My fanfiction and other random ramblings

my thoughts on how to write (or not)

Splinters 02 – Into the system

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The orphanage – nobody cared what it was called officially, as the locals were more of a “call a spade a spade” kind – was nice. And cosy. And it was actually a good place, with good people staffing it and even a few actually caring for the small inhabitants.

He was given his own bed the moment he was let out of the tiny infirmary, instructed on the general rules of making his bed and putting his stuff in order, handed a new toothbrush and a set of soft, cotton pyjamas He looked at both the garment and the toothbrush with curiosity, making the nurse groan.

“One more eco-crazy hippie kid. Come on, boy. Time for some hygiene.”

It was a weird, slightly discomfiting experience, but as he witnessed five other boys undergoing the same kind of cleaning, he obediently brushed his teeth, took a shower, washed his hair with sweet-smelling goo and put on the slightly worn set of pants and t-shirt.

“Now, to your bed. Tom, take August to your room. And let him sleep, no ghost stories or other stupid stuff. He’s just got better and we don’t want him to be sick again.”


First night was quiet, probably because Mrs McConnaly was patrolling the corridor and checking each room for disturbances. On the second night, when it was the turn of Mr Waters, Owen (who slept by the door) declared that the man is back in his room, probably reading, and then they were free to talk.

“Is your name really August?”

He shrugged. It was a name as good as any, and if Mrs Hanners thought it suited him, he was OK with it.

“Mrs H said they can’t keep calling me ‘boy’ and I don’t remember…” he whispered.

“Mrs H said the fever messed up your brain” Tom provided helpfully. “The nurse said you may get your memory back in time.”

“So you just, like, remember nothing?” Owen’s eyes went big and round.

August shrugged.

“Not sure. I remember my da, making things out of wood. And I remember people sitting in a circle and having a council. And I remember that someone was screaming and they put me in some wooden box and everything went black” he licked his lips. “And then I was in the forest.”

“With the babies” supplied Tom.

“With the babies. They were in baskets and they were cold and crying…” he paused here, not knowing what else he should say.

“Did you drag them for like miles and miles?”

“Felt like it” he said with sincerity. “I thought I would pull my arms out.”

“Now you’ll have hands like a gorilla! Ook!”

He looked at laughing boys in wonder.

“What’s a gorilla?”


He watched the bassinets with his princesses in worry. He could barely work out which one was which, and it was strange not to know which of them is his future queen.

“August?”

He blinked, turning towards the nurse.

“Yes, ma’am?”

“Why are you here, and not with the other boys, outside? They are playing soccer.”

He shrugged.

“Can’t play, ma’am. I trip over my own legs all the time. I’d rather stay with them” he nodded towards the quietly sleeping girls. “I feel like I should watch them.”

She tested his forehead with her hand and hummed.

“If you want, you can sit in my chair” she rolled the upholstered office chair from her small room. “You could probably read something, if you want?”

He shrugged again.

“Can’t read. Nobody ever shown me the letters.”

He was still watching the bassinets, so he missed the outraged look in her face.

Miss Thompson brought out the primer the orphanage kept for smaller kids and they spent next days in the nursery, going very slowly through the basic book, letter by letter.

Written by Srebrna

2016/10/30 at 23:48

Posted in Splinters

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Splinters 01 – Out of the woods

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Summary: A boy, two baskets, three newborns. All in the woods in Maine. Sounds familiar?

He slowly picked himself up from the forest floor.

Ick.

His daddy always told him to keep himself clean. This wasn’t even remotely clean. This was mushy, mouldy and moist. Whole seat of his pants was covered in mud and there was nothing around that he could try to use to clean himself off. Just lots of decaying fall plants in a very leafy forest.

And he had to move.

His task, given by the two most important people in his life, was to find the basket and to get help for all of them.

Fortunately babies made noise, so he found the basket very quickly. Only it wasn’t the basket he wanted.

There was only one baby in it and it seemed there had never been a second one there.

Which meant now he had one baby and still had to find two more.


In a short time he was burdened with two baskets, for the total count of three tiny, squealing girls.

He dragged one basket twenty steps, left it there, went back for the other one, dragged it a bit ahead, went back…

He had to find some people before darkness or the babies would become ill. Or even die.

His hands were shaking and he felt a stitch in his side when he finally managed to drag them near some man-made surface. There was nothing natural about the even, black cover that smelled funny, so he had high hopes of finding someone at last.

As he stood there, shivering and trying to work out what to do next – he could not see any kind of human settlement in any direction – suddenly a noise and lights appeared as if out of nowhere and passed him with a smell of hot metal. He threw himself backwards into the bushes, trying to cover the baskets with his body, and curled there, in the mouldy leaves, hoping the monster had not noticed him.

The noise died abruptly and he heard some clicking and clunking from the direction of the road.

“Are you sure, Jim? I never saw nothing.”

“You never see nothing, Bart. There was a kid, all alone here, in the woods. He can’t stay here alone tonight, it’s going to be below freezing.”

“Jim, you’re seeing stuff. There was no kid…”

He saw a very strong beam of light go directly into the bush he was huddling under and suddenly there was a man leaning over him, watching him intently.

“Bart?”

“Yeah?”

“There’s more of them…”


The sheriff looked at wet and miserable boy and two baskets placed in his office by the burly truckers.

“You boys kidding me? Found them in the forest? What the hell do you think I’m going to do with them?”

Jim (who managed to get the boy to eat some of his sandwiches and drink hot tea from a thermos) leaned over the sheriff’s desk.

“You are going to get the social worker here and get her to take the kids into a safe place. We picked them up smack in the middle of the woods, no sign of anyone around. The boy was half-asleep but he says he dragged them in these baskets for hours. He says he doesn’t know where they started and that he has no idea where they came from. How does this sound to you? Because I reckon it sounds like some friggen commune of stoners lost four of their kids today and I’d much rather they were taken to a proper home than be left to die of cold in the woods. What do you think, Bart?”

Bart, who stayed mostly silent for the previous half-hour, nodded and mumbled “Aye” tersely.

Sheriff leaned back on his chair.

“So you picked up some kids in the forest and now you want to dump them in some orphanage?”

“They are not ours, if that’s what you mean. Look, these two are newborns. I was at my youngest birth at the hospital and he looked the same…” Bart finally found his voice. “Someone has to take them to the hospital and check them.”

“And it can’t be us, seeing as the truck is not supposed to carry any passengers. We took them from the woods, that was emergency. Now we’re here, you’re the local authority and you will take care of them. Get the social workers to take them. It’s your job.”


