Sunday, 3 April 2011

Tearing of the Soul - Part 1

Ok, it's been a long wait, so I'm going to do as I have in the past and split the story so that there's at least something up! So, part one (and this time there will be only two) of Tearing of the Soul, which will hopefully whet your appetite for more. Hope you enjoy and if so, please post a comment on this site (as I no longer frequent Gallifreybase). You can, if you so wish, follow me on Twitter for other updates. I am @ColeHawlins if you want to find me!

So, without delay, part one of Tearing of the Soul...

Tearing of the Soul - Part 1

It was once thriving. The colonists had terraformed it as best they could, though the atmospheric converter didn’t do its job well enough. They only found that out when the people got sick, complaining of cramps and pains, then dying suddenly in their sleep. So they sealed off City One, putting it in a giant glass dome, like a taxidermist with a specimen. It became known as Dome Town or Bowl City to its residents, silly little nicknames that made them feel like they were still at home. Not that any of them had ever lived on Earth, yet it still felt right to call it that.

They went about their lives as they always had, making adjustments where they were necessary. Everything seemed to be at peace, something the colonists had never before known in their lifetime. Of course crimes were still committed, indignities suffered, but nothing on the scale of an all-out war.

‘Humility Ten’ – that was the name that they gave to the place, an account of the respect that they showed one another (the ‘ten’ referring to the fact that it was the tenth planet from its sun). The inhabitants lived without fear or threat for five years. Children became young adults, adults grew older and became new parents, the old lived in harmony watching over the city.

Until they came.

No one had known of the ‘tear’. They called it that because that’s what it most resembled. A jagged cut in the sky, through which light poured. It was small at first, barely noticeable amongst the newly created atmosphere (not least through the protective dome). It grew each day, as if the air was ripping apart. No one knew what it was or why it was there. All sorts of theories were expounded: there were those who said it was the planet, giving out a warning, that they shouldn’t have tampered with it; those who thought it to be a natural phenomena, an occurrence beyond their interference; while the smallest group theorised that something had made it.

Something on the other side. Something that wanted to break through.

While few listened to them, since the tear was causing no damage to the planet and its people, they were wrong to dismiss it so quickly.

The gap widened day by day becoming big enough for one man to get through, then two, then four, then enough for a whole transport of people. It grew greater and showed no signs of stopping, as it were going to consume the entire sky...when one day, it was still.

The colonists were alarmed, but less so when it began to shrink once more. Since it was diminishing, they stopped watching it.

That was their second mistake.

By the time the tear had sealed itself, the inhabitants of City One knew just how foolish they’d been. Or at least they would have if any had been left alive...


The Doctor perched his panama on his head and operated the scanner screen. The image revealed itself as a vast domed city, spread across a wide area.

“Humility Ten, the furthest planet out from the sun in the Valannti system. The colonists of the inner worlds nicknamed it ‘Humanity’s End’ – very droll.”

Leela looked at the screen, studying the image carefully. “So the dome, it’s some kind of protection? To stop intruders?”

The Doctor turned to her, a smile on his face. “Yes, very much so. However,” the smile faded, replaced by an intensity, “something’s wrong. What do you notice?” He watched as Leela studied the image further, waiting for her to notice.

“Where is everyone? There are no metal boxes carrying people. In fact,” she stared closer, “Doctor, there are no people!”

The Doctor nodded. “Precisely. Which is exactly why I wanted to come here. I’m sure I’ve been in this system before...or is that in the future...” He seemed to be musing over the possibilities before turning back to his companion. “Not only that, but look at the sky.”

Leela looked, seeing nothing but clouds and a very calm purple-tinged sky. Except...was that...”Doctor, that looks like some kind of tear. Like the sky is made of material that has been pulled.”

“The very fabric of the universe, torn like an old rag. A nasty but very fitting analogy in this instance.” The Doctor seemed to stare right through the screen then moved to fiddle with the controls, setting the TARDIS in flight once more.

Leela checked that her knife was still in place, the Doctor obviously aware of what she was doing but saying nothing. Could it be that this new Doctor approved of killing? She was sure that wasn’t the case, but was pleased that he didn’t comment.

With a sudden jolt, the TARDIS signalled that it had landed. The Doctor flicked a control and the inner doors opened. Leela made her way to the entrance cautiously, the Doctor following, picking out an umbrella as he passed the hat-stand. He weighed it in his hands, looking at the question mark that the handle made, then tossed it aside, favouring a different one. The same reason he’d taken one look at that question mark-covered pullover and buried it in the wardrobe room. Not his style, this new man he’d become.

