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The flock turned and swooped once more, plunging down towards the woman in the lane. She turned her scratched face to the sky and watched them approach.

Suddenly, the view was blocked out by a tall, thin man in a long coat. He stood in the path of the maddened birds and lifted his hand. Something which he held shone blue and gave out a high, continuous squeal.

The diving flock surged towards the man, but at the last moment they parted like a wave breaking on a rock, scattering to left and right and flying away into the distance.

Shakily the woman rose to her feet. “Have… Have you ever seen the like?” she asked the newcomer.

“Organic remote control,” the man replied. “A simple ultrasonic matrix exerting an influence over the more primitive areas of the brain, stimulating rage and aggression. On a smarter animal like a human or a cat – or… some of the cleverer dogs – it just makes you tetchy; but on a bird… Ah, well; then you get a blind, all-consuming rage.”

“Flocks of birds, turning against humanity,” the woman breathed.

“Yeah; that’s the idea.” He waved his device, a long, silver wand with a blue, glass bulb at one end; his eyes flashed with a manic excitement. “Unless you have a sonic device to break the matrix. I’m sorry,” he went on in a more subdued and curious tone. “I didn’t ask your name.”

“Oh. I’m Daphne.”

“Of course you are,” the Doctor said with a delighted smile.