Chapter 1: Curse of the Piper: Clown with a Balloon
The Blonde Girl
Chapter One: Curse of the Piper: Clown with a Balloon
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, Sarah Jane Adventures or Torchwood.
AN: What if Rose had met the Doctor and aliens much younger and had time to grow up knowing her potential, how would her life have changed? I’m doing some expansion and revision to this series so if this is your time reading it enjoy and if you’re rereading then I hope you like the changes.
Rose Marion Tyler was eleven years old, worried and a little scared. Five children from her area of London had gone missing and her best mate Shareen was among them leaving both herself and the area in a state of anxiety. No one seemed to know anything about what happened to them. There one minute and gone the next. Shareen had left no note, all of her clothes were still there, and she'd said nothing to make Rose worry the day before. She was just gone. They all were just gone. One girl, Mary, seemed to have vanished right out of her bedroom and she lived only six flats down from Rose and her Mum.
Of course, the police had been around the Powell Estates and the surrounding area but had found nothing. Her mum, Jackie Tyler, was keeping Rose closer to home than ever before and the parents of the Powell Estate had taken to encouraging all the children to stay in groups. Rose knew that her mother and all the others were simply worried, but the notion that Shareen had been taken and she could do nothing made her feel helpless. She hated the feeling, and it haunted her nightly as she worried about her friend.
Whispers around the estates suggested that the police believed the kids had run away or gotten into trouble as some kind of youth gang. As the first week vanished with no news, many feared that the police would drop the case and declare them all runaways. Rose didn't believe that Shareen would just run away for a moment. Even at eleven years old they knew better than to think they'd be okay on their own. There was a sense of anger and helplessness brewing in the Powell Estates that only added to the sad state of affairs. It made Rose think of a line from one of her Dad's old paperbacks about something being rotten.
Sunday found Rose and her mum in the flat of the Costello family with Jackie sitting beside Shareen's mum Angela and trying to offer what little comfort she could under the current conditions. The tension on the estate was thick and hung heavy over even the youngest children as parents kept them close. Accusations were starting to be exchanged, and everyone was growing angry. Tensions between public officials who were suggesting a runaway gang and drug problems and the parents of the missing were reaching a boiling point. Hearing Angela cry to her Mum that Shareen wouldn't just disappear on her family made Rose's stomach tighten painfully. Slipping out of the flat's front room, she escaped into her missing best friend's room.
Everything was still in place despite the police search giving the place a sense that the girl who lived her had just rushed out on her way to school. Rose had been here many times for sleepovers, study sessions or to hang out while her mum did hair or was at a shop shift. It was familiar, yet lacking the most important thing: Shareen. Her friend's pink duvet was thrown across the bed, a pair of shoes were in the middle of the floor, and a drugstore lipstick had rolled off of Shareen's dresser. Rose almost smiled at the sight of it. Shareen had been trying to be more grown up lately.
Sighing softly, Rose sat down on the bed and looked around the room with a sad frown, trying to understand what had happened to her friend. Rose picked up one of Shareen's school folders that were stacked on the edge of the bed and flipped through it but finding nothing she dropped it back on the bed. Then she crossed over to the small vanity that Shareen had set up in the corner in the room. Sitting down, Rose glanced over the little packages of makeup and the photos of cute actors that Shareen had collected that lined the mirror. Rose blinked when she noticed a strange yellow ticket was tucked partway under Shareen's jewellery box. Picking it up, Rose frowned as she read it: Spellman's Museum of the Circus. That didn't fit Shareen at all; she hated clowns and avoided them like the plague. She assumed that the ticket had been left there when her friend emptied her pockets and just hadn't been thrown away yet, but Rose folded it up and slipped it into her pocket anyway. Standing up, Rose gave the room one last look over before rejoining her mother in the living room.
They didn't stay much longer, but Jackie promised to send over some tea, later on, to cheer Angela up. On their way across the council estate, her Mum talked about a recent television show with Rose paying only the slightest bit of attention. They were almost home when Rose saw it. She was on the stairs between levels when the clown crossed the courtyard, carrying a bright red balloon in its hand. Rose blinked in surprise at the odd sight, but then it was gone when her eyes opened.
"Rose," Jackie called. Her mum's voice echoed down the stairs above her. "Come on then."
"Coming Mum." Rose resumed climbing the stairs. She glanced back over her shoulder quickly, trying to figure out how the person had moved so fast, but once she was in the flat, the clown left her mind.
Rose did not think about the clown until she was school two days later. Everyone at Jericho Street Comprehensive was talking about the disappearances, and student theories filled the corridors. Many theories were along the same line as the police, a young gang or runaway pacts, but other suggested horrible situations with murders that made Rose cringe. The class clown was suggesting alien abductions to anyone who would listen and even claiming to have seen lights in the sky.
In maths class, Rose sighed in distraction and doodled on the edge of her paper, tracing her friend's name in long curving letters. She looked out the window next to her seat and gasped softly as the same clown dressed in red, blue and yellow walked across the courtyard carrying his red balloon. Rose looked back to her teacher for a moment, trying to decide if she should say something, but then turned back to see nothing in the courtyard. Rubbing her eyes, Rose looked back at the courtyard with an uncertain expression.
"You alright?" a soft voice asked. A foot kicked her shoe gently, nudging her out of her thoughts. Rose turned to look at Sharon Allen, a pretty girl with dark coffee skin and amazing cheekbones. Sharon was watching her with a look of concern. "You're really pale Rose, are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Rose said. She forced a smile that wasn't at all successful.
"Worried about Shareen right?" Sharon asked, her features softening sadly.
"Course," Rose responded with a whisper. She couldn't ignore the cold weight that had settled in her stomach as she looked down at the page in front of her and saw Shareen's name scrawled several times in the margins.
The rest of the day passed very slowly for Rose who felt far too aware of the world around her to sit quietly and absorb the teacher's words. Rose doodled in her notebook, glancing out at the courtyard every so often, both hoping and dreading seeing the clown again. Once the final bell released her and her fellow students, Rose gathered up her things and headed towards the main entrance, her feet dragging in her dark mood. Then she heard a throaty chuckle, nothing like she'd ever heard a student or teacher make. The sound was sinister… somehow she knew that, and Rose changed direction just in time to see Sharon entering the loo.
"Sharon?" Rose called out. Her voice quivered with hesitation. "Was that you laughing?"
There was no response, and Rose glanced at the main entrance before taking a few steps towards the loo. She called out her question and Sharon's name once again, but there was no answer. After a moment of silent debate, Rose entered the toilet and looked about the small room for Sharon. A bag was lying on the floor with pens and paper spilling out of it. No one answered when Rose called out. Walking forward, Rose pushed open the first of the three toilet stalls, but it was empty. She called for Sharon again as she opened the second stall, but there was again no answer. Rose opened the third and final stall, staring inside at the emptiness where a person should have been.
Her mind stumbled over the issue of how Sharon could have entered right in front of her by the only door and be gone. Her eyes moved to the tiny high window above her head. Sharon would have had to climb onto the sinks to get close to it, and there hadn't been enough time for that. Besides, it was locked.
"Sharon?" Rose called out, her voice weak and desperate. Real fear was clawing at her chest, but Rose didn't know what she was afraid of. She just… was.
Suddenly, the throaty laugh came from behind her, and Rose turned to see the clown with the white face paint and huge painted smile standing in plain view in the mirror. Only, the reflection made it appear that the clown was standing right behind her. Gasping, Rose spun around to look, but she was alone in the room. She looked back to her mirror, ignoring a shaking hand to see the clown grinning at her.
"What are you?" Rose asked weakly. Her eyes darted between the balloon and the painted face. "Nice trick," she forced out. Rose tried to laugh, but it sounded hollow. "How are you doing that?"
"All I want," the clown told her in a raspy voice, "is to give you a balloon."
The clown's hand that was holding the bright red balloon reached towards her and passed through the surface of the mirror. Eyes widening, Rose almost screamed at the incredible sight. She stumbled back when the balloon came within inches of her face and watched the mirror's surface ripple outwards from his arm.
"That can't be real," Rose shook her head in denial but didn't take her eyes off the clown.
"Just take the balloon," the clown said. Its smile was growing wider by the moment. The temperature in the room seemed too low, too cold and Rose couldn't make her legs move. A frantic voice in her head was shouting at her to run, but she couldn't even breathe. Suddenly, the loo door swung open, and Rose's middle-aged history teacher stepped inside. The older woman seemed startled but looked quizzically at Rose.
"Tyler?" she asked, peering that Rose over her glasses. "Shouldn't you be getting home? It's against the rules to loiter."
There was an angry expression taking over her features that promised trouble if Rose didn't start moving. Somehow it cut through the terror that had been keeping her in place. With a stunned expression, Rose looked back at the mirror, but the clown and balloon were gone. Blinking, she took a breath and nodded to the teacher.
"Yes, of course," Rose said. "Sorry, Ma'am. She bit her bottom lip for a moment and gestured to the fallen bag. "Someone dropped their things," she added in a stronger voice.
"I'll take them to the lost and found," the teacher assured her with a touch of impatience. "Now move along."
Nodding, Rose rushed out of the loo and into the hall which felt huge and far too quiet. It only took her a few moments to escape out the front doors and into the sunlit courtyard. Turning, Rose looked back up at the school with a frightened expression.
"Maybe I'm going mad," Rose whispered to herself, shivering softly despite the warm day.
Rose began to walk to the bus station, glancing around her constantly and wrapped her hand around her bag strap. A group of her fellow students was waiting at the corner for the bus, chatting as if nothing was wrong. Rose joined the group and tried to relax, but then she saw a flash of yellow and red in the corner of her eye. Across the street was a small park and standing there smiling at her was the clown.
"Rose," a voice beside her called. "Rose!"
She turned to see Mickey Smith looking down at her with concern. His mouth was twisted in a frown, and he seemed almost ready to grab her. He lived near the Powell Estates with his grandmother and was a few years older than Rose, but she considered him a good friend. Mickey had always been more helpful to the younger kids than most of the other boys.
"Sorry Mickey," Rose told him, putting on a smile.
"You alright?" he asked, studying her expression carefully. "Anything wrong?"
"I'm fine," Rose assured him. "Just a bit tired." Seeing that he wasn't convinced, Rose added, "I'm worried about Shareen."
A look of discomfort and understanding passed over Mickey's face, and he nodded. Reaching out, he touched her shoulder gently, looking a bit unsure of himself. Then he looked around at the students with them and suddenly frowned as the bus pulled up.
"Hey, has anyone seen Sharon?" he asked loudly, getting everyone's attention.
Most of them ignored him, but a couple of the other teenagers looked around. Rose knew everything in the group from her area, some were nice, and others were the sort you avoided. Soft murmurs could be heard as everyone confirmed there was no sign of Sharon.
"She'll probably catch the next bus," one of the other students offered with a shrug. The girl next to him didn't look so confident but stayed quiet.
"We should stay together right now," Mickey informed the others with a frown.
"Just cause you're older-" Michael from three flats down started to say until Rose cut him off.
"No," Rose said sharply. "Mickey's right. We should be looking out for each other until the police find the others." Rose shook her head and slipped her hands into her pockets as they started to shake. "We don't need any more of us vanishing like Shareen."
Everyone fell silent as the students boarded the bus, but Rose noted that everyone stood and sat close together during the ride home. It didn't make her feel any better as she wondered if Sharon even could attempt to catch the next bus home.
Chapter 2: Curse of the Piper: Tickets All Around
The police investigate the strange disappearances of students, but Rose knows that they are missing something important.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Two: Curse of the Piper: Tickets All Around
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, Sarah Jane Adventures or Torchwood.
AN: This ‘episode’ is largely based episodes from the Sarah Jane Adventures without Rose having the advantage of having travelled with the Doctor.
As Rose had feared, the police came around trying to find Sharon who had vanished from the school. The book bag found in the bathroom was identified as hers, but no one had seen the girl since the end of classes. Jackie Tyler had not been pleased when an officer sat her daughter down and began to ask her a long series of questions. Rose had tried to stay calm and answer them but held back about the clown. She was sure that she had seen it, but when the officers told her the CCTV cameras in the school hadn’t seen anyone enter the bathroom except Sharon, Rose and the teacher she decided to stay quiet. A clown that no one else could see wasn’t a good thing at all, and a small part of Rose wondered once again if she was going mad. Maybe finding that museum ticket with the clown face combined with stress was making her see things.
When the police left the flat, Jackie made Rose’s favourite for dinner and chatted frantically trying to keep her daughter distracted with limited success. Mickey joined them for dinner, and he joined in with Jackie’s distraction plan which failed utterly. Finally, Rose smiled at both of them and assured them that while she was worried about Shareen, she was alright and just needed some sleep. They didn’t argue with her and Rose headed down the hall to her room. As she changed into her pyjamas, Rose listened to her mother’s conversation with Mickey and the sounds of her packing up leftovers for him to take back to his grandmother. The simple sounds of normalcy calmed her slightly, and she managed a small smile.
Sighing, Rose stretched out over her bed on top of the soft pink duvet and pulled out a worn sketchbook. She flipped it open and found a blank page beyond a few landscapes, faces and still lifes. Rose enjoyed drawing, but never let anyone look in the book, not even Shareen or her Mum. Carefully, Rose began to draw the clown, allowing her mind to turn the problem over in her head. A knock on her door made her look up and call that they could come in. Mickey stepped into the room and chuckled as he glanced around the room.
“Messy Rose,” he teased with a smile.
“You can’t talk,” Rose countered. The banter was familiar enough that she was able to smile. “Mister I’m fourteen, but I live in a nest.”
“Why do you call my room that?” Mickey demanded. He crossed his arms and huffed, probably trying to look impressive, but just looking like he was pouting to Rose.
“Cause it reminds me of a crow nest, stuff all about and shining pieces displayed on the desk. Or in your case video game consoles and controllers.”
“Whatever, you’re just jealous,” Mickey said. He looked a little embarrassed but recovered quickly. “Anyway Rose, I’m heading home and wanted to see that you’re alright.”
“I’m fine Mickey,” Rose told him. “Stop big brothering me; you’re not that much older you know.” Rose regretted the words instantly when Mickey’s face fell. “I’m sorry Mickey. I’m just-”
“Worried,” Mickey said with a sad smile and a nod. “Shareen was- is your best mate and you spend a lot of time with Sharon too. Plus the police talking to you couldn’t have made things easier.”
“Yeah,” Rose agreed softly. She lowered her eyes for a moment, the sight of that clown flashing in front of her. A shiver went down her spine, but it didn’t chase away the guilt. “I suppose so. I’m still sorry, though.”
They were both quiet for a moment before Mickey repeated his good night and left her room. When the door closed, Rose opened her sketchbook back up and looked down at the clown face. Shivering, Rose closed the book and tossed it across the room, hearing it thump to the floor with a spark of satisfaction. She crawled under her duvet and leaned back on the headrest, pulling her knees up to her chest. Rose wrapped her arms around herself and tried not to shake as she watched the window.
The next day felt far too long, Rose had barely slept the night before, and it showed. The teachers seemed to give her some distance since everyone had heard that she had spoken with the police, but her fellow students had all heard the rumours and wanted to ask all sorts of questions. Rose spent part of class just looking at the empty desks of Shareen and Sharon. When lunch came, Rose moved over and sat in Sharon’s desk on a whim. Opening it up, she was surprised to find one of Sharon’s folders inside. As the rest of the class filed out of the room, Rose quickly grabbed it and added it to her bag.
The canteen was noisy and packed with students, but it gave Rose a chance to open the folder. She blinked in surprise as she found a doddle of the clown covering the inside. A small piece of paper almost fell to the floor, but Rose snatched it quickly. She gasped; it was the same ticket that she had found in Shareen’s room. As the knot in her stomach tightened, Rose nibbled on her lip and debated telling the police. The problem was the same as before: other people couldn’t see the clown. The ticket would mean nothing to them.
Walking to the bus station slowly, Rose tried to avoid the main gossiping group that had been trying to talk to her all day. She didn’t have the energy right now, and in light of what might be happening to their classmates, it felt wrong. The ill feeling in her stomach was growing stronger with each passing hour, and Rose was beginning to recognise it was dread.
The ticket bothered Rose since both girls had one, but it seemed like such a silly thing. Rose looked up as she neared the station, but froze. A clown was standing there and handing out tickets to the kids waiting for the bus. She couldn’t breathe as the same throaty chuckle filled the air, choking her. Standing absolutely still, Rose watched the clown turn and wave to her with a wide grin. It didn’t have a balloon, but Rose was confident it was the same clown, red blue and yellow with a large painted smile. Suddenly, someone grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the bus making her tense.
“Come on then Rose,” Mickey said impatiently. He seemed to notice her unease and his expression softened. “I promised your mum I’d look after you.”
Mickey kept hold of her hand as they boarded the bus, keeping her close to him. He didn’t release it until Rose had a firm grasp on one of the handles. Rose finally started breathing again when the bus pulled away from the station. Turning back to Mickey, Rose was about to tell him everything in hopes he would assure her she wasn’t crazy. But then, she then saw him shove one of the yellow tickets into his pocket. Her mouth dried up and her mind went blank, leaving her standing on the bus with a death grip on the handle and a confused look on her face until Mickey pulled her off the bus. She didn’t even manage to say goodbye when he headed off for his Gran’s house.
That night Rose didn’t even pretend to sleep. Instead, she sat in her bed with her sketchbook drawing anything that came into her mind in hopes of avoiding sleep. Her father’s old cricket bat was propped up next to her bed. She’d taken it from her Mum’s closet earlier that evening even though she doubted it would help. Having it close made her feel a little better. Rose rubbed her eyes, reminding herself that if she fell asleep that it was very likely that her mother would find her gone the next day. Hours crawled by, and Rose warred with her doubts about what she had seen and the certainty that somehow the clown that was invisible to the adults was responsible.
Bright and early, Rose left her room already dressed after a record-setting quick shower to start fixing breakfast for her mum. They didn’t have much in the kitchen, but it was enough for Rose to work with. Every few minutes she checked that all the windows were still secure and that the door was locked. Jackie Tyler walked into the kitchen fifteen minutes later and frowned at the sight of her daughter. Rose’s wet hair was pulled back in a simple braid that revealed her pale face and the dark shadows under her eyes.
“Morning Mum,” Rose said. She turned and gave her Mum a tired smile.
Jackie quickly walked over and put her hand on Rose’s forehead. Chuckling softly, Rose accepted the gesture and sipped her orange juice. Her Mum’s body heat was comforting, and Rose wanted to lean into it.
“You don’t have a fever, but you look horrid. You’re staying home today,” Jackie said. “I’ll call in.”
“I’ll be fine Mum,” Rose told her. “This shop job is good for you, I’m eleven, and I can stay home by myself for a few hours.”
“Really Mum, I’ll be fine,” Rose assured her. She mustered the best smile she could manage for her mother. “Besides the money’s good.” They both knew that Jackie couldn’t afford not to work. A moment later Jackie’s shoulders slumped.
“I’ll call you in then,” Jackie agreed.
Sitting quietly at the table, Rose nibbled on her toast and listened to her mother call the school. Then Jackie went to the eggs Rose had cooked up and started tucking in herself. She could feel her mother watching her and tried to act normal if a little sick. Rose was grateful when Jackie cleaned up the kitchen and collected her things for work.
“Get some rest Rose,” Jackie said. Her Mum kissed her forehead tenderly.
“I’ll try Mum,” Rose promised. She followed her mum into the hall, crossing her fingers behind her back and feeling a bit guilty.
After her mother left, Rose sat by the front window with her sketchbook and the telly on for noise. Through the thin walls, she could hear other residents moving about, watching television and living their lives which gave her some comfort. She started drawing random things and watched the other kids start heading out of the estate. Mickey stopped and waved to her as he crossed the courtyard with his bag for school. Rose began to wave back until she saw the clown with the red balloon walking into the central courtyard. Rushing out the door and onto the walkway, Rose shouted a warning to Mickey. Her friend turned just as the clown reached him. Mickey’s hand touched the balloon, and he vanished. Rose gasped and looked around the courtyard trying to see him. Then the clown slowly turned and looked directly up at Rose with a broad smile. Backing away, Rose darted back into her flat and locked the door.
Rose leaned against the door panting and shaking. Dashing to her room, Rose snatched up her sketchbook and her keys. She returned to the living room and glanced out the window, grateful to see no sign of the clown. Packing her things in a shoulder bag, Rose pulled out a sheet of sketchbook paper that had a drawing of the clown on it and wrote a message to her mother.
I’ve been seeing a strange clown with a balloon. I saw it before Sharon disappeared and I saw Mickey vanish when it was near him. One moment he was there and then he was gone. The only thing I’ve found out is that Sharon, Shareen, and Mickey all had a ticket to the Spellman Museum of the Circus. I started seeing the clown when I took Shareen’s old one. The clown has been getting closer to me, so I need to do something. I’m going to the police to tell them, but if they don’t, believe me, I’m going to the Spellman Museum. If I vanish too, I’m sorry, and I love you, try to convince them that they have to check it out.
“Oh I’m not getting closer,” a throaty voice whispered from behind Rose. “I’m already here.”
Ducking, Rose dodged a pair of arms reaching for her behind her back and darted under the dining room table. She shoved a chair out of the way and scurried out of the way. Standing, Rose glanced back at the clown watching her from the other side of the table, its hand still outreached.
“Quick little blonde girl,” the clown said. A chilling laugh filled the flat. “But it won’t help you.”
Rose didn’t reply; she knew it didn’t matter. She rushed out the front door and locked it behind her before remembering that it wouldn’t keep the clown in or out of the flat. Shoving her keys into her bag, Rose ran as quickly as she could down the steps and to the main road.
She ran for what seemed like an hour before she finally slowed down. Coming to a stop, Rose struggled to catch her breath and looked around to get her bearing. Rose swallowed and looked behind her, searching the street for any sign of the clown while a few passersby gave her odd looks. Biting her lip, Rose reminded herself that crying wouldn’t help and fought back the surge of panic trying to take over. Right now she just wanted to curl up in bed and cry, but it would get her for sure. Her only chance, her friends’ only chance was for her to keep trying to work this out.
Taking a deep breath, Rose started towards a nearby phone box and pulled out the number of the policeman who had spoken with her the day before about Sharon. Rose waited quietly while the call was transferred, glancing around nervously at the street. Then the painful attempt of explaining began. She told the man that she had seen a clown around the times of the kids vanishing and that one was following her now.
Rose gave the man credit for listening as long as he did without hanging up, but he finally told her that making jokes when her friends were missing was not the thing to do. Shaking, Rose was quiet when the man insisted that CCTV had not recorded any clown at the school or the Powell Estates when the other children vanished. Then the line went dead. Rose leaned her forehead against the door of the phone box, trying not to cry.
“I’m eleven years old,” Rose muttered. “And something that none of the adults can see is stalking my friends and me. Not fair.”
Pulling out the yellow ticket, Rose checked the address and started towards the nearest underground station. She tried to avoid drawing attention to herself since it was a school day and she was out looking for a… she had no idea on that one. Keeping in the crowds, Rose didn’t meet anyone’s eyes and kept her guard up in case the clown appeared again.
Rose kept with the crowds as long as she could before she reached her final station. Checking the small map on the ticket again, Rose walked towards the mysterious location. She stopped across the street and looked over at the blue building. It had elegant arched doors, and the words Museum of the Circus were painted in red and yellow above the arch. From her angle, Rose could see that paintings of clowns framed the door which did not make her feel any better. The worst part was that she did not see anyone going in or out.
Swallowing thickly, Rose tidied herself up and pulled a notebook out of her bag. The plan was simple, pretend to be a student writing a report on clowns and hope that she’d find out something or at least hope that the clown wasn’t the sort that ate children. The backup plan was simple too; if Rose didn’t come home her mother would phone the police because of her note. Hopefully, then, the policeman she called gave some thought to what she had just told him and come looking at this location. Basically, Rose Tyler was in very deep trouble and knew it.
Chapter 3: Curse of the Piper: Museum of the Circus
With no with no other options, Rose goes to the Museum of the Circus to investigate the only common link between all the missing kids.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Three: Curse of the Piper: Museum of the Circus
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, Sarah Jane Adventures or Torchwood.
The Spellman Museum of the Circus was just as creepy just as Rose expected. The arched glass front doors creaked loudly as she pulled one open, sending a shudder through her body. Circus posters hung in the large doorway entry but were faded from age and the sun. Rose hesitated for a long moment before opening the interior entry door. The inside of the museum was painted red and blue, but the colours were faded giving it an aged look that hinted of decay and neglect. Each step she took seemed to echo as she moved further inside and the scent of dust was overwhelming. Stuffed animals and a laughing clown doll dominated in the entry room on old shelves. Old photos and newspaper clippings hung on the walls in display cases with weak lamps illuminating them. Everything was covered in a layer of dust, and she had the oddest feeling that people weren't actually supposed to come here, that this place was just a show. Rose stopped by the door and tried to look calm as she pulled out the ticket.
“Hello?” Rose called into the silent room. “I have a ticket for entry into the museum.”
She stepped inside slowly and looked around for any sign of movement. There was no one in the room, and no ticket stand in sight. A shiver went down her spine at the sheer wrongness of this place. Several dark corridors led away from the main room, but she couldn't see very far down them, and the idea of walking into the darkness made her stomach turn.
“Welcome!” A voice to her right suddenly bellowed. Rose spun to see a tall man standing in a small spotlight that she was certain hadn't been there the moment before. He was dressed in an elegant ringmaster suit, and his top hat was tilted on his head. For a moment he was still, before moving dramatically with a flourish of his arm. “Welcome to Spellman's Magical Museum of the Circus and the story of the most wondrous family entertainment in the world,” he announced in a booming, but detached voice.
The strange man moved slowly, taking purposeful strides over to the nearby display, but never taking his eyes away from Rose. His eyes were dark like his hair, and the spotlight made the sharp features of his face more pronounced. Something in his face made Rose feel very small and helpless. As he spoke, his face reflected no emotion, and his eyes remained cold and distant.
“The jugglers and tumblers of Ancient Rome.” Spellman gestured grandly to a small model of a Roman Coliseum. Spellman moved again to a large painting of a battlefield. “To the father of the modern circus, believe it or not, was a Sergeant Major in the fifteenth light dragoon.” Spellman clicked his heels together while he said this.
“Are you Mister Spellman?” Rose asked. Her voice was weaker and softer than she wanted.
“Elijah Spellman at your service my dear girl,” Spellman greeted. He removed his hat in one a fluid motion and gave Rose a graceful bow.
Forcing a smile, Rose stepped forward and presented her yellow ticket. “Thank you Mister Spellman, my name is Rose Tyler,” she greeted in a higher than normal voice. “I came here because I am doing a report on clowns. My mum picked up this ticket for me, so this seemed a good place to start.”
“Ah, the princess of the sawdust ring,” Spellman replied, sweeping his top hat back on. “This way please.”
Spellman did not wait for any movement on Rose's part but strode past her quickly towards another corridor off the main entry. The spotlight followed him on his journey leaving Rose standing in a dark corner alone. Rose hesitated for a split second before following the very creepy man deeper into the museum.
He led Rose into a long room with the same brightly painted walls, but on display were six full-sized clowns with bright costumes and makeup. Some were hobo clowns with oversized plaid clothing and large painted smiles, but others were in elegant harlequin suits with highly styled face paint. One end of the room was covered with a massive mural of a black and white painted clown face, with a large painted blue teardrop. Tentatively, Rose followed Spellman into the room past a shelf of clown puppets and row of posters.
“Mankind has always needed someone to make them laugh,” Spellman said. He turned dramatically back to Rose. “Slave or king. The pharaohs had fools, so did the Native Americans. We had harlequins and in the Middle Ages the jester,” Spellman's voice droned, becoming more and more lifeless.
Rose made a show of writing down Spellman's words in her notebook, hesitant to take her eyes off him, but more concerned with not giving herself away. She turned to look around the room while Spellman spoke about the various forms of clowns in history across the globe. Then she paused, a small painting that had been behind her caught her attention. A long flute or pipe of some kind hung beneath it. Rose stopped writing and took a step closer to the painting, forgetting for a moment that her back was exposed to Spellman. The painting contained a figure in yellow, red, and blue playing a flute similar to the one hanging below. To the side of the figure were much smaller people crowded into a long line. The image was familiar, but Rose could not place where she knew it from.
“The Pied Piper,” Spellman said. There was something like amusement in his voice. “The legend says that the piper came to the town of Hamelin when rats overran it and entered into an agreement with the citizens. He used his magic pipe to led all the rats into the river where they drowned, thus freeing Hamelin. When he had performed this service, the village refused to pay him the agreed sum, and he vowed revenge. He returned soon after and used the power of his pipe to lead the children of the village away, never to return.”
Spellman stepped up behind Rose sending a shiver down her spine and chuckled. “That painting is the oldest and most accurate picture of the Pied Piper,” he said. The colours of his costume signify that he was a travelling entertainer.” Spellman leaned down closer to Rose's ear and added, “But I'm afraid that even clowns have their dark days.”
Rose swallowed as she fought back a shudder. The urge to scream and run away was simmering just beneath the surface, but she turned to face Spellman. He was giving her a knowing look, and she had the terrible feeling that he was amused more than anything else.
“The Pied Piper is a good story, Mister Spellman,” Rose said. Her smile was forced, and her hands trembled. “It reminds us to pay others what is due to them.” Rose walked a few steps away as if looking at the other displays. It was a bit easier to breathe. “Do you think the story could have a real source? Do you think that there was something like a clown that took the children away back then?”
When there was no answer, Rose turned to look for Spellman, but he was gone. Then the chuckle filled the empty room, vibrating through the air and making the space seem smaller. Rose called for Spellman, trying to keep her voice even and calm. She knew that she failed horribly and could feel her heart racing painfully. As casually as she could, Rose closed her notebook and moved to return it to her bag. Suddenly, the clown doll on display nearest to her shifted forward. Looking towards it in alarm, Rose took a step back, but the clown's arm flashed out and grabbed her wrist in a cold, tight grip.
Screaming, Rose stumbled back from the clown in shock as the others in the room began to lurch forward off the dais. The six clowns all turned to look at her and then slowly smiled at her. Clawing frantically, at the arm holding her, Rose tried to free her arm and escape. The clowns took slow, shaky steps towards her with outreached arms, and Rose pulled harder. They were almost upon her when the sweat off her hand let her slip her wrist free from the tight grip. As the clown lunged towards her in an attempt to recapture her, Rose dashed to the corridor and ran blindly. The brightly coloured walls suddenly were prison walls keeping her in, and everything looked the same. Turning a corner sharply, she screamed as she found herself facing a smiling Spellman in the dark corridor.
Backing away from Spellman, Rose found herself pressed tightly against the far wall. Spellman smiled widely, and Rose shivered, unable to mask her fear. It was a terrible smile, the sort that reflected enjoyment of things that all others hated and feared. Rose opened and closed her fists as she struggled to breathe and regain control. Spellman watched her gathering her courage calmly, not at all impressed.
“Who are you?” Rose asked hoarsely, “What are you and what do you want?”
“Who am I?”
Spellman smirked at her, his eyes glittering with amusement. The image of Spellman shifted suddenly like smoke in front of Rose, shimmering in the little light of the corridor. She could only stare in shock as the dark smoke swirled together once more, creating a tall humanoid figure dressed like the Pied Piper. The blue, yellow and red suit highlighted rather than hid his sinister smile, and he leered at Rose. A scream caught in her throat.
“I am the Pied Piper who conjured away a whole town's infants and has chilled the hearts of parents for more than seven centuries,” he hissed at her, the words echoing in the corridor.
Then this image shifted back into smoke and swirled once again, creating a shorter and broader figure. Rose gasped as the same clown she had seen suddenly stood in front of her, holding its red balloon. His smile grew horribly, showing teeth that were sharp as he leered down at her.
“And now,” it said in a raspy voice, “I am Odd Bob the Clown who snatches children in the heartbeat their mother's back is turned.”
“My friends?” Rose whispered. She pressed herself tighter against the wall and unable to look away. “Where are they?” She sounded weak and pathetic to her own ears as tears started to prick at her eyes.
“They are sleeping somewhere between this world and another,” the clown hissed the words with a terrible smile, “the girl in the bathroom, the boy in the courtyard and so many others, but it has been seven hundred years, and after a while, they just fade away.” Odd Bob stepped closer to Rose and whispered darkly, “I am the thing that lives in the darkest corners. I am the nightmare you never forget. I am the shadow creeping in your room. I am all these things and more.” A high pitched chuckle escaped him. “I am all that you fear the most and now Rose Tyler you are mine to feed on.”
A scream caught in Rose's throat as the clowns began to advance on her again and Odd Bob drew back to watch her. He threw his head back laughing at her expression of terror. Rose closed her eyes tightly, but then a humming noise filled the hall and was shortly followed by small pops and sparking. Odd Bob looked away from Rose towards the sparking noises that were coming from the clowns.
