As promised, our gallant Space Cadets return to your screen…
I’m woken by a vaguely familiar song playing over the star-ship’s hailing channel. Rubbing my sore neck, I look around. I must’ve been out for some time. Stevens and Harris are in their seats on either side of me, heads lolling. Stevens is snoring gently.
Then I hear a voice. ‘May Day, May Day! This is Greta’s Ark. Anyone receiving? May Day!’
The voice is lost in a burst of static. Greta’s Ark? It sounds familiar. Then it dawns on me. We’d learned about Greta Thunberg when we studied early time travel. She was the girl who travelled back two hundred years to the 21st century to save the Earth’s animals. How can we be receiving a distress call from the long distant past?
I jab angrily at the console, trying to get the message back. What’s wrong with the ship now?
‘Hey, what’s the drama, Jem?’ Harris has finally woken up.
‘Comms aren’t working. Drat this ship!’ I prod at the console again.
The static clears and we hear Greta’s voice: ‘May Day, May Day! This is Greta’s Ark. Come in, somebody… please!’
Harris puts his ear to the speaker. ‘Wow! That’s the Thunberg girl, isn’t it? Cool!’ He pulls an uncomprehending face at me. ‘But hold on… she was, like, a hundred years ago…? How come she’s hailing us now?’
‘The timey-wimey thing?’ Making air quotes with my fingers, I mimic the Matt Smith version of the Doctor, who saved us from the black hole.
‘She sounds as if she’s in trouble,’ Harris says.
I roll my eyes. ‘Yes, right. So fix the console so we can find out what’s wrong!’
‘What gives, peeps?’ Steve rubs his eyes and yawns.
I can’t hide my sarcasm. ‘Welcome back, Steve.’
Harris, meanwhile, is fiddling with the comms system; the static whines and crackles. Finally, Greta Thunberg’s face appears on the view screen. I catch the end of what she’s saying: ‘… and they’re going ape!’
I lean forward. ‘This is Jemma Kirk. How can we assist, Greta?’
‘Thank goodness.’ She doesn’t seem surprised that I know her name. ‘Listen, the monkeys have escaped and are causing mayhem. We need to get these animals under control before they do any more damage to my ship.’ Behind her we see a young man in a khaki uniform fighting to hold the flight deck door closed against a barrage of blows which are accompanied by excited screeching. ‘Please, get me David Attenborough!’
‘He’s the naturalist from the 21st century who’s been helping us gather the animals. He’s from the BBC, you must have heard of him.’
Stevens is busy searching the ship’s data banks. A clip from an ancient British TV series pops up at the side of the viewing screen. I recognise the man who is crouching in a leafy rain forest next to a group of gorillas.
‘Yes, that’s him,’ Greta exclaims! ‘I’d go myself, but I can’t leave the ship.’
‘Well you can’t be in two places at once…’ I begin.
Greta cuts in. ‘I can actually, aren’t you familiar with quantum superposition?’ She throws her hands in the air. ‘Look we’re wasting time. Can you get hold of Mr. Attenborough, or not?’
‘We’ll get the Doctor,’ I say confidently.
‘No, just the Doctor. Don’t worry, he’ll track down your Mr. Attenborough.’
I glance at Harris and Stevens. ‘Okay, let’s do it.’ I turn back to the screen. ‘Hang on in there Greta, we’ve got this.’ I signal to Harris to cut the comms.
‘You hope…’ says Stevens.
I look from Stevens to Harris. ‘Come on, guys. We need to focus.’
All we need to do is imagine. That’s how our ship works – powered by our minds and guided by our imaginations – although I’m not sure how Greta’s distress call fits in, but there’s no time to worry about that now.
‘Guys, think of the Doctor! Imagine the Tardis!’
Almost immediately we hear the familiar sound of the Tardis materializing, and sure enough, the iconic blue police box appears at the other side of our flight deck. We’re getting good at this!
The door opens and I’m delighted to see the Matt Smith version of the Doctor.
‘Hi guys,’ the Doctor lifts his hand in greeting. ‘You seem to have summoned me.’ He frowns. ‘Slightly inconvenient, but I’m sure it’s important.’
‘It is, Doctor,’ I assure him.
‘So’, the Doctor claps his hands together, ‘what’s the problem Jemma?’
‘Oh yes, David Attenborough, lovely man. Don’t you just love his nature programmes?’
At that moment, the Tardis door opens and David Attenborough himself appears. He looks around, a mildly puzzled expression on his face.
‘And here he is!’ announces the Doctor.
‘How did you do that Doctor?’ I ask.
‘No idea, Jemma.’
David Attenborough is scratching his head. ‘Oh, hello, Doctor.’ He gestures vaguely at the Tardis. Sorry, I must have wandered into the wrong studio.’ He looks around again. ‘Are you filming?’
‘Just the man we were after!’ The Doctor claps him on the back.
‘I’m going to be in one of your episodes?’ David exclaims excitedly.
‘Well, not exactly. A young lady by the name of Greta is asking for you.’
‘Ms Thunberg? I was only with her the other day.’ He frowns. ‘Has something happened to the Ark?’
‘She needs your help, Mr Attenborough.’ I guide him towards the console. ‘She’s having some trouble with the monkeys on her ship.’
‘Monkey trouble, eh?’
Harris brings up the comms and Greta’s face appears on the screen. ‘Mr Attenborough,’ she sighs with relief. ‘Thank goodness!’
At that moment, the door behind her gives way and her lieutenant is pushed off balance. He lands in a sprawling heap on the floor and a group of around ten monkeys of assorted shapes and sizes start leaping around the flight deck screeching mischievously.
‘They’re totally out of control,’ Greta cries, ‘they’re all over the ship!’ She deftly removes a cute-looking capuchin which has climbed up onto her control desk and is peering at us on the screen.
A spider monkey appears at her side and starts fiddling with the controls on the desk. ‘Get off that now!’ She tries to bat the animal away, but he persists. Another one joins it. This one’s larger; a baboon.
David leans into the screen and points a finger. ‘Now stop that at once!’ His voice is calm but authoritative. The baboon pauses and looks at the screen, turning his head to one side. Then he turns his back on us and his large red behind fills the screen.
‘Charming,’ observes the Doctor.
The picture flickers. We see Greta desperately wrestling with the spider monkey who now seems keen to sit on her head. The baboon turns around and brandishes a large lever at us which he has clearly wrenched from the control desk. ‘No!’ Greta bellows. That’s the stabilizer!’
Our viewing screen goes blank.
‘Where did they go?’ asks David.
Will the Doctor and the Cadets be able to locate Greta’s Art? Will they be in time before the monkeys dismantle Greta’s ship? And will David Attenborough take charge of the escapees?
Find out in Part 2 – coming soon!