Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Thing That Should Not Be

Hello once again! I hope you enjoyed that little side-step, but now it's back to the main event. It's Rachel's second story for the series and it's as completely different from her last one as you can imagine (though just as entertaining!).

So, here, for your reading pleasure is:

The Thing That Should Not Be
By Rachel Morgan

It was not a night for normal people to be about any sort of business. Unknown and unknowable dark figures shuffled around in the midnight moonlight. Grotesque shadows ran black on dark grey as they twisted around creating obscene shapes in the ebony nether. Most would assume it was simply a trick of the light, a simple explanation provided by physics and an over active imagination. Surely nothing of any early biology could have limbs such as that? That shape head simply does not belong on that shape body. They would be wrong but as there's no one there to see the truth they need not worry about it and thus wouldn't loose their sanity to the plain uncomfortable truth: they are not human beings…anymore.
The storm began to build, air currents fed into themselves, trapping heat and moisture in a constantly growing storm cloud, soon it would become visible turning from white fluffy clouds into the darkening grey anvil of nature's fury and the lightening hammer would strike the anvil and thunder would resound around the world. This storm would be like no other before it; this storm would signal the end of the world!


The interior of the TARDIS was, by contrast, rather too well-lit, all bright white lights and highly reflective white-painted walls. Zoe always liked the delightful contrast of the minimalist room architecture and the maximum amount of clutter which each room seemed to possess. Her own room was full of rail after rail of simply the most fabulous dresses, gowns, suits, skirts, blouses, trousers and a dozen other types of outfits besides. She had only explored a fraction of the ship and these hand-picked couture treasures were her carefully selected crop of her random exploratory forages inside the spaceship.
On an end table a group of clocks were clustered all together, each was set to a different time and many of them unusable on Earth as they were set to different increments of time that were fundamentally untranslatable to the home planet of the room's current occupant.
A large tri-fold mirror stood nearby and she carefully studied her reflection in it, to make sure she could see herself from every angle. She didn't want to wear something that looked ghastly from the rear did she? She finally approved of her selection, a simple black Lycra catsuit with silver floral designs sewn around the arm and leg cuffs and repeating in smaller designs across parts of the surface of the main body. To this she added a silver feather boa and some semi-practical shoes, as you never know where or when you'll end up with the Doctor. If you wore heels you ended up in a quarry, if you wore army boots then you arrived for a formal ball, so opting for something of a midpoint hedged your bets both ways. Also there seemed to be an awful lot of running of late, she quite liked it even if it got just a little bit too scary at times.
She could always talk to her secret best friend Alice about the running and the danger. Alice lived in her sofa and ate bars of steel because she was a robot who cleaned the ship for the Doctor, although she was sure the Doctor didn't remember hiring the sweet robot on as a cleaner. Alice went on a lot about someone called Susan who seemed to have been the one who actually let her onto the ship but the Doctor never talked about his past, not even Ben, Polly and Victoria, three people that Jamie talked about all the time!
The Doctor was of course her joint second best friend, he was almost as intelligent as she was but he hid his great mind behind a veneer of charming disarmability. He preferred to let others assume that he was a fool rather than assert his natural superiority over them. Zoe loved him for this, he was like a kindly uncle figure to her, someone she could trust and feel protected by and yet would let her test her strength on her own and in her own way.
Jamie was in some ways kind of like an older brother figure; an often annoying older brother if she was brutally honest with herself. He always assumed an air of superiority which he often couldn't lay claim to, but that didn't mean he wasn't inferior at all. Far from it, for someone from his time and background he was an intellectual giant. Jamie had faced down Daleks, Cybermen and Ice Warriors with equal measures of heroic bravery and respect for their evil aggressions. She loved him just the way he was, and would never want him to change.


