A white, crystalline structure falls through space. Snow. Snow that snarls and growls and bites. Snow heading for the Earth.
England, 1842. Walter Simeon, a young boy, makes a snowman, patting down its sides and smoothing its surface. Other children throw snowballs at each other, far away from Walter. “I don’t need anyone else,” he mutters. “I don’t want to talk to them; they’re silly.”
Walter looks at the snowman. Did it just say that? Did it repeat what he’d just said? He starts backing away. “I can help you,” the snowman promises.
Walter looks back at it. “How?”
50 years later. On the instructions of the Institute, men trawl the city, scraping snowy samples of the ‘last arrivals.’ Simeon talks to the snowman, now homed in an ever-snowing globe, as the latter promises a great swarm approaching…
The Rose & Crown Inn. A barmaid comes out of the Inn to find a snowman. Newly-built. It wasn’t there a minute ago. A stranger walks past and the barmaid asks if he built it. He turns to look at it, wondering aloud if the snow can remember how to build itself into a snowman. The barmaid laughs, and the stranger asks her name. Clara. “Nice name, Clara. You should definitely keep it,” he smiles and gets into a carriage.
As it pulls away, Clara looks at the snowman, drops the tray – and runs after the carriage. She hears him talking to someone. She hears a name: the Doctor.
“Doctor?” she asks, catching up with the carriage and climbing in. “Doctor who?”
A large Victorian house, owned by Captain Latimer. Dr. Simeon waits outside, watching the freezing pond with interest. The household’s previous governess died in there a year ago. The pond froze. And she wasn’t found for a month, when the ice melted. “I recall the incident. It is the sort of thing one remembers,” Latimer tells Simeon. “Ice remembers too,” Simeon replies. “The pond is yours, Captain Latimer, but what is growing inside it, when it is ready, is ours.”
Madame Vastra and her wife, Jenny, confront Dr. Simeon as he walks back to the Institute. They know he is planning something – but their best attempts at finding out fail. “This snow is interesting, don’t you think?” Vastra says. “The ice crystals seem to have a low-level telepathic field, almost as if it can detect and respond to the thoughts and memories of the people around it. Memory snow. Snow that learns… I hope it’s listening to the right people.”
“I think Winter is coming,” Simeon states, simply. “Such a Winter as this world has never known. The last Winter of humankind. Do you know why I’m telling you all this?”
“Because there’s not a single thing you can do to stop it.” And Simeon walks off.
The Doctor, aided by Strax the Sontaran, locks Clara in the carriage, and tells his potato-headed friend to get the Memory Worm. A simple touch will wipe the last few minutes from Clara’s mind: all memory of the Doctor, Strax and the snowmen that build themselves. Let it bite you, and the Memory Worm can erase a whole lifetime from your head.
But before the Worm is forced onto her, Clara and the Doctor are surrounded by snowmen – instantly popping up around them. The Doctor realises that the snow feeds off their thoughts, specifically Clara’s, and he instructs her to picture them melted. The two are soaked as the snowmen explode into water.
If it happens again…
The Doctor lets her go, telling her to forget about him. At least now she’ll remember how to defend herself. He tells Strax to take her back to the Inn, but she sneaks away, following the Doctor.
The night is silent, and the Doctor wanders through a park. From the dark night sky, he grabs a ladder. Clara watches him go up, not quite believing what she’s seeing. Nonetheless, she grabs at the ladder too.
The ladder ascends to a spiral staircase, which ascends into the clouds. And when she reaches the top of the cloud, she sees a bright blue, beaten Police Box, stark against the black sky. To her surprise, the cloud can take her weight; she walks over to the box, knocks on the door – and her nerve abandons her. The Doctor peers out. “Hello?” But Clara’s already hidden round the other side of the TARDIS.
He searches around, and Clara runs away, back down the staircase, down the ladder, and into the park. The Doctor notices a piece of cloth by the ladder, stares down – but dismisses it. He no longer interferes with the people of planet Earth…
“Tonight: the thaw. Tomorrow, the snow will fall again, yet stronger. The drowned woman, the dreaming child shall give us form at last,” the swirling snow globe tells Simeon. “Tomorrow the snow shall fall and so shall mankind.”
Christmas Eve. Mrs. Montague, the new governess of Captain Latimer’s household, returns to see his children, Francesca and Digby. The former is suffering from nightmares about their old governess; the one who drowned in the pond. The pond is still frozen, whilst the rest of the city thaws. Mrs. Montague knows someone who can help – because her name isn’t really Mrs. Montague. It’s Clara.
Clara heads back to the park, shouting out for the Doctor. Jenny sees her and takes her to see Vastra. There, Clara meets their butler, Strax, again, who tells her not to attempt to escape or she will be obliterated – then takes her coat.
She also meets Madame Vastra, a Silurian sat in amongst plants and drinking a deep red liquid. She asks why Clara wants the Doctor – but through the one word test. “Truth is singular,” Vastra explains, “Lies are words, words, words.”
Clara has one word to convince the Doctor; one word to get him to investigate; one word to entice him back to saving the planet…
One word: “Pond.”
Dr. Simeon has a very special visitor. It’s Sherlock Holmes.
The Doctor enters, dressed in a deerstalker and a cape, pipe in his mouth and twirling a stick. He scans the snowglobe, and concludes: “Multi-nucleate, crystalline organism with the ability to mimic and mirror what it finds. Looks like snow; isn’t snow.”
“You must leave here now,” an unimpressed Simeon warns.
“Shut up,” the Doctor retorts. “I’m making deductions. It’s very exciting.” While Simeon summons his guards, the Doctor grabs his journal and finds the most-read page. “You should really delete your history.” A newspaper cutting tells the Doctor about the drowned governess – and before the guards can grab him, the Doctor vanishes into the night.
Clara hears voices outside. The Doctor? And Strax? “Oi! Shut up, you’re not clever or funny and you’ve got tiny little legs!” She gazes out of the window to see Strax spiriting their carriage away, leaving the Doctor to scan the Pond. He sees her, and she motions for him to come in.
“Will I have the dream again tonight?” Francesca asks her governess. Clara tells her not. Because there’s a man coming. The Doctor. And all he does, all day, is keep children from having bad dreams. (Recently, though, he’s been on holiday.) The bedroom door opens – but it’s not the Doctor. It’s the Ice Governess, a walking-talking crystalline version of their previous governess, created using a frozen genetic sample of the now-dead woman.
“The children have been very naughty…”
TO BE CONTINUED…