A murder has taken place, committed by a member of a species that lives in the opposite direction to the timeline, who, from its own perspective, has not yet committed the crime in question.
It's locked house murder mystery where the culprit is clear from the beginning. but the process is anything but. The Doctor lands smack bang in the middle of it all.
Alone in the TARDIS, the Tenth Doctor is depressed, having no companions to talk to. He decides that instead of feeling sad, he should take some time to himself. Meditating, he picks up a distress call and arrives on a space station; however, he gets an unwelcoming committee. He attempts to talk, but is gagged and passes out.
The Doctor wakes up in a medical bay, and introduces himself as a Time Lord, shocking the medical staff. They go on to explain that a communicative disease has been at large; simple contact and radio signals can cause infection. They explain that a member of the Counter race attempted to send a signal, and murdered a guard. The Doctor is left surprised when he learns that Counters live in the opposite direction of linear life in the timeline, and thus speak answers before the questions are asked; they've given up hope of interrogation. The Doctor meets the suspect, TX, who calls him his oldest friend. The Doctor warns against anyone going inside for 40 minutes as he will be creating a temporal paradox in order to communicate.
Now speaking backwards, the Doctor is successful in interrogating TX. TX explains the station will be blown up in the near future (so he tried to receive a distress signal, which is sending one in the linear timeline), and that his birth was at the hands of the security guards. The Doctor asks about the dead guard, learning that TX has actually resurrected him and thus ensured a long life (from the non-linear perspective). The Doctor presents his findings to the guards, who are too thick to understand the Counter's correct wording that the Doctor wrote down; they decided to execute him anyway.
However, the Doctor tells them they have to give TX a day with his family or all of space/time with go kaboom! Forced to agree, they watch as the Doctor enjoys the Counters' company. When the time comes, the Doctor explains that death in linear time is birth to Counter time; they shoot TX, with the Doctor explaining his name and TX's. The Doctor leaves the station, feeling bad; however, he realises that he needs to change his perspective as he actually witnessed a birth, not a death. The Doctor decides that he needs a companion to talk to.
Theories and concepts
- The Doctor exploits a loophole in temporal physics to get the full story of the murder.
- This one-shot comic is the first to be released in the same month as an issue of the Doctor Who (2009) series, in this case, Silver Scream.
- It was reprinted in the graphic novel Through Time and Space.
- The parts of the comic that have a blue background behind the pictures are indicators to read the speech bubbles backwards. The Doctor's interrogation of TX doesn't make sense unless read backwards.
- The story's non-linear narrative is reminiscent of the First Doctor comic strip Time in Reverse.
- This is one of a handful of Tenth Doctor stories in which he has no recurring or one-off companion.
- The Doctor meets himself in his current incarnation, breaking the First Law of Time, which he has done on many occastions. (TV: Day of the Daleks, COMIC: The Collector, AUDIO: Mary's Story)