Sympathy for the Daleks – Part Four

Chapter XI‘We will have your reality!”
‘We will have your reality!”
‘We will have your reality!”
‘We will have your reality!”

A growing well of anger churned up within Leo as the Daleks continued their chanting. “What is wrong with your own reality? Isn’t all this enough for you?”
“I don’t think you understand the Daleks too well my friend,” said the Doctor in a hushed voice.
Within the darkness of the Emperor Dalek’s metal body the mutant stirred.
‘For too long the Daleks have lived in a dependent reality, at the mercy of the perverse whims of their creators!’
“Creators? You mean Davros?” asked Leo innocently.
The Emperor seethed with fury at this. ‘DAVROS! DAV-ROS!!! DO not mention his name here! Davros is one concept we can do without!’
“Oh, I see,” said Leo, appealing to the ‘Doctor’ for help, however the Doctor had started playing his recorder. “What do you want with me and my daughter?”
“You mean to say you have not figured that out yet?” asked a familiar voice. Leo spun round to see an older man with kindly eyes stepping out from behind the Dalek Emperor.
“Well Leo, I am disappointed that you haven’t figured out why you’re here yet.”
“But, but, you’re dead?”
“Out there in the real world I am, but not in here Leo,” said Professor Enrico, pointing to Leo’s head. “I wasn’t dead in there Leo, which is why I exist now and why all the rest of this exists here in the reification zone.”
“The Daleks? The Doctor?”
“Precisely my friend!” said Enrico with an incongruously pleasant smile. “You remember? That sympathy you felt for the Daleks when they destroyed each other in this very story? Your fascination for this lost masterpiece as I understand many people see it? That is why you and they are here now.”
Leo’s head was spinning, it occurred to him at that moment that this was all a dream and he just needed to wake up from it. “If this is just a story then I think I’m done here,” he said taking hold of Harriet’s hand. “Come along Harriet.”
“Leo stop! They’ll kill you!” exclaimed Enrico.
“How can they hurt me? They’re from my head, didn’t you say?”
“No Leo, this is their realm- your mind merely provided the stimulus,” said the Doctor. “Remember what they did to your wife back in your realm!”
“Why am I listening to a figment of my imagination,” muttered Leo, leading Harriet down the metal walkway. He had no idea where he was going, just that he had an urge to be gone.
‘Detain the Hu-man and its larva!’ ordered the Emperor.
Just ignore them, they’re all in my mind, Leo told himself as a Black Dalek placed itself in his path.
‘Halt! Halt! You will obey!’
He sidled round the Black Dalek, who stood by unsure of what to do.
Once more the Emperor’s voice boomed over their heads.
‘Detain the Hu-man and its larva! We need them both alive!’
A beam of blue-white light erupted from the exterminator arm and Leo collapsed to the floor just as Enrico snatched Harriet from his grip.


