Billings was crouched in the dirt at the bottom of a five foot deep trench, methodically scraping layers of soil aside with a trowel. Local people spoke of a falling star crashing to Earth and burrowing into the ground; nonsense of course, but most tall tales have a basis in fact. Billing’s was certain something was down here, and he refused to stop until he uncovered just what.
Yes, he was sure that this would be a significant find, something that would finally make his name back at the-
… the thought remained unfinished as his trowel scraped against something solid. His heart beating fast, Billings took out his brush and swept the dirt aside to reveal… words?
‘Free for use of public.’ Said Billings aloud.
Within thirty minutes he’d uncovered the whole surface area of the buried object. Doors. Blue doors. The thing must have been nine or ten feet long.
‘It’s a police box. Why on Earth would anyone bury such a thing?’
‘Well, it’s a bit of a long story.’ Came a voice. It was a man’s voice, slightly muffled. It was, Billing’s was unhappy to realise, coming from within the police box itself.
‘You’re going to have to shove the doors open!’
Billings blinked twice.
‘I..? Could you repeat that?’
‘The doors, give ’em a shove, I’m on lockdown in here ‘cos of the power drain, give them a stamp and they might dislodge!’
Billings faltered, unsure what to do.
‘Come on then, stampy-stamp time!’ Came the voice once again.
‘Right. Right then.’ Billings breathed in and out heavily, then kicked down with the heel of one boot. The police box doors beneath him swung inwards, Billings leaping back at the last second to prevent himself from falling inside.
He staggered backwards until he was pressed up against the trench wall, the ladder to his right leading to sanity. A moment passed, a long, silent moment, and then something poked out of the police box: a hat.
It looked like a fez, but seemed to be adorned with hundreds of tiny red, blue and green jewels.
Finally a young-old face appeared. ‘Trowel man, man with a trowel, thank you for digging up my TARDIS.’
Billings jaw flapped wordlessly for a few seconds before the power of speech finally returned. ‘You are… welcome?’
‘Am I? That’s good! So often when I turn up places things are trying to eat me or shoot me with lasers, or shoot me with lasers and then eat me.’
‘You are… welcome.’ Said Billings once again, his brain cowering back inside his skull as the man pulled himself fully out of the Police Box and stood before him.
‘You’re late!’ Said the man.
‘Yeah, it took me a couple of days to track you down.’
Billings turned in surprise to see a short, dark-haired woman in unusual dress clambering down the ladder to join them.
‘A couple of days? A couple of days! I’ve been down here for-’ The man checked his watch. ‘Ninety three years!’
‘Ninety three! And eleven weeks! Almost!’
‘Right.’ The woman seemed to be contemplating the best thing to say next. ‘Oops..?’
‘Oops? Do you have any idea how bored I got?’ Said the man.
‘Bored enough to cover a fez in rhinestones?’
The man snatched the fez from his head and shook it at the woman. ‘Yes! Rhinestone bored!’
‘What else did you rhinestone?’
The man smiled and softened. ‘Ooh, a jacket, some mugs, a scarf, part of the console, she didn’t like that, shoes, bow tie naturally-‘
‘-Hat stand, chair; ooh-! And my underwear! … that was a bit of a mistake in retrospect. Trowel man, never cover your underwear with rhinestones; the chafing..!’
Billings threw down his trowel. ‘Enough!’
The strange pair stopped and turned to him, surprised. ‘What’s up with trowel man?’ The woman asked.
‘You can’t be in there, down there, under all of this Earth. That is an impossibility! Or at best a gross improbability.’
‘But I was, you just dug me up, so rather a stupid thing to say.’
‘You’re being rude.’ Said the woman to the man.
‘Am I? Yes, sorry, I suppose being on your own for the best part of a century makes you lose your social niceties.’
‘I said I was sorry.’ Said the woman.
‘Can you please, one of you, explain to me what is happening here, before I go completely stark raving mad!?’ Said Billings.
The man rubbed his hands together. ‘Right. Sorry. Long story short, partially invisible trans-dimensional TARDIS eating monsters from before the dawn of time. Actually from before, before the dawn of time-‘
‘-Basically really, really, really ancient and weird.’ Said the woman.
‘-Really weird; they snuck into my TARDIS, hunkered down inside the console-‘
‘-babies hatched, ate bits of her insides, emergency phase shift, actually two emergency phase shifts, underground, knackered ship, ergo: shiny rhinestone fez. Ergo, am I using that word right? Love that word. ‘Ergo’. That about cover it?’
‘More or less.’ Said the woman. ‘Though you completely missed out what happened to me.’
‘I’m the Doctor by the way, and the small person next to me who I’m furious at is Clara.’
‘Hello!’ Said Clara
‘And you are?’
Billings looked at The Doctor and Clara, a pair of grinning, impossible fools.
‘I am… considering a long holiday and then a change of vocation, good-bye.’ Billings made his way quickly up the ladder and out of the trench.
‘You left your diggy trowel thing!’ Called the Doctor from below.
‘Keep it!’ He strode onwards, not turning his head back even for a moment, already looking forward to forgetting the whole, worrisome affair.