The permanent temp

Chapter 3

Martha scowled after them as John picked up Rose’s holdall, this time Rose didn’t resist him as he also took hold of her arm, carefully avoiding the police who were scratching their heads and trying to figure out what had just happened. The technicians were now back inside, wondering what was going to happen to the device and the equipment as the remains of Lady Thaw and the still youthful Professor Lazarus were taken away on stretchers.

Once outside on the steps, John took a moment to check how Rose was doing.

“What just happened back there?” Rose asked as she was aware he was holding onto her arm.

“You want the full version?” John smiled at her. “You were there, you saw as much as I did Rose, best act all innocent if the police ask any questions though, they might just cart you off if you tell them what really happened. Where do you live?”

“What?”

“So I can take you home, I can just drop you off nearby, I don’t have to deliver you to your door and come in and meet your mother or anything like that, don’t panic. Not that you have any reason for me to meet your mother I suppose but in case you were thinking that I thought you’d want me to meet her.”

Rose was staring blankly at him.

“Doctor, let’s just go. Should I call you that or John?”

“I don’t like being called John, it reminds me of….” He trailed off. “Never mind, to my car then – Allons-y!”

Rose let out a giggle. “Do you always speak French?”

“Used to have a French girlfriend, it used to amuse her though I speak several languages, have to in my line of work. Molto Bene, Bellissimo!”

“Ok, let’s go then. Where’s Martha?”

“I thought she was behind us?” John answered, looking around. Then he saw her come through the glass doors behind them, followed by the two stretchers.

“Maybe she was making sure the ambulance crew got those two out?” Rose suggested as she saw Martha.

“Yeah. I should really get you home Rose and I’m really sorry I made you lose your job, I feel really bad about it,” he replied, scratching the back of his head as he put the holdall down on the step.

“Looks like I would have lost it without being fired, it wasn’t your fault they were both deluded.”

John smiled. Now he had to call Donna in the morning and tell her not to chew Rose out that the whole evening had been a disaster and hoped Rose would still get paid. He didn’t even know if this was her first day or she’d been there longer. Now he was about to take her home, probably not to her door and he’d never see her again but he wanted to. Maybe he’d get something out of Donna, if he was sneaky enough.

“You two got out fast enough, I almost got collared in there, the police asked me what happened,” Martha complained as they walked down the steps.

“So what did you tell them?” John asked as they reached the bottom and trying to remember where he’d left his car and hoping it had not been towed away or clamped, since there had been no notices or parking signs and he was fairly certain there were no yellow lines.

“I told them the experiment went wrong, the lab techs could only agree with me since they knew no more than I did. See you at work tomorrow then John?”

“What? Oh, yeah, see you tomorrow Martha.”

They were just about to walk off when there was a loud crash and everyone looked in the direction the ambulance had gone, since it was a quiet area.

“What was that?” Rose asked John.

“No, it can’t be, he was dead and she definitely was.” John waggled his eyebrows and held his hand out to Rose. “Let’s go find out then, Avante!”

Rose smiled and looked at Martha, who just shook her head and followed them, trying to keep us as John dragged Rose along behind him. They caught up with the ambulance just around the corner, Lady Thaw still on the stretcher and the ambulance crew looking just as she was, all drained dry.

“That shock didn’t kill him then?” Rose mused.

“Nope, doesn’t look like it, I wonder where he went?”

Then his eyes lit up as he let go of Rose’s hand and got out his sonic screwdriver.

“Don’t be daft John, how are you going to find him with that thing?” Martha asked.

“Don’t come with us then,” he grinned as he dropped the holdall again and Rose was wishing she’d never brought it along.

“You can find him with that?” Rose asked as he screwed his face up and held the device to his ear.

Suddenly, he called out, “This Way!” and made both Rose and Martha jump.

“He’s in the cathedral then, what’s he doing in there?” Rose wondered.

“Seeking sanctuary I expect, where else would he go?” John replied as he followed the signal, Rose picking up her holdall. It had her belongings from the office and her best dress inside and a pair of expensive dress shoes.

She was grateful she’d changed back into her flat black ones but wishing now she wasn’t wearing a skirt, if John was going to keep running off and she was daft enough to follow him.

They walked around the building and found the door was open.

“Do you still think he looks human?” Rose asked as they approached the door carefully.

“Maybe, if he just ‘fed’ off that ambulance crew.”

“Fed? What do you mean fed?” Martha asked worriedly.

“I think something happened that turned him into that monster and he needs to feed on humans, sucks them dry to maintain it, like he was eating all those nibbles but now he has a taste for humans.”

Rose did not like the sound of that but leaving her holdall on the last pew, followed John, who was still checking his sonic screwdriver. They’d just reached the alter when John saw something move. When they looked, the professor was huddled in a green blanket.

“I was here before, during the war, we hid in the crypt. I thought we were all going to die then.”

“So you were back there, trying to preserve yourself? At what cost?” John asked him.

“I had to survive.”

“Not by killing them Lazarus.”

