I sat up, yawning as I looked around. I was in the middle of a forest, and an old one by the looks of it. The trees were taller than any I'd ever seen in books or in reality, and wider around than my childhood home. The Doctor was on the forest floor a few feet away from me, sleeping soundly. I crawled over to him, realizing I'd never actually seen him sleep before. He was always in the control room, as far as I knew. But the Doctor looked peaceful when he did sleep. His face was more relaxed, less stressed and happier than I'd ever seen. His chest rose and fell slowly, and I hoped he was having a pleasant dream. I put my hand on his shoulder, gently shaking him awake.
"Doctor," I nearly whispered. He slowly blinked a few times, squinting from the bright sunlight streaming through the trees. For a second, the leaf canopy above him seemed to relax him again. Then his face pinched together and he sat straight up, looking around wildly.
"Where are we?" he asked me, managing to sound tired and slightly frightened at the same time. He took my face in his hands, staring me in the eye. "Clara, answer me, this is important. How did we get here?" I opened my mouth to respond with a clever comeback, when suddenly I realized I didn't have an answer. It had never occurred to me that we weren't supposed to be in the middle of a centuries-old forest. We simply were, and until that moment, that had been all the explanation I'd needed.
"I-I don't know," I stuttered. "I just woke up. I don't remember falling asleep." In the distance, I could hear the roar of a waterfall. It sounded far away, but loud enough for me to hear it, so I assumed it was a rather large one. Above us, a songbird of some sort tweeted out a song. Sort of like that noise you hear in cartoons when a character gets hit on the head with a bat. The birds fly around their heads and tweet. The Doctor looked up, searching for the birds up in the trees. "Do you know where we are, Doctor?"
"I have an idea," the Doctor said softly, seeming to look at every detail of the forest around us. "But I'm not sure how it's possible."
"Oh, it's possible, Doctor," a voice behind us said. The Doctor stood and spun around to face the noise in a single movement, graceful and precise. "You didn't think I'd leave that easily, did you?"
"How are you here?" the Doctor asked coldly. I turned my attention to the voice. It was a very short man, stout and dressed in a style similar to the Doctor's, but at the same time it wasn't. He wore a pinstripe button down shirt, with a tweed jacket over it and a red bow tie completing the odd look. The Doctor continued to stare at him coldly, and whoever this little man was, I knew he was no friend of ours.
"Oh, you didn't think you'd gotten rid of all that silly pollen, did you? There were just enough scattered bits left behind that they were able to find their ways to the center console, and once they did that, well, the rest was just too easy. I've been controlling your dreams for a long time, Doctor. And Clara's," he looked at me, still sitting on the ground, and clucked at me with his tongue. "What a mind she's got. She was able to push me away at first, take control of her own dreams. But I got stronger. And suddenly she wasn't able to do that anymore, were you, Clara?" I stood, staring at the back of the Doctor's head as he stared at the ground between his feet.
"I've been having nightmares for the past three or four months, Doctor. How did he know about the dreams?" the Doctor didn't look up, staying perfectly still as he stared at the ground. "Doctor, tell me how he knows."
The Doctor looked over his shoulder at me, his expression completely unreadable. "He said how he knows, weren't you listening?" he scolded me. "He's been controlling them. And mine. I should have realized sooner. I don't dream anymore. I haven't for a long time now." I turned back to face the little man, but he'd disappeared. I spun in a circle, searching for where he'd vanished off to.
"Who was he, Doctor?" I asked. He sighed, fully turning to face me. His hands were shoved in his pockets, and there was an uneasiness about him that frightened me.
"His name is the Dream Lord," the Doctor said, regaining his normal tone of speech. "I fought him a while back, a bit of spacey dream dust that had made its way into the TARDIS. He's not real. This forest isn't real. We're dreaming."
"Right now?" I asked, looking around again. "We're dreaming right now? But we're both dreaming the same thing. How does that even work?"
"It's the psychic pollen," the little Dream Lord man said, appearing in front of me. "I told you I'd had a lot of time to settle myself into the console, all it took was a gentle breeze and the dust floated into the air vents and found its way to you two."
