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

This was the life he really didn’t want to revisit. The Doctor picked up the eighth globe and looked at the swirling mist with dread. He didn’t want to be reminded of the Time War, the destruction of everything that mattered to him.

“Don’t make me face that again,” he whispered aloud to the echoing walls of the alcove. “Please, not that.”

It wasn’t that. He looked at the glass case and saw a model of an iconic building, but not one from Gallifrey. There was a gap, of course, where the souvenir of this adventure had to go, but although ‘souvenir’ was the very word this time he doubted it would be as simple as popping into a shop full of cheap trinkets.

The TARDIS materialised on central promenade, Blackpool, beside the Victorian railings overlooking the beach. A double-decker tram rumbled by on the tracks and a bus passed in the opposite direction on the road. As both went on their way The Doctor stepped out into the sunshine with his blazer slung over his shoulder casually. He looked across the road at the red brick edifice of the Blackpool Tower complex. His eyes turned from the ground floor with the circus booking office and souvenir shops to the upper floors and then to the tower itself rising up into the clear blue sky of a warm summer day.

The quest involved the Tower. He wasn’t sure WHAT exactly it was about, since there was nothing sinister there, and never had been.

“Doctor!” He heard his name called and turned to see a familiar face from a very long time ago, four lifetimes and at least two fractures in the space time continuum.

“It is you, isn’t it?” The woman in her mid-thirties looked at him closely. “I thought… when I saw the police box… it had to be…. You look different, but it is you?”

“It’s me, Lucie,” he answered. Power of Suggestion drove away any doubt from Lucie Miller, native of Blackpool, his travelling companion for a while during his Eighth incarnation.

It hadn’t always been a happy time.

“Are we…. Is this… after….”

“It’s after the time when I blamed you for not telling me what happened to my aunt… and the time when I got mixed up with the Meddling Monk. All is forgiven… and I’ve missed you such a lot. Besides, I really could use your help right now, come to think of it.”

“Of course,” The Doctor replied. “This is the Guardian playing games with me, sending me here to sort out my unfinished business.”


“Never mind. What is it you need help with?”

“A case,” she answered him. “I’m a detective. CID. I’m looking into a series of disappearances that lead back to the Tower of all places.”

“Children?” The idea froze The Doctor’s hearts. Blackpool Tower was one big fun house for children but it might also be a magnet for the sort of people who would want to hurt them.

“Adults,” Lucie assured him. “In every case, they intended to visit the Tower and nobody knows where they went afterwards. Fifteen men, now, and the only clue is this leaflet.”

Lucie showed a piece of paper to The Doctor. He glanced at it once and his hearts again lurched as he recognised a man he thought belonged firmly in his past.

“The Toymaker,” he murmured. “Again! Am I never to be rid of him.”

“You know him?” Lucie saw The Doctor’s dark expression. “I thought I did at first, then I realised he looks a bit like the man who played Alfred the butler in the old Batman films.”

The Doctor laughed.

“Actually, he reminds me of a Time Lord I used to know, but that’s just a coincidence. Faces, especially humanoid faces, repeat themselves quite randomly.”

“Well, this one calls himself the Keeper of the Labyrinth. He has a sort of ‘show’ in the Tower complex.”

There were words in bold letters beside the image of the Toymaker in an elaborately embroidered robe and cap.

“Test your wits against the Keeper of the Labyrinth. Huge cash prizes to be won. Free entry to the Tower with the voucher below.”

There was a perforated line and a watermarked strip with all the terms and conditions of the free entry and admittance to the Keeper of the Labyrinth’s show.

“I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been able to resist a free offer.”

“Good job I have a spare, then.” The Doctor gave Lucie his arm as they crossed the tramway and the wide road to reach the Tower entrance.

The woman at the ticket office sighed as they presented their vouchers.

“I’m bloody fed up of taking these things lately. That creepy bloke must have spread them all over Blackpool. Everybody wants the ‘big cash prizes.’ Of course, nobody’s won any of them yet.”

“By ‘creepy bloke’ you mean….” Lucie ventured.

