This is a work of fan fiction featuring characters from the Doctor Who television show, which is trademarked by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). This particular incarnation of the Doctor, the ninth, was created by Russell T Davies and portrayed by Christopher Eccleston in 2005 and, as such, I do not claim ownership of it. I do own Risecc though, mostly because no-one else wanted the bugger.
The fisherman wrapped in his own grey body hair counted his fishes on the grass. They were all malformed: blotches of fur bursting out from underneath gills and even around eyes and lips. He picked up a large flat one with red sideburns and smashed it against a nearby rock.
'All right, a ginger fish is quite unnatural,' the thin man said, 'but it can be explained.'
The fisherman searched for the long strand of his beard hair that was specially knotted at the end. He whipped his big-eared captive across the chest with it.
'You're going in the water again, Doctor,' the fisherman muttered, 'The river again soon enough.'
'But it doesn't do anything! It's rather cold but that's all. Not even icy.'
'The first time.' The fisherman fastened a strap on his chest hair vest. 'The first time feels like nothing. The second time...'
'Look, Risecc, is it? Without proper testing, I can safely say that this down here is normal water. Two big hydrogen atoms, one lonely little oxygen. It's a bit salty but it's definitely water. Now if you'll just let me...' The Doctor flexed his wrists, fighting against the hair bands that held him tightly over the water. 'Where does this hair come from anyway?'
Risecc smiled and looked down at his crotch. The Doctor grimaced.
'How about this, Risecc? How about you let me stick my toe in the river and I'll prove to you that it doesn't burn?'
'Of course, it doesn't. It makes you hairy.'
'You're right. I apologise for misjudging your intelligence. Now why not continue doing the intelligent thing and let me down so I can help you?'
Risecc whipped him across the chest again. The Doctor bit his lip. He had come to the planet Authen for a nice little fishing trip and yet once again here he was, bound and threatened. Fortunately Rose was back in London enjoying a spa weekend with her mother. She might have stood a better chance of explaining things to this bemused fisherman. Either way a different approach was needed. 'How long have you been here, Risecc? This particular spot?'
Risecc stared at him. He raised his hair whip again.
'It's just a question. Nothing offensive meant. When did you first land in Authen?'
'Feels like I've always been here.'
'You didn't keep track of the time? Chalk marks on stone, that sort of thing?'
'Okay. You're a Kholmian, aren't you? A hairless species, quite fascinating.'
'Kholmian?' Risecc glanced at his long mauve arms. 'Yes. I was.'
'So you came here to do some fishing, that's obvious. Did you work as a fisherman back on Kholm?'
'No. It was a, was a break. A holiday break.'
'Like me then. Authen is a fantastic planet for fishing, isn't it? So tranquil. And this river with its glimmering magenta waters, it must have looked so inviting.'
'I fell in.'
The Doctor laughed good-naturedly. 'Of course, you did. Happens to the best fishermen, you lose your balance and...SPLOOSH! But did the hair start growing as soon as you hit the water?'
'An hour or so later?'
'When did the hair grow?'
Risecc paused. 'While I slept.'
'Right. Now tell me, Risecc, what else did you do before you went to sleep?'
'Read and ate fish.'
'Which book were you reading?'
'Accursed Rains by Bede Pod?'
'Good writer, shifty bloke. I don't think it was the book that did this so why don't you tell me a little bit about the fishes you ate? Were they like the ones on the grass there?'
Risecc walked over to the fishes and started picking each of them up in turn. He squinted at their lips and tails. 'Yes.'
'With all the hair?'
'With all the hair.'
'So you shaved them before eating?'
Risecc sighed. 'Obviously.'
'And did they taste different to you?'
'They were too soft. Floppy.'
'Floppy. Right, now we're getting somewhere. You fell in the river, Risecc, but the water didn't make you instantly hairy. You then ate a fish and the next thing you knew you were hairy. What does that tell you?'
Risecc chewed on a chunk of his low-hanging eyebrow hair. 'The fishes!'
'Right!' the Doctor smiled. 'Now, if you'll let me down I'll perform a thorough examination of those fishes. How does that sound?'
Risecc loosened the hair rope. The Doctor came crashing down into the water.
Rather than flailing about, he dove straight under. A few seconds later and the hair rope rose to the surface, frayed and soggy. Risecc peered into the water just as the Doctor burst back up to the surface.
'See?' he said, 'Still clean shaven.'
He swam over to the bank and climbed up. He opened his hand in front of Risecc and revealed a short stubby grub with a rouge belly.
'This is the cause. A Gopil Grub,' the Doctor said, 'The larval stage of the Eylemanusfly. There's a lot going on in that little grub, growth hormones that are working a hundred times faster than in most other creatures. Did you notice any other effects? Sore bones?'
'The Gopil Grub does that too. You've used it for bait in the past?'
'Bad idea. The fishes ate it, got away. The next day they were probably slower because of the new fuzz and that made them easier for you to catch. And then, of course, you shaved and ate them, causing your new fuzz. Typical food chain problem: the ultimate prey changes and the ultimate predator is effected the most.'
Risecc stared at the Gopil Grub, letting it writhe across his hirsute knuckles. It's movements were slow and limited, each segment seemed to stretch a tiny bit forward only to be followed by the next and the next one after that. When it finally returned to his palm he crushed it.
'Okay,' the Doctor said, 'Let me just grab my coat and we'll head off to the TARDIS. You'll need a bath then a haircut then...well, everything else.'
The Doctor jumped and pulled a worn leather jacket down from a nearby tree branch. 'I don't suppose you've been to Astrocuts before?'
Risecc shook his head. The Doctor approached him, cutting loose the hair whip with a pocket knife. 'Alonso will love the challenge.'
The Doctor pointed Risecc eastwards and let him lead the way.