Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

The Third Man and The Sea

“Here comes Goldilocks,” the Master murmurs, slapping his thigh from where he’s lying in a patch of tall red grass, musing on the dreaming practices of the Malay Senoi, “… can I spank him?”

To the Master, Koschei’s left, the Doctor, his face closed beneath the shade of an open newspaper, stirs, rumbling sleepy disapproval from the stone park bench upon which he is outstretched and napping.

“No- I’m taking a kip.”

The Master whinges at him, waving a hand, then poking a finger at the Doctor’s ample chin, tapping just so against the pallid skin there.

“Just a little? Please?”

The Doctor heaves a sigh, then blinks and resettles himself on the bench, turning round to the other side in a languid twist of weight and length of leg.

“All right, Johnny Appletweed- but don’t blame me if he steals your quadricycle.”

No answer, as a blonde man stumbles into the small clearing, back-ending into the furniture and tearing his clothes.


The Master gets to his feet, grinning broadly like a well-manicured shark at a two legged buffet, “Well, Daisy, what do you have to say for yourself? These apples are still green because of you!” he thrusts two fingers covered in rich dark chocolate toward Hainishtymion’s blonde head, then flings them at the three unripe apples sitting in the basket near the Doctor’s bench. “What are we going to do about that, eh? You’ve made us miss the bloody show! As it is, we’re going to have to TIVO it! TIVO! Moron.” He raises a fist for pumping, and screams wordlessly, “TIVO!”

His fingers smear their sweet brown gold along Hainishtymion’s nose, at which he scowls and adds, softening a fraction, “…stupid boy. Do you have any notion of how hard it is to unbrick a PVR for a discontinued TIVO? That’s what you left us with! And why don’t you know where he is out There? Because neither do we! The bloody bowtied troll won’t tell us.”

He turns to the Doctor, who is snoring loudly on his side, sprawled out on the bench still.

“Do you know,” he breathes, grabbing the blonde man by the ears and pulling him so viciously close that the air rushes out like a vacuum from between them, “...what that idiot has been through to fix your mess?”

Hainishtymion opens his pale lips, but crystal tears jettison in grand wells from his lavender eyes instead, growing into ice sculptures that ting from his cheeks and shatter on the cobbles of the old Roman road beneath them.

“Waaaah! I’m sorry I didn’t eat my tafelshrew at dinner! I’m sorry!” his handsome, windy face, suddenly boyish and so small, scrunches up like a bruised lemon, and the Master sighs down at him disapprovingly.

“…you are not a Fishpig- be grateful,” the Master says softly, grabbing the man’s ears and cupping his cheeks before shoving him away, forcing the boy to trace a line of sight toward the Doctor again.

Those young bright eyes do widen at the lines of the man sleeping fitfully on the bench, but then…

Hanishtymion collapses to the ground, clutching his head as he sits on his knees and hunches.

His blond hair begins to poke back out from his grasping hands and crawl upward, drifting as if lifted by a sudden lack of gravity. Then his ears slide round, his whole face shifting about like the masks on a Shishin Pagoda.

When those hands come down, the dark bronze face of a baby stares up at the Master’s stubble-tipped chin; it has the mouth of a simple wooden doll, a simple tongue in groove carving. Hainish reaches toward him, combing soft fingers across the bridge of his nose, and…

The Master feels his carefully manicured narrow eyebrows shoot up through his hair like two flirting birds.

There is a sudden redness, a poking and prodding of the veins around the Master’s eyes and then...

Plop! Plop!

Hainishtymion’s hands plunge into the Master’s sockets, making a grisly withdrawal.

The Master screams, his mouth cracking open abruptly; but the noise is drowned by the whir of Hainish’s head making a new revolution- probably to the mask of a pretty woman with long hair, judging by the swish of tresses and the scent of flowers.

Then, he can feel the wind of Hainishtymion’s hand at his vulnerable earlobe, as though deeply desirous of an earring.

“Oh and I know what happens next, you little snot! I don’t think so, I’m not your… wuh wait! Ow!”

No more ear.

The Master holds the draining bloody stump of his left ear, trying to guess when the other hand will come up and grab seconds.

Suddenly a sign of life bumble-buzzes from the bench, a quiet thumping in double time.

Up goes a lift in the air, a signal the hand is rising again, and…


“Bring it o…”

But the Master never finishes his sentence.

Instead, he feel-hears, through the drippy clumps of cochlea on either side of him, that lightning whir of terror that brings a new head, ambling into efficient, mechanical place like some horrid Ferris Wheel.


The wrapping of tight young fingers soon follows, ensorcelling his tongue with promises of the afterlife.

There follows a long, wet sound of ripping.


Then the whir again; but this time, Hainish elbows himself up, crawling on his hands and knees across the strong Roman cobbles to the bench and dragging the Master’s crumpled grey-hoodied form with him, by the hood scruff.

The man on the bench raises up, the newspaper with spy holes cut in crossword still hanging, obscuring his face in ode; it renders him a rather fetching chip shop bride.

“Come here, Hainish,” the man barks so softly, stiffly, reaching with light hands and light words for the young man, who comes to him on dusty knees.

Hainish watches as the man reaches down to put one of the now half red, half green apples in the Master’s mouth, shoving down so the blood slick teeth grab the fruit’s hard flesh.

“A little closer…” the man cajoles, patting the bench seat, then placing a hand gently on Hainish’s blond head.

Through the slots of words cut in the newsprint, there is a hint of brilliant peridot eye; below that oculus, a cheeky right-sided grin. He says, in a voice gravelly and sweet and sleep-ripe as a lamb’s, “Really Koschei… I have a derby you could wear. A red tie, too.”

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