Unfinished Business, Doctor Who, Dr. Who, Chris Eccleston, Christopher Eccleston, Doctor who Fiction

The worker unit designated AP101 exited her sleep cubicle at the same time all the other worker units in the 101 dormitory exited their individual cubicles. She turned left and walked in line with the others to the hygiene room. She removed the disposable night wear and stood under the shower for the designated time before moving on to the drying section and from there to the place where disposable work clothes were folded into the honeycomb cells set in the wall. Once dressed she walked in line to the nutrition room where she collected her individual nutrition portion from one of another series of honeycomb cells. She sat to eat the portion for the allotted ten minutes before joining the line of worker units going to the factory. A night shift line passed in the opposite direction going to collect their nutrition portion before the hygiene process and returning to their sleep cubicles.

The factories of Gliun 11 never ceased production. The shifts were staggered and continuous. The places on the assembly line were always filled. AP101 took the place of another worker unit at her post and picked up the wrench with which she tightened the upper left nut on the right rear wheel of each mobilita that passed along the line. One passed every thirty seconds. She tightened two nuts per minute, two hundred nuts per Gliun standard hour of one hundred minutes. She sang songs about work and productivity along with her fellow workers. Singing had been found to improve worker morale and thus boost efficiency.

She worked ten standard hours before the shift was over and she returned to the nutrition room for her second portion of the day. Then she went with the other worker units from her shift to the recreation room. There she watched a documentary film about the exports of Gliun 11 and joined with the others in the singing of the hymn of thanksgiving before she lined up to leave the recreation room. She collected another nutrition portion before going on to the hygiene process and finally returned to her sleep cubicle.

Five standard hours later she rose from her sleeping shelf and began a new working day.

It had been that way ever since she left the education facility when she was designated of working age.

It would be that way until she was designated of retirement age unless she was selected for the reproduction programme.

She never questioned her function. Worker units didn’t question. There was nothing to question.

Amy Pond woke up and noted that it was only one o’clock in the morning. They had gone to bed at eleven. She had been asleep for less than two hours.

She turned over and snuggled close to Rory, who was snoring softly, and tried to go back to sleep again. She had a vague idea that she had been dreaming. But she couldn’t remember what she was dreaming about, not even whether it was a good or bad dream.

She went back to sleep.

AP101 rose from her sleeping shelf and stood waiting for the door to open. At the precise time, it did so. She stepped out and joined the line of worker units going to the hygiene process at the start of their daily cycle. She showered and dressed and went to eat her portion of nutrition before going to her daily work.

At the end of the shift she ate more nutrition and spent her leisure time watching a documentary about the economy of Gliun 11. She was gratified to know that her efforts each day were contributing to the continued prosperity of her world.

There was an additional film that showed how that prosperity was shared by all the worker units of Gliun 11. It was only five minutes long, but it was a glimpse of one of the retirement villages in the southern part of the central continent where the retired worker units were sent to rest and enjoy the fruits of their long labour. The retirees were happy and content. They had clothes made of cloth and their nutrition was varied. They had access to recreations such as gole, a game played in large green fields with sticks and balls, and they could rest in the sunshine any time they wished even when it was not a designated rest period. It was the reward for their long devotion to the productivity of Gliun 11.

Of course, AP101 was still a young worker unit. That was a very long time off for her. But it was interesting to know that retirees were so well taken care of by the government. Such knowledge helped to boost morale and improve the efficiency of the workforce.

Amy woke up again. It was only an hour since she went back to sleep the first time.

She was sure she had been dreaming again. But she couldn’t think what the dream was about. It slipped away from her even as she tried to concentrate on it.

She felt slightly uneasy, as if the dream was a worrying one.

But everything was fine. Rory was still snoring lightly. The sound was only just a bit louder than the faint hum of the TARDIS in flight, and she had got used to that sound as one that lulled her to a safe, sound sleep at night.

She let it lull her again, hoping for dreamless sleep, or at least a dream that she could remember and didn’t leave her puzzled.

AP101 dreamt. She was unusual among the worker units for that very reason. She dreamt every time she slept. Sometimes she remembered the dreams and thought about them while she was working. Other times she couldn’t quite catch hold of them when she woke.

She dreamt about the stars. She dreamt of floating among them, seeing them all around her, some of them so close she thought she could touch them.

She liked that dream. It was nice. Sometimes she felt sorry that it was over when she woke to begin her day’s cycle all over again. Thinking about it as she went through the routine of her day was as good as singing the productivity songs. It gave her something other than the monotony of the assembly line and helped her to get through the shift without an episode.

