'Universe of Terrors'
edited by Jacqueline Rayner
'There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible thing...'
Join the Doctor on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe, from an alien world tyrannised by a god-like machine, to the British retreat from Afghanistan in 1842. Discover the secrets of the TARDIS's original owner, and of three faceless creatures stranded in 21st century Hollywood.
And finally, if you can, face the terrors that lurk in your own heart, and in your dreams...
Fourteen brand new adventures for reading after dark!
This collection features fourteen exclusive short stories from veterans of the Doctor Who universe including Marc Platt, Lance Parkin, Robert Shearman, Jonathan Morris and Trevor Baxendale and from several authors new to it, including acclaimed fantasy novelist Juliet E McKenna.
A Universe of Terrors is compiled and edited by John Binns who in the early Nineties edited the regular Doctor Who fiction collection Silver Carrier, in which many of today's Doctor Who novelists and television script-writers sharpened their teeth.
1:extreme fear. 2:a formidable person or thing that causes terror.
'We all have a universe of our own terrors to face'
Doctor Who: Ghost Light, by Marc Platt
For 40 years, the battered doors of a police telephone box have been our gateway to other times, and other worlds: worlds that have been at turns disturbing, frightening, horrific and surreal. Through several generations, a large part of the series’ appeal has been its ability to shock and scare us, defying the best efforts of well-meaning parents and censors. In contrast to its rivals in the genre, Doctor Who has portrayed a universe peopled not with human-like cultures working their way towards peace, but with unspeakable demons and monsters, killer robots, and creatures that lurk in the dark. Where more conventional sci-fi series have used other worlds to explore the science of space travel or the human condition, Doctor Who followed the tradition of the B-movies of the Fifties and of the Quatermass television serials, in which the existence of space/time travel and alien life was not an intellectual curiosity but an excuse to frighten children and adults out of their wits. A Universe of Terrors brings Doctor Who fiction back to those roots, and explores the darkest corners of the Doctor's universe. It is a journey that takes in not just alien and physical terrors, but also those of our own world, and of our own personal nightmares. It also depicts a progression in the Doctor’s own lives, from the moment he and his grand-daughter Susan first stepped aboard a stolen TARDIS, to an uncertain future in which the boundaries between good and evil become irrevocably blurred.
by Lance Parkin
Discontent with the stuffy and dull lifestyle of their home planet, Susan accompanies her Grandfather as he steals a time machine and leaves to explore new worlds. As the vessel slowly wakes up after a long 'hibernation', Grandfather familiarises himself with the controls; having set the craft in flight, he then takes a rest, allowing Susan the opportunity to explore the rooms leading off of the console room. Finding a huge room filled with clothes, Susan changes out of her heavy robes and into a more comfortable outfit, but when she comes to look at herself in a mirror, so sees the image of a large man dressed in black standing behind her. However, the man is only in the mirror; he reaches out and kisses Susan’s hand and then vanishes. When later Susan tells her Grandfather of her experience he attributes it to time echoes, a glimpse of the past. The old man looks forward to experiencing many other interesting phenomena on their forthcoming travels...
