I let my eyes fly open, having reached my limit. This was impossible. What was wrong with me? Something like dread had its grip around my throat, squeezing it tight and refusing to let go. I just wanted to sleep. Was that too much to ask?
I lay in bed, the sheets feeling tacky and cold. My body was shivering, my leg twitching nervously; it wasn’t even cold. It was quite humid, tonight, actually, and I was shivering, but it wasn’t cold. The human, body, sometimes, huh?
My nerves had gone haywire, zipping up and down my body at electrifying speed, making me wish that there was no such thing as a nervous system in the body, regardless of all the other wonders it could offer.
I sat up, pulling the bed-sheets tight around my shoulders, burying my face in my raised knees.
“Go asleep. Go asleep. Just frigging go asleep,” I mumbled, rocking back and forwards, feeling my eyes begin to water. This was ridiculous.
I was crying over not being able to sleep. But, if I thought about it, it had been years since this had last happened – and it was having an effect.
I just cried, letting the tears roll down the sheets. My mum and dad were away at some party, leaving their 15 year old daughter to fend for herself. I had been fine with that – but that had been at 7 in the evening. I hadn’t expected to be sitting up at 4 in the morning, still not able to drift off after trying to for over 5 hours.
I breathed in deep, raising my head for some air. My face felt tired and dry with tears; stiff and unable to smile. I was breathing through my mouth, only now aware that my nose was all stuffed up. I grappled at my bedside table for a tissue, and hastily blew my nose. I let the air flow back into my sinuses, still feeling extremely and unfairly miserable. I hated this.
I dropped the tissue to the left, not caring where it landed. I could find out in the morning – which seemed like a very long way away.
A very long way.
When you sleep, you just open your eyes and realize with a jolt of your stomach that it’s morning already. It happens in a flash, your conscious just putting the two times together,because that’s been the only time you’ve been aware of where you are. It was horrible to think about the fact that I might stay like this until the sun broke over the horizon. If that happened, I think I was in danger of passing out – which actually seemed inviting right about now.
I sniffed, pondering what to do. I could lie back down again. But that didn’t look or sound very pleasant. I wanted to sleep, but that wasn’t going to happen if I just kept trying. I read that in a book once – supermarket magazine or something -: the harder you try, the harder it will be to try and drift off.
And that was helping a lot, thanks, supermarket team. Your advice is invaluable.
I threw back the covers, and swung my legs over to touch the floor, letting my feet squirm on the floor as the shock of the cold, wooden floor shot through them and sent my nerves on a riot. I needed a drink of water, and if anything, it would help even out my emotions. I needed to preoccupy my mind.
I felt around underneath my bed for my slippers, and upon finding them, I fiddled around with them between my toes to get them the right way up, and the right one on each foot.
I grabbed my dressing gown from the end of the bed and shrugged it on, pulling it around me tightly; I was wearing a skimpy night dress for God’s sake, and I was freezing. Note to self – you live in the north. Warm weather – day or night – is a privilege experienced by very few who live here.
I wearily made my way down the stairs to the kitchen, the house silent and still, me the only living thing in it; I hoped. I wasn’t up for being freaked out by some huge garden spider that had decided today was the day it was going to try and find itself a lady friend in the house. I was just too worked up and worn out for that.
I flicked the lights, the spotlights blaring into life. The kitchen felt really empty and bare, despite the sink being full of dishes and my dad’s laptop left out on the table, waiting for him to come back.
I grabbed a small glass nearest the sink and filled it to the brim with clear, crisp and fresh water, and drank it down in one round, too thirsty to care if I choked myself. I slid it onto the worktop, empty, feeling out of breath. Shouldn’t have done that – my throat was stinging a little now.
I stood at the sink, listening to the sounds of the house. I could hear the creak of the boiler, and the fridge clanking every so often, and I could still hear my faint music from upstairs in my bedroom; without anyone else here, having it down at a volume of 3 was the equivalent of having it at 12 when the whole family where here.
My eyes felt heavy – that was good. It meant my body was finally giving in. I blinked hard, squeezing my eyes shut, trying to get rid of the feeling, because something wasn’t right.
There wasn’t any way I would be able to go asleep with that hanging over me.
Discarding the glass, I headed out of the kitchen and towards the stairs, but paused. I looked at the front door. The stairs were always the first thing you saw when you opened the front door, and the front door was always the first thing you saw when coming down. I turned on the spot and rested my hand on the handle, thinking. But I just shook my head like a dog shaking off water. I unlocked it and flung it open, stepping out. The night was pure and clear, every star clear and sparkling. The moon was a crescent, curved like a taught bow, and the sky itself was a mix of blues and blacks, like a Van Gogh canvas of wonder and beauty. I gazed up at the sky, and shivered, the breeze killing my bare legs.
I stepped back inside, locking the door once more.
And it was then that I realized the time.
I needed to go asleep. I had school in the morning.
I half ran up the stairs, taking two at a time, and darted into my room, shutting the door, to keep the foreboding shadows at bay. I slumped myself against the door, breathing deep. I took a look at my room. It was a large and long, with two windows spanning the left wall, but where covered over by plum curtains presently. My wardrobe sat at the end of the room, half open, and my room was cluttered with books, sketchbooks, pens and all other art equipment, with a board sitting against the wall, an unfinished poster attached. The room was filled with all sorts of things: a huge dragon cut-out that sparkled with silver glitter, wings spread wide; cornflowers and violets and roses pinned to a board with all my notes and reminders on it; a papier mâché blue tit bird –made in Art - sitting on the corner of the shelf, a bit further down the wall to the right of the bed. There were even hanging stars, suspended from the ceiling, made from silver and blue card and paper, glittering as they twirled above my head. I sighed. Sometimes I could go a bit overboard.
I slumped onto my bed, looking up at the ceiling – which was painted as a night sky - wondering what to do. I couldn’t just go asleep – it never worked like that. But what choice did I have? Time waits for no-one. That was the truth right there – and it certainly hadn’t been waiting for me tonight. Or this morning. Or whatever way you want to look at it.
I pulled the covers around me, still feeling cold. I was still wearing my dressing gown, but I didn’t care - I was too depressed to care.
I turned on my side, staring at the rest of the room, my eyes drifting from the wardrobe to the windows to the floor. My eyes fluttered closed, but I was still awake.
I lay in bed, thinking about trying not to think. Feeling annoyed, I turned over and grabbed my clock, squinting at the face. 4:45. I’d been lying here another 15 minutes.
Feeling the tears well up in my eyes, my stomach did another flip. This couldn’t be happening. It just couldn’t.
I sat up, burying my face in my hands. I let the tears fall and run and trail themselves down my cheeks, losing control. I cried until my eyes were sore. I cried until I had no tears left. I just sat there, wondering if I should rather die.
I heard footsteps. I didn’t look up, preferring my mum to find me in a state, just so I could get the satisfaction of her reaction, when she realized that she’d left me like this.
But something was wrong. I could hear a wheezing, groaning sound, echoing in and out of my hearing, close to me. And then it stopped, being replaced by a large thunk, as if something had landed. I looked up, still on my bed, and I nearly screamed.
Sitting in the corner of my room was a large, blue ‘public’ police box, taking up the whole corner, looking rather threatening and magical at the same time. It was a really bright blue – a blue I had never actually seen before. It had two windows at the front, a light on the top, which was flickering, and a piece of paper on the left door, sitting in the topmost panel of the doors - it looked like a description. It was still groaning a little, and before my eyes, the door was flung open and a man came tumbling out.
Literally. He came tumbling out.
Tripping over his heels, he grabbed the side of the Police Box and swung round to face the front.
“Come on, sexy!” He exclaimed, opening the door again. “Don’t give up on me now!” He disappeared inside the box again, before reappearing moments later with a long, chunky wire, pulling it out after him. He looked up at me, waving his hand at me.
“Don’t mind me. Just sorting out some things…in my ship…and...yes. I’ll get it in a minute,” He muttered, handing me the wire and jogging back into the box. I sat on my bed, legs splayed out in odd angles, holding a wire, and not really sure why I was holding it, or who exactly this man was. I stared at the box. It was still groaning. Was it sick or something?
I watched on, and then I saw him cautiously lean out the open door, looking at me with a slightly confused expression.
“Hello,” He said, sounding surprised and slightly curious, looking at me like he’d never seen a girl before.
“Um…hi,” I muttered.
“Eh, yes…I know how this looks,” He said quickly, jumping out of the box and putting up his hands.
“I’ve materialised in your room, and this is your bedroom…oh, that’s definitely very not good,” He said, glancing around. I coughed.
“Yeah, my bedroom,” I said, trying to supress a grin. He didn’t seem to be listening.
“This isn’t the place,” he said, running a nervous hand through his hair, which I felt like saying ‘yeah, obviously’ to, but I didn’t. He leant in through the door, shouting,
“Is this your idea of a joke? Because if it is, I am not standing for it! What? I’m the pilot? Why thank you, dear, I was aware of that!” He ran back into the box, before running back out and grabbing the wire from me, saying,
“Only be a minute,” He grinned, before disappearing into the box again, the wire trailing after him.
To my surprise, the door shut closed, and the groaning began again, before a draft was whipping my hair back. And, like that, the box disappeared. It was like it was never there.
I stared down at my hands, remembering how the wire had felt in my fingers - rusty, and cold, and that crazy man had just handed it to me, not even stopping to think about who I was.
I lay back down, feeling shaken. Was my imagination realistic or what?
Just as I was about to close my eyes, and try to go asleep again (which was looking unlikely now), I heard a faint wheezing sound, and I shot up, just as I saw the box fading into the room again, the light at the top fazing in and out. It landed, now solid, with a loud thunk once again, and I held my breath, waiting for the man to come tumbling out again. This time, though, he came walking out like a normal person. But he certainly didn’t seem normal.
He closed the door behind him, slapping his hands together. He looked at me, his hands now at his sides.
“See? I told you. 5 minutes,”
“You said a minute,”
“It’s all the same,”
“No it’s not,” I said confidently, but he just frowned.
“Of course it is. Why shouldn’t it be?”
“Not sure,” I murmured, still feeling a little shaken. He looked at the clock on my bedside table, before grinning.
“That’s new – I’m on time. I’m usually not – though I am sometimes. So don’t think that I’m not going to be on time next time. I’m the Doctor, by the way.”
“What are you talking about?” I said, frowning at him.
“I’m talking about time. Aren’t you paying attention?”
“I am, but it’s not making much sense,” The Doctor grinned.
“Time never does. Hard to get your head around, but you get used to it. Well, most people do,” He put on a serious face, “But you don’t look like most people, do you?” He took a step forward, but I backed up against my bed. He stopped, staring at me.
“Are you scared?”
“Of what?” The Doctor just creased his brow, surveying me like a museum exhibit.
“No…I just think you’re a bit weird. Or very weird,” I added as an afterthought.
“No, of not being able to sleep. Are you scared? You look scared,” I stared at him, now feeling frightened. How did he know that?
“I heard you crying,”
“In that box?”
“No, across time and space. The first thing anybody doesn’t want to hear – a child crying, because they can’t sleep,” He looked sorrowful, his green eyes sad. I stared at him, my mind whirring – who was this man?