He shivered in the borrowed flannel shirt Bart wrapped around him and listened to the adults arguing. The man, seemingly someone official, was for whatever reason trying not to take the girls into his care. He knew very well what would happen if they were not taken care of. They would die and he would have failed.

He swallowed with effort. He saw many little children die of neglect in his time as a wooden puppet.

“Sir…” he pulled Jim’s sleeve and the big trucker turned to him.

“What do you want, kid?”

“Sir, can we get them somewhere warm? We were in the forest for hours, and they may get sick…” he made his best begging face, eyes big and round, looking even more innocent in the oversized shirt.

“You see, sheriff? Even the kid knows something must be done with them. But, if you say you can’t, you can just write this here, on this paper” Bart pulled a blank sheet from the shelf next to the rickety printer “that you deny care of foundlings, day this and that, and us as witnesses. And we’ll take the wee ones to the hospital.”

Sheriff finally stood up with a huff.

“I’ll go to the hospital with you” he said through clenched teeth.


The social worker came, made all appropriate papers appear, made a lot of noise over the state of boy’s attire, found something more or less his size in the hospital’s storage – “people really leave a lot of stuff here when they leave”, handed the shirt back to Bart, huffed at sheriff’s attempts at explaining and then gathered all four children, arranged for a transport to her office, pushed the boy to say his goodbyes to the truckers – Jim hugged him tight and Bart shook his thin hand – and almost magically relocated them to the nearest social services office.

His head was still spinning when he was sat in a high, hard chair in front of some other lady in wire-rimmed spectacles and asked a lot of questions, half of which he actually could not understand.

“So you took the girls? Where from?”

He blinked.

“From the forest, ma’am” he answered timidly. “They were crying and I thought they must be cold or hungry…”

“And you couldn’t feed them there?”

“Ma’am?”

“Why didn’t you feed them there?”

“I don’t think babies eat leaves” he said honestly. “They must drink milk and I didn’t have any.”

She surveyed him with her piercing eyes.

“So you say you found them in the middle of the woods? Nobody was around?”

“Nobody, ma’am. Only me and the three of them.”

“And how did you found yourself there? Where are you from?”

He sighed.

“I don’t know, ma’am. I know I used to live with my daddy and he was a… A…” he made a face. “A carpenter. He made wooden things. And someone shut me in a… A wardrobe? Or a box? And then I was in the forest and she was crying so I picked up the basket. And then I found the other two and I couldn’t just leave them there…” he suddenly coughed.

“Bloody hell” she murmured and rounded the desk. “You’re burning up, kid. What is your name?”

He squinted his eyes.

“Not sure, ma’am” he admitted, praying his nose would stay the same size despite all the lies he had to tell that day. “Mostly everyone called me ‘boy’ or ‘son’.”

Written by Srebrna

2016/10/30 at 23:22

Posted in Splinters

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Splinters 6 – Something quite atrocious

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Something quite atrocious

The very egalitarian society of local primary school had accepted orphans before and would again. None of the children made any remarks about the shabbiness of one’s backpack, or about children wearing the same type of jackets. In general, their peers were quite used to the group ferried daily from the home and back.
There was only one hiccup, as on the first day Emma was separated from her sisters and led to a different classroom.
They asked the teacher in their class, they asked the teacher in Emma’s class, they asked Mrs Hanners and nobody seemed to see any way of putting them in the same group, despite being perplexed with the way the lists were set.
At the end of day four, all three of them were tired and stressed beyond anything they’ve ever experienced before. Emma seemed distracted and managed to lose her lunchbox, Elena suddenly lost the ability to read without vocalising and Elsa’s hands were trembling so much she could not draw a straight line. Even whole evenings spent huddled together on Elsa’s bed, with Emma sandwiched between her sisters, did nothing to help.
On day five they decided not to allow anyone to separate them, however the minute they approached Emma’s homeroom in a group, she was snatched inside and the door firmly shut in the other two’s faces.
Elsa felt herself dragged down to the floor, as Elena sat where she stood and started crying piteously. She herself started shaking with suppressed anger, and the teachers gathered around them, looking disapprovingly, someone even snorting at the sight of them.
“What the…” a larger hand divided the crowd of grownups and a big man entered the circle. “Why aren’t you in the class?”
“O-o-our sister got assigned to a different group” Elsa managed to choke out. “We’ve never… I don’t know…”
“Oh, kid. Your older sister, right? She has to go to another class…”
“No!” Elena wailed. “Emma is eight, like us!”
Tiny, reedy man approached the larger one and whispered something.
“You must be kidding. No. No, why would you think… Oh, man, NO. Ok, kids. You both come with me. You” he pointed a finger at the smaller man “wait for me here. You idiot.”
The sisters learned that the school principal isn’t always the most important person in the school, but it definitely helps to be friends with the most senior P.E. teacher.
The school psychologist learned that running social experiments on separation anxiety may be the shortest way to no-payslip-land, even – or rather especially – when using orphans as his rab lats.
The principal learned that his psychologist was running a side job of small socio-experiments on the pupils and, just in case, hired a lawyer.

Elsa observed the lawyer lady with awe as she strutted down the corridor in her high heels, pencil skirt and blue jacket. Hearing the measured voice, the very sophisticated language and watching the calm, economical gestures of the woman she decided, then and there, that one day she would be a lawyer, too.
Or she would become a hired assassin and kill such women for money. Whichever would pay better.

Written by Srebrna

2016/10/08 at 23:18

Posted in Uncategorized

Splinters 5 – Make a man out of you

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August – he kept reminding himself to use that name even in his thoughts – was moderately happy.
He had been taught to read and write. He was introduced to the wonders of mathematics, biology, history and computers. At ten, he wasn’t much behind his peers, even though he started from what the teachers called “tabula rasa”, his skills limited to general survival and woodworking. The second one won him accolades at all workshops the boys were assigned to at school, as he could fashion a birdhouse, a cutting board, a key hanger and all manner of other small wooden objects that were graded for these classes. He was taught the usage of power tools, which still amazed him – he could only imagine what his Papa could have done with a mini-drill and some of these attachments that the teachers were using so easily and taking for granted.
He was a bit afraid of the computers. Machines that made a drill go fast were good. They did something he knew, but did it better than hand-drill. Machines that spoke, made lights, sung and heard you were plain weird.
He learned the mastery of text editor and calculating with a spreadsheet. He could even draw a picture which would later be put on paper by another machine, equally magical in his eyes.
Still, he preferred more traditional ways of recording his thoughts. Ballpoint pens were good enough for him, thank you very much. Ink pen was more of a challenge, as his poor fine motor skills affected his ability to handle it properly. He tried and tried, but his notes came all splotched with ink and finally the teachers gave up – no type of therapy seemed to help, so they chalked it up to some developmental problem and allowed him to use the ballpoint pen from now on. He chalked it up to him being fashioned out of wood and not being expected to learn to write at any point of his life.
One sunny day, four years after he came to the group home, all older boys were taken to the attic and given a task of dragging the boxes downstairs, where girls were unpacking them and segregating things to be kept, used or discarded. There August met his first true love. She had a number of black keys and was even properly packed in a cardboard box, with all required accessories in the pocket.
As he tried it out, the letters came up, a little dust cloud accompanying them.
At the end of the afternoon he was promised that the typewriter would be his, whenever he managed to make a new box for it and had place in his room.
It was one of the few things he packed into his case when the fall came and he got ill yet again. The doctors declared he had to be moved into the countryside for his health.
He had barely time to say goodbye to his beautiful princesses when the man from the new house came and packed all his things into a big car. He kept staring through the window, his eyes tearing up at the thought of leaving his little charges all alone.
I’m sorry, Papa. I can’t do this alone. But they are together. I brought them all here. I hope this counts.

