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A/N:
This rather odd story is the result of a holiday challenge at dw_straybunnies, as I thought it would be rather fun to see how many of the 12 prompts I could shoehorn into one tale.  This included Ace with a girl (in this case, Rani), vampires, evil giraffes, something about Welsh myths, Eleven being threatened by Care Bears, Sarah Jane and the Doctor with an octopus in the TARDIS bathtub, Two with Martha, Evelyn Smythe, Six meeting Rani, the Meddling Monk, Frobisher and it being set in an ancient Earth civilization, in this case Egypt.  Oy.  A couple of these are mere cameos, but they’re all in there.  Really.

Title: The Giraffe Convolution of Doom
Wordcount: 6,619
Characters: Two, Four, Six, Seven, Ace, Evelyn Smythe, Rani Chandra, the Meddling Monk, Frobisher, Jamie and Sarah Jane with a cameo by Eleven.
Summary: There are vampire giraffes reported at the London Zoo. The Doctor must do something about that, seeing as he’s been there before.

All 6 short chapters under the cut, or you may read it at TeaspoonFanfiction.net or AO3.
 

1.

“Professor?  Professor! Pro-fesssss-orrrr!” Ace called.  It was no use.  She’d been looking for the Doctor for some time now and had already gone through panic and annoyance to simple resignation that he would only show up when he was good and ready to.  They hadn’t been dealing with anything hostile, in fact he had been giving her a chance to just relax and look around some shops when they’d been separated. 

She stopped and sat on the edge of a tree planter to rest her feet, rotating her ankles pensively. 

“Doctor?” called a voice. “Dooooctooor!”

Ace’s looked up quickly.  A little way down the street a teenaged girl with dark hair was peering into alleyways as she made her way along, searching.

“Hey!” Ace called. “What kind of doctor are you looking for?”

The girl quickened her pace. “Do you know him?” she asked by way of introduction.

“Know who?” Ace said cautiously.

Rani considered the young woman before her and her odd, dated mode of dress and decided it was worth asking more specifically.  Ever since she’d seen the TARDIS flattening a patch of flowers by Sarah Jane’s house she’d been looking for the Doctor.  Sarah Jane was out of town and the house was still locked, so he had to be around somewhere.  “I’m looking for a man who’s called the Doctor,” she said carefully. “I saw his police box.

Ace stood up. “You know the Doctor?”

“Yes, or at least I’ve met him a couple of times.  He’s friends with my friend Sarah Jane.”

“I’ve heard of Sarah Jane,” Ace nodded.  “It sounds like you’re pretty jake.  I’m looking for him too, so maybe we can look together.  I’m Ace, I travel with him.”

Rani smiled and took the other woman’s hand. “I’m Rani.  Rani Chandra.”

“Glad to meetcha, Rani.  I’ve checked all the way down that street,” Ace said, pointing. “And you already did that one, so let’s start over there.”  She hefted a small backpack she had with her and started off.

“Sure!” Rani said, happy to have made some kind of progress and to have found some help as well.  “I mostly just wanted to let him know when Sarah Jane will be back, she’s not home now and I thought he might want to visit her.”

“Yeah?  He told me it was a stop just to do some shopping.  Just like the Professor to go off without telling me.”

“The Professor?”

“That’s what I call him.  I think it fits him.”

Rani thought about this, recalling the tweedy jacket and bright intelligence of the man she’d met, both of him.  “Okay. Yeah, I can see that.”

“Let’s take turn yelling.  My throat’s about worn out.”

“Doctooor!” hollered Rani.  “Dooooooctor!”

“Yes? What do you want?” asked a voice.

They both spun towards the alleyway that had opened up beside them to find a tall man with a mop of curly blonde hair eyeing them.  He was dressed in such clashing colours that both of them had the first impression of his perhaps being a player from a theatre troupe, except his demeanor was perfectly serious.

“What do you want with us?” asked Ace defensively, automatically pushing Rani behind her and bringing her backpack up where she could get at the contents easily.

“That’s my question,” the strange man replied equably. “You were the ones yelling my name, not the other way around, you know.” 

“Who do you have there?” asked another voice, and an elderly, grandmotherly lady carrying a knitting bag came up the alley, peering around him to take a look at them.

“How should I know? I’m not a mind-reader,” the man snorted.

