Series 7 Episode 5 The Jammed Zip Part One Written by Peter Darwin
“Zoe, Dan, Beth – I’d like you to meet some old friends of mine.”
Sarah Jane slammed the door to her car, and, with her three teenage friends beside her, began to eye up the dilapidated old warehouse, in a way that one rarely eyes up a dilapidated old warehouse, unless they are aware that something is truly wrong.
In this case, there was something desperately wrong.
“And I’m guessing that by friends…,” Dan suggested. The three of them had met a few of Sarah Jane’s ‘old friends’ in the past, and they were usually eccentric, mysterious figures who would not be the sort to hide out in old warehouses. There was something typically villainous about a hideout in a warehouse.
“Of course she means enemies,” Zoe interrupted, as Sarah Jane flipped open the lid of her watch, and was watching its hidden screen.
“Detecting two life signs,” Sarah Jane looked down at her watch, partly to make sure she didn’t show her concern. Although she had faced themmany times before, they had proved to be one of her most relentless, persistent enemies, and she expected that by now, she had become fabled on their home planet, as the scourge of some of their evil plans. She hoped that this would be another plan she could put a stop to.
At that moment, a hologram zapped into life in front of them, displaying two, hulking beasts, with bulging bellies and blinking bug eyes.
“Ha,” Dan turned to Zoe. “It’s you.”
Zoe turned and glared at him, and through gritted teeth, said, “shut up or I’ll break your face.”
“I think they’d break it first,” Beth had observed that each had a set of menacing claws. “Haven’t seen these things in ages. They're still just as ugly."
“Oh, hello, Miss Smith!” one of the aliens spoke, coming across as rather theatrical and articulate. “Delighted to speak with you.”
Sarah Jane watched them both, a grim look etched upon her face. “What do you want?”
“Oh, nothing in particular,” the other alien commanded a deep, sonorous voice. “Just your entire planet to be turned into a wasteland.”
“It kind of already is…,” Beth murmured.
“I’ll warn you once,” Sarah Jane spoke cold and logically. “We are prepared. You know me… and I know you.”
The theatrical alien spoke. “And we will be heralded with glory, when we return to Raxacoricofallapatorius –”
“Raxo- what now,” Dan said, but Sarah Jane shushed him.
“–as the members of the family who managed to defeat Sarah Jane Smith, once and for all, and provide an energy source for the whole of our planet!” the alien laughed maliciously at its monologue, before the other alien spoke.
“I suggest that you and your… children, leave us alone, while we activate the bomb, and turn your planet into a fuel source to power our world forever. Capiche, Miss Smith?”
The two of them descended into fits of laughter, and then the hologram disappeared. Sarah Jane stared at the spot they had both stood, contemplating what to do next. Zoe eventually broke the ice.
“You gonna let it be all,” Zoe imitated the alien. “‘Capiche, Miss Smith’?”
Sarah Jane slipped the sonic lipstick out of her pocket. “No, I most certainly won't.”
Eventually, Dan asked the question that had been brewing on the minds of all three of them – after all, Sarah Jane seemed so acquainted with these aliens. “What do they want this time?”
Sarah Jane turned to her friends, a grim look on her face. “Same motive as always, I expect. You three – we’re going to need the super-soakers.”
The four of them – Sarah Jane with her sonic lipstick, and the teenagers armed with super-soakers loaded with vinegar – entered the warehouse. There were cardboard boxes stacked up in walls, forming an almost maze-like structure to the interior. Sarah Jane’s lipstick pulsated as it scanned for the Slitheen’s ultimate weapon of destruction, the only noise in the warehouse – the gang did not speak, as they did not desire any Slitheen attention. Meanwhile, Zoe, Beth and Dan kept their weapons close, ready to leap out and surprise any angry Raxacoricofallapatorian.
Gradually the lipstick’s pulsing tune increased in pitch, and the four of them turned a corner, to reveal an almighty clearing in the boxes – a clearing that had been rigged up with several blue oil drums. They all knew that the drums probably didn’t contain oil, and were instead packed full of explosives.
“Sentinel,” Sarah Jane took out her phone. “Run a scan on the blue barrels.”
Her AI did as he was told.
“Lol. If I were irl, I’d be totes worried. Those drums are full of the gunpowder extracted from the Ereborus 3 mines. Those Slitheen, smh. ”
Zoe, Beth and Dan stared at Sarah Jane’s phone as if it had just committed a grave sin.
“Did Sentinel just use ‘lol’ and ‘irl, ‘totes’, and ‘smh’?” Zoe asked out of pure shock.
“Oh yeah,” Dan realised, a sheepish look on his face. “I was showing him Facebook.”
Sarah Jane glared at her young friends. “Do you kids really think this is the time? These barrels contain enough explosives to tear apart the Earth.”
“Sentinel will turn into a racist next,” Beth mused. Sarah Jane ignored her.
“So how do we stop the bomb?” Zoe was quickly interrupted by a typically science-fiction voice, which spoke: Bomb detonation in one minute.
Sarah Jane walked over to a computer terminal, one which all the drums seemed to be connected to. “Oh… shouldn’t be too hard. If I can just patch Sentinel into their systems, it should be a simple deactivation.”
There were murmurs of appreciation amongst the gang. A fairly uncomplicated procedure, thankfully.
Until the two Slitheen strode into the clearing.
“Oh, Miss Smith!” cried the theatrical one. “We knewyou couldn’t be trusted to leave us alone!”
“Well done, Sherlock," Zoe murmured sarcastically, before raising her voice. "And that's why you waited until you cornered us." “Actually pretty clever, that,” Beth said.
Zoe was right. The four of them had been backed up against the computer terminal and wall of explosive drums. If the Slitheen did decide to make a move, there was no way out. The four of them would be Slitheen-dinner in seconds, judging by the sharpness of those claws.
“Miss Smith, we needn’t ask you what to do,” spoke the deeper-voiced Slitheen. “Deactivate your AI.”
Bomb detonation in thirty seconds.
Sarah Jane grinned at the Slitheen, though with slight trepidation of what was about to come. “I don’t think so, boys. Zoe, Beth, Dan! The super-soakers!”
The three teenagers whipped out their weapons and loaded them, ready to fire.
The look of terror upon the Slitheen’s faces was clear.
“Oh, and Sentinel,” Sarah Jane turned to her AI. “Increase vinegar concentration by 5000%.”
The three teenagers fired, blasting huge jets of vinegar over the Slitheen, and at once, sent both of them stumbling backwards, as each of them became soaked in the acid.
“Nooo!” they both cried, thrashing about as if to try and rid themselves of the terrible substance. “This cannot be, you cannot have defeated us!”
“Oi, ma’am,” Sentinel spoke up. “The bomb’s deactivated, innit.”
“Thank you Sentinel!” Sarah Jane said, making a mental note to talk to her friends about using social media on her property. She also didn’t come across quite as cheerful as she should’ve done, considering their planet was saved.
No... because Sarah Jane had been aware that what was about to happen, was going to happen. She braced herself for the upcoming explosion, putting her hands in front of her. Her teenage friends looked at her as if she were ridiculous.
“Sarah Jane, are you okay?” Beth shouted amongst the commotion, as the two Slitheen writhed in agony.
The two of them gave one final cry before the end. “Noooooooo!”
A tsunami of green slime lashed over the gang, covering all of them, from head to toe, in gunge.
An awkward silence fell, as Zoe, Beth and Dan contemplated the fact that they had been completely splattered in the remains of the Slitheen. They looked around at one another, just to make sure that none of them were hallucinating the situation. In the grossness of the situation, Zoe dropped her super-soaker.
Eventually the magnitude of what occurred had settled in. They were definitely not hallucinating the situation.
Sarah Jane wiped the goo from her eyes, and looked down at herself. “I haven’t missed this.”
Dan examined the slime at the end of his fingers. “Am I dreaming?”
Beth gave him a bemused look. “You’ve got some weird dreams…”
“Well! We won...,” he volunteered, hoping to salvage something from the surreal situation. Zoe ran a hand through her hair, flicking the substance that came away at him.
“No way, dolt.”
“What actually happened?” Beth turned to Sarah Jane.
Sarah Jane volunteered an explanation. “Vinegar is acetic acid. The acid causes a reaction with the calcium-based physiology, and the reaction…”
Beth gazed around the warehouse, half of it now repainted in green. “Causing this.”
While they had been examining the science behind the situation, none of them had noticed Dan collecting the goo in a little pool in his hands, and none of them had noticed Dan creep up behind Zoe and dump it over her head.
“Oh my god,” she turned to him, a look on her face almost more terrifying than that of the Slitheen’s. “I am going to batter you.”
In retaliation of Dan’s tactical move, she started flicking the gunge off her arms at him, spattering it all over him. He raised his arms in defence, but of course it did not stop her, she was determined to get her revenge. Beth joined in the assault, and although Sarah Jane was dreading the literal clean-up operation involved in this, she laughed at their teenage skirmish, and even started chucking the gunge around herself.
Haresh, sitting at the table and munching on a slice of toast, scanned the morning paper, trying to make sure that when his wife eventually got hold of it, there was nothing in there that could set her off with another harebrained scheme to conquer the whole world with Bloomin’ Lovely.
“Oh,” he said, taken by surprise at the suddenness of the whole thing, and thinking nothing off his next exclamation. “One of the parish councillors has resigned.”
He heard Gita gasp from the other side of the room.
Alfie alsoheard Gita gasp from the other side of the room.
When they both looked over to her upcoming proclamation, Alfie caught Haresh’s doomladen grimace, and Haresh caught Alfie’s fed-up eyeroll, as they both knew exactly what thought had just entered her head, and they both set eyes upon Gita as she slammed her empty coffee mug down on the counter, and declared, with a Gandalf-like force,
“Councillor Gita Chandra.”
