The Doctor was frowning and shaking his head in disbelief.
“Please, move out of the way, Jayne.”
“You’re crazy,” said Jayne, pointing a finger at him. “We can’t open it. It’d be like letting water out of a bath. They’d all pour through.”
“But I need to get in!” said the Doctor. “If I can’t get in then I can’t try and fix your mistake.”
Jayne laughed. “That’s it, use the old ‘blame technique’ again. I know we messed up. I know! But I’m not going to let all our efforts over the past few centuries come crashing down because of you.”
“You wanted my help.”
“This isn’t helping.”
The Doctor attempted to get past Jayne, but she kicked him back and he staggered against the wall.
“Ben! Ben! Get down here now!” shouted Jayne.
“This is unnecessary,” coughed the Doctor, rubbing his ribs.
Almost instantly Ben appeared in the room. He glanced at the Doctor and then, confused, at Jayne.
“Get him out of here,” said Jayne, still up against the metal time capsule.
“Jayne…” said the Doctor.
“What the hell’s going on?” asked Ben. “I thought he was helping us.”
“Just get him out of here now!” said Jayne.
Ben looked apologetically at the Doctor and then helped him to his feet. He escorted him through the door, through the room of interested onlookers and then up the staircase and out of the church.
“You need to help me, Ben,” said the Doctor as they emerged into the cool night air.
“Whatever Jayne’s said, it’s for our own good.”
“Do you really believe that?” said the Doctor. He pointed at the ever widening cracks of light in the sky. Now there were curious onlookers taking photo’s and pointing at them. “That is the reality of the situation. This world is about to crack open. They keep pushing and pushing and pushing. I need to open up the box. They’ll come through, but it’ll relieve the pressure. And then I can fix this.”
Ben looked for a moment as if he was about to let the Doctor back in, and then shook his head. “No, sorry, Doctor, but we’ve stuck with Jayne this long. We can’t abandon her now. If I were you I’d find another way.”
“Ben!” said the Doctor. But it was too late. Ben had gone inside and locked the door behind him.
The Doctor looked around him frustrated and then kicked at a patch of grass. There was only one other way to deal with this.
He had to take his own TARDIS inside.
Danny stood on the edge of the cliff, gazing out into the distance, unsure of what to make of the landscape in front of him. It was almost too much for him. He’d seen different world’s before, and strange, strange creatures, but this was different. This was like something out of a nightmare. A terrible, terrible world from your worst dreams.
A black, oily sea swirled below him at the bottom of the cliff, frothy waves crashing against the rocks. The sky was orange and yellow and grey. Lightning seemed to strike down repeatedly and at odd angles, lighting up the sky and causing the loudest thunder you’d ever wish not to hear. He’d had a vision of this place back in Manchester, but this was even more awful than he had remembered.
The ground he was standing on was cold with snow under foot. His feet were numb and there was a constant vibration coming from it, almost like a humming sound.
All around were twisted, dead trees, their gnarled branches reaching up towards the dead sky, pleading for some peace.
Danny turned to face his brother. “So this is where you’ve been for the last ten years?”
“Like I said, time moves differently here.”
“But why come back? Why bring me back? It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Because I want you to try and understand what’s happening here.”
“Jayne’s already told us. We had the complete works. The cock-ups with their time machine, the members of her group leaving…everything.”
“But you don’t fully understand this world.”
“It’s just the inside of a TARDIS gone wrong.”
Adrian laughed and shook his head. “It’s much, much more than that, Danny. Much more.”
Danny frowned. “Why are you being so drawn in by them? And why haven’t you converted like the others?”
“Because I offered to help them.”
“What?” Danny could scarcely believe what he was hearing.
“Because when they took me across, they had every intention of converting me, but I told them I’d help them. I got them on my side.”
Danny shook his head and gazed out to sea again. “Why would you want to help them? They’re crazy!”
“Because,” said Adrian, walking up behind his brother and talking over his shoulder, “each one of those crazy beings used to be a Human being.”
“You’re beginning to sound like Don.”
“Don was misguided,” said Adrian. “And not all of them here care about being saved. Brandon doesn’t. He wants to get back to our world, but he wants revenge. There’s a few that follow him, but on the whole the rest of them just want to be rescued. You and the Doctor can do that.”
“Then why didn’t you just come through when I first met the Doctor? Why the cloak and dagger?”
“Because I couldn’t just slip through then. The fabric between the two world’s wasn’t weak enough. Now I can. But I did send a messenger.”