"Where are we?" the Doctor asked. "In the TARDIS, right now, where are we sleeping?"
"Well, you're in the main console room," the Dream Lord said, pointing at the Doctor. "You actually could have slept for a lot longer if Clara here hadn't woken you up. You were, shall we say, at the center of the explosion. She's in the library." He pointed at me next, a flick of his thumb in my general direction.
"Ok, next question," the Doctor said, standing up a little straighter and slowly walking towards the Dream Lord. "What game are you playing this time? I know how to beat you; you can't do any real harm in reality. I die here, right now, and it's all over."
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" I cut in, staring at the Doctor. He ignored me, crouching down in front of the Dream Lord. I swear, sometimes I could practically take a tape measure and confirm that his legs are a mile long. "We die? Doctor!"
"Ah, you weren't paying attention," the Dream Lord said smugly. "I've had a lot of time to integrate myself into the main console. I can manipulate real objects now. Granted, only small things. Wind in the air vents, coordinates in the computer, little things like that." He turned and walked away, calling over his shoulder as he disappeared. "The game is the same, Doctor. Beat the alien, and you win. Fail to do so, and I'll send the TARDIS on a collision course for Gallifrey."
"That's impossible," the Doctor said, smiling slightly as he stood. "Gallifrey is time-locked. We can't just go there."
"Perhaps. But what if you collided with the time seal itself?" the Dream Lord said before vanishing completely. I stared at the spot he had vanished, and slowly looked to face the Doctor. He was staring into the woods too, but his face had turned into a look of pure horror.
"Doctor," I said slowly, stepping towards him. "What happens?" He looked at his hands, holding them in front of him as he stared.
"We…" he struggled, searching for the right words. "We disintegrate. Gallifrey's time-locked, the TARDIS could never survive crossing the line and being in normal and locked time zones at the same time, even for a nanosecond," he looked at me, fear filling his eyes. Spinning, the Doctor yelled into the sky. "The TARDIS won't let you put those coordinates in! She'll know perfectly well what happens if she hits the seal, and she will go into lockdown mode. Nothing gets in, or out, and the ship doesn't move until I activate the release which is hidden somewhere on the ship. She is a type 40 TARDIS, who at one point was an organ, and at another was a bitey mad lady, and she WILL STOP YOU!"
The Dream Lord materialized in front of the Doctor, laughing. "Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. Lots of time, remember?" he turned to walk away again, striding into the forest. A ways off, he turned and called back to us. "Oh, and there is a time limit, Doctor, so I would hurry." The Dream Lord vaporized, leaving the Doctor and I alone again.
"What's the time limit, Doctor?" I asked. "I didn't hear him say one." The Doctor looked around, confused but determined as he did so.
"He didn't. That's riddle number one. Time moves differently in dreams than it does in the real world. We could have been dreaming for hours now, or just minutes. So my first task is to figure out how much dream time we have to solve this alien problem."
The Doctor walked away, towards the direction of the waterfall in the distance. I hurried to catch up with him, and soon we broke through the tree line. We found ourselves standing at the top of a cliff surrounding the pool that the waterfall fell into. I was surprised that such a large waterfall could make such a quiet noise, until I noticed the world surrounding us. As far as I could see, mountains and valleys and forests and open plains were patched together over the ground. It was the most unreal place I'd ever seen.
"It's beautiful," I said, awed.
"Well of course it is," the Doctor said, spreading his arms out wide and gesturing to the planet around us. "It's a paradise planet, named App-" he stopped dead in his tracks, covering his mouth and nose with the collar of his jacket. He spun in a circle, as if he was trying to find a direction to run in.
"What's wrong?" I asked, panic beginning to form in the pit of my stomach. The Doctor stared at me for a moment, before he appeared to have realized something and brought his collar away.
"It's called Appalapachia," he said. "And I've just realized the time limit. The last time I was here, the planet was infected with a disease called the One-Day plague. You'd get it, and in twenty-four hours, you'd be dead. But this isn't the real planet. This is just a dream, a replica of Appalapachia. The disease doesn't exist here. It would kill me, and I'd wake up in reality. The Dream Lord doesn't want that," he said, clapping his hands together. "So, that's our time frame. Twenty-four hours." He looked at me and smiled, and I couldn't help but smiling back. The Doctor looked around at the space behind me and frowned, his forehead wrinkling up.
