“Fair enough. We’ve asked enough questions – now it’s your turn, I suppose. Okay,” said the leader. “My name is Caecilius. You may laugh, for I know that he features prominently in books that we have found in many houses. It is believed to be a classical name: perhaps you can tell me more about it. I’m the leader of London, and generally of the Kingdom. It’s still called that, and although I’m not really a king, I take the place of the monarch. They call me a Lord, but I prefer Caecilius, or Cae. Not many people dare to call me that: they are all obsessed with etiquette, and what is proper. ‘This place’ was built on the ruins of London about two hundred years ago. We live high off the ground because the artificial climates work best up here. It’s either hot or cold on the surface – never really in-between.” He paused for a moment and Anna seized her chance.
“Why do you have artificial climates?” she asked. “Apple mentioned them, but I didn’t really understand.”
“Apple? Oh, the girl who was sent to look after you. Such a helpful child … I knew her when she was just a wee little thing. Yes, a good question. The climates are in place to combat the changeable weather that is common in this part of the world. The National Trust installed them about a hundred and fifty years ago, but they are still not perfect. They keep breaking, it gets so frightfully irritating after a while…”
“You know, the National Trust existed when I was-“ Anna paused. She was about to say ‘alive’, but remembered that she was not dead yet. “In my time, I mean. But it was different then. They did nature gardens, and looked after old buildings. That sort of thing.”
“Yes, we know about that,” said Caecilius. “This isn’t the same company, of course, but they do much the same, only on a bigger scale. The whole world is full of archaeological evidence, after the Big Fall. So the Trust funds the digs and helps preserve the evidence. We’ve dug up most of it around here, and restored the ground around it, so our own team haven’t had much to do. They were just getting bored when they found you. Of course, they’ll be talking about that for weeks.”
“So what was the Big Fall?” Anna inquired curiously. For a moment the king – though he had said that he was not really a monarch, Anna could not help herself thinking of him as one – looked worried.
“I don’t know if I should tell you that,” he said. “It’s your future, you see.” Anna understood. Doctor Who again – spoilers.
“But I doubt I’ll be going back,” she said sadly. “Apple said time-travel was impossible: I still don’t know how I did it. So it doesn’t really matter.”