He had a long and lanky frame, just over 6 foot. He was wearing a creamy white shirt, patterned with faint, cherry red stripes; slim, black trousers; red braces; dusty, Indiana-Jones-style lace up boots and a red bow tie. His hair was in a mad quiff, hanging over his face, the rest of his hair sticking out at odd angles. He also had a golden watch on his left hand, the face on the inside of his wrist. His face was long with high cheekbones, with a bit of a chin and a low brow. But his smile was something else. It was warm and comforting; a smile you could trust.
“I’m not a child,” I said defensively, and the Doctor just smiled.
“Course you are – we all are. No one ever grows up. Not really.” I let a small smile escape, before shaking my head and trying to make sense of what was going on.
“What are you doing here?” I whispered, looking him straight in the face. His eyes dropped down to the floor for a second, and then he looked at me, smiling sadly.
“I told you. I’m here because I heard you crying,”
“But how? I didn’t call for you,”
“I hear someone upset, and…I just can’t leave them. I heard you crying, the TARDIS brought me here, and here you are. A girl who’s worrying over not being able to sleep. Which, in all fairness, is a pretty good reason to be worried,”
“The TARDIS?” I asked disbelievingly.
“Yes, the TARDIS. Time and relative dimension in space.”
“You mean that blue box?”
“Yes, I do. The Blue Box. The TARDIS. My mobile phone,” He stepped to the side and allowed me to see, smiling proudly as he looked at it.
“Race car of time travel,” He said proudly. I jumped off my bed and walked over, smoothing my hand down it. I blinked, looking over my shoulder at him.
He frowned, as if offended.
“Well of course it’s wood! It’s a police box!”
“But how can it travel in time? And how can you park this thing somewhere without everybody taking a second glance?”
“Well, when it lands, it takes a 100-metre radius of its surroundings and determines what the best disguise would be and –“
“It always ends up a police box?” I guessed, a wry smile on my lips.
“Well,” He ran a hand through his hair, “Yes, but that’s not important!” Bending down, he looked up at me, his face making me feel worried– he looked concerned. On edge.
“What is important is that you trust me. And that you tell me why the TARDIS, of all things, picked up on you,”
“But I don’t know,” I said, shaking off his hands from my arms and slinking back over to my bed. I sat down, staring at the floor. I took a quick glance at the clock. It was 5:15. Maybe I would have to take a day off school.
The Doctor leant against the TARDIS doors, one hand in his pocket, the other with his elbow on the door, up above his head.
“Did something happen?” He asked quietly, his mouth a straight line.
“…My granny died a few weeks back.” I choked, and he just stared on. Unfazed. Not even saying sorry. But I somehow didn’t want him to.
“And what happened?”
“I don’t know!” I cried, and he frowned, looking sorry.
“Has it ever happened before?”
“You not being able to sleep?”
“When I was seven. When we moved here. It was-“
“Say that again,” The Doctor came over, bending down and taking my hands in his own.
“Say what?” I asked, exasperated.
“What you just said. Seconds ago. Repeat what you said,”
“When I was seven,”
“No, the other bit,” he asked quickly, gripping my hands in anticipation.
“…When we moved here,” I said tentatively, and the Doctor jumped up, looking around the room.
“Thought so,” He said quietly, turning to look at my door. He was fidgeting, his fingers nervously tapping themselves against his palm. He had a bow-legged gait, and standing still, he looked like he had just stepped off a horse.
“Sorry, but what did you think you knew?” I asked, wondering for a moment if that was proper grammar. The Doctor looked over his shoulder at me.
“You can’t sleep, box falls into your room, man falls out of box, man is mad. Sort of. And you’re not the tiniest bit scared. Or worried. What does that say?” I had noticed that he’d carefully dodged the question, but I answered anyway.
“That I’m not a wuss?” I tried, half-smiling. The Doctor grinned back.
“Yeah, maybe.” But he dropped the look.
“Or it must be a hell of a thing in your house, and you know it’s been here since you were seven,” He was frowning at me, scrutinizing me with a stony expression. My eyes widened.
“Never underestimate your instincts. A child’s instincts are probably the most alert. Everything is a possible enemy. Unfamiliar shadows in the room, strange noises…cracks in the walls…” He trailed off, his gaze dropping to the floor. He didn’t speak for a moment, before scratching his face with his hand, looking uncomfortable.
“Has anyone ever told you that you’re a bit strange?” I asked curiously, getting up off my bed. The Doctor looked up at me, his face passive.
“They never really stop,” He said, a slight smile appearing on the corner of his mouth. He put out a hand to me, which I took carefully, still wary of this weird man.
“Who are you?” I asked quietly, looking up at him from the corner of my eye, trying to hide my face with my hair, now feeling like I was 5 years old again.
“I’m an alien. I come from the planet Gallifrey. I’m a Time Lord. And I’m here to help. OK?” I nodded, staring.
“What age are you?” I asked, and he raised an eyebrow.
“Nine-hundred and something, unless I’m lying. I don’t like to keep track. What age are you? What are you even called?” He grinned, and I realized my mistake instantly.
“Blue, fifteen.” I replied, and he whistled.
“Fifteen. Big number that,” I frowned at him. He frowned back.
“What? It is. You can do a lot at fifteen. Go to school on a scooter. Climb a tree. Find a new friend. Eat fish fingers and custard. Mmm, lovely, processed food.” He said, sighing contently.
“You’re disgusting,” I said, scrunching up my nose at his odd food tastes.
“I know. It is nice though,” He added, but I just sniffed.
“Ready?” He asked, smiling slightly. I shook my head.
“Then let’s go,” and he flung open the door, me following him as he trailed me by the hand.
“Explain to me why you’re dragging me around my own house,” I asked, still trying to wriggle my hand free from the Doctor’s grip. His hand felt firm and safe – warm too - but I was pretty confident of my ability to walk around my own house.
“Oh, sorry,” He said hastily, letting go. We had wandered into the kitchen, and I cursed myself for having left it in such a state.
“You know, you’re making me wonder a lot about how you can be an alien, when you look human. How do you do that?”
“No, no no no no. You look Time Lord. We came first, actually, so you’re copying my style. Don’t do that,”
“Not the bow tie,” I muttered with a sad smile.
“Why not?” He said, straightening his bow tie. “Bow ties are cool,”
“They are not,” I said, half laughing. He quirked an eyebrow.
“Yeah, they are. As are fezzes. And Stetsons. I wear a fez. Fezzes are cool…I need to buy a fez, actually,” He said absently, and I giggled.
“You’re kind of funny,” I said, going to the fridge. He looked at me curiously, his brow furrowed deep.
“Someone I knew said that to me once,” He muttered quietly, making me look right at him. How could he do that? Just switch from one emotion to another so quickly? He was like…I don’t know. Indefinable. Too many people in one body – an old, old man in one young, elastic, energy filled body. I stared at him, waiting for him to say more, but he didn’t. He just looked up and smiled sadly, turning his back on me.
I bit my lip hard. I knew that look. It was the look I saw in the mirror every day – every day I thought of her.
“Who’d you lose?” I asked quietly, fixing my eyes to the fridge shelves as I waited for an answer - an outburst, maybe. I tried not to let myself smile – those weird moments when everything is wrong and you just smile. For no reason. When nothing’s funny and nothing is worth smiling about.
I glanced up at him, just long enough to see the sorrow and intense curiosity he looked at me with.
“How…how did you know?” He asked, his eyes welling up, lips parted as he paused for words.
“Because I know that face, that expression.” I looked straight at him. “That look that says everything. The emotion – the pain, the loss; remembering who they were and knowing you’ll never see them again. And I never want to feel that bad again. Not ever.” I could see the tears in his eyes now, one trailing down his cheek.
“Was she nice?” I said, smiling slightly. He laughed through silent tears.
“Yes,” He whispered, placing his hands over his eyes and pressing hard, trying to stop them flowing with the tears. I smiled again, closing the fridge, forgetting what I had opened it for, and turning to look at the counter instead. For once, I was able to look at him and see that he was as human as us.
“What was her name?” I asked the counter. Silence ensued, and I half-expected to hear his footsteps disappear upstairs. But I heard him shuffle his feet around right beside me.
“Amelia,” he said quietly. Very quietly. I smiled a little.
“Odd name, Amelia.”
“Amelia Pond. Amy.”
“Amy,” I said, trying it out on my tongue. She sounded like the kind of girl who would kick your arse if you tried to badmouth her.
“Very,” he laughed, a sad, strangled laugh; one that you had when you tried to hide just how upset you actually were. I’d heard that a lot from myself too.
We didn’t say anything else – I guessed that he felt that he’d rather not talk about her. I guessed.
“You remind me of her,” he said. I whipped my head around to look at him. He was smiling, but it looked strained. “She was feisty and ferocious …you’re like that,” He gestured at me.
“I am not. If I was feisty-“
“You would be standing talking to me.” He said. That, however, was not what I had been about to say.
“Why’s that?” I said as I grabbed something random from the cupboard – bread. Fine, let’s make some toast. I darted to the toaster, trying to avoid his gaze. Already, I was finding him a mysterious young man.
“Well, I’m a mad man who fell out of a box! How could you not be feisty? If you weren’t, you’d be running in the other direction. Or phoning the police, or-“
“On your police box?” He stared at me, confused. Then he laughed. Loudly, smiling like a child. I liked him that way. When he’d been sad, he’d looked incredibly old and…beaten, almost. Like he had just given up.
He wagged a finger at me. “That’s good,” he said approvingly, and I smirked at him, quirking an eyebrow. “One of my many talents,” I had already taken note of how much the conversation had changed already.
“And if you weren’t feisty, you wouldn’t be- wait, what are you doing?” He said, putting a hand on his hip. That looked odd, and OK on him. Oddly.
“I’m making toast. This is normal life on planet Earth.”
“Mmm,” I said, delving into the fridge. I needed milk to drink. The Doctor shifted on his feet, clearly uncomfortable. He threw a hand up in the air awkwardly.
“I want you to taste my delightful toast – I’m toast queen. Like, of all toast-makers.”
“That’s a good name.” He said, trying to smile.
I laughed like a hyena, “How many people have told you that you’re not cool?” The Doctor scratched his cheek in thought, looking up into space like it was an extremely hard question. Maybe it was – if you were aware that you weren’t cool at all. I liked un-cool people.
“Eh…maybe one or two?” He said it like a question, as if he was unsure.
“Liar,” I said, a smile on my lips. He smiled back briefly, then furrowed his brow. There was that again – from young and happy to old and serious.
“What about you? You lost someone, yes, but what about everyone else?” I didn’t look at him.
“Mum, Dad, friends…guy,” I stopped.
“Oh,” He said, saying it like he would say who. It made him seem like a child being told that their parents had a surprise for them.
“Yeah…guy. Just, you know, a guy.”
“He sounds interesting.”
“He’s generic,” I spluttered.
“Or very special,” I stared hard at him, and he just smiled, very slightly. Like this was funny. It made me want to tell him.
“I just like him, that’s all. Nothing special. He doesn’t even know I exist.”
“Oh, don’t say that. I’m sure he knows you exist. Actually” He smiled goofily, finger in the air, “I bet that he notices you every day,” I kind of smirked, disbelieving.