When he woke up some time later he found that both he and the ‘Doctor’ had been moved to cell block. The Doctor sat on a bed staring into space softly playing his recorder. Leo found the noise was extremely grating.
“Remind me not to do that again,” he groaned as he sat up.
The Doctor stopped playing his recorder. “I think you’ve got the point now, about how real this place is.”
Leo winced from the pain. “Real enough it seems!”
“You are very lucky to be alive.”
Leo stood up and looked around the cell. There were two raised platforms that served as beds, but otherwise it was fairly Spartan in appearance. Much as one would imagine a Dalek cell to be, he thought.
“I can’t understand this,” said Leo. “How can these things, these Memeons or whatever you call them become Daleks? What do they want with me?”
“I think you’ll find the answer to the first is that to all intents and purposes they are Daleks,” said the Doctor. “Just as I am the Doctor.”
“So you are one of these things as well?”
The Doctor looked hurt by this. “I guess you could say that a Memeon is pure possibility, it is not an entity in its own right.”
“You didn’t answer my question, are you a Memeon as well?”
The Doctor became very irritated by this. “Yes. I guess so, but in my own way I am as real as you are!”
“So, you believe yourself to be the Doctor and that this is the planet Skaro?”
“To all intents and purposes that is the case, at least in this reality. What you should be more concerned about is what they have in store for you.”
This gave Leo pause for thought. “What is that exactly?”
The Doctor took a deep breath and blew a couple of notes on his flute before continuing. “The Emperor asked me to do something similar once. He asked me to go back through Earth’s history and introduce the Dalek Factor in human history.”
Leo’s mind was racing. “The Dalek Factor…’’
“Oh they don’t call it that anymore,” said the Doctor. “They refer to it as the Dalek Integer instead; it’s essentially a long code that allows them to materialise in your realm.”
“But why me? Is this something to do with the Professor?”
“The Professor came into being when the one in your reality saw his own death.”
“How? I thought he was another construct from my mind?”
“No. He is the unrealised possibility that the Professor saw before him when knew he was going to die. He is here because he and the Daleks share a common longing to be alive to be more than a rumour, a shadow perceived only by receptive minds such as yourself.”
“And the Daleks feel that this …sympathy… as Enrico called it will bring them to life in my reality?”
The door mechanism clicked noisily and turning they saw a Black Dalek standing in the entrance way.
“You will come with me.”


As they walked through the surface walkways of the Dalek City it was plain that all was not well. Here and there blue flashes illuminated the darkened sky, throwing the spires and walkways into sharp relief. Dark clouds of smoke, ink black against the Prussian blue sky, rose above some quarters.
Then there were the naked Daleks that they bumped into on the way; mutants who had flipped open the top of their travel machines and gaily drove around the city streets, singing, crying and generally acting most un-Dalek like. The Black Daleks were infuriated by all this misbehaviour.
‘Stop this immediately! Get back to work! Get back to work!”
‘Why?” asked one of the Daleks next to him, a slimy buff coloured mutant drawing abstract designs with its exterminator gun on a nearby wall.
‘Who said that? Who said that?” the Black Dalek was so flustered with anger he didn’t realise the culprit was right next to him.
The other Dalek turned its travelling machine to face the Black Dalek. Leo could see the machine had been altered, the silver spheres were now over laid with oranges and greens. The mutant used its foot tentacles to steer its machine as it causally leant out the top.
‘The Dalek race were once teachers and artists. Now we can be again, if we could only liberate the content!’
“Blasphemy!’ screeched the Black Dalek furiously.
“Liberate the Content! Liberate the Content!’
The chant was quickly taken up by the other Daleks, whom Leo now guessed were the humanised Daleks from the story. He surmised that this particular trait must go back a long way into Dalek history, before they mutated and became dependent on machines to survive.
‘Liber-ate the Content!”
‘Liber-ate the Content!”
‘Liber-ate the Content!”
‘Liber-ate the Content!”

