Well there is..."
Something has gone wrong with the Doctor, the TARDIS, and time itself as they whisk Jack and Martha away from Torchwood. But where are they going? And whats Rose, a Dalek ruled Earth, a strange book, and some psychic paper got to do with anything?
Jack pounded along the walkway of the hub, with Martha following close behind him. As he ran, fumbling with doors and inwardly cursing the fact that some had to be pushed, while others pulled, a wide smile plastered itself onto his face. He liked seeing the Doctor, no, scrap that, he loved seeing the Doctor. And as he skidded into his office he beamed at the sight of the TARDIS.
‘Oh, my god,’ said Martha, peering over Jack’s shoulder, ‘it really is him.’
But the happiness felt by Jack, and the overall curiosity felt by both as to why the Doctor had suddenly appeared, did not last long. From inside the blue box came the muffled, yet unmistakable sound of the cloister bell, tolling out a relentless warning. Smoke began pouring out from the gaps in the door and, to Jack and Martha, it looked almost as if the ship was shuddering and quaking.
The TARDIS doors flew open, filling Jack’s office with deafening clangs, and the Doctor staggered out of the smoke, clutching his head. For a second he seemed disorientated and unsure of where he was, but then he looked up, and his eyes locked into theirs.
‘Computer!’ he said suddenly.
‘Where’s the computer, Jack!?’
Utterly baffled, Jack pointed to his desk and the Doctor rushed over to it, fumbling to pull out his sonic screwdriver as he threw himself into Jack’s chair. With the smoke from the TARDIS seeping over their feet, Jack and Martha exchanged a look. But the urgency of the Doctor’s voice outweighed their confusion, and they hurried to his side.
‘What’s going on?’ asked Martha.
But the Doctor didn’t answer her. Instead, he was staring intently at the screen, screwdriver whirring in his hand, as pages and pages of words and files flittered past, far too fast for their vision.
‘Doctor?’ Martha said.
In a sudden flash of frustration, the Doctor thumped his fist into the keyboard and then smacked his hand against his head again, letting off almost a growl of pain and anger.
‘Doctor?’ said Jack.
‘What!’ he cried, spinning round to face him. ‘What is it!?’
Jack clenched his jaw at the challenge. ‘Just… tell us what’s going on,’ he said, trying to sound soothing.
For a few seconds the Doctor stared, eyes flitting between Jack and Martha, and then he sagged and buried his head in his hands. It pounded every time he tried to concentrate and it was affecting his other senses. The office around him and the faces of his friends swam in and out of focus, and the thudding bell of his distressed ship seemed to be screaming in his ears.
The confusion he felt before was still there too, still straining against the intelligence and logic of his brain. He had to try so hard… had to use so much energy in just remembering the two people in front of him. And they wouldn’t be able to feel it would they? No… no of course not... He tried to focus again. If he screwed up his eyes tight enough, he could almost shut out the inner turmoil. There were more important things to think about, weren’t there?
Were there? At the moment he wasn’t so sure anymore.
With a huge amount of effort, he raised his head and looked straight into Jack’s face. The man wanted answers. Silently, trying to ignore the whine of his beloved ship, the Doctor pointed vaguely at the computer screen. Instantly, both Jack and Martha peered at it.
‘The Torchwood archives?’ questioned Martha, shooting a sidelong glance at the Doctor.
‘All our history, accounts, reports, members, deaths, everything,’ said Jack. ‘Recorded from the first week Torchwood was created, right up until a few hours ago.’ He turned to look at the Doctor again, who was slowly rubbing his forehead and staring at the screen with a vacant look on his face. ‘What about it?’
‘Jack!’ gasped Martha, ‘look! All the words are… they’re…’
Jack turned; confusion etched onto his face, he glanced down at the screen again. And then his eyes widened, and his mouth slowly dropped open. From right in front of his eyes, the Torchwood archives were disappearing. Reels and reams of words and files were vanishing even as he stared. Words were erased, and then rows, and then whole paragraphs… lost forever.
‘What the hell is going on?’
‘Computer virus?’ suggested Martha. But even as Jack shook his head she knew it wasn’t. Tosh would have picked up on something like that; their hugely advanced system would have flushed out an infection before it even presented a problem.
Both of their eyes traveled back to the Doctor. He had slumped further down in the chair, his pale face vacant, and his chest rising in sharp, shallow breaths. If his eyes hadn’t been open and rooted so firmly and fearfully to the computer screen, you would have thought he was dead. Martha glanced back and Jack and the message between them clear: what ever the problem was, it was much worse than a simple virus.