“Yes you are, you’re just too polite to do it,” she said. “Now my dear girls, tell me, were you calling for a medical doctor, or were you calling for the Doctor?

“You know the Doctor too?” asked Rani.  It was starting to feel like her city was full of such people.

“Know him?” the man said a bit huffily, drawing himself up.  He was very tall.

“Yes, we know him,” said the woman with a gentle smile. “Oh stop your huffing and puffing, you’re scaring them.”

“I am not. There’s nothing about me to be frightened of, Evelyn! Meek as a lamb am I.”

“We’re looking for him,” said Ace, eyeing the tall man. “I’m his traveling companion.”

The elderly lady smiled more deeply at that. “As am I, meek or not.  But apparently you’re with another one of him?”  She pointed at the brightly dressed man.

“I think so,” said Ace slowly.  “Gordon Bennett, are you him too?”

“Him who?” asked Rani, confused.

“Why, he’s the blinkin’ Doctor!” said Ace. “Aren’t you?”

“Of course I am.”

“But you’re not my Doctor,” she said. “Aren’t you supposed to not be running into yourself or something?”

“Unfortunate,” he glowered. “I was hoping I was farther away from myself than that.”

“Hey, look. It’s not our fault you can’t keep track of yourself,” Ace returned a bit hotly.

Evelyn waved him back, apologetic about his sternness. “I’m sorry, don’t mind him.  We’re just a bit worried about one of our own companions.  You haven’t happened to have seen a penguin anywhere about recently, have you? We’re missing one.”

“A penguin? Like a bird penguin?” Ace asked.

“Well, he’s not quite a bird penguin, but yes, he certainly looks like one.”

“I guess if I was looking for a penguin, I would look at the zoo,” Rani said, trying to be helpful to this very nice, grandmotherly lady.  “They keep some there.  If anyone saw him loose, that’s what they would do.  Catch him and take him there.”

“Frobisher in a zoo? Oh the poor dear,” Evelyn sighed. She then extended a hand. “I’m Evelyn Smythe, by the way, and this is the Doctor.”

2.

“The Doctor,” echoed Rani at the introduction. He didn’t look anything like either of the ones she had met, but she tried to take that in stride and not let her discomfiture show. 

“Swell,” sighed Ace. “It just figures I finally find him and he’s another him instead of the him I’m looking for.”

“Probably stuffing himself on fresh fish and having a swim. Doesn’t sound that bad, really,” the Doctor noted, ignoring their commentary.

“The Professor?” asked Ace in surprise, unable to wrap her head around that image.

“Frobisher,” said Evelyn.  “We ought to fetch him sooner rather than later if he’s at a zoo.”

“There’s a bus that goes there,” said Rani helpfully. “We could catch it just a couple blocks from here in about....” she consulted her phone for the time. “About half an hour.”

“Half an hour?” the Doctor said. “Bah!  Everyone, this way!”

“Funky phone,” said Ace.

“Thanks.”  Rani drew breath to say something about their assumption she would naturally come with them, then closed her mouth on the words.  It was just the zoo, after all, why not take a short cut?  She sure hoped this man really was the Doctor, though.  She followed the, surreptitiously finding Clyde’s number on her phone to dial it just in case.

Following the Doctor’s somewhat imperious command they went around the corner of the building where, to no-one’s surprise, a blue police box stood.

“Well, that’s sure not where we left ours,” Ace said.

“Everyone in!  Close the door, Evelyn.  We’ll be there before you know it.”  They filed in, Rani looking around and Ace trying to not be bothered by it being almost but not quite what she was used to.

The doors closed.  The central column pumped briefly then rested.  The Doctor opened the door.

“This isn’t the zoo,” Ace pointed out. “It’s a boardwalk.”  Overhead, gulls circled and screamed as two crows tussled over a soggy bag of crisps.

“Humph, well, it has animals, doesn’t it?” the Doctor said as the others went over to the edge to look down at the grey sea. 

“The sea air is always so refreshing, isn’t it?” Evelyn said, patting her hair to keep it from flying about too much

“Depends how many dead fish it’s blowing over,” Ace said.

There was the sound of running footsteps and they watched curiously as a skinny man with floppy hair barged through a clump of French tourists and continued in their general direction.

