Every now and then he would look back towards the village and each time he did, the darker it seemed to be. For a moment he considered going back. Should he really have left Alice and Barry alone there? Perhaps he should have put them in the TARDIS to start with. They’d at least be safe in there.
But most of the mirrors had been broken, and, so far, since he’d destroyed the mirror in the Town Hall, there had be no other problems.
And so he pressed on.
Eventually he reached the base of the camel hills. Now it was pitch dark and there was nothing around. The breeze had died down and silence had fallen on the land around.
All he had to do now was look around.
Alice was running. She wasn’t sure where she was running to, and it still felt like she was trapped in jelly - painful jelly - but she knew she had to find a way out.
The more she ran, the more she found herself adjusting to the world around her. The wibbly-wobbly surroundings were still grey and shining with a strange glow, but they were coming more into focus. Like receding ripples on a lake.
She stood for a moment, closed her eyes and tried to regain her composure. She remained still and silent. Somewhere she could hear the sound of a car screeching in the distance.
“Hello,” came the voice.
Alice jumped, opened her eyes and turned around. Standing there was an old lady in a light blue dress and wearing an apron. The kind that shopkeepers in the past used to wear.
“Who are you?” asked Alice, getting ready to turn and run again.
“My name’s Mrs Poppywell.”
Something fired a memory of what Barry had told them back at his house. “The sweet shop owner?”
“That’s right, dear,” she smiled.
She seemed genuine and Alice found herself relaxing a little bit. “Where are we?”
“Where do you think?”
She nodded sadly.
“But I was taken through the mirror in the pub.”
“And I was taken through the mirror at the back of my shop.” She looked around her.
Alice looked around herself as well. Now everything had come into focus she realised that it was an exact replica of Owensby. The pub was off in the distance and there was even the portaloo that Barry had been hiding in.
“There are others here as well,” said Mrs Poppywell. “It seems like all the mirrors are linked to each other.”
“Like some kind of…mirror universe,” said Alice, slowly.
“I don’t pretend to understand it, love,” she said, sitting down on the small wall next to the bus shelter, “but I get the gist of it.”
“So where’s everybody else?”
“Back in the Town Hall,” she said. “We’re all in there and we’re all frightened.”
“Take me to them.”
Barry was sat in the corner with his back up against the wall. He kept glancing nervously out of the window, hoping against hope that the Doctor would suddenly come striding up the road with a solution to this problem. He was scared.
He turned to look at Alice. Something wasn’t right with her. He hadn’t know her for long, but she definitely didn’t seem to be the person he first met earlier in the day.
She was now lying across the top of the bar holding a half-empty glass of whisky - her fourth - and looking at the light shining between her fingers.
“Maybe we should go and find him.”
“No,” said Alice, snapping her head to look at him. “He’ll be back.”
“But it’s getting dark.”
“He’s not as scared as you, Barry,” she said.
“I’m not scared.”
“Yes you are,” she said, frowning.
“Okay,” said Barry, “maybe I am. But I have every reason to be terrified. Look at the situation. Owensby’s deserted, we’ve got crazy reflections after us and every one in the village is dead.”
“They’re not dead,” said Alice blankly.
“What? How do you know?”
Alice didn’t answer. She sat up, clambered off the bar and then sat on a stool next to Barry. She drained the last of her whiskey and then peered closely at Barry, his pale, white face looking as though it was about to burst into a scream.
“You look like an ex boyfriend of mine,” she said. “Of course, much younger and fitter. But you look like him.”
Barry shifted uncomfortably.
“It was when I was 14. I was never very experienced with men back then. Still aren’t in fact.” She put the glass down and smiled at him. “Neither was Graham. Graham the Geek they used to call him. They were cruel. He was into Star Trek and all that sort of stuff.”
“What has this got to do with anything?”
“I think I kind of pitied him. I didn’t really find him attractive or anything, but I felt sorry for him. I wanted to make him feel special. Feel wanted. Because all they ever did - the school bullies - was bully him. Over and over and over again. That’s what school bullies do, isn’t it?” She sniffed back some tears. “I remember when we were 12, he did a model of the Enterprise in woodwork. He was so proud of it. And then, on the way home, these kids grabbed it out of his bag and smashed it to pieces. He never fought back though. He didn’t know what to do. He just packed up the pieces into his Star Trek backpack and went home.”
Barry watched as she went back to the bar and poured herself another drink.
“I helped him build a new one. Then, when we were in Year 9 at the school disco, I noticed him stood against the wall on his own. He was so, so lonely. Never had any friends. So I went up to him. I grabbed his hand and I pulled him onto the dance floor. He didn’t know what to do at all. I think he was crying. So I just held him tight and danced with him.” Alice laughed. “I remember it was to some soppy Boyzone song. Remember them?” She laughed again, and then went sad. “He walked me home that night. He was so scared. He couldn’t understand why anyone would show him that kind of affection.”
“Did you love him?” asked Barry, finding himself invested in Alice and Graham’s relationship.
“No,” said Alice. “Like I said, I pitied him. I kissed him before he went home - it was mine and his first ever kiss - and then he went home. But I felt awful about it. I felt like I was lying to him. I didn’t love him. And you couldn’t have a relationship that was held together by pity.”
“The next day, I went to his house. He had done his hair up. He’d gelled it all back and was pestering his mum to get him contact lenses - I happen to find glasses attractive on men and women, by the way - and he looked so happy.” She took a sip of her drink. “I walked with him to the park and we sat there for ages, not saying anything. And then I turned to him and told him that I couldn’t be with him.” She let a tear fall from her eye. “I felt so bad. He was distraught. He held back his tears, but he just got up and walked away.”