Martha knelt down beside the Doctor and shook his arm.
He didn’t respond.
Suddenly, from right behind her, the TARDIS let out and ear splitting scream, loud enough to shake the whole room. Jack and Martha instantly spun around to look at it, trying in vain to cover their ears from the noise. Through the open door, the console was just visible, fizzing and spitting red-hot sparks, and the bell rang out more sharply than ever.
The Doctor was on his feet in an instant, staring wildly around in confusion. Once again, his eyes focused on Jack and Martha and just for a second, just before the urgency of his voice set in, it almost seemed like he didn’t know who they were.
‘Get in the TARDIS!’ he shouted.
Without hesitation, Jack gripped onto Martha’s arm and he pulled her into the ship after the Doctor. There wasn’t even time to think, let alone argue back, before the Doctor had smashed a mallet into the console and the TARDIS had lunged out of time.
Once in the vortex things would make more sense… at least, that’s what the Doctor had been trying to convince himself. But somewhere deep inside he knew he couldn’t really run from it, it would always catch up. Jack and Martha were safe in the vortex, and the walls of the TARDIS would protect them. But not him. Not this time.
‘Doctor, take me back!’ snapped Martha. ‘I don’t want to go anywhere!’
‘Not now!’ hissed the Doctor, inwardly trying to fight back the panic he felt. Why couldn’t he remember her name?
Martha was almost hysterical. ‘Don’t you dare take me anywhere! Go back!’
‘Can’t,’ he croaked, trying to focus on the console.
‘Why? What’s going on!?’
But once again, he seemed to ignore her and in her desperation, she turned imploringly to Jack. He seemed to have a connection that she’d never shared with the Time Lord, and in this situation, he would be the best hope of sorting everything out.
Jack shook his head and approached the Doctor, almost hesitantly. When the Doctor had given the command, he’d reacted without a second thought, knowing that the Time Lord was doing what was best for them. But it wasn’t as simple as that anymore.
‘Doctor,’ he said loudly, over the clamor of the bell, ‘we didn’t want to be taken away from the Hub… I didn’t want to be taken away from my team, but if you just explain what’s going on-’
‘Nothings going on,’ the Doctor hissed, ‘everything’s fine, everything’s the way it always was, even if the way it always was wasn’t always that way.’
Jack couldn’t even begin to decipher the meaning behind his friend’s words, so instead he said, ‘is there an alien threat? Is the Earth in danger?’
‘Then what the hell-!’ began Martha.
The Doctor spun around and pointed a finger threateningly at her. ‘You shut up, you!’ he snapped, and then turned back to the console just as the whole ship lurched sideways.
Jack and Martha were flung violently to the metal floor of the ship, as more angry sparks leapt up from the central column. Both passengers floundered on the floor as the ship tilted and shuddered alarmingly, and were therefore unaware of the Doctor pressing both palms into his eyes and groaning piteously.
By the time Jack had scrambled up, pulling Martha along with him, the Time Lord was back at the controls, flailing pointlessly at the buttons and switches.
‘Doctor,’ Jack tried again, ‘if nothings happening to Earth, then why don’t you take us back? We can sort out the TARDIS once we land and I can check up on my team…?’
The Doctor’s reply was abrupt and blunt, and he didn’t even look up:
‘They’re all gone.’
Jack blinked and took a step backwards, not fully registering what the Doctor had said, or the meaning behind it. Martha stepped forward from behind him, and began saying something to the Doctor, but the words seemed muffled and lost on Jack.
Somewhere inside his mind, the part of Jack that was truly human, the part that would always cling on to the smallest ray hope, spoke up. Gone wasn’t the same as dead. If they were dead, then the Doctor would have said… So, they were alive… and the Doctor was keeping him from them.
‘What do you mean “they’re all gone”?’ Martha persisted.
The Doctor hissed between his teeth and fumbled with the console once more.
‘Take me back,’ Jack finally said. His voice was calm and quiet, but somehow it carried over the din of the ship. The Doctor ignored him.
‘Doctor, take me back!’ he said again.
‘Take me BACK!’ Jack roared.
In a second, he rushed forward and grabbed the Doctor by both shoulders, spinning him violently around to face him. How could the Doctor not understand? How could he take him away from his team, his life, and tell him he couldn’t see them again?
And then he stopped.
Because the look on the Doctor’s face, was enough to explain everything.
