Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

By bowtiedbunny

Adventure / Scifi

Bad Panda Escape

Jack is running through the halls.

See Jack run.

Jack is running through the halls.

Wood creaks beneath his naked feet, gripping and grabbing and tearing at his heels and exposed toes.

Splinters bring up little wells of blood that smear from him onto the floor planks.

Old boards, dry boards, dismal and wet and dusty and cold and so dry.

Paradox as foundation.

His hands reach out wildly to his sides, buffeting screens with grisly tears and little screeches of blood.

The panda is coming.

The panda is coming.

The panda is com…

His fear reeks from him like a rampaging elephant, plodding nearer with the force of several steam engines and a comely fat goose.

Terror leads him, feeds him round the spool of another corner, toenails catching, tripping over a body or two. Or three. One is wearing a blue kimono. One is small, wearing a tidy shirt. One is in a pink hoodie. One is all in silver, enshrouded. Embalmed. One or two of them might be his, he realizes, as he stumbles away.

The plodding comes, continuing, rain hitting heavy against a flimsy paper parasol.

Plunt.

Plunt.

Thd.

Plunt.

Plunt.

Thd.

Shraaaaaake.

Plunt.

Plunt.

Shraaaaaaake.

A fingernail comes off against the rotting, half-eaten walls of wood, and Jack cries out.

“Igh-ah! Damn it, it’s gonna get… I have to…”

A soft breeze blows against his ankles from no foreseeable direction, kissing the skin and the bones.

There is a tapestry close to his line of sight, faded and hanging there, prominent and forlorn in the shade of the corridor.

He can see no door outside, and the panda is gaining.

His blue eyes dry themselves on this tapestry, staring at every corner, every line, every pale and painted leaf of the apple tree adorning it. It is the same tree embroidered on the Mokufu he’s dressed in. The thick fingers of gnarled branches climb out sporadically from the off-center bushes where the tree’s roots are set on the once-cream silk; he can see a shadow falling over it, like the casting of days in a sunward Mason’s niche.

A glint crawls toward him, across the floor; it is the lopsided hook of the panda’s outstretched claw, one of several it intends for his face, he imagines, as he grabs up the tapestry and touches it, hoping for some hidden scroll or catch in the weight of its disintegrating hems.

As he is staring at the tree, Jack does not hear the panda trundle forward into the room.

Plunt.

Plunt.

Thd-thd.

Shraaaaaake.

Jack turns around, pressing his vertebrae against the tapestry, clutching it in bloody fingers missing half their nails.

He feels the steam of hot breath on his face.

The tip of one claw is touched to his forehead, as though the creature is counting. Preparing.

Tik.

Tik.

Tik.

He opens his eyes, his feet planted firmly on the rough fibers of the mildew-woven tatami that haphazard the floor of this space, the last of the rooms.

Then he opens his eyes again, as the crazed panda’s other claw rises like a crescent summer moon over his face. The paw blooms silver, the great palm a black, triumphant lotus decorated in squeezes of muscle.

A last clack of the positioned claw against Jack’s forehead beckons the sweat from his face.

Cold grips him by the lungs, like heavy air from a furnace.

The claw rises for a fourth time, and as his eyes follow the line of shiny keratin up, it…

Tik.


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