Part One - Mist
With its familiar cry, the TARDIS announced its arrival.
Leaves whirled away from the blue wooden box as it appeared between two twisted old oak trees, coming to a rest a few metres away. As soon as the final echoes had died away, the door was pulled open.
Rose Tyler stepped out of the TARDIS, tucking a strand of blond hair behind her ear and surveying their destination.
"We're in a forest," she announced, not very impressed.
"Ah, so we are," the Doctor said, following her out, adjusting his battered leather jacket. "A foggy forest. Haha, alliteration there, did you see it?"
Rolling her eyes, she looked around. "Seriously, Doctor, we're in a forest."
"Great, isn't it?" he said, taking a deep breath. "Nice forest air. Even if it is a bit nippy. Maybe you want to grab a jacket before we take a look around?"
"Way ahead of you, Doc," Captain Jack declared, pulling the TARDIS door closed behind him and tossing Rose her pale pink jacket. She grinned and pulled it on, grateful for the warmth. It really was a bit chilly out here.
The Doctor started walking, taking long strides across the uneven ground. Jack and Rose exchanged looks and followed him.
After a few minutes, Rose felt chilled to the bone. The fog had become denser and clung to her skin and clothes. It was damp and unpleasant and made breathing difficult. The whole air was heavy and oppressive, made even more unpleasant by the eerie stillness. Even the Doctor slowed down a little; it was a task trying to see a few metres to the next bare tree.
Decaying, sodden leaves clung wetly to Rose's trainers, the damp twigs scattered on the forest floor crackled surprisingly loudly in the stillness. She winced every time she felt another snap beneath her shoe.
The Doctor shook his head with a slight smile when he noticed.
"There's nothing to be worried about," he said, in a voice loud enough for Rose to figure out he was trying to make a point. She decided to give him a quick glare before returning her eyes to the way in front of her. She didn't feel like tripping over some root because she wasn't watching where she was going. It was better to be looking in front of you in a place like this. And anyway, even Jack had his eyes trained on the way in front of him.
The Doctor was still muttering, probably something in the way of how gullible and easily frightened by a few clichés humans are, when their feet were knocked out from beneath them.
Rose barely had time to gather her breath to scream when she felt the ground disappearing and then there was nothing beneath her but swirling fog.
Tumbling through the air, Rose couldn't see a thing through the hair whipping at her face and the mist around her. She didn't have the breath to shout for the Doctor or Jack, and she certainly couldn't see them.
She didn't know for long she had been falling or how far, but without warning, she felt something sharp hit her shoulder. She gasped and promptly her breath was stolen a third time when the rest of her body followed suit and slammed mercilessly into the hard rock that had appeared beneath her.
Lying their for a moment, she steadied herself and slowly sat up. Pain shot through her shoulder and a quick look showed that her jacket had been torn neatly to reveal a bloodied gash along her shoulder and arm.
"Could've been worse," she muttered, taking a look around her. The fog here seemed far less thick; she could make out the cliff face that she, Jack and the Doctor had plummeted down.
The Doctor. Jack. Oh no, where were they?
She climbed hastily to her feet, calling "Doctor! Jack!" repeatedly into the murk. There was no answer.
"Great, they decide to do a disappearing act," she said to herself, but secretly she was a little worried. They had been right beside her, they should be here somewhere now. But they weren't.
"Right. Nothing for it." She had to keep walking, and see where she ended up. Staying here all day wasn't going to get her anywhere. Randomly, she started to her left, following the cliff base.
It had been eerie before, up in the woods, but it was more so now, being all alone with the damp mist whirling around her. Sometimes it was thicker, sometimes it thinned enough for her to make out the way in front of her, which was invariably more grey stones strewn over grey rock, without a tree or other plant in sight. What kind of place was this, she wondered.
Suddenly she stopped. There, through the thinning fog, she could see a light. And it wasn't her imagination, it was shining dully less than a hundred metres away. Her heart beating a little faster, she stumbled over to it.
As she came closer, she could make out the outline of a house. It was large, made of the same grey stone as the cliff and the ground was, with large even set windows. It was quite a manor, although it wasn't in very good shape. Withered ivy branches climbed over the facade, cracking the white-painted window panes and loosening the stonework.
The light was shining from one of the four downstairs windows, the one to the right of the ornate front door. Rose hurried over to the door, lifting the heavy brass knocker and letting it fall against the peeling paint on the wood.
She was about to knock again when she heard footsteps inside. She let her hand fall and took a step back. There was the rasp of a bolt being drawn back and then another and another, and the door was pulled open, just a crack.
"Who're you?" demanded a man's voice harshly.
"I'm sorry for disturbin', but I'm lost and was wondering if you could help me," Rose answered, stepping towards the door. She could just about see a rough face through the gap, two angry eyes glaring at her.
"Lost says you," the man sneered. "And I'm sure you are, missy, if that were possible. But sorry, I ain't gonna fall for that one. You hear? Go back and tell them, we ain't gonna fall for it. So sling your 'ook."
