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|Whiskey and Water|
|Main setting:||Ajax Camp, California, 19th century|
|Part of:||Short Trips: A Universe of Terrors|
|Short Trips short stories|
|Soul Mate||The Death of Me|
The Doctor finds himself near Ajax Creek in California. Nearby he finds some belongings and looks through them, concerned that the owner is lost. He finds a deed for gold mining in the creek and a letter. Both belong to John Pengelly. A man with glittering eyes appears. The Doctor greets him, but the man cries out and runs off, quoting from the letter as he runs.
The Doctor gives chase. John runs practically underneath some horses pulling a stagecoach. The horses pull up, and the driver, Hank, falls off. In the confusion, John runs off, and the Doctor stops to help Hank, who has a concussion. From inside the stagecoach, a woman points a gun at the Doctor, afraid he is going to rob her. He assures her he isn't, and she urges Hank to get back up and continue driving. Hank is in no condition to drive, so the other occupant of the coach, Walter Crabtree, puts Hank in the coach. The woman plans to drive the coach, and the Doctor sits with her. She introduces herself as Lola Montez, the danseuse. When the Doctor makes a sarcastic comment, however, she knocks him off the stagecoach and drives off.
The Doctor makes his way to Ajax Camp, still looking for Pengelly. He enters the Ajax Saloon and asks for Pengelly, but is met by hostile silence. The owner of the saloon, however, introduces himself as Job Clemens and offers the Doctor a drink of watered-down whiskey, which is the way they drink it in Ajax. The Doctor explains why he is looking for Pengelly, and Clemens takes the deed from him. He offers the Doctor a percentage, but the Doctor wants to give the deed back to Pengelly. Clemens becomes irritated, and wants the Doctor to pay for his drinks.
Lola provides a distraction by entering and complaining about the condition of the piano. Clemens coldly reminds her that she signed a contract. Before things can turn ugly, the Doctor offers to tune the piano as payment for his drinks.
As the Doctor tunes the piano, the whiskey is affecting him. He giggles as he plays the keys. Water in tumblers dances, and he seems to see phantoms. Clemens argues with a Chinese man, and there is the sound of breaking glass.
The Doctor wakes up, severely dehydrated. There is no one in sight except for the frightened Chinese man. He introduces himself as Chum Jian and tells the Doctor that he and his brothers came to California from Shanghai but they are now dead men with golden eyes. Chum tells the Doctor that the stream has moved.
On the bar are stacks of tumblers. One glass, stacked underneath several others, has a bit of water in it. The water is trying to get out.
Lola and Walter appear. The four of them look across the street and see that Clemens is barricaded in the assay office. The Doctor calls across to him but is met by rifle shots.
The four in the saloon discuss the water and why they are the only ones in town not affected. Lola only drinks her whiskey neat, Chum and Walter (and Clemens) don't drink whiskey, and the Doctor, though affected, was able to resist. They begin discussing home, and the Doctor tears up.
He goes outside to see the golden stream making its way up the street. He jumps in the water to communicate with it. While he does so, Lola will distract the possessed miners by dancing for them.
The water heads for the assay office, but Clemens tries to resist. It carries him away, killing him, and gathers all the gold together. It can't get home again, but it makes its way north to the magnetic pole, where it can be cooler.
- The Doctor has heard of Lola's liaisons with Alexandre Dumas, Franz Liszt and the Viceroy of Poland.
- The Doctor prefers tomato juice to whiskey.
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