Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Run, Rabbit, Run

Two of Cups closer comes, crowned by the Magician.
Sometimes Knight, Fool, Thief, but always the Physician.

Who is the Shadow man, The World upon his heel,
Tossing Ace of Coins on edge, stopping Fortune's Wheel.

Safe in The Priestess columns, Queen of Cups is musing.
 Hanged-Man and Hermit speak, they keep it all confusing.

Hermes shadow stretches long, The Chariot comes a'callin
 Rise The Moon, Reverse The Devil, The Tower goes a'fallin

Shadow Man! What have you done? Rainbows in the sky
Inverse The Star, The mill chase cease,  the Silver River dry

The TARDIS doors flew open and the Doctor came inside the control room. "Well,  now that's sorted, we can get to Numeiah," he said. "Up you go!" He pointed and ordered. 

It was a little more exuberant than I wanted but I obeyed the order. "Did you find her mother?" I asked. He ignored me. "Doctor, it doesn't matter if you ignore me. I will still be here. You can't wish me away."

"No," he said.

That response put me off because I could tell he was lying again. But why would he lie about finding the girl's mother? I didn't say anything. 

"Did I ever tell you about..." He went on and danced around his console.

I ignored him and his banter. He was lying and wanted to be shielded. Of course, he was hiding something. He didn't want me to know or find out. So, he was trying to distract me and cover up his uncomfortable guilty body language. I could see right through it. Fine, he wanted to play his silly game. I will play it too.

I interrupted his speech about time traveling witches. "Doctor, you never said what that flower was. And why did you bring it onto the TARDIS in the first place?" I asked.

He paused for a thought, then he said, "Sometimes, I don't know why I do things." He stopped twiddling on his keyboard and walked over to the base of the stairs. He looked up directly at me and his eyes were burning. "Have you ever followed your intuition somewhere you knew you weren't supposed to be? Did you ever take something away that you knew you shouldn't have, but for reasons unknown, you knew that you needed it?"

I withheld my inner scream. "Yes, but the time I am thinking of I am sure I didn't steal anything," I said carefully.

"I didn't say steal. I said take. Everywhere you go, whatever you do, you always take something away from it. Experience, information, knowledge, wisdom, something. You can't unlearn something."

"No, but you can forget," I said quickly.

He paused and turned his head. "Yes, that is true." He went back to the console unit. "Anyway, I took that flower without knowing why I took it. I just felt like I should have it; like I needed it."

"So, you don't know anything about it. Nothing at all?" I asked.

"I was on my to finding out when you showed up," he said.

"Yeah, I don't remember that. Can you tell me how it happened?"

"No," he said.

I wasn't going to get anything out of him. He didn't want to talk and I wasn't going to make him. That was always a bad idea. I decided to change the subject. "I am hungry. Are you hungry? That spaceport, in the Lepus system, does it have food?"

The Doctor nodded. "Yes, it has food. But we are going to..."

"Fine, make it a last request then. Food, then Numieah. Then, push me out an airlock, if you like," I said. "Just don't let me go hungry."

He didn't say anything. The Doctor reached out and fiddled with his console again.

For me, I took a moment to think about the old saying, "Don't know what you got til it's gone." I missed seeing a face and feedback expressions. So much is said in the face. Happy, sad, smile, frown, worry, I could see nothing of that on him. All I could see was static. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is, or was, whatever you prefer. I didn't know he was going to take me to get me food until the TARDIS made the landing echo and gave off a ding.

He turned and looked up. "Well, come on, then!" He ran to the doors and opened them.

I ran down the stairs and stepped out into the lobby of a spaceport.

"Welcome to Rabbit Run," said the Doctor.

"Where every day is Friday, and Friday is pie day?" I laughed and looked around. There was so much to see. "It's like a mall! With aliens!" I turned to face him. "Now, this is impressive!"

"Yeah, I do love a shop," He said.

"Can I try some alien food? I mean, I want to eat something I can't find on Earth but I don't know what is safe to eat," I said.

The Doctor began to walk down the mall past the shops and food vendors. "You can try anything you want," He said. "Well, you probably want to stay away from Firzilian cheese. And cyborg nutrient paste, now that I think of it. You want to know something funny?"

I stepped to the side to let an alien with two heads pass me by. "What," I asked.

