Touched by An Angel
“The past is like a foreign country. Nice to visit, but you really wouldn’t want to live there.”
In 2003, Rebecca Whitaker died in a road accident. Her husband Mark is still grieving. He receives a battered envelope, posted eight years ago, containing a set of instructions with a simple message:”You can save her.”
As Mark is given the chance to save Rebecca, it’s up to The Doctor, Amy and Rory to save the whole world. Because this time the Weeping Angels are using Mark himself as a weapon to change history.
10th April 2003
On her way to visit her parents in Chilbury, Rebecca Whitaker curses her husband Mark for not making the trip due to work commitments. It is raining and as she takes a sharp left turn her car hits a lorry travelling in the opposite direction. She finds herself upside down in a field looking at a statue. As the trucks orange hazard lights flash on and off the statue appears to be getting closer.
7th October 2011
After a hard day at work, Mark is berated by one of his colleagues at work, Siobhan. She tells him that he should stop mourning his dead wife – eight years is too long – and that he should start to have a social life of his own. Then she gives him a package that has that day’s date on it. Apparently it has been waiting in the archive for eight years with strict instructions that it should be given to him only then. He feels uneasy about the package because it is his own handwriting on the envelope.
On the way home he stops to buy petrol. As he waits to pay in the kiosk he glances at the CCTV screen. He sees the statue of an angel at the end f the aisle. He looks back down the aisle but there is no angel yet one is still on the screen. He drives back to Bromley and parks his car. As he walks down the high street he passes a Chinese restaurant and steps in. Again, he sees a CCTV screen showing the statue of an angel right behind him. When he turns around there is nothing there.
He edges out of the shop and runs down the high street. As he passes the hi-fi shop all of the televisions flicker into life. Each of them shows Mark with an angel at his shoulder. He stops to look and a voice tells him not to close his eyes or look back. The voice tells Amy and Rory to keep watching the screens. The voice tells Mark that he is being chased by a temporal scavenger that is currently quantum locked because it is being looked at. The voice tells him it is safe to turn round. When he does so, Mark sees The Doctor, carrying his timey-wimey detector, and Amy and Rory. There is no sign of the angel. The Doctor explains that it can only exist on screens and therefore an only touch Mark if he is on screen, too, as he is now due to the shop’s CCTV.
In panic, Mark runs for home. He gets to his front door and then realises that there is a camera for the videophone. He feels the cold touch of marble and then he is gone.
The Doctor uses his detector to trace Mark’s steps. He, Amy and Rory arrive outside a block of flats. At the steps to the entrance stands an angel statue. The Doctor steps up to it confidently and taps it on the wing. A chunk of stone falls off. He says that the angel has used up its energy to send its target into the past. He can detect a residual trace of time energy and suggests that they follow to see where the victim went. Rory asks if they should find out who he was. The Doctor agrees that this is sensible and says he will pick Rory up in an hour.
Mark is astonished to find himself still in the same place but in 1994. In the TARDIS, The Doctor is similarly disbelieving but for a different reason: contrary to normal practice, the angel has sent its prey back to a point within his own lifetime.
Mark has no spending money, or means to get any. Then he remembers the envelope he was given in 2011. He opens it and finds that it is stuffed with fifty pound notes, as well as a letter in his own handwriting. The letter contains a series of dated notes. The first date, 10 June 1994 says ‘arrival’. Checking with a newspaper, Mark sees that this is the date today.
The letter tells him certain basics: there is no quick return to 2011, he must live his life with a new identity, he can save her. It is signed with his own name.
The Doctor hops the TARDIS back to 1994. He wants to find Mark before he does any damage by contacting people he knew in his youth. They wonder how to track him down in the whole of London as his time trace is already fading rapidly. Then Amy remembers Rory. Instead of arriving an hour later, The Doctor brings them back a week later. He doesn’t seem overly concerned and is quite impressed that Rory has used the time to trace Mark’s friends and family.
Mark is surprised that his own mother doesn’t recognise him. Aware that he shouldn’t tell her who he really is he pretends to be a distant cousin from Canada. He tries to persuade his mother to get her husband to have a heart check-up (Mark knows that his father only has three years to live.) Later, he makes his way by train to Warwick where he knows his younger self is a student. On the train journey he feels an odd tingling in his hand. At the same time he glances out of the window and sees a spinning blue box keeping pace with the train. What he can’t se, but the occupants of the TARDIS can, are the six stone statues on the roof of the train.