It was as if with foresight, Gita was reading the result of the election she had just decided to stand in, announcing herself victor.
Haresh and Alfie sighed a melancholy sigh, turned back to their respective tasks of toast-eating and gaming.
“I can just see it!” she continued, as if she had laid down a soapbox and were now preaching to the masses in a high-stakes campaign to become the next Prime Minister. “And with that power, Bloomin’ Lovely will grow, of course.”
Haresh took a spoon and gently tapped off the roof of his boiled egg. “I’m fairly sure that’s corruption, dear.”
“Oh, my darling, I’m not doing this for the good of the business, you know. Have you seen the hanging baskets outside George the Butcher’s? In a terrible state. And the flowers in the green? Appalling. We shall embark on a campaign, promising to make Foxgrove green again! Yes, my darlings, yes we shall.”
Her voice rose at the end, like a born leader addressing her people.
There was no applause and an awkward silence, until Alfie intervened with a sarcastic round, that thankfully, Gita did not realise was sarcastic. Unfortunately, when she announced her next move in the fight to be elected the new parish councillor, Alfie wished she had realised it was sarcastic. “Thank you for the support, Alfie. I can always rely on you. Which is more than can be said for you, Haresh. Now, Alfie,” Gita shut the lid of Alfie’s computer and ushered him upwards. “Get on that skateboard of yours and tell the world ‒ Vote Chandra! ‒ Haresh -throw me that newspaper…”
Alfie and Haresh glanced at each other and shared a look of mutual suffering, before Alfie was herded outside and presented with his skateboard. “This election, my darling,” she pressed it into his hands, as if bestowing him with a mythical weapon. “Will not win itself.” Alfie sighed, and took his skateboard, and left the house, leaving Haresh to suffer the brunt of Gita’s new ambitions.
Jade was sat at the kitchen table, attempting to pry open a pickle jar without much luck, when Zoe strode in covered in green slime. She stopped and stared at the girl, a million questions starting to whiz in her head. Zoe also stopped and stared, wondering what the woman was doing in her kitchen alone, manhandling a pickle jar. They stayed like that for several seconds, neither willing to start a conversation.
Finally, Jade spoke uncertainly, “Er, yo.”
Zoe nodded her head in acknowledgement ‒ she even managed to muster a smile ‒ when her attention was once again piqued by the jar. “What’s the assault for?”
The woman stared at her in puzzlement. “Huh?”
“On the jar,” Zoe clarified.
“Oh!” Jade looked down at the jar thoughtfully. “Cravings,” she replied with a pat on her stomach, as if that explained everything. It did, in a way. Zoe’s eyes drifted towards her baby bump. It grew every day, and she was now five months into her pregnancy. Her dad was more excited than she had ever seen him be, and Jade took it all in her stride, looking photogenic despite circumstances. Even Finn had warmed to the idea of a new baby sister, and often bombarded them with questions when he phoned home.
They made her feel guilty about her childish behaviour, but she couldn’t help but treat the newcomers with distance. There was just something about the whole debacle that made her weary, and she couldn’t quite pinpoint the cause, though she suspected it was just because she was envious of the mum-shaped position Jade was filling. Even as she said it, she felt a lingering sense of unfulfillment to her internal claim.
“What about you?” Jade asked, snapping Zoe out of her internal musings.
“What about me?”
Jade gestured towards the green slime that coated her face and clothes. “What happened there?”
“Oh.” Zoe looked down, and impulsively replied, “Dan.”
“Did this. Paint fight.”
“Yeah…” Zoe trailed off awkwardly. “Well, better sort myself out ‒ I’m meeting up with Dan and Beth in a bit.”
She had made it to the door, when Jade called after her, “Zoe!” she stopped, and then hesitantly added, “Can we talk?”
Zoe internally cursed the trajectory their conversation had taken, and with a frustrated squeeze on the doorknob, turned back with a smile.
“Well, it’s just that…” Jade floundered for a second, trying to find the words to express the tension she had noticed between them. Instead of finding an enlightened, articulate response, she blurted out, “Are you okay?”
Zoe stared at her in confusion. “Err…yeah, I’m fine.” She reconsidered. “Apart from the slime.”
“Yeah, course,” Jade nodded awkwardly. “It’s just that...I really like your dad, I do. He’s a great guy, and people like him, with their cash and stuff, they never look twice at people like me for anything other than...pleasure, you know? And he’s not like that, and I’m really glad I met him, and you and Finn. And, I suppose, what I’m wondering is whether we could ‒”
They were interrupted by the shrill beep of Zoe’s notifications. She whipped her phone out, grateful for the distraction. Jade watched the girl as she scrolled through her phone, mindful of the green slime, and solemnly realised that she wasn’t ready. They hardly knew each other, and she was an unknown to them and suddenly, here she was ‒ the girlfriend of Gavin who was pregnant with his kid. It wasn’t exactly classy.
“That was Dan,” Zoe revealed, putting her phone away. “What were you saying?”
She wasn’t ready, Jade thought. “Nah, it don’t matter at the moment. You can get cleaned up.”
“Sure?” Zoe asked customarily.
“Yeah, yeah. Enjoy your day out with your friends.”
Zoe nodded, and left the room. It wasn’t until she was up the stairs that she breathed a sigh of relief.
“Alright, Shrek?” Chris said sarcastically as he strode onto the patio, where Dan was wiping off residue bits of Slitheen and water from his shower. “That time of the month already?”
Dan rolled his eyes. “Was just a paint fight.”
“Didn’t ask.” He sauntered over to the banister, leaned over it, and called out, “Aye, aye, Fefe!”
Dan looked over at his older brother, wondering if he had finally lost the plot, when he noticed that there was someone on the street. He looked over, and faltered when he realised that the person was Felix.
“Looking for something?” Chris called out.
“Yeah, you,” Felix responded impatiently. “Come on, we’re leaving soon.”
It took Dan a moment to recall that they were both off to a basketball tournament against another school in Central London. He watched as his brother meandered back into the house, and jumped when an arm was placed on his shoulder. Felix was by his side, smiling down at him.
“Bit wet, aren’t you?”
Dan was taken aback by the offhanded command. His mouth flapped open and closed uselessly, until he blurted out, “What?”
Felix gestured at his dishevelled appearance with a hand.
“Oh,” Dan realised, deflating slightly. “Yeah. Paint fight with Zoe and Beth.” He looked down sheepishly when Felix raised a quizzical eyebrow. “They started it,” he mumbled.
“Sure, I’d believe that,” Felix laughed. It was a nice laugh. Quiet - not brash and obnoxious - and gentle. It was quite deceptive, considering that he was renowned on the playground for being a beast on the field. Dan refocused on trying to get the gunk out of his hair. No matter what he tried, the green slime seemed to cling to him. He grunted, ready to admit defeat, when Felix gently prised the towel from his hands.
“Here.” He placed the towel on Dan’s head. “Let me.”
Dan nodded, quickly looking down to hide his embarrassed flush. He stared at his sneakers while Felix began wiping his hair thoroughly but gentle. It was the gentleness that surprised Dan. He had expected Felix to clean the gunk from his hair quickly. They lapsed into companionable silence, Dan too nervous to speak up and Felix too focused on his task.
Finally, the Native American spoke triumphantly, “There, all done.” He held up the green stained towel to prove his point.
Dan smiled. “Thanks.”
“No big deal,” Felix shrugged, but there was something in his expression that Dan couldn’t decipher. He looked like he was about to say more, when Chris appeared with a backpack in tow.
“Let’s go smash those nerds,” he declared rambunctiously, casting an eye over his younger brother, and sneered. “Later, nerd.”
Dan rolled his eyes again as he watched Chris hop off the porch and move further down the street. Felix was also watching him.
“Yeah,” Dan nodded. “See you around.”
“Count of it,” Felix grinned. “And make sure you don’t catch a cold. We’ve got a maths test on Friday.”
“Great,” Dan said dryly as he waved his friend goodbye, trying to squash the warm glow coiled in the pit of his stomach.
Laurel was lounging in the living room, her feet up on the sofa, trawling through her Instagram feed when Beth entered, covered in green gunk. She looked up and stared for the longest time. Beth ignored her, rummaging around the sofa for something.
“I’ve got questions,” Laurel said slowly.
“Bet you do,” Beth muttered, continuing her search.
“Why are you covered in...whatever that is?”
“Paint fight.” Beth tossed a cushion over her head. “Have you seen it?”
Laurel furrowed her brow in confusion. “Seen what?”
“My phone. I think I left it here this morning.”
“I dunno,” Laurel shrugged and looked down at her own phone. Nathan had sent her a Whatsapp text - something about spreading a rumour that one of their teacher was sleeping around. She looked at it thoughtfully, before speaking again, “Maybe mum’s got it.”
Beth froze, whipped her head around in alarm, and demanded, “Is she here?”
“No? It’s not her day off today.”
Beth deflated in relief. The last thing that she wanted right now was a long conversation with her mum about a topic that she really didn’t want to discuss. Laurel watched her quietly as she returned to her hunt, the cogs in her brain whirring.
“Why don’t you wanna see her?”
“Mum,” Laurel clarified. “Why don’t you wanna see or talk to her? Did you have a fight?”
“None of your business,” Beth said bluntly, but her sister did not relent.
“You did, didn’t you? What about?”
“Again, none of your business,” Beth snapped. She sneered down at her sister. “But don’t worry, I didn’t skip off from a grave or anything like that.”
