Chapter 10-Everything is Explained

I haven't really got much of an excuse. Only that It's my GCSE year. I can only apologise with an update of 7 pages which has taken me at least 5 hours to type up. I'm not as quick at writing as I usually am. 3,852 words. And my most sincere apologies. *bows repeatedly* I'm sorry!

I'm not sure about how good this is, and I would appreciate it if you could tell me if it's ok or not. Tell me what's bad with it, or if there's anything in particular that's good. Thank you, and please enjoy.

Rose was sitting up in her bed, legs drawn up to her chest and her duvet covering her completely except for her eyes and the top of her head. It had been so long since she gave up on trying to remember who she was, or the memories of her past, or even the places she was or had been. She saw no point in remembering anything like that when her mind rebelled so adamantly against the notion.

There was only one thing that she still clung to. One memory; and the thought that was attached to it that she kept sheltered from the all consuming fog in her mind.

The memory of the man. The Doctor.

And the thought that he was coming for her.

She kept his image clear in her head, now more familiar to her than herself.

She had to remember him.

It gave her hope. And she feared what would come if she lost hope. Without it, she stood no hope of getting out of this. Whatever this was.

But it was getting harder and harder for her to remember the meaning of the word hope, hard to cling to that rock when the sea of fear and helplessness was so brutally trying to pry her away.

It was so hard to keep anything in her mind other than the knowledge that she must not move.

It had been her fear at childhood of something, some horrible creature lurking in her wardrobe. And now, like so many nights when she was a child, she sat, shaking and staring at the doors of her wardrobe, waiting for it to come for her.

Something was banging on the doors.

From the inside.

It had started as a gentle tapping, but now it had grown into a banging, and she could hear the click of long, pointed nails tapping in time with the bangs. With every impact the doors shuddered now, the posters of boy bands fluttering from the force. With every passing moment the thuds got louder and louder. Something was forcing its way in to her room. Coming to get her.

Tears had started trickling down Rose's face now. She wanted to call for the mother that she couldn't remember, call for her Doctor, but her voice had long since abandoned her, leaving her only with a quiet, croaking whisper, which she used to make herself remember.

'The Doctor is coming,' she sobbed, over and over again, willing herself not to lose the only thing she had left, 'The Doctor is coming.'

She slid lower in bed, her eyes still fixed on the wardrobe doors. She could tell that they wouldn't last much longer. It was as if the thing hiding inside also knew, as it suddenly became more vicious in its attacks.

She heard it give a high pitched cry of triumph, the sound tugging at her memory, something familiar to her. But then the doors crashed open, falling off their hinges and all she could do was throw her duvet over her head and curl into a tight protective ball.

Rose clamped her eyes tight shut, as if it would give some protection from the creature that had intruded into her room. Over and over again, she sobbed her mantra, waiting for the death she had imagined in so many nightmares years ago. She heard the footsteps approaching her, but they were not what she had expected. The tread of the nightmare creature was supposed to be heavy and lolloping, but these were gentle, slow and steady, almost lost in the sound of her frantic heart beating. She shook violently as she heard the steps come to a stop in front of her.

'Oh Rose, what have they done to you?'

She knew that voice. Her eyes snapped open as she threw the duvet away from her face to find the Doctor standing right in front of her, watching her sadly.

'Are you real?' she whispered, barely allowing herself to believe, 'Please... are you really here?'

'I'm here Rose. I'm real.'

Without any more thought, without even considering that it could be another trick, she leapt out of the bed, straight into his waiting arms. As he wrapped her in a close embrace, every lost memory seemed to rush back to her, the white fog rising like a curtain on a stage to leave stark clarity. He gently stroked her hair, holding her as she trembled and cried.

'Doctor... oh god, I thought I'd never see you again.' She gasped, her voice muffled as she pressed her face into his shoulder, 'I... I forgot... everything. Mum... Mickey, the TARDIS... Everything, just... gone. And I was... I was so scared. I couldn't get away... I couldn't stop myself from being scared. '

'Shhh, it's okay, Rose. It's alright to be scared. That's what this place is designed to make you do. It's okay."

His voice was calm and soothing, but in the Doctor's hearts, the Oncoming Storm was swirling, anger building, atmosphere crackling. To see this strong, almost fearless woman, weeping in fear... it broke something inside him. It made him want to make the thing responsible pay, and pay dearly.