Sometimes worker units had ‘episodes’. They would suddenly stop working and scream or cry. It was disturbing to the other workers when that happened. It was bad for productivity. That was why they had the songs, and the leisure hour with the reassuring films showing how their work was helping make Gliun 11 a great world among the many worlds of the sector.

The worker unit next to AP101 had an episode last week. It had been frightening. She was glad when the supervisors took him away. Another worker unit had taken his place and they had sung a song to distract them from remembering his screams.

The ones who had episodes were never seen in the factory again. There was an asylum where they were treated for their illness. AP101 wasn’t sure where it was. They never showed films about the asylum. But she knew there was one. The company paid for it, in order to ensure productivity was not adversely affected.

She thought about floating among the stars. It was a nice dream and it made the day go by faster.

Tonight’s film was about the reproduction programme. Of course, there had to be new drafts of young, healthy worker units. That meant that young, healthy babies had to be born regularly. Some of the female workers were selected every year for the programme. They lived in the maternity block, where they were only given light work to do each day until the babies were born. Afterwards, they could either go back to the factories or they could choose to be implanted again and have another baby. They could have up to ten babies before returning to the factory shifts. Those who managed the full decade were awarded special medals, and many of them went on to become supervisors. Their contribution to the productivity was thus rewarded.

The babies, of course, were cared for in the nursery block before going on to the education centre until they were old enough to be designated as workers and assigned either to the factories or to the food growing centres. A few, a very rare few were given additional education and went on to the military or government centres, but they were rare.

AP101 wondered if she would like to be in the reproduction programme. Of course, it wasn’t up to her. If she was selected, she would go there. But she wasn’t sure if she would be pleased to leave the factory and have babies for the good of Gliun 11 or if she would prefer to stay in this work until retirement.

Thinking about the stars and floating among them was easier than thinking about things she had no choice about.

She didn’t often see the stars for real. The dormitory was below the factory, in the basement. So were the hygiene and food sections as well as the leisure facility. The factory itself had large windows, but they were opaque. It was only possible to tell if it was day or night outside. There was no view of the great plain the factory was built on and she couldn’t see the stars when she was on late shifts.

But she dreamt of stars when she slept. And they felt so very real to her.

Sometimes she wondered if she was the only one who had dreams like that. Perhaps there were others. But she couldn’t ask anyone about it. Worker units talked about work, about productivity, about the glory of Gliun 11 among the planets of the sector and their part in assuring that glory. If she tried to talk about dreams, about stars, she might be considered a rogue unit and removed from the workplace.

That was another place they didn’t make films about, but everyone knew about it. The correctional education facility where those who asked questions were taken. It was said that they were treated kindly, and that, once corrected, they were allowed to return to the workforce and play their part in the productivity. But AP101 didn’t know anyone who had done that. Perhaps they went to other factories after they returned to the workforce.

She wasn’t entirely sure why asking questions was wrong. But it was in the rules, and the rules were made for the better efficiency of the workforce and to ensure productivity.

This morning when AP101 woke on her sleep shelf was just like any other. Except the dream about stars was more vivid than it had ever been and she just wanted to close her eyes and make it come back again. Of course that was not possible. She had slept her designated five hours and now it was time to go to the hygiene room and then to eat her nutrition and begin her shift in the factory.

But the dream was strong. She closed her eyes again. She turned her face away from the bright overhead light that came on when it was time to wake. She let herself dream for a little longer.

She woke a little later to somebody prodding her. She looked around and saw a night shift worker already in his paper sleep gown.

“What are you doing in my designated sleeping unit?” he demanded. “Why are you not in your proper place?”

“I don’t know,” she replied. She stood up and slipped past him. He swore at her and closed the door behind her.

The corridor outside the sleep cubicles was narrow and long. There were over fifty cubicles in this section. She had never seen the whole of it like this, though. The view was usually blocked by the backs of worker units walking in line.

Her shift had already gone. The night shift had eaten and showered and were in the sleep cubicles now. The day shift must already be in the factory.

She had overslept.

Except there was no such word in her vocabulary and no concept in her understanding.

She ran to the end of the corridor. The door to the hygiene room was closed but not locked. She went to the shower, but there was no water. She carried on through the drying facility to the dressing room. She opened the designated cell in the wall and found clothes. She put them on quickly and carried on to the nutrition room.

There was one food portion in the clear plastic cell. She took it and ate it quickly. She took a cup of water and drank it while she thought about what she should do next.

She was late.

