Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum


The Doctor’s memory, part one.

“..but his Eyes were the molten Cores of Suns,” quotes the tall, thin, smudge-covered man in the grey and white blouson and red trousers. In one hand is a dark stylus- in the other, a tumbler of deep, ordinary Laxis brand machine oil. Ah, yes, an abysmal rich radiant swallowing black, with just a hint of sparkly bits in, to suit his mood. Swirling the liquid for a flourish or two, the man sets the stylus down and stares over the top of the circle of the glass at another, shorter person in glasses, who had been in the room with him for quite some time. He continues the reading from behind the cup, casting blue-green eyes like furnace flames across a space like any other he’s just redecorated with papers and plans and false leads, lighting that other pair of eyes with them as he parts his lips, as though sipping at something, “... and his cloaths were the cloaths of the Moon, for they had little … wait. Are you… climbing over that nice Queen Anne…?”

“Well of course I am!” warbles the dark-haired child he’s been staring at. She smiles and props a foot onto the seat of the high-back Meeks Stanton Hall and tips it with her toe, farther, deeper, ‘til it shivers on one leg and sinks back under her weight like a swooning woman in a thick bloom of dust and red brocade. She herself sails upright over the chair as it falls, a handsome instance of youth cascading over the carpeting by way of two gangly young legs in yellow suede ankle-boots that are slightly overlarge.

“You look incongruous in those spectacles,” the tall man says softly, still clandestinely riveted behind his goblet as the girl runs to him.

Her long fingers bury themselves in the black stains on his shirt like porcelain shattering in reverse, and the glasses on her nose, being black and wide and a bit too big for her delicate button of a nose, smush against his chest, crushing a nipple.

“That’s because they’re yours, Grandfather!” she giggles, closing her big brown eyes and reaching for his thin face, her touch circling his sharp nose and lips, feeling her way across his scarecrow countenance.

While his granddaughter explores he closes his eyes too, lapping at the pool of her youthful exuberance, however false, like the dying man he doesn’t want her to know he is going to be.

“Uncle Dallyrasse gave me a note for you,” she murmurs with the acute, dumb animal shyness of a grass-eater as she sticks a hand in the pocket of her delicate lace cape dress. A falsehood he’s orchestrated, for his joy is closer to one hundred and fifty than the fifteen she appeared, and wiser than the entirety of the new Council that will soon form in his absence.

At least her beautiful deep chocolate eyes are still closed, no thanks to the gods. If she sees, just for one moment, the look he’s wearing, the tears that threaten to reveal themselves like the scent of new water on cracked soil, she’ll know in an instant.

Yes, he thinks, as he drowns in the touch of his child’s child, I must never let her know what I’m planning. They are watching us, even now. But they won’t hurt her yet, not until they relay my final statement. Which I haven’t yet made.

His granddaughter, his Arkytior, opens her eyes to him, then presses the simple, lightweight letter into his long hand, applying just the right pressures to his palm, in a language of touches Rassilon’s pets will never guess. Then she grins again, and brushes something away from the corner of his mouth before he can open it again.

“Oh, did I save some for later again? Well, no matter. Why don’t you rest yourself while we see what Uncle has given us…” he says, pressing a finger to the girl’s forehead. “… and I’m sorry my precious child, but you’re not coming with me.”

Arkytior feels her short bob of curls begin to follow his finger against her will, but though her young-old eyes glisten at his little betrayal and pour out her bloody understanding like two white holes, she can do nothing to resist his hypnotist’s trick, and knows better than to try. Instead, she blinks and falls back, collapsing against him, her hands weakly clutching his black-smudged shirt even as her favorite nurse, a doubly crow-footed bald woman, slightly shorter than he in her usual greyish trousers and a yellow shawl, comes into the lead-lined room, which, conveniently enough, boasts hermetically sealed egressical stone arches on several sides. He watches in silence as her silver-grey eyes, shaped like crescent moons, scan the room, as if hoping to find something. Does she know? She was wearing his cloak earlier…

Préjà vu. And Déjà vu. And Dallyrasse between them. He can just imagine them as caricatures, walking through the park one day in May, like Bunny Fufu. And, much like Bunny Fufu, Dallyrasse enjoys the bopping of heads. Usually off shoulders.