"Bread. Everyone has bread. And therefore," he pointed to a food vendor. "Sandwiches."

"Is that an alien fast food place?" I asked.

"Do you think humans are the only ones who had the idea of serving food at lunch to working people?"

"I don't. I just didn't think capitalism would be a thing in space," I said.

"Some ideas get scattered across space and time, like confetti. Things like food, transport, clothing. Simple things." He handed me a plastic card. "Here, this has some credits on it."

The Doctor and I picked up some food. He had some fish thing, I think. I had a sandwich, with something moving on it. It tasted like chicken and pickles. As we were eating, we wandered the mall looking at things. Eventually, we made it up a flight of escalators to the second floor.

The top of the stairs opened up into a large area. It looked like an art gallery behind some stanchions and red ropes. Off to the side of it, stood a lady behind a kiosk. The Doctor's attention was distracted by another shop. But I went over to the Kiosk to wait for him.

"Hello," I looked at her name tag. "T'Lennah." She had long black hair. Her eyes had no white. Instead, it was the darkest green I have ever seen with large black pupils. Her skin had a hint of yellow hue. She was dressed well and she smiled back.

"Hello and welcome to the Rabbit Run, Donor Art Exhibit. Would you like a tour?"

"Donor?" I asked. "Like people donate their art for display?"

"Yes," she said. "This exhibit has a variety of items from all across the Lepus system. And a few that are not. In addition, this exhibit is a holding area for the transport and distribution for incoming works."

"A customs holding area?" I asked. "That's neat. Yes, I would like a tour. How much?"

"Thirty credits. fifty-five with a tour and at seventy-five, a tour and a Rabbit Run tee-shirt and key fob, or a Rabbit Run mug and key fob," said T'Lennah in her best salesperson pitch.

I smiled. "And which one gives you the extra commission?"

She giggled. "The tee-shirt or the mug."

I stuffed the last bit of sandwich in my mouth and swallowed. "T'Lennah, could I please have the tour and tee-shirt package?" I handed the plastic card.

T'Lennah took the card and began the process. While she was scanning the card, a young man approached her behind the desk. He had on a security uniform and a badge that read 'Joseph' on it. He took out a small clipboard and handed it to her. Then, leaned over and whispered in her ear.

T'Lennah's body language was odd. She leaned her ear over to him but the rest of her body leaned out. She nodded, handed the card back to me, took the clipboard, and scribbled her name on it. All the while, Joseph looked at her hopefully with sheepish eyes and stupid grin. His eyes had similar coloring as her's, so I suspected they were the same species. I also induced that the look of infatuation wasn't only human. I smiled and looked away. She handed his clipboard back. Joseph's look of hope vanished. He turned reluctantly away and strolled off towards the back of the gallery.

"Now, Ms..."

"My name is Jessica."

"Well, now Ms. Jessica, your tour," She said and gestured to the entrance ropes. "If you will follow me we will begin with a beautiful piece called, Industrial Fabrication in Two-fold Space."

"Joseph has a crush on you," I said.

"Crush?" she asked.

"Yeah, he likes you. And he is cute. Has he asked you on a date?"

T'Lennah's eyes widened and she shook her head. "No, it doesn't work that way for us. The females are expected to initiate courting rituals. Besides, he has not performed the courtship display. And I am not sure if I should respond to it if he did."

"I am not sure I understand," I said.

"The male displays his interest. The female, if she is willing to respond, will ask him out on a date. Joseph doesn't understand that. He is only part Trivect. And he wasn't raised in our ways," she said.

"If he is part Trivect, what's the other part?" I asked.

"Human," She said and sighed.

"What human part would be acceptable for you date him? I am guessing it isn't his eyes," I giggled. T'Lennah blushed. "Oh!" My eyes widened and I blushed. "You have been thinking about it. Maybe overthinking it a bit?"

T'Lennah ignored me and pointed to a statue. "This piece is called Industrial Fabrication in Two-fold space, donated by Khaluzla and Sons." She went on with the tour.

T'Lennah took me around to several pieces. We were standing in front of an oil painting called, 'The Spineless Witch.' It was a picture of a woman, melting in a chair and dripping off the sides. In front of her was a large orb built into a wooden stand. It reminded me of a stereotypical gypsy crystal ball but bigger. The creepiest thing about this painting, and what made me curl my nose at it, was that the woman in the chair looked as if she were actually, forever melting and dripping off the chair. It was bizarre. That's when the Doctor finally decided to make an appearance.