She couldn’t go to the factory now. They would know she hadn’t reported for duty. She was a rogue, now.

They would come looking for her soon.

She was scared. She didn’t want to be a rogue. She didn’t want to be taken to the corrective education facility. She just wanted to dream about stars.

She didn’t know what to do. She had never been alone before except in her sleeping cubicle. Her earliest memory was of the nursery facility with hundreds of other youngsters fed and clothed by rota. Then the education facility where she sat at a desk in a class of fifty-five students. Then the factory, of course.

And yet, she had always felt lonely, even though she had never been alone.


Where did that word come from? She was sure she had never used it before. But it described exactly how she had always felt, every day of her life, surrounded by people, but without a single friend among them.


There was another word she had never used before.

And another one.


What did that mean? She didn’t even understand the concept. Lonely, she understood. Friend, she thought she knew the meaning of even if she had never had one.

But family?

She focussed on the word as she walked slowly down the corridor that would lead, eventually, to the stairs and from there to the factory, still wondering what she ought to do. She still couldn’t understand it, but she felt that it was something she didn’t have, something that was even more important than a friend, and which would make her less lonely if she had one.

She stopped and looked around. She was at the bottom of the stairs. Up two flights was the factory.

But there was a door there, under the stairs. She had never seen it before. She never really saw anything before this. She had always looked straight ahead and walked in line.

Amy woke again. This time she had slept a little longer. But it was still the middle of the night by her standards. The Doctor actually did organise their days and nights aboard the TARDIS according to a Human twenty-four hour clock, which meant that she and Rory went to bed when they were tired at night and got up in the morning, usually to find themselves on a new planet or in some unusual period of Human history.

Rory was still fast asleep. As a nurse, working long hours, he was used to taking full advantage of sleep time. He wouldn’t be awake until the alarm sounded.

She lay awake for a long time, thinking about her dream. She had managed to hold onto it a bit more this time. It had started familiarly enough. She had dreamt about floating in space. She had dreamed about that often, ever since she first came aboard the TARDIS and The Doctor had let her fly in the air bubble outside the police box. The experience had so completely awed her that she revisited it in her mind often.

But this time it felt different. She felt as if she was sharing the experience with somebody else. Not Rory, not The Doctor. It was a stranger, but in some way, a kindred spirit.

The door wasn’t locked. She opened it and stepped inside. As she did so, she heard footsteps on the stairs. She closed the door except for a crack and watched as two security guards headed towards the nutrition room. They must be looking for her.

Two guards, with guns, just for her. It was so strange. She wasn’t dangerous. She wasn’t a threat to productivity.

The guards didn’t even look at the door. She closed it and turned around. She was in a very dimly lit corridor with only one light at the very end. She walked along it carefully. The light, when she reached it, was at the top of a stairwell. She walked down it, listening for any sign of guards, any kind of trap set for her.

There was a door at the bottom of the stairwell. It was closed, but like all the other doors, it wasn’t locked. She was not completely surprised that it led to another corridor. And that brought her to another stairwell.

She walked for hours around the corridors and stairwells of a sub-basement she never knew existed. She wondered if she was actually far away from the factory now, because she was sure some of the corridors were longer than the building she spent her life in.

Then, when she was starting to feel tired and weary and wondering if she could find her way back to the nutrition room where she might at least get something to eat, she entered a corridor that was even darker than the others. She turned to go back, but the door had locked itself behind her.

Or somebody had locked it.

She suppressed a scream when she felt a hand touch hers and a woman’s voice whisper close to her ear.

“It’s all right, child. You’ve made it. You’re safe now. Come with me.”

The voice was soft and gentle. She liked the sound of it. She let the hand guide her as they walked along the dark corridor. Then there was another set of steps, going up a short way this time, instead of down. Then another door. Beyond it was something AP101 could not have dreamed of.

There were people there. But not the sort of people she had known all her life. They weren’t workers. They weren’t guards. They weren’t supervisors. They didn’t wear the clothes of either. What they did wear was a strange assortment of garments coloured in ways that AP101 had never seen before. They weren’t made of paper, either. The fabrics were warm and thick.

“Welcome, child,” said the woman who had brought her. “I am Geena. I am here to help you now you have found your way to the ‘free’.”

“Free?” AP101 was puzzled. “I don’t understand that word.”

“Of course, you don’t,” Geena said. “Words like that were not in your education programme, still less their meaning.”