Mark waits outside his old student house. He sees his younger self emerge from the house with his girlfriend from the time, Sophie, and two house-mates, Lucy and Rebecca. He doesn’t see the six angels trailing him, nor does he see The Doctor, Amy and Rory watching the whole scene. All of them eventually converge on the student union building. Although it is a beautiful summer evening, there is lightning flickering across the surface of the building. The Doctor says that this is the Angel’s preparing to feed on the energy released when the young Mark meets his older self.
The Doctor gives Amy and Rory the job of keeping the young Mark away from the Angels. They drag him upstairs on a mysterious errand while The Doctor finds the older Mark and says he needs to take him back to 2011. When Mark refuses The Doctor punches him in the face and then escorts him from the building, pretending to everyone that the dazed man is drunk. They are joined by Amy and Rory as well as six angry Angels. This leaves the young Mark alone (dragged away from his girlfriend by Amy). It is then that he finds himself with Rebecca and they kiss for the first (and second) time.
The older Mark, along with The Doctor, Amy and Rory, manages to escape the angels by leaping onto a passing bus.
The following morning, The Doctor and his companions sit down to breakfast with Mark in a hotel while The Doctor explains the Weeping Angels usual method of feeding off the energy released by sending someone back in time. The Doctor says that this set of angels seem to want to create a time paradox instead which is why it is vital they get Mark back to his own time. Mark tells them that this is not possible. He tells them about the letter that he received from his future self which he claims is in a safety deposit box in London. He says that it contains specific instructions that he must follow to make sure that history remains on track. As an example he cites the time when he lost his wallet in Rome. When it was handed in at reception he was so grateful that he never considered the fact that it would have been impossible to trace him to his hotel. Now he realises that his other self must have been behind the return. The Doctor says that he will take Mark there in the TARDIS but the excuse Mark makes is that there were many other such things on the list. The Doctor is suspicious and wonders why Mark wants to stay in the past.
The Doctor, Amy and Rory return to the TARDIS to discuss the situation. While they don’t trust him they all agree that Mark’s story about Rome has a ring of truth about it. The Doctor returns to him and tells him that he will be allowed to continue living in the past as long as he doesn’t try to meet himself or change history. The final rule is that Mark must make a copy of the letter he sent to himself and send it to himself. As long as it is not the original The Doctor thinks there will be no paradox.
Over the years, Mark and Rebecca remain friends. In 1996 they sleep together after getting drunk but agree that it was a mistake. Mark was only pretending to agree. It starts a period where the closeness between them fades. Meanwhile, The Doctor in the TARDIS keeps a close eye on the situation by slaving the navigation systems to Mark Whitaker’s life. If there are any temporal disturbances the TARDIS will be drawn straight to him.
Mark meets Rebecca (or Becky as she styles herself) in a shopping precinct just before Christmas 1997. They have fallen out of touch. She tells him that she is still with Anthony, Mark is seeing a girl called Jenny. Mark tells her about his father’s death. As they part she picks up a lottery ticket that falls out of a newspaper that she thinks is Mark’s and hands it to him. A few minutes later, the older Mark, unrecognised by her, comes to retrieve the paper. Both Marks feel a tingling sensation in their right hand.
A few months later, after a small win on the lottery, young Mark finds himself on holiday with Rebecca. They kept in touch after their pre-Christmas meeting and their friendship was strengthened when she found out that her fiancée was cheating on her. She had already booked the trip to Rome so Mark took the other ticket and spent the first few days sharing a bed with her, platonically.
The older Mark watches his younger self being pick-pocketed by a youth. Rory gives chase, and retrieves the wallet and the Doctor hands it in at reception. The problem is that The Doctor’s device is still showing temporal flux. Older Mark remembers that this was also the day when he and Rebecca were locked into the museum on the Capitoline Hill. Thus The Doctor and his three companions have to perform an elaborate routine to bring this about. Having succeeded, they find themselves being pursued by six angry Angels and are only saved by the inadvertent arrival of a security guard.
The upshot of this adventure is that the young Mark and Rebecca finally become romantically entwined.
Moving on to 1999, the older Mark has to intervene in his younger self’s life. For five years he has been masquerading as Harold Jones, making money through a series of wise investments. His business has been handled by a firm called Pollard and Joyce. Now ‘Harold’ approaches Frank Pollard and asks him, as a favour in return for all of the business he has given to the firm, to give young Mark Whitaker a job. Pollard agrees but ‘Harold’ insists that his own involvement is never revealed. On the day that Mark hears he has got the job, he proposes to Rebecca.