“Excuse me!” he cried and they all stepped back to let him dash past, then did so again when he was shortly pursued by several rough looking men in colourful biker jackets embroidered with Care Bears.  Rani thought the first one had looked familiar.  

Nice jackets,” Ace said. “I’d like something like that.”

“Back in!” the Doctor was saying impatiently. “We aren’t here for a seaside holiday, you know.”

The central column pumped again and rested.  He opened the door.

“This is the zoo, but look at the cars in the car park.” Rani pointed out. “I think we’re in a different time!”

Evelyn and Ace both started laughing as they closed the door once more.  Ace gave Rani a little punch on the shoulder. “You can sure tell he’s the Doctor all right!”

The third time being the proverbial charm, they finally arrived at the correct time and place, this time inside the gates as well so they didn’t need to figure out how to pay admission.  The four of them came out into a decorative clump of greenery with a paved path winding past it. 

“We need to find where they keep the penguins,” Evelyn said.

“I’m calculating it,” the Doctor said, marching over to a nearby stand with a large map of the zoo and an X marking ‘You Are Here’.

Evelyn looked at Rani. “You’re from this time, aren’t you, dear.  Have you ever been here before?”

“Sure,” said Rani.  The Penguin Beach is over that way.”

“Thank you. Doctor!” Evelyn called. “We’ll meet you there.”  She followed Rani and Ace as they headed up the path.  He didn’t follow them. “Oh, don’t worry about him,” she said as the girls glanced back. “He’ll probably try to be clever now to save his pride and find a shortcut.”

Thanks to her forethought, they weren’t surprised when they reached the Penguin Beach and found the Doctor already there before them, sitting on a bench with his legs crossed as if he’d been waiting for ages.  It might have worked except for the leaves in his hair and the nearby bushes still waving, giving away his rapid plunge through the foliage.

“What took you so long? If you’d waited a moment, I could have shown you a much quicker route,” he said blandly.

“You’re always so clever, it just never ceases to amaze me,” Evelyn smiled. “Now let’s go find our Frobisher.”

The penguin enclosure at the zoo was a fancy structure with curling ramps for the birds to play on and plenty of water for them to swim in.  Peering down at the penguins, Ace and Rani wondered what, exactly, they were looking for. 

“They all look alike,” Ace said. “How do we tell yours from the others?”

Rani gave a little scream of surprise as one of the little black Rockhopper penguins who had been sulking in the shade of the ramps alone suddenly stretched upward and changed into a massive Emperor Penguin, stretching its neck up towards them it flapped its flipper-wings.

“Eeeevelyn!” came a penguin-like cry that was still recognizable as speech.

3.

“Oh, there he is!  Where’s the door to…” Evelyn began then realized the Doctor was already gone around the structure.  She waved back at the penguin in question. 

“He changed!” said Rani, gaping slightly in spite of herself as the huge penguin dwindled back to blend with the Rockhoppers and waddled off towards the partly concealed keeper’s door at the side.

“Yes, of course. He can do that. He’s very nice, really, and an excellent detective too.”

They watched as the side door suddenly opened and one penguin flapped through it. It slammed closed again.  The few strolling park patrons didn’t seem to think anything of it, though one more observant little boy was getting a lecture about exaggerating as he was pulled away.

“Let’s go find them,” said Ace. “He can’t bring that penguin out here or they’ll just lock him back up.”

The others agreed.  Making their way around the side of the enclosure, Evelyn led them down a side path where the brightly coloured coat was just visible around the bend.  The Doctor was rolling a wheeled rubbish bin, rapidly striding with his long legs so they had to hurry to keep up.  Finally reaching the bushes where the TARDIS was parked, they gathered around as he opened the lid.

Frobisher gasped for air and coughed.  “You really couldn’t find me better transportation than that?” he asked as they helped him out and briefly made introductions.  “I’d rather have ridden in a pram!”

“I don’t hear much gratitude for the rescue,” the Doctor said, putting a hand to his ear.

“I’m grateful all right?  You aren’t going to believe what I found out, seriously.  You know the giraffes?”

“A talking penguin.  I kind of like that,” Rani said.

“I always thought penguins were cool,” Ace agreed.

“I’ll pretend you didn’t say that,” Frobisher answered with a click of his beak.