*Featuring the First Doctor and Susan
'Mire And Clay'
by Gareth Wigmore
The TARDIS arrives in Afghanistan in 1842, during one of the biggest disasters in military history: a time when the British forces that stormed out of India found themselves under siege outside the city of Kabul, as the ordinary people within rose up against their new rulers. After the Doctor loses the key to the time ship, Gilzai tribesmen capture the time travellers; they then become separated when Ian and Barbara are sent to join the British, who have been allowed safe passage by the son of the deposed ruler, Akbar Khan. However, the offer is a lie, and the marchers face attacks by snipers, horsemen and looters, and death from the freezing cold nights. Thousands die in the terrible conditions, but Barbara is eventually reunited with the Doctor and Susan; however, Ian is captured by Gul Zaheer, the sadistic Gilzai leader. After weeks of torture, Ian is finally taken to a room filled with tribesmen, where he meets a fellow captive, Lieutenant Symonds. The two men are then placed either side of a deep well containing ravenous creatures and forced to take part in a deadly tug-of-war, while their leering captors bet on the winner. Against Ian’s entreaties, Symonds panics and begins to pull him towards the edge; but after a frantic struggle between the two men Symonds regains his composure and refuses to continue. Furious, Zaheer has the British officer thrown into the water, and Ian watches in horror as the creatures kill Symonds, certain that he will be next. But then the Doctor and a group of Afghans burst into the building and halt the proceedings; Zaheer flies into a frustrated rage, but a burst of anger causes Ian to push the madman into the well below. Later, in the TARDIS, Ian enjoys being back together with his friends, particularly Barbara. However, Ian’s experiences have changed him: now that he has killed a man, nothing can terrify him more than knowing what he is capable of when pushed…
*Featuring the First Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan
Time placing: Ian has done a lot of travelling through time and space, so putting this in Season 2 seems appropriate
by Trevor Baxendale
Following the harrowing events concerning the Daleks’ master plan, Steven is unable to fall asleep in his room aboard the TARDIS, and so he joins the Doctor in the console room. The old man decides to tell him a story to while away the small hours, and recounts the events when he and his granddaughter, Susan, were on Earth, in Shoreditch: returning from the theatre one night, the two of them became lost in the fog-enshrouded streets, and every turn took them further away from any sign of life. After finding a parade of abandoned shops, their windows smashed and their interiors destroyed, the Doctor glimpsed Susan’s reflection in a broken window, and was shocked to see that it appeared nightmarishly distorted. However, when he looked directly at her, she seemed perfectly normal. They then encountered a young woman named Joan, who asked them back to her house for a welcome pot of tea. Here the Doctor and Susan met her mother, Mrs Calder, and her grandfather, who oddly seemed to appear out of nowhere. But then, when the Doctor looked in the room’s mirror, he saw a different version of the room, as if it had been destroyed in London’s Blitz, and was now abandoned and ruined with age. Realising that the occupants of the house were phantoms, the Doctor confronted them, and both mother and daughter burst into flames. But the grandfather changed into a nightmarish ash-form, and attempted to stop the two travellers from leaving; the Doctor instructed Susan to smash the mirror, causing the creature to turn to ash. Mirrors and reflections can be odd, and while the Doctor is certain that he and Susan freed Rachel and her mother, not so sure about the old man…
*Featuring the First Doctor and Steven (and Susan)
by Tara Samms
Every Thursday Rachel takes her three ‘children’ to see a tattooist in Santa Monica, West Hollywood; her charges have no faces, and so the man paints their faces with whatever designs they want. Victoria chooses to have the face shown in an old photograph, but the tattoist cruelly paints the creases on the picture as well; next is Jamie, whom Rachel suggests should be made to look like Brad Pitt. Finally there is the Doctor, who is given a large sunflower. Returning to her house, Rachel locks the three of them in the basement as per her boss’s instructions. But when she listens to their conversation, as they lament the inexplicable loss of their faces, she decides to let Jamie out to talk. However, Jamie manages to get the key to the basement from her, and he releases his friends. But the Doctor realises that they have nowhere to go, and he leads them back to their room, and Rachel locks them in once more. The next day, Rachel visits the face-painter and asks that he tattoo the sunflower on her arm, but the man is angry that she has broken the rules and returned days earlier that she should, and so he steals her face too…
*Featuring the Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria
*Time placing: this is an odd one, as there is no resolution to the tale; I have placed this during Season 5 for simplicity!
'Losing Track of Time'
by Juliet E McKenna
Jo accompanies the Doctor on a visit to the Bodleian library in Oxford; the Doctor wants to look up a strange piece of metal that the Brigadier was sent from a dig on Salisbury plain. However, before they can begin their research they witness a librarian walking into a wall; the man seems dazed, and has lost track of time after having visited the stacks. The Doctor realises that the man is suffering from temporal shock; he and Jo investigate the library, where they find the bodies of two students that have been literally aged to death. The two time travellers then discover a group of aliens, apparently stealing library books; the Doctor recognises them as Tynakars, a race of shape-changing thieves dedicated to stealing knowledge from worlds all across the galaxy, which they then sell to the highest bidder. To increase the value of their stolen merchandise, the Tynakars remove all awareness of a race's learning from their timeline; unfortunately this then forces the scientists of each plundered world to go back to first principals. While the Doctor creates a distraction, Jo is able to make off with the Tynakars' box of stolen books. The Time Lord then wires the aliens' dimension device into the mains, blowing them up and putting an end to their theft attempt.
