Program

1.

He could always tell that the night was coming to an end, even if it was still dark outside. It started with a slight tingling sensation in his fingers that spread from the tips to his wrist. The sense of touch would return, and after a while he would be able to move again. He tried to close and open his hands. His digits felt stiff and his movements were clumsy, as if he was trying to operate a bulldozer in a quarry on earth all the way from outer space. However, he was grateful for the eminent arrival of a new day. The night creatures that had tormented him from the moment darkness had fallen were finally retreating, quickly leaving his mind as they crawled out of every orifice of his skull, scuttling out of his ears, his mouth, his nostrils, and seeped out of the pores of his skin like cold sweat. Insect-like, with spidery legs and bulging eyes, his nightmares scattered as soon as they hit the floor and disappeared under his cot and in the cracks and corners of his cell where they melted with the shadows. Wetting his dry cracked lips with his tongue, he slowly turned his head towards the tiny window as far as his leather restrains allowed, and saw the first rays of sunlight entering the room.

At last, the night was finally over.

The noise of rattling keys. Someone was unlocking the door to his cell. Two orderlies entered, followed by the Doctor. They were too early. Normally he was allowed a couple of hours more sleep before they came in to drag him to the Doctor's office. Instead, the men were now removing his restrains, and pushed him in an upright position before they pulled the much-hated straight-jacket over his head. He glared at the Doctor with loathing as the orderlies continued the daily routine of crossing his arms and securing the straps on his back as tightly as possible. He was dead tired. Now that the evil things were gone and his mind was finally clear, he really needed more sleep. The last thing he wanted was to listen to some endless, tedious lecture from that self-righteous twat.

The men left him standing up in front of his cot. The Doctor came forward. After a short inspection, he gave a slight nod for approving their handiwork. It was difficult to say what was worse, that he had to suffer the humiliation to be hoisted in this SM bondage gear while the Doctor was watching, or that he had to endure that sad, dog-eyed look of compassion on his face.

"Sit down Harry."

Before he could even move a limb, the orderlies laid their hands on his shoulders and pushed his bum back on the cot. He glared up at the Doctor. The look he gave him could send a brave man running, but this was of course the Doctor's idea of the perfect circumstance for a friendly chat. When he crouched down to meet him eye to eye, he quickly turned his face away from him.

"Harry…Harry!…Master…"

That was a rather a surprise. The Doctor never called him by his real name.

"Master." The Doctor tried again. He wasn't comfortable using his patient's true name, but he desperately needed contact. He snapped his fingers in front of his face.

"What?!" The Master sneered. He would have bitten off those pesky wriggling fingers if his reflexes weren't so completely ruined by the pills.

"I know you're tired." The Doctor said, his voice dripping of nauseating sympathy. "You must have had a bad night."

"Oh, you have no idea." The Master snorted. With hooded eyes he gazed back at the Doctor. "What is it? Let me sleep." He said with irritated voice.

"I'm sorry but I can't let you. It's your big day today. Don't you remember?"

The Master shook his head. "What…what are you blabbering about?" The world was shifting in front of his eyes. For the first time since he was up, he gazed around the room. It looked different somehow. Something was missing.

"Where…" He paused for a moment, his head felt heavy as if the weight of a pallet of bricks was pressing on the top of his skull. "What's his name…Where is he?"

"Who?"

There was supposed to be a second cot in there. There was a man who shared his room. The bloke was a complete nutter, a loud, irritating nuisance of a madman, who snored like a horde of drunken Judoons. He was convinced that he was still there last night. He remembered, because he was yelling and spitting at him when he was dragged in. The Doctor glanced around the room.

"There is no-one here but us."

The Master blinked his eyes. He was still sitting on his bed, but the two orderlies who stood guard by his side were gone. He was alone with the Doctor. Daylight flooded into the bright bedroom through a large window that looked out over the lagoons.

"Wait." He shook his head. "This isn't right."

"What isn't?"

"This room. It isn't supposed to look like this."

"What's wrong with this room?" The Doctor asked, raising his eyebrows. "It's your own bedroom. Nice and airy, and with a gorgeous view. It's almost better then my office. You said so yourself."

"Oh no. I never said anything like that!" The Master responded. He had the awful feeling that the Doctor was playing one of his nasty tricks on him. "And this isn't my room." He stared with disgust at the vase with flowers on the nightstand sitting next to his bed, and the cheery curtains that framed the window.