“He’s a Whifferdill, dear,” Evelyn said distractedly from where she’d had taken a seat on a bench with her knitting. “Oh, I think I dropped a loop. What about giraffes?”

“I don’t know them personally, but yes, there are giraffes here.  Why?” asked the Doctor. 

“They’re evil vampire giraffes!” Frobisher said emphatically.  “They’re out for blood, and I mean they really are!  They’ve locked them up in the giraffe house for now, but it’s crazy.  The keepers are talking about testing for rabies and stuff like that, but I saw them.  They have fangs! It isn’t natural.

Evelyn didn’t look up from her knitting. “Doctor, what do you make of this kind of problem with giraffes? It sounds a bit farfetched to me, they’re such gentle creatures.”

“You wouldn’t think so if you’d met these two,” Frobisher said.

“Well,” the Doctor responded thoughtfully, “I can see it being quite logical, really.  Vampires of any kind would love a giraffe.  They have all that neck to work with, you know, I suppose feeding on one would be the equivalent of family style dining.”

“But these are evil giraffes, not just vampires,” Frobisher pointed out.

“Pshaw. Evil giraffes would only be evil because that feeding would have subsequently turned them into vampire-giraffes themselves.  Probably a vampiric virus or parasite.  They’d be hampered by the lack of anything with blood up where they are so they’re more likely just cranky and hungry due to their diet being mainly hay, leaves and peanuts.”

“At least peanuts have protein,” Evelyn pointed out, quietly counting stitches.

Rani was still distracted with Frobisher. “Can I pat your head?” she asked curiously.

“No.  And yes,” Frobisher continued to the Doctor, “They’re very cranky, as you say, if you mean trying to lunge at the keepers and bite their necks looking for blood is cranky.”

“Peanuts.  Very true.  In fact, I’ve always thought there was more than one way to feed a vampire.”  The Doctor snapped his fingers.  “You know what this reminds me of?  The time Sarah Jane and I found an octopus in the TARDIS bathtub.  It was there for almost the exact same reason.”

“An octopus?  That can’t have been for peanuts,” Rani said.

“Yeah.  And it couldn’t have the teeth to be a vampire, right?  You don’t make any more sense than the Professor does,” Ace agreed.

The Doctor ignored her, holding up a finger significantly. “I have it!  I know where we can find the answer to this puzzle.  Vampire giraffes are hardly a common occurrence in history…”

“You mean they’ve happened before?” wondered Ace. “What are the odds of that?”

“Where we need to go is ancient Egypt!  I vaguely remember seeing some hieroglyphics along those lines there, images that depicted just such an animal.

“Ancient Egypt?” Rani said. 

“A hieroglyph of an octopus in a bathtub?” said Frobisher.  “That had to be a forgery.”

“I think he meant the giraffe,” Evelyn said, putting away her knitting again, seeing as they were going to be on their way. “There were giraffes not too far from there, weren’t there?  Egypt is a part of Africa, if I remember correctly.”

“Of course ancient Egypt!  It’s only a hop, it’s even still on the same planet.  Not that ancient, even, by comparison to some things.  Come along!” The Doctor turned, obviously expecting them all to follow him.

“Wait! Look here,” Rani said. “No offense or anything but I really don’t think I ought to just be disappearing off to ancient Egypt.   I mean, I’m glad I could help you with the zoo and all that, but…”

“It’s all right,” Evelyn said, patting her arm.  “I think you’re a very wise girl.  Your parents might be quite worried if you weren’t back for tea and he isn’t very punctual sometimes, in spite of being called a Time Lord.”

Rani laughed. “I have a friend who says the same thing.”

“Aw, I was hoping you’d come with us.  We could be buds,” said Ace. “I’d watch out for you.  The Professor will show up eventually, and you’d like him.”

“Sorry, Ace. I like you too, and I believe you.  I just really think I should stay here this time.”

“Well, all right,” Ace said unhappily.  Rani gave hugs all around, even to Frobisher, then excused herself to catch a bus, taking with her instructions from Ace to let the Doctor know where she had gone, if he should turn up in any form at all, but most especially if he should turn up with darker hair, a panama hat and an umbrella.

4.

“Off we go, then,” the Doctor said, waving Evelyn, Ace and Frobisher into the TARDIS.  It was, as he had said, only a hop to Ancient Egypt, though it took them three tries to get it exactly where he was apparently aiming for.  The grinding finally faded away and the Doctor conceded to opening the door. 

