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An Overture Too Early was the fourth short story in the Short Trips anthology Short Trips: The Muses. It was written by Simon Guerrier. It featured the Third Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith and the Brigadier. It was later reprinted as the first story in Short Trips: Time Signature.


Isaac is being interviewed by a reporter, Sarah Jane Smith, and her "assistant". Her questions deal with his music and his attempts to gain asylum in Britain. The assistant makes a rude comment, and when Sarah scolds him, Isaac realises he is the Doctor. To the Doctor's surprise, Isaac reveals that he travelled with the Doctor twenty years ago.

The Doctor leaves quickly with Sarah, trying to avoid finding out about his future. As they leave, they fail to notice two strange-looking grey men standing nearby that enter Isaac's building.

The next day, the Doctor has breakfast with the Brigadier. The Doctor is convinced that Isaac is in fact English. He obtains the Brigadier's help in investigating Isaac by pointing out that, because Isaac worked with the Doctor, he must have been a UNIT agent by proxy.

Meanwhile, Sarah follows up her interview with Isaac. He is reluctant to answer any questions, not wanting to give Sarah information about the Doctor's future. However, he does give her his sheet music, entreating her to take care of it for him. Sarah heads back to UNIT, and on arrival she learns that Isaac is dead.

The Brigadier takes Sarah to the police station. They rule Isaac's death a suicide.

The Doctor and Sarah talk with Nikolai Faro, who sponsored Isaac's asylum request. He tells them that Isaac had been involved in a coup and was persecuted in their country. Faro was greatly impressed by Isaac's music. The Doctor asks Faro if the music is familiar, and Faro is shocked to realise that it is familiar.

To Sarah's surprise, her investigation is shut down by a D-notice, issued by the government or military for the sake of national security. The Brigadier is on the phone, trying to find out who issued the order. He is angrier than Sarah has ever seen him. He hands the phone to the Doctor, who starts his conversation angrily but then meekly subsides. The Brigadier informs Sarah that the issuer of the D-notice was — the Doctor.

The Brigadier and Sarah lose interest in the investigation, but the Doctor is haunted by Isaac's music. While working in his lab, he is accosted by the two grey men, who overpower him and take all copies of Isaac's music.

The Doctor determines that the two men entered his lab by way of a hyperspace tunnel. He creates a device to open a tunnel, while the Brigadier and Sarah watch him. Suddenly he opens a tunnel, and time seems to have stopped for the Brigadier and Sarah. The Doctor tries to enter the tunnel, but he is stopped by a Time Lord, who tells him that he cannot learn any more of this matter for now. The tunnel vanishes, and the Brigadier and Sarah realise the Doctor wants to be left alone. He decides to keep working on the music.

Weeks later, Sergeant Benton stops by the nearly empty laboratory. Things are very different around UNIT now that the Doctor has regenerated. He and Sarah are no longer around, and soon there will be computers installed. Benton decides he may retire soon and do something hands-on. As he looks around the room, he sees a smoking jacket. He takes it, not wanting it to be stolen. In the pocket he finds a scrap of paper covered in the Doctor's handwriting.



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