Leela turned back to the Doctor, who nodded for her to open the outer door. As she stepped through, the first thing she noticed was the stillness. She breathed in the artificial air, taking a great lungful, the Doctor doing the same as he stepped out.

“It has a stale taste. Like it is old. Is this because of the dome?” She looked around her, trying to discern where the boundary could be seen, but its vastness meant that from her position she could see nothing. All around looked like the last visit she’d made to Earth, when they’d had to defeat that android who’d tried to enslave the populace into constructing a vast army for him. Little did he know of his own limited life-span. Almost indestructible he may have been, but once his memory wafers had burned out, there was nothing to fear. The humans said they would re-programme it, the Doctor assuring them he’d stop in and found out if they’d been successful another time. Leela wasn’t sure they would be, but her thoughts were interrupted as the Doctor responded to the question that she’d almost forgotten she’d asked.

“Yes, at least in part. There’s another scent to this air though, like something’s contaminated it. It almost tastes like...” He paused trying to think exactly what it was. “Yes, like some could kind of lubricating fluid.”

Leela sniffed, catching a trace of it on the air. “Like the machine men on the Sandminer. Oil, to make them work properly?”

The Doctor nodded, looking around at all that surrounded them. They’d definitely landed inside the dome, but so, he reasoned, had whatever had come through the tear in the sky. “We need to leave. Now. There’s something very wrong here and I don’t think even I can help. Not now, I’m still too weak.”

Leela stared at him, “But you are the Doctor, the wisest of the elders. The noblest warrior of them all. You can fight, and I shall help you.” She looked behind him. “Besides the TARDIS has gone.”

The Doctor whirled round to see a small square patch on the ground, but no time machine. “It’s still here. It’s the HADS, they moved it forward in time. It’s continually a second ahead of us.”

“So we must investigate. Then perhaps we may be permitted to leave?” Leela wasn’t sure, but the small nod from the Doctor allayed her fears that they’d be stuck here perpetually.

Without warning, a sudden fall of liquid came from above, the Doctor grabbing Leela’s hand and pulling her to the shelter of a nearby awning. It stopped as suddenly as it had begun, though in the space they’d been standing was a pool of thick viscous liquid, the colour of night.

The Doctor ventured out slowly, lifting up a hand as if to test the air for any further precipitation. He stuck the tip of his umbrella into the darkness, lifting it up to his nose in an attempt to ascertain its properties. “It’s what we smelt on the air, the faint odour of lubricating fluid.” He looked above his head and realised what had caused the downpour.

Leela’s gaze followed the Doctor’s own, as above them, the dome itself appeared to be splintering as a mechanical behemoth scratched at the outer surface. It wasn’t shaped like a humanoid, instead being constructed in the image of some kind of multi-limbed creature, not unlike a hybrid of a spider and a crab. Its many arms clawed at the dome, the jagged edges it created causing its hydraulics to tear, the fluid descending towards the Doctor and Leela as a consequence of its actions.

“Doctor, we cannot fight it. It is a match even for your mind!” Leela looked up at the creature, knowing full well that this was a battle they had best avoid.

“I really think you’re right. Come on, let’s get inside the buildings. Judging by the design of these buildings they all seem connected. We should be able to buy ourselves some time.”

The pair of them dashed inside the nearest doorway, neither quite aware of what was really happening behind them.

It was numbness. That was the overriding sensation after the screaming. It was hard to think of anything from before, from the time when...the memory was fading like a footprint on a beach as the tide came in. A name, an image, something to cling onto, the remembrance of what once was...inside her mind was screaming at her to recall something, anything, but the neural pathways were switching off, dying embers in a once raging fire.

She was in a small chamber, like so many before, her soul torn from her body as all those others had been. She would have cried if she’d still been able to or even had an awareness of her predicament, but with each passing second another shred of humanity was stripped away, only the most vital and best functioning of her organs remaining.

The blood was drained away, unneeded with so few organic parts. The machines would keep what remained working, and would work more efficiently than the weakness that the flesh contained.

Her mind was acclimatising to this new world, these new sensations, a realisation dawning that this was the future, the best way forward. This was how they would survive, like all the others. Like the ones who’d come through the tear. As her memories flickered before her one last time, she thought that he must have escaped. Somehow he must have fled in his ship before they could find him.

Darkness descended, that function no longer required. Maximum efficiency did not require the processing of recollections from the other existence.

This was all.

1 comment:

  1. 4/5

    A terrific example of tension building, with the mystery a looming constant. As usual, Andy's characterization and dialogue is spot on. A great second half will kick this over to 5/5 most likely!