"Doctor?" I asked, turning to look where he was frowning at. "What is it?"
"Twenty-four hours," the Doctor said, looking behind himself at the planet we were on. "We only have twenty-four hours."
"That's bad?" I asked. "A minute ago, that was an ok thing."
"We have twenty-four hours to search this entire planet, for one tiny alien who probably is searching for us too. Well," the Doctor said, "unless the whole point is that we have to figure it out ourselves. That was the point last time."
"Last time," I said stepping in front of him so he couldn't look away. "You've fought him before."
"Yes, a long time ago. He was only floating dust back then. The stakes weren't this high last time. Well, I didn't know that at the time, but I figured it out in the end." The Doctor set off, following the cliff's edge at a brisk pace. I had to nearly jog to keep up with him.
"You fought his alien last time then," I said. "What did it look like? Maybe it's here too and we just have to find it."
"No, the in the last dream, we were in Leadworth. The aliens occupied the old people's home. We're in the middle of a paradise planet. No, we're looking for something vastly different. The Dream Lord is clever; he'll have hidden the aliens in plain sight. All we have to do is look," he stopped and looked up to the trees "closely."
"Well, the worst thing for us to do is stand here talking about it," I said. "We'll have a better chance of finding- whatever it is- if we cover more ground." The Doctor nodded, and we set off again, him memorizing every inch of the ground we passed, me trying to keep up and look around at the same time.
Suddenly the Doctor stopped dead in his tracks, shoving out his hand. It hit me square in the stomach, knocking whatever wind I had left in me, well, out. I looked at the Doctor first, and felt my stomach hit the floor. His face was frozen, shock and anger nearly knocking me off my feet. It was the most raw, open emotion I'd ever seen, and it was pure fury. I pulled my gaze away from him and towards the direction he was staring in. I saw it immediately, a column of black smoke rising up from the forest.
"Doctor, what's on fire?" I asked, trying to keep the panic out of my voice. "Is it the forest? Is the Dream Lord going to burn the whole planet?"
"No," the Doctor said quietly. "It's Chi. He's burning Chi down."
"Chi?" I asked. "Isn't that a Chinese life force or something?"
"Chi was the capitol city of Appalapachia long before the Chinese discovered the word. Where do you think humans got any of their words? Appalapachia has never been in a war- it's remained peaceful since it was first colonized, way, way back. Like Earth's Switzerland. Well, so far. Just wait until World War Four, the Swiss come out fighting!" He stopped himself, realizing that he'd broken his own rule of not telling me Earth's future. "We have to get over there," he concluded quickly.
"What, towards the burning city?" I gasped. He couldn't be serious.
"The 'Chians are the most peaceful species in the universe. They would never burn down their city. It's him. The Dream Lord. That's where he wants us to go." The Doctor turned to look at me, taking my face in his hands and pressing his forehead against mine. "Focus really hard on where we're going, Clara. I need to try something. Focus on Chi." I closed my eyes, and images of the city rushed into my head.
The city was beautiful, every single building held up with shining silver colonnades. Children ran laughing through the streets, but no one seemed to mind. I remembered what the Doctor had said about the Appalapachians being peaceful. There must be no crime at all in their main city. I saw an image of the city's center square; a bustle of people shopping and talking. In the middle of the square stood a giant fountain, the metal sculpted to match the range of mountains behind the tall buildings. The water ran down the mountains in small streams, before collecting in the pool at the bottom. The bottom of the fountain was filled with small metal disks, which I assumed was their change. So that must be where wishing on a fountain came from.
The images left as quickly as they'd come, and I felt the Doctor pull away. I opened my eyes and found myself standing behind the very fountain I'd just been imagining. It was even grander than the picture I'd seen, a few dozen feet high and at least twice that around.