“Him… the Keeper of the Labyrinth. Weirdo. At least, he looks like one in his picture. I haven’t actually seen him. I swear, none of the door staff have seen him come in or out of the place, but his ‘attraction’ is open - all day, every day.”

That was more information than Lucie expected from a ticket office vendor. She looked at The Doctor and noticed that he was looking directly at the woman. Perhaps he had her partially hypnotised.

If she was, it didn’t last long. After she had given that much information she blinked and reverted to the standard slightly bored tone as she repeated the information contained in the small print on the ticket.

“Free entry doesn’t include the lift to the top of the Tower, the Dungeon, Jungle Jim, the Ballroom or the Circus. You pay separately for those.”

“Understood,” The Doctor said with a smile. “Come on, Lucie. Let’s go and walk around the aquarium while we get our bearings.”

“There isn’t an aquarium, now,” Lucie told him. “They sent all the fish to the Sea Life Centre further down the Prom. The ‘Dungeon’ – is there now - one of the attractions you have to pay extra for.”

“In the old days you got a lot more for your money,” The Doctor commented. “One price got you a whole day inside the Tower and out of the rain.”

“That’s progress for you,” Lucie commented. “There’s a really nice coffee place on the fifth floor.”

The coffee bar and the burger restaurant seemed to be the only parts of the Tower that didn’t require additional payments to enter, but of course you couldn’t sit in those without buying something. The Doctor, who had visited many times since it first opened on May Fourteenth, 1894, felt that the original ethos of the Tower as an indoor place of pleasure for the inclement days in the north-west of England had been badly eroded.

But he had more important things to worry about as he drank cappuccinos with Lucie. The Toymaker was using the Tower as the base for some mischief, and despite his name, there was nothing endearing about him. He was a dangerous man who had to be stopped.

“It’s a sort of huge, three dimensional logic game that players walk through,” Lucie explained. “It all looks perfectly all right. But I was convinced that it was the key to the disappearances even before you turned up.”

“People went in and the losers disappeared?” The Doctor guessed.

“Funnily enough, no. The losers are all perfectly fine. I think the people who disappeared were the winners. Most of them were computer geeks or maths wizard types.”

“The sort of people who might be interested in an intellectual challenge,” The Doctor noted. “Yes, I think you might be onto something.”

“That’s where you come in,” Lucie said. “You’re the cleverest person I know. You could solve the puzzles….”

“Well, yes, I probably could….” The Doctor frowned. He had beaten the Toymaker at those sort of games before. But he wasn’t so certain that he could do it again.

“Are you scared?” Lucie was surprised. “You’re never scared. You’re The Doctor.”

“And he’s a being who can’t be killed, only vanquished for a while. Sooner or later he comes back again and again.”

“So you ARE scared of him?” She was disappointed as well as surprised.

“Not scared, exactly. Just very wary. I’ve come up against him too often and he’s trickier every time.”

He sighed and pushed his coffee cup away as he stood.

“No use in prevaricating. Let’s find out what this is all about.”

The Keeper of the Labyrinth’s domain was on the same floor as the huge Jungle Jim installation that provided hours of fun for children among the ball pools and rope walks, climbing frames, slides and swings, but very little for the adults who accompanied them, especially considering they had to pay to get into the facility. It was easy to see how an attraction aimed at the grown-ups might be a draw.

The Doctor and Lucie presented their ticket stubs to the bored looking woman at the entrance. She stamped their hands with an ultra-violet mark to prove they had gone past her kiosk and repeated the prepared spiel listlessly.

“Welcome, challenger. Enter the Labyrinth and pit your wits against the Keeper’s genius - at your own risk.”

It sounded very uninspiring put that way, and the entrance was clearly just moulded fibreglass painted to look like a cave grotto. Light effects and fake stalactites inside gave the same impression.

Then they passed through a second door.

“This is way bigger than the Jungle Jim,” Lucie pointed out as they entered a huge cavern in which the stalactites on the high, vaulted ceiling actually looked real.