"What do you mean?" Asked the Doctor, keeping an innocent face that was most infuriating to him.

"I was lying in a bare cell with padded walls and a piss stained floor! I had a tiny window with rusty bars. Not this! Do you think I am that bat-shit crazy that I won't notice?" He pointed at the Doctor, that stinking, scamming, swindling, swine. "You swapped everything in here! The bed, the floor, even the… the window." He paused as he realized how insane that actually sounded. "You…probably moved me into another room. Last night. When I was drugged."

He stopped, and stared down at his hands that had been moving freely to accentuate his every word. His jaw dropped.

He glared back at the doctor, eyebrows raised. "Uhm, excuse me, but where is my straight-jacket?" He asked with a polite little smile that looked, considering the circumstances, very out of place.

"You don't need one." The Doctor said in a calm voice. "In fact you haven't needed one for a very long time."

The Master's eyes grew wide. "Ah." He muttered. "But…I was wearing one just a minute ago."

The Doctor acted rather surprised. "No of course not. Don't be daft. You were just sitting there, having a nice little chat with me. No restrains what so ever." He waved his pesky fingers again in front of the Master's nose.

"Doctor." The Master whispered, while a mad smile slowly crept over his face. "What exactly is happening here?"

"Like I said. It's your big day." The Doctor beamed a broad smile back at him. "You're going to be released from the hospital."

"What?!"

The Doctor stood up and walked to the door. He opened it. "You see, no more locked doors. You're free to go."

"You're letting me go?"

The Doctor nodded.

"Just like that?" The Master squinted his eyes in suspicion, and studied the Doctor's face. Surely he was just playing with him, like a cat would toy with a mouse. But Doctor kept a serious face.

"Yes. You're cured."

"So wait a minute. You're telling me that I don't need to be locked up in here any more, because you think I'm sane?"

"Yes. Well, sort of." The Doctor added, scratching the back of his head. He was never very good at lying.

The look of bafflement on the Master's face was slowly replaced by a sarcastic grin.

"You're joking." He laughed. "Actually, I think YOU should be strapped in a jacket just for saying that."

The Doctor just shook his head.

The Master shot a nervous glance at the door. Outside was the long stretch of corridor with the seasick green floor and those seemingly endless rows of doors. At the far end, he saw the mechanical gate that separated the high security wing with the rest of the ward and the outside world. It was locked at all times when the door of an inmate's cell was opened.

"You wouldn't." He was still laughing, but the Master's mockery of the Doctor was quickly turning into paranoia. "There's a catch. There must be. With you there always is." He hissed.

The Doctor didn't say anything. He just put his hands inside his pockets and strolled calmly out of the room. He walked down the corridor, only glancing over his shoulder once to make sure that the Master was still looking. When reaching the front of the gate, he took out his security pass and swiped it over the magnetic stripe reader. A mechanical click followed as the locks became deactivated. The gate swung wide open and banged against the wall with a loud rattling noise.

The Doctor turned back to the Master.

"There's no catch. You're free to go." He crossed his arms over his chest, and stood there, waiting.

The mad smile seeped away from the Master's face. Slowly he rose from the bed, rolling his tongue over his cracked lips. His throat and mouth was still dry, but the exhaustion and the nightmares of last night were now completely forgotten. His muscles tensed. Both his hearts raced like mad.

"Well…if you insist." He spread his arms out and grinned. "After all, you're the Doctor here!"

He would really be bone-dead stupid if he didn't try to make a run for it.

He rushed out of the room, dashed down the corridor, past the Doctor and through the gate and out of the security ward. He knocked down a nurse with a metal trolley, sending metal dishes with needles clattering over the floor. When an elderly patient in a wheelchair was in his way he grabbed hold of the armrests, and gave the thing a mighty shove before jumping on board. The terrified patient screamed as they rolled down the hallway backwards, while the madman who had taken over his wheelchair loomed over him and shrieked with a deranged sense of joy.

"Oh hush you mummified loon!" The Master hissed. "Stay inside your sarcophagus if you can't stand a bit of fun!"

The old man didn't know how to shut up. The Master was about to punch his dentures out of his mouth when the wheelchair rolled into the main hall and crashed into a group of visitors. The Master rolled off and hit his head on the side of the reception desk.

"Help me! Help me, please!" The patient had landed on top of a white-faced woman in a pink dress. He stared at the Master with white-rimmed eyes.

