Night Terrors Episode Ten;Doctor Who;Third Doctor;Liz Shaw

Night Terrors

Episode Ten

Jeri Massi

"Looks like their equipment was here, right enough," Cpl. Edmonton said. He poked a toe at a deep gouge that had been knocked into the rock. "Somebody drove a spike in here."

Two other men were on watch on opposite ends of the clearing, their AR-15 rifles held not quite level, the muzzles pointed slightly downward in front of them, with the relaxed readiness of soldiers in a war zone. Two others were examining the hard rock surface of the ground. There were no trees overhead. The small platoon of five were on a bare patch of the summit. Their three UNIT vehicles sat parked in the cover of the trees.

One of the other men pointed to several different marks in the rock, each in turn. "There was a platform. Something resting on it. See. Four spikes. Four corners. They were making something level."

Edmonton pulled out a cigarette and lit it. He glanced around. There was no sign of life in the clearing.

"What do we do, corp?" one of the men asked. "Stay here and wait? Or tighten the cordon and go in and look for those blokes?"

One of the men on point suddenly stiffened, and the sleek muzzle of his rifle came up and pointed at the trees. "Something's coming."

There was no time to get to cover or direct the men to do anything. The other point man had his rifle ready, and the rest dropped down.

"Stop and identify yourself!" Edmonton crouched down and shouted. "Stop and---" His words were cut off as a shape that he took to be a hairless ape leaped from cover. Then he thought it was a serpent somehow standing on two legs. Hairless. For one instant nobody moved at this sight, and as its smell hit them, the man nearest it instinctively backed up, rifle frozen. It leaped at him, claws out.

The second armed soldier had more presence of mind, and his automatic rifle suddenly chattered into it. A spray of flesh and blood sprang from it, and it screamed, folded on itself, and rolled to the ground. The first man came to life and fired, missing it. They paused in their firing as it went to the ground. To their astonishment, it rolled backward twice, then regained its feet and sped into the woods.

"Why didn't you shoot it when it moved?" Edmonton shouted. He stood up.

"What was it?" One of them exclaimed.

"Radio in to base! Tell them we've seen that thing, that Gall Farraneagh! Get your guns, every man of you."

"How could it not be dead?" One of the others asked. Nobody answered. One of the men sprinted for the RT set in the lead vehicle.

* * * *

The Doctor was driving the lorry. As he seemed to be impervious to the sonic blasts, he had volunteered for this assignment. The transport had taken on plates of lead shielding at the plant---awkward sheets bolted onto the framework of the lorry and covered with green canvas. The Brigadier, Benton, and one of the RT operators were in back, hunkered down on the floor of the broad truck bed, waiting for attack. They had silencers on their guns.

They were nearly to the summit of the ridge when a man in a bright green coverall stepped in front of the truck, the oddly shaped gun up and pointed at the driver. The Doctor slammed on the brakes as though by instinct. The man jumped back, but as he kept the weapon high, the Doctor ducked down onto the passenger side. The time lord didn't move. He heard booted foot steps, and somebody jerked open the door on his side and a voice shouted, "Get him out of there! If he's not dead, finish him. We've got to cut their numbers down."

A strong hand grabbed him by the waistband of his trousers, and he kicked straight out into a human jaw. The hand released him and he heard the heavy sound of a body hitting the ground.

"Quick! Before they communicate!" the Brigadier called from the back. The Doctor kept his head down and slid out of the cab, staying behind the cover of the open door. Another green suited man, his head encased in a helmet, was just leveling one of the odd guns at him. The Doctor dropped into a forward roll and straightened his leg as he rolled forward. It came down like an axe into the man. The Doctor seized his booted foot, and the man fell atop him. They wrestled for a moment, and then the timelord struck once into the man's chest, stopping his breath for an instant. He finished up with a powerful chop to the side of the man's neck. He pried off the helmet from the limp body.

Just as he rose, a second man, weapon raised, flung himself from around the front of the lorry. The Doctor nimbly drew the slingshot and fired a walnut into him. For just an instant the man ducked by instinct, and then the Doctor leaped forward and twined his long arms around the other man's arms, locking them up, the gun pointed skyward. He got his hip under the struggling man and threw him to the ground, then fell atop him and wrenched the gun away. One more quick chop from the timelord, and the scuffle was over.

