Flipper! FLIPPER!” as he went. The monochrome Doctor looked smug. “See! I told you!”
“How was he in a boat? There’s no water! And where did the porp...dolphin come from?”
“Don’t ask. I told you it was weird. It makes sense, if you let it. I find that pretending it is Saturday teatime helps. I don’t know why.”
Before the two could continue, K9 called. “Masters. The trace is fading. I can no longer be certain how far away the device is. We must hurry, Masters”
The two incarnations picked up the pace, and were soon running up the corridor after K9. All at once, as they rounded the corner they came face to face with The Clown.
“Hey!” yelled the colourful Doctor, and grabbed him by the lapel. “Where’s my device?”
The clown looked hurt, and the Doctor shook him. “Where. Is. My. Device! Look, I don’t have much time!” He gestured at himself. He was mostly grey, with just hints of colour in his scarf, his coat and his shirt. Everything else was monochrome. K9 was entirely grey.
“He can’t answer. He can’t speak” said his opposite number.
The clown gestured to a box containing numerous juggling balls. “Ahah! That’s the spirit” yelled the Doctors, and dived at the box.
“Oh, that’s not good.”
All the balls, every single one, were an identical monochrome grey.
“We’re running out of time! Which one is it? Which one is it?” yelled the monochrome Doctor.
“Master...” said K9
“Not now K9! I’m busy!”
“Master! The phase inverter is the one made of plastic. All the rest are cloth!”
The two Doctors stopped fumbling in the box. “We knew that!” they yelled simultaneously, and commenced a more controlled search.
“I’ve got it!” yelled the monochrome doctor, and held aloft the device. “Quickly” We’re running out of time!” There was no immediate response, so he looked round at his counterpart. The polychromatic Doctor was leaning against the wall.
“Sorry, felt quite dizzy. I think we need to hurry. How far is it to the Tardis?”
“About an hour by foot, Doctor” supplied K9.
The Doctor looked worried. “I’m not sure I can make it. Lets go!” He staggered off. The monochrome Doctor caught his hand, turned him round and pointed him in the other direction.
They struggled on for about fifteen minutes, but it became clear they were not going to make it. The Doctor was in distress, his fingers going numb, and K9 was moving slower and slower.
“Dammit, Doctor, you have to get through this. I don’t think you can even regenerate here. You won’t have the strength!” yelled the Doctor in residence, and his opposite number staggered against the wall.
Suddenly there was a clatter of hooves. They looked up and saw a man on a magnificent white horse. He was wearing a white Stetson and a black face mask. “Howdy! You look as if you’re in trouble. Can I help?”
The monochrome Doctor explained the problem, and without a moment’s thought the stranger said “Get him up on Silver, behind me. I’m sure we can be there momentarily.”
“What about K9?”
The stranger yelled, and immediately a Native American Indian rode up. “Yes, Kemo Sabe?”
“Tonto. We need to get these strangers to their box, in a hurry. Can you take that strange contraption?”
With a bit of struggling K9 was fastened to the side of the Indian’s horse, and with a yell they set off.
“Who was that masked man?” The Doctor mumbled.
He looked around as there was no reply. Finding himself unexpectedly alone he yelled “Hey! What about me?” Even as he spoke a handsome grey stallion trotted up and nudged him under the arm. “That’s champion!” exclaimed The Doctor, climbing onto his back.
The Tardis door was open, and there was frantic shouting from the interior.
“Look! You’re too weak! Tell me what to do! Do I look like an idiot? Don’t answer that.”
The Polychromic Doctor was now a dark grey. All the shades were merging into a uniform colourless shadow. He was sat on a high-backed bar stool, whilst his compatriot was under the console, on his back. A panel hung open, and in one hand he held the phase inverter.
“Quickly, what do I need to do?”
His opposite number struggled against the grey fog that was filling his head. “The...the inverter fits in...in between the...dimensional stabiliser and...thing. Metasyntactic variable! The...vortex loop control!”
A series of thumps, a few curses and his companion yelled” It’s in! Now what?”
With effort the Doctor called out “Now, connect the red lead to the shunt on the Time Rotor!”
His companion let out a feral yell! “Doctor! They’re all grey. THEY’RE ALL GREY!”
But The Doctor could not hear. He fell from the stool to the floor with a thump...
...and woke up.
“Master? Are you all right, Master?”
“K9! What...where am I? What happened?”
“You were sat in front of the television, Master. You were watching old television programmes. And you fell asleep, Master. Are you functioning correctly?”
The doctor grinned. “Never better, K9. Never better! Here! Have a jelly baby!” He groped in his pocket and pulled out a bag. A grey bag, with monochrome sweets...