*Featuring the Third Doctor and Jo
*Time placing: Jo is very new to time-travelling, so this probably takes place not long after 'Colony in Space'
'The Discourse of Flies'
by Jeremy Daw
After a strange dream of a beautiful wood plunged into decay, and an attack from a deadly machine, Aimarrh awakes and leans that he has been chosen by 'the Machine'; preparations are immediately begun for his 'Passing'. Clockmaker Kharis meets a man called the Doctor and his companion, Sarah, and answers their questions concerning the recent celebration in the city of Hezrah, when workers are chosen to 'ascend to the stars'. Learning that these 'initiates' are never heard of again, the Doctor and Sarah become concerned. Later, as Aimarrh is led through the streets towards the Sanctuary of Stars, where his Passing is to take place, rebels disrupt the proceedings; they are led by the Doctor, who reveals to the masses that their god, the Eternal Machine, is in fact an ancient alien being that is using them to replenish itself. After being wounded in battle the creature came to their world and went into a regenerative sleep; it then influenced the inhabitants’ culture to set itself up as a god, and has been consuming the initiates. It is now ready to seed the galaxy with more of its kind. The Doctor puts a stop to the creature's illusions, revealing its true appearance to the shocked populace, who immediately burn it to death. However, after the two time travellers have left and the people of the planet begin preparations to start a new life for themselves, Aimarrh believes that he can hear the creature's world in the buzzing of flies...
*Featuring the Third Doctor and Sarah
by lex Leithes
The Doctor is in the TARDIS console room with K-9 when he suddenly finds himself in a black void; as he attempts to make sense of where he is, he begins to plummet towards the surface of a planet below. But before he can experience the impact, the Doctor is then transported to the interior of a cave, where a hideous monster bites off his arm. Undeterred, the Doctor is about to lead a group of frightened cave-dwellers to safety when he finds himself elsewhere, as an old man confined to a wheelchair in a nursing home; after making light of this new situation, the Doctor is then transported to the interior of a padded cell. Amusing himself by composing a tune, the Doctor is soon faced by a smoke-like entity; the creature reveals that it wants to trap him in a permanent state of fear as justice for all the fear that his past actions have caused. The entity informs the Time Lord that for every uprising the Doctor has championed, every dictator he has deposed, and every evil he has defeated, the repercussions have resulted in the suffering of innocent people; however, this wraith-like being is now furious because every one of its attempts to inflict pain and suffering on the Doctor have failed - he always finds some way to amuse himself. When the Doctor inadvertently reveals that the only thing he is afraid of is losing his mind, the creature plans to use this as its means of torture. But the Doctor is able to use existential double-talk to convince the entity that he is merely a figment of its own imagination; to save its sanity, the creature is forced to let him go.
*Featuring Fourth Doctor and K-9
*Time placing: the Doctor and K-9 appear to be travelling alone, so this fits in between 'Invasion of Time' and 'The Ribos Operation'
by Jonathan Morris
When the Doctor and Adric arrive in a large, underground chamber, they encounter a cowled, monk-like figure. The man introduces himself as Mauritz, and tells them that they have arrived in a place of contemplation; Mauritz shows them around the many chambers that comprise the citadel, which is inhabited by countless similarly-robed forms. However, the Doctor soon learns that all the monks are in fact alternate versions of Mauritz; the citadel is five-dimensional, being comprised of all pasts and all possible futures - one can literally walk through time. This infinite structure was created to increase understanding, giving Mauritz the opportunity to consult his future selves concerning any decision he is about to make, as they will have already made it, each outcome creating another version of Mauritz. However, the citadel is a closed environment, meaning that the Mauritzs consume the flesh of his deceased selves, use their ground-down bones to make bricks and their blood as ink. When Maurtiz offers the Doctor and Adric the chance to leave they decide to stay and explore the citadel some more; however, when they attempt to locate the TARDIS, the two travellers find that the time machine has gone. Mauritz informs them that when they decided to stay, this caused an alternate version of them to be created; one version left in the TARDIS, while they are the version who will remain in the citadel forever. The Doctor and Adric look on as the monks reveal themselves to be countless of versions of themselves...
