Scarecrows and Sparrows
a post-'Blink'/'Human Nature'/'Family of Blood' Doctor Who fanfic
"Somewhere Better or Somewhere Worse"
Not blinking is rather difficult.
It's terribly, dreadfully difficult in fact.
She had been through this once before, of course, and all not so very long ago. When she went into Wester Drumlins. That god-awful house. What had ever possessed her to go into that dreadful house? For photographs, she'd told herself. To take black-and-white photographs of an abandoned old house so that everyone could see how sensitive and artsy she was. How evolved she was. What a fool she'd been then. That was before she lost Kathy of course. Before she lost Billy. Oh, poor Billy. That poor, sweet man. She could have had an entire life with him. A good life with children and a house full of all the love she could handle but of course, she didn't have that. Didn't have any of that. Because she just had to go into that house.
And now, not two years later, here she was again. At Wester Drumlins, climbing over the gnarled front gate, dropping her bag down and then dropping her slender body down right after it. She didn't know why she had returned. Maybe only to see if they were still there. Or maybe because Larry had started being very distant, and her friend Nancy had told her she saw him down the pub with some other girl. Maybe because she read in the paper that a woman named Sally Nightengale had been killed in a hit-and-run accident; a woman named Sally Nightengale who was the youngest daughter of her dear old friend Kathy. It had got her to thinking. It had got her to thinking, what if she went to Wester Drumlins and found them again? And what if, this time, she let them take her?
What if she let the Angels take her?
She might end up where Kathy had gone. Or where Billy had gone. Or she might end up where Sally Nightengale had gone; a grim thought. Or she might even end up somewhere else altogether, somewhere better... or somewhere worse. But she wouldn't know until she tried.
So she jumped down from the gate and she picked up her bag and she hurried up the front walk to the house. She opened the door carefully, her eyes immediately drawn to the wallpaper she had peeled away all those years ago, and what she had found written there:
Beware the weeping angels. Oh and duck. No really duck! Sally Sparrow. DUCK, NOW! Love from The Doctor (1969)
Just looking at it now tears came to her eyes. She missed Kathy every day, and not a day went by that she didn't think about watching Billy die in that hospital bed, so old and weak, a shadow of his former self.
So much had happened. So much had changed.
She heard a noise behind her. A creak. A shadow passed over the writing on the wall. She turned around with a gasp, and her dark brown eyes didn't have to go very far before she saw it.
She and Larry knew it had to happen one day. The light in the basement where the Angels had been trapped had been blinking out even as they left the place. And once the lightbulb died the Angels would be in pitch darkness, and they could move about as they saw fit without danger of looking each other in the eyes again. It had been a temporary fix, what the Doctor did. And all the days that had passed between then and now it seemed that Sally was waiting for them to come back for her. To seek out vengeance for what she had done to them; to set things right and put her into the past where she belonged. Larry had accused her of being obsessed, and she had accused Larry of being in denial - surely they would come for him as well. All the arguments were likely what had driven such a deep wedge between them. And now, for what it was worth - which wasn't much, in all honesty - she knew she had been right all along.
It was standing down the hall. Perhaps two yards away. Her breath caught in her throat and her eyes went wide. Maybe this wasn't such a great idea after all. Maybe she's not ready to give up on this life just yet.
She turned her head to look at the front door. Not so far away. She could reach it in perhaps six steps. But...
She looked back at the angel. Twelve feet away now. So close. So very close. By the time she lunged for the door, she might make it... Or she might not. Was it a risk she was willing to take?
Eyes wide open, staring at the angel with its teeth bared and its stone hands hooked into claws, Sally Sparrow sidestepped inch by inch to the front door. Or at least, that's where she thought she was going. But she couldn't look away to make sure. So when her feet stumbled over the bottom of the coat rack, she was taken completely by surprise. She had to look away to grab onto the wall and stop herself from falling, and when she looked back, the angel was only three steps away. Just three steps. If she blinked... if she only blinked...
But her eyes were already going dry. And not just that. She had something in one of them as well. An eyelash or a bit of mascara, maybe. It didn't matter what it was, only that it was there, and it stung, made her whole eye feel like it was on fire. Tears clouded her vision abruptly, making it go blurry. She had to rub her eye. It was a physical need, a compulsion almost. She couldn't stop herself. She couldn't help herself.