They found themselves in a hallway carved in dark sandstone with the arid desert air scented of heat just a little ways beyond.  The other way led to a shallow flight of narrow steps and a few paces beyond that, to a stone doorway, wider and slightly lower than usual.

They filed down the steps.

“Is it a tomb?” whispered Ace.

“Look, it has a giraffe on it,” Evelyn said.

“I think it’s a dead giraffe,” Frobisher deducted. “An important dead giraffe.”

“Shh!” the Doctor said.  “Notice,” he added, pointing at the detailing on the giraffe image painted on the doorway. 

“Blinkin’… it’s got vampire teeth!” Ace said.  “What is this, the zoo of the underworld?”

“Underworld!  Oh yes, remember those Welsh myths we were reading a while back?” Evelyn said, turning to pat the Doctor’s sleeve though he didn’t pay her any attention. “Didn’t Annwn have some rather odd creatures that this would fit in with? Maybe it has some kind of connection.”

“Who’s Annwn?” asked Ace.

“What, rather than who.  It’s what the Welsh called their underworld,” she said and looked at the image on the door thoughtfully.  “I wonder why underworlds are always populated by things that are unnatural?”

“Vitamin D deficiency.” stated Frobisher.

The Doctor experimentally pushed in on the protruding horns of the vampiric giraffe depiction.  There was a brief groaning noise and the sound of sand and rock rubbing up against one another as the door opened up before them.  He pushed it the rest of the way back and they stepped into the chamber beyond.

There was a lit torch.  And a robed man with an armload of gold figurines.

The gold fell to the floor with a clatter and the man yanked the hood of the robe over his head.  Raising clawed hands in a menacing pose he intoned in a sepulchral voice, “Who are you? I… am… the spirit of…the giraffe! I’ll curse you for disturbing my peace!”

The Doctor shook his head in disgust. “Oh good heavens, it’s you? Oh, not again. Come to think of it, I do recall there was something odd going on last time I was here.”

The Monk paused, then reluctantly quit the pose, pulling his hood back off so he could see.  “What do you mean, again? I just got here.  And I got here first, so, finder’s keepers!”

“You’ve been here before?” Ace wondered, looking at the Doctor. “Were you wearing a sort of jumper with question marks on it then?” 

Six glanced over at her. “Question marks?”

“Well, you do have a definite style,” Ace shrugged.  “I’m just wondering if you’re going to show up.  Again, I mean.”

“Yes, I can see there is. Or was.  Look here,” another voice said behind them.  Stepping over the door’s dusty threshold a small man in a black frock coat and checkered trousers entered the room. “It seems we’re all having a party. How lovely!”  A dark woman in more modern dress tentatively followed him. “Come along, Martha, come along.  Pardon me, we were just coming through looking for Jamie.  You haven’t seen him, have you?  Oh my, is that a penguin?  How perfectly delightful.” 

“That’s Frobisher, he’s a Whiffle-ball,” Ace said. “Let me guess, you’re the Doctor too.”

“Whifferdill!” Frobisher corrected with dignity.

“Why yes,” the man answered Ace with a little bow. “How kind of you to notice.”

The Monk was startling all over again.  “You! I thought I was done with the likes of you.”

Two smiled at him beatifically. “Not until you’re finally done with meddling, a habit I can see you haven’t given up.”

The Monk adjusted his habit with a frown, then suddenly pulled something from the folds, raising up a dagger.  “Stay back! Stay back, I say!  The gold is mine, I tell you!”

“Oh, don’t be stupid,” Six snapped. “We haven’t any use for the stuff.”

Frobisher peered closely at his reflection in one of the golden vessels, leaving the Monk blinking at the lack of response to his threat.  “Are you sure? A bit of filthy lucre might be nice with tea. Ow! Evelyn, stop poking me with those needles of yours!”

“I will as soon as you show a little more maturity.”

“Maturity?” the penguin complained, flapping. “What does being rich have to do with maturity?”

“It’s probably cursed or something anyway,” Ace said.

“Wait a minute,” Two snapped, catching a better view of the dagger the Monk still hesitantly held.  “Isn’t that Jamie’s? Where did you get that?”

