Prologue: The Banana and the Man
"If the time energy catches up with you, you will never have been born. It will erase every moment of your existence. You will never have lived at all."
~The Doctor (11), in "Flesh and Stone"
The banana was gone. It wasn't eaten, and it didn't poof or explode or anything, it was just gone. Like it never existed. If Rebecca had blinked or turned away, she would have completely missed it. But she didn't blink and she was staring right at it, so she saw it all. "Mum?" She said, thinking this was some sort of joke. "Mum? What did you do with the banana?"
The weirdest look came upon her mother's face. "What?" She asked, completely sincere.
"What. Did. You. Do. With. The. Banana?" Rebecca said, annunciating each word in case her mother didn't hear her well enough.
"What are you talking about?" She said, her eyes glinting with something. What was it? "What is a banana?"
"You know," Rebecca said, exasperated. "The yellow, curvy fruit that was sitting there just a second ago, waiting to be eaten. That banana."
The look grew stronger in her mother's eyes, and now Rebecca could recognize it. A look of… power. That was the best way to describe it. It was like looking into something bigger than yourself, not knowing what it is and being unable to describe it; some sort of higher being that you weren't supposed to question, just observe. She shivered.
"Stop playing those silly games with me, Rebecca." The older women told her child. "You're always making up these funny things that don't exist. Stop it this instance or you'll be banned from watching TV for the rest of the week."
Knowing it would only do her bad things, Rebecca protested anyway. "But Mum, I'm not pretending. There really was a banana here, just a minute ago. As I was staring at it, it disappeared in a second. If I had blinked, I would have missed it. Please, Mum. Please believe me."
"That's it, young lady. You give me no choice. You're not watching TV for the rest of the week,. Am I understood?" The strange look in her eyes had vanished, and was now replaced by a seething anger that Rebecca had grown to know well.
"Yes, Mum. You're understood." Rebecca stood up from where she was sitting and stretched a bit. "I'm going for a walk, ok?" Maybe if I take a walk, she thought, I could get this all sorted out. Maybe when I come back things will make sense. What really scared her was not that the banana had disappeared, or that her mother didn't believe her. The scary part, at least to Rebecca, was that, looking into the greater power in her mother's eyes, she wanted to believe her. She wanted to blindly trust her mother for surely, if her own mother didn't remember what a banana was then maybe she was just making it up. Maybe there was no such thing as a banana.
Rebecca was so immersed in her own thoughts that she didn't hear her mother's soft reply the first or the second time, and her mother was growing quite worried before she finally answered. "What?" She asked simply, not remembering what her mother had said.
"I said, 'That's ok with me. Don't go far.'" Her mother said a little louder. "Are you ok?" As if her daughter was going to disappear before her eyes, she took Rebecca's hand.
"I'm fine, Mum," She said, pulling her arm away from the death grip of her mother. "But my hand won't be if you keep strangling it like that. See you in a few." She stalked out the door, aggravated for no reason.
"You better be back for supper!" Her mother exclaimed before the door slammed shut behind her.
Cool, autumn air blew across her face, a welcome relief from the warm sweat that had suddenly drenched her face back in the house. The leaves in all their brilliant colours were dancing in the wind and she felt safe, sound, and secure. If she had been listening very carefully, she would have heard a sort of whooshing sound in the distance, but all Rebecca heard was the rustling of the leaves.
Before she had gotten to the end of her driveway, she felt something nag at the back of her brain. Something important that she had nearly forgotten…
"Blimey!" She exclaimed out loud. "I've almost forgotten about that banana!" Panicking now, she ran back and forth, saying and thinking banana, over and over again. "Ok," She said, after she was done repeating banana many times. "I'm going to draw the banana and write 'banana'. That way, I'll never forget it." By this time, several neighbours who were also outside had began to stare at her, no doubt thinking that she was having one of her moments before slowly shuffling inside. She paid them no mind, instead running into her garage where a box of chalk lay that she had gotten for her 8th birthday.
She ran back to the driveway, satisfied with what she found. She worked quickly, afraid that she might forget about the banana again if she hesitated. Under her breath she kept repeating banana, as if that word alone would help her with her problems. She had so many problems. After she was done with the shaky banana, she wrote banana in big, bright letters right above it. At least, that was the plan, because before she had finished the second 'a' she noticed footsteps in the distance. Looking up, she saw a man running past her very quickly holding something big and shiny in his hand.
To someone older, the man would have looked extremely attractive in every way even coated with sweat as he was. With his drop-dead good-looks, someone older would have fainted on sight. But Rebecca, being only 10 years-old, only saw a queer, creepy man who had appeared out of nowhere who might be some sort of stalker. Without thinking, she yelled at him. "Who are you? And what the heck are you doing?"
When this strange man turned to look back at Rebecca, something stirred within her. Like a bad case of de ja vu, she knew she saw him somewhere before but she couldn't quite remember where. It was like she had seen him in a past life, memories that were there but unreachable. She was staring so intently at him that she hadn't noticed that he had stopped running. "I'm the Doctor," He said as if that explained everything. "And I'm very busy. You should just forget about me." He looked back at a strange watch, that even from here Rebecca could tell it wasn't an ordinary watch, and muttered something.
"Like I forgot the banana?" She blurted out without thinking. Quickly, she covered her mouth and looked in his eyes, terrified at what she would find there. Luckily, she found no unearthly power. Just an inquiring look that startled her quite a bit.
"What did you say?" He said slowly, the same words that many others had said to her many times ago when something like this happened to her, but the words sounded different in his mouth. Not disbelieving, but something different.
"Nothing," She said quickly,. "I didn't say anything."
This man didn't look convinced, but Rebecca didn't really care. She wasn't about to explain to this complete stranger about how a banana, which apparently didn't exist anymore, disappeared and nobody remembered. She didn't need another person thinking she was insane.
"Don't forget it," The man said quietly, turning away.
"What?" Rebecca said, wondering if she didn't hear this man quite right. Or if she was really going insane.
"Don't forget about it. The banana," He said, "I mean. Please don't forget it." Now the man turned back to look at her and their eyes met. Suddenly he wasn't there, and he was replaced by black mist. The mist was dark, absorbing all light surrounding it until there was no more. It was the definition of fear itself. She tried to look away, found she couldn't, and instead tried to stand up, and again, found that she couldn't. A moment later, the man was back again and everything was back to normal, except that it wasn't the same. It could never be the same again, for Rebecca had seen something that she, at this stage of her life, couldn't possibly know. She had seen a warning.
The man, obviously unaffected by this unearthly transaction, smiled strangely. "Like I said, you would do well to forget about me. Most people do." With those words, he ran off, leaving poor Rebecca in the dust. She stared after him, wondering what nut job he could be. She had never seen him before, or at least not often, because she didn't recognize him. But still… he looked so familiar to her…
His words came back to her. You would do well to forget about me. Most people do. As she stood up, not confused any more, she found some sort of resolve. Most people do.
Well, Rebecca thought, I'm not most people.