His yellow-grey ash wood door, in its infinite... door-ness… is imprinted with good old Book Antiqua below a dapper, frosted pane of smartly-dimpled glass. The typeset, on a polished bronze nameplate with Victorian edges, reads:
Georgie M. Plombkins
Elegant Egotist Escort Services
“Mister Plombkins, Sir.” Nostalgia Prydonia Anno, the secretary, calls, reaching and balling a fist above the knob to knock.
Her rap tap-taps at the corner of the door.
Her knuckles graze across the old hard wood, gracing the fine shellac with another sequence of raps.
“I’m coming in, Sir,” she calls again, pressing her open hand against the glass and a corner of the wood frame.
The ash door jars itself quietly awake, then slips back, revealing a middlingly dark room half-wrapped in dim sunlight that crackles evenly about, like the glint of crisp cellophane. But the gleam of dusk from out the architect’s office-style floor to ceiling window does nothing to illuminate the cause of her frustration’s whereabouts.
“Mister Plombkins?” Nostalgia rounds on the small desk in one corner, noting that the out of place waste paper bin and a toppled shelf aren’t convenient enough to mask the partial shadow of a naked foot.
“You had better not be staring at that ring again, sir. You should be sleeping now, not playing with toys!” She edges up to the desk, pretends to dance her fingers across the deep corners of the slightly tilted writing surface with its glass cover and its tiny apothecary drawers on either side.
Her almond-colored eyes slide around the room, changing subtly from tan to grey to lavender as she considers the unmoving nature of the pedumbra.
She had expected a childish retort, to be honest. Something along the lines of, “Oh Prydonia, don’t be such a worry wart! You never used to be this way when you visited my sister and myself! You weren’t so concerned, then! And that reminds me, just the other day, I…” or perhaps, if he was in a darker sort of mood, no words, a little Puccini and a cup of cocoa.
Her high beige heels click somberly on the cool floor tiles as she moves around the fallen shelf.
She halts the clicking of her heels near a lump of half-crumpled black stocking when she feels the thing squish, soundless beneath her instep. It lies boy-sized and wrinkled on the floor. She bends, in a bark brown pencil skirt that hugs the hips and an egg blue blouse with heavy, dangling ruff, to pick it up, and finds a tie stuck inside that pools out as she raises the cotton foot-warmer to her nostrils.
Her nose wrinkles in pleasure at the mild gingerbread scent of her employer’s adolescence, and she closes her eyes, inhaling the measure of him, smiling. Time Lords are physically incapable of smelling like anything but nice, even their feet.
Then she sees the body.
A child’s body.
The spry young foot to go with the spry young sock.
But he’s not spry at all.
She rushes to him in a huff of shock. Her bones melt down into neat folds like a paper airplane and she touches all over him, looking for bites or cuts in his ruffled black hair and under his tee-shirt.
He’s stiff as the proverbial board, and so warm. His skin, normally so cool and smooth like Ice Dolphin flesh, is too hot. It feels strange, as though it might try to steam soon, and she wonders if he’s somehow come down with something. Perhaps it isn’t the ring that caused this… perhaps he’s just sick… but no. That’s silly. It’s always the ring.
“You just had to touch it again, didn’t you?” she groans as she hefts the floppy frame of her charge onto the desk, then flicks her earpiece on. “The potential for reverberant temporal overlap is greatest in this area, you know that! You little snot. Why in hells did you do it again?” One limp little wrist, hot and clammy in her fingers, brushes against her thigh like a weakly thrown toy pillow as she sucks in hard breaths and stores the oxygen in her extra lungs, preparing in case she has to breathe for him.
Silently, she waits with him as he breathes too shallowly in her arms, as her earpiece’s emergency feed sends out for any nearby med-bots, security guards or certified Medicals, anyone with a level five health clearance, really.
“It’s all right, Daddy,” she says softly, brushing a strand of his whitening hair back from his blanched little boy face with its arched nose and dull eyes grasping at nothing, wrapt in unconsciousness. “You’ll come back. You always do.”