A/N: The Chibi's Are Stalking Me, ChloeIsMe, Cordelia-Lear, Isis the Sphinx, Jessa L'Rynn, Kathryn Shadow, NewDrWhoFan, Olfactory-Ventriloquism, and SilverWolf7 are proud to present the Third Annual Doctor Who October Project.
For this year's story, each author is writing a different character with Jessa L'Rynn editing it all together so that it makes some semblance of sense.
Disclaimer: None of us owns Doctor Who. This makes us upset. Be glad we're taking it out on the Doctor.
Dead Men Don't Regenerate
Chapter 1: A Dead Man Starts This Tale
Starring: Dr. Guessom and Det. Factor
The room could only be reached by a hidden door behind a flip-away bookcase, controlled by a tarnished brass candlestick. There might also have been access via a spiral flight of cast iron stairs, but so far, no one had shown any willingness to brave the spider webs that covered it. The walls in the room were bare, warped, and holystoned nearly bone white. The room itself smelled heavily of dust, must, and ancient things that have been allowed to weather undisturbed for ages. Add a grey film nearly an inch thick over almost every surface, and it was doubtful that the room had been opened in many years.
However, the perfect dust and creaking silence had been disturbed recently, and that disturbance had not failed to disturb everyone to see it since. First, the words written on the wall in foot high letters looked very suspiciously like blood. Second, the suspicious blood-like substance trailed off with messy finality into a streak that covered what was left of that wall. Finally, propped just below it, was the body.
The body was headless, and handless, and dressed in solid black. The boots which the corpse retained were fine tooled leather, the impeccable suit rich velvet. There was not one speck of dust on his clothing, even less than that on the matte black of his boots.
"Only one set of footprints anywhere near the body," observed the witch in the formerly hidden doorway of the room.
The rogue archaeologist at her side held up a small booted foot, exactly the size of the mentioned footprints. "It's impossible," she added.
The witch - white haired with a single jet black lock - grinned a happy, black-lipped smile. "You really stepped in it this time," she cackled.
If looks really could kill, the corpse would have had company. After all, in the archaeologist's opinion, this whole thing was the witch's fault.
How it happened...
Gayle laughed in delight - actually, it was more of a giggle - as she watched the bookcase screech and slide away from the "haunted" parlor. If any old house was going to be worthy of secret passageways and hidden chambers, she would have put money on this gem. And sure enough, she was right.
The bookcase came to a grinding, yet surprisingly quiet halt. Gayle tipped her fur felt fedora gratefully towards the antique candlestick/trigger mechanism and stepped toward the newly-revealed gap, ready to explore her new surroundings.
She did a playful little pirouette on the toe of her boot, then promptly froze in her tracks.
This room was decidedly different from what she had seen of the rest of the haunted house. There were no spun-sugar cobwebs; only the genuine, thick cobwebs that covered a narrow spiral staircase. There were no faux-flame lanterns; only electric lights shining from sconces on the otherwise bare, bone-colored walls. Well, they were almost bare. The stone floor was almost bare as well.
The reasons they were not completely bare were the decapitated corpse lying at the far side of the narrow room, and the words "THE DOCTOR" written on the wall above it, apparently in blood.
Gayle leaned against the secret entrance, supporting herself with her left hand and covering her mouth with her right as a brief wave of nausea passed. Her eyes darted away reflexively from the body and fixed on the lettering.
Every bit of her training was screaming that it was real blood. It was darker than the costume blood she had seen on some of the staff in the house. It had the right flat kind of sheen. And as much as she tried to ignore it, that was definitely the right kind of smell.
Reluctantly, Gayle let her gaze travel down to the floor beneath the words. As she took a few hesitant steps forward, she dug in her shoulder bag for her cell phone. Kneeling on the cold floor about a foot away from the body, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying very hard not to breathe through her nose. Nerves as steady as they'd ever be, she took a good look at what she was dealing with.
Unless Mr. Master, the owner of the Haunted House, had thrown the bulk of his budget into hiring some kind of Hollywood special effects guru for this one room, there was no way this was not a real, human body before her. It was lying face up - or would have been, if it had had a face - and was dressed in a black velvet morning suit with a gold brocade trimmed collar. Both hands were also missing, cut cleanly off, just like the head. There wasn't nearly enough blood at the wrists or neck for the man (at least, she presumed it was a man) to have been killed right here. However, there weren't any obvious signs of the body having been dragged or carried to this spot, either.
There were a few seemingly random odds and ends scattered on the floor around the body, or half stuffed into the pockets of its suit, but none of them were granting her any immediate clues.
Having seen quite enough for the present, Gayle climbed unsteadily to her feet. She flipped open her phone, and pressed one on the speed dial. She dusted off her bare knees while she waited for the call to pick up, silently cursing her decision to wear the cute shorts with her "Indiana Jones: Archaeologist" costume, instead of the long pants she'd wanted to wear. Her roommate was to blame for this, possibly for all of this.
Gayle straightened when the dispatcher's voice came over the line. "This is Dr. Guessom," she told the sergeant, hoping he couldn't hear the quaver in her voice. "Detective Factor, please? I need to report a homicide."
To be continued...