Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

All the Gold in China

“You didn’t kill him, Zagreus...” the Doctor murmurs, clenching his teeth as he straightens and rolls his shoulders, stretching.

The Valeshard raises his eyebrows a notch as the Doctor talks further.

“... I did” the Doctor says, circling around the Valeshard like a shark, “I killed Rassilon. A long time ago. I helped his wife deceive him. That was the little death, for him.”

“We know all this...” the Valeshard mutters, waving a hand dismissively, “’s a bit like old hat.” Turning round, he applies his tongue to the statue of Rose’s bosom and licks.

The Doctor smiles, crossing to the little boy again and placing a hand on the child’s frozen head. Petting him. Engraving the tight ice that used to be feathery soft hair on every nerve.

“Yes,” he says, smiling a small smile, “’we’ do.”

The Valeshard stops licking and looks up over the ice Rose’s shoulder at the Doctor with new and interested eyes.

“Stop that! I’m not like you! There’s nothing left of you in here!” he croaks, putting a hand to his mouth in alarm, “You could join me, you know! We could do things!”

“Oh I don’t think so, Valeshard,” the Doctor breathes, walking toward him with slow, tidy, careful steps, “In fact I rather think this is curtains for you ‘and’ your snake oil... plus I got hungry and ate your pet carrier pigeon.”

Covering his mouth, he coughs, flapping his tongue to rid it of the offending feather. Looking up again, he holds out a beckoning hand, palm to the side, thumb to first, readying for the snap.


The Valeshard squints as the Doctor’s shadow suddenly swirls up and over him, crawling around across his personal space as though the man has suddenly been consumed by a cloud of roiling pitch.

Leaning forward, the Valeshard nearly knocks over the statue of Rose in his haste to catch a glimpse of the madness happening inside the cocoon of Nerada.

Then the statue lingers on the brink.

Then it falls.

The carved Rose’s face cracks along the bridge of her slightly flared nose.

Her lips erupt in little fractures.

Her fingers break from their hands and go walkabout, skidding across the floor like fallen skaters.

Her toes crack, shattering her legs at the knee and raining her body in bits down on the remnants of the yellow rose on the ground; the remaining petals are smashed into pale yellow sludge.

The Valeshard stares down impassively at the rose, transfixed for a moment as a bit of green eye finds its way out of the black cloud.

He fits his fingers to a chunk of icy thigh and picks it up, tossing it up and down idly.

“Oi!” he calls out to the Doctor, in a flash of thick and wobbling lips, “Loon Power Makeup! Are you coming out or am I coming in? Please, please tell me you’re not undressing.”

The cloud recedes, leaving the Doctor on the floor, his pale green eyes bleeding streams of Nerada. The bathrobe has grown, gaining an ombre trane of blue and creeping dark.

“Rose,” he says quietly, looking at his hands, his fingers, now coated and crawling with billions of shadows, “I’m not hungry anymore.”

“But I am,” the Valeshard says, grinning as he snaps his own fingers and licking.

A shard of ice grows from the floor with a sound like shredding metal, shoving itself through the Doctor’s naked chest. The shard crushes his spine twice, bending him backward then forward, sandwiching his organs until, like a thick, crunchy cricket on a fisherman’s hook, he is doubly impaled.

Blood plops from his open lips and drips down his stuck out tongue, freezing in a lacelike pattern a hand’s length from the floor.

Soon, his nervous system ceases its flailing, and the deadly rime clings on his skin like iron shavings on a magnet, frosting even the dark aureole of the Nerada behind him.

The Valeshard considers the scene, striding over to bend here and there, poking at the growing circles of frost echoing out from the Doctor’s prostrate body with the toe of his shoe.

Then he turns a blithe foot on its blackened boot heel, to snatch up a toddler-shaped snack of a meal as he turns to the doors, for to exit the frost. Next he strikes a grand pose, full of triumph and Boss, popping tyke under arm, dancing back through the frames with a hand for the smarm as he sings a dark ditty full of bloody good prose, making certain the gate is left open for Rose.

“And the Whats down in Whatville, all frightened and small...

Found their hero’s big heart was two sizes too LOL!

Soon you’ll all be eat up,

Yes, the joke is on you!

For I’ve finally stopped him

From winning.


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