ON THAT DAY
Something made Amy Pond look back.
She couldn't have said what it was, exactly — an odd feeling, some little tweak of the subconscious, an underlying sensation of disquiet.
The Doctor and Vincent had already gone out the door, the Time Lord talking nineteen-to-the-dozen, bursting with enthusiasm for his brilliant plan to take Vincent for a trip into the future to see the Musee d'Orsay.
But Amy hovered on the threshold, her gaze returning to the room she was about to leave. Nothing had changed:- the bright little fire in the hearth; the rickety furniture; the rough, stone-flagged floor; the sloping ceiling. An unremarkable room, really, save for the fact that every dusty surface was cluttered with a profusion of stunning masterpieces from one of the greatest artists the world had ever known.
Amy could not help shaking her head in amazement that she, a kissogram girl from a tiny village called Leadworth, could actually be standing here in Vincent van Gogh's house.
And there it was again, that flicker of movement out of the corner of her eye! She felt a prickling sensation as the hair on the back of her neck stood up. Swinging around abruptly, she found herself facing a large Venetian mirror hanging on the opposite wall.
She took a few steps closer to the ornate frame. The silvered glass revealed nothing but a perfect reversed image of the room, Amy herself and the late afternoon sunlight. It was devoid of every meaning, every implication, merely an evanescent reflection of the glorious reality of Vincent's paintings.
Amy stared into it, her eyes narrowed. She was sure she had seen a flash of red...but no, it was just her over-heated imagination, there was nothing there.
Nevertheless, the room seemed unaccountably colder and darker all of a sudden, as though a cloud had passed over the sun. Goose pimples crept insidiously up her arms under the sleeves of her warm coat. Hesitantly, she reached out at touched the mirror. The glass was cold and flawless and impenetrable under her fingertips.
Just then, the Doctor stuck his head back inside, startling her.
"Come on then, Pond. Chop chop!"
"I'm coming!" she replied crossly, giving one last suspicious glance at the mirror. Then, dismissing her misgivings with a quick shrug, she followed the Doctor out of the door.
A pair of emotionless, wintry grey eyes watched her go.
The level of cold in the room increased, until the surface of the mirror misted over, growing almost opaque. Dimly, through the mist, the figure of a young girl emerged from hiding within the depths of the glass. She appeared to be around ten years old, dressed in a brown overcoat and a cream-coloured scarf and gloves. Her face was pretty, with delicate pixie-like features and long caramel hair, tied with a dainty ribbon. Only those hard, cold, inhuman eyes — and the fact that she had no physical counterpart in the room facing the mirror — betrayed her as something other than the child she pretended to be. In her hand, she held the string of a red balloon, which bobbed incongruously in the air behind her.
Slowly, she looked down at her small feet, encased in a pair of boots so worn that her toes were almost protruding. She had walked a long, long way - searched through thousands upon thousands of mirrors - to find the Time Lord. But she had done it. The time was now and the crack was here.
An icy, malicious smile lifted the corners of the innocent-looking rosebud lips. The child extended her forefinger and stroked the mirror in the exact place Amy Pond had so recently touched from the other side.
As if in response, a gleaming fracture traced ominously across the silvered surface, an iridescent crack bleeding pure, white light into Vincent van Gogh's tiny living room. The schism continued to grow, its twisted shape like a mocking grin, the refulgent light glowing brighter and brighter.
All at once, the mirror exploded, deadly shards of glittering glass cascading from the frame like a shower of sharp, shining rain.
The child stood in the centre of the room, freed at last from her argent prison. Her gaze played disinterestedly over the fantastic array of Vincent's paintings. Tilting her small head, she took one deep sniff of air, testing for the scent of the Time Lord. Then, steadily and deliberately, she began to walk towards the door, the slivers of glass on the floor crunching and turning to dust beneath her boots, the cheerful red balloon bouncing in her wake.
It was hard for Vincent to say goodbye to them, the Doctor and Amy Pond. They had brought so much to his life, gifts of hope and joy and wonder. The amazement of the Doctor's fantastic time machine, that marvellous blue box, bigger on the inside than the outside and full of incredible, unexplainable magic. The life-affirming joy to see his paintings on the walls of that beautiful museum in the future, admired by so many — he would never be able to put his thankfulness into words.
Standing outside the TARDIS, he asked Amy again to marry him, only half joking this time.
