Remembrance Sunday, 1994
The traffic had been merciless in this most crucial race against time, but Archibald ‘Archie’ Worthington was driven to beat it.
“Come along man, just another avenue to turn into and we’ll make it” he bellowed to his chauffer as he took another bite of his muffin.
“In good time sir, as soon as we’re clear of the van ahead of us, we’ll be where we need to be”
Archie sighed, his patience had all but eroded, and now he had to deal with patronising reassurances.
“Can we not state such impossible things?” he asked
“What’s so impossible about what I just said?” asked the curious chauffer.
“No one can tell us where we truly want to be, there’s always a different time, a different place, a whole world of ideal possibility forever distant from the present we live in”
“But sir, surely the destination in the present is what’s important”
“What’s important today is what was sacrificed yesterday”
The door to the right side of him opened and another person leaned in, wearing a strange assortment of clothes and colours, a bright and mostly tacky yellow blazer covered in question marks, a panama hat, and a large brown duffle coat. Above his head sheltering him from the downpour of rain was an umbrella with a handle also shaped like a question mark.
“Whatever are you doing man?”
“A storm’s brewing; may I come in for a bit of crumpet?”
“You most certainly will not”
“I may not will anything to be so? My will won’t take kindly to that” the man continued
“How did you pick the lock?” Archie asked.
“What lock?” the impish man replied.
“This car can only be opened from the inside”
“That’s just it, I happen to be inside”
“On the outside, there is nothing but space, we are inside the Earth, a ship forever lodged in harbour, we shelter within its skin, every one of us is a prisoner. Every so often we riot. Every now and then we pay the price for it”
Archie was weary, more of this strange man’s ramblings; he tapped on the window separating him from the chauffer.
“Do you have something to do with this?”
“He looked drenched sir, thought I’d take pity and give him a lift”
“Real heart on sleeve protocol” Archie replied, flabbergasted
“That’s what they tell me” the chauffer said, a satisfactory smirk on his face.
“See, simple answer for everything” Archie responded to the man.
“Those you serve always say that when the
Archie sensed the stranger was speaking more of his language and cooled his jets in regard to his rising temper.
“Are you headed my way?” he asked calmly.
“A friend of mine is giving a sermon at this very moment, circumstances will soon force me to travel, I’d like to wish her god’s grace and speed before I do”
“Then you might as well come in if you so wish”
“I don’t wish, I will”
“Will that do?” Archie responded.
The man folded up his umbrella and clambered into the limousine, prompting Archie to move
“Do you have a name?”
“I’m The Doctor”
“Doctor eh? I suppose one always has to be on standby on this sort of occasion, some of us are a bit steep in age at this point. Comfortable are we?”
“Couldn’t really tell you at the moment, we’ve just met”
The Doctor eyed the Smith and Wesson on Archie’s lap, his demeanour changed from lively to sombre.
“No, on second thoughts, I shouldn’t be all too comfortable”
Archie took note of the man’s swift discomfort, and chuckled.
“Oh don’t let this hunk of metal trigger you man, ’tis but a memento of past glory, nothing more”
“Today is the not a day to bask in glory, it is to commit to memory” The Doctor reminded him.
“Whenever are we getting a move on man?” Archie asked incessantly, sensing he was about to be lectured and not willing to put up with a second of it were it about to slip loose from this most righteous Doctor’s lips.
The chauffer spotted a man approaching the van with some camera equipment in his hands and lowered his window to inquire about the hold-ups they were continuing to experience.
“Excuse me, we are in a bit of a hurry, when can we expect your van to move?”
“My apologies sir, we’re filming something special for the regional bulletins, we should be good to go in a few more minutes”
“Great, puff piece remembrance stories, the media are such parasites; can’t we have the rest of the day to ourselves?”
The Doctor pressed his fingers against the tip of his lips, whatever he wanted to say, he felt it would fall on the deafened ears of this individual.
Before long, and true to the camera technician’s word, the BBC news team finally finished their work and headed back over to their van, the van in turn sped off down the street, allowing the limacine and every car trailing behind it to press on.
The limo did not have further to travel, it pulled up beside King’s Chapel Church, which had been at the centre of the regional news, for it was the first remembrance sermon to be given there by one of the initial wave of newly anointed female ministers.
The Doctor and Archie stepped through the hallowed doors of the church and took their seats.
Archie wondered why The Doctor was keeping so close to him, it unnerved him greatly.
“Would you mind finding somewhere else to sit?” he asked.
