Deep Focus

by Pete Galey [Reviews - 3]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Drama, General, Mystery

Author's Notes:
See Prologue.

The rip in the fabric of the space-time continuum closed, leaving Chris, Roz and the strange pyjama-clad girl sitting somewhat dazed on a patch of grass in the middle nowhere.

"What the cruk was that?" demanded Roz of the girl. "Did you do that?"

The girl didn't meet her gaze, or even seem to hear her.

Chris shook his head. "Where are we?"

"Outside," said the girl. "Bad."

"Seems like an improvement to me," muttered Roz. In the distance she could see what looked like the complex. They were, what, about a mile away?

"They'll find me, they always find me, and it will be... painful."

"They? The people at that institution? What have they done to you?" asked Chris. "Who are you?"

"Isn't it obvious?" said Roz. "She's the demonic weapon. We weren't chasing the TARDIS after all. She's got some kind of psi-powers and they've been experimenting on her."

"I love her!" said the girl, "and she loves me!"

"Um," said Chris, then, "what?"

"Keeps me warm in the dark. Soothes. Comforts me in the night."

"Well, she's a fruitcake," opined Roz, "and we're no closer to finding the TARDIS or getting off this goddamned planet. Brilliant."

"I'm not so sure," said Chris. "Listen."

The girl was mumbling to herself, rocking back and forward, curls cascading around her shoulders. "Sings to me, cuddles me, warm warm warm."

"Are you talking about the TARDIS?" asked Chris.

"T. A. R. D. I. S.," said the girl with a smile. "Take A Right Down Insanity Street!"

"Do you know where it is? Is it in the complex? Can we get to it?"

"Sing a song of sixpence, a thimbleful of poison, give it to the ladies, give it to the boys and-"

"Look, I've had enough," said Roz, pioneering a new method of psychiatry called shouting at the crazy person. "This isn't a joke, and I have a very short fuse at the best of times. If you know where the TARDIS is, tell us. Now."

"Please," added Chris as a nod to the good-cop / bad-cop routine.

"I don't know where she is. She holds me in the night. She forgives me. She should hate me, but she doesn't. I don't know why."

"How does she manage to hold you if you don't know where she is?"

"We meet in the darkness, in the dark places of the inside. In dreams."

"Hang on," said Chris, "either what she's got is contagious or that just made some sense."

"Where the house is? In a dream? Do you know, I miss the days when if something happened that we didn't like, we shot at it for a bit," said Roz. "Do you remember, when we used to shoot at things? That used to be nice and easy."

"Can you take us there? Take us to meet her?" asked Chris.

"I like you!" said the girl to Chris. "You can be my best friend. She I don't like, she shouts. But I won't hurt her."

"Listen-" started Roz, but Chris waved her to be silent.

"Thanks," he said. "Can you take us both to meet the TARDIS? I know she'll be very grateful, because we're good friends of hers."

The girl nodded vigorously. "Then we'll have tea."

"Um, yes. What's your name, by the way?"

"Abigail. You may call me Abby."

"Thank you Abby. So, uh, how do we, you know, go there? Do you have to make a rip again?"

"No," said Abigail, "We

Sleep. Like falling off a cliff. Like surrender. Like water, like rain, like a waterfall. Easy. Slow. She catches us, like a blanket, like snow. She catches us and loves us. She is crying with joy that we've found her, we've made it at last, we've put the pieces together, the Kings and Queens and Pawns, and made a jigsaw out of light and dark.

She is proud of us.

* * *

Roz awoke in her bed in Allen Road.


Allen Road. And it was light outside and everything. Scarcely able to believe it, almost thinking that it must have all been a dream, she pulled on her red silk dressing gown and headed downstairs.

She met Chris on the way. "Wake up in your bed?"

Chris nodded.

"Well, we're making progress. Where's the TARDIS, and where's the girl?"

Abigail was in the kitchen frying eggs in the great metal fry pan, pushing them about with a wooden spatula to stop them sticking. The smell was almost physical as Chris and Roz came in. Breakfast at Allen Road. They'd never take it for granted again.

"Hullo!" said Abigail with a broad grin. She was still dressed in the hospital-style pyjamas, and her tangled hair still bounced this way and that around her shoulders. "Thought you might be hungry."

"Um, thanks," said Chris, reaching for a plate. "How are you?"

The girl seemed to give the question some thought. Eventually she just shrugged and said, "I've no idea, but I guess the Doctor will know."

"You know the Doctor?"

"Sort of. We've never met, except maybe in dreams, but she's told me about him. He's a good man." She nodded firmly. "He's a real Doctor."

"You seem more lucid," said Chris, slapping margarine liberally on a slice of bread while Roz scooped some ground coffee into the friendly steel machine.

"I think I'm starting to wake up," said Abigail.

* * *

"One thing I don't understand," said Roz as they were finishing their breakfast, "is why you didn't come here sooner."

"She told me to, but I was weak. I was afraid. Because she said about the Doctor, and I don't like doctors. They tell me I'm sick in the head, I'm broken."

"Gosh, I wonder why," muttered Roz, and received a sharp look from Chris as a result.

"I didn't want to see another one. But I should have listened. I think this one will be different. A good man. And also, they hurt me when I twist."

"What?" said Chris.

"Twist. Spin out of the world and away. Through time and space."

"Like that rip?"

"Yes. When they catch me..." she shivered.

"Well, they can't get to you here. But what now? How do we find the Doctor and Benny?"

"Oh, they'll be upstairs too," said Abigail. "Their bodies never went anywhere."

"Really?" said Chris, leaping up from the kitchen table. "So what do we do? Just go upstairs and wake them up?"

Abigail looked at him as if he'd just asked if it would help if he boiled some cabbage. "No! If we do that, temptation will slip between their thoughts and wake up too."

Roz thought of something else. "Oh, cruk," she said. "The rod. It's a vital part of TARDIS. We had it when we first left the... dark place. But then when we sort of fell asleep..."

"Don't worry," said Abigail, "It was just an icon. A message to the Doctor. It served its purpose. You worry too much. Get these lines." Abigail poked Roz in the forehead and giggled when Roz answered with a black look. "You're funny."

Chris couldn't resist a grin. "Don't worry, Roz. I still respect your authority."

* * *

The TARDIS was where it had been all along: in the cellar. They opened the door without ceremony. Abigail went up to the console, bent down, and kissed it reverently, like the pope kissing the floor of a foreign country.

Chris and Roz exchanged glances. They were about to ask what they should do now, when the Doctor and Benny walked in. But there was something vacant about them. Their eyes were closed. "They're sleep-walking," said Roz.

"Half way between the Dreaming and the Waking," said Abigail. "A very potent place. A place of tricksters." The door closed behind them, and the TARDIS dematerialised. "At least they're not dribbling like you were, Mr Cwej."

"Me?" he asked, startled. "When was I sleep-walking?"

"Oh, I don't know," Abigail teased. "Maybe that was how you were able to move between the dream pagoda and the real pagoda in the first place."

"The pagoda?" said Roz. "Where is it?"

"In the attic!" said Abigail impatiently. "You two really aren't following this very well at all."

"And now where are we going?" asked Chris, half-knowing he wouldn't understand the answer.

"The TARDIS and I put our heads together." Abigail gurgled a sweet little laugh.

The journey lasted only a moment. The doors opened and the Doctor and Benny somnambulated out. Roz was about to follow them when Abigail put a hand on her arm. "Not you, silly. You're fully awake. Dangerous." The door closed again and they went on another short journey. This time when the door opened, no one entered. Chris looked at Abigail. "Go on!" she said, gesturing for him to leave.