Storytime! The Goose Girl

"You're early today," little Susan said. She was peering round the door, with her comfort blanket trailing from one hand.

"Go away," the Master snapped. "It isn't Story Time yet."

She pointed into Story Space. The image was a freeze-frame; Martha was standing beside a pantomime horse, on which Rose was riding side-saddle.

"But you've started reading already," she said.

The Master shut the book with a bang. The image winked out.

"Go away," he repeated. "And wait until Kiyone tells you it's time."

Susan pouted, and wandered off.


Left alone, the Master opened the book again, at the same page he'd been on. This time, Peri was riding the horse. With a snarl he closed and reopened the book; Peri was replaced by Nyssa, but the scene remained otherwise unchanged. Further experiments had the same result. The rider was different each time, but Martha stayed exactly where she was.

He closed the book and scowled.


Kiyone gave the Master a suspicious glare, to which he seemed utterly oblivious. Izzy had warned her in no uncertain terms exactly how untrustworthy he was, but right now it was hand over to him or read the kids the story herself. And that, as she'd made plain to Izzy, was out of the question.

"They're all yours," she said. "And you're welcome to them. Now I've got to go and find out how to get gold paint off my boots."

"I have minions to do that for me," the Master replied carelessly. "Not that it's been a problem so far. Au revoir."

As she left, he sat down and set the open storybook on his knees.

"Now, children," he said. "Sit quietly and I'll tell you a nice fairy story with lots of blood in it. But if anyone tries to interfere with my shoes, I'll stop. Is that clear?"

Most of the children nodded eagerly. Victoria held a cushion up before her face, so she could quickly duck behind it should anything unpleasant happen.

Master / Narrator :
There once lived an old queen whose husband had been dead for many years...

[The generic royal palace. Jackie Tyler is pushing a vacuum cleaner across the throne room. The portrait on the wall is of Pete Tyler, though in deference to tradition he is wearing a floppy hat and a twenty-six-foot-long scarf.]

Jackie :
Old? What is it with this book? I'm thirty-nine!

Master / Narrator :
And have been for the last three years, I don't doubt. Anyway, she had a beautiful daughter.

[Victoria appears, wearing a faded princess costume.]

Baby Victoria dropped the cushion, her eyes suddenly wide.

Jackie :
And what's wrong with my Rose? Isn't she beautiful?

Master / Narrator :
[Sighs] Yes, very. But that isn't the point.

Jackie :
You've been trying to rig the casting, haven't you?

Master / Narrator :
Shut up.

Jackie :
And all you've managed to do is make a complete pig's ear of everything.

Master / Narrator :
Shut up.

Jackie :
Still, could've been worse. I might have had to pretend one of those Dalek things was my daughter.

Master / Narrator :
Anyway, when the princess grew up, she was promised in marriage to a prince who lived far away.

Victoria :
Who?

Master / Narrator :
It's a surprise. When the time came for her to be married, and she had to depart for the distant kingdom, the old queen packed up for her many costly vessels and utensils of silver and gold, and trinkets also of gold and silver, and cups and jewels, in short —

Victoria and Jackie :
Too late.

Master / Narrator :
— everything that belonged to a royal dowry, for she loved her child with all her heart.

[Jackie is now filling a trunk with a load of trinkets.]

Jackie :
And that's the snowglobe, and the cigarette box, and the Santa who takes his trousers down when you pull the string, and that necklace from Ibiza...

Victoria :
Does this all belong to you? I mean, Inside?

Jackie :
Some of it. Maybe. I'm not confirming or denying anything.

Master / Narrator :
She likewise assigned to her a chambermaid, who was to ride with her, and deliver her into the hands of the bridegroom. Come on, let's get it over and done with.

[Martha enters, dressed as a maid.]

Martha :
Why, if it isn't my old friend, Mr. Saxon. All together now...

Martha, Jackie and Victoria :
"Doctor."

[The Tenth Doctor appears in midair, surrounded with light, clothed in white samite. Mystic. Wonderful.]

Master / Narrator :
Stop that at once! I won't have it, d'you hear me?

Martha :
Had you going there.

[The Doctor vanishes. So does Martha. In her place Lucie appears, in a maid costume that looks rather less realistic and rather cheaper.]

