Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

Wake-Up Call of Cthulhu

“Susan! SUSAN!”

The scream rips through the Valeyard for the last time as the two monks Roda has stationed on either side of his modest bed in the darkened old room come to scratch his shoulders in expert foreclaws of unrelieved grey.

They hold him down until he shuffles under the sheets, claws rounding his struggling muscles with red rings as consciousness finally settles on him, lining his face.

“What is this thing inside me? It isn’t the girl; that fool is still hiding her somewhere! SO WHAT IS IT?” he cries, squarish fingers digging and pushing and shoving and poking his flat stomach until little waves crescendo over the taut skin.

Two clawlike hands hold up a kind of x-ray-thingie showing a tiny fold of wriggling… bean-shaped…

“...this Flesh, it’s still pregnant? What? Wha-how? Why? I don’t have time for this! I’m the Valeyard, not a babysitter! You’ll cut it out, because I can’t manipulate this Flesh any longer; he’s locked it, the idiotic troll… I wonder if it will taste good in soup…”

He snarls his lip upward like a rabid dog at the thought of the Doctor’s little tricks, then stares straight ahead while the monks catch his neck with their claws; they’re taking his blood pressures.

“It isn’t like I don’t have things to do, you know! Hurry it up!” He yells, flipping a tray into the face of one monk with his hand. With the other hand, he massages his stomach again, testing his new nerves for any familiar signs of the exquisite physiological memory his real body had enjoyed through the artificial nuclei of the Rassilon Imprimatur.

The monks spring back as he shoves himself up and off the litter, but he wobbles against the wall just as his feet touch the floor, recoiling from the cold he finds there.

He leans dizzily, hopping from one foot to the other as the bird-headed pair of ascetics keep their beady little eyes on him, turning his entire lithe frame inside out with their odd little faces in their odd little skulls. The Doctor had enjoyed their company of course, but the Valeyard finds them rather crass and annoying.

“Uhn. Just catching my breath. Don’t you have somewhere to be, something to chant, you understuffed turkeys?” His breath chills, catching the air in a huff of white frost that sprays a foot out from him, then dissipates like fine dust. “Brrr! It’s cold in here! Isn’t it? Can’t you feel that?”

His widening green eyes flare open, flicking from face to face in the dark of the room.

The monks, easy in their black and tan hoods and cowled robes, merely gaze at one another, as though evaluating him for a mental assessment. Stupid birds. Stupid, stupid birds. They’ll be first on the menu, once he’s out of here. He ought to invite the Master for a pic-a-nic…

“We,” they murmur softly at the same time, “… feel nothing, Valeyard. Perhaps it is your blood volume spikes? They went up quite a bit the last time you collapsed, right after you resorbed the Flesh that were with you in the room. And today is the warmest day of Sprinjjiia, the Ansypporan warm season.” Their wing-sleeves wave for emphasis, long claws casting a forked shadow over the wall behind him. “Perhaps you should take a bit more rest while we prepare a quick stew for you. Some food may warm your spirit. Slightly. Have you noticed any odd cravings?”

Enraged, the Valeyard clutches his low bed, bracing himself against the back wall.

Cravings? Stew? The last time? Resorbed? Interesting…

“I see. Well, I could eat a horse… preferably Arthur, maybe…” he murmurs, confused and holding his head now as he sinks back down to sit on the bed under their softly lowering claws. “But I’ve never been here… I know -he- has, but… this really doesn’t matter. I have a contact that needs my attention on Gallifrey. If I don’t get a signal to him, you lot are going to be sorry. And preferably stuffed with wild rice- got to get some meat on those bones! Well, on these bones, anyway. Haha.”

“Oh you have, Valeyard,” Roda Palfour says gently from behind the opening door, museum-side, “…but the Student did not want you to remember until he needed you to. So he set traps for you. You see? The object within the Cloud was only a part of it. We do not know the whole ourselves. He will tell you when he wishes you to be told. Right now, though,” one long digit sharpens toward the Valeyard’s belly, “…for the time being, we alone will… we must… deal with the shard you carry. It must not escape the corridors of the Pyramid as it escaped the Void, do you understand? It must not leave here; it does not belong. Whatever you may believe, he is not hiding her from –you-. And you were not hiding her from –him-. He allowed you to place him in that room.” The old bird monk then sweeps his hand toward the doors on both sides of the little room; the monks instantly assume positions and close them, twisting their claws so slightly that without Time Lord hearing one might never have guessed they were locking anything.

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that. Moving on! What the hell? What’s going on here? Are you saying this baby…thing is from Jersey, from when the Cracks appeared? So what? Any enemy of the Doctor is my best mate…” the Valeyard chokes, rubbing his stomach gingerly, as if enjoying the thought that the embryo might suddenly grow and eat his innards for lunch. “Ah, it’s settled then! I like anything he doesn’t like. What’s not to love about a kid who doesn’t like that pervy uncle who’ll only go for teenage blonde shop girl types hanging on their every word and telling them what to do, eh? Eh? And Jersey’s not that bad, really… if you don’t mind the alien plastic flamingo pigmies during the summer months…”

He grins then, looking from Roda’s wrinkled raptor prune of a face to the younger monks’ smoother gazes. “What? Why the long faces? Did somebody die? Don’t tell me you met an alien plastic flamingo pigmy! They’re worse than those fanged white bunnies… and don’t even start about the man-eating carnivorous quatrefoil vulgaris! Did you run, like the little twit tells everyone to do? How lovely.” He grimaces then, and pulls his feet up under the covers, grabbing at his toes to warm them… “It’s so cold in here. Can’t you put some heating in? Gods and graces, so hard to find good help. I ought to slaughter the lot of you, stuff you with apples and serve you to Koschei, but he’s too busy playing house with that annoying Pythian child. So I’ll just… yes, I’ll just… do you have anything to eat?” he adds, staring ahead as he grabs his arms and rubs, “…I’m so cold. And I’m starving.”

The beady monk eyes stare at one another, then at Roda. Then they all three exit the room, Roda’s voice calling out from the hallway that they will fetch him more blankets, and that the brother on kitchen duty will soon have something for him to consume which will warm him, should he require it.

“Require it…bah!” the Valeyard breathes to himself, glaring at the now locked and heavy doors leading out of his small, minimalist’s vacation home of a room. As he draws the thin sheets around his body and pinches his sleeping ankles, he adds, with teeth chattering, “…but could you worthless malnourished chickens hurry up with the blankets please? I can’t feel my legs… why aren’t they… this isn’t good- suddenly I want to sleep again… but Flesh don’t have to… sleep… I don’t want… to… I won’t…”

His head falls back.

His eyes narrow in wide, wet rictus at his body, puppeting itself. Puppeting –him-, like the wild, cracking gape of a demon drum.

His face becomes the mask of a staring octopus as unconsciousness, disregarding of his wishes, grips his toes like a tiger’s tail and drags him floorward, backward, into the dark.

Into the cold.


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