The Storyteller

Relativity

And that was how the world ended. On an abundance of life, not death. That was new.

History was still alive, for a change, like fire in a block of ice, every second of it taken out of context (the context was taken out of context!) and all motion was cancelled, negated, because the presence of every present cancels cause and effect. There is no cause and effect.

Out there they were the same thing. All motion pulsating within a big ball of clumped time, trapped within itself, crumpled together into a limited space, every second of life vying for control over the present and we had been the last to have been caught in its blast radius.

The last cause, the last effect, which ironically was both the ending and beginning of it all. The cause and its effect. Causality from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint boggles the mind!

History crumbled into a big ball of timey whimey stuff and was conscious for every second of it. A perpetual frozen state that would become anti-time and spread throughout a universe as cancer of reality.

And it was my fault.

Amy, you were hardly awake. Still breathing. Still conscious. Still the proud owner of a past and a future. And you didn't even wonder why yet.

The only possible explanation would be that we were no longer part of history. We were cut off. But how? Cut off from existence! This was either very good or very bad. Good, because everything in existence had just gone bananas. Bad, because everything in existence had just gone bananas.

The dream you awoke from felt more real than this new place ever would. And now your hair was full of sand. You'd never forgive me for it.

"Doctor?" you mumbled half awake, brushing buckets of sand out of your hair. It was no longer as cold as it once was. A heartbeat really makes all the difference.

Your mind was still halfway out of the dark, struggling with memories that felt like a bad dream. Quite right.

But bad dreams are usually the best. It was a bad dream which gave us Frankenstein's monster. Jekyll and Hyde. Kathy Bates winning an Academy Award.

Mind you, her resemblance to the Unsinkable Molly Brown is really uncanny. I said to her: "Maggie, you're going to be immortalized one day. It's true!" Although she preferred to survive the Titanic first.

Maybe one day people would write stories about surviving the end of the universe. But at this point I doubted anyone would remember. But then again, we were in the right spot for remembering. Did any of that make sense to you? Forget it then.

There was something very wrong with this place. And I can't describe too much of it without giving away the ending. And the beginning.

D'you know that feeling? When you feel away with the tip of your finger across the edge of glass? Its smooth and clear, clean, and you can almost feel the sound it makes, you can imagine that resounding clear aura brilliantly, the piercing beauty of crystal echoes. You felt it now, that unnatural sterility and cool touch. It certainly gave me the willies. We had to be careful not to cut ourselves.

You woke up like a quintessial Romeo and Juliet to the dead body of your lover beside you. If you could call that love. I call it a fling. I would've given it two months at best.

Captain Jack's got more demons in his closet than he can shake a stick at, and mind you he's tried.

It was then that Jack shot awake with a sudden gasp, his body thrashing and clinging to the next best thing and you shouted back at him, like pure slapstick. Of course, then you literally slapped him.

"What did you do that for?" Jack asked, panting. Sometimes life is cruel.

"You scared me!"

Jack asked where he was. The slap sharpened his senses instantly. What a wake-up call. With one hand he had to nudge his jaw back in place. You're a feisty one aren't you, Amelia Pond?

"You tell me, time-traveller," you said. You coughed to get that tough metallic taste out of the back of your throat. "You're the expert."

"Great. Blame me, why don't you," Jack said when you helped him up. "As if I have all the answers."

"But we know someone who does."

The air tasted like copper and smelled like old books. The touch of glass gave you chills.

It's always a good idea to have a good look around when you're in an unfamiliar place. Check your surroundings and get a feel of the rules. Rules like gravity, density and breathable air. Never take them for granted.

You do that all the time!

Yes, but I'm a Time Lord. I'm allowed to.

There's rules. There's limitations. Up and down and right and wrong. It depends on the situation.

"You really think he has all the answers?" Jack asked and you gave him a knowing stare.

"That's what I thought."

Somewhere in the back of your mind you remembered older Amy waving at you from a distant hill in Wales and you wondered whether that was still set to happen.

Jack missed his handy wrist strap. It was lost in time atop the Eiffel Tower somewhere.

"I don't understand," you said. "How can we still be alive?"

"I think it has something to do with this place," Jack said and he looked back and forth from the corridor you'd just left.

You found yourself staring down a long and dark hallway in two opposite directions and corridors filled with sand. Jack reckoned it was either a mine or a dungeon.

"Did we both fall asleep?" you asked Jack and he shook his head. "Are we dead?"

It was an option even I would've contemplated. To have boldly gone where no-one has gone before. The undiscovered country.

"There's something wrong with this place," Jack said, aiming his blaster at the shadows.

The hallway made a left turn into darkness. There had been light before, but they didn't know where it was coming from. It seemed to emit from the walls itself, but this part of the hallway light could not reach.

A harrowing disquiet sent shivers down Jack's spine. The questions didn't seem to stop.

You grabbed his arm with a sudden thought. "Jack! If we're here, where are the others?"

He turned on the spot and headed straight into the opposite direction where the shadows didn't roam. That's where the corridor took a crooked right turn instead of a left, heading into the same direction, but here they found a door.

"There is no other side," Jack said to Amy when she caught up. "We haven't moved. I would've known it if we had been teleported."

"What? What does that mean?"

"Someone did one hell of a job redecorating," Jack said. Then he aimed his blaster at the rusted padlock.

"You're saying we're still in the same place?" you asked, but then Jack's gunshot missed the padlock and bounced off the walls. Its texture changed as ripples surged through it. The dark bricks and rocks and scaffolding disappeared and the illusion was lifted for a full second. No more shackles and torches. The walls were clear blue glass, like a hall of mirrors.