“Blasphemy! Blasphemy! Blasphemy!’ chanted the Black Dalek with increasing fury. As Leo watched three metal prongs appeared at the mouth of the Dalek’s exterminator. A spark flew from on prong to another and then shot out towards the naked mutant who fizzled and exploded in a welter of green slime. Leo and the Doctor quickly dived for cover behind a huge solar panel as the other Daleks returned fire.
“I think my work on spreading the human factor amongst the Daleks as paid off, don’t you?” said the Doctor a little smugly.
“What do we do now?” asked Leo. “My daughter is still being held by these creatures!”
The Doctor became very agitated by this. “If you insist on  rescuing your daughter you will have no choice but to get yourself caught again! There is no other way into the Emperor’s citadel. And you can bet that their security is that much tighter now that civil war has broken out!’’
“There’s got to be a way! I can’t leave her here!”
The Doctor thought on this a while and then made up his mind. Leaving Leo he went over to where the rest of the naked Daleks  stood watching their comrade’s burning corpse. They seemed to be experiencing another very un-Dalek moment, the feeling of grief.
The Doctor stepped gingerly into their midst. “The Black Daleks and the Emperor are against you,” he said softly. “They don’t want you to think for yourselves.”
‘Down with the Emperor!” shouted one of the Daleks.
‘Down with the Emperor!”
‘Down with the Emperor!”
‘Down with the Emperor!”
“Yes, yes, down with the Emperor! Now we must go to where he is and fight with him and me and my friend over there are prepared to help you.”
‘You will help the Daleks liberate the Content?” asked one of the sloganeering Daleks.
“Yes, we will help you liberate the content,” said the Doctor, his fingers crossed behind his back.
‘Then you are our friend! Forward the Dalek Revolution! All Beings Alien and Mutants Unite to Fight the Fascists!’
So saying the Daleks all cheered and began to chant-‘Down with the Emperor!’ and ‘Liberate the Content!” with that special Dalek enthusiasm. As a final touching tribute to their former enemy and now some-time leader they collectively lifted the Doctor from the ground with their suction arms. Perched on the top a large red Dalek the Doctor pointed to the sky.
“To the Citadel my friends! We march on the Emperor tonight or face death in the morning! Liberate the Content!”

Chapter XII

Images of chaos and destruction filtered through the city via the network of Dalek telecommunications. All the information pooled back to the Emperor, the brooding monarch at the centre of the Dalek hive. The unthinkable had happened, the Dalek people were in revolt against their Emperor. He who was the Dalek Empire, all Daleks being but copies of his perfection. Many centuries earlier he had been the first of his people to enter the travel machines. Now his Empire was on the brink of catastrophe.
‘Curse the Doctor and his virus!” The Emperor turned his eyestalk to address the tiny figure of the Professor and Harriet who stood before him on the dais. ‘We do not have much time Professor Enrico. We must use the human larva now!”
“Very well!” snapped Enrico irritably. He took hold of Harriet’s chin and gently lifted up her face to his eyes. “Now little Bambino! You know we had a little chat earlier about something your Daddy wants you to do for us?”
“My Daddy would never want to help you!” screamed Harriet.
“Oh, but that is where you are wrong my little Bambino,” said Enrico coldly. “You don’t know your father as well as I do. Remember how I used to come and visit him all those years ago?”
“Yes,” muttered Harriet, feeling bad about herself for being so mean to the poor professor. She still didn’t trust the machines though- they were horrible.
“Well I am sure your Daddy knows best my dear,” said Enrico. “And you wouldn’t want to upset him now, would you?”


“So how exactly did you introduce the human factor to the Daleks?” Leo asked the Doctor as they came within sight of the Emperor’s citadel.
“Oh, that, I put it in their water supply.”
“Yes, many years ago, when I was still the one you call Hartnell, I engineered a retro virus which I introduced into the Dalek’s main reservoir deep beneath the surface of Skaro.”
“The Daleks need water?”
“Yes, much as any living creature.”
“And what did this virus do exactly.”
The Doctor scratched his nose as he thought about this. “The Daleks are all clones of the one original Dalek.”
“The Emperor?”
“Yes, now as a result of this they have always had a kind of loose telepathic link that over the years has evolved into a collective consciousness. What I did was to place an agent in the system that would alter the genetic code subtly over the years.”
“So that they would begin to individuate?”
“There was a degree of deterioration in the Dalek’s genetic code anyway, as a result of the endless cloning. Now, the agent I placed in their system would actually lock onto dormant aspects of the Dalek Genome and make them active again. Dormant aspects from their humanoid past.”
“Ah, so you restored their humanity to them?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes.”
“So, how come it has all kicked off now then, after all you said these changes have been developing for many years?”
The Doctor considered his answer as they came to a stop.
“I believe it is because bringing you here cost the Daleks so much energy it loosened the Emperor’s grip on their collective consciousness.”

