|Main enemy:||A Fungus|
|Main setting:||United Kingdom, 1980s|
|Printed in:||Doctor Who Annual 1984|
|Doctor Who annual|
|The Nemertines||Battle Planet|
Fungus was a short story from the 1984 Doctor Who annual. It unusually featured a companion-less Fifth Doctor meeting up with a previously-unseen "old friend" called Professor Lloyd and having an adventure that was almost exclusively laboratory-bound.
Somewhere in the United Kingdom, a young woman called Edith Stevens is attacked by her cat, Boris. Elsewhere in the country, Professor Lloyd informs the Fifth Doctor of the epidemic of similar cat attacks that are sweeping the nation.
The Doctor immediately begins investigating his old friend's problem. He uses his heightened olfactory senses to determine that something about the milk in his tea is "off". Lloyd's human senses aren't keen enough to detect anything, so the Doctor is forced to prove it through careful examination of the milk. He discovers a fungus that he enigmatically says that he's seen before. When asked why the milk isn't affecting other animals, like humans, the Doctor surmises that cats are simply particularly susceptible.
The time traveller then begins to question Lloyd about the current origin of Britain's milk. The Time Lord is surprised to discover that the tanks in which the milk is being stored comes from Houston, Texas. Somehow, the fungus has spread from outer space to the Houston-made milk vats to the cats of Britain.
The Doctor uses his previous knowledge of the fungus to develop a quick solution: a high-pitched sound, as delivered from a dog whistle, will successfully knock out the virus. He leaves it in Lloyd's hands to get the government of Britain to co-ordinate short bursts of sound from radio stations around the country.
- The Doctor makes significant use of a dog whistle.
- The story features a trope that was extraordinarily common in World Distributors' annuals: that of the Doctor meeting an "old friend" of whom the readers were not previously aware. The trope allowed the writer to get away with depicting a close relationship with the Doctor without having to explain why. This shorthand was extremely valuable to World Distributors authors, given the brevity of the stories.
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