The Lady Vanishes
"Mum, it's happening again." Rose Tyler said into her mobile as she watched her reflection in the doors of the lift disappear. She was feeling less attached to the world around her, gravity wasn't pulling the same way it had just seconds ago.
The first time it happened was as she walked off that damned beach in Norway. The Doctor's shimmering presence had vanished leaving her broken and more alone than she had ever felt before. She thought, at the time, that it was just another manifestation of losing him. The disconnectedness, the tearing. But something else was pulling on her, something otherworldly.
That time it was brief, a few seconds. She didn't even lose cohesion that time, not quite. But as the days turned into weeks, which somehow became months, that ran into 2 years, these "episodes," as she now thought of them, became longer, stronger, more vivid.
As they stretched out, Rose was able to observe more around her. At first it was glimpses. She would disappear, but yet appear… elsewhere… away… somewhere different... Sometimes on Earth (or what might have been Earth), sometimes places very… alien.
In the beginning, Rose hoped that this was the Doctor pulling her back through to her original universe. That he had somehow found a way to bring her back to him. She started to look forward to the feeling of weightlessness, the pull of her atoms separating. But as her experience grew, she noticed that things were, at best, unfamiliar in the "other" places she went to. Some places, things were downright horrifying.
"Just breathe sweetheart, it will pass. It always does." Jackie Tyler was used to these calls from her daughter, although they were becoming more frequent. To cope, she had put her faith in her husband and Torchwood. They had come up with equipment meant to keep Rose together. Unfortunately, at least for the moment, it meant that Rose couldn't travel far from Torchwood.
"It feels different this time mum, less random. Like it knows where to go this time." Rose's voice was getting muffled, almost tinny, like she was talking into a can. "I think I want to go."
"Don't say that love. You're going to be fine." The next thing Jackie Tyler heard was the clanging of Rose's mobile hitting the elevator floor.
Lights. Very bright lights were all around her. And there was a humming. No, singing, definitely a singing. Something felt alive, conscious here. It was all so familiar, like a half remembered dream, more than half remembered.
Rose wasn't fully connected with this new place, but she felt more attached here than she had in all of her other experiences. She couldn't feel the air around her, but she could feel… something… something different… but no… not different… she knew this well, so well she used to take it for granted, like the Earth spinning under her feet…
Her head was feeling heavy. No, not heavy, full. Her head felt full, but not in an uncomfortable way. It was all actually very much putting her at ease, like the feeling of finally getting home after a long time away. She felt like something restricting had let go and she was free again, at last.
Her senses felt sharper, clearer than they had been, like as if before, she was living inside a fishbowl looking to the outside world, everything muted and dim, transformed and blurred by the light passing through the glass. She heard sounds now that she was sure she never heard before. Not because they weren't there, but because she wasn't able to really hear before.
Then suddenly it was all slipping away.
"No!" She thought she yelled, but no sound emerged. She felt choked again, her restraints once again fastened.
She didn't want to go. More than anything else that came before, she did not want to leave this place. She tried to hold on as hard as she could. But there was no purchase, nothing to hold on to. It was reminiscent of slipping off that lever that fateful day that seemed so long ago, but hurt as if it had just happened. Chains wrapped tightly around her, the fullness of her mind was forced out leaving a gaping, angry maw. Loneliness was consuming her.
Her scream was terrifyingly silent.
Gravity reasserted its hold as Rose fell to the floor of the lift. Her mobile was still there, even though hours had passed since she dropped it. Tears silently slid down her face. Her vision was blurred. She ached. Usually her body hurt when she came back, the Torchwood doctors said it was to be expected after having your whole self broken apart and scattered who knew where.
This time, it was more than physical though. This time, her whole being throbbed. Like half of herself was still missing. More than half now. Half of a half. After all, she left half of herself in the other universe, years ago.
The emotional toll likened to that day. When she could see him, and hear him, but not touch, no touching, not ever again. Rose felt sick as she remembered the last time she heard his voice. The last thing he almost said. The last thing she hoped he almost said.
As she collected herself on the floor, she wondered why the emotions from so long ago came back to her with such vengeance. She vaguely wondered if she had died and come back. Maybe her life flashed before her eyes, or at least the most important bits. Maybe that's what all this was. A slow death. Could that have been a glimpse into an afterlife? Had she briefly visited heaven? Maybe that's why she didn't want to leave.
Apparently it wasn't her time.
She nearly laughed out loud at that. Time, still screwing her after all these years.
After a few minutes she slowly got to her feet and pressed the floor for Torchwood medical. Exams always followed these experiences, but with their increasing frequency, Rose really felt like she spent all of her time in the med-bay.
"Might as well call mum." She said to no one in particular. But before she could, the vanishing sensation was happening again and her grip on this reality was fading. This time was even stronger than the last and Rose was almost looking forward to it. Thinking that maybe, just maybe, there was something better on the other side, this time.
She held her hand in front of her face. She could almost see through it. Her fingers left trails of a golden yellow sparkle as she waved them before herself. The more transparent she became, the more together she felt. Almost like she was shedding her body to assemble her soul.
It was happening slower this time, it felt deliberate. Like something (or someone?) was taking her apart and putting her back together again. It felt like it should hurt but it didn't. Or maybe it did? Pain seemed foreign in her current state. She was twinkling and fading like confetti being tossed and blown in the wind. All the while another, deeper, part of her was coalescing and intensifying, shoring up.