Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

The Faerie Queen

As the shadow plummets, the Doctor slips to the ground, his hand still raised, breathlessly humming something in an annoyingly high falsetto about lollipops and guilds…

The Assassin never sees it as it strikes; he is gone in a puff of fine dust, as though someone poured hot water on him.

“It must have been the ring,” River says, bending to pick up the silver band on the pile of Gallifreyan detritus, as it has spilled out from under the fallen Pod in a pool. “Was it keeping him alive, I wonder… the Pod must have interacted with it somehow.”

“We might never know the reasons, child,” says Borusa, stepping up and holding out her hand for the ring. “Who can say, with that boy? But I will ask Pasmodius once he has fully revived. He was stuck in the Tomb for a while, you know.” She smiles, then cocks her head at the Doctor, who, still wearing nothing but his dusty white shirt, has got a second wind from sheer fascination and is staring at the large egg-shaped object sticking from the Panopticon floor- upon which he is currently leaning, for his dignity’s sake.

But then, the Pod opens. A shell-like door raises up. A bit of air puffs out, and soon, a head full of straggles of grey hair, half-stuffed beneath a yellow scarf.

Those eyes… those beautiful grey eyes.

They meet his. His meet hers.

He feels Creation shift beneath him. His body acts drained, without blood.

“Mamlaurea?” he chokes, gasping for breath and groping his chest with a flattened palm as he staggers backward toward River. But he doesn’t make it. All the strength flows out of his legs and he folds like heavy cream toward the Pod.

But the old woman grabs his palm and opens a mouth full of half as many teeth. She cries, as she reaches for him, clutching his fingers to her wrinkled brown face, “Oh my master! Lord Other, you came! As you promised! There is no time; we must go now.”

As he wanes away, still staring at her, his face turns a hue that can only resemble several types of pale flour, but she catches him, holding him close to her yellow-wrapped bosom. She pulls.

Rassilon takes a step toward her, holding his hands out palm up, shaking them wildly, his azure gaze a warm and pleading ocean sparkling a no that might once have been heard for years in any direction.

The old woman wails, clutching the Doctor’s face to her dry old chest, her thin, branchy arms wrapped around him protectively. With a gnarled hand, she reaches into the Pod and presses a button.

As the Doctor’s green eyes close on River’s face, the world screams away, leaving the dazed Panopticon less two or so warm bodies, and fewer questions.

On the shore of no living sea, a rabbit-haired man in an undone bowtie waits in an austere armchair of bright fuschia, its surface dotted with curls and leaves of silver damask. There is a pale yellow teacup of tea in his hand, set on a delicate saucer of robin’s egg blue.

Sometimes, he is an old grandfather in a black coat. A clown in a bowl cut. A dandy in an opera jacket. Sometimes he is a tall bohemian, all teeth and curls. An indecisive young cricketer with blonde hair. Sometimes a short stout uncle in a panama hat, with an umbrella close by. A Victorian gentleman with a bluish-greenish-brownish coat, and pretty curls. And a pocketwatch. An angry soldier with close cut hair, wearing a black leather jumper. A tall, geekish avenger in a brown suit, wearing converse.

Sometimes he is all of these.

To-day, he brushes off his tweed jacket, which hangs on the chair back, adjusts his bowtie. Takes a sip of his tea. With a sigh, he flares his nostrils, packing his nares with the salt of the surf and the crisp sea breath, patiently waiting for the girl to come out from the waves.

His black boots are off, sitting to the side of his chair and stuffed with his dark grey stockings. His feet are naked, and there is sand between his toes.

On his lap there is a book, faded and dog-eared, perched precariously across the scuffed knees of his rolled up trousers. The brownish cover reads:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

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