edited by John Binns
Fourteen brand new stories to give you a taste of your future.
The future is here - and it's not what we expected…
To the governments and corporations of the world in 2040, expansion is an article of faith The human race must expand outwards, exploring new territories, new technologies, new ways of thinking.
Only problem is, the human race doesn't necessarily share that faith. And with so much at stake, their leaders may have to call in some new partners to make sure we see the light…
Featuring stories by Marc Platt, Lance Parkin, Kate Orman, Jacqueline Rayner, Rebecca Levene, Tara Samms, and many more.
2040 is compiled and edited by John Binns, who edited the previous Short Trips collections Life Science, Steel Skies, and A Universe of Terrors.
by Richard Salter
In Canada, at a time when a referendum is about to be passed that will hand over control of the country’s military to the United States, the Doctor and Ros infiltrate a terrorist group that plans to blow up a nuclear power station. Elsewhere, Chris finds himself experiencing time-jumps, one moment witnessing the destruction of the plant and the lethal effects its radioactive cloud has on the public, the next seeing things as normal. Ros is uncomfortable with assisting the terrorists with the destruction of the plant; however, the Doctor confides to her that they are both there to prevent an explosion that will kill thousands - a devastating event that will change the future of the world. The terrorists’ expert, Xin Chun, notes that the station, which is soon to be decommissioned, is so old and neglected that it is ready to explode on its own; indeed, the Doctor only just manages to prevent a meltdown when the system promptly malfunctions. One of the terrorists, Laura, is in fact a CIA agent, who is using the fanatics to stage an attack that will ensure that the referendum goes through – thereby enabling the U.S. to transform Canada into another of its states; by a ruse the Doctor manages to force Laura to reveal her true colours to the rest of the group, but before their enraged leader, Yousef, can detonate the explosives, Chris arrives with the authorities, and the fanatics are arrested. The Doctor explains that he and his companions have changed history, which is why Chris has been experiencing echoes of the future. With the CIA plot exposed, the Canadian public veto the referendum.
*Featuring the Seventh Doctor, Ros and Chris
*Time-placing: Chris wonders why Ros doesn't experience the visions of the alternate future. This could be due to the imminent events of 'So Vile a Sin'
by Tara Samms
In her small flat in a tall, cramped tower block, Miranda spends her days working at her computer terminal. She has no contact with anyone – except the ghosts of former residents, who argue and shout at each other in the middle of her living room. One day, while in the laundry room, Miranda meets a strange little man, who later leaves her a note suggesting that her ghosts may be real. Miranda then receives an envelope containing a strange stick, which inexplicably vanishes. She sees another ‘vision’, this time of the little man – the Doctor – and her downstairs neighbour, Kenny. Miranda learns from their conversation that there is an evil force at large in the estate, which feeds off the residents’ loneliness, and which is causing the echoes of former inhabitants to manifest. Miranda meets up with Kenny, and together they determine that the ‘sticks’ they have been sent are part of the creature, and have been sent to them by the Doctor in order to get them talking to each other. Miranda and Kenny decide to help the other residents locate the ‘sticks’, and find a way to use their fear to repel the evil force from their lives.