“It was necessary.” Lazarus let out a laugh and he convulsed, making a horrible cracking sound.

Rose and Martha could only stare as John was looking around, Rose figured he wanted them to do something, like be the bait. She got close to him.

“You have a plan?”

“Yes, if we can get him up there, into the belfry, I have a trick that might work.”

Rose took the hint as the professor looked pale and convulsed again.

“He’s going to change again?” Martha asked, dreading the answer and looking at Rose.

Rose looked up to the gallery surrounding the building. She knew she had to at least try to help and if John wanted the professor in the belfry, that’s where Lazarus had to be led, one way or another.

“Look at you, you’re mutating again, you can’t control it. End it now Lazarus, that’s not progress, you’re not human any more,” John taunted him.

“No, I’m more than an ordinary human.”

John laughed. “You’re right, you changed what it’s like to be human but it’s finished, people saw what happened tonight, no-one will go near your device.”

“A mere technicality, there is nothing wrong with the device. People will soon forget when it rejuvenates them.”

“I’m going to see it never operates again, it’s over, just accept it.”

“I will feed again, soon,” Lazarus warned him, stretching out.

“I’m not going to let that happen, this ends, tonight.”

“You won’t be able to stop me.”

Rose could see where this was going as John made eye contact with her, looking up at the gallery again.

“Leave him Lazarus, don’t you want a go at some fresh meat?” Rose taunted him.

“What are you doing Rose?” Martha asked as Lazarus moved suddenly.

“Doctor, the belfry! Come on Martha.” She rushed back past her friend, grabbing her hand.

John could only step back and run the other way, if his plan was to work and he hoped Rose was really good at running.

Rose ran for the stairs, Martha half protesting.

“Where are we going?”

“The bell tower, John has a plan.”

“Well it had better be a good one, Lazarus is right behind us.”

Rose was halfway down the gallery when she stopped to peer down, seeing John climbing into the organ housing.

“Doctor! What do you want us to do?” Rose shouted across to him as he got his sonic screwdriver out of his inside jacket pocket.

“Get him to the very top.”

“I hope he knows what he’s doing?” Martha mumbled behind her.

“Well you know him better than I do Martha,” Rose replied, setting off again.

“Not that much better, he keeps trying to avoid me, it’s like he’s scared of me.”

“He probably is if you keep making it so obvious you fancy him.”

“Listen to you, giving me advice about men, you and that mechanic,” Martha hissed back.

“What was that?” Rose replied as she heard a terrible moaning sound at the other end of the gallery.

“He’s changed again?” Martha offered.

“Come on, we have to get him to the top of the tower.”

“Then what?” Martha quizzed her.

“Then he’d better have come up with a plan.”

John had come up with a plan, if Rose and Martha led the creature right to the top and he upped the volume on the organ, he could get the bell to resonate and not being human, the sound would burst the creature’s eardrums and it would fall, hopefully. He just prayed neither Rose or Martha would fall with it. He slipped into the organist’s seat and pulled out the stoppers and placed his feet on the pedals, then one-handed, he began to play the notes, any notes, he didn’t really care as long as it made a loud noise. He watched the decibel level, knowing he had to get it to a certain level, then he would amplify it with his screwdriver and hope the creature was now at the top of the tower.

Rose and Martha ran up the remaining steps and came to a platform against the wall of the tower, going to the far end and hearing the noise from the organ.

“What the hell is he doing?” Martha asked, covering her ears as the creature appeared in the doorway.

“I think I know what he’s trying to do,” Rose whispered back.

“Ladies, I have you now,” the creature hissed as it decided which way to go.

Rose knew if they went one way or the other, the creature would easily catch them but she was going to do her best not to let it.

“He can’t go after both of us Martha. We’ll go towards it, then when it gets halfway, it will be stuck and we can get out.”

“That’s your plan?” Martha questioned her.

“Have you got a better one?”

“No, I suppose not.”

“Well we can turn around easier than it can I’d say. Ready?”

“No but I don’t suppose that makes any difference?” Martha quipped back.

The noise from the organ was getting louder, steadily so Rose made the decision and stepped towards the creature. The creature dutifully made its move towards her as Martha crept around the other way and just a few steps away from it, she saw Martha was almost in the doorway.

“Now Rose!” Martha called, willing her friend to turn and run.

Rose made a face, turned round and run after her friend but as she did, the creature lashed out and caught her, knocking her over the wooden railing but Rose saw the sconce and grabbed hold of it.

“Rose!” Martha shouted as the creature stepped backwards so it had the room to go back after Martha.

It had just reached the doorway as John’s organ playing finally reached its crescendo, the creature grabbed both its ears as did Martha but Rose could only screw her face up and hold on and hope it didn’t cause any permanent hearing damage. The creature let out a final moan and fell over the railing to the stone floor below.

Martha had regained her senses and was leaning over to grab poor Rose to safety, pulling her onto the platform as she hung on to Martha. John heard the fall, hoping it was the creature and rushed out to see it had changed back to the younger professor. Surely it couldn’t survive that fall?