“I’d prefer to keep my eyes trained on your glory, you’ve taken it in with you” The Doctor noted.
“What makes you so sure there’s a bullet in it?”
“Guns I find make the most terrible possessions when they are so far removed from their purpose and function. There’s always the temptation to load them”
“No innocent blood will be shed this day, you have my guarantee”
“Archibald, you know as well as I do, today is not just to remember the noble or the innocent”
The two remained silent as the sermon, performed by one Judith Winters, commenced.
“They say God is tribal, that there are two sides, the renegade devils and the imperial angels. Try as they might, the imperials cannot stave off the incursion of the renegades on Earth as they do in Heaven.
For Earth is at the centre of their great and ceaseless struggle. Human souls are tested and challenged on a basis so constant, that to the eyes of a timeless child native to uncharted stars it must be compelling to see this everlasting battle amongst the living, not knowing if where they dine next is at the table of our saviour, or at the behest of the devil himself.
The child must look down upon the Earth in wonder, amusement, but perhaps, just perhaps, it looks down on us in shame.
I believe in this child, one came to me, when I was lost, used by those that served in wars fought so long ago, who had lost their way of life to the steps taken forward by our evolving and ever blessed world.
They had been tested, but their experiences had blinded their souls to the awakening that opens our eyes to all that is splendid and right, and they sought to exploit the generations under them, to treat them as if they were their personal weapons.
I spent so many years locked away in my own private corner of the globe, readjusting, trying to convince myself I was not a weapon purposed for evil, that I was a design of the divine.
In your time on this earth, when you are tested, look to your child, your guardian angel, your Ace of Hearts, and ponder what they will forge you into”
The sermon came to a close and the church emptied, but not before a young mother and child approached Judith singing nothing but praise on her.
“That was a lovely sermon Reverend, what inspired it?”
“Just a story from my childhood Mrs. Cooper”
“Well, young Gwen and I loved it, didn’t we dumpling?”
Young Gwendolyn Cooper was a little distant, her eyes trained on The Doctor as he politely raised his hat in salutations to her, in acknowledgement of deeds not yet performed by her on Earth.
“When we get back to Cardiff we’ll be sure to tell her all about it. It’ll do her a lot of good” Mrs. Cooper jubilantly spoke, she took her daughter’s hand and she left the church.
Once the church was emptied, Judith blew out the last of the ceremonial candles and took a much needed glass of water.
The Doctor approached her.
“It was a tale well told Reverend Winters, but nobody ever thinks about what comes after, that’s just our lot, in all our lifetimes”
“It’s as if God takes you to a certain place, then takes both eyes off of your presence on his Earth, leaving you stranded in the dangerous currents, his back turned as you struggle for years to cling to the safety of the holy surface, the holy land”
“What you served was worse than any devil” The Doctor spoke, reminding her of remembrances past.
“Even the devil fell from heaven” Judith responded.
The Doctor opened the palm of his hand, a small drop of rain dropped onto it; he glanced upwards, staring at the ceiling above.
“You really should get someone to fix the roof. It’d do you a lot of good to shelter from the approaching storm while you can, before war is thrust upon you, as it is now thrust upon me”
“If war is to come, are you ready for it?”
“I can step onto every battlefield there has ever been on your planet, I can step forward onto every conflict that is yet to come”
“But are you ever truly prepared for it?”
“I’m not surprised when I see it, but I’m always sad, especially the ones when there is no chance for remembrance. Humans are fortunate to have it, be against an alien or native instigator. With the devils you served, unless I’m involved, there is never a chance”
Judith had to ask the question, encouraged more by curiosity than faith.
“Then you are an angel?”
“I am a champion”
“Of the word?”
“Are you here to respect my gospel, or here to glorify your own?”
“I came to say I failed. I failed you, that I underestimated their cruellest of capabilities, the indoctrination of children into their nefarious ways, no better than what the most inhumane of humans did during the second of the great wars, that’s not even the worst thing”
“What is the worst thing?” Judith asked.
“That even now I’m still failing”
The sounds of a gun barrel being locked into position made both of them turn.
“You were right Doctor, the temptation was there to resist, but do not take it as a sign of weakness, more of strength. For war is not just to remember the noble, we must also take heed of the sin, and that woman right there is ripe with it”
He approached Judith, his eyes glaring into hers, showing nothing but contempt, and hate.
“At last, I’ve got you where I want you”
“I do not recognize your face, but I understand your intent. Are you prepared?” Judith responded.
“For everything you did to my mates, who weren’t so well prepared for the war you brought to their shares, you dare ask me this?