The TARDIS has barely left Rome when The Doctor spots an event on 4 November 2000. He lands in Chichester and runs out in front of an SUV that older Mark is driving. This causes a limousine to crash into the back of Mark’s car and it is only when Rebecca and her father emerge that The Doctor realises that Mark was going to watch his own wedding. The Doctor is furious, more so when he finds that the limousine is too badly damaged to drive and Mark has to offer Rebecca and her father a lift to the church. Naturally, The Doctor goes too, along with Amy and Rory. When they arrive at the church in Chilbury there are electric flashes dancing along the gravestones. The Doctor knows that something is amiss: Mark tells him that it is the time – Rebecca is fifteen minutes late, which never happened the first time round. To solve this, The Doctor drives off in the SUV, returns in the TARDIS, hops everyone back in time to five minutes before the wedding, and ushers them to the church. Sadly, a passing truck splashes Rebecca’s dress with muddy water.
The Doctor returns almost instantaneously with an identical dress, though it has taken him a long time to get it made. He then has to jump back half an hour for her to put the dress on, take another trip back to the limo to retrieve her bouquet and then all that is left is to hypnotize the bride and her father so that they don’t remember any of the preceding events and watch her enter the church..
It is only when The Doctor sees the angels barring the path to the church that he realises he has been wrong all along. The Angels have not been trying to create a time paradox, they have been trying to keep the two Marks apart. The problem now is to work out what the Angels are really planning.
On 5 June 2001 Mark takes out of the wall safe in his apartment the letter that he wrote to himself. He has now completed all of the things on his list of interventions in his own life. He begins to copy it out. This is the second copy he has made of this letter. The first, which he showed to The Doctor, did not contain the words ‘YOU CAN SAVE HER. Just as I did’. He pauses in his writing and glances out of the window at the panoramic view of London. He yearns to speak to Rebecca again and, idly, wonders what his younger self is doing.
In fact, his younger self is working late and has just accidentally found the Harold Jones file which bears the instruction NOT FOR THE ATTENTION OF MARK WHITAKER. Intrigued, he opens the folder, finds details of something called ‘Project Magwitch’, and discovers that Harold Jones has been promoting Mark’s career for some undisclosed reason. Checking Jones’ address in Highgate, he decides to find out.
Arriving at Jones’ apartment, Mark is surprised by how similar the man is to himself. The Doctor, meanwhile, has to land the TARDIS in the approximate vicinity because the paradox sensors are being swamped by an exceptionally powerful signal. There is no doubt where they should go, however, as lightning bounces around on the top of one of the blocks of flats nearby.
Both Marks rub their right hands as a tingling passes through them. The older Mark is worried: he doesn’t remember this meeting ever taking place. There is a strong smell of static electricity. As the older Mark carries on the pretence of being Harold Jones (and Mark’s cousin) inside the apartment, The Doctor cannot get near the door outside the apartment due to the vivid blue flashes of the Blinovitch limitation field. At that moment, Mark spots the two letters that ‘Harold’ was copying. He reaches for one and there is a flash and smoke. The Doctor, Amy and Rory burst in to find smoke and electricity filling the flat. As they realise that the problem was caused by the younger Mark visiting his older self, the apartment bursts into flames. The windows shatter and six Weeping Angels enter in triumph.
The two Marks are pulled, unconscious, out of the building by The Doctor and his companions. When the older Mark wakes up and remembers everything he promptly runs back into the block and up to his blazing flat. He tries to retrieve the two letters from his desk but they are both ashes. The six Angels watch him as The Doctor arrives and leads him away. Back outside, Mark tells the three time travelers what has happened: history has been changed because he can never send the letter to himself. The Doctor holds up his timey-wimey detector and announces that history hasn’t been changed. This can only mean one thing: the letter wasn’t written by Mark but by the Angels on psychic paper. In a leap of logic, The Doctor realises that there must have been something else on the list of instructions that Mark didn’t tell him about. Rather than reply, Mark gets into his SUV and drives away.
The Doctor waits until the younger Mark awakes and then hypnotizes him to forget the events of the evening. After Mark has gone back home to his wife, Rory remembers that he spent a week in Mark’s apartment and there was no wife. The three of them conclude that she died and that the Angels plan is to get Mark to change history by trying to save her. At that moment Rory runs up the street to them and says that he has been sent back from the future by being touched by an Angel. He says that he has been waiting four weeks for them to turn up after being zapped back from 2003.