Laurel flinched at her harsh tone. They had mostly resolved the tension after last year’s incident, but there was something broken between the two that would take a while to repair. Laurel sighed, produced Beth’s phone from her other pocket and tossed it to her.
Beth stared at it in surprise, and glared accusingly at her, but Laurel remained unfazed. She heard all she needed to know. “Go take a shower,” she said scathingly. “You look like crap."
After getting cleaned up they all made their way to Sarah Jane’s, who had just finished another irritating conversation on the phone.
“You’ve had my contact details for the last year!”
“And with every conversation I am getting ever closer to misplacing them.”
Sarah Jane felt Lamia’s voice take on a twistedly delighted form.
“Sorry,” Lamia questioned. “What was it you said your job was?”
Sarah Jane sighed, knowing full well that Lamia knew she was a journalist. “I’m not asking for much, just an appointment.”
“It’s just because I thought with the amount of time you’ve spent ringing this number, whether ‘journalist’ is just code for ‘desperate’.”
“Let me tell you,” Sarah Jane had decided enough was enough. She was an experienced journalist! It wasn’t often people took so long to persuade. “I have seen stories that you would not believe, stories that people have gone to great lengths to hide from me. I am not a batty old woman – my name is Sarah Jane Smith.”
There was a brief period of silence, and Sarah Jane was quite certain she’d finally gotten through.
“Stories I wouldn’t believe? Miss Smith, as an employee of Noah I don’t have time to watch Coronation Street.”
“The media is a powerful tool, you know,” Sarah Jane declared, knowing that she should not get into an argument with the great-wall-of-Lamia.
“I know,” Lamia retorted. “After all. I deal with the media. I also deal with you. Thank you for calling today, Miss Smith, you will be notified if an appointment becomes available. Just make sure you’re not too busy watching EastEnders.”
After the frustrating conversation, the trio watched as Sarah Jane paced her attic, watching a 3D projection of a Slitheen powered by Sentinel.
“It doesn’t make sense,” she mused. “It just… doesn’t work.”
“How big is their family, anyway?” Beth asked, considering they had previously been covered in the remains of two of them, had met one before, and Sarah Jane had a long history with them. Dan and Beth watched her attentively.
That’s a rather long story, Sarah Jane thought. “Raxacoricofallapatorius is populated by several large ‘families’. They’re less of the families we know in our sense, more… tribes, perhaps. There’s the Slitheen, the Blathereen, the Hostrozeen, the Jinglatheen – several more, in fact. And –”
She was interrupted by a laugh from Zoe, who was sat on top of an important storage unit Sarah Jane had told her notto sit on several times before. She was looking at something on her phone, and if it were another video of some moronic prank, Sarah Jane thought she might lose her marbles.
“Come and look at this. Alfie’s just sent it to me.”
The three others gathered around her, and admittedly, it was quite a fascinating, if hilarious, piece of information.
@Foxgrove Parish Council @foxgroveparish – 11m Breaking news: first two announce candidacy – local property investor Timothy Bumble and local florist Gita Chandra.
“Gita Chandra on the parish council, there’s a day I thought I’d never see,” Sarah Jane smiled, and then returned to her pop-up Slitheen, a little bit too concerned about whether they were going to witness another incursion anytime soon. Judging by her own approximations and some of the facts Sentinel had found out, Raxacoricofallapatorius had about 35% of its population made up of Slitheen – one of the largest groups upon the planet – leaving plenty of opportunity for another to spearhead another pesky interlude. It was going to be a long few days.
It was late in the evening, when Zoe and Alfie were up on Suncrest Hill alone, lying nonchalantly beneath the old oak tree. Night would be upon them soon, but until then, they were stuck in a perfect limbo, with a chill in the air but with light in the sky, and a cloudy, murky navy night dashed with golden bursts of sunshine.
“It’s freezing out here,” Alfie complained, pulling his coat further around him.
“You’re such a five year old.”
“You’re such a five year old,” he mimicked mockingly, promptly earning a painful punch on the shoulder. He winced and rubbed the bruised arm. “No lie, Gita’s driving me up the bloody wall. “
“What she do, stick a flower crown on your head?”
“She made me her social media manager.”
“Oh yeah,” Zoe drawled, pretending that she had simply forgotten. “Ha.”
As one would expect, it was not an appointment that Alfie had stepped forward for. Gita had come to her foster son desiring assistance on the creation of a campaign Twitter account, and he had been forced to oblige. It was only then that Gita declared him as her social media manager, and it was now a role he was bound to. Zoe had ridiculed Alfie’s appointment, after she found out in a miserable text from him that had been sent after the initial announcement of her candidacy, and now she sat beside him looking through Gita’s new Twitter account.
@V0T3 G!TA @bloominfoxgrove– 2h How do Twit
Zoe could see that Gita’s campaign was clearly off to a flying start. “What does that even mean.”
Alfie peered over his shoulder and laughed. “Oh yeah, she was trying to google how to use Twitter, but accidentally tweeted it. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her.”
Zoe chuckled, feeling slightly melancholy that Gita’s campaign wasn’t going to go very far with Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Haresh and Alfie) managing it. The world was a messed-up place – perhaps Gita could save it with… flowers, or something.
Then there was something in the night air that changed between the two of them – as if they both knew they had words to say to each other, but weren’t sure how to frame those sentences that could perhaps change the nature of their friendship forever. It was a change in the atmosphere that Zoe, quite frankly, was not comfortable with.
“I wanna ask you something, okay,” Alfie began, and Zoe nodded with a bemused look on her face – it was as if she had predicted the script in advance, and Alfie was now following religiously.
“And don’t take this the wrong way,” he continued. “Because I don’t want it to change anything between us –”
“It won’t,” Zoe reassured him, even though she knew it probably would.
“Promise me, yeah, because it’d be naff if it did –”
There were a few moments of silence between the two of them, and finally, Zoe racked up the bravery to turn and look Alfie in the eye, hoping that whatever he said next wouldn’t involve her having to punch him, or something. Seconds passed, and Alfie took a deep breath, and eventually, he said it.
“Why were you getting out of Sarah Jane’s car covered in green slime?”
“Oh my god,” she breathed a sigh of relief, and punched his shoulder again.
“You saw that?”
“Well yeah,” Alfie had seen the confusing sight from Gita’s front window while she established a campaigning map of the entirety of Foxgrove, complete with drawing pins and string to make it look like the slick operation it definitely wasn’t. He could remember it exactly – Zoe, Beth and Dan stumbling out at the far end of the road and going their separate ways. “It was kinda hard to miss –”
“Yeah, well, just forget you saw that –”
“I mean, I’m not judging, but it’s a bit weird –”
“No way!” she glared at him, her eyes reflecting double the sarcasm of her voice.
“But if you think it’s weird, why are you –”
“Well,” Zoe began, trying to think of some tall tale she could lace together on the spot. She wasn’t going to let him find out about this - no matter how stupid she looked. “We were painting… this thing, and –”
Alfie’s face was a picture of incredulity. “You were painting… a thing?”
“– yeah, a thing,” Zoe confirmed, even though she knew Alfie could see right through her lie. “And we had a paint fight.”
Alfie turned away from her and shuffled further along the swing seat. “I know you three are up to something. There’s something… really weird about you all.”
Oh my god, Zoe thought, sick of Alfie being a complete prat and seemingly interrogate her about everything she got up to. It was her life, she could live it as she wanted. “Look, okay – I get covered in green slime, Gita is making a complete legend of herself on Twitter – the world is a strange place, alright? None of your beeswax.”
“Alright, chill. None of my business, I got you.”
At least, that was what he said. Because now he was even more determined to get to the bottom of the strange business with Zoe, Beth and Dan, and them being covered in green slime. For not everything was as it seemed, and Alfie was certain of that.
“G to-the I to-the T to-the A!”
Only two days had passed since the announcement of the casual vacancy in the morning paper. It was, as the current chaos was unfolding on Foxgrove’s main road, a sleepy Sunday afternoon – a time for a post-Sunday lunch snooze, or perhaps relaxing with a Pimms in the garden, or, if you were at school, finishing off the maths homework you were meant to do a week ago. It was a time for quiet, for Foxgrove to live up to its name as a sleepy English village.
Except currently journeying at a snail’s pace down Foxgrove’s main road was an almighty procession – a floral Nuremberg, with a great parade float decorated to the brim with a colourful flowery display. A brass band, dressed in Hawaiian shirts and bright pink trousers, trailed behind, playing a militaristic march for the parade – and upon the float itself, stood the woman of the hour. Gita Chandra, at a lectern, addressing the onlookers – the admittedly rather grumpy onlookers who had been awoken from their Sunday afternoon naps. Furthermore, leading the charge was a squadron of cheerleaders, shiny pompoms glittering in the sun, and they were flanked by an armada of belly dancers.
“B to-the L to-the double O – M to-the I to-the N it’s BlooooooMIN!”
“And, to the people of Foxgrove,” Gita bellowed through a megaphone, with a volume of which would attract aliens to Earth. “I address you now as candidate in this great process of democracy – I put myself to you, my darlings, as not a choice for your next counsellor, but as the choice...” Alfie was sat on the edge of the float as it crawled along the street with tank-like preciseness, and he sighed. Gita heard him, and turned away from her megaphone. “Alfie my darling, we have no time to waste! In the last two days, another three candidates have announced that they’re standing!” Gita grimly contemplated her competition. There was Timothy Bumble – a bigot, of course, and who she saw as her main rival. Property-selling chap and Tory advocate, Gita knew she would have to beat him to simply be able to sleep at night. He was a bigot. As well as him, there was Tina Michael, a nasty little woman in kitten heels, who pretended to be a spearhead of modern conservatism but was, in fact, useless. Bob Brackman was a lovely chap who lived not far from her – he was honest, and she would feel sad when she eventually beat him. Finally, Terry Black was a weasel of a man, who pretended to be one of the people but was, in fact, as far removed from them as he could possibly be. Beth was watching the commotion from Sarah Jane’s window. “I think this is what hell looks like.” “I feel like I should feel sorry for Alfie,” Zoe mused, as she came and looked out at the garish events. “… but I don’t.” “Well, everyone,” Sarah Jane strode into her living room, her phone in hand, fresh from her having spoken on it. “It seems we may have been invited out…”
Sarah Jane’s car pulled up outside a rather large red-brick house – the hallmark of someone middle class, of the establishment, of the liberal elite. However, the decorative rose flowers and ivy winding up the chipped brickwork looked remarkably less elegant as usual, as the property was surrounded in blue and white police tape, like the bow on the wrapping of a sadistic Christmas present.
