Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

A Study in Charlotte

Long things with nails. They’re the first thing the Doctor notices. He, unknowing, sends a signal their way.

Nerves plop into arrangement; blood pools and fills and floods and flows. There are drippy slices on the things with nails. They sting, belatedly.

With an abruptness those who are properly disembodied should, markedly, be blissfully unaware of, the Doctor realises he is still in the dream of the jungle. He’d been trapped inside, with himself, himself, himself, himself and himself. And then there had been himself. And himself again. And again. And again.

God, but for that dreadful colored coat.

He fiddles with his thoughts, remembering the dust that had come before. There had been something strange, about that dust. But what had come before that? He remembers a bowtie. A blue box…

Ah, the TARDIS, yes!

A girlish simpering squeak forms in the back of his brain.

Ooh, he has a brain! Good to have a brain still, actually.

Still a pain in the neck, but that isn’t to be helped.

“Theta Sigma, you are fundamentally an arsehole! How the hells am I supposed to get your sorry rump unstuck from Flesh-coma? If you’d just told me beforehand I could have prevented your getting stuck between the Flesh body in the Infirmary and this one in the first place! Your real body, hear that, Princess? But no, you had to go and be a wanker!” The strains of a spirited rant funnel dimly from somewhere pitchy and rumbly.

And would someone turn the red light off, please? It’s hurting his pelvis. No wait that’s a skull; is it his?

“You swarthy bag of dicks! I’ll have your head when you wake up! OW! Your stupid lovely brilliant whore of a ship has hidden the telepathic transducer! Where in Sepulchasm is it and why are we idling?”

My, but that yelling is unpleasant.

Humming softly, he tunes out the transmission from his outer ears and focuses on his oftimes greyish cravat and his heartsbeat and his lips.

They are tingling- but that’s what you get when you land on your spine after falling through the eye of a Museum. Well he is fairly certain he isn’t a camel. Although the golden curls do give that impression, he recalls being told.

And it’s The Museum, isn’t it? How queer, to return here again.

He opens his eyes; just the sight of the bright rubble-filled land before him serves as good a buffer as any, blocking out the rest of the distracting noise. To his right, however, there is the rushing of water, a great big water, as an ocean or a bay. Or perhaps a swimming pool.

He might even be trying to think, he reasons, as he sits upright and wiggles the things with nails.

Oh yes, those are hands- good to know, good to know, he thinks to himself. Ah yes, thinking is good again. He ought to do more of it, once he’s out.

Water in a Museum, he muses as he picks his way along a chunky side of ceiling with beef. Or is it plaster? He’s the Lady of Charlotte.

There are pictures; pictures, portraits, sculptures, dioramas, coffins, fanes and pyramids and tombs, all immortalized like thick paint on a canvas. Some of them are made of paint, actually. Some are made of water… some are made of dreams. There’s a framed banana-peel, somewhere, hidden among the endless Impressionist Rassilons and Expressionist Others. No love for Omega?

He stares at no particular piece, grinning at no particular thought as he trundles along. A greenish bluish brownish coat, the round buttons candid and large beneath a velveteen lapel, flaps softly against a patterned, usually silver vest. A sometimes silverish cravat. A white dress shirt. Not a bit smartish, on the whole; no, it’s rather a lot rash. Still, so very sharp! And sporting!

A bell sounds from somewhere.

All around, Not-Flesh squeals in the dark.

He’ll wear this sleeping lion’s skin for now, he reasons, reaching into the lovely land of velvet for the portable satellite.

After all, he can’t have the bloody monkeys in his dream, now can he?

He waves it like a sword of light. George Lucas, if sane, would be pleased; at least he ought to be. In any case, the apes in their corners, their shadows, their mislabeled janitor’s cupboards, they scatter, their mouths dripping that insufferable acid foam of knowledge upchucked and chewed and undigested. As always, it comes in colors; the blood of iron, of sunlight, of chlorophyll and crystal. Of sky and water. Of love and space and time. Of missed flights and predestination. Of bookends.

Rainbows of angst.

He could and ought to write a kiddy’s book, when he awakes. But his sweet, blind seer of a brainchild would only be shat on by the apes, and suffer from high temperatures.

The sad thing is, he well and truly never ever even means any harm when he puts his foot in.

Once the wily things have retreated, he descends a set of stairs and goes on, down into the belly of the Museum.

Concrete pillars and yellow lines and emptiness. The dark is thick here, yet not even ignorance dwells. What is down here, forsooth? What is down here?

“Hrm,” he says aloud, scratching his delicate chin. “It’s the Supposed Former Car Park of the Apes, not DeLovely. Obviously I’m in the wrong film. And I still need to see that, by the way.”

No echo.

“Oh now that’s disturbing. At least it would be if I had never not heard an echo before. Hello? Is anyone there?”

Nothing. He should be used to this by now.

“Nobody? Is this the wrong Giant’s Cave? Shall I call up a tempest from the aether? I remember that time warp- it was all the rage on Hitchemus.”

No answer.

Still he walks, softly plodding through the darkness with his oversized penlight held high, daring the damn monkeys to play Silly Buggers. But wait. The sound of sniffle-snuffling pervades. He draws nearer, smelling a little girl’s briny tears. Thoughts pool in his head, and some of them come out through his lips. He’s always found it severely humorous.

“And is that the sound of precious surf, buffeting chocolate rocks with waves of cream? I tell you straight, don’t call the cat; she’ll lick the ocean dry and there’ll be none for me.”

More snuffling, and closer. But no answer. He continues, rambling desperately. When kiddies cry, it’s like the glass shards he can’t be bothered to tweeze from his fingers have found a vein and happily gone to ground in China, having found a two-hearted frog to torture. So his reasons are selfish, really.

“You know, they don’t make sea salt like they used to, and even less like they ought. It makes the soup taste fishy.”

He blinks.

Nothing, as he expects.

He blinks again; still nothing.

Why does he expect anything at all?

He blinks again, holding his eyes closed against change, just to see if maybe.

When he finally opens his eyes, the world is indeed, different. Different in that there is rising tide where there was concrete, dust and marble before, and a jagged hole behind him. Down on the rocks below, there is a small form, bawling insults at the sea.

The air tangles fingers in his gold curls as he climbs down, and he remembers, absently, belatedly, his fear of heights.

Of course the blinking doesn’t matter.

It never does.

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