Teaser: “Lost and Found”
SHARDS OF fiery regeneration energy spewed forth from the Doctor’s hands, feet, and neck as he was violently thrown back against the central console, his arms and legs straining against the power of it, his features beginning to transform. He let out a shout somewhere between a cry of agony and a scream of ecstasy. As the sound of it rose amid the chamber, the timbre of his voice seemed to shift in pitch to a higher, lighter tone.
Once the sparks of regeneration energy had subsided, a new man stood in the old Doctor’s place. Just marginally shorter than his predecessor, this lean figure had a brand new face: narrow and eager, with a long nose, and—most notable of all—wild, inquisitive brown eyes. There was a moment during which it seemed he was sensing the physicality of this new body he inhabited. He took a deep breath and carefully exhaled. Then, bizarrely, he broke into a wide, open-mouthed grin. Finally he spoke, and in frenetic, theatrical tones: “Oh, these facial muscles are much, much more supple. Look. I can smile! Smiling is wonderful. I must do that more often!”
He let out the briefest but most joyous shriek of laughter.
His momentary delight faded as quickly as it began. Spreading his arms wide, this new Doctor looked down to take in his darkly flamboyant outfit and cloak. When he looked back up it was with an expression filled with shock and disgust at his attire. “Wait! What devilry is this? What am I? Am I… a vampire? Have I just awoken from the dead?!”
He looked to Riddell as though expecting him to answer, but the man was quite lost for words. John Riddell knew the Doctor could change his face from time to time, but witnessing such an extraordinary transformation had left him dumbfounded. All he could do was shrug.
Perhaps sensing he would not get a response, the Doctor set about answering his own question. “No, vampires don’t exist. I think. Do they? Are vampires real?” He stuffed his fingers in his mouth and started rummaging around his teeth, checking for fangs. And then his eyes—almost impossibly—opened yet wider and he clutched both hands to his chest. “Heartbeats!” he exclaimed. “I’m alive! Definitely not a vampire.”
Once again he let out a short, crazed laugh.
The Master had been silently yet knowingly processing this latest strange turn of events, but now the Doctor spotted him at the console. He strode up to him, grabbing the motionless figure’s right hand in his own to shake it furiously. “Very pleased to make your acquaintance, my good man.” Still beaming, he then slapped the Master on the shoulder with his left hand, adding, “And don’t look so serious—it might never happen!”
The Doctor lost interest in the Master just as quickly, stepping away from him and, hands on hips, turning on the spot to take in the glorious splendour of the cavernous TARDIS control room. His shout echoed throughout the chamber. “Well, I suppose that just leaves one question to be answered.” Then, half-chuckling to himself, he added softly, “Where am I?!”
With that, just as quickly as it had arrived, all the vigour faded from his hawkish face. He turned back to Riddell with a look of horror that was his only warning, then began to stumble forward. Riddell reached out and just about caught this strange new man in his arms as he fell into him. With a confused expression, the Doctor gazed up into Riddell’s eyes, smiled weakly, and said, “Has anyone ever told you that you are a strikingly handsome young man?”
Then his legs gave way and he slumped into unconsciousness. With a groan, Riddell managed to manhandle the Time Lord to the floor, where he sprawled out in an unceremonious heap. Riddell had no clue how to help his friend now. As his mind raced in this fresh moment of crisis, his attention was broken by the rising sound of a chilling, cackling laugh.
The Master still stood at the console, but his expressionless android face had now morphed into a sinister smile. “Ha, ha, ha! Well, well, well. And just who do you suppose is in charge now?”