“I am probably the least noticed person on this Earth,”
“No,” he said, frowning. “No no no no no no no, never. You are always noticed, but maybe not always by the people we expect to be noticed by,” He smiled; he was smiling a lot at the moment. I realized too late that he was trying to cheer me up. The toast popped up. He jumped back in surprise, then tried to regain his composure, straightening his bow tie and smoothing his hair. I just shook my head in laughter – this man was funny.
“The toast surprises the Time Lord. Officially my catchphrase,” I said quietly, smiling sadly. The world outside was unbearably quiet as the Doctor and I stood here in my kitchen, making toast and talking about random things, me still wondering how on earth it had come to this. Only the whirring of the fridge and the creaking of this big house could be heard in the silence, and as he stood there, looking just odd, I listened even harder to the world outside: no barking dogs. No door slamming from across the road. No loud, drunken shouts from down the street, 20 something’s stumbling down it, laughing like maniacs.
It was as if, the minute he landed here, his strange, impossible, magical, BLUE box had washed away all the noise like a flood, leaving only the sparking electric and the ridiculously deep, star-scattered sky, the moon shining brightly.
It was as if he brought quiet and loneliness and sorrow with him wherever he went.
“Are you still sad?” he asked, eyebrows furrows as he watched me butter the toast with a certain, lost, day-dreamy quality.
“About what?” I said quietly, cutting the toast into four, small triangles, like you had when you were younger. The crackle of the crisp bread filled the silence; it was a very distinctive noise that just said ‘morning’ to me every time I heard it.
“About sleeping. About sleep,” he said, smirking in such a way that you couldn’t do anything but smirk back.
I placed that toast on the board, turning to the second slice, cutting it into four, neat triangles like before, wondering lazily if this was nothing but a complex, elaborately woven dream. It all seemed so surreal. I was making toast for an alien that looked like a twenty-seven year old man.
I then delicately placed those next four slices on the board, turning to the table. Placing it right in the middle, for my perfectionism was unwavering, I turned to the fridge again, desperately wanting something that would make this a bit more bearable. Though I wasn’t outwardly showing it, I was freaking out beyond any of the other times when I had freaked out. I hadn’t seen much – certainly not aliens tumbling out of blue police boxes – but it was becoming very…silly.
I wasn’t a fan of silly.
Even though he definitely seemed to be.
I scanned the shelves, trying to ignore the fact that the Doctor was peering over my shoulder with me. I took out what I liked to call a comfort drink, because this required it.
Good Lord, I was childish.
“Milkshake?” The Doctor said, looking a bit miffed. “Meh. Too sweet,” I snorted through my nose – maybe he wasn’t as childish as I had thought.
“Strawberry is better,” he added, twiddling his thumbs.
“You be quiet,” I said, pouring myself some into a rainbow striped glass. The Doctor glanced at the glass, as if to think he had seen it before, but he just shrugged.
“You have a snog box that you call sexy as if it was a woman – like your girlfriend,” I continued.
“It is not a snog box!” he said fervently, taking my offer to sit down in the seat opposite me. When he stretched out his long, lanky legs, the toes of his old fashioned shoes just touched the legs of my chair. I grabbed a triangle of toast to occupy myself, biting into it and chewing thoughtfully.
“It really is,” I countered, swallowing.
“Why does everyone say that? It is my TARDIS, who is not my girlfriend-“
“She so is,” I said, grinning.
“No she’s not! She is a wonderful, beautiful thing, constructed with great skill and care, and if you had any id-”
“Yeah, sure,” I cut through, smiling evilly.
“Oh, for the love of-” he sat back in his chair, huffing.
“You humans never cease to amaze me,” he muttered, looking at me carefully. Feeling suitably awkward and overly scrutinized, I took another piece of toast, running my finger along the straight slope of the triangle, before biting down, savouring the buttery taste. It surprised me that the Doctor hadn’t already tucked in like I would’ve expected him too.
“Aren’t you gonna eat? I made enough. You’re allowed some – it’s not like I’m gonna bite you if you decide you’re hungry!” I laughed, gesturing to the small breadboard –which was in the shape of an apple - still covered in six pieces of golden toast.
“Don’t like toast,”
I looked up at him as I brushed crumbs off my nightie.
“What about apples?”
“Bleh,” he stuck out his tongue.
“Bread and butter, surely?”
“Threw it out the door,” he said casually, curling his lip up at the mere memory.
“Ha,” he laughed, a smile breaking on his face.
“How do people deal with you?! You’re more picky than I am,” I said, astounded.
“I have no idea,” he said honestly, and then there was silence.
The Doctor sat watching me, a slight frown on his face as he watched me sipping my milkshake, the thick and creamy drink soothing my raw throat, making me realize that it had been the treat I hadn’t been aware I’d been craving.
“Why would your parents leave you?” he suddenly asked, clasping his hands on his stomach as he leant back.
I sat back in my chair, the toast now a distant memory. I brought my knees up, pulling my nightie down over my legs, wrapping my arms around them.
“Why do you travel in blue police box? Same answer: because you just do or you just can. I can look after myself,” I replied quietly, but the Doctor just looked on. He just sat there, his brow creasing a little as I said it.
He said nothing.
I wondered if he did that a lot. If he just sat there and looked at you, like he had suddenly forgotten how to speak. I had seen his bubbly, silly, inner child, but now I was seeing the old, calm and thoughtful Doctor – the one who could just sit and sift through his thoughts at a leisurely pace.
I was also beginning to realize why I didn’t feel afraid by the fact that it was now 5:45.
He made me feel safe.
He made me feel like I was OK now, because he was here, and the demons that haunted my sleep were chased away by his presence. He was the bringer of hope and care, and I wanted desperately to know what made him so kind.
To my amazement, the Doctor reached forward and grabbed a triangle of the cooling toast, biting into it thoughtfully.
“Thought you didn’t like toast?” I asked and he just shrugged. He brushed off his hands, swallowing. I got the sudden urge to do something, so jumped up and poured him a glass of blackcurrant juice, unsure why I was choosing this particular drink for him. In all honestly, it looked like he never drank or ate anything.
I set it down in front of him.
“Drink it,” I said. He just looked up at me, staring hard, but he did as he was told.
He put it to his mouth and took a gulp, but as soon as he closed his mouth, he opened his mouth and let it fall back in again, tongue sticking out like he had tasted the most horrible thing ever.
“What d’you do that for?!” I asked snatching the glass away.
“That’s disgusting. What is that?” he asked, pointing at the glass, face contorted as if he’d just eaten a lemon.
“It’s blackcurrant juice,” I huffed, staring into the glass with my nose scrunched up. “D’you eat or drink anything?”
“Yes, of course I do! But not that,” he said, pointing at the juice again. Good thing I hadn’t poured that much.
“Idiot,” I muttered, storing the drink away in the fridge for tomorrow.
Feeling lost, I pulled my chair around and sat down to his right, crossing my legs. The Doctor looked at me, keenly unaware of how fascinated I was by him. He said he was a Time Lord, from another planet. What was a Time Lord?
“Who are you?” I asked, and he sighed heavily, as if he’d been waiting all this time for that question.
“You have no idea how many times I’ve been asked that question,” he murmured, but I looked on.
“Doesn’t matter. I want to know,” I said, and he looked right at me, green eyes seemingly sad and full of pain.
“I am…so many people, I lose track. I keep changing,”
“Everybody changes,” I said, but he shook his head once.
“No, I’m different every time. New face, new body. Every single cell is reconstructed, and I’m a new man,” he sighed again, and I could now fully see just how weathered this once young man was.
“Every cell?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I’ve fallen out of a blue box that materialized in your room, and-” he stopped, suddenly alive.
“Blue box,” he said, glancing at me.
“Uh, what?” I asked.
The Doctor jumped up out of his seat, now so much taller than me, and out of nowhere, began running out of the kitchen, shouting,
“The engines are still phasing! The TARDIS is gonna blow!” his voice becoming distant as he thundered up the stairs, footsteps echoing through the house.
“What?!” I yelled, but he didn’t reply. I turned in my chair to face the door, suddenly feeling very alone.
“Doctor?!” I shouted, but he still didn’t reply.
“Doctor, what’s wrong?”
Where was he?
Getting out of my chair, I took one fleeting look at the board of toast and the last of the vanilla milkshake on the table, like someone had left out meal for Father Christmas. Then I walked out.
I came to stand in the hallway, the front door to my right. I jogged to stand at the bottom of the stairs, the front door behind me.
“Doctor, where are you?” There was still no reply.
I took a few steps up, and when I still heard nothing, I began up the stairs, my hand trailing up the worn, smooth, wooden rail.
When I reached my room, the door was ajar.
Stepping in, I saw the TARDIS still there, the doors of the bright blue police box flung open.
“Doctor?” I asked the air, rubbing my left arm with my right. Why was it so cold all of a sudden?
His head popped out from the box, looking down the length of my bedroom, but realizing that I was standing to his right, turned his head to me, fringe flopping over his forehead.
“Blue! What is it?”
“I’m just…uh, well…”
“Is something wrong?”
“What? No! I was just wondering where you were,”
“Oh, OK. Well,” he stepped out of the TARDIS, a wire looped behind his neck. “The TARDIS needs what I like to call fine tuning, so I have to go,” he said, pursing his lips.
“Oh, right,” I said quickly, a tug at my heart making me bite my lip. What about my insomnia? What about that thing he’d said was in my house?
“But I’ll be coming back!” The Doctor added, leaning against the TARDIS. I jumped.
“Oh, right,” I said brightly, faking a smile. I took a quick glance behind me, looking at the long, dark hall I’d come up. It made me shiver a little.
When I turned back, the Doctor was looking down the hallway too, frowning slightly.
“Hmm, what? Oh, right, yes, I will be back, so need to worry. Only five minutes,” he smiled.
“One minute,” I corrected, and he laughed.
“Quite,” he stepped back inside the TARDIS, sticking his hand out the door for a wave before he shut it. I laughed.
The TARDIS stood there for a second or two, and then the wheezing, groaning sound began, a waft of air being thrown across the room as it began to fade in and out of the room.
My hair whipped back, a hand going up to brush it behind my ear as I watched the Doctor and his TARDIS disappear. Soon, he was gone.
The room seemed so big now without the box sitting there, beside my wardrobe, taking up the free space that had been by my door.
I stood for a moment, wondering why he had left so suddenly. He said he would come back.
Somehow, I doubted he would.
I went to sit on my bed, but soon remembered the toast and milkshake sitting downstairs in the kitchen. Smiling, I turned to the door, making my way back down to the
This house felt so empty now, even though I had been completely alone before. The Doctor had just come along and filled up the house with another voice, giving me another person to talk to. Someone who effortlessly made himself at home. Someone who effortlessly made you feel safe.
As I walked down the stairs, creaking underneath my feet, I was feeling particularly on edge. What the Doctor had said – that something was here – was unnerving. Really, he should have known better than to put thoughts in my head. Stuff roaming around my house wasn’t the most inviting thought when I was wandering around a dark, abandoned house, with no one but myself here.
Finally reaching the kitchen, I smiled slightly when I saw the toast and remaining milkshake. I thought of the Doctor’s face – turning his nose up at my drink choices. I laughed to myself, the sound echoing through the room. I sighed, sitting myself down at the table and absently picking up a bit of toast, biting into it, with no real intention. It was cold. I scrunched up my nose, swallowing the piece in my mouth, setting it back down on the board. I took a sip of milkshake instead, staring at the toast. How long had it been since he’d left? Two minutes? Three? I had no idea, but already, it seemed like the dark had become more imposing the moment the man in the red bow-tie had left.
