Things That Never Were

by Kathryn A

Universe: Doctor Who/Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Summary: It's a bit hard to believe that something doesn't exist when it's threatening to kill you.
Requested by: QDS (hammerxsword)
Request: The Doctor (DW) / or & Arthur Dent (HHGTTG)
Words: 1600

Thanks to JHall for beta-reading (and Britpicking). All mistakes are mine.

In the darkness, a voice spoke.

"Ow! Ford! You're standing on my foot!"

"Sorry, Arthur."

"Ugh! Now you've got your elbow in my side."

"There isn't much room, you know."

"Yes, it's a ruddy broom closet!"

"Sanitory facilitator equipment store," Ford said.

Arthur supposed that in a universe where "Telephone Sanitizer" was a valid job description, they'd be sure to have a fancy name for "broom closet". Particularly since it didn't appear to have any brooms in it. Lots of plastic bottles, a few buckets, one of which he'd nearly stuck his foot in, and what smelt like dirty rags, but no actual brooms. "Fine. How long do you think we'll have to hide in here?"

"Until they go away," Ford said. "Or until they find and kill us."

"How very cheering."

"The fascinating thing is that they don't exist."

"Don't exist?" Arthur exclaimed. "You mean we weren't being chased by glorified pepperpots screaming "exterminate" at us?"

"Yes, we were, which is what makes it so fascinating," Ford said. "I could get a real scoop, provided we survive. Proving that the Daleks exist! I'll be famous!"

"Daleks? Is that what they are?"

"Here, I'll just run up the entry in the book..."

With a few beeps and burbles, Ford's copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy began to recite.


Daleks don't exist. Never have. Really, they don't exist. The fact that the myths about Daleks throughout the galaxy are amazingly consistent has been used as a central theme in Oolon Colluphid's bestselling coffee-table book "Things That Never Were".

If Daleks had existed, they would have been the fourth most xenophobic race in the galaxy. The most xenophobic, of course, were the inhabitants of Krikkit. The second most xenophobic were the Tericals of Ling, who committed mass suicide when first contacted by another species. The third most xenophobic race in the galaxy were the hypothetical inhabitants of the Darkling Zone; hypothetical because nobody ever returned from the Darkling Zone to say whether it was inhabited or not.

The Daleks, by contrast, while they did consider themselves superior to all other lifeforms, and did generally want to exterminate everyone they met, also had a reputation for enslaving other races rather than exterminating them immediately. Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that Daleks, consisting of a one-being battle-tank with one gun and one manipulator appendage, weren't particularly dexterous, and preferred to use other lifeforms to do their work for them. This begs the question of how such a lifeform could turn up in the nightmares of so many species, since their limitations would have made them feeble conquerors. No matter how much one hates other species, it's a bit difficult to conquer them if you can't climb stairs. The-

Arthur pressed the off button mid-word. "Can't climb stairs? That doesn't seem to have stopped this lot! How do you know they're Daleks?"

"The one-person battle tank, the characteristic cry of "exterminate", oh, and did I mention that the first one called itself a Dalek?" Ford said. "You were cowering with your arms over your head at the time; you might not have heard."

"Yes, well, I really don't like being exterminated," Arthur replied. "Has it occurred to you that they might be copy-cats, just pretending to be Daleks? That won't make us any less dead, of course, when they find us."

"I'll think of something."

"You better think of something quick, because I think someone's-"


"-at the door."

The light from the corridor streamed into the broom closet, lighting up Ford and Arthur, the bottles and buckets, and the stranger who had opened the door. Arthur blinked, eyes adjusting to the sudden brightness. It wasn't a Dalek, at least. A humanoid, with longish wavy hair, a friendly smile, and dark clothing.

"If you don't mind, I just need to borrow that bucket there," the stranger said. "Won't be a moment. Didn't mean to interrupt. Mind you... probably my worst interruption would have to be Coleridge. He was rather annoyed. Never did finish that poem. Pity, really."

Arthur gritted his teeth. "We're hiding."

"Oh, I'll leave you to it then. Should be safe to come out in, say, half an hour. Oh, there's two buckets! One of you want to lend me a hand?"

"You go, Arthur, there's a good chap. I've got revisions to write."


"Come on," the stranger said, "it won't take long."

"But the-"

"Daleks? Soon have them sorted. Twice as fast, with your help."

"But I-"

"Good man."

Arthur found himself walking down the corridor, following the stranger, without really being sure how that had happened. That sort of thing seemed to happen to him a lot lately.

"I'm the Doctor, by the way," the stranger said. "What's your name?"

"Arthur Dent."

