Tuesday, May 9, 2017

There was only one window

I know what you want. The deck doesn't lie and I can read the cards clearly. You want the story about the running. How the group of kids and the Doctor strategically outran the opaque cloud of roaring and stomping dust. The complete tale of how it all happened.

However, the complete details are not necessary, except for one. In the brief moments of calm, I could hear a the call of a little girl. I didn't have the time or attention to figure out where it was coming from. When I mentioned it to the Doctor, he seemed to ignore it. I imagine it was because of the distraction of the circumstances. There was lots of running and metal wand waving. There were uncountable meters of halls and dozens of locked doors. The end of the tale, the reveal; that's what you really want to hear. That was when the Doctor realized why there were no windows.

The group had split up. The Doctor went one way to find the missing children. The kids and I went another way, and made it to the lobby exit. He knew the doors would be locked, so he gave me his sonic screwdriver. When I got to the doors, I gave the wand a wave at the locks. I opened the doors to find it blocked by a wall. The children did not respond well, they collapsed to the floor and started to cry.

Except for the deaf girl. She didn't seem upset by the doors. She kept looking the other direction, towards the halls of the building; as if she were nervous about the return of the Doctor.

I walked over to her. When I got within a close range of her, she looked up at me. She widened her eyes and stood up. Her hands flew up and began to sign. But I didn't pay attention to that. Because I was distracted by her voice, I could hear her speaking clearly in my head.

"Please help," said the voice. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean for this to happen. Please! Can you understand me?"

I nodded and spoke with my mouth. "Yes, I can hear you." I bent down and took her hands. "You don't need these. I can can hear you, in my head."

She relaxed her hands and nodded. "I'm sorry. Please tell the man, I didn't mean it."

I silently curse at myself. This whole time she was with me, I couldn't hear her. I had been distracted by the running, or the roaring and the stomping. My attention diverted by the well fare of the other kids. So close in range, yet so far away I couldn't hear her calling to me. And all those times that, as we were running, I could swear I heard a little girl. But couldn't figure out where the voice was coming from. "I'm sorry too. I didn't realize you were trying to get my attention," I said to her.

"I'm scared. It's my fault and I'm scared," she said.

"What's your name?" I asked.


"Tell me why you think this is your fault, Varina," I said.

Varina filled my mind with images and feelings. Images of a ship, an attack, and an escape pod filled my eyes; followed by an intense feeling of fear, sadness, and loneliness. The escape pod crashed. A distress beacon indicator light flashed. Then, days and days of waiting. Hunger and fear that nobody was coming. A device was ripped from the console of the pod. The portal of the pod opened. The girl crawled out, hooked the device to her clothes, and walked from the trees where the pod had landed. The sight of children in the school yard playing and snacking gave her hope.

"And you have been living here at the school since. After hours, you go back to your pod. I understand," I said to her nodding. "The device you have. It is camouflage, a disguise, right?"

Varina nodded. "Malfunction. Faulty."

"That monster. It isn't real, is it?" I asked. Varina shook her head. "Well," I said to her calmly. "Don't worry. The Doctor, he will fix it and he can get you home. He won't be mad, I promise. But we need to tell him. Okay?" She tensed and started to tear up. "I'll help you. Don't worry. I will be with you. It's only a mistake." I took her hand and led her to the doors that lead to the halls of the building.

I held her hand and waited for the Doctor's return. While we were waiting at the doors, Varina and I became nauseous and woozy. The room swam round in vertigo. It was everything we could do to keep standing.

Then, we heard it. A tremendous roar from behind the doors. I let go of Varina's hand and opened the doors wide. On the left side of the hallway there was a set of stairs, at the top of those stairs I heard the Doctor yell. The roaring and stomping stopped. In that silence, Varina fell to the floor, distraught and shaking. I looked back out into the hall and saw the head of an adult male coming down the stairs. Several children preceded him, running to join the rest in the lobby.

I didn't pay attention to that. I was frozen with shock. As the man came down the stairs and turned towards me, he carried a limp child in his arms. He was a man wearing a bow-tie, brunette hair, and brown, angry eyes.

 "The Doctor will help the boy. Bring him in here and wait for the Doctor," I said to the man.

Varina shook her head. "Sorry Doctor, Sorry! Make Not Die, Doctor! Make Not Die! Please!"

The man placed the boy carefully down on the floor. He stood up and came at me. "I AM The Doctor! And this stops now!"

Confused didn't cover it. This was NOT my Doctor and I knew it. "My Doctor does not wear a bow-tie! If you're the Doctor, prove it! Fix it," I demanded. I held out his screwdriver. "Fix the device."

"What Bow-tie? I haven't worn a bow-tie...nevermind that! What device!" He yelled at me.

"Her's." I pointed at Varina. "And by the Nine, Be Kind. It isn't her fault."

"How do you know?" He demanded, snatching the screwdriver from my hand.

I grabbed Varina's hand and released control of my mouth. "I'm so sorry. I swear I didn't mean it." Two voices came from my face. "I am so sorry! Please help me." Varina pulled at her clothes and ripped an invisible device from her body and offered it to the Bow-tie man.

The vision of the little girl glitched out. In her place stood a small alien child. She had grey-green skin, large black eyes, and gills in the place where her nose should be. Her mouth was drawn down and had lips whose ends formed two tentacles at each end. My first thought of her was that of a catfish, only much prettier.

 The other children didn't respond the same way. They screamed and backed up. "There's the monster! Kill it!" They shouted and pointed at her.

The Bow-tie man turned and pointed. "Oi! You lot, shut up!" He turned back to the girl. "What's your name?" he asked. He took the device from her hand and sonic-ed it.

"I am Varina," said my mouth in two voices.

"Well, Varina, the boy is fine. He just hit his head." The man looked at his wand and then back to the girl. "No, windows, Jessica. This is why there are no windows." He opened the device back panel, fussed with some wires, and then sonic-ed it again. "There are no six-day classes either."

The device powered down. The building disappeared. The whole group was standing in a tree filled area, just beyond a schoolyard. The escape pod lay only a few meters away, right next to the TARDIS. The Bow-tie man smiled and waved the device at me. "See? The Doctor. Happy now?"

The other kids, seeing the school yard, bolted as fast as they could towards it. The Doctor yelled after them to get an adult to help the boy that hurt his head.

The Bow-tie Doctor turned back to me and Varina. "This device alters perception. The brain cannot fill in the blanks for a reflected image. Hence, no reflective surfaces, no windows." He gave the device back to the girl. "Where is home, Varina?"

"We were going to a new home, on Prima Eleven. My mom said it would be beautiful, a whole new pond. Will I see her again?"

The Doctor's image waved and flipped, like a crazed channel surfer. Then, it faded away. The static form returned. "I am sure you will." He motioned towards the blue box. Varina smiled, let go of my hand, and followed him.

I stayed behind a moment to let the confusion sink in. Honestly, I had no idea how to process what I had just seen. What the hell does the number eleven and a pond have in common? What the hell did it have to do with what just happened?

I was sure he was loving the puzzle. But to tell the truth, I was not in the least bit amused. Frustrated at my ignorance, I joined them in the TARDIS.

previous                                     Monster in the Hall

next                                              Run Rabbit Run

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