Night Terrors Episode Three
The day was now declining. As soon as Cording left, the Doctor rummaged through the kitchen and pub area until he located the telephone. By this time, the police had moved outside to maintain their watch. He switched off the lights downstairs, made one hurried call back to UNIT, and returned to his immediate concerns.
Not willing that Liz should be left alone, the Doctor stuffed a few packets of sugar and a box or two of biscuits into his pocket, scooped up two of the cleaned cups, and used a flowered towel to grasp the handle of the steaming kettle.
Liz was awake, and calm, when the Doctor entered the bare room. She turned her head towards him as he entered. The bruise on her forehead was pale blue and purple, slightly swollen. David had brought a ladder-backed chair upstairs and placed it by the bed. The Doctor sat down and set the tea kettle and cups onto the floor.
"How are you, Liz?" he asked.
She looked up at him, roused from her doze, and didn't immediately answer. But she reached for his hand and instantly found her own hand swallowed up in both of his. He had huge hands.
"I thought I would come and give you some company," he said.
"I'm glad you did. I don't want to be alone."
His eyes became more offhand. "We could pack it in, you know. I've only been here an afternoon, and I'm jolly well ready to tell Lethbridge Stewart to handle his own problems."
"No," she said quietly. "After all, I wasn't really harmed. Just frightened." She let out a rueful laugh. "Frightened half out of my wits. The moment I saw that knife here---but everything would have been much less awful if I'd just taken it up. I suppose I panicked."
She glanced up at him, expecting agreement, but his eyes were puzzled.
She tried to explain herself. "You just don't think you're going to see something like that. The knife and rope. And I'm sure there was blood on the rope. It didn't make any sense. And then he closed the door and tried to trap me. But you don't think it can be happening."
"Liz, what knife?" he asked. "What rope?"
She glanced around the room. "The knife and rope on the bed, here. He'd laid them out on the bed. To---to use on me, I suppose. Surely you saw them." She started to sit up. "I can't be lying on them."
"No, certainly not." He gently caught her. "We brought you up and spread the sheet under you before we set you down. There was no knife or rope on the bed."
Clean contrary to her will, her eyes filled up with tears. She steeled herself. She did not want to cry any more. She did not want to panic, and she did not want to feel that deep, deep terror. She had to fight fears as she had always fought them: with incisive thinking and analysis. The objective was not to cry from how suddenly her ordered world had been overturned, but to make it orderly again. "There was a knife, a very shining knife. It looked like it had been made a long time ago, but it was scoured very well and whetted."
Her eyes were clamped closed against tears, and he said nothing about this, but his voice was deliberately calm. "And the rope? What about that?" His cool rational tone soothed her. He would help her think it through.
She took in a shaking breath and made herself calm down further. "It was old rope. There were brownish stains on it. Blood, I assumed."
"That's very possible. And they were lying on the bed here?"
"Yes. And then he stepped from behind the door and closed it, and he tried to trap me in here." She opened her eyes.
"And you got away and got down the stairs?"
"All right, then. He may have snatched them up in his pursuit. When he tried to bring you down outside, he may have tossed them aside."
"But you didn't see them?"
"No, but nobody looked for them. Tomorrow I'll search the route he took, and I'll check with David Cording. You can relax. Everything's all right."
She was still frightened and jumpy, though she did not want to be. He helped her lie down again.
He made his voice calm and persuasive, as though there were dozens of logical possibilities for the knife and rope having disappeared. "It's even possible that Johnny O'Haire took them away to spare you having to look at them," he said.
"But I don't know when he would have done that."
"He'll be back, I'm sure. We'll ask him. All right?"
"All right." She recalled something further. "And that silver headed man," she said quietly.
"Yes of course." He stroked her forehead with his hand. "Liz, you need to stay quiet and rest a bit." But she glared at him with a hint of reproof in her dark eyes. "Don't you remember that silver man?" she demanded.
"Fellow with the hood you saw earlier?"
"Or helmet. You do remember?"
"Yes. Did you ask Johnny O'Haire about him?"
"Oh no. No." And she became suddenly quiet as she thought about her odd rescuer. The Doctor reached down to the kettle. "Would you like tea, my dear? You haven't eaten at all."
This sparked an interest. "Is there anything to eat?"
He extracted a parcel of chocolate wafers from his coat pocket. "Biscuits?"
"Yes, that would be lovely."