When the four of them got out of their vehicle, a bulky, muscular man walked over them. He looked like he would take no nonsense from anyone, the sort of guy who had done years of military service, and who could flatten all of them with a single thumb in a second.
“Sarah Jane Smith?” he grumbled in sexist irritation. “I’m Detective Inspector Frederick Gunner, the leadingofficer on this case.”
“Glad you’re not feeling threatened by a woman on the scene, detective inspector,” Sarah Jane smirked, as the DI led her towards the great oak front doors.
“Hang on a sec darling –”
“Detective Inspector Gunner,” Sarah Jane turned to the moron beside her. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t darlingme.”
“Oi, skinhead Fred,” Zoe interrupted, as the three teenagers followed them. “There’s only one person who can darlingher, and she’s down the road riding on the back of a gigantic flower.”
DI Gunner spluttered at the attitude of the… infants, feeling as if he should command a little respect as their elder, and as an officer of her Majesty’s Force. “You can’t just bring three kids onto a murder scene!” he yelped, his voice losing its distinct masculine twang in its grumpiness.
Sarah Jane opened the door to the living room, and ushered her three young friends inside, while skinhead Fred looked like a fish gulping for air. “Oops,” she laughed, slamming the doors shut behind them.
It was a grim affair to see Terry Black’s body hanging upside-down from the ceiling, like a sadistic execution for some kind of crime, except the wrong way around. Sarah Jane, however, had faith in her young companions that if a violent murder scene got too much for them, they would withdraw – she was not one to patronise her young adventures. It was almost such a ridiculous situation, however, that the three teens, and Sarah Jane herself, couldn’t grasp it as real.
“He’s well hung,” Dan gulped, as he watched Terry’s dead eyes boggle in their dead sockets.
Zoe was not amused by Dan’s dreadful sense of humour, and by the amount of times she had heard rehashes of the same joke, so she responded with a scathing glare and a sharp jab to his stomach. "You're an idiot."
Dan decided to shoulder the insult as a compliment. “Thank you.”
"You’re welcome!!” Zoe decided to fight sarcasm with sarcasm, before taking herself over to Terry’s sofa and sitting down upon it, and glancing up occasionally at the corpse. “Messed up people in this world,” she muttered, and for a few seconds, Zoe seemed awfully distant, before pointing at Dan. “Like him.”
Beth chose that moment to chip in. “Respect the dead dude.”
"Says the girl calling him a dead dude."
“Can you three stop bickering?” Sarah Jane was thankfully on hand to mediate their bantering arguments whenever they sailed too close to the wind of approaching aggression. To diffuse the situation, she made a bid to change the subject. “And it seems the messed-up people aren’t just in this world,” she looked to the scanner on her watch. “As much as I hate to say it, I think Gunner might be right. I’m detecting Huon particles – a teleportation device was discharged around this point.”
“Gunner’s a –”
Sarah Jane interrupted Beth before she could unleash the true extent of her northern firepower. “Yes, he is a bigot.”
“I miss Slipper,” Dan’s heart warmed at the nostalgia of the former inept police officer.
Zoe, meanwhile, was rather irritated at the lack of mention of her uncle, who was perhaps the only decent police officer Foxgrove had ever seen. “Slipper was a waste of space and nobody liked him.”
Sarah Jane was rather certain of what had committed the dreadful crime, as she looked at the claw marks stretching across the body of poor Terry. They looked like the marks of any ferocious creature, but Sarah Jane was certain of the true culprit. No matter how many times she met anyone from Raxacoricofallapatorius, Sarah Jane knew that the ensuing business would never be good – and following the recent wave of incursions, Sarah Jane had a gut feeling that the Slitheen had been behind the brutal murder of Terry.
“Come on,” Sarah Jane rounded the three teenagers up. “I know what we’re dealing with…”
As they left the building, Sarah Jane caught side of a figure watching them from over the fence. She’d seen him around Foxgrove before. His name was Bob Brackman – and as she watched him, Sarah Jane had this funny feeling that she was going to need to pay him a visit.
As the four of them meandered across Sarah Jane’s drive, Beth couldn’t help but be struck by the certainty of Sarah Jane’s conclusions.
“But how do you know it was definitely them?” she asked.
Sarah Jane was blunt, and a grimace, one that was rather unlike her, spread across her face. “They have form.” Beth did not see that as a satisfactory reason, and reluctantly decided to press Sarah Jane further. “Just because they have form, doesn’t mean they’re going to be bad.”
“Every time I’ve met them, Beth. It’s never good – trust me.”
Beth still wasn’t reconciled with Sarah Jane’s response, but she decided not to press it any further, mainly because of Zoe’s next outburst.
The other three turned to her then, and when they saw Zoe glued to her phone, they thought it was just another typo from Gita. They were extremely shocked to discover, that somebody else was getting involved in the race to be a representative on the rather abruptly esteemed body that was the parish council – but not in the traditional sense.
@The Foxgrove Confessor @makefoxgrovegreatagain – 5m Surprise surprise surprise! There’s an alien in the running for parish council. Prepare to defend our village.
A shiver crept through Sarah Jane then – something she took pride in was the secrecy of her activities, and the closed-book nature of the antics her and her friends got up to. It made certain that people didn’t get hurt. But at this rate, it seemed as if others would find out, and soon. Perhaps it didn’t matter who knew and who didn’t – Sarah Jane knew that all the time, whoever joined her on her adventures could easily get too close to the flames, and could get burnt even easier.
Sarah Jane couldn’t worry about it now – if the previous murder was anything to go by, she believed that there could be a serial killer on the loose – a serial killer in Slitheen form. At least she knew who was behind all of this – then it would be easier to stop them, especially with the police in her favour. “Someone is killing off the election candidates, Twitter has been hijacked, and Gita Chandra is running for councillor. What a day.”
Beth smirked. “It’s like a metaphor for every election ever…”
“A day, I think,” Sarah Jane turned to her young friends. “That you should finish campaigning for Gita.”
Sarah Jane saw a little part of each of them die as the words exited her mouth. But, as unfortunate as it was, she had arranged a professional interview – and Sarah Jane was determined to get it right.
“Why?” Zoe complained.
“Yeah, Sarah Jane,” Beth backed her up. “You can't subject us to this… horrific fate.”
“Oh, this isn’t a social call,” Sarah Jane reassured them. “It’s an interview - with Bob Brackman.”
Half an hour later, Sarah Jane knocked on the door of Bob Brackman’s house – it was a quiet, unassuming property, with well-tended flowerbeds behind the little garden fence. A neat gravel path led up to the front door, and guarding the property was a squadron of garden gnomes. Sarah Jane eyed them up, their beady ceramic eyes boring deep into her soul – and although she was certain she wasn’t being paranoid, she decided it was better to be safe than sorry, and took out her sonic lipstick, to ensure the gnomes weren’t sentry droids that could kill her when she was least expecting it.
Half a minute or so after she knocked, there came the sound of someone rattling down the corridor, perhaps knocking half of it over as she went. “Sorry, sorry, sorry!” she heard the cries from inside.
Then the front door opened.
Bob Brackman struck her as a gentle, kind sort of gentleman. However – she suspected him to be anything but. However, she could not spring it upon him just yet – they would have to be well into their conversation before she revealed that she knew his identity.
“Mr Brackman?” she asked, although she was certain it was him.
“Please, call me Bob! Miss Smith, I presume, do come in, do come in. I apologise for the clutter, I expect you could hear me tumbling all over it.”
“Well, yes, I could…” Sarah Jane glanced around her as she made her way through Bob Brackman’s hallway, looking around her to see if she could spot anything suspicious. There was a table, upon which was a vintage telephone, and beside it there were some books piled up. Lining the hallway were stacks of books, in fact – old and new, some stained and gathering dust, others fresh from the shops. A few paintings and photos of picturesque locations hung from the walls.
Bob showed Sarah Jane into his sitting room, which bared decoration reminiscent of her own attic. At first, surprise struck her, due to the similarity of the décor. There were great bookshelves, bulging with titles, and upon the shelves were various ornaments from all over the globe – and, Sarah Jane noted, all over the universe.
“Where did you get this, Bob?” Sarah Jane gestured to a drinking horn which she knew was from the planet of Dragon’s Sun, having visited there before, and communicated with its inhabitants since being on Earth.
“Ah! That’s a drinking horn, recovered from the times of King John. A lovely piece, I think… now, do sit down.”
Sarah Jane went for a battered old armchair, beside a piano, upon which sat a well-thumbed copy of Chopin’s work.
“It’s late, shall we have wine, perhaps?” Bob suggested. “Or tea, or coffee – or anything.”
“No, Mr Brackman,” Sarah Jane decided to stick to her teetotal principles. “I think I’ll stick to tea.”
