Ducking In Time.

by Clive May (

A TTR Story.

The copyright of Dr Who is the property of the BBC. It is used here without

The TTR concept belongs to Tyler.

King Arthur in Time and Space and the oblique ref to the Peri Arc
Stories belong to Paul Gadzikowski and are used without permission.

The Diskworld Death is the property of Terry Pratchett and is used without

Francois the Barman is the creation of BKWillis and is, likewise, used
without permission.

In a silence so profound it pained the ears, and a stillness so rigid it made
the muscles ache in sympathy, the riotous merriment in the bar of the TTR

The Observer nodded to himself. Slipping from his usual off-duty perch, he
plonked onto the chipped and scarred bar top. He moved along the bar,
careful to avoid the puddle of Old Janks Spirit, which was enthusiastically
dissolving a bar towel. For some reason, strong spirits were temporally
transcendent, which not only made them immune to the Observer "Time Stop"
dodge, but which also when imbibed in sufficient amounts could transfer this
quality to the inbibor, so much so that "just nipping down to the pub for ten
minutes could mean an absence of hours and be the wrecking of many a fine
Sunday lunch, and..." The vile spirit made a sly ooze for him; but the
Observer flopped aside and, reaching the safety of a beer mat, settled
himself on the cork disk.

He turned his button eyes to observe the main room of the TTR. There was a
good crowd of Doctors, companions and cross-over characters in tonight.
Excellent! The trawl would be well worth the expenditure of energy necessary
to "freeze the instant"; and this time he'd not have to justify it to the
Administrator. He did so enjoy these "moments out of time" when he was the
only being truly aware. They gave him a peaceful moment to really relax and
stretch his legs, at least he would have stretched his legs, had he any legs
to stretch. Not for the first time did the Observer wonder if he'd chosen a
suitable form for this particular bit of "Outside"? Likewise, if he'd had
hands, he would have rubbed them together in satisfaction. Not having
either, he contented himself with running a critical eye over the crowded bar
- and planning his coup.

The King Arthur In Time And Space crew had commandeered a whole section to
themselves. They were busy laughing, talking and generally making merry. A
distinctly "emotional" Guinevere was slouched across the lap of an
uncomfortable looking Lancelot while Arthur looked on, rigid with more than
the Time Stop. When the Observer started time again, there was going to be
trouble from that quarter.

At Arthur's side, a slightly "out of focus" Space Merlin was watching the
Observer with a puzzled frown, as though aware of something at the edge of
his perception; but couldn't for the life of him decide exactly what?

The Observer shuddered. He found those patrons, who were not entirely
governed by time, more than a little disconcerting. They were never quite
"there" or stayed in sharp focus when he held the instant; and the eyes
always seem to follow him while he went about his business of gathering - no
matter that their owners ought to have been completely frozen in the instant.

Front and centre: all the Doctors were crowded at a single table with Peri,
not a one of them quite entirely there. They sat, posed in the act of
partying, like a "slightly out of focus" group photograph. Although their
features were fuzzy, the expressions of bewilderment showed clearly through
the haze of dis-phased time.

Off to the right was a little tableau, promising a grisly outcome. Adric was
posed in the act of ducking a broadsword. The ungainly weapon was being
swung with vigour by the petite Trakenite. The razor edged blade was
time-stopped inches from his neck.

The expression of horrific resignation on his face touched a cord deep inside
the Observer.

Oh Dear! He Really, Really shouldn't!

It was strictly forbidden to interfere, and all sorts of nonsense like that.
But...Well...The boy deserved a break.

He released the instant for Adric alone, and watched as the boy continued his
previously doomed duck under the sword. He let time run forward, until the
boy's head was well under the arc; and then he re-froze the instant.

In a shadowy corner, a six foot skeleton, wrapped in midnight, set aside a
scythe. He took out a clipboard. Making an amendment, he tucked an egg
timer out of sight, and brought out another from the folds of his cloak. He
grinned at the Observer- as only a skull can grin.

Feeling very pleased with himself, the Observer set about his business. At
his command, the beer mat floated into the air and began a leisurely tour
about the bar,while he made the required recordings for the Great Podal
Sheath Archive. Floating into a corner booth, he got a very nasty surprise.

Damn! Just his luck...SHE would have to be in tonight. Those things always
gave him the willies. They embodied the essence of those aggravating
visitors to the Great Podal Sheath Archive, who wandered the shelves with no
respect whatsoever for the proper order of things, taking down slices of
reality and replacing them in inappropriate niches. It was all very vexing
to an orderly mind.

He tried to back out; but as his gaze passed over the living TARDIS,
Compassion winked outrageously at him, before toasting him with wine and
ostentatiously returning to her pretense of immobility.

Quickly finishing his recording, he floated back to the bar. Flopping off
the beer mat, he detoured around the puddle of Janks, back to his "host" in
this particular bit of "Outside". He paused on the way to regard Francois.
The unlovely Ogran was frozen in the act of addressing his empty right hand.
The Observer's face crinkled into an expression of great fondness, before he
resumed his disguise by remounting his off-duty perch. He took one last look
around the stilled room. Compassion gave him a conspiratorial smirk.
Suppressing his irritation, the Observer permitted time to start.

".....EEEEEEEEEEEYYYYYYAAAAAAAAA!" Nyssa finished her warrior's scream as she
hammered the sword into Adric's neck - only his neck wasn't there.

"????!!!!....AAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!" she cried as she spun on,
overbalanced and fell, somehow contriving to get the sword under her with the
blunt point aimed at her heart. The rest was sort of inevitable.

The cry attracted no attention whatsoever. - when you've seen one
disembowelling, you've seen them all. Not even the deviation from the norm
in this case was sufficiently novel to cause anyone at all to notice. While
Nyssa expired messily, Adric took his chance and bolted for the door.

Francois let out an aggravated growl at the mess he was now going to have to
clean up himself. He sighed and addressed his right hand.

"What Mr Moggy looking so pleased about?"

The End