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Vortex of Fear was the first story in the anthology Decalog 2: Lost Property. It was written by Gareth Roberts. It featured the Second Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Heriot.


Brachinnen wakes up, locked in his room. He remembers that the Doctor will soon be here, so he uses the spare key that he has obtained to sneak out. However, there are time shifts, and Ferrix finds him, drugs him and locks him back in his room.

Kya and Leeth are arguing in the lounge when Ferrix enters. Ferrix is worried about Brachinnen's insanity and Kandol's suicide. Both men are also concerned about the damaged communications unit. Kya, who has been suspended before, assures them that all is well and she plans to complain to the Agency when they get out.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor fiddles with controls while Zoe tries to get his attention. There is a collision alert, but the anti-collision control isn't working, so the Doctor tries a materialisation flip-flop, materialising the TARDIS inside the obstacle. They find themselves in what looks like a country estate, though no such thing should be in the vortex. Jamie sees a door and heads through it.

Kya, heading to the food area, sees Jamie and thinks he's from the Agency. She yells at him and when he denies knowing what she is talking about, she storms off. Meanwhile, Brachinnen wakes, aware that the Doctor will be here soon if he isn't already here. Kya returns to the lounge to resume her argument with Leeth.

Jamie returns to the Doctor and tells him about the woman. Brachinnen, looking for the TARDIS, can hear Jamie and Zoe. There are several time shifts, during which the TARDIS appears and disappears. He wakes in his room, locked in again.

The Doctor and his friends find a storage room. Zoe finds a brochure for the Agency, and the trio learn that the people in this hotel are spending a year in the vortex for tax reasons. The Doctor, recognising that this is very dangerous, plans to shut it down.

The Doctor and Jamie enter the lounge (with Zoe hanging back on the Doctor's instructions), where Leeth and Ferrix think they are from the Agency. The Doctor and Jamie explain that they are just visiting. When Kya enters, she doesn't remember having met Jamie before.

Zoe decides to return to the TARDIS, but gets lost despite her excellent sense of direction. She finds herself in a dark room and hears a voice calling for help — it is her voice calling for the Doctor and Jamie. She runs out into a tunnel, and comes across a dead body. Another man approaches, and Zoe tries to hide. She closes her eyes, and when she opens them, she's back in the dark room, locked in. She yells for help.

The Doctor finds and examines the control panel and the communications unit. He finds that the control panel has been sabotaged, allowing the time winds to enter the hotel, and that the communications unit itself is fine, but that communications were broken off by the Agency. Jamie hears Zoe yelling for help. He runs out of the lounge.

Zoe, finding herself back in the tunnel, sees two men approaching — the same two from before, only the dead man, Kandol, is still alive. As the other man, Leeth, prepares to bludgeon Kandol, Zoe shouts a warning, and Leeth drops his weapon.

Suddenly Jamie and the Doctor experience excruciating pain, and when it stops, they see that there are four people in the lounge — Kya, Leeth and Ferrix, as before, but also someone new — Kandol. The four become suspicious when the Doctor claims that Kandol is supposed to be dead. Another wave of pain, from time spillage, hits Jamie and the Doctor.

Brachinnen finds Zoe, who doesn't recognise him. He then finds himself back in his room, locked in.

The Doctor and Jamie find Zoe, and they head for the TARDIS. Brachinnen runs after them, begging for them to take him away. The Doctor refuses, and explains to Zoe that the five people in the hotel have been subjected to the time winds, and that they are "less than shadows". They would become dust if they left the hotel. Instead, they are condemned to stay in the hotel, repeating various events over and over, with only Brachinnen, a time sensitive, aware of the time shifts.

The TARDIS materialises on a beach, and Zoe tries to get the Doctor to explain something to her: she saved Kandol's life, therefore aren't she and the Doctor and Jamie part of the time spillage in the hotel now? The Doctor lets himself be distracted, and Zoe realises that he has no intention of answering her question.



  • The inhabitants of the hotel are from Dephys 49. They are spending a year in the vortex for tax reasons.
  • The Doctor gives Jamie a boiled sweet to counteract the ill effects of time spillage.


  • The stories in Decalog 2 have a common theme of homes owned or acquired by the Doctor. The "home" in this story is the Time Vortex.