If the Master hadn't known better, he could have sworn the book was laughing at him. Or was that just the drums in his head?

Jackie :
Here, who's this? She's not your new sweetheart, is she? Because we all thought you had something going with ZoŽ.

Master / Narrator :
ZoŽ?! That squeaky-voiced nerdette? You'd just better be joking.

Jackie :
You were trying to kill her the other day, and we all know what that means round here.

Master / Narrator :
Ha! That's the stupidest theory I've heard this month. I'm the Master. I kill people all the time, preferably to music. It beats kissing babies any day of the week.

Jackie :
That's got the ring of truth, at least. An honest politician. Who'd have thought it?

Master / Narrator :
Anyway, Lucy's the only woman for me.

Lucie :
That had just better be Lucy with a Y, ferretface.

Jackie :
Lucy with a Y. She's the one who keeps killing you, isn't she? I think my point stands. [She turns to Lucie.] Anyway, you're supposed to be my maid?

Lucie :
Looks like it, yeah.

Jackie :
Good. Then you can pack all this stuff while I have a nice sit down.

Lucie :
Whatever.

[She starts packing the trunk. Jackie and Victoria leave her to it. Fade out.]

[Fade back in. Lucie is putting the last few items in the trunk. She closes the lid; it doesn't quite go down. She looks around to make sure no-one's watching her, and jumps on the lid until it shuts completely. Various splintering noises are heard while she does this.]

Master / Narrator :
Each received a horse for the journey. The princess's horse was called Falada, and could speak. The chambermaid's... wasn't and couldn't.

[The pantomime horse we saw earlier arrives, towing a battered wooden horse on wheels. It nods and rolls its eyes, but shows no signs of talking.]

Master / Narrator :
When the hour of departure had come, the old mother went into her bedroom, took a small knife and cut her fingers with it until they bled. Then she held out a small white cloth and let three drops of blood fall into it.

Jackie :
What? I'm not doing that.

Master / Narrator :
I believe the children find tomato sauce an acceptable substitute.

[Jackie heads for the kitchen, returning shortly with a ketchup-stained handkerchief.]

"Three drops?" Ace asked. "That's not much blood."

"There'll be more later," the Master replied. "If you behave yourself."

Master / Narrator :
They sorrowfully took leave of each other.

[Bad Wolf Bay. Jackie is kissing Victoria goodbye.]

Jackie :
I knew it. Her part was meant for Rose, wasn't it?

Victoria :
Actually, your daughter copied the whole tearful-farewell-on-a-beach routine from me. [Wistfully] Forty years ago today. Still, it comes to us all in the end. And for some of us, of course, more than once.

Jackie :
Are you getting at my Rose?

Victoria :
Let me put it like this: Last time I saw her, I was tempted to ask if she'd had a revolving door fitted in the Void.

Jackie :
I'm not having you talk about Rose like that!

[She slaps Victoria, who bursts into tears.]

Master / Narrator :
Ah, nothing like a touch of verisimilitude. The princess put the cloth into her bosom, mounted her horse, and set forth for her bridegroom. After they had ridden for a while she felt a burning thirst...

[Countryside. Victoria is riding sidesaddle on the pantomime horse, while Lucie drags the wooden horse on wheels. The trunk she was packing before is tied to the wooden horse; so is a vast amount of other luggage.]

Victoria :
Go and get some water from the brook, for I would like a drink.

Lucie [struggling to get the horse to move on the rough ground] :
Get it yourself, you lazy cow.

[Victoria does so, sobbing quietly the while.]

"What a wimp," Baby Ace complained. "Why doesn't she stand up for herself?"

"She doesn't tweat her servants pwoperly," baby Charley added. "She never thought to ask if her maid needed a dwink."

Master / Narrator :
And the three drops of blood said :

Cybermen [vo] :
Iif youur motherr kneeww thizz, herr heearrt woould breaak inn twooo.

Master / Narrator :
Very moving. But the king's daughter was humble. She said nothing and mounted her horse again.

"She has the heart and stomach of a rabbit," little Leela muttered.

Master / Narrator :
They rode some miles further, and she again grew thirsty.

