Escape from Game Station

"I'm telling you, I heard screaming."

"You've been saying that for weeks. It's just the game, messing with your head."

"Has it really been weeks? It's so hard to tell in here."

"Weeks with no light, no food; they're just trying to break us down. Ignore it. And shift up – I'm freezing here."

"Is this a task then? It's so cold, so cruel."

"That's Big Brother for you; always with the mushroom treatment. You know, keep you in the dark and feed you shi-"

Suddenly, the lights flickered into life above them, the low, steady hum of the bulbs cutting through the weeks-long silence like a rushing roar.

Dylan screwed up his eyes against the glare. "Hello?"

He looked at Debbie in disbelief. "I think we did it. I think we finished the task."

Debbie's eyes watered, both from the intensity of the light and from deep relief.

"Can we… can we go home now?" she asked quietly.

A woman's voice cut in, her light, friendly tones coming from hidden speakers in the ceiling. "You are live on channel 44000, please do not swear."

Debbie began to sob gently. Dylan rose shakily to his feet and looked up at one of the ceiling mounted cameras. It swivelled in its mount until it pointed straight at him.

"Get up, Debbie," he whispered. "This is it. One of us has won!"

Debbie stood up, and, trembling, lifted her eyes towards the camera.

"There is one more task that will need to be completed before the winner of this year's competition can be announced," said the woman's voice.

"What?" said Dylan. "Please, we're cold and hungry. Please – just tell us what we have to do."

There was a long pause before the unseen woman spoke again.

"Feed me," she said.

A beam of brilliant purple light arced from the camera, fixing itself to Dylan and Debbie's faces, tugging at their skin. They screamed in pain as the voice shouted over and over, "feed me! Feed me! Feed the Wire!"

A door opened. "Do you see what I mean, Rose? Unfinished business."

The Doctor pulled his sonic screwdriver from his pocket and, standing on the tips of his toes, applied it to the base of the camera. With a splash of sparks, the camera switched off, the purple beam cutting out.

There was a furious, frustrated scream from behind them. The Doctor turned to see the face of the entity known as the Wire projected on a monitor screen, her features screwed up with hatred.

"Doctor!" she shrieked. "I won't let you ruin my plans again! You don't know what it was like, existing like this. Building myself up from a handful of photons, bouncing back and forth in a cathode ray tube, trapped in this increasingly insipid trash that passes for entertainment in this culture for thousands of years!"

The Doctor stepped forward, shielding Rose. "And you know I can't let you escape. When I learnt that one of these rooms was still functioning after the Dalek attack – here, on one of the biggest transmitters in the galaxy – I had a feeling you would be behind it."

With a nod from the Doctor, Dylan put his arm around Debbie and they both hurried from the room.

The Wire snarled in disgust. "You bleat on about the human race and its ingenuity, yet this is the so-called art form that they preserve: reality television. Watching groups of ordinary, boring people you'd normally cross the street to avoid. Oh yes, I've heard your sanctimonious little speeches about the wonders of humanity, Doctor. Every time you passed a television, I was there – watching you, hating you. I was powerless then – but no longer. Now you will die!"

"Interesting things, televisions," said the Doctor, seemingly unfazed by the Wire's threats. "They remind me of you in many ways. As the years have gone by, the machines have improved. The screens got bigger; they were made in colour; digital; high-definition; holo-vision –" he broke off and looked over his shoulder at Rose. "Actually, holo-vision was a bit naff. Gave me a migraine. You're not missing anything." He turned back to face the Wire. "But you're right – aside from the technology, it's just the same old rubbish, time and again."

The Doctor narrowed his eyes. "And I've grown pretty tired of your rubbish. Rose, pull the plug."

The Wire screamed again, sending a massive bolt of light streaking out into the Doctor's face. "Rose!" he yelled, as the beam dragged at his flesh.

Rose rushed forward and sunk her hand into one of the deep pockets of the Doctor's coat, pulling out a short metal device. Pointing it at the monitor, she jabbed a button. The monitor went black and the lights overhead dimmed once more as all power to the station was switched off.

The Doctor, his breath ragged from the ferocity of the attack, held his sonic screwdriver aloft, allowing its pale blue light to illuminate the room.

"What… what happened there?" he gasped.

"It would've helped if you'd given me this before we got here," replied Rose, tossing the device to the Doctor, who caught it with his free hand.

"Typical man," she said as they walked from the room, back to the TARDIS. "Always hogging the remote."