(A.N.) To any new readers: this story is the third 'episode' in a series of Doctor Who stories, featuring my own original compaion, Ryan Murphy. The first two episodes, 'The Last Day' and 'The Thirteenth Floor', can be found in my profile. However, they're not required reading if you'd just like to enjoy a Doctor Who story.
To any returning readers: Hello! Its officially been one whole year since I started posting Episode 1, I can't believe I'm only on Episode 3. We'll be watching the 16th Doctor on TV before I get to episode 13! But I'm getting there, I promise.
Enjoy Episode 3!
There was no wind anymore, Jessop noticed.
There should have been nothing but wind. The glittering skyscrapers that once stood guard against the gales had fallen months ago. Dismantled and sold for all they were worth. Now, Jessop stood on a barren and vacant wasteland. No impossible spires, no towering structures of human invention. Just land, as far as the eye could see. The only thing this planet had left.
There should have been wind. But there wasn't.
Jessop looked up at the sky, once blue and full of life, now purple as though it had been beaten. He set his eyes upon the sun, and knew he was looking at the reason why. That 'miracle' star was why there was no wind anymore. It was the cause of the tower's fall, the cause of the decrepit ground he walked on, the cause of all their suffering.
A snapping sound in the distance brought his attention back to the ground. It sounded like a foot standing on a long-dead twig, and had come from the other side of the clearing.
This was worrying. A quick head count told him that the rest of the men were all behind him, picking through the rubble in search of firewood. There were no other searches planned today, he was sure of it. So who had made the sound?
He took a few steps in the direction it had came from, scanning the leftover heaps of metal and scrap, looking for any sign of man and hoping to see the right sort. But after a few seconds and no strangers in sight, he put it down to a shifting slab of steel, and returned to hunt for anything he could take back to the compound and burn safely.
But then he heard something else. Someone running. A quick patter against the dirt that echoed across the landscape, like someone jumping from one hiding place to another. Jessop looked up again, paying special attention this time to a three-walled structure a few feet away from him - the remains of one of the hospital huts that had been set up right after their 'salvation' had came.
The sun was starting to set, a shadow falling behind the rotting wooden hut. Jessop walked forward slowly, eyes straining as he scanned the area around the hut. His hand rested on his newly-sharpened stake, lying in the holster around his waist. How he hoped he wouldn't have to draw it.
There was silence, and darkness, and then a pair of bleeding eyes stepped out of the shadows, staring across at Jessop.
"Alec!" Jessop called quickly. Behind him, Alec lifted his head out of a pile of broken transmat pods. "Nothing!"
Alec's dirt-stained face turned pale, and he quickly turned to the rest of the men, yelling, "Nothing! We've got Nothing!"
The others instantly pulled themselves away from their own searches, and turned their gazes towards Jessop, and the region behind him.
The bloody eyes had multiplied. There was more than one set of them. A lot more.
For a second both parties stared at each other. The men drew their stakes and held them out so they could be seen. The bleeding eyes studied them, decided to take the risk, and started running.
"They're coming!" said Jessop.
"Abandon search," said Alec, grabbing his men by the shoulders and pushing them back the way they came. "Return to the compound, now."
Jessop felt Alec's hands on his back, pushing him forward. They gathered up whatever findings they could carry and set off towards the compound, very aware that the other 'men' were running after them. Their scabbed feat pounded into the ground as they hurtled along, their gargled breath heaved in and out, their howls of rage rang through the air.
They reached the crudely constructed barbed wire fence. The men jumped over it and heaved the hatch open. Some of them flung themselves down the ladder and into the compound, others waited for the rest to reach them. Jessop and Alec were the last ones running. They could see the men waving them forward, but could hear their pursuers even louder.
Those scabby feat were too loud. Jessop knew they were right behind them. Even if he and Alec made it to the hatch, they wouldn't have enough time to raise the fence. But Jessop did the only thing he could, and kept running, not even stopping when the he saw already safe men clasp their hands over their mouths in despair.
