“Oh, wait until you see what I’ve got planned for us!” The Doctor grinned, setting the coordinates. Lilith tried to silently peek over his shoulder, but he covered the monitor. “Nope.”
Lilith retreated to Rose’s side. “Come on, then. Impress us.”
“He thinks he’s so impressive,” Rose said, her tongue between her teeth.
“I am so impressive!” the Doctor insisted with a pout. The TARDIS landed with her normal shudder that threw them all to the floor. The Doctor was the first to get up and open the door.
He immediately closed the door. “Wrong place.”
Lilith, who had gotten a peek outside, laughed. “There’s something blocking the door, isn’t there?”
The Doctor neglected to answer on his way back to the console. They dematerialized and rematerialized a second later. “Ah, much better!” He exited the TARDIS, Rose and Lilith on his heels.
“So, near future, yeah?” Rose said, noting a nearby poster.
“I had a passing fancy.” The Doctor shrugged. “Only it didn't pass, it stopped.” They walked under a banner announcing the 2012 Olympics.
“The thirtieth Olympiad.”
“No way!” Rose exclaimed. “Why didn't I think of this? That's great.”
“Only seems like yesterday a few naked Greek blokes were tossing a discus about, wrestling each other in the sand with crowds stood around baying. No, wait a minute, that was Club Med.” The Doctor bumped shoulders with Rose. “Just in time for the opening doo dah, ceremony, tonight, I thought you'd like that. Last one they had in London was dynamite. Wembley, 1948. I loved it so much; I went back and watched it all over again. Fella carrying the torch, lovely chap, what was his name?"
Lilith noticed a man putting up a poster and she wandered over.
The Doctor kept talking. “Mark? John? Mark? Legs like pipe cleaners, but strong as a whippet.”
“Rose, check this out.” Lilith frowned.
“And in those days, everybody had a tea party to go to.”
“Doctor!” Rose called.
“Did you ever have one of those little cakes with the crunchy ball bearings on top?”
“You should really look at this.”
“Do you know those things? Nobody else in this entire galaxy's ever even bothered to make edible ball bearings. Genius." The Doctor wandered back over to Rose and Lilith, and read the two posters. Missing child posters for a boy named Dale Hicks. “What's taking them, do you think? Snatching children from a thoroughly ordinary street like this. Why's it so cold? Is someone reducing the temperature?”
“It says they all went missing this week. Why would a person do something like this?” Rose wondered.
Lilith cocked an eyebrow at her. “What makes you think it's a person?”
“Whatever it is, it's got the whole street scared to death. Doctor, what—?” But the Doctor had already run up the street to investigate the front lawn and its soccer goal. He held his hand out over the grass.
A man in a Mini drove onto the road, and the engine gave out. One of the road menders went over to help. They pushed the car forward.
“Do you want a hand?” Lilith asked.
“No, we're all right, love,” the road mender said.
“You're not.” Rose chuckled. “We're tougher than we look, honest.” They joined the road mender pushing at the back of the car, and the engine suddenly burst to life. “Does this happen a lot?” Rose asked.
“Been doing it all week.” The road mender brushed off his hands.
“Since those children started going missing?”
He scratched the back of his head. “Yeah, I suppose so. Every car cuts out. The council are going nuts. I mean, they've given this street the works. Renamed it. I've been tarmacking every pothole. Look at that.” He pointed them out. “Beauty, innit? Yeah! And all that is because that Olympic Torch comes right by the end of this Close. Just down there. Everything's got to be perfect, ain't it? Only it ain't.”
“It takes them when they're playing,” an old woman said, coming over.
“What takes them?” Lilith questioned.
“Danny, Jane, Dale. Snatched in the blink of an eye.”
A man had the Doctor backing away onto the road. “I'm, I'm a police officer! That's what I am. I've got a badge and a police car. You don't have to get. I can, I can prove it. Just hold on.”
“We've had plenty of coppers poking around here, and you don't look or sound like any of them,” the man accused.
“See, look. I've got colleagues. Lewis and Lilith.” The Doctor motioned to Lilith and Rose.
“Well, they look less like coppers than you do.”
“Training. New recruits. It was either that or hairdressing, so, voila!” The Doctor brandished his psychic paper in front of the man.
Another woman came over. “What are you going to do?”
“The police have knocked on every door. No clues, no leads, nothing,” the old lady said.
The man shrugged. “Look, kids run off sometimes, all right? That's what they do.”
“Saw it with me own eyes!” the old lady insisted. “Dale Hicks in your garden, playing with your Tommy, and then pfft! Right in front of me, like he was never there. There's no need to look any further than this street. It's right here amongst us.”
“Why don't we—?”
“Why don't we start with him?” A new woman pointed at the road mender. “There's been all sorts like him in this street, day and night.”
