Monday, March 31, 2008

And now for something vaguely legible...

As always, I archive all fic I write onto this blog as well as OG. Though I do it under unrelated entry titles and thus make them difficult to find whilst browsing. For some reason. Not sure why but the system works. For me, at least.

Anyway, this latest is a Sparacus-style riff into the browser window off the top of my head. I must admit the basic plot is one that I've had for a while. But not until I gave myself a 90-minute window to write it did I realise how exactly it could work in short-story format. Will probably be edited before I post it on A Teaspoon and an Open Mind, as I suspect it's a bit clunky, especially in some of the final act exposition.

Nowhere to Hyde

It wasn't meant to be like this... but then, was it ever?

Thud. That would have been the wall, he reasoned, slamming into his back. A common difficulty encountered when being thrown through the air. The trance was not broken, though. He was aware of his form being sprawled seemingly lifelessly on the ground, possibly bleeding, hopefully breathing, but didn't like to think about it... this wasn't the time.

He let his thoughts drift back - how did this start? Why did this start? Why couldn't he remember...

Crack. This was a little harder to place, but was probably a kick to the ribs...

No forget about that. Think. It's supposed to be what you're good at, Doctor...

The TARDIS. Peri. Hatstand, bad clothes, time-tunnel. Getting somwhere now... ever since the incident at Logopolis time-travel didn't seem to be same. So much undignified bouncing around, time rifts, time corridors, all that nonsense. He wouldn't be surprised if a few centuries from now he wouldn't even be able to stand up straight or have a decent conversation during a short trip...

No, CONCENTRATE!. The voice was demanding and strong, it must have had a point...

Let's see... TARDIS. Peri. Time-tunnel. Lots of bouncing around... no, more than that... lots and LOTS of bouncing around! He'd said "I haven't been so inconvenienced since that time bumped into Jonah in the whale!" which was a particularly feeble story that time but he'd wanted to try and lighten things up for poor Peri. She was upside down with her head in the umbrella-stand at the time so it hadn't quite worked. Incidentally, what a terrible time to decide to bring the umbrella-stand into the console room. Clearly he had to learn to curb his flights of fancy...

Crack. Well, that one was easy, another kick in the ribs. Who was doing that, anyway? He thought about opening his eyes but then the voice inside told him not to and he grudgingly decided it must have had a point or he wouldn't have had his eyes closed in this first place...

So... Peri. In the umbrella stand. Oh, the poor thing.. she woke up again and looked around, looking as small and helpless as ever. Like Josephine on her worst days, but with tidier hair. Her eyes were wider than ever, and she started with her stammering - as always making communication difficult, as if her accent wasn't thick enough. Whichever accent it was. She started asking about the nice English boys... and then he'd know that there really was a problem...

Crack. Oh, change the record! Mind you, he was getting a little worried about those ribs...

So he'd gone to the flight log, thinking if he went BACK to somewhere they'd seen just recently... well, it would all sort of fix itself. He could admit now, yes, it was not perhaps the best of ideas. However... he'd seen something that HE didn't remember - Sephros XI? He'd seen Sephros I-VII he remembered that, but decided that the entire system jumped the shark between Sephros IV and V and soon after abandoned his project of seeing the Universe in alphabetical order. Of course, that was a few centuries ago, when he wore a velvet circus tent and had far too much time on his hands. So when had he been to Sephros XI?

His mind drew a blank, so he set the course. Forgetting, as they say, that curiosity likes to eat a cat for lunch.

It hadn't been the biggest mistake of his life - that had probably been using 20th Century India as the baseline and assuming that there was nothing more instantly respectable than a touring cricketer's outfit in the Universe - but it must have been close. Oh, yes, he was remembering it all to well, now. The volcanic atmosphere, the living dust, the deep, thundering heartbeat of the planet - just like Sephros III but with a different castlist. But then... Peri ran. She ran when she saw the statue. Which the the Doctor thought was odd - it was just a statue of him, after all. And a terrible likeness. The eyes were too close together.

But then he looked again - really looked. And he saw. The rage on his face, a detestable carnival mask of bile and hatred, capturing every spasm and grimace that all work in furious symbiosis to create a truly loathesome and frightening. Was that how I came to this planet? he asked, in a truly pointless manner because the answer was obviously 'yes'.

Crack. The Doctor ignored it utterly this time, he was getting close to the truth, the important bit. Figures emerged, the Sephrons or The Elevensies or whatever the unimaginative grey creatures had called themselves, and they caught his eye because they all wore a faultless facsimile of his own effortlessly suave coat. And they managed to make it look awful. But the Doctor understood - he couldn't remember Sephros XI because he came here in a pique, one of his terrible fits of rage... it must have been a very short trip. But even so, he appeared before the astonished locals and amazed them all. And they made him a God.

The trouble is, some cultures are better at making Gods then others... as this thought struck the Doctor he swung around to face the statue.

It was staring right at him. For a moment it's face was confused at seeing it's own self, but quickly it just got angry. And then the Doctor heard The Elevensies shriek and jeer at him, calling him the impostor.

"You idiots!" he had cried "You made an imprint - a psionic imprint! And you put it inside an android. But that doesn't give you a mind or a god. Any psionic image can only preserve the thoughts and feelings of a brain over the course of six milliseconds - do you understand how little that is? The lifespan of the smallest, most insignificant thought is ten times as long! All you can have created is a set of impulses, the foundation of the mind of a child, and put it inside a God's body!"

