Chapter 14

Standing near the head of the hospital's queue, Maureen and her two boys waited. The children were growing restive. Her youngest, ten year old Danny, had been watching Donna and the two soldiers.

"Mum?" a wide-eyed Danny asked, tugging on the bottom of her jumper, "Are we really gonna' die if we take our jabs?"

"Don't be daft, Danny!" His brother, Keith said, not bothering to look up from the video game player he held in his hand. "She's gone mad. Like Great-Aunt Laurie. That's why them soldiers gotta' restrain her."

"Keith! Auntie Laurie is not mad! Don't you even think such a thing!" Maureen shot a glance in Donna's direction, and lowered her voice. "She's got Alzheimer's. Really, I don't know where you come up with these ideas. And it's those soldiers, not 'them soldiers'. For heaven's sake! Speak proper English! Do try not to act like some illiterate yob when you're out with me in public."

"But mum? Are we all gonna' die?" Danny persisted in asking, casting another fearful glance at the soldiers. "Is dad OK? Where is he?"

"No, dear. We're all going to be just fine." She reassured him with a smile. "I'm sure your dad and his...his girlfriend..." she still couldn't bring herself to call her ex's very young future wife by her name, "...are standing in a queue right now, just like us. No worries."

"I miss gran." Her youngest said miserably, hanging his head.

"I don't. She smelled minging. Like mothballs and pee. Bleh!" Keith muttered under his breath. He was upset at being told off in front of everyone, and was pretending to concentrate on his game.

"Keith! One more word out of you, young man, and I'll take away that game. Right now. And you won't be getting it back for a whole month." His mum scolded him. Keith frowned at his player and decided to pretend he didn't hear her.

Danny looked miserable and scared, ready to cry. Their gran had passed away suddenly during the night. Which is why Maureen had brought them so early to the injection centre. She wasn't going to lose any other family members to the London Flu.

"I know you miss your gran, sweetheart, I know. So do I." Maureen said, wrapping her arms around her youngest son and hugging him to her.

"...All over London and other parts of the nation, tens of thousands of people are queuing up for their government mandated injections. There are reports that many of the injection centres are having difficulties handling the overflow, as NHS staff are stretched to their limits. Some members of the public have expressed their concern that patient care could suffer as a result. The NHS has tried to reassure them that hospitals are adequately staffed, and that all patients in their care will also be getting injections today. Business owners have sent letters and e-mails of protest to their local MP's, citing the huge economic impact of having to shut their doors for an entire weekend, while the country is still struggling to recover from the recent global recession. Our BBC correspondent John Harstahl has been visiting hospitals in London this morning, and has this report for us..."

Ed Marshbender shut off the television, as his partner, Dai, looked for the car keys. He tended to mislay them with tiring regularity. Ed rolled his eyes, and ducked his head into the kitchen. There they were, lying on top of the microwave.

"Ready to go?" He asked Dai, holding up the keys and jingling them in his hand.

"Not really. God, I hate needles. Always have done. Ever since I was a kid." Dai responded reluctantly, giving a half-hearted shrug.

"Yes, I know." Ed said, hugging Dai and giving him a peck on the cheek. "And I hate like hell to be stuck in long queues. We make quite the pair, don't we?"

"Oh yes." Dai said, giving Ed a cheeky smile, followed by a passionate kiss. He looked upstairs, where the bedroom was. "To hell with it! Maybe we can go tomorrow, when it'll be less crowded?"

"I don't know, Dai." Ed said, shaking his head. "It's like taking off a sticking plaster. I say, just let her rip and have done with it." Then Ed too, looked longingly towards the top of the staircase. He looked at Dai with a suggestive grin, "Although, nothing says we have to go right this minute. A few hours more or less, won't kill us."

In the hospital basement, one of the soldiers was holding down a kicking and shouting Donna. The soldier looked at the clock on the wall. It read one minute to the start time. Hoping Donna wouldn't bite him, he rolled his eyes and thought that it was one minute too long. Dr. Singh never noticed Donna's loud protests. He was preoccupied, under Ashlee's close supervision, with making last minute preparations in an area discreetly screened off from prying eyes.

