Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

Carpenters and Ladies


Jack Harkness stares, rubbing his eyes open after that short blink he took just a second ago; was he still standing at her desk?

White liquid is all around, as though someone has let loose a pile of bouncing moonlight ribbons in an old attic room.

Long fingers click into place beside an alien countenance that once was yellow, angles like sunbeams that spill to a point on bottom and top, once, those lines formed the crystal face of the desk girl, Laneet.

Now the sun is gone, everything is black, and starshine, and Jack Harkness is staring at the hands of a man he has slept with.

Wondering why he ever could have done such a thing as lie with this… person.

“I’m going to bring you in, Benjamin.” Jack says softly to the rounded belly and the camel coat and the striped shirt like moonbeams against gaol bars, the free hand scruffed in alien hair like a star-blotted handkerchief dropped in a park.

The changeable peridots glare out from a stern mask of chilled dough, their gaze full of the rough finality of Prospero, the slim, square grasp of those feather-digits perched on a thick organic extension cord covered in the yoghurt drool of Laneet’s creamy body fluid. Benjamin’s swollen torso is just as well hidden as his crime, too, for nearly all his body is clothed in a triangle shadow cast by the blue goldstone wall behind the Reception Area; someone will have to go back there eventually. They’ve got to pick the bits of bleachy thick blood from the electrified copper flecks in the blue wall, for evidence. To Jack, they shine like the stars in the Doctor’s hair did when the light had been right, just like he remembers. Thousands of little golden flecks, gleaming like eyes in the dark. They would blink in shame again now, if they could see this.

“I’ve really done it,” Benjamin breathes with a certain hoarseness, ignoring Jack in favor of rubbing his belly to get the white stains off but really just smudging them deeper into the fabric, then drawing his coat around himself in a daze, like a quavering street waif. “I’ve killed her.” His arms pull in close against his flesh and he holds himself, bending over a little to rest on his knees before shoving his hair back over his head and backing away in small steps. He disappears.

One of the Museum’s newly delivered artifacts, a grand, exquisitely carved pagoda of green jade about the size of a phone box, suddenly stands reticent behind the file cupboard where Benjamin went, Jack realizes belatedly, his hindbrain relegating the green stone box to a very particular place in his mind. A place dealing with proof of guilt and… and other things.

“TIME LORD!” The cry bubbles up backward out of his head, after oozing through his vertebrae and brain stem, tumbling out of his mouth like the bloody expatriate let spewed from the lips of chest puncture victims.

Without looking down, Jack punches buttons on his wrist strap, entering a sequence of numbers that will tell the strap’s microcomputer to daisy chain Benjamin’s Pagoda.

As he disappears into the vortex, he realizes that he’s never hated green more.

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