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The Book of Shadows (short story)

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The Book of Shadows
Doctor: First Doctor
Companion(s): Barbara, Ian
Main setting: Alexandria, Egypt 331 and 322 BC
Key crew
Writer: Jim Mortimore
Release details
Part of: Decalog
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The Book of Shadows was the sixth story in the anthology Decalog. It was written by Jim Mortimore. It featured the First Doctor, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright.

Summary Edit

331: Rhakotis' ship crashes on a watery planet, and he thinks he is going to die. However, he survives the crash, though injured, and hopes that where there is water, there is intelligent life.

322: The TARDIS is caught in a rockfall in a mine. The Doctor and Barbara escape, but Ian is trapped inside. Barbara sees some slaves mining, and asks for their help digging Ian out. They recognise her, however, and one man, Susa, mentions Alexander's coffin and asks her where her guards are. Thinking quickly, she says they are not with her. Susa attacks the Doctor but the Doctor defeats him easily, knocking him out. Barbara tells the rest of the slaves that if they help her, she will free them. An Israelite slave named Aristea takes some men with him to dig out the TARDIS. The Doctor scolds her for interfering with history, but she knows when they are, and in history, the slaves really were freed by Ptolemy Lagus.

They notice that Susa is gone. He has sneaked out to fetch guards. However, when the guards, led by Arrhidaeus, arrive, they recognise Barbara and kneel to her. Arrhidaeus has Susa killed, and makes the camels ready for travel back to Alexandria.

331: Barbara finds herself in a crowd of people. She recognises Aristea, who is being stoned. When she intervenes, she is stoned by the crowd, but is rescued by Ptolemy Lagus. She tells him she has lost her memory.

322: Barbara and the Doctor accompany Arrhidaeus to Alexandria. Barbara has explained the Doctor as a scholar who is interested in craftsmanship. Barbara explains to the Doctor that they are in 322 or 323 BC, and Alexander the Great has just died. The slaves were mining gold for his coffin. Ptolemy Lagus is now the king. As they near the city, a young boy rides out to meet them, and greets Barbara, calling her “Mother”. At the city, they are greeted by Ptolemy Lagus, who, to Barbara's surprise, sweeps her from her camel's back and embraces her.

331: Ptolemy carries the injured Barbara to safety, but notices that a crowd has gathered near the harbour. Rhakotis' spaceship has just crashed, and the crowd urges a fisherman to kill the alien. They are stopped, however, by Barbara's pleas not to hurt him, as he is asking for help.

322: Barbara explains to Ptolemy who the Doctor is. She then speaks to Ptolemy about the slaves in the mines. He asks a question, to which a feminine voice answers. It is Ptolemy's wife, who Barbara realises is an older version of herself. The older Barbara, on seeing the younger version, faints, while Ptolemy laughs at his little joke of bringing the two women together.

Ptolemy tells Arrhidaeus to free the slaves in the mine. He asks Barbara for suggestions on what to do with them. She suggests the older slaves work as scholars or clerks and the younger, able-bodied slaves should join the royal army. The Doctor again scolds Barbara for interfering in history, saying that Ian will be impressed into the army. He also points out the existence of the Pharos Lighthouse, which was built by Ptolemy Philadelphus – Barbara's “son”, who at this time is only eight years old. The Doctor tells her history is being rewritten, and he heads to the library to see what he can find out.

331: Alexander wants to use Rhakotis to further his ambitions, but Ptolemy suggests that, with Barbara as interpreter, Rhakotis is willing to offer his knowledge in exchange for gold, which he needs to repair his ship. Barbara tells them that Rhakotis needs to construct a diving bell to conduct repairs on his ship below the water's surface.

322: At the palace, Arrhidaeus tries to assassinate Ptolemy on Perdiccas' behalf, but Ptolemy kills him instead. Meanwhile, the two Barbaras talk. The older Barbara doesn't remember who she is, but the younger Barbara wants to know how she ends up going back in time eight years. Ptolemy suddenly enters with Philadelphus, telling the two women that he has been betrayed. Perdiccas is in control of the army. He tells them to lock themselves in while he goes to the library to ask for Rhakotis' help. The younger Barbara leaves to find the Doctor. It is raining. Outside the library, she collides with a man who is holding a book — not a scroll. She tries to take it from him and he resists. Soldiers are making their way through the city, and people are running and screaming. Barbara grabs the book from the man and runs into the library. Suddenly the people and soldiers are gone, and it isn't raining any more.

331: Barbara notices little differences in the library, and realises she has just travelled through time. She hears a loud noise, and running outside she sees a spaceship about to crash. She runs towards it.

322: At the library, the Doctor overhears an argument between Aristophanes and Eratosthenes. He can't help sniggering, and when they confront him, he informs them that their lives are supposed to be three centuries apart. They are aware of this, and tell the Doctor that there are time portals in the library, installed by Rhakotis. Aristophanes shows the Doctor a scroll, which, on seeing the title, he snatches away. He must find the original, which Aristotle has. He sets off in search of it.

331: Ptolemy and Barbara watch as Rhakotis and Alexander submerge in the diving bell.

322: The older Barbara sees Rhakotis' spaceship taking flight, and suddenly her memory returns. She leaves Philadelphus and runs to Rhakotis' rooms. Ptolemy is demanding that Rhakotis use his technology to help defeat the army, but Rhakotis' ship is barely staying aloft as it is. When Barbara enters, Ptolemy demands why she left their son, and then acknowledges himself betrayed, as his son is most likely dead now. He tries to kill Rhakotis, but soldiers enter and one soldier fights with Ptolemy. They kill each other, and Barbara is horrified to see the soldier is Ian.

Rhakotis' ship cannot stay aloft any longer and crashes into the city. The Doctor arrives to find Barbara and Rhakotis, and gives them a book that can help them rewrite these events. If they do, Rhakotis will die and Barbara will no longer have a son and husband. The Doctor leaves it up to them to decide.

331: Rhakotis' ship crashes on a watery planet, and he thinks he is going to die. He barely remembers the temporal explosion, then he dies.

Characters Edit

References Edit

Notes Edit

  • The stories in Decalog are linked by the story Playback, in which psychic Silverman examines various items in the stranger's pockets. For this story, he examines a nugget of gold.
  • A version of the story was self-published by the author in the anthologies The Book of Shadows and The Sun in the Bone House.

Continuity Edit

External links Edit

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