He tore open the packet for her and then passed them to her. She pushed up the pillows on the bed and sat up further. She opened the cellophane. "Would you like one, Doctor?"
"Oh no, I'm fine. Here is your tea. Be careful."
She gratefully munched a biscuit. Then she took the cup and saucer, set them on her lap, and took up the cup. She sipped the tea. Another, brand new thought struck her. "Johnny O'Haire says that you're not human." Her eyes, large and curious and suddenly somewhat vulnerable, abruptly fixed on him.
He found himself looking at the bruising over her left eye. He answered judiciously. "Well, what if I'm not? The earth is largely populated by non-human members, Liz. We all get along quite well, don't we? And some of us have been very helpful to human beings."
"But those are earthly creatures. He says you're a stranger. Not from earth."
He inclined his head to concede the point. "No, I suppose not."
This casual candor startled her. "But where are you from?"
"Does it matter?" His voice was gentle. "I'm from Gallifrey, if you must know. Does that tell you anything you didn't know a moment ago?"
Though he spoke gently, it was not a well-advised reply to her in her present condition. He saw fear flicker across her eyes as she negotiated for the first time just how vast the possibilities of the universe really were. She had no idea where he had come from, nor what type of world had spawned him. And she didn't like not knowing.
Had they been in the comfortable lab at UNIT, with him and the Brigadier blustering at each other, she would have been intrigued. But here, in this remote, dark, deserted place, with its whispers and rumors of blood thirsty creatures, it was intimidating to her to come to terms with him for the first time. Especially in the aftermath of her attack.
"Liz, I was just as non-human when you trusted me with your life and went with me into the headquarters of the Nestenes," he told her. "And just as non-human when you saved my life there." His grey eyes fixed on hers, gentle and honest. "I've been perfectly non-human when the Brigadier orders me about, and just as non-human when you scold me for leaving the equipment in disarray about the lab." He assumed a naughty expression. "And I'm equally a non-human when I'm rude to important people; and when you and I lock the lab doors, put up the radiation warning signs, and then sneak away for tea and cream cakes."
These reminders reassured her. "Is all that you've said about your exile true?"
"Of course it's true." And his voice became slightly indignant. "After all, Liz, I'm not in the habit of telling lies."
Her mouth opened in surprise. "Doctor, you tell lies all the time. You're incorrigible."
He drew himself up. "Only little meaningless lies: like putting up Beware of Radiation Signs when I want to go out for tea. I don't tell great big lies. I don't tell lies about important things."
"But see here: if you're exiled, why were you plopped down on earth?" Again, her eyes enlarged as she considered the reasons. "Did you hurt somebody here? Were you left here for justice to be done to you?"
"Quite the contrary." He reached down to pour himself a cup of tea. "I was exiled here as a sign of clemency towards me, because my superiors know that I've a special affection for earth. I've lent my aid to people on earth several times." He took up his cup. "Surely you know that. You've heard the Brigadier mention the Cybermen."
"Yes." She hesitated. She felt slightly ignorant and untutored, but she spoke her mind. "That's the sort of unearthly stranger I understand. You know, not human at all. But you seem quite human."
"Well I've knocked about on earth quite a bit over the years. Doing what good I can do. Not that my superiors liked my activities---"
"Oh, they have this ethic that we must not interfere. That we can only observe. They consider my practices intrusive. And besides, I stole my TARDIS out from under their noses."
She was startled. "You stole it?"
"I certainly did. Oh, and I suppose that's going to make me a thief in your eyes."
"Well of course it does!"
He became somewhat sulky in his demeanor. "You don't understand. They weren't doing any good with it."
She decided not to argue with him. "But if they had the power to exile you, why didn't they take it back?"
He cocked an eyebrow. "Well, it doesn't quite work that way with us. I suppose that's why my crime was so enormous in their eyes."
She did not understand. "Why?"
"Because now I'm tied to my TARDIS. And my TARDIS is tied to me. If they took it away from me, it would have a habit of somehow slipping back into my possession. The best they could do was incapacitate it and block my ability to easily repair it. That's why I've pulled it apart---I have to relearn how it operates."
It was a bit much to take in, but his explanations did provide a certain order to those rambling comments of his that she had always chosen to ignore.
But her eyes were still doubtful. "And you really are not human? Not at all? Just like those Nestene automatons?"
"Well no, Liz. I'm far more similar to humans than they are. You know I have two hearts." He took an appreciative drink of his tea and set the cup down. "According to human theory, I think that means I have twice the capacity for love and friendship."