Victoria :
Dismount, and give me some water in my golden cup.

Lucie [tired, hot, and cross] :
I already told you, get it yourself.

[Victoria does so, sobbing quietly the while.]

Cybermen [vo] :
Iif youur motherr kneeww thizz, herr heearrt woould—

[The handkerchief falls out of Victoria's dress into the stream.]

Cybermen [vo] :
Fzzzzt. Ooooooohhhh. [Gurgle gurgle]

Master / Narrator :
The princess didn't notice, so great were her concerns. Which, in case you've forgotten, consisted of nothing more than one stroppy underling with too high an opinion of herself. But the chambermaid saw what happened, and she rejoiced to think that she now had power over the bride, for by losing the drops of blood, the princess had become weak and powerless.

"Like she wasn't before," Baby Tegan said acidly.

Master / Narrator :
Then with many harsh words the chambermaid ordered the princess to take off her own royal clothing and put on the chambermaid's shabby clothes.

[Lucie and Victoria disappear behind a convenient bush, and emerge wearing each other's costumes.]

Lucie :
How are you supposed to move in this thing?

Victoria :
This outfit's too tight. It makes me look like a loose woman.

Lucie :
You what?

Victoria :
What's that word that Rose uses? "Skanky."

Lucie :
Come on, you've got it, you might as well flaunt it.

Master / Narrator :
And the princess had to swear under the open heaven that she would not say one word of this to anyone at the royal court. If she had not taken this oath, she would have been killed on the spot.

[Lucie tries to adopt a threatening stance, but the elaborate princess costume makes this rather difficult.]

Master / Narrator :
The horse Falada saw everything, and remembered it well.

[The pantomime horse tosses its head and rolls its eyes.]

Victoria :
For a talking horse, you don't talk much, do you?

[The pantomime horse shakes its head.]

Master / Narrator :
The chambermaid now climbed onto Falada, and the true bride onto the bad horse, and thus they travelled onwards, until finally they arrived at the royal palace.

[Exterior, generic palace, day. It looks exactly as it did before, except for a sign over the door reading 'Another palace in a distant kingdom'.

Lucie arrives riding the pantomime horse sidesaddle; Victoria drags the wooden horse in.]

Victoria :
Oh, I'm exhausted.

Lucie :
Yeah. Now you know how I felt.

Pantomime horse (Polly's voice) :
Don't bother to ask us how we're doing, will you?

Master / Narrator :
There was great rejoicing over their arrival, and the prince ran ahead to meet them.

[Harry Sullivan emerges from the palace and helps Lucie off the horse.]

Lucie [rolling her eyes] :
I came up with this whole plan just to marry some upper-class twit?

Master / Narrator :
She was led upstairs, while the real princess was left standing below.

Lucie :
Oh, wait a moment. I get it. I'm going to be the evil queen, aren't I? I'm going to be the power behind the throne and rule through me idiot husband. That's more like it.

Master / Narrator :
The old king looked out of the window and saw the real princess waiting in the courtyard, and noticed how fine and delicate and beautiful she was. [He makes gagging noises.] So at once he went to the royal apartment and asked who she was.

[Borusa arrives, wearing his purple Time Lord robes and ceremonial collar.]

Borusa / King [in a distinctly ropey California accent] :
Whoa, dudette! Who's the little hottie in the tight threads?

Master / Narrator [momentarily lost for words] :
...! You've got four personalities to choose from, and I know that wasn't any of them. You're supposed to be a dignified elderly king, not a beach bum - or whatever the correct term is for someone who talks like that.

Borusa / King :
Talk to the hand, because the face is so not listening.

Master / Narrator [mimicking him] :
That's, like, utterly lame, dude.

Lucie :
I picked her up on my way as a companion. She needs something to do, to keep her out of trouble.

Ninth Doctor / Servant [aside] :
Yeah, know the feeling.

Borusa / King :
Has she got any qualifications, man?

Lucie :
Nah, none whatsoever. Not even a bronze medal at gymnastics.

Borusa / King :
Oh. That's kinda bogus, y'know. But here's a thought. There's a gremmy who tends the geese. She can help him.

[Jamie / Conrad enters, takes Victoria by the arm, and leads her off.]

