Read Doctor Who: The Gunfighters Online

Authors: Donald Cotton

Tags: #Science-Fiction:Doctor Who

Doctor Who: The Gunfighters

 

 

Back in the gun-totin’, hard-hittin’, fast-shootin’ days of the Old Wild West, when outlaws ruled the land and the good guys stayed off the streets, a troupe of travelling players – Miss Dodo Dupont, Steven Regret and the mysterious Doctor Caligari – moseyed into the town of Tombstone one October afternoon.

 

Their method of transportation was a mite peculiar though. After all, a police box materialising out of thin air sure ain’t the usual way to enter a sedate town like

Tombstone…

 

And when the Doctor and his pardners meet up with Wyatt Earp and the notorious Clanton brothers, they soon find out that the scene is all set for high noon at the O.K. Corral...

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Illustration by Andrew Skilleter

Science fiction/TV tie-in

 

DOCTOR WHO

THE GUNFIGHTERS

 

Based on the BBC television serial by Donald Cotton by arrangement with the British Broadcasting Corporation
DONALD COTTON

 

Number 101

in the Doctor Who Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A TARGET BOOK

published by

The Paperback Division of

W. H. Allen & Co. PLC

 

A Target Book

Published in 1985

by the Paperback Division of

W. H. Allen & Co. PLC

44 Hill Street, London W1X 8LB

 

First published in Great Britain by

W. H. Allen & Co. PLC in 1985

 

Novelisation copyright © Donald Cotton, 1985

Original script copyright © Donald Cotton, 1966

‘Doctor Who’ series copyright © British Broadcasting Corporation 1966, 1985

 

Printed and bound in Great Britain by

Anchor Brendon Ltd, Tiptree, Essex

 

The BBC producer of
The Gunfighters
was Innes Lloyd, the director was Rex Tucker.

 

 

ISBN 0426 20195 7

 

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

 

 

 

 

 

For TAMSIN,

with coloured moon clouds

 

CONTENTS

Prologue

1 Landfall in Tombstone

2 The Last Chance

3 The Brief Carreer of Dead-shot Steve

4 A Funeral is Arranged

5 Notice to Quit

6 Identity Parade

7 Open Mouth Surgery

8 An Offer Refused

9 A Pardonable Error

10 A Little Night Music

11 And Some Durn Tootin’

12 Arrest Is As Good As A Change

13 The Red Hand of Tradition

14 The Law and Doc Holliday

15 A Very Nasty Little Incident

16 Wyatt Plays It By The Book

17 Pa Clanton Keeps a Welcome

18 Ringo in the Morning

19 Post Mortem

20 Thought For Feud

21 Dodo Draws a Bead

22 The Entry of the Gladiators

23 Come Sun-Up...

Epilogue

 

Prologue

The Sanatorium at Glenwood Springs, Colorado, was never a place you’d visit for your health: but, at least, the management would usually arrange for you to die there in some sort of comfort; which is better, to my way of thinking, than meeting your Maker in some gun-loud back alley, without the benefit of booze.

So, for a few dollars more, supplies of your favourite hooch could continue to rot what was left of your carcass; until the therapeutic sulphur fumes, for which the place was renowned, finally clogged your breath beyond redemption.

‘Tomb Service’, it was called, by the moribund inmates; for if a man can’t joke at a time like that, when in hell can he?
Except
in hell, of course.

On the other hand, if your credit ran out before your lungs caved in, too bad, pardner!
Then
you would just have to spend your last days repenting of the wild ways which had brought you here; and hope that some celestial Wells Fargo would carry the news of this timely remorse to Headquarters, before you finally filed your claim for admittance to that Great Bar Room in the sky. Oh, ho!

Those golden roulette-wheels and honky-tonk harps! Sure.

A man wouldn’t want to miss out on all that, would he?

For without some such, Eternity would be as bleak as a Faro-dealer’s eye; and nothing to get excited over at all.

But fortunately there was cash-in-poke a-plenty to support the middle-aged old-timer slogging out his last bare-knuckle bout with tuberculosis in the private room set aside for this purpose; gains ill-gotten and misspent for the most part, but that didn’t trouble him so’s you’d notice.

No, his one problem was the probability that any moment now one of his old cronies would likely kick the door in, and try to beat the Grim Reaper to the draw – for he had many such over-ambitious friends.

 

So he awaited his well-earned end like the fine old Southern gentleman he used to be; a six-gun in one hand, in case of unwelcome health visitors, and a bottle of ‘Rare Old Grandad’ in the other, in case of sudden sobriety.

And meanwhile he was filling the flying time with a little target practice; to the discomfort of the hitherto flourishing population of resident cockroaches, who skipped and trembled accordingly. In fact, the terminal ward of Glenwood sounded like it had been hired for a reunion of the Wild Bunch; and I therefore paused somewhat diffidently before knocking on the door marked

‘Quiet at all times’. After all, I had ridden several hundred miles to meet this particularly celebrated, inebriated invalid; and I didn’t wish the journey to be wasted on account of my sudden decease. I mean, if you were a journalist in the last days of the Old West, you learned to be a little careful before insisting that the public has the right to know. There were a few characters still around who would give you an argument about a crack like that...

