Saturday, January 13, 2018

Never cast a shadow

The noise of the tractor engine was overpowered by wheezing sound followed by a thud. I turned around in my seat and saw a Blue Police box sitting next to my beehive.

"What the deuce?" I exclaimed. I turned off the tractor, abandoning my plow. I jumped off the tractor and walked to the box. I reached out and touched it. "Okay, so this is happening," I said and took a deep breath. I walked around to the back and touched again. It wasn't interfering with my beehive. But also, it should not be here. It wasn't here before. I didn't know what to think or what to do about it.

I heard the unmistakable sound of an opening creak of a door. Then, a shout from the front. "No! No! This is not Cardiff! What are you playing at?" I quickly went around to the front. But by the time I got back around to the front, the doors slammed shut.

I went to the doors. "Hello?" I asked. I reached up to knock, but was interrupted by a building wheezing sound. I stepped back. Then, the blue box slowly disappeared. Stunned, I pinched myself. I made the pinch hurt. I felt it. I was awake. That had absolutely happened. I just didn't have the mental capacity to process it.

As I stood frozen in place, again the wheezing sound came again. This time from directly opposite from where I was standing. I turned around to see the blue box reappear. "I'm losing my mind," I whispered. I ran to it again. I put my hands all over it. I hugged it. "Please tell me I am not insane," I asked it. It felt real enough. But I would be lying if I said I did not doubt all of my senses in that moment.

The door opened again. "Fine. Have it your way," said a male voice. I was hugging the box and this prevented a shadow figure from exiting all the way. The figure paused at the threshold. "Excuse me," he said. "Why are you hugging my TARDIS?"

"TARDIS?" I asked. "You mean this box?"

"Yes," said the Shadow man. "Although, I can't blame you. I often hug her myself." He turned his face back towards the darkness. "But not today!"

I stepped back and away from the doors. The shadow man came out and closed the doors behind him. "Why are you here? What is this? Are you real?" I asked all at once. "Who are you?"

"I am the Doctor. This is my TARDIS. I'll let you decide whether I am real or not. It doesn't matter to me what you decide."

"Why can't I see you? I don't understand."

"Mysteries abound!" he said. The shadow man gave me a dismissing gesture.

"Okay, so I am not supposed to know what you look like. Some kind of tech device that makes it impossible for me to describe you later to a tabloid."

"Will wonders never cease!" He exclaimed, dramatically.

 "A Doctor then?" I asked. " You are here for my bees. Although, the method of your arrival makes that suspicious. What exactly are you a Doctor of? My bees hardly need the attention of some Area 51, MIB, investigation. The government isn't that into bees." I paused. "If not that, then here for me? Although I can't see how or why any Doctor would know about my issues. I have no insurance so medical is out. Maybe you were sent by my therapist? Although, I haven't seen him in months. So, that doesn't play out either."

He stopped and turned back to me. From my point of view, the shadow man simply froze. I thought maybe he was giving me a look I could not see. "I'm sorry. I can't read the look on your face. What are you doing? And more importantly, why can't I see you? This is very confusing for me."

"You?" he scoffed. "I wanted to go to Cardiff. Imagine my surprise being forced out here." The shadow figure turned around. "Where is here? It tastes like the colonies, but with a slight tang of banjo and fiddle."

"Not Alabama!" Immediately came out of my mouth.

"In the south then, right." The shadow Doctor headed for my beehive. "What are you confused about?"

"Why do you look like a shadow figure? What exactly is a TARDIS? What are you a Doctor of? And Colonies? Even Brits don't say that anymore. Do they?" I shook my head. "This is so freakin' weird."

"Does that frighten you?" he asked.

"No. I am used to weird. My life is a weird monomyth. I just supposed that I was too close to it to make any sense of it."

"Is that why you are here, plowing? You don't seem the type."

"And what "type" would qualify me as a plower? Do I have to wear overalls and sport a wide brimmed hat? Put a straw in my mouth and refer to everyone as "ya'll." I huffed.

"Um, no. But a person who plows a field, generally speaking, does not wear a Star Wars tee-shirt and a Star Trek head wrap to cover her hair, while she churns up dirt."

"What? I can't be geek and a farmer? This is the 21st century. Gardening and/or farming does not have a dress code! I take offense at your stereotypical attitude."

"Well, I take offense at your stereotypical attitude."

"I didn't give you a stereotypical attitude."

"Oh yes you did," he replied, with sudden casual flair. "You indicated that I was from your government. Are all smart people employed by a government faction?"

"Uh no. Those are mostly and notoriously dumb. Like for example, sending a Doctor, in a fancy car, to investigate bees." I shrugged. "Military Intelligence being ironic that way."

"I did not show up in a fancy car!"

"No, you showed up in a spaceship," I said. "Show off."

The shadow Doctor stopped and chuckled. He reached out his hand. "I am the Doctor. It is a pleasure to meet you..."

"Jessica." I reached out my hand and shook his. As I grabbed it, his hand gave me a slight tingle, like static electricity. I giggled at the tickle but I ignored it. I could only handle so much in five minutes. But I also figured something out and he confirmed it, without so many words. The TARDIS was a spaceship. Honestly, from my point of view, that was the only explanation.