"I'm not the marrying kind!" she answered, giving him a hug, while the Doctor watched on indulgently.
They were so caught up in their farewells that none of them noticed a tiny shadow slipping noiselessly around the corner of the TARDIS and through the double doors, behind the Doctor's back.
And when the good-byes were over and the TARDIS disappeared, leaving Vincent standing alone amongst the stunted trees, none of them realised that the Doctor had acquired another, very special, very unwelcome, passenger.
Vincent made his way back to his house, his heart rhapsodic with happiness, bursting with the desire to paint. He would miss his new friends very much but there was so much in the world still to paint, starting with Amy's sunflowers!
Stepping into his small living room, he realised immediately that something was wrong.
The floor was littered with luminous fragments of shattered glass, sparkling in the late afternoon sunshine. With a groan of annoyance, he realised that it was the remnants of the Venetian mirror his brother had given him. It had been an expensive, frivolous present, but one he had treasured for the sake of the giver, and now it was no more.
Sighing, he knelt down to collect up the broken pieces, hoping that this wasn't an omen of another seven years of bad luck. The glass felt oddly warm to the touch, an unpleasant, almost distasteful feeling.
Suddenly, one of the larger shards seemed to slip, slicing viciously into his flesh. A red rose of blood bloomed across the palm of his hand, the scarlet contrasting harshly with the white of his skin, the colours screaming silently at him.
Vincent stared in horror, unable to move. Creeping cold seemed to coil around his limbs, encasing him in ice, rendering him as motionless as a stone statue. All his previous happiness, all his new-found hope and joy seemed to vanish, buried under a crushing weight of despair. The sunshine in the room was gone, blackness now pouring through the windows, leeching away his light. Faceless demons peeled themselves off the walls, circling him in an endless, leering dance, their voices high and cruel and taunting...
The Pandorica is opening...the Pandorica is opening...the Pandorica is opening...
A nightmarish vision - he could see into time and space, he saw the Doctor's TARDIS spinning, spinning, out of control; he saw it shuddering, tearing, ripping, exploding, shattering into billions of burning fragments, scattered to the very ends of the Universe...
He was gasping, choking, suffocating...oh God, there wasn't enough air...the blackness sliding up his nose, between his lips, in through his ears, invading him, killing him...
And then it was gone. The shard of glass fell from his hand to the floor, drenched in his wet, sticky blood, and he was free.
The sunshine poured into the room once more, the scattered glass shards shimmering and winking in the lambent light, as though nothing had happened.
For a moment, he remained kneeling as though stunned, as though he would never move again. But then he jerked upright, like a marionette on the end of a string, and he was running. Running for the door, running through the village streets, running back to the field where he had seen the TARDIS disappear.
He ignored the sobs tearing raggedly through his throat, he ignored the contemptuous looks from the villagers as he flew past, he ignored the stones thrown by the children.
Instead, he screamed one long drawn-out word as he ran, "D...O...C...T...O...R!"
But when he arrived, the field was empty. He did not know what he had expected — the return of the Doctor, perhaps, so that somehow he could be warned? Burning pieces of the TARDIS strewn across the landscape? Anything, anything, rather than the nothing he was confronted with.
Tears pouring down his cheeks, Vincent Van Gogh fell again to his knees and howled despairingly at the darkening sky like a dying animal.
Overhead, unnoticed, a child's red balloon twirled and weaved in the breeze, a violent splash of colour against the oncoming night.
On board the TARDIS, that pair of glacial grey eyes watched the Doctor laugh unsuspectingly with his red-headed companion.
The child made her plans.
Father-Of-Mine was forever bound in unbreakable chains, forged in the heart of a dwarf star. Mother-Of-Mine was eternally lost, imprisoned in the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy. But Brother-Of-Mine still stood guard over the fields of England, disguised as a scarecrow and frozen in time. Once the TARDIS returned to the Earth of the future, she would find Brother-Of-Mine and she would free him.
Brother-Of-Mine would know what to do.
Because the fall of the Time Lord was coming. The very Universe sang of it, a triumphal hymn which echoed in the spaces between the stars.
The Pandorica is opening...the Pandorica is opening...the Pandorica is opening...
The Trickster would be tricked, the Gaoler would himself be imprisoned.
It was coming.
On that day, silence would fall.
On that day, the realm of endless night would begin, the Universe falling into chaos and darkness and storm and cold.
On that day, the Family of Blood would rise again.