|Doctor Who Missing Internet Adventure #23 - "False Life"
"Dreams Take Flight"
The heat of the 100+ degree Celsius weather beat down relentlessly on the planet as the twin suns blared blindingly in the red sky above, making ripples of heat and haze in the vision of the zombie-like being now watching the blue police box. His eyes had already partially melted
into their sockets and his balding head was covered in a motley patchwork of blisters and sores, as well as the rest of his skin that wasn't covered by what was left of his navy blue suit. To set foot out on the rocky red terrain of Paradise-2 was certain death, but to lay curled up in a foetal position on the floor of his sheet was giving up on life as if he didn't care a toss for it. He had already spent an eternity trudging about the corridors of his wrecked ship.
He closed his eyes, trying to read the writing on the blue ship from his hiding place in a crack in a large boulder. At least his hiding spot kept most of the direct light off him, but it did nothing to alleviate the intense heat. He blinked again and peered at the writing. It wasn't doing any good. The more he blinked, the worse it got. The words had already run together in a melted blur in his eyes, now it seemed the haze of lettering was doing some kind of interpretative dance meant only for his brain to comprehend. It was probably too late for that since he was positive his brain had started to rot away.
The longer he remained in his hiding spot, the more he felt an odd bubbling, boiling sensation inside his cranium. He knew he had to get inside that blue box. It was imperative that he get inside! It looked intact and that was a good thing because... because... His brain gurgled to him, boiling in its own juices. He thought he knew a moment ago. At any rate, he had to get inside, say hullo to the newcomers and introduce himself because he was someone important. Yes, that was it! They would be able to get him off the planet because they had to! And because his name was... was... He could almost feel the piece of brain that remembered that vital piece of information slipping out of one of his nostrils and falling to the ground in an undignified and stomach-turning squish.
The zombie pulled himself out into the open into the searing light, and musty smell of dust and rotting flesh that lingered about the place like a cloud of stench. He lumbered and staggered towards the blue police box, leaving juicy and fluid filled footsteps behind him.
In the shadows of an overhanging rock, a dark shape watched the man. It crept slowly out of its place of shelter from the burning suns and skittered toward one of the footsteps, filled with the iridescent oil of body fluids and rotting skin. Two large antennae the size of meter sticks danced quickly over the ground in front of it, tasting to see if there was anything edible. It opened its sled-sized brown wings to fan the air behind it and unfurled a long tongue to reach into the liquid. It shifted its weight closer to the ground for a better position to feed and sucked up every drop of the rancid liquid. It focused its compound eyes on the man, knowing the zombie would be no challenge and it would feed well today.
* * *
Tommathan drew a circle with his toe in the pink sand. He looked up for a moment to glance at the huge clock, one of many, lazily keeping time on Paradise-1. Two Parotian girls strolled out of the nearest bathhouse and giggled to each other, glancing in his direction. They both smiled, showing off mother of pearl teeth, their red plumage hair dancing in the light breeze behind them. One of them fingered a feather coyly giving him a sly glance. He gave them a short smile and shook his head regretfully. There were plenty of other unattached people on the beach. Not that he didn't want to. He watched the both of them pick their way gracefully through the throng of beach goers vegetating in the sun. Both of them were well proportioned and amply endowed, but he had other commitments, one of which had brought him here to the beach, the only place he could properly think, enjoy the atmosphere and work on his golden tan in the process.
Tommathan stretched his arms and glanced around the beach. At least half of the other court officials spent their off hours here. It was the perfect place to relax and unwind between trials. Crystal blue waves rolled lazily against the shore, the twin suns shone brightly in the expanse of pink sky without a cloud in sight, and light trade winds danced through the air. Light laughter filled the air as group played with a beach ball a little way away from him. There were certainly few places in the universe that compared to this planet-wide slice of heaven.
Tommathan turned over on his towel and glanced at his papers spread out before him on his brightly coloured beach towel. Each paper was weighted down by various accoutrements that he had brought with him. The largest pile of paper was weighted down by his half-eaten lunch, which what passed for a dog was sniffing at dubiously. He swatted the dog away playfully, picked up the lunch with one hand, and sifted through the papers with the other. He was still troubled by that last case. He had considered himself lucky to get his job as Public Defender. It didn't pay as well as he could have hoped for, but the benefits were more than he could imagine. Still, most everything over the past several years had been open and shut cases, with the exception of one or two. But none of which he had lost sleep over. Nothing which bothered him like this one.
