Paul Gadzikowski


The Truth About Cats and Dogs

"- No," the Doctor changed his mind, "I won't tell you, I'll surprise you!"

"Oh no, not again," moaned Peri. But he dragged her back over the Nekros snowscape to the TARDIS, and sent her off to the wardrobe while he tended to his piloting. The time rotor settled in to a stop just as Peri reentered the console room - changed into summer clothes - and before she even stopped moving he bundled her back out the main doors.

"Voila!" he cried, waving both arms at the vista: the most famous fictional castle on Earth, surrounded by rides and attractions and tourists and costumed cartoon characters, all soaking up the California sun. "One Magic Kingdom, for your pleasure!"

"Oh," said Peri, "great;" and clammed up.

In retrospect the Doctor knew he should have realized that the sudden silence was significant, in contrast with the usual shouting that went on between them. But only in retrospect.

"'Great'?" said the Doctor. "'Great'!" said the Doctor. "Is that all you have to say?" His tirade was momentarily interrupted by a small child who wanted to know what movie he was from. "I've gone to considerable thought and trouble, young lady, to -"

He broke off suddenly, as something he was seeing, something that was terribly wrong, graduated into his conscious thoughts. "Peri, there's a giant duck over there -"

"Where?" Peri started to turn.

"Don't look!" The Doctor turned her back to face him. "He's wearing a funny hat and passing packets of something to the park patrons."

Peri rolled her eyes. "Doctor, they're all over the place. That kid thought you were wearing a costume, remember?"

"This duck," the Doctor hissed to her, "is not someone wearing a costume."


The Doctor and Peri climbed to the top of the highest tower of the castle, the Doctor carrying the phase-shifter device he'd assembled from the equipment he'd found in the ducks' ship while he and Peri were escaping from it. They found a balcony with a turreted wall. The Doctor peered over the turrets carefully, and checked the power levels on the device, and said to Peri, "Why don't you try to get some sleep? You're about ready to fall over."

Peri wordlessly settled herself in a corner where there was some shade. The Doctor turned his attention to his watch, but after a few moments he heard a soft sob behind him. Stifling an exasperated sigh - he didn't think he could afford to turn from from the landscape - he said, "What's wrong?"

"This is where my parents told me they were getting divorced," Peri said.

While the Doctor was trying to formulate a reply, she went on. "They meant it to be one last family vacation, and they were going to tell me when we got back home. But they had a big fight the second day we were here. The last thing my father ever said to me in person was that he never wanted to see my mother again."

"I apologize," said the Doctor. Then he corrected himself: "I'm sorry."

"I was just thinking," said Peri, "how much more pleasant this trip is."

"You have a stepfather, don't you?"

"Well, yeah, Howard. You met him."

"Briefly. I think I spent more time with him while Kamelion was impersonating him."

"Yeah. Mother funds his digs and he warms her bed. They're as happy as they expected to be, I guess. But Howard's a real nowhere parent, and he's hardly any older than I am anyway. Real cold scientist type."

"Indeed?" The Doctor felt offense rising despite himself. "And how am I any better than that?"

"You never got drunk and came on to me at your own engagement party." The Doctor also failed to frame a reply to that, and eventually Peri asked, "Do you have any family?"

"Not really, not to speak of," said the Doctor. "Or perhaps I should say 'speak to'. A granddaughter named Susan."

"Where is she?"

"She left the TARDIS to marry, long ago, about a hundred years from now. I've hardly seen her since."

"You called me Susan once," Peri remembered.

The Doctor took his eyes from the park long enough to look back at Peri. "Don't ever call me Howard," he said, smiling. "Now get some sleep." Peri smiled back, and shortly her breathing became slow and regular. She actually got several hours of sleep before, to the Doctor's annoyed surprise and consternation, the mice showed up to launch their attack on the ducks.


When the dragons had finished mopping up, the Doctor and Peri took a room in the park hotel, the better to actually see the park the next day. In the gift shop Peri acquired a brightly colored nightgown, and the Doctor bought a paperback volume of Kipling and a private reading light. He was already deep into it, in a chair by the window, when Peri came out of the bathroom in her new nightclothes. She climbed into the bed and reached to turn out the bedside lamp. "See you in the morning."

"Goodnght, Susan," said the Doctor, as absently as he could.

"Good night, Grandfather," said Peri after a moment, and turned out the lamp.


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