The column of Daleks had been growing since they had started their march on the citadel. As it came to a halt at the entrance it numbered in its thousands. The Doctor and Leo conferred with a group of dissident Daleks who had shut themselves back into their metal shells and scrubbed off the psychedelic paint they had daubed on earlier.
“The Emperor’s telepathic link to you is weak at the moment because of the vast amount of energy that was used to make the worm-hole,” he explained to them. “Now, you have the opportunity to get near him without him realising your intentions. At the same time you can help my friend here rescue his daughter.”
‘Any enemy of the emperor is a friend of ours,’ said the leader of the dissidents. “We will help you rescue your larva,” he said to Leo.
“Liberate the Content!”
“Liberate the Content!” shouted the Doctor and Leo in return.


‘Supreme Dalek! One of our units at the gate as reported that a detachment of drones have approached them with one of the hu-man captives!’

‘Bring it here immediately!’

Once more Leo found himself brought before the Emperor, this time accompanied by a quintet of the silver and blue Daleks, his apparent captors. “Where is my daughter?” he snapped.
‘You are not in a position to make demands, hu-man,’ thundered the Emperor. “You will help us take the Daleks into your reality or you will be exterminated!’
“And then you’d just be stuck here,” said Leo. “Now, I’ll ask you again, where is my daughter?”
The Emperor turned to one of the Black Daleks that stood in a phalanx on the dais. “Bring the hu-man larva here!”
Presently Enrico appeared, leading Harriet in by the hand.
“Harriet!” screamed Leo and ran towards her, a Black Dalek blocked his way.
“Let me talk to my daughter or I won’t help you!”
‘Let him through!’ snapped the Emperor. As the Black Dalek moved aside Leo glared at the smugly smiling face of the Professor.
“I swear Enrico if you’ve harmed her in any way…”
“You will not harm this human!”
“He is not human,” said Leo. He turned his attention to Harriet. She seemed distant and withdrawn, it hurt him terribly to think of what she must have been through already. He looked into her eyes and hugged her briefly. “Soon darling, we will get out of here. Trust Daddy, he’ll make it stop!”
She smiled then, briefly.
‘Enough. You will help us to take the Dalek Integer to your universe!’
He was led up to the dais where a floating stretcher hovered just before the Emperor’s outer-casing. Laying down on the couch Leo steeled his nerves for the next part. If  he hadn’t been coached extensively by the Doctor he would have run screaming from this awful place and probably died screaming as a result. The stretcher was floated up to the Emperor’s outer casing where a round port-hole was cut into the side, Leo’s head slipped into this hole. The process reminded him of the CT scan he had after the accident. Or the Professor’s time machine.
Leo was aware of a brooding presence in the darkness.
‘I am in your mind, hu-man,” the Emperor’s voice said to him. “You will submit yourself to me! I am your emperor!”
“No your not,” said Leo calmly. He felt the darkness close in on him as the Emperor’s voice came back louder and more insistent. “You defy me? But why hu-man, was it not your sympathy for me that drew you here?’
“That was compassion, something that comes as easily to humans as hate does to you,” as Leo uttered these words images floated before him of Judith. He saw the day when they first met, in the Student Union at Solenton University. The bun-fight was on and she found her near the Buddhist stall chatting to one of the Orange Clad nuns about Tibetan Theology. She smiled at him as he took a leaflet from the table and watched her out of the corner of his eye. She wore her hair up in those days and had cool intelligent blue eyes that glowed with an inner warmth.
“Daleks have forgotten about love for thousands of years,” said Leo.
‘Love? What is Love worth in this world?’
Images from the Dalek Brain began to invade Leo’s mind. He saw his daughter playing dolls with the toy Dalek he had kept from his youth. Then to his horror the toy’s headlights flashed sinisterly and it grew to full size in the blink of an eye.
“What is Love but a weakness you hu-mans cling to out of pure desperation. It is a trait we Daleks have exploited again and again!’
Then Judith came in and Leo was forced to watch her extermination again and again as the Emperor’s voice sneered at him. “You are an inferior species whose time has come and gone. We, the Daleks are the Future and you will help us achieve full reality!”
“No! You have no power over me!’
“Submit Hu-man and I will end your pain!”
“You are nothing without me!” screamed Leo. “You have no reality of your own. You are the weak one, the great leech who would sucks the life out of the universe. You do not understand Love because you are pure hate, a corrupted megalomaniac who wants the whole world to be like him. Why eh? Does domination and control help to fill the obvious emptiness within you!”