He appeared beside me and flashed his psychic paper at T'Lennah. "Customs check," he said. "Tell me, T'Lennah, is this piece donated or in transit?"

She tensed up at his credentials. "Um, yes, sir. I mean, It is in transit. This piece is scheduled for display another week. We have yet to receive clearance. But it is expected to arrive any day now. We must make sure, the piece is legal for transit and sale."

"And security? Tell me and reassure me that you have these pieces under tight surveillance," He said.

"Doctor, what are you doing?" I whispered. He ignored me.

"Yes, Sir. Tight security," said T'Lennah. She pointed to the ceiling. "We have cameras that cover everything. And floor sensors in this area. Any unauthorized person sets foot here, an alarm is set off and security notified. There is a shutdown protocol." She pointed to the walls. "Inset in the walls, are force field manipulators. Which will activate if anything is removed from its station or if any unauthorized person trespasses this area."

"Wait," I said. "How it is that I am here then? And the Doctor?"

The Doctor waved his "credentials" at me. "I am authorized personnel. I scanned my ID into the computer. But T'Lennah, how is it that Jessica is able to take the tour without setting off the alarms?"

T'Lennah looked confused. "Sir, that's standard protocols. You should know how if you are Customs."

"This isn't about me," He said. "Inspection test, T'Lennah. Pretend I don't know and answer in one hundred words or less."

"Well, that's my job. I use my personnel code and tell the computer how many people are on the tour. The computer does a quick bio-scan." She walked over to the kiosk and pointed to a device in the front of the desk. "Those people are granted temporary access. It's all in the employee manual."

"Well done, T'Lennah. Very good. I will reflect well on you in my report," said the static Doctor. "And might I say very neat kiosk desk. Organized, clean, and efficient. Employee of the month material." He grabbed me and pulled me to the side. "Now, T'Lennah, if you will turn to your right, that security guard needs your attention."

T'Lennah turned. Joseph was standing in front of her. His face was full of anxiety. He took a deep breath and began to dance.

"Doctor, what is he doing?" I asked as Joseph flailed, nervously.

The static Doctor leaned over and whispered in my ear. "Joseph, here, has learned the display dance. He is telling T'Lennah how much he likes her. And that he would like her to ask him out on a date." He took my hand and patted it. "Don't worry. This method is fool proof. I taught him myself. Just now. Sure beats stuttering over a date proposal, doesn't it?" He chuckled.

"I'm not sure. Love isn't much of a strict choreographer, is it?" I said as Joseph turned, stuck out his rear and wiggled it. Then, Joseph turned back around and tore open his shirt. Buttons flew everywhere, one hitting me in the eye. The Doctor chuckled. "And it hurts the eyes in more ways than one."

Joseph finally stopped gyrating. An awkward moment had arrived as other mall patrons had stopped to watch the display. When Joseph finished, they made no sounds, they just politely walked away. T'Lennah stood silently as if she were thinking about it.

But it was all interrupted by a rumble in through the spaceport. Then, the facility was hit by something, knocking everyone down. The blaring sounds of alarms and screaming began to increase. Red lights started to strobe through the halls.

"Attention. Attention," called the speaker system. "Rabbit Run will now be evacuated. Please move to your ships and escape pods in an orderly fashion. All engineering crews to their stations."

The Doctor flew into action, running down the hall, yelling for me to follow him. But I didn't. As the chaos had broken out and begun to get louder, I heard another noise that the Doctor didn't. The unmistakable whooshing sound of the TARDIS.

I turned around towards the art. The TARDIS had appeared within the gallery area. Alarms went off but were drowned out by the evacuation alarms. The force field went up. The TARDIS doors came open. A man in a brown coat, hat, and long scarf came rushing out. He grabbed 'The Spineless Witch' off the wall and ran back into the TARDIS. The force field did not stop the TARDIS from disappearing.

I turned back around and looked down the hall. I could clearly see the static Doctor turn a corner and disappear. There was only one thing to do. I took to my heels and ran after my Doctor.

previous                                There Was Only One Window

next                                         Stop Rabbit Stop

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