*Featuring Fourth Doctor and Adric
*Time placing: the Doctor and Adric are travelling alone, so this fits in between 'Warrior's Gate' and 'Logopolis'
'The Comet's Tail'
by John Binns
The Doctor is apparently awoken up from a deep sleep by a group of seagull and reptile people knocking at the door of his house; meanwhile, overhead, a huge comet plunges on a collision course towards the planet. The Doctor leaves to get some literature for the visitors from his bookshop, but he soon becomes lost, finding himself inside a coffee shop. Here he meets Matilda, a young student studying for forthcoming lectures; however, when the Doctor looks at his reflection he instead sees an old dean sitting in his place. Suspecting that he should not be there, the Doctor closes his eyes, and on reopening them, discovers that he is now in a street surrounded by a crowd of soldiers. Recognising them to be from an Earth colony that he once helped, the Doctor learns that the Implementation Units - Imps - that once fought with the soldiers are now uprising against their masters in a violent rebellion. After finding his bookshop the Doctor meets a dog-faced boy; but then two soldiers appear, encase the Time Lord in armour and send him off to fight against the Imps. Just as the comet hits the town the Doctor meets Matilda once more, and the two of them burn together...
*Featuring the Fifth Doctor
*Time Placing: this is most likely a dream, so could go anywhere; for ease I have placed it before 'Long Term'
by Andy Campbell
Emerging from the TARDIS, the Doctor finds himself in a school classroom attended by a dozen or so schoolboys. His interest is piqued when the young boys are able to answer questions on quantum field theory, entropy and neutron spectroscopy, but are unable to tell him what year it is, nor recall when they last saw a teacher. The Doctor learns that the school has no perimeters, and apparently goes on forever; however, an unknown killer is now stalking the halls, and has recently murdered a number of the schoolboys in a series of grisly deaths: the remains of Abney were found in the library, spread over a fifteen-foot surface; Haynes Junior was scattered across the lavatories; and when Karswell climbed a rope in the gymnasium, his remains soon drenched his friend standing below. After Chiddock is found dead in the canteen, Parkins confides to the Doctor that he has a personal theory: if a civilisation became so advanced to be beyond belief, it is possible that a murderer could be identified before they actually killed; the evil could be taken away while just a child, made to never age, and then imprisoned inside a limitless school such as this. When the Doctor encounters the creature it tells him that a thousand years ago, a terrorist should have murdered a thousand victims in a deliberate explosion; however, the killer was captured while still a child, and so the deaths never occurred; the creature represents this event, and it feels cheated… Using a chalk circle, the Doctor uses the boys' inner darkness to create an avatar; this 'schoolboy' then lures the creature out into the open. As the avatar is attacked by the monster it transforms into an opposing creature, and the two evils destroy each other. As the Doctor leaves the boys to live out their days in the school, he wonders if they are pure any longer...
*Featuring the Fifth Doctor
*Time placing: this occurs after 'Earthshock', as the Doctor refers to Nyssa's mourning of Adric's recent death.
by David Bailey
On an abandoned Earth colony, the Doctor and Nyssa frantically search for Tegan. Meanwhile, their travelling companion is being held captive by Anna, the last surviving member of the population, who were massacred in an alien attack. The girl is now terrified that Tegan will leave her just like the others, and has decided to make her stay by any means. Tegan manages to goad her captor into smashing a window, and while Anna's disturbed mind sends her into a catatonic state, is able to cut her bonds using the broken glass and make her escape. However, after meeting up with the Doctor and Nyssa, Tegan finds that Anna has disappeared, and her room is thick with dust. The Doctor cannot explain it - was the girl a dent in space-time, or just a dream..?
