Doctor Who: Life with Theta

Sic labitur somnium Dei

Everything is fog, now, so much fog. But once...

The girl races around the wall. She is searching for something, perhaps... someone. There is a shadow on the ground. Is it the thing she seeks? Her hair is the color of pale wheat, with just a touch of honeyed sunlight. It’s pulled back in a ponytail, means she’s the athletic type. She bends down, scoops up the mangled thing. The black, glossy creature stares through her, red eyes misted with the pain of the dying. They are intelligent eyes, those crimson drops, full of scheme and wit and vibrant will. And they are fading. The girl nods, as if something has been spoken. Then she turns, attacks the switchboards around her in a frenzy of calculated sabotage. Where is her ship? Which button? What does this do? Opens... something. Something is unshielded, now. Something large. It Begins, as the creature instructed. But not what she was looking for... Where is her-ah. Soon. Soon. Along the outer corridor, another shadow creeps, a shade of fuller form and muddy substance. There is a gleam of dull blue-green. A stolen ring glints bleakly on a traitor’s finger. The woman has come back. She was waiting for the girl. Preparing, like the other. The glossy creature shivers, shuddering more than once in the girl’s careful grasp. Death is coming. But not to the girl. The girl is wily. Just. Full of freedom. She secrets herself in a cabinet beneath a console, the one with the Button she knows she must not yet press. The woman is angry, beyond reason. But that is one of her many weaknesses, and as she strikes out at the little world she’s made for herself in this place, wrecking everything she’s built in a childish fit of despair, the girl removes herself from hiding just enough to watch, to wait. Perhaps... the woman’s ship... if she could only see which-

“Doctor... ”

“... Doctor?”

“Doctor Bloom! Are you all right?”

“Someone take over for him! He’s turning pale!”

“Oh lord, look at him... white as a sheet.”

“What’s wrong, Doctor? Say something, please!”

“Grace... ” Theta spoke the name, holding it behind his teeth like a half-remembered prayer.

A woman’s face swept into view. Grace. His last companion before the War. His eyes blinked of their own accord, and suddenly he found himself again. He was standing in an Operating Room on the third floor of the Feversham Clinic, his slender shape enclosed by ‘50s California Motel Mint Green scrubs. There were rubber gloves on his hands, a slim device held loosely in one of them. His sonic probe, sonic screwdriver. Affectionate nickname. Course he’d had to rebuild it several times over the course of his nine-hundred-odd year lifespan. But that didn’t... matter now. The slim silver probe fell from his fingers, forgotten in the face of what he had just witnessed. A waking dream...a kind of hallucination... but why so vivid? Why so... familiar? He wasn’t used to his brain obscuring its own analytical processes. Calmly, slowly, he stepped back from the OR table, then turned to Nancy, his favourite nurse. Lovely girl, she was, a bright young thing with a bounce of black, shimmering hair.

“Nancy. What I am going to tell you is of the utmost importance. I want you to contact a Doctor Grace Holloway out of San Francisco. She’s a... friend of mine, a... former companion. Grace just happens to be an excellent cardiologist, which is what this poor sod on the table needs. She even operated on me, once! Oh yes! Doctor Grace killed me dead... by accident, of course. Tell her... I... well just give her this message.” He stopped talking for a moment, just a moment... resting for a spell before he raised a hand to his nose to catch the dark droplets that were forming near his left nostril.

“Doctor... ”

Nancy was growing concerned now. He could tell by the sheen of perspiration gleaming on her lily skin, if not by the subtle creasing of thin black brows. Life told him everything about her, everything about everything about everything. He could see it all. How had he forgotten? How could he have? Why? Why would he have forgotten? As the sparkling sterility of the Operating Room became a dim, dark tunnel filled with gray-white fog, he looked down at his hand. The hand he’d raised was blurry and red. There was a heated wetness flowing from his nose now, and his eyes were struggling to focus, to adjust in the fog. Why was it so hard to see? His cardiopulmonary muscles were not responding properly... nothing was. Something wasn’t moving that should be moving. His arm felt numb, his chest tight and breathless as if caged. Scrapes and bruises were cropping up over his whitening skin, as he could feel every flinch of injured meat beneath the flesh. His forehead was afire, like a reddening sunburn turned outside-in, and still the fever spread through him. Was he going to die? Again?

“So soon... not... here long enough to... ”

As he murmured weak questions to the sterilized air, the other doctors were staring at something else. The drops in his hand had become a pool. A growing puddle of deep red had filled his cupped hand and was pouring like communion wine from between his long fingers, staining them a lovely shade of mulberry. Realization wormed through his belly like a gorging parasite. He felt himself lean; the room... seeming to tilt on an axis he could not feel. The OR table was coming closer... how strange. The floor... he was going to...

Then it happened. With one last look at Nancy, the Time Lord crumpled, one hand flung against his stomach to protect himself even as the weaker of his two hearts burst in his chest.

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