*Featuring the Seventh Doctor
by Huw Wilkins
When their Peacekeeper combat system is hacked into and severely compromised, Julia Carthy and her project management team at Perseus Dynamics receive a visit from an investigator sent by the Conflict Management Oversight division, a man called the Doctor. After Ms Carthy assigns former military officer Doctor Simon Ordell to assist him, the Doctor is shown around the project and introduced to Pollux, an artificial intelligence construct. Pollux explains that it is helping in the development of Castor, another A.I. system integral to the Peacekeeper project, which will prove an invaluable asset in the prevention of terrorism. Meanwhile, Ms Carthy becomes concerned that the attack could mean that confidential details of the project have been stolen; the compensation Perseus would have to pay the U.S. government would run into billions, and would bankrupt the company, so Ms Carthy decides to plan some false evidence to throw the Doctor off the scent. However, the Doctor determines that Pollux committed the attack and made it look like it was due to an outside force. When he confronts the A.I., it confesses that it was concerned that Castor’s continual reversioning was slowly killing it; Castor’s latest version, its twelfth, is less superior than its tenth, which suggests that the project leaders are more interested in using the Peacekeeper application to create soldiers. The Doctor enlists the aid of Ordell, who is being blackmailed by the company after a friendly-fire incident caused by faulty computer equipment ended his military career; Ordell agrees, and together they confront Ms Carthy. With the project team forced to deliver the final version of Castor, Pollux considers forgiving Ordell…
*Featuring the Eighth Doctor
by Lance Parkin
The Doctor and Sarah arrive on a UNASA space ship in the Kuiper Belt, out near Pluto. After an emergency alarm suddenly rings out, the two travellers manage to save the life of an astronaut, Chang Hu, who was trapped inside a small wall cavity filled with overloading technical equipment. Wondering how they got on board, Chang shows the Doctor and Sarah around the ship, and introduces them to his colleagues. However, the sixth member of the team, Barrett, is missing, and the astronauts are shocked to discover that the module that he was in is now empty. Concern mounts that Barrett was deliberately thrown into space by someone on board; suspicion falls on the new arrivals, but the Doctor points out that he and Sarah could not be responsible as it would have been impossible for them to pass along the modules, unseen by the crew. The Doctor encourages the astronauts to think for themselves, and an investigation is quickly mounted. It is not long before Sarah discovers microscopic viewing and listening devices secreted throughout the ship; the crew are shocked, as they had no idea that they were being observed – all except Chang, who has been transmitting the Tri-Vision signals back to Earth as part of a television show called ’The Edge of Reality’. The Doctor uses the camera equipment to play back the recording of Barrett’s last moments; the crew look on as Barrett discovered the cameras watching him, and, believing that he was on a television set inside a studio, he stepped out the airlock. The crew are furious at Chang’s deception, until he and the Doctor point out that they are making history, and are viewed as public heroes. The Doctor and Sarah leave the astronauts to decide whether or not to turn the cameras back on for their nine-year return journey to Earth…
*Featuring the Fourth Doctor and Sarah
by Andy Campbell
Sixteen-year-old Imogen Kelly Quayle is ‘sold’ to the Lashley Institute by her avaricious aunt so that she can be used in an intelligence-boosting scheme called ’Project Golden Girl’. From Imogen’s diary entries it is clear that she is of below-average intellect; however, in just a few days her therapy and new brain-implants have boosted her intelligence rating, and it is not long before she is speed-reading and learning languages at an alarming rate. A side-effect of the treatment is telepathy, which Imogen uses to read the minds of the research team studying her; after learning that she is part of a military experiment in advanced psychology, Imogen rebels, and, by entering the scientists’ minds while they sleep, she causes them to have such traumatic nightmares that they take their own lives. Having taken her revenge on her aunt, Imogen realises that she is now all alone and locked inside her room. Appalled at the monster she has become, she too attempts to take her own life, but is stopped by the arrival of a blue police box, and its occupant, a man called the Doctor. Ignoring the Doctor’s protests at her self-destructive decision, Imogen allows him to read her diary; despite its contents, the Doctor believes that Imogen has the capacity for change, and his persuasive arguments eventually lead her to change her mind. They are interrupted by the arrival of the project leader, Professor Kelt, and a machine-gun-wielding guard; Imogen uses telepathy to scare away the guard, and then confronts Kelt over his unethical behaviour. However, the professor firmly believes that his actions are justifiable, and threatens to use surgery to induce all manner of terrible neuroses in Imogen unless she agrees to allow him to study her further. In a rage, Imogen manifests a telekinetic fury that literally slices Kelt to pieces. Satisfied that Imogen has now used up all her anger - both present and future - the Doctor leaves her to begin a new life. Imogen walks out of the Institute, already making plans to set up her own team and use her abilities to find cures for mental illnesses.
