CHAPTER 6 : CRYING SILENCE
"Look at those!" The Doctor pointed at the eight ominous creatures scattered around the edge of the lake. He was enamoured with them, positively gleeful as he tugged on Rory's sleeve. "They're like Roswell aliens in suits!"
One of Silence's orbiting planets was setting on the horizon behind the lake. Its hazy body of shimmering gas bands and dying storms was nearly gone. What remained of this orange corpse fell as a sad reflection over the fractured ground.
Rory unhooked the Doctor from his sleeve and glanced nervously around. Amy was hiding behind his shoulder, pulling her fur coat tighter. "Doctor, what's River doing down there with those things?"
"No idea – doesn't look good..." he trailed off, watching the creatures creep toward River. "Nope, I don't think they're particularly friendly."
"You keep saying that," Rory muttered, "and it's not the least bit useful. If you were a real actual tour guide, half your group would be eaten by now."
The Doctor pouted, straightening his bow tie. "It's an unfortunate fact that humans taste good with a decent Bechamel sauce. You're all like catnip to monsters. Never take a human travelling."
Rory gestured at himself and Amy.
"Romans don't count and Amy's well – she's a Pond."
Beneath them, River stumbled through the grass, emerging on a plain of soft silt. It slid beneath her feet like ice. Her mass of blond curls bounced as she turned. The creatures were gaining ground.
They never ran. Instead, their steady pursuit was relentless. The creature closest to her lifted its thin hands, curling their bony extension at her. The air went thick around her and River doubled over in pain.
'Come..' the words stung in her mind like poison thrashing against her skull. 'Come, human child. Bring us the sphere.'
River screamed, shaking her head until she was able to breathe again.
"Sorry boys," she hissed, forcing herself to keep running.
"We can't just stand here," Rory nudged the Doctor sharply. "They're chasing her into the forest."
"Wait – Rory, this is River. I don't like anything about this."
"Yeah – my daughter's being chased by creepy aliens in suits – definitely not right."
Amy gasped softly as River fell to the ground. Her daughter expertly slipped out of the impossibly high heels and continued bare foot through the mud.
"I'm going down there!" Rory insisted, taking a step forward. The Doctor grabbed his jacket and dragged him roughly back. "Let me go! Wait," he paused, "there's something in the lake..."
"I know," the Doctor whispered darkly. "There are time disturbances everywhere. Believe me, there's something dreadfully wrong with this world."
"Oh god, gross..." Amy whispered, covering her mouth as they watched the black water in the lake tremble again. A sickening, native creature lifted its body out of the water. Its mouth gaped open, crying silently up at the sky. "What is that?"
"It doesn't matter," the Doctor replied softly, eyes locked with the creature. "We won't remember. I don't know what it is about this world but I feel like it's erasing more than just this moment."
As soon as the creature sank back beneath the water, Rory, Amy and the Doctor stared blankly up at the stars. The planet was gone, fallen behind the horizon. They had no memory of River or the creatures pursing her through the forest. For them it was a new world and hey had only just arrived.
"We've been here too long already," the Doctor whispered.
Rory frowned. "We just got here."
It was worse in the forest. The scrub was low and sharp, clawing at River like thousands of needles. She tore through it, avoiding ominous cracks in the ground where the world was literally tearing apart.
Silence was locked in an orbit too close to its parent planets, whizzing around the duel planet system so fast that they rose and set several times a day. River could almost feel the enormous pull of their gravity. She wondered how long this world could survive before it became another sad smear of dust and ice.
There were three creatures behind her, vaulting over boulders and tearing into the shrubbery. The rest were scattered in the swamp, sticking to the shadows as they flanked her. She could only run for so long.
At the base of a small mountain, River stopped. She was exposed against its grey fascade and unless she developed some nifty rock climbing skills in the next five minutes, they'd have her. River lifted her wrist and fiddled with her vortex manipulator. Two jumps left and then she'd be stranded. Time to organise herself a date.
River pressed the small silver button and closed her eyes. Silence faded. Vespar unfurled.
"How can there be a Silence on board the Tardis?" Amy whispered, suddenly feeling cold despite her fur jacket.
The Doctor was deliberately keeping his eyes focused on Amy, Rory and the Vesparian. "Not sure. Think it might have been on board for a while now."
"How could you know that?"
"You've been keeping track for me, Rory."
Rory looked down at his wrist and was startled to find the black marks breeding. His heart raced – how much time were they losing? "Is it going to kill us?"
"Not yet. I suspect it's looking for the Vesparian time device."
"I thought it stole that?" Rory replied.
The Doctor shook his head. "If the Silence stole the sphere we'd be dead and River's heels would still be here."
"She's been in the Tardis.." Amy realised. The Doctor nodded. "You never should have given her that key."
His lip curled into a playful smirk. "I didn't."
River just had a way of acquiring things.
"Doctor, we can't leave a Silence in the Tardis. If it's hunting time travelling devices..."
"I agree," he nodded at Amy. "But how do you propose we find something that we can't remember? It's a fascinating adaptation."
"I prefer the Weeping Angels," Rory muttered.
Rory thought seriously on that for a moment. "Actually, no."
Instead of a Vesparian Dusk party, River landed in the middle of a market crowd a few hundred years early. That's the thing with vortex manipulators – they were the cheap love child of time travel devices.
The shock of midday sun blinded her as she surveyed the street. Granite buildings towered to her left in crazy geometric shapes that defied gravity. Their surfaces shone almost as brightly as their closest star which, if viewed from the hills, made the city sparkle against the sands.
River ducked into the shadows, hunting through the markets until she'd acquired shoes and a long jacket to cover her ruined dress. She returned to the streets, heading toward the centre of the city where she hoped the Parliament building had been completed.
"So beautiful," she whispered, finding its (actually quite ungainly) structure nearly complete. The Vesparians were finishing off the carvings set into the limestone. River let her hand brush against the cool surface as she swept up the steps and vanished inside.
Her low level perception filter stopped anyone from questioning her presence as she slipped through the public libraries and into the private vaults at the centre of the building.
"Perfect," River murmured, advancing toward a narrow glass display case with three identical record device. Their gold spheres were indistinguishable from her time device.
River locked the sphere and took her lipstick out – first reapplying it to her lips before scrawling over the surface of the time device.
Fancy a date?
She didn't see the last creature hiding between the bookshelves. Its greedy, black eyes widened at the sight of the time device. It had waited so very long.