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boat of the cybermen

Ned to his friends, Edward Smith fell into his multi-coloured deck-chair which fell onto his multi-coloured deck of his...what sort of boat was it?

Ned neither knew nor cared. It did remind him of something he had seen in Laurel and Hardy film. To tell you the truth, I am not altogether certain where all this is taking place. Would, 'just off a sandy-beech on the Californian coast' do? It would for Ned.

For him the world was a nice place, but you might as well enjoy yourself with a little innocent fun when you were young ( Ned was twenty-five ), when you could afford to make mistakes. That was what his old Texan grand-mother used to tell him when he was a child and he always had a lot of respect for old Granny Cartwheel.

He did not want to put anybody down - he was too busy singing and playing.

He lay uncomfortably embraced by the collapsed deck-chair and did not care. The hazy, salty air made him giggle, like bathing in ether, thou I've never tried it. He could here his friends playing ball on the beach, the sounds as if in radio-signals drifting across the stretch of sea or messages from another planet.

He gazed into the dome above him. The circle sky; dark in the centre and pale towards the circumference. It was wonderful.

Sure, the sky was just another sea and from this 'sea' Edward Smith had received a message, a gift, a magical gift.

A magical gift had fallen from the sky into the sea yesterday. It was a small and beautiful thingamajig, a...he no longer cared for specification.

Perhaps it had come from a moon-rocket or didn't a satellite crash in the gulf of Mexico in mysterious circumstances last week? It could be from that! A message from the sky...maybe there were people beyond the sky, the other 'sea', playing space-ball on a multi-coloured beach, dallying in the innocence of life, just trying to be friendly not putting anybody down.

What would he do with his little gift? It sure was a curious article. A funny little golden tube thing. Maybe he ought to give it to someone, they could be looking for it. No. He figured that whoever it belonged to would have plenty of the thingamajigs and anyway, who on Earth knew it was on Ned's boat?

Perhaps he would give it to Valerie. He was awfully fond of Valerie. He just went all silly when he was with Valerie. She just maybe the one but, golly-gee, she wouldn't want him with his long hair, side-burns and silly pom-pom hat, would she? He was awfully fond of Valerie.

The thingamajig was in his bunk-bed down below, wasn't it? It would be safe there. Maybe it was worth money. "Money was the root of all evil," his Grand pappy Woolhat would tell him. He wasn't really Ned's grandfather but he did seem like one. Ned no longer cared for specification.

He pulled his guitar towards him and tried to write a song.

'Innocence is bliss; consciousness is damnation,' he thought. True, but too serious for a song. Instead he wrote about buying a dog because canine friends proved much better than girls in the long-run, but like all writers of songs of that ilk, he was not speaking from experience.

The Doctor rubbed his tired eyes and scratched his unshaven face. Materialisation was a dangerous process and the Doctor was in no mood for concentrating on the flashing lights and buzzing noises all around the control room. He wanted to go back to bed. It had been a long night, if there was such a thing as 'night' a board the TARDIS. Still, a landing might mean fresh air. The ship had been adrift in the nothingness of nothingness of which everything is something for a fortnight. Their last landing had not been a happy one.

He had promised he would take Jamie to meet his old friend Robbie Burns but the TARDIS had landed on a highland heath in 1970 between a television camera and Fife Robertson ( another of the Doctor's old friends ) who was shooting a new television series and was most laconic in expressing his annoyance to his Time Lord acquaintance.

In frustration Jamie had attempted to up-root the control console and toss it like a caber at the mop-haired scientist who had had the audacity to remove the young Gael from certain death on a highland battlefield.

In an act of appeasement, the Doctor had presented his young assailment with some bag pipes given to him by his old friend Robert-the-Bruce and thus he and Zoe had become the unwilling audience of nightly concerts of Jacobite tunes lasting into the wee hours of the morning.

The Doctor strained his eyes at the blank TV. screen set in one wall of the bridge.

'Black,' he muttered.

'Could be the London Underground,' came a voice form behind.

'Oh, I hope not, Zoe.' He did not relish playing 'Mornington Crescent' with the Abominable Snowmen again. Rolling up his shirt sleeves he removed a small service door beneath the screen and began to search around inside with his fingers.

Zoe searched inside the cupboard for her boots. The Doctor removed some cobwebbed cog-wheels. 'That's the trouble with clockwork television,' he muttered. Zoe seemed not to be interested so he continued without her inquiry- 'Sometimes you have to go outside and see for yourself.'

Ned hung in the re-erected deck chair strumming for inspiration, his shirt showing only perspiration. Where was the song he was looking for? Where was the musical message from the unknown of his brain? No point in fretting over it!

He quit doodling on the strings and listened to the creaking of the boat as it rocked in the water. Which part of the boat did the noises come from?

More transmissions from the dark unknown.

The creaking began to grow louder and more violent. The boat's movement increased as if some weight had appeared on board from nowhere disrupting its balance in the water. The creaking grew louder and strained, transforming itself into a horrible screeching sound echoing in vibrations through the timbers.

The deck-chair and Ned re-collapsed and it seemed that the boat would fall apart. Perhaps it was the same boat he had seen in the Laurel and Hardy picture.

The movement stopped.

Ned pulled himself up and looked out to his friends on the beach. He knew there was something on board but he was afraid. Maybe he should call for help, but Valerie was with them and he'd feel such a fool. No, he would face whatever it was down there...down below deck...down there in the cold, damp, silent, creepy darkness on his own. If only Valerie could be here to see him do this brave thing.

Asserting his green woolly hat, he opened a door onto a stairway and went down, step by step...and then back up a step. There was a light flashing in his eyes, slowly and regularly.

Alone and single-handed, he took a giant step and bravely quacked into the hold ( I think that is what it is called ).

Before him stood a tall, dark blue wardrobe with 'Police' written all over it. So! They had found him! The 'men in black' had arrived  to take away his Johnny Cash records and abduct Ned to some secret interrogation centre. They would brainwash everyone who ever knew him and destroy all records of existence; all his friends would forget him...even Valerie. It was indeed sinister how this cupboard had come aboard. It could be a new type of Police submarine, he thought.

He peered through the bars of one of the portholes. A face looked back from inside, grinning. Ned stumbled backwards as a door opened in the side of the sub and a Police Officer shuffled out. He wore a baggy coat with baggier trousers on braces and a spotted dicky-bow! He had a rough face, yet youthful middle-aged flexible face. Ned no longer cared for specification. He noted the officer's Beatle haircut. Clearly, the F.B.I. were taking the notion of working incognito too far.

In a spurt of bravery, Ned spoke out. 'They have moustaches now too, you know!'

'Do they?' smiled the little policeman. 'I'm the Doctor.'