Whispers before the Darkness
a story by J. Merrick
Timeline/spoilers: Post-The Name of the Doctor.
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who.
Summary: Don't stop running, that's how He finds you. Just pray the Mad God of Time will save you. An 11/Clara horror story.
He had been running. He had been running for days and he couldn't stop. If he stopped He would catch up to him. He didn't want that to happen.
He would eat him.
Every shadow was a possibility. Every shadow was eternity. Every whispered breath was doom.
He only dared to stop long enough to catch his breath.
He couldn't stop to sleep; that was how He caught you.
He couldn't stop to eat; that was how He found you.
He couldn't stop to talk; that was how He trapped you.
The book had said to avoid rooms that had corners. The book had said to avoid candles. The book had said to avoid mirrors that faced each other. The book had said to avoid walking through three open doorways in a row.
If he disobeyed He could be summoned.
If he strayed He would catch up.
If he got sloppy He would claim his soul.
While reading the book he knew the mistake that he had made, the call was merely a ruse that He used to gather those that were unfortunate enough. He only fed upon those whose minds were healthy enough to consume.
He only consumed you by driving you mad.
He wanted you to run till the end of your days.
He wanted you to know that he was lurking just out of reach
He was waiting for you to make the fatal mistake.
The first mistake was merely entering the house. The third mistake was leaving the house. It was the only house that was protected. It was a sanctuary; it was a gilded cage. He surrounded it though, his presence enough to force you to leave the only place that He couldn't reach. His presence just always out of reach yet suffocating.
Lurking at the end of every word.
Crouching over your shoulder before you turned around.
Hovering over you while you slept.
The book had said that merely by reading it he had damned himself. It was the second step that He used, for you sealed your fate merely by opening the cover. The book told you everything that you needed to know about what was going to claim your soul. The book made sure you knew the revelation before your mortal death.
There was only one path to immortality.
There was only one path forever more.
There was only one path out of the house.
And it all ended in suffering.
You knew that He was getting close when you heard his hounds. You heard their howl first, as the day died into the night. Then you heard their panting while you walked, trying to put distance between their awful shriek and your body. Then you heard them scratching on every wall, panting behind every door, stalking their prey.
Getting ready to deliver you to Him.
The book had said that which is not dead may eternal lie and with strange eons even death could die. He had heard the whispers while in Arkham, of the Mad Man in the Box. The Lonely God. The Walker of the Fourth Dimension.
He was his only hope.
As it was, he knew that He would catch up to him soon. If he couldn't save himself in the moments he had left before his eternity, he could perhaps save someone else. There were no known words, phrases, or rituals which could conclusively bring the Mad God of Time, but there was clues that would eventually bring his attention. Unfortunately he had to enter a room.
A room with four corners.
After three open doors.
He quickly carved the sigil into the wall of the museum, before dropping the book on the floor underneath into the exhibit itself. He turned around with his arms stretched wide, seeing the tell tale smoke of the Hounds.
His screams summoned the guards, who only saw a pile of ash on the floor.
They fortunately did not see the sigil on the wall.
The Mad God of Time was summoned.
X X X
"I think you only like coming to these to gloat," Clara accused the Doctor in a playful manner as they walked through the museum, "I bet you like taking all the girls away in your snog box to show off how you appear in some way shape or form in all these exhibits."
"It's not gloating, it's only minor correcting," the Doctor responded with a mock glare, as Clara raised an eyebrow in his general direction, "Why I'll have you know that Vincent van Gogh painted a portrait specifically for me!"
"Why is it that you try to impress me with these stories of all these men of history that had crushes on you?" Clara asked in return as she walked past, smiling over her shoulder as the Doctor sputtered.
"Remind me to never introduce you to Jack," was the only response he gave as a pout came over his features.
"Aw, cheer up, Chin," Clara said with a playful smile, running her figure over the body part she had recently begun referring to as his Lantern Jaw of Time, "You forget, an echo of mine did meet him. Naughty man."
This had the effect of causing the Doctor to close his eyes and sigh, resulting in a loud laugh coming from Clara, which caused the other patrons of the museum to look at the pair with slightly cross eyes. Giving an embarrassed smile, she slipped her hand into the Doctor's and walked away with him.