"And do you?"
His eyes became serious. "I hope so." For a moment, neither of them said anything. She finished the biscuits and tea.
He took her cup. "I plan to make a nuisance of myself," he said airily. "Hope you don't mind. I shall sit right here for a while and let you sleep."
She slid down further into the bed and pulled the covers up. "Won't you be bored?"
"Not a bit. Those of us from other planets don't get quite so bogged down by time passing as you humans do. I shall quietly cogitate on some mathematical theorems I have been relearning." Without thinking, he drew the covers up over her shoulders. "All right?"
"Johnny O'Haire warned me that we must not awaken their local demon," she said suddenly. "Gall or something like that."
"Cal Brunnon," he replied. "Old Gall. We won't. We've come to see why so many people have committed suicide, and why there have been so many worker accidents up here. We can leave their folk lore alone. We'll have plenty of difficulties before we ever get near Cal Brunnon, I'm sure." But he did not elaborate.
He switched off the bedside lamp. This far removed from civilisation, the building was engulfed in darkness outside, with no glow from street lamps or lights from other buildings. She wasn't sure she liked the complete darkness, and then his hand swallowed up hers again, warm and firm and reassuring, and suddenly she was all right, and she felt perfectly safe.
* * * *
The slow night ticked away. By midnight, the two police constables were asleep in their vehicle. Parked in a separate, unmarked vehicle, the inspector also dozed. Every thirty minutes, a radio call came through with a time check, and one of them would do a foot patrol in a circle around the old pub.
Just after two-thirty, when the perimeter had been checked, the lights of a strange vehicle flickered through the trees on the high ridge above the floor of the valley.
There was only one road coming in, and so it was certain that this vehicle would have to pass the pub. The constable who had just completed his short walk nudged his fellow, who was dozing in the driver's seat. Both men watched for the lights, saw them again as the vehicle passed another slight opening in the trees up on the ridge, and they turned to see if their senior officer was awake. He was. From the driver's seat of his own small car, he watched the ridge above.
In another few moments, the van slowed its approach. It descended the final stairstep of the ridge, and coasted quietly into the front lot of the pub. The lights switched off as it came to a halt.
The Inspector nodded to his men, and all three of them exited their vehicles, adjusted their hats, and approached the dark van.
The Inspector took the lead. He stayed back from the driver's side door, but he rapped smartly on it. "You in the van, come out," he said.
There was no response.
He became impatient. "Oi, you!" To his surprise, the door was not locked. He pulled it open, thrust his face forward, and then stopped as a sleek handgun met him nose to nose.
"Rather a bad idea to approach a military man in such an aggressive way, Inspector," Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart said, leaning out from behind the wheel and keeping the gun steady.
Just as suddenly, the rear doors of the van swung open, and six uniformed men, rifles over their shoulders, poured out and surrounded the three officers of the law.
Satisfied, the Brigadier returned the gun to his holster. He swung himself out of the van and looked at the three men. "Right then. I am Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart of the United Nations Intelligence Task Force, and I hereby declare that squatting is legal in this valley, at least for as long as I say it is legal."
The Inspector did his best not to be overawed or intimidated. "I'm not sure I recognize your authority sir," he said.
The Brigadier looked at his own men. "Very well, then. I think a briefing is in order. Sgt. Benton, will you see our three guests into the van? Take them to UNIT HQ in London and carefully explain to them our role in maintaining the safety of the citizens of this world from strange and unusual phenomena. I want you to be quite sure that they understand every detail. I'm sure you won't be able to bring them back until, oh, tomorrow night."
"Right sir," Benton said. "If you gentlemen will come this way---"
"And two of you see to their vehicles," the Brigadier ordered. "I'll check in with you later by radio. I should like to remain on site for a while."
* * * *
Liz slept very soundly for an hour, and she dreamed that she was walking down a steep, narrow path. When she got to level ground, she found a well. She peered over the rim of the crumbling protective wall. A dipper lay just under the surface of the clear water, resting on a stone shelf.
It was almost out of her arm's reach. She tried to get it, for she was very thirsty. She leaned very far over the crumbling wall and turned her head away to keep herself balanced as she reached down with her right hand.
Suddenly, something in the well either bit or seized her hand. The pain was so excruciating that she couldn't see for a moment. It tugged, and the pain worsened sharply.