Written by Srebrna

2016/10/02 at 23:16

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Splinters 4 – Rewrite history

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Rewrite history

Annabella Hanners kept tracking the police news for few more months, but after the twelfth child was found nearly dead, but able to speak, and gave details on how her adoptive parents had handed her over to a scary man with big hands and a knife, a state-wide advisory on screening the prospective parents was issued and suddenly the cases of fake adoptions ceased.
She had some qualms about keeping the girls still listed as triplets, but they seemed to be the happiest children in the whole world, just on their own. She couldn’t just take the extra sister away without harming the other two… So she kept watching them, as they grew more and more attuned to each other.
Clothing them in a similar manner was not a problem. Whole group home was functioning on low funds, so everyone wore the same model of shirts, jeans, skirts or shorts. Making the three look next to identical required only some adjustment of their hair styling and nobody could tell them apart.
If sometimes Elsa was a tiny bit faster, nobody really noticed.
If Elena was a bit taller, at this age it didn’t make that much of a difference.
If Emma seemed a bit more thoughtful and closed, well, it wasn’t often enough to be visible.
After all, they were sisters. And they were so sweet. Nobody would have had heart to give them away separated.
Of course, there were suggestions from various prospective adoptive parents that maybe splitting them would do the children good – after all, they wanted only one girl, and this one (pointing out a random sister, almost never the one that they wanted a minute before) was just perfect. Annabella calmly and very politely told all of them to get lost.
The only risk to the whole setup was August. Whereas all of the employees who knew could be trusted to keep quiet – after all they did see how the girls were with each other – the boy also knew and could make trouble, simply by not guarding his tongue.
He was sitting there, in front of her desk, painfully erect, his face an innocent picture of eagerness.
“I need…” she trailed off as he smiled, his smile slightly uneven – she always thought about the probable beatings he must have received for his face to be that asymmetric “I need you to do something for me, August.”
He nodded, eyes wide and focused on her.
“I need you to remember to always say – if someone asks – that the girls were in the same basket.”
He finally blinked.
“Ma’am?”
She bit her lower lip for a moment.
“We have entered them into the computer as triplets. Now, you know and I know, and Pauline knows it’s not true. We also know that the little ones are better off like this, all together, right?”
He nodded slowly, blinking.
“So, even thought they are not sisters, they are sisters?” he asked, uncertainly.
“We know they are not triplets, yes. And this will stay between me and you. We both will remember. You are a good, smart boy, August, and you know that it’s better for them like this. If we wrote that they were not found together, someone would find out and then they would make me give the single one away.”
“And they would all be sad” he concluded. “And she would be alone.”
“And the two we’d keep wouldn’t be able to get her back, ever. So…” she leaned forward, looking at him intently. “You must help me, August. You must make sure you always say that they were found in one place and looked exactly the same. The computer already thinks they were found as one-day-olds. Now you must remember that too. In case anything happens, someone comes and asks about them or… Or anything! You must keep this in mind. They were found together and they are sisters. All three.”
He nodded, but still seemed worried.
“And if someone wants to adopt all three?”
“We’ll be happy for them and we will hope for a good home.”
He bit his lip.
“Would I be able to visit them then?”
She could only shake her head.

Written by Srebrna

2016/09/20 at 23:14

Posted in Splinters

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Splinters 3 – Let’s get together

