|Doctor Who Missing Internet Adventure #22 - "Verdant Carnage"
by Daniel Harkin
"What the hell are you two on about?" Ben asked. He looked back and
forth between the two women as if he'd walked in on the end of a joke
and they wouldn't tell him what led up to the punchline. "What did you
All three of them jumped as a voice behind them spoke. It sounded like a
human voice overlaid with insect buzzing. "They witnessed their own
deaths," it said. "And since you're all of the enemy species, no doubt
those deaths will be quite soon."
They all turned and looked at the newcomer. Even Ben, burly and manly
though he was, screamed.
* * *
"Oh Lord, it's the devil! It's the devil!" Will was apoplectic with
fear and he fell to his knees whimpering, taking refuge behind Turlough
who looked down disagreeably. Turlough, in turn, had taken refuge
behind Verney, who was feeling a dull ache clinging about his knees that
usually meant rain was imminent.
They'd been wandering about pretending they were going in the general
direction the others had taken. And then they'd bumped into the lady
who now stood before them. Well, lady-ish. There were some
disconcerting divergences to the general human form.
Firstly, her teeth were distinctly different. Two rows of thin, little
needles. As she was snarling at them, Verney could see little pearl
white points like a series of Hell's Angel studs along her gums, which
made him think of sharks. Secondly, there were her eyes; yellow orbs
with dark circles. They were owl-wide and she blinked like clockwork.
Everything else was human; but he didn't know if the minute differences
made her more or less disturbing. Then there were the clothes, of
course. She appeared to be encased in a partly plastic, partly rubber
shell of tabby-cat colours. This was embossed with brilliant circular
designs like celestial symbols.
At the moment she appeared confounded; confused by something she had
never encountered. As the foliage throbbed with pale-green light, he
She raised an ebony finger and he realised the nails were much stronger
— and, more pressingly, sharper — than his own. "You," she said. She
paused, her mind trying to find a way to express her confusion — she was
ahead of him on that score. "What... who... where..." She closed her
eyes, sighed, and composed herself. She opened them and had assumed a
more prominent look of authority. "What are you? What are you doing
here? Where did you come from?" She stared back at them, eyebrow
Turlough had re-emerged from wherever he'd tried to secret himself. "We
might ask you the same question," he said. Although Verney noticed that
he still stood between Turlough and the woman.
The woman considered. "You might," she said, "but are fifteen hundred
warriors on their way to add any sort of weight to your authority?"
"Um," Turlough said.
* * *
"There's a good boy." A beat. "Or girl..." Amethyst eyes stared back
and the big green thing gurgled. "Now, I usually get on quite well with
cats. I hope you won't be the exception." The Doctor adjusted his body
language so that he was on the same level as that of the creature,
slowly so as not to alarm it. It cocked its head like a curious sparrow
and its eyelids spiralled closed for a moment. "Yes... you're more
reptilian than cat, aren't you?" The metre long tail jerked lightly.
"Was that a sign of agreement or just you getting your limbs into gear?"
He glanced down to the clump of ferns and candlebuds below, bright and
peaceful like a cluster of squat Christmas trees. "I really should be
going now..." he apologised. But the cat warbled and cooed and swung a
heavy paw out; the Doctor screwed his eyes shut and tensed. But the paw
ruffled through his hair and rubbed the nape of his neck.
The Doctor grinned. "What a clever thing you are." Half an hour passed
in this way and, like a swelling mist, evening came to the forest. But
an evening as if lit by a pale-green nebula and amongst an infinity of
stars. The game went on, the Doctor would respond with whatever had
been done to him. Suddenly, the tiger was no longer there. The Doctor
sharply looked around him and saw two purple points in the darkness
fixed on him. Then the dark bulk turned and they were gone.
The Doctor's vision was suddenly snagged by the mangled, flattened pulp
on the ground that had once been Joseph Willow and he felt a blossoming
sense of sadness and guilt. His mind's eyes was full of memories of
flames and a multitude of sweat beads threaded their way down his face.
He violently shook his head and slammed the palm of his hand against his
forehead. There was something... dangerously seductive about this
place. The forest had memories and voices. And lights.
Light enough for him to get back to the TARDIS. He reached the ground
with all the agility and silence of the cat that had preceded him. He
slid through the night as if he wasn't there.