“We’ve come through an interstitial portal,” The Doctor explained. “We’re in another dimension where Jungle Jim and the Tower itself don’t exist.”

The door had closed firmly behind them, but the way forward was far from obvious. There were high walls built in a vaguely oriental style directly in front of them. In three languages, ancient Chinese, cuniform and English, challengers were invited to enter the Keeper of the Labyrinth’s Labyrinth.

“Ok,” Lucie conceded. “A Labyrinth. The Keeper is no David Bowie, and if there is anything in there designed by Jim Henson, I’m just going to laugh.”

The Doctor smiled indulgently. Of course the fantasy film would be the first cultural reference for a young woman like Lucie. He had thought of the Labyrinth of Knossos in Ancient Crete, Earthly home of a voracious creature from the planet of Minos, subsumed into legend as the Minotaur.

In that legend Theseus had defeated the Minotaur. In reality, The Doctor had banished it back to Minos.

On the whole he thought he would prefer the Henson version. But they were prevaricating again and there was nothing else to do but carry on with the ‘challenge’.

They walked along the wall for at least twice the length of the Tower Ballroom before coming to a right angle and continuing on. They turned a second right angle, and then a third without finding a way into the most pointless Labyrinth in the history of mythological mazes.

They were back where they started when Lucie noted a red glowing sign marked ‘exit’. Another tri-lingual sign promised those who wanted to give up already that they could leave this way. The Doctor examined the door. He felt the threshold between two dimensions, but through the hinge side he could actually see and hear the children playing in the Jungle Jim facility.

“Anyone who gives up this easily isn’t worth his bother,” Lucie guessed. “He WANTS clever, resourceful people.”


“Well, that’s us. Obviously we’re looking at this wall the wrong way. It’s not an optical illusion like in the film. That would be a bit too simple. Maybe there’s a section that opens if we press it or something.”

“That may well be the case,” The Doctor considered. “The Citadel on Marius was like that. Long story, a long time ago.”

They set off again, this time pressing the wall every few feet, which made for slow going but was, at least, methodical.

Halfway round the third side, Lucie fell through the wall. The Doctor put his hand against the place where she disappeared and found that it wasn’t really there. It was a very simple perception field over a gap in the wall.

He joined her inside the outer perimeter of the Labyrinth. This was a hall of mirrors to make the designers of the one at Blackpool Pleasure Beach weep. Reflections of The Doctor and Lucie in various warped states faced them at every turn as they walked on. It was peculiarly unnerving.

“I don’t like mirrors that reflect each other,” Lucie said. “They’re supposed to drain the soul of the person who gets between them.”

“Yes, they used to say that on my world, too,” The Doctor agreed. “I’m really not sure it isn’t true in this case. There’s something not quite normal about these mirrors. They don’t reflect what they ought to reflect.”

“How do you mean?” Lucie asked.

Lucie wasn’t properly looking at the mirrors. She was looking straight ahead at their path through the labyrinth and ignoring the reflections all around her. Now she turned to look at the example The Doctor was studying and saw exactly what he meant.

It was reflecting them in reverse positions, The Doctor on her left while in reality he was on the right.

“Can a trick mirror do that?”

“Not an ordinary fairground model,” The Doctor replied. “The trick in this case plays games with the laws of physics.”

Some of the mirrors just distorted the reflections into comically enlarged or squeezed shapes, but every so often there was one that was sinisterly wrong. Lucie especially hated a pair of facing mirrors in which she wasn’t reflected at all. She stared at an infinite regression of mirrors reflecting each other and shuddered. She was glad when The Doctor took her arm and urged her on.

“Oh!” Lucie pointed out a mirror that didn’t reflect anything that was in the labyrinth. Instead, there was a short corridor in the image, leading to another of those emergency exits. The Doctor gingerly touched the glass and confirmed that it was another perception cloak.

“It isn’t really a way out?”

“I am pretty sure it IS,” The Doctor confirmed. “Those who can’t work out how to get past the mirrors can escape that way.”

“At the moment, that’s pretty much US. WE can’t get through the mirrors.”