The other thing that exploded in my mind was that the TARDIS was a spaceship! Holy Moly! All those Area 51 conspiracies must have been correct in some way. But then, why was he here again? Not for my bees, that was a stupid thing to think about, now that I had a chance to pause for thought. "So," I said. "The test flight must have gone wrong. Problems with your navigation array?" Okay, so I made up that bit about the navigation array. Not that I know what one is. That came from Star Trek techno babble I picked up.

The shadow Doctor turned back around and started for my hive again. "Something like that," he replied. "It's more like failing negotiations at a televised press conference."

"Well, when you roll a one, it's a critical miss. And that can lead to interesting things."

"Mostly, disasters and cataclysms in my case."

"But the road of trials often leads a person to greater things."

He laughed. "Like what?"

"Knowing more about yourself," I replied. "Which is a great thing. I would like to find my identity, value, purpose, and belonging. That is the biggest, never ending quest."

"How insightful," he said, sardonically. "Maybe you should try it sometime."

"I would love too," I said. "Thank you, beggar man."

He was almost to my hive. But when I called him a beggar man, he twirled around so quick. He came up on me, like he was going to hit me. "What did you just say?"

"Beggar man. Sorry," I squeaked. "I didn't mean to offend you. It has a deeper meaning than I implied."

"I know what it means." The shadow man calmed a bit. "You only thinkyou know what it means. Don't say it again."

"All right, I'm sorry," I said. I meant it but also was thrown off by his reaction. It was in this moment I was glad I could not see his face. I think I would have burst into tears from the pain and grief I imagine it would have reflected. Because if his body language was any indication of his reaction, then I was sure about his face.

"No, I'm sorry. Tell me why."

"Why what?"

"Why did you call me The Beggar Man?"

"All fairy tales start in a similar manner. The call to adventure. That usually pops up in stories as a person meeting a beggar, angel, or a wise woman. My favorite story of a wise beggar man is Stone Soup. It's even better with puppets."

"This isn't a fairy tale," he said.

"Oh no, no. You can't do that. You can't take it back. You said I could decide if this was real or not. I decided to do both. This is the beginning of a fairytale. Because fairytales have bits of reality and truth mixed with fiction. I can have both if I want." This comment I was firm on. And there wasn't anything he could do to stop me from doing it. Unless he decided to remove my brain. I was fairly certain he wouldn't do that.

"Seeing as you are fixed in your choice, far be it for me to remove all doubts," he said. Then, his arm moved into his body. He pulled out something that resembled a wand. It clicked and made a strange whistling sound.

"What's that?" I asked.

"It's a sonic screwdriver," he said. I started to ask what for, but he interrupted me by answering. "To call to your bees, that's why."

I thought for moment. "Hmm, all right. Bees could respond to buzzing sounds. They buzz, right?"

He shrugged. "Sure why not?" The Doctor held up his hand and a large bee lit on the top of his middle finger.

"That's my Queen!" I said. It really was. She was marked on the top of her head.

"Of course, it is," he replied. "Your Majesty, may I have the honor of introducing you to your human servant, Jessica."

Now, you may think I was offended by that statement. Let me assure you that was not. Instead of objecting, I did something that I have longed to do since the bees first arrived. "In service of the hive, your majesty," I said and bowed before the Doctor's hand. "May it live long and prosper." I know that sounded stupid and, let's face it, way too Spocky. But I didn't care. I mean it.

I think that put the Doctor off a bit. There was a light buzz from his hand and his attention was once more diverted to the Queen. "She gives her blessing and returns the oath. She is surprised to hear these words from a human. It is an unexpected and pleasant relief. But as the business of the hive takes precedence, she tells me you are dismissed from the conversation. These matters are beyond human concerns and extend only to the Doctor." He leaned in a little bit and whispered. "That's me. So do as her majesty commands and sod off a moment, would you?"

I backed off, giving him an ugly face. "You don't have to be rude about it. And in front of the Queen, shouldn't you know better?"

"Oh, I have been rude in front of and to many Queens. I'm used to it. Now, sod off, human!" I turned around and walked away. I heard him mutter to the bee, "Oh, I'm used to back talk. I'll have to tell you about Ace one day."

I ignored him and went back to the TARDIS. I sat down with my back against it and watched the Doctor whisper to the Queen bee on his hand. It was weird. The other bees had not left her alone. They were still trying to attend her. So, a few seconds into the conversation, the shadow Doctor was covered in bees. The bees could be seen clearly, crawling all over a shadow man.

The sun was high. It wasn't dark at all. All I could do was stare at him. And, to top off the list of whacked out, freaky, crazy, the Shadow Doctor did not cast a shadow, himself. The trees, the tractor, the TARDIS I was leaned against all had shadows on the ground. The Doctor did not.

"That is the most bizarre, supernatural thing I have ever seen. Even from Tv! Or maybe it's paranormal?" I whispered, continuing my stare. "I guess it doesn't matter. As I said, this is my fairy tale. And that has got to be my beggar man."

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