Self-isolation must make writers restless. Doctor Who fans have been treated to a wave of "extras" as of late because of it, from episode rewatches with the show's cast and creative to writers releasing new scenes and short stories connected with the episode being honored. Former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat was one of the first ones to get in on the initiative, and he's back again with a new short story on the show's official BBC website on Tuesday: "The Terror of the Umpty Ums." The short story marks Moffat's first story to feature the 13th Doctor, as played by Jodie Whittaker. He captures Whittaker and her Doctor's chatty, cheeky voice to a proverbial T. Set in a children's home somewhere in the U.K., the tale introduces us to an unusual little boy named David aka Karpagnon the DeathBorg 400, whose mission is to destroy the human race. Thankfully, the Doctor's here to offer some kindly advice before all of that death and destruction starts.
Here's an Excerpt from The Terror of the Umpty Ums
"The reeking flesh mass was silent for a moment before twisting and stretching its upper, frontal skin lumps into a new configuration. Karpagnon's visual circuits processed and pattern-matched the configuration within two nano-seconds: apparently the human was smiling. Karpagnon considered for a moment and elected not to retaliate.
"Did you hear me?" emitted the Human from its flapped aperture. "Did you understand? Do you understand what I'm saying?" The encoded sound stream was accompanied by a fresh flow of smells also emanating from the aperture. Karpagnon's sensory filter began processing the new odours, while his tactical monitor noted that they were unlikely to be directly significant to the Human's communication. The light spray of moisture was similarly dismissed. "I'll be back tomorrow morning. Dr. Johnson and Dr. Ahmed will be here too. Do you remember them?"
The Karpagnon's plans are interrupted by a certain voice intruding on its thoughts, derailing its plans.
"New protocol, replied the Tactical Monitor. Cruelty and cowardice to be avoided. Destruction of humans within this installation now designated as cruel and cowardly.
'What new protocol?' demanded Karpagnon.
"'Oops, sorry that was probably me.' It was the voice again – the untagged data stream. But where was it coming from? 'I got bored, you see,' the voice continued, 'Thought I do a bit of housekeeping, long as I'm here. Love a bit of rewiring, me, and I get bored when I'm asleep. I can't be doing with all that sleeping, there's too many planets. What if you sleep and miss a whole planet. Nightmare, yeah?'"
The Doctor is Always a Guardian of Children
Once again, Moffat is writing for children. He understands The Doctor is a figure of comfort for children, a figure who offers hope. The Doctor may be fiction, but a fiction is as real as any of us. And a fiction that offers hope is as real and vital as any parent. And Moffat, like Neil Gaiman understands the need for stories, and stories that know they're stories. As with every Moffat story, there's a clever twist. Never cruel. Never cowardly. That's the Doctor. If you didn't catch the link earlier, you can check out the full text of Moffat's "The Terror of the Empty Ums" at the Doctor Who BBC Website.