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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.

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Written by Srebrna

2016/06/05 at 00:47

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