"The case of the Doctor and his lovely companion, again?" asked a sensuous voice next to his ear. Arraina sank down onto the towel next to him, and draped her arm over his shoulders. Her arm was cold and wet and made chills run down his spine, as seawater dripped down from his shoulder blades and made a pool in the small of his back. "It's no fun swimming alone, you know," she said playfully, grinning at him. Her yellowish-golden skin glistened with droplets of water. "You should give it a rest and join me. Besides, it's over. They're locked away where they won't be able to do anyone any more trouble."
"That's just the trouble, Ari," Tommathan said, using his hand that he had been rifling through the papers with, to lightly rub her back and linger teasingly on one of the straps of her emerald green bikini. "I don't think we did imprison them, at least not all of them. There is still the fact the security cameras caught sight of them in two different places at the exact same time. No one can do that. It's just not physically possible."
"Maybe they just projected images of themselves checking out. Or it could have been a glitch in the time reading on one of the security cameras. Not all of them have been recalibrated recently."
"Still, Ari, it's just too much evidence at the crime area. I mean, it was like they wanted to get caught. Smiling at the cameras, and leaving both the hat and scarf at the crime scene...."
"That's just the sign of a sick mind. All the more reason to imprison them."
He reached over to stroke her face. "I love it when you get difficult. I have all the more fun trying to change your opinion."
Arraina smiled and batted her eyelashes at him. "I bet you say that to all the pretty jurors."
He kissed her lips, tasting the bitter saltwater on her skin. "Too bad you couldn't have used that line on the judge. I could have won that case."
"Ah, but then where would we have been? I used that line on him last week and managed to sway his verdict during that State versus Kallisten case. Besides, he overruled you because he has his eye on that district attorney," Arraina said, smiling slightly lost in thought.
"So do you and everyone else."
"Except you, of course."
"Of course," Tommathan muttered, reaching for another kiss.
* * *
The Doctor ruffled his brown curls with one hand while his other skimmed down the wooden banister railing. He paused on one of the stairs and looked at the paintings on the walls. All copies, of course, except for one solitary painting staring up at him from the wall across from the landing at the bottom of the staircase. It was a picture of a teenage girl with short brown hair, dressed in a vaguely oriental dress, posed in front of a chess game. There was something familiar about the painting as if he had been there at one time. The girl looked so real, staring out the painting with serious large brown eyes and smile playing on her lips. He could almost remember the sound of her voice.
"Hurry up, Daddy. Dinner's getting cold." A young girl, with shoulder length brown hair stood pertly at the bottom of the staircase, one hand resting on the banister. She smiled at him and twirled around once, so her yellow dress could swirl around her. "Do you like it? Mom bought it for me last weekend. She said I could wear it today when we go to the museum."
The Doctor paused in mid-stride, staring at the girl. She was certainly too young to be the girl in the painting, but they both had the same serious eyes. Eyes that looked too old to be their proper age. "Who...?"
The girl chewed on her bottom lip and pouted. "Mommy said you haven't been feeling well," she mumbled, her smile rapidly turning into a frown and tears glittered in her eyes. "Mommy says she wants to talk to you in the kitchen."
Seeing the girl bordering on tears just wasn't right. She should be smiling, he thought to himself. "Yes, of course!" he said, giving her a goofy grin. "Now just run along and I'll be there in a minute."
The girl grinned at him and took off running down the hallway and around the corner. He watched her go silently and took another look about the place. The house was lavishly furnished. His writing must certainly have been paying off to have been able to afford a place this large and expensive. Along the walls of the hallway were bookcases that reached the ceiling, all completely crammed to the limit with tales of science fiction. He ran a thumb along one of the rows and pulled out a book that was slightly jutting out from the others. He turned it over and read the cover. 'Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors'. He put the book back quickly and turned toward the sound of clattering pots and pans.