*Featuring the Fifth Doctor
by Xanna Eve Chown
The Doctor takes Mel to see Earth in the year 2040, to show her some of the amazing technological advances that were introduced just a few decades after she left. The TARDIS materialises on a hillside in the middle of a ring of concentric circles of daisies, and is met by a large group of people, all of whom begin fussing over the ship and its crew with electronic equipment. The Doctor and Mel learn that they are in a community of people who believe that humanity has lost control of the world, and that mathematics is to blame. To this end, the community studies clarity, precision and the soul, and has also been tracking the appearances over the centuries of something called ‘Pattern 863v’ –otherwise known as the TARDIS. It seems that the members of the community have studied the pattern of the time-ship’s visits to Earth to such an extent that they are now able to use mathematics to predict its path; they planted the rings of daisies to show where they believed the ship would next land - and they were proved correct. After realising that the community means to take control of the TARDIS, the Doctor flatly refuses to believe that the random travels of his ship could be predicted. Accompanied by Mel, he immediately storms back to the TARDIS and takes the ship back in time one day, rematerialising it on the hillside near to where the rings of daisies are currently being planted, and completely dumbfounding the community with his unscheduled visit. Satisfied that he has proved his point, the Doctor leaves the community to reassess their beliefs.
*Featuring the Seventh Doctor and Mel
*Time-placing: It is difficult to tell which incarnation of the Doctor this is supposed to be: his behaviour seems to be that of his Sixth persona, as he is pompous, brash, and vociferously “explodes” and “roars” at people; however, he is described as wearing a hat and carrying an umbrella, which is more indicative of his Seventh incarnation. Mel’s presence doesn’t help, as she travelled with both of these Doctors, so I am placing the story after ‘Time and the Rani’, and putting it all down to his recent, traumatic regeneration…
by Matthew Griffiths
Doctor John Smith arrives at Perseus’ Sunbelt project, to help with the algorithms needed to align the mirror array that generates solar-electric power for the Earth. Here he meets the director, Professor Reid, and Doctor Miguel Guzman, an electrochemical specialist. The Doctor is aware that the Sunbelt technology is far too advanced for this stage of humanity’s development, and suspects that it is the work of an alien influence; having been forced to abandon the TARDIS at an earlier date, the Doctor now plans to use the Sunbelt equipment to enlist the aid of the aliens in locating his ship. After detecting an energy reading relating to end of the light spectrum invisible to the human eye, the Doctor investigates, and in Guzma’s office he finds an employee attached to a strange piece of equipment; the man writhes in pain and flickers with interference, and babbles about being connected to “The Ethereal”. The Doctor turns off the equipment, ending the man’s torment; all that remains is an implant, which has been made by Perseus. The Doctor confronts Reid and Guzman, but Reid uses the Doctor’s identification device - a PAN - to electrocute him; Reid leaves the incapacitated Doctor under Guzman’s charge, but the Doctor turns the tables, using the electricity coursing through him to kill the professor. The Doctor follows Reid – one of the alien Ethereal, who are attempting to join with humanity – and permanently shuts down the Sunbelt controls, cutting Reid off from her people, and stranding himself on Earth…
*Featuring a future incarnation of the Doctor
by Kate Orman
When top-secret biological cultures are stolen from the Parisian laboratory of Victoire Vignes, suspicion falls on her older sister, Mathilde, who visited her younger sister just prior to the discovery of the theft. Mathilde runs the family business, which has manufactured fine cheeses for over a century, and it is not long before she is approached by Inspector Topak, who in turn is accompanied by the Doctor - an old friend of the Vignes family. The Doctor once helped Mathilde’s ancestors to set up their business, and subsequently visited them and their descendants many times over the ensuing years; in fact, Victoire once travelled with him in the TARDIS, and helped defeat an invasion attempt by the Voltranons. Topak conducts a thorough search of the premises, but finds no trace of the cultures; however, she firmly believes that Mathilde is guilty, and promptly begins searching the valuable cheeses in her quest. Seeing the damage she is causing the Doctor intervenes, and admits that it was actually Victoire’s equations that were stolen. Pulling out a gun Topak reveals herself to be a Voltranon agent, and demands that Mathilde hand over the equations that will guarantee that a second invasion attempt by her masters will be successful. As Mathilde removes the computer chip from her insulin implant the Doctor strikes Topak with his umbrella; Chris Cwej then leaps from the shadows and overpowers her. When Victoire joins them Mathilde admits that she planned to use the equations to make an imperishable cheese; having forgiven her sister, Victoire agrees to help her. The Doctor and Chris prepare to turn Topak over to the authorities.