She was nearly pulled in, but just as suddenly an enormous English sheep dog, his long hair all white and tousled, charged from the trees and seized her left wrist in his jaws. Furiously growling, he planted his feet, donkey-style, and pulled back to keep her from being dragged into the well. Liz knew he was not growling at her. His attention was fixed on defying whatever had seized her.
"Please, please, keep pulling!" she said to the huge sheepdog. Encouraged by her consent, the English sheep dog's snarling increased, but his tail wagged briefly at her words.
Abruptly her imprisoned hand was released, and some green, shadowy figure that looked like it might have been cut from mossy stone leaped from the well.
The dog, fearless and furious, rushed to meet it, jaws open to fight.
Of course! He's not human! Liz thought gratefully. It can't hurt him.
She jumped awake.
"Oh! Oh!" she exclaimed as she sat up in bed. At her voice, the Doctor switched on the lamp.
"Sheep dogs are English, and they're not human, Doctor!" she exclaimed.
"Yes, certainly," he said.
"But you're not really a sheep dog, of course." Her eyes were guarded.
"Ah, but I'm more like a sheep dog than I am like a Nestene. Surely that's worth something."
"Yes, I see that." And she lay down again. "And if you have to bite my wrist or arm to drag me out, you have to. It might be unavoidable."
"Surely, it will not come to that," he told her. He pulled up the covers for her, stroked her head once with his free hand, and then switched off the light again.
She was restless for the remainder of the night, not with dreams, but with half formed thoughts that would not let her properly sleep. She shuddered and twitched, and once or twice she was conscious enough to feel the Doctor's hand on her head and to hear his voice, calming her. But sleep itself: deep forgetful sleep, or even a sleep of vivid dreams, would not come.
Towards morning, when the two windows that faced east were grey rather than black, she finally dropped off into a heavy, obscure oblivion.
When she next opened her eyes, she felt that a great amount of time had passed, but she saw from the pale grey outside that not more than an hour had elapsed.
The Doctor leaned closer to her. "You all right, Liz?"
She let out her breath. "I hardly slept. I feel---drained, actually. But---on edge as well. Like something is about to happen, and I don't know what it is."
"I'm sure that's normal. It might take a few days for your nerves to calm themselves." He looked into her eyes, checking them. "How about tea and a bite to eat?"
"Yes, go on. I'll be all right."
He took the kettle and left the room, closing the door behind himself.
Liz rolled onto her side. Physically, she was sore from her struggle, and she dimly remembered banging her knees into the wall when she had raced down the steps to get away from her assailant. But she had not expected such a strong emotional impact, not by the following day.
But in the morning light, the great empty public house and the silent, dense wall of trees outside were not so forbidding as they had been. Perhaps she would improve during the day.
Downstairs, the Doctor opened the tap and held the kettle under it to fill. There was a window over the sink, looking out at the back lot. David Cording had not had the time to clean the glass, and it was quite dirty. Absentmindedly, he gazed through it, wondering if he should bother with cleaning it.
Something silvery reflected the light of the morning sun for an instant. The brief ray of reflected light sent an arrow of memory into him.
He hurried to the back door and opened it to get a better look.
Something disturbed the leaves and foliage of the trees at the edge of the back lot. They trembled, and the higher foliage waved back and forth. It was quickly gone, but it must have been of decent size to make such a disturbance.
He debated for a moment, but then he decided to do a quick check. He hurried through the back door and across the lot, past the garbage heap, and past the scene of Liz's desperate struggle the day before.
He came swiftly but cautiously to the edge of the trees and dense underbrush.
The foliage further into the trees was still moving. Something or somebody was crawling through the cover, getting away.
As long as it was in retreat, he felt fairly sure about trying to glimpse it. But he was mindful of Liz. He would not be able to follow very far.
He plunged into the underbrush, staying low. He tried to keep an eye on the motion ahead, but it soon outdistanced him. The leaves and branches were still. The best he could was to reach the stand of trees that his eye had marked as the point where he'd last seen the movement, and try to get a fresh look around from there.
He focused on moving as efficiently as possible through the whipping branches and tangles of undergrowth. When he next took his bearings, he saw only dense, quiet trees and brush. Nothing stirred. He had missed whoever or whatever had been here.
The Doctor turned regretfully to go back, and he found himself face to face with a person whose head was encased in a sleek, silvery helmet. The Doctor ducked as the helmeted stranger swung a mighty punch at him.