“Rose! Martha!” he called, looking for any signs of them.

“It’s ok, we’re both ok,” Martha called as the two women hugged, noticing he’d asked about Rose first. Maybe her friend was right, she had been too keen to give him the come-on. Maybe she should give him some space, he’d probably never see Rose again after tonight, even if he did drop her off home.

“Thanks Martha,” Rose managed to smile.

“It’s John you should be thanking but why are you calling him ‘Doctor’?”

“He said he preferred it, maybe you should try it?”

Martha let go of Rose and they looked over the railing. John was crouched at the side of the professor as the two women ran down the stairs and back along the gallery. As John closed the professor’s eyes, he changed back into the old man he had been.

Rose was first out as John got up and Rose ran towards him. In all the excitement he took hold of her and gave her a hug, Martha scowling at him.

“Are you ok? I saw you hanging around up there,” he grinned.

“Seemed like a good idea at the time, did you have to play so loud? My ears are still ringing.”

John smiled as he let her go and cupped his own ear. “Pardon?”

Rose playfully smacked his arm. “Come on then, you were supposed to be taking me home.”

“Shouldn’t we wait for the authorities?” Martha wondered as John led Rose back up the nave.

“I think it’s best we leave Martha, it will just look like he’s fallen, there’s nothing we can do. They’ll probably take him to The Royal Hope now anyway, you can check in the morning. Let’s get you home then, you’re very jeopardy friendly Rose, do you know that?”

Rose nudged him as he put his arm in hers and picked up her holdall from where she’d left it. Martha reluctantly followed after she covered the professor with the green blanket he’d used earlier.

They came face to face with four officers getting out of a police car.

“Anyone else in there?” one asked John.

“No-one except the professor.”

“What happened? He was taken off in that other ambulance.”

“Yeah, seems he was only unconscious and went crazy, ran up to the top of the tower and got dizzy, he’d already fallen when we got in there. I’m the Doctor by the way, Doctor John Smith and that’s medical student Martha Jones. Rose here worked for the professor, she’s a bit upset so I’m going to take her home.”

“Well if you’re a doctor, have you examined him?” the officer asked as the ambulance arrived.

“I’m not a medical one, Martha’s the one you need to speak to.”

“Miss?” the officer addressed Martha.

John saw this was their chance to escape as the officer got his notebook out and began asking Martha questions. Once away from the scene, Rose pulled John to a stop.

“She’s not gonna thank you for that you know.”

John grinned back at her. “You don’t say? I got you out of it, did you want to answer their questions?” he asked, wiggling his eyebrows again that was driving Rose crazy.

“I suppose not.”

“Right, so where do you live then? I need a general direction even if you insist I don’t see you to your door, in case I get any more ideas you want me to meet your mother.”

Rose smiled. “I live on the Powell Estate.”

“Oh, is that a large estate then?” John mused as he found his car nearby, thankfully clamp-free.

“It’s a council estate you plum,” Rose nudged him as he opened the front passenger door for her then opened the back one and put her holdall on to it.

He found Rose’s block of flats on his satnav and they set off, hearing the sirens in the distance as they probably took the professor off, this time hopefully he wouldn’t come back to life but John thought his name was rather apt. Rose was quiet all the way back as they passed under the street lamps. John Smith was way out of her league. He was a successful psychologist at the hospital Martha worked at, she saw him most days and now, Martha had a better idea how to get him interest in her, what would someone like him want with a temp, one who couldn’t keep a job for more than a few days at a time?

Martha had everything going for her, she was a bright medical student, studying for her exams and John said he’d had a French girlfriend. Maybe that was why he wasn’t interested in Martha, maybe she’d not left him and just gone away for a while and he was waiting for her to come back?

John kept glancing at her and smiling to himself. He’d made quite an impression on the young blonde, apparently and he’d stuffed it up by coming out with she wanted him to meet her mother if he took her home. How stupid was that? No wonder Reinette had not thought twice about accepting that post in Paris. All he’d done since she’d left was pine after her and wonder why she’d gone off without giving him a second thought then before he’d known what had hit him, he’d caught Martha’s eye and she was crowding him.

“You can drop me here,” Rose told him as they approached the two yellow blinking lights of the crossing just by the bus stop.

“Are you sure? It’s quite late you know?”

“Yeah, everyone knows me, I’ll be fine and thanks for bringing me home. I won’t invite you in for coffee, since, well you seem scared of meeting my mother.”

Before he could protest, Rose was halfway out of the car, grabbing the other door handle and retrieving her holdall. She closed both doors but John wound down the front window.

“Rose,” he called as she turned away. “Rose, will I ever see you again?”

“I don’t expect so, not unless you want a temp who can’t keep a job for more than two days, then what would be the point? Bye John.”

With that she set off back to her flat, a tear in her eye but she wasn’t going to let him see, what was the point? John watched her walk off but at least he knew her name and first thing tomorrow morning, he’d call Donna and tell her to go easy on Rose. Then he had a better idea.

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