“Very well!” Bob carried himself off to the kitchen, and she could hear him clattering about amongst the crockery, before the kettle was switched on. While Bob was busy, Sarah Jane took the time to have a snoop around his possessions – after all, who knew when he might strike, and she would have to make a quick getaway to be avoid being sliced for Slitheen sport?
There was quite a collection of ornaments in the room – from all corners of the universe, some of which Sarah Jane recognised, some of which she didn’t. In fact, Sarah Jane was quite sure that the television was at least 10 years too early (her suspicions were confirmed when she said it was 5D) – a bit nonsensical, she thought – why (and how) did a Slitheen have such a nice television? Perhaps they were miniscule things to pick up on, but Sarah Jane could not be too careful.
Eventually, Bob came back into the room, and caught Sarah Jane poking through his bookshelves (Lord of the Rings of Akhaten was definitely not going to be published for many, many years).
“Some of these books and ornaments, Bob – one would think you’re an alien!” Sarah Jane joked, keeping an eye on Bob’s reaction.
Bob gave a nervous laugh, and Sarah Jane knew that she had him.
“Well, I’ve, erm, done a lot of travelling!” Bob said.
“Hmm… so have I – but even I don’t think I’ve seen such a wide and… vivid collection.”
“Well, what can I say! Rare and obscure artefacts are my speciality!” Bob sat down, and shakily poured two cups of tea. “Milk? Sugar?”
“Just a spot of milk, thanks.”
Bob obliged, and passed Sarah Jane her cup. She gratefully accepted it – and then followed an awkward silence as they sipped. Sarah Jane wondered whether Bob knew that she knew… the way he glanced up at her every so often, a terrified look in his eyes. He seemed like a clever individual – the sort who could tell a fellow space-traveller.
“So… Mr Brackman,” Sarah Jane began. “What do you think of The Foxgrove Confessor Twitter account? After all, it’s been making some quite… provocative comments on… aliens.”
“Well,” Bob spluttered. He’d seen the account. Everyone had seen the account. A page spouting despicable stuff about alien life. Demonising it, when, in fact, many aliens were there to help.
“I must say,” Sarah Jane interrupted, taking out her phone and displaying Foxgrove Confessor’s most recent tweet – whoever they were, they were building up quite an elaborate archive of… colourful tweets.
Bob took one look at the tweet, and recoiled as if it were of personal offence to him – of course, Sarah Jane knew that it was. “I must say, Miss Smith, that’s a – well, that’s – that’s a vile rhetoric to spread.”
Isn’t it just, thought Sarah Jane. Though perhaps it was appropriate in this situation. “But, Bob – you can’t possibly believe that there are any aliens here?! In Foxgrove?”
“Well, Miss Smith,” Bob quickly mounted a defence. He could see his interviewer’s eyes boring deep into his soul – digging deep into his secrets. “– there’s alien life wherever you look. Just because we’re in a small village in the middle of the UK!”
Well… he would say that, Sarah Jane thought, as an alien in the middle of the UK. She decided to press further. “So… what do think about an alien as the next Foxgrove parish councillor?”
Bob decided to speak honestly, forgetting his own personal affiliations. “I don’t see why it should be a problem. How is it right that someone should be discriminated because of where they’re from?” He realised he was getting quite passionate about it, however, and decided to restrain himself so Sarah Jane’s suspicions weren’t fuelled even further. “But, of course, that would be ridiculous, of course, wouldn’t it, haha…”
“Bob,” Sarah Jane sat forward, preparing her trap. “I’d agree with you – but sometimes, the people are just… savage. You wouldn’t let a barbarian lead the Roman empire... just like you wouldn’t let a Raxacoricofallapatoriun hold office.”
In any normal situation, she would expect Bob Brackman’s face to turn a deathly pale. Except it did not – because Bob Brackman was wearing a skinsuit.
“Yes, Mr Brackman…,” Sarah Jane whispered, with an almost sinister twang to her voice, as if it were dripping with satisfaction that she’d finally rumbled him. “I know what you are…”
Bob floundered, like a fish caught on the end of a line. Except in this case, Sarah Jane saw Bob more as a piranha, or even a shark. “Now, look, Sarah Jane, let me explain myself –“
“You’re a Slitheen, Bob.”
“Now, just a minute, that’s a massive generalisation –”
“I don’t think so,” Sarah Jane stopped at the abruptness of her comments – surely, she was being a little hasty? But… she’d met the Slitheen before. And she knew them… she knew how they ticked. “You lied to me, Bob.”
“Well, hold on,” Bob raised his hands in defence, looking surprisingly vulnerable under the might of Sarah Jane’s expertise in such a field. “I – I didn’t know that you knew!” he awkwardly bumbled. “Hence why I lied…”
That didn’t answer Sarah Jane’s question. If Bob was truly here in peace, then what reason would he have to hide away his true self. “Why did you lie to everyone, Bob?”
Sarah Jane felt almost like a detective – as if she were interrogating, and combing through Slitheen Bob’s past.
“Because I feel threatened here,” Bob shrugged. It was as simple as that – since arriving on Earth, he had realised that a society where people were different was not exactly preferable amongst several groups of people on Earth, and had thought it best to keep his head down. After all, that was why he wore a skinsuit – taken from an already deceased human, of course – and he’d felt awfully guilty about that.
“What do you want here, Bob?” Sarah Jane interrogated.
“I just want to live, Sarah Jane. Please – I know some individuals from my home planet have a nasty reputation! But the other 95% are really, very kind –”
“Oh yes… I’ve heard it all before. But let me tell you this – I have my eye on you. And one wrong move, Bob…”
And with that, Sarah Jane stood up and left, leaving Bob trembling in her wake.
As Sarah Jane had asked, Zoe, Beth, and Dan, were campaigning, hoping to bring a considerable number of votes to the Chandra campaign. Or at least, that’s what Gita had told them, when she’d presented them with a great pile of leaflets to deliver. So, as the autumn sun set behind the trees, flickering through the crimson and yellow leaves, as they floated sullenly down to the ground, they glumly made their way down the street, pushing leaflets through letter boxes. A melancholy feeling was in the air, which manifested itself in the trio.
“Okay, I’m gonna say it,” Zoe declared, because all three of them were thinking it, and it was only a matter of time before one of them brought it up. “Sarah Jane is jumping to conclusions about the Slitheen.”
“Agreed,” Dan stated, ignoring the shocked looks from his two pals, bemused that for once, Daniel Orange was going to agree with Zoe Smith.
Beth nodded in agreement, and thought about it for a few seconds – she definitely agreed with the two of them. It went further than them just agreeing or disagreeing… the entire situation verged on the stance they took. If they supported Sarah Jane, then the Slitheen would be blamed. If they did not, then they would deter their friend somewhat.
“Okay – arguments for standing with Sarah Jane,” Zoe stated, preparing a list and inviting Beth and Dan to brainstorm. What followed, however, was a silence. Don’t all shout at once. When nobody dared to shout, Zoe decided to continue, irritated by her friends’ lack of participation. “The obvious argument for is that Sarah Jane knows what she’s talking about.”
None of them were certain of the truth behind that one, however, considering at the same time, Sarah Jane was always talking about how huge, and amazing the universe was, and how there’s always new things happening everywhere.
“Okay,” Zoe moved on. “Sentinel identified the claw marks as Slitheen.”
“Hard evidence,” Beth could not deny that – but she was not convinced. “But scapegoating aliens is what society does.”
“Alright...,” Zoe cycled through her head, aware that she was quickly running out of arguments ‘for’. “This isn’t a situation Sarah Jane would be flippant about.”
Or at least, they hoped. Sarah Jane’s track record on flippancy with situations like their current one, was not exactly brilliant. For some reason, it didn’t seem to be regarding any other alien races at all – just anyone from Raxacoricofallapatorius. Prejudice.
“Moving on to against…” Zoe said. Beth spoke straight away.
“Sarah Jane is being completely prejudiced,” she declared, before explaining. “She’s saying that because the Slitheen have done bad things before, if a bad thing has happened, it must be the Slitheen, because ‘it’s the simplest explanation’.”
“Occam’s razor,” Zoe pointed out. Beth gave her a funny look, surprised that she knew about the principle. Two hypotheses where you have no more reason to believe in one over the other. Zoe glared at her as if to say ‘I’m not a total idiot, I can read’.
Beth continued. “In this case it’s more like Occam’s racist...”
Dan nodded in agreement. “And to be fair, that outweighs like, every other argument.”
So, they had one great big whopping argument that went against everything Sarah Jane was telling them.
“That detective thought it was aliens…” Dan muttered. “At least Slipper wasn’t prejudiced...”
Zoe muttered something rude under her breath and turned to Dan. “– why are you defending Slipper?”
“He was a laugh!”
“He was annoying.”
Beth, as she often found, became the mediating force by dragging the conversation back on topic. “The police blame the aliens, again, welcome to society…”
This was another discussion that was clearly going to stagnate and dissolve into bickering unless any of them came up with any useful conclusions any time soon. “Well,” Zoe decided. “I’m sticking with Sarah Jane.”
The other two wondered whether Zoe had been listening to a completely different conversation, and in perfect unison, cried “what?!”
Zoe shrugged. It seemed logical to her – they’d met the Slitheen a few times, and they seemed like nasty pieces of work. Also, she trusted Sarah Jane to make a good call, and decided that forming an opinion of her own was just going to be time-consuming. The media always mentioned aliens in a negative context – surely they wouldn’t just do that for no reason?
“Look – if we’re wrong, then we’re wrong,” Zoe admitted. “But there’s hard evidence it was the Slitheen.”
Beth couldn’t believe what she was hearing – that Zoe was going to kneel to the rhetoric she’d heard. Of course, Beth trusted Sarah Jane, but good people made mistakes as well – they could do bad things.