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Let’s get together
As a head of the orphanage, Annabella Hanners did not have much time for socialising, so most of her friendships from the years in secondary school had dissolved due to her missing more than one class meeting. Two of her mates stayed steady and visited her at her office, as both loved children but had none.
Samantha, who just raised a mug of tea in silent toast to her friend, loved watching the children in the group home and helped with the electronic monitoring around the place, therefore she seemed the best person to ask for a very specific favour.
“We have a strict policy of not separating twins. Or, basically, any siblings. Unless there is violence between family members, of course. But we have opinions of specialists, who say it’s better to keep children together and even at a group home than to separate them for adoption.”
“And of course nobody wants triplets.”
She sighed.
“It’s twins. The third girl is just… well, very similar.”
Three giggling blonde girls twirled in the middle of the room.
“So she could be adopted.”
Another sigh.
“Probably, yes, technically. However she’s so close with the sisters I can’t really think about separating her from them.”
Samantha fell silent.
“And we think they were born in a sect” Annabella added, turning and looking at her visitor, as the other woman looked dazedly at the children.
“What, why?!”
She made a disgusted face.
“The twins were found a day after birth. They had poorly secured cords and were not completely washed.”
“Happens to young mothers who give birth at home” the visitor shrugged. “What’s different about these two?”
“For one, they were wrapped in a blanket of pure wool and they had jewellery on them – a bracelet, a pendant, some rings – all of it looks old and kind of pricey. All of it was deposited in the bank, so they can get it when they leave, maybe it will have some value… Anyway, who leaves a pair of day-old children in a wicker basket, wrapped in a woollen blankie and wearing enough gold and silver to drown a horse? Nobody. Except for some communities that don’t have much contact with outside. Some girl probably got pregnant out of wedlock, or in some crazy cult which says twins are devil-sent.”
“And the third one?”
“Ah. She was older – a month the doctor said – and she was actually wrapped in an embroidered blanket all of her own.”
“So weird… So you think she’s also a shame baby?”
“Or someone wanted to make sure she grows up outside of the loony society. Or I have no idea really, but it sounds scary to think someone dropped, in total, three perfectly healthy babies in the woods by the highway. Luckily there was a boy who found them. He seemed to be from some crazytown, too. Scared of airplanes and cars. I’m not saying he was sent by someone from wherever they came from to look after the girls, but we’re keeping him here, safe. Just in case. Anyway, he’s one of the ‘not adoptable’ ones. Sickly and too old to be in the “sick but cute” category.”
“Pity… I’m always a bit worried about kids like this – the little ones are healthy, but he was probably not vaccinated, so he can catch anything…” the visitor shook her head. “Anyway. What do you need me for? I’m quite sure you wouldn’t even dream about guilting me into adopting the girls…”
A snort.
“No way. But, if you could, I’d like to ask you… for a little tiny thing. Considering your computer-fu.”
The visitor grinned and nodded.
“Make them triplets.”
Grin fell and eyes widened.
“People can barely tell them apart anyway. I need you to manipulate the electronic records to say that they were found to be the same age and near each other. It’s enough to say that they’re sisters.”
“But nobody will adopt triplets…” the visitor’s voice trailed away. “You don’t want them adopted?”
“They’ve been together all their lives. They are only four, but I can’t just split them up. And someone will try, you know these stupid… people from the main office. They always think they know what is ‘the best for the littles’. Making these three siblings will block any asinine decisions they may make.”
The visitor scrubbed her face.
“Very well. But it’s on you if one of them turns out to be red-haired after all.”
“I’d rather have them be all colours of the rainbow, as long as nobody can separate them” she turned with grim face to Samantha. “There’s someone out there, picking out little blondes out of the system. Each of them was adopted by a respectable pair of parents who checked out OK and suddenly…” she swallowed. “Police is helpless, nothing connects the victims except for point of origin. All adoption centres were warned, but some idiot on the top decided it doesn’t make sense to stop adoptions, as the risk is small. Small! Ten children dead…” she shook her head. “They don’t want to hear about blocking it until the killer is caught.”
“And the parents?”
“Hah” the laughter was somewhat sour. “It turns out all pairs presented are someone completely different than they pose as. The people whose data is used are unaware of having “adopted” a child and very surprised at being confronted with the adoption workers.”
“So, you want to make these three unadoptable then?”
Annabella nodded.
“In a manner of speaking. The people who do that adoption thing are only picking single girls. If I make the single one a sister… They will be better off here. I’ll make sure they have everything they want and need.”
Samantha shrugged and pulled out her laptop.
“I’d say, better alive and in the system, then dead outside of it.”
She started typing and a black screen filled with letters finally showed.
Annabella looked away, turning her eyes towards the tiny courtyard, where Elsa had just tripped over Elena and Emma was sitting on a huge pile of sand, howling with laughter.

Written by Srebrna

2016/09/17 at 10:23

Posted in Splinters

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But if you can still dream – 26

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Chapter 13: Yeah, reel me in, my precious girl

Yeah, reel me in, my precious girl,

Come on, take me home.

‘Cause my body’s tired of travelling

And my heart don’t wish to roam.

Yeah, walk with me, my love, my love,

Walk tall, walk proud, walk far,

For you know my love, you are, you are,

You are my shining star.

“Love Don’t Roam”, Murray Gold

Rose, Doctor, Jack

Norway apparently had no proper procedures for dealing with citizens of United Kingdom randomly found on an isolated beach between fjords. She was lucky they had a boat patrol out there at all, and that the boat patrol noticed her moving. And that they spoke English. All right, the last one wasn’t that improbable – most of Norway spoke English anyway. The boat patrol – who picked her up, rolled her in a blanket and stuffed her full of meatpies and tea, the shore office worker, who was very puzzled as to how an English girl managed to find herself alone on a Norwegian beach and the police, who, for lack of better solution, fingerprinted her, gave her a change of clothes and put her in a cell. There was not much of an alternative in Bergen.

At least she was there alone, she had a place to sleep, a pillow and a reasonable chance that someone would feed her. She agreed to stay in the holding of the police station simply because she had no money on herself, could not claim to remember any phone number that would help her and did not even have a scrap of paper that would resemble a document.

For the time being her status was “UK citizen, probable shipwreck” and the authorities were searching for the possible ship that she might have been on.

Wish you luck, my friends, but this will be one long search.

The young uniformed policewoman approached her cell with a breakfast tray. At least, unlike the ‘violents’ from next door, she could have a proper meal with proper cutlery. She did manage to convince the officer on duty that she was quite non-violent, very helpful and answering any question they asked.

“So. Kapitan Linde asks, are you sure you were in a ship?”

The girl put the tray next to Rose on the bed and pulled a stool for herself.

Rose sighed. She could play ‘you’re not speaking good English’ game, but Anja was rather nice and anyway, her English was good enough and clear enough for this not to work.

“Not sure” Rose picked up the fork and prodded the scrambled eggs. They wobbled. “I don’t remember some things. I was in a water, and my things were floating just next to me. And then I was on the beach. I dried my clothes and stayed there, as I was too tired to move.”

Anja nodded and then shook her head.

“There was no ship in this area in the last three weeks” she said. “If you just fell off the side, you must have swum a long, long way.”

Rose shrugged.

“I don’t remember swimming. I remember being in water and then waves throwing me on the sand.”

“And before? Where were you?”

Rose swallowed a piece of egg and some tea.

“I was talking to my parents. In the hospital. We were going somewhere. Maybe to Norway” she sighed. “I don’t remember that very well. I’m trying to, but I just don’t…”

Anja patted her arm comfortingly.

“A psychologist will come, soon. She will help you to work this out. And we’ve sent a message to the British Embassy, so someone from there will be coming this week. Do you need anything? Medicines, cosmetics? I could buy you something, if you want?”

Rose shook her head.

“Thank you, Anja. It is all good. I will wait for that person from Embassy to come and maybe I’ll be able to get them to do shopping for me…” she smirked. “I bet they have better budget than your station.”

Anja snorted.

“I’m sure they have. OK, Rose. You eat, and once done, shout down the corridor, someone will pick this up.”

The eggs were gone, the bread was just a satisfying memory, and Rose lingered over her cup of tea.

She had no idea what to do when the Embassy representative would come. She had been gone for such a long time, and her Mum too, maybe they were ruled dead back home? And what if the person from the Embassy decided she was a smuggler, or an illegal – although how she could have been illegal on a beach and smuggling stuff in just her pants and hoodie, she had no idea, but knowing officials – someone would think along these lines.

She shivered and swallowed the rest of her tea.

We’ll deal with this when it comes.

For the time being she was focusing very hard on not dying.

She fell asleep on the plain bed and came to due to some voices drifting down the corridor.

“My cousin” a male voice explained in slightly Scottish accent. “She got lost. Someone said you have a girl here that matches her description.”

“I believe we may, but can you please confirm her information? Where were you when she ‘got lost’?”

“Ah, very sorry, I wasn’t there. Her parents let me know that she got somehow separated from her friends during a trip and asked me to check here” a slight pause and… A giggle?

