Appeals to Authority
Following the stoically mute Karkus, Felix and the Doctor found themselves in a seemingly endless grey corridor. It felt like miles of the same tiny patch of space, extruded into infinity.
“Why do we spend so much of our time in corridors?” asked Felix.
“Because we spend so much of our time fighting institutionalised hierarchies,” said the Doctor, “and institutionalised hierarchies depend upon armed force and bureaucracy. Both of which require staff, and therefore also functional premises in which staff can operate.”
“Oh,” said Felix, “yes, I see.”
He didn’t pursue it. Things had gotten quite socratic enough today already.
At the Doctor’s command, the Karkus had demanded admittance to the castle. The great door had swung open for him, a grudging note in the creaking of its iron hinges. The Doctor had wanted to have a few words with whatever jobsworth owned the voice from behind the door, but there was nobody there when she looked.
“Obviously such a minor character he never even got a physical description,” she said, “which explains the insecurity.”
Then she had turned to the Karkus and demanded that he tell her about the prison. He had tried to deny knowledge, but so half-heartedly and guiltily that it was almost funny. It took little more than a sigh of irritation from his new Mistress to make him crack.
“Lead us there,” the Doctor had commanded.
So the strange little band had made their way into the dark corridors of the castle. They passed through a lazily-planned labyrinth, past cells in which razor sharp pendula depended menacingly over tables with shackles at each corner, past a courtyard in which a pair of feet stuck out from beneath a gigantic plumed helmet…
“How did you know he was involved in the prison?” Felix asked the Doctor.
“Just the sort of thing he’d be involved in… until the heroine turns up and makes him come over to the goodies.”
“Do these fictional people not have free will?” asked Felix.
“Well, that’s a tricky one,” said the Doctor. “It could be argued we only have free will because all possible choices come true in some world or another. Brigadiers and Brigade-Leaders, you know.” (Felix didn’t, but he let it pass.) “The people of the Land of Fiction have their variant iterations, just as we have ours. But they also have creators.”
“So do we have a Creator,” said Felix.
“That’s debateable,” said the Doctor, “but I think a nice Catholic boy like you would want to say that our notional Creator gives us free will, yes?”
“That’s what the Church tells us,” said Felix.
“Is that an appeal to authority?” asked the Doctor.
“No,” said Felix, slightly stung, “I’m simply citing wisdom with which I happen to agree.”
“Well, in any case, the creators of fictional people definitely don’t allow them free will. They make them do as they’re told. They leave them no choice. But then there are those variant iterations. Re-interpreptations. Reboots. And then there’s fan-fic, of course. …