“You shouldn’t be up,” a voice said.
“Doctor!” I cried, looking up, but he wasn’t standing there, a goofy smile on his face as he leant in the doorway. It was as if the dark was seeping through the doorway.
“Doctor, are you there?” There was no answer.
I raised an eyebrow, turning back to the milkshake.
“You shouldn’t trust him,” the voice said again, and I froze, the glass still at my lips. I took a tentative sip.
Feeling defiant, I answered back.
“Neither should you,”
“I don’t have too. I’m not real,”
I jumped out of my seat, my hands clammy. I was never easily scared – no matter how many sick, ice-cold things I was told of in school, people watching horror movies that seemed like torture weapons more than anything else.
“Who?” I said, the word slipping out of my mouth before I could think about it. The Doctor’s face slipped back into my mind’s eye, and I choked. Where was he?
“Why should you ask?”
“Who?” I asked again, and I was having the same experience all over again – hopeless emotion. I was scared out of my wits.
“It shouldn’t matter. I’m right behind you,”
I drew in breath, lip quivering.
“Doctor, please,” I whispered, shoving my hands deep into my dressing gown pockets, to try and disguise my shaking hands. Was this the thing that the Doctor had warned me of?
“He won’t come. He’s left you,” it sang, the room becoming colder and colder as I stood stock still, staring at the doorway, the dark hall seeming so murderous and uncertain. Yet I wanted to run to my room, and scream for the Doctor to come back. But he wouldn’t hear me. How could he…?
What did it look like? I felt my breath hitch.
“What are you doing in my house?” I croaked, fisting my hands in my pockets.
It didn’t answer. I was calling this…thing It. This was It.
There was no gender in the voice. I was assuming it was vaguely male, since it seemed to fit this situation better.
What was striking me the most was the fact that I had now had two strange people in this house, and I sincerely preferred the Doctor.
I had trusted him, because the minute he’d come tumbling out of that box, you just somehow knew that he was here to help, however sure you were that you had never asked him to come. You’d never seen this man before in your life.
And yet, I was wishing for him so much now that it hurt.
“What do you want with me?” I asked hesitantly, my voice a quivering wreck. All I could think about was It standing behind me, just standing there waiting for me to make a move. I wanted to see what I was dealing with.
I began to turn my head slightly to the left, hoping to be subtle.
“Don’t move,” It said quietly, a cold shudder zipping down my back at the mere sound of It’s voice.
“I’m right behind you.”
I let out a whimper. This just wasn’t happening. Maybe this was the dream? The Doctor being here hadn’t been a dream – I could picture him so clearly.
“What…are you?” I whispered, taking a slow step towards the door. If it came to it, then I would make my way upstairs one step at a time.
Painstaking and frightening as it seemed.
It seemed to take a breath, as if to start a speech. It sounded ragged and ghostly. God, help.
“The thing that haunts you, little girl. The thing you…fear,” It sang the words, making me shiver involuntarily. No no no no no no no.
I squeezed my eyes shut for a moment, trying to calm my breathing and my heart and my mind all at the same time.
I repeated my mantra over and over and over in my head.
Doctor, please save me.
Where was he? Five minutes. Five minutes. Five minutes.
“The Doctor…will come-” I started and a deep breath was needed to settle my frayed nerves. Everything was wrong. So wrong. So very wrong.
“And he’ll save me. He’ll save me,” I whispered, and I just nodded to myself, trying to convince my mind that it was the truth. I was just waiting, standing on a wire suspended above the buildings of New York, waiting and waiting, and losing my balance. I didn’t have much time left.
“No, I don’t think he will,” It mused, voice breathy and incoherent.
I turned my head to the left again, trying to look from the corner of my eye.
“You shouldn’t look. Most die screaming when they see. They always die,”
I don’t know what happened – something snapped. Being scared seemed very stupid for just a moment.
“This is beginning to sound like something from a really bad horror movie,”
“The Doctor will not come, for he has left you. Left you alone. Alone.”
I let out a small cry.
“No, he hasn’t. He knows I can look after myself, but he also knows I’m waiting for him. He promised,”
“And how many promises do you think he makes and never keeps? Do you think that you’re somehow special? That he’ll come back simply because you asked him to?”
“I did not ask him to!”
“Oh, but you did, and he won’t come. The man that travels through space – how can he keep promises that he can’t possibly keep?”
I stayed silent. It was cutting deep here.
“Get. Out,” I whispered, but It just gave a choke of raspy laughter.
“I will not. I have watched you, and you are scared and you know it. The Doctor will not come,”
I could feel my eyes watering. I must not cry. The Doctor would come. He always came.
“I’m going to follow you always, Blue,” It whispered.
I couldn’t take it anymore.
I did the only thing I could.
I just jumped and darted to the door, stumbling and breathing hard as I realized the extent of what was going on.
I could die.
I ran up the first few steps, hands clammy and blood cold, stopping only long enough to see an overly tall, long figure, limbs like liquorice, step into the doorway, and I was running again, heart hammering in my chest so hard it felt like my chest could burst.
Tears were streaming down my face, falling to the ground like Hansel’s bread crumb trail, sliding down my face as I thundered up the stairs. It was coming. Oh God, someone help.
And if I wasn’t imagining anything else as I ran up those stairs, I could swear I felt another pair of eyes on me…
I reached my bedroom door, sighing heavily, slipping in and closing the door quietly, locking it hard. How far away was It? A flight or so behind? It had felt like forever before I had reached the room. My mind was whirring – would another room have been better? Was the bedroom too obvious? He had watched me for years – he knew this place, didn’t he? He knew and he would come, wouldn’t he?
I let out a sob, sinking to the floor in front of the space the TARDIS had once stood in.
My legs sat out on each side of me awkwardly, like a rag doll that had been thrown on the floor and left there.
“Doctor,” I choked, burying my face in my hands. From outside my room, I could hear footsteps ascending the last flight.
“Doctor, you promised. Five minutes. Please come. Please, Doctor, please. Be here. Please. Please…”
The footsteps stopped.
It was right on the other side of that door.
“Blue,” It sang, voice high and childlike.
The door shuddered.
“Doctor! Doctor! Help me! DOCTOR!” I cried, not knowing where to hide. I was right in front of the door. It was over. It was always over.
“You promised me! DOCTOR!” I screamed, but I knew he wasn’t coming. He’d given up on me. He’d lied. He’d left me.
The door shuddered again, and I knew the lock wasn’t going to hold for much longer.
The sound came.
The sound that brought hope.
The sound that brought a smile to your face.
The sound I’d been hopelessly waiting to hear.
With the man I’d been screaming for.
The wind swept up in the room, the door shuddering ceased momentarily. My hair blew back from my face and I was staring in awe and anger and shock and guilt and relief as the blue box landed with a thunk, right in front of me, the TARDIS nothing but a beacon of hope in this darkness.
I jumped to my feet, scrambling to the box, banging my fists against the wooden doors with all my might.
The shuddering of my bedroom door was becoming frequent. Maybe It knew I could slip through his fingers too easily.
“Doctor! Open up!” I screamed, tears still flowing freely.
I turned to look at my bedroom door – the shudders had stopped.
And the lock was turning.
“DOCTOR!” I yelled, slamming my hands on the doors, desperately looking at the keyhole. Why wouldn’t it OPEN?
“DOCTOR!” I screamed again, slamming my hands so hard that they stung.
The bedroom door was opening.
Oh, hell, no.
The TARDIS’ right door opened, two arms pulling me in swiftly, the swish of a tweed jacket and a flash of red bow tie clouding my vision. I was pushed behind him, and I could just catch the sound of the bedroom door creaking open.
The blue door shut swiftly behind me, clicking closed. I stood still, eyes wide and breathing fast, my heart still thumping madly. I then collapsed to the ground, exhausted and tear-stained. I watched the laced up shoes walk past me – not even giving me a glance - running up the metal slope, leading to what looked like a control panel. The place was lit up orange and yellow, massive in every direction, with stairs leading in all directions, sculpted and molded like a cocoon, giant holes and small hexagons cut out of the curved walls, like Swiss cheese. The floor by the controls was glass paneled, with a turquoise green light shining from beneath. There was a simple leather chair, sitting in the floor by a spring, to the left when you reached the centre of the TARDIS, making this place seem so comfortable and warming. I lifted my head to look around, centering on the Doctor sliding around on the glass floor as he pulled levers and pushed buttons, swinging round what looked like a 1930’s screen, hanging onto the rectangular bar that went around it with both hands. His mouth was parted as he read what the screen was saying. I breathed in, turning to look at the floor, still sitting there like a doll.
What had happened? Unable to take it, I felt a few tears slip down my face, splashing onto the sleek, matte metal floor. Everything seemed so fast and ridiculous and over the top. One minute I’d been relentlessly banging against the doors of the TARDIS, crying my eyes out, and now I was sitting sprawled here, watching as the Doctor slid around his spaceship, flicking switches as if I wasn’t there.
“I never said,” I heard him say, and I looked up, cheeks stiff and lip quivering. He was smiling, oblivious to the state I was in. Hadn’t he seen what I’d been running from?
“Nice dressing-gown,” he said, pointing at me briefly, a warm smile on his face, as he disappeared behind the control panel again, the clicking sounds resuming. Then there were different sounds, like ‘whooom’ and humming noises as the Doctor pulled a lever down.
I glanced down at the sleeves of said silky dressing gown. Midnight blue with big, white, five-pointed stars scattered over it.
Oh, he liked it did he? He cared about the flipping dressing gown?
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” I asked, voice quivering. The Doctor looked round the control panel at me, still wearing that stupid grin.
“No, just a compliment,” he ducked back, sliding to the right from my point of view, clearly still oblivious to me.
“So, what is it you wanted me for?” He asked absently, and I physically hissed at him. What did I want him for?
“WHAT ARE YOU FRICKING TALKIN’ ABOUT?” I screeched up to him like a banshee, and he froze, head bowed as he studied the controls. His head lifted to look at me, face frozen.
“Why did I want you?! Why did I want you?! I wanted you because there was a thing out there for my blood, chasing me through my own house, telling me he’s coming to get me, leaving me with no hope, with me left relying upon a stupid blue police box with a stupid, stupid, STUPID MADMAN INSIDE!” I yelled, tears streaming down my face.
“You think I’m having problems? You left me – five minutes you said, and if you had been a minute to late, I wouldn’t be SITTING HERE, looking at you, blatantly ignoring me! How DARE you assume that you can just SAVE me, and then expect me to be OK! I was being chased by something that was going to kill me. It said you weren’t coming, that you had abandoned me-” I took a shuddering breath – “and that I was going to die. I stood in that kitchen, listening to that thing stand and tell me those things – that I was alone. That I was going to be MURDURED, and that you-” I pointed a shaky finger at him, tears still leaking from my eyes, “would never come back. And I believed him. I believed him. Don’t you dare assume that you can just come here and pick me up like the rubbish left at the front of the house, thinking that I’m going to be OK! I am not OK, I will not be OK, and I will go back out there, so help me, if you do not come here, and explain to me WHERE you were when I NEEDED YOU!” I breathed out, no more tears left in me to cry. The Doctor just stood there, eyebrows creased, lips pursed as he fiddled with one of the switches, looking awkward and guilty and downright sad. Served him right.
