What is Real

by morgeil [Reviews - 5]

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  • All Ages
  • General
  • Introspection, General

Author's Notes:
To dispel any confusion, this fic is set within the continuity of David Whitaker's "The Daleks" novelization, which features some variations to Ian and Barbara's characters and background in relation to their TV counterparts.


I felt her eyes follow me as I paced on the light orange sand and squinted my eyes under the harshness of the daytime sky. I was in a good mood, fully relaxed. The ship had landed not far from the shore of a vast, blue ocean. It was a very pleasant view.

I had never seen a planet so bright. It was a sharp contrast from Skaro, whose landscape was desolate, dead and uninviting. But here vegetation thrived and the air was clean and fresh. After our previous experiences, I surprised myself with the realization that I actually hoped the Doctor was in an inquisitive mood. I wouldn't mind exploring.

Barbara was unusually quiet, watching me as I calmly strolled upon the landscape surrounding Tardis. She hadn't spoken a word since we landed. The Doctor wanted to provide us with a rest after our fierce battle with the Daleks and thus strived to attempt landing in a peaceful location.

Shockingly, he seemed to have succeeded.

"It's so different from Earth. Almost makes you feel melancholy, doesn't it?" Barbara's voice. She had been silent for so long, the abrupt comment startled me.

"I wasn't feeling melancholy at all", I replied. I drank in the sight of the ocean for a few more moments before turning to face her. "What made you say that? Feeling home-sick?"

"No, not really. Isn't that odd?" She bent down, the edge of her knee-length skirt brushing against the sand. She began shifting orange grains through her fingers absently as she continued. "I feel so content with our decision to stay with the Doctor and Susan. Which is what makes it so frightening…”

“Makes what so frightening?” I had no idea what she was driving at.

“Don’t you feel yourself questioning reality, Ian?” She turned her attention from the sand in her fingers and looked at me directly. “It seems as if this reality; this broad, new universe is so… so real. More real than Earth, more real than our old lives. It feels as if I have awaken from a life-long dream.”

I saw a sad, almost guilty look in her eyes and suddenly realized what was troubling her. “You’re afraid you’ll forget?”

She nodded, her eyes drifting away from me to the ocean. “The more days that pass, the more distant my memories of home feel. I don’t want to forget my heritage, Ian. I don’t want to forget that I’m human. Yet every day, I feel it’s slipping further and further away…” To my surprise, she started trembling.

Her words stirred sudden thoughts of home in my mind. Of simple things I may never do or see again: having a drink in the pub, quietly smoking a cigarette and contemplating on the walkway in front of my flat, the smell of fuel, the sound of traffic…

The more I thought about it, the more dream-like it did feel. Almost like events that happened in a book I read or a film I’ve seen. Not a reality that I had lived a mere few days ago.

Several moments passed in silence before I reached out and touched her gently on the shoulder.

“Then it’s good that we’re in this together, eh?” I said softly. “I won’t let you forget Earth, Barbara. But you must help me remember too.”

She smiled and softly covered my hand with her own.

“I will”.