“None of your business!” the Monk said, suddenly, guiltily, hiding it behind his back.

“I very much think it is my business,” Two said sternly.  “Where is he?”

“I don’t know!”

Six stepped forward and lifted the Monk by the scruff of his habit so he had to stand on his tiptoes. “Come now,” he smiled. “Do tell.”

“I…erg….I didn’t….ack…muh-muh-gah-gah-gah-gah…” the Monk babbled as Six shook him.

“Oh, put him down!” Two said. “I can’t understand a word he’s saying with you bobbling him like that.”

“Be nice,” Evelyn said.

The Monk gasped and rubbed at his neck. “The boy with the knife, he chased me with it! It was truly a terrifying moment,” he huffed.

“Doesn’t sound like you were too scared to me,” Ace commented cynically from where she was still watching the stairs.  Two extended an imperious hand, palm up and after a moment the Monk reluctantly yielded the dagger.

“Well, it was young lady! It was,” the Monk continued. “Is it any wonder I pushed my assailant away?  Is it any fault of mine he fell into a time spout that I hadn’t even known was there?”

“A time spout?” Six said significantly picking him up again.

“Exactly how unaware were you?” Two asked politely, holding his gaze.

“Er, just, just a little aware perhaps.”  Six shook him. “Uh…buh-buh-buh…I guess quite a b-b-bit aware… nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh….naaagh, all right! I…agggh…ack, was back here to, to take a look at it!”

Two had already turned away from him, rubbing his hands together thoughtfully as he walked over to a wavering depiction of a vampire giraffe on the wall. “Very spouty. I wonder where it goes?”

“We bet we already know!” Ace said from the doorway. “It probably goes to where we just came from, back at the zoo!”

5.

Frobisher nodded at Ace’s exclamation. “Where else would there be vampire giraffes but at that particular zoo?” he agreed.

“Did the giraffes come through that too, then?” Evelyn wondered. “It looks much too small for them.”

“I’ve seen weirder things that that,” Martha said. “It’s part of why I’m here.”  She turned to Evelyn and held out a hand. “Hi, I’m Martha. And that’s the Doctor, or one of him.”

“Yes, dearie, I can see he is,” Evelyn said with a smile. “I’m Evelyn Smythe and this is Frobisher.”

Six pushed the Monk to one side and straightened his cuffs. “No, more likely something from here caused the effect.”

“Oh, I quite agree,” Two said. “Something from here.”

“Like Jamie?” Martha asked.

“What? Oh no, no. Jamie would just be along for the ride, so to speak.” He turned back to the Monk at the same time as Six.

“What did Jamie take with him?” they both demanded at once.

The Monk’s eyes bulged a little.  “He was holding one of those canopic jars, he was trying to bludgeon me with it.  Terrible experience, I tell you.”

“That’s it then!” both Six and Two exclaimed then gave each other annoyed looks.  After a moment, Two waved a hand at Six.

“The jar must have had the heart from something or someone who had been infected with the vampiric virus.” 

“Yes, though I do hope Jamie had the good sense not to open it himself,” Two noted.

“There wasn’t any sign of him at the zoo, not with the giraffes anyway,” Six said.

“What does he look like?” Frobisher asked.

There was a babble as Two, Six, the Monk and Martha all started talking at once. Frobisher flapped. “Quiet!”

They all looked at one another as the penguin continued. “I heard enough. He was that strange chap hiding at the Penguin Beach.”

“Professor!” Ace said happily from the doorway.

“Hello, Ace. I met a very nice young girl who said you were looking for me. You came rather a long way to concoct a meeting place, I must say.”  Seven turned to the people crowded into the small room and tipped his hat politely. “No need to explain.  I remember this.  Have you gotten to the part where you figured out where Jamie was? Ah. Excellent. Let’s go then.  It looks like we have three TARDIS’, well four with the Monk’s I suppose, so everyone can have a good window seat.”

“Four?  You mean you’re going to let me go back to my ship?” the Monk said in surprise.

“Oh yes,” Seven said.  The others looked at him, equally surprised.  “Let him go,” he said. There was an odd note of authority and knowledge in his voice that made all of them, even his other selves, step back from the cowled figure in question.  The Monk wasted no time at all in making a dash for his TARDIS, which was apparently one of the shadowy statues in the room’s far nook.  There was a grinding and it faded away.  “He still has some part to play in this ongoing game of Time,” said Seven mysteriously.  “Now! Off we go.”