Two bodies in coveralls were flung from the back of the lorry to the hard packed earth. The Brigadier leaped out, his rifle under one arm. He looked around.

"All clear," Benton said from the other side.

"All clear over here," Lethbridge Stewart added. "Let's get their clothing and helmets and move on. I'll give the command to tighten the cordon."

* * * *

The day was wearing on. Liz felt more able to engage in this long hike than she had on her first journey with Johnny O'Haire. But the warmth of the sun beating down on the forest was making her perspire. Walking just a pace ahead of her, he was also sweating, but he did not remove his coat.

They were following the stream, which had diminished to a narrow cataract of water gushing over rock. Not even a fish could swim in it here, and she longed for a drink.

As though sensing her thoughts, Johnny O'Haire suddenly stopped.

"You need to rest," he said suddenly. "Better now, while we're still near water."

She nodded. He pushed back his hat, and she knelt to drink. She took up a scoop of the water, and he suddenly said, "Get away---"

And then something heavy and wet crashed onto her back. The horrible stench rolled over her, and she lost her vision. Part of her expected to feel the sharp claws rake her, but instead she felt a powerful blow that pinned the weight onto her and pinned her into the rocky and thorny ground. She thought she had been hit across the back with a sledge hammer.

There was a terrible scream, and the weight was suddenly gone. Without thought, her eyes still blinded by the stench, Liz pushed herself forward, over the cataract of cold water and into the moist underbrush. She did not gain her feet but crawled more rapidly than she had known a human being could crawl, into the dark earth under the foliage, straight through the low barricade of stems, tough branches, and more thorns.

There was a horrible noise of struggle all around, and when her senses returned, she realized that Johnny O'Haire was fighting with the creature. He had struck it with his pick axe before it could tear her. For a moment she could not make herself come out from cover. She cursed herself for her cowardice, and she felt a strong urgency to urinate---a shameless urgency that held her back.

Then suddenly her legs were working, and she was crawling back to the tiny stream. Her ears made the sounds of the fight articulate, and she followed it. Gall Farraneagh was snarling and screaming, and Johnny O'Haire was grunting as he struck. She distinctly heard the pick axe strike wood, and through the foliage she saw the splinters from a tree trunk fly out.

She pulled herself to her feet.

Though the woodsman had missed once, there was no need to fear his skill in the battle. The creature, hairless and normally brown and dark green, was covered with its own blood. It was on its knees on the forest floor. Its sides were heaving from the struggle, and blood poured in spurts and gushes from its midsection in time with its heaving breath. And yet still it lived.

Far less bloody, but weary and suddenly uncertain, Johnny O'Haire was still on his feet, the pick axe held uncertainly in his hands. He was looking at it, frozen in place, not attacking even though he had the advantage.

He can't kill it, she thought. And she knew this was true. Even after centuries of an endless chase, he could not kill it, for he knew it had never wanted to be this thing. To kill it was to acknowledge that there was no other recourse for the thing that had once been his innocent brother.

She suddenly understood her own destiny. Liz stepped out from the trees so that she stood before it. It lifted its head and saw her. It screamed at her and---even wounded so badly---it leaped straight up to tear her. The pick axe described a perfect arc in the air, and the body of the creature suddenly collapsed at her feet as the head was flung away from it, severed by a single blow.

Johnny O'Haire fell to his knees and dropped his weapon. Liz took one step back, and then another. Her shoulder blades were stopped by a tree, and she suddenly leaned against it. Then she slid down, her back against it, to the ground.

* * * *

The Doctor, now wearing a green coverall and a silver helmet that hid his face, piloted the lorry onto a double-rutted track. The five additional UNIT men in back, picked up from one of the summits, had become silent. There had been enough helmets for two of them, and the others were face down, ready to back up the Brigadier, Benton, and their two comrades. The sonic handguns, they knew, were useless against anybody wearing a helmet, and so they had their conventional guns at the ready.

