A Stain of Red in the Sand was a 2010 Big Finish audio short story read by David Troughton, featuring the Second Doctor and Zoe Heriot. It was notable for its highly challenging, Doctor-lite point-of-view, which left it open to many different interpretations.
Indigo lives in a world without hope on a council estate so gloomy its residents call it "The Slab". The Doctor must prevent an insectoid species from seeping across the worlds.
On the thirteenth floor of the Slab lives a sculptor named Roger, a man Indigo thinks of as her boyfriend, were he not so obsessed with his art. She returns to his flat again and again, despite his inattentiveness, to peer out his kitchen window into another reality, where a man named the Doctor is fighting the Caretakers on a sandy world with two suns. These insectoid creatures have been crossing into Indigo's world and unpleasantly populating the Slab.
Roger's latest creation is a girl far too innocent for his own world. Her name is Zoe, and by using the medium of "memory meat" to sculpt her, he believes he can save her. On the night he completes Zoe and finally allows himself to rest, the sculpture disappears. When Roger and Indigo look out the kitchen window in the morning, they see a blood stain in the sand. Roger declares that he has saved Zoe and that the Doctor has won his struggle against the Caretakers. This seems confirmed by the fact that the Caretakers no longer inhabit the Slab. Indigo notes that the kitchen window has been left slightly ajar for her to follow, before settling down contentedly with Roger to look out the window all day onto that other world.
- Jamie is not mentioned in this story.
- The narrator calls Roger and Indigo "human", in comparison with the Caretakers.
Like Blink, this is a Doctor-lite story, strictly told from one character's limited point of view. However, telling the story through Indigo's eyes is a much more oblique affair than telling Blink through Sally Sparrow's eyes. Sally was actively working with the Doctor to solve a problem. Indigo, by contrast, is only an uninformed spectator of Roger's artistic endeavours, and never speaks to the Doctor, who is ostensibly very far away from her at all times. Indigo doesn't understand the purpose of Roger's art, nor does she know that much about the Doctor.
As a result, many things about the play go unexplained. We don't know how the "memory meat" actually works. We don't understand how the Doctor defeated the Caretakers, nor how the Caretakers came to Indigo's world. We don't really know whose blood is supposed to have created the titular stain in the sand. The very narrow perspective means that, in a way exceptional for most Doctor Who stories, just about every detail of the plot is open to multiple lines of interpretation.
A couple of possibilities, but by no means the "correct" ones, are:
- It can be read literally. Roger's kitchen window is a portal to another world, on which the Doctor was doing battle with the Caretakers, but they were bleeding through to The Slab. The "memory meat" was technology that allowed Roger to pull Zoe away from the Caretakers, but only in the nick of time. The blood in the sand is hers, flowing from an injury she sustained before she was whisked into Roger's world by the memory meat. (Or, alternately, it's hers from a wound she sustained when jumping out of Roger's 13th floor window.) Once she returned to the Doctor's side via the kitchen window, they were able to defeat the Caretakers. Thought of like this, the story has a fair bit of commonality with Planet of the Dead, were it told by one of the UNIT soldiers observing that story's wormhole.
- It can be read metaphorically. The kitchen window might in fact be a television on which Doctor Who plays endlessly. Roger could be an obsessed fan living in a dreary council flat, whose life is brightened by the television programme. He ignores his girlfriend, and even his need for sleep, to finish his fan art of Zoe. The Caretakers are metaphors for those things which prevent the artist from finishing his work. Once it is completed, he can sleep, let it go, and return to Indigo's side, both of them enjoying Doctor Who as simply an uplifting and enjoyable programme.
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