Opening her eyes, Rose saw that the clowns were sparking and frozen in place, barely able to move their limbs. Then a large warm hand grabbed Rose's smaller one in a tight, but gentle grip. She turned to meet a pair of steel blue eyes looking down at her.
Chapter 4: Curse of the Piper: Doctor Who?
Rose properly meets her mysterious rescuer, the mysterious Doctor.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Four: Curse of the Piper: Doctor Who?
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, Sarah Jane Adventures or Torchwood.
Rose’s rescuer kept a tight grip on her hand as he pulled her past Odd Bob down the dark corridor. Brushing past the clown, Rose ran as fast as she could alongside the strange man. She could barely see anything, but the solid grip and the assurance that she was getting away from Odd Bob kept Rose moving. Behind her, she could hear Odd Bob shouting something, but her heartbeat was too loud in her ears to make out the words.
The man holding her hand seemed to know another way out as he led her down a new corridor and towards a small service door. Gone were the bright colours of the circus museum and now black walls threatened to swallow them. They stopped just in front of it, and he held a silver tube in his free hand up at the door. It shined blue on the end, there was a strange humming noise, and then the lock clicked open. He pushed the door open and pushed Rose out into the alley ahead of him. She sucked in a greedy mouthful of cool London air. Turning away from her, her rescuer pushed the door closed behind them and held the tube up again, shining the blue light on the lock.
He didn’t say anything, but grabbed Rose’s hand again and started moving down the back alley. Remaining silent, Rose allowed herself to be guided away as she worked to keep up with his much longer strides. A few streets down, the man slowed to a stop and released her hand. Panting, Rose leaned against the alley wall. After catching her breath, she looked up at the man. He was looking down at her with a curious and slightly amused expression. Her rescuer was a tall man wearing black jeans, a dark green jumper, and a well-worn black leather jacket. In a strangely graceful movement, he put the odd silver tube that Rose could now see had a blue tip on one end into his pocket and then shoved his hands into the pockets of his jacket.
“Thank you,” Rose said suddenly as she found her voice. She swallowed and unclenched her aching fingers. “I mean really thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” the man said. He gave her a tiny smile as his eyes scanned her. “You’re not hurt are you?”
“No.” Rose shook her head quickly and took another breath, urging her heart rate to slow. “Just shaken up.” Rose frowned a little, her mind replaying everything that had happened. “It didn’t just take me like the others… it was like Odd Bob wanted to scare me first.”
“Well you’re interesting,” the man observed. He looked cheerful with a widening grin as he studied her. Rose was reassured how calm he was about all this. “Just attacked and still trying to sort it all out.”
Rose looked up at the stranger's almost manic smile and laughed softly at herself. Giggles escaped her without any control and tears threatened to fall until she managed to take a slow breath. Blushing slightly, Rose brushed a strand of loose hair behind her ear and looked back at her rescuer.
“Sorry, the last few days… well, that’s all I’ve been able to do,” Rose explained sadly. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes for a moment and squared her shoulders. Once she’d had a moment, Rose opened her eyes and studied her rescuer. “Who are you?”
“I’m the Doctor,” the man informed with a grin. Rose got the impression he’d been waiting for her to ask that question.
“Just the Doctor,” the Doctor said. Then his expression turned more serious. “Now I wasn’t able to listen in on much so tell me what you know.”
Rose looked at him and saw that he was completely serious, and his smile had been replaced with a look of concentration. Nodding, Rose glanced at the door once more, but there was no sign of anything trying to come through. She looked up at the Doctor who was watching her patiently.
“He well it said that it was the Pied Piper seven hundred years ago who took the children away from the town of Hamelin. The children it takes end up ‘between this world and another,’ and if they stay too long, they fade away.” Rose shivered at the memory. Its eyes had been dark, but gleeful when it had said those words. She forced herself to keep going. “It can change its shape at least a bit. He looked normal when I first met him today, Mister Spellman, but then he changed his appearance.”
“What did that look like?” The Doctor asked her.
“Uh… smoke,” Rose struggled for the right words to explain. “His body turned into smoke before… reassembling.”
“Narrows it down,” the Doctor told her with a nod, “What else?”
“Oh, those clowns! I don’t know if they were robots or-”
“Dolls under telekinetic control,” the Doctor supplied. “I used the sonic screwdriver to seal the joints.”
“You used the what?”
“Sonic screwdriver, but now is not the time. What else? What made you come here?”
“The ticket!” Rose dug into her bag to pull out the now worn and torn ticket. She held out up for the Doctor see. “I found this in my mate Shareen’s things after she vanished. One of the other girls who disappeared had one too and then a boy I know vanished only a few hours after getting one. Odd Bob was handing them out to all the kids in my area. It was the only thing all of them had in common!”
The Doctor stepped closer to Rose and slowly pulled out the sonic screwdriver from his pocket. Placing his hand over hers, the Doctor kept the ticket still and brought the sonic screwdriver to it. The humming sound filled the air around them, and Rose tilted her head curiously while the Doctor kept his eyes focused intensely on the ticket.
Rose did her best to remain still while the Doctor scanned the piece of paper and she studied him carefully. He looked like an average person, but the way he spoke made it clear that he wasn’t. Yet he wasn’t a police officer or soldier either. Not with that leather jacket and jumper combination. Still, he’d saved her from Odd Bob and those… dolls so she wasn’t going to be ungrateful. After a moment he put the sonic screwdriver back in his jacket and took a step back again.
“Energy trace on this transfers to the holder allowing that entity to track them,” the Doctor murmured. His voice was thoughtful, and he looked up at Rose, studying her again. “That’s how it can find them. Probably teleports right to them.”
“Only kids who have the tickets can see the clown when he comes for them,” Rose told him in a soft voice. To her horror, tears were prickling at her eyes. She didn’t want to be scared, but couldn’t help it. Lowering her eyes, Rose gave a weak shrug. “I tried telling the police about the clown, but no one else saw him, and the CCTV didn’t pick him up. No one would listen.”
“That same energy trace masks him,” the Doctor told her.
The Doctor shifted uncomfortably at the shift in the girl’s mood. A dark cloud had settled over her, and he wasn’t sure how to go about talking to her. This was the first time he’d been around children in this new body. First time out with this new body honestly.
Rose suddenly gave a dry sob and hugged herself while she started shaking. “Sorry,” she said to the Doctor. “Sorry just give me a moment.”
“Adrenaline is wearing off,” the Doctor said gently. “I suspect you’ve had a hard couple of days.”
Rose gave a humourless laugh at the Doctor's statement and nodded. “Yeah, I guess you could say that,” she agreed after a thick swallow. “Not much sleep.”
“How sure were you that it was Spellman?” The Doctor asked after Rose had quieted and straightened back up a few moments later.
“Completely sure,” Rose told the Doctor, meeting his eyes.
“But you went anyway?” the Doctor asked. He leaned against the wall with a curious expression.
“I tried the police, told them about the tickets, but they said there wasn’t any evidence that the others ever went there. There was no evidence of a clown, so they just thought I was joking. I left my mother a note that I was going there so if I vanished too… maybe they’d have to look there. They couldn’t see the clown, so I needed to force a reason,” Rose explained in an anxious rush.
“You could have been yourself taken,” the Doctor reminded her as he tried to contain a grin.
“It was coming after me; it knew I was watching and kept smiling when it took my friends. It waved at me and came into my home.” Rose swallowed and shook her head. “I was terrified, I couldn’t sleep, and I could barely eat, but I wasn’t going to hide in a corner crying while it came after me.”
“I’m not sure if that was brave or stupid,” the Doctor told her, a grin taking over his face.
“Probably both,” Rose admitted with a soft laugh. “I’m glad you showed up.”
“That ticket, give it to me,” the Doctor said. The smile faded from his face.
“That won’t help; Shareen didn’t have it on her when she was taken,” Rose admitted sadly. “That… trace you said is still on me.”
“I know,” the Doctor agreed, softening his voice. “But I can use that energy signature to find out what that thing is so I can stop it. If your friends haven’t faded away yet, then they can be brought back.”
“Find out what it is?” Rose asked. “How could you possibly do that? Who are you?”
“I told you I’m the Doctor and that is all you need to know,” he told her very seriously.
The Doctor looked down at Rose and stared at her for a moment before he reached into the left pocket of his leather coat. He pulled out a small round disk about the size of a coin with tiny gears that surrounded a strange blue stone. It caught in the low sunlight making it into the alley, and Rose watched him curiously. There was a little fasting on one side that the Doctor pulled the string through, leaving it hanging like a pendant. The Doctor put the sonic screwdriver near the disk, and it hummed and glowed blue for a moment.
“Come here,” the Doctor said motioning Rose closer. He dropped to one knee to be closer to her level and gave her another soft smile. When she moved forward, the Doctor put the strange new necklace around her neck and tied the ends of the string together. It fell gently against Rose’s chest. “It won’t last long, probably only twenty-four hours, but for that period it will shield you against this energy signature,” the Doctor said. “You’ll see him, but he won’t be able to affect you or take you.”
“Only twenty-four hours?” Rose asked with slight alarm.
“He won’t be here anymore after twenty-four hour,” the Doctor promised her. He offered her another wide grin. “Trust me. This is what I do.”
Jumping up, the Doctor headed off with another word in the opposite direction to the main road. Rose stared after him after only taking a few steps towards the main road. Then he suddenly stopped and looked back at her.
“I didn’t ask, what is your name?” he asked with a grin.
“Rose Tyler,” she answered. Rose couldn’t help but smile at him in return.
“Nice to meet you Rose Tyler, but now it is time for you to go home.” The Doctor gestured to the point be beyond her.
Rose stared at him for a moment before she finally nodded and headed out the alleyway. The sounds of the city washed over her, and she relaxed at the weight of the strange necklace she wore. Spotting a station, Rose pulled out her pass and dashed over, feeling better than she had in days. She stopped when she reached the station and looked back across the street to the alley. The strange Doctor was nowhere to be seen.
Chapter 5: Curse of the Piper: Red Balloons
Just when Rose thought it was safe to return to normal life, the Piped Piper launches his real attack.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Five: Curse of the Piper: Red Balloons
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, Sarah Jane Adventures or Torchwood.
Rose had gone home as the Doctor told her. The bus ride felt longer than usual and extra bumpy. She clutched her new necklace the whole time, unwilling to be separated from it. Somehow the world seemed different. Rose watched the buildings flash by with new interest, noting the little details she could see every time the bus slowed down to stop.
Fortunately for Rose, it was still early afternoon, and Jackie hadn’t returned by the time she got home. With luck, Jackie would never know that Rose hadn’t stayed home all day. Rushing into her flat, Rose looked around carefully and checked each room before returning to lock the door. She took comfort from the sounds of the other Powell Estates residents that she could hear.
The dining room was a bit messy from her desperate escape from Odd Bob with chairs out of place. Rose paused and repeated the name in her head. It was strange, but naming the once mysterious foe had helped her fear. She could no longer doubt that it was real, but now there was someone out there fighting it and who believed everything she told him. Smiling, Rose straightened the chairs and took the note she had left for Jackie, ripped it into pieces and tossed it into the trash bin.
Returning to her bedroom, Rose changed into more comfortable clothing before stretching out on her bed. She pulled out her sketchbook and started to doodle to relax. Part of her wanted to go to sleep, but Rose didn’t feel ready for that quite yet and kept on drawing. It wasn’t for ten minutes that the sleepy Rose Tyler noticed that she was drawing the Doctor. Chuckling, Rose focused on the drawing, carefully shading the figure leaning against the alley wall with his arms crossed. It was only an hour and a half later when the front door opened and shut.
Leaping up from her bed, Rose rushed out to the living room with a broad smile. Wrapping her arms around her mother’s waist, Rose hugged her tightly. Jackie chuckled and brushed her fingers through her daughter’s hair.
“Hello sweetheart,” Jackie said. She laughed softly and put her hand on Rose’s head. “I take it you’re feeling better.”
Rose gave her mother a wide, honest smile that only widened when she saw her mother relax. She loosened her grip enough to allow Jackie to kneel in front of her. Jackie felt Rose’s forehead and examined her daughter’s face which still showed signs of exhaustion, but something had been lifted from Rose’s eyes.
“Good,” Jackie said, kissing Rose’s forehead. “Why don’t you get some more sleep and I’ll make us something nice for dinner.”
“That sounds nice Mum.” Rose hugged her Mum again, enjoying her warmth and smell. “I love you.”
“I love you too darling,” Jackie replied happily. She rocked her baby a little bit. “What brought all this on?”
“Just realised I hadn’t told you that lately,” Rose told her honestly. “I mean really told you. That’s important.”
“Yes,” Jackie agreed. There was surprise still lingering in her eyes. For a moment she looked at a loss but recovered quickly. “Yes it is, but back to bed Rose, you still look exhausted.”
Nodding, Rose allowed herself to be led back to her bedroom by her mother, relishing the warmth of her mother beside her. When her mother spotted the open sketchbook, Rose dated forward and closed it before her mother could see any of the drawings. She placed the book back into her bag before stretching out on her bed again.
“Rose,” Jackie sighed. “It wouldn’t be a bad thing if other people saw your work. You don’t need to be so nervous about it. I’m sure it’s lovely.”
Rose didn’t say anything to Jackie’s statement, and her mother shook her head with a soft sigh Patting Rose on the head, Jackie turned and left the room. Rose smiled at the closed door, listening to the movements of her mother throughout the flat. If the Doctor was right about stopping the clown in the next twenty-four hours, then her life would be back to normal very soon. Strangely, that thought made Rose a little sad, and she touched the pendant he had given her again with a small smile. Still, she desperately wanted Shareen, Mickey, and Sharon back safely even if this was the most exciting thing to ever happen to her.
The next day, Rose went off to school in a cheerful mood and with high hopes that there would be news of the missing kids soon. Maybe her mates Shareen and Sharon would even be back in school with her by next week. The teachers and other students seemed to notice Rose’s improved mood and more attentive behaviour. During her breaks Rose kept working on her sketch of the Doctor, silently wishing him luck in whatever plan he was following through with to stop the Pied Piper.
It was lunch before Rose had any sense that maybe things wouldn’t go as smoothly and easily as she hoped for the Doctor. Given his quick rescue of her and his complete ease with the insane situation this attitude was probably to be expected in the eleven-year-old girl, but that did not make it true. With a bright sun shining down, every student was in the courtyard during the lunch break. Younger students were on the swings while the older students played a quick game of football or shoot some hoops. Rose herself was relaxing in the shade with some of the other girls in her year.
The cloud of red balloons floated gently into the schoolyard attracting the attention of every child in the area. Laughing, students grabbed balloons, and others jumped up from their places to join in the fun. Others gave the balloons quizzical looks, only to have the balloons float right up to them in mass. Rose grabbed the pendant about her neck and stared in shock at the red balloons as they bobbed and wove through the crowd.
Then everything was quiet. Staring out at the schoolyard, Rose’s eyes swept over the crowd of students who were standing absolutely still with blank expressions and a balloon clutched in their hands. Grabbing her bag, Rose moved to the nearest student tentatively. She called out the names of those she knew, but there was no reaction at all. Rose took a deep breath to think but failed to form a plan as the entire group turned as one and began to walk away from the school. Standing still for a long moment, Rose wondered what she could do as the group slowly moved down the road. Holding her protective necklace in one hand and clutching the strap of her bag to stop her hand from shaking, Rose ran after the group. She did not look behind her to see the teachers rushing into the courtyard and shouting to phone the police.
Suddenly, everyone began to move forward and marched out of the school courtyard. Rose kept calling the others while they walked through the streets of London, attracting very little attention given what a sight it must have been. Rose wondered if it had something to do with that energy the Doctor talked about earlier.
All of the children kept tight holds on their red balloons and the strange path they were taking began to look far too familiar. In the distance, Rose could see the Museum of the Circus and her stomach flipped over. Looking down at her watch she groaned, the twenty-four hours that her necklace would protect her were nearly over and apparently the Doctor had not taken care of the problem. One part of Rose’s brain insisted that she run while she could still get away while the other part of her was focused on all the students getting closer and closer to whatever that damn clown was.
“Brave and stupid,” Rose muttered to herself.
Then she darted to the front of the group again. Rose stumbled slightly on a grate, her hand still wrapped around the protective pendant, into one of the boys near the front. A spark from the pendant made Rose flinch as it jumped from her to the boy’s hand. He released the balloon and stopped walking with a shudder, shaking his head.
“Anthony?” Rose called, and he turned to look at her.
“Rose… what is going on?” The other students kept moving around them with no sign of slowing their march. Anthony’s eyes widened in confusion, and he began to reach for one of his friends.
“Don’t touch the red balloons,” Rose shouted to him.
Anthony pulled his hand back and nodded weakly. Rose sighed and dashed to the front again. Keeping a tight grip on the pendant, Rose reached out to touch a girl named Rebecca. Again there was a spark, and Rebecca stumbled and looked around in confusion. Not stopping to talk, Rose turned to the nearest boy, someone she did not know and repeated the process, careful not to touch the red balloon. They were at the doors of the Museum now, and the double doors swung open to allow the students entry.
Out of the corner of her eye, Rose saw Rebecca and the strange boys running down the street. Anthony however, was shaking other students and trying to stop them from walking into the building. Rose smiled at his attempts; it made her feel a little less alone, but there were still far too many students walking into the clown’s domain. She was being carried forward in the tide of bodies as they all marched through the doors.
The lobby of the museum seemed unchanged, but Rose tensed up when all the students suddenly stopped moving. She gasped when a large section of the floor opened and revealed stairs leading down into a poorly lit hall. Stumbling out of the way, Rose watched as the student began advancing again in their rows of two by two. Rose grabbed her protective necklace and touched two more students, one she knew as Emily from the year above her. Another spark jumped from the pendant to the girl who gasped and released the red balloon. They jumped the side to avoid the marching line going down the stairs, and Emily gave a small cry of alarm. Rose reached out to touch another student, but this time nothing happened. She looked down at her necklace and noticed that the crystal’s shade was flickering between the light colour it had been and a darker tone. Small sparks were visible on the metal surface of the device. The whole thing flashed for a moment before the crystal faded to dark blue and the sparks stopped.
Sighing, Rose released the pendant, letting it drop against her body. She turned to look at those she had freed. They were staring at the other children in shock and confusion, now silent as they had given up calling to them. Each face was a picture of confusion and fear. After a moment Anthony and the other boy turned to the main doors and pulled them open.
“Look!” Emily shouted. “The doors are still open; we can go get help.”
Rose didn’t say anything about the help they could bring being useless. She didn’t know what the clown was exactly, but she was very confident that the police wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. The other three students, however, all quickly rushed out into the street, shouting to the nearby adults. For a moment Rose looked after them and considered following. Then she looked back at the line of students quickly going down the stairs, their red balloons bouncing along with them.
“Doctor,” she whispered, “I hope you’re close by because my stupidity is getting worse by the second.”
Then Rose moved to the back of the line and followed the last of the students down into the basement. She wondered if in the old Pied Piper story there had been a child who wasn’t under the spell, but who went with the others anyway. The trap door slid closed behind her.
Chapter 6: Curse of the Piper: Fear Itself
Rose confronts her fears and the Piped Piper.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Six: Curse of the Piper: Fear Itself
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, Sarah Jane Adventures or Torchwood.
Every step she took down the dark staircase made Rose shiver as the air grew colder and damper. She started to wrap her arms around herself but saw that the others hadn’t shifted their positions at all, still grasping their balloons with one hand and staring blankly forward. Sighing, Rose dropped her hands to her side and tried to walk as calmly as she could. If the clown was watching them, the absence of a balloon would give her away, but no reason to draw attention to herself.
Creeping closer to the students in front of her, Rose carefully began to slip forward in the crowd. She hoped that the sheer mass of student uniforms and red balloons would allow her to stay hidden in plain sight. Rose was still trying to come up with some kind of plan, but the only thing she was sure of was that she couldn’t leave the others. She was not going to panic; the clown had changed tactics by taking the whole lot of them at once rather than one at a time like he had been doing for over a week. That change had to mean something. Maybe, just maybe the Doctor was still working on the problem and had found something that scared the creature.
Finally, the stairs came to an end, and the small army of students marched through a short corridor that opened up into a sizeable ancient stone room. Rose was inclined to believe they were in one of the old forgotten tunnels or buildings under the modern city. As the student spread out through the large space, Rose studied the room quickly. A catwalk stretched across the high ceiling of the room and Spellman was standing upon it, looking down at the children. The lighting was poor, coming from only a few lamps hanging from the catwalk putting Spellman in the shadows. Looking up at Spellman, Rose was mindful to keep her head level and stay still in the crowd. The floating red balloons were still being held tightly by everyone and were blocking the view a bit, but hopefully, that meant that Spellman would not notice the absence of Rose’s balloon.
Rose was still and silent as Spellman chuckled and clapped his hands. Then she heard an odd sound; it was like a mix of wheezing and something being scrapped over metal. It was all she could do not to look around for it. Instead, she stayed focused on Spellman as he turned to look down the catwalk. Rose couldn’t stop herself from smiling as the Doctor walked out onto the catwalk near Spellman.
“Release the children,” the Doctor ordered Spellman, his voice echoing in the cavernous room.
“I do not think so,” Spellman replied. He looked calm and merely nodded to the Doctor. “Tonight the entire nation shall tremble at the loss of so many children and live in fear that their own are next.”
“And you’ll feed on that fear.” The Doctor reached into the pocket of his leather jacket. He pulled out a small rock that Rose could barely make out. “I know what you are,” the Doctor added darkly.
“Indeed Doctor,” Spellman said with a tip of his top hat. “I assumed you would figure it out after we met at the laboratory where my meteor is stored.”
Rose looked between the two figures in confusion. Part of what they were saying made sense if she believed that… but that was crazy. Wasn’t it?
“Seven hundred years you’ve survived on this planet by causing fear and causing pain,” the Doctor said. His tone was cold and harsh making the whole room seem chillier.
“I must survive,” Spellman answered with an elegant shrug. “And fear is the most powerful human emotion, no matter what this weak species may say.”
“It is time for you stop this, release these children and I will take you somewhere else,” the Doctor offered in an even tone that did not hide his anger.
“I think not,” Spellman said. Then he chuckled. “Seven hundred years Doctor and I am a legend. I have grown strong on the fear of humans. You may think that bringing a piece of the meteor near me will be enough, but I am too strong for that.”
Spellman took a long stride towards the Doctor, no fear or worry in his features. Only a few feet from the Doctor, Spellman stopped and smirked. “These children feel nothing at the moment, but you Doctor, you feel so much fear! You’re afraid that you cannot save them, you are afraid that even if I agree to spare them now that in the future I’ll start all over again, but you are also afraid of not giving me that offer. I am fear Doctor, and I am oh so very strong in you.”
Holding her breath, Rose watched as the Doctor held out the meteor, but nothing happened, and Spellman laughed. Fear made Rose freeze, and she bit back a whimper. Spellman’s laughter was echoing in the room, and Rose grasped the useless pendant. It sparked slightly, and she looked down at it. The crystal was flickering again as if it was trying to turn back on. Looking around the room, Rose no longer felt any concern about Spellman seeing her. He had said that all the children couldn’t feel fear, but she wasn’t in a trance. Her fear was making him stronger and if he was right about the Doctor… then they both had to stop being afraid. If they didn’t stop being afraid, then they were doomed, but if they controlled their fear then maybe they stood a chance. It was that thought, that realisation that triggered something in Rose and she saw what her once perfectly normal life had turned into.
Dropping her bag, Rose exploded with laughter. Her laughter echoed in the large room, and Rose moved through the crowd of students, stumbling as bursts of laughter put her off balance. Spellman and the Doctor had noticed her laughing and turned to look out into the group. At the side of the room, Rose caught sight of a stair leading up to the catwalk and altered her course. By the time she reached the top of the stairs, her laughter had lessened, but Rose could still feel a swell of something inside of her that made her feel stronger. The eyes of both the Doctor and Spellman were fixed on her as she walked towards them.
“Rose.” The Doctor frowned as she came closer to the two beings. “What are you doing here?”
“Being stupid apparently,” Rose replied. She shrugged weakly and giggled. “Course under the circumstances that’s smarter than being brave, since being brave also means being afraid.”
“You need to run,” the Doctor told her, glancing down at the dark pendant hanging around her neck.
“Doesn’t matter now,” Rose said. “Even if I wanted to I couldn’t get away now. And even if I did, well I don’t think I could ever forgive myself for running out on the others and you.”
She met the Doctor’s blue eyes. He was afraid for her, she could see it in her eyes. She wanted to tell him to stop being afraid but didn’t know how.
“Stupid little blonde girl!” Spellman reached towards her.
Rose started giggling again, unable to help it now. Raising an eyebrow, Spellman frowned and took a small step away from her. Rose noticed the movement and grinned at him.
“I’m not afraid now,” she told him with a beaming smile. “Not of you.” She motioned towards the meteor piece the Doctor was holding. “I think I understand what you are and now I know that being afraid won’t help. Fear is supposed to help us survive, but when you know that it’s actually going to harm you…well.” Rose laughed again, too many emotions churning in her stomach. “Trust me I’m a bit surprised at this myself. I always figured I’d be the first to run away.”
Spellman took another step back from the girl who just kept giggling, her entire body shaking with them. There was still a touch of fear in her, but it had become weakened against something else in her. It was too close to him and too potent when this close to the meteor piece. He turned to the Doctor and swallowed, looking down at the meteor which had taken on a greenish glow at his weakening powers.
“I agree to your offer Doctor. I’ll leave Earth,” Spellman said. A shudder raced through his body as the giggling continued behind him. “I’ll leave Earth. Take me someplace else!”
The Doctor looked at the meteor, then at Spellman before looking past Spellman at the little giggling girl. Then the Doctor gave a wide grin and started laughing himself. Spellman leapt back from him, which only put him closer to Rose.
“I have to track down the damn meteor that brought you here and get it close to you, but it’s a laughing child that scares you.” The Doctor laughed again. “That’s… that’s very surprising. Fantastic!”
“Doctor, you can’t save them all!” Spellman shouted at the Doctor. “You’ll fail again, and you know it. You fear it, and it is such a real fear. Tomorrow more will die because you can’t save them.”
“He’s going to save everyone today, though,” Rose insisted, raising her chin defiantly at Spellman. “Look at you. The fearsome Pied Piper who… how did you put it ‘conjured away a whole town’s infants and chilled the hearts of parents’ trying to make us afraid.”
“You’re too close to the meteorite for that,” The Doctor agreed with a manic smile, “It has been trying to pull you back into it for seven hundred years, but you’ve always managed to stay far enough way.” The Doctor stepped closer holding out the meteor in his palm, “But now it is right here, and we’re not feeding you. It’s over; you’re done.”
Rose had to close her eyes as the meteor flashed a bright green and Spellman screamed. He dissolved into smoke and was pulled back towards the meteor. Her heart started beating faster, and she swallowed.
“Focus Rose,” the Doctor snapped. His voice cut through the haze and growing fear. “This is supposed to happen, don’t be afraid! Not now!”
Nodding, Rose watched the smoke swirl before her, shimmering in the light from the meteor. There was a sense of beauty to it, she realised, and a feeling of triumph rose in her chest. Another laugh escaped her, this time one of wonder. The smoke was pulled quickly into the meteor as the glow faded. Immediately, the Doctor pulled a small metal box out of his pocket and dropped the rock into it. The lid slid shut, and a green light appeared on the side.
“That’ll hold him,” the Doctor said. Then he looked back at her with a wide grin. “Neither thought nor emotion can get through this, and I’ve got a nice attic he can rot in.”
Rose smiled at him, but the sudden din from below made her turn to look at the students. The balloons were vanishing one by one, and the students were beginning to panic at finding themselves here. She grinned as several of the missing children suddenly popped back into the real world. Relaxing, Rose cheered as she spotted Shareen, Sharon, and Mickey in the crowd. The Doctor raised an eyebrow and looked over at Rose.
“Better get down there and lead them home,” he told her, watching for her reaction.
Rose looked over at him with wide eyes, showing more fear and uncertainty than she had while confronting Spellman. “Me? I can’t… I mean,” she stuttered.
“Yes,” the Doctor said with a nod and a grin. “You Rose Tyler.” He walked over to her in a few long strides and dropped to one knee before her. Giving her a gentle smile, he placed his hands on her shoulders. Her wide brown eyes met his blue ones which were bright with delight and confidence. “Rose Tyler, you were fantastic today,” the Doctor told her firmly. “Fear is one of the most powerful forces in human nature, and you found the strength to fight that. It’s not easy, and many people never manage it. Remember today and remember what you are capable of. You are fantastic and never let anyone tell you differently.” Withdrawing his hands from her shoulders, the Doctor stood up and began to walk away.
“Wait,” Rose called. She moved to take off the necklace. “I should return this to you.”
“Keep it,” the Doctor told her, “By the look of the crystal, it is shorted out anyhow.”
“Yeah,” Rose confessed. She blushed a little. “I touched some of the kids with it. They got away.”
“Then you should start getting the others out of here,” the Doctor said. He nodded towards the others down below them. “Don’t need a student riot.”
He turned and walked along the catwalk towards a dark corner of the room. Rose watched him for a moment before the noise below grew too loud. Taking a deep breath, she turned and looked over the crowd; raising her fingers to her lips, she gave a loud whistle that echoed in the room. Slowly the noise died down, and everyone looked up at the blonde girl standing above them.
“Alright everyone, this is not the time to panic or gossip. Our priority is getting everyone out of here and to making sure we are safe.” Rose pointed to a ginger boy near the back that she knew by name. “Daniel, the door out is right behind you. I want you to stay at the front and lead the way out. The staircase is very long, and it leads into a museum of the circus.”
Some of the other children started shouting and asking questions, but Rose whistled again and stood as straight as she could manage. “No arguing, take it slow and stay calm. We’ll all be out of here soon, and with some luck, the police will be waiting for us upstairs.”
To Rose’s relief, they all started doing exactly as she said and slowly joining the long line to head out the door. Sighing, Rose turned back to the right, but there was no sign of the Doctor down the dark tunnel. Rose stared down the dark passage, wondering for a moment where it led and what other secret places might be down here. Then she turned back to the other students and climbed down the stairs to join them in leaving Spellman’s domain. She stopped at the door for a moment, taking up the rear and turned back to the large empty room.
“Thank you, Doctor,” she said softly. Then after a moment of hesitation, she turned and followed the rest up the stairs.
Rose did not see the Doctor step back out of the dark passageway where the TARDIS waited and smile after her. Nor did she see the Doctor pick up the bag she had dropped and forgotten about in the crisis. She did not see him open her sketchbook and smile at her drawing of him.
She did not hear him whisper, “You’re welcome Rose Tyler.”
Chapter 7: Curse of the Piper: Aftermath
Rose tries to deal with what comes next after you live through an adventure.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Seven: Curse of the Piper: Aftermath
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, Sarah Jane Adventures or Torchwood.
Rose soon discovered that the problem with being the one to direct all the students out of the old hidden basement was that everyone assumed she knew what was going on. Of course, she did, but the bad guy had been sucked into a meteorite and then shoved into a box after being defeated with the power of laughter. Somehow Rose didn’t think that explanation was going to work. Being sectioned at eleven didn’t sound like fun.
The kids Rose had freed from Spellman using the pendant before entering the basement had managed to get the police to the museum just in time to see all the missing students, even those who had been missing for days all climbing out a massive trap door. Officers were scrambling to get everyone’s names and contact information for parents. More cars and vans were arriving each minute, blocking up the street and creating a police line. People were gathering outside the line and pointing at the children and shouting all kinds of things. The older students were all quickly rounded up for questioning, but most ended up pointing over at Rose who ironically was one of the youngest people present.
Thus, Rose Tyler found herself being questioned by the same officer from before along with several others in front of the Museum. She told them the facts she felt safe telling, most importantly that she had seen many of the kids who vanished with Spellman Museum of the Circus tickets. They were clearly annoyed that the tip she had given them the day before had turned out to be correct, but her inability to tell them where the kidnapper was launched a massive search of the tunnels. Several officers formed teams and called for backup and maps of the area. They kept asking what seemed to be the same questions over and over again in new ways until one of the therapists that had arrived told them it was enough. With the questioning over, Rose slipped to the side and sat down on the ground in a dark corner to watch and hopefully avoid too much notice. She watched another group of officers pull out torches and head into the museum to join the search. A small part of her worried that they’d find the Doctor, but another part reminded her that he had almost magically appeared in the basement in the first place. The small voice in her head that was insisting Spellman was an alien was telling her that the Doctor was as well.