“We’ve just got to abandon all certainty that these are real mirrors,” The Doctor said. “One of them is a portal into the next trick the Toymaker has in store for us.”

“Trick sounds… naughty, but safe,” Lucie said as they walked a little more slowly and occasionally risked touching a mirror to see if it was solid. “But you talk about him as if he’s DANGEROUS.”

“If you’d ever met the Trickster, you’d know tricks are far from merely ‘naughty’,” The Doctor said. “His ‘tricks’ can stop the sun in the sky and make whole populations never have been born. The Toymaker isn’t in his league, but he plays with minds. That’s a terrible thing to do to a sentient being. Minds are what make us who we are. When we can no longer trust our own mind….”

“Do you think that’s what he’s done to the fifteen missing men?”

“It’s exactly his kind of game.”

“Then… is solving it ourselves just walking into his trap?”

“Yes,” The Doctor admitted. “But we have two advantages over the poor suckers who thought they were after ‘cash prizes’.”

“And they are….”

“First, we KNOW it’s a trap. Second, I’m here. I’m a dangerous person to put into a trap. I don’t tend to stay trapped for long.”

Lucie was reassured. There was trouble ahead, but The Doctor was fully ready to face it, and she, therefore, was ready to face it with him.

“Ahha!” he exclaimed triumphantly. He stood in front of the first mirror either of them had seen which simply reflected the two of them normally. He pushed at it and it opened like a quite ordinary door. “In a place where everything is skewed, look for the one thing that isn’t.”

“Makes sense,” Lucie agreed, though when she stepped through the door she didn’t at all like the way it closed again. She knew she could never see where it had been in the seamless wall.

They were in a tunnel with walls at least eight feet high curving around into a ceiling, all of it pure white with eye-boggling spirals of blue and yellow, as if designed by somebody had seen a 1960s psychedelic art show and gone into overdrive. Looking at the patterns for too long made the eyes hurt and all perspective disappear.

“I feel dizzy,” Lucie said.

“Don’t look at the walls,” The Doctor told her. But that didn’t help because the psychedelic theme continued all along the tunnel. The light came from within the white walls and made the patterns glow.

After a while, Lucie wasn’t even sure how far they had walked or in what direction, because this part of the Labyrinth didn’t have any corners. It curved around on itself in what she thought must be a spiral, though it didn’t seem as if it was getting any smaller as a spiral should if it was winding towards the middle. She knew they weren’t just walking around in a circle because she deliberately dropped a bright pink comb out of her handbag and they never found it again.

After a while she stopped and looked around at the walls and ceiling.

“No, it has to be a trick,” she said. “We are NOT shrinking. It’s the patterns on the walls getting bigger. There’s an effect like that in the Alice in Wonderland ride on the Pleasure Beach. It’s been there for decades. It doesn’t fool anyone.”

“Quite right,” The Doctor told her.

They walked a little further and the patterns got bigger, the roof of the passageway higher and the walls further apart. Doubt crept into her mind.

The Doctor waved his sonic screwdriver in her direction, then at the walls and ceiling.

“It’s an illusion. The sonic measured our dimensions. We’re still the size we should be. This is all a very clever trick with our perceptions of our environment. Lucie, you were right the first time when you thought of the Alice ride. Stick to that and don’t let his tricks befuddle you. That’s how he wins, by making you doubt your senses.”

“Yes.” Lucie was genuinely relieved. “Thank you, Doctor.”

The Doctor nodded and carried on walking. He pocketed the sonic before she could see that he hadn’t measured anything with it. Knowing there was some scientific back up to her own belief helped her to keep believing, and that was all important when a malevolent fiend like the Toymaker was around.

“This looks like a dead end,” Lucie said after walking a little longer in the same winding path. “Did we go wrong?”

“No,” The Doctor answered her. He looked to the left of the wall where the spiralling pattern spiralled to the centre of a geometric vortex. There was the very faintest of a crack indicating an ordinary sized door there. When he pressed his ear against the door he heard the sounds of children playing in Jungle Jim. This was another escape door for those who gave up in despair of ever getting out of the labyrinth.