“Fixing things up for the Olympics!” he protested.
“Yeah, and taking an awful long time about it,” Tommy’s dad commented.
Everyone started talking at once, blaming someone or other and making less and less sense. The Doctor got fed up with no one listening. “Fingers on lips!” he shouted.
Confused, everyone joined the Doctor in making the shush gesture. He shot a pointed look at Lilith, who rolled her eyes and put her finger on her lips.
“In the last six days,” he continued, “three of your children have been stolen. Snatched out of thin air, right?”
“Look around you.” The old lady gestured around the street. “This was a safe street till it came. It's not a person. I'll say it if no one else will. Maybe you're coppers; maybe you're not. I don't care who you are. Can you please help us?”
“We promise that we’ll help in anyway we can,” Lilith assured her.
Everyone went back to his or her respective houses and Lilith and Rose followed the Doctor as he returned to Tommy’s house. He walked around the front yard, sniffing.
Rose raised her eyebrows. “Want a hanky?”
“Can you smell it?” the Doctor asked. “What does it remind you of?”
Lilith sniffed. “Metallic,” she decided.
“Mhm.” They made their way to an area between two lots of back gardens. “Danny Edwards cycled in one end but never came out the other. Whoa, there it goes again!” He held up his hand. “Look at the hairs on the back of my manly hairy hand.”
“Manly hairy hand?” Lilith repeated with a snort.
“And there's that smell,” Rose noted. “It's like a, er, a burnt fuse plug or something.”
“There’s a residual energy in the spots where the kids vanished. Whatever it was, it used an awful lot of power to do this.”
They went back to the main street where a ginger cat was sitting by the curb. “Aren't you a beautiful boy?” Rose cooed.
“Thanks!” the Doctor preened. “I'm experimenting with back combing. Oh.” His smile dropped when he realized she was talking to the cat. Lilith snickered.
Rose looked back up at the Doctor. “What?”
“Nothing, I'm not really a cat person.” He shrugged. “Once you've been threatened by one in a nun's wimple, it kind of takes the joy out of it.”
The cat climbed inside cardboard box. “Come here, puss. What do you want to go in there for?” Rose tipped over the box. It was empty.
“Lil, Doctor.” She waved them over. Lilith wrinkled her nose. The smell was very strong.
“Whoa!” the Doctor exclaimed. “Ion residue. Blimey! That takes some doing. Just to snatch a living organism out of space-time. This baby is just like; I'm having some of that. I'm impressed.”
“So the cat's been transported?” Rose questioned.
“Whatever is taking those kids and that cat is harnessing huge reserves of ionic power,” Lilith explained. “If we can find the source of that power…”
“Find the source and you will find whatever has taken to stealing children and fluffy animals,” the Doctor finished. “See what you can see. Keep them peeled, Lewis.” Lilith reached into the Doctor’s pocket and pulled out the sonic screwdriver. “Oi!” he protested.
“Oh, calm down.” Lilith huffed.
They heard Rose, who had wandered off, cry out. The Doctor grabbed the sonic back and ran towards her voice. “Stay still!” He pointed his sonic screwdriver at the big ball of grey and black that was attacking Rose, and the ball became hand sized. Rose grabbed it.
“Okay there, Tyler?” Lilith offered Rose her hand.
She accepted it and let Lilith pull her to her feet. “Yeah, cheers.”
“I'll give you a fiver if you can tell me what the hell it is, because I haven't got the foggiest.” the Doctor said, poking the ball with the screwdriver.
“Well, I can tell you you've just killed it.”
“It was never living. It's animated by energy, same energy that's snatching people. That is so dinky! The go anywhere creature. Fits in your pocket, makes friends, impresses the boss, breaks the ice at parties.”
Lilith snatched it from his hand. “Let’s just figure out what it is, kay?”
Back in the TARDIS, Lilith dropped the ball into a scanner. The monitor beeped and its composition was displayed in Gallifreyan on the screen. “Get out of here.”
“What's it say?” Rose asked.
The Doctor used the eraser end of a pencil on the ball, and rubbed some of it out. “It is. It's graphite, basically the same material as an HB pencil.”
Rose frowned. “I was attacked by a pencil scribble?”
“Scribble creature, brought into being with ionic energy. Whatever we're dealing with, it can create things as well as take them. But why make a scribble creature?” he wondered.
“Maybe it was a mistake I mean, you scribble over something when you want to get rid of it, like a, like a drawing. Like a… a child's drawing.” Lilith and the Doctor looked at Rose who had seemed to realize something. “You said it was in the street.”
“Probably,” the Doctor agreed.
“Of course!” He paused. “What girl?”
“Something about her gave me the creeps,” Rose said. “Even her own mum looked scared of her.”
