Peri glanced around her room for what she had decided would be the last time. The perfectly smooth white walls were still as inviting, and the strange mixture of ages and civilizations which was conjured up by the scattering of furniture still held its mysterious and exciting quality which Peri found so appealing. Yet she realised, it was time to go.
As she walked along the gleaming white corridors to reach the exit, Peri thought about the whole concept of the place, and how she was probably throwing away a million chances; throwing away the chance to visit a million planets, times and places like toys which she had become bored with, a few simple steps from an ageless blue box and back into the life she had once led. She said to herself, that in this situation it was easy for her to leave home and return here. Yet, that fact would remain forever, but she could not. She also thought of one major obstacle, one thing she had to do soon which she was not going to like one bit. She had to tell the Doctor.
The Doctor was happy. The Doctor was cheerful. The Doctor was excited. The TARDIS was not. with tender fingertips and a warm smile he tried to coax her into going where he wanted her to, yet somehow she knew the dangers and perils of Sector Seventy-seven, and in particular the one jungle planet of Gestrex, upon whose soils the Doctor hoped to run about taking samples of the plant life nobody had previously dared to interfere with. Therefore, every time the Doctor tried to surprise the console by suddenly ramming a certain string of co-ordinates into the computer bank the room buckled and swayed madly, and tried to make him give up his quest.
'I will not give up!' the Doctor roared as Peri entered, two suitcases in her hands and a shoulder bag in the appropriate place.
The Doctor clung on to the console and tapped the numbers into the controls once more. 'Hold tight, Peri!' he ordered reprovingly when she had been thrown to the floor a few times. 'The TARDIS is being awkward.'
Peri didn't really want to listen to more of the Doctor's babbling, that wild and crazy talk of far and distant lands which might persuade her to take her luggage back to her room. 'Doctor, don't make this more awkward than it already is...'
'I assure you, I'm trying not to, my girl.' he said heftily and tried once again. 'I want to get there as much as you do.'
The Doctor tried to make his sigh as loud as possible, 'No, Peri. Not to Earth. We've had far too much of that planet for now. I mean, look what it was like at Longleat...'
'I want to go home.'
The TARDIS materialised on a busy New York street, inside its occupants stared at the scanner screen showing the busy scene.
'You realise of course, that once you walk through those doors, there'll be no coming back. Not ever?' said the Doctor. The TARDIS doors opened. Two suitcases forced themselves through the open doorway and were unceremoniously dumped on the pavement. The Doctor looked up and waited for Peri to follow him out. When she did come out, there was a trickle of watery eye make-up down one of her cheeks.
'Well, I would have thought you'd have been just a little more nicer about the whole thing.'
'Nice?' shouted the Doctor to a passing dog. 'Nice? What do you want me to do, bake a cake or something?'
A fresh tear ran down Peri's cheek and she picked up the heavy luggage. If the Doctor wasn't going to be emotional, then she wasn't going to make a spectacle of herself in public. She tried to hold out her right hand. 'Well, Doctor, thanks for looking after me and all that...see you around.'
The Doctor looked down at the hand as if not knowing that he should shake it. With an ungracious sniff he turned his back and went into the TARDIS. The doors slammed shut and Peri stood looking in wonderment at the rapidly fading police box shell.
Within, the Doctor turned disconsolately from the controls and wondered what he had just done, and why. Peri had been a part of his life for quite a few years, and like a coward he had shunned all farewells when it was time for her to go. He found an armchair and sank despairingly into it. He tried to recall the past few days, searching for the reason why see had suddenly left. But it wasn't as if she'd been distinctly unhappy, or that they'd had an argument. In fact, they'd been getting along quite well...
He found himself getting up from the chair and leaving the console room, delving deeper into the TARDIS and then suddenly stopping at the end of one of the corridors, in front of a door marked 'Peri's Room - Time Lord and limeys keep out!'. He smiled slightly and turned the brass door knob.
Inside, everything was neat and tidy and lifeless. The room was always as it had been, only now it had no personality. Everything that was Peri's had gone, except the sign on the door. From the inside it could have been anybody's room, and indeed it had been; Romana, Sarah, Zoe, Victoria, Dodo, Susan...so many people, so many farewells, so many feelings cooped up inside the Doctor's hearts and none of them ever allowed to show through.
'Grandfather, let me in..'
Ah yes, he could hear them now. He could remember the way he had shut Susan out, leaving her where she did not want to be, just because he had thought the time was right. No warm embrace, no real tears shed, (not by him anyway); Zoe suddenly placed back in her home environment without being asked, without a word from anyone not even a goodbye from the Doctor.