Danny thought for a moment, and then shook his head, a look of disgust on his face. “Please tell me that one that’s inside me isn’t sent from you.”
Adrian was quiet and never flinched.
Danny shook his head again. “Thanks a lot, Ade.”
Adrian grabbed his shoulders. “I’m sorry, Danny, but there was no other way.”
“But it never told me anything. It just tried to take over me.”
Adrian looked away. “Yes, that was my fault. We thought he would be loyal to us, but he wasn’t. He went rogue. We had no idea, and by the time we realised he’d screwed you up inside, you’d already flown away in the Doctor’s TARDIS.”
“Can you get him out now?” asked Danny, feeling the mental itch in his head again.
“Maybe,” said Adrian, “but you’re gonna have to come with me first.
“Because if I show you something, you may realise that they aren’t as bad as you think they are.”
The Doctor struggled through the streets, every now and then clutching at his chest. He turned into Pasture street and fell against the level crossing barriers that had come down. He watched as the train whizzed by. When the barriers came back up he fell to the ground.
It couldn’t end now. It was too soon. He had to fix this first.
For a moment he felt like he couldn’t go on. And then he saw something. A figure. A woman. Wearing a cardigan and a skirt. She had greying, blonde hair, a lined faced, but looked elegant and kindly. She smiled at him and pointed to the ground.
The Doctor looked. Next to him was a broken tree branch.
He turned to smile at the woman, but she had gone.
He reached for the branch, grabbed it as tightly as he could, and hauled himself onto his feet. Then, using the branch as a support, he made he way onwards towards his TARDIS.
Adrian guided Danny through an icy, rocky area surrounded by tiny, leave-less bushes and dying weeds poking out through the pure white snow, until they reached a cave. They made their way into the dark cave, careful not to slip on the snow, which, strangely had also settled deep into the cave, until they saw an orange glow from up ahead.
Danny felt frightened, but something inside him told him not to be.
Eventually they emerged into a clearing. Here there was no snow and the ground was just mud and dirt. There was a circle of huddled figures, all sat around a fire which was burning brightly in the centre of the clearing.
One of them turned to face Adrian and Danny, and Danny recognised him.
He was twisted and deformed and wearing a cloak, just like the other Apparites, but his face was familiar. Just.
“Mr. Cope?” said Danny, gawping at Caroline’s landlord. “But, I saw them take you. I saw them change you.”
Brian went to say something, but the words wouldn’t come out.
“Brian was one of the first to be affected. As soon as he got here he began to change back.”
“But how?” said Danny, eyeing the old man up carefully.
“It seems that the people they absorb, the more they begin to mutate back to being Human beings. It’s coming full circle in a way.”
Danny looked around the group. There were people he didn’t recognise, but then there were those that Jayne had shown pictures of. Lilly and Penny and the old priest Father Ainslie, all in different states of evolving back into Human beings.
They all watched Danny with curiosity.
“This is not all,” said Adrian. “Follow me.”
They went deeper and deeper into the cave until they reached a room bathed in green light. Inside the room was a glowing, mushroom shaped object. It looked just like the TARDIS console, except this one was all overgrown with vines and writhing, metal wires, reaching and burying themselves into the cavern walls.
“I’ve been here long enough to work out all of these things,” said Adrian, touching the rusted console. “This is the central control unit of this time ship. This is the thing that’s keeping this whole dimension together.”
“Then why don’t you open it? Shut this place down for good.”
“Because it’ll destroy everything inside it. And we can’t do that,” said Adrian, staring Danny right into his eyes. “We can’t just destroy these people.”
“Then let me,” said Danny.
Adrian held him back. “You don’t understand. Even if I wanted to, I can’t get into the console to shut it down. When it exploded, it tuned itself into the nearest person it could find.”
Danny frowned. “Brandon?”
“Brandon,” confirmed Adrian with a nod. “He’s the only one who could shut this place down. Or perhaps the Doctor.”
Danny growled and kicked at the bottom of the console.
“There’s one more thing,” said Adrian, “and you’ve got to remain calm when I show you this.”
“Go on,” said Danny, not sure he could take any more surprises.
Adrian took him to a glowing, deformed circle - reminiscent of a TARDIS roundel - which was set in the cavern wall. Adrian opened up the circle and inside was an alcove.
Danny stared into the alcove and then raised his eyebrows in shock at what was inside.
“Yes,” confirmed Adrian. “Yes it is.”
Next time: The Doctor goes on a trip, and Cathy Parker gives Caroline something important...Coming Wednesday November 13th.