With one eye on the Angel, she reached up and rubbed at her bad one. But it only made things worse, made the bit of debris grind itself in even further.
When she took her hand away, she blinked.
There was a sensation of being grabbed, of being yanked through some thick, viscous substance. And the briefest, bone-chilling cold.
When she opened her eyes again she was standing in the middle of a firing squad. Sixteen boys stood at rifles, half-ducked behind sandbags. They wore helmets, old-fashioned helmets of a regulation military green color, like overturned spaghetti bowls on their heads. None of them looked a day over eighteen.
She gave a shriek, putting both hands out in front of her. "Don't shoot!" she exclaimed, but she could see right away that there was never any danger in that. The boys were all staring at her wide-eyed and open-mouthed, too stunned to move, let alone shoot. And then, after a moment, they all started chattering excitedly at once.
"Did you see that?"
"She came out of bloody nowhere!"
"Like a ghost, she was!"
"Look at how she's dressed!"
A few low whistles accompanied that last bit, and that was when Sally put her hands down, looking down at herself and thinking that she wasn't dressed inappropriately at all; she wore a t-shirt and a skirt that hit just above her knees and a pair of combat boots, for Pete's sake. Or at least she fancied they were combat boots; these Army boys in training might think differently about that.
When she looked up again, an adult was heading toward her - a tall, older man with slicked back blonde hair and a stern set to his jaw; when her eyes traveled lower she saw he was wearing a full suit with a tie tucked into his vest; it reminded her of something a waiter at a wedding might wear. Except for the chain hanging from the vest. Somehow she was absolutely certain there would be a fobwatch on the end of that chain. This man looked like something out of an old movie; the stuffy headmaster at a boys' reform school.
"See here now, young lady," the man spoke up gruffly as he stomped toward her. "I don't know who you are or how you got here, but target practice is no place for half-naked little girls to be mucking about. Back into the kitchen with you, then, before I take a mind to turn you over my knee and give you a sound caning."
The man reached for her arm but Sally ripped it away before he could get a good grasp, her dark blonde eyes furrowing in outrage. "I beg your pardon?" she exclaimed, a dry, shocked laugh barking its way up her throat. "You'll do what? I don't know who you think you are, but-"
"You know very well who I am, young lady," the blonde man insisted. "I am Professor Hayes, and I serving as Headmaster until we find a suitable replacement for Mr. Rocastle." At the mention of the name, a few of the boys squirmed and looked down at their shoes. Sally wanted to contemplate on this further but Hayes immediately demanded her attention. "So as far as you're concerned, I the am the ultimate authority at the moment. Should you deign to question that authority I shall speak to Matron Redfern about your swift and immediate removal from your duties here at the School."
"School?" Sally echoed, her eyes darting over to the boys behind the gun turrets, taking in their cropped suit jackets and high-waisted, pintucked pants and thinking how strange they looked; again thinking of an old black-and-white film her Grandfather had sometimes watched when he was still alive; a film about a reform school in the English countryside during World War I.
"Did I stutter, girl?" Hayes pressed, his lips pursing impatiently. "School. School. The Farringham School for Boys. Are you deaf, young lady, or do you honestly not know where you work?" He looked down at her. "And where did you get this ridiculous costume? Where is your uniform?"
Sally looked down at herself stupidly again, then back up at the Headmaster. She steeled herself for the question she was about to ask; the question she knew she had to ask no matter how much she didn't want to.
"Forgive me, Sir," she very slowly, very calmly replied, even though inside her nerve endings were twisting and knotting together like the chains of a swing do when the little girl sitting on it spins it around enough times. Soon they'll be intertwined all the way up to the top and she'll have no choice but to let go and ride the dizzy downward spiral around and around and around.
"This is going to sound... dreadfully thick," she admitted. "But... if you wouldn't mind humoring me for just a moment... would you be so kind as to tell me what year this is?"
Hayes' lips pressed so tightly together that he barely had a mouth anymore, and he narrowed his eyes at her.
"When I find out who is behind this ridiculous prank..." he said, but did not follow through on his threat. Instead, he made a low growl of disapproval, and then he spoke a number that filled Sally's stomach with ice, and all at once the chains hit their limit and she went spinning down and down and out of control, falling to a dead faint in the grass.
The number he said was 1913.
...To Be Continued...