“That was very smart of you, sir” the desk officer said in a slightly higher voice. “But please provide all the details you can about your cousin and I will check if that’s the same person.”

Rose was awake by now and standing ramrod straight, holding the cell’s doorframe for support.

The blood pounding in her ears threatened to deafen her, so she made an active effort to calm her breathing and heartbeat.

Then she could only watch the desk officer walking down the corridor, and the mass of the billowing cloak, the uniform cap and the row of decorations behind her.

“Jack!” she squeaked when the door opened and she jumped into his arms. “I couldn’t remember any phone numbers, and I lost my phone, and my documents, and my money, and I was waiting here for the man from the Embassy to come and…”

“Now, now. You didn’t lose your documents, you just left them behind in the hotel” he patted her back. “See, here” he handed her a navy blue folded wallet, full of blank pieces of paper. “Your driving licence is here, the passport I actually left in the car, but this should be enough to confirm it’s her?”

Rose picked one of the blank pieces and handed it to the desk officer, who stared at it for a moment and nodded with a smile.

“You can go now. But please stay in Bergen and contact us tomorrow, as the Embassy representative will be in at 10 AM.”

“Sure will” Jack made a salute-ish wave and deftly steered Rose out of the station. “Now, hurry, before she calls this in in the Embassy and finds out we’re both dead, ok?” he fell back to his normal, American accent. “Also, we need to get you into TARDIS and into Vortex, before something more goes wrong” he added in a nervous manner.

“More than what?”

“Than you jumping through not asleep and Doctor being out for the last three days?”

“Bugger.”

“Yep.”

The TARDIS looked almost the same. The console was slightly rearranged from what she remembered, but the most important part, the comforting hum of the living engine, was the same.

“Finally!” Jack tore off his coat and uniform jacket, throwing them into the coat rack. “Bloody warm in this stuff. Come on, he’s in the medbay.”

Doctor looked sick. Almost as sick as freshly regenerated, with the same pallor and slight thinness to his cheeks.

“What happened to him?”

“He was like this when I found him. Fell asleep on the chair, and I couldn’t wake him. Sometimes he opens his eyes, but like he doesn’t see me. His hands move, too. But not much. I put him on an IV for fluids and sugars, so he’s stable, but I’m not betting this will work in a long run. So. What do you think?” he looked at her hopefully.

Her heart sank.

Oh, my. He’s counting on me. He…

She took the limp hand in her own and squeezed.

Even after an hour of her sitting there Doctor didn’t seem any better, but fortunately, he didn’t seem any worse either. Jack was fretting anyway, and Rose couldn’t look at him tinkering with the console – it didn’t calm his nerves and it was grating on hers.

“Can you put us in the Vortex, Jack? Without dancing around this for the next hour?”

He grinned crookedly.

“That’s one of the things he managed to teach me. Into the Vortex, out of the Vortex, zero in on Earth, track your lifesigns. Also, she’s been really nice to me lately, so she seems to be helping. Most of the time, mind you, not always.”

TARDIS made a noise and something displayed on one of the screens.

“Very funny. You know I can’t read the bloody things. English, or help us to wake him.”

“Pull the blue lever” Rose said absentmindedly. “To the second notch.”

He gazed at her for a moment in surprise, then pulled said lever down to the appointed place.

TARDIS hummed a bit more loudly and then gave a slight shudder.

Rose’s ears popped painfully and suddenly she heard the additional voice in the background.

‘-very nice, finally, the Earth field is way too strong for me to talk properly, now, dear, you go back to medbay and I’ll guide you through it all. don’t just stand around, looking pretty, go there and get him out of it. you knocked him out, you bring him back-‘

“What the hell…” Rose turned in a circle, staring wildly at the walls.

‘-love, if you could just go and help him, all of us could land on some nice, well-energized beach and have a bit of a rest, right? so pick up your pretty tush and go there, I’ll tell you everything-‘

“Jack?”

He blinked, hands still on the controls.

“Yes?”

“Are you playing some joke on me?”

His attention back to her, he shook his head.

“Nothing at the moment, why?”

“I hear a voice.”

He blinked quickly.

“One?”

“Yes. Female. Also, she sounds like a cross between my Mum and Sarah Jane and she’s calling me ‘love’, and that feels a tiny bit personal. Who the hell is on board with us?”

Jack’s left eyebrow rose by itself.

“A voice that’s a cross between your Mum and miss Smith? You sure you’re not sleep deprived?”

“Jack, I’ve been mostly sleeping for the last month or so. No. There is someone speaking and I…”

‘-really, darling. the poor boy doesn’t hear me now – he has to be asleep for me to get through to him. could you please just go to the medbay and follow the instructions?-‘

“You don’t hear her?”

“No…” he trailed off. “Ah. Lady” he made a face at the console. “Can’t it wait?”

“Jack…”

“It’s the TARDIS. At least, I’m guessing it’s her. Nobody else on board but us three. What is she saying?”

“She’s ordering me about.”

‘-I’m not!-‘

“And she’s arguing. Mostly she wants me to go to medbay, but as I have no idea what to do to help him…”

‘-I’ll tell you everything, just get there. you need to be in physical contact with him. the more the better-‘

“Really.”

‘-darling, I’m assuring you, this is the fastest way. unless you want to starve him into another regeneration?-‘

“So, what am I supposed to do?” Rose crossed her arms in front of her chest. “I can’t wake him up just like this. I held his hand for like an hour and it didn’t change anything.”

‘-we’re in the Vortex now. also, you had time to get in sync with the rest of the energy here, so, point one, you’re no longer dying, no thanks necessary, I stabilised the overflow of the regeneration energy for you and, point two, it will help you to reach him now-‘

“No longer… Energy… What do you mean I knocked him out?” Rose started back towards the medbay. “I didn’t do anything, wasn’t even in the… here!”

‘-your getting through in Norway sent back a rather strong impulse that affected him. now that I’m looking back, I see that every time you crossed over, it was when he was asleep or at least very distracted. the wards set on the universes did not work as effectively then. and now you’ve just snuck through and he got hit with a backlash-‘

“Oh, come on! You’re saying that my getting through with the tank hurt him?”

Jack cringed at the pain in Rose’s voice.

‘-you’re still getting a chance to undo it, though-‘ the TARDIS assured her cheerfully.

“Really. I wonder what I can do now.”

‘-reach for him and bring him back-‘

In medbay the lights were down and the monitoring was reduced to only tiny pings and beeps in the background. He still looked the same. A tiny shadow of a five o’clock beard showed – she had never noticed it before – and he was as still as a wax figure.

“Do you think we can move him?”