In the room that was once a library, two beings met in silent union, for they had no need of mere words as their god was speaking to them directly into their minds. What can the clumsy undulation of stolen wind through inferior flaps of skin and muscle really convey compared to the direct fusion of minds? Spoken words are analysed, processed, altered, intoned, incanted, shaped, but the thought is pure, random, chaotic, brilliant, free and wild. The imaginations and thoughts being shared to and fro between the parties are quite impossible to relate to any human, because they're being deliberated and projected in no language native to Earth or by a being that was brought into being by the natural laws of that small blue/green world. Also it's quite certain that the controlling creature directing much of the conversation thinks in a way that is completely different to the ape descended hominids that it can bend to its will or throw aside with equal disregard.


The Doctor gently fussed over the infirm Jamie as he took the young Scotsman's pulse while he looked at a silver pocket watch. "Now then let's see what's wrong with you." He looked at the various reading on the small piece of paper. "Oh dear, well that's not good at all is it?" He paused. "You've got the influenza virus Jamie, not the nastiest member of its particular family but still pretty nasty all the same."
"Och, I keep telling you I feel fine Doctor." Jamie said weakly, trying to pretend that he felt better than he really did.
"Well it's better to be safe than sorry isn't it?" The Doctor tried a kindly smile to cheer Jamie up. "You'll get better Jamie, the TARDIS is concocting an anti-dote for you right now." He looked over as Zoe entered the room in her new outfit. "My you do look pretty Zoe." He paused for a moment. "Now then Jamie here needs complete medical isolation. What he has isn't fatal, but it is rather infectious, so he'll have to stay in here for a while."
"Ah keep telling yeh that I'm fine." Jamie muttered to one of the three swirly and fuzzy Doctors in front of him.
Zoe quickly took a look at the medical notes. "It's just flu Doctor. We cured that simple illness many years ago."
"Years ago for you, Zoe, but that's centuries into Jamie's own personal future." The Doctor reminded Zoe carefully. "Now why don't we go to the control room and give Jamie some privacy? I think it's almost time for tea and cakes."
"I'm just a wee bit tired is all. All that running about recently fair wore me out. You two just sat about in yon prison cell. Is it any wonder I'm in need of a rare sleep?"
The Doctor fished in his pockets, looking for a handkerchief and he pulled out a green stone before putting it back when he found what he was really after, and then he blew his nose.
"Tea and cakes?" Zoe asked, briefly wondering what the Doctor meant but she was guided out of the room quickly by the Doctor, then she realised that the Doctor used it as an excuse to give Jamie some alone time. "Oh, tea and cakes, my favourite."


Two keen brown eyes watched as the strange blue box began appearing on the street corner, despite the perception filter and the chameleon device Howard knew instantly that it belonged to an old and dear friend. However now was not the time for rushing forward, for handshakes and warm greetings. He would come to him, in the fullness of time. It was the way it must be, for it was foretold and other, darker things were about to begin or had already begun…