Master / Narrator :
Soon afterwards the false bride said to the prince...

[Lucie is sitting at a dressing table. Harry hovers nervously behind her.]

Lucie :
Dearest husband [she grimaces], I beg you to do me a favour.

Harry :
Of course.

Lucie :
Then send for the knacker, and have the head of the horse which I rode here cut off, for it angered me on the way. And then when I'm the evil queen, if anyone annoys me I can have it put in their bed. Mwahahahaha. Hey, I'm getting good at this pantomime villain stuff. Perhaps the Time Lords were right about me growing up to be an evil empress. Better watch out, stoat-features, I'll be after your job next.

Master / Narrator :
When pigs paraglide. You can't even do the evil laughter right. Of course, the real reason the false bride wanted the horse decapitated was she was afraid it would tell on her. Now, the real princess heard about this...

[The knacker's yard. Victoria is handing a gold piece to Ace. The pantomime horse stands a little further back.]

Victoria :
I shall give you this gold piece if, when you cut the horse's head off, you nail it up under the west gate, so that I can see him every time I pass that way with the geese.

Ace / Knacker :
You know what? Either you're the latest sensation of the modern art world, or you're a complete sicko.

[She pulls a lever. A colossal circular saw swings down; as it approaches the pantomime horse, red paint (in lieu of tomato sauce) is sprayed onto the floor and the two halves of the horse step apart. Ben emerges from the rear half.]

Ben :
Oh, is that it for me? Pity, I was quite enjoying it in there.

Polly / Front half :
Yes, I bet you were.

Ace / Knacker :
Right, I'll have the head nailed up under the gate by tomorrow.

Polly / Front half :
Nailed?

Ace / Knacker :
Look, bear with me, okay? I'll think of something.

[A dark gateway. Set into the wall on one side is a porter's lodge with a window. The pantomime horse's head is sticking out of this window.

Victoria and Jamie / Conrad approach, preceded by a flock of Cybermats, each one of which has a cardboard goose attached to its back.]

Victoria :
Alas, poor Falada, hanging there!

Polly / Horse's head :
Alas, young queen, passing by,
If this your mother knew,
Her heart would break in two.

Jamie :
That's a terrible rhyme!

Polly :
Well, you try doing better when you're stuck halfway through a window.

Master / Narrator :
Then they went still further out of the town, driving their geese into the country. And when they came to the meadow, she sat down and unbound her hair. Conrad saw it, was delighted, and wanted to pluck out a few hairs.

[Jamie creeps up behind her and gives her hair a gentle tug.]

Victoria :
Oh, Jamie, stop teasing me!

Master / Narrator :
Then she said:

Victoria :
"Blow, wind, blow.
Take Conrad's hat,
And make him chase it,
Until I have braided my hair,
And tied it up again."

[A strong wind starts blowing through the field, dislodging Jamie's hat. Victoria realises what another likely consequence of this might be, and decorously averts her eyes. Then, in spite of herself, she takes a peep. Jamie's kilt, however, remains firmly in position throughout.]

Jamie [aside] :
Lead weights sewn in the hem. Works every time.

Master / Narrator :
When he came back, she had already finished combing and putting up her hair, so he could not get even one strand. So Conrad became angry, and would not speak to her, and thus they tended the geese until evening, and then they went home.

"If she twied being vewy nice to him," little Nyssa suggested, "Then she could get him to cut the bad girl's head off wiv his dagger. And he'd get hanged for the murder and she'd be fwee to mawwy the pwince."

"She won't do it, though," Ace said. "She's too soppy."

There were general murmurs of agreement from the other bolder spirits.

Master / Narrator :
The next morning when they were driving the geese out through the dark gateway...

[Jamie / Conrad and Victoria approach the gateway as before.]

Jamie :
Is this going tae be the same as last time?

Master / Narrator :
Exactly the same.

Jamie :
Then can we no' jist take it as read?

Master / Narrator :
Possibly.

Polly :
I'm up for that.

Victoria :
So am I.

Master / Narrator :
All right, then. Exactly the same thing happened as the previous day, and since Conrad was getting quite fed up by this point, he went to complain to the King.

