A couple of years back I was talking with my friend Bob about possible British comic series that we might want to pitch for. Top of our combined list was Torchwood and Doctor Who, and we discussed a really rather interesting Torchwood story that I was supposed to have written. Only I didn’t write it, and now I don’t even know where my notes on it are (if I even made any). And I can't remember what it was.
Part of the reason I didn’t write it was because Children of Earth came along and effectively closed the Torchwood narrative space, and I didn’t really feel comfortable adding to it. Another part of the reason is that trying to do so made me realise that I don’t really enjoy writing in an ongoing story of which I am already a fan – I want to read about what happens to the characters, not make it up myself, because that’s what the escapism of being a fan is all about for me, as opposed to the escapism of being a writer. I also don’t feel authorised to do so, somehow – it’s kind of a weird one because I am fully in favour of fan-fiction and fan-work in general as a Good Thing. Yet, for me, the death of the author is something that should be solemnly observed, not an excuse to usurp their kingdom (and so dissolve my own consciousness in the process).
In the meantime, while all of this psychological wrangling was going on, Bob still wanted a Doctor Who story for his portfolio (I think we’d given up on the idea of pitching for the series by now), so I wrote one. Except, that by the time I actually had it finished he didn’t need one anymore, so it never got drawn. And, despite the previous paragraph I actually had quite a bit of fun writing this – maybe because the Doctor inhabits such a large character that I didn’t feel that I was using up valuable chunks of his time making him go on my own silly adventures, whilst Martha was just criminally underdeveloped in the series (not that I developed her much in this, but you know).
I think that this may count as the one time I have genuinely written a piece of non-parody, serious, straight-up fan-fiction, and I’m not quite sure I’m likely to repeat the process.
Until the End
Close up profile of Martha, she’s looking around in a sudden, shocked movement.
MARTHA: ‘Doctor... where’s the TARDIS?’
DOCTOR: [off panel] ‘It’s right here, where we-’
Close up of the Doctor. He’s looking slighty confused in that puppydog way that he has. Speech bubbles float over from previous panel.
DOCTOR: ‘That’s really not good, is it?’
MARTHA: ‘Not good?’
The Doctor stands before a distinctive rock outcrop on an abandoned beach waving his hand at nothing while a purple sea stretches lazily out into the distance behind him. He wears only a pair of pinstriped bathing shorts and a pair of swimming goggles. In the bottom of the panel Martha grabs at a towel, back to the panel, wearing a bikini. Panel goes across the page.
DOCTOR: ‘Weelll – There are stronger ways of putting it, but I think it might be better to hold those in reserve. For now.’
MARTHA: ‘But you said yourself – there’s nothing threatening on this planet – the perfect holiday spot at the beginning of the universe.’
The Doctor kneels down next to an incredibly neat pile of clothes.
DOCTOR: ‘I did, didn’t I.’
The Doctor faces Martha. He carries his pile of clothes and points to a spot beyond her while she does up her shirt. They are just on the edge of the rocky part of the beach.
MARTHA: ‘So we’ve got nothing to worry about then, have we?’
DOCTOR: ‘Ah. Logic. Never one of humanity’s fortes, I always found. I’ll just go and get changed – shall I. Then we’ll start looking.
Martha sits on a rock by a rock pool, glaring at the strange creatures within and looking annoyed .She is wearing the towel as a makeshift skirt. There is a faint ‘Vworp Vworp’ going on in the air around her. Panel goes across the whole page.
MARTHA: ‘Don’t worry. I won’t look.’
The Doctor opens the door and peers out of the newly appeared TARDIS, all dressed and bouncy looking.
DOCTOR: ‘Oh, there you are. Hop in.’
The Doctor pulls Martha into the TARDIS across panels and into panel 2(?).
MARTHA: ‘How did you find the TARDIS so fast?’
DOCTOR: ‘It’s a bit of a long story – and we better get going. I’ll tell you on the way.’
Effectively the same panel as panel 1, although smaller to allow panel 5 to nestle in next to it. There needs to be some kind of break or disjunction between the top of the page and these two panels – and maybe a break between the panels themselves, I know how I would do it if I was writing prose because I’d talk about cogs and gears coming loose and then meshing again but my visual language is maybe not up to scratch. The only thing I can think of may be really lame, but possibly (and given the sort of Mobius stuff going on and the fact that both these panels are repeated at different points in the story) we could have these two panels flipped horizontally on the page?
The Doctor, getting changed in a hollow, finds a piece of paper in his coat pocket.
The Doctor and Martha stand by the distinctive rock formation in a sunset that casts long shadows across the sand. Pretty large panel (?).
MARTHA: ‘So, you think that that’s what it is?’
DOCTOR: ‘It’s the first time I’ve ever witnessed it first hand, but all the evidence points that way.’
MARTHA: ‘And you’re saying that we’re stuck here?’
DOCTOR: ‘Yes, unless another time traveller comes to pick us up.’