“But didn’t you want to be saved?” he asked innocently, and I screamed.
“WILL YOU SHUT UP, YOU USELESS PIECE OF -” The TARDIS shrieked itself, as if to stop me from saying something I would regret.
“Shut up…” I whispered, my head falling into my hands as I breathed in and out deeply, trying to understand what was going on. I was (Your full name), I was fifteen, I was in my nightie, I was on a spaceship, and I had just yelled my head off at the man who had saved me.
I was basically doing crap.
To my surprise, I could hear footsteps making their way towards me, but I sat there, still breathing shakily.
“Come on,” The Doctor whispered into my hair, reaching out his arms to me, but I pushed him away.
“Go away. I don’t want you,”
I heard him sigh heavily, clearly feeling as guilty as I was, but he didn’t listen. Two arms lifted me up, bringing me into his chest as he carried me up to the control panel. I could sense his unease, but I ignored it. I still hadn’t forgiven him.
The Doctor sat me down on the leather chair closest to the controls, and I realized that there was another one a little to my left, but that wasn’t really important right now. I stared down at the glass floor, tracing the metal beams under the glass with my eyes, ignoring the Doctor as he crouched in front of me. My hands were on my lap, and he softly placed his hands on top of mine, giving them a gentle squeeze.
He looked up at me with my head bowed, trying to make eye contact.
I blinked, turning away, trying to ignore how warm his hands were.
“Blue, look at me. Please. I need you to understand. It’s never been more important,”
“You have nothing to say to me that will make up for what you did,” I hissed, frowning profusely.
The Doctor rested his forehead on my knees, breathing in deeply as he tried to string words together.
Lifting his head, he reached up a hand and turned my head to face him, but I struggled against him, focusing on the floor again.
“Blue, please. You must understand,”
I whipped my head to stare at him, wrestling my hands free of his.
“There’s nothing to understand. You left me, knowing It was in my house,”
“The thing in my house. I named it It. Since you weren’t there to tell me what It actually was.”
The Doctor pursed his lips, green eyes having lost a lot of their curious sparkle.
“I’m sorry,” he said, taking my hands again.
“No, you’re not.” I snapped, abruptly standing up and walking away. The Doctor stood back up, fisting and un-fisting his hands as he watched me go and sit off to the right, out of his view. As I disappeared, plonking down on the hard metal floor, I heard him slam something on the controls, yelling something incomprehensible. I pulled in my shoulders, hugging my knees. This was both our faults. Him, for leaving me, no matter how ‘finely tuned’ he thought the TARDIS had to be, and me, for shouting at him and acting over the top about it all. And also, it was kind of It’s fault too, because he (from now on, It was male - it was becoming too confusing to try and think otherwise) was what had caused me to be angry with the Doctor.
And I hated myself for it.
The Doctor had been nothing but good to me. He’d quashed my loneliness, and he’d made me feel safe.
Was this event really something to hate him for?
I shrugged to myself, listening instead to the sounds of the TARDIS. I could hear the Doctor muttering to himself as he continued working at the controls, the sound of his lace up shoes squeaking on the glass floor and the clicks of switches and buttons. It felt oddly calming.
I didn’t know how much time passed before I realized that I should probably say sorry to him. He probably hadn’t realized that the thing in my house – currently known as It until further notice – would suddenly decide that I had to be disposed of.
Sighing heavily, I got to my feet, trying to be quiet and discreet. I wasn’t the kind that bounded up and pretended that that sort of stuff had never happened.
I wasn’t like the Doctor.
But was he really the kind of man I thought he was?
Shuffling forward, I wrapped my dressing gown around me, crossing over the sides, folding my arms to hold it. I stared down at my pump like slippers, coloured in a soft silver, crescent moons on the toes. My nightgown was long, lacy and pure white, hanging just below my knees.
I was actually dressed to suit this man who lived among the stars.
I made my way up to the centre of the TARDIS, feeling so awkward I almost chickened out. I saw the Doctor behind the control panel, looking at something on the handle-bar screen. He peered at it and the flicked something below him. His quiff hung messily over his face, like he’d been deliberately pulling it down to hide his eyes. I sighed. The Doctor’s head snapped up, staring at me for a fraction of a second, before smiling at me; it was a forgiving smile. A smile that said he was sorry without needing to say anything.
“Ah, Blue,” he said sadly, letting his fringe flop back. It really was there to hide his face. The smile was just a façade – I could see just how deeply I had cut him.
“Doctor, I-” I stopped as he slid around to the left to look at something.
“Sorry, what?” he asked politely, looking up at me briefly.
He seemed kind of angry.
“Are you, um…?” How could I say what I needed to say? That I was sorry? That would never be enough – I’d have called him more than three bad words had the TARDIS not intervened. Now I was glad she had.
The Doctor looked up expectantly, eyes searching my face for any kind of sign that something was wrong.
There were about a million things wrong with me since I had been seven years old. And It was only adding to my problems.
“I…ugh, I don’t know,” I murmured, but the Doctor seemed unaware of my mutterings.
“Blue, I’m sorry,” the Doctor cut through, looking at me straight. I widened my eyes as he stepped forward.
“What? But…no, I’m supposed to be apologizing-”
“No, Blue, I should be,” the Doctor said plainly, placing his hands on my shoulders.
“I left you there and I shouldn’t have. I won’t do that – I’ll never leave you on your own, Blue, but I need you to trust me if we’re to sort this out. Promise me, OK? You have to trust me,”
“I…of course I trust you. Just don’t leave me on my own again,”
The Doctor brought me into a hug, running his hand up and down between my shoulder blades.
“I won’t, I promise.” He said into my hair. Stepping back, he kissed my forehead lightly before turning back to the controls.
“Right, we need to figure out why It is on your house. I mean, we could just go out and ask, but I’m not sure we’d have much time to explain and well…oh, you get the idea. So-” he held up a finger to emphasize the point, “we need to go back to when you were seven. What was the year?”
“Um, 2006,” I said quickly, and he nodded once.
“Well, (Your full name), let’s go catch a monster,” he grinned at me, before pulling down on a lever.
The TARDIS was thrown into chaos as it hurtled every which way, the orange and yellow light of the interior flashing before my eyes as we were thrown from left to right.
“Can you actually fly this thing?” I yelled, and the Doctor slid on the floor as he gripped onto the edge of the control panel.
“Well, yes, but River insists that I’m rubbish,”
“My wife who is also not my wife at the same time. It’s confusing – let’s not go there,”
“You’re completely mental!” I commented, and the Doctor grinned at me from over the console.
The TARDIS landed with a ‘duuooom’, the gut-wrenching journey finally ceasing.
“Is it always that bumpy?” I asked, gripping the handrail.
“Most of the time – well, half of the time,”
I gave him a look.
“OK, fine, all the time but that doesn’t matter!”
“I think it really sort of does,”
“Stop telling me how to fly my TARDIS! I get enough of that from River,”
“I bet you do, husband,” I smirked, and he just straightened his red bow tie in response.
He jumped down the slope to stand in front of the doors, looking excited beyond belief.
“Are you always this excited about this kind of stuff?”
“Always. Ready?” he answered.
I nodded and the Doctor grinned at me.
He opened the doors.
We poked our heads around the door, the Doctor leaning over my shoulder, lips parted, looking around curiously.
“Should’ve really sort of asked you this earlier, but…eh, did you actually see It?”
I looked above me at the Doctor, who was scratching the back of his head nervously.
“You’re only thinking about that now?” I hissed and the Doctor sort of shrugged in response.
“Well…yes, probably, but I don’t suppose it was the first thing that crossed my mind. Well, actually, yes, it was, but I didn’t want to ask you, because you were crying and oh,” the
Doctor stopped, staring ahead with a glassy look in his eyes.
“And what?” I asked, but he didn’t reply.
Looking right ahead, I saw what he was looking at.
It was me.
Looking at us.
Seven year old me.
“Yes, I know,”
“No, you don’t. You’re just rhyming off synonyms that mean the same thing as yes,”
“Of course. No, wait, stop being clever. I’m the clever one,” he said, pouting, before slipping past me to walk up to the younger me.
“Doctor, what are you doing?”
“I have to ask her what happened,”
“You know, you could just ask me. I remember-” I stopped midsentence. If that was really me, and this had really happened, how come I hadn’t recognized the Doctor when he’d landed in my room tonight? Well, the future?
The Doctor looked back at me, eyes wide.
“What did you say?” he asked quietly, his voice husky.
“Doctor, I don’t remember any of this. This never happened.”
The Doctor was back at my side in a nanosecond.
“That is very very very bad,”
“Too bad to say,” he said, and dragged me back into the TARDIS.
Slamming the door shut, he turned to me.
“You have to tell me what I’m dealing with here,”
“But I don’t know! You come to my house in the middle of the morning, because you heard me crying because I can’t sleep. Then you say that something has been in my house for nearly ten years without me knowing it. Next, you leave, and then the thing suddenly appears, dubbed It because I wasn’t polite enough to ask It’s name, and then you bring me back in time, only to find that none of this ever happened? How do you think I can tell you what you’re dealing with when I barely know myself?”
The Doctor frowned, cupping my face in his long-fingered hands.
“Something has been following you, Blue, and I don’t know what it is, but I am going to solve this. I promise you,”
“Well, good luck, because the sun will be rising soon back in my time,”
“Silly girl. I’ve got a time machine,” he smiled and I smiled back.
Then I froze.
“It was you,” I stepped back, and the Doctor frowned.
“You’re going back to before you left me! Just before I went to the kitchen, I felt that someone had been watching me. It was you,”
The Doctor frowned.
“Time travel is very complicated. I wouldn’t know to do that if you hadn’t told me there right now. I need to go where?”
“No, Doctor, you’re not listening. You were there! You’re already in the house back in my time! Technically, you never left.”
“No, I did leave,” he insisted.
“Ugh, would you listen! It – he was following me for something like ten years, right? All that time, and I never knew. How could I not know? It has a voice, and a body. He exists. He told me he would follow me. It was there when I lived in that house.”
“Blue, It is a creature that is feeding off you,”
“What are you talking about?” I asked impatiently.
“Blue, listen to me. I think I know what this is now. You don’t remember me when you were seven. Why is that? Why do you not remember me? Because It is in that house, feeding off your loneliness. He’s feeding off your feelings. He is there to make you feel like no one in the world is there. Every time you went to bed, you were always under the impression that there was no one in that house but you. It – really, he’s one of the Felonn – robbers of the emotions. They live in houses. Most people don’t know they’re there, but they feed off people’s emotions. All emotions. Go back to when you first moved into that house, Blue. You were always left there, by your parents, and you’ve had problems sleeping since. It has been watching you all those years, eating away at all the loneliness you felt. You thought no one was there for you. When I landed this morning, I really had picked up on you crying. That version of you out there isn’t you. It’s It. The Felonn, they…change depending on what you expect or what frightens you most, usually the most recent image stored in your sub conscious, and apply that to their outer image, but It, he…he’s watching us right now, inside the TARDIS. It’s just a cover. You’re expecting to see seven year old you, so you did. Blue, what did you see?”