‘-I suppose so. where to?-‘

Rose pondered the question.

“The TV room. The couch there is a pull out one and there should be enough space for us to fit there. This chair is atrocious, I lose the feeling in my butt after ten minutes sitting on it.”

Jack wheeled the medbay bed, Rose trailing behind with the IV stand.

“He should get that one that is attached to the bed. Saw it on medical shows. You don’t need the second person then. Good in corridors.”

The TV room was dark and sounded big and hollow. They extended the couch forward and deposited him on the left side, to make it easier to manage the IV. She pulled a blanket over him and sat on the edge.

“Now what?”

‘-take his hand and reach inside him. like this-‘

Rose’s brain suddenly itched and the feeling of reaching became obvious to her.

‘-you’ll have to reach far – he was hurt and I’m afraid he might have gone too far. I can’t reach him myself, but I can help you get there -‘

“And then what?”

‘-you take him home. you have to do it before he’s too tired to actually get back here safely-‘

Rose focused. She recalled the way TARDIS reached into her and sent a reaching inside him.

The moment she closed her eyes, she was lost.

The vortex was spinning around her, sending all kinds of sounds and images her way. She could feel him far, far ahead of her. He felt so small and lost and she reachedeven stronger. She didn’t have the feeling of her physical body being there with her, but she saw her surroundings getting gradually brightereven though that wasn’t the exact description, as there was no dark or light, just the chaos of void particles and mixed signals from all over the time-space continuum.

She could feel her way downand upthe whole thing. Upwas where the TARDIS was, upwas for safety, and reality and Jack. Downwas for more and more entropy and now she knew what the TARDIS meant – if the Doctor went downfar enough, they’d never get him back again.

She reached, moving lower, but still trying to keep high enough for a safe route back to herself. Still, he slipped a but further down, away from her, as if not hearing her scream – she noticed she was crying out, new wordless shout with every reaching– and she stretched, and stretched and for a moment, a tiny moment she had him. Almost had him.

And he was just at the end of her mental fingertips, she felt him, saw him, knew him to be there, the face screwed up in fear and pain, whole body tense, but unable to stop his gradual descent.

She let go of herself and reached for him.

And he saw/felt/knew her, and turned up, swimming against the current/gravity of the place, his eyes/mind intent on her and reaching out towards her.

She threw a hand down towards him, stretching until he caught it and pulled in and up. Towing him, she started back upwards, towards themselves and reality, but froze in place, noticing she couldn’t move. Or rather, she wasn’t sure anymore which way is actually up.

He held on to her and she reached, but not up. She reached towards Jack. And, in a complicated maneuver that she could never explain to them later, she pulled herself to Jack, and not Jack to them. And Jack was there, already reaching for her and she safely fell back on the pillow, Doctor’s head nested in her neck, both of them breathing deeply, gulping the air.

He made a small noise and curled himself into her and she hugged his wiry frame.

Jack moved away from where he was sitting behind her.

She looked at him over her shoulder and touched his sleeve.

“Stay.”

Written by Srebrna

2016/06/28 at 22:30

But if you can still dream – 25

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Chapter 12: If a man could pass through Paradise

If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awake – Aye, what then?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Doctor: Sleep paralysis

Jack was inconsolable.

Jack was tearing about the TARDIS, furious at himself, the Doctor, TARDIS and the universe.

Jack was half-dead, judging by how he was constantly walking into walls, furniture and pillars. And tripping over his own feet.

Doctor sat in his chair, staring at the readouts in front of him, somewhat unable to even pick himself up and react to Jack’s plainly destructive actions.

“Doctor” the Captain’s voice rasped with effort.

“Yes.”

“I think there may be something wrong with this.”

Jack handed him a perfect, sky-blue glass marble and promptly fell on his face, just in front of the console.

Doctor regarded the tiny sphere for a moment, but finally pocketed it and shrugged. Then he crouched next to Jack’s snoring form and pushed his hands under his friend’s side, slowly turning Jack over. Then he hooked his arms into Jack’s and dragged him down the steps – feet bumping loudly on every step – and to Jack’s room. He managed to get the prone body on the bed, eased his boots off and left, turning towards the medbay.

He really had no plan this time. They had her, she was there, and then, suddenly, she was gone. Again. He rested his forehead against the cold door of medbay. He had to think, but ideas in his head were jumping around like frightened rabbits. There was nothing concrete, nothing coming.

Argh.

He lowered himself slowly into the chair by the bed. Spreading his fingers wide, he touched the bed’s surface, hunting for the body heat long gone from the plastic coating. She had been there. They had a proof. TARDIS managed to make a quick scan and was now processing the data collected.

They already knew the basics.

Rose was mutating towards something far enough from basic human that her body was not coping with it at all. The drugs that the other side dosed her with had slowed the process down slightly, giving her more time, but at the same time altering her body chemistry so much that the changes might have gone wrong. They would have been able to guess how wrong, had they had any idea what the final form was supposed to be.

Still, it seemed Rose would be better off on TARDIS then in Torchwood, seeing as Torchwood probably had no idea what was going on and how to help her. They had to get her back and preferably fast.

He laid his cheek on the smooth plastic and looked at the room from that angle. He really had no hope, he could see no way to break through. Each time it was her coming to them, not the other way round. And it was obviously something so outside TARDIS’ knowledge that the ship had no suggestions (or even helpful hints) for their next steps.

One of the printers by the far wall started spitting out a long ribbon of some kind of graph. He looked as it gathered on the top of the low table next to it, but had no strength to move – in fact, he could not even lift a finger. He could only blink slowly as the printout ended with a cutting noise and the folds of paper rested quietly on the flat surface. Another machine dinged quietly and something started revolving on the screen, but he could not lift his head, feeling more and more stuck in the position he was sitting there, leaning over the bed.

He blinked, even slower this time.

Machines around were coming to life and he started having problems breathing, feeling as if something was pressing on his back, blocking him from inhaling, and he felt the dizziness coming – which he normally never experienced, due to the respiratory bypass system – and in the corner of his eye he saw another machine opening some images on a big screen, images of Rose looking sullenly at the camera, of Rose lying prone on the bed, of Rose on an operating table, her insides being poked by surgeons, of Rose’s photo with a big stamp “ALIEN, POST MORTEM ANALYSIS” over it…

He squeezed his eyes shut and tried breathing slowly, if shallowly, but the feeling of intense pressure was still there, squeezing air out of his lungs and pushing him into the bed. He heard the blood pounding in his ears and his double-hearted pulse pick up in tempo.

Then he felt himself slip down and he was floating, loose in the Vortex, the waves of space-time-reality contracting and stretching around him, his mouth opened in silent scream.

