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the last train home

Rose hung on to the console as the TARDIS pursued yet another journey through time and space, while the Doctor raced around her and the console, flicking switches and turning dials, setting the co-ordinates for the adventure.

'Where next?' he asked her a broad smile of excitement lit across his face.

She smiled back, 'I'm not really sure.'

'Come on, Rose. Where's your imagination?'

'I was never good with history, so going back in time is not an option. Especially after, well, you know.'

'Yes, well what about the planets? The stars?'

'Well, as far as planets go, I only know our own solar system, thou I'd probably struggle on remembering them.' She moved around the console and stood next to him as they watched the monitor screen set upon the console.

Suddenly the TARDIS lunged from side to side sending its occupants unsteady on their feet and both instinctively grabbing the console for support.

'Bit of a rough ride this one,' shouted the Doctor above the groaning sound of the time column. He moved frantically again around the console.

'You're telling me' mumbled Rose.

The Doctor suddenly grabbed Rose's hand and forced it down onto the console in front of her. 'Hold this! Don't let go!'

'What?' she declared, 'Is there a problem?' she stumbled over her words.

The Doctor looked up, still with a broad grin spreading across his face said, 'No. Not really.'

'Doctor?' shouted Rose. She knew he was lying, that broad smile gave him away every time. Rose went to let go of the lever that the Doctor had instructed her to hold to and thought better of it. There was another massive lurch which again came close to knocking her off her feet as sparks erupted from the console sending plumes of smoke into the air, causing Rose to jump.

The Doctor continued to circulate the console frantically trying to control his ship.

'Can't you control this thing?' shouted Rose turning her head from side to side as he moved around her.

'Yes!' he shouted back then, 'No, no, no, no!!'

'Well make up your mind!'

The TARDIS gave one final lurch but this time its occupants were thrown to the floor and the lights momentarily went out as the ship came to a final halt.

They both looked at each other, each waiting for the other to say something. The Doctor smiled, picked himself up and helped Rose to her feet.

'Is it always like this?' she asked.

'Not usually. I know the TARDIS can be a bit temperamental.'

'Temperamental? It felt like we hit something.'

'Yes. Yes it did. Thou the TARDIS is indestructible.'

'Try telling that to my ar--'

'Well, there doesn't appear to be too much damage.'

'Who are you kidding? I'll probably be black and blue all over' she said rubbing the appropriate area of her anatomy.

'I meant the TARDIS.'

'I'm surprised you can tell.'

The Doctor looked at her slightly hurt. The TARDIS had been though a lot in its time but always served it's purpose first and foremost as a home to him. He continued to look over the damage on the console. 'Nothing that can't be fixed.' he said.

'Well, where are we then?' she asked, moving over to his side. He moved away from her around to the opposite side of the console.

'Not sure.' he said. 'Shall we take a look?'

'Wait.' said Rose, 'Did you feel that?'

'Feel what?' he asked. Then it happened again, a slight movement from side to side. 'We must have landed on something.'

Rose moved towards the doors of the TARDIS, her interest and excitement bubbling away at the prospect of seeing something new and wondrous beyond them.

The Doctor flicked a couple of switches and levers on the console and stood at the top of the ramp leading down towards the door, hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. He smiled at her. 'Come on then, open the door.'

Rose pulled on the handle of the door and slowly opened it. The smell hit her full on. Her face crumpled up as she put her hand to her nose to mask the smell. 'Woah, smells like a farm.'

