"What has that got to do with our being sued?" asked Jamie.
"Don't you see?" huffed the Doctor. "What are we being sued for?"
"'Malicious spilt hot beverage', wasn't it?" Victoria tried to remember. "And 'emotional assault and battery'?"
"Frivolous lawsuits," the Doctor ticked off on his fingers. "Universal dissatisfaction with popular entertainment. The quality 'cute' falling out of favor. Some alien menace has taken control of this society to destroy it! Follow me!"
"How can there be 'universal dissatisfaction' with something called 'popular'?" asked Victoria. She and Jamie hiked up their skirts as the Doctor charged off.
"Mr. Sivraj will see you," said the secretary. She said it to Jamie and Victoria; the Doctor had proceeded into the movie mogul's office when she had turned her back to use the intercom.
"Mr. Sivraj," the Doctor was saying as Jamie and Victoria caught up, "you must let me help you."
Sivraj was a small man behind a large desk, with a sparse beard, wearing glasses so thick his pupils appeared to fill them. "What's this, another screenplay pitch?"
That confused the Doctor. "What's cricket to do with a screenplay?"
Sivraj snapped his fingers. "I saw you on the news. You spilled hot koonsot on someone on the subway."
"It was an accident!" said the Doctor hotly. "Never mind! I'm here to help you with the alien menace!"
"You're the script doctor for Gladiator A.E.! I've been waiting for you."
"I am not a script doctor!"
"I thought ye were a 'doctor of everything'?" Jamie said.
"You're not helping!" the Doctor turned back from Jamie to Sivraj. "Mr. Sivraj, I know that you've been under pressure from some alien menace to see to it that your new SPACE TREK WAR movie failed."
Sivraj blinked at the Doctor a moment, then shook his head and said, "No."
"It must be!" said the Doctor.
"Really, no," said Sivraj. "Actually I had more control over this one than any since the first. Wrote the screenplay, directed, edited, all by myself."
"Come now," said the Doctor, "some green seventeen-eyed monster or cybernetic spaceman must have bullied or blackmailed you into throwing the game."
Sivraj stared at him. "Are you a critic?" Jamie started to speak but Victoria elbowed him.
"It must be subconscious telepathic influence," said the Doctor. He pulled a beeping meter out of his pocket. That is, after he'd pulled out a set of women's false fingernails, a bouquet of dead roses, a leaky ball point pen, the score of Rhapsody in Blue in one of those small books that come in boxes of popcorn and nuts, a thumbnail sketch of The Last Supper, an apple with one bite out, the sonic screwdriver, a postage stamp with the airplane upside down, the crown jewels of Lilliput, an ATM receipt, a music box playing House of the Rising Sun, a disposable camera with one exposure left, a piece of the True Cross, an autographed paperback volume of Sophocles' plays, three gingis fivepence, a fishing fly (which then had to be extracted from his fingers), a plastic sandwich bag full of sand, a book of matches with Winston Churchill drawn on it, a souvenir snuffbox from Picadilly Circus, and a golden egg, while looking for the beeping meter.
The Doctor waved the beeping meter around Sivraj's head. "I think I know now," said Sivraj. "The last of your lot who came in here had surgically pointed ears and wanted the address of the Space Academy's admissions office."
"Nothing," said the Doctor. He was now waving the beeping meter in the air all over the room. "There's no alien influence here."
"Then where?" asked Victoria.
"If not here ..." the Doctor mused. Abruptly he grabbed Sivraj's hand to shake it. "So sorry to bother you. Come along, Jamie, Victoria." He barrelled out of the office, straight past the security guards.
The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria got in to see President Esrom of the planet's largest and most trendsetting nation through the expedient of his secretary recognizing them from the televideo news.
"Ah appreciate yore intentions," said Esrom before the Doctor got a word out, "but Ah cain't represent you in court while mah lawyer lisence is under disbarment review cuz the special prosecutor don't define his terms aheada time."
"Never mind that," dismissed the Doctor. "I'm here to help you with the alien invaders."
"Or the mad scientist," prompted the Doctor.
Esrom spread his hands in an expansive gesture of ignorance.
"But this must have been going on for years!" cried the Doctor. "Haven't your military and intelligence kept you up on whatever they do know about it?"
Esrom chuckled amiably. "Friend, Ah've been too busy for intelligence since Ah took office, what with all the wimmin suin' me for tellin' me 'no'. Yuh'd think it was the ones who told me 'yes' who'd have a case. Then I'd be in trouble."
"Sir," came the secretary's voice on the intercom, "the special prosecutor's office is on the line. They have some questions about Intern Aloyol."
"Tell yuh what," said Esrom to the Doctor. Though his manner, tone and expression remained cheerful, suddenly he was packing an overnight bag. "Yuh wanna know about aliens, yuh prolly need to talk to that six-month-old boat person who's applying for political asylum. Now Ah gotta leave town suddenly on a, a last-minute diplomatic mission, yeah that's the ticket." He disapppeared through a hidden door in the wall paneling.
"Useless idiot!" shouted the Doctor, pounding his forehead on the surface of the president's desk.
"Aye, how'd such a lamebrain get elected?" growled Jamie.
"Not him, me!" said the Doctor. "I should have gone to the First Lady straight away." He set off for the door to the outer office, in that inefficient, roundabout manner of walking which is common to people who pound their foreheads on furniture surfaces. But the First Lady was off establishing residency somewhere.
"Who's left now who could help us?" asked Victoria when they were back on the street after several more fruitless attempts to drum up resistance to, nay, prove the existence of the malicious conspiracy.
"Hey, look at the size of that thing!!" said Jamie. Outside the nearest golden-tiered fast food restaurant (of the five golden-tiered fast food restaurants within sight) was a gigantic effigy of a stuffed toy animal. Or Jamie may have been referring instead to the huge crowd rioting all around it. "Maybe someone there knows something?"
"No," said the Doctor. "I already did collectors' mania in one of this author's real stories (http://members.iglou.com/scarfman/dwxst.htm#ts)."
"Then who shall know what's going on?" Victoria whined.
"Who? ..." muttered the Doctor. "What single person could there be whose efforts and influence on the planet are so pervasive that he must be aware of this threat even if he isn't the originator of it?"
"How is it a monopoly when the reason everyone uses my software instead of someone else's is because they chose mine at the store?"
"That's not important right now," said the Doctor to Ellivnarg the software magnate. "What matters is that you must be either the evil genius behind all this planet's troubles whom I must foil, or the man of resource and power waiting for me to help him orchestrate the evil force's defeat."
"There's no evil on this planet," said Ellivnarg, "just laziness and stupidity. I'm the richest man in the world because I fixed everything in the world so you can point at what you want and press a button and get it. Now go away, or I'll sue you for emotional assault and battery."
"I don't understand why no one will see the awful corruption and decay going on here," said the Doctor. "Unless ..."
"Unless?" Victoria prompted.
"Oh no," said the Doctor. "Oh no! No, no, that's too horrible to think about!"
"What is?" said Jamie.
"There is no alien menace!" cried the Doctor. "Or we'd have found it in one of the seventeen places we've visited today!"
"Well," asked Victoria uncertainly, "isn't that good?"
"No," moaned the Doctor. "It's horrible, horrible!"
"It means this culture has got so deathly sick all by itself!!"
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