Jessop finally reached them. He jumped over the fence and prepared to descend the ladder.
"We can't leave him!" said one of the others.
"We have to!" replied another.
Jessop turned back to see what they were talking about, and noticed for the first time that Alec hadn't followed. He was a few feet away from the fence, being ripped apart by Nothing.
Instinctively, Jessop dived forwards to try and help him, but felt the other men grabbed him back, and forced him down the hatch. He kicked and fought as they pushed him down the ladder, but they told him there was nothing they could do, and that was that.
They reached the compound, and the men told the guard to raise the fence. Jessop listened to the barbed wire barrier being pulled into the air, and after that he listened to the Nothing eating what was left of Alec. He didn't want to, of course, but it was the only thing to be heard. There was nothing to cover the sound.
There was no wind anymore.
The Nothing Planet
"See those stars there?"
"Doctor, there's a billion stars in front of me, and they all look the same!"
The Doctor huffed. He closed the blue doors on the field of space they were looking out at, ran back up the stairs and glided across the glass floor until he came to the console. There, he shifted some levers and typed new co-ordinates. The TARDIS lurched slightly, forcing Ryan to grab onto the handrail to steady himself. The blown-glass crystal inside the central column rose and fall for a few seconds, and then the Doctor ran back over to him, and reopened the doors.
"Those stars," said the Doctor.
The TARDIS had moved in for a closer look, and now, stretched out before Ryan, were about two dozen planets. They were impossibly massive and brightly colourful, like huge marbles lined up in space. Ryan could make out swirling skies and vast continents. It was, hands down, the most breathtaking thing he'd ever seen.
"Oh, thosestars," he said meekly. "Now I see them, yeah."
The Doctor watched his reaction with glee, then gazed out at the planets as if he, too, were seeing them for the first time.
"This is the Vacant Alignment," he explained. "See, not all planets have life naturally growing on them. Some of them are just, well, there. And this is a whole row of planets that have no indigenous species, no native race. Just big, empty planets waiting for someone to call them home. So one day someone came along and terraformed them - "
"Terraform?" asked Ryan.
"The process of artificially changing a planet's atmosphere to make it hospitable enough to sustain life," the Doctor answered. "So, anyway, someone terraformed them all, claimed ownership, and then sold them off to anyone in need of new digs and willing to pay through the nose to get some!"
Ryan turned back to the stars, amazed. "People buy planets?"
"Yep. And that's not even the best part," he said, "Do you wanna know the best part?"
"See this first planet," said the Doctor, leaning out of the box and pointing to the star the TARDIS was hovering above, which was the first planet in the row. "The race that bought that called it 'Ai', which means 'home' in their language. But when this planet was bought - " He pointed to the planet directly next to it. "The buyer decided he was a comic genius, and called it 'Bi'. And when someone bought the one next to that…"
Ryan gaped at him. "Tell me they didn't?"
The Doctor just smiled, pointed to the third planet in the line, and said, "Ci."
"Wow," said Ryan sarcastically.
"Yeah," the Doctor laughed. "They got all the way to 'M' before they realised it wasn't funny anymore." He himself pushed off the doorframe and looked at Ryan. "Anyway, I've never actually been to one of these planets, so since we're trying to do some 'first's, what do you say?"
Ryan only had one reservation:
"As long as we go to one not named alphabetically after it's neighbour."
Some more levers were pulled, the column rose and fell again, and suddenly Ryan found the Doctor gesturing to the doorway, waiting patiently for him to take that first step. Ryan glanced at the wooden doors. He reached out a hand, but hesitated. He turned to the Doctor, giving him a slightly overwhelmed look.
The Doctor laughed.
"I know," he said. "Don't worry. It's perfectly normal." He smiled, and gave Ryan a wink. "Go for it."
So Ryan did. He reached out, opened the doors, and stepped out onto alien soil. And what he saw made his face fall.
"…Doctor," he called. "I think you'd better come see this."
End of Chapter One
(A.N.) Happy Halloween!