Less than half an hour had gone by when the journalists and TV crews arrived on the scene and began talking with the children. Many of the older students quickly stepped forward to talk into the cameras while those closer to Rose’s age took to shouting out at random times. Even from where she was sitting, she could hear her name being said over and over again as the other kids realised that they didn’t remember anything.
Rose smiled when the chief of the police stood in front of the cameras and triumphantly announced that all the missing children were accounted for and safe. His mood darkened when the reporters asked about the memory loss the children all seemed to have and that they had, in fact, been saved by an eleven-year-old girl rather than the police. Blushing, Rose listened to the words they kept using to describe her like brave, intelligent and resourceful as she certainly didn’t feel like that at all. Right now she felt tired, dirty and relieved, but not heroic. Like most of the other children, Rose was waiting for a parent to come and get her, but with the chaos, it could be a while.
“Hello there, you’re Rose Tyler aren’t you? The hero of the day,” a warm female voice asked.
Looking up from her shadowy corner, Rose saw an older woman with brown hair framing her face, smiling down at her. The woman held a water bottle in one hand and a notebook and brown paper bag in her other.
“Hello,” Rose replied.
The woman’s smile softened. “I imagine in the chaos you haven’t had anything to eat,” the woman said. “I’m afraid the police were not expecting to be dealing with this many children. Half the school goes missing, and then the other twelve missing children turn up.” The woman handed Rose the bottle of water and a small sealed package of biscuits. “I got them right across the street,” the woman told her. She pointed to a shop across the road which had a large sign proclaiming it the Bad Wolf Shoppe. “They’re safe. I’m not trying to hurt you.”
“You’re a reporter aren’t you,” Rose asked. She looked at the woman’s notebook and then back at her face.
“Guilty I’m afraid,” the woman said. She laughed a little. “My name is Sarah Jane Smith, and I’m a freelance journalist if that helps at all.”
“I didn’t really do anything that important,” Rose insisted to Sarah Jane. “And I don’t think I’m supposed to talk to anyone without my mum.”
“I’m not after a story Rose,” Sarah Jane assured her. “I just noticed that you’re back here alone, hiding from the normal reporters I’d imagine.” Sarah Jane motioned to the spot next to Rose. “May I keep you company until your parents come?”
“I suppose,” Rose answered. The woman seemed nice enough. “I don’t know if they’ve gotten in touch with my mother yet.”
“What about your father?”
“He died when I was a baby,” Rose replied, looking down at the water bottle in her hand.
“My parents died when I was a baby too,” Sarah Jane said. The woman made herself comfortable leaning against the wall and started sipping her tea. She looked around at the children who were still talking with the police, talking to the news crews or trying to leave. “I can’t imagine keeping that group together long enough to get them all out safely. Thirty officers are having a difficult time of it up here.”
“Apparently the secret is to look like you know what you’re doing,” Rose told her with a soft chuckle which only made Sarah Jane laugh.
“Oh I like you, Rose,” Sarah Jane said shaking her head. “I think you’ll be just fine.”
“What do you mean?” Rose questioned, bristling slightly.
“Well the therapists over there,” Sarah Jane said as she motioned to one of the police therapists who was talking to a group of children. “They seem to think that all of you are going to be scarred for life and never function properly again. At least with you, I think they’re wrong.”
“It was scary,” Rose admitted quietly. “I’m still not even sure what happened. Spellman just vanished from the catwalk, and everyone went back to normal. I just told them how to get out and to stay together.”
“Yes, the police are searching the basement and tunnels for Spellman, but they can’t explain the memory loss or how Spellman was able to control all these children. Making half of a school walk away without any drugs being used is hard to understand.”
“Maybe he was the Pied Piper,” Rose said with a shrug as if meaning it as a joke, but Sarah Jane gave her a searching look.
“Maybe,” Sarah Jane agreed after a moment, “The world is full of strange things.”
“I’m starting to figure that out,” Rose said.
Sarah Jane turned to say something more to her when Rose heard her mother calling her name. She turned and looked towards the police line to see Jackie Tyler showing on the policeman her identification. Rose smiled and turned back to Sarah Jane.
“Thank you, Ms. Smith,” Rose said politely. She stood up and dusted off her uniform. “It was nice talking to you.”
“Nice talking to you Rose,” Sarah Jane agreed. She held out her hand, and they shook hands quickly. “You take care of yourself and remember that you did do something very important and special today. Whether you believe it or not you are wonderful.” She handed Rose her business card, “Take this just in case you decide that you want to do an interview.”
Sarah Jane walked Rose over to the police line and watched the mother and daughter hug each other tightly. Cameras flashed, and reporters jumped forward to ask the mother and daughter questions about the day, but a fierce glare from Jackie silenced them. Jackie Tyler told them that they could contact her later for questions and interviews which made Rose sigh quietly. Sarah Jane watched silently as the pair climbed into a police car to be driven home and watched them drive out of sight. Then Sarah Jane walked down the street a short distance to a man calmly leaning against a building. He straightened up as she stepped closer and nodded respectfully.
“Miss Smith, a moment please,” he said. Then he pulled out a billfold and showed her a UNIT identification card.
She laughed and shook her head at the sight of him. “I should have known you lot would be watching this,” she said. Then she shook her head and sighed a little. “It might be aliens; I’m afraid I can’t shed any light on it.”
“UNIT will investigate Miss Smith,” the man said with a crisp nod. Then he glanced behind Sarah Jane and his expression softened. “How are the children?” h
“They don’t remember anything of the abduction,” Sarah Jane told him. She smiled a little and looked over her shoulder. “So once the initial shock is past, I imagine they will all be fine.”
“And the girl who led them out,” he questioned. “Should UNIT keep an eye on her?”
“No, I don’t think that is necessary,” Sarah Jane answered. “She’s going to be just fine.” Sarah Jane smiled and added, “Send the Brigadier my love.”
“Yes, Miss Smith.” He gave her a salute which she shook her head at as she walked down to her car.
Rose didn’t speak much on the ride back home and sighed as they pulled up to the Powell Estates. Many of the other children were already back or were arriving as they did and the whole estate was in the courtyard. As she climbed out, many people started rushing towards her, but her mother had noticed her silence.
“None of that,” Jackie Tyler snapped. She grabbed Rose’s hand tightly and drew herself up to her full height. “She’s exhausted and will be getting a good night’s sleep before you lot start asking questions.”
Everyone quickly backed off, and Rose smiled a little bit, pity she hadn’t been able to unleash her mother on Spellman. That thought made her giggle slightly as Jackie led her to their door and ushered her inside.
“I know it’s still early Rose,” Jackie said. The clock on the wall said it was still only four o’clock. “But I’m going to get dinner going, so you can turn in early. In the morning we’ll see if you’re up to going to school.”
“Okay Mum,” Rose agreed.
With heavy limbs, Rose walked back to her room. Stopping in her doorway, Rose gasped softly as her eyes fell on the book bag waiting on her bed. She had noticed its absence on the ride home and was sure she’d dropped it somewhere in Spellman’s basement, but here it was. Closing the door, Rose glanced around her room and walked over to it cautiously. She opened it and found a small note which she quickly unfolded, only to giggle.
Not a bad drawing of me Rose Tyler, keep practising that. Good job today and remember that you’re fantastic.
Grinning, Rose folded the note back up and placed it in the top drawer of her dresser. Looking at herself in the mirror, Rose smiled and nodded to herself. She had been declared fantastic and wonderful today, and she’d do her best to live up to that.
Chapter 8: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: A Little Older
Life moves on, but how did her encounter with Spellman change Rose.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Eight: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: A Little Older
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, Sarah Jane Adventures or Torchwood.
Rose Marion Tyler was fourteen years old, and many things had changed about her life since the week she met the Doctor and Spellman was defeated. The attention she received for leading the students out to safety had faded after a few months everywhere except the Powell Estates. Her Mum still brought it up from time to time when she needed one of the neighbours to fix something. Rose remained something of a hero in her home area, and Jackie enjoyed the attention.
Most of the time Rose did not think about the Doctor, knowing that she might never see the mysterious man ever again. Knowing that he was out in the world somewhere helping other people gave her hope and always made her smile. She wished that she knew more about him, but was gradually accepting that he would probably always remain a mystery. Still, that hadn’t stopped Rose from forming a few strange theories about who or what he really was.
But one thing Rose never let go of was his final words to her, “You are fantastic and never let anyone tell you differently.”
She did her best to live up to that statement even if she had returned to her normal life. Rose worked harder in school and found that while maths wasn’t easy it wasn’t half bad. She enjoyed science for the possibilities it presented to her and hoped that someday she’d know enough to examine the pendant that she always wore. Of course, hard work didn’t make everything easier as Rose barely managed to pass history each term which in her defence wasn’t about her lack of interest, but rather her inability to keep all the dates straight. Rose had to practice several times a week, but she was proving herself decent at gymnastics. She was even accepting that she didn’t have the raw talent of Sally Peters who was the team’s star. Still, she’d earned the school a couple of medals.
Out of school, she allowed her enjoyment of art to grow beyond the occasional sketchbook and put her spending money towards better supplies. She babysat children around the estate frequently and just focused on staying busy and out of trouble. Half of what she earned she gave to her Mum which had made things a little easier in their flat over the last couple of years. Jackie was mostly doing hair out of the flat now rather than working in shops though around the holidays she occasionally took a seasonal job.
Rose’s once bright pink and clothing filled room had shifted over the last three years. The walls had been repainted white and hand painted by Rose with scenes from her imagination. Fantastical images of other worlds covered one wall while the ceiling was decorated with stars and planets. Her vanity had been swapped out for a plain wooden desk with a small easel on it and a can of brushes next to it. A tall, but narrow bookshelf held her schoolbooks and the second-hand science books that she’d collected over the years. A large mirror increased the sense of space and the light while in its frame dozens of photos displayed her friends and her family.
Since Spellman’s mass kidnapping Rose had expanded her circle of friends and while Shareen was still her best mate, Sharon who was on the gymnastics team with her was a close second, and they formed a popular little trio at Jericho Street Comprehensive. Overall, Rose never would have complained about her life. Well maybe a little about her Mum’s various boyfriends, but nowadays they tended to leave her alone if she let them be.
It was an ordinary Tuesday when Rose went into Mrs. Taylor’s art class and took her seat at a table with Sharon and Shareen. They whispered as they waited for class to begin, but fell silent as Mr. Edwards, the school’s Head Teacher walked into the room. Some of the students straightened up at their desks while others shrank back.
“Settle down,” Mr. Edwards shouted. He straightened his ties and smiled at the class which made numerous students look at each other in surprise. “If I may Mrs. Taylor I have an important announcement. One that concerns you, Rose Tyler.”
Looking up, Rose blinked in mild alarm at the Head Teacher, entirely in the dark about what she could have possibly done. Sure the Head wasn’t her number one fan after a small accident in the chemistry lab last year, but she had never given him reason to dislike her. It wasn’t like she made a habit of causing damage to school property.
“Me?” Rose questioned with wide eyes, “I didn’t do anything.”
There were a few snickers around the room at her response.
“Calm down Rose, you aren’t in trouble,” Mr. Edwards told her with a widening smile. It made Rose rather nervous. “The opposite in fact. I have just received a call from Professor Harding the curator of the International Museum here in London, and tomorrow this class will be the first members of the public to see the visiting Mona Lisa here in the UK. All thanks to Rose, congratulations your painting won first prize.”
Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Taylor started clapping, and the whole joined in while Rose gaped at them, very surprised and confused.
“As much as I appreciate the applause and missing history in the morning there has been a mistake,” Rose told them quickly. “I never put my work into a competition.”
Mr. Edwards glanced at Mrs. Taylor in confusion, but she just shrugged. “Someone did,” Mr. Edwards said. He looked down at the note in his hand. “The painting’s name was Luman…”
“Lumen,” Rose corrected automatically. “It’s Latin for light.” She turned to Sharon who quickly lowered her eyes. Rose held back a sigh and nodded. “And yeah I guess I know who entered it.” Blushing, Sharon gave Rose a sheepish smile while Mr. Edwards beamed at Rose before he turned to speak with Mrs. Taylor. “You told me your uncle was going to frame it,” Rose said to Sharon. She leaned over the table towards her friend while Shareen chuckled.
“And he did, but then I entered it in the competition,” Sharon told her. “They were looking for the country’s most promising young artist, and you really are good Rose.” Sharon’s lower lip stuck out a lip as she implored Rose to understand.
“You’re brilliant, I mean you won!” Shareen injected.
“I knew you would never be so forward,” Sharon said. “But it was just gorgeous, too gorgeous just to be hanging where no one would ever see it.”
Groaning, Rose put her head down on top of her folded arms while her friends both gave her nervous smiles. After taking in a slow breath, Rose raised her head and looked over at Sharon.
“Are you angry with me?” Sharon asked in a soft voice.
“No.” Rose sighed as she sat back up and brushed her hair out of her face. “I’m a bit nervous and embarrassed,” she admitted, toying with a strand of her hair. “But hey the Mona Lisa and missing history. I can’t really complain can I?”
Sharon shifted in her chair, still looking a bit guilty. Rose gave her a soft, reassuring smile.
“I can’t wait till your Mum hears this,” Shareen laughed, “She’ll be bragging for months.”
“If not years,” Rose added before Mr. Edwards called them all back to attention to give instructions for the next morning.
Rose’s mother Jackie Tyler had reacted just as Rose and the girls figured she would. Sharon stayed at with Rose and Shareen at the Powell Estate just long enough to watch Jackie hug Rose tightly before rushing off to tell the rest of the estate before she went home herself, laughing the whole way. Rose was already finding her Mum’s reaction exhausting.
Tossing her things in her room, Rose took a moment to brush her hair and collect her thoughts. She smiled at her reflection and took a deep breath before she rejoined Shareen in the Tyler living room. The two girls started the homework in peaceful silence and stayed that way until Rose became aware of Shareen watching her.
“What is it?” Rose asked, looking up to meet her friend's blue eyes.
“I was just thinking back to when we were really little,” Shareen answered with a small smile. “You’re so different now.”
“I’m older,” Rose said. She flipped her pencil around her fingers and smiled. “You are too.”
“That’s not what I mean.” Shareen rested her chin on her hand and studied Rose. “You act older than the other girls our age and look at things with more imagination. You work harder too and like science a lot more than you did back then. Nowadays it's always go go go with you. There’s always something you’re doing or working on. You’re just different.”
“So are we talking good different or bad different?” Rose asked. She tried to smile but felt nervous at the conversation.
“Good I think, course I don’t know what you would have been like otherwise.” Shareen leaned back in the chair as she explained, “It’s probably because of Spellman. You having to take the lead like that and look after everyone.”
“When did you get into psychology?” Rose asked with a laugh.
“Well,” Shareen said, “By the looks of things you’re either going to be a scientist or an artist.” Shareen met Rose’s eyes and smiled broadly. “Maybe I should start setting my sights high too.”
“I think you’d be great at whatever you decide to do,” Rose told her honestly.
“Confidence,” Shareen remarked with a beaming smile. “You’ve had more of that since Spellman too.”
“Okay thanks for the evaluation,” Rose told her with a dramatic eye roll. “Can we get back to our work now? These equations aren’t going to solve themselves.”
“Only if you come over here and explain this to me,” Shareen said. She held up her math book to show Rose a series of equations.
“I can do that.” Rose put down her book and went over to Shareen. The two girls sat close together as Rose walked her friend through the equations step by step until everything clicked into place.
Chapter 9: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: Gallery Girl
Rose and her friends attend the exhibit to see the Mona Lisa, but Rose soon finds that everything is not as normal as it seems.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Nine: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: Gallery Girl
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, Torchwood or the Sarah Jane Adventures because if I did this would probably be canon.
The next day was warm and sunny, and if it hadn’t also been a school day, Rose would have been torn at the notion of spending it in a museum rather than outside lying in the sun with a book. The Powell Estate may not have had a large lawn, but she’d become a fan of the parks nearby. Ahead of them, the museum’s pale stone gleamed in the sunlight and banners advertising the Mona Lisa added a splash of colour. Mrs. Taylor was eagerly lining them all up and counting them with Mr. Edwards giving a lecture about proper behaviour as the museum’s honoured guests. He honestly seemed the most excited of all of them and kept smiling at Rose. She wasn’t sure about this whole ‘head teacher’s favourite’ thing that had suddenly developed.
Rose couldn’t help but notice that Shareen had done up her brown hair in a neat bun for the day and that Sharon’s long black hair was braided rather than just in a ponytail. She didn’t feel so silly for her neat French braid that her Mum had helped with. The students milled around and talked in low voices as they looked up at the impressive building. Rose’s eyes went to one of the banners of the Mona Lisa. She’d never been that impressed with it, to be honest. In her art books, Rose always thought that the Mona Lisa was pretty boring compared to some of Da Vinci’s other paintings, but still her excitement to see it was growing.
Finally, Mr. Edwards came to the front of the group and gestured them all to follow him up the stairs. Once inside they all turned in their mobiles and tried to stand respectfully still despite being a group of fourteen-year-olds. Sharon and Shareen remained close to Rose and couldn’t stop grinning at the idea of their friend’s painting in a proper museum.
“Oh look freebies.” Shareen suddenly darted over to the information counter. She grabbed up a map and several guides to shove in her bag. “Want one?” she asked, looking back at them.
“No thanks,” Rose said. She shook her head and held back a laugh at Shareen’s antics.
“Suit yourself.” Shareen shrugged as she rejoined them.
Rose stood still near the centre of the room, watching Mr. Edwards and the stairs for their guide. The whole thing still seemed unreal, out of the whole of England it was her painting that won the prize. Of course, Rose admitted to herself, Lumen was special to her. The image had come to her in a dream and painting it had been as natural as breathing. It wasn’t usually that easy for Rose to decide the composition and colouring of her paintings, but she supposed it had too easy sometimes. She had named it the moment she finished it. Lumen meant light even if she had briefly considered aureus which meant golden. Rose was snapped out of her thoughts by a short, plump woman in a grey skirt and yellow sweater walking down the stairs to the group, calling for their attention.
“Mr. Edwards with Jericho Street Comprehensive?” the woman asked in a warm tone. She smiled when he nodded. “Mr. Harding will see you upstairs,” she said pleasantly. “If you’ll follow me.”
They all gathered back together to follow the woman back up the elegant staircase as she spoke with Mister Edwards near the front. Mrs. Taylor moved over by Rose and touched her shoulder before smiling at her.
“Don’t be nervous,” Mrs. Taylor told her. “You have nothing to worry about.”
They were lead into a large gallery room, and the group began to wander around. Some students were very bored and annoyed at having been stripped out their phones, but cheered up when reminded that they were missing history. Rose and her friends joined the group in wandering as the woman left the room to fetch Mr. Harding. Shareen grinned at an elegant puzzle box with three raised stones on the top.
“I’d love to have this for a jewellery box, it is gorgeous,” Shareen observed, brushing a hand over the top of it quickly before looking guiltily around.
“It is nice,” Rose agreed as she glanced down at the sign, “By Giuseppe di Cattivo. Interesting, says here that he was a painter who lived next to Leonardo da Vinci.”
“A painter?” Sharon questioned as she looked at the box in confusion.
“It was the renaissance,” Shareen told her with a grin. “They all did all kinds of things, Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel even though he was actually a sculptor.”
“Excellent, Shareen,” Mrs. Taylor praised as she walked past them. “Here they come girls, Rose to the front.”
Rose was gently pushed forward as the woman returned with a heavy greying man in a tweed suit strode towards them. Mr. Edwards stepped up next to Rose as the man walked over.
“Rose,” Mr. Edwards said, “This is Mr. Lionel Harding, curator of the gallery.” Mr. Edwards put a hand on Rose’s shoulder. “Rose Tyler. We’re really proud of her.”
“Congratulations, Rose,” Mr. Harding said with a smile as he shook Rose’s hand. “You are very talented.”
“Such a beautiful young lady,” Harding’s assistant said with a broad smile.
“Oh this is my assistant Phyllis Trupp,” Harding said with a gesture towards Ms. Trupp. “Now-”
He was cut off by Ms. Trupp taking Rose’s hand and saying, “You really are so gifted, Rose. As soon as I saw your entry I knew you’d win and it wasn’t up to, but if it had been, you’d absolutely have won. Well, you did! So it's all turned out for the best!”
“Ms. Trupp,” Harding cut in. “Perhaps you should go and check the final preparations.” Ms. Trupp gave a bashful nod and backed away before she darted down the long hallway that led away from the group. Smiling, Harding looked back at Rose. “Big day for all of us,” He boasted in a proud voice. “Rose, follow me. Your masterpiece awaits.”
Taking the lead, Harding motioned for everyone to follow him and took them up a flight of stairs and to the right. They quickly went through two more rooms of paintings before entering a smaller more modern room with small walls set up for the various painting. Harding moved through the room to the far side with long and energetic strides with Rose trying hard to keep up.
“Here we are,” Harding said. With a triumphant smile as he gestured grandly to the large painting hanging on one of the walls. “In pride of place.”
Lumen hung alone on the standing wall with expertly placed light shining at the perfect angle to make the oil paints glisten. A card with her name, age, and the painting name was hung just to the right of the painting. Behind Rose, several of the other students gasped and whispered at the piece. The background was filled with stars, a bright purple, green and blue nebula in the upper right-hand corner and a pale blue and white galaxy in the lower left. The foreground was filled with a glowing female figure wearing dark blue jeans, tall black boots and a purple shirt under a black leather jacket. The figure was bathed in golden light pouring out from the doorway behind her and from her own glowing eyes. She was reaching out towards the audience as she stepped out of an old-fashioned police box and her long wavy blonde hair floating around her like a halo in a stained glass window. Strangely, the whole work seemed to shimmer in the lighting giving it an added unearthly quality that just made Rose’s heart beat fast and a beaming smile take over her face.
“Wow Rose,” Shareen whispered beside her. “It looks great here.”
“I can’t believe it,” Rose said softly. Her eyes traced the way that the proper lighting made the woman’s leather jacket gleam and her jewellery shine.
“Is something wrong?” Mr. Harding asked, looking down at Rose.
“Nothing,” Rose answered with a smile. “It’s just my work in a proper gallery.”
Beside Rose, Sharon and Shareen grinned before they both started clapping. The rest of the class followed and cheered. Blushing, Rose lowered her eyes as everyone started chanting her name before looking imploringly to Mr. Edwards who looked like he wanted to laugh at her discomfort. Nonetheless, he told everyone to quiet down, but Mrs. Taylor gave one last whoop of happiness. When silence fell, and order returned, Harding stepped forward with a smile.
“Aside from the obvious artistic flair, your imagination is so impressive. The imagery of something as outdated as a police box within such a beautiful star scene captures the audience’s imagination,” Harding said dramatically. “The light surrounding the figure is otherworldly and almost magical, which is balanced out by her completely ordinary clothing. Then, of course, the detail work on her boots, the seams of her jacket and even that strange Yale key that she is wearing as a necklace. So much imagery that seems like it should be in opposition to each other somehow harmonises in this painting.” Harding gestured wildly with his hands. “When the committee first saw it there was absolutely no doubt that you deserved the award.” Harding smiled at the painting and nodded to Rose before he turned back to the class and said, “Please look around at the other paintings. We will go into the Mona Lisa exhibit shortly.”
Standing in front of her painting, Rose listened to the others move about her as she allowed her eyes to trace the image in front of her. She smiled as she remembered painting each part of it and the struggle she’d had in getting to just like she’s seen in her mind, but now she did not doubt that the effort has been well worth every moment spent. Shareen came up on one side of her, while Sharon moved to the other. They stared at the picture with her for a long moment.
“I always used to hide my work from everyone,” Rose finally said softly. “I thought people would tell me I was no good and laugh at me.”
“What you thought being artistic wasn’t cool?” Shareen asked.
“A bit yeah,” Rose admitted. “That and I guess it’s one of those things you never think of being useful.”
“Well it is cool,” Sharon told her firmly, “And trust me, no one is laughing now Rose. You’re fourteen years old, and you’ve got a painting in the same building as the Mona Lisa. You’re brilliant.”
“Maybe even a bit fantastic?” Rose asked with a small smile, unable to stop herself.
“Absolutely fantastic!” Shareen promised. She gave Rose a quick hug while Sharon squeezed her hand tightly.
“And so to the prize,” Mr. Harding suddenly called behind them. “Prepare to meet the Mona Lisa.”
Everyone followed Mr. Harding through an elegant set of double doors and into a great grand room. The gallery walls were decorated in gold and red with a series of painting on each other them. A red carpet had been laid out, and two long benches with red cushions stood on either side. On a dais on the far side of the room stood a tall display with thick red curtains currently covered the painting underneath. Rose smiled as Mr. Harding kept her at the front of the group with him as they slowly approached the curtains.
“The Mona Lisa was begun by Leonardo da Vinci in 1503 in Florence, but finished only shortly before he died in 1519,” Harding said as they walked. “For over five hundred years the Mona Lisa’s beauty has remained undimmed. She has been gazed upon by millions in her Paris home, and now she is here.” The group stopped as Mr. Harding stepped forward to the curtains and turned back to them with a huge grin. “Feast your eyes and lose your hearts, I give you the Mona Lisa.”
The curtains opened dramatically, but everyone gasped. In place of the famous Mona Lisa image was a painting of Ms. Trupp in the same seated position.
“She has let herself go,” Sharon gasped out between giggles.
“That’s his assistant, Ms. Trupp,” Rose whispered to her friends as she recognised the woman in the image.
Ahead of them, Mr. Harding rushed over to a security phone on the wall. Picking it up, he shouted, “Security! The Mona Lisa has been stolen!”
Chapter 10: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: Too Much Curiosity
The girls start poking around despite Rose's protests that they really shouldn't.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Ten: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: Too Much Curiosity
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, Torchwood or the Sarah Jane Adventures because if I did this would probably be canon.
Ordered chaos was now a phrase that made more sense to Rose as both museum security and metro police swarmed the room. Additionally, there was a third group that had a French flag on their shoulders. Rose assumed they were from the French embassy. Rose and her classmates were all quickly escorted to the main round hall of the museum where they were witness to even more police arriving along with crime scene specialists. The buzz of people talking filled the room and echoed about down the empty corridors.
Sitting down on a bench at the side of the main hall, Rose calmly watched everyone who was darting about and listened to the theories of her classmates. She chuckled as Mr. Harding yelled to an officer that the French would have his head and that he had told the board that he needed better security. Mr. Edwards was speaking with another officer and assuring them that the children hadn’t seen anything strange, but had been escorted the whole time by Ms. Trupp or Mr. Harding.
She smiled when Sharon dropped down next to her and rested her hand on her chin with a thoughtful expression. Already she could hear the wheels turning in her friend’s head.
“This is very strange,” Sharon whispered to her. “I overheard the police, and there was some kind of energy spike that knocked out all the cameras in the museum. They say it is messing with all the normal equipment. They’ve got no video from the Mona Lisa room, none at all.”
“Sharon,” Rose said in a warning tone. “Don’t.”
“But this is interesting and weird,” Sharon argued. Her brown eyes were sparkling with excitement and curiosity, and she was all but vibrating on the bench.
“Maybe the thief had a disrupter of some kind,” Rose replied with a shrug. “I mean it is a museum, so there was a lot of time for them to case the area.” Her eyes jumped up to a nearby camera thoughtfully. She couldn’t deny that it was weird.
“But the painting!” Sharon said. She glanced around and lowered her voice. “Why would the thief hang an oil painting of the assistant in place of the Mona Lisa? And if you haven’t noticed Ms. Trupp hasn’t shown up since.”
“Maybe to frame her or maybe she did it,” Shareen offered as she joined them, sitting down on Rose’s other side. “Course where do you sell the Mona Lisa?” Shareen questioned with a frown. “With it being so famous and all?”
“Oh, I bet there are a lot of very rich people who would be willing to buy it, even if they could never let anyone see it,” Rose answered. “Or could only show it to other people who have art stolen. Or maybe it was an Italian nationalist who wants to see the painting back in Italy.”
“It was an impressive painting of Ms. Trupp.” Sharon looked towards the stairs leading to the main gallery and bit her bottom lip thoughtfully. “Someone went to a lot of effort on it.”
“Yeah,” Rose agreed slowly. “The background was the same as the Mona Lisa.” She frowned even more and tried to envision the strange painting that they’d seen. “And it even had ageing cracks in it and not ones caused by heat. They looked like real age cracks.”
“How do you know that?” Shareen asked with interest.
“I thought about using some techniques to give Lumen an aged look,” Rose replied. “But I decided not to since it takes a lot of time and they look artificial. Those looked like natural age cracks rather than the one done with modern techniques.” She licked her lips and tapped her fingers together in thought. Rose couldn’t help it, her mind was spinning, and excitement was churning in her stomach. “A lot of things about that painting doesn’t make sense. She was wearing the same outfit in the painting as she was wearing today, but oil paintings take months to dry. Remember how long mine took?”
“Course,” Shareen said with a grimace. “The whole estate smelled of oil fumes for weeks.”
“I see,” Sharon said with a grin, “So for the painting to have been accurate like that then it must have been Ms. Trupp who did it because she’d know what to wear today.”
“But why bother,” Rose pointed out. “I mean there is no point to doing that. If you’re going to steal a famous and heavily guarded painting then why stop to hang up a new one?”
“Maybe we should go have another look,” Sharon suggested with a sly grin.
“No,” Rose said. She gave Sharon a stern look. “It doesn’t concern us, and I doubt the police will appreciate meddlers.” When Sharon rolled her eyes, Rose grit her teeth. “There are French representatives here, Sharon!”
Sharon ignored her and jumped up from the bench with an extra spring in her step. Groaning, Rose watched her friend go over to Mr. Edwards and tell him that she needed the loo. Shareen smiled and followed before turning to give Rose a meaningful look. Sighing, Rose stood and joined her friends as they moved into one of the side corridors of the museum. It seemed that peer pressure was alive and well in her life. Rose followed them towards the loo, past the main security guards, and into a small room. Shareen pulled the map out of her bag and waved it in front of Rose.
“Never turn down a freebie Rose,” Shareen told Rose happily. “This will help us get around the police.”
“And the cameras are all still down,” Sharon added with an excited squeak. “I love this; we’re right in the middle of the crime of the century.”
“Cool it, Nancy Drew,” Rose said. “The painting and the culprit are probably long gone by now so don’t get ahead of yourself.”
Slowly, the trio worked their way through the maze of the museum and back towards the Mona Lisa room. In order to check for guards and police, Sharon had pulled a compact mirror from her bag and was using it to check around every corner. Due to the layout, this only worked about half the time and resulted in Rose rolling her eyes frequently. Rose sighed again softly as her friends continued to creep through the museum taking slow, careful steps while Rose just calmly walked behind. They entered another large gallery, and Rose frowned as she looked around.
“Wait,” Rose said.
“What?” Sharon asked, giving Rose a confused look.
“Where are all the guards and police,” Rose asked her. “The Mona Lisa has been stolen, but we haven’t seen anyone for at least ten minutes. Forensics should be all over this place.” Rose stepped away from her friends and looked around the room, walking calmly into the centre of it. “I’m missing something,” Rose whispered to herself. “Something has changed here, and something is wrong, but what is it.”
Then she saw it, and her jaw dropped just as her heart started racing. Turning to her friends, she grabbed their hands and pulled them towards the door. “We are leaving now!” Rose hissed loudly.
“But Rose,” Sharon whined. “If something strange is happening I want to know what it is.”
“No,” Rose said sharply. “We are getting out of this museum now.” She released their hands and turned to look at them. “Please trust me now like you did that day under Spellman’s,” Rose pleaded.
Her two friends glanced at each other, but fell silent and followed Rose out the door. Taking in slow breathes, Rose focused on navigating their way out and keeping her fear under control. Now she was carefully looking around the corner, even if she wasn’t sure what she was looking for. Glancing at the paintings they passed, she shivered, and she felt sicker by the minute. In many paintings were new figures that hadn’t been there before, men and women in police uniforms and the forensic teams. They were standing in the landscapes and portraits as if they had been painted out of the real world and into each painting, but their shocked and frightened expressions were what scared Rose the most. She touched the pendant that the Doctor had given her three years ago and took a deep breath as they entered the main hall.
Her friends beat her to the door and tugged on it, but the door didn’t move. “Rose,” Sharon cried out, “The main doors are sealed.”
Rushing up to the doors, Rose pushed hard on them, but Sharon was right. The doors were sealed, and they were now trapped inside the museum.
“We can wait here, right Rose. The police will find us and let us out?” Shareen asked, turning to her friend. “Rose you look very pale.”
“What are you children doing here?” Mr. Harding shouted. Rose spun around to find the man marching towards them from the shop, his face red with anger. “The police are investigating the theft and don’t need you getting in the way! This is a very important art theft!”
“This is more than an art theft,” Rose told Harding in a low tone. “And it is much more dangerous.”