He pushed open the door and saw a room filled with a warm yellow glow and sunlight pouring in from a window on the opposite side of the room. The window sat above an oven with several pots and pans on it, with steam rising slowly from the tops of them. Romana still had her robe on and had her back to him. She quickly shredded a hunk of cheese and added it into a skillet on a burner next to her. The young girl sat on a barstool on the other side of Romana, letting her legs dangle playfully over the side of the barstool. She kicked her legs and tried to turn the stool in the Doctor's direction.
Romana turned suddenly and looked at him. Tears still glistened on her cheeks. She looked at the girl for a second and gave her a slight smile. "Kris, I need you to go into the living room and watch your cartoons for a little bit. Okay, honey? Your father and I need to talk for a moment."
The girl stuck out her bottom lip pouting and jumped off the barstool. She trudged her way to the door behind the Doctor and opened it. She gave him a quick grin and left the room.
"I have a bad feeling about this."
"You should. I just got off the phone a minute ago," Romana announced, walking over to the sink to clean off the grater. She turned on the faucet, plunged grater under the water and snatched up a scouring pad with her other hand. "Maurry says you're behind by a month on your latest book. He needs that rough draft to show to the publisher." She turned off the water and turned to look at him. "If you haven't been working on that book, what have you been doing? Because you certainly haven't been spending that time with me."
* * *
Ari did have a point. The people wanted a villain to accuse of the crime and ease their worry about there being a cold-blooded killer in their midst.
Tommathan had abandoned his spot on the beach and was resting on a sofa in an extravagant bathhouse. The place had thick yellow carpeting, sofas and chairs scattered around, most of them in front of the wall of twenty monitors lining the main wall of the room. There was an adjoining room with showers for the beach goers. The bathhouse was one of hundred stationed all along the beach maintained by the government as a convenience for both the locals and the tourists. Another local sat in the opposite corner of the room in a plush chair watching a soap opera with a drowsy expression on his face. Tommathan picked up the remote from the coffee table next to the sofa and turned on all the monitors not in use. The lower channels were all popular viewing stations filled with the basic Soaps, cartoons, sitcoms, and other various entertainment shows. However, the upper channels all viewed different security cameras on different parts of the planet, so the public could rest assured that someone somewhere was watching over them. He pulled up the menu and set the monitors to show him what happened on the night of the murder of the President of Earth. The two monitors near him flickered black and white pictures of the Doctor and Romana. One being the view of the Doctor and Romana killing the President, and seeming to take great enjoyment over the murder, and the other showing the same two people checking out of a hotel. All of the other screens showed various streets and places throughout the planet.
He flipped through a couple of stations to show other views of the planet. He stopped flipping when he reached channel 523. Two of the monitors had nothing but static on them. He reached for his briefcase, flipped it open, and riffled through the papers. He pulled out a list of all the security cameras on the planet. There were five cameras missing, either broken or recalibrated, but none of those were on this channel. According to the list all of the security cameras on channel 523 should have been in complete working order. He flipped through a couple of other channels. He stopped again, when he reached Channel 546. Three more of the monitors were showing static for that night. Why hadn't anyone mentioned this? He ran a finger through the list and stopped on one of the monitors that showed static. It wasn't anywhere near the crime scene. They most likely tossed it out as being unrelated. Still, it was too much to be just a coincidence.
He locked his briefcase and looked about the room. The man who had been sitting in the far corner had vanished, though the soap was still playing.
* * *
"Danger, Master," chirped K9, still sitting on the floor of the TARDIS with his side panel lying on the floor next to him and his insides exposed.
"Danger?" The Doctor pushed himself out from underneath the multi-sided console and sat up, looking about him. He darted a look at Romana who sat off to the side with her arms buried inside one of the open roundels next to her. "Who could want danger at a time like this?"
She withdrew an arm from the roundel and pointed at the monitor with the sonic screwdriver she was holding. "That man perhaps?"
On the small screen, a man, barely recognizable as such, staggered closer through the rocky terrain. He was covered in a glistening oil and white bone showed through in various sores where his skin had rotted away. Behind him loomed what looked like a brown cockroach the size of a Volkswagen.
To be continued...
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