In the TARDIS The Doctor performs a quick operation with the sonic screwdriver to obviate the effects of the Blinovitch Limitation so that Rory can touch his other self. He also gives the future Rory a fez to wear so that he can tell them apart. He takes the TARDIS to 10 April 2003, the day that Rebecca died.
Mark’s plan is to drive to the lane where Rebecca died and park his car further up the road so that the lorry has to stop before it can hit her car. As the darkness closes in, he parks in a lay-by beside the road and settles down to wait.
The TARDIS materialises near the same stretch of road and Amy and the two Rories follow The Doctor across a muddy field. By the time they get to the SUV the car is in the middle of the road. The wind is howling and there are blue flashes. Mark is waiting for them. The Doctor tells him to move the car because the whole thing is a trap. He flashes his torch around them to reveal the Weeping Angels. Amy and Rory ask The Doctor if there is any way that Rebecca can be saved but he tells them, sadly, that the death is too complex a space-time event. The Angels would feed off the energy from any paradox and grow strong enough to go on feeding until every person on the planet had been used up. The Doctor then scribbles some instructions on a piece of paper and hands it to Rory. He tells him to go back to the TARDIS but as Rory sets out to go he is touched by an Angel and disappears.
The Doctor turns to the other Rory and asks if he succeeded in following the instructions. Rory says that it took him four weeks to convince the farmer. As Amy stands, mystified, Rory steps towards a black box with a big red switch. Unfortunately, two Angels are blocking his way.
The Doctor tries to reason with Mark. He points out that Mark has travelled in time and if he rewrites the future he will rewrite the past. This could easily mean that he loses all of the time he ever had with Rebecca. He makes his decision.
Rory and Amy find that the Angels are closing in on them, imperceptibly. The nearest Angel manages to get its arm around Amy’s neck. Fortunately, Mark’s car arrives among them and its headlights are so bright that Rory can watch the Angel and prevent it from killing Amy. The car is beside the big red button and, on The Doctor’s instructions, Mark presses it. Immediately six bright halogen lamps come on, surrounding the Angels. Beside each are a video camera and a television monitor. This is what Rory has spent a month setting up. The Angels begin to fade to nothing. They were too weak to hold their forms and now only exist as an image on a TV screen. The Doctor turns each camera to a screen and creates an infinity loop that dissipates the Angels. The problem is that the sixth Angel has escaped.
They run down the hill as the lorry sweeps past. It collides with Rebecca’s car and they find the upturned wreckage in a field with the Angel standing nearby. Rebecca dies in her husband’s arms. Rory realises that the Angel has gone again but The Doctor tells him not to worry for it is the one they saw dying in 2011.
The Doctor takes Mark to Rebecca’s funeral and then back to 1993 where he meets Rebecca (or Bex as she styles herself) at a student party. There he tells her all about himself without including any details that she would recognise. She advises him that he has mourned his dead wife for long enough and ought to resume his own life. She strokes him on the cheek and he leaves her, seconds before his younger self enters the room and meets her for the first time.
Back in the TARDIS the travelers notice that Mark has grown younger. When Bex touched his face she shorted out the time differential so that he is the same age as when he first met The Doctor.
The TARDIS lands outside Mark’s old flat, exactly one week after he was sent back into the past. The travelers say goodbye and then they dematerialise, leaving him on the street. He still owns Harold Jones property, he is still a multi-millionaire and he can do whatever he likes. He decides that the first thing to do is find Rebecca’s old friends Lucy and Emma and have a long talk.
- Touched by an Angel was the tenth Eleventh Doctor novel released.
- The Doctor finds a book named The Venusian Book of Calm in his coat pocket.
- There are cardboard cut-outs of the Teletubbies outside Woolworths.
- Mark walks past a Dixons in 1994.
- Mrs Doubtfire and Groundhog Day were films that were released in 1994. Incidentally, Groundhog Day is about a man who is caught in a type of incomplete time loop.
- Amy likens The Doctor chasing Mark’s train in the TARDIS to a scene in Harry Potter.
- Mark works for Pollard & Boyce.
- Mark remarks that his wedding has turned into an episode of the Chuckle Brothers.
- The method in which The Doctor defeats the Angels echoes Blink.
- Future Rory is forced to wear a Fez on orders from The Doctor who declares him”Fez Rory”. (The Big Bang)