The Great Intellinux
“Nether god?” Clara's mother asks the Doctor. The woman and her small daughter accompany the Time Lord and his companion, Romanadvoratrelundar. Everyone calls the Time Lady Romana. Clara and her mother are thankful for the nickname. These four travel in the TARDIS back in time seventeen years.
Holding a pressed button on the TARDIS console in the Console Room, the Doctor speaks vey quietly. “We never talk about them. You should never, too.”
Once he releases the control, the Time Lord smiles and he straightens his back. He says with a stretch “Don't worry, you and Clara won't remember a thing. None of this will have ever happened.”
Romana explains “We're taking a preventive measure. Clara and the Great Intelligence will never meet in 2013. Right now, it is still there.”
“But then we won't meet you and Romana.”
“Perhaps you will, yours is such a small world. But it won't be at Mr. Surrell's Opium Transistor Transitions.”
The mother, Juani de Anza, misses and doesn't see what the Doctor does but unannounced, the TARDIS grinds its muffled gears the same when the time machine dematerialized. The funny sound makes Clara giggle.
“Ha,” the Doctor guffaws. “Here we are, nineteen ninety-six.”
The TARDIS doors come open. Outside, snow covers the streets of a nighttime coastal city. Windows of most facing five-story flat houses hold out burning candles. Their light display pine wreaths and ornaments of tinsel. Somewhere, some deaf idler waits in a car and blares a muffled English version of Lucky Love by Ace of Base.
Forewarned to an extent, Juani de Anza tells the Doctor “It's Christmas in Helsinki.”
He admits “My timing may be off a little.”
The Doctor leads the way outdoors. “I expect that makes Clara happy. Christmas is known in Finland as the day the children are almost perfect. The quality is inherent.”
He leaves footprints in the fresh snow and tells the evening sky “I love Christmas.”
Joining the spirit, Clara shouts and submits from inside the time machine “Me too!”
The little girl and her mother follow the Time Lord. Romana comes after all three. Walking outside the TARDIS, Juani reminisces. “I remember this song.”
“It's new, now,” Romana reminds her.
The Doctor takes his entourage up the steps of a stone and brick flat house. He opens the door and walks straight inside. Already shivering, Clara and her mother come into the heated building right behind him. After Romana enters, the Time Lady shuts the entrance.
“Hello, Linus. It's the Doctor,” announces the Time Lord. “I have a favor to ask.”
“Doctor,” Linus Torvalds says when he appears and investigates a disturbance. The young man appears a little plump but his sight may be distorted by the sweater he wears. The characterization of a festive penguin sits on the front of the garment. The cartoon wears a red stocking cap with a fuzzy white ball.
“Mom,” Clara says, jumps and points.
Linus tells the little girl “That's Tux. He's our mascot.”
The Doctor answers for her “I know.”
“Is she with you?” Linus asks him.
“I like her, don't you?”
“And this is her mother?”
Linus glances at Juani and says “Hello.”
The Doctor claims “The girl is under a Doctor's supervision.”
The Time Lord then changes the subject back to animals. “Penguin? I would love to travel with a penguin. Although, K-9 would get jealous.”
Miffed because he's been surprised, Linus tells the Time Lord “I liked your opera coat better, and your other face.”
“I hope we can still be friends.” The Doctor grins wide.
“Sure, yes,” Linus grudgingly agrees. He says “It's only a Gnome versus KDE thing. Anyway, last time I saw you, you said you needed code to take into the past.”
“I did? I'm sure it was very important. It was probably nuclear. Can imagine that?”
Linus imagines other things. The man gazes at Romana and says “Hello, I know we haven't met.”
The Doctor warns him “You are a married man...”
Before the Doctor is done talking, Romana introduces herself to the host. She then asks him “Where is Tove?”
Linus remembers himself. “Oh, she's showing off Patricia.”
“Congratulations,” wishes the Doctor. “I hope she grows up as pretty as Clara. I knew there was a newborn girl.”
“There are no surprises for you,” the host says sarcastically.
“A few and I need your help so I might catch them.”
“What is it?”
The Doctor teases him. “I'll never tell.”
Romana interrupts the conversation. “Doctor, Clara and her mother might be bored.”
Dutiful, Linus volunteers. “I have hot cocoa in the kitchen pantry.”
Juani jumps. “I can make hot cocoa.”
“I'll take you,” Romana says.
The Doctor tells her “Thank you. Alone together, Linus and I can plot and take over the world.”