“Fine,” Dan grumbled, as if he’d just lost a petty argument. “We’ll stick with her for now.”
Beth stopped, and shrugged. She couldn’t believe Dan was going to be such a pushover and bend to the will of whatever everyone else was telling him. She couldn’t believe Zoe wasn’t going to make her own opinions, and that she was going to listen to possible scapegoating. Beth was not convinced at all, and decided she was not going to make any judgements. But before she could complain aloud, the three of them were blinded by the majesty of Alfie, as he zoomed past them on his skateboard (or at least, that’s how Alfie hoped they saw it).
It did not help that the conclusion to his swift skateboarding move was to fall off and nearly take Zoe and Dan with him, as Beth caught them up.
“Sorry!” Alfie jumped up. “You all okay?”
Zoe brushed the dirt off her and scowled at him. “This keeps happening and it’s stupid.”
“What can I say,” Alfie spoke with a cutting edge of sarcasm. “Chicks dig my skills.”
He smiled at them, and there was an awkward silence as Alfie leaned against his board, the other three watching him and waiting for something to happen.
Eventually Zoe was sick of tedium. “What do you want?”
Alfie did a terrible job at faking a confused expression. “Who says I want something?”
“Your face,” she said, before repeating her previous request with a tad more irritation. “What do you want?”
“Wanna campaign together?” Alfie lied.
Beth looked around at the street glumly, and then looked down at the still-huge pile of leaflets to be delivered. “Look at us, having so much fun campaigning.”
“You’re lying,” Zoe shook her head, her inbuilt grade-A lie detector springing into life.
“– having said that,” Beth mused, deciding that she might as well continue unleashing her political conscience. “This is the way to fight an election –”
“– I ain’t lying!” Alfie defended himself, even though he was lying and he knew it. He had other ulterior motives for wanting to campaign with the trio.
Dan took one look at Alfie’s face. “– I think he’s lying.”
“– people powered campaigns,” the words brought a great satisfaction to Beth as she said them aloud. “Unlike Bumble who’s funding it all through his giant cider farm in Buckinghamshire. Good on Gita.”
Alfie laughed at ‘good on Gita’. “You realise that ‘people-powered’ means powered by me and Haresh?”
“It’s the principle…,” Beth’s voice trailed off, however, when she glanced up and saw Sarah Jane striding towards them.
“Oh, I wonder how her interview went,” Zoe wondered.
Alfie sighed, the volume of which was a statement of ‘I can tell you’re not going to want me here, so I’ll go’. “Well… leaflets to deliver, Gita to be irritated by. Catch you all later!”
With that, Alfie chucked down his skateboard and rattled off into the sunset. When Sarah Jane caught up with them, her face was a grim picture.
“There’s been another murder,” she said.
“Right through the heart.”
Tina Michael was sprawled in her office chair. She had a minimalist study, perhaps representing the vacuous political space in her brain. Her face in death was just as twisted as her face in life – and with that, the woman who saw herself as the face of modern Conservatism was dead. She had had a paradoxical campaign – although she portrayed herself as being on the centre, in reality she was a far-right shadow, whose robust message had descended into mere robotic rhetoric quickly.
The two things that defined her in life – her rigid beliefs and her array of heels – now defined her in death, due to the fact rigor mortis had set in, and the fact a kitten heel had been used as a weapon, stabbing her straight through her heart.
The gang stood in front of her desk, like children being told off by their headmistress, with the full knowledge that they were going to commit their offence again. Sarah Jane followed Detective Inspector Gunner to the back of the body.
“The heel, however,” Gunner reached behind the body, and with his latex gloves, held it forwards. “Was more likely to be a political statement. Claw marks, all down the back.”
“The same claw marks as we found on Terry,” Sarah Jane was so certain of it, she decided she didn’t even need to run a scan.
Gunner grumbled the sort of grumble one would expect from a balding white man in his 50s. “Just get the bleedin’ aliens, darling.”
We don’t know it’s them, Beth thought, although Sarah Jane grimly nodded.
“We all know it’s them,” Gunner continued. “It’s exactly the sort of thing they’d do.”
Sarah Jane agreed – those were definitely Slitheen claw-marks, and this was exactly the sort of twisted crime they would commit, the heel being a little flourish just so they could play a funny little game. “Thank you, Gunner. I’ll just do a quick scan…”
Gunner left them to it, and as he left, Zoe showed Sarah Jane the most recent tweet from The Foxgrove Confessor – their colourful array of tweets had continued to grow, and their Twitter page had continued to survive no matter how despicable the content of their tweets were. It was as if Twitter approved, and they were harbouring such hateful messages.
@The Foxgrove Confessor @makefoxgrovegreatagain – 7m THE ALIEN IS MURDERING THE CANDIDATES. PROTECT DEMOCRACY. GET RID OF ALIENS.
“500 retweets,” Zoe gawked, as personally she had believed there not to even be half the number of people in the village young enough to use Twitter.
“One of them from that Timothy Bumble guy,” Dan noticed.
“I hate these sort of groups,” Sarah Jane shook her head in disgust. “But I can’t help but feel they’re not far wrong here.”
“Really?” Zoe didn’t look convinced. “Looks like a bunch of raging old men to me.”
“Hang on, give it ‘ere.” Beth snatched the phone from Zoe’s hands and stared in disbelief. “Laurel’s retweeted too! What’s she playing at?”
“This just in ‒ alien hate’s the latest trendy trend!” Zoe added sarcastically, and slung an arm around Beth’s shoulders. “ Ah, well. She’ll probably bang on about how she was just getting into the Halloween mood tomorrow.”
While the youngsters continued their running commentary on the psychology of Laurel Petite, Sarah Jane glanced down the corridor leading into Tina’s office – Gunner was far away from them. She wanted to make sure the coast was clear, so nobody would hear the great plan she’d concocted. Once she gestured towards them, the three teenagers gathered around her, and Sarah Jane began to explain their mission. “When I went to interview Brackman, I placed a trace on all Raxacoricofallapatorian life,” Sarah Jane explained. Next came the crux of the plan. “Later this evening, you three are going to follow Bob. I think the other candidates could be in danger – follow him, with super-soakers full of vinegar. Then, when you see him doing anything dubious… pounce. Just a few blasts of vinegar – scare him off.”
Zoe and Dan reluctantly agreed – these murders kept happening, and the evidence, shaky as it was, seemed to point to Bob Brackman. Best to neutralise him now before anyone else was hurt.
Beth, however, refused. “I don’t think I will. Count me out, Sarah Jane.”
At Beth’s reluctance, Sarah Jane wondered whether what they were doing was right. She had noticed Beth’s scepticism from the start, and it had made her sceptical in return. But she couldn’t take any risks. The Slitheen had form, and so she had to deal with them.
“Very well,” Sarah Jane accepted. It was Beth’s choice, and she had wondered whether Beth may decline due to her previous reluctance. Beth was definitely not going to go along with these cruel events. In her view, it was nothing short of terrorism.
“We’ll still need backup,” Dan said. “He can’t get three of us.”
“He’ll smell me a mile away,” Sarah Jane tutted. “We have no other choice.”
“Actually,” Zoe spoke up reluctantly. “I might know a guy.”
Night had descended upon Foxgrove. Zoe and Dan waited outside Sarah Jane’s house, armed with super-soakers, full to the brim with vinegar – doubly concentrated from Sarah Jane’s sonic lipstick.
Alfie Chandra stood opposite them, and in turn, he looked down at the super-soaker, then up at Zoe, then down at the super-soaker, then up at Zoe. “You want me to take this and fire it at some random guy from the village?”
Zoe did admit, it sounded completely ridiculous.
“Yeah,” she said, ignoring the fact it sounded completely ridiculous.
Should Zoe tell him? Would Sarah Jane be annoyed if she told Alfie? Probably – besides, she liked to keep it as secret as possible, just in case anyone got hurt, like she had told Uncle Eric. So, Zoe resolved not to tell Alfie. After all. Ignorance probably wasn’t that bad…
“He’s a nasty guy,” Zoe lied – and she did so well, for Alfie didn’t notice. “Before he left, he was involved with some stuff with my uncle and said some horrible stuff. Thought we’d play a bit of a prank on him. Just as a laugh.
Knowing Zoe’s loyalties to her family lay firm, Alfie decided to stick with his pal. And it’d be a bit of a laugh, after all.
He held up the gun curiously. “How’d you know they work?”
“We tested them alr ‒”
“How’d you know my one works?” he interrupted. “I’ll check.”
“Don’t you da ‒” Zoe was interrupted by a small spray of vinegar as Alfie raised his nozzle in her direction and pulled the trigger. He snickered impishly at her deadpan glare. Dan’s eyes darted between the two. He bit his bottom lip to suppress his own laughter.
“Yup,” Alfie grinned. “It works.”
“I actually hate you,” Zoe declared.
Alfie and Dan shared a look, and burst out laughing at her misfortune.
Zoe crossed her arms. “When this is done, I’m hurting you both,” she vowed. “Now, pick up the pace, losers. We have something to do.”
The boys eventually sobered, and the three of them crept down Sarah Jane’s drive, hidden in the shadows, their weapons in hand. Zoe was equipped with an earpiece, so Sarah Jane could give her directions.
“Zoe – Bob is at the end of the road. He’s heading right.”
Zoe beckoned Dan and Alfie towards her, like a marine going on a top-secret raid in a silent jungle, her two troops following close behind. As they slunk through the darkness of the night, Zoe was quite certain she saw a shadow at the end of the road, shifting in the street lamps. When she heard a bin fall over, she was certain it was Bob.