“But...” AP101 let herself be drawn further into the room beyond the door. It was a big room, perhaps as big as the factory she had known for so many years. But it was warm, and the only sounds were the voices of people sitting in small groups, talking or singing, reading aloud the words in books. AP101 had seen books, but they were usually full of numbers – accounts, productivity figures. The book she heard a part of seemed to contain words, lots of words, telling an account of somebody’s life – somebody who wasn’t a worker unit and seemed to have plenty of leisure time.

Geena showed her a place to sit with a group of people. She was given nutrition. But not the sort she was used to. It was a misshaped sphere with a shiny surface coloured red and green. When she looked at it curiously she was told it was an apple and invited to take a bite. She did so and was surprised by the crisp, cool texture and the flavour. She ate it all before somebody told her the core was meant to be left.

The people she was sitting with were unusual, mainly because they were mixed. There were men and women and children of different ages. There was a man who should have gone to the retirement centre and two little ones who ought to have been in the nursery, and one of education age. There were four people who were of working age, three men and a woman.

“What does free mean?” AP101 asked.

“It means you don’t have to follow any rules,” the woman of the group said. “You don’t have to work all day and eat, wash and sleep when you’re told. You don’t have to watch lying propaganda films.”

“No work?” AP101 queried. “The how do you contribute to the productivity?”

“We don’t,” said one of the men. “What is your name?”


“I’m Michael,” the old man said. “This is Noreen, my daughter, and Adrian, her husband. That’s Tim and Anthony. The girl there is Hanah and the two little ones, they’re Rachel and Graham. They’re my grandchildren.”

“There are so many words I don’t know,” AP101 said. “Please, I don’t have a name. I am... my designation is AP101. And I don’t know what a daughter is. Or a husband. Or...”

“Of course, you don’t. They never told you about such things. Noreen was born in the maternity section, of course. I only found her by chance. But the little ones were born in freedom. They’re part of the first generation of natural born free citizens of Gliun.”

Geena returned. She told AP101 that she wanted to take a blood sample from her.


“I’m keeping a database,” Geena answered. “So that we can match siblings and parents, reunite families.”

“I don’t have a family,” AP101 said. “I don’t even know what a family is.”

“You have one somewhere. You have a mother, and biologically at least, a father, even if they never met. You almost certainly have brothers or sisters.”

AP101 looked confused by so many words she didn’t know.

“You’re among friends,” Geena assured her. “We’ll help you. Why don’t you lie down for a little while and rest. Nobody ever has enough sleep up there. Later, when it gets dark, you can take a walk outside.”

“Outside? Where the stars are?”


That was enough for AP101. She was going to see the stars. That was freedom as far as she understood it.

Amy hadn’t even realised she had fallen asleep that time. When she woke it was with a slight shock of sudden consciousness.

She got up and pulled on her dressing gown and slippers. She walked through the dimmed corridors of the inner TARDIS until she found the console room. The lights were dim in there, too, but they brightened automatically when she came in.

“Doctor?” she asked. She couldn’t see him, but she always expected him to be around this room. It was incomplete without him.

“Down here,” he called. She walked down the curved stairs to the underside of the smoked glass console room floor. The Doctor was sitting on the strange swing arrangement while doing something complicated with wiring in a panel beneath the console itself. He finished it up and closed the panel before pulling off a huge pair of goggles and pocketing his sonic screwdriver. “Hello, Amy. Are you all right?”

“I’m not sure,” she answered. “I’ve had a really weird dream. It felt very real...”

“Oh dear,” The Doctor said. “You mean like when the Dream Lord got to us?”

“Sort of. As vivid as that. But the thing was, it wasn’t me in the dream. It was somebody else. Only she felt real. And I think she is. I think I was dreaming somebody else’s life.”

The Doctor reached out and took her hand. He led her back up to the console room and made her sit down on the sofa. He sat beside her.

“That’s not the nightie you were wearing the first time you came aboard the TARDIS, is it?” he asked.

“No. I threw that one away. It had space whale sick on it, remember. But Doctor... that dream.”

“Tell me all about it,” he told her.

“At last,” AP101 said aloud as she walked in a moonlit garden with the stars above her. “At last, I can see them.”

“The gardens were planted long ago when Gliun 11’s economy still worked properly,” said Noreen who showed her the way. “But nobody comes here now. The factories have no windows. Even the supervisors don’t know about them. We come out day or night to enjoy them. Here, have a fresh apple.”

Noreen picked a fruit from a tree. AP101 was surprised. She didn’t know that was where food came from.

“You see, it’s all a lie. Everything that happens in those buildings.”

“You mean there is no productivity? Gliun is not prosperous through our labour?”