My name’s Buntline, by the way – should have told you before; Ned Buntline – pleased to meet you. And, as you may have heard, I’ve made a certain amount of coin in my time biographising these same notorious characters for the edification of the reading fraternity. Fact is, I can honestly claim to have put Buffalo Bill Cody where he is today – but that’s another story. Right now, I was on the track of one of the last colourful survivors of a vanishing era, as the saying is; and since truth must at all times be served, as another saying is, I eventually took advantage of a brief pause in all this justifiable pesticide, and rapped smartly on the splintered panels...

‘Come in shootin’, then; if you’re comin’,’ coughed a raucous but well-modulated voice from within.

‘I ain’t armed,’ I replied, ‘so I fear I can’t oblige.’ And I stepped into the now tranquil room, to find myself looking down the open-for-business end of a large calibre Colt.

‘Friend of Wyatt’s’ I announced hastily, ‘called to pay my last respects.’

‘Are you now? Well, in that case,’ acknowledged Doc Holliday gracefully, sliding the shooter politely into a bunch of funereal lillies Bat Masterson had sent him,

‘you’ll have a drink with me...’

In view of my recent association with Wyatt Earp, you may think it strange that Doc and I had not previously locked horns? But you maybe know how it used to be on the old gamblers’ circuit? Folks tended to leave cow-towns by night, and in opposing directions; and at this time –

which, to be precise, was November 10, 1887 – Earp and Holliday had not met for several years. Busy in their very different ways, of course; and neither being much of a hand at the epistolary, as opposed to the pistolry, art, Doc had never even heard of me; so he was at a loss to account for my well-meant visitation; and, after a glass or two said so.

‘Well,’ I told him, notebook at the ready, ‘it’s about the O.K. Corral...’

‘What about it?’ asked Doc, reaching for his six-gun once more. ‘You ain’t also a friend of the Clantons, by any chance?’

I quickly denied any such ill-advised relationship.

‘No,’ I said, ‘it’s just that there’s one or two things about that little fracas of yours and Wyatt’s has always puzzled me some. I mean, why, for instance, does everyone say you used a shotgun? You never had before...’

‘And I didn’t then,’ said Holliday, grinning like a friendly hyena into the neck of his bottle. ‘Never utilised that class of instrument no how! No, sir. Why use a bone-saw when you can use a chisel, as I used to say when I was a dentist? No, that particular rumour is a dad-blasted lie!’

‘Then
why
does everyone say... I mean, a twelve-bore ain’t quite according to the code of combat, is it?’

‘Calling me a liar?’ he enquired pleasantly; preparing, it seemed, to fan a last hammer in a good cause.

 

‘No, not for a moment!’ I assured him. ‘But, in that case, how’d the story get about?’

‘It’s a way stories have,’ mused Holliday. ‘Ain’t it always the same? Do a friend a favour; and in no time you’re known as a hooch-crazed killer with no kind of a social conscience. Why, I could happily massacre a man who said a thing like that! I could cut out his yellow liver with a Bowie knife!’ he added, thinking about it. ‘And then toss it to a hungry coyote; so’s it’d pizen the crittur...’ he concluded, with an air of having done justice all round.

Even so, a story is a story, so I was fool enough to pursue the matter. ‘It’s one of the things Wyatt wouldn’t talk about,’ I told him. ‘Odd, that! You’d think he’d have been glad to put the record straight – seeing he was such a friend of yours.’

‘Well, there’s some things you
can’t
really talk about –

not if you don’t truly understand them. Never talked about it myself, come to that... But now... Well, I guess it makes no never mind, this late in the game. You see,’ he said, ‘like I’ve been civil enough to tell you, though I never carried such a weapon myself, there was
another
Doctor at the O.K.

Corral... and he
did!
Oh, by God, didn’t he just!’ chuckled Holliday. ‘And that without any particular conception of accuracy, as I recall! Blasted the thing off every which way, like it was a Gatling gun mounted on a roulette wheel! And I tell you, Mr Buntline, that I, the great Doc Holliday, have never been so scared gutless in all my born days!

‘Now, in case you’re tempted to think,’ he continued,

‘that I am about to jeopardise my highly regarded immortal soul by some kind of falsehood, it seems to me I’d best explain about this other Doctor; before you give voice to the kind of disbelievin’ sentiment as I’d have to kill you for! Seems I’ve enough blood on my boots without notching up another plea of self-defence on the very frontier of the Promised Land; where I hear they judge you a mite more vengeful than even Judge Bean used to, in the great days, West of the Pecos! So, if you’ll jest sit there peaceable, and drink as much of the juice as you can accommodate like a gentleman, I’ll do my damnedest to tell you how it all came about: and then, if you will, we can depart on our separate paths to Perdition, with everything fair and square between us...’

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