The encroaching night was falling very fast now. The brilliant sunset had long since faded to a meek and dying ember on the distant horizon. The coming dark was hastened on by the ominous leaden clouds overhead that blotted out almost all of what little light remained to the waking world. The greying stone streets drew darker and darker in their shades of grey as gas lamp lighters hurried about their rounds half an hour earlier than they should. Soon dark mosses and lichens were undetectable as the walls joined them in the delumination.
"Admit it Doctor." Zoe said somewhat sternly, without trying to sound whiney but it was getting cold and it was practically night time. "We're lost, aren't we?" Jamie had accused her of being whiney last week and she resolved not to sound in the least bit like she had a complaint to make ever again, well at least not right now.
"Goodness me." The Doctor said excitedly as he turned around to smile broadly to his friend. "Lost? I know exactly where we are. I'm just not sure where about we are…here." He looked around left, right, left again and picked one way at random. "We can ask for directions if we find someone."
Zoe knew for certain that the Doctor would do no such thing, he just said things like that to try and put her at her ease, and generally it just made her feel rather more nervous than she already was before he tried to reassure her. "Where are we going then?"
"Ah." The Doctor's voice perked up even more. "Now that's the question, isn't it? I have absolutely no idea, isn't it exciting? Now, have I told you about the ruins of Manalex Beta...?" He looked to find Zoe lagging behind. "Do keep up Zoe, it doesn't pay to dawdle."
"As if I dawdle." Zoe said to herself as she struggled to keep up with him. For such a small man he could move at real speed if he needed to and it wasn't like they were even running away from anything, as they usually ended up at some point. "I'm not dawdling."
"That's good." The Doctor stopped suddenly. "We're surrounded, aren't we? Yes, you in the shadows. Come out and face us."
"Short man knows nothing." Percival Lowry, or what little that left of him that still called itself by a human name, shuffled out of the shadows into the cold bleak light. "Silly man thinks numbers run the universe. Numbers are as nothing before the fury of He we dare not speak of."
"What is he?" Zoe took the Doctor's arm, to reassure him. "He looks vaguely human, has he had an accident?"
"Well he is human, or rather he was." The Doctor's brow creased as he thought dark things. "Some sort of change, the raw power is too much for the human form. Its changing into a vessel more suitable to contain it, what a pity. Human beings are quite perfect just the way they are. That's one reason why I like them so much."
"Insignificant man's words are as naught before the secret ways of He whom I serve." Percival smiled coldly at the girl. "She will serve us too, or she'll die and then bits of her can be used for the great work."
"I won't serve anyone." Zoe retorted with more bravery than she felt at just that moment in time. "I'm my own woman."
"That's right." The Doctor said in agreement. "She is with me, she's my friend, and you know deep down what I am, who MY people are."
"We fear not the Old Gods, you are as chaff in the wind, you talk and speak and say but you do not do! You are nothing because you dare not touch the living skin of history lest you leave the slightest of footprints!"
"I think perhaps we should go." The Doctor made up his mind and backed slowly away, ushering Zoe with him. "Yes, we should leave." His dignified retreat was, however, blocked by more of the once-human shapes.

Emily Lowry smiled coldly at the thing that was one her husband. Her humanity was almost as torn asunder as that of her man, her once slim and attractive figure was warped and bloated by the power inside of her flesh and the monstrous beast within her darkly-turned womb. Nothing human would be issued forth from her loins when its time come round at last. The dark stain of her joyous abomination would slough forth upon the land and she eagerly awaited the time of her being torn asunder by the promised, delicious, agonies of birth.
Motherhood couldn't come soon enough for the cleaving of her corrupted body and the freeing of her warped and insane soul. She would become the baby, suffuse its soulless flesh with her own will and use the new body to do the will of He whom she loved more than any other. She would live forever in that cage of twisted and indestructible being, cursed to remain alive forever in the service and likeness of her god. She looked forward to becoming a monster the like of which had last stepped foot on this world for aeons past.
Howard made his decision and he rushed forward into the melee, he was full of great sound and fury. "Come, Doctor, Miss Zoe, this way!" He grabbed the two friends by their hands and dragged them away before the unholy couple could ensnare them further with their foul words and even fouler deeds.


In the wilds the ground trembled and shook as the ground split open again and again. What emerged from the hidden city of tunnels and caves were even less connected to humanity that their city-dwelling cousins. These people had once been human but the millennia of isolation, mutation and desolation of the soul had warped them into a whole new species, creatures so utterly pitiless and cruel that they saw nothing wrong with removing the infestation called mankind from the world, in the name of their most perversely beautiful and deliciously malevolent god. They were the children of tomorrow, their kind would taint the soil and bloom like weeds. They would sicken the stars and pollute the cosmos with their ilk, until all were as broken and perverse as they were in the glorious light of destiny.