He moved to shut the door, but Rose reached out and pushed it in. He stared at her, horrified.
"Don't come in 'ere!" he gasped. "Don't you ... "
"I'm not going to do anything to you!" she said firmly. "But you have to help me. Please."
Reluctantly, the man stepped back and Rose pushed the door fully open. She entered and the man slammed the door shut behind her.
The hallway was gloomy, lit only by a single candle at the far end, near a closed door. The man beckoned her to follow him. He went through a door to the right of the door, where she had seen the light from outside.
This room was indeed brighter, lit by several oil lamps and candles mounted in brass fittings on the wallpapered walls. The room was lavishly decorated, in a style Rose had seen in history documentaries in school, with a thick carpet, an ornate fireplace, tapestries adorning the walls and upholstered furniture. But, like the outside, the room showed signs of wear and neglect: the fireplace was cold, the tapestries were torn, the carpet was worn and the sparse silverware in the cabinet was dull.
"Sorry, Mistress, but the girl demanded I let her in," the man said nervously. Rose looked over at her guide, taking in his plain shirt and dirty hands. Maybe a servant or something.
Her guess seemed correct when she noticed the woman he was addressing sitting in a large armchair in the centre of the room. She was in a cream dress, with her dark hair in ringlets and the golden bracelets on her arm jingling as she placed the teacup in her right hand onto a saucer on the table beside her.
"Thank you, Dominic," the woman said, her accent soft and English. Nice to know where she was, Rose decided. As long as this wasn't some weird, parallel England or something, in which case she wasn't even going to think about that. "You may leave us."
The man, Dominic, bowed awkwardly and left the room. The woman then turned her attention to Rose.
Rose felt decidedly uncomfortable under the woman's green gaze. She shifted, feeling that maybe her dirtied jeans, scuffed trainers and torn jacket didn't exactly fit in with this place. Well, nothing she could do.
"Look, I'm sorry for barging in like this," Rose began but before she could go any further, the woman raised her hand for silence.
"Most unexpected, indeed," the woman said slowly, "but not unheard of. I must apologise for Dominic's behaviour at the door, but as I am sure you are aware as to the reason why."
"Oh, I am sorry, I am the one being rude now. Please, take a seat. And we must see to your injury in a moment, once we have dispensed with the formalities." She gestured at the couch at the other side of the table.
Rose had almost forgotten the cut on her shoulder, the cold had numbed it enough that it wasn't really hurting anymore. She walked over and sat on the embroidered couch, feeling it give way slightly beneath her weight, rather like her grandma's couch used to. She started crossing her legs, thought better of it, and sat straight instead.
"I'm sorry, but d'you mind me asking who you are?" Rose said before the woman could say anything else.
She smiled at Rose. "I am Jane Lewington, and this house is Lewington Manor." The smile faded a little. "But surely you must know this."
Rose shook her head. "No, sorry, I'm not from round here. I was travelling with my friends and we kind of got a little lost."
The woman, Jane, was watching Rose thoughtfully. "No, from your accent, not to mention your attire, you certainly are not from these parts. But pray, tell me your name, where you are from and what is was that brought you here."
"I'm Rose. Rose Tyler. Like I said, I was travelling. With friends. We got lost, and I really haven't a clue where we are."
Jane folded her arms on her lap. "We are in Yorkshire, Miss Tyler." Her voice had become a little patronising, but Rose couldn't blame her. But still, it was a relief to be only in England, even if it was eighteenth or nineteenth century. If she'd listened a little in class, she might have known a little more from the decor of the room. But school had never exactly been her strong point.
"Right, okay," Rose said. "That's good to know. But can you please help me find my friends?"
"You became separated from them?" Rose nodded. "Then they are still outside?" Another nod. "Oh dear."
"What is it?" Rose demanded, a little nervous now.
"You are not acquainted with this place, correct?"
"You are not aware of what has been happening here recently?"
"No." Rose frowned. "Has it something to do with that weird fog? And why Dominic was so afraid at the door?"
Jane nodded, one hand going up to the golden cross hanging from a chain around her neck and nestling against the neckline of her dress. "Yes. Three weeks ago it was summer, a beautiful summer with sunshine and flowers. One night, the fog appeared as if from nowhere. The sun disappeared, the flowers and trees withered and died, the streams dried up and it became deathly cold." Her hand tightened around the cross. "And then people started disappearing."
"What do you mean?" But Rose could already see where this was going. And she didn't like it.
"People from the outlying farms went first. Then people from the villages. Most have never been seen again. The few that have... it might have been better that they had never been found. The survivors group together in the bigger houses, but they cannot stay there indefinitely. Whenever someone does venture out, they rarely return."
"What happens to the people? Who's doing it?"
"We do not know. But we all fear that it might not be human."
Rose felt a thrill run through her. But it was a cold one, one of fear.
"It is remarkable that you survived, Miss Tyler. But ... "
"My friends are out there," Rose whispered.