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Doctor Who Internet Adventure #14 - "Endless Night"


Chapter 3
"Welcome to the Madhouse"
by M. Elizabeth


---


Death and decay. Death and decay. It's all around me and I can't keep it away. I press against the walls in my cell to keep the entropy down. Walls can rot, even die, you know. Clay can sour, the metal rusts, and the wood is chewed on by insects. I used to think I could heal, make things whole.


       Death once embraced me. I saw into the Void and then I saw the Light. But it's the cold, empty Void I remember now more than the Light. No meaning can exist when you're just a bag of flesh, one tiny dot among eternity.


       My hands are trembling but I hide them from my enemy. Tears inch under my eyelids but I stop them. They put someone in here with me when they know they're not supposed to do that. She can't know my secret. My captors' secret.


       The headache still exists drumming like a marching band. My face is dry, feverish, while my hands feel clammy and slimy. In my brain, I'm floating like a fly in soup. I know she has travelled with the Doctor, that velvet-crushed beauty. I must compose myself. Damn her.


       "Hi, I'm Grace..."


* * *


In shock, Wil watched the Doctor's hands weave reluctantly over the archaic-looking controls.


       "That's it; you're taking us off this crazy planet," said the man in loony clothing. An escaped lunatic from local asylum for sure, he thought. Unfortunately, the man's gun was pressed into the Doctor's back. Wil's fingers tensed. He wondered if he could distract the man with a trick so the Doctor could take the weapon away from the inmate. Before he could come up with any plan, the girl's cool palm grazed his cheek and neck. Blushing, Wil gaped at her. "My father won't hurt any of you if your friend cooperates," she said huskily.


       She was about his age, with full lips and the rumpled yet tawny hair of a lion. Her eyes were slanted, showing some pure-blooded Asian influence in her genes.


       They were also a bright green colour freckled with gold. Even with her dirt-smudged skin and torn clothes, the girl looked absolutely perfect to Wil. Suddenly, the Tardis shuddered in flight, and he quietly cursed himself for being distracted by what was probably another crazy person. They had to find a way to get back to Jadi and Angela.


       Play for time thought Wil. Make them think we share their delusion. I'm not the Fool's apprentice for nothing!


       The Doctor seemed to be thinking along the same lines. He turned and greeted the man with open hands and a disarming grin. "Now that you have commandeered my Tardis, will you tell me where you want me to steer it?"


       The man scowled. "My daughter Deborah and I were touring the galaxy in our luxury Ship. We should've known not to stop at Paracastria. Those monster Overlords..." The Doctor frowned at his chosen description of theParacastrian natives.


* * *


"..took me, Deborah, and the rest of my crew that they didn't kill." Then, the man's arm started to shake while he mopped off his sweaty face with the other hand.


       The Doctor listened but kept his eyes on the weapon the whole time.


       "They did things to... us," the man whispered in terror, "changed us in some way."


       "I know," replied the Doctor calmly. "But I can't help you unless you put the gun down and talk about this like civilized beings."


       Deborah clasped Wil's hand. Her unkempt nails dug into his skin. Her father began weeping, slowly kneeling to the ground. The Doctor gently pried the laser from his pale fingers. Sympathy in the Doctor's blue-green eyes mirrored that of the man's pain. The Time Lord hugged the terrified man, rocking him back and forth as he would a frightened child.


       Wil choked back his horror. Goddess, what had happened to his home planet? The natives certainly were doing more than just imposing curfew unless... it was true their dress was that of Asylum inmates. Their story might not be true, but could just be their bizarre fantasy.


       The boy stared into the girl's eyes, bringing her hand close to his lips. "Deb, y-you're not really crazy, are you?" His heart was in his throat as shepondered his question. He noticed with alarm that those entrancing hazel eyes seemed distracted and glassy. Deborah smiled and pulled his hand back to her. She kissed the tips of his fingers.


       "I don't know," she admitted.


* * *


"You must be Doctor Grace Holloway. The Doctor's told me so much about you."


       The strawberry blond woman just stared back at her. Angela watched Grace warily. The Doctor's former companion looked like she hadn't slept for ages, and had bags under her eyes. "Are you all right?"


