"Doctor, I'm genuinely worried,"
said Mrs MacAllister as she wrung her hands and tensed
her body to illustrate the fact.
The Doctor gave her his most polished
look of patient, professional understanding, the one
that was issued automatically with the degree. "Mrs
MacAllister, it's not at all unusual for Mothers to
be concerned about their teenage children. Quite the
reverse. But you've let that concern, that natural
maternal anxiety spill over into neurosis. That is
what we must address."
Mrs MacAllister shifted uncomfortably
on the psychiatrist's couch. She felt frightened and
vulnerable. She knew that HE was outside. Listening.
Long experience had taught her HE could hear conversations
in other rooms, through brick walls and closed doors.
They were no barrier to HIS powers.
"Tell me, Mrs MacAllister, why
do you fear your son? Is it perhaps because he is
now sixteen you realise your own mortality? Realise
that you are getting older too? That you are a part
of the 'older generation?"
Mrs MacAllister sat bolt upright,
and swung about on the couch. Directly facing the
Doctor she spoke quickly. "You don't understand."
She took a deep breath. "I believe he is an alien."
The Doctor smiled, and let his head
drop to one side like an appeasing puppy.
"Think about what you're saying."
"I know. You think I'm mad.
But I've seen the proof, Doctor, lived with it each
day. Not proof that you could take to the authorities,
HE's too careful for that, circumstantial proof perhaps,
but proof nonetheless."
The Doctor smiled his patient smile
and nodded slowly. "Then tell me, Mrs
MacAllister, tell me of your proof."
Mrs MacAllister lay back down upon
the couch and, staring intently at the ceiling began
"It began when he was three,
before that he had been a perfect child. But then
he changed. I believe he was changed, swapped I mean.
At the childminders, the nursery, somewhere... One
day I had a child I didn't recognise. He began to
ask questions. Oh, I know that all toddlers ask questions
but these never ended. Why is water wet? Why do birds
fly? Why are buses big? What's that man doing? Why?
Why? Why? Why? On and on for years.
He had been newly swapped you see.
He had to learn, and learn quickly. At school he wasn't
liked by the other children, he made few friends,
and those he did he dominated - made slaves of them
- made them give him their toys. The others, the ones
he couldn't dominate, fought or ignored him. They
knew you see, instinctively they knew HE was different.
As he got older he'd refuse to help
around the house. He'd spend hours alone in his room.
He said he was playing with his computer, but I think
he was communicating with…" She hesitated. "With
something. Often we'd hear his voice. But only his.
The replies were in his head. He doesn't do that any
"Because he's grown up?"
interjected the Doctor.
"Because he's mastered the art
of sending telepathically as well as receiving."
The Doctor's brow furrowed, and his
patient smile became an impatient pucker as his mouth
made a perfect O and he tutted quietly. There was
silence for a moment.
"How does his Father feel about
him?" he asked.
"His Father's dead. He didn't
say anything to me but I knew he suspected too. They
were always arguing, always. HE couldn't accept his
authority you see, you only have parental authority
when you're the real parent. His Dad said to me once,
after HE had smashed the greenhouse and ruined Dad's
prize marrows, 'He's no son of mine,' he said, 'no
son of mine.'
I didn't put it all together at first
but it became more obvious when he became a teenager,
and now at sixteen it's almost like he doesn't want
it to be a secret any more. He dresses in strange
clothes, all too big and baggy.
I often wonder if those loose clothes
are hiding some alien protuberance, some growth or
extra limbs that would reveal him for what he is.
I haven't seen him naked since he was ten years old.
He always locks the bathroom door and sometimes he
stays in there for hours... I've listened at the door,
but all I can hear are strange squishing noises. But
I think that's where he communicates with others of
his kind. No lock on the bedroom door you see.
I believe they're planning the take-over
of the world from my toilet. And the plan must be
working; he always emerges flushed and smiling.
"Now he never talks to me, he's
got all the information he needs from me you see.
He spends most of his time in his bedroom with girlfriends
listening to music or watching videos. But the music
isn't real music, Doctor; HE calls it HEV-E Metal.
I think it's to hypnotise the girls, to dull their
senses so that he can easily impregnate them and create
a race like him. That's his part of the plan. And
he's doing it, so many different girls have been in
that room, so many." She fell silent.
"And the videos?" prompted
"Star Trek," replied Mrs
MacAllister, "every episode."
"Mrs MacAllister having lots
of girlfriends and watching Star Trek videos does
not make your boy an alien." The Doctor reached
over his desk and pulled forward a notepad, hastily
scribbling a prescription. "Now I want you to
take two of these three times a day." He handed
her the piece of script.
"They'll relax you and when
you're relaxed you'll realise how silly this all sounds.
Now, tell my receptionist I want to see you next week
when we'll talk about this again."
Mrs MacAllister stood, clutching
the prescription to her breast.
"Oh, and send your son in to
see me for a moment will you?" called the Doctor
as she made her way slowly to the door.
A moment later a young man stood
before the Doctor. Tall, handsome, dressed in the
fashion of the day.
The Doctor smiled at him. "Please
close the door and have a seat."
The boy did so. The Doctor however
didn't sit, but looked down at him.
"You fool," he said.
The boy regarded him coolly. "I
should not have been placed with a host as perceptive
"Perhaps," replied the
Doctor, "but the damage is done. Fortunately
she has no real evidence, just a Mother's instinct.
But we must silence her nevertheless. Ensure the pills
I prescribed are taken, that will end the problem."
The boy nodded and stood up. "It
surprises me that so few perceive what is happening,
but then comparing us to Earth children must be difficult.
There are so few of them left."
"Yes," said the Doctor,
"and the telepathic influence is growing. You
did well to guide her here."
The boy smiled. "Selfish really,
I wanted to meet our head of propaganda. The being
who convinced Earthlings that it was natural their
children be so different from them, who invented the
The Doctor bowed slightly in acknowledgement.
Discreetly they lifted their shirts, and rubbed tentacles
in the traditional farewell of their kind.
Then the boy left. After taking his
Mother to the chemists he intended to impregnate as
many young girls as possible, and take over the world.
That, of course, had also been the ambitions of genuine
sixteen year old boys, back in the days when there