You gazed into Jack's eyes and read that the answer would be a whole lot more complicated than a simple 'yes' or 'no'.

I wish I similarly had someone to talk to in the end. Someone to impress. Stops me talking to myself. Or the TARDIS.

I was in the very adjacent room keeping the door shut on the other side. And don't get me wrong, I was keeping you alive. Safe. Relatively. I was working on a way to get us out of the mess I got us into. This was my fault. My responsibility.

You'd heard me tinkering on the other end, I presume. You were cursing my name when you heard the sound of the sonic fusing the door into place. Jack pounded the metal hatch with his fists.

But first things first. I sonicked the air and let sand slip from my fingers. A single handful wouldn't tell me more than I had already deduced about this place. I traced the air with my hand to look for motion blurring and with the other I snapped the extended sonic screwdriver in place like a sword. I love it when it does that.

I moved on to the next room and it was just as wrong as the others. My surroundings looked stately, like a mansion, yet gravely sour, like a dark medieval castle. I was expecting to see suits of armour standing at attention by the door. Or mining equipment.

There was something rocky about this place, something ancient and appalingly new, but I couldn't tell why I kept having that feeling. That feeling that we had been buried alive.

Then I noticed another door. Something so trivial and mundane in this impossible place I just had to go and check.

I wouldn't have opened it even if I could. Everything past, present and future was happening, has happened and will happen all at the same time beyond the wooden grain of that door. And I was on the other side.

Except there wasn't an other side. One thought at a time I began to figure out the mystery of the paradox glass.

There had been another dimension locked inside that glass. Connected to that glass. The splinter connected two parts of time and space and let the energy of the time vortex bleed out into both ends. And the moment I opened this tiny hole in existence it tore down the walls of reality.

A billion billion timezones had been warring over dominance of the present, corrupting it, like a thousand captains fighting over the wheel of a single ship. And while they were all fighting the tiniest timezone in existence snuck in and stole it from under their very noses. Who doesn't love an underdog story?

Existence was still existing. We just couldn't see it. The timezone within the glass had taken over the present and we could only see within. We were trapped within. It had engulfed us.

But it's like a different wavelength. A different dimension. I hadn't worked out the details yet, but I was going to find out soon.

Could I still restore reality? Save it? Was there still time? Did time mean the same thing in this world? Why was there gravity? Why was there air? I checked my wristwatch. There were so many things I hadn't thought of yet that could prove vital in the case at hand.

All we had to do was save a single second and the rest would fall in line.

But first we had to untangle the knot. Drain time from the present. Reality was supposed to restore itself but this reality was now standing in its place. Like a squatter. An intruder. It was now occupying this dimension and blocking the drain. It shouldn't have even lasted as long as it was, with the fires of existence eating away at its outsides, but something or someone was keeping this place alive.

"Why is a labyrinth shaped like a brain?" I mused out loud. Sand was filling my boots. It was everywhere, slowly filling this place like a broken hourglass. The sands of time were slowly leaking into this reality...

Maybe I could've used a hand but I knew from experience that things or beings hiding in pocket universes outside of reality tend to be locked out for a reason. I had a very bad feeling this might've been orchestrated from the start, but maybe that was just paranoia kicking in now that I was all alone. Or was I?

I found myself drawn to a great hall of faded white marble leading to two massive staircases at the end curled towards one another like two snakes biting each other's tails. Its where the winds blew hardest and where the signal stopped. When I entered the chamber the winds calmed suddenly, as if they could sense my presence.

Against better judgment I ascended one step at a time looking out over the white room, knowing none of it was real. Curiosity got the best of me and I just couldn't resist it.

Just like you couldn't resist following me. You were intent on finding another way out of the dungeons. Stubborn as usual. Your temerity would save the world one day. Possibly while getting you killed in the process.

Look at you. If you'd just stayed in the TARDIS like I told you, you'd never gone and stepped on that mine. But then of course, if you had you would've missed all the fun. Do you have any idea how many times I've seen the world end? Well, technically zero, because I stopped them all, except once or maybe twice, three if you count that alternate dimension full of prawns.

You would've missed all that. I have to admit, when I reached that landing, when I touched the top of those stairs, I did feel alone.

Everyone's afraid of being alone. Everyone's terrified of being alone. At the heart of the storm people cling to those nearest, perhaps by choice or by chance. When the going gets tough and when the end seems upon us...

It's been a while since I've been really alone. I almost forgot the feeling. I didn't miss it. But I needed it. I sometimes forget the responsibility I shoulder as the last of the Time Lords. The last to remember. With my death it would all be forgotten.

But it wouldn't mean it never happened. Time seemed to slow down on that landing as I looked down upon the sands of time raining down from the cracked ceiling. Bursts of white light shone from the ceiling, bright as lightning and as blinding as life and all the things we take for granted.

But who else is going to save the world? It's my specialty.

So many stories waiting to be told. Waiting to be lived. The Bone Meadows. Can't wait for that one. Or the Singing Towers of Darillium. And I still want to meet Charlie Chaplin!

And if I fail...it's not like the world would notice.

Why did I try to save them? Why couldn't I just...I think I just wanted to save someone...anyone...after losing...never mind. My friend. Rory. Rory Williams. You remember him? You remember me talking about him?

No, I didn't think you would.

Eyes that seemed to pop out of nowhere, the same grey eyes repeated in every frame of every surface, peeked from behind the curtains as if to blame me for what I'd done.

For all the suffering I'd caused.

Simon was right. I had put everything on the line. I had grown too confident in my own skills, in my own luck. I had begun to believe my own legend. I should've listened to you, Amy.

I'm just a man, you see. I'm not Space Gandalf.

I'm alone.

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