* * *
The hiveship was like a bronze thornbush. It looked prickly and sharp.
"And is probably just as nasty inside," Tegan said. Monsters came in
different shapes and sizes and were generally green, she had decided.
These were sort of green — five foot tall crickets, grass and bone
coloured with flecks of amber and a cluster of snooker ball eyes above
some particularly tangible mandibles.
She felt as though she were in two separate worlds all at once; like
someone trapped coming out of a looking glass as a butterfly preserved
in a jar. And she didn't quite like her mind leaping from Alice in
Wonderland to butterfly collectors like that. Jane was in awe, however.
"Oh this is fantastic! All the smells and colours! It's the stuff you
don't even dream about."
"It gets pretty ordinary, believe you me. No matter how exotic the
place is, someone's always ready to stick a gun in your face and lock
you up for some murder you've just happened or something." Jane was not
to disheartened, however. As they were lead along a fleshy appendage
that had coalesced from the hiveship, she was looking around her at the
intricate culture exhibited for her like a honeycomb cross section.
Tegan noticed that the big crickets were just one race of insect like
things that worked in this hive thing, although they were clearly in
charge. There were molluscs with pseudo-appendages, there were beetles
and bluebottles; a managerie of creepy crawlies. She shuddered at the
thought of touching one or, worse, being touched by one.
"Would it be too much trouble for you to tell us *where* you're taking
The one that had said its name was Malvux, and that they should address
him as sir, turned to Tegan. Tegan was unsettled by the sharp,
deliberate movements of the creatures. It reminded her of clockwork
toys and robots; not creatures with body language and other identifiable
human signals that even your average bug-eyed monster had. It was like
trying to converse with Cybermen. "You present an anomaly for us. We
will present you to the hiveship's Little Mother and await her
Jane leaned forward. "Why do each of you have those gold badges with
those designs on."
"They're tokens. They denote station. If that sweezi is killed it puts
the price to which the hive must be compensated."
Malvux then appeared to check her/him/itself, as if it had been too
chatty. Perhaps they weren't so humanless after all.
"Why are we your enemy?"
"You are an alien race, you have contaminated a Protected Area."
"Then why don't you just kill us?"
"You're strange." There was a sudden, higher intonation, an almost
childlike exclamation that he didn't understand. "You have complicated
matters, we did not know more than one type of vertebrate community
existed. We have to alter our strategies."
"But I thought you said this was a protected area, not a warzone."
"This isn't a war. This is our rightful land and we refuse to allow it
to be contaminated."
"What does he mean contaminated?" Wolsey leant in close to Tegan. He
was a matter-of-fact sort of man, this kind of thing must be a real
shock to his system. The Malus he could probably get over, but she
didn't think he'd cope with this. Especially not on a regular basis.
"I don't know. Sounds like a bunch of jumped up, little Hitlers we've
just bumped into here."
"But if we contaminated the place, what do you think they're going to do
with us?" Jane hissed.
"Let's not think about that right now."
"Does this happen to you all the time?" Wolsey asked.
"All the time. Don't worry, the Doctor usually turns up with
"Oh, well that's alright then," Jane said, punctuating her sarcasm by
shifting her cardigan.
"As I said, usually."
* * *
The community comprised of three enormous huts; circular concrete
constructs with thatched domes atop. The area had been defoliated for
space to be available and surrounding the community were piles of
black-dead plants and smooth, de-skinned trunks. The organisation
appeared simple, one hut for civilians, one for military and one for
what must have been religious practises. One smelt of food, one of
blood and sweat, the last incense.
Will, not to put too fine a point on it, appeared to be emptying the
contents of his bowels. Verney was keeping close to Turlough and they
were exchanging glances every now and then about possible escape routes
and plans. Turlough was actively considering Will's uses as an
expendable distraction. He hadn't met this species before and the
foliage was unlike anything he'd seen before. Images of home kept
pouncing on him as he thought of leaves as strong as wood and big enough
to stand on. He thought of....
But there was something in the air here. Something in the trees.
Faintly he could hear it whispering, he looked to Verney who looked as
if he were in pain and at that dunce brain whimpering beside him — no,
neither of them could hear it. There was something in the ground, and
there wasn't anything that scared him more than something in the ground.
