Doctor Ooo and The Christmas Bug

Doctor Ooo and his companion Jeri were hurtling through time and space in a machine called the BHARDIS (Bah! Humbug And Real Dopes In Space), when the Earth-born Jeri Perpetual-Motion began to speak in an off-base American accent.
“Gee, Doctor,” she said. “It’s just about Christmas-time. Couldn’t we, like, celebrate somewhere?”
“Tea-Lords don’t celebrate Christmas,” he replied. “By the way — why do you bother with the phony Yank bit?”
“Gosh, I don’t know. I guess I kind of got used to it…There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you. Since you’re from another planet, namely Comfrey T, why do you speak with a British accent?”
The Doctor’s brow furrowed. “There’s a solid scientific explanation for that,” he said thoughtfully. “Unfortunately, it escapes me at the moment.”

Jeri, having decided to change her clothes, sauntered off to the wardrobe, which was a room about twenty by seventy feet. There were racks and racks of clothes to choose from, But Jeri quickly made her selections and changed. She put on layers of furs and woolens and what-not. Then she admired her reflection in the long mirror. She looked like Mukluk of The North.
She skipped into the control room and asked, “Well — how do I look?”
“Splendid,” replied the Doctor, watching the console intently.
“I’m pleased that you like it,” smiled Jeri, not really minding. He’d notice in a minute, she was sure.
“I was thinking, Jeri, we might WAAAGH!”
He noticed.
“We might what?” asked Jeri sweetly.
The Doctor recovered: “Why don’t we stop somewhere for Christmas? Somewhere in the USA, perhaps…”

The BHARDIS made a sneezing sound followed by the peculiar crunch a car does it you shift gears incorrectly.
“Well — we’re here. Let’s see — according to my calculations, we’re in…Min-nie-sota.”

The Doctor opened the BHARDIS doors, to get the ordeal (i.e., celebrating Christmas) over with. He and Jeri stepped out into a blue and white landscape. The Doctor’s face turned into an ice sculpture in 7.9 seconds. Jeri in her mountain-man gear was comfy. The Doctor could not reveal any discomfort, however, since Tea-Lords were an alien race and therefore not concerned with trivialities such as frostbite and gangrene.

“Well, Jeri,” ventured the Doctor through gritted teeth, “I’ve had enough of celebrating Christmas. How about you?”
“Don’t be silly, Doctor. We haven’t been out of the BHARDIS a whole minute.”
The Doctor was about to say that it was long enough for him, but just then a cutter came by, drawn by a glossy black horse.

It stopped. The driver looked them up and down, and then said: “Want a lift?”
“Oh, yes,” said Jeri happily. She hadn’t been around horses much, but she liked the idea of being around horses at Christmas-time. It was like living in a Currier & Ives print. As for the Doctor, he was simply hoping to be taken to someplace warmer.

“Where are we going?” asked Jeri presently.
“You don’t know?” The driver was surprised. “Why, the Christmas Social, of course.”
Jeri remembered the ice-cream socials from her school days, and figured that the Christmas Social was something similar.

On the way there, the driver stopped to pick up a few other party-goers, most of whom were far jollier than the Doctor.

Eventually the sleigh stopped in front of the Belen Community Center, which (as Jeri noted on a plaque by the door) was originally the town’s livery stable.
The sound of music and people talking could be heard through the doorway. Jeri waited for the Doctor to help her alight, but he hurried into the building, leaving the driver to give her a hand.
Inside the community center, it was bright and warm. There was a nice lady at the door to greet the guests and take their coats.

The Doctor was nowhere in sight. Jeri took a good look around. The building was preserved almost in its original state, except that most of the stall dividers had been removed. The few remaining stalls had been converted to an office and public lavvies.
Against the back was was a massive fir tree covered with hundreds of  decorations of every description. In one corner was the band, and in another corner, refreshments. There, Jeri caught a glimpse of the Doctor drinking punch. Jeri did not have time to feel neglected, however, as a constant supply of young men kept asking her to dance.

After six dances, she moseyed over to the Doctor and found that he was half-loaded. Disgusted, she left him to look for another dance partner.
It was in the middle of the next dance when something happened; there were a few minor screams, and general confusion.
“What is it?” wondered Jeri, straining to see over the heads of the crowd.
“Some kind of a big bug,” said her dancing partner.

And so it was. Well over six feet tall, of a dull green color, its wings edged in gold. It looked otherwise like a stag beetle, but since no one had ever seen one quite that size, they did not know how to react to it.

“Hi, there,” said the Bug to anyone who was listening. “I’m Dick — that’s short for Dickens. Can I have some punch?”
A small glass of punch was immediately provided. The people were eager to appease the Bug. It accepted the glass gratefully.
“What a wonderful time of year. Christmas today seems to be not celebrated as thoroughly as it has been in the past.”
There were murmurs of agreement all around.
“Commercialism has spoiled a lovely thing,” the Bug continued.

“So what’s yer frigging point?” a familiar voice bellowed.
Oh, yuck, thought Jeri. The Doctor was going to wreck another good time.
The crowd did not know what would happen next. They parted to make a path for the Doctor, who plodded methodically, almost mechanically, towards the Bug, until finally, until he was standing nose-to-thorax with Dick.

“You’re drunk,” said the Bug decidedly.
“You’re drunk,” mimicked the Doctor. “Of course I am! It’s horrible; it’s cold, and people get into terrible moods because they have to be nice to other people and buy presents and create fabulous huge meals and the poor children don’t get anything at all! Does that answer your question?”
Jeri could not remember what the original question was, or if indeed there had been one at all, but the Bug knew how to handle the Doctor.

“You don’t mean to spoil the party,” the Bug said in a mysterious voice.
“I don’t mean to spoil the party,” the Doctor repeated with a blank stare.
“You’re going to keep your mouth shut,” continued the Bug.
“I’m going to keep my mouth shut,” the Doctor repeated.

There were gasps of approval all round, the band started up again, and a little girl ran up to get the Bug’s autograph.
“Usually I only get the autograph requests on Silas V,” the Bug commented.
Jeri laughed with an instant revelation. The Bug used the Doctor’s old “master-hypnotist” trick. This time she’d really have something to gloat over, back in the BHARDIS. And it turned out to be a great Christmas after all.


[This story was written in the 1990s.]


About Mary Borchard

Fabulous art available.
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