       "Funny you ask that, Angela," she said. "The Doctor is so full of Life. I used to be that way but the Light fell away. I ruined it, for now there's only the Void with a Ship inside it."


       Grace started giggling and pulling at her hair. Angela backed away from her. It was obvious that she had gone 'nutter', as the Doctor would say.


* * *


She's clever, I'll give her that. This Angela keeps her distance from me. She can sense the madness and so is careful. Good survival instincts and sneaky, too. She reminds me of Chang Lee. The Doctor attracts that type of trouble like flies to honey. And she's healthy... that's good... I c-couldnt-take another one. I've failed too many times to hold back death.


       My implants start to itch, signalling the start of another delirium spell. I sing a soft rhyme to myself to soothe my shattered nerves. (Alliteration... good one, Grace. You should be snatching prizes away from Sylvia Plath in no time.) For some reason, my little song has made Angela's face scrunch up in pain. From pure terror at my mad verse, no doubt....


* * *


Ugh, thought Angela. Even Jadi's first attempt at love poetry was better than this. She banged her fist against the cell door. "Let me outta here!" Meanwhile, Grace just snickered.


* * *


Nuhral just wanted to do his job. Feed the human prisoners. Check in with his kalzwidg of a supervisor, and go home to his mate. But that troublemaker Sophie and her new cell mate had other plans for him.


       He steered in the automatic food tray, holding his stunner primed and ready. That interloper woman was not to be trusted. Through the sunglasses he saw Sophie lying on the floor, moaning. Not another trick. That's the oldest one in the book. He turned immediately and sure enough, there was that bulky human male ready to charge him. Unfortunately, Nuhral did not expect that kick from the bounty hunter's heavy boots.


       He collapsed to the ground, holding his wrist. The gun was who-knows-where.


       They really should remove the prisoners' boots. I'll remember to tell my pus-faced boss that if I survive. He looked up and saw that Sophie had recovered the weapon and was training it on him. Jadi Morok helped him up.


       "Take us to Standard Incarnation Department one," Jadi ordered.


       Nuhral groaned. They'd skin his eyeballs for that. Wasn't that the place where they...?


       "Take us there *now*, the human male growled. "We're going to free Angela..."


       Oh, oh. He was in more trouble than he'd thought. That female prisoner was the special one. If that genetic anomaly was what his people thought it was, then Angela Ferris was the keystone to the whole plan.


       Sophie jabbed him in the back, making him move.


* * *


The Doctor served tea and crumpets to his two guests. Wil missed the koko already, but there was nothing he could do about it. The TARDIS was heading towards Deborah's home planet.


       "You'll like it there," Deborah giggled into his ear. "Universal III is an entertainment colony. My father is a very important producer on that world. You and your friend will have it made there. Father is so grateful, my little Willie."


       "Would you mind NOT calling me that," Wil grumbled. He still wasn't sure if they were telling the truth or if it was just some bizarre fantasy on the two inmates' parts. Deborah's father, who called himself Hal, seemed calm enough except for that persistent tic on his left cheek. But that could just be stress.


       Hal sipped his tea and smiled at the Doctor, who grinned back. "I cannot repay you this debt, Doctor, leaving your friends on that horrible world while you take us home in your Time ship. But I can guarantee you will be rewarded for that."


       The Doctor's grin froze on his face. Wil frowned himself. Did Hal and Deb overhear them talking about their friends? How did they know about the Tardis, anyway? His thoughts became dizzy again when she leaned beside him on the couch and began nibbling his ear. He struggled against her roaming hands. He had to keep his mind clear.


       Suddenly, the Doctor crumpled to the floor. All three of them got up and raced over to him. "Grace...," the Doctor cried in terror, "...No!"


* * *


The natives have come to take my cell mate away. I know what they are going to do to her, especially if she is the one. I rock back and forth, trying to hold back my duties to Life. I shouldn't stand by and do nothing but it seems so hopeless. The door opens, and they drag Angela away kicking and screaming. Another one I couldn't save.


       Yet, the implants burn and my mind expands. I find myself unable to stop caring. My mind cries out to the Doctor and the TARDIS.


       HELP! DOCTOR! HELP! DOCTOR...


       No more death and decay, please...


---
To be continued...



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