Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

That Vulgar Electricity

Flashback to River’s hospital bed.

There is white above River Song’s head, obscuring her vision.

It’s a bit disappointing, considering that he was supposed to be here forty-five minutes ago.

The white thing is wide, about as broad as her shoulders.

It’s long, and thick, too.

Fur covers it like a blanket of snow.

Her fingers are itching; she wants so badly to drag the thing down so she can examine it. But the urge is building again, shimmying down her spine and pooling along her back and in her nethers like congealed honey.

One chunky white leg dangles over the water cup on her small bluish pull over tray like the bendy straw in the sweet violet slush of a mixed berry smoothie. A loose artificial hair slips from the threads of the foot and floats down, sliding onto the surface of the lukewarm fluid. Long fingers are wrapped around the base of the big white thing, firm long strips of flesh coated in sinew and bone, slender, squarish… pale as hot cream sand on a beach.

“I expected you later, my love.” she murmurs as the hand flattens against her forehead so gently, a mask of skin-covered feathers perfectly fitted to her face.

The big stuffed rabbit drops first to one side, then another, big ears flopping in her hair just so. A sound comes from behind it.

Enter, the smell of mud from somewhere other than this, disrupting their private little shiny white universe.

A man with blue eyes has come into the room, she reasons demurely, for she glimpses only the barest hints of a squarish jaw and sharp nose in the reflection off the beady black eye of the toy, not enough to define or remember the person behind those cobalt orbs. She’s not –him-, after all.

The rabbit jiggles again, bouncing across her vision, again. Obscuring her view again.

Now she is concerned.

Her eyebrows furrow lower, tumbling down and down by degrees to her heightened nerves, each line of hair settling at a wobble like the unstable planes of an inauspicious dreidel.

“It’s not time yet, Pond; still, if push comes to shove, I’d rather you push…” her husband says, thrumming a strangely sweaty thumb over her temples as though he’s polishing a doll. “With any luck, you’ll be seeing me before the start of the second inning.”

Even now, she feels like a child with a fever when he does that.

“Sweetie, have you had your hands in your pockets? They’re awfully war- ooh!” She tries to speak louder, but her breath dies in her throat, stolen by stringy lengths of uterine stria as they knead themselves like dough in the bowl of her pelvis.

“Ah, so it comes to this…” she hears him say it so softly to the man who has come inside their little hospital room hideaway, with that same youthful voice reminiscent of a fish with a head cold- he always uses that tone when he’s being dangerous. She quite likes it, but for some reason, now it… only sounds sad. She’s used to him reproaching himself, but… this seems like a moment from an old movie about spies.

“Good old Steven! Come to see me about the old woman who swallowed a fly?” he says. His head turns, brown rabbit hair rustling along the back of his creamy camel bridge coat. “Still,” he adds, with that schoolboy smile which screams of sure, quick death, “…this is a private moment. Or do I need to say a word to Carlin outside? He’s the most charming little Vespiform you ever did see. Born on Old Earth- claims his long-lost cousin slept with a woman who held a party for Agatha Christie, once.”

For some reason, she imagines the blue eyes widening, as though her husband has just been very cruel, out of what he obviously thinks is some sort of necessity. Not surprising. He’s the best damn bastard in the universe.

“Ah, not today, Benjamin, sorry. You two enjoy your day. We can exchange nursery rhymes later. Ma’am.”

Long after Steven’s footsteps have rung down the hall and out the doors, his voice lingers like a good, full-bodied fruit wine, River decides flatly as she breathes through another contraction, sweet and smooth at first, a surprise of sour cinnamon in the middle, and a silty, slightly bitter finish. Good vintage for the summer, she thinks.

She doesn’t have to open her eyes to know that her Vortex Manipulator has disappeared along with her husband, because the big stuffed rabbit is lying on her face… and the sharp corner of the post-it note he’s stuck to the toy’s blue silk bowtie is slicing into her cheek.

She can feel the words he’s written on it through her skin; he’s used just enough pressure on the pen so she can just about make them out.

Knick knack, paddy whack

Give the dog a bone

Nothing left to do but wait.


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