The TARDIS shuddered and let out a piteous, creaking moan, but the urgency and panic that had radiated from it before was somehow more shallow, and distant. Still held tightly, unable to turn away from his friend, the Doctor finally met Jack’s eyes.
‘I’ve gone blind, Jack,’ he whimpered.
His voice was so quiet that, for a second, Jack wasn’t even sure he had said anything at all. He stared down at the Time Lord, appalled, but mostly confused, since he was positive that the Doctor was looking straight at him. Yes, he was definitely looking at him, because his dark, hollow eyes were flitting backwards and forwards between Jack’s own sharp, blue ones.
‘I can’t see the universe.’
‘Where’s the universe gone, Jack?’
The time agent suddenly became aware of the Doctor’s body, shaking beneath his grip. He sounded like a little child, lost and frightened.
‘Doctor?’ Jack said again, more urgently as the Time Lord closed his pain-filled eyes. But there was no response. Jack shot an alarmed look at Martha, who hadn’t heard anything that had just been said.
‘He says he can’t see.’
‘But… he was looking right at you!’
‘I know, damn it!’ Jack clenched his jaw and tried to sound calm. ‘Something’s wrong, Martha. The Doctor took us away for a reason.’
‘I don’t care what he said, something bad is happening. And right here, right now, inside the TARDIS, inside the void, is the only place we’re safe.’
‘Safe from what?’ she whispered.
‘I wish I knew.’
The Doctor suddenly tensed, arching his back and gritting his teeth as he let out a barely controlled cry of anguish. Martha instantly rushed forward, intercepting Jack from the Time Lord and trying to examine him. For an instant, Jack was almost glad she had stepped up her role as medic, but then confusion and panic etched itself on his face again as the Doctor tried to push Martha away.
‘Don’t,’ he muttered thickly, ‘I need to-’
There was a pause, and the TARDIS shuddered again. It was growing more frantic once more, the momentary lull in its confusion already passing.
‘…do… something…’ the Doctor finished.
‘What?’ asked Martha gently, trying to support the Doctor as best as she could. Realizing she needed help, Jack knelt down as well, and gripped the Doctor’s other arm.
‘I don’t know.’
Over the top of his head, Martha and Jack exchanged a look of concern.
‘We need to get him back to Torchwood,’ said Martha firmly. ‘I can help him there.’
Jack shook his head.
‘The Doctor said they were gone.’
‘And you believe him? In this state?’
With barely any hesitation, Jack nodded, and Martha’s face fell.
‘They… can’t be dead…’ she whispered.
‘I didn’t say dead, I just said gone!’ the Doctor suddenly retorted. He tried to raise himself from the floor, but seemed unable to control his body and ended up sinking back to his knees again.
‘Vanished, absent, missing, misplaced, lost…’ he continued thickly, and he raised his weary head to look at them. ‘They’re gone, Jack,’ he said quietly. His eyes flickered briefly to Martha and then returned to Jack’s crystal, blue stare. ‘I can’t get them back. I can’t save them.’
Jack’s stomach gave an uncomfortable lurch. But he tried to push it aside and focus on the Doctor. For perhaps the first time since he’d arrived, he seemed to be making sense… he also seemed to be able to recognize them. Martha lent forward and stroked the Time Lords forehead soothingly. Perhaps she had noticed as well.
‘Doctor,’ she said again, ‘what’s wrong?’
The Doctor brushed her hand away absently, and blinked at the floor. He could feel it building up through his ship, building up through time itself, and about to explode at any moment. The final Snap.
And he was almost looking forward to it.
Things would be bad, very, very bad, he knew. He couldn’t be certain to what extent he would suffer shock; he just had to hope that Jack and Martha would look after him. But at least after the Snap, he would stop existing in this hideous and pain-filled state of limbo. At least he might be able to think clearly for more than a minute.
‘Have you ever had the feeling, that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the universe?’ he said at last. In the building pressure of the ship, his voice seemed strained and lost.
Martha stared incomprehensibly at him.
‘Well, there is.’
And then he went rigid as the TARDIS screamed in furious agony. Jack and Martha held him tight and cowered on the metal floor, as sparks and flames showered over them. As the ship lurched, and the vortex outside twisted into steely black, the Doctor gasped as everything he was, was suddenly wrenched out of his body. He was faintly aware of Martha screaming, and the turn of the ship, and of Jack shouting distant words, before the blackness swallowed him.
See what I get up to when theres no Who! Oh, the angst!
Anyway, its always nice to get reviews, so if you managed to read this far without falling asleep or loosing interest, tell me what you thought of it all.