29 Mar 2013

The Vanishing Man, Chapter 10

Caroline and June had been running for what seemed like ages, but every time they stopped to take a breather, they heard the small, globe-like things not far behind them. Finally they had reached the glass doors to the Raddison hotel, situated within the airport complex.

Caroline was about to continue running when June grabbed her arm. Out of breath she said “Wait. We can hide in here.”

“June, we need to get out of the airport and find the Doctor. God knows where he’s gone.”

“No. No. I can’t run anymore.” She pointed towards the darkened hotel foyer. “We’ll be okay in there. There are rooms. We can hide.”

“But they’ll find us.”

“I can’t run anymore,” she said. “If we run, I’ll not make it.”

Caroline looked back down the sky link corridor. She could hear the buzzing sound getting closer.

“Okay, okay,” said Caroline, crossing to the glass doors. “How do we get in?”

“With this.”

Caroline turned to see June hefting a small fire extinguisher from the side wall.

“Wait!” said Caroline, grabbing June. “We can’t just smash our way in.”

“Why not?” asked June.


“Because of the police? I wouldn’t worry about that now, love.” She jabbed her thumb back in the direction she’d came. “This place has already turned into a madhouse. There’s nobody around.”

“Okay,” said Caroline. “But let me do it. You’re not strong enough.”

Caroline took the fire extinguisher from June and began ramming it against one of the glass doors. Eventually, after about fifteen hits, the glass shattered and a hole was left in the doorway, just big enough for the two woman to clamber through.

“Come on,” said Caroline, helping June through the shattered door.

“They’ll see the smashed glass,” said June, “but hopefully we’ll find a decent enough hiding place in here.”

“I don’t understand,” said Matthew with a confused and worried look on his face. “What do you mean? How can I be you?”

The Doctor walked around the console and sat himself next to Matthew on the sofa. “I’m a Time Lord.”

“A Time Lord?” asked Matthew, not quite understanding, but finding something familiar in the name.

“Yes. An alien from another planet.” He leaned back, interlocking his fingers. “When my body is damaged beyond repair I can regenerate it. My whole body changes, including my personality. It’s like I’m the same person, but I’m not.”

“And how many times have you done this now?”

“Oh, so many I’ve lost count,” said the Doctor, raising his eyebrows. “But it’s something that went a little…wrong this time around.”

“In what way?”

“My friend, Aleena, has been helping me, but my memory keeps failing. I wasn’t sure of the significance of this airport when I first arrived here.”


“She found me. I’d just regenerated. It turns out I had landed at Manchester airport in the middle of the night. I was dazed and confused. Aleena took me in. She did some tests on me and discovered that I couldn’t regenerate anymore.”

“So if you were badly injured…?”

“I’d die. Finally.” The Doctor looked a little amused by that thought.

“I’m sorry to hear that, Doctor,” said Matthew, still trying to wrap his head around this.

“The problem I have is that all of the regenerative cells inside my body are gone. Not just dead. They’re actually gone. And my body is constantly dying.”


“I’m slowly dying. Aleena’s been trying to find ways to help me, and I’ve been fighting it off with medication and tablets, but in the end I will die. It’s just a matter of time.”

“That still doesn’t give me any answers regarding me,” said Matthew, still unable to take any of this in.

The Doctor got up and crossed over to the console, his hands in his deep pockets.

He span around and pointed directly towards Matthew. “You were born from me. I believe it is you who carries my lost regenerative cells.”


“Stop,” said the Doctor, interrupting him. “I know you don’t understand this. But try, Matthew, please.”

“Okay, okay,” said Matthew, rubbing the back of his head, “carry on.”

“When there are complications with a regeneration, or there is a sudden, impending regeneration, a creature called a Watcher appears.”

“Watcher’s and Time Lords? This is getting a bit too much for me.”

“What did I say, Matthew? Just listen.”

The Doctor grabbed an apple from a nearby fruit bowl and bit into it. “A Watcher is there as a sort of lifeline. Like a back-up if anything goes wrong. A future echo of the next incarnation.”