But being close to her, being this near to her, not just physically, but to be the emotional stable that she ran to, being the one holding her as she regained her composure, he lost a little of his ferocity. He boxed away the creature that brewed within his chest, hiding away the maelstrom from his voice and face. She would see only what he wanted her to see. She would be shown only worry and compassion, care and relief at seeing her alive and safe with him again. She'd had enough fear for this day. He wouldn't become another nightmare for her.

She pulled away from him, though she seemed reluctant to leave the safety of his embrace, and wiped away the stray tears with the sleeve of her parka jacket. She looked up into his face, studying to true to find something.

"I'm sorry I shouted before. At Mickey's," she said quietly, averting her eyes as if she were a child expecting to be scolded.

The Doctor was silent for a moment, his face turning slowly from blank, to a wide, bemused smile, then to laughing, with which he grabbed her up in another huge hug, spinning her around and delighting in her laughter as she joined in his joviality.

'Oh, you silly, fantastic girl, that doesn't matter to me anymore. I'm just...' he placed her gently back on her feet, 'I'm glad you're okay. I...' he stopped for a moment, choosing his words, 'I thought I'd lost you.'

A smile slowly worked its way across her face slowly, lighting up her face and his hearts. It was amazing how quickly this young woman bounced back from such horrific circumstances, which would make any average person demand to be taken home immediately.

'Oh, come now Doctor,' she grinned, 'I told you already. You're stuck with me. It'll take more than that to get rid of me.'

'Oh yeah,' he grinned back, 'silly me.'

With that they were the Doctor and Rose again, back to how it should be, with he the leader, the teacher, the friend, and she the willing and intently listening companion.

She sat heavily on the bed, upon which he joined her, and she clapper her hands together, back to her cheery self.

'So!' she announced, 'you gonna tell me what we're up against? Cos I dunno about you, but I've seen some pretty weird stuff so far, and not the sort that I usually have fun around.'

There was something about the way she said it, which made him tack 'without you there' on the end of her comment.

'What have you seen?' he asked, genuinely curious.

'Well, first there was the werewolf. You know, from yesterday... wait... that can't be right...'

'What?' the Doctor's ears pricked up at the uncertainty in her voice.

'Well, you know, none of it really makes any sense, but... I saw the werewolf twice. But... that's not-'

'Sorry, I haven't really given you an explanation have I?'

'Slacking, ain'tcha? Usually you'd be half way though by now,' she winked, 'Go on. Do what you do best. Enlighten me. Dazzle me with your scientific explanations and look at me like an idiot when I don't get a word you're saying. But, just do me a favour, yeah? Don't do you're usual hundred-miles-per-hour, yeah?' she rubbed her head absently, 'my brain's just not up to it right now.'

'Still lightheaded?' he asked, which she answered with a slightly surprised look, before she seemed to remember telling him earlier about her condition, and nodded, 'I think what I have to say will tell you a little about that too,' he said gently, 'Right, so let's start at the beginning. I find things usually make more sense that way. So, first there were the kids, all those children disappearing all over London. Most of them weren't even connected, other than they were about the ages... seven to fifteen wasn't it that Mickey said. Probably a few younger or older to, but all around that age. They were all still children.'

'So... no, I'm failing to see where you're heading with this.'

'Well, my guess, and as you well know, my guesses tend to be pretty reliable, is that... well, I'm sure you've probably already guessed that this is alien based, that much is a no-brainer. No human in this time sector would have the technology to create a hologram this well constructed,' he waved a hand to include the room that they were sitting in.

'You mean...' Rose said quietly.

'Everything you've seen, everything I've seen, it's all been a hologram. A thoroughly realistic, fantastically put together hologram, admittedly, but still nothing here is real. Nothing at all.'

'So this... but, wait, this is my bedroom. Well, how it used to be anyway. And all those things that I've seen... the Daleks, the Slitheen, the Gelth... they are real. If this is just a hologram, how could they have been there?

He studied her confused face. This place really was getting to her. Usually she was such a bright, intelligent spark of a person. This place was draining away her essence. He had to get her thinking, and soon.

'Well... how can I put this? Remember how I told you, back on Platform One, the TARDIS got inside your head, translated alien languages into English for you?' she nodded, 'Well that's close to what's going on now. That's why you've got a headache. You've been wired into the ship. About five thousand megawatts of electricity flowing through your head, bound to have some effect on you. Don't worry though; it won't do you any lasting damage. It's not actually even doing any damage at all. It's raking through your mind, trying to find out what scares you most.

'She's how I found you by the way. The TARDIS. When Mickey told me that you were gone, the TARDIS seemed the right place to start looking, since I'd already been to your mother's on the way to Mickey's.'

