It’s all about the entrance, apparently. Make the right impression, capture attentions, win hearts.
Sorry, but I’m a bit preoccupied right now. For some reason, my time machine’s decided to have a tantrum. No idea why; one minute I’m reading in my favourite armchair, next it’s all alarms, klaxons, beeps, buzzes and that sodding cloister bell tolling from somewhere in the distance. Sing praise to the inventor who thought it’d be a swell idea to give TARDISes a personality.
There’s probably a reason for all this. Despite my constant abuse, Timelord ships are notoriously spectacular at finding disturbances in the general flow of Time. Makes for a very interesting way to fill long periods of sod-all. Although landing with any level of dignity near these causality events is where it all falls down, of course. Literally.
“JUST PARK, DAMN IT!” I roar, pulling levers, handfuls at a time. One almighty groan, and we land. And when I say land, I mean we hit the ground with an alarming amount of force and I find myself sliding on my back towards the doors.
Upon getting up, I straighten my top hat, dust off my long coat and give the centre console my best withering look. I could make a snappy, parental kind of remark. Something like: “stay here and think about what you’ve done.”
Ah, sod parenting. There are immediate and obvious problems with disciplining an inanimate object. I turn on my heel and head outside.
In the outside world, I immediately hear a seagull’s cry and feel that associated snippet of annoyance. Sea air, hitting me in the face, and the smell of salty seaweed already seeping into my nostrils. Under my feet are aged boardwalks. “Brighton Pier,” I mutter. “Could be worse.”
People passing me on the pier give me weird looks for talking to myself, added to the ones aimed at my top hat and coat. As always, I ignore them, and go on pondering. “Come on then, Universe. What’ve you got for me this time?”
“Excuse me?” A pier attendant sidles up to me, trying and failing to supress concern. There are too many concerns in modern human times towards muttering to oneself. What is the big deal? I find it focuses the mind and allows nothing but pure deductions to come forth. Unless you happen to be a celebrity, in which case it seems your incessant ramblings get printed and published.
The attendant’s face hasn’t improved, and I’m suddenly wondering if I accidentally said all that out loud. “Yes?”
“Do you need any help, at all?”
“Yes,” I reply, “can you tell me the day, the time, the date, the date of the next full moon, precisely what you had for breakfast and whether you’ve seen anything peculiar today?”
I see the answer ‘You’ dance about his mind, so avoid the insult entirely by wandering over to a nearby fish-and-chips stall. Fast food not at the forefront of my mind, however, I lean in to expect a clock I’d seen over the pier-antendant’s shoulder.
“Broken,” I say to it. “Right, has time broken, or is it just you?” No answers, as ever. “No, come on, time breaks like cheap glass around me.” Still nothing. “If this is all that sodding box brought me here for…”
I vault over the wall into the small building – a shed, upon reflection – to inspect the place. Greasy smells of fish and chips start attempting to seep into my pores and clothes.
Hitting your head on the underside of a desk doesn’t normally hurt as much if you happen to wear a top hat, but it still doesn’t do much to lighten your mood. If this is that pier guy again…
Now. This is better.
I straighten up and am met with something entirely different. On the surface, it’s a young adult male with short-medium length, brown hair and blue eyes. But surfaces are expert liars.
There’s something about this guy. He looks normal enough, but still out of place. Like a distant traveller, but something much more than that. He hasn’t just come from Australia; it’s like he’s from a whole different reality all together. I’ve experienced much in my centuries, but this is a guy I need to talk to… …and he’s asking me for chips.
I get to work, trying to look like I’m in on the whole fast-food serving business, whilst also trying to suss this guy out. Then something else occurs to me. “Do you happen to know the time?”
He says he doesn’t know. Typical. “Maybe try getting a watch?” Should I bump into you again, Timeless. He says he doesn’t need one.
Eh? “Why don’t you need one?” I seem to have irritated him. Timeless, maybe, but not Emotionless. At least there’s a tick in the Ethical column.
So now he’s questioning my attire. Some stuff about a magician, a rabbit…the North Pole? Maybe this isn’t Brighton. An asylum, cunningly disguised as Brighton? It happened in Norwich in the year 2581…
Still, he’s entertaining enough. I laugh; try and brighten his mood. “It’s kind of my thing,” I say. “The hat and coat, anyway. I don’t have rabbits, I’m afraid. But I imagine I could get one for you.” Ooh, how’s the TARDIS going to react to you, Timeless? That reminds me.
“Why don’t you have a watch, again?” Come on, Timeless. Redeem yourself. “They’re useful, for you know, keeping track of time?” Filthy hypocrite, I am.
Now he’s staring at me. I shouldn’t be this nervous, I’ve dealt with worse things than an enigmatic guy on Brighton pier. Wish my heart beats would calm down a bit, though.
He asks why I have two heartbeats. I can only smile. An entire millennium alive and now somebody notices without my saying so. “I’ll tell you,” I reply, “but only if you tell me why you don’t have a watch.”
Maybe Timeless here even fears time. Or he’s borrowing it. I could relate to that. He says he doesn’t need to keep an eye on time. Time isn’t relevant unless he needs it to be. Brilliant. That’s Timelord talk right there. How have I not met this guy already?
And he says he has his phone for that sort of thing. I laugh again. He doesn’t seem to be under the impression that he said something funny. Awkwardly, I consult a little chart under the till, pretend that I knew all along that he owed me £1.40, and take that amount from him.
He leaves without another word, and sets off down the pier towards land. Coming from the other direction, I spot what could potentially be this food-stall’s owner. I slip out the hatchway, coat billowing out behind me, and set off after Timeless.
This guy is definitely something new. Well done, TARDIS, you’ve redeemed yourself. Let’s get this story started.