“Are you deducting?” the Doctor asked slyly.
Rose grinned. “I think I am.”
“Permission to follow it up, Sarge?”
Lilith, who was already at the door, coughed to get their attention. “Shall I give you two some privacy? Or are you ready to go?”
They made their way back to the street and the Doctor rang the doorbell. It was the mother, Trish, who eventually answered the door. He grinned. “Hello. I'm the Doctor and this is Rose and Lilith. Can we see your daughter?”
“No, you can't,” Trish responded immediately.
“Okay. Bye.” The trio started to walk away.
“Why? Why do you want to see Chloe?”
“Well, there's some interesting stuff going on in this street and I just thought, well, we thought, that she might like to give us a hand,” the Doctor said.
Lilith shrugged. “But if we can’t see her, it’s fine. Sorry to bother you.”
“Yeah, sorry. We'll let you get on with things. On your own. Bye again.”
“Wait!” Trish called after them. “Can you help her?”
“Yes,” the Doctor said, sincerely, “I can.”
Trish led them into the living room. “She stays in her room most of the time. I try talking to her, but it's like trying to speak to a brick wall. She gives me nothing, just asks to be left alone.”
“What about Chloe's dad?” Rose asked.
Trish hesitated before answering, “Chloe's dad died a year ago.”
“You wouldn't be if you'd known him,” she said.
“Well, let's go and say hi,” the Doctor suggested.
“I should check on her first. She might be asleep.”
Lilith looked at the girl’s mother. “Why are you afraid of her, Trish?”
“I want you to know before you see her that's she's really a great kid,” Trish insisted.
“I'm sure she is,” the Doctor said.
“She's never been in trouble at school you should see her report from last year. A's and B's.”
“Can I use your loo?” asked Rose.
Trish nodded, then turned back to Lilith and the Doctor. “She's in the choir. She's singing in an old folks home. Any mum would be proud. You know I want you to know these things before you see her, Doctor, because right now, she's not herself.”
The girl came down the stairs and walked passed them into the kitchen. The Doctor followed her. “All right, there? I'm the Doctor.”
“I'm Chloe Webber,” the girl said.
“How're you doing, Chloe Webber?”
“I'm busy. I'm making something, aren't I, Mum?”
“And like I said, she's not been sleeping,” Trish added.
“But you've been drawing, though. I'm rubbish. Stick men about my limit. Can do this, though.” The Doctor gave Chloe the Vulcan salute. “Can you do that?”
Lilith raised her eyebrows, but stayed silent and let the Doctor do his thing.
“They don't stop moaning,” Chloe said.
“Chloe,” Trish warned.
“I try to help them, but they don't stop moaning.”
“Who don't?” the Doctor asked.
“We can be together.”
Trish tried to reach for Chloe. “Sweetheart.”
Chloe jerked away. “Don't touch me, Mum. I'm busy, Doctor.”
“Come on, Chloe. Don't be a spoilsport,” the Doctor pressed. “What's the big project? I'm dying to know. What're you making up there?”
“Doctor!” Rose screamed from the second floor.
Lilith and the Doctor exchanged horrified glances before sprinting up the stairs and to Chloe’s bedroom. The doors to the closet were open and Rose was leaning towards them. The Doctor slammed them shut.
“Look at it,” Rose breathed.
Lilith looked around the room. One of the walls was covered in drawings. Drawings that seemed to be staring right at her. Lilith shivered.
“What've you been drawing?” Trish asked her daughter.
“I'm drew him yesterday,” Chloe replied.
The Doctor was studying on of the pieces of paper through his specs. Lilith walked over to him. “It’s just a piece of paper. What’s so special about it?” She kept her voice low.
“It’s one of the missing kids,” he said. “Tell us about the drawings, Chloe.”
“I don't want to hear any more of this!” Trish insisted.
“But that drawing of her dad,” Rose protested. “I heard a voice. He spoke.”
“He's dead. And these, they're kid's pictures. Now get out!” the mother demanded.
“Chloe has a power. And I don't know how, but she used it to take Danny Edwards, Dale Hicks. She's using it to snatch the kids.”
Rose stepped towards Trish. “Have you seen those drawings move?”
“I haven't seen anything,” she denied.
“Yes, you have,” the Doctor said. “Out of the corner of your eye.”
“And you dismissed it, because what choice do you have when you see something you can't possibly explain? You dismiss it, right? And if anyone mentions it, you get angry, so it's never spoken of, ever again.”
“She's a child.”
“And you're terrified of her. But there's nowhere to turn to, because who's going to believe the things you see out of the corner of your eye? No one. Except us.”
“Who are you?”
Lilith put her hand on the woman’s arm. “We’re help.”