Sarah. Another one taken home because of the Time Lords, and another one hurt because of the Doctor's weakness.
'Doctor, I didn't really mean it...'
The way she'd been so determined to go and then suddenly determined to stay, but he'd dumped her on a pavement just like he had done with Peri...
Suddenly, not only could he hear their voices but he could see their faces...the tears, the crying, the pain...he'd done so much to them; inflicted so much unhappiness on them as he carried them through time and space. Then the door to the room slammed shut and locked itself and the wicker chair nearby tipped over. The bed on which the Doctor had sat began to shake and the faces became figures, figures of frightened and angry girls, crowding around him, hands out stretched their eyes blackened sockets and faces deathly white...they were all trying to kill him...
On Earth, Peri had been walking round in a daze. All those feelings, all those reasons why she had to leave the Doctor had suddenly gone, to be replaced by an unanswerable question - what had she done? She sat down by a waterfall and stared down at her own reflection. She had no money, no food and no place to live. The year could be any, and she didn't have any identity - what if she hadn't been born yet?! Or worse, had died! It was so confusing...
'Peri! Help me!'
The scream of terror in her head had been the Doctor's voice. She shook her skull to rid the hallucinations from her mind, but the voice remained, a terrifying roar for help, deep inside her mind yet all around...a crowd was gathering nearby.
But the crowd was not for Peri. When she looked up a circle of people had gathered around something...in amid the figures she caught a flash of blue...the TARDIS! Somehow she had managed to push her way through the crowd, the Doctor's voice still echoing in her mind and now, seemingly more real, more material as if it were really there.
Peri burst through the doors of the police box and then through the opening doors of the console room.
The Doctor's voice could be heard, clear yet faint...some way away. She went through the inner door and chose a corridor, following the voice. Behind her, she could make out the gasps of bewildered Americans as they followed her in, but she had no time to usher them out as the Doctor was in dire peril, calling for her.
On the bed, the Doctor was writhing and twisting, grappling with unseen figures, gasping for breath. The screams turned to pathetic wails and then ceased completely as the air seemed to be cut off from the lungs. In his mind he could feel the feminine hands around his neck, and he could see the whites of Sarah's eyes as she strangled him, teeth bared and anxious to repay him for all the suffering he had caused her over the years.
When Peri finally got to her room, what had been her room, the furniture was upturned and the Doctor lay motionless on the bed, pale with his eyes open wide in terror but with no life behind them.
Something terrible had happened, she could sense it. And why had the door been locked? She bent over him and tried to revive him, but his arms, still around his neck, felt strangely stiff and the skin was unusually cold, yet the air in the room was warm. Peri felt for a pulse, a sudden wave of terror sweeping over her sweating forehead. Yet there was no pulse to feel, and when she put her ear to his chest there were no heart beats to listen to either.
Female voices entered the room telling Peri what she already knew:
'He's dead, my girl. He's dead!'
Peri turned around to see who it was that was prophesying doom. Two young women stood in the doorway, dressed in jeans. sweaters and sunglasses. One of them looked strangely at Peri and moved forward.
'Jeannie?' Peri wiped tears from her face and tried to smile, but she really didn't know how to greet her old friend from High School whilst the Doctor was laying dead at her side.
The girl, with long brown hair, moved over to the Doctor and examined him. 'I'm afraid he's dead, Peri. Did you know him? But then you couldn't have, could you? I mean, who is this guy? Did you see this crate appear out of thin air?'
The other girl looked around at the strange room. 'No, Jeannie, that was a police box we entered. This must be somewhere else. Hey, and what a weird place this is too.'
Jeannie straightened up. 'And what a weird guy. Look at the way he's dressed...'
Peri suddenly collapsed by the bed, her arms outstretched to the corpse on the bed. 'Doctor...'
'Hey, she does know him,' said Jeannie's friend quietly, just as two men appeared in the doorway.
'Caroline, what's going on?'
Jeannie pulled one of them into view of Peri. 'Ted, you remember Peri, from High School?'
The fair-haired, square jawed handsome man, frowned slightly, then his face cleared. 'Oh yeah...hi, Peri. How are you?'
Peri stood up, trying desperately to pull herself together. 'Jeannie...get them all outside. They shouldn't be in the TARDIS.'
Caroline found it all very weird, and this young girl whom Jeannie seemed to know was making things sound very mysterious. 'TARDIS? What TARDIS?' Jeannie took her arm and steered her out of the room. The two men followed and Peri was left alone to weep over the Doctor's inert figure.