“But you did the right thing.”
“Did I? When he didn’t come home that night, his parents called the police. They put out a search for him.”
Barry let out a long sigh.
“They found his body two days later in a stream. The same bloody stream that I’d seen some bloke drowning kittens in years before.” She drained her drink again. “So I killed him.”
“You can’t feel like that.”
“I killed him,” she repeated. “And there’s no way the Doctor can go back and save him. Not like the kittens.” She sighed. “It’s an interesting memory that Alice has hidden in there,” she said, tapping her temple.
Barry frowned. “What do you mean?”
“In here. An interesting memory. Funny how I connect with her memories and emotions, isn’t it?”
“Alice pitied him. It was her pity that got him killed. If she hadn’t pitied him, he would never have known. He would never have fallen in love with her and he would never have died because of Alice.”
“I’m quite clear-headed actually, Barry,” she said, crossing back to him. “And I pity you, just as Alice pitied Graham. But it’s not pity that’s going to get you killed, Barry.”
She smiled. But it was an evil and wicked smile.
The Doctor had made his way between the two slopes of the camel hills when he spotted something in the distance. It was a mound of earth that had been dug up. Or rather something had buried itself in the ground. He shone his torch down into the mound and dug around for a bit until he felt his hands clasp against something cool and metallic. He pulled it from the ground. It was a small, egg-like device.
And it was cracked.
The thing had a clear strip around it’s circumference and was flashing red. On the top was a button. The Doctor pressed the button and the image of a large, green, scaly humanoid alien flashed up in the form of a hologram. It looked like a human being with a lizards head stuck on top.
It was some kind of recorded message. The hologram flickered and fluctuated.
“This is Commander Fen of the Wracxos. If you find this containment unit, then I urge you not to open it.”
The Doctor peered worriedly at the crack in the side.
“Contained in this device is the last two surviving Retarans. They are demons. They exist only to destroy us. It took 100,000 Wracxos to destroy the rest. These two were the strongest. We could only contain them and jettison this prison into space.”
The Doctor remembered what Alice had said about the Retaran name.
“They exist in mirrors. They make the reflected world their own and they travel from mirror to mirror. They will take your loved ones. They will appear as your loved ones. And then they will feed on the originals and grow in strength and move on and on and on.” Commander Fen regained his composure. “Please, if you find this pod, do not open it. Find a way to destroy it. Do not let them escape!”
The hologram flickered out and the Doctor was stood there in the dark, holding the cracked pod.
Mrs Poppywell led Alice into the Town Hall. Once inside she was greeted by hundreds and hundreds of people. Villagers and the UNIT soldiers as well. They had all been trapped here. Each once had been dragged into different mirrors and all had found themselves in the bizarre reflected world of Owensby.
Now Alice was sat amongst a circle of soldiers - and Mrs Poppywell - discussing the situation.
“Have any of you actually seen anybody other than yourselves?”
“Yes,” said one of the soldiers called Wright. He was unshaven and had sparkling blue eyes. “After my reflection pulled me in, I saw something creeping off. It was…I don’t know…some kind of weird, black shape.”
“I saw one too,” said a little boy - Tommy - he was sat on the edge of the circle. “It was like a man but completely black with see-through eyes.”
“I saw two together,” said Mrs Poppywell. “They disappeared before I could ask them who they were.”
“So,” said Alice, tapping her chin. “We may only be dealing with two or three of these things.”
“But what are they?” asked Mrs Poppywell.
“No idea,” said Alice, “but they’ve obviously trapped us here for a reason.” Alice considered for a moment. “And they must have the ability to become us as well.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. I just feel like something is sat in my head. Like something’s tuning into my memories and feelings.”
“I’m scared,” said Tommy.
“It’s alright,” said Alice, pulling him in and cuddling him, “my friend is out there with Barry. They’ll find a way to get us out. They have to.”
The sun had come up and the Doctor still hadn’t returned. Barry looked out of the window. He was nowhere to be seen. He turned to Alice. She was asleep on one of the seats across the other side of the room.
He wasn’t sure what had happened, but she definitely wasn’t the Alice he had met the other day. He didn’t feel safe with her. After she had spoken to him about her memories of Gareth, she had passed out. He would have gotten out then, but he was too scared.
Slowly, he got up from the table, careful not to scrape the chair against the wooden floorboards. He edged carefully towards the door, instinctively grabbed the cricket bat (he needed to protect himself), and then crept past Alice.
He was almost at the door when Alice’s hand reached out and grabbed his leg. “Where are you going?” she hissed.
“Away from you,” he said, jabbing at her knuckles with the handle of the cricket bar.
She cried in agony and released Barry.
He made a run for it, tripping down the steps, into the beer garden and then made his way around the building out towards the outskirts of the village, daring not to look back.
He was aware that Alice was chasing him, but a few minutes later he could see the field and the barn, the sun illuminating it like some kind of magical place. The Doctor was out there somewhere towards the hills. He needed to get to him. He could trust him. He leapt over the wall and continued to run. It was then that he dared to look back. Alice was right behind him. He yelled, panicked and tripped on a mound of earth, falling flat on his face.
His glasses flew from his head and he heard them crush under the weight of Alice’s foot.
He was then aware of her grunting as she hauled him to his feet and dragged him around to the outer wall of the farm and into the long glass beyond.
He was turned on his back and Alice’s blurry face came into focus.
“I told you that pity wouldn’t kill you, Barry,” she growled at him, as she rose the cricket bat and brought it down on his head. The last thing Barry saw was Alice open her mouth and sink her teeth deep into his shoulder.
Next time: The Doctor teams up with Alice to get the rest of the villagers back. Coming Saturday 22nd March 2014.
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