The Doctor smiled at him, as if there weren't any murderous pepper-pots waiting to kill them. "Nice dressing-gown. There's nothing like a good, warm dressing-gown in winter. And a cup of cocoa. Or tea, of course, but cocoa is sort of a dressing-gown kind of drink, don't you think? Burberry?"

"What?" Arthur said.

"Dressing gown," the Doctor said. "From Burberry?"

"No," Arthur said. "Marks and Spencers."

The Doctor nodded. "Ah, value for money, then."

"Wait a minute," Arthur said. "You've heard of Marks and Spencers? Of Earth?"

"One of my favourite planets."

"Then you don't know," Arthur said. How was he going to tell him that the Earth was destroyed?

"Don't know what? Never mind, tell me later."

They turned a corner, and the Doctor strode up to something that looked a lot like a small blue potting shed, with the words POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX in white lettering across the top.

"What's that?"

"It's my ship," said the Doctor.

"But it's a Police Box." Arthur supposed he ought to stop being surprised by things like this. If a spaceship could look like a bistro, what was a Police Box compared with that? But it was the principle of the thing. Space ships ought to look like space ships.

"No, it just looks like a Police Box. Here, give me your bucket, I'll only be a minute."

"Here, take that." The Doctor handed Arthur a bucket full of red, frothy liquid. "Careful, don't want it to spill."

"What is it?"

"Just a little something I brewed up to take care of the Daleks."

"You're going to throw red... bubbling... water at them."

"Not throw," the Doctor said. He picked up a neon-bright gun-like contraption and put the strap over his shoulder.

"Okay, so you're going to fight them off with a giant water pistol."

"It's not water, it's anti-metal virus suspended in an alkaloid solution, with mutated protiens that are harmful to Kalinoid lifeforms. Should do just the trick. I'll shoot, you bring the ammunition."

The Daleks spotted them immediately. But the Doctor had good aim.

"You are the Doctor! You are an enemy of the Daleks! Exterminate! Exter-arrrgh!"

"Exterminate! Ex- My vision is impaired! Exterminate!"


"Exterminate! You are-arrrgh!"



"Exterminate! Exterminate! Exter-arrrgh!"


"Quick!" the Doctor said. "Next bucket!"

Arthur handed it to him, and the Doctor put the feeder pipe of the gun into the second bucket.

"You are an enemy of the Daleks! You must be exterminated! Exterminate! Exterminate! Ex-arrrgh!"


"Ex- My vision is im-arrgh!"



"Exterminate! You will beeeeeeeee-aiieerrrrgh!"

"Good," the Doctor said. "That's the lot then. Really not very many of them. Rather surprising, actually. I mean, I'd have expected them to - oh, but they probably have, just haven't started production yet. Quick! Follow me! And don't drop that bucket!"

More corridors, this time at a run, trying not to spill the remaining liquid in the bucket, until they entered a room with control panels, flashing lights, and a bubbling vat in the centre.

"What are you doing?" Arthur asked as the Doctor strode up to the control panels and started pressing buttons and twisting knobs.

"Overloading the system," the Doctor answered. "Give me the bucket. Hmmm, not much, but it should be enough. Ah yes, only one vat, that's good." He poured the red liquid into the vat.

"But what are you doing?"

"Destroying the Dalek factory," the Doctor said. "Dalek creatures growing in the vat, well, not any more, anyway, oh, and this complex will probably blow up in five minutes. Better get your friend."

"Blow up?!"

"Overload, remember? Run!"

"Ford, we've got to get out of here! The place is going to blow up any minute!"

"Oh. What? Blow up? But I need to get my Dalek evidence."

"There isn't any," Arthur said. "They kind of dissolved."

"Dissolved? What about my scoop?" Ford said.

"Don't you think it's better to be alive?"

"Oh. Right."

"So what happened to that Doctor fellow?" Ford asked, once they were safely away.

"He took off," Arthur answered. "Said he had some paperwork to fill out. Some Galactic Planning Council or other. Do you have to fill out paperwork when you blow up a building?"

"Not usually. Well, unless you're a demolitionist, and then you fill it out beforehand."

"Don't remind me." Arthur sighed.

"Oh, sorry," Ford said. "Still, it's better than some planetary fates. I once read about a planet..."

Author's Notes

The continuity in this is a bit screwy; since the Tenth Doctor mentions having met Arthur Dent, then this has to be set before Ten; however, since the Ninth Doctor thinks the Daleks are all dead, it couldn't be Nine, which is why I chose Eight. However, if this is the Eighth Doctor, then Daleks don't yet not exist. Except that I'm assuming that Daleks don't exist in the Hitchhikers universe.

Time travel makes my head hurt.