Ducks Don't Need Umbrellas

December 23, 1992
The rain rocketed down at the dark, deserted London street, deluging the occasional lonely passerby and causing the colorful awnings of nearby shops to sag ominously and deeply, as if a whole family of Loch Ness monsters could move in quite happily and never be discovered.
A sudden strong guest of wind lew violently past, creating vast numbers of tidal waves to erupt in the awnings, and making such a lot of noise, coupled with that of the driving storm, as to totally mask any other sounds short of a small supernova.
When it had passed, a dilapidated police box stood where none had before. A flock of passing ducks were quite astounded by this, and spontaneously formed a new religion centered around what they thought of as The Great Blue Unbreaded One, but the new religion unfortunately collapsed very rapidly when the Great One flickered, making distressing groaning, grinding noises, and finally disappeared altogether.
The ducks were rather surprised.
* * * * * * * *

The rain rocketed down at the dark, deserted London street, deluging the occasional lonely passerby and causing the colorful awnings of nearby shops to sag ominously and deeply, as if a whole family of Loch Ness monsters could move in quite happily and never be discovered.
A sudden strong guest of wind lew violently past, creating vast numbers of tidal waves to erupt in the awnings, and making such a lot of noise, coupled with that of the driving storm, as to totally mask any other sounds short of a small supernova.
When it had passed, a dilapidated police box stood where none had before. Pensively, the raindrops collected round to see it, and were unceremoniously shaken off when the door opened suddenly, revealing a very tall, strangely-dressed man with very curly hair and an insanely multicolored scarf reaching almost to his relatively normal feet.
The man reached back inside the police box and pulled out something that resembled what would happen if you ever turned a black hole completely inside-out, made it bowl-shaped, and attached a knobbly handle. It was an umbrella. Inverted, it could probably serve as a condo for humpbacked whales.
Emerging at last completely from the police box, the man turned and called "Sarah!!"
A pretty, middle-sized person of the female persuasion, in a light sundress, appeared. Looking disgustedly up at the sky, she commented, "Well, at least we know this is England."
"My dear Sarah, of course this is England! Where else would we be?"
"Well, you have been known to get us a little off-course from time to time, Doctor."
"Nonsense! The TARDIS has perfect control over her destination! I've never heard such complete balderdash in all my life!" Still protesting, he led the way down the saturated street.
As they progressed through the myriad rippling puddles, talking about shoes and ships and sealing wax, and cabbages and kings, something started to dawn on them. In complete synchronization, they slowly turned to stare at a nearby storefront.
Displayed prominently in the window was a large sign declaring "Pre-Christmas sale! Three days only! 30% off EVERYTHING IN THE STORE!"
Below it was a life-size, red and green Dalek.
Looped in a fancy sort of elaborate framework above and around it was a tacky, multicolored, polyester knit scarf. Looking closer, they could see that the store was filled with all kinds of miniature police boxes and dolls dressed to look like Susan and Sarah and Harry and Jo Grant and numerous other companions, and K-9 models, and at least ten minature Doctors, and the odd pair of pointy rubber ears.
The time travellers exchanged looks that asked a good many questions about the nature of existence and reality and where was normality when you really needed it, much as Dorothy Gale must have exchanged with her companions, had she had any, upon first stepping out into what she thought would be the sepia-toned Kansas she knew but which turned out to be the Technicolor Land of Oz.
Having done this, they turned back to stare at the storefront.
A small sign posted on the door declared, in the manner of such signs, that the store would be open until 6 that evening. Since the silvery jelly-baby-shaped clock inside read 3:55, they really had no choice.
As the eccentrically dressed Gallifreyan entered, the store's clerk looked up at them, first in surprise, then in admiration. "Hey, wicked outfits! Where'd you get them?" she exclaimed. Sarah Jane and the Doctor glanced at each other uneasily as the girl chattered on.
"I mean, people - fans of the series- come in here all the time dressed as Cybermen, or the Master, or Daleks - we've got a Dalek suit right there in the window, would you like to try it on?" The Doctor raised his eyebrows; why would anyone want to emulate such evil, ruthlessly logical creatures?
