Blood-Dimmed Tide Episode Two

Blood-Dimmed Tide

Episode Two

Jeri Massi

Mike Yates approached Jo, who stayed crouched in the same posture as when the Doctor had threatened to kill her.

"Do you hear me, Jo?" he asked.

"Yes, of course," she said.

"Come with me," he said gently. "We'll have to look after you."

"No, I can't go out there," she told him. "He's bruised me, hasn't he?"

"A little," Mike conceded.

"Well you see I can't," she told him. And she let out a single sob and then looked away from him.

"Oh, people will think you got hit in the tornado," he told her. "It was a tornado," he added. "A real live twister. Come on."

"Mike, he knew the board was shorted just by holding it," she said. "how could that be?"

"We'll find out," he promised her. "We'll sort it out, but come with me. I want you to take tight hold of my arm, now, all right?"

She grabbed onto his arm, but for a moment she either would not or could not stand, and then she did. She hung onto him desperately, and he guided her out. "We'll go to the Brigadier," he said quietly. "He'll know what to do. He'll get you patched up."

"I don't want them to see me," she whimpered.

"Come on, it's just up the steps. Everybody's looking after their own mess, I expect," he said.

In his office, which had not been damaged, Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart was bellowing directives, in his element in the midst of chaos that needed to be ordered.

"Get me one of those handsets first," he shouted at Osgoode. "And then get Sgt. Stanley up here and hand over your duties to him. I want you on the phones right away. Yates! Where have you--" He stopped and took in the tableaux of Mike Yates and Jo in the doorway. His voice dropped in volume immediately. "Belay that, Osgoode. Get the handset and leave it with my orderly. I'm not to be disturbed."

Osgood hurried out as Yates brought Jo inside.

"How badly is she hurt?" the Brigadier asked. "Set her down in this chair. Is the infirmary full, Yates?"

"It wasn't the glass, sir," Yates said haltingly. He threw his eyes to the side of Jo's face, which was all that the Brigadier could see with Jo's head tilted down. But the Brigadier saw the welt along her eye.

Lethbridge Stewart hesitated, then spoke. "Get tea," he said to Yates in a soft, strange voice that somehow went right into Jo with both assurance and dread. "Make sure there's brandy in it," the Brigadier ordered as Mike Yates nodded and hurried out.

She hesitantly looked up at him. He and Mike had set her in one of the better chairs, and he was crouched in front of her, almost face to face.

"Who did this to you?" he asked.

"All he did was hit me--" she began.

"But you must tell me who," he said firmly. "There's no such thing as `all he did,' Miss Grant. I want you to tell me who."

She tried to say it and couldn't, tried again, and this time felt tears welling up inside of her. She thought she would burst it out with her tears, but she realized that she must not do that. And so she calmed herself and said, "The Doctor." But though she did not break down, two or three obstinate tears slipped down her face.

His mouth fell open. It would have been funny if it had not been so horrible that it had happened, and that she was sitting here, with a black eye and a welt down her cheek, telling the Brigadier.

"Good heavens," he whispered at last.

"Mike Yates stopped him," she ventured. "He's gone mad with something. He's gone mad."

"Where is he now?"

"He's down in the secured area, sir. Mike Yates ordered him restrained. He's under Benton's watch."

With the gentle courtliness of a military man of the old school, he took her hand and said quietly, "This may be painful, Miss Grant. But I want you to tell me everything that happened--all of it. But we'll wait for your tea first and the first aid kit." And then he fell silent with the dogged, grieved silence of the old school, eyes lowered, brows together, his hand over hers protectively, an old soldier called upon to assist a woman who has been mistreated. If Mike had been gone an hour getting the tea and first aid kit, she realized that the Brigadier would have remained exactly so, waiting for her to speak or be silent, making up for male cruelty with this outdated and comforting male chivalry.

But Mike did not take an hour. He returned about fifteen minutes later with the tea and plastic first aid box. The infirmary personnel were swamped with injuries from flying glass, and she was sure that the Brigadier would have brought a nurse up rather than send her down, if a nurse could have been spared. As one could not be spared, he saw to her eye and face himself, while Mike poured the tea and sloshed a generous amount of brandy into her mug.

Only when she was more comfortable and half the tea was gone did the Brigadier question her, and that gently, while Mike recorded the conversation with a tape recorder. Jo knew that he was recording it, but he sat discretely behind her so that she would not see the taping being done. By the time she had finished her tea, she was very sleepy.

"We'll assign quarters to you, Miss Grant; new quarters away from the regular quarters," the Brigadier said, more business like now. "I don't want you in the infirmary, and I don't want you anywhere off alone after such a great shock, so we'll put you in the officer's guest rooms. Yates, assign a guard, will you?"