"Clara," the Doctor said, taking hold of the top of my arm and snapping me out of my daze. "It worked. We're aware we're in a dream, so we can control at least a bit of it. Specifically, the traveling bit." He let go and took a few steps towards the fountain, gazing in. He took out a coin, rubbing it between his fingers and staring at it. Then he stashed the coin in his pocket and turned around to face the other way. I looked, too, and realized that around us, the city was burning. People were screaming, choking on smoke and running in every direction. But the square wasn't burning. It was completely unharmed, and we were the only two people in it.
"Doctor," I started, but I turned and realized he'd already set off towards the nearest burning building. I sprinted after him, and caught up just as we got to the line where the fire started. My heart stopped as I realized what was happening. The Appalapachians were still running and screaming and choking, but instead of running away from the fires, they were running to them. Everywhere, people were smashing windows and carrying torches, lighting anything that wasn't burning fiercely enough for them. And all the while, they were screaming for help.
"Somebody save us!" a woman screamed, sobbing as she hit a front door with a flamethrower. A child screamed for his mum as he shot a pistol that was much too big for him at a third story window. A man and his wife yelled to each other for help as beat each other with metal poles.
I noticed the Doctor stride past me, walking straight down the center of the street as guns and flamethrowers went off around him. I caught up with him again, trying to figure out where he was going as determined as he was. Halfway down the street, I noticed her. Her short dress was singed at the bottom and on the sleeves, as was her hair. But unlike anyone else we could see, she was standing in the road, looking scared. She wasn't screaming, or crying, or shooting at anyone, she was just standing there, looking around. We walked over to her, the Doctor immediately taking her face in his hands and staring at her. She jumped and struggled a little when she realized he wasn't going to let go, but soon stopped and stared right back at the Doctor.
"Who are you?" she asked, her voice only shaking a little bit.
"I'm the Doctor," he replied absently. "The question is, who are you? Why aren't you screaming also?" he asked, gesturing to the entire city around us.
"I-I don't know," she stammered, looking around again. "I was. I mean- I was screaming and hurting people and everything. I-I killed him. He was trying to kill me, and I killed him instead." The woman broke down, dropping to her knees and sobbing into her hands. I knelt down, wrapping my arms around her.
"Hey, calm down alright?" I said, hoping I sounded soothing rather than demanding. "Everything's going to be ok. This is the Doctor, which means he's going to fix everything. Right, Doctor?" I looked up at him, but his back was to us. He was staring at the chaos going on around us, his long hands on his hips.
"Anyway, he's going to save the whole city," I continued. "What is your name? I'm Clara. I travel with the Doctor."
"I'm Amelia," the woman said through her sobs. The Doctor spun, staring at Amelia. His face had contorted himself into a look of pure horror once again. I had a feeling that this dream thing was taking a larger toll on him than even these moments of raw emotion were showing.
"Ok, Amelia, nice to meet you," I said, smiling even though the Doctor had me genuinely scared at what we were dealing with. And even though I was very afraid that he would lose it. His emotional composition. "You said someone was trying to kill you. Who?"
"M-Melody," she said, breaking into sobs again. "My daughter. She was only four. But she had the kitchen knives and I couldn't get control over her. I killed her."
"Clara," the Doctor said, his voice sounding raw. I looked up as he grabbed my arm and pulled me to my feet. "We're leaving. Now." He dragged me away from Amelia, leaving her all alone and sobbing in the street.
"No," I said, breaking free. "You told me when we first met that we never walk away. What are you so afraid of? It's just a dream. She can't possibly be the alien we're supposed to fight."
"I need to have a moment to think," the Doctor said. "The Dream Lord has gone too far this time. TOO FAR!" he yelled at the sky, his voice actually breaking.
"What do you mean?" I asked him. He looked down at me, his eyes wet with tears. My heart hit the ground. "Doctor, what's going on?"
"Ask her what her neighbor is named. Amelia. Go ask her." The Doctor pushed me back towards Amelia. I walked over to her, kneeling next to her again. She had regained most of her composure, which I was very grateful for.
"Amelia?" I asked as she looked up at me. "The Doctor, he asked me to ask you what your neighbor's name was. He said it was important."
"What, Sarah Jane?" she said, confused and a little frightened by my question. "She wouldn't hurt a fly. Well, not normally. Why, has something happened?" Amelia actually stood up then, spinning around like she was looking for her friend. "She has a son, has something happened to him?"
