Paterhurst Bus Station. Most people referred to it as the old bus station long before they built the bigger one where the frozen foods supermarket used to be. Only days after shutting its doors, the dust had crawled out from all the corners, dragging grime against the walls and dropping long lines of cobweb from the ceiling. It quickly earned the title of 'old' though it now seemed to be pushing for 'dilapidated' as well.
The wall tiles, which had always been a little yellow, now resembled long rows of rotting teeth that jutted out and seeped white and grey gunk from their sides. The floor was decently clean but seemed to have shrunk due to all the chairs, stands and other objects that had been ripped from their place and shifted around. There were only a few windows boarded up, most of the bigger ones had somehow avoided breakage despite all the frustration and impatience that must have surrounded them the years before. The ticket office was the only closed off space and, in being so, remained virtually untouched despite a slight flash of green light that occasionally blinked from somewhere underneath the counter.
This light could only be seen in darkness which was rare considering that most of the intact windows were angled towards it. No-one actually saw it though, not even the squatters who resided for only very brief periods in the bus station. There was something about the experience that spooked them, something that they never chose to talk about but seemed to be all too familiar with.
Official visits concerning rebuilds on the land had been postponed for a while now. Renovations were still happening on the new bus station, the one with the glass ceiling that nearly everybody paused to marvel at, in spite of making their connections. They may as well have forgotten about the old bus station. There was nothing to it anymore, it was a greasy cold box filled with ugly lines and stagnant memories. They said it was a waste of time. No-one even bothered to check.
At first the dry silence of the bus station gave way to a few barely audible creaks and groans. The sound seemed to signify fatigue, a shelf on the verge of finally collapsing, but it then paused for too long.
The walls of the bus station were surprisingly thick meaning that any significant sound that might be created within would almost definitely miss the ears of passersby outside. Nevertheless the rasping and thrumming that suddenly started up beside the ticket office seemed thunderous in the empty derelict, so loud that it might actually escape through all the windows simultaneously. However there was nobody around to be stopped by it, let alone investigate. A large blue police box suddenly materialised, rattling the dust beneath it.
A few seconds later a man stepped out. He was short, middle-aged and wore formal clothes in a rather loose-fitting way. His light blue shirt collar was pulled out over his black jacket and the bowtie he wore was crooked. There was a handkerchief lolling out of his jacket pocket too but he wore a warm smile on his face.
'Come along, Zoe. You too, Jamie,' he shouted into the police box.
He ran a finger across the top of a set of plastic seats and scrutinised the dust. A young woman with neck length brown hair, dressed in a purple and white outfit stepped out, glancing around the limited space and shivering slightly. A young man followed her, pulling a light brown coat with a fur trim over his shoulders and bringing the hems together in front of his tartan kilt.
'It's a chill wind, Doctor,' Jamie said.
'In a building?' Zoe said, 'That just means the heating's off. Can't we find a better place, Doctor?'
The Doctor turned around, pulling a cobweb out of his short black hair. 'Oh I'd say this would suit our purposes just fine. We only need a few hours for the TARDIS to complete its defrag, I think we can sit in squalor for a little while. Who knows, we might even be able to spruce the place up a bit.'
'Where are we exactly?' Zoe said.
'Hmm? Oh, it's a bus station, I think.'
'What's a bus?' Jamie peered out of a window.
'A primitive Earth form of public transportation. Or, in your case, rather advanced.' The Doctor stood beside him and glanced out. 'Hmm, not even a double-decker. Quite clearly abandoned.'
'Surely there was a reason,' Zoe said, approaching the door to the ticket office.
'Well it's, let's see, 2013. That would mean buses are still in use so it's probably a case of rebuilding or something like that. This structure does seem rather old.'
'It seems ready to topple.' Jamie pointed up at the buckling roof. 'You see those cracks there?'
'Yes, well, perhaps we should just not stand beneath it, Jamie.'
'So what are we going to do in the meantime?' Zoe said.
'Did you bring the party games?' The Doctor reached into his pocket.
'No. That was supposed to be Jamie's job.'
'Well I didnae know which ones to bring,' Jamie wiped one of the plastic chairs and sat down in it.
'Fortunately I have cards,' The Doctor pulled out a pack and shook it. 'Who fancies a game of Go Fish?'
The Doctor looked around him. Somehow Zoe was now sat in front of him and Jamie was just walking out of the toilets.
'No flush.' Jamie chuckled. 'Just like back home.'
The Doctor looked down at Zoe. She was frowning too. 'What time is it, Doctor?'
He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his watch. 'Two o'clock.'
'And what time did we arrive?'
Jamie stopped beside Zoe and looked down. 'What's wrong?'
'It was 12 o'clock,' The Doctor said, scratching his chin. 'I'm sure of it.'
'But that means-?' Zoe stood up.
'What?' Jamie stared at them both.
'Somehow, Jamie, we lost two hours.'
'I'm not sure.' The Doctor folded his arms. 'There is one suspicion in my mind though.'
'What is it, Doctor?' Zoe said.
'Well two hours seems to be a very specific amount of time to lose,' he said, 'I only know one device that can pause time for that long. A PPM.'
'A PPM. A Portable Period Manipulator. A device made and used by my people.'
'You say it pauses time?' Zoe said.
'Yes and then it hyper accelerates it back to the most logical point in the sequence of events. It catches up, so to speak.'
'Where do you think this thing is?'
'I suspect its somewhere over here.' The Doctor hurried over to the ticket office. He reached for the small gap between the automatic door and the frame. 'Jamie, could you-?'
Jamie joined him and they forced the door open far enough to squeeze through. The Doctor approached the counter and then turned back. 'Do you by any chance still have that torch with you, Zoe?'
'Oh, yes.' she passed it through the doorway.
The Doctor examined the faded red counter, gradually making his way around it. He stopped near the middle and knelt down in front of a small bronze oval stuck underneath. 'Ah yes, here it is. Jamie, would you mind holding the torch?'
The Doctor reached into his other jacket pocket and pulled out his sonic screwdriver. He pointed it at the side of the oval and turned it on. The top of the oval dropped off and landed on the carpet. The Doctor touched one of the exposed wires inside the oval. 'Perhaps if I-' A small red light suddenly winked into life. The Doctor tucked away his screwdriver and tried the wires again. The PPM started to let out a slow wavering beep. He stood up. 'Hmm, yes, perhaps we should leave.'
'Why, Doctor?' Zoe said.
'What have you done?' Jamie said.
'That sound you hear is a distress signal, well part of it anyway. It's going straight to the Time Lords.'
'Isn't that good?' Jamie knelt down to examine the light.
'It is. I just don't want to give them the impression that I'm the one who's distressed.' The Doctor said, 'Trust me, Jamie, this is a rather annoying problem for them and you really don't want to be around when they've sorted it.'
'The problem is well in hand, Zoe. We've done our bit. Now let's get back to the TARDIS.'
'But what about the defrag?'
'We'll find some other place, somewhere warmer perhaps. Come along now.'
Zoe and Jamie let the Doctor herd them back into the blue box. They shared a bemused look as they shuffled through the doors.
The Doctor slammed them shut. A few seconds later the TARDIS started to fade, it's thundering noises depleting with the slow dimming of the light at the top.