[The throne room. Jamie is consulting Borusa, who is still wearing his Time Lord robes but has obtained a brightly-coloured surfboard from somewhere.]

Jamie / Conrad :
I'll not tend geese wi' that lass any more.

Borusa / King [so laid back he is nearly horizontal] :
Like, whoa, dude. Why?

Jamie / Conrad :
Every time we go through that gate there's a horse's head that tells the most dreadful rhymes. And then when we get tae the field she conjures up sorcerous winds and tries tae sneak a look under my kilt.

Borusa / King :
Heavy. But here's a plan. Go out with her tomorrow, and I'll follow you secretly and watch.

[The next morning. Jamie / Conrad and Victoria approach the gateway. Borusa is following them at a distance, wearing a brightly-coloured Pendleton shirt and carrying his surfboard.]

Victoria :
Alas, Falada, hanging there!

Polly / Horse's head :
Are you ready for this? I worked all night on it.

[She clears her throat.]

There was a princess called Victoria,
Whose fortune got steadily poorer,
If her mum only knew,
What she'd been up to,
Her tears would be morer and morer.

Jamie :
Sorry I ever mentioned it.

Master / Narrator :
And they went to the field and went through all the routine there, too. Does anyone else want to make a poetic contribution to the brilliant symposium we have here, or shall I skip it?

Jamie and Victoria [firmly] :
Skip it.

Master / Narrator :
So the king watched, quite unseen.

[An almost subliminal shot of Borusa, sitting on a stepladder in the middle of the field, wearing his surfing duds (which, in the colour stakes, would give the Sixth Doctor's coat a run for its money).]

Master / Narrator :
Then, when the goose-girl came home, he called her aside and asked her what was going on.

[The royal palace again. Borusa and Victoria are standing in front of a fireplace. On one side of the fireplace is a suit of armour, and on the other side is Dalek Sec.]

Borusa / King :
So, lay it on me.

Victoria :
I am not allowed to tell you, nor can I reveal my sorrows to any human being.

Borusa / King :
Well, dudette, looks like this is your lucky day. Because no way am I a human. Count the hearts, baby.

Victoria :
That would be sophistry.

"It would be what?" Baby Jo asked.

"What she means," the Master explained patiently, "is that she's not going to try to wriggle out of her promise not to tell anyone just because the King isn't technically a human."

"But she could draw it in pictchures," suggested little Rose.

"Or fwame the uvver girl for somefing else so the police invethtigate her," said Roz.

"I know," the Master said. "But we've already established that she's hopelessly wet, haven't we?"

Borusa / King :
So, how about you crawl into this stove and tell it your tale?

[He indicates Dalek Sec, who does his striptease act. That is, his casing opens slowly from the front, revealing the mutant within, with an empty space below into which a crouching human would fit.]

Sec [waving his tentacles at her] :
GIVE US A CUDDLE.

Victoria :
Eeek! Not only would that still be sophistry, it would also be quite repulsive.

Borusa / King :
Well, that's a bummer. But hey, doll, hang loose or hang tight, it's all the same to me. [He suddenly switches to his proper accent.] Commander!

[Maxil enters and salutes.]

Borusa / King [now with no trace of the laid-back surfer dude] :
Take this young lady to the dungeons and discover the truth.

[Maxil begins to march her out.]

Borusa / King :
Commander, you are authorised to use...

"THE MIND PROBE!" all the children chorused.

[Victoria does one of her best screams, but to no avail; she's dragged away.]

Baby Victoria looked around for her cushion, but it had been commandeered by Nyssa to hit Adric with. Instead she had to duck down behind the little Second Doctor, peering nervously over his shoulder.

[A large underground laboratory, gleaming in brushed steel. Victoria is lying on a raised bench, wires attached to her temples. There is a large screen on the wall above her. On the screen the same sequence of events is endlessly repeated: Victoria storms into the TARDIS, paces to and fro, throws an envelope onto the console in front of the Second Doctor, thumps the console hard enough to break a teacup and saucer balanced on the Time Rotor, and departs.]

Borusa / King [who is wearing his black robes and hood from 'The Five Doctors'] :
Ready?

Maxil :
Her mind is yours.

Borusa / King :
Then get on with it.

Maxil :
Here's our first suspect.

