Rose stepped out of the TARDIS in full 50’s gear, her hair up in a headband, and a jacket similar to Lilith’s denim one. “I thought we'd be going for the Vegas era, you know the white flares and the, grr, chest hair,” she said.
The Doctor poked his head out. “You are kidding, aren't you? You want to see Elvis, you go for the late fifties,” he said. “The time before burgers. When they called him the Pelvis and he still had a waist. What's more, you see him in style.”
He rode a TARDIS blue scooter out of the ship. He was wearing a white crash helmet and shades. Lilith sat behind him wearing a grey one.
“You going my way, doll?” The Doctor imitated Elvis’s voice.
“Is there any other way to go, daddy-o?” Rose grinned and slipped on pink sunglasses. “Straight from the fridge, man.”
“Hey, you speak the lingo.”
“Oh well, me, mum, Cliff Richard movies every Bank Holiday Monday.” She got on the scooter behind Lilith and put on a pink crash helmet.
Lilith looked back at her. “I knew your mother would be a Cliff fan.”
“Where we off to?” Rose asked as they rode off down the street.
“Ed Sullivan TV Studios. Elvis did Hound Dog on one of the shows. There were loads of complaints. Bit of luck, we'll just catch it,” the Doctor replied.
“And that'll be TV studios in, what, New York?”
“That's the one.” The Doctor pulled up by a red post box and they noticed the ton of Union Flag bunting strung between the houses.
“Ha!” Lilith laughed. “Digging that New York vibe!”
“Well,” the Doctor rubbed the back of his neck, “this could still be New York. I mean, this looks very New York to me. Sort of London-y New York, mind.”
“What are all the flags for?” Rose wondered.
Down the street, people were taking an old school TV out of a van. “There you go, sir,” a man said. “All wired up for the great occasion."
“The great occasion? What do you mean?” the Doctor asked.
The man looked at him. “Where've you been living, out in the Colonies? Coronation, of course.”
“Which Coronation?” asked Lilith.
“What do you mean? The Coronation. It's the Queen's. Queen Elizabeth."
The Doctor’s eyes widened. “Oh! Is this 1953?”
“Last time I looked,” the man said. “Time for a lovely bit of pomp and circumstance, what we do best.”
“Look at all the TV aerials,” Rose said, looking around. “Looks like everyone's got one. That's weird. My nan said tellies were so rare they all had to pile into one house.”
“Not around here, love. Magpie's Marvelous Tellies, only five quid a pop.”
“Oh, but this is a brilliant year!” the Doctor said excitedly. “Classic! Technicolor, Everest climbed, everything off the ration. The nation throwing off the shadows of war and looking forward to a happier, brighter future.”
“Someone help me, please! Ted!” a woman yelled. Two burly men in black suits dragged a person into the back of a car, with a blanket over their head. “Leave him alone! He's my husband! Please!” the woman pleaded.
“What's going on?” Lilith wondered.
A boy ran out of a different house. “Oi, what are you doing?” he demanded.
“Police business. Now, get out of the way, sir,” snapped one of the men.
“Who did they take?” Rose asked the boy. “Do you know him?”
“Must be Mister Gallagher,” he told her. The car drove away. “It's happening all over the place. They're turning into monsters.”
Another man came out of the boy’s house. “Tommy! Not one word! Get inside now!”
“Sorry. I'd better do as he says,” Tommy said and went back into his house.
The trio got back on the moped. “All aboard!” the Doctor yelled followed the car. They turned a corner and came to a dead end. The car was nowhere in sight. “Lost them. How'd they get away from us?”
“Surprised they didn't turn back and arrest you for reckless driving. Have you actually passed your test?” Rose chided.
“No,” Lilith commented with a grin.
The Doctor surveyed the alley. “Men in black? Vanishing police cars? This is Churchill's England, not Stalin's Russia.”
“Monsters, that boy said. Maybe we should go and ask the neighbors?” Rose suggested.
He smiled at her. “That's what I like about you. The domestic approach.”
Lilith rolled her eyes.
“Thank you.” Rose paused. “Hold on, was that an insult?”
The Doctor zoomed off again. They went back to the street they were on before and rang the doorbell to Tommy’s house. The boy’s father answered the door.
“Hi!” Rose, the Doctor, and Lilith chorused.