The wall in front had a faint crack, too, but the door appeared to be at least twenty feet high and ten wide, as if they really HAD shrunk.

“Still playing with minds. He wanted the faint-hearted to take the ordinary door back to their reality while those prepared to take the chance would carry on.”

“We’re not faint-hearted,” Lucie pointed out.

“Indeed we are not. The Doctor reached out where a door handle would be if there was an ordinary sized door in the wall. Lucie blinked as one resolved itself out of the pattern. It was a simple trompe-l’œil effect, but it had fooled her until it became obvious.

The Doctor started to step through the door, and then drew back quickly. There was a snapping sound beyond. The Doctor grinned and stepped forward again, waving to Lucie to follow him. They both stepped around the huge tube, just tall enough and wide enough for one Human sized prisoner to be held inside.

“Right!” Lucie murmured. “That’s the game is it?”

“Just as people start to think they’ve cracked it, the trap springs.”

They walked on through a surprisingly dull corridor that ended in a very ordinary door. The Doctor opened it and again jumped back to avoid another tube. He pushed this one aside and they stepped into a room that went some way towards explaining what was going on.

The plain white room was about the size of a decent Spar shop with all the shelves taken out. Instead, there were aisles full of those tubes, each containing a Human body.

“Suspended animation,” The Doctor confirmed. “They’re not dead,” he added, just in case Lucie didn’t understand the concept.

She did, but that wasn’t what was foremost in her mind as she studied the unmoving figures inside the tubes.

“’My fifteen missing people are here,” she said. “But there are a lot more – at least fifty.”

“Yes.” The Doctor didn’t say anything else. He didn’t need to go on. Lucie understood. As well as being a magnet for families, Blackpool in season attracted single people looking for the casual work that was always easy to find. If a casual worker didn’t turn up one day, the employer wasn’t likely to make a lot of fuss – not with such a large pool of labour to dip into. Most hadn’t been reported missing.

“But why?” Lucie asked. “Are they… food?”

She shuddered and then shook her head.

“I’ve been watching too many sci-fi films, haven’t I?”

She waited for The Doctor to confirm that, but he didn’t. Live food was a likely enough reason for aliens to kidnap humans.

But he didn’t think that was what the Toymaker wanted them for. First of all, he was devious, malicious, and worse, but he wasn’t a cannibal, and second, why go to so much trouble to capture a tiny fraction of the population for such a purpose when he could just scoop them up off the street after dark?

No, he had picked humans who wouldn’t give up when it looked as if they were walking in circles, who would keep their heads when their senses were being confused, who would think things through logically and get to the heart of the Labyrinth.

But Lucie had a point. What DID he want them for?

“There’s another door over there,” he said.

“Isn’t that the one we came in through?” Lucie contradicted him.

“No, it isn’t,” The Doctor replied. “That one made itself invisible again once we were through it. THAT one is where we’re expected to go. It is where anyone who managed to get this far would go. They would be in a panic after seeing all of this and think it WAS the way out. But there aren’t any more ways out. Through there we meet the Keeper of the Labyrinth.”

The Doctor strode towards the door. He opened it carefully and avoided another trap. He stepped into the inner sanctum and Lucie carefully followed him.

“Well, well,” he said as he looked at his old enemy sitting at a table in the middle of this room. “What have we here?”

The table was a fine antique made of dark wood. The room was exquisitely decorated and furnished to look like an Edwardian smoking room, right down to a Tiffany lampshade hanging over the table.

“This is a bit fancy,” Lucie commented.

“It’s all fake,” The Doctor said. “Much like him. He’s not even really a Human. He’s an Eternal, an immortal mind that got so bored with immortality that playing games with other people’s lives is his only amusement.”

There was a game in progress - between the Keeper of the Labyrinth in his fantastic semi-Oriental robes and a young man who was on Lucie’s list of missing people. The gameboard looked like a cross between Risk, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and something thought up by the Gods of Olympus just for fun.