They were led by the warriors, threatened by sophisticated looking
spears and rose bud shaped ray guns. It looked as though the girls
ruled over the boys here and it seemed to make perfect sense that
instead of shooting with phalluses they were celebrating their-
"Friar Mabmi, identify the origin of these things. You may use....
moderate methods of acquisition but leave at least two of them alive.
They may be useful."
"Indeed, Leader Bakeem." Turlough, Verney and Will were thrown about
what way and which until they were in a cold, hollow room that smelt
like an empty attic and was the colour of ash. The lights flickered,
paused, flickered, paused and then rebounded flooding the room with
unecclesiastical light as revealing as a scalpel with an accompanying
thrum like a dull headache. Friar Mabmi stood in front of them as
warriors, in armour beautifully embroidered with brooches and motifs,
fixed them firmly to chairs, which were in turn firmly fixed to the
floor which looked to be pretty firm itself. "Now then," the Friar
looked apologetic as he clasped his hands and was decidedly
unthreatening. "I'm going to ask you a question or two. You will have
to answer or we will have to ascertain the facts through... erm, trial
and error. Scientifically, let's say." He paused again and looked at
them, eyebrows raised. "Shall we begin?"
"It won't do much good," said Verney to nobody, "I think I'm less
competent of those facts than you are."
Mabmi choose to ignore him. "What are you?"
"What do you mean *what* are we?" Verney winced a little at Turlough's
agressive tone and sneer. True, the sneer looked as if it was an innate
feature of his face, but his manner wasn't going to be to their
advantage. "They're... we're human."
"Human? What do you mean, 'man-like'?"
Verney tried to chip in. "I think we're getting our wires crossed. Our
species is homo sapien, similar to yours, except we're not from around
"Then where are you from?"
"Not here, obviously." Verney wished he could kick Turlough.
"This community is not very well equipped. If we have to procure the
information we need from you scientifically, then I feel I must inform
you the methods used will be somewhat... crude."
"Turlough, I think it would be better if we at least *tried* to make an
effort to co-operate."
"But we've got nothing to say. What information could they possibly
"What do you think we on Earth would do if we bumped into a completely
Mabmi raised a querulous eyebrow. "Pardon me, gentlemen," he said just
as Turlough was about to say something to Verney. "Do you mean to say
you are made of earth and clay? Do you come from underground?"
Turlough snorted. "No, we're from a different planet... planets
entirely. One day we just fell — plop — onto your planet."
"From the stars? Our people came from the stars. But how did you
"Um, well..." Verney faltered.
Turlough wasn't about to let the old arse tell all about the TARDIS. "It
just sort of happens to us."
"Well there are four different ways."
"Uh well... we climb through holes in the world. We climb through them
and when we look up to the sky we realise we don't recognise the stars
"Feasible, perhaps you are a race with a particular affinity with
dimensional portholes or such like. But not very likely. Continue."
"Ah... we climb through mirrors."
"I beg your--"
"There's no point in questioning it, it just happens. Smoke and mirrors
and bang, we're somewhere else."
Mabmi sounded tired. "Very well," he sighed, "that's two. The third?"
Turlough faltered. "Giant grasshoppers," Verney interposed. Mabmi
looked a little shocked. "Machines like giant grasshoppers that are
launched by mighty explosions, we hitch rides on them when we find
"Indeed. That is three ludicrous methods. Are you going to surprise me
with the fourth?"
"Witchcraft!" Turlough had forgotten about Will, ever since he'd taken
to rocking quietly to himself.
"Magic?" Mabmi scoffed. "How could you be able to perform magic?"
"We're cursed. Voices in the dark, they make people worse — angry. But
the voices they change the world; it runs like wet paint in rain and
then we're somewhere new. Somewhere strange. Somewhere bad."
Mabmi stared at them. "I think we may have to resort to scalpel and
"Dreamin-" but Mabmi and the warriors had gone. Turlough grunted again.
Verney turned to him.
"What do we do now?"
"Wait. Then we try and escape."
"Has anyone told how temperamental you are, Turlough? You're like a
vicious toddler, sometimes."
* * *
There are rooms inside trees. Rooms of sounds. Rooms of thoughts.
