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Under the surface

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'This is stupid,' Owen exclaimed.

Here they were, five of the grown adults sitting around in a giant farmers field full of pumpkins in the middle of the night.

'You know for once I have to agree with him,' muttered Gwen quietly, pulling her jacket tighter around her but failing to keep out any more of the cold night air. Tosh was huddled next to her also shivering slightly, but too absorbed in the readings on her PDA.

'Didn't Charlie Brown once spend all night in a giant pumpkin patch?' asked Jack.

'No, it was Linus, who also convinced Sally to stay the night. And the only thing they found was Snoopy, which means they've at least had more success than we've had,' Ianto lectured.

'Thankyou Teaboy for the pop culture update. Here,' Owen said, picking up a pumpkin and showing them the gnarled faced he'd drawn on it with a marker pen he'd found in his pocket.

'That's lovely Owen,' Gwen replied. 'What else did you do in kinder today?'

He turned the pumpkin around to show her the opposite side where he'd penned the words "I am Captain Jack". Unfortunately Jack also caught sight of it.

'Hey, this is not my fault,' Jack replied defensively. If he'd had his choice, he too would have preferred to be tucked up in bed with a certain handsome Welshman, but Torchwood was the job they'd signed on for and if that meant sitting in a pumpkin patch then so be it. 'Tosh are we still getting those readings?' he asked, changing the subject.

'They're still there, and getting gradually stronger.'

'Maybe the Great Pumpkin approaches,' Ianto quipped.

The field remained pitch dark and eerily quiet, yet there was something in the stillness that kept them all on edge despite the lack of anything so far.

Gwen's head spun as she heard something. 'Did you hear that?' It was just a tiny rustling sounded and it hadn't lasted more than a second.

'What is it?' Jack asked.

The rest of them sat in silence, listening out for the noise, and straining their ears.

A few minutes passed with nothing. Then a rustle.

'D'you hear that?' Owen asked. No one responded but the tension in their bodies indicated that they all had.


'Still getting stronger.'

The rustling sound came again, much closer by this time. Jack drew his gun, pointing his torchlight wildly around in the general direction of the sound.

Ianto had one hand on the ground, bracing himself as he covered their position with his own torchlight. That was when he caught the subtle vibrations travelling up his arm. 'Uh, is there any chance these creatures might be underground?'

Jack placed a palm firmly to the dirt and felt the same vibrations. He was about to comment when a pumpkin right near him was suddenly sucked right into the earth before his eyes.

Gwen caught sight of another disappear to their left, and Owen to their right. They all shot quickly to their feet.

'Yup, definitely something down there.'

'Perhaps standing in the middle of a field being sucked underground is not one of your best plans,' Owen commented.

'What do we do?' asked Gwen, trying to point her gun and torch in the direction of the stolen crop.

'Hope they're vegetarian?'

No one had a chance to mock Jack's comment because at that moment something grabbed hold of his foot and tried to drag it underground. He stumbled forwards, hands hitting the dirt and trying to stop himself. Both Gwen and Ianto each gave up their own weapons, grabbing him under each arm and trying to pull him back. It took all of their combined strength just to contend with whatever was intent on taking him down. Meanwhile Owen and Tosh remained with their own guns firmly fixed on the spot where Jack's leg was disappearing into the soil.

'I know it sounds selfish, but I really hope you don't have to shoot my leg off,' Jack said, trying to leverage his weight against his other foot, pushing away with as much force as possible to help out Gwen and Ianto who were struggling to keep hold.

Finally the three of them managed to pull back, and the creature that had a hold of Jack's leg followed out of the hole, causing them all to fall backwards to the ground, Jack on top of them.

He lifted his head to see what was attached to his foot. 'Whoa, that is one big earthworm!'

Owen managed to switch his standard issue gun for his stun gun and and subdue the creature, prying it off Jack's leg. At the same time the ground stopped shaking.

'Must have just been the one then,' Tosh stated.

'Must move bloody quick then,' Owen added. 'I was convinced we were surrounded.'

'Can we still call it an earthworm if it eats everything else as well?' Ianto asked, brushing the dirt off his suit and helping Gwen to her feet.

It took them the better part of half an hour to extract the creature's entire length from the ground. It was nearly forty yards long.

'What are we supposed to do with it now? We can't very well fit it in the SUV,' Gwen observed.

They hadn't even started brainstorming when the ground began to shake again, only much more violently.


'That or Momma has just turned up. And she's probably not going to be happy.'

'So, we should probably run.'

'Did you see how fast junior moved? I don't think we'd stand a chance.' Jack answered.

'So, we're all about to be eaten by a ginormous worm. Lovely,' Owen snarked.

Unexpectedly the ground erupted in front of them and Momma came face to face with the team. Jack tried to stand in front of them. At least if anyone was going to get eaten, it would be him.

Momma seemed to consider the tiny creatures in front of it and began crooning in slow guttural way. At first it didn't make any sense, but suddenly Jack realised it was similar to a language he'd once learned. He struggled to understand the finer points but got the general gist of its meaning.

'Is it going to kill us?' Owen asked.

'No, we're good. She's upset because she thinks we might have hurt her offspring.'

Jack tried replying with a series of coos and caws. The rest of them were just dumbfounded that he was carrying on conversation with it. After a while Jack translated for them.

'It seems junior went walkabout and developed a taste for the local produce. They don't normally eat organic matter until it's been broken down in the soil. She says she didn't mean any harm caused by her offspring.'

When junior awoke, the team didn't need a translator for the conversation held between mother and son. No matter what the species, every mother told off her child in the exactly the same way.

The ground shook and rumbled once more as mother and child made their way back underground, promising not to disturb the surface dwelling humans any more.

Left alone in the field once more the team breathed a sigh of relief that the world was safe again, and amazed at the variety of creatures living of their planet, unbeknownst to the general population.

'Well, we didn't manage to find the Great Pumpkin, but we did find the Great Earthworm. Isn't the universe just great?'

No one could be bothered rising to Jack's terrible pun.