"You know what you are supposed to do?" Ashlee asked him, bringing out a device similar to a i-pod and pressing a button on it. A green light began flashing. "You understand your instructions?"

"Yes." Singh said woodenly, his eyes staring blankly and body suddenly stiffening. "I give injections then allow the fluid to be pumped into the storage containers." Days ago, Ashlee had kidnapped Singh and subjugated his mind to accept what he was about to do.

He was stood, waiting, in a curtained off alcove. A tray containing hundreds of vials of the Toxil-Maacht's organic distillation fluid was beside him, and an injection gun was gripped in his right hand. Ashlee nodded and left the alcove. She hovered in the doorway, gloating, watching the people in the queue lining up like earth cattle in a slaughter pen. These humans were so easily manipulated. L'arry was right to choose this planet.

In the alcove, under a chair, was a collection trough. It was connected to a pump and siphon unit, which fed into a series of metal drums lining the walls behind the curtained off area. Ashlee watched with satisfaction as a grinning soldier bodily dragged the first human past her, that loud ginger-haired woman, to the abattoir .

Inside the Prime Minister's office in Downing Street, the Doctor stood with his arms folded, his fingers creeping towards his pocket. He'd just gotten them around the tip of his sonic screwdriver, when L'arry announced that he was ready to film the Doctor's deaths.

"Oh dear!" The Deputy Prime Minister whimpered, giving a nervous gulp. He ducked down under his desk. "I just realized. I'm in the line of fire!."

L'arry gestured to the Quarks, ignoring the Deputy Prime Minister. "To arms!" He called out to them, one of his appendages training his camera vone back and forth between the Quark's weapon arms and the Doctor's face. "And...fire your weapons! Kill him!"

The Doctor, in one graceful movement, turned his body to the side and his arm shot up. In a quick draw which he learned from an old mate of his, named Gene Autry, the Doctor brought his sonic screwdriver to bear on the Quarks. The tip glowed blue and it gave a warbling buzz. The Quark's aim wobbled, as their bodies began shaking. Twin laser beams drilled holes in ceiling and carpet, respectively. In seconds, the Quarks were laid out on the floor, completely deactivated.

"What?" L'arry shouted in disbelief. "No!" His insectoid eyes glowered at the Doctor. "Do you know how expensive those were? I should sue you for compensation."

The Deputy Prime Minister's curiosity got the better of him. From the floor, his eyes peeped out over the desk top. "Is it safe to come out now?" The man muttered, confusion and fear muddling his features.

"I warned you." The Doctor said in a low, solemn, almost sad voice. While his body language wasn't threatening, something in his eyes abruptly made L'arry go all cold inside and shudder. "Last chance, L'arry. Leave this planet and its people alone. Give me the antidote for the virus you've been spreading around the cities. Then go home. Find somewhere else to get your food supplies from."

"Your last chance maybe, Doctor." Larry snarled. He drew a compact laser derringer from a hiding place on his body. "You gambled on my giving in to your threats, and you lost. Threats are nothing to me. I simply kill off the competition...and just for the aggravation you've caused me, when I'm done here, I'll wipe out all life on this backwater of a planet. I like a little target practice, now and again."

"I don't make threats." The Doctor said coldly. "I make promises." His expression became ancient, tired. "I tried to give you a way out. And I'm sorry. But I can't let you butcher billions of people. You made me do this."

As the mosquitoid brought his laser derringer to bear, the Doctor's sonic once again came up, this time pointed at the ceiling. The sonic gave off a whine that was so high-pitched, the Deputy Prime Minister could barely hear it. However, the green glass shade of his desk lamp suddenly shattered, as did all the glass in the picture frames on the desk and panes of glass in the windows. Likewise, the Deputy Prime Minister could hear glass shattering all throughout the building

L'arry's face went from smug to fearful in a split second. The laser derringer dropped to the floor. His tube-like mouth began to dribble green ooze. The body started to change back and forth between its insectoid and human forms, flicking like a moving picture image. Then, it changed permanently back to his natural form. As the sonic continued it's whine, L'arry raised his head gave an anguished cry. Hairline cracks slowly began appearing throughout his body. Yellow goo began spilling from the cracks. Dropping to the floor, L'arry convulsed a few times. He lay still for a few moments, before his body disintegrated into the carpet.