“You still haven’t explained to me what’s going on,”
“Please, just help me out here. I need to know what you saw,”
“I…” I thought hard. What was the last thing I had seen today? The last thing that I’d seen?
…Crap. That wasn’t good.
“Doctor, it was…like a game. Some new craze or what. A horror video-game, I think? Something like that. Yeah. I…uh, someone showed me it, and it must’ve stuck.”
The Doctor kissed the top of my head.
“Thank you, Blue,” and he ran to the console, me not far behind.
“Do you even know what you’re doing? Doctor, what’s been happening to me?” I asked, and I could feel the shakiness to my voice.
The Doctor sent me a sympathetic glance.
“It appeared to you when I left to fine tune the TARDIS,”
I shot him a look that said ‘yeah, and that was what nearly killed me’. The Doctor looked away quickly.
“He told you that you couldn’t look, because if you did, then his cover would be blown. He had assumed the form of the first image in your sub-conscious, and if you realized what he was, then you would dismiss it and the power he would have over you would be broken. At that point, It had been feeding off your fear, but you wouldn’t fear him if you knew that he was just being something else. As I left your room in the TARDIS, you told me that you could sense someone there. I think that’s me. I’m going to go back to that point in time, just before I leave.”
“But I would’ve known you were there. The TARDIS – it makes that…noise-”
“I’ll take the breaks off. That’s what makes the noise. River told me. It’s a great noise – but for once, I’ll have to accept that she has a point,”
The TARDIS was thrown into chaos again.
“I can’t – come on, sexy! Just one more trip to this timeline!” He pulled down on the lever to his right, holding down the switch on his left with his foot. It looked really awkward.
The TARDIS landed.
“Where are we?”
“Just outside the house. You stay here. Right there,” he pointed at the spot I was currently standing in.
“I can’t let you enter this timeline. This has to happen. I need to get It before he gets you. Currently, you are-” he turned over his wrist to look at his golden watch, “Following me up the stairs. Better hurry!” and with that, the Doctor ran to the door.
Just before he opened it, he looked up at me through his long lashes.
“It’s going to be fine. Trust me,” and then he slipped out the door, closing it behind him.
Sometimes I hated that man.
The Doctor ran through the front door, closing it quietly behind him. He wasn’t one to do things quietly – not if he could help it – but whatever had been following Blue was something that fed off emotions – something that had been following her for an impossibly long time. And it was about time It stopped.
He could hear Blue’s footsteps fading as she clambered up the stairs, her mind whirring. He smiled to himself, wringing his hands. She was truly amazing. It was a pity that soon enough, he was dropping the title of Doctor. Too many people were put in danger because of him. After he saved Blue, he would hide away from all humanity.
He would no longer be the Doctor.
Running up the stairs, the Doctor muttered to himself.
“Where are you, you terrible beasty? Hmm? Where are you?” It was odd. He would talk to himself all the time – it helped him think. But since meeting Blue, he finally had someone else there with him. It was like Amy had never left. Blue was so like her – feisty, strong. Stubborn, too. Ultimately kind, but never one to back down easily.
Finally reaching the top floor, the Doctor glanced down the hallway, taking careful steps. If he messed this up, the whole timeline would be ruined. Time was far too complicated sometimes – that was why the Doctor loved it. Where was the fun in simple?
The door to Blue’s bedroom was ajar, Blue standing in the doorway, a hand clutching her arm. He could see himself, against the side of the TARDIS, talking to her.
For a moment, Blue looked over her shoulder, eyebrows knitted together in confusion. The Doctor ducked into the shadows, waiting for her to turn back. Then, the other
Doctor looked past her shoulder, right at him. Yes. He remembered this bit – he’d seen himself make some sort of signal, as if to indicate when he should be back… Of course! How long he had to be before he came back for Blue! He thought quickly – the Doctor standing in Blue’s room frowned. The Doctor pointed at the floor, then held up a hand, spanning his five fingers. He then pointed at his watch, before putting his thumbs up, smiling goofily. The other Doctor smiled briefly.
“Doctor?” Blue asked, and the Doctor blinked, looking back at her.
“Hmm, what? Oh, right, yes, I will be back, so need to worry. Only five minutes,” he replied, glancing quickly at the Doctor, face blank.
The Doctor didn’t move.
The TARDIS soon faded out of existence, and Blue was left standing on her own in her room.
Now all the Doctor had to do was figure out a way to stop It.
And that wasn’t going to be easy.
As Blue walked past him, oblivious of his presence, the Doctor frowned. He couldn’t bear to think what Blue was going to go through in the next two or three
minutes, but if he messed it up, then the whole timeline would be thrown into chaos, and then what would he do? The Doctor figured that (Your name) would not sleep for days, let alone hours, if that happened. It wasn’t even worth thinking about.
The Doctor soon followed Blue down to the kitchen, keeping a reasonable distance. She seemed uncomfortable. It wouldn’t do well if It saw him too. He watched carefully as she sat down at the table, sampling the toast in front of her, but realising it was cold, put it down in no time. The Doctor pulled a hand down over his face – the urge to jump in and pull her out to the TARDIS was overwhelming. He had to remember that she was outside, in the same TARDIS, from a little bit in the future, waiting for him to return. He needed to sort this out.
But the thing was, Blue wasn't exactly happy on missing out on all the fun.
This was where things usually got complicated – because I was too darn stubborn. It was something that I would have to sort out in the future, when I found the time, assuming that the Doctor didn’t pull one of stunts and mess everything up, before informing us all of our impending doom and then sorted it all out, before disappearing in his blue box as if nothing had ever happened.
That’s what I at least thought he would do.
Standing around in the TARDIS was becoming boring, and I really couldn’t think what to do. The Doctor had said stay here – but I was wondering desperately if that was really the right thing to do. It seemed unfair to leave him to sort out this mess when really I had a part in it too. It was my fault – or was it? So many questions swirled around in my head, almost making me sick. But the one question that had been on my mind, since meeting It, was this: who’s fault was it that It had been feeding off my loneliness? Was it mine, for not being able to be strong enough to get on with things? Was I the one who was at fault here, because I was too weak to be able to be alone?
Or was it my parents’ faults? They were the ones who left me every night, thinking that I wouldn’t mind being alone in the house; assuming that was what every teenager wanted. I wondered briefly if they ever considered that I always wanted them there, because I loved them and respected them.
Or was it the Doctor’s fault? Could he be seen as responsible for what had happened here? He was an alien – had It reacted to that? Had the Doctor sparked off that loneliness again, when he briefly left me? Had he left me vulnerable? Had he left me wide open to attack?
It was hard to know. To be honest, I didn’t want to come to a decision. The Doctor wasn’t here to ruin my life. I thought back to when he had first crash-landed in my room. Tumbling out of that blue box, handing me that wire, talking to me like he’d known me his whole life. The man with the floppy hair and the bow tie and the braces. I had been surprised and scared and worried and unsure. I had wanted to scream. I had wanted to cry.
I had wanted to hug that man who had washed away the loneliness and emptiness with one gentle smile.
I had wanted the morning to never come, so that I would forever feel as happy as I had done when he came along.
The Doctor always made you feel happy.
And what of Amelia Pond? She must have been important. Really important.
But who had come before her? Other friends? Family? Lovers?
It was hard to know. The Doctor seemed a bit of a closed book. The way he talked and behaved. He was alien alright, but it made me wonder how hard he tried to be human. He seemed to try desperately hard, so he would fit in, but he could never really push down the person that he really was. Which I actually kind of liked.
Deciding quickly, I ran to the doors. Taking one look back at the TARDIS, I said,
“I’m sorry,” and I ran out. The TARDIS made a groaning sound as I left.
Meanwhile, the Doctor was hiding in the doorway of the kitchen, watching as Blue sipped absent-mindedly at her drink. She seemed so out in the open here. But whatever happened here needed to happen, otherwise, the Blue outside wouldn’t exist anymore. Very disconcerting.
Before long, the Doctor could feel something behind him. Thinking quickly, he looked behind him. There was a hall just behind him, leading away from the staircase. Ducking quickly into it, he just about made it as he saw a figure step down to the floor, coming down from the stairs. The Doctor breathed in, holding his breath. He couldn’t even let this creature know he was there. Breathing wasn’t an option.
This was It.
The figure turned around slowly, the tall and awkward body stick thin and hunched over, almost a reaper-like figure. As it turned to face the door of the kitchen, the Doctor clapped a hand over his mouth. It couldn’t know he was here – and for once, the Doctor wasn’t entirely sure that he was at ease. Usually, these creatures just made him sick with their senseless killing and suffering. But the Felonn were different – they needed emotions to survive. It was their food source – what they lived on. But somehow, the idea of making people – ordinary, innocent, human beings – fear them just so they could eat seemed almost torturous. Uncertainty was always a killer – Blue had said that It had come up from behind her. The Doctor remembered it clearly. He remembered hearing Blue banging on the door, the TARDIS sparking every five seconds, telling him that whatever was out there was not good – it was extremely not good. Very extremely not good. He remembered how rushed and frantic it had been. Throwing the doors open and thanking the heavens that Blue had still been alive when he came back. He’d seen himself make that series of gestures to him as he had been talking to Blue. The future version of himself telling him what he needed to do. It had been an odd feeling. The Doctor realized how glad he would be when this was over – but he dreaded to think even more what would have happened if he had never turned up. The Felonn were never patient creatures. Most of the time it was just the emotions they lived on. But if the feeling was raw enough, sometimes there wouldn’t be a body to account for.
And looking at this creature right now, the Doctor wasn’t finding it particularly hard to imagine how vile and unforgiving these creatures could be.
He watched as It passed him by, frowning and scrunching up his nose. How dare It hurt her. How dare it.
It was just as most of the Felonn looked – tall, slender and white. At the moment, It was a blank canvas, waiting to tap into (Your name)’s subconscious, to see what he could take the form of. It sickened the Doctor to his bones, both of his hearts thumping hard. Blue.
For a moment, It looked down at the darkened hallway where the Doctor was hiding. The Doctor didn’t even dare to blink. From the pointed, smooth face, no mouth or ears or nose to be seen, two small, almost human eyes stared out, sending a shiver down his back. The Felonn sure never let their reputation fall below standard. Regarded as some of the most spine-chillingly wicked and silent species, where nothing was ever good, they were what everyone feared: the space under their bed, the dark corner of the bedroom, and unlit room, a strange noise in the house as the inhabitants slept. The Felonn were everything you feared, and the Doctor feared them too.
Because right now, all he could see was Gallifrey burning, right before his eyes. It was feeding off his memories – memories of pain and loss and sorrow. But he soon looked away, and the image disappeared. It slipped into the room. The Doctor, regaining himself from the memory he had thought he had buried deep within himself, he headed up to the doorway of the kitchen, standing watch. It was standing behind her, Blue completely oblivious to the monster in her presence. It seemed to be sifting through her thoughts, and before long, the Doctor could see how It changed.
The figure became clothed, a black suit, striped in places. The eyes sunk into the face, dips in the face showing where they should have been. The skin was milky white, looking like a mask pulled tightly over It’s face. The legs looked straggly and crooked. Shoulders hunched, hands flat and shapeless.
Was this what the human race had fallen to?
To creating figures that only brought fear and anguish to so many people? What were they doing? The universe was so wonderful and beautiful, yet all the human race could do was create something as macabre and unsettling as this…thing?