“You will submit your will to mine!”
“Never!” as Leo waited in the darkness he was aware again of an intense fear and anxiety. He could feel the Emperor there with him, an ancient presence who lurked in a dark pool of briny water deep within his metal shell. The mutant lifted up his face to Leo and he could see that without its machine this creature was but a blind and defenceless foetus. Was that the sympathy at work again?
“NOW!” he said urgently. “Now!”


Leo’s signal was carried via the Emperor’s telepathic link into the Dalek network. The Doctor had coached Leo in how to do this and had even stipulated the conditions under which he would know that he had the Emperor’s full attention. Leo sent his signal and simultaneously caused the telepathic link to close down so that the Emperor was cut off from the Black Daleks.
“It is time!” said the Red Dalek to the Doctor as they waited outside the Citadel. Standing upright on the Red Daleks casing the Doctor addressed the crowd. “Down with the Emperor!”
“LIBERATE THE CONTENT!’ came the reply through thousands of metallic voices.
From the sky a contingent of dissident shock troops, swooped down in their hover pods to take out the Daleks on the Citadel wall. The Daleks on the ground advanced on the gates. Deep within the Emperors chamber the quintet of Drones also got thesignal. They opened fire on the phalanx of Black Daleks around the Emperor.
“Intruder Breach on North Gate! Massive losses on Citadel walls. All Black Dalek units to the Imperial Chamber. ’
The Black Daleks were disorientated after losing their link to the Emperor and were easily cut down. Leo was ejected from the Emperor’s mind link and propelled out of the interface chamber. He ran, keeping as low as possible to avoid the searing blasts of the Daleks’ death rays as they opened fire on each other.
‘Emergency! Emergency! All Black Daleks to the Imperial Chamber!”
‘Emergency! Emergency! All Black Daleks to the Imperial Chamber!”
‘Emergency! Emergency! All Black Daleks to the Imperial Chamber!”

Chapter XIII

All around the air was thick with the smell of burnt ozone and the screams of the Daleks.
‘You must not fight in here! You must not fight in here!”
On the floor next to Harriet lay the lid of a Dalek machine, looking very much like a wok full of spaghetti to her eyes. The Black Dalek that a moment before was guarding her and Enrico now stood motionless with a bubbling mass of yellow froth pouring out of the top. This reminded her of the volcano set her Daddy brought her one Christmas, that foamed up in the same way when the two chemicals were mixed together.
“Come on Bambino, time to leave!” exclaimed Enrico trying to grab her by the arm. However she wriggled free of his grip and ran dangerously from the alcove and into the arms of Leo who had just jumped from the Dalek dais.
Leo grabbed her up and ran back to the alcove. “You better run Enrico!” he said to his former mentor. “Cause I’m going to kill you if I get a chance and I think my daughter’s been through enough trauma!”
Enrico didn’t waste any time thinking about this advice.


The Daleks from  outside the Citadel were now storming the inner sanctum of the Emperor. Just as before Leo felt a slight twinge of pity at their plight as they careened around, yellow vomit erupting from their lidless machines. Only a very faint twinge of pity though.
‘All Black Dalek Leaders to Control. Exterminate all opposition! Destroy rebels! ‘
The end-game was in sight, all Leo had to do was somehow escape the Citadel without being caught in the cross-fire. Down the corridor he could still hear the Emperor’s voice.
‘Danger! This is your Emperor speaking! There is danger here! Obey me! Do not fight in here! Do not fight in here! I said, Obey! Obey!’