"No, no," I said, putting my hand on her shoulder. "They're fine. The Doctor probably saw something and wanted to talk to them. I should go back, thank you for telling me, Amelia." I went back to the Doctor. I pretended I hadn't felt him watching us the entire time with his arms folded tightly across his chest.
"What did she say?" he asked, almost a little too quickly.
"Just a woman named Sarah Jane and her son. Ordinary people, Doctor." I watched his face tighten up as I said the woman's name. "They seemed like friends, her and Amelia."
"Oh, they would be," he said, almost to himself. The Doctor's face relaxed, and he seemed to be staring through me more than at me. "I'd never get an opinion in between the both of them…" he trailed off, even smiling a little. As if he'd forgotten completely about the outright war being fought around us.
"Doctor!" I cried, dropping as a window behind me shattered. Through all the noise around us, I couldn't tell what exactly had broken it. The Doctor snapped out of his daze, dropping to the ground next to me and covering me with his body. Once he was sure no one was shooting at us, he sat up on his knees, breathing heavily.
"Alright, first things first, but not necessarily in that order. One, we need to find this alien we have twenty-four hours to beat. Two, we need to find a clever way to beat it. C- no- three, we need to successfully defeat it. And four, we need to save this city, which may or may not have anything to do at all with our primary focus." He clapped his hands, jumping to his feet in one fluid motion and spinning.
"Wait," I said, climbing to my feet as well. "You're saying this whole burn-down-the-city battle isn't part of the Dream Lord's game at all?"
"Well of course it is," the Doctor said, scolding me. "I just haven't figured out how yet. But I do know one thing; he's trying to make me angry." He took off, striding over to Amelia. I ran to catch up, struggling to understand. "Amelia," he said. "Can we find a quiet place to sit? Your house, perhaps?"
"Of course," Amelia said. "It's probably safer than out here in the street, you're right." As it happened, we had found Amelia just outside of her apartment building. She led us up the stairs to the third floor, narrowly avoiding a woman smashing a window with a dining room chair. She pushed open her door, the lock broken off. Inside, the small apartment was quaint. The Doctor sat down on the couch, stretching his legs out comfortably.
"Amelia," he said, appearing to become more used to calling her that. "Would you happen to have any tea? I would love a cuppa right now." Amelia nodded, heading into the kitchen on the other side of the apartment.
"They have tea on Appalapachia?" I wondered aloud.
"Oh, humanity," the Doctor mused. "Always so sure that you've invented everything all by yourselves." He stopped, looking at me as if he were waiting for me to catch on to something.
"Why?" I asked quietly, sensing what the Doctor had just done. "How is he trying to make you angry?"
"Because," he said. He paused, rubbing his hands together nervously. "Amelia, Sarah Jane. I… traveled with them. In the past. And I'm willing to bet that every person in this city is named after someone I've known at some point."
"But why would the Dream Lord do that? What does he possibly gain?" I asked. The Doctor glanced at me, running his hands together again. He suddenly stopped, his hand reaching for his pocket.
"Clara," he said, his eyes growing large. "How many people in this city aren't running around wildly?"
"Just one, as far as we can tell," I said slowly. "Amelia. Why?" The Doctor pulled out the coin from the fountain out of his pocket, holding it up in the air between two fingers.
"There were thousands of coins in that fountain," the Doctor said, his voice picking up a little excitedly. "All exactly like this, all still shiny new! Which means they were all put there at the same time. How many fountains have you been to where every coin in it was exactly the same?"
"Never," I said, fitting the pieces together. "So that means, the coins are taking control of the people?"
"The coins are taking control of the people!" he laughed. "Psychic Coins, that's new!"
"So, if we take the coins out of the fountain…" I began, understanding how we had to defeat the Dream Lord.
"The city will go back to normal," the Doctor finished. He stood, smiling as Amelia came back into the room carrying a tray with three cups of tea on it. The Doctor took his, immediately spinning and putting it down on the very Earth-like coffee table. "Amy, we're going to stop the Dream Lord!"
