For your reading enjoyment, an excerpt from the forthcoming Season 40 story, “Cybercult”…
The central office for The New-Future was located in London’s Canary Wharf district. Personally, Val didn’t expect the head office of a rapidly expanding belief organisation would be found in one of England’s busiest financial districts. The Doctor, striding ahead, waved his hands in all directions
“The smells, Val!” he cried. “Once, you’d have ships coming in and out of here all the time. The fruits and spoils of the British Empire at its height! These docks were teeming with sailors and dock-hands, tea, fruits, everything.” He paused and took a deep breath. “It might have been nearly two centuries, but I can still smell it. I don’t think I’ve been here since 1889 and the London Dock Strike.”
All Val could find herself saying was “That’s nice, Doctor.” Getting an interview with Xavier LaFayette was a lot easier than Val had assumed. After phoning up some old journalism friends, she found out that the man jumped at any chance to talk to the media.
For an article in a popular scientific magazine, Dr. John Smith, esteemed scientist with links to the United Nations would be meeting Xavier LaFayette for a private discussion about the inner workings and philosophies behind The New-Future. Working to make sure this discussion was fully and fairly documented was journalist Valentina Rossi. Tom had complained about staying behind, but the Doctor, (not wanting to tell him that he was surplus to requirements for this little jaunt) had asked him to put his computer talents to good use accessing The New-Future’s personal systems and servers. With Tom working away on his laptop in a nearby café, the Doctor and Val entered a through a glittering façade, signed in a the front desk and settled in to speak with the man himself.
The man himself, Xavier LaFayette smiled too much. That was the first thing the Doctor noticed when brought into his presence. At a guess, the Doctor thought that it was supposed to be a smile that made him seem like he was ‘just one of the guys.’ The more he looked at that smile though, the more it started to look like a perpetual sneer.
“What did you say your name was, sir?” said LaFayette in a thick, southern American accent as he held out his hand for the Doctor to shake. The Doctor shook it and replied.
“Smith, Doctor John Smith.” Sitting back down in his chair, the Doctor tried to smooth out the sweater he was wearing. Val had insisted he wear a tie, but all he could find amongst Tom’s clothes were clip-ons. The Doctor refused, admitting that while he may have made some strange clothing choices over the centuries, clip-on ties were a dark avenue he had yet to willingly venture down.
″We were just admiring your wonderful building. Must be pretty expensive, setting up shop in one of London’s biggest districts.″
″We have a mission to reach as many people as possible, and to do that, we need to tap into the resources and expertise available in this part of London. With respect to the other charities in the field, we were never happy to set up in a run-down store. Pus, we have many financial investments that pay handsomely.″ said LaFayette winningly.
“I have to say that your biography is very interesting,” said the Doctor, smiling his own winning smile. “Do you have a doctorate as well? It may have gotten lost underneath the lists of your military accolades and talents.”
LaFayette chuckled. “I’m afraid I do not, sir. When I was of the age when I should have been in those protected halls of academia, learning what others judged a ‘valid education,’ I was serving my country in war.” LaFayette gestured behind him to indicate the plaques and military awards that adorned the walls of his office. Satisfied that his point had been made, he looked at the Doctor over his entwined fingers. “As you can see, I acquitted myself quite well. Tell me, have you ever served your country?”
“In a fashion,” said the Doctor. “A bit of government work here, a little bit of scientific advisement for the UN there. Sometimes I had to sort out someone else’s secret dirty work. Maybe not in uniform myself, but I have known quite a few fine, upstanding men and women in uniform in my time. Good eggs.”
Val sat on a chair beside the Doctor, scribbling down notes in quick shorthand. Val really hoped that he wasn’t going to start naming them. The last thing they really needed was the Doctor mentioning that he helped ensure that Nelson’s ingrown toenail was properly treated before Trafalgar.
“I educated myself,” said LaFayette. “I was wounded in the battlefield, shipped back an invalid. I was one of the lucky ones. Some of my friends weren’t. All utterly pointless, in the end. It was from these formative experiences that I am as you see me today. It was during my convalescence that I first started to discover my talents as a writer, that, and my family’s money was able to direct me to study my interests more fully.”
The Doctor leaned back in his chair, crossing his legs. “Yes. From pulp author to leader of a notorious pseudo-religious movement. As career paths go, that’s quite amazing.”
“Pulp?” LaFayette’s smile vanished. “You confuse me, Doctor Smith. I was not some penny-ante science fiction author. My work was not about spaceships and ray guns, it was about real issues!” LaFayette’s open palm slapped the table. “Real issues, real human concerns!”
“Yes,” replied the Doctor. “I suppose with titles like ‘Farewell to the Flesh-Lords’ you were dealing with real human concerns”
Val coughed as loudly as she could, before the meeting devolved further. “This is all beside the point. Now, Mr. LaFayette.” She paused to give the Doctor a quick glare. “Doctor John Smith. Why don’t we get back to the matter at hand?”
“You have to understand,” LaFayette began. “I can’t just give away the science of what we do. But the core of what we’re trying to achieve is simple. The old ways aren’t working. Why should they? We’ve seen how the world has been in the last hundred years, how can people find solace and contentment in the rules and beliefs of a dogma written back when people thought the Earth was flat and that heaven resided past the orbit of the moon. We are living in the age of science fiction. How could the any organised religion have any meaning anymore? Although, you seem to have already made up your mind, with words like ‘notorious pseudo-religious movement’”
“So science and the future becomes the new religion of choice?” asks the Doctor. “That goes against what science should ever be.”
LaFayette shook his head. “You don’t understand, you’re just seeing what you want to see. A simple youth fad, a quick rich scheme. A cult.”
“You’re not giving me a whole lot to work with,” said the Doctor, ready to leap up from his chair. ″You keep your methods and ideals so secret how could anyone look at you seriously?″
“We are creating a new philosophy.” Val could see LaFayette trying to suppress his growing agitation. The Doctor was getting to him. “One that does not depend on some great entity or a fear of punishment or the need for a reward in an allegorical afterlife. It is about not wasting the human potential. After all, what else can be more powerful than God than the people who created him″
The Doctor was about to reply when the door opened and the secretary stepped in, holding a small palm computer. She quickly stepped to LaFayette’s side and handed it to him. He looked over what was on the screen and then looked up at the Doctor and Val. He nodded once, then passed the computer back. The secretary, her expression blank, left the room.
“Well, Miss Rossi, I’m not sure the Mysterious Times is really the correct magazine to talk about our organisation.” Val opened her mouth to protest. “Yes, I know that you claim to be from Universal Science, but given the link between one of our members and this whole charade with-” he gestured dismissively at the Doctor. “This gentleman here. I can only assume that your presence is not entirely honest and keeping in the concept of journalistic integrity.” Before Val or the Doctor could respond, he cut them off again. ″Yes, we checked out your files. Do you honestly think we would let anybody come in here without doing so?″
© 2014 Miles Reid-Lobatto