Clara and the Maze of Cui Palta was the third short story published in The Day She Saved the Doctor: Four Stories from the TARDIS.
After a stressful day of cleaning up after Angie and Artie, Clara Oswald asks the Eleventh Doctor to take her somewhere far away from the mundanity of Earth, the Doctor taking her to Cui Palta voted the most beautiful city in the galaxy for three consecutive years. Despite the Doctor's waxing about the city, Clara is quick to point out the lack of other guests before the two find unusual yellow flowers, their pollen causing Clara to sneeze, to which the Doctor offers her his handkerchief.
Exploring, Clara finds the Maze of Cui Palta, managing to have the Doctor try it with her by threatening his ego. Confident at the mathematical simplicity of mazes, the Doctor leads Clara down every left turn only for her to note that they've passed a frog statue several times. Waving this off, the Doctor takes her down every right turn before they run across the frog once again. As fear begins to overtake Clara, the Doctor tries to summon the TARDIS to them but the maze disrupts the sonic screwdriver's signal. Forced into a more low-tech solution, the Doctor graffitis the walls with markers only to go in circles once again.
Using the screwdriver as a torch, the Doctor and Clara find more of the flowers growing in the maze, wrapped around the corpses of its previous victims. Pressing forward, the two come across one of the maze's walls, opting to simply climb out. The Doctor scales the wall but before he can lift Clara up, the wall elevates for a moment, allowing the Doctor to see that the maze is an ever shifting construct that extends far beyond the horizon, before it drops him back to Clara. Promising to get her out, the Doctor quickly pulls Clara over the wall only to realise that he's lost his TARDIS key, likely having fallen out on the other side of the wall.
As the two press on, surrounded by more and more flowers, Clara starts sneezing again before she sights someone else in the maze. Running after them, Clara finds a hall of mirrors, overgrown with more flowers. As their panic mounts, the mirrors vanish and reveal a courtyard with three doors, all three of them leading back to the courtyard. The Doctor then sights another passage only to find more mirrors and doors. As he turns back, he realises that Clara has not followed him, the mirrors having sent her down another path.
Lost, the Doctor calls out to Clara, instructing her to sing so he can pinpoint her as another wall separates them. When Clara starts sneezing again, she uses the handkerchief to shield her nose from the pollen. As she does so, the walls become transparent and Clara sees the Doctor running in a circle. A brainwave strikes Clara as she realises that the flowers are causing a shared hallucination. Shouting to the Doctor, Clara instructs him to breathe into his sleeve, though the Doctor uses his spare handkerchief, low on the ground. With neither inhaling the pollen, the hallucination collapses.
Wasting no time, the two flee to the TARDIS, the Doctor finding that his key never left his pocket, and quickly leave the empty planet, the Doctor deeply ashamed at himself for having put Clara in such danger. Clara however is deliriously happy at the distraction, only insisting that they never return to the planet and suggesting that they get a cup of tea. The Doctor readily agrees, offering some stale candy he pilfered from the Maitland house as a snack only for a petal to fall to their feet. Eyeing it, the two decide to get biscuits instead.
- One of the Doctor's graffitis, "CYBERMEN JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN", references the Cindy Lauper song "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."
to be added
- The Eleventh Doctor has been affected by hallucinogenic pollen before. (TV: Amy's Choice)
- The Doctor is concerned about Clara being happy regarding dangerous situations. (TV: Under the Lake, Face the Raven)