"I'm sorry?" Amelia stammered as the Doctor grabbed her hand. I managed to take the tray from her before she dropped it and placed it on the floor. The Doctor nearly dragged Amelia halfway to the door before she was able to finish. "Why did you call me Amy?" He released her hand, running excitedly the rest of the distance to the door.
"Oh, come along P-" the Doctor quickly cut off, turning in the door frame with his lips still pursed together for whatever word he was going to say next. He paused, taking several deep breaths before continuing. "Come on," he finally got out. The Doctor left, his footsteps disappearing in all the noise outside. Amelia turned to look at me, her mouth slightly open and her eyebrows furrowed.
"We'd better follow the Doctor," I said, changing the subject. I had just as many questions as she did, and just as few answers. "I don't want to get separated from him for too long. Never know who we'll run into." I ran down the flights of stairs, not wanting to have to bear an elevator ride with Amelia. I heard her follow me, and the two of us ran side by side back the way the Doctor and I had come before. We caught up with him just on the edge of the town square, pointing his sonic screwdriver at thin air.
"Doctor?" Amelia and I said together as we ran up. She mirrored me as I looked at her, and together we burst out into giggles.
"Honestly!" the Doctor said, looking at the pair of us. "This is not the time! I've encountered a slight problem. But I have a plan!" Amelia and I regained our composure, and the three of us turned to look at the fountain.
"What do you mean, a slight problem?" I asked, mimicking the Doctor as I quoted him.
"We can't get to the fountain," the Doctor said. I stared at him, about to ask him what on Appalapachia he meant. "There's some sort of wibbly-wobbly force field around it. Around exactly the perimeter of the square. It must have been there when we arrived; it must be one-way. People can get to the war, but not away from it."
"So we're stuck here?" I asked, not believing my own ears. "We're stuck here as the entire city tears itself apart, and there's nothing we can do about it?"
"Oh, of course there's something we can do about it," the Doctor said, scolding me.
"Then what is it?"
"I don't know, I haven't finished talking yet," he said. He turned to Amelia, fishing the silver coin out of his pocket and holding it up to her. "When did Chi begin wishing on fountains?" he asked. "You've never done this before, so why now?"
"Doctor, this is just a dream," I reminded him. "It's the Dream Lord's game; he can probably make up anything he wants to."
"No, this is solid history. The Dream Lord can't change that, no matter how powerful he gets. These people have real memories, their history is real. It's only their minds that have been altered." He turned back to Amelia, nodding at her to continue.
"Legend says," Amelia began, flinching as a door behind her was kicked in, but quickly recomposing herself. "That there was a man, long ago, when the fountain was first built. As they laid the last brick, he stepped forward, claiming to be the God of Dreams. He told our people that he had cast a powerful spell on the fountain; that anyone who dropped a single coin into it would find their deepest wish a reality. People have been putting coins into the fountain for centuries."
"No, they haven't. They just think they have." The Doctor said. "The Dream Lord has altered your mind, a simple perception filter. The legend, however, that takes much more power. A memory is much harder to place in a dream than a simple physical object. He's pulling out all the stops this time. He's playing to win. That's why all the coins look so new. They are new."
"So, the Reverie has been changing my memories?" Amelia said. The Doctor stared at her, obviously confused. "The Reverie, the God of Dreams."
"Ah, of course!" he smiled, patting her shoulder. "But no, he hasn't really. There's no way he's that powerful. It's just a very strong perception filter- he can throw any idea at all into the fountain and have you all covered in it instantly. The fountain, that's how he's projecting these ideas." The Doctor rambled on, getting lost in his own train of thought. I snapped my fingers in his face, quite effectively bringing him back to the present.
"Doctor!" I said loudly. "That still leaves us with a problem. How do we get to the fountain?"
"I don't know," the Doctor admitted. "We have to block out the signal somehow, override it with something more powerful." He spun, flicking out his sonic and pointing it up at the sky. It buzzed green, and he stared at it intently. Facing the street again, he pointed it a child running across the street and closed his eyes hard. The boy stopped, slowly but surely coming out of the Dream Lord's perception filter. Then, just as soon as he'd gone back to normal, the Doctor opened his eyes and the boy went mad again. He ran off to the hat shop across the street, screaming loudly for help.