*Featuring the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan
*Time placing: this could occur any time towards the end of Season 19, or in Season 20; I have placed it after 'Mawdryn Undead' for simplicity
'Whiskey and Water'
by Marc Platt
The TARDIS arrives by a stream near the town of Ajax, California, during the Gold Rush of the Nineteenth Century. The Doctor encounters a 49-er named John Pengally, but the prospector seems disturbed, running away in confusion before the Doctor can return the prospecting lease he left behind. Pengally is knocked down by a passing stagecoach, but when the Doctor goes to help, the man has disappeared. Travelling on the coach are Lola Montec, a Spanish Dancer of ill-repute, and her pianist, Walter; unfortunately the Doctor soons falls foul of Lola's fiery-temper, and has to make his own way into town. Arriving in Ajax, he attempts to track down Pengally, but finds that the townsfolk are hostile and unhelpful - until he downs a watered-down whiskey in the saloon, thereby winning their approval. The Doctor talks to Job Clemens, the owner of the saloon, currently buying up prospecting leases from missing prospectors; after the Time Lord offers to mend the broken piano, he proceeds to get riotously drunk on whisky. However, coming to the next day, the Doctor discovers that most of the bar's revellers have vanished; according to a Chinese prospector named Chum Jian, they were captured by walking dead men; even stranger is the fact that the nearby river is moving. Finding that some water trapped inside a tumbler is now desperately trying to escape, the Doctor realises that the water in the whiskey has caused the townsfolk to become walking dead, possessed by a mad 'Gold Fever'. When the river courses towards the saloon, dead men rise up and attack the Doctor, Chum, Lola, Walter and Job; the dancer attempts to placate their assailants with her act, but to no avail. The Doctor resorts to plunging into the water, and learns that the specks of gold within it are actually an alien life form that fell to Earth in a meteor storm; it now wants back the gold that Job has amassed so that it can complete itself. When Job tries to shoot the water it kills him and then engulfs the Assay office, reconsituting itself with the gold. It then flows off to the North Pole, to live in peace in the cold wastes. The dead men are restored to life, and the Doctor tactfully turns down Lola's offer to become her manager.
*Featuring the Sixth Doctor
'The Death of Me'
by Robert Shearman
Lost in a thick fog, the Doctor arrives at a bed and breakfast establishment owned by Arthur and his wife Chloe, and their chicken, Henrietta. Here he learns that the couple's marriage is failing, and that they are caught in a peculiar situation: every night at midnight they and Henrietta are killed by hundreds of past versions of themselves, which arrive outside the house and then viciously tear them apart - however, each morning they find themselves inexplicably brought back to life, only to suffer the same fate once again. The Doctor becomes caught up in these bizarre events, and that night he too is killed by countless versions of his previous selves. This occurs again and again, and each time the Doctor is unable to prevent himself from being murdered. His annoyance is excaserbated by the fact that the couple are resigned to their fate, Arthur insisting on looking through his collection of literature to find a suitable quote to use as his last words, while Chloe simply stares off into space waiting for death to come. However, after fourteen days the Doctor is astonished when Arthur tells him of a way to escape death: simply to not leave the house. As midnight comes they remain inside, while their previous selves wait impotently outside; Arthur and Chloe talk all night, reawakening the spark in their marriage. The next morning, the fog surrounding the hotel has gone; the Dcotor is able to find the TARDIS and leave. However, Chloe soon begins to doubt the integrity of her marriage to Arthur, and the fog begins to sweep in once more...
*Featuring the Sixth Doctor
'This is My Life'
by The Seventh Doctor (as told to William Keith)
The Seventh Doctor recounts his televised adventures (only to have it turned into excrutiatingly bad poetry by the author!)
*Featuring the Seventh Doctor
*Time-placing: this occurs during the Television Movie, in the Doctor's last moments in his Seventh incarnation
by Huw Wilkins
Four years after his involvement in the Hundred Days War, in which his then companion was killed, the Doctor revisits the city of Cherenkov, as workmen are reconstructing the shattered buildings; by showing the medal he was awarded for his actions, he is able to ensure that one of the offworld casualties is added to a memorial. The Doctor then makes his way to the administration offices of a hospital to see its director, Elias Greenwood, one of the people that he fought alongside. Greenwood wants the Doctor to talk to a patient of his: Jeremiah Maru-Stahl - the dictator that they deposed during the conflict. Maru-Stahl was to have been brought to trial, but his failing mental health prevented this from happening. The Doctor talks to the man inside his cell, which is covered with strange and disturbing self-portraits, but the former dictator quickly becomes paranoid that his paintings will be confiscated, and he lapses into insanity. Over the next few days, the Doctor attempts to coerce Maru-Stahl into revealing how he changed from a beloved revoultionary leader into a ruthless dictator; the prisoner finally tells him: to fight monsters, he became a monster. The Doctor realises that there is nothing he can do for Greenwood's patients, and is uneasy that Maru-Stahl's reasoning is too close for comfort...
*Featuring the Eighth Doctor
*Published by Big Finish
*Each story has a special, astrological introduction by Jim Sangster