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the reluctant companion page 2

The surface was fascinating. It was like being in a desert of blood-red sand. All around our little TARDIS were gentle dunes, small hills, and rocks of all sizes. The soil was the very colour and texture of the powder you often find where a wall or house of red-brick has been demolished. Set against this red and white, the TARDIS seemed a much deeper blue than when it stood in our damp and cobbled garden in Rye on the morning of our departure.

My uncle told me of the many life-forms that lived here, doing nothing for my confidence. I could certainly believe in the "Ice Warriors" when I learned that even thou it was 'summer', the temperature was some thirty-five degrees centigrade below freezing. I knew that there were colder regions of human habitation on Earth, but when my uncle told me also of the very low air-pressure I could not believe how Earth scientists could excuse the mess they had made of our own planet by proposing a future home for mankind on this cold, desert world.

The Doctor told me also of pyramids built here by super-aliens who had recorded in Egyptian mythology, and I fancied I could see such an edifice on the horizon from atop a sand dune. However, with a special spy-glass attached to the outside of his helmet, the Doctor declared that it was, in fact, a very large volcano many hundreds of miles away.

Using this device, and looking north, I could just see some magnificent white mountains.

'Martian snow,' said my uncle. 'Very little in the way of real water I'm afraid. Come along!'

There is little else to tell you about the Martian landscape; only that climbing over dunes, and having to avoid jagged rocks whenever you stumbled and were sent flying through the low-gravity became very boring. I was very thankful for my space-suit, though I should not like to have to live inside one. I think Dr. Who was trying to unearth a possibly latent spirit of adventure in me, but he was not succeeding.

The sky darkened as night came, but with cloud cover there was neither a startling sunset, nor impressively different view of the solar system and stars.

I had been keeping an eye on that dark blue/green patch in the western sky. It had been getting larger - and nearer - and with the passing daylight, much darker. I was frightened. The Doctor now used a torch, for the clouded sky afforded no light, and we decided to return to the TARDIS.

Even inside the suit, I could sense that the Martian air was moving more quickly, ad then forcibly, around me. The dry sandy soil was sprinkled against my helmet by a wind, and it was clear from my uncle's grip on my arm that a severe storm was right behind us in the west - and getting nearer.

The Doctor was waking more quickly, then running, and always holding my arm. The light from his torch swung erratically before us, giving short glimpses of what lay here, then there, in the yards ahead. Now stones were flying around us, and upon us, and once I fell and banged a knee against a sharp rock. For one frightening second I convinced myself that my space-suit was punctured. The Doctor dragged me on as we bounded into the darkness; the torch smashed - and what use is a compass when you cannot see it? We were lost on Mars.

The air whistled and rumbled, and boulders smashed and crashed about us. We too, now less that half of our Earth weight, were picked up by the swirling air and must have tumbled over many a dune. Was the planet itself angry at our arrival? Was this the work of the Ice Warriors? It seemed that all was lost, and worse to come.
I cannot describe to you the noise around us. Once or twice we saw lightening - or rather, sudden bursts of sparks in the clouds, unlike the 'forks' and flashes we have on Earth. I began to scream and cry wildly as we stumbled blindly through the storm-torn desert.

Then, my uncle relaxed his grip and put his arm around my shoulders, and guided my gaze through the turmoil to a faint and flickering light at not a great distance - it was the blue lamp atop the police box disguise of the TARDIS. By chance, we had come back to safety, and now the TARDIS stood like some beacon to guide us home. Soon, we were standing around the time-column, as Dr. Who set the controls for home.

The 'blips' and 'blobs' faded from the scanner-screen to reveal the Sussex townscape. I removed my space boots and sat down again.

My trip to the planet Mars was three years ago, and I have not seen my uncle since. Doubtless, his little police box has been constantly spinning from one alien world to the next - on some welcomed; on others not! - ever since.

My Uncle realised that, for me, journeying through space and time was not an adventure. No - for I am an Earthling. I am of the Earth, and my blood and bones are fashioned from mater as old as the world. The trees, the creatures, the soil and stones, and the water of the Earth are my kin. For me, the moon and stars are but a decoration of the night sky - and I but rarely stop to wonder if my mysterious uncle is not still buzzing around one of those far off points of light in his beloved TARDIS.

written by
copyright 2009

artwork by
copyright 2009
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