The brightly lit tea shop was a world away from the darkened alley they had been in just a hurried ten minutes ago. It was warm and scented to relax the customer and encourage their indulgences. Zoe's right hand trembled slightly as she lifted her cup to her mouth. "What were those creatures?"
"The Lowrys." Howard said sadly. "Once a great family, now reduced to living in the shadows. They fell upon hard times and in their desire they sought greatness so that it might return their star to the prominent position it once had within certain social circles. Alas what they found was far beyond their imagining and it has consumed them utterly, mind, body and soul. They were human beings, once."
The Doctor nodded slowly. "Such things have happened before, yes, there are dark legends on many worlds I've visited Zoe. It seems that one of them has made its home here on Earth, my people fought them once, back at the dawn of time itself. I've forgotten many of the stories, but not the underlying message behind them. You see not all were destroyed completely, some vanished, some ran away and others we never found at all save for their legends and leavings. Not that my people are much better, its just that the winners of any conflict like to paint themselves in the brightest of lights and of course as we've seen behind the lights lie the shadows. They say that my people's greatest leader is somehow undying, that he lies forever in his tomb, they're just stories though, I really wouldn't read anything into them."
"All stories have some meaning." Howard reminded the Doctor. "You said that to me, once."
"Did I?" The Doctor rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Oh dear." He realised that he must meet this man in his own future. "We haven't met yet, at least I haven't met you before today."
"The curse of time travel." Howard nodded. "I'm Howard by the way, just to introduce myself to you. I met you last year, much as you are now, and you Zoe and a man, Jamie. A noble Highland warrior of the finest tradition."
"Jamie's resting right now." The Doctor said carefully. "Events on a previous travel caught up with him in a rather unexpected way."
"So we meet Howard in our future, but his past?" Zoe wondered what it would be like to look back into the past and see things she hadn't done yet. Such was the way of living time like each day was a block in a pile crazy paving bricks.
"We must confront the Lowrys again." Howard said to the others. "They have uttered the incantations twice already. Last time we failed to stop them, this time we must succeed or the Earth will fall into chaos and fire."
"We must succeed, or we won't meet Howard in our future." Zoe said confidently to the Doctor. "Unless time slips backwards."
"Of course it isn't. However if we fail now and we somehow escape back into the past to try once again." The Doctor frowned. "Oh my giddy aunt, what if we fail?"
"Then all of history will be undone." Howard said sternly. "Time is the fire in which we burn."
"That's wrong in every sense of the word." The Doctor said casually. "Time is cold and tastes rather like strawberry ice cream. Or is it vanilla?"


The full assembly walked into the summoning room, one after the other. They were people who were once friends, colleagues, neighbours, random strangers pulled off the street and shown the truth. They were once human, but now they cherished what had become of their flesh. Twisted limbs, twisted minds and twisted souls, they had all been shown the largest of all pictures and their minds shattered into insanity in the first instant only to be put back together as something utterly different…alien. All loved and feared He whom they served and wished to spend an eternity of dark rapture with.


"We can banish their false god if we disrupt their summoning in time." Howard said to Zoe as they walked to the Lowry house. "Failing that then we may have to resort to violence I'm afraid to say."
"Violence is never the answer." Zoe said wisely. "More often it's the problem."
"Fire must be fought with fire." The Doctor mumbled. "Sometimes the only way to stop a forest fire is to burn the forest down before hand. What a pity though, I rather like forests, well trees. Who wants a game of conkers?" He pulled a couple of conkers out of one pocket. "The winner gets a jelly baby."
"Now is not the time for games." Howard said boldly. "However preferable they may be to what we must do now."
"Why can't we contact your people, Doctor?" Zoe asked the obvious question.
"Me? Ask them for help?" The Doctor was shocked by the very concept. "There's no circumstance in the universe that would cause me to do such a thing. They would probably do something absurd like put me on trial so they could fool themselves into thinking it's justice. They have no idea of the concept, believe me. No, Zoe, We'll handle this ourselves. In fact I think Howard and I can manage, perhaps you could go back to the TARDIS to check on Jamie?"
"I'm staying here with you." Zoe said firmly. "Someone has to make sure you don't get into any sort of trouble, like when you were caught stealing one of Hannibal's elephants."