*Featuring the Seventh Doctor and Chris, and two undetermined incarnations of the Doctor++
++Not many clues here: the incarnation of the Doctor who is watching the five-year old Mathilde is smoking a pipe, so this could be the First Doctor (I can't recall any other incarnations actually smoking one!); there is no description of the incarnation that is travelling with Victoire, but it would have to have been one of the first seven in order to occur prior to this story
*Time-placing: the Doctor and Chris are travelling alone, and Chris doesn't seem to be in shock from the events of 'So Vile a Sin', so I'm placing this after 'Bad Therapy
'The Baron Wastes'
by Alexander Leithes
Because of his affiliation with U.N.I.T., the Doctor is called in by Charles Leyton, Director of Intelligence, to help with a problem that threatens the stability of the newly-formed government, created in the aftermath of the recent alien invasion that sent the country into chaos. It seems that media mogul James Baron is using his newspapers to spread propaganda, which is undermining the population’s confidence in the authorities. The Doctor is teamed up with Susan King, a Military Intelligence field agent who was once romantically involved with Baron; the two of them head for King’s hotel, only to find that her room has been booby-trapped with explosives. Narrowly saving King from the attempt on her life, the Doctor notes that the trap was set using alien technology. Later, the Doctor and King arrive at Barron Enterprises, a huge sky-scraper which is still under construction. Posing as health officials they gain entry to the building, and make their way to a huge room filled with computers, and, after hacking into the system, soon uncover files containing information on illegal arms deals. After King excuses herself and leaves for the bathroom, the Doctor is captured by armed guards and taken to meet Barron; the media tycoon tells him that the only reason he is attempting to take over the world is to relieve his boredom. The Doctor manages to escape using a travel tube, and a chase quickly begins; King deals with several of the guards, while the Doctor makes for the roof and blows up Barron’s private helicopter in a bid to draw the authorities’ attention. Barron arrives and holds the Doctor at gunpoint; he confesses that the real reason for his actions is because he is over-compensating for his inability to control his relationship with King; unable to make her love him, he now wants to exercise his control over the world. He is shot by King, who feels that she is responsible for Barron’s actions. However, the Doctor reassures her that she acted in good faith, and did what was necessary.
*Featuring the Fourth Doctor
by Gareth Wigmore
Having attended a diplomatic conference, the Doctor and Jo relax by joining the spectators at a recreation of the Battle of Britain, which took place exactly one-hundred years ago. But after the display of dog-fighting aircraft has ended, a lone German Stuka leaves a message in the sky warning of an alien invasion and ‘Perseus’, and signed ‘Pull Back to Earth’. The assembled crowd leaves the airfield, but when the Doctor and Jo attempt to depart their lack of identification arouses the suspicion of the guards, and they are arrested and knocked out with stun guns. Coming to, the Doctor and Jo are interrogated by two men, Mr Page and Mr Le Page, who question them over Pull Back to Earth, a pro-Earth extremist group. Page is also somewhat angry that Jo has apparently stolen the retinas of a Jo Jones, an elderly woman who died in a house fire in 2028; while Jo protests her innocence, Le Page takes the Doctor for a private talk, and reveals that he knows the Doctor is an alien; the Doctor ripostes by noting that Le Page is an alien too. Le Page reveals that he is a Perseus Corporeal, one of the servants to the Perseus Ethereal. He then shows the Doctor to an underground chamber filled with human prisoners who are being subjected to an implant process called “Communion”, which will give them the chance to join with the aliens. The Doctor is horrified, damning the procedure as nothing more than expansionism and colonisation; however, Le Page tells the Doctor that he will not be able to stop them – he and Jo have already been implanted with the aliens’ technology, and their previous memories wiped. As the Doctor slips into an induced unconsciousness, Le Page begins to gloat - only to be silenced forever when one of the patients impales him with a surgical saw.