At the zoo, the animals once again shifted uneasily in their enclosures at the odd sound of grinding as it sang out in triplicate.  Three blue police boxes arrived just a little after closing time, scattered about near the entrance to the African section.

It didn’t take long to find Jamie.  The sound of the TARDIS was a sound like no other and it called him out of hiding so quickly they didn’t even have a chance to see where he had been.

“Doctor! Martha! Boy, am I glad to see you,” Jamie said, puffing as he ran up to them gratefully. “You’d never believe how I ended up here…”

“Oh, yes we would,” Martha said, giving him a hug. “Glad to see you aren’t a vampire, too.”  She paused and suddenly pushed him out to arm’s length for a closer look. “Are you?  You didn’t let that vampire thing in the jar bite you?”

“What?”  Jamie looked offended.  “D’ye think I’m daft?  As soon as that beastie came crawling out, I wasn’t comin’ anywhere about it.  It hied off  that way.”

“Towards the giraffe pen,” Six noted with a nod.

“That’s right. Doctor, look, one o’ the penguins, it got out!  I’ll get it.”  Jamie suddenly ran at Frobisher, arms spread wide, trying to herd him back in the direction of the Penguin Beach.  “Chick chick chick, come along!”

“Hey!” Frobisher protested. “Stop calling me a chick or I’ll show you what this beak can do.”

Jamie gulped. “It’s talkin’!”

“It’s a Whiffleball…diller,” Ace said. “He just looks like a penguin.”

“Whifferdill!” Frobisher, Six and Evelyn all corrected.

“Hey, sorry!” Ace said, holding up her hands. “Sorry, Mr. Whifflerdill.”

Two patted Jamie’s arm. “Don’t mind them,” he said. “Now, are you quite sure the vampire that came from the jar was alive and moving?”

“Oh yes it was!  Crawlin’ along over the ground. Though it didn’t look very much like a bat or anything, it looked like a mess o’ pottage with teeth.”

“Ew,” Martha and Evelyn sympathized.

“Rad,” said Ace.

“And it didn’t touch you?” Six asked.

“No, I already said …Who are you?” Jamie asked. “Is there a circus as well as a zoo here?”

“But what about the giraffes?” Martha said.  “Is there any way we can find a cure?”

“Well, I’m not sure…” Two said.

“Circus?” spluttered Six as Evelyn chuckled.

“Yes,” said Seven.  He reached in his coat pocket. “I have it here.”

“What? You have a cure, just like that?” Martha asked in astonishment.

“You have to remember, I am the Doctor,” Seven smiled.  “I’ve been here before, so I had plenty of time to think about how to cure it.  Besides, I remembered that I had cured it in the past, or the present if you will, which was the future then, of course, so obviously I had to come up with something and I finally did.”  He pulled out a wad of string, a sandwich bag with a bite of sandwich in it and a nightlight bulb then tried his other pocket. “Ah, here we are.”  A small packet wrapped up in a giraffe-spotted novelty handkerchief was opened up revealing four large, somewhat granular tablets.  “I thought the handkerchief might help me remember what it was for."

The others gathered around to see them curiously as he held them up in a quiet triumph.  Each was slightly green-grey and about the size of a flattened plum. “Now we’ve only to get both of the giraffes to swallow two tablets each.  Without trying to bite any of us in the process.”

6.

“So, who would like to bell the proverbial cat?” Six asked, stuffing his hands into his pockets and rocking back on his heels.  He looked around the circle.

“I’m a doctor,” said Martha. “I’ve gotten plenty of people to swallow pills.”

“These are giraffes,” Ace said.  “Not bloomin’ people in hospital.”

“I know,” said Martha.

“We just don’t want you to risk yourself unnecessarily,” Evelyn soothed. “Now what do you propose?”

“I’m not risking anyone.  All we have to do is put them into something the giraffes will eat anyway and leave it where they can get it.  Basic common sense.  If they were penguins you could put them in a fish, for instance.”

“Depends,” said Frobisher. “What kind of fish? Red snapper is very tasty.”

“Inside a head of lettuce?” suggested Ace.