He told her about the crowd gathered outside, about how boy told him about the TARDIS' light shining and what it meant.

'You see, it was her that helped you talk to me. Like I said, she gets into your head, translates for you, but to do that she has to move things around in tiny little ways. This means that you're connected, in a very, very small way, but which grows the longer you're around her. People like Adam, who only came along for a little time, and Mickey and Jackie, who pretty much just walked in and back out again, they'll lose their connection pretty quickly. But you... somehow, even I don't really know how, but you used the TARDIS to help you calling out to me.'

'I was thinking about you,' she said hesitantly, a blush that the Doctor could have imagined building in her cheeks, half hidden in the low light of the street lamp outside, her brow furrowed as she tried to remember. 'I... I was on Satellite Five... all those Daleks, the Emperor... I was about to be "Exterminated"... and then, I just... thought about you. Nothing else, just you, wondering if you'd ever...' she broke off, leaving the sentence hanging between them for a moment, 'and then I was in this... I don't know... no-space. Nothing at all... just darkness. Just... the darkness.'

'Your mind reached out for me. The TARDIS has taken quite a shine to you,' he said, giving her wide grin and a nudge in the ribs, 'quite unlike I've seen her doing before. She pushed you along, making a bridge for you to make the connection. But it took a lot of energy to keep that connection going for any length of time. In the end, the connection just cut out. But...' he added with a mysterious smile, 'because you used the TARDIS to find me, I could use her to find you.'

A smile of understanding shone from Rose's face, her eyes glittering with excitement at catching onto his way of thinking at last, 'You traced me, like that plastic head of the fake Mickey! Back when you were trying to find the Nestene Consciousness!'

'There we are!' the Doctor said, joining in her excitement, his hearts warmed at the sight of her thinking properly again, 'that's more like it, bit of a smile. And you're exactly right!' he paused for a moment, frowning, 'Okay, now I know I'm getting old. That seems like years ago. But yeah, the same sort of policy applies, only the signal was much easier for the TARDIS to follow, as the signal was boosted through herself. So she brought me here. That's how I found out what's happened to you and all the children here.'

'But you haven't told me yet... why?'

'Well, I'm still working on figuring that part out. This place is having a bit of an adverse effect on my head, just as it is yours. This place obviously doesn't like us thinking of a way out of here, understandably. But, as I said before, this is all a hologram, and I think it would be easier if we got out of here.'

With that he reached into his inside breast pocket, aiming it at the wall as he pulled Rose up by the waist to stand beside him.

He pressed the button.

The sequence was as the Doctor had already seen, but to Rose it was shocking to see the already dim room turned an even duller grey, the yellow light from the street light outside losing its brightness. As the room began to fold down to the floor, and the floor pulled in and in to disappear under her feet, all Rose could do was stare. No matter how long she travelled with the Doctor, he still never managed to stop amazing her. They were standing in the darkness again.

The Doctor put the Sonic Screwdriver back into his pocket, realising as he did that he had yet to remove his hand from her waist. He smiled sheepishly at her, though she didn't seem to notice, and took his arm away. The feel of his fingers sliding from around her seemed to shake her from her shock.

'I've been here before. This is where I talked to you before. Well, somewhere like here anyway. What is this place?'

'It's hard to explain exactly. It's like... a place between sleep and consciousness. The no-space between. Like when you have a light nap, or more...' he clicked his fingers, 'have you ever heard of purgatory?' she shook her head, 'it's a state of being after death, caught between heaven and hell. It's very much like that. For what ever reason, you and everyone here are being forced to live though their fears, endure their nightmares, wired into the ship like... oh, that's it! Wait, wait, wait, just hang on a minute, think it through! Shh!'

He held up a finger, to tell Rose to be quiet, not that she would interrupt him when he wore that look on his face. That look was so familiar to her. That expression showed him working it all out.

'The way you were wired up! Oh, that's it. I hate being in this place, it makes me so stupid!' he began tugging at his hair, hitting his head repeatedly with the heel of his hand, 'stop messing with my head!' he called into the darkness, 'that's why I didn't get it earlier. It's so simple, it's been staring me in the face. Hang on a minute, work it out, think it through. It concentrates on humans. But not just that, children. But why children? What do the children have that adults don't? Come on Rose, use that mind of yours. Don't let this place get to you too.'

She had thought for a moment that he had forgotten her presence, but at his sudden turn on her she floundered.

'Erm, I dunno. Fun?' she hazarded.