Written by Srebrna

2016/06/28 at 22:29

But if you can still dream – 24

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Chapter 12: If a man could pass through Paradise

If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awake – Aye, what then?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Rose: Sensory deprivation

They rounded the corner at the top of their middleaged speed and barely avoided crashing into some of the staff, milling in front of Rose’s room. There seemed to be a large volume of equipment crashed into the wall oposite her door, and a trail of plastic debris marked the corridor.

“What happened?” Pete managed to bellow over the noise. “Where is my daughter?!”

“Sir, please calm down. I’ll be with you in a moment” a senior nurse barred them from entering. “Doctor Anderson is trying to ascertain what is the current state of Miss Tyler.”

“Where is doctor Jones? She was assigned to our…” Jackie trailed off as the nurse shot a look further into the corridor. Martha Jones was sitting there with a large dressing covering the side of her face and her hand secured with a cast.

Jackie was at her side in a blink.

“Martha? Doctor Jones, what happened?”

The medic blinked slowly and looked at her, first with her left eye, then with her right one.

“Mrs Tyler” she slurred. “Very sorry. Couldn’t stop it. I was hit by the… Leash. No. Backlash. Huge boooom. I hit the cabby. No, the cabinet. And I think I broke something” she raised her hand, trying to touch the dressing. “I think I broke my hand.”

“Pete, check on Rose and get someone here to have doctor Jones checked out. She should not be here in this state!”

“She what?”

“She disappeared from her bed and then showed up half a corridor away, in the doctors’ lounge. There was a huge gust of air and things got thrown about a bit… And doctor Jones, too.”

Rose was sitting on her bed, legs crossed, blanket over her shoulders, and she was inhaling a pudding.

“Dad” she forced out at the sight of Pete “tell them to listen to me. We don’t have a minute to spare.”

After he threw out most of the staff – leaving only doctor Andrews – a Torchwood employee – and a nurse – the same – and managed to organise someone to take care of Martha, he could finally look at Rose. The sight wasn’t pretty, just like he was afraid it would be.

“I need…” she said between spoonfulls “…a set of soft clothes. Everything chafes. And I need sugar, pudding is ok, but I’d rather have chocolate. And a box of Horlicks, or whatever is available. And a lot of cookies. My body is burning through sugar and fat so quick I can’t replenish it normally. Shortbread, or cookie chips. And milk. I’m serious. I need… Ah. Oxygen mask. High saturation” she coughed and spat out some blood. “Drats. Probably something breaking down.”

“Rose!” Jackie squealed, looking at her gray-skinned, shaky daughter. Gray-skinned and shaky, but definitely alive and awake, which was a lot of improvement over only the day before.

“Mum” she smiled shortly. “I know what is going on and I’m working on a solution” she swallowed and breathed shallowly for a moment, her face contorted with pain. “They will never work it out in time.”

Doctor Andrews chose that moment to approach Rose with the blood pressure cuff. Rose raised her arm obediently and smiled.

“It won’t give you anything more reasonable than the last time. It’s still going to be in the range ‘human’s can’t survive’.”

“Rose…” Jackie sat next to her and hugged her. “What are you talking about?”

Rose exhaled heavily.

“I’m almost sure I won’t survive the next one. Even now, my brain – part of it – knows where I am, and when, but my body is still feeling the effect of being thrown about the two universes like a pingpong ball. It’s trying to decide which timestream I’m in and it’s like a carsickness – the eyes see something, the body feels something else and the balance tells it a completely different story. My body tells me I’m in the vortex, my balance tells me I’m sitting down in a chair and my brain shows me I’m in a hospital. Unless they agree, I’ll be soon having hallucinations, possibly with aural effects and then one of the three will give up. I wouldn’t want for my brain to just shut down” she swallowed and slurped another mouthfull of pudding. “This gives them the energy to work the problem out before I collapse” she explained. “Now, I know what the problem is, I just need to decide which will be the least painful way of resolving it. My brain is, in fact, connected to the TARDIS itself. That’s why I was having hallucinations before. I’m stretched between the locations. The conscious part, the one I’m thinking with, like right now, is not affected. But my long-term memory is somehow hooked to the TARDIS and so it activated whenever I was asleep or unconscious, like a normal dream.”

The nurse finally arrived with a tray of food and Rose started stuffing her face with sweets as quickly as possible.

“Dad” she managed between bites. “I need you to find me a sensory deprivation tank. Also, I’ll need an IV with a feeding solution for full adult with deficiencies. Full daily dose, preferably every six hours” she threw her head back and sat like that, motionless and shivering, for a few seconds. “Sorry” she finally uttered. “Nervous system having a glitch. Not enough processing power. I need that tank to get to the other side. I can’t sustain the move if my body, brain and balance are not in accord as to what is happening to me. So I need to cut off all external input. I saw this in a movie – no, a show – a girl was skipping ‘verses when she was cut off from all contact, in a tank. I’m not sure I’ll be able to manage this if I stay connected.”

Jackie’s face was covered with tears flowing freerly down her cheeks.

“You have to go?”

Rose nodded shakily.

“My brain is connected to TARDIS and I can’t sever that link. And I can’t stay like this much longer. As the time passes, each jump will be more risky and painful. I need to finally get there, possibly today. My heart – it’s an effort to keep it calm – if I fall asleep once more, it may give in. And I’m not very happy with the state of my body in general. I bruise, I have fine motor skills like a toddler and I don’t think my liver is doing its job. I wouldn’t want to add jaundice to the whole set.”

“But, Rose…” Jackie’s lip trembled.

“Mum. Seriously. I can’t live like this. I don’t want to leave you, but you have Pete, and I must get myself in order. And I can’t wait around for my knights in their blue chariot arrive and save me, I have to do something about myself. Can’t just sit and look like a damsel in time-space distress” she smirked. “I have to rescue myself.”

Once the tank was found and obtained, Rose made another request, driving all of the attending staff into a foaming anger.

“Yes, Norway. I need to do it in Norway.”

Pete rolled his eyes and ordered the tank to be loaded into the dirigible.

Doctor Andrews run to the chief for orders to stop Rose from leaving the hospital.

Martha Jones was visited, hugged and thanked, to which she nodded amiably and fell back asleep.

Rose was twitchy. Jackie could barely stand looking at her, as random impulses made her face and hands move in unexpected ways. She also could not take her eyes off her daughter, so she wept quietly as they strapped down for the flight.

“It will be ok, mum” Rose said as she shook out her left hand. “It will pass soon. I’m keeping it mostly contained” she smiled briefly. “At least it’s only shakes, not falling into coma again.”

“How…” Pete couldn’t finish the sentence.

