Monday, May 8, 2017

Monster in the Hall

I made it back to the control room before the Doctor knew I was gone. I hurried up the stairs, sat in the chair, grabbed a book, and opened it. I closed my eyes and willed myself to calm down. My breathing slowed and the Doctor popped out from under the console. I stood up from the chair and looked down at him.

He ran over to the console, pressed buttons and flipped a lever. "Ha!" He yelled. The ship jerked into motion.

I was flung into the metal guard rail. Dropping the book, I grabbed a hold of the rail. I watched the Doctor dance around the console again. He had cables wrapped around his body static form. That was bizarre because I could clearly see the cables but not anything else. As he danced, the cables twirled. The console sent up sparks and energy flares. I laughed at him. I imagined him for a moment as Rumpelstiltskin, flailing around a technologic bonfire. That was quickly followed by the thought that he probably was the goblin man, who twisted straw to gold.

The ship's whooshing sound stopped. There was a loud metal thunking sound, followed by a ding. The Doctor walked over to the open floor panel. "We are here," he said. He took off the cables from around his neck and stuffed them into the floor.

I picked up the book and replaced it back on the shelf. "Where is here?" I asked. I walked down the metal stairs as he replaced the floor panel.

"Numeiah," he answered. He stood up and pointed at the door. "Behind that door, right now, is a whole other planet."

"Really?" I said. I ran over to the door and opened it. "Uh, Doctor? Did you say that Numeiah was a forest planet?"

"Yes. It is a forest planet. It's a strange one. Single biome, rogue planet. It doesn't spin on an axis like Earth, Quite unique." He said as he approached the door.

"Then, you must have landed in a building." I said and turned to face him. "There aren't any trees out here."

The Doctor stepped out of the ship into a hallway. He looked around. As I stepped out to join him, he pulled out his metal wand. The Doctor waved it around and then looked at it.

"This reminds me of school, Doctor," I said. "Why would we land in a school, on a forest planet?"

The Doctor turned and yelled into the TARDIS, "Because we aren't on Numeiah!" He turned back around and closed the door.

"That's all right," I said. "We can go back into the ship and..."

"No! It doesn't work that way. She will refuse to leave until I have corrected some problem here first. That's how it works. I tell her where I want to go, then when negotiations fail, she sends me where I need to be."

"You could always not co-operate," I said. "That's what my ex-husband did." He stood in front of me and I could feel the look on his face. I nodded at him. "And yes, that is why he is an ex. I get it. You don't argue with the wife." I turned back to the TARDIS. "What a lucky gal!"

"And your ex is a ponce," he said. "Can we move along now?"

"Where?" I asked. "It's not like we have a map or instructions."

"I generally pick a direction and go," he said.

"Fine," I replied. I turned left and started walking.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"You said to pick a direction. I went left. I always go left." I said as I walked down the hallway.

"That's strange, most go right."

"Yup, that's true. But I am a player. Have been since I was fourteen. And I learned that if you are in the dungeon or exploring ruins, the player should always go left. And If ever I was in a roleplaying adventure, this is definitely it. I should go with what I know." I walked over to a door and tried to open it. It was locked. I turned to face him.

He was standing in the middle of the hallway facing me. "This is not a game," he said seriously.

"Yes, it is," I replied. "Otherwise, you wouldn't play by the rules set by your TARDIS. She is the GM, and you are the first player. I am the second player. And yeah, in this game I could die. You could die. I'm not afraid of dying. I am afraid of living forever, alone. Because that is what skeptical, cynical, bitter, old people do. They live and live and live, with no life in them. They age and wither but they don't die." I put my hands on my hips. This is a subject I know all too well. "The game keeps you young and light. Keeps the mind moving and thinking. And by the Nine, if I am going to live forever, I will play the damn game till the end. And I am going to like it!" I smiled at him.

The Doctor shook his head. "Oh, shut up." He grabbed my hand. "Come on."

I laughed at him and followed. We went down the corridor until we reached a T-intersection.  We turned left again. We stopped to explore a few doors but they were all locked tight. None of them had windows in them.