The Doctor shook his head. When this was over, he was going to show Blue something ridiculously beautiful and wonderful, to put these nightmares to rest.
He watched as It began speaking, and Blue jumped up, face as pale as snow. He couldn’t intervene. He couldn’t. Much as he wanted to.
Soon enough, the line came that had put Blue in such a state when he had found her:
“The Doctor will not come, for he has left you. Left you alone. Alone.”
The Doctor bit his lip, watching as It advanced towards her. Blue took a slight glance to her left.
“No, he hasn’t. He knows I can look after myself, but he also knows I’m waiting for him. He promised,” (Your name) replied, voice hitching with such unwavering fear that it made the Doctor’s insides churn uncomfortably. He was able to see this creature, yet she couldn’t, and the sheer idea of not knowing what this person was was far too frightening for words.
“And how many promises do you think he makes and never keeps? Do you think that you’re somehow special? That he’ll come back simply because you asked him to?”
The Doctor parted his lips, eyebrows furrowed deep.
“I did not ask him to!” Blue cried, a tear slipping down her face.
“Oh, but you did, and he won’t come. The man that travels through space – how can he keep promises that he can’t possibly keep?”
Something in the Doctor broke. How dare that thing say he didn’t keep his promises?
He was about to step in, to save Blue, to help her, but he was stopped.
A hand was on his arm.
Looking down, he saw Blue, staring up at him, eyes sad and absolutely terrified, because she had just seen what was in that room with her past self, and she was telling him that he had to leave it.
I stared up at the Doctor, the rough tweed underneath my fingers, and for once, I felt truly calm. This had to happen. It didn’t matter how much I didn’t want to relive it. It had to happen. I could still hear myself in the room, talking so quietly, my voice seeming so small and insignificant to It’s raspy tones. I looked up at the Doctor, the top of my head coming up just past his shoulder. He seemed so sad, green eyes sparkling with what looked like tears being blinked back. But a second later, all I saw was grim determination.
“What are you doing out here? I thought I told you to stay in the TARDIS?”
“Yeah, well, you didn’t think I was gonna miss out on all the fun, did you?”
The Doctor smiled grimly.
I heard It say, “I’m going to follow you always, (Your name),” and I froze.
“That’s it! Move! Go!”
“What do you mean –ow! Stop pushing me!”
“Go! Quickly! We need to hide!” I whispered, ducking into the shadows just as I saw myself zip out the door, tears already streaming down my face. The Doctor, from beside me, seemed rather tense.
“Do you think it would be distasteful if I was to say that you looked really worn out just there?”
“Yeah, it would,”
“Right, thank you.”
He breathed out slowly, just as I saw It slide into view. I could now see fully what I had seen on the staircase – a long, very tall, very real version of what I perceived to be my subconscious interpretation of the horror genre. God, did I hate people’s imagination sometimes.
“You know,” the Doctor said quietly, pointing at It briefly before wringing his hands, right in my ear, “you humans seem to really love torturing yourselves with these…inventions. It’s rather unsettling,”
“You’re telling me,”
“I am? …Well, of course I am! You need to know!”
“I do know. I was just thinking about that,” I hissed, watching as It began his slow descent up my stairs. I could hear my own footsteps way above my head.
I squeezed my eyes shut.
“Ah ah, no bad words. Very unladylike,” the Doctor said, placing a finger over my lips. He looked out at the stairs, searching for any sign of It.
“I think we’re OK – well, for now anyway,” he stepped out a bit, spinning around on the spot, tweed jacket spinning around behind him.
“Let’s go get ‘im!” he said, throwing out his hand, a mad smile on his lips.
I let out a whimper, not really keen on going to confront the monster of my house.
But I took his hand nonetheless.
He dragged me up the stairs, bringing my memories of my first few moments with him back to the front of my mind. All I could think about was how he had told me that it must have been a hell of a thing in my house.
It was scary to think that it had turned out to be a lot more than that.
We finally reached the hall, leading to my room. The door was already closed. I could hear myself crying inside. The Doctor gripped my hand tighter, knuckles almost white.
It, now somehow different from the version I had seen in the kitchen, was rattling the doorknob, trying to get in. I breathed in through my nose, as carefully as I could.
The Doctor, realizing how close it was to when he would appear in the TARDIS back in my room, took a few steps forward.
We both heard it – my screams as I yelled for the Doctor, telling him to come because there was a nightmare trying to get me. The Doctor from beside me took another step forward.
We both heard it – my screams ceased. I was safe in the TARDIS.
“Time to kick ass,” I whispered, and the Doctor looked back at me briefly, smiling.
He turned to look at It.
“Well, if you don’t mind me saying, that was a perfect display of hunting and scaring right there. Well done,” the Doctor clapped, his tone divulging nothing about how he felt. He sounded very honest.
It stopped, the bedroom door already half way open, just as I had seen it before the Doctor had dragged me into the TARDIS.
I took a breath in, waiting to come face to face with the-
Oh, what, God NO.
That was just…
I bit my lip hard, because I couldn’t bare to look at it, it was that…disgusting.
It was like a completely malformed human body, stretched so that the limbs hung by his sides, long and thin. Skin marble white, blank like a canvas, with face flat and emotionless, with nothing but a pair of blue, human eyes staring out of his face. It was horrible, and it just made my knees weak.
“Doctor?” It said, voice sounding like there was something caught in his throat. It sounded genuinely surprised.
“Ah, have we met?” the Doctor said cheerfully, holding his hands together in front of him.
“And who are you, Doctor?”
“Interesting question, that! But, I’m afraid I don’t share many secrets, especially with creatures that insist upon torturing twelve year old girls!”
“What is it? I’m busy protecting you! Can it wait?” The Doctor asked, looking over his shoulder at me. I smiled apologetically at him.
“It’s actually, um, fifteen years old,”
The Doctor raised his eyebrows.
“Really? Right, fine, sorry,” He turned to It.
“You know what it’s like. They keep looking younger, I swear. It’s very annoying,”
“I will say that you have stepped in too deep this time,” The Doctor bit the side of his mouth, throwing his hands out.
“Well, I suppose, but…don’t you think you should leave her alone?”
“Are you scared of me, Doctor? Many are. I see inside you, Doctor. I see your emotions. And I see hatred,”
The Doctor froze, his posture becoming straighter.
“I see hatred, Doctor. And anger, and pain. Oh, the pain you have endured. You destroyed your own planet. It must burn your hearts Doctor, mustn’t it?”
The Doctor fisted his hands at his side, brow low.
“You know nothing of suffering,” he murmured, voice low. I took a step back. Somehow, It wasn’t all that worrying a figure now.
It was the Doctor.
“Oh, but I do, you see, which is where I win this duel. I have devoured the feelings of so many, Doctor, and you have suffered so much. I see how many you have lost…Sarah Jane Smith, Leela…Donna Noble, the woman who doesn’t even remember you…” The Doctor almost growled.
“And there’s more…Martha Jones, the girl who loved you...yet she left you, for you, Doctor, could not love her back…”
“Stop it,” the Doctor warned, taking a step forward.
“And what about Amelia Pond, Doctor? She’s gone, dead…and what about Rose?”
“You stop right there!” the Doctor shouted, making It laugh.
“I hit a nerve I see. Dear Rose…she loved you so, didn’t she?”
“You stop right there, because I have something to say to you, and I mean it when I say you know nothing of suffering. You feed off others’ emotions, like it’s a sport, but let me tell you: each and every one of those that I have lost are never forgotten. Not ever – they live on, and you tell me what is stronger than love, It, because you know nothing of love, and you know nothing of strength. Because in here, you are nothing!' He pointed to me behind him, walking up to me and taking my hand as he talked.
“You held her prisoner! You tormented her every night she has slept in this house, but you have no power over her now,” he smiled down at me, mouth parted slightly as he looked at It. I don’t know what had happened, but It seemed to be shrinking. He was no longer this dominant, looming figure. He was just It.
“She sees you, and now what are you going to do?”
“No Doctor, stop.” I said suddenly.
The Doctor looked at me, and as I let go of his hand, he furrowed his brow.
“Blue, what are you doing?”
“It,” I said, still standing a fair distance away from him, using all my will power to not turn away at the sight of him.
“Do you have a name?” I asked, and It leaned down slightly, human eyes frightening.
“Felonn do not have names,” he said, his voice still able to send shivers down my spine. I took a tentative step forward.
“Blue!” The Doctor warned, taking a step forward.
I whirled round to look at him.
“I have to ask this. I need to know. Maybe you’re wrong Doctor. I have to conquer my own fears.” I turned back to It.
“You haunted me every night, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” It said, hissing the word.
“Well, can I ask you a question?” I asked gently. I was steadily growing accustomed to his face.
It nodded slowly.
“Are you lonely?”
It froze, leaning back.
“Why do you ask?” he asked back, eyes now curious. They looked like any child’s eyes as they were asked a question.
“Because you feed of emotions. The Felonn – do they…do that because it means they’re not alone?”
It looked down at me, human eyes wide. I could sense the Doctor watching with a certain amount of interest.
“You are very observant, Blue,” It said. “I am alone, as are all Felonn. It means nothing to us, but loneliness is something I am born with. It is part of my essence.”
“I don’t think that’s awfully fair,” I said, and for the first, weird, completely ridiculous time…
“Quite, quivering Blue. You humans are so susceptible to fear and loneliness. But you are the first to sense it in a monster,”
“You’re not a monster,” I said, and I felt the Doctor’s hand slip into my own.
“Listen to her, It. She’s-“
“She accepts me, Doctor. I do not understand,”
“People have feared me, It. Everybody fears someone they don’t know. Blue – she sees you now. So please, leave her be.”
“Blue,” It said, turning to me. He seemed to have grown back into his shape as the terrifying, blank creature of my nightmares.
But I wasn’t scared. Well, not as much.
“I do not feel, for that is the way in which Felonn live. I have no emotion. I will still haunt other humans – I must. But I will say this – you are very brave. And Doctor,” The Doctor looked to It.
“I see your soul. It is corrupt and hardened. You’d be best getting rid of that hatred. It will kill you, in the end. It kills all creatures that hate,” It stared at him, making the Doctor stare right back, shifting slightly.
The darkness seemed to seep into the area around us, consuming It whole. He slid into the walls, the darkness consuming him. The Doctor and I watched as he faded from all existence.
It was gone.
“He’s gone,” I said, and the Doctor looked down at me.
“Yes, Blue. He’s gone.”
I pulled away, jumping up and down.
“Are you OK?” The Doctor asked me, but I just laughed.
“I can’t believe it’s over!” I breathed. “My heart’s pounding! I just can’t…wow,” I said, rubbing my arms.
The Doctor laughed.
“Yeah…wow.” He muttered, before his eyes lit up.
“Come with me!” he cried, sprinting down the stairs. I followed him swiftly.
When we reached the front door, I already saw it flung wide open. I sighed. “Born in a field, this one,” I murmured, shutting it behind me as I ran out to the garden.
There, standing in amongst the massive trees and the rusty swing to the left, stood the TARDIS, the sign above lighting up the night. The door was open, the Doctor leaning out, his arms folded.
“What are you up too?” I asked wryly, folding my own arms as I sauntered up to him.