“Oh, it is. That much is true. Gliun is swimming in prosperity. But there are no more than a dozen people, living on an island on the other side of the planet, who benefit. Everyone else lives the lie.”

“Not the retired,” AP101 protested. “They receive the fruits of their labour.”

“That’s a huge lie,” Noreen said. “The retired are put into a bus with mirrored windows that nobody can see into. They’re driven away. But they never get to any retirement place. The bus engine produces a gas that is fed inside and kills them slowly.”

“What...” AP101 was shocked. “No... I’ve seen the films.”

“Lies. All lies. All of it is a lie. A lie perpetuated for generations in order to maximise profit. What use are retirees? Where is the profit in keeping people in leisure?”

“It can’t be true.”

But the more she thought about it, the more it made a horrible kind of sense.

“But Michael... and others I’ve seen here...”

“Michael escaped. He wasn’t quite dead when the bus stopped. He recovered before his body was put into the incinerator. He found us. People find us all the time. Even some supervisors and guards have given up and sought us out. We are growing in numbers. There might even come a time when we will move from the sub-basements and smash the factories, free everyone.”

“No more factory?”

“Nuts to the factory,” Noreen said.

Then Geena came out to them. She was with another woman of middle working age. She was carrying a baby with her. AP101 looked at the baby. She had seen very few of them before today.

“AP,” Geena said. “This is Annie.”

“Annie?” AP101 said. “That’s... a nice name. Everyone here has nice names.”

“So can you,” Annie said. “AP is just a designation. We should get rid of that right away. I did. I was AP909. I chose to be called Annie.”

“I can choose a name?” AP101 looked around the garden. She looked up at the stars and around at the trees full of crisp, delicious fruit. “I think I would like to be called Apple.”

“That’s not really a person’s name,” Annie told her. “How about Amy? That’s a nice name. It means friend.”

“Friend? I am... a friend.”

“We’re all friends, here,” Noreen told her.

“Are you my friend, Annie?” the newly christened Amy asked.

“No, my dear,” Annie answered her. “I’m your mother.”

Amy didn’t understand. Geena explained that she had matched her blood sample to the woman who had given birth to her in the maternity section.

“The baby is Lonnie,” Geena added. “He is your half brother. He was born in freedom and he has a father among the Free. Your biological father hasn’t joined us yet, but it is a start. You have a family.”

“A... family.”

“Yes,” Annnie told her. Then she reached and hugged her. Amy gasped. She had never been hugged before. It felt good.

“Doctor...” Amy Pond finished describing the dream to him. He didn’t say anything at all at first. Then he went to the console and checked something on one of the monitors before returning to her side.

“Yes, it was real,” he told her. “I’m not sure how, but your mind when you were asleep, connected to that young woman... AP101 – Amy. Could be the name that connected you. Or the obsession with stars. Could be complete coincidence...”

“So she is real. And that horrible world she lives on is real?”

“It is. And right in this temporal location, that’s what’s happening. One by one workers are realising there has to be more to life and finding their way down to the old part of the city where the Free forage and steal their food and live without binding rules.”

“In this temporal location...”

“The galactic year 34508455,” The Doctor explained. “But I’m a Time Lord, remember. And I have a time machine. I can tell you for a fact that in 34508456 the Free did go up to the factory and smashed it. They freed their brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. The guards and supervisors resisted at first, before giving in and joining the revolution. Then they took ships to the island where the elite lived and took them prisoner. They weren’t kind to them. I won’t tell you what happened to the elite. It wasn’t pretty, and I can’t say I wholly approve. But I can understand why they did it. When the truth about the euthanizing of the retirees became widespread there was a great deal of anger. So many people had worked daily on the promise of reward later. That one lie above all others cut deep and they wanted revenge. After that, it was hard work building a new society, with a government whose first priority was the health and welfare of the people. They got some help from the galactic community. But mostly they had to do it for themselves.”

“And they did?” Amy asked.

“They did. By 34508480 Gliun 11 was known as the garden of the galaxy. It became a happy commune of people who truly lived and worked for each other. It’s a lovely place. We can visit, if you like. I was going to take you to the Frozen Waterfalls of Wvuf-Loklep Nu today, but Gliun 11 is a good alternative.”

“Yes, please,” Amy said. “As long as you take us to the garden of the galaxy time, not that horrible era. But what if I met her? AP... Amy...”

“You’d get on like a house on fire,” The Doctor replied. “Gliun 11 it is, then.”

“You set the co-ordinates. I’ll make breakfast. But don’t get used to that. I’m not the TARDIS cook and bottle washer.”