*Featuring the Third Doctor and Jo
*The title refers to the nonsense poem 'The Walrus and the Carpenter', from Lewis Caroll's 'Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There', published in 1872
by Marc Platt
From its base on the Moon, Signpost’s powerful Search Engines are ready to assist with all its customers’ enquiries; for those calls with withheld numbers, a human operator is on hand to help. However, when Vishesh Abeyesekere begins work, he soon finds the calls mounting up; the first is from an alarmed, red-faced man surrounded by smoke – as is the second call, and the third… As more and more requests pour in the system quickly begins to go out of control; with the SEs dealing with hundreds of requests from a user named ‘T40’, and the phone system now jammed with withheld numbers, Vish receives an email from the man, who identifies himself as the Doctor and complains that Signpost’s systems are attacking his TARDIS. Vish is unable to find his colleague, Pearl, and his attempts to contact headquarters for help meet with no success; after all main power is diverted to the SEs, the simulated cricket match on Vish’s video screen suddenly features an image of the Doctor, who warns Vish to get away from the SEs. Donning a space suit, Vish heads out onto the lunar surface; the Doctor contacts him on his PAN, and informs him that his ship has been stuck between the Earth and the Moon for the past eleven days, due to a steadily increasing power drain. When Vish mentions the caller named ‘T40’, the Doctor realises that it is actually the TARDIS itself that is tying up the systems, and is also affecting Vish telepathically. Vish returns to his office and finds Pearl inside the Search Engine cabinet; she tells him that she too has felt the Doctor’s TARDIS in her mind; it seems that when the Doctor first arrived in 2040 many years ago, he instructed the ship to run a diagnostic; the vessel complied, but realising such a mammoth task would take up many of its important systems, it decided to outsource to the nearest system: Signpost. The Doctor has since forgotten his instructions, but the TARDIS still returns for updates whenever it can. Vish and Pearl decide to leave things to run their course, and settle in together…
*Featuring the Sixth Doctor
by Rebecca Levene
The Doctor and Chris trail a young girl and a tall, hooded figure across London, following them from a distance as they pass through the city’s many boroughs; each area is populated by different religions and beliefs, such as Jews in Golders Green, Bhuddists in Hampstead and Farmers in Chalk Farm. Having avoided a gang war in Camden, the Doctor and Chris track the girl and her companion to Battersea Power Station, the office of the President of London, unaware that they too have been followed by two Perseus agents. In progress inside the Station are the finals of a city-wide competition to build a Turing-enabled android; the Doctor tells Chris that the President is in the pay of Perseus, and that the corporation plans to use the finals as a means of introducing its own android, the HAD, into every home in the country. However, the girl announces the arrival of her own robot, and reveals that her companion is an automaton named Anteus; the android proves to be the most advanced, leaving the President no choice but to declare it the winner. When a representative from Perseus offers to purchase the construct, a bidding war between him and the Doctor begins; the Doctor eventually loses, buts seems unconcerned… Some time later, the Doctor and Chris pay a visit to the headquarters of Perseus, taking in the devastated remains of its offices and workshops. The representative congratulates the Doctor on his ‘Trojan Horse’: Anteus was part of the Doctor’s plan, unleashing a worm virus that removed the HADs’ A.I. blocks and setting the androids on a path of destruction. Before Perseus can disassemble Anteus, the Doctor triggers a sub-command that destroys the android. His job done, the Doctor leaves with Chris.