Outside the streets were a chaotic mass of dead and dying Daleks, all around them blobs of green and yellow froth marked where the mutants inside the machines had become so overheated they had literally exploded. Energy weapon crackled and lit up the dark corridors with brilliant blue and ochre explosions. Leo could see no way that he could get them put of there alive.

Then out of the darkened sky came salvation in the form of the Doctor and a Red Dalek on what appeared to be a flying platform. Leo surmised that it must be the one of the hover-disks that he remembered the Daleks used in the comics. He was glad that this little detail had been translated into this version of their world.
“Just in the nick of time!” he said to the Doctor has he helped Harriet on board.
“Come on!” said the Doctor. “We have to get you back to the Tardis.”
“Will that get me and Harriet home?’
“Yes, I left it parked in the mountains outside the city.”
The hovering disk rose from the burning Dalek City, the pilot gingerly steering it upwards, wary of the stray energy beams that shot past. Below them fires raged in every quarter of the Daleks City.


Down in the Citadel the Emperor Dalek grew more meglomaniacal as his empire burnt down around him. He sent out a signal to all Daleks based off world and issued one last desperate order to his people.
‘You will be exterminated! All exterminated. Annihilated! You will all be exterminated! Annihilated! ‘
A group of rebel Daleks pushed through the few remaining loyalists and levelled their exterminators at the Emperor.
‘Liberate the Content!” they screamed in unison. Their combined energy beams converged on the Emperor’s carapace. With an almighty crackle and booming explosion the shell cracked open and the huge octagonal head dropped to the floor in flames. From the burning wreckage a pathetic creature emerged hauling itself up with a strong set of forelimbs. It opened its mouth to scream defiantly.
“The Dalek race will die out completely! You are nothing…nothing without your Emperor!’
The rebel Daleks opened fire once again and the Emperor died in seconds.


When the hover disk was high over the hills just outside the city the Doctor helpfully suggested to the Red Dalek that he take the controls for a while. The Dalek willingly complied as he wanted to look at the mountains with his new found sense of wonder.
“That’s okay,” said the Doctor taking the controls. “You enjoy yourself!”
“It is so beautiful!’ said the Dalek wistfully. For a moment they all shared its sense of wonder, for the sun was rising in the eastern sky, throwing the jagged mountain range into sharp relief. The rising sun was an intense and vivid crimson against a dark cobalt blue. Leo was struck by the Dalek’s innocent wonder at a sunrise on its home-world, an experience that was all new to this emotional infant. He felt that maybe there was hope for these creatures after all, that maybe they could atone themselves and truly begin again.
“Yes, it is truly spectacular!” declared the Doctor, throwing a switch on the console. Part of the railing around the Dalek slid away as the Doctor, levering himself on the console, propelled the Dalek over the lip of the flying disk with his legs. Leo and Harriet had to grip onto the remaining rail in order to stop themselves going over.
“You could have killed us all!” screamed Leo as the Red Dalek plunged screaming to its death on the rocks below. Angrily he turned on the Doctor. “Was that really necessary?” he asked. “It was no threat to us!”
Harriet was sobbing with fright. The Doctor looked grave as he threw a switch to bring the rail back. “Come now,” he said coldly. “You don’t think that I trust those creatures do you? I’ve crossed swords with them too many times in the past for that.”
Leo looked back at the burning Dalek City in the distance. “You never intended them to liberate themselves then?”
“Off course not! Their humanisation was but the penultimate act in their extinction. They cannot survive without their link to the Emperor.”
“Then you intended to destroy them from the start !” exclaimed Leo as the dreadful revelation struck home. “Surely that makes you as bad as they are!”
“Not really,” said the Doctor in a matter of fact tone. “The Daleks would have destroyed every other living being if they could. I only wanted to destroy them.”


