The Homeground Christmas story has been a tradition over the past 30 years – at least in our minds – and I have wanted to do a Doctor Who/Kate crossover tale for a while… So this story doesn’t actually mention either Homeground or Christmas but it is something fun for the festive period. It was inspired by the recent series of Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures and of course an important moment in Kate’s own time and space continuum. Special thanks to Collin Kelly, who did some lovely tweaking for me and I’d like to dedicate it to the memory of the wonderful and much missed actress Elisabeth Sladen.
Whatever Happened to Catherine Bush?
As someone clever once said, “The universe is big… really big.” Billions of stars in billions of galaxies and stars are only part of the story: there are comets, nebula, black holes, white holes, worm holes, rifts, tares and tears. There are planets with oceans, deserts, forests, shopping malls, intelligent life, monsters, traffic wardens and some with nothing at all. And then there is time – the most solid, reliable, dependable and predictable thing in the universe, except when it twists and turns and pops up when and where it shouldn’t. Sometimes it brings what you least expected, but needed the most.
The young girl couldn’t sleep, but she also couldn’t do much of anything else. She had been trying to write a song, had a great idea for a tune, but every time she went anywhere near the piano, she started to hear things. There was something scratching around just on the edge of her hearing and if she picked up a pen, the fear came sliding into her mind, something twisting and shiny and dark. She could almost hear words, or maybe those were in her head, telling her she was no good. Why bother? No one will ever care, no one will ever hear your silly songs, you aren’t worthy…
And, somewhere in space and time, in the Tardis, The Doctor was talking and Amy and Rory were doing their best impression of listening and understanding. “The future, you see. It’s complicated, it’s not written in stone. That’s the past, and actually most of that isn’t even in stone. You would be amazed at what hasn’t turned up as a fossil. Anyway, the future: one minute it’s all about moon bases and flying cars, you know, like in `Back To The Future’, and then, suddenly, the only place where you find cars that fly is in Harry Potter, which is not about the future at all, so they have stopped being futuristic and are now magical. Does that make sense?”
The Doctor paused and Amy glanced at Rory, managed an “err” before he carried on. “ So, it’s about what people think and do more than anything, and the smallest thought can change everything. The whole of time and space is replete with turning points, some fixed and some not.” He looked expectantly at his two friends. “What? Doesn’t that help?”
Without risking another glance at her husband, Amy replied: “As fascinating as that was, Doctor, we actually asked you to tell us about The Yetis? You said you’d run into them a few times in the past.”
Realisation dawned on the Time Lord’s face. “Oh, yes, well I was getting to that, yes, Yetis. Actually the one’s I met, were alien robots.”
“Of course they were,” Rory said almost under his breath.
The Doctor ignored this and carried on: “They were soldier’s of ‘The Great Intelligence’ and, actually, they didn’t really look anything like your actual Yetis, the Wild Man, The Kangchenjunga Demon. Hmmmm… I remember a rather good song about that, in fact…” But The Doctor didn’t finish his sentence, as suddenly the Tardis lurched and the sound of its ancient engines changed to become the familiar noise of dematerialisation,
Amy grabbed at the consol. “Doctor, we’ve landed, what’s happening?”
The Doctor was pulling levers and banging buttons. He stopped, scratched his face, banged another panel and said, “We’ve landed.”
“Yes, we know,” Rory said, “but you said we wouldn’t be getting home for a while.”
The Doctor looked at the two of them, as if seeing them for the first time. “What? No, yes, I think the Tardis has made us land She has sensed something wrong; a fixed point being threatened. Wherever we are, the future is being rewritten and not in a good way. There is something out there that needs saving or rescuing or something, probably going to be very dangerous… ooh, fantastic! Come on!”
He took out his sonic screwdriver, gave it a flick and twirl and headed to the Tardis door. The Doctor stuck his head out, there was a pause and he looked back in.
Amy stepped forward. “What is it, Doctor, what’s out there?”
He looked at them blankly and said, “I think it’s a barn”
The young girl had given up on sleep and on the piano in the house. She headed out to her refuge, where the old church organ was, maybe out in the garden, in her half of a Heaven, she could escape the fear. But this time, there was something different; a strange noise and then voices, coming closer to the old barn, friendly voices, talking about stupid things.
“So, Doctor, we were talking about Yetis, both sorts, Wild Men and the alien robots,” Amy said. “Is this gonna be another one of those Tardis coincidences? We talk about them and there’s Yetis here? Wherever here is? Actually, where are we?”
The Doctor paused, sniffed the air. “South London, Kent… Welling maybe. I think it’s the early ’70s.
Amy and Rory had long ago given up on asking how The Doctor knew where he was, or thought he was. The three reached the door of the barn and gently pushed the door open. “Hello,” The Doctor called out.
There was a moment of silence as The Doctor, Amy and Rory stood in front of the young girl. “Hello, are you friends of my brothers,” she asked, “or did my Mum or Dad send you? Is it about the organ?”
The Doctor hesitated for only a moment. “Ummm… the organ? Ah, the pipe organ. No, not really. I’m the Doctor and these are The Ponds, Amy and Rory. We heard there was something wrong, a problem” He smiled at the young girl and carried on. “There is something wrong, isn’t there? Sorry what was your name?”
The girl came forward into the light and extended her hand. “It’s Catherine, Catherine Bush.”
The Doctor grabbed her hand. “Of course, hello, Catherine. So tell me, what’s been happening here? Why are you in the barn?”