Obviously, the clerk tackled her job with a lot of enthusiasm, much as Genghis Khan must have had for *his* chosen career. Sarah moved forward. "I don't undersatnd - what exactly is this store for? What does it sell?"
"Well, mostly we sell memorabilia from science-fiction programmes: Star Trek, Blake's Seven, Red Dwarf, and obviously, Doctor Who." The clerk - whose name tag established her as one Dorothy McShane - waved a hand vaguely about the store. She peered closer at Sarah Jane. "Great makeup job! You look almost like the real thing. Are you two in the movie they're making or something?"
The Doctor suddenly smiled and replied, "No, we dress this way all the time actually. You wouldn't happen to have any jelly babies in stock, would you?"
Ms. McShane frowned thoughtfully. "We're usually sold out around this time of year, with Christmas and Hanukkah coming up, but I can check for you."
"No, no, that's quite all right," the Doctor said hurriedly. "We'll just look around for a bit." He took Sarah's arm and maneuvered her to the back of the store, near the sonic screwdriver display.
":Doctor, what's going on?" she asked, picking up one of the screwdrivers. "These don't really work, do they?"
"No, of course, not," he replied, examining it. "Hmm, very poor workmanship. It probably wasn't made to be a working model, just a reasonable outward facsimile. Made in Taiwan," he added, turning it over.
"But why?" Sarah insisted. "I mean, look at these!" she continued, pointing at one of the little long-scarved figurines. She couldn't quite bring herself to pick it up and examine it.
The Doctor did, however unwisely. Sarah shuddered at seeing the Doctor's miniaturized body so close to her eyes. "Ugh!" he exclaimed disapprovingly. "Awful! It looks nothing like me! Look at this, Sarah, do you really think I look like this?"
"Doctor... doesn't any of this strike you as being the least bit, well, strange? Finding ourselves commercialized like this?"
He turned back to her, suddenly serious. "There's a perfectly rational explanation for all of this."
"Yes, but do you know what it is?" Sarah challenged. The Doctor didn't seem to notice her question, continuing to root around in the merchandise. Suddenly he pulled a colourful, oversized book out of the pile and skimmed it rapidly, eating through the pages like a chocoholic through a mountain of Hershey's bars. "There!" he exclaimed, holding it up for her to see.
"What?"
"Look!" he said patiently. "'On the bleak winter evening of Saturday, 23 November 1963 when 'Doctor Who' was launched on BBC Television...'"
"??"
"The 1960s were when I lived on Earth, well one of the times anyway, and if you remember, it was also when television was really getting started, with television scriptwriters using anything and everything as a premise for a new programme, trying to cash in on the medium before anyone else.Probably one of my old companions, upon returning home - Ian or Barbara or Sydney or somebody - decided that this would make a good series - and so the saga began!"
"But that doesn't explain why--"
"Why the other dolls all look like - well, more or less like - my other selves? No, it doesn't," he agreed thoughtfully. "Well, all I can think of is that when I visited Earth at different times later on, they must have found out; perhaps someone at UNIT is making a nice sum helping them with plot ideas. Well, something like that! It's not important --" He was cut off as a shrill squealing emanated from his coat pocket. He pulled out a little bit of glowing, pulsating machinery which shrieked like a Dalek being bitten by a rabid Tribble. "This is what's important! A Markian distress signal!" With that, he turned and left the store in great haste, stopping only to pay for a few trinkets and a rainbow-coloured bag of jelly babies Ms. McShane had found in the dust-covered shelves of the storeroom. Giving her a friendly parting smile, he said, "Until we meet again," and headed for the TARDIS.
"'Until we meet again?' Why did you say that? We're hardly likely to end up back here any time soon."
"No reason," the Doctor hedged innocently, and rushed on ahead, his newly-bought copy of Dragonfire hidden securely under his large hat.

With thanks to Peter Haining, author of _25 Glorious Years_, quoted here, and Paul Cornell, whose Ace-suffix was dropped from _Love And War_ and here adopted, and Sophie Aldred, whose fault it is entirely that Ace squirreled her way into this story. And all the kind Whovians who I bugged endlessly about technical details. The end. :)