“Who are you, then?” he asked, suspiciously.
“Let's see, then. Judging by the look of you, family man, nice house, decent wage, fought in the war, therefore we represent Queen and country.” The Doctor flashed the psychic paper. “Just doing a little check of Her forthcoming Majesty's subjects before the great day. Don't mind if I come in? Nah, I didn't think you did. Thank you.” He pushed passed the man and into the house. Rose and Lilith followed.
“Not bad, very nice. Very well kept,” Lilith complimented. “I'd like to congratulate you, Mrs.?”
“Connolly,” Tommy’s mother supplied.
“Now then, Rita. I can handle this,” the father chided. “This gentleman's a proper representative. Don't mind the wife, she rattles on a bit.”
“Well, maybe she should rattle on a bit more,” Lilith said. She didn’t like the man. Not one bit. “I'm not convinced you're doing your patriotic duty. Nice flags. Why are they not hung?”
“There we are Rita, I told you, Get them up,” he ordered. “Queen and country.”
“I'm sorry,” Rita apologized.
“Get it done. Do it now.”
“Hold on a minute,” the Doctor said, “you've got hands, Mister Connolly, two big hands. So why is that your wife's job?”
“Well, it's housework, innit?”
“And that's a woman's job?”
“Of course it is.”
Lilith and Rose rolled their eyes. The Doctor shot them a mischievous look. “Mister Connolly, what gender is the Queen?”
Mr. Connolly frowned. “She's a female.”
“And are you suggesting the Queen does the housework?”
“No,” the man stuttered. “Not at all.”
“Then get busy,” the Doctor handed him the Union flags.
“Right. Yes, sir. You'll be proud of us, sir. We'll have Union Jacks left, right and center.”
“Excuse me, Mr. Connolly. Hang on a minute,” Rose said. “Union Jacks?”
“Yes, that's right, isn't it?” Mr. Connolly said.
“That's the Union Flag,” she corrected. “It's the Union Jack only when it's flown at sea.”
He looked at her, flustered. “Oh. Oh, I'm sorry, I do apologize.”
“Well, don't get it wrong again, there's a good man. Now get to it!”
“Right then! Nice and comfy, at Her Majesty's leisure.” The Doctor took a seat on the couch. Rose sat next to him, but Lilith stayed standing. “Union Flag?” she whispered.
“Mum went out with a sailor,” Rose whispered back.
“Anyway, I'm the Doctor and this is Rose and Lilith,” the Doctor introduced. “And you are?”
“Tommy,” Tommy answered.
“Well, sit yourself down, Tommy. Have a look at this. I love telly, don't you?”
“Yeah, I think it's brilliant!” the boy said with a grin.
“Now,” the Doctor turned to Rita, “why don't you tell me what's wrong?”
She hesitated. “Did you say you were a doctor?” she asked quietly.
The Doctor nodded. “Yes, I am.”
“Can you help her? Oh please, can you help her, Doctor?”
“Now then, Rita. I don't think the gentleman needs to know,” Mr. Connolly said warningly.
“No, the gentleman does,” the Doctor said in the same tone.
“Tell us what's wrong,” Lilith insisted. “We can help.”
Rita burst into tears. Rose went to comfort her. “I'm sorry. It's all right. Come here. It's okay.”
“Hold on a minute,” Mr. Connolly said. “Queen and country's one thing, but this is my house! What the—?” He looked down at the flags as if he only just realized what he was doing. “What the hell am I doing? Now you listen here, Doctor. You may have fancy qualifications, but what goes on under my roof is my business.”
“A lot of people are being bundled into—” the Doctor started.
“I am talking!” Mr. Connolly shouted.
“And I'm not listening!” the Doctor shouted back, Oncoming Storm clear in his eyes. “Now you, Mister Connolly, you are staring into a deep, dark pit of trouble if you don't let me help. So I'm ordering you, sir! Tell me what's going on!”
Something upstairs started banging on the floor. “She won't stop,” the Englishman said, almost fearfully. “She never stops.”
“We started hearing stories, all round the place. People who've changed; families keeping it secret because they were scared,” Tommy explained. “Then the police started finding out. We don't know how, no one does. They just turn up, come to the door and take them, any time of the day or night.”