[He takes out a film spool clearly marked "Bell Of Doom" and inserts it into one of the machines hooked up to Victoria. The image on the screen fades and shows Victoria and Dodo on Guy Fawkes Night, watching the fireworks with rapt expressions.]

Borusa / King :
No go. Try the next one.

[Maxil replaces the film with a copy of the book, "Escape Velocity". This time, the screen shows Victoria and Anji enjoying a picnic on the beach.]

Borusa / King :
This is our last chance. You had better get it right, Commander.

[Maxil inserts a CD of 'Blood of the Daleks' into the machine. The screen shows a reprise of Lucie threatening Victoria.]

Borusa / King :
And about time, too.

[We now see Borusa, back in Time Lord robes, and Harry, standing either side of Victoria, who is wearing the most elaborate princess outfit yet.]

Master / Narrator :
The old king summoned his son and revealed to him that he had a false bride who was only a chambermaid, but that the true one was standing there, the one who had been a goose-girl. The young prince rejoiced with all his heart when he saw her beauty and virtue.

Harry's thoughts [vo] :
She's got better etheric beam locators than the other one.

Master / Narrator :
A great feast was made ready to which all the people and all good friends were invited.

[The banqueting hall. Harry sits at the head of the table, Victoria on one side and Lucie on the other. Most of the other guests are familiar-looking dwarfs.]

Master / Narrator: At the head of the table sat the bridegroom with the king's daughter on one side of him, and the chambermaid on the other. However, the chambermaid was deceived, for she did not recognize the princess in her dazzling attire.

Lucie :
Do me a favour. I have seen her dressed as a princess before, you know. And she still does her hair the same way.

Master / Narrator [emphatically] :
For she did not recognize the princess in her dazzling attire.

[And when he says 'dazzling attire', he means it; Victoria's dress begins to glow sufficiently brightly that Lucie has to look away.]

Master / Narrator :
And after they had eaten and drunk, the old king asked the chambermaid...

Borusa / King :
So, touching on the subject of crime and punishment. What do you think is the appropriate sentence for an identity thief who'd stop at nothing, not even murder, to achieve her own purposes?

Lucie :
She should be given all the money she can carry and a lifetime achievement award?

Borusa / King :
Wrong. Guess again. And this time make it a punishment.

Lucie :
She should be given an ASBO?

Borusa / King :
You really aren't trying, are you?

Lucie :
Look, it's the most obvious trap I've seen. You must think I'm braindead or something.

[Four Toclafane appear in midair and train their weapons on her.]

Master / Narrator :
My patience is wearing thin. Are you going to do this properly or shall I have them cut you in pieces now?

Lucie :
All right, all right. "She should be put in a barrel of spikes and dragged through the city by two white horses." Happy?

Master / Narrator :
Very.

[The Toclafane vanish.]

Borusa / King :
Well, you're the one who did the crime, so that's going to happen to you!

Lucie :
Well, there's a shocker.

[Maxil takes her by the arm and begins to march her away.]

Lucie :
Hang on, don't I get a stunt double or something? You can't do this to me! It's against Health and Safety...

[Maxil drags her off.]

Master / Narrator :
And so, the very next day...

[Exterior, generic palace, day. The sign over the door now reads 'The very next day'. Victoria, dressed in yet another princess outfit, stands beside the King and the Prince.

Maxil and Drax pull two wooden horses in. The horses are attached to a barrel, which rolls along behind them.]

Drax [producing a taxi meter] :
Here we are, guv. The Royal Palace. That'll be nine hundred pounds, please.

Borusa / King :
Let the barrel be opened.

[Victoria covers her eyes and looks sick at the thought of what she might see.

Drax and Maxil stand the barrel upright and lever the lid off. Rose's head emerges. She is glowing with the power of the Time Vortex and is completely unharmed.]

Rose [in the RP accent she uses when imbued with the Vortex] :
It is fortunate that you do not serve a full English breakfast to condemned prisoners. Never would I have been able to keep it down.

Master / Narrator :
Oh, no no no no no no no. What in the name of Russell T Davies are you doing in there?

Rose :
I am the bad wolf. I am the deity ex machina. I see all of time and space. More to the point, I am Miss Miller's stunt double.