The lorry ambled along towards the next place that had been marked on Johnny O'Haire's map, but suddenly the way was filled with silver helmeted men, their arms waving. Their guns were in their holsters. As far as they knew, this was simply the pirated provisions truck. The Doctor gave two toots on the horn, the signal to those in back that they still retained the advantage of surprise, and to expect company. The Doctor pulled to a stop. He swung the driver's side door open right into the helmeted heads of two of the enemy, and then he zipped two more walnuts in rapid succession from the slingshot at a third man. He flung himself on top of all three of them. From the back of the truck came the chatter of rifle fire. Some of the helmeted men tried to run away and were shot, but most fell flat on the ground in surrender.

Swiftly, the UNIT men swarmed out of the back of the lorry and began collecting weapons and inspecting the fallen men to determine who was wounded and who was still able.

The Brigadier came around front to the Doctor. "Did you see any sign of a radio?" he asked. His face was encased in one of the helmets. The Doctor, his face similarly encased, shook his head. Then he made a noise of impatience, pried open his helmet, and removed it. He nodded towards a distant cluster of trees. "Looks like they've got some sort of set up there," he said. "Look, you've got this well underway. You don't need me. What say I hike back to the two men on point, take a vehicle, and go out to find Liz and Johnny O'Haire?"

"Yes all right. Do be careful. You'll take a gun?" the Brigadier asked.

The Doctor was already walking away. "I don't want a gun, thank you. It might go off. I've got the slingshot." And he proudly brandished his weapon of choice.

* * * *

"Take my coat," Johnny O'Haire said. He was still on his knees, his face white. "You'll cover his body? Cover his body, please."

"Yes," Liz told him. "But aren't you hurt?"

"Not so badly. But I cannot see him this way. You will cover him?"

"Yes," she said. She pulled off his coat as he struggled out of it. He was pale, exhausted from the fight, but not badly torn. The padded coat had protected him from the worst of the claws. Liz took the heavy coat with its fragrant, restorative smell. She put her face into it and inhaled from it: the safe, earth smell of forest and flower that was Johnny O'Haire. It helped her negotiate her way through the stench that hung over the scene of battle. With great care, she draped it over the bloody body of the fallen creature. Johnny O'Haire's hat lay on the ground nearby. She took it up and set it alongside the coat.

When she returned to him, he had unbuttoned his woven shirt. She slid it down his arms for him, and she went back to the severed head of the creature and covered it with his shirt, then wrapped it into a bundle. Then she dragged the discarded pickaxe to the midpoint between the head and body, and she drove it into the ground so that the handle stuck up like a beacon, a silent testament to the fight that had taken place.

For a moment she paused and looked at the silent tableaux, the body covered by the coat, the head wrapped in its white shroud, the hat nearby, and the pick axe thrust into the middle of the scene. A passerby from the village would assume it was Johnny O'Haire that had been slain. She paused, and then she returned to him. Even then he was still on his knees.

"That bit of water?" he asked her. "Will you help me over to it? Are you well enough?"

"Yes," she said softly. "It's right over there. You can lean on me."

She had seen him without coat and shirt before. Only the night before, she had thought that clothing had diminished the depiction of how physically strong he was, hiding from the view of civilization the true man beneath. But now, in the thin cotton vest and his leggings, he looked far less powerful and imposing than he had ever yet looked. In fact, he looked like a mere man, and one that had spent every bit of his strength.

* * * *

The real trick to warfare was to know when to move and when to stand still. The Brigadier ordered all of the men into the gear of their fallen adversaries, and then he proceeded to open up the rations and cook food.

Some of the soldiers walked about the encampment openly, and others took up their positions under cover and waited.

As evening began to fall, there was a noise in the underbrush, and about a dozen others approached.

"Are you insane?" one of them asked. "Lighting a fire and letting it blaze out like that?"

"No," the Brigadier said politely from behind his mask. "Not so crazy." He drew his army issued sidearm and pointed it directly at the man. "Not so crazy as you might think."

The UNIT soldiers, faces hidden by the helmets, suddenly rose from cover with their rifles ready. There was no resistance.

"Sgt. Benton!" he shouted as the soldiers moved in and began to disarm their captives.

Benton opened his helmet, removed it, and ran up to the Brigadier.