"A guard?" she asked. Even Mike Yates looked startled.

"Of course," he said dismissively. "It will make you feel safer, won't it?"

"I suppose, sir," she said uncertainly. She glanced at Mike Yates. "Any word on him?" she asked Mike. "Is he still raving?"

"I don't know," he told her.

The Brigadier stood up. "I'll see to him directly," he said. "I don't want you to be anywhere near him unattended. He did threaten to kill you, and I'm taking that threat very seriously." He glanced sharply at her and then softened the glance. "As should you, Jo. Until we know what's got into him, you are not safe."

* * * *

Mary, because of some amazing fascination that she'd always had with the history of cooking, could get a fire going in the old wood burning stove that stood in the cottage's kitchen. She opened the dampers to lend a glow to the otherwise dark room.

At the scarred wooden table, PC Collins took a long pull on his mug of tea. He had his hat off and his heavy tunic was open, revealng his broad, immaculately white shirt.

"Ah, a cup of tea is as rare in this village tonight as hen's teeth," he observed with appreciation. "Thank you, Mary."

"Any word on when the power will be restored, PC?" she asked, sitting down at last and taking Lamb onto her lap.

He shook his head. "It's the dam--uh, durndest thing," he said hastily. He blushed. "Pardon me," he added quickly. Then he went on, reminding himself not to use strong language around Alan and his wife. "Work crews are out on it, and they been radioin' back and forth with us, but they can't find the trouble. They got the lines up again, but nothing is workin'here in the village."

"Did you hear back yet from that fellow you called about the--the wreckage?" Alan asked cautiously. He and Collins had already agreed not to say anything about the birds, and they had dragged the two carcasses into the church basement.

"Aye, I did," Collins said. He shot Alan a glance of curiosity. "He said they got a group called UNIT. Assigned them to look into it. They've got some fancy science officer that's supposed to come down in the morning and look into things. He's bringing his assistant with him--" Collins raised his eyebrows. "A young lady, as I understand."

"Kara, take your sister upstairs and brush your teeth," Mary said quickly. "Then you may come down and say good night."

The two little girls padded down the hallway hand in hand, Lamb keeping her bear tucked close under one arm. Mary looked at Alan. "I'll not have any goings on in this house, Alan," she insisted.

"Then we'll just tell them that up front," he promised. "But it's clear to them, isn't it, that they'll have to stay in a little bed and breakfast place with a family?"

"I mentioned that we're a small village," Collins assured them.

"Listen, Mary, they're coming down to look things over and figure out what happened here," Alan assured her. "There won't be any nonsense. They don't have time for nonsense. They'll order separate rooms."

"I was made to understand they're a pretty seasoned bunch," Collins added. "Very hush hush and top notch. Professionals."

"God loves hospitality," Alan reminded her. "So we have to make them feel at home. Minister to strangers and entertain angels unawares, right?"

"Oh, you're right. As long as we make things clear," she told him. "This is a Christian house, and we'll not have pagan antics."

"Heaven help the man who would try," Collins muttered. Alan heard him and smiled, but Mary missed the comment.

"Here comes our Kara and little Ruth, our Lamb," Alan exclaimed, holding open his arms and taking up both of his daughters. He was a stout man with heavy black eyebrows, slate blue eyes, and very broad shoulders. He set a daughter on each knee and hugged them both. They were blonde and green eyed, like their mother, both of them giving evidence of her slender figure. Kara--curious and enthusiastic like her father, looked out at PC Collins and swung her bare feet at him, inviting him to try to grab her toes. Ruth, normally called Lamb, was content to nestle against her father, Bear held to her chest under her arm, her thumb in her mouth as she regarded PC Collins with a certain wide-eyed and impassive gaze. Alan kissed their heads by turns and glanced soberly at the constable. The safe, close feeling of the kitchen was offset by the knowledge of the two dead creatures hidden under the church. Equally somber, Collins returned the glance and then looked into his mug, not seeing Kara's toes swinging within reach.

Morning found Jo Grant much recovered from the day before. The guest quarters at UNIT--even for officers--were not elegant but were comfortable enough. Though deeply troubled by what had happened to the Doctor, she had slept untroubled by his threats against her, UNIT's guard over the Master had convinced her that UNIT knew how to keep a dangerous prisoner locked up.

She was optimistic by nature, and in the light of a bright morning, she hoped that perhaps the fit had passed, that the Doctor was back to normal, that there would be some reason for what he had done, for the madness that had taken him over. She dressed quickly. It was not until she looked at herself in the mirror and saw the evidence of his two blows on the side of her face that she was thrown back to her sorrow and worry and misery. Somebody knocked, and the familiar voice of Mike Yates called, "Breakfast!"

