Chapter 2

"I'll Be Seeing You In All The Old Familiar Places"

Have you ever went to sleep in one place and woken up in another? Have you ever died in one reality and were reborn in another? I've experienced both those marvels. It wasn't until years later, when I was older, wiser, that I put all that together to make some sense. But the day that happened will forever seem like yesterday, emblazoned in my memory.

I felt the rain pelting the sensitive skin on my face. I could hear faint sounds of water making contact with metal roofs. And was that music playing in the distance?

I rolled over onto my side and willed my eyes open. They were so heavy. I felt so sleepy. If I could just curl up here for a little bit longer…

But that decision was taken out of my hands when a loud, blaring noise pierced the air overhead. I jerked up clutching my head as the beating inside competed with the blaring outside. Then there were explosions, and an artificial light filled the darkness.

I rolled over onto my knees – something hard and sharp was digging into my skin. Not sure how I managed it, I made my way to my feet, swaying from dizziness either from the sick feeling roiling in my stomach or the shaking of the ground from more explosions.

I was no longer in the alleyway where I had died. For that matter, I was no longer dead. I inspected my hands, turning them every which way, noticing they were different than just a few hours ago (was it just hours? Or days?), as were my arms and legs, which were millimeters longer than my dress now.

I was shaken out of my reverie by more explosions. I ran for cover as a nearby building was rocked by the enormity of the blast.

Once safely inside a (hopefully) sound structure, I set about recomposing myself.

I knew I was different. I've known for a long time. It was quite a weight for little girl to hold on her shoulders. But I've not been a little girl for a long time. Not really.

I wound my way into a building that turned out to be a newspaper office, complete with printing presses and big wooden desks with typewriters adorning their surfaces. After rifling through several desk drawers I came across a first aid kit. Pulling out a bottle of antiseptic and some bandages I assessed my injuries. Of which I had none. How…?

It was a fascinating phenomenon, to die. To die is to be set free from an old, decaying body, and to take hold of a new one.

So I had a new body. Without any wounds. If my hands and arms and legs were different, that meant everything else was different.

I searched the office for a mirror, or any reflective surface for that matter. Finally, I discovered one in a utility closet, dirty from infrequent use. Bandages still in hand, I wiped away the grimy surface.

The single flickering light bulb above me only added to my nervousness at what I might find when I looked up. I closed my eyes and forced myself to count to three.

When I finally looked up and caught sight of my reflection, my new self – my breath caught.

Not only did I look completely different in every way, but I had aged by quite a few years. Gone was the awkward little girl, and in her place was a beautiful, albeit filthy, young lady.

I watched as my hands roamed my face – pressing, poking and pulling my skin to make sure it was real. Even in the faint light I could see that gone was the pale white skin, and in its place creamy beige. My eyes had shifted from a bright blue to a light, obscure greenish-grey. But the hair! No more simple, straight blonde locks. A mess of crazy strawberry blonde curls shot out from every direction from my still pounding head. If it wasn't for the reflection mimicking every move I made, and the grungy and now-too-small frock, I would have sworn that it was a stranger staring back at me. And yet it was.

The revelation of the past hours/days (if only I knew how much time had passed!) was starting to set in and take its toll on me. And I was famished. My stomach lurched in protest at not eating anything for a considerable time.

Risking the explosions that I had just sought safe haven from, I carefully journeyed back outside to search for food. Making my way along a dark, wet alleyway, similar, yet very different from the one I'd been in earlier, I kept my eyes open for any dangers or threats.

The part of the city, wherever I was, was deserted. I was hesitant to journey much further away from my alleyway, but knew that if I ever hoped to find something to eat, let alone someone to help me, I'd have to step out in faith.

As I neared the corner of a building, another explosion went off above me and I fell back hard against a brick wall covering my head with my arms. This explosion felt so much closer than the other ones as a gust of wind and rubbish swirled around me, my arms being assaulted by little bits of rock and brick.

As the howling ended and I felt it was safe enough to continue, I let my arms fall back down to my sides and assessed what could be around the corner of the building.

The hair on the back of my neck stood on end as a warm breeze caressed my neck. Only it wasn't a breeze. It was a breath escaping someone's mouth. Someone standing directly behind me.

Instinct and training kicked in, and whirling around I kicked a pair of legs, and punched low in an abdomen knocking the wind from my assailant. Taking the advantage of his distraction and immediate disablement, I grabbed hold of his arms and anchored my body against his, and flipped him over me and onto the hard, wet ground.

Without missing a beat, I landed hard on his middle, my knees digging into his abdomen; my elbow near crushing his windpipe.

A flash of light overhead from another explosion in the distance cast an eerie glow on a pair of startled eyes that stared up at me from under a floppy mop of hair.

Through gasps he spoke, "I'd know that curly head anywhere, River Song!"

His exclamation and declaration of my identity shocked me, and that brief flicker of time caused my defenses to fall, allowing him to take hold of my wrists in a firm, but not hurtful, grasp.

Not sure how he accomplished it, he to pulled his body out from under mine until he was crouching in front of me, my wrists still in his possession.

"Who…who are you?" I croaked, not used to my new voice.

"I'm the Doctor. I'm here to save you, River Song."