Lethbridge Stewart pulled off his own helmet. "I count up that we've caught, injured, or killed 28 of them, give or take one or two. That's quite enough for our purposes. We can mop up one or two strays later. We've got enough information to simply sweep the woods, and we've got enough helmets to protect us. Call everybody in, and let's get started. I want that sonic equipment taken before its fully dark."

"Right, sir!"

* * * *

The forest was still quite warm. Liz lifted the water again and again from the gushing cataract and washed Johnny O'Haire's face, shoulders, and chest with her hands. She drew out another cupped handful, offered it to him, and he drank it from her hands. She had him drink several times, until he nodded to say he'd had enough.

"You must see to yourself," he said.

"I'm all right." But she drank from the stream, and then she washed her own face. She had made him as comfortable as could be done. He lay on the smoothest part of the narrow bank that was afforded by the knobby ground.

She stroked back his hair. "There's elixir in the pocket of your coat---"

"No, not for me, Elizabeth. Do you want it?"

"No," she said. "I want to stay with you. Have I made you too cold?" For the sun was declining now, and his thin cloth vest was wet from the water of the washing.

He rested on hand on her shoulder, the attitude that he understood of a supplicant. "Will you lie in my arms? It's enough if you keep me warm."

Her voice was soft. "Of course." And she did. She lay alongside him and slipped her arms up around him.

He kissed her, and then he took her face in his hand and kissed her again, and she held him tightly.

For a moment they looked at each other, and then, as he looked into her eyes, a ghost of a smile shone in his eyes and on his face. She was enough, as far as he was concerned, and he wanted her to know that. She tried to smile back, but she couldn't.

His eyes became quieter. "Forgive him," he whispered.

She suppressed a sound that was of both anger and pain. "Why?"

"I stand on the brink now, and my own sins come to accuse me," he whispered. "There is no hope unless we are forgiven. Forgive him. He was a young fool."

"What sins?" she asked. "You saved all those lives. You saved my life."

He didn't answer quickly, and in his silence, she realized that even he must have done some wrong in his long life. Anyway, it was certain that he would think so. At last he said, "I took you without the benefit of proper marriage."

"We didn't have a minister," she said. "But I know you meant all that you said. I know that."

"All the same, I trust in the goodness of another to forgive me. So I forgive the Doctor. And you forgive him, Ciora. Johnny O'Haire must not lead one lamb into hating somebody."

"Even a proud fool?"

He hesitated again, and his eyes searched hers. "If he is a fool, then make him wise."

"Somebody else will have to do that," she said. "But I will forgive him. For your sake." But she swallowed back tears.

"You have freed me," he whispered. "You helped me to free another. All my life was weeping, but here at the end, peace. I want to go back into the earth. God will forgive me my sins."

Now two tears did force themselves from her eyes. She didn't tell him that she didn't believe in God, that the world had stopped believing in God a hundred years ago or more.

He stroked her cheek, his eyes quiet.

"I pray that you will free somebody who won't so soon die," he said. "May the breaking of chains be the gift that God gives you, in return for the kindness you have given me."

She pushed against him, and with an instinct of a person going back to the womb of the earth, he tucked his head against her and closed his eyes. He was still breathing fairly well. She stroked his side and his arm and shoulder, soothing him. But she knew that he wouldn't speak again. He was declining into that semi-conscious stupor of those who are dying.

During the night, when all was in darkness and his breathing was shallow, his hands becoming cold, she awoke and heard a great, distant crashing from high up on the summits, but no gun fire. This lasted for about a quarter of an hour, sporadically, and then there were short, chattering bursts of gun fire. But it was almost like a dream to her. She knew that he was still alive, but too close to death to speak or perhaps know what was going on around him. But she stroked his head and his arm and his side, and she whispered to him until, overcome with her own exhaustion, she fell asleep again.

Just at dawn, she felt warm hands gently pull her away from the body of Johnny O'Haire, and she had one glimpse of his face, cold and bluish grey and slack, before she closed her eyes again. She wanted to remember him alive.

"Let's get her on the stretcher," the Doctor's voice said. His tone was more gentle than she had yet heard from him. "If you haven't got a better blanket, use my jacket. It's softer than that coarse wool. You can lay a blanket on top of that." And he drew a soft cover over her as she was set onto a hard stretcher. Then she opened her eyes and looked up at him.