Master / Narrator :
Or to put it another way, you're a sign that the author couldn't come up with a proper ending. Congratulations, Rose Marion Tyler. You've won a place on my list of people whom I'd like to cut to shreds. Why hasn't that happened to you already, by the way?

Rose :
You cannot harm one who has dreamed a dream like mine.

[The barrel crumbles to dust, revealing Rose in all her glowy glory. She looks around and a faint expression of worry crosses her face.]

Rose :
Um, could someone kiss me and remove the vortex before I get carried away?

[With a wheezing, groaning sound, a small booth appears, with a sign reading "KISS ROSE TYLER". Underneath is a smaller sign reading "TICKETS £4". In the booth is Mr. Qixotl.]

Qixotl :
Roll up, roll up. Who wants to snog the delectable Rose Tyler?

[A crowd gathers at the booth. Its members include such luminaries as Sharaz Jek, Dalek Thay, Adam Mitchell, Magnus Greel, several clowns from the Psychic Circus, the Black Guardian, Sutekh, the Abzorbaloff, Lineus Tod, Owen Harper and a Raston Gigolo Robot.]

Rose :
One step nearer, any of you, and you'll be going home in a hoover.

[Adam advances on her with a hopeful smile. Rose is as good as her word, and reduces him to dust.]

Sutekh :
A girl with spirit. I find that good.

Qixotl :
Come along, folks. Just four pounds for the chance of tonsil hockey with the cute peroxide blonde. All right, it'll probably kill you, but what a way to go, eh?

[Captain Jack bounds into view.]

Jack :
I reckon I've got the edge here. What's the worst that can happen?

Rose :
Is this a trick question?

[He approaches her. Luminous vortex energy surrounds them. When the light fades Jack, Rose, Qixotl, his booth and the crowd are all gone. Instead, Lucie is there.]

Master / Narrator :
So, you think you got out of it? Pretty pleased with yourself, I bet.

Lucie :
I did get out of it, didn't I, Mr. Looks-Like-A-Weasel?

Master / Narrator :
Famous last words. I promised the kids blood and that's what they're going to get.

[The Toclafane reappear, and spray Lucie with ketchup.]

Lucie :
I'll get you for that, you smug b—

Fortunately, her imprecations were drowned out by the cheers of the children. Even the squeamish Victoria — in both adult and toddler versions — couldn't help laughing at Lucie's expression.

Master / Narrator :
And everyone else lived happily ever after.

[The royal palace, evening. Victoria kisses Harry goodnight; they part and go to their separate bedrooms. The camera follows Victoria to her room. She looks around furtively and opens the window. As the picture fades to black, Jamie climbs in through the window, holding a bunch of flowers.]

Kiyone had been present and ready to take charge again for the last few minutes of the story. When the Master closed the book, she cleared her throat.

"Item. Actor death, Adam Mitchell. Item. Leaving Rose Tyler imbued with the Time Vortex. Item. Using up all the tomato sauce and all the red paint." She snapped her notebook shut. "Izzy will hear of this, Mr. Saxon."

The Master grinned back cheekily. "But not until you've changed your boots."

Kiyone automatically looked down at her boots; despite her best efforts, she hadn't been able to get all the paint off. Fortunately her reflexes were good enough that she looked back up just in time to prevent the Master stealing her notebook.

"There's a saying about motes and beams, Mr. Saxon," she remarked ominously.

The Master deliberately didn't look down at his own feet, and his grin didn't waver.

"Goodbye, children," he said, striding to the door. "Until next time."


Strolling down the street, the Master congratulated himself. Once out of sight of the nursery, he'd checked his shoes. Kiyone had been bluffing; whichever tot had been playing with the gold paint hadn't dared to try it on with him. Moreover, he'd told his story all the way through despite the best efforts of the book and half the cast to sabotage it. And since all the children had been happy Izzy would be almost certain to ignore any petty infractions he'd committed and let him come back for another go.

He rubbed his gloved hands together, and felt some resistance. Looking down, he cursed. The realisation dawned on him that while the malevolent imp with the paint had kept away from his shoes, he or she hadn't felt the same inhibition regarding the door handle.

Acknowledgements