Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A Trick of the Dark

So, this one’s been a long time coming, and I can only apologise for that. I hope you enjoy it, despite me considering it far from my finest work – hey, if the writer can’t be brutally honest, who can? Without further ado, here are the Third Doctor and Liz in:

A Trick of the Dark

                “The world will not wait. Now is the time and you are with us or against us.”

                A cheer rose up from the audience, each member rising to their feet, applauding with enthusiasm. All that is save for the Doctor who sat cross-legged, unmoved by the speaker’s rhetoric. He looked around at the assembled crowd, the righteous expressions on their faces causing him to stifle a smirk on his own. He still wasn’t sure where she was, but he knew she was around somewhere, she had to be. That was the one certainty in this endeavour.

                Without anyone noticing he stood, walking through the crowd to the stage. He stared up at the speaker then surveyed the whole room once again. They were enraptured, gazing at their messiah with reverence.

                The Doctor sighed, striding up to the security guard at the steps leading onto the stage. The man immediately moved to block him. “Steady on old chap, I was just wondering if...” The Doctor held out a clenched fist, followed by a second. “A coin in here, y’see,” he said indicating his right hand. “Now, if I give my hand a little flick, like this...” He held his arms up, fingers outstretched to show the lack of any item. The Doctor watched as the guard studied the empty hands held before him, then smiled. With a deft movement he reached behind the guard’s ear with one hand revealing the coin, while bringing his other open hand down on the man’s neck. Soundlessly, the man fell to the floor in a crumpled heap, strangely quiet for a person of his stature.

                The audience were still clapping, though the motion seemed wrong somehow, as if it were slowed. The Doctor found himself able to move normally, yet the crowd were moving as if stuck in treacle, their movements sluggish. The Doctor bounded up the steps to confront the instigator of the applause, grabbing the figure by the shoulders. He whirled it round, the look on his face one of pure horror.

                “Hello Doctor,” said Liz, “What kept you?”


                The TARDIS solidified, grinding into reality beside a stone lion. Perched precariously on the steps of the Guildhall, the ship had finally landed back on Earth. The door opened and Dr Elizabeth Shaw stepped out and took a deep breath of air, before becoming suddenly aware of her footing. The Doctor followed, closing the door then hopping down a couple of steps to meet his companion.    “There we are, Earth, as requested!” The Doctor grinned, taking in the sights. “A little after your time though by the looks of it though. Early twenty-first century at a guess.”

                Liz sat down on the stone beneath her, the Doctor joining her. “Well, you could have tried a better landing! I know we had to flee from those...what did you call them?...but still!”

                The Doctor turned to look at the TARDIS. “Well, the old girl’s not perfect you know. Those Nimon gave her quite a start. Luckily they couldn’t get in though, thanks to your quick thinking.” He sniffed the air. “Ah, a sea breeze. We must be on the coast. Portsmouth perhaps? Not been here since...” For a moment, the Doctor’s mind wandered, unable to collate his thoughts. “You know that’s odd. I had this word, ‘UNIT’, floating round in my head. Does it mean anything to you Liz?”

                Dr Shaw got up and helped the Doctor to his feet. “No idea Doctor. Since we bumped into each other at Cambridge we’ve   not had time to stop!”

                The Doctor smiled. “Yes, we have been rather busy haven’t we? How about a spot of lunch by the sea, a little ‘breather’?”

                Liz nodded. “It sounds delightful.”

                They headed down the steps to the nearby taxi rank, though Liz – unseen by the Doctor – was scratching the arm of her blouse. Something was irritating her. Probably whatever chemicals the TARDIS laundry room uses, she surmised, and thought no more about it.


                The Guildhall was spacious with seating for at least 2000 people. Lorimar Aickman stood on the stage and tested the acoustics. Even without a microphone it was more than adequate for his needs. With sound amplification, the desired effect would be far above what he had expected. The technicians were checking all was correctly wired up. He wasn’t going to need fancy lighting though. It was billed as a ‘lecture’ but it was oh so much more than that. This was the day he was going to shine, the day he’d be remembered.

                Aickman’s stomach was a knot. Nerves had always been his Achilles’ heel, but now he had to practice the relaxation techniques he’d been taught. There was no room for error in his ‘performance’. If he could do everything right, then this was the beginning. The start of something new; exactly what he needed at this moment.

                In his head he laughed, the memory of recent hardships drifting away as he embraced the opportunity he had been given. Everything would change. All the memories, all the sadness, lost forever, bathed in the renewing power of the aftermath of the event.               

                He just hoped that the screaming in his mind would stop too.


                The Doctor threw a chip to the gulls, then dusted his hands free of salt. Liz sat eating the remains of her cod, gazing out to sea. She pointed out to a large round brick edifice in the middle of the water. “Those sea forts, we should go and visit one. Or a trip to the Isle of Wight perhaps?” Before the Doctor could speak, she added, “On the ferry of course. I’m not sure I trust the TARDIS to make a short hop successfully. Knowing you we’d end up back on Traken!”

                The Doctor was only half listening, once more deep in thought as he looked out at the water. “You know, that fort does seem oddly familiar...”