“After him,” Zoe whispered, and the three of them dashed across the road, where they took cover behind a wall. Zoe was certain that the figure was Bob Brackman, as the side of his face became illuminated in a passing window. Stealthily, they followed him down the road, slipping behind walls and gates and fences whenever he glanced around, fearful that someone was following him. It seemed as if Bob was heading towards the great house at the end of the road – more of a manor, in fact.
“Zoe,” Sarah Jane spoke through her ear. “That’s Timothy Bumble’s house. He might try and make a move against him – quickly!”
Zoe ushered Dan and Alfie along – they could see Bob had crept up to a window, and was staring at whatever was going on inside. Then, they saw him take something out of his pocket… a screwdriver. He took it to the window, and gently began to prise along the frame.
“I think he’s trying to break in,” Zoe observed.
“Go for him!” Sarah Jane commanded.
“Go, go, go!” Zoe shouted, and the three of them dashed to the end of the road.
Instantly, they fired.
Vinegar shot out of their guns, and as soon as the liquid came into contact with Bob, he lurched back, crashing against the wall and them tumbling onto the floor. They kept shooting him, and Bob screeched, and squirmed, and screamed.
“STOP!” Bob yelled, his skin burning. Being under the cover of his skinsuit prevented nothing, apart from death. But in that situation, Bob would have rather faced death, as the sloshing of the vinegar against the skinsuit just led to sheer, prolonged agony and torture. He thrashed about, throwing himself forward and scuttling away on the floor, reduced to the state of an animal by the three teenagers. He was covered in dirt and crying, and screaming, and kept crashing back to the floor, as the teenagers kept firing. When he had crawled enough distance, he threw himself to his feet and ran, faster than he had done before.
“Alright mate,” Alfie looked confused as he shouted after. “It’s just vinegar, chill!”
Zoe and Dan had not expected such a reaction – they hadn’t thought that they could possibly be torturing someone.
“Well… looks like you got your revenge,” Alfie laughed. Zoe and Dan weren’t so sure.
In the aftermath of the vinegar incident, Sarah Jane developed a plan. Thankfully, due to their ‘brilliant efforts’ as Sarah Jane had put it, they had prevented the death of Timothy Bumble. But Bob was still on the loose, and who knew what he was planning to do next? All of them expected the next move to be greater than the one before – but to execute the plan, Sarah Jane decided they would need a busy venue. The Parish council election debate seemed like the perfect choice. Everything was in place. Foxgrove’s village hall was packed out with people, ready for the election debate – the three candidates stood at the front, on a raised dais. Notably, for the gang (including Beth, who was unaware as to what was going to happen), who were sat on the front row, Gita Chandra sat, her outfit incredibly floral, and with the slogan ‘Bloomin’ Foxgrove’ emblazoned across a sash. She gave them an awkward little wave, and Zoe, Beth, Dan and Alfie awkwardly waved back.
Beside her, sat Bob Brackman, a kindly look upon his face – he wore a baggy jumper, and burgundy trousers, and in general looked like a gentle gentleman. As he smiled at the audience, each member of the audience felt as if they were being smiled at personally. The audience thought he seemed like ever such a nice man – he seemed warm, and friendly. A decent person, someone who would be a true friend, and a good councillor. Someone who would always help, no matter what the consequences. Sarah Jane, who also sat in the front row, watched him, determined to ensure he made no wrong moves. Bob Brackman was the man of the hour – or at least, he soon would be. Zoe kept a close eye on him as well. Bob glanced down at them both, and shifted uneasily in his seat.
And then, Timothy Bumble – dressed exquisitely in a pristine suit with a royal blue tie. He eyed the competition – but not with nervousness. With a confidence and fierceness. Deep down, he knew that this election was his. Foxgrove might have had a left-wing history unlike most villages in middle-England (AKA, the Promised Land) – but it seemed that people were finally beginning to see the toxicity of the Communist scum and turning to the right! The true ideology!
To the right of the candidates was a lectern, where Mrs Hatran stood, as mediator of the debate. Now the hall had filled up, she deemed it the right time to begin. “Hush now, everyone! Thank you! You there, at the back, with the Brackmanflag, please put that down!” Mrs Hatran stopped, as she noticed a man similar in stature to Timothy at the back. “Oh! But please let this elderly gentleman to the front row, thank you, he’s one of our great friends from Foxgrove’s conservative club.”
Beth shook her head in disgust, as the slimy gentleman made his way to the front and sat next to her, before giving Timothy Bumble an approving glance. Timothy Bumble glanced back, and Beth noticed that the debate was dissolving into nothing more than a fascist slash-fic.
“Now, people of Foxgrove parish!” Mrs Hatran continued. “I would like to welcome you all, to this great and noble part of the democratic process – and I am sure you will all respect the democratic process, no matter what the outcome…”
The audience all duly nodded, and then Mrs Hatran continued. “Our first candidate to speak…,” Mrs Hatran consulted her list and grimaced – making an attempt to emphasise her disgust as much as possible. “Gita Chandra…”
The audience applauded – Gita was well-loved by the community, after all. They all loved popping into the flower shop. A bit nuts, perhaps, and maybe not the best choice for councillor – but it did not change the fact they all loved and respected her.
Gita stood up, and addressed the crowds. “Hello, my darlings!!” Gita waved. “Right, so you might know me from my flower shop. Actually, I think you all know me from my flower shop. It’s called Bloomin’ Lovely, we’re just down the road, pop in! A lovely selection of flowers, if I like you, I might even make you a coffee!”
Everyone gave a tentative laugh, before Gita continued addressing the masses.
“Now,” she declared. “You might have noticed those hanging baskets by the village green, yes? Despicable! They’re wilting, the leaves are dropping off, the roses are dying. Soon there’ll be nothing left but limp weeds! And we can’t be doing with limp weeds, my darlings, not at all – ask Haresh!”
Haresh wished he was not in such a prominent place on the front row, as he buried his face in his hands, and hoped the ground would swallow him up. It was bad enough having to suffer the brunt of Gita’s crazy schemes, before they got around to insulting him in such a manner.
Gita proceeded. “But, you see those hanging baskets? Those baskets are a metaphor for this village – it’s wilting and dying!”
The audience ahead of her nodded in agreement, as Gita spoke on.
“It pains me to see those hanging baskets in such a state, just as it pains me to see our village in such a state. But I say this! I say no more to basket problems. I say that we should stand together. Because that’s the point of my campaign – and no, unlike usual, it’s not flower-powered. It’s people-powered. Because this is about you. Each and every person in this audience, and in the parish. All too long, you have been neglected by the establishment – but if I am elected it will be reckoning for them. Because we will create a village that works for everyone! Thank you!”
The audience descended into a wave of vigorous applause and cheers and whistles. The teenagers on the front gave a standing ovation, and everyone else joined in. Gita tried to look humble, but in fact, she was too dizzy and nearly tripped back into her seat.
“Next,” Mrs Hatran consulted her list with a delighted look. “Timothy Bumble!”
A certain section of the village applauded violently already, including the old man sat beside Beth. Beth edged further to the other side of her chair.
“Thank you, one and all,” Bumble said, subconsciously exaggerating the size of the crowds he thought loved him merely to stroke his ego. “In this election, you have a choice. Between the scatty bimbo who owns the flower shop, and Mr Nice Guy over here. Like Mrs Chandra, I too love this village. I have grown up in this village since I was a little boy! But I have seen it used and abused – and I am sick of it. We used to be a strong village! A proud village! Now we are weak, and overrun by… aliens! Yes, I know you have all seen the Foxgrove Confessor. And it tells no lies! It confesses the truth! And it is disgusting! We need the village back for us humans! The aliens must be purged! They must go! And if you do not agree with me, then, my friends, you must go too. For you are just as treacherous as them! Just as bad a defector! So, if you love this village, then you will stand by me! And we shall take it back!”
The various Bumble-supporting areas of seating erupted into their angry clapping, but everyone else remained silent and dejected – not exactly words of inspiration to anyone with even the tiniest bit of a heart, or the tiniest bit of a brain cell. The gang on the front row looked especially cut up. “And now,” Mrs Hatran sighed. “Bob Brackman.”
Bob Brackman gave the crowds a nervous wave as he stood – everyone applauded him, as the kind, gentle figure prepared to speak to them all. “Thank you, thank you,” he smiled. “I’d like to thank the council for inviting me here today, to speak to you all – and I’d like to thank the Foxgrove community, for being so accepting ever since I moved to this glorious village. And that’s what I want to talk to you about. Acceptance. I want Foxgrove to be a beacon that says this – that we are tolerant people. That we will not judge on where people are from, that we will not jump to conclusions, that we will not be prejudiced. That is what I stand for –”
“Oh, but he would!” Sarah Jane suddenly leapt up from her chair, and strode over to the centre of the village hall, much to the bemusement of the audience. “Because Bob Brackman is not who he says he is!”
Perhaps the gasping was audible from Raxacoricofallapatorius itself – after all, Bob Brackman was such a lovely man! What could possibly be wrong with such a kind, nice man like Bob Brackman?
“Zoe?” Sarah Jane asked. Mercilessly, Zoe tossed a metal device over to Sarah Jane, who pointed it at Bob Brackman. “This,” Sarah Jane addressed the audience. “– is an unzipper. It’s going to reveal Mr Brackman for who he truly is.”
Bob looked at her – not with a look of anger, but with a look of burning sadness and disappointment. He shook his head. “Sarah Jane, no, please, no. You can’t please. I thought better of you, Sarah Jane, please –”
Sarah Jane looked into Bob’s eyes – now was the last chance to turn back. As she looked at the undiluted fear across his face, Sarah Jane did not care. She was fearless about the events that were about to unfold. Bob Brackman was a Slitheen. The truth had to be revealed, regardless of the consequences. In the long term, it would mean people would be protected.