"That man attacked me!" He yelled, pointing an accusing finger at him with a tremor in his hand. The Master groaned and hoisted himself up, nursing the pulsing swelling at the side of his skull. The hall, the windows and the people around him were swirling in front of eyes as if he was stuck on a merry-go round from hell.

The nurse behind the reception desk grabbed the phone to dial for help. Two orderlies, who had heard the old man shout rushed in and, recognizing the hospital outfit that the Master was still wearing, came running right after him. The Master turned on his heels. Still dazed by the blow, he ran towards the great rectangle of light that was supposedly the exit, pushing through the small crowd that had gathered around him.

"Stop him!" One of the orderlies yelled. "He's an inmate! Don't let him get away!"

"Get out of the way!" He barked. Hot blood rushed through his arteries and sent his reflexes flying. A sweaty, bulky bloke in a suit with the most unconvincing comb-over ever held his massive arms out in an attempt to catch him. He ducked underneath his sweeping arms and rammed his head in the man's stomach, yelling out a mad battle cry as he charged. The fleshy guy gave a satisfying umpf at impact before he fell down flat on his arse. The Master jumped over him with all the grace of speeding gazelle while he tossed his head back and laughed. It was only when he reached the glazed doors at the exit that he turned around and looked back. The Doctor stood at the other side of the reception hall with his arms still crossed over his chest. His appearance was calm and controlled, like a mighty God of old or some tragic Greek figure. A defiant smile appeared on the Master's face, just for a second or so, blink and you would have missed it. Then he reeled around before the orderlies could lay their filthy hands on him, and vanished after slamming the door shut right in their thick, stupid human faces.

2.

The twin red giants Castor and Pollux were like great balls of fire with solar flares leaping up from the scorching hot surfaces in continuous sequences. They were reaching out to the silver-winged cruiser that now looked tiny in comparison, a grain of sand stuck between two giant burning wheels in the sky. The Doctor, sitting in the front passenger seat, looked out of the sideview window when one of the flares that erupted from the surface of Castor burst out of the dying star's atmosphere. It shot like a wriggling tongue into space and missed the spaceship just by a few miles. The whole vehicle shook like mad in response.

"Oh, we are so dead." Aurelia muttered from the back seat, her face was fully drained of colour.

"Oh don't be so negative." The Doctor glanced over his shoulder back at her. "Look how steady we are going!" He added, right before a second flare just brushed by the right wing's tip and rocked the ship viciously from side to side.

The cabins above their heads flew open, sending the luggage tumbling down. Aurelia let out a loud shrill cry.

"Calm down." The Doctor said, pressing his hands over his ears. "It's just a bit of turbulence. It was to be expected when you're flying between two dying suns."

"I think I'm gonna be sick." Will mumbled. Before he could add anything else, he grabbed the plastic bag from the front seat pocket and gagged.

"Oh come on. Look at me, I'm not worried. And neither is your captain. Everything is under control, right Neil?" The Doctor turned to the young man in the pilot seat. Neil was sitting straight up in his chair like someone had pushed a stick up his arse. Sweat dripped down in rivers over his face while his saucer-wide eyes were glued on the digital pilot screen. His grip on the steering wheel was so tight that the good Doctor could hear the knuckles crack.

"S-Speak for y-yourself." The young man managed to stutter. He made the mistake to take a look at the view out of the cockpit front-window and had seen the impossible narrow crack in the middle of the sea of fire in which the ship was manoeuvring. One wrong budge to the right or left, and they would certainly be baked like a can of spam in the oven. He was starting to wonder what had he gotten himself into.

"Nah. You're doing fine!" To Neil's panic, the Doctor put his feet up on top of the dashboard, barely missing a couple of very crucial buttons and levers with his trainers. He leaned back with his hands behind his head as if he was just relaxing next to a comfy fire.

"You've got the right ship for doing this. Radiation-shield and heat-reflection system. I must say I'm actually impressed. I've been travelling a lot and most of people I meet who go wandering around the universe are hardly prepared for anything, but you lot got everything covered. That asteroid-warning system was certainly a winner when we flew through the Mare Superum belt. It's like you've been planning this for ages."

The doctor picked up one of the duffelbags that had come down with the turbulence and went trough it, raising a brow, and sniffing the content inquisitively.

"Hey, stop nosing in our luggage!" Aurelia shouted.

The Doctor tossed a handful of recording tapes over the back seat and fished out a device that looked like a telescope attached to a hand camera.