“You had better believe it,” a smooth, elegant voice with a French accent said from behind them.
Spinning, Rose looked up at the staircase and gasped in alarm and shock. There standing at the top of the grand staircase was a woman dressed in the same Renaissance clothing as the Mona Lisa, with long brown hair and holding a pistol in her hand, pointing it right at Mr. Harding.
“Who are you?” Harding asked, moving forward and seemingly not noticing the gun.
The woman raised her… well actually Rose noticed that she did not have eyebrows or eyelashes, but she gave Harding a withering look. “I thought you were an art expert,” the woman said. She calmly walked down the steps towards them and gave Harding a strange look. “I am the Mona Lisa,” she announced with an enigmatic smile.
They were all silent as they stared at her until Harding snorted and asked, “No really, who are you?”
“I am the Mona Lisa,” she told him with a frown of displeasure. “You cannot fake this kind of class.”
“You can’t be the Mona Lisa,” Rose calmly announced looking her over carefully. “You must be some kind of alien manifestation of the painting.” Rose was aware that her friends and Harding turned to look at her with open mouths while the Mona Lisa stepped closer to Rose, pointing the pistol at her.
“And why is that little girl,” the woman demanded.
“On Earth women in five-hundred-year-old paintings don’t just leave their frames and put someone else in them,” Rose replied with a frown. “You put Ms. Trupp into the painting didn’t you?” Rose grimaced as the pieces all came together. “She’s become the painting by Leonardo da Vinci.”
“Leo never would have painted her,” Mona Lisa snapped. “He was so determined to paint me that he even borrowed oils from his weirdo neighbour to start me, but that whale of a woman, not a chance.”
“So you’re out of your frame?” Rose raised her chin and considered the pistol with a hint of concern. It looked real enough to her, but the Mona Lisa painting certainly hadn’t had a pistol in it so where had she gotten it from? “What is it you want?”
Mona Lisa smiled down at Rose, not a friendly smile at all as her eyes grew cold. “I’ve spent five centuries hanging on a wall little girl. I think that it is time for me to have a little fun.” She pointed the gun back at Rose and her friends. “And I think I’ll start with some target practice.”
“Run!” Rose shouted. She pulled Sharon’s hand and darting to the side of the room for a corridor.
Two shots followed them, hitting the walls and echoing loudly in the room along with the Mona Lisa’s laughter as the three girls rushed out of the main hall. Mr. Harding gaped at the display for a moment before the Mona Lisa turned to him and smirked.
“It’s just you and me now.”
Chapter 11: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: Dark Rider
There's something in the museum and it is after them.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Eleven: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: Dark Rider
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, Torchwood or the Sarah Jane Adventures because if I did this would probably be canon.
“Alien, Rose!?” Sharon shouted as she followed Rose through the museum, “Alien?”
“Not now,” Rose shouted back. She quickly turned a corner into another room. Rose let her friends run past her and glanced out into the hallway. “She isn’t following us.”
“Rose,” Shareen questioned as she tried to catch her breath. “What is going on?”
“The Mona Lisa has come to life, is armed and very upset with the world in general,” Rose told her in a rush. “And we are trapped in the same building as her.”
“But, the police are here,” Sharon said. Her voice wavered and was nearly frantic. “We just have to find them.”
“Shots have been fired, Sharon, she shot at us, and they would have heard it,” Rose reminded her. She sighed and shook her head, giving her friends a worried look. “No one is coming.”
“You don’t know that,” Shareen argued in a desperate tone. “You can’t know that.”
“I tried to get us out of here for a reason,” Rose said gently. Then Rose pointed to a landscape next to them, one that had the strange modern figures in the foreground. “Look around at the paintings.”
“Oh my god!” Sharon gasped as she saw what Rose had seen. “That- that isn’t possible. This whole thing is impossible.” Sharon stumbled backwards and gave Rose a pleading look that made Rose flinch and feel guilty.
“And yet here we are,” Rose said. She shook her head, grabbed their hands and pulled them along after her. “Since we can’t leave let’s check out the Mona Lisa room. Maybe there is something more in there.”
“Rose?” Shareen called out, “What are we looking for?”
“I haven’t a clue,” Rose admitted as they came to a halt. She turned back to her friends. “I’ve only done this once before.”
“Spellman was an alien wasn’t he,” Sharon asked. Her expression turned to one of terrified realisation. “We were abducted by him, weren’t we? That’s why we’ve never been able to remember what happened?”
“Yeah,” Rose said softly with a nod. “A man called the Doctor saved us. I helped a bit, but I don’t know enough to understand what she is or how to stop her. We have to find something.”
Rose was grateful that her friends followed her through the museum and only spoke quietly to each other, having gotten the hint that Rose was not open to questions at the moment. Rose sighed; when this was all over, she’d have to tell them the whole truth about what had happened three years ago. A part of her enjoyed the secret adventure she’d had, but another part of her was happy that someone was finally going to know.
They stopped after a few rooms to check the map that Shareen was carrying. The exhibit room had only one entrance, and they were still several rooms away. Rose paused and listened; there was a strange metal sound echoing through the halls.
“What is that?” Sharon asked softly, trying to peek around the corner.
Listening, Rose stayed still and worked to understand the sound. It took her a moment, but she realised that it was blending of a heavy footstep teamed with a metal rattle. The three girls looked at each other with fearful expressions.
“What is that?” Sharon asked again.
“Something not good,” Rose whispered as nervous energy began to fill her chest.
They heard the metallic footsteps getting closer and moved into the next room which was under construction. Glancing around, Rose took stock of the plastic covered walls and the workbenches set up throughout the large space. Scaffolding and lumber created small hiding places all over.
“Hide,” Rose hissed.
Rose pulled Sharon back behind a scaffold with her, gesturing for her friends to be quiet. Grabbing the mirror from Sharon’s hand, Rose used it to look around the scaffolding as a tall male figure dressed all in black walked into the room. His mouth and nose were covered by a black bandana, and he wore a tri-point black hat. A long black coat covered his dark shirt and pants, and he wore a spur on each of his boots.
“That’s the Dark Rider painting,” Shareen whispered, exchanging a worried look with Sharon.
“He’s got guns,” Sharon added as the rider looked around the room.
Nodding, Rose slowly began to move towards the door, staying in the shadows of the construction materials. She handed the mirror back over her shoulder to Sharon who started to tuck it back into her pocket, but then it fell out of her hand with a soft crash. The rider spun sharply towards them and pulled out both of the flintlock pistols.
“Run!” Rose yelled, dashing for the exit.
Racing from the room, the three girls ran down the corridor that led them back to the main staircase. They could hear the rider running after them and the metal sound of his spurs adding to the volume of his footsteps. Ducking around a pillar with her friends, Rose just missed the two shots at the Rider fired at them.
“He’s a painting,” Shareen asked breathlessly. “Shouldn’t he be firing paintballs.”
“Two flintlocks, two shots,” Sharon said. She peered out around the pillar. “He’s out now right?”
Another two shots blazed past them, and Rose shouted, “He’s a painting come to life, he has as many shots as he wants.” Glancing around the pillar, Rose checked the Rider’s distance and turned back to her friends. “Split up, he can only follow one target,” Rose ordered, pointing towards the nearby corridor before looking another direction.
“Be careful,” Sharon hissed to Rose, taking Shareen’s hand.
“You too,” Rose said.
Then she ran out across the entry floor for one of the halls on the opposite side of the room. A moment later Sharon and Shareen ran the direction Rose had indicated, and the rider followed them. Above them in the outlook gallery, the Mona Lisa frowned down at the display and huffed. Next to her, Mr. Harding wrung his hands and shifted nervously on his feet.
“They are just children,” Mr. Harding insisted. “They can’t harm you.”
“The blonde was far too comfortable with me.” Mona Lisa snapped with a glare towards Harding. “But let’s see how she does without her friends.”
Fear flooded Rose as she realised that the Rider wasn’t following her and she started to backtrack to the Mona Lisa display room. As much as it worried her, Rose recognised that this was her best chance to look for a weak point. She wished that the museum had let them keep their phones since they hadn’t managed to get anywhere near an actual phone. Reaching the Mona Lisa gallery, Rose cautiously looked inside before stepping into the room. She was alone.
The gallery was mostly unchanged, except for the fact that paintings around the room had new additions in them in the form of police officers and guards. Averting her gaze from the fearful faces of those in the paintings, Rose walked towards the painting where Ms. Trupp was stuck and studied it. After a moment, Rose sighed and shook her head.
“I don’t know what I should be looking for,” Rose muttered to herself.
Rose paused; she could hear someone moving down the hall and dashed behind one of the large displays at the side of the room. Holding her breath, Rose tried to stay still when she saw the Mona Lisa walk into the room with Harding at her heels.
“This has to be it,” Harding said. Rose peeked out to see Harding gesturing towards the right wall. “Not only a contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci, but a neighbour in Florence.”
Frowning, Rose leaned forward so she could watch them walk up to a strange portrait on the wall. The Mona Lisa examined the simple painting of a man in period clothing. “Not very attractive,” Mona Lisa told Harding a moment later with a frown.
“Giuseppe di Cattivo 1450 to 1518,” Harding explained. “His work is often compared to his famous contemporary Hieronymus Bosch. Poor Giuseppe, he died in a lunatic asylum.”
Mona Lisa smiled before raising her hand and moving it in front of the painting. Rose stayed very still, watching the pair from behind from around the display
“No, no,” Mona Lisa sighed. She dropped her hand to her side with a frown of disappointment. “This isn’t him.”
Harding started to say something to her, but the door suddenly opened. Turning slowly, Rose had to slap a hand across her mouth to stifle her cry of alarm. The rider marched Sharon and Shareen into the room; a gun pointed at each of them. Giggling, the Mona Lisa strode forward and gazed down at Rose’s friends.
“Well look at what we have here,” the Mona Lisa chorused with a delighted smile. “Two of the three musketeers.”
“There were four musketeers,” Sharon told her with a glare before raising her chin. “Shouldn’t you know that after being in France long enough to get an accent?”
“Oh you’ve got spirit,” Mona Lisa growled at Sharon with a glint in her eye. “But there were three of you. Where’s the blonde one?”
“We don’t know,” Shareen answered, meeting the Mona Lisa’s gaze. “We split up when your rider started shooting. Rose has probably gotten to a phone by now and called for help.”
“That won’t help you.” Mona Lisa told them with a smile. “I took this gun from a painting, and I put all the people I found into paintings. Everything in this building can come under my total control so whatever great rescue you’re hoping for won’t save you.”
“Why are you helping her?” Shareen turned a furious gaze on Harding. “You’ve seen what she’s done!”
“Harders, here is my number one fan,” the Mona Lisa informed her with a smirk.
“She set the rider on us!” Shareen insisted. “We’re fourteen, how can you be okay with that? She has put people into paintings!”
“Calm down girls,” Harding protested quickly. He waved his hands in a calming manner even as he sweated. “I’m sure that Mona Lisa will restore everyone once she finds her brother and the rider did not hurt you.”
“Her brother?” Sharon repeated in confusion, glancing at Shareen.
As if on cue, a loud growling filled the room, coming up from the lower levels of the museum. Grinning, the Mona Lisa gave a triumphant laugh and turned to Harding who had paled significantly at the noise.
“That would be my brother,” the Mona Lisa announced. She looked at the rider as she pointed her gun at the girls. “Trace the noise, Rider,” she ordered.
As the rider left the room, the Mona Lisa focused intently on Shareen and Sharon. Rose gasped softly as red energy sparked around the Mona Lisa, giving her a terrible red glow. Stumbling back from the Mona Lisa, Sharon and Shareen grasped each other’s hand.
“What going on?” Shareen asked quietly.
“A moment dear and I’ll put you in the picture,” the Mona Lisa chuckled, thrusting her hand forward.
Gasping, Rose made a jerky movement forward as the red energy exploded around her friends. It crackled and sparked around them as they screamed. Harding hid his face, and the two girls vanished right before Rose’s eyes. Mona Lisa laughed and looked over at a landscape on the wall where Shareen and Sharon now stood trapped within it, still screaming.
“And now, Blondie, it’s your turn.” Mona Lisa announced to the large room. “I heard you gasp so come out. No point hiding.”
Closing her eyes, Rose took a deep breath before she walked out into Mona Lisa’s view. She straightened up and walked as calmly as she could manage towards the Mona Lisa. “I wouldn’t have thought that a painting would have such good hearing and while harming children,” Rose said. Glaring at the Mona Lisa, she tried not to look at the painting of her friends, afraid that she’d break down.
“They are completely safe,” Mona Lisa assured her. “They are alive in the painting; they can hear and see everything we do in front of their painting. They can’t move or escape.”
“Like you were,” Rose said slowly in realisation. Then she risked a look at Sharon and Shareen.
“Exactly,” Mona Lisa agreed with a grimace. “I was trapped, unable to live or die.”
“You’re out now,” Rose told her. “You don’t need to harm anyone. Let them go.”
“I think they look as pretty as a picture. Well, most pictures, I think we can agree that I am in a different league,” the Mona Lisa preened with a proud smile, touching her wavy brown hair lovingly.
“Very true,” Rose agreed with a look of disgust.
“Thank you, love,” Mona Lisa trilled, patting her hair again.
“I didn’t mean it as a compliment,” Rose answered with a glare.
“Don’t worry young lady,” Mr. Harding cut in. “They are safe and once Mona Lisa has found her brother she will release them.”
“You keep saying that,” Rose snapped, “But that doesn’t make it true.” They all paused as they heard the growling again and Rose shook her head. “I don’t think her brother is going to be as nice as you think,” she said to Harding. “This is trouble.”
“Which is why you should leave it alone,” Mona Lisa told her.
“I can’t do that,” Rose said. She started walking slowly along the side of the gallery, and the Mona Lisa followed her. “I’m the last human in here that sees how dangerous you are so I have to stop you.”
“Oh couldn’t you just eat her, Harders,” Mona Lisa cooed as she and Rose came to a stop. “She thinks that she can stop me.”
“And do you want to know why?” Rose asked as she stepped closer to Mona Lisa. “Because I can.”
Rose shoved the Mona Lisa backwards over the bench she had led her to, sending the woman spinning backwards with a crash. Laughing, Rose dashed out of the gallery and headed for the main hall as fast as she could run.
Chapter 12: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: The Growling Grows
Rose races to stop the Mona Lisa, but there is something else lurking in the museum.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Twelve: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: The Growling Grows
Rose made it to the museum bookshop and sank to the floor. Her lungs were burning, and her heart was racing, but she didn’t hear anyone moving nearby.
“Okay,” Rose whispered to herself. She was hidden behind a display in case the Rider was still looking for her. “Think it through,” she muttered, “What are the main points? One: the Mona Lisa has been around for five centuries, but has come to life now which means that it is something about this gallery. Two: she referred to a brother and said that it was the thing growling. Three: that is probably the reason she suddenly came to life, but what kind of painting could it be?”
It sounded like madness, but then again she’d seen a clown turn into smoke and get sucked into a meteorite when she was eleven. Sighing, Rose allowed her head to fall back against the wood of the shelf behind her. Once again, she was in serious trouble, and for all her confidence in front of the Mona Lisa, she did not know what she could do against her. Rose stilled as she heard talking, one of the voices was the distinct French accent of the Mona Lisa.
“I have not escaped from wood and paint to be trapped here!” the Mona Lisa screamed with a raw fury that made Rose shiver. “This is such a cheat!”
The roaring could be heard again, and Rose remained still, despite wanting to look around the corner and see the Mona Lisa. She stayed perfectly still and strained her ears to listen.
“Yes my brother in living paint,” the Mona Lisa said. “Once we are united, we will both be free, and nothing will stand in our way. Not gallery walls or pathetic humans! My brother has spoken, and now I know what he is. He is a work so terrible that no one has laid eyes on it since it was first created.”
“No,” Rose heard Harding gasp. “It can’t be. That is just a legend, a story that the cleaners and night staff scare each other with. It doesn’t exist.”
Chuckling the Mona Lisa announced, “My brother and I have waited all these years to be brought together. Five centuries Harders and now you are the man for the job. So you take me to him, and we shall set him free.”
Holding her breath, Rose listened as the footfalls and voices of the Mona Lisa and Harding moving grew more distant. She remained still for a moment longer, listening for the footsteps of the rider. Then she slowly stood, looking around the display carefully. Moving further into the shop, Rose shrugged off her backpack and set it onto the counter. Turning to the bookshelf Rose sighed and began to skim the book titles.
“Okay a painting with a connection to the Mona Lisa that no one has seen in centuries,” Rose said. She slowly moved her pointer finger over the spines of the books. “Piece of cake.”
She started with a book on the Mona Lisa, but there was nothing about a brother. Even the discussions of the original model made no mention of a brother. The meaning of that term just didn’t make sense to Rose. How could a painting have a brother? Groaning, she shoved another book back onto the shelf in frustration.
“Wait a second,” Rose told herself. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “You’re going about this wrong. She said brother in living paint, so maybe it had to do with the paint.” Rose bit her lip, trying to remember what Mona Lisa had said about the oils earlier. “Leonardo borrowed oils from his neighbour to start her, what was his name?”
Grabbing a map of the exhibit from the shop counter, Rose unfolded and located the main gallery. She remembered Harding bringing the Mona Lisa into the main hall and showing her a painting that he thought might be her brother. It hadn’t been, but he’d said that the painter had been a neighbour of Da Vinci. Stopping her finger, Rose leaned forward over the map and managed a tiny smile.
Giuseppe di Cattivo. Rose grinned and looked back to the bookshelf, scanning it for any reference to that name. There was only one small book on Giuseppe di Cattivo, but Rose quickly opened it and started flipping through it. She stopped when she came to a page with the words ‘The Legend of Abomination’ written on the top. Reading the story, Rose grew pale and felt her stomach turn.
Giuseppe di Cattivo had been known as the painter of nightmares in Florence. His work was considered an insult to Creation and the Abomination was his masterpiece. When Giuseppe di Cattivo saw what he had painted, he was gripped by terror and the knowledge that anyone who looked upon it would be driven into madness. He locked the painting in a special case made of wood from a hangman’s gallows to keep the Abomination from human eyes for all eternity. The case was sealed with a complex Chinese puzzle lock. The next morning Giuseppe di Cattivo was found in his home beside the case, but he had gone completely insane, and the secret of the puzzle was lost to his ravaged mind. According to the legend, the painting remains locked and hidden somewhere in the world to keep it hidden from human eyes forever.
Rose started to close the book, but it slipped from her hands and fell open onto the floor. Sighing, she picked it up from where it had fallen and then stopped. The page it had fallen open it had a picture of the small puzzle box she and her friends had been examining earlier. She stared at it in confusion for a moment, wondering why a painter of nightmares had created a puzzle box. Then it hit her. Shutting the book, Rose quickly walked back to the bookshelf and hid the book behind several others. She grabbed her bag and started up the stairs.
Rushing down the corridor, Rose focused on finding her way to the right gallery and getting the puzzle box before the Mona Lisa did. A hand reached out and grabbed her, and Rose found herself face to face with the Rider. He kept a tight grip on her and pointed one of his pistols at her head. Saying nothing, the black-clad figure pulled Rose back down the stairs and towards the read of the museum.
The Rider kept the gun against Rose’s head as they walked and she squirmed as they approached a large metal door. Dragging her through the door, Rose shuddered at a sudden drop in temperature as she was nearly pushed down a flight of stairs. The air was colder and very dry, and the hallways had only limited light. Far ahead of them, Rose could hear faint voices that were growing louder. Rose groaned when the Mona Lisa and Harding came into sight. They were standing in front of a large heavy metal door that Harding was unlocking.
“Well done Rider,” Mona Lisa praised as they came into view. “See Blondie, nothing you can do.”
Rose looked at Harding and asked, “You know what the painting is right?”
“The Abomination,” Harding answered a nod, but he was much paler than he had been earlier.
“You don’t actually think that this is going to end with a happily ever after if you set that thing free do you?” Rose asked. She glared at him with accusing brown eyes.
“Ever since man first drew on cave walls,” Harding lectured, “all any artist ever wanted to do was breathe life into what they created. Can’t you appreciate the wonder of what has happened today?”
“Can’t you appreciate that she’s nuts!?” Rose hissed in response. The Rider pressed the barrel of his pistol against Rose’s temple, and she tensed up, falling silent.
“Standing right here,” Mona Lisa reminded them, giving Rose a fierce look.
Mr. Harding took a deep breath and unlocked the final door. The large door swung open with a terrible creak, and they all stepped into a room full of dust and crates. As the torch was slowly moved around the room, the statues that weren’t in boxes created horrible shadows that made Rose shudder. The growling was constant now, but not at the high volume of before. Rose took a step back, but the weight of the Rider’s arm on her shoulder made her stop. Harding found the light switch after another moment, and the room was filled with low yellow light.
Harding walked in first, still using the torch as they looked around. Mona Lisa soon pushed in front of him, trying to follow the growling through the dusty maze of boxes and shelves. Slowly, Rose was pushed forward, and the Rider lowered the pistol from her head. There were cobwebs, piles of dust and in the corner what looked like a dead rat. Rose curled her nose and ducked to avoid a cobweb as much as the Rider’s grip allowed.
“I’ve never been this far into the old vaults,” Harding said. His voice was low and fearful. “It is filthy.”
“Not our biggest problem right now,” Rose growled at him.
“The Abomination is down here somewhere,” Harding assured the Mona Lisa, nervousness creeping into his voice.
“I don’t see my brother.” the Mona Lisa hissed. She grabbed Harding’s arm tightly and moved her pistol towards him. “If you are playing games with me Harders I’ll feed you to him along with the blonde, feet first.”
A roar caught their attention and gave the Mona Lisa a clear sense of direction as she quickly rushed towards it. The room shook with the force of the roar sending dirt and dust falling over their heads. Rose glanced at the Rider and sighed, seeing that the gun was still pointed right at her even if he didn’t have right against her head.
“When she has unlocked her brother she’ll be finished with you,” Rose whispered to Harding. “Helping her is not going to make any difference. She’s going to kill us both.”
“I know,” Harding admitted in a low voice. “But what can I do now?”
They turned one last corner, and the Mona Lisa pulled aside a heavy cloth. Heavy metal bars were cemented into the floor and ceiling creating a large cage. Against the far wall was a large case that was shaking and Rose could see the same red glow that the Mona Lisa had produced earlier spilling out of the cracks. Mona Lisa shot the aged lock and grinned when it fell open. Shoving Rose to the side, the Rider moved forward and opened the heavy metal door for Mona Lisa. With a cheerfully smile, the Mona Lisa swanned into the cage and was greeted by another deafening roar.
“He doesn’t sound all that pleased to see you,” Rose said. The Rider responded by pressing the barrel of his flintlock against her temple again.
“Show respect for my brother in living paint because once he’s out of there, we will see some fireworks,” the Mona Lisa gloated.
“Mona Lisa,” Rose implored desperately. “You can’t do this.”
“She’s right,” Harding said forcibly. “You can’t.”
“What this, Harders?” Mona Lisa asked angrily. “Remember where you left your backbone all of a sudden?”
“No,” Harders answered calmly. Then he moved his torch to shine like on the box. There was a strange lock built into the old box. “The puzzle lock is missing.”
The Mona Lisa stepped forward to examine the space before she turned back to Harding with a face full of fury. Rose gasped softly and bit her lip in an attempt to keep still and silent.
“Where is it?” she demanded.
“I’m not sure,” Harding told her, taking a small step back.
Mona Lisa pointed her gun at Rose, and the Rider tightened his grip on the girl, keeping his gun against her head. “Aren’t you the least bit worried about the cute little blonde girl Harding? After all this museum is your responsibility,” the Mona Lisa challenged.
“My name is Rose, not the blonde girl,” Rose retorted.
“It would be a shame to end the life of such a pretty little thing so young,” the Mona Lisa continued, ignoring Rose’s comment.
“Don’t,” Rose told Harding. “We’ll die anyway, but that thing can’t get loose.”
Rose wasn’t sure where the courage was coming from. Her hands were trembling, and she could feel the cold radiating from the flintlock pistol pressed to her head. Yet there was a frightening sense of calm in her head that was making it easy to mind the larger picture. After reading the book, Rose found she was far more afraid of the Abomination getting loose in London then she was anything else. Even dying.
“You cannot leave the museum alone,” Harding told the Mona Lisa. “Without your brother, you turn back into paint beyond the gallery walls.”
“Harding,” Mona Lisa snarled, using his real name. “I have spent five centuries watching life happen around me. Do not think there is anything I won’t do to get life for myself.” Her dark eyes were bright with anger, and the threat hung heavy in the air.
Rose sighed as she saw Harding’s small nod to Mona Lisa. “Yes, Mona Lisa.” Harding sighed in defeat, “I know where it is.”
“Good,” the Mona Lisa replied, dropping her gun back down to her side and giving him her famous smile. “Take me to it.”
Harding turned and began to walk out of the vault with Mona Lisa following. The Rider shoved Rose forward to follow them. Glancing over her shoulder, Rose looked back at the Abomination case as it shook and growling radiated from it. They needed to manage something, and soon or else that thing was going to be running loose on Earth. As they entered the main museum, the group paused as the odd sound of wheezing echoed down the empty halls.
“What was that?” Mona Lisa demanded of Harding.
“I’m not sure,” Harding said. He looked around almost frantically with a growing frown. “I’ve never heard it before.”
The Mona Lisa looked around the main hall for any movement and frowned. Reaching towards a painting of soldiers, she gathered more of the red energy and sent it flying at the painting. Rose closed her eyes at the bright flash, and five Victorian soldiers suddenly stood in front of the Mona Lisa. Turning to look at Rose she smirked, before turning her attention back to Harding.
“Well then, Harding, lead on.”
Chapter 13: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: The Puzzle Box
Rose is a hostage and the Mona Lisa is on her way to get the key she needs to unleash horror on the Earth, can anyone stop here?
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Thirteen: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: The Puzzle Box
AN: The Legend of the Abomination and the artist were created for the Sarah Jane Adventures and borrowed by me.
“What will you do if you free your brother?” Rose asked as she was pulled along the hallway. She realised with a sinking heart that Harding was headed for the puzzle box.
“When his wait is finally over, and we are united, his reign of fire and sulphur shall begin,” the Mona Lisa proclaimed.
“So you’re not really after a life,” Rose remarked with a scowl. “You’re after revenge.”
“What use is a world of flowers and trees to me?” Mona Lisa asked, “A world ablaze with torrents of fire and molten lava where I can rule is much more interesting.”
Rose struggled against the Rider who harshly twisted her arm behind her back, forcing a whimper from Rose. She glared fiercely up at the Mona Lisa and gave Harding a nasty look. “If I live through this, I am taking kickboxing classes,” Rose muttered.
“Oh Blondie,” the Mona Lisa laughed coldly, “You needn’t worry about that. After five centuries I’m sure my brother will be a little hungry.”
Entering the long gallery where the puzzle box was on display, Rose was reminded of Shareen admiring it only a few hours earlier. Mona Lisa stalked over to where the box should have been but screamed in anger when she turned into the small area to see a man in a leather jacket holding it. Rose grinned at the sight of the Doctor as he turned to them, but her smile dropped when his expression darkened at the sight of her.
“Well, of all the things I was expecting to find here the Mona Lisa using a gun and holding a child hostage was not on the list,” the Doctor said. His tone was light, but Rose heard an underlying current of steel in it.
“I don’t know who you are or how you got into my museum, but hand over the puzzle box or this precious little child isn’t going to remain so precious,” the Mona Lisa said to the Doctor. She reached over and ran her fingers through the strands of blonde hair that had escaped Rosee’s braid.
“Doctor it’s the Abomination!” Rose shouted. The Rider slapped a hand over her mouth and twisted her arm tighter, making Rose whimper.
“Give me the box, and we’ll set her free,” the Mona Lisa told the Doctor with a tight smile.
“And unleash the Abomination on Earth,” the Doctor said. His icy eyes bored into the Mona Lisa. “I was hoping to get the key and then get that damn painting out of here.”
“Not an option,” the Mona Lisa growled. She pointed her gun at the Doctor and met his gaze evenly. “I’ve waited five hundred years for this!”
“Leonardo would be so disappointed,” the Doctor said. He shook his head, but his eyes remained on Rose. “Let her go, and I’ll give you the box.”
“Give me the box, and I’ll let her go,” the Mona Lisa countered sharply.
“Start sending her over,” the Doctor told the Mona Lisa.
The two glared at each other, but then Mona Lisa’s gaze dropped down to the box, and she nodded. The Rider released his grip on Rose, and she carefully straightened, rubbing her arm.
“Well Blondie, go over to your mysterious friend. Harders, you go and get the box,” Mona Lisa ordered while keeping her gun trained on the Doctor.
Walking slowly towards the Doctor, Rose glanced down at the box with a worried expression. Harding stepped up to the Doctor and took the puzzle box from him just as Rose reached the Doctor. Carefully, the Doctor gripped Rose’s shoulder and pushed her behind him as Harding turned back to the Mona Lisa with the box.
“Tell me you have a plan?” Rose whispered.
“I had one, but I haven’t figured out the new one yet,” he answered. His voice was low, and he was keeping himself protectively between Rose and the Mona Lisa.
Harding stepped away from Rose and the Doctor, glancing back at Rose. There was an odd look on his face that filled Rose with a sense of dread. The Doctor pulled Rose a little further away from the man and the puzzle lock.
“Now you are dealing with me Mona Lisa,” Harding declared with a raised chin.
“What?” Mona Lisa asked. Rose flinched as she saw red energy beginning to gather in her free hand.
“I’ve been a fool,” Harding wailed. “I thought you were wonderful. I dedicated my professional life- no my life to bringing you to this gallery.”
“I know,” Mona Lisa said impatiently. “You’re my number one fan. Now give me the puzzle lock.”
Harding shook his head and set the puzzle lock on the ground. He lifted his foot above it and looked back at the Mona Lisa. “Release those you have imprisoned. You can threaten me with your gun and the Rider, but it makes no difference. I am responsible for this gallery and what happens here,” he dared her with a firm expression.
Smirking, the Mona Lisa gathered the red energy in her hand. Rose grabbed the Doctor’s hand and looked around at the gallery walls.
“Be ready to run,” the Doctor whispered.
“I am,” Rose answered, tightening her grip on his hand.
“Alright Harders,” the Mona Lisa told him with a smirk. “I’ll release the prisoners.”
The red energy exploded through the room, knocking Harding back from the box and onto the floor close to the Doctor and Rose. Looking up, Rose could see the pulsing red energy spreading over the walls and into the paintings. The Rider dashed forward and grabbed the puzzle lock from the ground as more figures began to appear out of the paintings. Laughing, the Mona Lisa took the puzzle lock from the Rider and held it up for them to see before she addressed the figures throughout the room.
“I brought you to life!” The Mona Lisa shouted. “Now obey me and destroy them.”
“Run!” the Doctor shouted.
The Doctor pulled Rose towards one of the gallery doors. Rushing to keep up the Doctor, Rose was aware of Harding leaping up to follow them. They darted past the new figures that were slowly getting their balance and looking to the Mona Lisa. She shouted her command again as the three of them pushed through a door.
“Are there any rooms that can be sealed?” the Doctor asked Harding over his shoulder.
“Her energy is spreading through the whole museum!” Rose shouted. “Nowhere is safe.”
“The temporary gallery has locking doors! This door right here!” Harding yelled. He pointed down another corridor, waving his arms wildly.
They crashed through the door, and the Doctor released Rose’s hand to pull out the silver tube device that Rose remembered from three years ago. Looking around the room, Rose noted that they were in the same room that her painting was being displayed in. Most of the pictures were abstract art with no figures in them for the Mona Lisa to animate and maybe that would buy them some time. Rose hoped the Doctor could help stop the Mona Lisa before she freed the Abomination.
“Sorry I’m late,” the Doctor said. He turned back to her and put the strange device back into his pocket. His expression was one of surprise and dread.
“I’m glad you’re here now,” Rose answered with a small smile. “I’m out of ideas.”
A sudden crash against the door made Rose flinch, and she spun towards it in alarm. Outside she could hear the shouting of soldiers, women and whatever else the Mona Lisa had brought to life.
“She has us trapped while she unlocks the Abomination!” Harding yelled in despair.
“I know!” the Doctor yelled back as he went to the windows. “We’re on the second floor, and there are places to hold onto.”
“You can’t be suggesting climbing down?!” Harding gasped in alarm.
The crashes against the door made Harding flinch, and he looked back at the Doctor who was frowning at him.
“I don’t suppose you have a phone?” the Doctor asked Harding.
“No, we don’t allow phones inside the gallery,” Harding replied sheepishly.
“Then calling for backup isn’t an option, so if we want help we have to get out of here,” the Doctor argued, crossing his arms across his chest.
“You got in here,” Harding reminded him. “How?”