The ladies leave the front room. Before she vanishes into foyer, he tells Clara “We're not going to do that.” He then winks his left eye.
Confidential, Mr. Torvalds asks the Doctor “What do you need?”
The Time Lord is honest the best he's able. “I need you to put a special non-blocking character into the standard output of your operating system. Just this once, it will take care of itself.”
Linus acts confused. “What? That doesn’t make sense.”
“I know, it baffles the mind. That is my intent.”
“All right,” Linus tells him them walks into an adjacent study. “My computer is in here. I just forked the code...”
The Doctor advises “As long as it's merged back into the main trunk.”
“Yes, for you. What does it do?”
The Doctor tells him “It helps the OS guard, by default, against the threat of an alien intelligence.”
“I could use more detail.”
“And you're not getting it. Where is your adventure, man?”
Shoulder-to-shoulder in the Helsinki study of Linus Torvalds, the man and the Doctor boot up a new box. The work together and tamper with code. The programmer complains. “You could have uploaded a patch to the Linux repository.”
“I need you to do this,” claims the Doctor. “I need you to be intimately familiar with this change. When Clara grows up, she'll learn this too. I can't be everywhere at once.”
“You fool me. You're worst than somebody I don't know.”
The Doctor is reminded of an important thing. “While we're talking about it, someone from America will come and say he is the NSA. Tell him no.”
“Okay,” Linus states and he stops typing across his computer's keyboard. “I've committed the changes. I suppose we should start a build.”
“Yes,” answers the Doctor. “Pipes, Linus. Remember to clean those pipes.”
The second window in the room, the one behind these technological nerds, smashes inward. The Doctor and Linus suddenly freeze. Mr. Torvalds is completely immobilized whereas the Doctor forces himself. He moves his eyes and mouth. An invisible presence joins this hack fest.
“Doctor,” a familiar voice names the Time Lord. It sounds exactly as the one in Cupertino California in the far away year 2013.
The Time Lord answers. “You are not getting into the world, you Eater of Souls. This will not be your threshold.”
“But I already have a pseudopod in the door. See what I can do so soon.”
Partially able to break some mysterious, cold paralysis, Linus panics and only his lips move. “Where is that voice coming from? I don't have speakers for this box.”
“Everywhere, I presume,” the Time Lord tells him.
The Doctor then speaks to the presence “Yog-Soth...”
And the video monitor goes dead. The computer Linus and the Doctor worked upon loses power. So does the nether god. The hold over the Doctor and Linus is released all at once. Torvalds slumps in his chair and the voice evaporates into frigid air.
Beneath the man's nose, little Clara holds an unplugged power cord. The girl waves the prongs so the The Doctor sees what she's done. He gushes. “Thank you, thank you again, Clara. Your timing is impeccable.”
While Linus yet recovers, the Doctor speculates. “This branch is where the Great Intelligence found a gateway. I'm taking the box with me.”
Romana and Clara's mother appear. The Doctor makes a request. “Romana, can you please throw a blanket on Linus?”
Once she finds a blanket, she does as she's been asked. Meanwhile, the Doctor speaks to a conscious Mr. Torvalds. “How about making those changes before you branch your code? I'm sure that will shake this infection.”
“Good idea, I will,” Linus manages and says. He then asks “What about your special character?”
The Doctor tells him. “I'll send you an email. I'll wrap it into a TAR file. Thank you, Linus.”
Linus answers “Well, it is my code.”
“That's very possessive of you – you're a good man.”
The Doctor pays him another compliment before he takes his companions and leaves. “You have the best uptime I know.”
The Time Lord then breaks bad news. “We must be leaving. I have these ladies I need to take home.”
Linus Torvalds waves him farewell. He does give one piece of advice before the Doctor leaves his home. “Next time, phone ahead. You must stop just dropping in.”
Through the snow and inside the TARDIS once again, the Doctor tells his two human companions “Let's take you back to your time.”
“Please,” Juani begs the Time Lord. “One more trip.”
The Doctor grins and wishes “Merry Christmas, Clara.”
When the time machine begins to wheeze he also says “And you, Juani, Clara's mom. Thank you.”
He tells Romana in flight “The problem with human beings this age and onward is everyone watches too much television. People should go outside and exercise, read a good book.”
“I say, listen to a book on tape and go for a hike. It's good for you. It's good for your body and mind, especially your mind. Who can know what gets into ones head looking at a monitor all day.”
- END -
- Matthew Sawyer