I know I said I'll only publish something again in December or whatever. But I've studied myself stupid, I'm about to lose my sanity and I just can't student/adult at the moment. I just, can't even right now. So here's the first chapter of my new story :D
Disclaimer: Doctor Who doesn't belong to me (sigh) and all mistakes are my own.
Chapter 1: A Cruel Regime
The rays of the sun seared the barren earth, distorting the distant landscape. The vast, flat plain was silent, the burning wind of the previous day had died early in the morning. Water had burst forth from the sand, an oasis, a life saver, but the violent heat had drunk it up long ago, it's thirst unquenchable. What it left behind was an ocean of desolation, the basin of an evaporated sea.
Tired feet kicked up plumes of red dust, carrying guiltless souls enslaved by a cruel regime. Skin exposed to the sweltering sun grew tender and formed painful blisters, adding to their misery. Their hands were worn-out, calloused fists repeatedly rising in the air not as a sign of revolt or freedom, but only to bring the heavy tools back down against the black rocks.
For this is what innocence looked like. Day after day, mining for precious stones to give to vile tyrants in order to prolong their own lives long enough to repeat the process. Day after day. They hoped that tonight they might get some food again, being given just enough water to stay alive. Only just.
Innocent souls. Women and young children were sent to work in the homes and palaces, while men and older boys were scattered across the land, mining for riches they will never know. Poor souls. Only the wealthy could afford to stay free, living in luxury where resources were plentiful, taken for granted and often wasted.
The crack of a whip made everyone flinch, knowing their fate was the same unless they worked faster. The oldest among them stopped momentarily, blue-grey eyes glancing to the boy on his knees next to him. He saw the guard stepping closer, arm rising again. So, he moved between them, keeping his head bowed, and helped the boy up onto unsteady feet.
To the man's relief the guard backed away, letting his act of kindness slide today. Were it any other day he would have received a lash for his efforts as well. The boy nodded, silently thanking the man, both resuming their work.
Finally, the red sun sunk into the horizon, casting long shadows as the men made their way back to their camp. It was a long walk after a long day. The last stretch before they could get some rest. But the harsh day had taken its toll.
The man walked behind the boy, keeping an eye on him, hoping that they could make it back to the camp. The boy fell to his knees, attracting the attention of the guards beside them. Before the man could react, a guard shoved him towards the boy. It wasn't necessary, he would have helped him anyway. But he kept silent, knowing from past experience that his words only got him into trouble.
Being slaves their lives didn't mean much, but it grew costly when they had to be replaced, especially out here. Slave owners hated paying for new slaves too often, so they tried keeping them alive with as little as possible. At least they had somewhere to rest during the night.
A few concrete huts, each holding twenty-five prisoners, built solely to keep them alive a little longer. It was just enough to protect them from sandstorms during the cold nights. The camp was completed by a high fence surrounding them. Entirely redundant. Nothing to keep out and it's not like they would even try to escape.
The man had thought of many plans to overthrow the guards and even if they did work they still had one small problem. They were in the middle of a dessert. No transport, no idea even in what direction to go, no water. Surely they would perish within two days of escaping and that's talking about the younger, healthier men.
Ironically, inside the fence they had some degree of freedom for the guards had their own camp, undoubtedly with better living arrangements. The guards. Cruel beings covered top to bottom in dark grey armour, probably fitted with some sort of cooling system to withstand the unbearable heat easily.
Every guard also had a whip, used to control them or rather 'encourage' them to continue their work. If you stopped working for just a second to rest your weary body the whip would crack behind you until you resumed your work. Any challenge to authority, any retort and you were chained to a pole. The flesh on your back torn apart with five or often more lashes, depending on how generous the guards were. To make things worse, you were left there for the rest of the day, the brutal sun burning the sore wounds.
The man helped the boy into their hut, letting him rest on his own bunk on the bottom. When he first arrived here, brought in after being sold at the slave market, the boy had already been here for weeks. That was three months ago. People didn't last long in these camps. He had seen many who were taken away again, no longer able to work.
He stayed with the boy until their food arrived, leaving to retrieve it. No meat tonight, not even bread. Just a small amount of cold, watery soup. He helped the boy drink the flavourless liquid, giving him his own portion as well. He himself could probably go another day or two without food, he hoped.
Sparing some of his water, the man gently tried cleaning the fresh gash over the boy's shoulder. Luckily the boy was fast asleep now, unable to feel the sting of the water as he worked. There was only so much he could do. He hated feeling helpless, hands tied when others needed help.
The day's exhaustion crept over the man. He stood, stretched his stiff back and struggled onto the top bunk, his legs shaking from the strain. The boy had been kind enough to trade bunks with him when he arrived and he was grateful, knowing that there were some days he wouldn't have been able to get up here. How the boy managed, he didn't know.
Resting his head on the thin, sorry excuse for a mattress, his eyes drifted shut. Within minutes, he felt the black void of sleep wash over him, the only escape every prisoner here had.
The pain in his neck and shoulders woke him. Groaning as he clambered down he immediately turned his attention to the bottom bunk, hearts sinking when he found it empty.
"No," he croaked, voice barely a whisper as he stared at the empty space.
The guards must have seen the boy didn't have much time left and took him away during the night. He expected something like this to happen, yet he still felt the pang of guilt of not helping. He had lost. A young boy, a slave and he had lost him. He hated losing, he hated losing people. They didn't share much, him and the boy, but he had grown to care for him and now he was gone.
Not once during the following days did he look up. It wasn't strength he had suddenly found that powered him. No, it was guilt and shame. He couldn't help even one of these people. Not even the boy.
He cracked open another black rock, seeing the shimmer of the precious stones embedded inside. Anger too. He hated this place. He couldn't do anything for them. How could he call himself the Doctor if he couldn't help those in need?
He lifted the pickaxe above his head again, swaying under its weight. He couldn't remember the last time he had a meal. A proper meal.
Punishing himself by working nonstop the last couple days was a poor decision. Destructive even. His shredded shirt clung to him, sweat staining the once crisp white material further.
His vision blurred and his breath left him, unable to get it back. He felt the guard's eyes on him, expecting the crack of a whip any second now. If there was one, he didn't hear it and didn't feel it.
He stumbled, the pickaxe landing by his side. He fell forward, into the dark abyss, eyes closing as the red dust around him settled.
I wrote this whilst listening to an extended version of Lily's Theme from Harry Potter 7 Part2... Yeah...
Anyway, reviews are much appreciated. Oh, and my exams start next week so I'll only update, at the earliest, end November (I'm serious, I don't want to fail anything)