"Hey careful with that!" Neil finally dared to look away from the pilot screen and glanced at the Doctor.

"But this is marvellous!" The Doctor cheered. "A 18 billion megapixel infrared satellite camera! You can snap a shot of a single ant sitting on top of blade of grass all the way from the earth's stratosphere with this. "

"Put it back. It's really fragile."

"I know. This kind of technology never makes it to the mass market, much too expensive to make. These little wonders are often only made once or twice, as prototypes." The Doctor turned to his sideview and aimed the lens on the boiling surface of Castor. He took a snapshot. The little camera immediately digitalized the picture, and a display of the northern hemisphere of the giant star appeared as a holovid in front of his nose. The detail of the image was such that when the Doctor zoomed in, he could see the flames rising like sharp mountain peaks made of fire. "Oh this is beautiful. The man who made this is an absolutely genius."

"If you must know, my dad made it." Neil snapped. They were finally out of the dangerous narrow street that ran between the two giants, and were quickly leaving them behind. "Give me that. That thing is irreplaceable!" He turned on the autopilot and grabbed the camera out of the Doctor's hands. The Doctor stared back at him, his brows furrowed.

"Why are you going to Pevogla?" He asked, suddenly serious.

Neil wrapped a piece of soft cloth around the camera before carefully placing it back in the duffelbag. "I could ask you the same question Doctor."

"Okay, let me rephrase that. Why are you going to Pevogla in a stolen vehicle with all this really expensive technology onboard?"

The Doctor could hear Neil and the rest of the gang suck in a collective breath of air.

"What do you mean? We didn't steal this ship." Neil tried. "I said it was a rental."

"Rental? Oh right. Of course it is." The Doctor whizzed his sonicscrewdriver over the dashboard and a holographic driver's licence appeared. The man on the picture looked nothing like any one of them of course. "So, your name is not really Neil Armstrong, but mister Kalarharan Radish from the Adratic Colony of Menzor." He read, beaming a cheeky smile at Neil. "Oh, says here that you're a spaceship salesman. No wonder you got all the latest nifty accessories. Or maybe I should give the real mister Radish a call and ask him if he's missing anything from his garage back on Menzor." The Doctor pushed a button on his screwdriver and a dial tone came up from the speakers in the ship's dashboard.

"Wait! It's not what you think." Neil said.

"We're not criminals or anything." Aurelia quickly added.

"We're scientists!" Will commented. "Well, actually, we are PhD students from the university of Kawasaki. Astronomists. We work in the same project group."

"Look Doctor, we're field scientists. We study black holes. Most of the stuff that you see here are from the lab. Our professor knows we took it for a trip. There's nothing illegal about it." Neil explained.

The Doctor said nothing but lifted his eyebrows.

Neil sighed. "Except for the cruiser." He grudgingly admitted. "Alright, I took it from our neighbour. Mister Radish went on a holiday and asked me to feed his cat. I found his spare keycard and I borrowed the cruiser because I wouldn't be able to get here otherwise. It's not like I really stole it!"

"Nah, still not entirely convinced. If you're looking for black holes, why planning a fieldtrip to Pevogla?"

"That was Neil's idea. He found a book about this place in The Library." Will explained.

"It was written in the 44th century by an astrologist." Neil continued. "Every scientist in our field knows that the planet Pevogla is destroyed by the impact of an asteroid. At least, that's what is recorded by the community."

"The book on the other hand, is a bit more speculative on that subject." Will added, and gazed back at Neil.

"I though that the academic community might be wrong about this. Now before you think I'm thick Doctor, I know that most of these astrologists are just a bunch of crazy stargazers…but this is different somehow. It kinda made sense."

"Oh, I don't think you should be so embarrassed." The Doctor said, eyeing at the cradle reader that Will held in his hands. "Not all of them are trying to predict the next week winning lottery numbers by drawing lines between the shiny dots. Sometimes, you get lucky. Let me see that book."

Will handed him the holovid copy.

"The astrologist claimed that the planet of Pevogla wasn't hit by an asteroid." Neil continued. "It was actually devoured, swallowed by a black hole that was created by some sort of Godlike entities taking their revenge on the inhabitants. Now of course, to scientists like us, that sounds like superstitious nonsense, but she also wrote that in the end the planet wasn't really destroyed. It was hidden inside the black hole, kept on the edge of existence, locked inside its roaring black heart for eternity as a final punishment, the wrath of the Gods."