The droning of the chants began, the utterly alien language of the Elders would be unspeakable with a human tongue but those chanting had long since ceased to worry about that problem as their bodies had very little human left in them and their minds none at all. Humanity had just been a set of blinkers to stop them seeing sideways to that which lurks on the bounds of reality. Now they saw everything and they revelled in their fall from grace, to become creatures of infinite malevolence and cruelty. They would slaughter billions of men, women, children and the fun would be in finding new and interesting ways into making each and every one of them die screaming and begging them for a merciful release. None would come of course because pity was one of the first emotions they lost, thank Him.
"They've started!" Howard yelled as he rushed into the room and waylaid the first figure to rise and try to stop him.
"What do we have to do?" Zoe asked the two men.
"Try to silence them." The Doctor said as he ducked down below a rather clumsy swing.
Zoe yelled as she ran and jumped up onto the back of the nearest figure, she was whirled around and around before she was spun off into someone else, who fell to the floor breaking her fall. She picked up what looked like a book and she hit someone else with it. "Stop chanting!"
"The portal's opening!" Howard yelled.
"There's something outside!" Zoe said and looked out of the nearest window, she screamed when she saw the shambling mass of monsters.
"We're trapped!" Howard yelled.
"Try not to panic everyone." The Doctor looked this way and that as he tried not to panic himself. "Oh dear, this isn't good, not good at all."
"What are we going to do?" Zoe looked to the Doctor, the one man she knew always had an answer (eventually) for every situation.
"I'm really not sure." The Doctor replied. "I'll try to think of something."



Overhead the constellations swung about to and fro into very different locations in the moonless sky. Eastern shapes moved to the north, and so on at random until they were aligned in the perfect geometric pattern to allow the portal unlimited power. The stars were right, the gateway opened like an angry diseased eye. The portal shone with the light of a diseased sun as the way opened for the thing that should not be.


"We've failed!" Howard yelled to the room, as all around him the shambling monstrosities shed their rags to reveal just how very far from their humanity they had fallen. "What in god's name are you? What have you done to yourself?"
"We are the children of He whom we love. This body is born anew in his glory. The human form is weak, pathetic, foolish. This body will last me until the very end of time itself!" Percival Lowry said in a quite inhuman voice. "Yes! He is coming! He rises! Yes! He rises!"
The Doctor put his hands in his pockets as he was flummoxed and didn't know what else to do. "We've failed." He said gravely. Then his hand fell onto the green stone he found earlier, some sort of emerald, yes. An emerald, from his home planet, of course. The facets all refracted and reflected the light into its infinite depths. It might just be enough, if he could trap the energy of the portal inside of it then perhaps, yes, perhaps. The energy would be trapped into one perfect moment of time, caught between the tick and the tock of the universal clock. "Zoe, put this on the floor, in that beam of light. Yes, that's it, good girl Zoe."
Zoe did as the Doctor said and instantly the unholy light of the forming portal vanished as it was drawn into the pretty green jewel. "What's happened?"
"I've turned the gem into a prison." The Doctor mopped his brow with his handkerchief. "We've succeeded, I think."
"Nooooooooo!" Emily Lowry said as the unnatural energy was sucked out of her body and into the emerald, the others were dying too, turning to dust as the power of their god was drained out of them, what little of her humanity remained became a few warped pieces of bone and rotten maggoty meat coated in a fine sprinkling of the powdered remains.


The creatures outside the house began to beat their fists harder upon the doors and walls of the building. They had been cut off from their God before His moment of arrival and they wanted vengeance! It would be a long time before the stars were right again for another attempt to bring Him back here, to His new home where they would love Him and serve Him. This was not the time of revelation, vengeance would have to wait, for another time. They were patient, very patient. They turned and left, what were centuries, millennia or aeons to those that walked in the emptiness of eternity?