“The TARDIS is one floor up and using it while within events is unsafe,” the Doctor muttered angrily.
“The what?” Harding gasped, staring at the Doctor in confusion.
“Not the time,” Rose told Harding as she stepped closer to the Doctor. “She said that this is because of the oil paints used by Leonardo to start painting her. Does that mean anything to you?” Rose asked him as she tried to ignore the banging on the door.
“Oil paints are made with minerals; the minerals used in the first set of oil paints probably came from outer space, not unlike that clown,” the Doctor answered, his blue eyes sweeping across the room. “Over the last five hundred years, the energy in them has been absorbed by the whole painting which is why this is happening now and did not happen in Florence. Also why the other six Mona Lisa never went crazy.”
“Seven Mona Lisas!?” Harding gasped looking at the Doctor.
“Again, not the time,” Rose snapped.
She looked back at the doorway nervously. The red energy was beginning to leak through and slowly spread over the walls. The Doctor had his device out again and was working on the window which wasn’t designed to open. Harding was wringing his hands and staring at the Doctor with wide eyes. Looking back at the door, Rose flinched at the sight of the cracking wood.
“You don’t have much more time Doctor,” she observed, trying to hide her fear.
The Doctor looked up and nodded before adding, “Plus the paintings in this room are about to come to life and join in the chaos.”
The remark didn’t help Rose’s nerves as there was another smash against the door. A thunderous roar echoed through the building along with a terrible crash from far below them. Groaning, the Doctor looked at Rose and then at Harding.
“The Abomination is free,” the Doctor said. His expression was dark, and his blue eyes were like ice. “Remember you can’t look at it without dying or going completely mad.”
“I doubt we’ll live long enough to see it,” Harding mused with a sigh. “I’m just sorry that so many were hurt in the process.”
“Rose,” the Doctor suddenly asked. “Why were you even here today?”
The door crashed open before Rose could answer and the Doctor spun and grabbed Rose. He pushed the girl behind him, and Harding looked ready to faint. A group of men and women dressed from different periods marched into the room armed with a variety of weapons. Rose grabbed her necklace and took a breath, dying this way was probably still better than the Abomination. Looking up at the walls, she could see the red energy spreading throughout the room which would only bring more paintings to life.
A flash of the red energy forced Rose to close her eyes as the paintings in the room began to spring to life. Rather than fading, the light intensified and Rose could see the red light being overcome by a brilliant golden radiance through her eyelids. Slowly, the glow softened, and Rose became aware that Mona Lisa’s painted soldiers had stopped moving into the room. With a heavy dose of caution, Rose opened her eyes a tiny crack only to have them open wide as she gasped and then laughed in joy. The glowing female figure from her painting was standing in front of them, a golden glow pouring off of her as she stared down the other figures.
“Lumen,” Rose breathed. She looked up at the Doctor with a grin. “That’s why I was here.”
Chapter 14: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: Lumen
The paintings are coming alive and trying to kill them, how will they survive this? Is there anyone or anything that can stop the Abomination now?
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Fourteen: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: Lumen
Nothing in the room moved; neither the living paintings nor the three trapped individuals who were all staring at Lumen. Light continued to pour out of Rose’s painting and surround Lumen. The figures released by the Mona Lisa were standing in the doorway, unsure of the new figure that had been released. Instead of joining them, the glowing figure hadn’t moved or taken her eyes off the other painted figures.
Just as the Doctor was opening his mouth to speak, Lumen raised her hand and the light around her intensified. Three of the soldiers that had been in a British Empire war painting opened fire on the Doctor and Rose, but a wave of the golden woman’s hand dissolved the bullets in midair in a burst of golden light. The air around Lumen vibrated, and the painted figures before her dropped their weapons and started to back away.
Lumen took a single step towards them, and while Rose couldn’t see the front of Lumen, whatever the others saw terrified them. Figures tumbled over at each other in their haste to escape, dropping their weapons and stumbling out the door. Hearing Lumen chuckle, Rose looked back at Lumen to find the golden figure had turned and was watching them. Utterly stunned, Rose gaped at the figure, admiring the long waves of golden hair that hung down her back, deciding that she wanted to grow her hair out like that. The stray thought made Rose flush as the gravity of the situation returned to her.
Looking over at the Doctor, Lumen gave him a small nod before her eyes moved to Rose and her expression softened. Her features were hazy behind the golden glow and Rose couldn’t make out the features of the female figure, but she had never been able to in the dream either. The glowing figure gave Rose a gentle smile and held the girl’s brown eyes for a long moment as if she was trying to communicate something. A roar drew her attention forward again, and Lumen looked back through the door. She said nothing, but walked towards the main door and turned to follow the hall.
“Your painting just saved us,” Harding gasped looking at Rose.
“Your painting?” The Doctor spun around to look at her with a shocked expression.
“Yeah,” Rose admitted with a soft blush. “My friend Sharon put my painting in the youth artist competition, and I won. My class was brought here today to see the Mona Lisa, but I’ve seen more than enough of her.”
The Doctor looked at Rose for a long moment before releasing her hand and walking towards the door.
“Where are you going?” Harding asked in a nearly frantic voice.
“It looks like your painting is going to fight the Abomination.” The Doctor told Rose, ignoring Harding. “I need to make sure she wins.”
“She’ll win,” Rose promised, and when he looked back at her, she just shrugged. “She will.”
“Stay here,” the Doctor said.
The Doctor stalked out of the room and headed after Lumen. Raising an eyebrow, Rose watched him vanish out the door before she looked over her shoulder at Harding who was shaking and still staring at the door with a shocked expression.
“Yeah…” she mumbled while shaking her head. “I don’t think so. Safest place in this damn museum is right behind my painting and wow never thought I’d say that.”
Running at the Doctor, Rose made to the main hall before she froze in fear as a roar shook the entire building. Rose stopped and took a shaking breath before she managed to get her feet moving again. Up ahead Rose saw the Doctor at the top of the stairs, staring out with wide blue eyes. Rose joined him, and her mouth fell open as she took in the scene before her. Behind her, she could hear Harding following her and whimpering.
Lumen was standing on the bottom stair of the grand staircase, but in front of her was a massive pillar of golden light that was spinning around a monstrous form. Rose couldn’t make it out through the gold and in the back of her mind remembered that it was a good thing. The creature was huge with horns and long limbs that had claws so large that Rose could see those even through the swirling golden light. She called out a warning when the Mona Lisa opened fire on her glowing figure, but the bullets dissolved once more. Then the golden light exploded, forcing the Doctor, Rose, and Harding to turn away and cover their eyes. Rose heard the Mona Lisa scream, and then silence fell on the museum.
“No!” the Mona Lisa screamed. “No my brother, don’t abandon me!”
Turning, Rose saw that the pillar of golden light was gone along with the Abomination. The main hall was in terrible condition with huge claw marks on the floor and pillars. Near the main doors, the Mona Lisa had fallen to her knees. Still glowing, Lumen waved her hand, and the golden aura that surrounded her spread through the room and the signs of the Abomination vanished as everything was restored. The Mona Lisa growled fiercely and stumbled to her feet, before opening fire on Lumen again. Once again, the bullets turned into nothing without hitting Lumen or the three spectators.
Then Lumen turned to look up the stairs at Rose who smiled widely at her. After a moment of consideration, Rose stepped away from the Doctor and Harding and walked down the stairs. Lumen started to climb towards her. They met in the middle of the stairs, the step between them equalising their heights. Lumen returned the smile that Rose gave her, and her golden eyes faded into a golden shade of brown that seemed to so human to Rose and strangely familiar.
“Thank you Lumen,” Rose said gratefully.
“You are welcome,” Lumen answered with a small nod. Her voice echoed through the hall with an otherworldly quality. “But you got the name a bit wrong. I am not the Guardian of Light.”
“What do you mean?” Rose asked, but her attention was drawn back to the Mona Lisa.
“Shoot them!” The Mona Lisa shouted to the other living paintings in the main hall, but then they were surrounded by the same red glow as before and vanished.
“Everything she did is being reversed,” the Doctor said. He looked at Lumen and nodded hesitantly to her. Lumen calmly smiled in return.
The Mona Lisa stepped towards them and reached out towards Harding. “Don’t make me go back into that frame!”
“You have no choice Mona Lisa,” the Doctor said. He walked down the stairs towards her.
“Please,” she begged him.
“I can’t help you.” the Doctor told her. “You are going back to the way Leonardo created you, paint and wood.”
A red glow surrounded the Mona Lisa even as she screamed and protested. In front of Rose, the same red energy began to surround Lumen and begin to dull her golden aura. Lumen was not distressed and leaned forward to whisper into Rose’s ear, “Bad Wolf.”
Then both female figures were gone, and the room was silent as Rose slowly turned her attention to the Doctor. He met her gaze and climbed the steps to join her on the same level, looking down at her with a curious expression that mixed fondness with something else. Shifting under the gaze, Rose brushed a strand of hair that had come loose from her braid behind her ear.
“Is that the last of her?” Rose asked the Doctor. She gestured towards the spot that the Mona Lisa had been only moments before. “She can’t escape again?”
“With the Abomination destroyed, there isn’t enough energy for her to ever be freed again,” the Doctor told her with a smile. “She’ll remain in her frame forever. Easy.”
“What do you mean easy?” Rose asked. She grinned at him and raised an eyebrow. “You were saved by my painting!”
“True,” the Doctor replied with a shrug. “Speaking of which, I think I’d like to see this masterpiece of yours.”
“Truly remarkable,” Harding muttered at the top of the stairs. “A remarkable painting that protected its creator rather than aiding the Mona Lisa who animated it.”
“It carried Rose’s creative energy,” the Doctor told him, smiling down at the teenage girl as they reached the top of the staircase. “The other paintings… well, their creators weren’t here, but Rose was.”
“You mean if she hadn’t been here then it might not have helped?” Harding asked, alarm returning to his voice.
“Who knows,” the Doctor replied with a shrug and a manic grin. “Makes you wonder.”
“Remarkable…” Harding smiled widely, and there was a dreamy look in his eyes. “Such an amazing piece.”
“Harding, don’t go transferring your creepy Mona Lisa obsession onto my painting,” Rose told him with a scowl that made the Doctor chuckle.
“Hello?” A voice shouted from down the hall.
“And that would be everyone waking up after coming out of the paintings,” the Doctor declared with a pleased grin.
“Rose?” Sharon’s voice called from down the hall.
Rose grinned in relief, her whole body relaxing. Looking back at the Doctor, Rose met his eyes. “That energy from the minerals from space that you were talking about was alien and so was Odd Bob, right?” she asked calmly.
“Yes,” the Doctor answered with a sharp nod, shoving his hands into his pockets.
“And you, you’re an alien too,” Rose confirmed with a small smile.
“Yes,” the Doctor answered in agreement before asking, “That alright?”
“Course,” Rose replied with a wide grin.
“Goodbye Rose Tyler,” the Doctor said with a smile.
“I’m not sure about that Doctor,” Rose countered with a smile. “How about we say until next time?”
The Doctor blinked at her, but nodded and repeated, “Until next time.”
Giving him a satisfied nod, Rose turned and jogged down the corridor towards her friend’s voice in the main Mona Lisa room. Harding smiled at the girl and turned back to the Doctor.
“So you’re an alien who has met her before, but who are you?” he asked with a hint of awe in his voice.
“The Doctor, just the Doctor,” he answered with a shrug. “When UNIT shows up and starts asking questions, just tell them I was here and that should make things simpler.”
“Yes, well thank you,” Harding managed awkwardly.
“You didn’t need me, though,” the Doctor remarked as he looked after Rose. “You needed her. She’s a strange one that Rose Tyler.”
“Yes- oh Ms. Trupp!” Harding shouted before he too turned and ran down towards the Mona Lisa gallery.
Shaking his head, the Doctor turned to backtrack to the display room with Rose’s painting. It didn’t take him long to reach the room and locate the stars scape painting which he considered with a serious expression. Something very strange was going on around that blonde girl, he realised. In the whole of space and time, he had met her twice and only three days apart to him. Her painting contained an image of the TARDIS, he had no doubt that was what that police box was, and the woman wore a TARDIS key. He thought about what the figure had said, she had mentioned that Rose got her name wrong, but what was the right name? Groaning, the Doctor shook his head before he took out his TARDIS key and headed for the stairs.
Pausing, the Doctor turned to look down the corridor to where he could hear Rose’s voice. “Who are you Rose Tyler and what will you become?”
Rose was hugging Sharon tightly while Harding tried in vain to gain Ms. Trupp’s forgiveness when she heard the strange wheezing sound again. This time she just smiled and repeated her parting words to the Doctor in her head. She did not doubt that she would see that strange man in the leather coat with his sonic screwdriver again. It was just going to be a question of when, how and why.
Chapter 15: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: Meeting UNIT
It's over and yet it is just beginning.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Fifteen: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: Meeting UNIT
Hugging, Sharon and Shareen tightly, Rose looked beyond them towards the Mona Lisa which had been restored. Both girls had been relieved to see the Mona Lisa back in its frame and Ms. Trupp standing near it, giving the painting a nasty glare, but the absence of Rose had disturbed them. Sharon had her arms tightly gripped on Rose’s right arm while Shareen was making it seriously difficult to breathe. Then suddenly Shareen let go and stepped back to look Rose over.
“You’ve got some bruises on your arms,” Shareen said. She frowned and looked ready to hit someone. “What happened?”
“Yeah, got manhandled a bit by the Rider,” Rose explained with a half shrug before turning her arm to study her bruises before looking at Sharon. “Can I borrow your jacket?” Rose asked as she rolled down the sleeves of her uniform, referring to Sharon’s zip-up jacket. “Hide the bruises a bit more.”
“Seriously?” Sharon asked with wide eyes. None the less, she shrugged out of her jacket and handed it to Rose. “Wow, you are way too comfortable with this.”
“You’ll explain the whole story later right?” Shareen said more than asked.
“Sure, I’ll try to anyway, but now we should try and get out of here,” Rose said. She pulled on Sharon’s jacket and nodded in satisfaction that the dark patches of skin couldn’t be seen.
Rose knew that the moment the doors of the museum opened once again, there would be a flood of journalists at the door with more police officers coming in given the radio silence that had taken over the place for over an hour. Sadly, there was no way out that would let Rose and her friends avoid this. When the main doors opened a large group of soldiers marched in, all armed. They wore black uniforms and had red caps on that Rose did not recognise from any of the normal armed forced. A tall man had stepped forward and introduced himself as Captain Mace from the Unified Intelligence Taskforce.
Stepping forward, Harding introduced himself with far more poise than Rose had seen him show that day calmly informed them that the Doctor had assisted in solving the problem. Captain Mace’s eyes had widened slightly, and Rose saw several of the soldiers behind him react in similar subtle ways. Gesturing Harding closer, the Captain and him spoke in low voices for a few moments. Behind them, the police officers looked at each other in confusion and started whispering. Several people in lab coats walked into the large room and began scanning everyone present including Rose and her friends. Rose was pleased to note, that nothing seemed to register on the scans as the strange scientists quickly moved through the people.
Looking back towards Captain Mace and Mr. Harding, Rose was a little concerned to see Harding discreetly pointing at her and Mace nodding. Then the Captain looked over at Rose with a slight frown and curious expression. Rose wasn’t sure she liked being looked at that way.
“Miss Tyler,” Captain Mace said in a low gruff voice. He stepped closer to her with his hands behind his back. “I’m afraid that you need to come with us.”
“But-” Rose started to protest.
“We won’t be long,” Captain Mace cut her off. He reached forward gripped her shoulder and gestured for another soldier to join them. “We just need to talk about a few things.”
Before she could say anything else, Rose had been separated from Sharon and Shareen and was being led out of a side entrance. A moment after they stepped outside, a large black car with tinted windows pulled up right in front of them. Rose felt a flurry of nervousness.
“Wait,” Rose asked the soldier with her. “What is happening?”
“You have to be taken in for a debriefing,” the man answered calmly.
“What does that mean exactly?” Rose pressed. She glanced at the car with worry as another soldier joined them. This one moved forward and opened the door for Rose, giving her a small smile.
“Don’t worry young lady,” he assured her. “Nothing bad is going to happen. We need to understand what has happened today. You and Harding are the only real witnesses.”
“And my friends?” Rose questioned.
“UNIT officers on site will speak with the other civilians who were present and escort them home,” the soldier at her shoulder said. “You will see them in a few hours. You aren’t in trouble, and neither are they.”
Nodding slowly, Rose climbed into the very nice car with its dark leather seats as her escort soldier climbed into the front passenger seat. The door closed behind her and Rose tried to relax despite the butterflies in her stomach. A few moments later, Harding climbed into the backseat alongside Rose and gave her a quick nod, but remained silent.
The drive didn’t take long with the car manoeuvring smoothly through traffic and being allowed through blocked streets. Rose contented herself with staring out the window and wishing the Doctor had stayed around to help with this part. She was shocked to be looking up at the Tower of London less than an hour later. Their driver pulled away in the car once she and Harding were out of it, but another soldier was waiting for them.
“Captain Mace has just arrived and will finish your debriefing inside.”
“Is it necessary for Rose to be here? She is just a child,” Harding asked nervously.
“That is not for me to decide,” the male soldier told him with a glance at Rose. “This way please.”
Rose and Harding were led down a long flight of stairs and into a massive basement. There Rose was shown into one smaller room with a table and chairs that made her think about every police show she had ever seen while Harding was led into another room. A female soldier came in a few minutes later with a bottle of water and asked if Rose would like something to eat after introducing herself as Private Bates.
“Am I in trouble?” Rose asked, fiddling with her hands.
“No,” Private Bates replied quickly. “I’m afraid that with such a public event it is necessary for UNIT to remove those connected to the alien event from the scene as quickly as possible. The Mona Lisa was reported stolen only to return several hours later with none of the police in the building having any memory of what happened. Only the other two girls and Ms. Trupp seem to have retained memory of the event.”
“Was everyone else alright?” Rose questioned, glad that someone was finally talking to her.
“Yes,” Private Bates assured her with a nod. “Everyone was scanned, and there were no signs of alien radiation on them. The loss of memory is the only effect that our doctors have noted.”
Private Bates left the room for a few minutes and returned with a wrapped sandwich for Rose that was labelled turkey. Nodding her thanks, Rose accepted the sandwich and forced herself to eat a bit of it despite her nerves. A few minutes later, the tall, balding Captain Mace stepped into the room with a tall, thin woman in a lab coat, and they sat down across from Rose.
“Rose Tyler.” Captain Mace looked her over and then opened a folder in front of him on the table. “Your name is already in our system because of the series of odd disappearances that occurred in London three years ago. Energy readings taken in the area after all the children were returned home showed that something very alien had been present in the area. Yet, you were a part of stopping the disappearances.”
“That was the Doctor, Captain Mace,” Rose quickly corrected. “I just helped out by accident.”
“According to the statement given by Mr. Harding you seem to have an unusual talent for that,” Captain Mace observed with a raised eyebrow.
“I suppose so,” Rose agreed with a shrug. “Three years ago I lived in the area and today was just a lucky or unlucky coincidence depending on how you look at it.”
“And how do you see it, Miss Tyler?” Captain Mace asked.
“I don’t mind knowing the world is much bigger and brilliant than I did before,” Rose answered honestly.
“It is dangerous,” Captain Mace said. However, he looked like he was fighting back a smile.
“Life is dangerous no matter where you are,” Rose replied with a shrug. “Aliens don’t change the likely hood of being hit by a bus on the way to school.”
The woman chuckled at Rose remark and smiled at her. “I’m Doctor McArthur, Miss Tyler,” she said, speaking up for the first time. “I’m glad to see you can handle the reality of our world. There are three basic kinds of people: those that see the reality and can live with it, sometimes even thrive on it, those that see it but live their lives in fear and those that force themselves to forget. The third kind of person is the most common, like those in the museum. Their minds cannot understand or accept what happened to them, so it erases the event. Humans have been doing that for centuries when it comes to dealing with aliens.”
“So I’m the first kind,” Rose confirmed with a nod. “That being the case what happens now?”
“Normally we’d discuss the need to keep this event a secret. Your friends Sharon Allen and Shareen Bell are receiving that discussion.” Captain Mace told her. “However, in the last three years, there has been no evidence that you have ever discussed what Spellman was with anyone.”
“It would have scared them,” Rose responded. “That wouldn’t have done any good.”
“Exactly,” Captain Mace agreed. “So we do not need to have that conversation with you. What I do need to ask Miss Tyler is how well do you know the Doctor?”
Rose looked at him carefully, until Doctor McArthur smiled and assured her, “We mean the Doctor no harm, Miss Tyler. He used to work with UNIT a long time ago. We want to understand what kind of relationship you have with him.”
“I don’t have a relationship with him,” Rose said. “I’ve met him twice, and we haven’t exactly spent a lot of time together during those meetings. I know he’s an alien, but he’s one of the good guys, and I trust him.” Rose shrugged uncertainly. “I don’t know what to say beyond that.”
“Very well,” Captain Mace said as he hit a button on the table. “We need your full description of events, and then a car will take you home.”
Rose took a deep breath and began to talk into the microphone as Captain Mace, and Doctor McArthur had her elaborate on certain items and skip others. She told them about her friends wanting to see what was happening and her deductions that something was off with the painting on the wall. Rose went into detail about seeing the police officers trapped in the paintings and trying to get out of the museum. She felt a bit bad about talking about Harding helping the Mona Lisa but pointed out that he did not hand the puzzle box over to the living painting.
Rose recounted the arrival of the Doctor and his brief explanations for the events happening around them. Hesitating, Rose told them about Lumen and noted by their questions that Harding must have already talked about that. Doctor McArthur seemed very interested in the Doctor’s theory that the paintings original creator being present affected her loyalty towards Mona Lisa. However, Rose decided against telling them about her brief conversation she had with the living painting or the words Lumen whispered to her. By the time Rose got the end of the story when her friends were free, and the Doctor departed her throat hurt slightly, and she’d emptied the water bottle. Slumping back in the chair, Rose released a soft breath before looking back up at Captain Mace.
Captain Mace calmly turned off the recorder and nodded to Doctor McArthur who stood up and went to the door. She spoke briefly to someone Rose couldn’t see before vanishing from view as she left the room and the door closed behind her.
“Thank you for your cooperation Miss Tyler,” Captain Mace said professionally. He managed a small smile that didn’t look quite right on his face. “Not many people your age could handle such a situation as calmly.”
“Thank you, sir,” Rose replied respectfully.
Doctor McArthur returned a moment later and handed Rose a small identification card. Then she stepped back and allowed Captain Mace to speak. “It is very rare Miss Tyler that anyone who interacts with aliens outside of an agency such as ours ever does so again,” Captain Mace told Rose seriously. “You are a statistical anomaly, but we have procedures in place for people like you. Your UNIT identification number is D079 and on that card is a number you are to contact should you find yourself in trouble with aliens again.”
“You think that is likely?” Rose asked with a raised eyebrow.
Mace looked slightly uncomfortable when he said, “Miss Tyler, I am the fourth-in-command of UNIT in the UK, and I have never encountered the Doctor. You, on the other hand, met him at the age of eleven and then met him again at the age of fourteen. I am unwilling to say that you will never encounter aliens again. Remember this number and your identification number, so should you ever need to report something to UNIT, you can get through and be taken seriously.”
“I see,” Rose replied with a nod. “Thank you, I suppose.”
“Thank you, Miss Tyler,” the Captain answered as he stood from the table. “You helped save a lot of lives today. Now Doctor McArthur will take you to the car so you can get home. The driver has a story to deliver to your mother, so she does not become a part of this. Have a good night Miss Tyler.”
Following Doctor McArthur up the stairs, Rose briefly saw Harding speaking with Captain Mace again on her way out. It was starting to get dark when they reached the outside and as promised a black car was waiting for Rose. The driver was dressed in the same UNIT uniform and gave her a small smile before opening the door.
“Good luck to you, Miss Tyler,” Doctor McArthur said. “I wish you the best.”
“Thank you,” Rose said with a smile before the door shut.
Relaxing back into the seat, Rose looked down at the small card again and slowly said the number to herself before smiling. As the car pulled away from the Tower of London, Rose looked out the window and occupied herself with landmark watching on the way home. After all, there were worse things than being driven back to Powell Estate in a car like this. She just hoped the story they had prepared for her mother wasn’t too silly.
Chapter 16: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: Rooftop Discussions
Sharon and Shireen learn something new about Rose Tyler.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Sixteen: Mona Lisa’s Revenge: Rooftop Discussions
When the UNIT car pulled up at the Powell Estates, a few residents in the courtyard turned to look in interest. Shareen was sitting on the nearby stairs and leapt up when Rose climbed out of the car. Smiling, Rose hugged her friend and barely heard the UNIT officer that had driven her step out of the car.
“You alright?” Shareen asked with a cautious glance at the soldier. “They said that headquarters just needed a statement, but I was worried when it took so long.”
“I’m fine,” Rose assured her. “You and Sharon okay?”
“Yeah,” Shareen told her with a nod. “Sharon had to go home but made me swear to watch for you. We should call her.”
“Just to say that I’m okay,” Rose answered. “We’ll talk about everything else later.”
Looking around the courtyard, Rose noted the number of people watching them with a flinch. Shareen caught her expression and nodded in understanding.
“Miss Tyler,” the UNIT officer interrupted. “I’m to see you home.”
“Okay,” Rose sighed.
She hugged Shareen one more time before saying goodnight. The officer had a bit of trouble with Jackie who insisted on knowing why Rose had been separated from her friends and questioned. Rose was surprised by how much her mum knew about rights or at least how much legal talk she could throw around while that angry. Apparently, you could learn a lot from the telly. However, Rose was finally able to get her calmed enough to allow the officer to speak.
He explained the girls being in the museum due to the lockdown activating too soon. According to reports, the theft had been an extreme prank by a group of Italians, hoping to prove that the Mona Lisa belonged in Italy. Since the painting had been returned by the “thief” themselves, their identity was being protected to avoid an international incident. Rose couldn’t help but wonder who at UNIT came up with the cover-up ideas, but she supposed that weather balloons couldn’t explain the odd occurrences this time. Nonetheless, Rose bid the man a good night and showed him out before quickly telling her mother she was sleepy and dashing to her bedroom to avoid any more questions.
Shrugging out of Sharon’s jacket and rolling up her uniform shirt sleeves again, Rose studied the bruising on her arms with a frown. She was a little sore from being drug around by the Rider but was confident that no real damage had been done. Sighing, she rolled her sleeves back down and pulled out a long sleeved shirt to change into. She’d have to make sure her mum didn’t see her arms until the bruising had faded enough to be dismissed as a fall or a scuffle at school.
Sharon and Shareen did their best to stay close to Rose the next day, helping to deflect the rumours flying around the school. Rose suspected that they also wanted to stay together in light of what had happened the last time they’d split up. Just the memory of Mona Lisa trapping her friends sent a shiver down her spine. Despite her friends’ curiosity and Rose’s promise to tell them more, she flat out refused to discuss her previous alien encounter at school but made plans to meet them on the roof of the Powell Estates for their overdue talk that night. A few phone calls later and both girls had permission to stay over at Rose’s even if Sharon’s parents had been a little worried about this arrangement so soon after they were trapped in the museum, but agreed in the end. After that Rose was relieved to see that her friends had dropped the subject and were acting normally in public.
That night, however, the two girls were excited and nearly bouncing off of the walls as Rose led the way up to the rooftop of the building. Once on the roof, they set out their blankets in a small circle and curled up underneath them with the thermos of hot tea between them. Rose took a long sip of the warm liquid, trying to gather her thoughts while Shareen and Sharon waited.
She started by telling her two friends the rest of the story from the museum. They admitted that they had some memories of watching events from inside the paintings. Both were shocked and actually cheered when Rose told them about her painting coming to life to save her. She did not tell them about Lumen’s two whispered words to her. Somehow that felt too important and almost sacred even if she didn’t know what it meant.
Rose then told them about her talk with UNIT and asked if they had been given an identification number, but they answered that they hadn’t. Blushing, Rose told them about hers and the conversation she had been a part of inside the Tower of London. Shareen was impressed that Rose had stayed so calm, but Rose just pointed out that after dealing with an alien manifestation of a painting trying to unleash hell on Earth, a bunch of people in uniform weren’t that big a deal. But, then the topic shifted to the Doctor like Rose knew it would as both girls latched onto UNIT observation that Rose was an anomaly for meeting him twice as a civilian.
“Okay then,” Rose said taking a breath. “When we were eleven years old, and all the kids were vanishing I first got involved with aliens. Shareen vanished first, and I was over at your place with my mum. I looked around your room and found a ticket for the Spellman Museum of the Circus, and it seemed weird to me.”
“Since I hate clowns,” Shareen interjected with an understanding nod.
“Right, so I took it. The next day I started hearing this strange laughter around the school. I saw Sharon go into the loo, but when I went in her bag was on the floor, and she was gone. Then I saw a clown in the mirror holding a balloon….”
Shivering at the memory, Rose forced herself to recount the entire story and found that as she was speaking a sense of relief washed through her. She explained her logic in going to Spellman’s which just made them gape at her. Even after three years, Rose could still quote the frightening speech made by Spellman about clowns and the Pied Piper that was burned into her memory. Telling them about the Doctor was the hardest part, Rose wasn’t certain just how to describe him, but she seemed to do a decent job by the end of it.
Sharon and Shareen were both completely silent except for the occasional gasp in just the right spot when Rose spoke about the red balloon appearing in the schoolyard and taking over the students. Rose recounted her fear and worry when following the students and how she used the pendant that the Doctor gave her to short out the signals against several of the children. Both of her friends were completely still as Rose described the descent into Spellman’s basement and the faceoff between him and the Doctor. Rose shook her head at her actions as she described her laughter weakening Spellman to the Doctor’s surprise. Then she told them about Spellman vanishing into the Doctor’s metal box and being locked away.
“He said ‘Rose Tyler, you were fantastic today. Fear is one of the most powerful forces in human nature, and you found the strength to fight that. It’s not easy, and many people never manage it. Remember today and remember what you are capable of. You are fantastic and never let anyone tell you differently.’ And well I never have,” Rose finished with a small smile tugging at her lips.
“You remember what he said word for word?” Sharon asked with a little smile.
“It was a pretty important event in my life,” Rose remarked with a grin. “I’m not sure how my life would have gone if I never met him and Spellman never showed up, but I’m happy with the life I’ve got, and I’ve tried to make the most of it.”
“Do you think you’ll see him again?” Shareen pressed, tilting her head to study Rose.
“I hope so,” Rose said honestly. She looked down at her hands as a weird feeling fluttered in her chest. “I believe that I will, but in the meantime, I’ll keep working hard in school and get signed up for kickboxing lessons.”
“Kickboxing lessons?” Sharon asked with a laugh.
“Yeah,” Rose nodded and rubbed her arm. “The Rider was dragging me around like a doll, and I do not fancy dealing with that again.”
“So kickboxing,” Shareen repeated. She chuckled and shook her head. “Well, that’s an interesting solution.”
“At least some kind of self-defense class,” Rose declared. “I just think kickboxing sounds cool.”
“It’s all in the name,” Shareen answered with a sage nod. “So now what?”
“We go on with our lives,” Rose answered her, looking at both of her friends. “We study in school, work hard to do our best, keep our secret and stick together.”
“Together then,” Sharon said, holding out her hand.
After a moment, Rose and Shareen placed their hands on top of hers, and they giggled together before packing up their things to go back inside. Pausing at the doorway, Rose looked up into the night sky. With the lights of London all around her, she couldn’t see many stars, but she smiled at those she could see and made a silent promise to herself that she’d keep being fantastic and that she’d see the Doctor again.
Chapter 17: Eve: A Little Wiser
Life moves on, normal and calm until Rose hears a strange voice calling to her.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Seventeen: Eve: A Little Wiser
Rose Marion Tyler was barely fifteen years old and very tired from her kickboxing class with aching muscles, but an intense sense of satisfaction. She had kept the promise she made to herself after being manhandled around the International Gallery by the Dark Rider, and usually, she was happy for it. However, this week had been very busy, and kickboxing had marked the end of a very long week.
Rose’s long dark blonde hair that she refused to start dyeing despite her mother’s repeated offers was up in a messy bun with loose strands hanging around her face. She was dressed in her favourite jeans and a long red t-shirt. Pulling on her headphones, Rose hit play for her latest audiobook, A Tale of Two Cities, and with her bag slung over her shoulder she started the walk towards home.
Since the Mona Lisa Incident, as she and her friends Sharon and Shareen called it, several things had changed in Rose’s life. Recently, she’d landed a job at a nearby computer repair shop for a few hours a week that was interesting and had undoubtedly helped with her ICT and electronic subjects. Her boss was a short, stocky man that didn’t mind Sharon and Shareen coming by to chat with Rose while she worked on broken computers in the back room or Rose listening to audiobooks and radio plays for her English Literature subject so long as things got done. The money she made was split between a small saving account for future school fees and paying for her kickboxing class. She occasionally missed babysitting, but her favourite kids at the Powell Estate were getting a bit too old now anyway.