“So, if, say, you were unable to regenerate on your own-”

“-the Watcher would be there to jumpstart me.”

“But how does it know? I mean, how can a Watcher know if something’s not going to work?”

“It’s all time related stuff. What I think happen is this: I landed at the airport, my regeneration failed and this body was already on it’s way out. But the cells had died and I couldn’t regenerate, so the Watcher appeared to kick start my next regeneration. Except Aleena arrived and took me away before the Watcher found me. The Watcher was then left stranded here, at Manchester airport.”

“Couldn’t it have, I don’t know, travelled through time to find you?”

The Doctor sat down on the edge of the console and took another bite of the apple. “Watcher’s can usually traverse space and time, but because this incarnation would have been so brief, the Watcher didn’t have time to fully…” he struggled to find the right words, “…complete itself.”

Matthew nodded and then a frightening thought entered in his head.

“You said I’m a Watcher. Your Watcher?”

The Doctor nodded grimly.


The Doctor sighed. “Normally a Watcher would look like a white figure with an unformed face. No personality, voice or anything. But if it was left alone for so long, who knows what might have happened to it.” The Doctor looked up at Matthew sadly. “It might even evolve into something more…Human.”

Sometime ago…

The white figure - the Watcher - watched as the blue box dematerialised leaving nothing but darkness and silence. He had one purpose - to help regenerate the Doctor. But the Time Lord had been rescued and whisked away by a blue-skinned woman.

And now he was alone. He attempted to use his powers to move through time and space and catch the time machine, but he had been created so suddenly, that those powers were not yet available to him.

Light’s began to switch on in the large hall in which he was stood. He could hear voices.

And so he disappeared into the shadows and waited…

He wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but it was dark again. “Night time” as someone had called it. He made his way through the hall and into a corridor. It was then that he caught a glimpse of his reflection in a glass pane.

He was pure white and without a face. And somehow this made him feel…sad. An emotion he had never felt before. Indeed, he had never even had emotions before. This was something new and something not quite right.

He continued walking and a strange device whirred over his head. A…camera. That was a word he had heard someone say today. A security camera. He stood for a few minutes watching the camera as it scanned him. And then he moved away.

More time passed…

Everyday people would arrive and pass through. He would hide from them in the shadows, in cupboards, behind doorways. And everyday he felt their influence upon him. He would listen and learn their conversations.

And then the nights would come. One particular night he found himself standing in a bathroom, looking at himself in the mirror. Now he was no longer white. He was a flesh colour. The same colour of the people who passed through the airport. And his clothing was becoming darker. A dark, suit.

More time passed…

He would follow the same procedure each and every day. He would listen and learn, and then check his reflection on the night time. Soon he had forgotten his original purpose. Now all he wanted to do was learn.

Now his reflection was becoming more and more “normal”. He was bald, but he had features on his face. His skin was a full colour and his clothes were complete. Eventually hair appeared. Short, dark hair.

One particular night when he was looking at his reflection, a night cleaner came in and startled him.

“Are you okay?” came the man’s voice. He had an interesting accent.

The Watcher tried to open his mouth, but no words came out.

“Can I help you?” asked the cleaner again.

“…No…” he said. His first ever words, mimicking the man’s accent.

“Are you sure?” asked the cleaner.


And then he left. What was happening to him? And how much more could he learn?

Over the next few days - at least he thought it was days - he spent his time listening and learning and picking up new things. At one point, he found a suitcase with the name tag “Matthew Cole” on it. He liked that name. And he became Matthew Cole.

But he wanted more answers. As much as he liked soaking up all of this information, Matthew wanted more.

And then he found himself forgetting completely what his previous life had been. He forgot all about being a Watcher. He forgot everything. All he knew was that he was Matthew Cole, had arrived at the airport, and needed to get home. But he couldn’t remember where that home was.

He would wait for hours and hours, just thinking and trying to understand. Soon he would try and leave the airport, to explore the world outside. To try and get home.

He went to Arrivals…and fell asleep…


The Doctor removed his hands from Matthew’s temples and Matthew sighed.