She opened the door to him. He was ready to be cheerful, but at sight of her black eye and the welt, he sobered, too. But he smiled again and offered her the tray. "Compliments of the Brigadier, Jo," he said. "And orders to eat up and report for duty if you're fit. We've got an assignment."

She took the tray. "How is the Doctor, Mike?"

He let out his breath. "Unconscious," he told her.

"Drugged?" she asked.

He shook his head. "We know better than to try drugs on him. He snapped one of his handcuffs yesterday, you know. We've got him chained down better--"

She let out a sound of pain for him, and Mike said quickly, "Well, we don't want to give him anything that will accidentally increase his strength. But not long after he broke the handcuff chain, he just suddenly quit and went out like a light being switched off." He shook his head. "He seems to have forgotten you, Jo. It's just raving. He threatened anybody around him and seemed to recognize Benton and me less and less as we came in and out last evening. I think that by the time he wakes up, he won't remember you at all."

"Is it, is it like that coma he was in at Devil's End?" she asked.

"Well, he's not cold like he was there," he told her. "But maybe when he wakes up he'll be well again, like he did there." He threw a glance at his watch. "The Brig wants to see us in thirty minutes," he told her. "We've got a fact finding mission."

"Leave the Doctor?" she asked in dismay.

"It can't be helped. I'll see you there!" He strode back up the carpeted hallway to the office wings. Resigned, she brought the tray in.

* * * *

"Assignment to Hoffshire," the Brigadier told her, Mike Yates, and Sgt. Benton as they stood in a loose circle around a table in his office. He nodded down at the map on the table.

"They were hit by the storm, same as we were," he told them. "Report of rather strange creatures crashing down around them."

"Creatures?" Yates asked.

"Hmm, creatures. Crows, it sounds like." The Brigadier looked thoughtful. He had been using his crop as a pointer, and he tapped it thoughtfully in the palm of his hand.

"Doesn't sound very strange," Mike ventured.

"The wingspan of the smaller of them is fifteen feet across," the Brigadier told him. "The torso proper is six feet long from beak to tail."

"A bird like a man!" Jo exclaimed.

"The size of a man, anyway," Benton added. Then he asked. "Did the creatures attack?"

The Brigadier shook his head. "We're not sure. We don't think so. The carcasses are being hidden in the church basement for the moment. We were initially contacted to bring the Doctor out there, but that's not an option right now. You three did very well holding things together at Devil's End this past spring. So your reward is to go to Hoffshire on a fact finding mission. You've got to transport the birds back here to us for a proper study, but it's got to be done discretely. And I want you to do a survey of the town--who's in; who's out, what mischief any of the people are getting in to, any eye witnesses to the storm who may have something to add."

"What about the Doctor, sir?" Jo asked.

"Poor devil came around about an hour ago," the Brigadier said quietly. "Clean out of his head."

"Did he know you?" she asked.

He looked up abruptly at the two other men. "You'll need a refrigerated truck to take out there," he said. "I want you ready by noon, so you'll have to hurry to get it through req. And kit out to look like civilians if you please. Don't want to panic the natives."

"Right sir," Yates said, and Benton nodded. They hurried out the door, aware of when they were being dismissed.

"What is it?" Jo asked the Brigadier. "Is he worse?"

"He was raving again, Miss Grant," Lethbridge Stewart told her. "We've got him manacled down. He didn't seem to recognize anybody. Still very violent. And then suddenly--he called for you."

"Angry?" she asked.

"No," he said after a moment's consideration.

"Sad?" she asked, somewhat hopefully.

"Intent, I should say," he replied thoughtfully. "Yes, that's it. Intent. Like he had to get the message to you--"


"What he actually said was, `Jo, Jo, someone tell Jo to listen: Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world; the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned. Tell her to find the rest and get it to the Brigadier."

"Did you answer him?" she asked.

"Yes, but he didn't know me. He was raving again. I only thought it noteworthy because he called out your name."

"It doesn't make any sense," she said. "Anarchy, a blood-dimmed tide. It doesn't mean anything."

"Why, he was quoting Yeats," the Brigadier told her. "It's from a famous poem."

He went to his desk and took from it a heavy, leather bound volume, which he had obviously just dug up that morning. "Here it is,": he said, opening it up. "It's called `The Second Coming':"

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot here the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

There was another stanza to read, but they were interrupted by the phone. "Dash it, that's the emergency line," the Brigadier said softly. He snatched it up while Jo took the book. "Yes?" he asked. "All right, I'm on the line. Tell them to go ahead." He fell silent. After a moment, Jo glanced down at the poem and read the second stanza:

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand;
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
when a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight; somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man--

"Well what was it then," the Brigadier demanded, interrupting her reading. She glanced over at him. "Buried itself you say?" he demanded. "What, just sank out of sight? Sounds like a bally mirage if you ask me. How many reports are there? What does the Jordanian government say? Will they let us go in? No, no, the Doctor cannot be spared right now. I'm sorry. He's positively chained down with obligations. Chained down I say. He cannot get away just now."