“Archibald, listen…” The Doctor pleaded.
“She is in service of the Daleks, foreign devils, worse than anything Adolf threw upon us, I see that now. They were on no side but their own. Mike and Mister Radcliffe, they paid the price for that”
“Are you of relation to the men I killed decades ago?” Judith asked.
“We were all drinking buddies, we formed our own clique, The Association, a brotherhood bonded in a belief that the rivers of blood will not course through this nation’s veins. Mike Smith paid the price for placing his trust in the generations that have come to lead this world”
“She had no choice” The Doctor responded angrily.
“And she does now?” Archie said, his hand trembling.
The Doctor could see the fear in the man, but he was too stubborn to end his provocation.
Judith’s eyes flickered with a spark, she thought it’d might have been the flash of a camera but the press had long since come and gone.
Something was different about her. She felt no fear from the man aiming the gun at her, but from the unquestionable thirst she felt to punish him for drawing a weapon and message of malice into a holy land.
It was a righteous fury, she did not know if it belonged to her, or to God.
“You brought this devil out of me, God would never entrust the church to the designs of those that had cast the first man from Eden”
“Both bore the brunt of responsibility that day, they breached the laws laid down upon them and we all must pay for those sins to earn our way back there” The Reverend persisted, but Archie would hear none of it.
“The law is in my hands now, and I will not see you speak in the name of anyone, lord or law, ever again” he cried, and squeezed the trigger.
The shot was fired, the bullet rapidly approached its target, The Doctor stood firm, and he closed his eyes in dread anticipation of what was to come.
The bullet froze in mid-air and the small damp raindrops leaking from the roof also froze some fizzling with energy, they could shock someone at the slightest touch.
“No shelter from the storm” The Doctor said, crossing his hearts.
“What’s happening?” Archie spoke in alarm.
“You were so busy making deals with the devil, you never once thought to ask it to dance”
The energy ignited from the reverend in a ferocious manner, the interior of the church was set ablaze with a torrent of electronic fire which reignited the extinguished candles and reduced some of the pews to charred splinters.
Judith opened her mouth to speak, but nothing let slip from it but more unfathomable levels of power, electrical bolts danced and diced in and around the petrified Archie, he could shield his eyes, but not his spirit, which bent all too easily to the will of this hellacious being that he had awakened.
The gun slowly contorted, and broke down into molten metal that spread all over Archie’s hand, he screamed in the holiest of terrors as the liquid steel touched his hand, severely burning it.
He collapsed to the floor, tears pouring down his frail cheeks, clutching his right hand in searing pain, looking up at the heavens as the imperial angel stood in judgement of him.
And then, the energy cut off, Judith slowly descended, her great power faded, and she sank to the floor. Weary, but well.
Small sobs could be heard from her.
The Doctor knelt down and put a comforting arm around her.
“This is how I failed you, I didn’t cut the cord from the Daleks when I could have, I couldn’t, I knew there would come a time where I required you to serve that power, at a specific time and place, a time of war”
“What sort of war would permit this devil’s design?” Judith said in between wails of sorrow.
“A war of time” The Doctor replied solemnly.
“What makes you think I will fight?”
“I would never ask you to fight, merely to offer suggestions and ideas to our side of the struggle, a weapon forged by one side now in use of another, all for a greater purpose , the power that goes with it need not be in service of the Daleks, but in service of every divine soul in creation. For the sake of every untested soul”
Judith composed herself, she felt the righteous fury dissipate, and instead entered a state of perfect grace, as if her personal truth was telling her all would be well
“I was left so broken the last time, so helpless. Can you guarantee me liberty after?”
The Doctor already knew the answer; he was in his third incarnation at the time when he paid a visit to an asylum with Josephine Grant and one of their less than routine matters in the year 1999, at the turn of the millennium, an asylum Judith Winters once more graced the halls of, having had a relapse, having once again retreated into herself.
Cut off from all masters she could serve, cast out from the light.
In order for her to be useful, one of them had to believe. It might as well be him.
Believe for her, and believe in her.
“You will live, I assure you. That’s all anyone can do after war is through with us. Live”
Judith took his hand, and they made their way towards the doors, towards the rain and the storm.
Archie, still squirming on the floor, crippled and in agony, demanded to ask one last thing of the angels that had denied the demon his due.
“Why? Why was I spared?”
The Doctor glanced over at him, his eyes piercing into Archie and somehow managing to fill the pits of whatever remains of his soul with terror and anguish.
“Ask that of God. She’ll tell you”