"What did you do?" Amelia asked excitedly. The Doctor flicked his sonic shut again, placing it back in his jacket.
"I over rid the perception filter. Well, for a moment. Now, all we need to do is amplify it. The filter will be pushed back towards its source as more people stop acting mad, and it will collect-"
"Right here," I finished.
"Exactly. Well, inside the square, which is the one place the Dream- the Reverie- doesn't want it. The resulting resonance created will break down this barrier and we can get to the fountain and stop everyone permanently. It's only a basic perception barrier. The pressurized filter should crack it right open!" The Doctor rubbed his hands together excitedly, grinning like a child.
"Brilliant, Doctor!" Amelia said. "How do we amplify it?"
"Simple, I'll just set the sonic to the correct setting and connect it to the TARDIS console. It'll act as a giant speaker, sending the blocker over the whole city."
"We don't have the TARDIS, Doctor," I said. He stopped, staring at me.
"Right," he said, realizing the flaw in his plan. "Right, I'll just have to be extremely clever and find a different way to amplify it!" Suddenly, Amelia let out a blood-curdling scream. She fell to the ground, covering her head with her arms.
"Amelia," I yelled, dropping down next to her. She stopped screaming, choosing instead to sob again. "What's wrong, what happened?"
"I don't know," she made out between sobs. "I want to hit you, Clara. Why do I want to hit you?" I looked up, staring at the Doctor as he stared down at Amelia.
"Doctor, why is she becoming violent again? I thought we'd fixed that when we took her coin out of the fountain." He smacked his forehead, pinching his face together.
"Oh, I am so thick," he said. "The coins are just a distraction. We're fighting something else. Something entirely different."
"What do you mean?" I asked him. From the corner of my eye, I watched Amelia sit on her hands and bite her lip.
"The coins only enhance whatever is making the city violent," he put his hands up to the invisible wall of the barrier, staring at the fountain. "Whatever it is, it must be somewhere in the courtyard."
"So we still have to get through the barrier," I said. "What do we need to amplify our signal?"
"Large speakers, and a lot of them. But without the TARDIS, I don't know where we're going to find enough. If any."
"You could use the radios," Amelia suggested, dragging herself to her feet. She clasped her hands behind her back tightly.
"That's brilliant, Amelia!" the Doctor rewarded. "I know exactly how this is going to work! Well, hopefully. Clara, Amelia, I need you to go into every home you can around the city and tune every radio to station," he paused, pulling out his sonic screwdriver and staring at it. "376. Got that?"
"The city's in chaos," I reminded him. "We'd be dead before we finished the street." The Doctor smiled, pulling two keys from his pocket. He handed one to each of us.
"These are spare TARDIS keys," he told us. "Like the TARDIS, they have a perception filter over them. Through all this madness, nobody should notice you at all. I'm going to go find the highest point in town so I can broadcast the strongest signal." The Doctor straightened his bow tie, and I mouthed along with him to Amelia as he yelled. "Geronimo!"
Amelia and I ran off, her taking all the houses on the left side of the street and me taking the right. The Doctor had been right, people barely noticed us as we ran up and down stairs and streets. In what felt like no time at all, we had turned on every radio we could find, turned the volume all the way up, and set them to station 376. Amelia and I ran back to where we'd last seen the Doctor, nearly collapsing on top of each other and gasping for breath.
"Where is he?" Amelia asked. We searched the skyline for him, and eventually I spotted him on top of a building similar to America's White House. The Doctor was standing precariously on the top spiral, holding on tightly to it with one hand and his sonic screwdriver in the air with the other. I waited for any sign that our plan had worked, but the city continued to run around in madness.
Then, suddenly, in the same split second, every window still luckily intact shattered. A voice rang out, amplified in every single home.
"Hellooooo, Appalapachia!" the Doctor's voice yelled. "Please remain calm, the Doctor will see you now!" the noise from his sonic screwdriver took over, bouncing off every angle and stopping everyone in their tracks. I covered my ears with me hands, and an overwhelming sense of joy and calmness overcame me. It wiped away every negative thought from my mind, leaving only happiness. I smiled to myself, noticing that Amelia and every other citizen in the city were smiling too. I closed my eyes, allowing myself to sink into the sea of serenity. If Earth had spas where you went and did this for a treatment, I'd never leave.