She glanced back at the book and continued:

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

"Get a local UNIT team from Jordan out there to survey the area with Geiger counters," the Brigadier ordered. "And run tests for seismic disturbances. If we can get the Doctor free, he'll want those readings. But he's quite indisposed right now. I think the UN is going to have to dig up a different expert to look at this. There must be somebody over in Jordan or Saudi Arabia who's expert in desert phenomena. All right. I'll pass on the request, but he won't listen to me. Good-bye."

"Request for the Doctor?" she asked.

"Something in the desert just over the border into Jordan," he told her. "Something sinking down into the sands. The size of a battleship, according to the military patrol that saw it. Two soldiers, scared nearly out of their wits."

He shook his head. "You'd better get ready for your assignment, Miss Grant. It can't wait, I'm afraid. We've got to gather as much information as we can on that storm yesterday. Horrible things going on in our own country right now."

* * * *

By noon, Mike Yates had requisitioned and received a private car that he and Jo would take into Hoffshire. Benton was to follow under cover of darkness with a small security team. He and his four men would bring a jeep and the hermetically sealed truck to transport the birds back to UNIT.

As a government intelligence officer, Jo wore civilian clothing all the time, but for the trip Mike donned casual slacks and a sport shirt. He threw their gear in the back of the small car, and they set out, both of them pensive and uncertain under the cheerful summer sun. It was a glorious day, but they were uneasy and not entirely happy with going out on a remote assignment.

"Hoffshire's three hours from here," Mike told her. "We really ought to cheer up before we get there," he said. "There's really not much to worry about. It can't be like Devil's End. I mean, the Master's all locked up now, isn't he?"

"Look at the clouds ahead," Jo said suddenly. "All piled up like that on the horizon."

He looked ahead at the pile of clouds and said nothing as he navigated the roads at high speed out of the city. For nearly thirty minutes neither of them said anything, just watching the traffic and landmarks go by. But as they got out of London onto the narrower lanes, he suddenly exclaimed, "I say, Jo. Those clouds are going the wrong way."

"What?" she asked.

"I mean it," he told her. "Summer storms always come into London from the west. That storm's chasing west from the east."

"Like it's racing us to Hoffshire," she said.

In the village, PC Collins looked up from his bicycle in time to see a great shadow fall across the hill below the church. The instant dread he felt startled him, for he was not a superstitious man. He gave himself a mental shake and told himself to get a hold of his nerve. Then he realized what had startled him: he had never seen a storm come from across the low hay fields around the beck towards the village church. He straightened up and realized that all his life he had only ever seen storms chase away from the church and towards the beck, and go across the hayfields towards the village of Edmond. Edmond always got rain after Hoffshire.

Lightning cut a silent streak across the sky, and suddenly everything went dark. The rain threw itself down in sheets with no preliminary drops. It was sudden, torrential rain. He dropped his bicycle and ran for Alan's house. The beck and ponds were already swollen from the torrents yesterday. He had only ever seen floods once before in the village in his entire life, but these events were unaccountable.

Alan came racing across the lane, though the two men did not see each other until they nearly ran into each other in the darkness and the rain. Alan was shouting something, but he was inaudible. He grabbed Collins and pulled him in, almost in an embrace. "The children were having a picnic in the hayfield!" he screamed. "Come on!"

They ran through the columns and blankets of rain. Collins fell first as the ground seemed to dissolve out from under his boots. The saturated ground was pooling into ponds of mud and water. He scrambled up, heedless of the mud all over him. They scrambled down to the beck, but the tame stream and its gentle pond had become a torrent. He heard Alan's anguished scream, and saw him throw himself off the high ground into the waters. The water came up to Alan's broad chest, but he forged through them, and Collins, also ignoring the danger of being swept away, went in after him. They held onto each other's arms and crossed, but then they saw the awful truth: there were no hayfields. There was nothing but sudden, rushing water: water pelting down on them like hands striking their heads and faces, and rushing water running down the hayfields.

Collins looked up stream and saw a white thing floating towards them.

"It's a body!" he shouted, but Alan was still turning his eyes back and forth in a frenzy across the hayfields, looking for the children. He could not hear his friend's shout.

Collins tugged fiercely on his friend's arm, and Alan turned. They intercepted the small bundle swirling towards them. It was Johnny Miles, one of the children. Collins swept up the body in his arms and struggled out of the flooded back. He fell with the boy onto the bank and desperately tried to blow life back into the child's lungs. Alan struggled upstream through the water, the torrents swirling around his chest.

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