                Liz screwed up her chip paper and threw it in the nearby bin. “Well you’ve been around a lot. You did say you’d been here before remember?”

                The Doctor shook his head, whatever image it was fading just as rapidly as it had appeared.        They began strolling back towards the fair, the slight breeze causing Liz to pull her jacket tighter around her. The Doctor offered his, but she declined.

                The Doctor looked around him, aware that something wasn’t quite right. For one thing there was a distinct lack of traffic, unusual for such a generally pleasant day. He stopped, watching the road. There were cars parked all along, from past the aquarium to the distant pyramid structure that housed a swimming pool. Yet there were no people, no moving vehicles.

                Whirling around, Liz had vanished.

                “So,” said the Doctor quietly to himself, “that’s the game we’re playing is it?”

                He stepped forward towards the road, lifting a hand up to hail a taxi despite the lack of traffic.  Immediately, seemingly from nowhere, one materialised.  The Doctor looked it over, walking round it and nodding appreciatively. Opening a back door he stepped inside the black cab, saying nothing to the driver.

                The car sped away, the Doctor taking in the scenery once more. “You know, I have a good idea where we’re headed, but let’s not ruin the surprise, eh?”

                The driver said nothing, simply delivering the Doctor back to his original starting point at the Guildhall. The Doctor gave a knowing nod as he exited, riffling through his pockets for money, but knowing he wouldn’t need it.

                As soon as he left the taxi, it was gone into the ether; the Doctor though was unsurprised.

                “Well, at least I know my theory was right then,” he muttered as he bounded up to the entrance. He clocked the TARDIS as he went past, but knew that was the least of his worries.



                Yes, this is going far better than anticipated, far better. Aickman felt the words flow out of him, filling the ears and minds of the bodies who now filled the hall. He watched as there were appreciative nods from all around, occasional murmurs of agreement with his words. Yes, this will work, this will be the day that it happens.

                He’d already selected a ‘volunteer’ from the audience, and she’d been brought on stage. She sat now in a chair next to him as he moved around and, guided by the voice, did as instructed. She soon fell under his influence, eyelids and limbs heavy.

                The voice told him that it was all going well. The audience were entranced. This was it, his moment.

                He hoped he could live up to his promise.


                The Doctor looked at Liz standing in front of him on the stage, though neither were confused. “So, you finally found me then,” she said but rather as a statement than a question.

                “It rather looks that way, doesn’t it?” the Doctor offered by way of reply. “The real question is, just what’s happening?” He rubbed the back of his neck in contemplation. “You see when we arrived here it was all rather quiet, wasn’t it? A city like this should be teeming with life, especially in the middle of the day.” The Doctor turned to the crowd of frozen faces. “Is that normal Liz?”

                Liz shrugged. “It depends where we are, doesn’t it? I mean, are we even on Earth?”

                The Doctor took a seat on the edge of the stage. “Oh do you mind? Everyone else is sitting, I thought I might join them.”

                “DOCTOR!” The word echoed around the hall, the voice immediately recognisable to the man it named. He looked up to what he’d assumed was the source of the noise, but saw that Liz was standing tight-lipped.

                Suddenly, harsh laughter followed the word through the air, boring into the Time Lord’s mind. This time as he looked, he could see that Liz’s mouth was wide open, the raucous unsettling noise pouring forth. He stood up once again as she continued, looking to her eyes. Around them was a redness, as if she’d been crying, and the eyes themselves looked darker.

                With a sudden movement, she thrust her arm up and held it out to the Doctor. She turned her attention to him and quietly proclaimed, “We are here.”

                To her surprise the Doctor almost smiled. “Good, I was rather hoping you would be.”


                Aickman staggered back, unsure what had just happened. He clutched at his head, the stagehands wondering if it was part of the act. He waved a hand at them to indicate all was well. He stood back up, the woman still slumped in the chair.

                The screaming was gone. In his ear, he could still hear the voice, but the deafening cacophony in his head was no longer there. He looked down at the woman and saw what he’d been told he should see if this had all worked out correctly.

                He held up his arm to the audience, and next to it the woman’s. Somehow, impossibly but much to the crowd’s delight, the strange image had moved from his arm to hers.

                Where it had come from, he had no idea, nor why it was that particular image.

                He hated snakes.



                The Doctor looked at the snake on Liz’s arm. “So you’re here then. Now what is it you want I wonder? The subjugation of the human race, or universal domination?”

                Liz looked at the Doctor. “The mind is our domain Doctor. We inhabit the dark places of the inside. We shall have dominion over all thought.”

                The Doctor gave a small chuckle. “Oh I see. Well nothing like ambition is there?”

                Liz clutched at her head, a sudden wave of pain washing over her. Her eyes looked at the Doctor, seemingly herself momentarily. “Is it working? Do you know what it is?”

                The Doctor nodded sternly. “I’ve a good idea. Just hang in there Liz, it won’t last much longer.”

                Liz’s head bowed, then suddenly jerked upright once more, the discolouration to her skin immediately apparent once more. “We weave into the minds we connect with, subsuming them.”