MARTHA: ‘And there are exactly how many time travellers alive who are capable of coming this far back?’
DOCTOR: ‘Alive is such an imprecise term.’
Rear view shot as Martha and the Doctor stare out to sea in the twilight. The towel is by Martha’s side
MARTHA: ‘But off the top of your head?’
DOCTOR: ‘I would probably have to say just the one, maybe.’
MARTHA: ‘One, maybe. Which would be you?’
Portrait shot of Martha, towel bunched in her hand.
MARTHA: ‘That’s good to know. Thank you. How long?’
DOCTOR: ‘I don’t know. If I had the TARDIS I might be able to say. But...’
MARTHA: ‘Just tell me what you can.’
Overhead shot of the beach. Two figures can be seen surrounded by loads of mathematical formula inscribed in the sand. A small hand-built hut that wasn’t there before can just be seen to the side of the distinctive rock formation. Time jump in this panel from the last – maybe show it with growth of trees/plants etc that weren’t there before?
MARTHA: ‘So, I think that I understand the theory up to now.’
DOCTOR: ‘I should hope so. You now know more than the best theoretical physicists going up to at least the 23rd century on Earth.’
MARTHA: Then are you ready to explain what this is that’s got us stuck here? Without just saying that it’s all a lot of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff?’
Close up of the Doctor. He looks much the same as always, although his clothes are a bit more tattered.
DOCTOR: ‘No wibbly-wobbly. I promise. Not even a reverse in the polarity of the neutron flow.’
Close up of Martha, she’s at least 10 years older then she was three panels ago. Her clothes are also starting to fray, but she still has the towel with her.
MARTHA: ‘Good. Thank you.’
[Four widescreen panels – lots of passage of time in the first three for you to showcase your widescreen skillz]
The height of summer shows the sun beating down on the two of them as they sunbathe in front of the oddly coloured ocean. Eating ripe fruit and niceness.
DOCTOR: [caption] ‘As I said before, it’s called a Temporal Dissonance Field’
Autumn has them in the wood collecting wood and mushrooms, play with the reds and golds and stuff.
DOCTOR: [caption] ‘It happens when a strip of space-time joins up on itself, but with a single twist in it. A Möbius band. It’s rare because the right conditions are only found in deep time. Like now.’
Winter: A Norweigen Black Metal album cover. Maybe snow on the beach or something cool.
DOCTOR: [caption] ‘The TARDIS is on that strip – in the same place that it always was – happily waiting for us to be there too. Only that won’t happen until the single side of the strip intersect our own continuum again.’
In Spring, the Doctor, ever youthful, and Martha, very old, sit on the porch of their self built hut on the sea side, just before the distinctively shaped rocks.
DOCTOR: [caption] ‘Which could be a while’
MARTHA: ‘You know Doctor – I may be selfish for saying this, but... I’ve had you to myself for my whole life, and I can’t think of anything I could have wanted more. Thank you...’
From behind: the Doctor, in rags, sits next to a mound of stones on the beach that is Martha’s grave. The distinctively shaped rocks rise before him.
MARTHA: [caption] ‘...for being there.’
Same as Panel 1, but the TARDIS is in the shot. It has appeared suddenly (no ‘Vworping’)
Same as panels 1 + 2 but with no Doctor or TARDIS.
The TARDIS flies through the time vortex, but it is a twisted up, Möbius strip of a vortex. Two inset panels in opposite corners show a pen and paper and a set of soap and razors.
DOCTOR: [caption] ‘The most interesting thing about temporal dissonance is the way that it supports multiple timelines. The loop twists in on itself and so the past can, for once, be changed.’
The same as panel 8 on page 1. This time with dialogue.
DOCTOR: Aha! What’s this? A note, Martha – It’s a note! And it’s from me. Now that’s very interesting.
Shows what’s written on the first side of the piece of paper: (I was basically going to go with showing only the note in these two panels, but am open to showing reactions if it might look better – although I like the sort of ‘flat’ ending that the text alone will give – allowing the reader to fill in what his reaction would be.)
Hello! By the way – it’s a Temporal Dissonance Field – cycling at a frequency of 67.9 years. Don’t worry though, there’s nothing on this planet evolved enough to be dangerous yet – although you knew that already.
Shows what’s written on the back.
Oh, also – I took the liberty of taking Martha with me. Sorry to leave you on your own like this, but I did promise to show her that thing in New New York, and a promise is a promise.All the best,The Doctor.
On an uninhabited, but perfectly survivable planet, the Doctor and Martha are separated from the TARDIS for a fixed period of time. There is no way of escape, but no threat either. Eventually, due to the cyclical nature of the temporal paradox that has caused the TARDIS to be inaccessible, it will reappear, and then they can make their way on. Unfortunately, the time it will take to do this is longer than Martha’s lifespan. Will she be willing to stay with the doctor... until the end?
Martha, her towel and the Tenth Doctor – all two of him.