Catherine led them outside to sit in the garden. “You will probably think I’m completely mad,” she started “but it’s the piano. Or maybe it’s in my head. I write songs, you see, and just in the past week or so, every time I go near the piano, I can hear something – a scratchy noise like bats or rats, and there’s a fear that comes. It’s like I can hear a voices telling me I mustn’t, I shouldn’t be making music.” Catherine stared at The Doctor. “I am mad, aren’t I?”
The Doctor thought for a minute and was about to speak, when Rory jumped in. “I know this seems like a strange question, Catherine, but what year is it please?”
Without hesitating, she replied, “It’s 1972. Is that important… and how can you not know what the year is?”
“It’s complicated,” the trio chorused.
Rory continued. “You write songs on a piano? This is Welling in 1972? And you are 13 years old?
“Yes, how do you know that?” Catherine asked curiously.
Amy elbowed Rory in the ribs. “What are you doing? Don’t frighten her.”
But Rory carried on. “Your name is Catherine Bush?”
The girl just smiled and nodded again.
Rory turned to The Doctor. “Can I have a word?”
“What about? I need to scan,” The Doctor said, pulling the sonic screwdriver from his jacket pocket and aiming it at the girl.
“What is that?!” Catherine exclaimed.
“Doctor, it’s important,” Rory insisted.
“Ah ha,” The Doctor said, looking at the screwdriver. “Definitely something here.”
Rory grabbed The Doctor by the shoulder and spun him around. “Doctor, listen. Catherine Bush writing songs on a piano in 1972. Catherine often shortened to Kate.”
The Doctor seemed to draw a blank and then his mouth slowly opened and closed. “Ah… oh, blimey. She’s going to be…”
“Yes,” Rory said, “and we know she is supposed to be a prolific songwriter at this age, so the question…”
The Doctor picked up Rory’s line of thinking. “The question is what or who is trying to stop Kate Bush from writing songs and why?”
The Doctor turned to look at the girl, who smiled and said, “I do quite like being called Kate, it’s a bit more grown up than Cathy.”
Kate took them into the house to where the old piano was and explained exactly what had been happening. The Doctor did some more scanning with his screwdriver and finally announced, “Okay, yep, I know what it is.”
He sat down with Kate, while Amy and Rory stood near the piano watching. “Kate, you are an intelligent girl,” The Doctor said. “I know you are, so I can tell you the truth. There are things – life forms or creatures, if you like – that feed on wasted lives. They try and change history. I’ve met these monsters before. Friends of mine, Sarah Jane and Donna, ran into them, and they tried to rewrite their futures. These creatures are part of The Trickster’s nasty little gang. The Trickster feeds on depression and chaos and one of them has been trying to stop you from being whom and what you are supposed to be. I think that whatever song you have been trying to write, and will write, is going to be really important to you and to a lot of people.”
Amy spoke. “Doctor, where is this thing and can we get rid of it?”
The Doctor raised a finger to his lips, stood up and in his best stage whisper said, “That could be really tricky, Amy. I’ve no idea where it is.”
The Doctor spun around and stuck his hand down the back of the old piano. There was a muffled squeak, and The Doctor pulled out a creature that resembled a wriggling, dark blue mole.
“What is that thing?” Amy whispered and took a step back.
Kate stared wide-eyed at the creature. “Oh, it looks frightened. It’s so small and harmless.”
The Doctor tightened his grip on the creature. “Don’t be fooled, Kate. It’s a vile little thing and its only goal was to ruin your life and rob the world of everything you will create.”
As if on cue, the creature spat and hissed at her. The Doctor flicked a switch on the sonic screwdriver and pointed it at the mole. There was a loud hum and the creature wriggled violently before suddenly disappearing with a loud “pop.”
Kate looked horrified. “Oh, no. You didn’t kill it, please no, the poor thing!”
The Doctor took her hand gently “Kate, even though you knew it was trying to hurt you in a really nasty way, you still cared about it. No, it’s not dead. I just sent it back where it belongs. It doesn’t belong in this reality.”
He smiled and winked at her.
Rory spoke. “But won’t there be other creatures, Doctor? Is Kate safe now?”
The Doctor turned to his companions. “I think so. She knows now, and once someone knows it’s very difficult to fool them again. And the Tardis leaves a trace wherever it’s been, and The Trickster won’t like it.”
The Doctor knelt down and looked Kate in the eye. “Listen to me, Catherine Bush. You are something special. You need to write songs and make music and don’t ever let anyone else tell you different. It won’t always be easy, but you must stick to doing it your way and if you want to write songs about classic books or horror movies or Russian wives or aborigines or clouds or water or even Yetis, you just do it and be brilliant.”
Kate looked quite shocked. “Okay, but…” she hesitated. “That’s all I really want to do, and I have a great idea for this song.” She blushed and then almost shyly asked, “How old are you, Doctor?”
Amy and Rory rolled their eyes. “Go on,” Amy said, “tell her Doctor.”
The Doctor hesitated for two heartbeats. “Oh, Bush, I am a lot and I mean a lot older than you. Why do you want to know?”
Kate smiled. “I thought you seemed quite old… in a nice way.” She paused and stared at the Time Lord’s face for a moment. “Except there’s something in your eyes, something child like.”
A little while later, a young girl carried a cup of tea and some chocolate to the piano. She placed her fingers delicately over the keys and began to write a song.