The Doctor laughed and continued down the ramp to join Rose as they both crossed the threshold of the TARDIS and into a dimly lit room beyond.

~~~

As their eyes adjusted to the light within the room the TARDIS had arrived in, they could see. wooden crates and boxes stacked haphazardly around them; parcels of different sizes wrapped in brown paper and string; mail sacks stacked on top of each other and full matching suitcases of different designs all neatly stacked at one end of the room and saw dust and straw covering the wooden floor.

'Ah, a railway carriage,' declared the Doctor, and as if on queue, the room rocked gently as the sound of the wheels on the track rattled.

'It stinks in here,' said Rose, her hand still trying to mask the smell.

The Doctor moved around the carriage, examining the parcels and luggage, 'Probably live stock.'

'Live stock?' said Rose suddenly becoming cautious of her surroundings, 'What kind of live stock?'

'Chickens!' declared the Doctor, as he pulled back the dusty cover off a stack of crates to reveal the clucking, feathered creatures within.

'Oh, hello.' Rose offered the chickens but received not even a cluck.

The Doctor continued to look around their surroundings. He could see several small slots running along the walls of the carriage where beams of light filtered through giving them enough light to see. He suddenly scrabbled to the top of a stack of luggage and peered out through one of the slots.

Rose moved over towards him. 'What can you see?' she asked.

'Not a lot,' he said, turning towards her and offering a hand to help her up beside him. 'Nothing there.'

'What? Nothing there at all?' asked Rose taking a look for herself.

The Doctor looked at her despondently, 'Don't you believe me?' he asked.

'Well...' Rose turned to him and saw the look he gave her. 'Well...maybe you missed something.' Rose turned back to the viewing point, squinting her eyes to look out beyond the glare of the sun.

'Nothing wrong with my vision I'll have you know.' The Doctor said, matter-of -factly and jumped down off the luggage and went to sit on top when he suddenly noticed the gold painted letters blazoned on each piece of luggage.

Rose turned and jumped down beside him. 'Not much to see really.'

He looked at her 'Really?' he asked.

'Plenty of sunlight.'

'Really?'

'But not much else...really.' she said.

'Nothing to see then?' the Doctor asked.

'Well...no.' Rose conceded.

'Well, what about this then?' he indicated the luggage.

'It's luggage.' Rose said in a matter-of-fact way.

'Well, I can see it's luggage. Don't you see?'

'See what?'

'This means there are people on board this train.'

Rose looked at the luggage and noticed the initiais R.H. 'Who do you think they are?'

'Not sure. But worth taking a look, don't you think?'

She got up and walked towards a door set at one end of the carriage.' Shall we take a look?' she asked pointing towards the door. As the Doctor looked over at Rose, a strange eerie green glow filtered beneath the door and into the carriage. Rose turned and stepped away instinctively. 'What was that?'

The Doctor jumped up and moved over towards the door, 'Not something you'd fine on a train traveling through the desert.'

'The desert? How would-' before Rose could even finish asking the question the Doctor interrupted her.

'Judging by the height of the sun and the temperature in here, I'd say we were traveling somewhere within the southern hemisphere of your planet.'

'But what was that, that thing, glowing green like through the crack of the door?'

The Doctor stood beside her as the light appeared to disperse 'Let's take a look.' he grinned and slowly opened the door.

~~~

It led out to the open air of the world outside and the linking mechanism that helped pull the carriages along by the engine up a head. Immediately, beyond that lay another door leading on into the next carriage.

'Here, take my hand!' shouted the Doctor above the rush of air that roared around them. Rose took his hand nervously looking at the short step to the next carriage and as they jumped she suddenly caught sight of the green glow as it disappeared over the top of a ladder which run up the side of the carriage to the roof.

Having made the short step across, the Doctor immediately opened the door and pulled her inside with him.

Rose quickly closed the door behind them. 'Did you see it?'

'See what?'

'That glowing thing...it was climbing the ladder.' Rose stumbled over her words, while trying to put her hair into some sort of order following their brief step outside.

'Can't say I did,' was his response and looked ahead into the carriage they had now entered. There were four occupants.

The train carriages continued to rattle as they rocked from side to side, through the dusty, hot landscape. The blinds to the carriages had been pulled down on all sides to help prevent the hot glare of the burning sun from piercing through. Two elderly women sat opposite each other, in finest Edwardian dress neither noticing the new occupants having being too busy with their card game. Nor did the young female who sat opposite a man further down the carriage on the opposite side, who continued to read his newspaper while the young female sat upright staring out of a crack between the blinds of the window.

The Doctor began to walk towards them, Rose close behind. 'Doctor,' she said.

He ignored her and continued with his approach. Rose looked around the carriage they were in. It felt old and dusty with a musky smell of damp and adorned with fine furnishings and curtains of the Edwardian period. She knew they had traveled back in time simply from her observations but she felt uneasy at the Doctor's lack of concern for something that appeared to be totally out of place and the 'thing' that gave off the erie green glow. Maybe she was seeing things, a trick of the light perhaps and turned to move back towards the door of the carriage they had entered.

The Doctor meanwhile had passed the occupants, smiled at the old ladies and gestured with a nod and made his way to the next door which would ultimately lead into the next carriage. He pulled on the door handle but the door was stuck..

'There's no way out. Not through there anyway.' said a voice.

The Doctor turned. The gentleman lowered his newspaper and turned to look at him. 'I've tried several times but to no avail.'

'Oh. Right.' said the Doctor. Rose meanwhile moved back towards him.

'Is there another carriage?' asked Rose.

The gentleman looked towards Rose, stood up and like the Doctor before, acknowledged her with a courteous nod. 'I'm afraid no one is aloud through there, Miss...Miss?'

'Rose, Rose Tyler.'

'Miss Tyler,' again the gentleman acknowledged her with a polite nod.

'And you are, sir?' asked the Doctor.

'Charles Wyndham, at your service, sir and this is my companion, Miss Mary Moore.' he indicated the young lady sat at the window, who turned and smiled at them both.

'I'm The Doctor.'

'A Doctor? Pleased to meet you, Doctor...?'

'Smith, Doctor John Smith.' replied the Doctor and shook the man's hand while looking towards Rose as an indication for her to back him up with his pretence.

'Pleased to meet you, Doctor Smith. Did you both just come aboard?'

Rose looked alarmingly at the Doctor, looking for an indication that he had thought about the possibility of the question arising.

'Well, yes.' he stuttered, then turned the questions towards the carriage occupants. 'Where you bound?' he asked.

'Why, London of course.'