Actually, he wasn't sure if he was at all so verbose and comprehensive in his explanation. On reflection he may well have just yelled the 'idiots' part at them and backed away. But he remembered the statue closing in, and snarling what was probably supposed to be the word 'crush' but it's puny mind couldn't tame its tongue and it came out as "CRRRH!!". And then...

Ah. Thrown against the wall. All rather neatly tied up in the end. Well, he remembered all the details now, and he thought he knew what to do. Time to break this rather indulgent trance he'd put himself into...



Peri had tried to block it all out. Too many thoughts and memories were squabbling for prominence in her mind, and she didn't want anything to do with them. This was a nightmare, she had told herself... but that idea was shattered now. Your ears didn't hurt from screaming in nightmares, not unless it was your own. And that scream, certainly wasn't her own.

"It's dying!" shrieked the leader of the tiny grey people, braying like a horse or a monkey who'd had too much sugar. The rest of the pack began leaping in the air wildly, their three-foot frames looking like a giant collection of tacky jack-in-the-boxes, including the one holding her. It's claws raked up her arms a little, and it's wildly grunting and leaping up half to her back gave her some frat-party flashbacks she could have done without.

What could she do? Well, maybe she could make a break for the.... the...

Her heart sank. She couldn't hold back the thoughts any more. It was the TARDIS. And where there was the TARDIS there was... the Doctor.

He was in trouble. But tears streamed down Peri's face as she asked herself did she care about him anymore? For that matter, did she care about anything? She'd kept it all locked away... but she knew somedays she didn't know how to cope. All the Doctor did was yell. And scream. And break things when he was angry. Sometimes she was too scared to even try and ask him to take her home. Things needed to get better... but would they? Now, in this horrible moment... her eyes avoiding the gigantic monster in the centre of the hall that she wanted to believe wasn't there, but that she knew had been at the cancerous heart of all her troubles for months... she started thinking about the ways she could escape... from everything...

"Peri?" the voice cut through everything like a knife. "Peri, I need your help!"

It was the Doctor! Her Doctor, spectacles, celery, panama hat, shy smile, pajama pants... she didn't even stop to think about the how or why - in that moment she was so happy she couldn't even begin to describe it. She effortlessly twisted away from that tiny creep holding her back and ran to where she heard the voice...

And then she was face to face with it. The Monster. The Doctor. One and the same. The statue turned to face her. "CRRRH!" It raised it's fist.

Peri blinked.

The statue blinked. And then stared at its fist. The Elevensies exchanged confused glances.

The statue decided to raise its fist slightly higher, cleared it's throat, and said "CRRRH!" again.

Now, the Elevensies were starting to mumble uncertaintly. "So, when they saw 'uninterruptable power source they really mean uninterruptable, right?", "Maybe it just doesn't hit women?", "So what, it can only smite 50% of the population? Gods are meant to be all-powerful!", "I think I might be taking my business to another Church. This God... he's a bit half-hearted for my tastes. Plus I've had some issue with these robes for a while..."

The statue seemed close to tears (or at least, leaking engine fluid) but tried to push the fist, slowly, towards Peri's face. "CRRRH!" he grunted "CRRRRRRRH! CRRRRRRH!" raising his voice, hoping it would make a difference. But the strain on his face merely grew and grew... until... it cracked. And the Statue panicked his hand shooting up to feel the crack in disbelief. It's finger pressed onto the crack. And it spread. The statue's eyes bulged even wider as its face became one gigantic roadmap of tears, cracks, and abrasions, and then they spread down across it's body, across its patchwork coat, down the striped trousers, and then onto the tip of the shoes.

Peri covered her mouth and eyes because she guessed what would happen next. She knew she was right when she heard the noise of a souffle crumbling, felt a light coating of dust on her T-shirt, and heard two hundred shocked religious fanatics coughing their lungs up.

She opened her eyes again and looked down at the crumpled figure in the epilectic nightmare. It wasn't her Doctor... but it was still the Doctor.

"Thank you, Peri," he said, impersonating her Doctor again "I hope you can understand.."

She gave him her hand, and he pulled himself up with a faint groan. Now he spoke with his own voice, higher and far more enunciated, but without his trademark volume - his lungs may have taken a battering. Or not, depending on where he kept his lungs. "I made a mistake, Peri. A big mistake." A faint chuckle rattled in his throat "It just goes to show that sometimes the road less travelled... is less travelled for a reason. But now you've seen, haven't you? That no matter what happens - I can never hurt you. It's impossible - coded into my very being at the simplest, most primitive level. That's how I killed him. Well... how you killed him. It just isn't who I am..."

One of The Elevensies shuffled up, humbly, and prostrated himself with undue haste at the Doctor's feet. "Oh, we apologize for our dishonour unto you, O mighty one. And now, with your glorious actions, there is a vacancy for Lord of this faith and we would be honoured-"

"Oh, GROW UP!" spat the Doctor viciously. Peri gave him a Look, and he smiled sheepishly "Er, I mean I shall respectfully decline your offer. Thank you"

Peri helped the Doctor to the familar blue box.

"Home, Peri?"

"No, Doctor... I think we should get to know one another first."

The Doctor smiled, his teeth shining white like a beacon beneath his bloodied nose. "That sounds wonderful"




For anyone curious as to WHAT THE DEAL WAS with that, it was an idea I had of plugging the gap between Revelation and Mysterious Planet, where Peri are clearly getting on much better. And, yes, I did try and address a couple of incredibly minor continuity points as I went along...

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