'True, but not that exactly. Not far from it,' he was trying desperately trying to get her thinking, to get her back to being herself again and shake off the effects of the ship's control.

She thought for a few moments, before finally the sparkle came back into her eyes again.

'Imagination?' she suggested, with much more confidence than before.

'Oh, that's it! You wonderful girl, that's it! They have brilliant imaginations! Helped along by a few good books, a child's mind is a goldmine of amazing ideas. But as soon as they start imagining good things, they start imagining the bad things twice as much. There's a connection there; kid's like being scared. Revel in it! That's what keeps ghost stories going. Sci-fi programs. Halloween. All that. They delight in the shivers down their spine. The flood of adrenaline. Goosebumps. They can't get enough of it.

'But the thing is, they like it when they have some minute form of control, or a knowledge that there is something stopping the bad things getting them.' He was in full explanation mode now, the words tumbling out of his mouth as soon as they appeared in his mind, 'Some form of a fail-safe. Sci-fi programs for kids usually have some sort of a happy ending. Ghost stories are made up. Halloween monsters are just people dressed up and they can't actually do them physical harm. But then...' he gave her a significant look, 'then come the nightmares.'

Realisation dawned on her face, but the Doctor didn't stop talking. He was working this out just as much as he was explaining it to her. 'You have no control over the nightmares. They feel real, and the mind tells you its all real. How are you to know that it's not?' he was pacing now, putting the last jigsaw pieces into place, 'the ship, the floor, the whole place, it was made of this metal. I could smell it. Oh my head!' he ran a hand roughly through his hair, tugging at it as if he wished to pull it out at the roots, 'what was it!? I knew that smell! What was it! If only I could think without this stupid ship holding me back! I'm getting old, my head's too full of stuff! Think, think, think, think!' he clicked his fingers in quick succession, baring his teeth in anger at his inability to come to the answer, 'An alloy, a mixture of... what is it?'

He was silent for a few moments, continuing his pacing with his hands tugging at his hair, throwing it into complete disarray, walking across the nothingness.

'Myatron!' he exploded, making Rose jump in surprise, 'Myatron! Oh that's it! The planet of Myatron! It's people mined the planet for the metal that's named after it. I knew I recognised that smell from somewhere!' he finally seemed to remember that he had actually been talking to someone other than himself, turning at last to Rose, who was still standing where she had at the start of his rant, watching him silently with a fond smile on her face. 'The Mytrens looked pretty similar to us, but their physiology is designed differently to live in an environment with less oxygen, more carbon dioxide. Their lungs are bigger than yours, better at extracting oxygen from the air. Anyway, they mine deep into the planet, trying to find this metal called myatron. Brilliant stuff, absolutely amazing. You can only melt it once, meld it into any shape you want, let it cool and then it's completely indestructible. Never bend, never rust, never scratch. Doesn't matter how thin you make it, it's just impossible to break. They used it to make their ships. Another way they were different from your lot; they were much better with technology. They evolved about the same time as humans did, but by the time you lot were dancing around the invention of the wheel, they'd already designed plasma TVs,' he paused, giving her a meaningful look, 'then one day... poof! They all just disappeared. Every ship just... fell off the radar.'

Rose nodded solemnly. She knew what he meant by that. She'd seen that look flicker over his face to many times to doubt what caused it.

'The Time War?'

'The Time War,' he confirmed, 'the ships finally found something they weren't immune to damage from. Fifty thousand Dalek ships, all firing at them at once. Nothing could parry that sort of attack.'

'But this one survived.'

'Seems so,' the Doctor acknowledged, 'it must have fallen through the cracks of time and space. Just like that Dalek in Van Statten's museum.'

'But... why take kids? And, if it's taking kids, why did it take me and you too?'

'Energy. The children's imaginations are being used as power cells to power the ship. I knew that there was something odd about the way the children were plugged in. The brain produces electricity, energy. When you dream, when you're scared, you create more. The reason it targeted you was because, with the things you've seen, and with you constantly using your head to work out problems with me, you were a perfect choice. You've seen things for real that no-one else on this planet can even imagine. You've got a lot more to feed this ship than anyone else. Well,' he grinned ruefully, 'except me, of course.'

His face fell for a moment, remembering the hologram girl's words. But then he was grinning again, clapping his hands together and rubbing them. 'Right! It's time I went and paid a visit to our delightful host!'

'You what?' Rose was rather taken aback by the Doctor's rapid mood changes.

'I'm gonna have to leave you, but don't worry. I've got plenty of work for you to attend to.'

Rose didn't like the sound of this.