Many miles away, parked on the seabed off the coast of East Anglia, were two small, triangular shaped Toxil-Maacht spaceships. Without warning, they both exploded. The blasts sent twin towers of water high into the air, causing a mini-Tsunami. It swamped beaches and flooded some streets in seaside towns. A freighter, this one an independent line like Captain Blite's ship, lay parked just a few thousand light years from the Milky Way. It's pitted, dark and ponderous hull was a dull counterpoint to the brilliance of the star field. Upon registering the destruction of the two ships, it turned around and headed home.

The Doctor, his expression both terrible and tragic, looked down at the few remains of L'arry, now merely a dark stain upon the office carpet. "Why will they never listen?" he whispered hoarsely, before turning away.

"Is...is he—I mean it, dead?" The Deputy Prime Minister's trembling voice came from beneath his desk.

"Yeah.." The Doctor said tiredly, rubbing his forehead "It's safe to come out now."

"What did you do?" The man asked, pulling himself up off the floor and plonking himself down on the desk chair.

"Erm—once again I've defended Great Britain from an alien menace. And single-handedly saved some double glazing firm from going out of business." the Doctor told him casually, looking around at the shards of broken glass strewn about the floor, "Apparently."

"And put me out of a job, most likely." The Deputy Prime Minister grumbled, heaving a big sigh of defeat.

"As my friend Henry once said to me, when I accidentally fell out of his canoe into Walden Pond, "Them's the breaks." The Doctor shrugged.

"All that money and enormous resources spent on those damned injection centres." The Deputy Prime Minister shook his head gloomily. "Those people in charge of the NHS won't be happy with me. Not by a long chalk. I'll never hear the end of it. Not to mention that Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart will rake me over the coals for this. U.N.I.T. will come down on me like tonnes of bricks, for failing to notify them of an alien presence in Downing Street. I think now would be an excellent time for me to put in for an early retirement. In the Canary Islands."

The Doctor didn't deign to comment on the plight of the Deputy Prime Minister, but pocketed his sonic and turned his back. His narrowed eyes and disgusted look spoke volumes, though.

The soldier dragged Donna towards the alcove and was about to part the curtains. Without warning, Ashlee gasped and her body drew inwards. She gave a frightened, strangled cry. Behind the curtains, Dr. Singh began shaking his head in confusion. He dropped the syringe and his eyes and body posture returned to normal. Then, he heard the woman in charge call out as if she were in great pain. Poking his head through the alcove's curtain, Dr. Singh's mouth dropped open with shock.

Ashlee's human body had disappeared! Her mosquitoid form took its place, as she writhed on the floor and screamed. Like L'arry, her body split, and she began to drool from her mouth and ooze yellow globs from her mid-section. Then, Ashlee exploded, showering Singh's face, Donna, the two soldiers and several people in the queue with her liquidized viscera.

As soon as Ashlee burst apart, Donna seized the opportunity. She promptly kneed the distracted

soldier in the groin. "That's for not knowing how to treat a lady properly, mate." She growled at him, as he doubled over, gasping. Dropping his machine gun, still staring at what was left of Ashlee, he let go of her arm.

Some people near the head of the queue who saw what happened to Ashley, screamed in fear as soon as they got over their initial shock. They backed away, bumping into the puzzled and alarmed people directly behind them.

Young Keith grinned with delight at the sudden turn of events and exclaimed, "Wow! An exploding alien. That's so cool!" He gave his mum a pouting look and crossed his arms.. "And you wouldn't let me bring my mobile. I could've taken pictures and posted them on MePics. It would've gone viral. I'd of been the most popular kid in high school."

"Mum let me keep mine. Now I'll be the most popular kid in my school." His brother Danny smiled, holding up his camera-phone, showing pictures of Ashlee's demise.