A large shattering sounded behind me. Amelia and I surged forward, covering our heads and faces from the glass that was going to hit us any moment. However, as I opened my eyes, I realized that the sound was only the noise of the perception barrier shattering under the pressure of the filter being pushed back.
After a few more minutes, the noise stopped, and I looked around at the city. Everybody was hugging each other with relief, thankful that their enslavement was over. Amelia hugged me too, though I knew that in a moment their violence would return if we didn't empty the fountain.
The Doctor came into view, the entire city joining him as he ran pass them. I stood up, very aware of my position in the middle of the street. I dragged Amelia up and ran for the fountain, stopping at the edge and motioning the city to run towards it. The Doctor led the crowd to the fountain, climbing up on one of the spigots and waving his arms about.
"Hello, I'm the Doctor," he yelled. The city turned to look at him happily. "I need everyone to take a coin out of the fountain. The coins are what have been forcing you to be so violent. Once you've done that, you can begin rebuilding your city." The crowd began taking the coins out, some people taking more than one. We watched as slowly the square emptied, and the Doctor jumped down.
"That was brilliant," I said to him. The Doctor smiled, straightening his bow tie again. "What did you override the perception filter with?"
"Happy thoughts," he answered. "I thought about all the happy times I've had travelling and amplified them. Worked like a charm. Now, for this sneaky little alien," he said, pulling a brick out of the fountain. It slipped away smoothly, revealing an open center underneath. I stooped over, looking into it.
"That's a worm," I said, letting the Doctor see. He took his jacket off, using it as a glove and pulling the thick red worm from its hiding place.
"It's a Triphorite," he said, holding it tightly. "Closely related to the Memory Worm I was going to use on you in Victorian England. It feeds on emotion instead of memories. By forcing the city to destroy everything against their will, so much fear was created that I'm sure he could feed on what he's absorbed alone for the rest of his life. They're usually scavengers, forcing their subject to do something simple- trip over nothing, forget why they came into a room- and feeding off of the victim's shock."
"So these things are everywhere?" I asked. "Earth too?"
"Of course," he replied. "Haven't you ever said something without thinking it through, and later you can't even remember why you said it? That's the work of a Triphorite. They can't usually control a whole city, but the fountain and the coins amplified the signal so much that it became powerful enough to. But we'll take care of it." He walked over to Amelia, smiling down at her. "Goodbye, Amelia."
"Bye, Doctor," she replied, returning his smile. She hugged his waist, and he held the Triphorite away from her with one hand as he hugged her back.
"Amelia, imagine the place where we woke up in the woods. We're going to travel back there. Are you ready?" He took my hand, and I nodded. I closed my eyes, imagining where I'd woken up this morning. The Doctor released my hand, and I opened my eyes. I followed him as he walked back towards the direction of the waterfall.
"How do you plane to get rid of it?" I asked as we came to the cliff.
"The Triphorate are an aquatic species," he responded, giving the worm one last look. He tossed it over the cliff, and it landed in the pool below with a quiet splash. "That's why it hid under the fountain. Plenty of leaks to keep it alive. With all the fear it packed up from the city, it will be able to go the rest of its life without feeding again." He grabbed my hand, pulling me back just before I fell over the edge. He collapsed on the ground next to me as my vision grew blurry.
"Doctor?" I got out sleepily.
"We're waking up, that's all," he said, his own eyelids closing.
I sat up in the TARDIS' library, everything back to normal as if nothing had happened. Running out into the corridor, I quickly found my way back to the main console room. The Doctor was already awake, hanging in a hammock chair under the console and messing with wires.
"What are you doing?" I asked. He pulled off a pair of goggles, kicking his feet like a child on a swing.
"Wiring in a virus for the TARDIS," he replied, gesturing up to the mess of wires as if it was obvious. "So she can hunt down the psychic pollen and get it out of her system. Release it into space." He patted a wire gently. The TARDIS coughed, and I ran to the doors. Flinging them open, I found the space outside filled with clouds of gold dust floating away towards the stars.