He leaned over her. The lines on his lined face were deeply drawn. This was not posturing. His eyes were filled with pain and remorse. "I am sorry. This was my fault." He wanted to say more, but he knew that she had been through enough. So he said nothing more to defend himself or to ask for anything.

"He said that he forgave you," she whispered. "He wants you to become wise."

The Doctor was caught off guard by this kindness from a human being. Liz suddenly stopped being angry with him. He could be humble---transparently so.

"I don't think I can be that wise," he said suddenly, his eyes troubled. And then, "But I'll try. I will, Liz." He took her hand, and she grasped his hand in response.

"He forgave you," she whispered again.

He straightened up to let the attendants lift her, but his eyes were still troubled, and his hand still held hers. "Do you forgive me, Liz?"

"Yes," she said.

There were men shouting about the discovery of the severed body and head further up the hill.

"It's up there," she said. "It must be destroyed. Completely."

"Yes, I know. I will see to it."

"Tell me---" She stopped herself, and her eyes filled with tears. He covered her hand with his other hand and leaned over her. The men hesitated before carrying the stretcher away.

"Why did he die?" she gasped. "He knew he would. But why?"

The Doctor's eyes were concerned---for her. But he answered her. "You know that I have two hearts, Liz. Two hearts that operate in phase with each other. It is possible for two creatures to have one heart. One heart is major and the other minor, really. Johnny O'Haire was probably attuned in his metabolism to the signaling of the heart in Gall Farraneagh. In this way, Johnny O'Haire would have been protected from the complete curse of endless regeneration, but he could have stayed alive until the creature itself was dead." He let her go and then stepped back. "But when Gall Farraneagh's heart was stopped, Johnny O'Haire's heart could not go on for very long alone. I think that's what was done to link them together."

"Who did that to him?" she asked.

"Somebody who came cleaning up after me," he said. "But I don't know who. Probably one of my teachers or one of the High Council."

His face was grave, but he nodded to the two soldiers at the head and foot of the stretcher. They lifted it again and carried her to the waiting ambulance. There were others bending over the body of Johnny O'Haire, and she heard the Doctor say firmly, "Treat him carefully. I'll ride with the body myself. Wait for me."

She heard the double doors of the ambulance being swung open, and the stretcher was gently guided inside. A medical attendant looked down at her. He was young, clean cut, freshly scrubbed, his eyes gentle and professional.

"We'll get you away from these woods, Miss," he said. "You'll want to be safe at home soon, I don't doubt."

The doors closed. In a moment, the ambulance slowly pulled out of the soft earth and made its way over the uneven terrain, back to the safety of the village.

At the scene, the Brigadier reported to the Doctor. "The last ragtag group of those blighters went and threw their equipment over the cliffs before we got them last night. Think you can mend it?"

"No, not likely," the Doctor said. "It must have been smashed to little bits." He had no intention of repairing it. There was no point in advancing such a technology, not in England or any other country. "Who were they?" the Doctor asked.

The Brigadier cocked an eyebrow. "I'm sure we'll get that narrowed done. It's getting easier and easier for these free lance types to get hold of discarded technology and make something of it. But they must have had some financial backing. We'll trace it."

The Doctor turned away to survey the slope. "Yes all right. One crisis at a time. The body of Gall Farraneagh must be completely destroyed, Brigadier. I'll show you a method of proper incineration. We can completely reduce it to ashes. We must."

"Very well. But look here." And Lethbridge Stewart nodded at the men who were taking the covered body of the woodsmen to one of the waiting lorries. "Johnny O'Haire wasn't even injured. What killed him?"

The Doctor put his eyes down. "He died of a broken heart, Brigadier."

"What's that?" Lethbridge Stewart leaned closer.

The Doctor spoke more loudly. "It was more of a question of what kept him alive for so long. He had to kill the creature, and when he did, his life was over."

"Yes, but where did they both come from?" Lethbridge Stewart asked.

But the Doctor walked away, up the slope towards the remains of Gall Farraneagh.

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
I live for feedback and welcome criticism on my writing and story development.