“Or a cabbage,” added Jamie.

“I wish we had some peanut butter,” Martha mused.

“No, no, no,” said Two. “These aren’t normal giraffes. You’re all thinking of things normal giraffes would like.”

“Exactly.  These are evil vampire giraffes,” Frobisher nodded.

“Evil? I don’t know if I would call them evil,” Two frowned.

“That’s precisely what I said,” said Six.

“I wouldn’t call them evil,” said Seven.

“Obviously,” Frobisher said. “Thrice over.  But I like the sound of it anyway.”

“So,” said Ace. “What’s a not-evil vampire giraffe like to eat?”

“Something nice and meaty, of course.  Do any of me have any steaks handy?  I’m afraid Jamie ate all of mine.”

“I do,” said Seven. “Because I’ve been here before.  I bought some just for the occasion down at the meat market today.”

“So that’s where you went!” said Ace.

The Doctor paused to touch his hat. “Sorry, Ace. Took longer than I expected.  Do run to the TARDIS, will you?  They’re in the console room, just inside the door.”

“Not in a refrigerator?” asked Martha as Ace ran off.

“Goodness no.  It may be a bit unsavoury to us, but vampires of all types prefer their food to be as close to regular body temperature as possible.”

As soon as the steaks were produced, Jamie let them use his dagger, which he was glad to have back again, to cut flaps for inserting the pills.  They all walked to the giraffe house and found the sheltered concrete hallway where Two and Six bumped one another’s shoulders trying to be the one to unlatch the locked door, ignoring the large hand-lettered sign telling everyone to Keep Out Due to Quarantine.   It was an almost anticlimactic end to the problem as the pills were inserted and the steaks tossed in, though the scramble to slam the door before a long neck could propel a nasty, hungry mouth right at them.  Frobisher had been right, they had to agree, there was definitely something evil about that after all.

“Will they eat them?” Martha worried.

“Oh yes,” assured Seven from behind them. “As I said…”

“You’ve been here before!” chorused the others.

He raised his brows in surprise then smiled.  “Yes. So I also know the keepers are about to come in here and catch us, if we don’t get out that door there right away.  When I say run…”

There was a thumping of feet and the other door cracked open. “Run!” said Two.

They all piled out the opposite door with the sound of men shouting behind them.  Seven let them all pass then paused to latch their escape and lock it against further pursuit before going off to scoop up a golden canopic jar from the greenery, its lid firmly taped shut.  He quickly trotted with it across the way to the other half of the zoo and turned for the aquarium.

“Sarah Jane! Look, there it is,” a tall man with far too much scarf about his neck pointed, striding towards him. 

A young dark-haired lady trotted at his heels.  “Did you have to let a gorilla out?  It might get us instead of someone else, you know.”

“Merely a useful distraction,” the tall man said.  “Excuse me, do you mind if I have a look at that jar you’re carrying?”

“Not at all,” Seven said cheerfully and handed it over then tipped his hat to Sarah Jane. “I hope it’s useful.  Just remember that the octopus will need at least 48 hours to metabolize the parasite after it eats it.”  He turned and trotted away. “Must be going now, you know how it is!”

“Ah yes, how time flies,” the other Doctor said and smiled toothily, tucking the jar under his arm.

Panting, the others had reached the point where they would need to split off to the three ships.  With a chorus of hurried goodbyes, they each ran to their particular police box and clambered in.   There was a grinding as two of the three faded away.

Ace waited beside ‘her’ TARDIS, which was still locked.  Slipping around it into the shadows, she flattened herself against it and watched as several men in night guard and zookeeper uniforms went past with torches waving.  There was the sound of a phone ringing somewhere, a motorized golf cart whizzing past and shouts that faded off towards the entrance gate.

“Hullo, Ace.”

“Professor! You about made me jump out of my skin. Where have you been? Didn’t you see all those men chasing us?”

“Oh, they weren’t chasing us, Ace.  They were chasing the gorilla I just recently let loose.” 

“A gorilla!”

“I thought it would be a useful distraction.  After all, I’ve….”

“Don’t even say it.”

He grinned and tweaked the end of her nose, then opened the door and bowed, waving her on before him.  There was a twirl of an umbrella and the door hummed shut, then a grinding sound as it faded away into the air.

Fin

 

 
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