Tommy led them up the stairs to a room with the door closed. He slowly pushed it open. “Gran? It's Tommy. It's all right, Gran. I've brought help.” He turned on the light. An old woman was standing there with no eyes, nose or mouth.
“Her face is completely gone,” the Doctor said, stepping closer. He scanned the woman’s head with the sonic screwdriver. “Scarcely an electrical impulse left. Almost complete neural shutdown. She's ticking over. It's like her brain has been wiped clean.”
“What're we going to do, Doctor?” Tommy asked. “We can't even feed her.”
There was a crash from the lower level. Someone had knocked down the door.
“We've got company.” Rose said.
“It's them!” Rita cried. “They've come for her!”
“Quickly. What was she doing before this happened? Where was she?” Lilith asked. “Tell me. Quickly, think!”
“I can't think! She doesn't leave the house! She was just—”
Men in black burst into the room.
“Hold on a minute. There are three important, brilliant, and complicated reasons why you should listen to me. One—”
One of the men pulled back his arm to punch the Doctor, but Lilith caught his fist. “Bad idea,” she growled. The man threw her against the wall.
“Lil!” Rose shouted. The men threw a blanket over the faceless woman and bundled her out while Rose and the Doctor helped Lilith up. “You okay?”
“Yeah. Let’s go before we lose them again.” The three rushed out of the house, but Rose got distracted. Lilith and the Doctor got back on the scooter and raced away.
After following the car, more closely this time, they managed to see the tail end of the vehicle disappearing into a building. It took a bit of sneaking around and sonicing, but the two were able to get inside the building that the car had disappeared into. There they found a cage full of faceless people occasionally clenching and unclenching their fists.
Suddenly, a bright spotlight shone on them. “Stay where you are!” someone ordered.
Lilith swore in Gallifreyan.
“Start from the beginning. Tell me everything you know,” a man called Inspector Bishop instructed.
“Well, for starters, I know you can't wrap your hand around your elbow and make your fingers meet,” the Doctor snarked. Lilith punched him in the arm. “Ow!”
“Don't get clever with me,” Bishop snapped. “You were there today at Florizel Street, and now breaking into this establishment. Now you're connected with this. Make no mistake.”
“Well, the thing is, Detective Inspector Bishop—”
“How do you know my name?”
“It's written inside your collar,” the Doctor informed him. “Bless your mum. But I can't help thinking, Detective Inspector; you're not exactly doing much detective inspecting, are you?”
“I'm doing everything in my power,” Bishop insisted.
“All you're doing is grabbing those faceless people and hiding them as fast as you can,” Lilith snorted. “And don't say it’s orders from above. Coronation Day. The entire world is watching London, so any sort of problem just gets swept under the rug.
“The nation has an imagine to maintain.”
“But doesn't it drive you mad, doing nothing?” the Doctor asked. “Don't you want to get out there and investigate?”
“Of course I do,” Bishop sighed. “But, with all the crowds expected, we haven't got the man power. Even if we did, this is beyond anything we've ever seen. I just don't know anymore. Twenty years on the force, I don't even know where to start. We haven't the faintest clue what's going on.”
“Well, that could change.”
“Start from the beginning,” the Doctor said, echoing the Detective Inspector’s earlier words. “Tell me everything you know.”
Another person was delivered to the holding area. Lilith’s hearts stopped. “No,” she whispered.
“Found another one, sir,” a man said.
“Oh, er, good man, Crabtree,” Bishop responded. “Here we are, Doctor. Take a good look. See what you can deduce.”
The pink shoes and skirt made the person’s identity clear even before Crabtree took the blanket off.
“Rose,” the Doctor breathed.
Lilith’s head spun at the sight of her best friend’s blank face. The police’s chatter was just a buzz in her ears as horror and fury overtook her, radiating of the Doctor.
“They did what?” the Doctor growled.
“I'm sorry?” Bishop asked.
The Doctor didn’t look away from Rose. “They left her where?”
“Just in the street.”
“In the street. They left her in the street. They took her face and just chucked her out and left her in the street. And as a result, that makes things simple. Very, very simple. Do you know why?”
The Time Lord’s voice was dangerously low as he spoke. “Because now, Detective Inspector Bishop, there is no power on this Earth that can stop me. Come on!”