“That’s what this is all about?” The Doctor asked. “You wanted people to play your wretched game with you?”

“Doctor!” The Celestial Toymaker, also known as the Crystal Guardian, the Guardian of Dreams, The Mandarin, and now Keeper of the Labyrinth, looked up at him and smiled in a humourless way.

“Your antics get more despicable every time,” The Doctor replied. “What are you doing on Earth?”

“I’m not on Earth. This realm of mine is in another dimension. A gap in reality allowed me to influence certain things on that planet – building the façade that leads to here, spreading the vouchers that brought these specimens to me. Humans are so greedy. The promise of riches brought so many. But most were fools. I had no time for them. That’s why I made it easy for the stupid ones to leave. The clever ones I kept, as you will have seen.”

“It’s monstrous,” Lucie said. “Why have you kidnapped these people?”

“Kidnapped?” The Toymaker smiled again.“They came willingly to try their wit against me. There is simply a queue. They are waiting their turn to play against me.”

“That game is banned by at least five intergalactic treaties,” The Doctor pointed out. “So is using suspended animation on anyone other than convicted prisoners or willing volunteers. These people didn’t volunteer to be kept in your ‘waiting room’, no matter what was in the small print on the tickets.”

The challenger moved one of his pieces, which was shaped, for no apparent reason, like Blackpool Tower. There was a far off noise like a landslide or an earthquake.

“The game is called ‘Deity’,” The Doctor explained to Lucie. “By means too complicated to explain, the moves on the board are tied to natural disasters on a planet somewhere. The challenger landed on a square that triggered a misfortune for innocent people on a world he has never heard of. How many casualties?”

“Two hundred Lutanium miners,” the Toymaker answered, calculating the score.

“Lutanium? So it’s not EARTH that they’re playing gods with?” Lucie concluded. “But that doesn’t make it any better. This is still monstrous.”

“Indeed it is, and it must stop.” The Doctor pulled the challenger’s chair away from the table and pulled an empty one forward. He took the place at the game. The missing man blinked and looked around.

“You didn’t win the cash prize,” The Doctor told him. “My associate, Lucie, will show you out. Lucie, the shortcut will be through that door over there.”

Lucie hadn’t noticed the second door until now. There was a faint sound of children in Jungle Jim through it.

“Show him the way, then go and get the others. Use this to open the cases. They’ll start to wake up once they’re free.”

He handed her the sonic screwdriver in lock-breaking mode and hoped that the Toymaker hadn’t bothered with deadlock seals. Lucie went to do his bidding. The Doctor, meanwhile, looked at the gameboard. The challenger had been boxed into a corner where a disaster of some sort was inevitable. He had chosen the mining accident rather than a volcano which would have killed many more people.

“So they still have a conscience of sorts when they play?” The Doctor noted. “And I notice that the player has a ‘throw again’ move.”

He took up the dice and threw them. He could have influenced how they fell, but he preferred to concentrate on stopping the Toymaker from doing the same. The resulting ‘eight’ moves were truly random. The Doctor was gratified to land on ‘miraculous rescue’. The miners would survive.

The Toymaker took his turn and again The Doctor stopped him influencing the dice. His three landed his Chinese lantern shaped piece on a blank space. The Doctor quickly threw again while Lucie led a dozen of the prisoners through the inner sanctum to the emergency exit into Jungle Jim.

The throw gave The Doctor a choice between fire and water. He chose water and heard the sound of sailors battling against a sea storm with increasing desperation.

The Toymaker threw his dice and the options in any direction were ‘fair winds’. He had no choice but to neutralise the disaster that was occurring somewhere far away.

The game continued as The Doctor bought time for Lucie to free the people from the ‘waiting room’. It was truly random now that he had broken the Toymaker’s telepathic concentration and he wasn’t influencing the dice. He had a fair chance to lessen the impact of every disaster that the Toymaker created. When The Doctor had no choice but to cause a landslide or tsunami, the Toymaker frequently had to relieve it or The Doctor’s next move provided rescue. The odds were slightly in favour of the unknown people on the unknown planet, at least.