The end of her Stage Four years was quickly approaching with assessments on GCSE coming up soon. Although everyone expected Rose to perform well, she still felt nervous every time she thought about the exams. The only time she stopped worrying about her future was during kickboxing class, even working on her paintings wasn’t a total escape anymore. Rose had high hopes for her future now and did not want to lose her chance, but so many fears and even a few doubts still whispered at the edge of her mind.
Tonight, she tried to shrug them off as she walked back to the Powell Estates. Night was beginning to creep across London when she unlocked the front door to her mother’s flat. Spotting her mother sitting in front of the television with the phone and a drink, Rose gave her a small wave before hanging up her jacket.
“Hello sweetheart,” her mother greeted warmly. “How was class?”
“Good mum,” Rose replied. Reaching up, Rose unpinned her hair and shook it out, letting the long strands fall over her shoulders. “I’ve got a bit more work to do, and then I’m calling it a night.”
“Are you working this weekend?” Jackie asked.
“Saturday yeah, but not Sunday, the shop is closed on Sundays,” Rose reminded her mother patiently.
“How about you and I do something together,” Jackie suggested somewhat tentatively. “Doesn’t seem like we spend much time together and you’ll be off very soon.”
“Not that soon,” Rose assured her mother, but Jackie did not look convinced.
“You’ve got so much in you darling, and I’m glad you’re working so hard, but I can tell that you’re going to end up very far from this place,” Jackie said. She gestured around at the small council flat they lived in, looking a bit sad at the prospect.
“Then I’ll just have to come and visit,” Rose promised as she leaned down to kiss her mum’s cheek.
“You’ll always be my mum no matter where I go.”
“Well I’ll hold you to that when you’re at Cambridge or Oxford,” Jackie informed her.
“Don’t tease me like that,” Rose groaned with a shake of her head and a blush. “I doubt I could get into either of them. I’m not that smart.”
Jackie hit Rose’s arm lightly and gave her daughter a fierce look. “No one talks about Rose Tyler that way,” Jackie told her as she pointed a warning finger at Rose. “Not even Rose Tyler. Now go get your work finished and get some sleep.”
“Yes ma’am,” Rose responded with a mock salute. Pausing at the door, Rose looked back with a grateful smile. “Thanks, Mum.”
The rest of the week was a blur of school, revising with Sharon and Shareen, kickboxing class, a bit of painting and her hours at the computer shop upgrading a few computers, recovering a few hard drives and answering daft questions. At school, the pressure was rising in every class since they would be sitting for exams in just a few weeks. Rose made a point of telling Sharon and Shareen that she couldn’t revise with them on Sunday since she and her mum were having a day and both girls agreed that a day off was probably a good idea.
On Sunday morning, Rose awoke to the smell of a full English breakfast and stumbled out to the kitchen where her mum was humming. Leaning against the doorframe, Rose watched a few moments with a smile until Jackie noticed her. Her Mum laughed loudly and motioned for Rose to sit down at the table. They chatted over breakfast about some of the latest events at the Estates and how Rose was feeling about her exams. Jackie told Rose a bit about her school exams on the old O-Level system.
“You have your dad’s intelligence,” Jackie said. Her smile was wistful and proud all at once. “He was full of mad ideas, but in many ways, he was absolutely brilliant. He just had a way of putting all sorts of little things around him together and seeing what they could be. The way you look at things reminds me a lot of how he’d see things. Now me, I could never see it, but he would then point it out to me and well… it was one of those silly traits I loved about him,” Jackie finished with sad look creeping over her face.
“You’ve never told me that before,” Rose said carefully.
“I never understood it,” Jackie admitted with a shrug. “Only thing that I do understand is that you and your dad share that trait.”
“I’m glad,” Rose divulged. “Nice to know I got a few things from him.”
“You’re a lot more like him than you are like me,” Jackie mused as they cleaned up. “In all sorts of silly little ways. Go get ready, and we’ll head out, wear solid shoes and grab a jumper just in case.”
“Where are we going?” Rose asked with an excited smile.
“I was thinking that we’d get a train to Brighton, we haven’t been out of London in years, and I think some fresh air would do your brain some good after all that studying,” Jackie said warmly. Grinning, Rose threw her arms around her mum, giving her a tight hug before she dashed to her room to get ready for a proper little holiday.
All things considered given her strange life history, Rose probably should have known that the wonderful day spent out with her mum would not end smoothly Jackie had apparently been saving some money for a quick trip out of the city to relax Rose before her exams. They had no problems getting to Victoria station, and the feeling lasted only a moment. Walking into the station with her Mum, Rose had to stop suddenly when she felt something brush against her, but it wasn’t physical. Instead, it felt like a touch on her mind, brief and fleeting, but Rose was left feeling very strange. She was pulled back to the present moment when Jackie grabbed Rose’s hand and pulled her towards the proper gate. Rose kept thinking about the strange moment while they boarded, but her mum’s voice soon forced her back into the present moment.
In Brighton, it was a warm sunny day in early May with clear skies. Together, the two Tyler women wandered the pier sharing a bag of chips. They spent the afternoon people watching, doing a bit of sightseeing and they made a point of going down to the ocean just to put their toes in. In fact, the whole of the day was perfect to Rose who hadn’t spent much time with her mother since the end of the winter holiday. They avoided the topic of exams, and Rose was pleasantly surprised that they were still able to find subjects to talk about given how much Rose’s interests had changed away from Jackie’s.
It was the return to the Victoria train station in the late afternoon that reminded Rose of the strange event earlier that day. Rose had grabbed her mum’s hand, and they were both smiling as they headed for the bus station through the crowded area. It started as just a strange feeling in Rose’s mind that seemed to brush over her. Recognising it, Rose looked around the area while staying with her mother and experiencing a sense of relief that she hadn’t just imagined it that morning.
‘Rose Tyler,’ a soft feminine voice called, it seemed like someone was whispering in her ear.
Rose covered her ears but heard the voice repeat her name anyway. Dropping her hands back to her sides, she gave her mother a silly smile which just made Jackie shake her head.
‘Thirlby road,’ the voice whispered. ‘Please.’
“Rose,” Jackie called loudly. “Come on; the bus is here.”
Glancing around one more time, Rose tried to see if there was anyone nearby who might have been the source of the voice before joining her mother on the bus. The voice had stopped, but its final words about its location didn’t leave Rose’s mind as easily.
Chapter 18: Eve: Mystery of Thirlby Road
Rose gathers her courage and goes to meet the source of the mysterious voice.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Eighteen: Eve: Mystery of Thirlby Road
Rose tried to put the strange voice out of her head, she really did try, but it wasn’t that simple. It was the same curiosity that helped Rose see the little things around her and translate them into her artwork. It was the same curiosity that compelled her in science class or to try new things and explore London on her days off. In the end, that curiosity simply made it against Rose Tyler’s nature to ignore a strange voice speaking only to her.
Turning the problem over in her head, Rose pulled up a map of central London on the old laptop she had bought and refurbished a few months back. Jackie tolerated the internet bill each month so long as she had access to the laptop when Rose wasn’t using it for school work. Thirlby Road was just a short distance from Victoria Station, and most of the buildings appeared to be flats for families. It certainly fit with the area she’d been in when she first heard the voice, but far enough away that Rose was confident that she hadn’t just seen the sign and imagined the whole thing.
Thunder rolled outside the windows, announcing the arrivals of a spring thunderstorm which made Rose look up from her research with a beaming smile. Standing, she pulled back her drapes and looked out at the storm rolling into London. She removed her socks and trainers before slipping on a pair of flip-flops. Rose pulled a light denim jacket on and headed for the front door. Jackie looked up from the sofa and shook her head.
“Someday dancing in thunderstorms is going to give you pneumonia,” Jackie huffed. From her spot on the sofa, she gave Rose a familiar look of disapproval and confusion.
“You’ve been saying that for years,” Rose said. She grinned widely and tilted her head. “And you’re not trying to stop me.”
“I couldn’t stop you when you were nine years old,” Jackie sighed dramatically. “What chance do I have now?”
Laughing softly, Rose kissed her mother on the cheek before going to the front door. The rain was starting to fall, but the true storm was still a few minutes away judging by the thunder. Rose paused on the landing and breathed in the air. She didn’t care much for the rains of winter that were cold and drenching, but springtime thunderstorms were special. The energy of the storm radiating through her body and the warm raindrops seemed to wash everything clean. Unlike other kids, she had never been afraid of thunderstorms and loved watching the lightning, and when she was only nine years old, she had started slipping out of the flat to enjoy them properly.
She calmly walked out into the courtyard, her flip-flops slapping against the wet ground as another thunder crash marked the oncoming storm. Raising her face into the rain, Rose made a contented sound and smiled as the soft pounding of the water massaged her. The thunder rumbled closer this time as she opened her eyes and looked around. A few residents were rushing to their doors, glancing over at her and shaking their heads, but smiling slightly. Rose grinned as the thunder crashed even closer and a lightning flash lit up the darkening sky. Raising her arms, Rose twirled as the rain began to pound down on the courtyard. Her flip-flops smacked against the ground with a satisfying splash.
“Crazy girl!” Shareen’s voice called from the landing.
Rose spun to see her friend standing on the landing and holding an umbrella to prevent the wind from blowing rain on her. Shareen was smiling even as she shook her head.
“I know!” Rose shouted back, “But I like myself that way.”
‘The girl who dances in thunderstorms,’ a soft feminine voice said in Rose’s mind. ‘How very appropriate.’
“Who are you?” Rose whispered softly and uncertainty. She stopped in place and looked around.
‘Someone who very much wants to meet you, Rose Tyler. Please come and see me, I can’t reach this far easily.’
“Thirlby road,” Rose said softly. “That’s where you are?”
‘Yes, please come,’ the voice pleaded.
“Alright,” Rose agreed. Nervousness churned in her gut, but there was also a spark of excitement. “I’ll come over after school tomorrow.”
‘Thank you,’ the voice whispered faintly. ‘I await you.’
Rose was still in the rain as the voice vanished from her mind and her thoughts cleared. She ran a hand through her wet hair in frustration. Looking up at the sky which was starting to clear as the storm passed, Rose sighed and bit the inside of her mouth softly. She turned to look up at Shareen who was watching her with a curious expression. Rose forced a smile, no need to pull her mates into another crazy episode in her life that had aliens written all over it. At least she wasn’t supposed to work the next day.
The day was a challenge for Rose on many levels. She had a difficult time focusing at school, remembering her promise to go to the voice and her guilt over not telling Sharon and Shareen. Rose was highly aware that there was a very high chance that this was some kind of alien and might be a trap, but something about the voice just sounded sad and desperate. She found it easier to ignore the chance that it might be dangerous rather than ignore the soft pleas she had heard.
Slipping away from her friends after school let out, Rose grabbed a bus heading to Victoria Station before she could talk herself out of keeping her promise. A quick phone call to Jackie to tell her mum that she was spending the evening at the library covered Rose’s tracks. Her brain finally started processing that this might be the last chance to turn back as she passed Westminster Cathedral to get to Thirlby Road. Stopping at the corner, Rose looked down the long street of an upscale flat building.
‘Please don’t turn back,’ the soft voice plead in her mind.
Rose took a breath and started down the street, looking around at the buildings. She had walked a way down the street when she felt the brush against her mind again.
‘Here, Rose Tyler.’
Turning to the right, Rose looked up at the building the voice had stopped her in front of. It was a small building and built in a different style than the taller ones around it, but similar enough that it did not stand out if a person wasn’t looking. Many of the windows were covered with thick drapes, and Rose did not see any movement. Climbing up the stairs to the main door, Rose was surprised at the single nameplate next to the door. The whole building belonged to one family, Wallace. Turning around Rose looked back at the cars on the street and the busy Victoria Street not far away.
‘Father is very wealthy,’ the voice explained with a tone of amusement. ‘The gate is unlocked for you. Please come in.’
Rose hesitated, but opened the gate and then opened the large front door. It was heavy wood and took a good shove to open. Stepping inside, Rose found herself in a well-lit entry hall with an attractive chandler hanging above her head. Everything in the room was elegant and attractive, but a bit stark and impersonal. Walking further into the building, Rose kept listening for any movement. Everything was quiet, but then a soft humming noise made her turn. The lift dinged as it arrived next to her and the doors opened. Rose glanced around and shook her head.
“I’m being stupid again,” Rose said to herself.
None the less, she stepped into the lift and found a button already lit. The lift went up three levels before it stopped and opened. Rose found herself in a brightly lit hallway with a brightly painted wall, covered with painted designs. Smiling despite the situation, Rose admired a painted castle with a dragon flying overhead that looked a few years old. The next area had a landscape of violet grass and trees with silvery violet leaves. Looking around, Rose saw that most of the hall was painted with different designs or scenes.
‘I’m glad you like my work,’ the voice chimed. ‘I’m at the end of the hall, turn left.’
Rose found herself doing as the voice said without thinking about it. The voice sounded different now, excited and happy. She reached the end of the hall where a beaded curtain took the place of a door. The room was dim with very heavy dark curtains covering the windows.
‘Please come in.’
Rose stepped through the bead curtain and into the room, barely able to see anything.
“I’m sorry Rose,” the same feminine voice said this time out loud. “I forgot about your human vision.”
A light suddenly turned on, flooding the room with light from elegant lamps on the walls. Rose blinked as her eyes adjusted. Looking ahead of her in the room, she saw a table set with tea for two and her favourite biscuits.
“I’m so happy you came, Rose,” the voice said from Rose’s right.
Turning to the right, Rose couldn’t help a gasp at the girl standing at the side of the room. She was Rose’s height wearing a long simple black dress, but her skin was red. Actual real red and her ears were much larger than Rose’s, curling up into a long elegant point near the top of her head. Her red hair was coiled on top of her head, around two small horns. Had Rose not accepted the idea of aliens then she might have assumed she was looking at a devil, but instead she found the smiling girl very pretty. Then Rose felt the mental brush as the alien girl reached out to her once again.
‘Hello, Rose Tyler. My name is Eve.’
Chapter 19: Eve: The Girl From Out There
Rose learns more about this mysterious alien named Eve.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Nineteen: Eve: The Girl From Out There
‘Hello, Rose Tyler. My name is Eve.’
“You’re an alien,” Rose said. Then she tried to smile reassuringly. “I’ve met aliens before.”
‘I know,’ the voice was amused.
“Right, of course,” Rose answered as confidently as she could, “you can read my mind.”
‘You don’t need to keep proving yourself,’ Eve told her.
‘You’re worried that your mother dislikes your choice to pursue a university education and sees it as a rejection of her and how she raised you. You hide it behind confidence and keeping yourself busy, but it is there deep down. You’re afraid that you aren’t really very smart, but just playing a part. You worry that teachers and adults who dismissed you when you were young as just another council child were right. You are so scared that you’re not good enough and that you’ll fail your GCSEs.’
“Can you not read my mind?” Rose interrupted sharply, feeling uncomfortable.
‘You shouldn’t worry,’ Eve told her through the connection. ‘I can see how your mother looks at you, she loves you, and she is proud of you, and she is right to be. Those people who dismissed you when you were in lower school didn’t have any idea what you can do. They were wrong about you. You’re wonderful Rose Tyler. You’re beautiful, talented and smart with people who love you. You should be happy.’
“I am happy,” Rose insisted. Then the insanity of the situation she’d walked into hit her. Rose laughed, grinning widely at Eve. “You’re amazing.”
Eve grinned and then speaking out loud said, “I know.” Then Eve motioned to the table set for them. “Please, I know you had a long day at school. I did not mean to worry you so.”
Rose set her bag down and joined Eve at the table. Eve just smiled while she poured the tea and made it just how Rose liked. Part of Rose wondered if Eve had plucked that from her head, but dismissed the thought. That was a bit much for right now. They were silent for a moment as they took their first sips. Eve grinned at Rose again, tilting her head slightly to examine her guest.
“Your mind is so full of such… oh, there’s so much in there,” Eve gushed with wide eyes and a beaming smile. “The things you know, the things you’ve seen and oh the things you’re going to see.”
“Me? You’re from out there!” Rose glanced up meaningfully. “You must have seen loads. What is your planet like?”
Eve’s smile faded, and she looked down into her teacup for a moment before saying, “I don’t know.” There was a long pause before she spoke again, “There was a war… it was a long time ago.”
“You know about my life,” Rose offered gently. “I’ll try to understand if you want to talk about it.”
Eve hesitated, but then her eyes went back to Rose. She got the impression that Eve was seeing something she wasn’t but decided to leave it for now. Then Eve swallowed and nodded.
“There were these two races… both very powerful, the most powerful in the universe and they went to war against each other. My people weren’t involved, but since we could read the timelines, we were attacked.” Eve sniffed a little and shivered. “So many were exterminated and my planet, Verla, was burning when my parents put me on a ship and sent me into space.”
“You’re an evacuee,” Rose confirmed sadly.
“I was so young,” Eve confessed. “I can see into your mind. I can see what your mum looks like, but I can’t remember my mother’s face,” she confided sadly.
“I so sorry, Eve,” Rose told her compassionately.
“Thank you,” Eve replied, straightening up a bit. “My species carries some genetic memory, and of course we can read timelines, but there is a limit to what I know of my home world.”
“When you say read timelines, you mean seeing the future right?” Rose asked, leaning forward with curiosity.
“Yes, everything that was and might be. Reading the timelines means that at the moment we look we can see the most likely outcome, but it is not truly seeing the future as the outcome can be changed at any moment by a different choice.”
“How did you get here?” Rose asked, unsure of what to make of Eve’s statement.
“Harry Wallace, my father, found me when I was very young wandering on a beach in Devon and took me in,” Eve explained patiently. “I used my ability to read the timelines to win the lottery so that we could move to London.”
“Why London?” Rose questioned with a surprised look.
“My people connected to each other through our minds, but I’m the only one, so it is very… empty,” Eve said. Then Eve looked down into her teacup, unable to hide her unease. “Being around millions of minds and their timelines, it helps.”
“You’re lonely,” Rose said in understanding.
“I suppose,” Eve answered with a slightly embarrassed shrug. “Then I felt your mind and saw your timeline. You would not be afraid of me; you would not seek to harm me for being different,” Eve said. Then she shifted and looked down again giving Rose the impression she was nervous. “And you might even become my friend.”
“Then I’m glad you spoke to me,” Rose told her with a slightly amused smile at Eve’s nervousness.
“Once I found your mind when you and your mum were so close, it was easy to find you again, but I couldn’t maintain the contact for long. Mental communication is new to me,” Eve explained.
“You haven’t always been able to do that?” Rose asked, more than a little surprised.
“No, it is fairly new, but I didn’t have anyone to talk to. Father is a bit uncomfortable with mental communication,” Eve confessed.
“So he bought the entire building for you to live in. It is just the two of you?”
“Yes, when we moved to London so I could feel more minds from our old country home, it meant I couldn’t go outside anymore,” Eve informed Rose. “Having the entire building to play and move around in helps, but I can still feel all the minds constantly moving nearby.”
“But it still gets lonely.”
“Very much, I love my father, and I can feel how much he loves me, but…”
“He’s your parent,” Rose finished with an understanding smile. “My mum and I don’t have a lot of interests in common.”
Eve giggled and said, “I suppose that is a parent thing then.”
“Probably,” Rose agreed with a grin. “I don’t think we’re supposed to understand them and they’re not supposed to understand us.”
Eve laughed and tilted her head while looking at Rose again. “Your timeline is so… it is so much more than any other I have ever seen on Earth,” Eve said, awe in her eyes.
“Yeah,” Rose conceded, “I’ve seen some pretty strange things for my age.”
“Yes!” Eve reached back to take Rose’s hand with a wide grin. Then she giggled. “Yes, you have.”
When Eve’s hand touched Rose’s, she felt swept away and her vision blurred. Something gripped her heart and flooded her veins. Rose couldn’t speak, couldn’t move and couldn’t see. Then she saw it all. Images flashed before her eyes; old memories pulled forward with an unreal sharpness.
She is five years old and has only been attending Jericho Street Junior School for a month when one of the older boys starts teasing her about not having a father. Thomas Reynolds tells Rose that her mother didn’t know who her father was and Peter Tyler was just a story her mum made up to cover up that she’s a whore. She’s not exactly sure what that word means but knows that it isn’t nice. Rose is shocked and angry, but it is eight-year-old Mickey Smith who punches Thomas Reynolds.
She is six years old and sad when she first really talks with Shareen Bell after seeing Shareen run into the bathroom to hide. Rose goes after Shareen and sits with her. They talk about their fathers, or rather the lack of them. Rose feels a bit better knowing that her dad is dead and didn’t abandon her like Shareen’s dad did, but then she feels terrible for thinking that way. The girls stick together when the bullies come around after that.
She is seven years old and excited to be going to the British Museum for the first time. Rose asks a lot of questions and is having so much fun until she hears one of the teachers apologise to their guide. Her teacher Ms. Williams tells the guide that she is ‘one of those council children’ and Rose realises that her teacher doesn’t like her much at all. She realises that they don’t think she’s good enough because of where she comes from, and it hurts.
She is eight years old and hates her mum’s current boyfriend. Jackie has odd bruises on her arms and is quieter than usual. Two days later when Theo raises his arm to hit Rose when she dropped a plate, Jackie slaps him hard across the face and tells him not to come back. Rose doesn’t understand why her mother still cries that night after drinking all the alcohol Theo left behind. She tucks her mother in and hears Jackie whimper her father’s name and sob that she is lonely.
She is nine years old and dreams of being a superstar because everyone would love her and they would never have to worry about money again. Rose dreams of dance classes and voice lessons for only a brief time before Jackie sets her straight about what they can and can’t afford. Big dreams are something Rose learns to ignore, even if a few still slip into her mind from time to time.
She is ten years old and thrilled to be learning gymnastics, even if it is in school rather than fancy lessons. Rose enjoys the challenge of something different and learning something that many of the other’s aren’t learning. Despite everything else that makes her ordinary, this makes her a little special.
She is eleven years old, and the kids are vanishing. Rose tries to be brave and smart despite knowing that she is in over her head. The Doctor takes her hand and tells her to run. He saves her and protects her, but she can’t help but think that maybe she saved him against Spellman. She knows when she leads her fellow students out into the street that her life is different than it was before and that is just fantastic.
She is twelve years old and working so hard to understand the material in class. Rose never used to work so hard and her substitute teacher Mr. Smith notices her extra efforts during breaks. He stays after school to work with her while he’s at the school helping Rose understand the material. Rose will never forget the first time it all made sense to her and the smile that teacher gave her, but the words of Ms. Williams all those years ago still echo. That Christmas she receives a mysterious red bicycle and wonders if it is from Mr. Smith.
She is thirteen years old and sitting in her room thinking about the talk her mother had just given her. A lot of things that she saw around the flat with her mum and Jackie’s boyfriends made sense to her now, but Jackie had ended the conversation with a rant about men. Rose sat there wondering if her mother was still lonely since she talked about how Rose should be very careful with men, but Jackie usually wasn’t.
She is fourteen years old, and her painting has won a national honour. The teachers are applauding her and talking about how proud of her they are, and she thinks that a few might even mean it now. Then the Mona Lisa attacks them, and the Doctor appears again and trades the puzzle lock to protect her. They are saved by her painting coming to life, and Rose remembers exactly why meeting the Doctor the first time changed her life.
The images shift, and she can feel everything catching up to the present moment. Eve’s voice breaks through the haze of Rose’s mind asking if she wants to look into her future. Rose pulls her hand away and gasps no. She rocks back in the chair and crashes to the floor, trying to catch her breath.
“Rose,” Eve gasped. The red skinned girl knelt at her side, a near frantic look on her face. “I’m sorry, I thought it might help the confusion you were feeling.”
“I’m fine,” Rose snapped more harshly than she meant to. Then she took a deep breath. “Eve, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to snap like that.”
“I’m sorry,” Eve repeated, “I forget that humans don’t see the world the same way I do.”
“It’s fine,” Rose told her. “I’m fine.”
“You’re going to get eight A* and three A on your exams,” Eve informed her, trying to sound cheerful, but not completely hiding her worry.
Rose turned to look at Eve, her vision finally clearing. She grinned and asked, “Seriously?!”
Chapter 20: Eve: Life of Eve
Rose learns more about this strange alien.
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Twenty: Eve: Life of Eve
Eve helped Rose back into her chair and sat back down across from her. She did not make any moves to touch Rose again, but refilled her tea and moved the plate of biscuits closer to her. Breathing was proving a bit difficult for Rose. The images were fading away but seemed to have burned themselves once more into her memory. Things she hadn’t thought of in years were sharp and clear.
It finally hit her that Eve was an alien. A true and proper alien. She didn’t look human and with that power… Rose shook herself and took a slow breath to calm down. Swallowing thickly, Rose forced the last of the memories down. They obediently faded into the background, and the tension in her shoulders eased. Rose picked up her tea and took a sip. It was a bit cold now, and she wondered how long the vision quest had lasted. She downed the rest of the tea and Eve quickly refilled her cup with warmer tea. Finally, after a few minutes, Rose pushed a strand of hair out of her face and cleared her throat.
“So Eve how long have you been on Earth?” Rose inquired, deciding to move past the flashback. She had no clue how to even start.
A look of pure gratitude and a bit of guilt took over Eve’s features. She clutched her tea like a lifeline, and Rose realised how uncertain Eve was about this. Then again looking as she did, Rose figured she hadn’t had much social interaction.
“You mean how old am I?” Eve replied. She gave Rose a small grateful smile. “Well, Father found me thirteen years ago. He says that I reminded him of a toddler, I could barely walk. I’m not sure how old I am, but I seem to be still developing.” Eve looked a bit thoughtful and finally eased her death grip on the teacup. “Father and I think that my ability to speak through mental connection is a sign of my next stage of development.”
“That must be hard on both of you,” Rose said gently. “Not knowing I mean.”
“Sometimes,” Eve admitted. “Harry has been a wonderful father to me. I used my abilities to make him rich, but he uses the money to make me as comfortable as possible. I’ve seen so many human minds and human timelines… I know that if the wrong person had found me that I would not be so safe.”
“He sounds wonderful,” Rose agreed with a smile.
“I am so sorry about your father,” Eve told her with intense emotion, her eyes wide. “I am so sorry for what happened to him.”
“Thank you,” Rose whispered feeling overwhelmed by Eve’s reaction. “I don’t remember him.”
“You…. I suppose I should not discuss that” Eve responded nervously. “I’m afraid that I have no practice talking to anyone other than Father. It is difficult not to reveal the future.”
“What does that… what does my father have to do with the future?” Rose asked, extremely confused.
“Let’s discuss something else,” Eve suggested quickly and almost desperately. The girl’s eyes were wide, and she almost looked panicked. “Tell me about your friends Sharon and Shareen.”
Pausing, Rose studied Eve carefully. The strange girl seemed torn between happiness that she was talking to someone and utter fear of saying the wrong things. Rose wasn’t sure if Eve had said the wrong things or not, but something in her mind was trying to collect all the little things her new friend was saying just in case.
“You could meet them if you wanted,” Rose offered after a moment. “They might be a little shy at first, but I think they’d like you.”
“I’d like that,” Eve admitted with a huge smile. “Three friends, such an amazing idea!” Then Eve paused and looked towards her door. “My father is home.” Eve shifted nervously and looked back at
Rose. “I did not tell him I invited you,” she confessed softly.
“Do I need to slip out the back?” Rose asked, rising from her chair. ‘I don’t want you to get into trouble.” And she didn’t want to risk Eve’s father thinking Rose was here to hurt her.
“No,” Eve assured Rose quickly. “Just please forgive him for any reaction he might have. He lives in fear of someone taking me far away from him and home. Father is so afraid of something happening to me.”
“So he’s a normal parent then,” Rose joked with a smile, trying to lighten Eve’s mood.
It worked and Eve smiled. Standing up, Eve held her hand out to Rose who hesitated. “No timeline reading this time. I promise I won’t do that again without your permission. I just wanted you to see how wonderful you are,” Eve promised.
Standing, Rose took Eve’s hand after a moment of hesitation, giving her a slightly shaking smile. Eve nodded and guided Rose back into the hall. Rose glanced nervously towards the lift, wondering just how protective Eve’s father was.
“Eve,” Rose suddenly asked as they walked down the painted hallway. “Did you paint all of this?”
“Yes,” Eve answered with a giggle. “That is something we have in common. I love to paint, so I paint the scenes in my mind. Most of the landscapes come from my genetic memory of my world or other worlds.” Rose gaped at the scenes, trying to imagine what seeing another world would be like. “Other things I paint based on stories I read or things I see in people’s minds. My work isn’t as nice as yours, but it keeps me out of trouble.”
“They’re brilliant,” Rose assured her. “I loved painting the walls of my bedroom. Wish I could have painted the whole flat like you’ve done here.” Rose laughed and shook her head. “Imagine seeing another planet! That would be the most amazing thing ever!”
Eve was about to reply when the lift opened, and a gentleman stepped out into the hall in front of them. He was only a bit taller than Rose with neatly styled grey hair and wearing a simple black suit. His eyes were wide as he noticed Rose and his mouth hung open as he struggled to speak. A briefcase fell from his hands in his stunned silence and near panic.
“Father,” Eve greeted warmly, “This is my friend Rose.”
“Eve?” He gasped as his eyes swung to his daughter. “What have you done?”
“I saw her timeline,” Eve said quickly. “She’s met aliens before. I didn’t scare her, and she won’t tell anyone about me. I promise! Rose and I are going to be wonderful friends.” Eve tightened her grip on Rose’s hand as if she was afraid of her being torn away.
“I wouldn’t hurt Eve,” Rose added to try to reassure the worried man. “Like she said, I’ve met aliens before, and they don’t bother me.”
Then Eve released Rose’s hand and stepped forward. She wrapped her arms around her father even as he stuttered. His arms came around her awkwardly as her father started to recover. Mr. Wallace’s gaze remained on Rose who gave him what she hoped was a warm and reassuring smile. It seemed to work as he relaxed and glanced down at Eve.
“You should have said something before I left,” he scolded gently.
“I did not want to worry you, Father,” Eve replied letting go of him. “You would have talked me out of it.”
“You’ve become a stubborn teenage girl,” he sighed with a shake of his head, but his smile remained. “I didn’t think I’d have that problem with you.” Looking back at Rose, he nodded and extended his hand to her. “I am Harry Wallace, Eve’s father.”
“Rose Tyler,” Rose said shaking his hand. “Eve told me about how you found her and have looked after her.”
“Well, she looks after me too,” Harry told Rose with a glance at Eve. “My little girl has helped me build a life beyond anything I ever dreamed I’d have.”
“Father is on several charity boards throughout the city,” Eve informed Rose proudly. “After I told him the right lottery numbers he invested for us but started giving the excess to charities. Course I make sure the investments keep doing well and he just keeping building new services.”
“Sounds like you’re a good team,” Rose told them with a smile.
Harry blushed slightly and took his daughter’s hand. Glancing down at her watch, Rose flinched at the time before looking back up at the father and daughter.
“I’m afraid that I should be getting home,” Rose apologised. “My Mum will be starting to worry soon.”
“Will you visit again?” Harry asked suddenly.
Smiling at him, Rose looked at Eve who was watching her with hopeful eyes. “Can’t you see what I’m going to say, Eve?” Rose inquired in a teasing tone.
“I can see the most likely response based on your past and ideals,” Eve said. “But you can always choose another path. That what free will is.”
“Okay I need to leave before I get too interested in how seeing timelines works,” Rose replied. “Yes, Mr. Wallace I would like to come and see Eve again. Eve do you know my phone number?”
“Of course,” Eve assured her with a sweet, grateful smile. “Thank you for coming today. I haven’t had this much fun in… well, I don’t think I’ve ever had this much fun.”
Harry Wallace was looking down at Eve with a slightly sad expression before he looked back at Rose. She saw gratitude in his eyes and Rose nodded to him in response. Harry pulled out a business card and handed it to Rose.
“If you need anything let me know. Just give us a call next time you can come and see Eve. I’ll see you back to Victoria Station.”
“Thank you,” Rose told him as they walked into the lift. She gave Eve a wave as the doors closed.
“Thank you, Rose,” Harry said to her as the lift started descending. “She’s never been able to have friends and as much as I wish I could give her a normal life…”
“I understand,” Rose assured him. “Like Eve said I’ve met aliens before, and I’ll tell you that story next time I come over, but I can’t talk to most people about it. I get it, and I’m so happy that I’ve met her.”