Another day in the office, and Sarah Jane pressed the button.
Bob Brackman gave one, final protest, before his screams engulfed the entire hall, and the audience recoiled at his cries. The device was set into motion, and a red light covered Bob – and it was as if he were being skinned alive in front of them all. His human skin was peeling away, and emerging from it came a… well, came an alien.
Revealing a Slitheen.
It was Bob Brackman – and Bob stumbled back at the shock of what was going on, and suddenly he felt so very vulnerable, his skin-suit removed, and his true body revealed to half of the village. But… the more he thought about it, the more he decided he had no need to feel vulnerable. Why was it his responsibility to hide his true self from the village, so that they weren’t offended? He was going to be himself – and for anyone who judged him for that, it would be a condemnation on their hearts.
Alfie was one such person. His eyes bulged and he stared at the Slitheen with an expression that was a mixture of awe, confusion and, if one looked closely enough, revulsion. He swatted Beth’s shoulder without tearing his eyes away from the spectacle on-stage, his mouth agape. “He’s a…”
“Yup,” Beth responded tonelessly.
“But he’s a…”
“Uh-huh.” She pushed his hand away. “Ow! Quit it!”
“Beth!” he looked at her with wide eyes. “Mate! You blind or something? Look at him! He’s a...I can’t even say it!”
“He’s a bloody alien!” an old man jeered, voicing Alfie’s thoughts. “And an ugly one too! Wait ‘til my Marjorie sees this, she’ll mistake him for one of my cabbages!”
Bob Brackman refused to let people who would hate him stand in his way, and so he stood, in all his gigantic, green glory, putting his clawed hands to his hips, and stood confidently.
“Yes, I am an alien,” he proudly declared. “I am Slitheen!”
“Aye aye,” Alfie, who had regained his composure, snickered, and Beth nudged him.
Sarah Jane turned around to the audience to see their shocked, disgusted reactions – but when she looked at them, they remained baffled, more than anything else. Talk about an anti-climax.
“I… I don’t see what the problem is?” a woman from the audience quietly spoke. “Bob is one of the nicest members of the community. What should it matter what planet he’s from?”
“Alfie,” Sarah Jane turned to him. “Do what we agreed.”
Alfie looked around, and reluctantly agreed. “Okay, everyone out!”
The audience glanced around at each other, wondering whether to take the boy’s advice, before Sarah Jane backed him up.
“All of you, just get out!” Sarah Jane ordered. "It’s for your own safety!”
As nobody had any idea what was going on, they all stood up, all of them in a completely dazed state. Just as confused at their sudden evacuation orders as they were at Sarah Jane’s strange hostility towards Bob, they all filed out – all of them giving Bob a sympathetic look, and Bob responding to them with an awkward, claw-y wave. It was notable that none of them gave him any malicious looks – barring the slimy little old men who nobody cared about.
“Sorry!” Gita piped up. “Do you want me to leave too?”
“Yes, Gita,” Sarah Jane said, not taking her eyes off Bob.
“Oh! Alright! Sorry Sarah!” Gita bustled away, tripping over a chair as she went. Before she left, she shook hands with Timothy Bumble, and shook claws with Bob. “Good luck!” she whispered to both, disappearing from the village hall.
“And you, Timothy,” Sarah Jane turned to the balding gentleman, who looked awfully smug.
“No thank you, Sarah Jane. I’ll stay.”
“Timothy –,” she protested.
“No. I’ll. Stay.”
There was no chance of him moving, so Sarah Jane resigned herself, and looked around her to take account for who was still there. Herself, Bob, Timothy, Zoe, Beth and Dan. For a few seconds, they all glared at each other, not sure who was on whose side – before Bob suddenly slipped away from his spot in the centre of the room, running to the far left.
“Sarah Jane, please – I know you won’t believe me,” Bob cried. “But it’s him! It’s all him.”
Sarah Jane shook her head. He knew he was beaten – just scrambling around for his last hope. “You murdered them, Bob. Terry and Tina.”
Bob shook his head, sobbing. There was nothing more he could say to convince Sarah Jane of his innocence. And this was how the story always went. Aliens, and they were persecuted from the off. Bob shrugged a despairing shrug, for it seemed as if there was nothing he was ever going to be able to do to change it – especially with people like Sarah Jane going after him, and people like Bumble and the Foxgrove confessor spinning an evil rhetoric.
“It’s his plan!” Bob blabbed, hoping Sarah Jane would listen. “He was going to kill Mrs Chandra at the debate! Check inside his jacket! Go on! Do it!” Sarah Jane had met his like before. There was no way she was going to give over so easily. It would end up being the moment the trap closed.
“Bob, I’m going to send you to the Shadow Proclamation,” Sarah Jane calmly explained. “There, you will stand trial for what you’ve done.”
Bob was crying now, and huddled back into the far corner of the room. A ridiculous sight, Sarah Jane thought. A Slitheen crying.
However, Beth was watching the situation with a sickening feeling in her stomach. What was unfolding seemed barbaric. Sarah Jane was terrorising Bob. Last night, Zoe, Dan and Alfie had terrorised Bob. They had all abetted her in humiliating Bob in front of so many people. Someone who seemed like a good, decent person. Slitheen he may be – but Beth did not think that made any difference to his quality of character. Sarah Jane had no evidence. She was merely blaming Bob because he was from Raxacoricofallapatorius.
As Beth watched, she knew that it was up to them to change things. Them, being Zoe, Dan, and herself. And Alfie too, if he could be bothered.
So, she was going to make a stand.
“Sarah Jane,” Beth urged. “Just do it. Scan Bumble.”
“Beth,” Sarah Jane began reassuringly. “I know the Slitheen –”
“You’ve not met every Slitheen to ever exist,” Beth protested. “You’re judging a good, decent person on where they are from. You are being prejudiced towards someone because they’re not from round here. That’s not how we do things. That’s not how you do things. And it’s definitely not how the Doctor does things.”
Reluctantly, Sarah Jane took her sonic lipstick and cast it over Timothy Bumble – who, for once, was looking a bit less confident than usual. A few seconds passed – and they were terribly tense seconds, feeling as if they lasted for an eternity.
When Sarah Jane looked down at the sonic lipstick again, she thought of the Doctor, and how badly she’d wronged him.
I’m sorry, Doctor.
This was not how he would have wanted things. In fact, he would have been disappointed with her. Terribly.
Timothy Bumble stepped forward, and still with a great smugness in his voice, he declared,
“Oh! You’ve got me!”
And from his pocket, Bumble removed a pair of garden shears – honed well to look like the claws of a Slitheen. As Sarah Jane saw them, in her own esteem she fell even further. There were no aliens involved – just the disgusting, burning hatred of a bigot, determined to commit dreadful crimes and use aliens as scapegoats. And as she thought of how horrendous Timothy Bumble had been, she realised that she had not been much better – blaming Bob without full proof. Her constant, unwavering suspicion, of everything Bob Brackman did. Since this whole incident had started, Sarah Jane had been full of nothing but ignorance and bigotry.
“You see,” Bob began, as he still felt he had to explain himself. “That’s why I was sneaking around Timothy’s house last night! I wasn’t trying to kill him, I was searching for evidence to prove Timothy was the murderer!”
“Yes,” Timothy shrugged, and spoke loudly and eloquently. “I am the murderer – and I have no shame in it. I wanted that thing gone. Disgusting creature, living in a place it doesn’t belong. Jog on back to your own planet, I say!”
Sarah Jane shivered, to think that she had been siding with the true monster.
“I knew there was something funny about it,” Timothy continued, pointing to Bob. “So one night, I looked through his windows – and there was that great, horrible beast. To think that we’re harbouring monsters like that. Once I knew his secret, I was determined to get him out of our great, noble village, no matter what the cost.”
Even when the cost was human life, it seemed. As the gang watched Timothy Bumble, they knew that he was nothing short of a terrorist. And they weren’t much better either – almost the equivalent of a lynch mob, in fact – chasing Bob Brackman around with guns full of vinegar.
“We’re… we’re no better,” Sarah Jane realised. “We terrorised him. We terrorised the good people.”
“Yes, Miss Smith. Just like me!” Timothy gave an almost… proud grin, and straightened his tie – even in such circumstances, he was determined to look his best. “I’m glad you joined me in wanting to defend our village from scum. People like you, and like the Foxgrove Confessor.”
Sarah Jane shook her head. She might have got it wrong. She had got it terribly wrong – but she was going to have to make amends for that, and pay back for the terrible things she had done.
“I… have behaved like you, Timothy,” Sarah Jane admitted. “But that stops now. I’ve always tried to help those who need it, but this time, I’ve gotten it wrong. So from this moment on… I’m going to help Bob.”
Timothy laughed, then. “Oh, Miss Smith – there is nothing you can possibly do! That monster will be out of our village, and off the face of our planet, before the day is out. I’ve worked hard to protect my village from aliens. To restore its greatness! And I will not stop now.”
Then, Timothy picked up his shears, and he strode confidently out, his polished shoes squeaking against the floor. The doors slammed shut behind him, and a silence fell upon the room.
Sarah Jane looked around at them all. Zoe looked regretful. Dan looked uneasy. Beth looked angry. Bob looked terrified. It was all well and good saying they were going to stop Timothy – but first she had to stop herself. She had to make herself less hateful. Less prejudiced. Less assuming. She’d always prided herself on wanting to help the aliens who needed it. But it seemed as if that part of her had failed.
They were the bad guys here.
Bob was still sobbing, on the other side of the room.
Sarah Jane, with open arms, strode over to the far left.