“Nothing.” He said, jumping slightly at my tone. He straightened his bow tie. “I’m not up to anything. Why would you think that?” and he disappeared into the TARDIS. I smiled. He really was a madman.
Stepping into the TARDIS, I looked around properly. The last time, I hadn’t really paid attention.
It was flipping massive.
My eyes lit up.
“You like it?” The Doctor asked, leaning on the console, his arms crossed, legs one over the other. My arms were still folded.
I gazed at the interior, remembering how, when I had stepped into this wonder of a ship, I hadn’t been at all fazed by how it was.
“Is it always this gaudy?” I teased, but the Doctor frowned.
“It’s not gaudy!”
“Oh, I don’t know…the TARDIS agrees,”
The Doctor opened his mouth to say something, but all he got was a wheezing sound from the TARDIS herself.
“Fine,” he said, waving a hand almost as if to swat away the comment.
“Would you like to see something?” he asked, eyes bright.
The Doctor was looking at me expectantly.
“Can I see your home planet? I mean, It wasn’t being serious about you destroying your own planet…” I trailed off as I saw the Doctor’s expression. Pursed lips, head bowed as he avoided my gaze.
“…Was he?” I finished quietly, but the Doctor had already turned and walked around behind the console, out of my eye’s sight.
“Can’t do that. It’s gone. Lost.” He said, the sounds of the TARDIS filling the silence.
“Doesn’t matter,” he shot back, voice laden with what I assumed was guilt.
I shuffled on my feet uncomfortably.
“Sorry,” I managed, and the Doctor came to the right of the console as I made my way to the centre, leaning against the railings.
“Ssfine,” he muttered, his quiff flopping over his eyes like before.
I stood for a moment, thinking. Those Time Lords…who were they?
“Was it nice?” I asked carefully, and the Doctor looked to the side at me, staring at me before pulling a lever to his left, sliding round past me to stand to my left.
“It was beautiful,” he admitted, voice emotionless.
“Then show me something as beautiful,” I said defiantly, and the Doctor paused, hand hovering over the controls. He looked at me, standing there waiting for an answer to my request.
He smiled lightly, coming over and kissing the top of my head.
“You wonderful girl,” he said, and he was off.
“There’s something that I think should really push away the nightmares,” He looked up, smiling like a child.
He pulled down on a lever, and the TARDIS came to a still. The Doctor bounded down to the doors, beckoning me to come. I grinned, running down after him.
The Doctor stood in front of the doors, his back to them as he smiled at me.
“What is it?” I asked, smiling as I bit my lip in anticipation.
“Everything you could ever dream about,” the Doctor said, a soft smile on his lips, as he opened the doors backwards, showing me what was outside those wooden doors.
And what I saw was beautiful.
I gasped, throwing myself at the doors as I leant out.
The sky – wait, no, the space- was filled with stars, pinks and reds and golds and greens and blues, falling from nowhere and everywhere. The whole scene was backed by turquoises and blues and golds and pinks, like an outer space sunset except so much more.
“Holy Stars,” I breathed, and the Doctor smiled, sidling up to me, leaning his chin on my shoulder.
“Then, my Star Girl, will you have any more nightmares tonight?”
I looked back at him as he stepped away, leaning on the inside of the doors, arms folded as he grinned uncontrollably.
“I’ll never have another nightmare. Ever,” I said, leaning out as far as I could to see up above me.
“Doctor…this is beautiful…” I whispered, breathing in deep. My eyes felt like they were sparkling, the colours around me exploding before my eyes as I saw the stars continuing to fall from as far as I could see and beyond. They turned to dust at the bottom way below our feet, but I loved it. This was space.
These were stars.
“What is it?” I asked excitedly, as I carefully sat down, my legs swinging over the edge. The Doctor laughed a little before explaining.
“Good question – you’re full of questions, you are. It’s called a Star Waterfall – the remnants of every exploding star in the universe end up here, falling from the top-” he pointed upward, “before cascading down to the bottom. Really there is no bottom or top – never is. Time and space never makes any sense. But –“
“OK, you’re ruining it,” I interrupted, and he frowned.
“Then what’s the point in asking?”
“Just to see. You need to start seeing things as more than just what they are scientifically. You’re like a robot,” I laughed, and he shrugged.
“Can’t help it,” he sat down beside me, hands in his lap as he gazed up with me.
“Doctor,” I asked, turning to look at him. I could see the stars in his eyes as he smiled lightly at what he was seeing.
“Hmm?” he murmured, and I bit my lip.
“Who were all those people that It was talking about? Who was Rose?”
The Doctor looked at me, face blank, before turning back to the stars. His voice sounded tight.
“She was a…friend. Just a friend. She’s gone now.”
“But It said she loved you. Did you love her?” I was even surprising myself with how direct I was being.
The Doctor didn’t answer. His hands sort of curled up and he bowed his head, posture now completely different from what he had been moments ago.
“Yes. I did. Love her, I mean. Yeah. Long time ago now. Not worth getting sad over,” he looked up at me, smile sad. I sighed.
“Sorry,” I said.
“Ah, no. Not your fault,” he ruffled the top of my head, turning back to the cascade of the stars.
We sat there for ages, watching as the stars and the space shifted with different colours; sometimes it would be greens and turquoises, other times it would be gold and orange, and sometimes violets and silvers, or blues and blacks, making it seem so surreal and magical that I felt I could sit forever. Watching the stars with the Doctor. This was his home. This was where he was, always. Every time I was to look up at that sky, so full of stars and light and dark, he would be up there. Always.
Soon, we left, closing the doors on the waterfall.
Before I knew it, we’d landed back in my garden.
I stepped out, the grass soft and cold underneath my slipper-covered feet. They were only slight pumps, after all.
I could hear a distant bird - probably an owl - the night sky above me raw and pure.
The Doctor leant on the inside of the TARDIS, elbow up above his head.
“So, madman with a blue box, right?”
“Gotcha,” he said, winking.
“Hmm,” I said, folding my arms, taking a breath.
“Doctor, the TARDIS-”
“Come with me,” he said suddenly, a hidden smile on his bow-shaped lips.
I stood there, watching his face carefully. I put a dressing gown sleeve to my mouth, thinking for a moment.
“I can’t,” I said. The Doctor’s face fell instantly.
“Why not?” he said it like it was an offence.
“Doctor, I can’t just leave my home. I mean, I’ve got school and homework and-”
“That guy,” The Doctor finished.
“No, I don’t think that he’s going to instantly want to go out with me,”
“Well, you don’t know. Maybe there’s someone else who likes you. Keep an eye out. You never know,”
I laughed myself.
“You know, she can go anywhere,” the Doctor said, “Anywhere and anytime you like. It’s your choice.”
“I would entertain the idea…” I said thoughtfully, crossing my legs where I stood.
“And?” he said excitedly.
“I can’t. I’m sorry,”
His face fell.
“Right,” he said quietly.
We stood for a moment in the cool breeze.
“Was she nice? Rose?” I asked quietly. It seemed right to talk to him about quiet, special things, just as he was about to leave, underneath the inky blue sky, each star so clear and bright, like it was Christmas.
I felt so wonderful.
The Doctor sighed.
“Yes, she was. That’s why I loved her. She was kind…I must be getting old,” he said sadly.
I laughed lightly.
“No. You don’t look a day old from twenty seven.”
“But I’m over 1,200 years old!” he exclaimed, making me laugh again.
“Maybe so, but there’s no need to disguise your age – if that’s what you think I’m saying. That’s what Botox is for,” I said, and the Doctor nodded, smiling again.
“I’m not trying to disguise who I am, Blue,” he said.
“Maybe, but somehow, I don’t think…oh, nevermind. I’m just rambling.”
“Will I ever see you again?”
He stared at me, green eyes intrigued.
“Then promise me this, Doctor: never travel alone. You’re lonely, and I can’t bare to see it. It’s in your eyes, every time I look at you,”
“Then come with me,” he asked again, this time more sincere, his voice holding an almost pleading tone.
“You’re dancing away off to places God knows where! I can’t run around with you. I have a life here. I’m just one of those people that you pick up, see for a day, and then leave. I can’t travel with you. It wouldn’t be right…but you need someone to save the world with. Someone to show all that amazing stuff to.”
The Doctor let his eyes fall down to mine, holding my gaze.
“That person isn’t me,” I said, biting my lip again. I folded my arms tighter, then shoved my hands into my pockets instead.
“But it could be. Maybe you just don’t know it yet,” the Doctor said, taking a step forward.
I shook my head.
“’Fraid not. I’m not the travelling kind,”
“But that star waterfall…you loved it, Blue. I saw it. You wanted to stay there and see it forever. I know you do,”
I turned to look right at him.
“Doctor, there’s a girl out there, somewhere, waiting for you. She doesn’t know it, but someday she’ll see a blue box in her garden, and she’ll know that it’s time for her to go on adventures. But that girl is not me. There’s another girl, far more important, and far more beautiful, and a lot more fun than me. You must understand that.”
The Doctor was staring at me like he’d never seen me before.
“You impossible, beautiful, wonderful girl,” he said, smiling as a tear dripped down his face. I blinked.
Then I crashed into him for a hug, his tweed jacket against my cheek, the thump of both of his hearts in my ear. It was a comforting sound, one that seemed to suggest just how loving this man was – Rose must’ve felt so lucky. I felt his head on my shoulder.
“Goodbye, Blue. Goodbye, my Star Girl,” he whispered.
When he pulled back, his scent of cloves went with him. But I had a smile on my lips.
“I said I’d entertain the possibility of going with you,”
The Doctor smirked.
“Maybe, someday you will come back for me…won’t you?” I asked.
“Maybe,” he muttered, turning away, about to shut the door behind him.
“Oh, and Doctor?” I cried. He swivelled around.
“Thank you,” I said. He just smirked, nodding once.
Soon, the TARDIS was disappearing into existence, and I was left standing in my garden, the night silent.
I looked above my head, the night sky stretching above me. Each star twinkled above my head. I sighed, turning back to the house. Maybe I would sleep better tonight.
I never did see him again. The Doctor never showed his face to me since that night. I never knew what happened to him. Somehow, I felt like he’d been taken away, but I always remembered that he left me hanging about whether I would ever go with him.
I still missed him. That silly, ridiculous, raggedy man, with his mad hair and the bow tie.
I still remembered him. You know, it was funny, but that night never left me. I remembered every bit. Mostly, I didn’t tell anyone about him, not even my parents. Who would believe me?
If he was still out there, I always wondered if he changed. Was he still that young man, or had he grown old? Was he still wearing that bow tie? Was he still out there?
Of course he was.
But I worry for him, even now. I doubt he’ll ever come back, but a small part of me still wishes for it. To hear that wheezing, groaning sound, and to see that blue box appear in my garden.
It said that the Doctor was a man who never kept his promises. I still wonder if he remembers ours.
I tend to think that by now, he’s showing some girl the stars, the universe at her feet. It’s a nice thought.
The Doctor should never be alone. I hope she’s a mystery. I hope she’s full of fire, and fun, and I hope she cares for him.
Some days I wish that I had taken him up on his offer, but life here isn’t so bad. The night sky is clear as always, and I always make sure to look up every so often.
But wherever he is, he is the reason I can sleep easy.
So, if you’re still out there, you madman in your blue box,
I’m still waiting.