The Doctor looked out of the window to see the creatures leaving. "They've given up!" He laughed and clapped his hands together. "They'll be back though, one day. That which is not dead, which can eternal lie." He mused to himself. "Yet with strange aeons, even death may die." It was an old saying, from the dark times, when his people were young and foolish and fought many wars they didn't need to fight. Of course when they conquered time itself they turned to even darker forms of pleasure. It was said that one of the first presidents brought the first combatants to the Death Zone. But that was all idle fancy, they were the lingering remains of a long dead god. They didn't know that their dark master had been killed a long time ago by creatures even more savage and barbaric, ones that now dared to call him a meddler and a renegade! "We should go Zoe, we really should get back to Jamie. I really ought to check up on him, make sure he's comfortable."


Beneath the barren wasteland outside of the city the people returned to their cold dark citadel and resumed their low chanting. The architecture of the citadel resembled their god in many ways, the building had odd architecture that allowed it to be much bigger on the inside than the outside suggested it should be. They had long since stopped noticing this and instead focused upon their long wait. One day the hunter of the shadows would descend from the heavens and place His ebon palace upon the flaccid shell of this world. The broken remnants of humanity would become the proud children of tomorrow once their bodies are reshaped and repurposed, to make them into useful tools for certain plans.


The night sky was quite its normal shape again. The stars were back in their proper places and the storm clouds did not return as more than one threat had now passed the city by.
Howard walked back home, his mind expanded by what he had seen but could not prove. His psyche was teetering on the edge of reason and the only way he could really make sense of things was to write it all down, change this and that, make it less real in some ways and more real in others.
He would turn the event from an all too real document into a story, a fictional narrative. He would invent a whole pantheon around the core concepts to further remove the truth of it from his conscious mind. He could lose himself safely in the world of his imagination in a way he never could in the real world.
He would invite others too to share in his ideas, make them his own and thus he could further dilute the realness of the event from his mind. He thought of the Doctor and Zoe, how he had met them earlier in his life when he was a younger man.
His past was their future and he was remembering now long forgotten things from that earlier encounter. A different tribe of monsters all together, yet their goal had been eerily familiar, the domination of Earth and the eradication of all human life. It was more source material for his writing, he had so much to do and not enough time to do it in.
He remembered other things too, the creeping chaos, the shambling hordes, the creeping nightmares, the tortured souls devoured by creatures that were half human and half dog. Beings that made the ancient Egyptian gods look frighteningly tame and unrealistic with heads of animal designs found nowhere in nature except the ancient stone fossils in his local museum.


"Jamie!" Zoe said loudly as she saw him up and about in the TARDIS hospital room. "You're better."
"Well of course I am." Jamie replied with a mock rough tone, before smiling broadly. "It'll take more than a few wee beasties to keep a good Scotsman down."
"I of course had complete faith in the TARDIS." The Doctor smiled as he shook Jamie's hand. "Still it's good to see that you're feeling well again."
"Och aye." Jamie said. "I've got a fair headache though. Yer contraption may have cured my body but it can't do anything for ma heid though."
The Doctor picked up a tub of paracetamol from a shelf. "Take two of these with a glass of water, you'll soon feel better. Now who's for a nice meal bar? I think I've got the machine worked out now, it hardly ever gets confused now I've had a go at it with my sonic screwdriver."
Zoe smiled to herself and knew for a fact that he friend Alice had cured the machine by having a good long chat with it robot to robot, she even had a date with it tomorrow night and she was looking forward to helping her mechanical friend to get herself ready for it.


Across the universe on a charred cinder orbiting a dead star stood a furnace blasted, fire pitted and decay ravaged palace. Inside of it's blackened walls slurped a vast and ancient being, a relic from the very start of the universe.
The old one sat alone and mad in its castle of obscene dimensions, its bulk was contained within the impossibly large throne room whose geometry was composed of angles that were obtuse when they should have been acute.
The cyclopean stone walls were carved in a language none had spoken aloud for billions of years and the creature that could read them drooled inky ichor as its mind thought incomprehensible things.
It survives, it lives, it will return, when the stars are right…

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