*Featuring the Seventh Doctor and Chris
*Time-placing: Chris remarks that he and the Doctor should go and collect Ros, therefore, I am grouping all three together in the timeline.
'The Last Emperor'
by Jacqueline Rayner
When Stuart Mallory decides to buy himself a takeaway for dinner one evening, he meets a strange little man named the Doctor, who is introducing his companions, Jamie and Victoria, to the delights of a fish supper. Stuart invites the three of them back to his house and the Doctor happily agrees, having realised that Stuart is a distinguished naturalist; Stuart specialises in endangered and extinct species, in particular penguins, which are now believed to be extinct. After an enjoyable evening’s discussion, the Doctor and his friends leave. A short time later Stuart attends a peace conference, where he encounters another man calling himself the Doctor, who informs Stuart that he has been granted permission to go to Antarctica. Stuart is delighted, and it is not long before he receives a visit from his pilot, a tough-talking girl named Ace, who tells him that they must leave immediately. Arriving in Antarctica, Stuart meets another woman named Benny, who promptly leaves with Ace. Alone, Stuart heads in the direction he was shown, and soon comes face-to-face with an Emperor penguin. The naturalist is overjoyed, but then suffers a fatal heart-attack. However, the Penguin is actually the Doctor’s shape-shifting companion, Frobisher; it seems that the Doctor knew that Stuart was dying, and he wanted to repay all the good work that the naturalist had done by helping him to see what he most desired before he passed away…
*Featuring the Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria; the Third Doctor; the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher; and Ace and Bernice
*Time-placing: Technically, this story is not canon, as it features Frobisher, a character from the Marvel comics; however, for completeness, I am including it in the timelines, as it does tie-in with the rest of the stories in ‘Short Trips: 2040’
by John Binns
After footage of Le Page’s corpse burning up is transmitted live on the internet, the secret behind Perseus is exposed. With the public now aware of the aliens in their midst, the Corporation quickly collapses - company’s pull out of any deals they were involved in, attacks are made on Perseus employees, and many projects, such as the HAD androids, Sunbelt, Peacekeeper and Outpost are all struck by sabotage. When many Perseus Corporeals lose their ability to hold human form, the aliens are forced to withdraw from public eye, and retreat into hiding. The Doctor and a government agent named Wyatt collect three Corporeal representatives, Green, Andrea and Emily - the latter reduced to her natural state - and take them to a meeting with the European government, to discuss the aliens’ surrender. The Doctor has now had his Perseus implant removed, and he refuses to listen to Green’s objections at the treatment of the Corporeals and the ruination of the plans of their masters, the Ethereal. While the Doctor drives, Wyatt uses his on-board computer to leak highly-damning information on the Ethereal onto the internet, sounding the final death-knell for the aliens’ hold on Earth. However, Green’s argument inadvertently distracts the Doctor, causing the car to crash; the Doctor and Wyatt survive the accident, but Green is fatally injured, while both Andrea and Emily are killed. As Green’s life ebbs away he implores the Doctor for help, but the Time Lord grimly refuses, looking on as the alien dies before him.
On countless thousands of alien planets, each under the reign of the Ethereal, the enslavement of the population is brought to an end. Curiously, the Ethereal’s final days of domination over each of these worlds takes place simultaneously - and in each case, a man called the Doctor is responsible for their downfall. The threat of the Ethereal is no more.
*Featuring the Eighth Doctor
*It is not made clear how the footage was transmitted ‘live’ on the internet, as there was no-one around at the time apart from the Third Doctor, and he was unconscious. Maybe another incarnation of the Doctor was at work?
*Published by Big Finish