The entire building is like an Escher painting itself really, an exercise in reticular occlusion, all angles and lines and silly staircases leading to entertaining little nowheres. A perfect place to pile his thoughts, to hoard them, really. When Dallyrasse, or, Lord President Rassilon as the man has taken to calling himself, did indeed ask his reasons for building the structure- of course, he’d claimed the over-protectiveness was due to sounds bothering his ears. And, also of course, the only two he loves, trusts, in all of Creation, the two people who now are with him in the no longer safe room he had built to keep away outside dangers the three of them cannot be caught skirting, know better than that. The Lord President’s assassins are coming. No hiding anymore. For two of them, at least.

“I thought I told you no pears, Mamlaurea,” he rasps, his normally soft voice breaking over the rocks of his intention in a sound like the scratch of nails on glass as he carves the single string of circular letters written on the clean, thick vellum into his memory. Then he cracks his neck and set his shoulders and shakes the letter, dangling it from two lithe fingers as a small, hard and shiny speck clinks on the cream floor. The speck is a Listener, a spying device made to look like a grain of sand idly dropped from a blotted page. Academically, he considers the implicating fruitlessness of curses muttered under the breath, then stamps a foot on the offending machine, which crunches little sparks against his boot. There will be others, after all. The loaded missive is not the last piece in the Game.

He adds, “…now gather together whatever stocks you’ve piled and carry them back where you got them from. I will take care of the shipping costs, and meet you again later to discuss the cost of the tea. Oh, and the password to the pantry was changed. The new word is Quintet.”

The nurse’s mercury gaze catches him once before he settles Arkytior in her arms and guides her to the hidden teleport pod across the room, a greyish, soothing sculpture of an unnamed planet and its single moon. One little inset grey button to press, and… the woman and girl disappear in a grey shimmering which lasts only a second. He looks for, and finds, his cloak, a tatty grey thing that had slid from his curled desk to the floor some hours ago.

He resets the coordinates for the Loom’s newly-grown catwalk, then steps into the teleport himself, once he’s settled his cloak around his shoulders and removed his golden ring to a pocket. The transport winks him away, then winks him into existence again near the bridge, as he’d intended, the air rank with the sound of too many footsteps.

A laugh sticks in his dry throat as he leans over to look at their desperate brainchild, his body dangerously close to the light of the Loom. Naturally, he turns his back to the light, crosses his legs and waits, one hand in his pocket. The likelihood of being tracked through his own personal teleport has always been a part of his calculations, ever since he’d stood with Dallyrasse at the fall of Qqaba, one of the last population III stars. It was one of the last of its kind, a class of stars so massively powerful they were thought to have provided the fuel to build universes. Olmeghidora had apparently not been lucky enough to walk away from the resultant implosion, according to Dallyrasse. But Dallyrasse, no, Rassilon, just as the legends would say, in time, had sent Omega to his death, in asking him to undertake the mission to fly into the core of Qqaba and collapse it while failing to relay the fact he could not survive. Strange how an engineer as capable as Omega could have missed that bit.

Only a moron would have missed that he’d be Rassilon’s next sacrifice to the cause, another unknowing martyr. And he, being the Other, would play Redstone. There is always a way. As guards with guns crowd at both sides of the bridge overlooking the Loom, he raises a hand and tips an imaginary hat to them, then falls back over the side as though taking a swim, his fingers racing to uncrumple the small note Arkytior had hidden in his pocket as he plummets.

He is falling. The paper comes uncrushed in his fingers and he smiles. Bright girl… must have put it in when his cloak had slipped to the floor from of the corner of his curl-leaf desk.

The words hurt to read. So bright, the heat. So bright, the promises. So white. So white the words, like suns behind his eyes.

But he reads them.

“Grandfather, I understand.

Mamlaurea will know you, and so will I.

And we’ll be waiting.”

The Light comes for him, tearing everything away. Scattering his elements. And as the shadows of men and women gather at the crest of the bridge, they watch his body singe itself within the Loom, the blackening smile of a rose in flames, noting that, long after the great life-giving machine had digested the rest of his grey cloak, the page written in his granddaughter’s hand had been the last thing to sink beneath the waves.

In the wake of their failure, they all run away, not wishing to be Rassilon’s food. And so, no one is left to notice the shadow stooping down to pick up the…

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