“When I slipped over to them, Jack caught me and took me to medbay. That meant passing me through diagnostic scanner, and it was just the right type of an energy jolt to push my brain into the right state. I can control my body, at least partially, and I managed to dampen the brain processing that was waking me up to that dangerous state. Ugh” she straightened her left leg and flexed it. “Worst case of cramps I’ve ever had. Now, my whole body was trying to compensate for the issue with the brain and it was going haywire. So, now that I know what is happening to it, I can manage it. Mostly.”

Pete slid into his seat next to Rose and checked her IV.

“You good with this amount?”

Rose nodded and flexed her right hand carefully, trying not to dislodge the IV.

“I hope it will last. I must say I’m not exactly sure I can manage everything that’s going on. I just…” she breathed deeply and squeezed her eyes shut. “I need to get there. The barrier is the thinnest there. Cardiff would be good, too, but the rift there could get me into the 1200’s or in some other random time, so I’d rather not.”

Jackie covered her knees with a thick blanket and patted her shoulder. She could find no words.

The tank was filled with warm salty water and Rose was shivering on the beach, stripped to her knickers and a bra. Her clothes were rolled in a waterproof foil and a tether to the package was affixed to her wrist with a soft loop of frotte.

“So, basically, I go in, I get out of contact, I get over there. Don’t open the tank for the next three hours. I should be ok for that long.”

“And what then?” Pete helped her up to the tank hatch.

“Open it and if I’m there, hook me up to the IV and cover warm. If I’m not…” she half-smiled tremoulously. “Then I hope I can find them there.”

The water was warm and smelled a bit funny, but she stuffed soft plugs into her nose and slowly relaxed into the supportive softness of the liquid. The hatch clanked shut. The light was gone and there was only water, all around her, warm and calm. She stretched and waited, counting slowly to ease her own breathing.

She felt the water cooling down slightly and managed to regret for a fleeting second that there was no way to heat it up when a wave of icy, salty water full of debris buffeted her from the right and send her sprawling over the gritty sand of an empty beach.

No Mum. No Pete. No dirigible and no tank. Also, nobody else for miles and miles.

And the universe was just nasty enough to leave her with her clothes but without the foil bag that had been keeping them dry.

Written by Srebrna

2016/06/05 at 00:47

But if you can still dream – 23

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Chapter 11: But only in their dreams…

But only in their dreams can men be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.

Tom Schulman, in Dead Poets Society, expressed by the character John Keating

Jack: Sleep deprivation

All the contours were sharp, but blurry at the same time. The colours of everything on TARDIS were slightly shifted and he couldn’t stop shivering.

The stupid circles Doctor was showing him told him nothing. Obviously, they should mean various things, and the simplest set was a kind of a primer, but his brain just didn’t work that way. He tried to draw them from memory and when he compared them later, his crooked ovals didn’t even come close to what he saw printed in the fat book.

Fortunately it seemed the Doctor had also read a few Earth books and so allowed him a moment of respite when he considered the latest flight of fancy.

Then, suddenly, they were mixing the cheese, jello, sugar and lemonjuice in a big bowl and throwing in frozen strawberries. He doubted the logic of this, but followed Doctor’s directions and then witnessed him stuffing his face with the result. Even though everything was already looking like an old movie done with a bad camera, including faint trailing lines left by objects moving, as if his eyes could not notice something was gone for a few seconds after it moved. That made the Doctor’s hand a blur, moving up and down with a spoon.

The spoon itself was becoming its own shiny blur.

Spoon. Spooooooon.

He felt that he could totally have an out of body experience anytime now, no cheesecake required.

Spoooooon.

Finally his friend was done and they moved to the TV room, as it had the best sofa. Then the Doctor made a valiant attempt at not-falling-asleep-but-almost.

Jack privately thought the strawberries must have interfered with the process, but his brain was still stuck in a slo-mo mode, so before he managed to voice his opinion, the Doctor managed to take a shot at meditating, gymnastics, breathing exercises, some other sit-and-murmur-quietly thing and finally simulating a dervish.

Nevertheless he still looked very awake.

As Jack watched him pant on the sofa, he tried putting his strawberries-related conclusions in words, but before he got to opening his mouth, the screen came alive and the Doctor went off.

‘Ah. That may be it. Thank you, lady.’

‘-No problem, Captain-‘

A girl, in her teens or so, was sitting on the sofa armrest.

Jack was actually surprised at the lack of surprise he felt.

‘And you are?’

She blinked and smiled, a bit too wide for a standard human being.

‘-I’m me-‘ she weaved her hand around. ‘-I’m here-‘

Jack blinked and shook his head slightly. She wasn’t blurring. She was actually the only thing in tha room that had proper colours and shape.

‘You don’t look like a spaceship.’

‘-You don’t look like a crook-‘

‘Point taken. But I’m reformed, you know.’

‘-I’m not-‘

She smirked.

‘-Now, he’s out, I hope the little hypnotisation trick worked correctly. If it did, she should be showing up antime. You will have to pay attention and take her to the medbay immediately. I don’t have the right sensors in this room, and I really need to diagnose what is going on with her. Leave him here, he will wake up in his own time, but get to the medbay before he does-‘

He nodded, a bit sideways.

‘-Make sure you don’t miss her-‘

‘Yeah.’

‘-And, Captain… Take a break after this. You need to sleep. You’re still able to damage yourself if you continue like this, even if you’re im-im-im-imm… Heck. If you’re stuck-‘ she finished unhappily. ‘-your brain can only take that much-‘

He sat there after she disappeared, considering the complicated situation of travelling in a spaceship with a speech impediment. He tried to keep himself upright, rigidly so, to make sure his required sleep didn’t come anytime too soon. Suddenly the warm weight next to him shifted and leaned towards him, her head on his shoulder, blonde hair tickling his nose.

Automatically he put his arm around her and pulled her closer, but her limp body simply slumped across his lap.

Then the jolt of adrenaline woke him up.

He was barelling down the corridor towards the medbay in no time at all. As he straightened her out on the cot, the instruments started coming to life and he saw with a relief the first of the diagnostic lights shining already on Rose.

He started opening the cupboards, looking for something to remove the residue of the tape from her skin and for any medicine he could possibly identify. Suddenly she made a small noise and immediately he was leaning over her, barely stopping himself from toppling over, as he looked at her eyes flutter open.

“Jack?” she whispered in a hoarse voice.

“Rosie” he sighed. “Oh, love, you have us such a scare…!”

“I don’t feel so well” she complained, a shiver going through her.

Another.

Then another.

Then her body spasmed on the little cot and suddenly she was gone.

He could only sit there and cry.

Written by Srebrna

2016/05/26 at 02:32