"A black hole that doesn't destroy what it has devoured-." The Doctor mused.

"Must be a stable black hole." Neil added. "Just like the one my father discovered, 40 years ago."

"Oh, so you're named after that Neil Amstrong!" The Doctor exclaimed, his string of thoughts seemingly distracted for a moment. "Professor Neil Bernard Armstrong, the famous astronomist! That man was a genius."

"Yeah, he was." Neil said, with a hint of bitterness in his voice. "It's a shame that the rest of the scientific community didn't agree on that."

"Oh your dad's ideas were just way ahead of his time. But he was brilliant. He still is." The Doctor activated the holovid and flicked through the pages at such a speed that it appeared like a blur. He closed it again, and tossed it back to Will with a simple flip of the wrist. The others had no idea that he had just read the entire thing, and even had learned some passages by heart.

"So what are you going to do when we actually get there?" The Doctor asked, while he took a glimpse out of the sidewindow.

"We study it of course." Aurelia rolled her eyes as if to say what else.

"What? Take pictures from the devoured planet while we are in orbit?" The Doctor leaned forward to the others. "Sounds like a plan I guess, but circling around a black hole from which you're not entirely sure that it's stable could be a dangerous."

"We are not getting too close. We'll stay at least 500 million miles away from the black hole's orbit for safety measures. It's standard procedure." Neil said.

"Good safety measures." The Doctor nodded. "Not a bad plan either. Should work. Although…" The Doctor pointed with his sonicscrewdriver at the scenery outside his passengerseat's window. "I guess it's a tad late for that."

Puzzled by the Doctor's words, the crew leaned over to his side of the cabin and peered out into the dark space. There, in full view of the three human travellers, was the black planet with the red, burning sky. A glowing crimson globe that slowly turned inside a whirling pool of darkness that sucked all the light of the nearby stars right into its black heart, leaving an aurora of darkness shimmering around the planet's contours.

Neil couldn't believe his eyes. "We're here." He shot a look at the cockpit displays and ran his hand through his hair as it hit him.

"We are here, and we are barely 20 miles away from the planet!" He cheered. "I was right! There is really a stable black hole!" He pulled Will and Aurelia close and hugged his two other teammates.

"Doctor! This is going to be so fantastic! With the data that we can produce with our recording devices, we'll have enough evidence to confirm my dad's hypothesis and prove the existence of stable black holes!"

"We're not there yet." The Doctor stated.

"What do you mean? This is as close as we are going to get to Pevogla." Neil laughed. "We don't really want to land on the planet. That's too dangerous."

The Doctor's face darkened.

"Doctor?"

"I'm sorry." The Doctor said truthfully, and whizzed his sonicscrewdriver over the steering mechanism. The ship immediately made a sharp turn to the left, entering the planet's orbit.

3.

He managed to steal a boat from the harbour and rowed all the way back to the mainland. When he reached the coast of the lagoons, the landmass that appeared at the horizon looked bleak and deserted, batching in a crimson glow, as if the sky itself was burning.

The Master lifted the oars out of the water for a moment, letting the tiny vessel drift freely on the waves. He closed his eyes and listened.

Nothing, not a sound, the entire place was as quiet as a tomb.

Disappointed, he tossed the oars back into the water and continued his journey. The dock appeared as if by trick of light, a grim stick of concrete that stretched out over the water. He moored the boat, and stepped on land.

In front of him lay a desolate wasteland, heaps of scrap-metal piled up high. Mountains made out of concrete rubble and broken bricks and towers of bended pipes, and rusty metal beams. It reminded him of the dumps in the outskirts of London where he was hiding after he came back wrong. The familiar, mouldy stench of rotting garbage hung thick in the air. Seagulls circled around the heaps like flocks of vultures around a carcase.

The rubble cut into his bare feet. A harsh wind swept up the shreds of paper from the ground and blew right through his thin hospital clothes. He shivered and hugged his arms around his chest. Where, on this stinking planet was he? It had been summer on Pevogla, but here, it was almost as cold as in the middle of winter far in the northern hemisphere. Another current of cold air stung his skin and send him looking for a shelter nearby.

He headed for an abandoned warehouse. Wooden beams were nailed across the entrance to keep out the tress-passers. He noticed that some of them were removed with force. The doors stood slightly ajar. Quietly, the Master sneaked through.

