a real world point of view
|The Age of Ambition|
|Key crew __NOFACTBOX__|
|Part of:||Short Trips: Life Science|
|Short Trips short stories|
The Age of Ambition was the fourteenth short story in the Short Trips anthology Short Trips: Life Science. It was written by Andrew Campbell. It featured the Second Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon and Victoria Waterfield.
It is 3 September 1864. Victoria and her father, Edward Waterfield, are visiting a friend, Sir Charles Westbrooke, the eminent physiologist. He and Waterfield have something in common — they are relatively recent widowers. Westbrooke's wife, Claire, was recently murdered by robbers. Westbrooke tells Waterfield of his recent studies and experiments in attempting to reanimate dead cells. He thinks the secret lies in improving the quality of human blood. Neither man notices that Victoria has followed their conversation closely.
Some time later for Victoria, she, the Doctor and Jamie find themselves in 1866. Victoria recognises the nearby house as Westbrooke's, and they notice that it is on fire. They approach the house and enter. Westbrooke, having become a recluse and dismissed his staff, is in a state of confusion. He tries to tell them what is wrong, and Victoria deduces that his experiments were a success. He admits that he has reanimated six dead subjects — five men and a woman. He tells the travellers that it is impossible to kill the subjects. As the four leave the room, they are accosted by one of the subjects; Westbrooke runs away in fear. After being accosted by another subject, Victoria too runs away. She is followed by a reanimated subject who keeps repeating, "You have been a wonderful wife, my dear." Victoria, terrorised, cannot move. The subject reaches for her face, but is stabbed by Jamie from behind. Their relief, however, is short-lived. Try as they might, they cannot kill the dead man. They run off and rejoin the Doctor.
They find Westbrooke in another room, accosted by the female subject. Victoria realises this is Claire, Westbrooke's dead wife. She keeps repeating, "Charles, what are you doing?" and Victoria realises with horror that Westbrooke himself murdered his wife. Claire snaps his neck, and the travellers head for Westbrooke's laboratory. The Doctor knows of a formula that will kill the dead for good, something so awful that he campaigned his people against its use. Once finished making the chemical, he needs a way to get it to the dead intravenously. Victoria tells him that Westbrooke had a rifle that uses tranquiliser darts.
Armed with the chemical, the trio search for the dead. At the first one, Jamie loses his nerve and cannot fire. Victoria snatches the weapon away and fires; the dead man dies for good. Jamie takes the rifle, and they finish the search.
All that is left is for the Doctor to destroy Westbrooke's laboratory completely, as he doesn't trust the fire to do the job properly. The three leave the burning house, and there is an explosion in the laboratory.
Victoria realises she can never go home again, and that her home is now the TARDIS and the Doctor and Jamie are her family.
- Westbrooke mentions Mrs Shelley's Frankenstein, Charles Darwin's Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection and Shakespeare's Othello. Waterfield quotes Hamlet.
- The Doctor attributes the TARDIS' tendency to arrive where there is a problem to synchronicity.
- The Time Lords invented a chemical which converts vertebrate blood into acid. The Doctor campaigned (successfully) to have it banned.
- Jamie uses a claymore and mentions that he used one on Culloden's fields.
- Westbrooke wrote Principles of Human Anatomy.
- The smoke in Westbrooke's house reminds Victoria of Guy Fawkes night.
- This story was reprinted in Short Trips: Re:Collections.
- This story is narrated by Victoria and is told in three parts.