Publisher's summary Edit
Professor Chronotis is briskly walking through the campus of the University of Cambridge, reflecting on his choice to live on Earth for the last few centuries. He crosses a courtyard and enters the University's library. As he strolls through the library, he uses his mental powers to help students working on their assignments to correct their errors.
He is then approached by an elderly man in check trousers and a black cape, who he instantly senses as another Time Lord. In fact, Chronotis is sure he has met this Time Lord before. The man scolds Chronotis for being late. Chronotis tells the man, who he now realises is the Doctor, that the note he received telling him to "meet me in the library fifteen minutes ago," didn't give him much time to get ready. The Doctor criticises the professor, telling him that he should have used his TARDIS to get there early. After an awkward few seconds, the Doctor shakes Chronotis' hand, saying, "Professor Chronotis, I presume?" Suddenly Chronotis panics, realising that this is an earlier version of the Doctor than the one he met four years ago and that this meeting could cause irreparable rifts in the time lines.
Chronotis takes the easy way out and says, "Have we met?" To his relief, the Doctor responds that he only knows of Chronotis from stories told on Gallifrey. The two begin having a pleasant conversation, which is brought to a swift end when Chronotis accidentally asks how "that young journalist" was doing. He blames the mistake on his old age and quickly changes the topic by asking if the Doctor has read Treasure Island. It is at this point that the Doctor decides that Chronotis is obviously going senile.
Seeing that the Doctor has his mind on other things, Chronotis changes the conversation topic again, this time asking if the Doctor has settled on Earth. The Doctor tells Chronotis that he did in "a few years time", but his current visit is a flying one. Chronotis acts disappointed, saying that he had hoped to have a like mind to talk to. The Doctor is offended, he picks up a book off the shelf and recommends Chronotis read it to see humanity's potential. Chronotis looks at the book and reads the title: The Time Machine. He exclaims, "Oh yes, you mentioned that this was a good one!" Luckily, the Doctor had begun walking away from Chronotis after giving him the book and did not hear him. Chronotis catches the Doctor before he can leave the library and asks him to visit again. The Doctor leaves the building, saying, "I'm afraid only time will tell!" Chronotis collapses and mutters, "Never again. Oh please, Rassilon, never again!"
Later that day, while Chronotis is out buying milk and sugar from a late-night shop, the Doctor's TARDIS materialises in Chronotis' study. After returning to the Ship, he had realised that he had never actually read Treasure Island, so has decided to return to borrow a copy from Chronotis for the evening. The Doctor looks out into the darkness of the unlit study, pleased that he had made an accurate short trip in the vortex. Leaving his companions sleeping in the TARDIS, he steps out into Chronotis' study with an everlasting match. He finds Treasure Island in one of the bookcases and takes it; in its place, he leaves a copy of The Time Machine. The Doctor says out loud, "Fair exchange is not robbery, hmmm?" Hearing a door outside Chronotis' rooms slamming, the Doctor darts into the TARDIS and quickly dematerialises.
Next to The Time Machine on the shelf sits a thick brown book: The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey.
One day, someone would finally remove it. And try to read it. Until then, it sat there, patiently waiting...
- Chronotis hears Buddy Holly singing on a radio being carried by a student.
- Chronotis kept Treasure Island between Peter Rabbit and The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey in his bookcase.
- This story is not explicitly set in 1958. However, in the home video Shada Fourth Doctor states that he met Chronotis in a previous incarnation in 1958. Meanwhile, the epistolary novel The Time Lord Letters published in 2015 explicitly indicated that it was the Third Doctor who visited Chronotis in 1958, though it is possible the Doctor had two unique encounters in the same year or that the First Doctor's visit took place in a separate year that the Fourth Doctor neglected to mention.
- It is unclear which companions the Doctor is travelling with in this story, as the only information given about them is that they are sleeping.
- The Doctor has already read The Time Machine. He would later read it again in his seventh and eighth incarnations (TV: Doctor Who). He would also later meet its author, H.G. Wells, during his second, (AUDIO: The Piltdown Men) sixth (TV: Timelash) and tenth incarnations (COMIC: The Time Machination), inspiring him to write the novel.
- Time Lords can recognise each other regardless of incarnation. (TV: The War Games, Planet of the Spiders, The Five Doctors)
- The Doctor mentions that he settled on Earth "in a few years time". (TV: An Unearthly Child, etc.)