"Doctor, where are the windows?" I asked. "This is wrong." He pulled out his metal wand again and pointed it at the door. As it whistled at the door, the ground gave a light tremble. "What was that?" I asked.

"I suspect that is the problem we are here to investigate," he replied, ignoring the next rumble of the floor.

"But Doctor..."

"I almost have it..."

"But Doctor..."

The door lock clicked open. "What?!" He demanded as he opened the door.

"What if you are letting the problem out by opening..." I didn't get to finish.

The doors were open wide now and a group of school children was running at us, screaming. Behind them, coming up fast, was a brown cloud of dust. From within the opaque cloud, the sound of a roar barreled down the hall and into our faces.  The rumble in the floor was stronger as the cloud stomped toward us.

The group of children flew past us, through the doors. The Doctor slammed the doors shut and pointed his metal wand at it. The lock clicked tight again. He turned. "Run!"

He didn't have to say it twice. I was already running with the kids. The Doctor caught up, sprinted past, went to another set of doors. The metal wand came out, the locked gave way. He opened the doors and yelled at the kids. "In here! Quick!" Down the hall, there was a roar of rage. The children fled into the room. Then, the Doctor closed the door and locked it up. The rumbling and roaring stopped.

The Doctor turned around and scanned the room. There were about a dozen pre-teen kids, sitting on the floor trying to catch their breath.

"Hello, I'm the Doctor. This is my friend, Jessica." He bent down to one of the kids. "Now, tell me. Why are you in school after hours?"

"Six day school," wheezed a student. "Students that need extra tutoring or have detention."

"Some things never change," I said, giggling. "What's your name and What are you in for?"

"Deacon. I threw a lamp at a girl and told her to lighten up."

The Doctor and I stifled a chuckle reflex. "That was rude. You should never do that."

"She was always crying! She cries all the time. I wanted her to shut up," said Deacon.

"Did you ever ask her why she was crying?" I asked.

"Can't. She's deaf," he replied. "I don't know sign language." He pointed to a female student. "If you want to know why she is always crying, then ask her yourself."

The Doctor went over to the girl. "Everything is fine. You will be all right." He bent down to her. Her hands went up to try to speak to him. He sighed. "I'm sorry. That is a language the TARDIS doesn't translate."

Another student spoke up. "What is that thing? That thing that is chasing us?" He asked. "It hasn't been here before."

"And what's your name?" I asked him.

"Geoff. I have math tutoring today. Been coming for weeks," he said.

"Geoff, where are your teachers?" I asked.

Geoff and Deacon shook their heads. "That thing swallowed them up. Mrs. Heady and Mr. Peterson tried to hold it off while we ran for the exit."

The Doctor stood up and turned toward us. "Well, that is the first thing to do. Get you out of the building. Then, my friend and I can take care of the monster."

"But what about the others?" asked a girl.

"What others?" The Doctor tensed up.

"There are more of us. We got split up. There are six others."

"Probably eaten like the rest of them. I told you!" said another boy.

The Doctor turned to the boy that just spoke. "Name and explanation."

"Andy and that is why I got detention. I told my teacher that there was a monster eating people in the halls. Geoff is wrong! Heather, Kevin, and Sam all disappeared and nobody said anything! I told my teacher. She didn't believe me. I argued with her and she gave me detention. Said I was making up stories, lying. I am not lying!"

The Doctor put his hand on Andy's shoulder. "It's all right, Andy. You are not a liar. We have all seen it now. You're a good man for speaking up. You tried and that's what matters." At the Doctor's gentle reassurance, Andy calmed down. He seemed pleased to hear the Doctor praise him.

The Doctor rubbed his hands together. "All right then. Plan. Find the others, get you out. Then, we will sort out the beast. Any questions?"

"Yes," I said.

He huffed. "What is it?"

"You didn't answer my question about the windows. Where are the windows?" I asked. The room we were standing in looked like a normal classroom. But there were no windows. No windows on the doors or on the walls to the outside.

The Doctor's response was interrupted by a rumble through the floor and a massive roar.

previous                                  Understanding

next                                           There Was Only One Window   

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