Here’s something I haven’t done in a while. Over three years ago I put up a Doctor Who story that I wrote in the mid-1990s. Yes, I was involved with a bunch of fellow social recluses who were members of the Strathclyde Doctor Who Society. I’ve got a couple more of these to type up, but this is from the June 1994 fanzine we put out called Paisley Pattern.
YOU are reaching the end of your twelfth regenerative cycle Doctor.”
With those words the germ of a desperate action had been born. They seemed like a portent of doom now, as the TARDIS hurtled through the time/space continuum for the last time.
The sumons to Gallifrey had been as unexpected as the request was dangerous, and the Doctor wished it were all over. He was the only one would could complete the task, but he was old.
“The universe is in dire peril, Doctor,” the President of the council had said, his sombre eyes bearing down. “We need your help.”
The President spoke with barely repressed hostility, a truculent growl tempered by a tremulous doubt. He did not like the Doctor. He had abandoned the ways of Gallifrey. The crime was colossal, unforgivable and personal. Yet still he was all he had; but why should he cooperate?
The older face of the Doctor broke into a faint smile, and he surveyed the President with a keen and commanding glint in his eye. He was the shorter in stature of the two; bent, hawk-nosed and heavy with age, but still strong of will.
He smiled coyly and addressed the President in an acid tongue.
“Ha! Centuries of living as a renegade, I am welcomed back to the bosom of my people, only to offer myself up as a sacrifice.
“Why should I help you, Lord President?”
“Because no-one else can,” he said in a hushed voice.
The Doctor listened on.
“The space/time continuum is nearing total collapse,” said the President. “Millennia of time travel have put a terminal strain on the continuum’s matrix of geodesics, creating a warped singularity flaw.”
“What is the peril you speak of?”
“Think of the continuum, as a whip, and the universe the tip, Doctor.”
“I begin to see,” he choked, muffled and almost inaudible. “The curved space in the continuum would produce fluctuations in reality, since the diameter of a circle in any seriously distorted manifiold would vary in relation to the circumference. With the inevitable coiling of the whip in time/space, the tip…”
“The tip will snap, and the universe will be destroyed,” the President finished. “Now do you begin to see, Doctor?”
“Yes, but why me?”
“A TARDIS achieving superluminal flight along the flaw wouild twist the continuum, and create a shockwave that will move ahead of ther flaw. The wave will exist outside time/space and arrive before the cause. The resulting force should expand the universe to a stable configuration. Only you have the unwavering skill to pilot a TARDIS along the flaw.”
“This is a suicide mission if you ask me, Lord President,” the Doctor said, stonily.
“That is so, but your time is near, Doctor, and you have ever been a champion of life. If you are successful, the continuum will collapse around you. Time travel will be no more, but you will have saved the universe from destruction. Your name will be revered for eternity.”
“Spare me your false platitudes, Lord President. I have no need for reverence, I will do as you ask. After all, we’ve all got to die sometime. What better way to go, than at a time and place of your choosing, for a cause you believe in.”
“Very well, Doctor. I thank you, and wish you success.”
As the Doctor left, the President suddenly felt the need to pray to some nameless gods. Strange, his people had not invoked such deities for uncounted millennia.
Somehow, it just felt apt.
Success seemed a forlorn hope, as the TARDIS plummeted down the chasm, into a serpentine band of darkness. Formless chaos buffeted around it, and the Doctor knew freezing terror, as reality came apart at the seams around him.
Then it came.
It passed throug him silently like an internal ripple at first, followed by a long, echoing roll of ruinous noise. The shockwave hit with the ferocity of a billion exploding suns.
The Doctor’s hearts were beating with wild fears of failure, that rose like a black cloud and threatened to choke the life from him. A wild light flared in his eyes. Already he was past the physical and mental limits that would have killed a lesser man.
A sea of thoughts rose and swept him to the edge. Murmurs of voices. Faces he had seen.
Friends. Companions. Family. The images were like a palpable wave. Rustic memories assailed his mind and soul. Tired and groggy, the Doctor tried to regain his tenuous grip on consciousness.
The TARDIS careened on, in infinite speed, as the collapsing continuum, enclosed around it. There was no turning back. Space turned and twisted upon time, wrenching reality apart. It felt like a lifetime of agony reduced to one searing incident. The shockwave pressed against his eyes and into his brain.
The voices subsided as a shadow slinked across him. A dull, bleared disc of red descended, and he struggled in futile protest against the pain. The pain.
The noise rose to a great tumult, then a deafening crash as the singularity flaw heaved and cracked. The universe expanded once more to a stable configuration, but the TARDIS winked out of existence as the unfolding continuum disapperead at the end of the tunnel. And the cry that pierced all other sounds was the scream of the Doctor.
Then all was quiet.
The Doctor slumped slowly forward to his knees, then sideways to the floor, yielding limply as the pain sluiced from him.
His serence countenance was, in the end, untouched by the fear and unendurable anguish he suffered in the final moments before the darkness came.
Time and time passed, and eventually awareness returned like a dreamer upon awakening.
The Doctor could only glimpse the occasional blur in the stifling dark. Groping forward, trembling fingers activated the scanner.
Somewhere in the distance, a single radiant white light flashed blindingly into life.
The Doctor raised his hands to his eyes.
He wondered if he was dead now.