Grimacing at the gore on her body, Donna silently vowed to herself that the Doctor was going to take her for a nice spa treatment after this. But, first things first. There was still a danger that these people might go through with the injections, in spite of everything. It was the NHS, after all.

Donna came bounding out of the doorway, yelling, "Everyone, listen to me! These injections really will kill you. Get out of here! Now! Run!"

She didn't have to tell those at the head of the queue twice. They fled down the corridor in terror of exploding alien mosquitoes. Their panic became infectious, and almost everyone else, not even knowing what they were running from, joined them.

Sylvia was standing at Wilf's bedside. She looked up, startled, as the nurse came dashing breathlessly into the room.

"Your—your daughter." The pale faced nurse said, voice trembling, "She was right. About the injections. I'm sorry."

"I'm not." Sylvia smiled. "Of course she was right. She's my daughter."

A few minutes later, a breathless Donna got off the lift and ran down the hall to Wilf's room. She skidded through the doorway, a fearful expression on her face.

"Gramps?" She asked, looking at her mum. "They didn't...?"

"No. He's just as he was, no change in condition." Sylvia answered. Then she folded her arms and gave Donna a stern look. "And who do you think you are, miss? Running down hospital hallways like some wild Indian? Aren't you getting a little old for that sort of thing?"

"Old!" Donna sputtered, her mouth agape. "Who're you calling..."

Just then, the Doctor, hands in his pockets, came cheerfully breezing into the room.

"Oh. Now you turn up? After I almost get turned into mosquito food?" Donna asked, turning her indignation on him.

"Argh!" He rolled his eyes, "What? No 'hello Doctor'? 'No, 'thanks for once again saving the day'? It's almost like having your mum in the room!" Then he noticed Sylvia standing there, giving him the same look she'd given Donna. "Oh. Erm—hello Mrs. Noble."

"It's you!" She sniffed. "What are you doing here?"

"Where've you been, then?" Donna demanded of him.

The Doctor was clearly unhappy with the mother-daughter tag team approach. He muttered something under his breath about human domestic scenes.

"Yes, it's me. Hello! I'm here to help Wilf, Mrs. Noble. And a few thousand other humans. As to where I've been, Donna, I've just spent the last three years petitioning the Shadow Proclamation to force the Toxil-Maacht to hand over the virus antidote in exchange for temporary diplomatic immunity. I was stood two years and three-hundred and forty-seven days and fifteen hours just standing in queues and filling out paperwork. Three days ago, the Judoon show up on the Toxil-Maacht's doorstep with an ultimatum. Their Father Superior and the Toxil-Maacht Grand Assembly had to agree, of course. Even they don't want to mess with four million angry Judoon. So here I am." He grinned, clearly pleased with himself. "With a cure. The Doctor is in. Molto-bene!

Later that day, Sylvia was stood at Wilf's bedside, watching him eat some hot soup. Sylvia looked happier than she had in a long time. She'd even stopped nagging! In between sips, Wilf, who was still very weak, motioned over to the Doctor. He came to the bedside and bent down by the old man's face, so Wilf wouldn't have to strain to be heard.

"It was them aliens again, wasn't it Doctor?" He whispered weakly.

Straightening up, the Doctor looked down at Wilf. He grinned, nodded, and gave him a knowing wink. Sylvia came along and ordered Wilf to take more soup. The Doctor quietly backed away, a slightly sad smile playing on his lips as he watched Wilf's family gathered around him. A few minutes later, Donna noticed the Doctor standing back in the corner. She sensed he felt a little out of place. Going over to him, she took his hand and, reaching up, gave him a peck on the cheek.

"Thank you, Doctor." Donna whispered.

"Yeah." He nodded.

"Don't your feet hurt?" She asked, out of the blue.

"What?" He said, giving her a puzzled look.

"Standing in queues for three years?" Donna said, raising an eyebrow.

"Oh, that's nothing." He shrugged. "You should see the queues for the Intergalactic Space Transport Department! You can actually die of old age there, waiting to register your space vehicle!"