|Part of:||More Short Trips|
|Release date:||1 March 1999|
|Short Trips short stories|
|uPVC||Missing, Part Two: Message in a Bottle|
An elderly Tegan is travelling home from her husband's funeral by train. Her attention is caught by a man and his housekeeper, Anna. The man steps on Tegan's foot on the way out of the compartment, apologises, and hands her a blue brooch. Anna apologises for him as well, calling him the Doctor. Tegan remembers her fictional Doctor. At the station, Tegan's train has been cancelled until tomorrow, and Anna invites her to stay at the Doctor's house until then.
At the house, Anna shows Tegan to the library while she takes care of some things. Tegan browses through the books, then looks through the Doctor's mail. She wonders why this Doctor reminds her of her fictional Doctor. Anna returns, and Tegan questions Anna about the Doctor, but Anna is vague with her answers.
The two women go out to see a play at the Loft Theatre. It is sparsely attended, with only three others there. Tegan finds the play weird, with four of the five actors speaking in gibberish and using wheelchairs by the end of the play. A sixth actor then "balloons" up and the rest of the actors gather around the lead.
After the play, the actors invite Tegan and Anna out for a drink. At the pub, Anna becomes nervous about the strangeness of the actors. She and Tegan decide to leave, but the actors don't want them to. They speak of seeing Anna again, sensing her "temporal trail".
Anna sends Tegan home one way, hoping to divert the actors to herself. Tegan arrives at the house and waits in the library. She falls asleep, and when she wakes, Anna is there. Tegan notices that Anna has a blue brooch, and is angry that Anna took her brooch. She goes upstairs to bed, but discovers her own brooch in the room. She goes back downstairs to apologise.
As she heads downstairs, the actors break into the house. Five surround Anna, chanting, and they all begin to change, becoming almost robotic. The sixth actor starts to expand like a balloon. Anna is holding her brooch, and together with Tegan's it emits a vibration that swirls the actors into nothing. Tegan's brooch explodes.
Tegan wakes in her room. She has breakfast with Anna and the Doctor, and tells them about what she thinks is a dream. The Doctor gives her back her brooch, and before she leaves, he lets her take a book from his library.
Tegan meets the Doctor on her train, and talks with him, though he seems a little vague about the recent events they shared. He then asks her about everything that happened with the actors. Tegan falls asleep, and when she wakes, the Doctor is gone, having taken her brooch but leaving her the silk from around his hat.
A few weeks later, Tegan is back in London, and looks for the Doctor's house. She cannot find it.
- The Doctor has "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman and "The Funeral" by Sir Richard Steele in his library.
- Tegan's husband was William Haybourne.
- This story marks the first appearance of a future incarnation of the Doctor who appears in many stories throughout many Short Trips anthologies. All stories featuring this Doctor were written by Peter Anghelides.
- This story alternates between Tegan's first person narration of events and Anna's later reading of them in a book, Good Companions, written by Tegan.
to be added