Nimbly, the Doctor nimbly hopped aside before the man could get his balance or strike again, and he pushed his attacker in the further direction of the powerful swing, corkscrewing him around and knocking him over. As the man stumbled, the Doctor grabbed him by the collar and rammed him, helmet first, into a sturdy tree.
The helmeted man went limp.
With a grateful breath, the Doctor leaned over him to unfasten the helmet. He had once glimpse of the silvery ball suddenly pointing at him like a torpedo head correcting its course, and then it rammed into his face.
That was a sufficient blow to stun even a timelord, but two more quick punches slammed into his head as the Doctor fell. He hit the forest floor like a mighty tree going down.
* * * *
Liz, dressed for the day in her one remaining pair of slacks, with a matching sweater, came down the steps and went to the right to enter the kitchen through the narrow hallway.
"Doctor?" she called.
The kitchen was empty, but the back door was partly ajar. Liz crossed to it and looked outside. There was no sign of anybody.
Behind her, she heard the door from the bar swing open. Before she could turn, thinking it to be the Doctor, his loud outcry of surprise came from the trees. The yell startled her and caught her attention. She turned to stare at the back lot. Two hands from behind her quickly seized her arms.
"No!" she screamed.
But the intruder merely pushed her aside and raced past her. It was the Brigadier. He raced across the lot for the trees.
Liz had thrown herself aside at the unexpected touch, putting her back to the wall. She found that she could not move. The terror that had caused tears and stuttering last night suddenly imposed its iron will on her. It simply would not let her move, even though part of her mind had already ascertained that she was in no danger. It was the first time in her life that her body had so completely divorced itself from her conscious will. She took a deep breath and waited. She watched the Brigadier dart across the back lot and disappear into the trees.
After a moment, the silence in the house rolled over her, and she felt her rigid muscles unlock. The Doctor needed her. Something was happening out in those trees. But she still couldn't make herself move forward.
"Elizabeth," a somber voice said. Johnny O'Haire approached the back door. He had come from the side of the house. He entered.
"Where have they taken the three men?" he asked her.
She realized that she couldn't speak. She only looked up at him, not understanding the question. Today, his eyes were grim. That sense of something hanging over her head, of some impending danger, returned to her. He stepped up to her, and he cast his glance back to the woods, assuring himself that nobody was nearby. "Where have they taken the three men?" he asked again. And still, Liz had no voice to answer him.
* * * *
"What the blazes happened?" the Brigadier demanded as he knelt over the Doctor.
"What do you think happened?" the Doctor asked as he sat up. "I was hit in the head." He raised his hand to his head. "Several times, actually. By somebody who looked like he just hopped off a cinema screen. Silver helmet and green jumpsuit. Liz was right about what she saw."
"She's in a fine state," the Brigadier said. "I'm afraid I frightened her without meaning to. She didn't know I was bunking down in the bar. Is there anybody about?"
"No, no he's gone." The Doctor staggered to his feet. "He just wanted to get away."
He looked around and then looked at the Brigadier. "Let's get back there. You frightened her, you say? She's quite on edge. Didn't sleep well last night, and the attack on her was really atrocious. She shouldn't be left alone."
They swiftly strode through the underbrush and trees, back to the pub.
"Liz?" the Doctor called as he entered. "Liz? It's all right. I bumbled into something in the woods."
"Miss Shaw?" the Brigadier called. "Sorry I startled you! Are you all right?"
"What are her shoes doing here?" the Doctor asked. He pointed to Liz's canvas shoes. They had been neatly set against the wall. "They weren't there before." He lifted his head. "Liz?" he called.
"I'll check the downstairs," the Brigadier said.
"Yes, I'll check upstairs."
For the next several minutes, the silence of the house was punctuated only by their occasional calls to the missing scientist. They met each other at the foot of the narrow steps.
"She's gone," the Doctor said.
"With no shoes?" the Brigadier asked. "Those shoes were the pair she was wearing, and her high heeled shoes are upstairs."
"Then she didn't go of her own free will," the Doctor said. "Somebody took her away, barefooted, so she couldn't escape easily. And it didn't take him more than a moment to get in and get her out of here."
Click here for Episode Four.
Click here to go to back to Jeri's Dr. Who Fiction page
Click here to go to back to Jeri's Main page
You can view a Master Index of all the Dr. Who fiction on my site, but it is a graphic intensive page.
What did you think? Send me mail! Click here! or write to firstname.lastname@example.org I live for feedback and welcome criticism on my writing and story development.