“I…remember. Sort of.” He rubbed his eyes. “It’s all just a blur.”

“It will be,” said the Doctor, sadly. “It’s only when you awoke in arrivals and tried to leave that yourself as Matthew Cole was completed.”

“But it just sounds so impossible.”

“But it’s true. And the reason you can’t leave is because you are tethered to this place. Your body won’t let you leave, because deep down you know you still have your original job to do.”

“Which is help you to regenerate?”

“Exactly,” said the Doctor, sitting beside him again. “When you grabbed my arm when we first met it was like touching two wires together. The same people touching one another can cause massive disruptions in space and time.”

“And that thing we saw up near the cafĂ©’s?”

“That was a Dalek. It was something being projected out of your own mind, because I remembered them. And people forget you because as a Watcher you have the ability to alter people’s perceptions. They don’t notice you unless you purposely interact with them. And then they forget. The rest of us - Caroline, me and Blackmore see you because we’ve all travelled through time and space.”

Matthew hung his head and sighed. “I feel so real, though.”

“You are real,” said the Doctor, sadly. “It’s just that you’ve gone on a rather different journey than the rest of us.”

“So what happens now?” said Matthew, a little hopeful that the Doctor wouldn’t ask him to sacrifice himself.

“I’m not sure,” said the Doctor. “We’ll have to take you to Aleena. See if you can still be integrated into me. It might help me grow some new regenerative cells and then kick start my regeneration.”

“Lovely,” said Matthew, sadly.

“But one thing’s for certain,” said the Doctor. “At least I know what I’m going to look like when I do eventually regenerate.”

The Doctor smiled. Matthew didn’t.

Emily and Ethan had gotten out of the car and grabbed Danny. He had been expecting the worst, but instead he was gagged and bundled into the back of their boot.

Now they were driving. He wasn’t sure where they were going and what they were going to do with him when they got to their destination, but he was sure it wasn’t going to be anything very pleasurable.

After a while - Danny had lost all sense of time in the dark car boot - the car parked up and the boot opened.

“Come on,” said Ethan, indicating for him to get himself out of the boot.

Danny mumbled beneath the gag.

“You’re not going to cause us any more problems, are you?” Danny heard Emily say.

Danny didn’t respond. He just frowned. He wasn’t going to provoke them, but he had no intention of staying their prisoner.

“Now get out,” said the old man.

Danny clambered out of the boot and looked around. They were at Manchester airport. Fantastic, thought Danny, I might find the Doctor here.

“Get moving,” said Emily.

Danny turned to look at her. She was leaning against the car, filing her nails. He mumbled.

“What’s that?” asked Ethan.

“Remove the gag,” said Emily, crossing over to him.

Ethan pulled the gag down and Danny savoured the air again.

“Have you got something to say to us?” asked Emily.

“Only that the Doctor will stop you.”

Emily and Ethan both looked at each other, fear in their eyes…and then they both burst out laughing.

“What?” asked Danny. “What have you done to him?”

Emily patted Danny on the top of his head and made her way towards the entrance to T2 departures.

“What?” asked Danny again, as he was marched by Ethan behind Emily.

Danny was escorted through the strangely deserted airport and towards an elevator where two strange, robotic devices were hovering.

“What’s been going on here?” said Emily to the drones, almost like a school teacher scolding children for being naughty.

The drones beeped and whirred a response to her.

“And you didn’t think to stop them?” asked Emily, hands on her hips.

The drones beeped again.

“What’s happened?” asked Ethan.

“These useless devices of yours,” said Emily. “Three of the prisoners got down to the main generator.”

“And the drones didn’t follow?”

Emily shook her head. “You made that area out of bounds, remember? In case they malfunctioned and damaged the machinery.”

“But if they went down there-”

The drones beeped again.

“Problems?” chuckled Danny.

Emily frowned. “Apparently the second unit of drones chased them out, but these two didn’t bother to join the chase.”

“Why not?” frowned Ethan.

“Because one of them is still down there.”

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