Inside, the old warehouse was stripped bare of floors and intersecting walls, leaving a vast space that was littered with small islands of junk of empty containers, discarded building material and bended metal. In the far corner of the building, a fire was burning in an old oil barrel. He went over there and warmed his cold body by the flames, stretching his frozen hands so close to the heat that he could feel them sting. From the corner of his eyes, he caught a movement in the heap of wet carton boxes nearby. A tramp slowly appeared from out of his shelter. He stared at the Master with a dazed look in his eyes. A needle was stuck in his arm.

"Are you a copper?" The words came out of the tramp's mouth like snails crawling from underneath a stone. The Master smiled. He could remember this human stain of a man.

"Oh no. Of course not. I can't stand them." He moved closed to the drug addict, who snorted, and slumped lazily against the side of his carton box home. "You look like a copper." The tramp mumbled. "Bloody awful pigs. Never leave me alone for a moment."

His stomach growled. All of a sudden, he remembered that he had not eaten for weeks. Hunger surged through him like an electric current, tying knots in his intestines, and flooding his mouth with saliva. He could not recall the last time that he had been fed even a meagre bowl of soup, or chewed down a piece of stale bread.

"Are you still here?" The tramp slurred without really looking at him. His head was sagging. The Master could see the dirty stains in the back of the man's neck. How wonderful it would be to sink his teeth into that. Red, succulent, hot flesh. Ripping it apart, killing and feasting. This mongrel human hacked, sliced, chopped and cut, converted into bloody raw meat, steaming entrails, fat bone marrow, and succulent slices of brain. He imagined how good would it feel when all that fat, blood and tissue filled his empty stomach.

"If you're not a copper. Go away. This is my place. I sleep here. Go find your own."

The tramp bluffed. But the man was too much intoxicated to really be any threat to the Master. In fact, he found his inability to offer resistance, absolutely mouth-watering. With a predatory slowness, the Master circled around him, picking up a rusty metal rod from the floor and wheeling it like a club. The tip of the metal scraped over the concrete, sending up sparks. The Master slammed the rod into the burning barrel. The loud bang that followed echoed in the empty warehouse.

"Hey, stop that!" The tramp shrieked, and stared wide-eyed at the Master, who responded with a smile that made his victim nervous.

"One." He counted, and again rammed the rod into the side of the barrel, frightening a flock of pigeons resting on the roof into taking flight.

"Two." He said, and he circled closer to the human, his nose picking up the scent of all that hot, delicious blood, throbbing and pulsing through the veins of his prey.

"Stop it! Are you mad!?" Another bang on the barrel made the poor homeless man jump. The needle broke off inside his arm and the glass syringe with what was left from his last fix shattered on the floor.

"Three!" The Master yelled, laughing madly.

"You know, I like your clothes." He cocked his head to one side and eyed at the black hoodie the tramp was wearing. "I bet they keep you very warm. I am freezing."

"Oh…so you want my clothes?" The tramp immediately pulled the hoodie over his head. "Here take it." He flung it in the direction of the Master. "Take it."

The Master pointed with the end of the rod at the red shirt and black trousers. The tramp got the idea. "Oh, alright. If you…you really want it." He took off his shirt and trousers and threw it over the hoodie. Left standing in his underwear and shoes, he shivered pitifully of the cold.

"Please, I've given you everything, now would you please leave me alone?" The poor wretch blurted.

The Master rested the rod on his neck. He rolled his head and glared at the man.

"Shoes. Remove your shoes."

The man did what he said, and the pair of worn-out dock shoes landed on top of the pile in front of the Master's feet. Satisfied, he gave the man a polite smile. "Thank you." He told him. It sounded almost civilized.

"Oh, can I go now? Please?" The tramp begged.

"Of course you can." The Master stepped aside as if to let him pass.

"Oh, no. Actually I was just messing with you. No you can't." He forced him back, pressing the tip of rod in the man's collarbone. The friendly smile was replaced by a deranged nightmare grin. "But thank you, good man. Thank you, for keeping the clothes clean from bloodstains."

"What bloodstains?" The tramp wanted to ask, but before he could utter another word, the Master smashed the rod at the back of the human's head, fracturing his skull. The tramp fell forward. His face hit the dirt.

"Four" The Master whispered, and sucked on his lower lip while hot blood gushed out of the man's head wound. He breathed in deeply, the scent of the raw wound dazzling his senses. Then his entire world turned red.

TBC