Chapter 21: Eve: Friendships Formed
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Twenty-One: Eve: Friendships Formed
Rose hadn’t been exactly sure what to tell Sharon and Shareen when she saw them the next day at school. She briefly considered writing down a script for herself to deliver the news that she had made a new friend; a friend that just happened to be red, telepathic, from a different planet and capable of reading timelines. That idea was quickly thrown out the window. Instead, she settled on wrangling her two closest friends and taking them over to a quiet corner during their break. It wasn’t elegant or anything, but her whispered explanation at lunch seemed to communicate what had happened since her friends went through the rest of the day in stunned silence.
Rose had nearly forgotten that her two friends had never actually met the Doctor and therefore never come into contact with a ‘good’ alien on Earth, at least as far as they were aware. They’d briefly encountered Spellman in the shape of a clown who had captured them and faced off against an alien manifestation of the Mona Lisa. But they’d never actually met an alien properly. Again, at least not as far as they were concerned. Given the Doctor’s humanoid appearance and Eve’s fairly humanoid appearance except for being red and her little horns, Rose was fairly certain that other aliens did probably live on Earth. Personally, the idea didn’t bother her at all, and she found it a bit amusing to wonder just who in the news might be an alien. It was all a bit Star Trek, what with aliens apparently looking a lot of like humans. It made Rose wonder why evolution had favoured such a similar body structure or if there was some force behind it.
In the end, Rose had suggested that after school they could slip over to meet Eve for tea before they revised for exams. They both agreed, still slightly stunned and Shareen muttered something about Rose being some kind of alien magnet that Rose chose to ignore. After school, they gathered their things and marched to the proper bus stop for a quick trip to Victoria. Sharon and Shareen were finally regaining their nerves and use of their vocal cords by the time they reached the right area.
“So, Eve is red?” Sharon asked.
They were walking down Thirlby Road towards the front steps of the Wallace house. Sharon looked nervously over her shoulder back towards the busy area as the traffic got lighter and lighter.
“For the seventh time, Sharon, yes she’s red,” Rose replied. She shook her head and climbed the stairs, pushing open the unlocked door. “Come on.”
“Really red, though,” Sharon repeated. “Like stop signal red.”
“Yes, and your skin colour is much darker than mine,” Rose said. “Doesn’t matter does it?”
“Well I’m of African descent, which is not the same as being from a different planet,” Sharon argued with a huff. Still, she had the good grace to look thoughtful about the point.
“No,” Rose agreed with a soft sigh. “It isn’t the same, but I imagine it is about how the ethnic groups of Earth felt the first time they saw each other. She’s nice; I’m sure you’ll like her. Don’t think of her so much as an alien; just think of her as a girl our age from a very far off land.”
“Okay,” Sharon and Shareen agreed at the same time. They glanced at each other and giggled nervously while Rose just smiled.
Rose led them into the corridor. Both girls were suitably impressed by the size of the place. A nervous itch was developing in the back of Rose’s neck. She was nervous and excited all at once to see Eve again and reassure herself it hadn’t all been a dream. After giving her friends a moment, Rose closed and locked the front door. Then she nodded towards the lift.
Following Rose into the lift, Shareen and Sharon kept glancing at each other, their nervous giggles dying down a bit. Rose smirked slightly at their behaviour; it was humorous to think about how at ease she already was with Eve and the idea of having an alien being one of her closest friends. As strange as it sounded Eve now probably knew her better than anyone in the world. When the lift opened onto Eve’s bedroom floor, her two friends made small sounds of approval at the vivid walls. Their reactions weren’t too different from Rose’s as they took in the various scenes and fantastical images in brilliant colours.
“I bet you’d love to do this,” Shareen said. She knelt to get a better look at a group of seemingly alien animals painted on a landscape area. “Love to have long stretches of walls that were all yours to paint.”
“It would be fun,” Rose conceded with a wistful smile. It would be nice, but the flat just didn’t allow for that. It had been hard enough to get permission to paint her bedroom. “Come on Eve’s waiting this way. She favours the corner room at the end of the hall because it has a good view of the cathedral tower.”
“Is she talking to you in your mind?” Sharon asked in a whisper.
“At the moment no, a second ago yes,” Rose informed her, speaking in her normal volume. She gave Sharon and Shareen a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry I told her that you two probably wouldn’t be comfortable with that,” she assured them quickly.
“Oh.. thanks,” Shareen replied awkwardly as they reached Eve’s door.
Knocking politely, Rose smiled when the door opened a moment later. Eve was standing in the doorway with a huge, but nervous smile as she looked at Sharon and Shareen. At least they were alone in being worried about this meeting. Rose’s smile widened.
“Hello, Sharon,” Eve told Sharon with a polite nod before she turned and greeted Shareen, “Hello Shareen. Please come in. I have tea waiting for us.” Eve stepped back and opened the door wider. “Thank you for coming.”
“Pleased to meet you, Eve,” Sharon said carefully, holding out her hand. Eve shook it gently with a smile. “Rose has told us quite a bit about you of course,” Sharon added.
“Good things I’m sure,” Eve teased with a glance at Rose.
Shaking her head, Rose bit back a laugh and led the way into the room. It seemed brighter today, and she turned back to her now three friends still lingering by the doorway.
“Of course, Eve,” Rose replied as she sat down at the table. “So all you three going to stand there all afternoon or do I need to share the biscuits?”
All three jumped a little at the reminder they were still in the doorway. Eve gave Sharon and Shareen another smile and gestured them to the table. Rose watched her friends with amusement as they finally sat down at the table. This time Eve let them make their tea to their preferences instead of peeking into their minds.
Rose spent the afternoon guiding the conversations carefully as her two human friends adjusted to her nonhuman one. They talked about school, Sharon and Shareen’s family and Rose gave Eve a warning look as the alien girl glimpsed at their timelines for information. Eve recognised the warning for what it was and backed off the subject quickly. Rose didn’t blame Eve for her species nature of course, but seeing the future was against the human species nature. Glancing over at the door, Rose noticed Harry looking into the room. He smiled at her, and Rose carefully stood and excused herself.
“Hello, Mr. Wallace,” Rose greeted him when she joined him in the hallway.
“Hello, Rose, you may call me Harry,” he urged her. “In fact, I insist on it!”
“Alright then, Harry,” Rose agreed with a smile. “How are you?”
“I am well, Rose,” Harry glanced back at Eve with the other two girls. The topic had shifted to boys making Harry look a bit horrified. Rose chuckled. “She looks so happy,” Harry said softly.
“Eve said you found her on a beach?” Rose asked him softly, so as not to disturb her friends.
“Yes,” Harry responded. “I was just out for a walk near the end of the day; it was almost sunset. My village was nearby and the night before had been so stormy. At first, I thought it was a human child, the light from the setting sun meant I couldn’t see her face. I didn’t really think about it, just scooped her up in my arms and carried her away from the water. It wasn’t until I was home that I saw that she wasn’t human.”
“But you kept her anyway?”
“She was crying,” Harry whispered, lost in memory, “these soft little sobs that just broke my heart. She couldn’t stop crying and couldn’t understand anything I said. Her feet were cut up from the shells and rock of the beach, so I cleaned them up. I remember thinking about the fact her blood was red like mine, strange thing I suppose, but part of me was starting to understand that she was an alien. I never married and certainly never had children. My sister had two children, so I knew a little bit about how to take care of one.”
“And you never hesitated to keep her?” Rose inquired, a smile tugging at her lips.
“Oh, I went down to the beach after she fell asleep. I was terrified to leave her, but I thought that maybe I’d find her parents or at least an adult of her species. But I never found any signs of a ship or any others of her kind even though I looked every day for the next two weeks. After that, I just accepted that I was all she had and focused on keeping her safe.”
“Wow,” Rose whispered as she looked back into the room where Eve was giggling with Shareen and Sharon.
“What?” Harry questioned in wide eyes.
“It’s just,” Rose started to say, turning back to Harry, “It’s just that you find an alien child alone on the beach and your first instinct isn’t to think of her as an alien. Instead, you think of her as a child first and foremost despite how she looks and how she acts. You teach her English, guide her, love her and protect her despite her being different. At the end of the day, she’s your little girl above everything else.” Rose just grinned at him, “That is amazing. You are amazing, Harry Wallace.”
Blushing, Harry looked back at Eve who suddenly looked over at the two of them and smiled. Eve called Rose back in and suggested that her friends could start revising in the comfort of Eve’s home and that her computer was open for use. As they all pulled out their things, Rose was pleased to see Eve pull out a few books of her own and join them with a shrug.
“I get bored,” Eve informed them when Sharon asked. “Plus I’ve painted most of the house already.”
Over the next week, a strange pattern was created that both surprised Rose and did not surprise her as much as she thought it probably should. On days that she didn’t have to work after school was let out, she would take the bus to Victoria Station and then walk over to Eve’s house. Her friends joined her on most days if they did not have other obligations. Rose got a strong sense that Eve resented Rose’s part-time job, but the girl never addressed it directly.
Exams came upon the girls more quickly than felt decent and Eve had to insist on visits if only to get the three girls to relax for a few hours. Rose was relieved when exams ended and her schedule between home, visiting Eve, and her part-time job stabilised. In the years that followed she would look back and laugh at her youthful belief that it would last.
Chapter 22: Eve: Man on the Street
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Twenty-Two: Eve: Man on the Street
It was a warm sunny day at the start of June when Rose first saw the man watching her near Thirlby Road. She was just on her way to see Eve when she spotted the figure in the corner of her eye. Stopping, Rose looked into a store window on Victoria Street and used the reflection to look across the street at him. At first, she thought that perhaps she was being too paranoid, but something about him nagged at her memory.
He was tall with raven black hair that was styled neatly and contrasted to his pale, worn face. His features were strong and sharp, but his dark eyes and long nose almost made him look like a bird of prey. The man’s suit was finely tailored, the sort that Rose had grown used to seeing on Victoria Street, and completely black with only a bit of dark red on his tie. In his hands, he carried a simple wide-brimmed black hat with a dark red ribbon. Something about him put Rose on edge, but she couldn’t pinpoint what exactly it was.
Examining the reflection, Rose tried to see if he kept watching her and searching her memory for the oddly familiar man. The more she thought about it, the more certain Rose was that she would have remembered meeting someone like that. Finally, Rose turned around and looked at him directly across the street. He smirked at her and gave her a deep nod, almost a bow before he placed his hat on his head. Turning away from her, he walked down the street and vanished from sight in the crowd of pedestrians.
The air seemed colder in his wake. Rose stayed in place, watching the crowd in case he reappeared. Then slowly she turned and began walking towards Eve’s again. She stopped several times to make sure that she wasn’t still being watched or followed. There was no one there, but Rose now couldn’t shake the certainty that he had been watching her.
Eve looked up at Rose sharply as she entered the room Eve was painting in. There was a line of light blue paint on her cheek that crinkled when Eve smiled at her. Rose managed a smile for her friend and then looked around the room. She took in the sight of twin easels standing in the room with a table of painting supplies between them and relaxed a little.
“Hi Eve,” Rose greeted. She smiled at her friend and set her backpack down by the door with a soft exhale.
“Hello Rose,” Eve replied. Setting down her paintbrush, Eve frowned a little and looked at Rose in concerned. “You are concerned about something. Are you alright?”
“I’m afraid someone from UNIT might be following me here,” Rose told her after a moment’s hesitation. “He was watching me, and I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen him before.”
Setting down her paint pallet, Eve stood from her chair and walked over her Rose. She gently took one of Rose’s hands in her own. Rose braced herself but didn’t pull away.
“I could look,” Eve offered gently. “Just to put your mind at ease.”
“I think that might be a good idea,” Rose conceded after a long moment of hesitation. “If we need to get you out of London…”
“That’s not it,” Eve muttered. Her eyes slid closed, and her lips curled into a slight frown. There was a faint aura of red around Eve’s hands that surprised Rose. A soft gasp a moment later startled Rose and Eve quickly dropped her friend’s hand. “He’s not after me,” Eve said. Now was staring at Rose with surprised and intent eyes.
“Is he after me?” Rose asked looking at Eve’s stricken face.
“Not exactly,” Eve answered. She moved over to a large stuffed chair in the corner and collapsed in it. Wringing her hands, Eve seemed flustered and worried. She took a deep breath and looked over at Rose. “He’s not an enemy, and he means you no harm. I can’t say anything else without risking your timeline.”
“Who is he?” Rose pressed, but Eve shook her head.
“He is not a friend Rose, but he is not an enemy. I can promise you that.” Eve met Rose’s eyes with the most serious expression Rose had ever seen on her friend’s face. Neither spoke for a long moment before Eve took in another deep breath and put a large smile on her face. “But enough about him,” Eve turned back to her painting and then gestured to the empty canvas waiting for Rose. “You came here to relax and spend time with me, so please put it out of your mind.”
Rose watched Eve start painting again for a long moment before she sighed and picked up a pencil. Looking at the blank canvas for a moment, Rose finally shrugged and set the pencil against the empty space and told her brain to stop working so hard. An hour later she was chatting with Eve and giggling as her hand drew two figures on opposite sides of the canvas, facing each other with a figure far behind them in the middle of the space.
Eve glanced over at the starting drawing on Rose’s canvas. A quick brush over the timelines worried her, and she quickly looked away from the image Rose was slowly beginning. It would take her only a month to paint this one. Eve sighed softly; once again Rose Tyler would paint a clue to her future. She turned back to her work and frowned as her head ached slightly from reading Rose’s timeline. Carefully, she set her paintbrush down and walked over to her chair to sit for a moment.
“Eve?” Rose asked with worry creeping into her voice. “Are you alright?”
“Yes, Rose,” Eve assured her quickly. “Just give me a moment.”
Eve blinked as her vision turned fuzzy and Rose’s form blurred. Closing her eyes, Eve took a deep breath but flinched as the nearby mental voices pounded on her head. Then it cleared and Eve was able to take another breath. She repeated her cycle of deep breaths for a few more moments before opening up her eyes. Forcing a smile, Eve tried to reassure Rose that she was fine.
“Has that happened before?” Rose asked Eve, kneeling in front of the chair.
“Not that I remember,” Eve admitted, “But my powers have been changing lately so it might be connected to that.”
“I wonder…” Rose trailed off slightly with a worried expression.
“I wonder,” Rose blushed slightly, “If it is your species form of puberty and you’re experiencing your version of growing pains or cramps.”
“I see,” Eve said. Her facial muscles twisted a little as she considered it. “That is possible; I do not know much about my species development pattern. I’m certain it will pass soon. Please, Rose, just let me rest a bit.”
Reluctantly Rose stood and left Eve’s side to return to her painting. She glanced over at her friend every few minutes while she applied the first layer of colour. Eve was leaning back in the chair and staring out the window. Sensing Rose’s gaze, she turned and gave her friend another smile in hopes of reassuring her.
It was another two weeks before anything about Eve gave Rose reason to worry. The four girls were all sitting together on a long sofa in front of a huge television. Sharon had come up with the idea that they needed to do a proper girl’s night with Eve or at least as close as they could manage with their alien friend. The decided method of achieving this was a lot of sweets, a stack of their favourite movies and enough giggling to send Harry into hiding across the building. Eve had started asking about if Sharon or Shareen liked any boys which of course led to the question of why she didn’t ask Rose.
Raising an eyebrow at Eve, Rose was met only with an impish smirk and giggling from her alien friend. Sharon and Shareen both leaned towards Eve, asking her what she knew. Rose shook her head at them, trying not to ask herself and fighting not to blush at the odd attention.
“Is it Mickey?” Sharon asked, “He’s got a huge crush on Rose.”
“True,” Eve agreed. “But he’s not the one for Rose. She’s-”
Suddenly, Eve stopped talking and whimpered, clutching her head. She fell back against the sofa, her legs shaking and knocking into the small table in front of them. Her entire body convulsed, and her friends all jumped back.
“Rose,” Sharon ordered, “You go get Harry. I think she’s having a seizure. Shareen help me get her all the way onto the sofa and on her side. We can’t let her hit anything.”
Nodding, Rose dashed out the door, her bare feet slipping slightly on the hardwood floor. She called out for Harry loudly and sighed in relief as he came running towards her.
“Eve,” Rose shouted. “She’s having some kind of seizure!”
Harry didn’t say anything but took off running as quickly as he could manage past Rose. They reached the doorway and Harry darted inside. Rose stayed in the entryway so as not to crowd Eve. She sighed in relief at the sight of Eve sitting up on the sofa once again and sipping water from a glass Sharon was helping her hold.
“What happened?” Harry asked, kneeling at his daughter’s side.
“We’re not sure,” Sharon told him, never taking her eyes off Eve.
“She stopped shaking just after Rose left to get you,” Shareen informed him. “Muttered something about timelines, too much in them,” Shareen continued with a guilty glance towards Rose.
“Rose,” Eve coughed out. “Rose I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
“Not your fault Eve,” Rose assured as she carefully took a step forward. “I’m glad it passed.”
“I am too,” Eve groaned out. “I don’t understand.”
“Just rest sweetheart,” Harry told Eve as he gently hugged her and took her hand. “Please just rest.”
Smiling softly, Rose started to walk closer to Eve. Her friend looked up at her and smiled only to shiver. Rose stopped and frowned for a moment just before Eve grabbed her head again in her hands and screamed. Moving back, Rose put distance between herself and Eve.
“Too much in the timeline,” Eve whispered as she rocked back and forth in her father’s arms. “Too much, too vivid, too complex, too much.”
“It’s me,” Rose whispered as she backed the rest of the way out of the room. Taking a deep breath, Rose quickly walked down the hallway to the opposite side of the building. Finding a loo, she ducked inside and collapsed against the door. Rose sat there alone in the dark room for a long moment, trying to listen for the sounds of anyone following her before she gave up and started crying softly.
“Rose Tyler,” a smooth feminine voice said just as a soft red light filled the room.
Jumping to her feet, Rose gasped as the mirror above the sink glowed red. A moment later a face similar to Eve’s, horns and all, but older appeared on the mirror’s surface. The red glow lit up the room as the face examined her.
“What are you?” Rose asked sharply.
“I am the computer of the Verlan ship Eve was sent to Earth in. It has taken fifteen years to restore my systems enough to establish contact, but Eve is no longer capable of accepting communication from me, so I have selected you as my means of connection to her. Eve is entering the changing stage of her life, and she is alone in this world, humans cannot help her. If you wish to save her Rose Tyler, then you must help me.”
Chapter 23: Eve: Face in the Mirror
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Twenty-Three: Eve: Face in the Mirror
“I am the computer of the Verlan ship Eve was sent to Earth in. It has taken fifteen years to restore my systems enough to establish contact, but Eve is no longer capable of accepting communication from me, so I have selected you as my means of connection to her. Eve is entering the changing stage of her life, and she is alone in this world, humans cannot help her. If you wish to save her Rose Tyler, then you must help me.”
“What is happening to Eve?” Rose demanded as worry and fear flooded her. She leaned closer to the mirror, urging herself not to be afraid.
“Eve has entered the changing stage,” the ship explained. “My memory scan of you suggests that it is similar to human puberty.”
Rose was torn between second-hand embarrassment for Eve and a sense of irritation that she’d guessed this two weeks ago. Then the computer’s words caught up with her. “Wait!” Rose snapped. “Memory scan?!”
“Indeed,” the ship replied in a monotone that set Rose on edge. “I am an advanced computer system built by a species that could read time itself, running a basic scan of your knowledge and timeline is within my abilities as the protector of Eve. A scan of your language was also necessary in order to be of any use to the child put into my care.”
“Fine,” Rose groaned waving her hand. There were bigger things to worry about then a computer with no sense of privacy. Maybe that was just as aspect of Eve’s people. “So you know everything about me. I need to understand the full scope of what is happening.”
“Eve’s parents placed her in an advanced ship as an infant to escape the Dalek purge of Verla. She has very little knowledge of the war, but it was fought by two races capable of time travel and to prevent the entire universe being unravelled a time lock was created around the war. This lock was designed to prevent anything from entering or leaving the span of the war. Ships like this unit were designed to escape the rising time lock before it was completely stabilised, but only infants could be taken through without insanity taking hold,” the ship explained patiently. “The Time Lock was not yet secure, but it was too dangerous for adults with developed minds to pass through. Despite the advanced design, this unit still sustained damage and crashed. My navigational systems remained online long enough to reach dry surface and eject the young child that was in my care. Since then, I have sought to restore my systems and find Eve. Only recently with her expanding powers have I been capable of locating her energy on this planet. However, her increased powers have weakened her defences meaning that I cannot begin contact with her myself.”
“Like me then,” Rose muttered, anger and guilt taking the place of her earlier irritation.
“Your timeline is too overwhelming for the fragile state of Eve’s mind. She has not been trained in the proper methods for using her abilities. Her best chance is for you to get her off of Earth. My communication sensors have detected the other Verlas who escaped the purge gathering in the Andromeda Galaxy.”
“And they can help her? I thought you said only infants survived,” Rose asked, leaning closer to the mirror. Fear for Eve began to override everything else. “What can we do?”
“The others have been raised within their evacuation space crafts, not on primitive worlds,” the ship replied calmly.
“Watch it,” Rose growled. “This primitive world has kept her alive.” Rose groaned and shook her head. “I’m scolding a machine,” she said.
“I am a highly complex artificial intelligence, tasked with defending and educating Eve,” the ship retorted, sounding a touch irritated to Rose’s ears. “My primary responsibility is to protect her and deliver her to the rest of her species.”
“Yeah, good job you’ve done at that.” Rose paused and took a deep breath as she tried to gather her thoughts. Eve was apparently going through some nasty growing pains and was supposed to be somewhere in the Andromeda Galaxy. “Okay then ship how can I help Eve get off Earth?”
“My systems have been mostly restored from a forced restart following the crash,” the ship explained. “However, tracking Eve and establishing contact with you in your language is a drain of energy. Manual repairs will be necessary to leave Earth.”
“Manual repairs?” Rose gaped at the image in disbelief. “As in we have to find someone to fix a spaceship? On Earth? On this ‘primitive world’?”
“That would risk Eve’s safety beyond acceptable measures,” the ship said. There was a firm note to her voice.
“Maybe UNIT…” Rose trailed off and shook her head. “No, no way would they just a let an alien that can see the future leave.”
“Indeed, however, my evaluation of you is that you are capable of making the necessary repairs,” the ship informed Rose. She looked up at the red face in the mirror in alarm. “The energy your timelines give off should be enough to compensate for the previous damage and my information systems can guide you through the repair process.”
Rose was about to reply when the door swung open, and Harry looked inside. His eyes widened as they settled on the face in the mirror. The face’s eyes glowed and looked straight at Harry. Rose glanced between the two, and then Harry seemed to come back to himself.
“Rose?” Harry gasped, pointing at the face. He looked between her and the computer image with wide eyes. “What is that? It looks like Eve.”
“I am the artificial intelligence system from the child’s ship,” the ship said. Something in its voice was gentler now. “I was constructed and programmed to protect her, and now she needs me.”
“Eve’s ship?” Harry gaped at the mirror, glancing at Rose. “I never- we never saw the ship.”
Rose nodded calmly and switched the light on so they didn't see just by the red glow from the mirror. Harry glanced back and forth at Rose and the computer’s image as it explained everything once again. When the computer reached the end of the same information it had given Rose, she interrupted.
“So where is the ship located?” Rose asked. “If I’m to repair it, I need to know where to go.”
“The ship is close to where Harry Wallace first located the child. I can direct you from there.”
Then the face vanished from the mirror. Rose and Harry looked at each other for a long moment, neither speaking until Harry sighed. He rubbed his forehead and leaned against the wall, suddenly looking very old and frail. Rose began to reach for him, but thought better of it and pulled her hand back.
“I’m sorry you got pulled into this Rose,” he apologised.
“I’m not,” Rose said. She gave him a reassuring smile. “It will be tricky getting me there and making sure I don’t get too close to Eve, but if fixing this ship is the only way to help her then that’s what we have to do.”
“Yes,” Harry nodded, “We’ll have to come up with some kind of cover story to get you girls to Devon with Eve.” He swallowed thickly. “I’d rather she had Sharon and Shareen with her through this.”
“You do know that Eve has to leave Earth,” Rose reminded him softly.
Harry nodded and looked back at Rose, saying, “My little girl isn’t safe here anymore, so I have to help her get where she will be.” He straightened up and took a deep breath. “Just make me a list of whatever tools you think might help, and I’ll make sure you have them. I should go inform Eve of this and tell Sharon and Shareen.”
“My job is going to be fixing an alien spaceship,” Rose reminded him with a laugh. “I haven’t got a bloody clue!” Rose kept giggling and leaned against the wall. She shook her head as Harry exited the room. “Wow,” she finally gasped. “This is my life.”
Closing her eyes, Rose gave herself a moment to adjust to the sudden change. She had no doubts about what she needed to do, but it still scared her a little bit. After all, it wasn’t a normal thing to become road ship assistance for a spaceship before you’d even had your AS-Levels.
Finally, Rose left the small water closet, wishing to put some distance between herself and the mirror. She returned to Eve’s bedroom, careful not to get any closer to the reception room where Sharon and Shareen would be with Eve. Even down the hall, she could hear their voices as she grabbed her normal clothing, her pyjamas, and dressing gown feeling too exposed. Silently she admitted that armour would probably be the only thing that made her feel secure, but changing might help a little.
Rose quickly changed back into her jeans and her favourite t-shirt, a purple shirt with a picture of Alice speaking to the Cheshire Cat which had been a gift from Shareen after repeatedly declaring Rose mad. She giggled as she looked in the mirror, somehow the words of the Cheshire Cat “We’re all mad here” fit the moment so well. If it hasn’t been for her previous little adventures, Rose would have been expecting to wake up at any moment. She pinched her arm lightly and flinched a little at the jolt of pain. Not a dream then. Rose managed a weak smile at her reflection and took a deep breath as Harry called for her.
Returning to the main hall, Rose kept her distance from where Eve was being tended and followed Harry down the hall to the lift. They descended three floors in silence as Harry led Rose to his private office. She sat down in the black chair in front of Harry’s desk and remained silent. Harry unlocked a cabinet to his right and pulled out a thick folder which he placed on the table. He opened it and handed Rose a picture of a beach, the one she assumed her found Eve on. She glanced into the folder; there were maps of the area, images of the beach and newspaper clipping from around the day he found Eve.
“So we have to go to Devon,” Rose said as she looked through the information.
“Your parents will need some kind of story,” Harry told her.
Leaning back in the chair, Rose sighed and rubbed her head gently. She was getting a headache just imagining how she could convince her mum to let her take off across England. This was not the situation she wanted to explain aliens to her during. Something told her that Jackie would not take the events of her life relating to aliens calmly.
“Any thoughts?” Rose asked Harry.
To Rose’s surprise, Harry smiled slightly and nodded. “I need to make some arrangements, but I think I can come up with something.” He looked over Rose’s clothing. “Are you planning to go home?”
“I can’t get near her now,” Rose said. She slumped down in the chair sadly. “At least she’d still got Sharon and Shareen.”
Giving Rose a sad look, Harry nodded slowly. “I’m sorry Rose. She was so happy to meet you, and the three of you have made her so happy.” Harry sighed sadly and shook his head. Then Harry smiled as he glanced over at the phone on his desk. Reaching into a drawer, he pulled out a mobile phone and looked at Rose. “Wait here; I have an idea. Just answer the phone when it rings.”
Beaming at Harry until he left the room, Rose kept a tight grip on the phone. It felt like an hour before it rang and Rose snatched it up. “Eve?”
“Hello Rose,” Eve greeted with a relieved laugh. “I’m sorry.”
“Not your fault,” Rose assured her with a sad smile.
“Nor is it yours,” Eve returned. “Now, my father tells me that we need to create a great and brilliant plan so I’ll put you on speakerphone and let us see what we can come up with.”
Chapter 24: Eve: Bucks Mill
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Twenty-Four: Eve: Bucks Mill
In the end getting away from their families to go to Devon was incredibly simple. Rose realised that she had made the mistake of only thinking of Harry as Eve’s father and completely forgetting that not only was the man incredibly rich due to his daughter’s abilities but that he also ran various charity foundations. Harry’s solution to how to get Rose, Sharon, and Shareen out of London without their parents was elegant in the simplicity. Out of the blue, the three girls were accepted as a team of youth volunteers who were to be working on a project in Harry’s old village. Harry produced full documentation for the project and evidence that the girls had applied in April for the summer program.
Rose, Sharon, and Shareen had confessed to their parents to entering applications as a potential team, but they hadn’t expected to be selected. This was of course followed by congratulations, introductions to Harry Wallace and discussions about the room and board the girls would be receiving. The hardest thing for Rose had been making arrangements at her job to be gone for several weeks. Mr. Hastings had not been pleased, but Rose had the strong sense that he wasn’t as put out as he pretended to be. There weren’t that many people in the area willing to work under the table and for what he offered as she did.
In Bucks Mill, a small cottage had been rented to house the girls, and the public story was that they were assisting with a small cleanup and some construction work as a form of work-study and a new experimental program to get city kids outside of London occasionally. Rose wasn’t sure of the story, but after how quickly interest had vanished after Odd Bob’s abductions of children and the Mona Lisa incident she was learning that humans would believe anything. If nothing else the story was plausible enough to look good of a future college application.
Still, less than three days after first speaking with ship Rose was packing a travel bag and had information from Harry in her pocket. In order to keep Rose far enough away from Eve, she would be travelling in a different car while Harry personally drove his daughter back to their old home. Rose, Sharon, and Shareen were to be picked up by a van in less than an hour at the Powell Estates. Tossing her sketchbook into her bag, Rose turned and double checked that she had everything she’d need. The tools she used for working on computers were packed, and Harry had promised that he’d get her anything else she needed.
Sighing, Rose sat down on her bed and looked down at her watch. Everything had moved so quickly since speaking with the ship, and Rose found being busy helped keep her mind off of Eve. They spoke on the phone at least once a day, but even talking to Rose for too long started invading Eve’s time sense.
“Preparations have been completed.” Rose jumped off her bed and looked over at her mirror as the glowing red face appeared, still speaking in monotone. “You will be arriving soon?”
“Yes,” Rose gasped as she tried to catch her breath. “You don’t need to scare me like that” She glared at the face crossly, trying to regain her dignity.
“Frightening you was not the intention of this unit,” the computer replied. “Eve’s condition remains stable, but her ability to control her time sense is failing.”
“I know,” Rose said. She nodded sadly and crossed her arms. “Just talking to me for too long starts to hurt her.”
“Removal from a high population area will ease the strain, but it is vital that she be brought into the ship as quickly as possible.”
“You’re prepared to help her?”
“This unit was designed on the assumption that the child would spend the changing time within. Eve’s removal from the ship was not expected.”
“Alright,” Rose said. She turned back to her bag and pulled out a small notebook. “Have you translated your coordinates?”
“Indeed translation to Earth navigation standard has been completed.” Rose wrote down the series of numbers that the mirror face listed off and nodded. “Sensors indicate that the perception filter is still active.”
“Perception filter?” Rose gaped at the face, “As in alters human perception of the ship?”
“Correct,” the computer responded in the same monotone voice. “Carry a mirror so I can contact you and deactivate the perception filter when you are close.”
Then the face vanished and Rose blinked at the mirror in surprise. Shaking her head, she walked over to her dresser and grabbed a compact mirror from the top. Rose tossed the mirror into her small shoulder bag before closing her suitcase up. She carried it out to the main room where her mother was watching the telly.
“Ready to go sweetheart?” Jackie asked, looking up at her.
“Yes Mum,” Rose responded with the smile as Jackie stood and hugged her.
“Well then, let’s get you down to the meeting point.”
Jackie walked Rose down the stairs and into the courtyard where Shareen was waiting with her mother. Jackie and Angela greeted each other and started chatting while Rose and Shareen exchanged a knowing glance with each other. A few minutes later Sharon came walking up to them carrying a backpack while her father Andrew followed with her suitcase. The three girls chatted briefly about what they thought Bucks Mill would be like, and all admitted that the idea of staying a long time in a real village sounded very strange. They carefully kept the conversation away from Eve as their parents were right next to them. A silver van pulled up, and a driver in a simple uniform stepped out. Sharon’s dad helped the older talkative man load the bags up into the van, and they quickly hugged their parents before climbing into the passenger van.
“Nice,” Sharon told Rose as they sat down in the comfortable seats. “Very nice.”
“Yeah,” Rose agreed as they settled in, “This will make the long drive easier.”
Their driver returned to the front, and the girls waved to their parents out the windows. Rose took a deep breath and gave her mother a big smile. With a little bit of luck, everything would go smoothly. Then she saw the man again; strangely she had the feeling she was looking for him now. The man in black had his black hat on now and was calmly walking down the street. He smirked at Rose and nodded to her before the van started moving down the street.