After the events which caused her to split echos of herself across all of time and space, the Doctor had been bringing her to the many different libraries and museums of the universe. She had been having trouble separating the lives of her echos from that of her own life, when they had accidentally come across a library one day. Suddenly, pieces of her echos started to make sense as she could associate what she was seeing with the lives already and yet to be lived.
Any further thinking on that subject brought about a headache, and she was willing to concede that she should just accept it worked. Plus, it had the side benefit of watching the Doctor do his own version of flirting by pointing out to her all the aspects of history that he was responsible for.
He had refused to enter a few, however, including The Library. When those had been suggested he had gotten a look on his face that she knew was one of lose.
Before she had been split through time she only knew he had bad memories, know she knew what those memories were. She knew why he carried the pain the he did. As much of their tour of the universe was to help heal her mind, it was just as much of an exercise of her helping him through the pain of having to relive all his lives as the Great Intelligence tried to rewrite them.
So they traveled. They sorted out the memories that she had been written into, the lives that had been and will be. They worked out where they stood in time.
They stood closer to each other than they had previously.
He brought her home every couple of days, and spent those days holding her hand as they walked through Trafalgar Square before popping into the TARDIS to see the Museum of the Alaskan Memorial thirty thousand light years away. She brought him over for tea in Hammersmith with her friends before they went to see a visual reproduction ("They find the term 'movies' to be insulting," he had said while eating a banana) of the Fall of the Headless Monks.
Just earlier this evening they had been having dinner with the Maitland's (she had actually introduced him to George as he ended up spending so much time at their house as it was), before the TARDIS had delivered them to this museum in Boston. Next week they actually had plans to have dinner with her Dad, so that he could meet her father properly.
It was one step at a time, but it was them. It made no sense, but was filled with their own logic at the same time.
Clara was broken out of her thoughts when she felt her hand pulling like the Doctor wasn't moving. She turned and looked, he was staring quite intently at the wall of one of the exhibits, unmoving.
"Doctor?" she voiced, getting slightly worried. She looked into the exhibit and noticed nothing truly amiss, it was on the superstitions of the settlers of the New World, "What's wrong?"
"Clara," he began, hesitatingly "Look at the wall, and tell me what you see."
She raised her eyebrow at the request, but still complied. She didn't notice anything truly wrong or out of place – or anything that would even warrant the Doctor's attention beyond a mere statement of how they had gotten something wrong and a cheeky look in her direction.
"I'm not seeing anything Doctor," she responded, causing him to sigh like he normally did when she was missing something that he deemed totally obvious. He opened his mouth to speak before closing it, and getting a softer look on his face.
"I forget how your brain is still sorting through all it's new data," he said with a smile, her transgression apparently forgiven, "I'll give you a hint. There is something on the wall which should not be there, and is written in a language long since dead."
She took another look at the back wall and after a second she noticed. One of the drawings on the wall wasn't just for decoration: it was a word crudely written in High Gallifrian. Closing her eyes and summoning the tendrills of her life lived on the Doctor's home planet she reopened them to see if she could read what it said.
"Doctor," she asked after a moment, "That says 'Help.'"
"I know," he responded, "And River would have signed it with something much more creative."
He looked around, causing her to sigh. She knew what came next.
"Would you mind keeping a look out?" he asked as he jumped into the exhibit, sonic screwdriver out.
She complied as she heard him scan just about everything in the exhibit before shouting, "Ah ha!"
She turned back around as he vaulted out holding a book in his hands that gave her the chills just looking at it. He grabbed her hand with a worried expression on his face.
"Doctor, what is that thing?" she asked as they hurriedly walked down the steps out of the museum, towards the park where they had left the TARDIS. He just shook his head and kept walking faster, causing her to have to almost jog to keep up.
"Doctor!" she insisted, grabbing onto his hand and bringing him to a stop, "What is wrong? What is that?"
"Something of great evil," he responded, holding it off to the side but still in his field of view, "Something I thought was destroyed a long time ago."
He took a deep breath, before finishing with a low almost whispered voice, "Something which should not be."
It was at that moment where she felt like something was watching her over her shoulder. She paused for a second to look, but just shook her head as she walked into the TARDIS.
It had started.
End Chapter One
A/N: Thanks for reading, please review to let me know what you think so far! It's going to be a bumpy ride!