Rooms of pictures. Rooms of smells. Slowly as fluid passes through the
trees these sounds and thoughts and pictures and smells become connected
and the trees have memories. And as the fluids pass between trees the
memories become voices.
Shh. Listen to the night.
The Doctor bounded into the square patch where a blue box should have
been. "Oh dear," he declared and jammed his hands into his pockets, one
finger twiddling the piece of string. "I wonder..."
There was a rustle in the leaves. These happen everyday, winds and
animals and insects pass through the foliage. Noise is to be expected.
But this was a concerted effort. Twin amethyst points emerged from the
darkness, behind them was a dark bulk and a flash which unsettled leaves
and ferns behind it: tail and teeth and eyes in the dark.
And this was followed by another set of eyes.
The Doctor resignedly spun around, confirming there was no possibility
of escape. "Ah," he said. He turned back to an usually familiar set of
purple eyes. "Ah," he said again. A patter or two ruffled the leaves
and soon the rain was coming down so strong that the world was hissing
about the Doctor like frying bacon.
* * *
Will had given up rocking backwards and forwards. Turlough and the old
turnip were talking about how to get out of this deadworld prison. There
wasn't any colour here, the air tasted like stone and stuck in his
throat. Your words echoed and returned, trying to fill to emptiness
left by the lifelessness.
Black-skinned devils and demons were. Black with fangs and claws.
They'd been captured by Lucifer and his troopers, although he'd expected
it to be hotter in Hell. What was worse, fighting or this? He didn't
know, but he wanted the Doctor to be here. He was fair-haired and had
eyes like divine wisdom. He lived in a magical Pandora box like that
group of players did a story about before the fighting came. He fought
Malus like he was an angel. Yes, the Doctor was definitely an angel.
Is that how God worked then? Was he safe from the musket balls and
pikes; the yells and sweat? Where families were torn asunder like a
biblical curse was on the world? Were the rivers going to run red?
He was safe from that, but then he was here now. Why did God do this?
Why the wars and Malus; then the Doctor; then this again? He searched
back through the things he'd done and tried to find things that he'd
done wrong. That would make the Doctor and God leave him to this. What
had he done? What had he done?
Was this a test then? Or was God judging him. He was confused. Some
said there was a mist place you went to and there God but you on scales
your bad half one side, your good the other. Whichever side was the
heaviest determined whether you went up past the stars or down through
the ground. Where was this place now? Which sphere of existence? Was
he deeper or further out? Was he in purgatory? Where?
* * *
[Prose translation of a segment of poetry from the Holy Chronicle of the
And the starmen fell that day. We were not to know. We were not to
know. The starmen fell that day. And we did something terrible. We
were not to know. We were not to know. The starmen fell that day. We
bruised them and we bit them. We spilt there blood on the sacred
ground. But we were not to know. We were not to know.
* * *
"We don't have the time to let them take us through their silly games.
Our community is dying. We scrape at dry mud and eat the few worms we
find. Find out. Now."
Mabmi looked into Bakeem's eyes and saw pain. He closed his eyes and
nodded. "Which one?"
"One of the young ones. Elders are more valued and we may be able to
demand a higher price."
* * *
They were making Will look into a plant. The light was bright,
brilliant and had something more. Not just like the light of the cell
that threw you open; this light tore into you and let you see yourself.
Men in red firing in rank; kneeling, stooping, standing. The air thick
and his cheeks burning; sweat like needles over his face, scalp and
back. He knew he was looking for someone. He knew that this person
meant so much; more than pikes and musket balls and cannon shots. He
wanted to hold this person close and devour the smell of her skin. His
face was caught in a grimace that was on the brink of tears. His breath
was a cold, sharp cut in his lungs.
He spun and every direction appeared the same. She was so far away. He
felt as though he were drowning. People pushing him deeper and he
unable to know which way the surface and air was. Gulping; the water
heavy, invisible hooks clawing at his clothes and dragging him deeper. A
brief pain in his abdomen was forgotten until a bloodstain blossomed on
his shirt like rose petals uncurling. An ugly ache, immediate and
distant all at once. He slammed down to his knees and the surface
seemed too far away. Besides, it felt peaceful drifting with the
He screamed, globules of saliva flying from his lips. His mouth so wide
the corners felt like they were splitting.
Blood hit the earth that day.
To be continued...
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