Mire and Clay (short story)

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Mire and Clay was the second short story in the Short Trips anthology Short Trips: A Universe of Terrors. It was written by Gareth Wigmore. It featured the First Doctor, Susan Foreman, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. It was a "character story", showing the brutality of war, and how it had such a lasting affect on Ian Chesterton.


Ian is in a dungeon in Afghanistan in 1842 during the First Afghan War. The TARDIS crew had landed in Afghanistan during "one of the biggest disasters in military history". They had been captured by Gilzai tribesmen, and Barbara and Ian were sent to the British siege in Kabul. They were then evacuated with the other British under Akbar Khan's promise that they would have safe passage to Jalalabad. When the group was attacked and Ian was captured, he saw that the Doctor and Susan had rescued Barbara, and they were in Khan's custody.

Ian's gaoler, Gul Zaheer, brings Ian to a room with wooden platforms covering the centre of the floor. He is nervous because Zaheer has been a cruel gaoler. Another British soldier, Lieutenant Symonds, is brought in as well. He and Ian had met before, when Ian was pretending to be a captain. Zaheer taunts the British men, though Symonds can't understand him, and Ian tells Zaheer that a new army will retake the country from Khan.

Zaheer's men remove the platforms from the floor, revealing a pit filled with water and living things swimming around. Ian's and Symonds' tied hands are connected with a rope, tug-of-war style, and they are ordered to fight each other. Both men refuse, but when Symonds is tortured, he gives in to fear and tries to pull Ian into the pit. He is much larger than Ian, who struggles to keep himself out of the pit. Suddenly he finds himself with his face hanging over the pit, inches from death. He yells Symonds' name, and Symonds snaps out of his fear-induced hysteria. They both refuse to fight.

Two of Zaheer's men throw Symonds into the pit, and he is eventally killed by whatever animals are in the pit. Zaheer gloats that Ian is next, but suddenly a group of armed soldiers storm into the room. The Doctor is with them. Ian impulsively shoves Zaheer into the pit, killing him.

Back in the TARDIS, Ian has recovered physically, but he is haunted by the fact that he killed a man.



  • When the TARDIS lands in Afghanistan, the Doctor drops the TARDIS key, just when "they needed it most".
  • Symonds thought Ian was a Russian spy.
  • Thanks to the TARDIS' translation circuit, Ian can understand what Zaheer says.
  • The TARDIS is equipped with several shaving machines.


  • This story is a "pure historical" featuring no science fiction elements apart from the presence of the Doctor, Susan, Ian, Barbara and the TARDIS.