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On 22nd November 1978, two strange visitors came to the sleepy town of Mount Shasta City, California. 

The two, who travelled by unconventional means, emerged from the alley between Shirley Ringer's diner and the abandoned True Pine Lumber office. The little man in the cream linen suit cheerfully tipped his hat to three passers-by  resulting in an odd conversation. His young female friend listened curiously. At the diner, they had pie. A mild issue of payment was settled satisfactorily.


This is stuff that really happened, but it's not my diary or anything like that. It's my story.  You see, I was that young female friend who had pie. This happened a long time ago and a lot has happened since, so I've had to rely on old memories (hazy), guesses (wild) and cut & paste articles from the internet (convenient).

I'm Dorothy McShane (Hello!), but back then I was Ace. The little man in the cream linen suit is the Doctor, but back then he was the Professor, except when I was angry or irritated at him (frequent) or being obedient (rare).

So, fair warning. This is all memories and guesses, like I said, and I'll tell it the way I want. For example, I'm getting ready to skip ahead thirty-five years. 

On 27th November 2013, (See?), a single strange visitor comes to the sleepy town of Mount Shasta City, California. 

She is me, a mature woman, but still sturdy and healthy. I drive a rented '72 'Cuda someone has painted blue. It's roomy, but nothing like my old ride.

The rangers try to talk me out of it. No surprise. Tell Dorothy McShane she can't do something? That always works. In twenty minutes I have my wilderness permit, summit pass and a written apology.

Worst time of the year to climb the mountain, they say, but I knew that already. I did my homework, like the Professor said I should. I don't rush in anymore. I already knew that the weather had been unseasonably warm, but there were no active avalanche warnings. There had been snow the week before but down here it is almost melted. Up there, it is shallow and crusted and would only make the climb easier. Not that that matters. I am going. I have a promise to keep.

I only wish I knew what it was.

'Have a good day!' said the man in the robe, 'Hello there!'

All morning, ever since the Professor told me we'd be taking a 'little detour' from my 'orientation' (by which he meant, 'learn my rules'), my imagination had been ablaze. Would we visit Earth's past again? Travel to another planet? Or (as I feared) would it just be another visit to another alien shop or bazaar? I swear, the man loved haggling but he never seemed to purchase anything. Which is handy when you always forget to carry money, despite my constant reminders. Anyway, he wouldn't tell me.

I'd wiped the last of the sleepy-dust from my eyes, the TARDIS had landed and we strode forth bravely. I was deflated to see a dingy alley full of trash bins. Then I saw a familiar bottle.

'Coca-Cola? Professor, we're on Earth? Again?'

He scowled and I changed my tune.

'It's okay, Professor. I was just looking forward to something more...'

'Wicked? Brill? Ace, you underestimate the importance of twentieth century Earth.'
Uh-oh, lecture time. 1) Don't interrupt. 2) Let him finish. 3) Act appreciative.

'It's here, now and in the beginning years of the twenty-first, that Earth becomes a matter of galactic interest. You're becoming interconnected, global, a unified species. The people of your time are the template of the future. Your taste in music and clothing and food will influence your descendants for countless eons to come. This is the proverbial 'it', the cradle of the many Earth Empires to come. But now, you're just amateurs. You're announcing yourselves to the galaxy with no regard for the consequences. Did you know that races infinitely wiser than yours have declared your world a quarantine zone? Right this moment there's a ring of cloaked satellites up there telling the colonisers, the entrepreneurs, the invaders, the missionaries and the merely curious to leave this world alone or face the consequences!'

Okay, I had to interrupt. 'Leave this world alone'?

'Not stopping you, is it, Professor?'

He frowned, 'I'm the consequences. And stop calling me 'Professor'!'

'Sorry, Doc – Hey! Look at that awesome mountain!'

We'd cleared the alley, and I had my first look at Shasta. I don't know why, but I fell in love and awe right then and there. Shasta's not a very big mountain. She's just another extinct volcano. Mountaineers don't rate her a hard climb. But there's something to her that's hard to describe. There's a mystery in her symmetry, like you can sense her weird history just by seeing her. Later, I'd read about the things that happened there; there were said to be survivors of the ancient land Lemuria living inside. A man claimed to meet St. Germain up there. Sasquatch (the Professor calls them 'skinny Yetis') are rumoured to roam the slopes. But even if you don't know about her history, the mountain seems to watch you. 

I knew I would climb her one day, and was about to ask the Professor if we could do it now, when someone said, 'Have a good day! Hello there!'

Three men stood on the side-walk outside the diner. Except for the star-covered robes they wore, they looked like the first line of a racist joke. The white man who'd addressed us was smiling expectantly while his Asian and black companions frowned. The Professor tipped his hat.

'Well, hello yourself! I'm the Doctor and this is my friend Ace!' he said.

'Thank you for greeting us so kindly,' said the man. 'Would you be so helpful as to give us directions?'

The Asian man hissed, 'Don't talk to the locals!'

Our new friend turned to him. 'Be quiet, Cap. It won't do any harm.'

'Please excuse my friend,' he said to us, 'but could I entreat you to tell us where the Bigfoot live?'

The rangers keep the road to Bunny Flat open as long as they can. I've traded in the 'Cuda for a sturdy Jeep and as I climb through the forests the details begin to trickle back. As I park in the deserted lot on the lower slope of the mountain, the memories begin to collate. I remember coffee, pie and adventurous expectancy.

In the boot, my climbing gear. Crampons, a fur-collared parka, a hunting rifle (for bear, I tell myself), survival pack. I collect my gear, lock up and listen to the big silence. 

I'm back, I tell the mountain, myself and anyone listening.