                “Yes, that’s just as I thought.” The Doctor rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “I’m assuming of course that I’m included in this intellectual banquet of yours?”

                The snake writhed on Liz’s arm, as if reaching out to the Doctor, willing him to become one with it. The remnants of the real Liz looked horrified behind the glazed eyes of the possessed woman who stood in front of the Time Lord. He had interlocked fingers with her, letting the snake move from her arm to his. As soon as the serpent had transferred to him, he pulled away, conscious that the creature not return to his companion.

                The Doctor and Liz both fell to the floor as if strings had been cut. Liz slowly sat up...

                ...and opened her eyes to see the audience looking at her, applauding. A man stood next to her, bowing at the crowd, and whispering to her. “He did it then? You’re free of it?”

                Liz’s head felt fuzzy, like she was back at Cambridge, challenging one of her peers to one of those drinking contests they’d once been so fond of. It was the hangover to end them all. “Yes, I...suppose he must have.” She looked down at her arm, at where she could have sworn there’d been something before.

                A spotlight flashed briefly, the man next to her giving the thumbs up to whoever was in the gallery. Liz shook her head. “I’m confused. What happened?”

                The man looked at her. “The creature. It left me and went into you. The Doctor made it happen. Then he went in and cured you.”

                Liz shook her head again. “No, it doesn’t make sense. I mean...”

                She looked up, the audience had stopped clapping. The house lights came on briefly and immediately she saw them, all with a snake skull in place of their own faces.

                Inside her mind she screamed, but no sound left her body.

                And then she fell to the floor once more.


                “You’re a lucky woman, Doctor Shaw.” Liz opened her eyes. From what she could see, she was lying in a hospital bed, and standing over her was a woman – a doctor, she presumed – looking at her medical chart.

                Liz blinked a few times, clearing her vision. Her head felt much emptier, as if it had been freed of a terrible pain. Looking to her right she saw the Doctor, unconscious it seemed, laying completely still.

                “What happened?” Her mouth felt dry, like she’d not drunk in a week. The woman leant forward and handed her a glass of water, which she remembered to sip rather than gulp.

                The woman flicked her hair back over her shoulder. “You were trapped, in your own nightmares. The Doctor went in to save you. Only there was no one to save him.” She looked over at the prone form of the Time Lord. “At least not until I arrived.” She gave a grin at the Doctor. “Makes a change for me to have to leap in and save you, but it had to happen sometime.” She bent over the Doctor and kissed him lightly on the forehead. “Sleep well sweetie. I’ll see you again before you know it.”

                Liz sat abruptly. “Who are you? And what happened? How did you save him?”

                The woman put a finger to her lips as if to shush Liz. “He’ll tell you when he wakes. For now you need to rest.”

                Liz felt her eyelids become heavy as if the woman had some kind of control over her.

                She was asleep before her head hit the pillow.


                Daylight streamed in through the window, the brightness causing Liz to wake suddenly. On a chair next to the bed sat the Doctor, a pleasant smile on his face. “Hello Liz. Feeling better?”

                She stared at him. “I should be asking you that. The last time I saw you you were unconscious!”

                The Doctor straightened up. “Yes, funny that. Not quite sure what happened. I remember being inside your mind, trying to coax that creature across to my own and then...” He shook his head as if trying to clear a fog from his memory. “I thought there was someone else. Another doctor...a woman...” He looked into the distance, musing on the possibility. Suddenly he was back to reality. “No, completely gone. But we’re both free of it now, whatever it was.”

                “So, where are we?” Liz was as confused as she’d been throughout the whole ordeal.

                “The same place we’ve been this whole time – the TARDIS. Your mind created the illusion of us visiting Earth, and I, well, played along with it. We needed that creature to think it’d disorientated us.” He paused. “It worked – eventually.”

                Liz sat up. “What do you mean, eventually?”

                “Well, it’s been...”the Doctor rubbed the back of his neck as he delivered the awkward news, “...six months.”

                “What?! Six months of my life gone like that?” Liz made to move out of bed, but hadn’t taken into account the weakened state she’d be in.

                “I’m sorry m’dear. If it’s any consolation the TARDIS sickbay is fully equipped with its own temporal stasis field, so you won’t have aged in all that time.” He gave her a weak smile.

                She scowled, then her face softened. “Well, you did save my life, so I think I can forgive you.” She moved around to get more comfortable, the Doctor assisting her. “Just one more thing Doctor – where did the creature come from?”

                “Well that’s the thing. I’m not entirely sure. Nor am I that we’ve seen the last of it. We can’t live in fear though Liz. I’ve put up some mental blocks in both our minds. That should stop it getting in so easily again.” He turned away and muttered to himself. “At least I hope so anyway.”

                The Doctor stood up and moved to leave the room. “Some breakfast?”

                Liz smiled and watched him leave.

                Momentarily she could have sworn she’d heard laughter ringing in her ears, but she closed her eyes and it was gone.

                For now.

1 comment:

  1. Great story, well written and the plot was perfect. The author has captured the essence of both the characters very faithfully. I'd love to see more of this. Perhaps with The fourth or tenth Doctor and Sarah Jane, my personal favorites.