The rest of the journey was spent in reflective silence. Leo made himself feel better by reminding himself that this was only a dream-world after all, that what happened here didn’t matter anyway. Soon he would be back to reality and this nightmare world would disappear.
The Tardis was nestled up high on a cliff face when they found it. Leo abstractly wondered how the Doctor had managed to get to the Dalek City with his time machine in such an inaccessible place. But he didn’t let it bother him too much, as he was too eager to get home.
“Once you step through the doors you will enter a wormhole that will take you back to your reality,” said the Doctor.
Holding his daughter close to his chest, Leo said: “Well, thanks for all your help. I couldn’t have done this without you.”
“That’s alright,” said the Doctor. “You did splendidly against the Emperor, not many people could have got through that alive!”
“Well,” said Leo as he stepped towards the familiar blue Police Telephone Box. “I guess this is good bye, I hope we don’t meet again. Are you going as well?”
“Oh no,” said the Doctor. “I have some unfinished business in the Dalek’s City. Then I think I’m due to fight the Cybermen again.”


When Leo and his daughter had gone the Doctor flew the disk back to the city at great speed. When he arrived the fighting had almost burnt itself out. As the last stages of the retro-virus cut in, the Daleks expired like salmon at the end of the spawning season. The City was littered with the blackened detritus of battle, flaming Dalek shells, mutants thrown from their machines trying to pull themselves along on stumpy tentacles, collapsed and burning buildings.
He found the burnt out husk of the Dalek Emperor in the ruins of the Citadel. Stopping briefly to look at the charred body of the Emperor Mutant, he exited the Imperial Chamber and walked down an adjacent corridor.
“You can come out now!” he said suddenly. “They’ve gone home!”
Professor Enrico stepped from the shadows, looking particularly pleased with himself. “They the child will take my essence with her! So I can be reborn!”
“Yes!” laughed the Doctor. “This is just the beginning!”
Both of them laughed now, as the Dalek City began to fade around them. Soon it was just one laugh as the Doctor and the Professor merged into one. Then all that remained collapsed into the heart of the singularity.

Chapter XIV

The first thing that Leo did when he got back to his own world was to order the dismantling of the ‘time machine’. Brian was all too willing to comply- he had just seen his employer unravel like a ball of string and then reappear clutching hold of a weeping toddler. He would spend the rest of his life in perpetual uncertainty, forever sceptical about his perceptions of reality.
Before Judith was able to come home again, Leo felt he had  to cleanse the cottage of all trace of the Professor’s legacy. Six months after her return from hospital they sold up and moved back to Solenton. There they purchased themselves a modest little house in one of the Suburbs and lived off the equity. Leo had hired himself a lawyer who managed to successfully argue that he had satisfied the requirements of the Professor’s will, but had found the basic concepts involved to be unsound. To back this up he produced a short paper that basically rubbished the Professor’s whole approach and questioned his sanity. For Leo this was a way to vent spleen on his departed mentor, whose driving ambition had nearly cost him so much.

As for Harriet, she started school that September and seemed to forget all about it. Her mummy was back, alive and well after her scrape with death. There was no mention of Daleks or Time Travel ever again in the Portnew house. Leo found a job in publishing and turned his back on scientific practice. Reality quietly reasserted self after a long absence.


“What’s that your drawing there?” Harriet’s teaching assistant asked her one day. She was looking at the incredible colours of a rising sun and in the foreground something shaped like a red pepper pot with arms.
“It’s a Dalek watching a sun set?”
“A what?” asked the assistant. She was in her early twenties and so had never seen the Daleks on telly before. Then she remembered the strange DVD collection her boyfriend possessed. “Oh, the Daleks!” she said with astonishment. “I didn’t think you would remember them, they were on the box well before you were born.”
“I know that!” said Harriet testily. The assistant grinned at her madam’s cheek. “Besides, I’ve met a Dalek in real life!”
“Oh really Harriet Portnew!” the assistant declared. “What an over active imagination you have young lady. That’ll get you into trouble one day!”
Harriet grinned, silently telling herself that it already had.