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By David Ronayne

A London Court, 1898

The chaos in the courtroom slowly abated as the judge screamed for order over the incredulous murmur of the crowd assembled in the public gallery. The Honourable Prosecutor for the Crown glanced nervously from the dock to the judge and quickly back again. The young Scot had sunk just out of sight with his hands over his head and a pained expression on his face, as his tramp-like companion flashed a hopeful smile at his audience. He was obviously quite mad. The young barrister's eyes flicked to the chair again. The judge's face had cleared, but the vein near his eye was beginning to twitch uncontrollably, and an unhealthy rumbling sound was beginning to emanate from his direction. A hush fell over the room as the large, elderly magistrate slowly pulled himself up to his full height and lent over the bench to glare at the mop-haired figure standing on the other side of the room.

‘Am I to understand,’ he hissed with terrifying restraint, ‘that you, a visitor to this country,’ he paused at this point, allowing himself to wheeze out a tortured breath, as if to suggest this in itself should be a hanging offence, ‘being pursued by agents of an unknown power,’ another wheeze, and perhaps a growing discolouration of his already mottled features, ‘did arrive in this country, without, it should be noted, availing yourself to her gracious Majesty's Customs and Excise, and that your craft...’

‘The TARDIS,’ the little figure interjected, waving his hands abstractly in the air, ‘It's very important you remember my TAR.... um.... yes... well,’ he muttered as the Judge's unwavering glare, and increasing twitch, fell on him. ‘It's parked somewhere on Salisbury Plain if I remember correctly,’ he mumbled as he stuffed his hands in his pockets.

For a few brief moments all that could be heard was the faint whistling of air as it escaped the Judge's sinuses. The many members of the court who noticed the reddening of his face began to slide for cover under their desks, as a sharp, deep intake of breath heralded a renewed, less restrained onslaught from his Worship. ‘We are then to believe,’ the Judge raged, his volume and tone increasing steadily as he spoke, ‘that since then you have been involved in inciting a riot in Brixton, the destruction of a shale mine in Cornwall, a fire in Sizewell, have been implicated in the assault of two members of the constabulary in Brighton and attempted to defraud a notable London banker with counterfeit notes,’ (this last charge was screamed as the Judge pointed to the small pile of ECU notes, Galactic Decicredits, and wine gums resting on the bench), ‘all within the space of seven days!’

The Judge sagged back into his chair, as the shorter man shuffled bashfully in the dock, fiddling with his fingers.

A hush fell over the courtroom as all eyes watched. ‘Yes... well,’ he said. ‘After that, things got a little complicated.’

This item appeared in TSV 39 (May 1994).

Index nodes: Fiction