The Doctor won his way to a row of squares that led to the centre of the board. That centre square was marked ‘end of game’, but the squares all around it on six sides, were marked ‘end of the world’. He knew what it would mean. His best chance was to throw a combination of dice that added up to seven. Any combination adding up to six or eight would be apocalyptic. Anything else would continue the game for another round.

Lucie had been leading people to safety all the time. The last went through the door into Jungle Jim and she could have carried on with them to safety. Instead she came and stood by The Doctor, watching the game and realising the chance that was in front of him. She held her breath and closed her eyes, visualising a one and a six, a three and a four or a two and a five, the only three safe combinations.

She heard the dice fall and opened her eyes. She let out her breath slowly as The Doctor moved seven places – four and three – and landed on ‘end game’.

“Come on.” He grasped up his playing piece and pocketed it before jumping up from the table and grabbing Lucie’s hand. There was something odd happening to the Toymaker. He was strangely thinned out, like a three dimensional cartoon image that was being sucked into the board through that ‘end of game’ square.

Lucie looked back at him as he disappeared completely then The Doctor pulled her a little more urgently and she stepped through the portal between dimensions before it closed altogether.

“Where did the Labyrinth go?” The woman who had been taking ticket stubs and stamping hands was standing on the balcony above Jungle Jim looking puzzled.

“It’s closed until further notice, go and have a cup of tea,” The Doctor said. The woman looked at him curiously and then headed towards the ‘staff only’ door to the Tower employee rest room.

There was nothing to be seen where the Labyrinth had been except a wall with three windows in it – all looking out onto Bank Hey Street at the back of the Tower. There was nowhere for it to have been – not in this dimension of reality, anyway.

The people who had been trapped in the Labyrinth looked around in astonishment. They asked each other what was going on. The Doctor explained – sort of.

“You’ve been very lucky,” he said. “Don’t buy candy floss from unlicensed street vendors in future. The batch you all ate contained hallucinogenic contaminants that induced sleepwalking. That’s how you all ended up here. No real harm done, though. Go on home and be CAREFUL.”

The explanation made no sense, especially to those who had been missing for as much as two or three weeks, but they accepted it and went away. The Doctor bought tickets for two and he and Lucie went up in the lift to the ‘Walk of Death at the top of the Tower. The stood on a thick sheet of reinforced glass and looked down on the promenade below. They walked around the upper observation area and on a clear day looked as far as Southport across the Ribble Estuary and Morecombe in the other direction before deciding that was enough of the Tower to be going on with and descending.

They left by the front entrance and noticed a sign saying that the Labyrinth was ‘closed until further notice’ and that free entry tickets could be exchanged for circle seats in the Circus instead.

“That’s a fair swap,” The Doctor decided. “The Tower circus is good entertainment. I love the water display at the end.”

“Me, too,” Lucie agreed. “Would you like to go and see it?”

“I think I would like to do that,” The Doctor answered. “How about some lunch, first? NOT at the Tower Burger Kitchen.”

They had lunch. They came back and enjoyed an afternoon matinee performance at the Tower circus.

Afterwards, The Doctor said a fond farewell to Lucie.

“I will try to come back and see you,” he said. “I know I’m not good at promises, and you don’t have a lot of reason to believe me, but I will try.”

“I know you will. I’ll just get on with my ordinary life until you turn up again.”

“I might look different,” he warned her.

“I’ll know you.”

She reached up on tiptoes and kissed his cheek. He smiled and hugged her once before stepping into the TARDIS. Lucie watched it disappear, smiling in anticipation of his promised return.

The Doctor set his course back to the place with the doors to his destiny. But when he stepped out he didn’t take the key – the playing piece in the shape of Blackpool Tower - to the Eighth door.

Not yet.

“I want to talk to you!” he yelled out. “Guardian, I’m talking to you. I know you can hear me. I want to talk to you before I go any further in this quest.”

His voice echoed away into the distance and he waited.

“I’m waiting,” he called out, and tapped his foot impatiently to indicate his feelings.