It was more than an hour before they escaped London traffic and the landscape started changing from suburb homes and football fields to open space. Rose relaxed in the chair, listening to her friends chat in the seat behind her about what they wanted to take for A-Levels and their most recent crushes. Over that first hour Rose was forced to admit that yes she knew Mickey had a crush on her, no she did not like him that way, no there wasn’t anyone she liked that way and that she thought the local boys were imitated by a girl who scored really well in tests and takes kickboxing lessons.
They were into open countryside with soft rolling green hills, and Rose could see the occasional burial mound and signage for ancient sites. Sharon and Shareen were quiet for a while as they took in the calm sight around them, none of the girls having spent a great deal of time outside of London before. However, it didn’t last all that long and Shareen started talking about Kayla Miller from Powell Estates who had run off with local musician Jimmy Stone last month just after finishing her GCSE exams which by most rumours she had done very badly at.
“I hope Kayla doesn’t get hurt too badly,” Rose muttered to her friends.
“You hated Jimmy Stone,” Sharon remarked with a tilt of her head.
“Since the moment I first met that filthy arrogant bastard,” Rose hissed with a shudder. Her two run-ins with Jimmy Stone had been less than pleasant. He had wandering hands and had a problem with the word no. “Kayla is the same age as us and should know better. He’s twenty years old, and we’re only fifteen.”
“You don’t like age gaps,” Shareen asked, glancing over at Rose with mild interest.
“I don’t mind age gaps.” Rose shook her head thoughtfully. “Well, I don’t mind age gaps provided that both people understand the relationship they are in and are consenting to what that relationship is based on. He’s twenty and Kayla is not really capable of understanding that relationship and let’s face it we know what he wants. I hope she doesn’t get hurt too bad and takes her A-Levels when she comes home.”
“Okay really hate Jimmy Stone then,” Sharon muttered. “Did he hit on you or something?”
“Or something,” Rose growled, crossing her arms across her chest. “Idiot tried to feel me up.”
“And didn’t get a broken arm?” Shareen gaped before whistling. “Lucky idiot.”
“Nope just landed hard on his arse.” Rose smiled a little at the memory before looking out the window. “And people wonder why I don’t date the guys at our school or in our area.”
“Yeah, they are just mere mortal men,” Sharon teased with a smirk.
“It’s not that,” Rose denied. “They have such a small view of the world and what they could do in it. I’m not the sort of girl who dreams of a house and white wedding.” Rose shook her head and continued, “Anyway new topic now. We’ve still got two hours, and I don’t want to be melancholy when we get the Bucks Mill.”
It was just a little afternoon when they arrived at the cottage home Harry had rented for them. The driver politely helped the girls take their suitcases inside before he fled the cottage muttering about getting back to civilisation. Bucks Mill looked like something out of a picture or history special with Tudor thatched roofs and white walls. Their cottage was on a small narrow street, next to the town pub. From out the sitting room window, Rose could see the rocky beach and the ocean. The three girls quickly explored the small house. There were a kitchen, sitting room, small dining area and stairs to the upper floor. The larger of the bedrooms had two beds in it, and the small had one. Sharon pulled out a coin, and they flipped for the single room which Rose won.
A knock on the front door made the girls dash downstairs. Harry stood on the front steps with a short woman a little older than himself standing next to him. Rose could see impatience in the man’s shoulders, but he offered them all a smile. It occurred to Rose that he was probably anxious to get back to Eve.
“Girls,” he greeted with a smile. “This is Mrs. Avery, she and her husband own the cottage and the pub next door. She had agreed to look after your needs while you are here.”
“Yes,” Mrs. Avery said. She gave them all a welcoming smile. “I stocked the fridge and cabinets with some food and just come over to get your dinners. If you need anything, my contact information is on the kitchen table.”
Shareen stepped forward and thanked Mrs. Avery politely while Sharon excused herself to put lunch together. Harry took Rose aside and handed her the map of the local area and offered a few last minute instructions and suggestions about the area. Nodding, Rose assured Harry that they would locate the ship quickly and she would inform him of what needed to be done.
“Don’t forget,” Harry told her, “If you need anything-”
“I will let you know,” Rose promised. “Are we far enough from Eve here?”
“My home is a ways from the village proper,” Harry assured her. “Eve is fine and safe. She says that being out of London has already made her feel much better.”
“Good.” Rose sighed in relief. “Give her our love.”
“I will,” Harry promised. “Good luck to you.”
Harry pulled Mrs. Avery away from Shareen, and they left the cottage. Shareen and Rose glanced at each other before moving into the kitchen where Sharon had sandwiches waiting for them. After the quick lunch, the three girls grabbed the day packs Harry had provided. Rose packed her computer tools, her sketchbook, notebook and laptop along with the snacks and water that Sharon handed to her. Her friends packed other food, water along with torches and to Rose’s amusement walkie-talkies.
Sharon giggled as she looked at her two friends. “Wow, we look like we’re setting off on quite the quest.”
“Harry said the ship is a few miles down the shore and I want to be prepared. Ideally, I’ll be able to start repairs this afternoon,” Rose said. Picking them up one at a time, Rose studied the selection of tools.
“Just don’t forget that we have to get back here each night,” Shareen reminded them. “The village will talk if we don’t.”
“Yeah, remind me of that when I’m working on the ship.” Rose stopped and laughed as they walked to the front door. “That’s my life; I repair alien spaceships.”
“Yes this is your life, Rose Tyler,” Shareen said as she locked the door behind them. “Congratulations.”
Chapter 25: Eve: The Ship of Eve
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Twenty-Five: Eve: The Ship of Eve
Rose and her friends calmly and carefully followed the rocky shoreline towards the point marked on the map from the coordinates that the ship had provided. The smooth pebbles that made up the shore were not easy to walk on as they shifted with each step and the larger rocks they had to climb around were wet and slippery. It was unlike anything Rose had done before and was far more difficult than movies made it look. She was just grateful that Harry had insisted they all get solid boots before coming out here.
Despite none of them being experienced, the three girls worked together in navigating over the rocks and kept a close eye on each other. When Shareen started to slip Rose was able to support her arm while Sharon freed her foot. It was only two hours later, even if it felt like much longer when they finally reached the marked area. The terrain shifted slightly with more soil and sand with a longer shore away from the cliffs.
“Didn’t Harry say he found Eve on an evening stroll,” Sharon panted as she leaned against a rock and looked out into the ocean. “This is not an evening stroll!”
“Eve was ejected from the ship and wandering towards the village,” Rose replied. She shielded her eyes and looked around for any sign of the ship. There was nothing that she could see. “He never actually found the ship, just marked the coordinates on the map. I’m grateful the ship is this close to the town, and no one has found it.” Rose pulled out her compact mirror and opened it as her friends set down their bags and drank some water.
A moment later, the red face appeared in the mirror. “My sensors are detecting three human life forms very close to me,” the ship informed Rose. “All three of you are here?”
“Yes,” Rose said. Sharon passed her over a bottle of water and gave her a pointed look. “It’s us; drop the perception field if you don’t detect anyone else.”
“No other humans detected for one mile, the perception filter will be lowered until you are within the ship,” the ship informed Rose before the mirror returned to normal.
Rolling her eyes, Rose gulped some water and ate a few bites of an energy bar before they all hoisted their packs back on and kept moving. Rose kept the mirror open and in her left hand for quick communications since they were close. They hadn’t gone much further when the sandy area in front of them shimmered, and they all jumped back as it seemingly turned into metal before them. The ground vibrated, and Rose was aware of the fact that the ship was rising to the surface and not just dropping an image. Everything stopped for a moment, and a large metal surface that curved slightly and was covered with strange marking was in front of them.
“Opening top hatch,” the computer informed Rose. “Please enter quickly.”
A large round section rose and then slid back to reveal a twisting staircase down deeper into the ship. The same strange red glow was visible to the three girls. It made the metal shine, and below them, the sand took on a red hue. Rose couldn’t help but grin in excitement.
Turning to her friends, Rose said, “Last chance to turn back.”
“Not happening,” Shareen said. She pushed some hair out of her face and laughed. “That’s a spaceship. I’m going into a real spaceship.”
“I’m with her,” Sharon agreed. “I can’t imagine living my life knowing I passed up this chance.”
“Okay then.” Rose grabbed her daypack and put the mirror into one of the smaller pockets. “Down we go.”
Rose led the way down the narrow staircase. It sloped elegantly into a large room bathed in red light. She moved slowly as her eyes adjusted to the darker room and stepped into the large room with a curved ceiling. In the centre of the room was a white structure that twisted around and reminded Rose of both a piece of art she had seen at a museum and DNA. Moving around the structure, Rose smiled as a large screen switched on in front of her, and the red face of the ship’s artificial intelligence appeared.
“Welcome Rose Tyler,” the computer greeted.
“Hello ship,” Rose said.
She looked around eagerly, not sure what she was expecting. The furnishings were simple, a large chair straight out of Star Trek was in front of the screen with a large console of controls in front of it. On one side of the room was a horizontal surface that Rose figured was a bed of some sort. Panels of controls lined the walls, different buttons and indicators flashing. Rose turned as Sharon and Shareen walked up next to her, both speechless.
“Wow,” Sharon breathed.
“Yeah,” Rose observed with a barely contained grin. “Very cool.”
“We’re in a spaceship,” Shareen whispered. She clapped her hands together and turned slowly in awe. “A real spaceship.”
Smiling, Rose took in the strange moment with a sense of glee, noticing that the ship’s computer was calmly waiting for them. After a moment she stepped forward and leaned against the main chair that she had mentally dubbed the captain’s chair.
“So where do you want me to start?” Rose questioned, brushing a strand of hair out of her face.
“I will bring up the systematics of the damaged systems for you to study. The ship’s operational guide and recent diagnostics will be made available to you for study,” the ship said. “Please take a seat.”
Rose sat in the captain’s chair, and a large touchscreen control centre rose from the floor in front of her. A moment later a holographic 3-D image of the ship appeared in front of her. Carefully Rose reached out and touched a small section of it, causing the image to zoom in on the section.
“Wow.” Sharon giggled nervously and shook her head. “Apparently that is my word of the day.”
Turning, Rose grinned at her friend over her shoulder just before two chairs emerged from the floor for them. Sharon and Shareen glanced at each other before setting down their bags and sitting down.
“Uh Rose,” Shareen said. “Let us know if there is anything we can do okay.”
“I will,” Rose promised as she pulled out her sketchbook and notebook to start drawing the system designs and taking notes. “Let me know when we have to start heading back.”
Shareen spun in her chair to look at Sharon. “Why did we come with her again instead of staying with Eve?”
“One: Eve needs to rest and two we didn’t want ‘Miss I attract trouble’ to be crawling around a spaceship by herself,” Sharon informed her.
“Right, thank for clarifying,” Shareen replied with a teasing smirk. “I don’t suppose you packed a book?”
“We’re in a spaceship, and you want to read?” Rose asked without looking away from her work. “That is so sad.”
She ignored the answer and the rest of her friends’ conversation as she pulled up the diagnostic reports and started trying to make sense of the new strange information she had been handed. Parts of it were almost familiar. The ship was logical in its design once she started to recognise some of the basics. There were various systems with backups which were made up of hardware and software just like the computers she was used to. As each piece started making sense Rose grew more and more excited.
Sharon and Shareen demanded Rose’s attention in the early evening and reminded her that it was two hours back to the village. With a sigh, Rose gathered up her notes and stuffed them into her bag. The three girls quickly said goodbye to the ship computer with a firm promise from Rose to come in the morning. Rose was quiet through most of the hike back to the village while Sharon and Shareen talked quietly, careful to not disturb her. It wasn’t until they were back in the cottage and Sharon had returned with their dinners to heat up that anyone approached the subject. Rose had taken over one end of the dining table with her notes and drawings spread out around her.
“Can you do it?” Sharon asked as she handed Rose her food. “Fix Eve’s ship.”
“I think so,” Rose replied thoughtfully. “Only a few things are actually damaged, and mostly minor repairs are needed there, the power loss is the biggest issue. The only reason the ship actually needs me is that it cannot complete the last of the repairs on its own.” Rose tapped one of her drawing of the ship’s systems which looked like a mess of circuits and lines to her friends. “The biggest possible problem is that the final repair to the energy relay is going to require turning the whole ship off since I can’t get close to this section of the inner workings without being fried with it on. I need to speak with the ship in the morning about how safe that option is and what the limits are.”
“Okay,” Shareen said. Then she reached over and gathered up all the sheets and notes, ignoring Rose’s protests. “But now you are going to eat something, relax for at least an hour and then get a good night’s sleep. We’ll set the alarms early so we can head out when it gets light.”
Rose huffed but nodded as Shareen placed the papers back into Rose’s bag. “Fine,” she conceded.
They had just finished dinner when Harry called the cottage and put Eve on speakerphone. Rose, Sharon, and Shareen described the ship to her in detail and tried to sound as positive as possible. When Eve asked how soon things would be ready, Rose admitted that it would still take her a few more days to figure out the rest of the repairs that were needed and determine the best course to complete them. Eve sounded happy and calm which made Rose feel better until Harry quickly took the phone away and informed them that Eve had started shaking. The line went dead and Rose curled up on the sofa without another word to Sharon or Shareen except to thank Sharon for the tea she brought her a few minutes later.
It was almost an hour later when there was a knock on the door. Sharon quickly answered it with a huge smile at the young and rather fit delivery boy. He smiled in return as Sharon signed for the letter and started flirting. Shareen rolled her eyes and walked over to grab the letter from Sharon’s hand. Glancing at the envelope, Shareen smiled and handed it to Rose who turned it over and smiled as well seeing the envelope was addressed to her from Eve. She tore it open and slumped again this time with a smile.
Ship was able to establish contact with me briefly and helped my latest seizure pass without injury. Her energy is still weak, but just being close to the ship is helping and she has begun communicating the methods for better controlling my abilities to me. It is strange after so long to have such a strong link to my own species. I was also informed that you made strong progress in learning the ship’s systems. Thank you for helping me like this. I knew in you that I would have a friend, but I didn't know just how amazing friend I would find. I love you very much, the best friend that I will ever have.
Sighing softly, Rose looked up to see Sharon and Shareen smiling at her. She glanced back to the front door and grinned at Sharon. “I see the poor boy escaped.”
“Oh I have his number,” Sharon answered with a wide smile. “We’re going to be here for a while.”
“Maybe,” Rose replied with a chuckle. “Maybe not. I’m thinking two weeks and then Eve goes back to the stars.” She stood up and folded up the letter and put into her bag which she swung up onto her shoulder. “I’m turning in and fair warning I’ll be knocking on your door nice and early. A lot to do and we’re the only ones who can do it, exciting isn’t it.”
Chapter 26: Eve: A Few Answers
The Blonde Girl
Chapter Twenty-Six: Eve: A Few Answers
It took four days of careful study and examining each section of the damaged areas before Rose started to open up the ship’s systems and begin repairs. She has drawn almost every damaged part of the ship in her notebook to help settle the information in her memory. Reading the massive stacks of technical details that ship had translated had exhausted Rose and required translating the translations into something that Rose could understand. Each night she had to be dragged away from the alien spaceship for the hike back to the village where her friends made sure she ate a good meal before she collapsed in bed. And then, each morning she woke up very early and got ready to go back to the ship. To Rose’s irritation, Sharon and Shareen had remained firm that she could not just take a sleeping bag to the ship and stay there.
Rose had been crawling around inside the inner workings of the ship for seven days and was pleased to note slow, but absolute success thus far. Harry had quietly supplied all the little bits and pieces she asked for, mostly computers for her to rip apart and alter as replacement circuits. Many of the ship’s systems that had been damaged in the crash were back online even if Rose did not understand much of what she had fixed. Apparently, she had spent an entire day fixing the waste system without knowing it. Sharon and Shareen had taken to alternating who went with Rose to the ship and who went to Harry’s to spend time with Eve. The only real problem that remained was how to complete recharging the ship and fix the problems in the energy system, but Rose had a few ideas on how to achieve that. Once again, in the future, Rose would come to see that it had all been going far too well.
On their eleventh day in Bucks Mill, the rain was coming down too hard for Rose to make the trek to the ship over the rocky beach and she was forced to remain in the cottage. She settled down on the sofa with her sketchbook after Harry picked up Sharon and Shareen to see Eve. The soft sound of the raindrops that normally soothed Rose made her irritable today as she could neither see Eve nor help repair the ship. Every hour ship was contacting her through the mirror to report on diagnostic checks and ask for reports on Eve’s condition.
It was late afternoon when the rain intensified into a proper storm. Smiling, Rose set aside the book she’s been reading that she’d stolen from Shareen’s bag. She wasn’t that impressed with the teen romance novel, but Rose had grown bored with doodling. Her mind needing distraction from the ship and nature now seemed to be delivering. Dashing upstairs, Rose pulled out a pair of flip-flops before darting back to the front door. Pausing, she made a detour to the loo to grab a towel, so she didn’t drip all over the rented cottage. Rose grinned as she exchanged her trainers and socks for the flip-flops and stepped outside.
Breathing in the moist air, Rose stood under the roof and closed her eyes. It smelled different here during a storm than London; she supposed there were fewer things in the air being washed down. She shrugged it off and stepped out into the rain. A few of the people walking on the sidewalks under umbrellas glanced over at her, a few smiling at her as she started to spin. For the first time in days, Rose allowed her worries to slip away and focused on enjoying the moment.
But then, there was a red flashing in the distance that caught her eye and as she turned to look a loud crash almost shook the village. Frozen to the spot, Rose stared off into the distance with baited breath. There were another red flash and another crash. Frowning, Rose turned back to the cottage and went inside. The moment she stepped into the cottage and kicked off her shoes, her mobile phone started to ring. Rose ignored the water dripping off of her and darted over to the phone, but was distracted as the compact mirror glowed red and the ship’s computer image appeared.
“Rose,” the computer said as Rose picked up her phone. “Eve has lost control. She must be brought to the ship.”
“Can’t you help her?” Rose asked in a rush.
“No, the emergency systems in the ship are her only chance now,” the ship answered, a hint of worry in its computerised voice.
“But the ship isn’t ready to fly, she can’t leave Earth yet,” Rose argued, her eyes wide.
“There is still a chance,” the computer informed her. “Tell them to bring Eve.”
Nodding, Rose reached for her phone, finally answering the ringing. Sharon sobbed into the phone that Eve had lost control. Rose flinched at the sound of Eve’s screams in the background and another flash of light in the sky.
“Bring her to the ship,” Rose ordered Sharon. “The ship computer said that her only chance in on the ship.”
“I don’t like it either. Tell Harry to bring her down the shore away from town. Maybe if we’re really lucky and the people around here are thick, they’ll think her light show is the storm.”
“We’ll bring her as fast as we can Rose, but she can barely move. It is going to take time,” Sharon agreed, hesitation thick in her voice.
“I’ll meet you there,” Rose promised.
“Be careful,” Sharon said. “Between the storm and the rocky beach it won’t be easy getting the ship alone.”
“You and Shareen be careful,” Rose said. “You’ll have Harry and Eve with you. Neither of them moves that fast. I promise that I’ll be careful.”
Snapping the phone shut, Rose paused and took a deep breath to steady herself. Then she went to the closet and dug out the rain gear that the cottage had stored there, it was huge on Rose’s teenage body, but it would hopefully keep her from becoming soaked. Going upstairs, she changed out of her wet clothing and pulled on her hiking boots. In the kitchen, she packed snacks and bottles of water into her pack. Then she put on the rain gear and set out for the ship, muttering a quiet wish that she could get to the ship and the emergency option that the computer had mentioned would work.
She just kept walking. Her thoughts were focused solely on keeping her footing; the boots helped her keep traction in the pebbles of the beach as the water crashed harshly against the rocks. Rose worked her way slowly along the cliffs, staying behind rocks as much as she could and watching the waves when she needed to leave the shelter of the stones. The water was high, and the howling of the wind made it impossible to hear anything as she struggled towards the ship. Pulling out the mirror, Rose ducked into a crevice and called out to the ship, sighing gratefully when it answered.
“Can I even get to you?!” Rose shouted to be heard.
“I will raise the ship higher so it can be seen and open the main entrance for you to enter. Hiding from the humans is no longer needed. You are almost here Rose, keep moving,” ship answered, having to raise the volume so Rose could hear.
She did keep moving and could see a large curved metal surface in the distance when a huge wave came crashing up the shore. Rose tried to scramble behind a boulder to avoid the full blast of the wave, but she slipped on a smooth rock and fell. Groaning, Rose tried to get up as the water came rushing over her, but the pressure pushed her down and started pulling her out to sea. She tried to hold her breath, but the air was forced from her lungs, and she started to feel lightheaded.
Then she felt her whole body being dragged up and she could breathe again. Gasping, Rose tried to open her eyes as she felt her body being picked up and carried. Her eyelids were too heavy, and she couldn’t seem to move anything properly. Whoever was carrying her hadn’t said anything, and Rose was slowly becoming aware of other things. The weather seemed to be starting to calm, and she could hear her rescuers footfalls in the pebbles of the shore.
“Wake up Miss Tyler, you are at the ship,” an unfamiliar, or possibly slightly familiar masculine voice called.
Rose groaned as she was set on her feet and warm fingers brushed over her eyes. A bottle of water was put against her lips, and Rose took a long sip as she opened her eyes. Perhaps she had been expecting a local fisherman or maybe even the Doctor. She had not been expecting a tall man older man with neat white hair wearing an elegant white suit that somehow was not soaking wet and stained. Rose gasped as the sun suddenly came out from behind some clouds and the man looked up with a smile.
“That’s better,” he said with a nod. “I should have intervened sooner, but I confess that I enjoy seeing just what you can manage. Still, we couldn’t have you dying today.”
“Who are you?” Rose gasped as she stared at the same man, completely thrown off by the strange being that seems completely unaffected by the world around them.
“You have more important things to worry about,” he reminded as he gestured behind Rose. She turned to see the large metal ship behind her. Rose gasped at the elegantly curved slopes of the ship’s body that moved down to a small arched doorway right in front of her. Turning back to her rescuer, Rose’s eyes widened to find that he was gone. She blinked and looked around the empty beach that still showed signs of the storm and looked down at the footprints that were filling in with water. Shaking her head, Rose turned and walked into the ship.
The main entrance was much larger than the top hatch that they had been using, but it took longer to reach the main room. Rose passed large sections of machinery and storage that she had worked on. She shook her head at her silliness for never thinking about the other entrance. The top hatch existed for quick access to the escape pod, which had been used by Eve as a child and long since lost. When she reached the main computer room, Rose dropped her soaking bag and pulled off the rain gear. She was still very wet, but not dripping too badly. Rose toed out of her shoes and socks before walking to the captain’s chair.
“Welcome Rose,” the ship said as the visual representation appeared on the screen in front of her.
“Eve is on her way; she will be here soon. I’m afraid she is internalising much of the energy she is producing to avoid harming her friends.”
“Ship… did you pick up any strange readings before I got here?” Rose questioned softly, her mind a mess. “Did you pick up anyone else on the shore?”
“No, there was only you. Eve, Harry, Sharon and Shareen are still a mile away.”
“Your sensors didn’t see anything else outside?”
“Negative, do you have a reason for this line of questioning?”
Rose shook her head and quickly answered, “No I don’t. Tell me what I need to do to finish repairs. The only thing left is the energy problem.”
“If you and Eve work together that can be solved,” Ship informed her. A hiss behind Rose made her turn as a tall, smooth red crystal-like structure rose from the floor. It glowed softly, and Rose stepped forward to examine the structure. Light shimmered through it, moving from the base to the pointed tip and she reached out gently only to find that the surface was like a gel. She quickly pulled her hand away.
“How can Eve and I fix the energy problem with this?”
“Eve’s species can read minds and see the energy of timelines. You have a… unique timeline, and that may be enough,” the ship told Rose carefully.
Rose wasn’t sure how to respond and sat down in the captain’s chair. Everything lately seemed to be coming back to that idea of Rose having some kind of great future. Eve had enjoyed teasing her about it but had always respected Rose’s wish to learn about her future by living it. She was seeing that odd man in black that Eve said wasn’t a foe but also wasn’t a friend. Now she had been saved by a strange man dressed in white. Lost in her thoughts, Rose sat slumped in the captain’s chair until footfalls finally made her look up.
Sharon and Shareen entered the room in wet clothing Eve between them and leaning heavily on each. Harry followed, carrying a huge mass of rain gear that had been thrown off when the storm suddenly cleared. Standing up quickly, Rose backed away from Eve as the tired girl raised her head and looked straight at Rose. Eve managed a small loving smile before she flinched and closed her eyes.
“Ship, please help me,” Eve whimpered softly. “My head hurts. I can hear all of them and see all of it. It hurts so much.”
“Eve, place your hands into the core before you,” ship instructed firmly.
Sharon and Shareen looked up at the computer and then over at the softly glowing structure. They carefully moved her next to it and adjusted their grip on her to allow Eve the use of her hands. Eve slid her hands into the core through the gel-like surface, and her face relaxed. Harry dropped the rain gear next to Rose’s pack and moved over to Eve. Sharon and Shareen stepped aside to let Harry gently hold his daughter. The core’s glow intensified to a dark red and Eve opened her eyes and looked over at Rose with a grin.
“Rose Tyler, please place your hands into the core and take Eve’s hands,” ship requested.
“Why?” Rose and Eve both asked looking up at the screen.
“Eve must be taken from Earth; the changing time has become too strong for her to remain here. Eve’s condition is stable enough for her to translate the energy of Rose’s timeline and time possibility glow into energy for the ship to leave Earth,” ship explained.
“Will that harm Rose?” Eve demanded.
“It will not harm Rose,” the ship promised. “It is dangerous only to you, but the risk to you remaining on Earth is much greater. The energy you released into Earth’s skies was seen by many and detected.”
“What does this energy translation do?” Rose asked carefully, looking over at Eve.
“Eve’s ability to read your timeline has become fixed on you over the last few days,” Ship answered and Eve averted her eyes from Rose. “If she now opens her complete senses to your timeline while in contact with the core and you it will generate a harmless, but powerful field. This is the power of Verlas, to observe time and feel the energy of living potential.”
“Okay then,” Rose replied with a nod and a deep breath. She glanced at Sharon and Shareen as she took her place across from Eve. Sliding her hands into the core, Rose couldn’t help but grimace at the strange texture against her hands. Eve reached forward and took both of Rose’s hands as her eyes slid closed. Rose tilted her head in interest as Eve smiled widely and giggled at whatever she was seeing. Then the core began to vibrate and glow gold.
“Hey Rose,” Eve said with a grin as she opened her eyes to look across at her.
“What?” Rose asked.
“Bad Wolf,” Eve whispered with a mischievous smile.
The glow intensified so quickly it almost seemed to explode, and Rose turned her head away, closing her eyes to avoid being overwhelmed. She heard the Ship say something to Eve, but her mind didn’t pick out the actual words. Then Eve released her hands, and she felt herself being pulled backwards. Opening her eyes, Rose blinked and saw Sharon and Shareen supporting her gently.
“You okay?” Shareen asked gently as Rose steadied herself.
“Yeah,” Rose responded with a nod that made her head hurt.
Eve walked over and gently hugged Rose before she turned to the computer and asked, “Are all systems operating?”
“All systems are operational and energy levels at 100 percent. Scan indicates that both you and Rose are unharmed. It is time to leave Eve,” the ship informed her.
“Yes,” Eve admitted with a nod. “I know.”
Harry smiled at Eve before turning to the three human girls. “I’ve arranged for a car to pick you up in the morning and take you back to London,” he told them.
“You’re going with Eve,” Rose verified with a smile.
“She’s my little girl,” Harry replied with a grin. “I can’t have her running around space by herself.”
Rose hung back while Sharon and Shareen hugged Eve and bid her goodbye. Her friends glanced at her before they grabbed their things and headed for the main entrance. Sharon looked like she wanted to say something, but pulled back at the last moment.
“They’re not sure if you’re staying here,” Eve told Rose as she moved over to the blonde girl.
“I… I’m staying,” Rose said with an embarrassed shrug.
“For now,” Eve agreed with a smile. “You’ve got A-Levels and university still ahead of you before you leave Earth.”
“Good to know,” Rose told Eve with a smile before it fell. “Will I ever see you again?”
“If you follow where your greatest potential leads, yes you will see me again, but free will remains. Rose, it will still all come down to the choices you make.”
“Be careful then,” Rose answered with a raised eyebrow.
“No, be yourself, be the best Rose Tyler you can.” Eve hugged Rose tightly and took a deep breath, whispering, “You’d better go before I decide to abduct you.”
Forcing a laugh, Rose felt stray tears running down her cheeks that she desperately ignored. She gave Harry and smile and nodded before she grabbed her things and dashed for the entrance. It was still sunny outside, and her two friends grinned when they saw her. Both hugged her tightly as Rose stepped out onto the rocky shore. Then the soft rumbling behind them made them all dart away from the ship. Rose shielded her eyes from the sun as Eve’s ship rose from the shore and flew higher into the air. It turned slightly and pointed the nose towards the sky; then it was flying towards the sky at an extreme speed. Rose cheered and jumped around the shore along with Sharon and Shareen. The ship was out of sight in only a moment, leaving the three human girls standing on the beach.
“Well,” Shareen said after a moment. “Come on it’s a long walk back to Bucks Mill.”
It was indeed a long walk, and all three girls were exhausted from the extremes of the day. They ate dinner in near silence, all too tired to discuss what had happened. Rose took a shower to wash the salt water from her hair before collapsing into bed, but only dreamed of glowing figures and the whispered words of Bad Wolf.
Rose was not in a good mood the following morning as they packed up to go. Harry’s car was due in less than ten minutes in the town square. All around them there was gossiping about the strange red glow in the sky with many different theories. The van picked them up, and Rose slept most of the trip back to London, vaguely aware of Sharon and Shareen talking quietly during her brief moments of waking between more of the strange dreams. They arrived back to the Powell Estates, and Shareen quickly headed home, promising to call them both later that night. Sharon’s father arrived to pick her up and helped her with her things. Rose took her things up to the flat and was grateful that her mother wasn’t home.
Wandering the courtyard, Rose was considering taking a long walk to clear her head and chase away the last remnants of a headache. She nearly choked when she saw two figures, one in a white suit and the other in a black suit, sitting at a little outdoor table playing chess on the far side of the courtyard. Walking across the courtyard, Rose did her best to control her nerves and closed on them. The two figures were indeed, the odd man in black and the strange man in white. Rose stopped next to the table and tried to find something to say.
“So Eve is back in the stars,” the man in white remarked as he moved his white knight. “And you survive, I’d say it was a success.”
“You had to step in,” the man in black growled.
“Oh you stepped in first,” the man in white responded. “You entered her knowledge first.”
“It was I who started this process by moving Spellman into her path,” the man in black hissed as he moved his black bishop. “At your agreement, I should add, it is only proper that she is aware of me first.”
“We agreed on what course to take with the girl, do not forget that our actions here are in balance,” the man in white countered, moving his queen.
“Who the hell are you?” Rose hissed, her fists clenching at Spellman’s name. “How do you know about that and why did you save me yesterday?”
“You have potential Miss Tyler,” the man in white told her with a smile as he looked up at her. “A great deal of potential that we’ve decided to nurture.”
“Is that what you are calling it?” Rose asked.
“For the moment, you’ll understand in time,” the men in white said kindly.
Frowning, Rose was trying to formulate a response when the two men vanished right in front of her. There was no light, no shimmering or any other special effect from the films; they were just gone leaving the table and chess pieces behind. Rose took a step back and looked around, but did not see them anywhere. Groaning, Rose shook her head and walked back to her mother’s flat where strangely a man in a delivery uniform was knocking.
“Can I help you?” Rose asked, and he nodded, holding out a sealed letter and a clipboard for her sign.
“Just sign here for delivery and have a nice day.”
Rose signed and bid the man a good day before going inside. She sat down on the sofa and opened the letter, gasping as she glanced over it.
My Dearest Friend,
I am in great pain as my mind and body turn against me. Right now you are far from me, working on my ship so that I may return to the stars. My abilities have all become focused on you, and while I do not know my future, I can see your most likely path with great clarity. Therefore, I am aware that you have just encountered two very strange men, one in black and one in white. I wish that I could tell you everything, but you would not know what to do with the information, and I know you to be one of those people that grow most when you have a challenge to meet. Please know that neither of these men means you harm despite what the Black one may suggest. Please take care of yourself and remember that despite my ability to see the most likely future, it remains in your hands. I have faith in you and know that the next time we meet, I shall be very proud of the woman you will be then.
Always remember that you have my gratitude and my love.
Your friend Eve
Rose smiled and leaned back, relaxing on the sofa as a small smile played on her lips. She looked at the envelope and saw that it had been picked up by a special service with orders of the date, time and place for delivery. Shaking her head, Rose stretched out on the sofa and finally let herself fall into a restful slumber.