“Donna!” the Doctor hollered at her. “Quick!” He dived over her, pushing her down and seemingly dragging her back up to her feet again in the same brisk movement.
“Oi watch it, Space…”
Donna screamed as a shining black talon slammed down in the space where she had been as an eighteen foot arachidonti warrior pounced. The strength of its attack claw piercing the tarmac like a labourer’s pickaxe.
There was no time for niceties. The Doctor shoved Donna again to get her moving. “Do not look back. Do not stop until you’re in the TARDIS! Now go!” the Doctor barked the ordered. Fear for his companion clipping his tone to a desperate anger that she knew better than to question.
Ignoring the complaints of her scuffed knee, she would berate the Time Lord later for pushing her over, albeit with a millisecond to spare before a giant spider’s scythe like claw pierced her skull. “Are you okay?!” The Doctor grabbed her shoulders and looked at her when she didn’t immediately sprint the hundred yards down the road to safety as instructed. She nodded, wide eyed and terrified, not taking her eyes off the giant black and purple spider thing that towered over them. Its eight jointed legs holding a long bulbous body twelve foot over the ground, it’s head with rows of beady black eyes that pierced them, and the jointed mouthparts that flexed and hooked ready to drag its prey up to its fangs.
“Then run! Now go! Don’t look back!”
“Doctor?” Donna started to run.
“I am right behind you!” the Doctor assured her with a cleverly devised lie. As Donna started to run the spider’s attention was caught and it flexed ready to move. “Oh no you don’t!” the Doctor waved his arms at it and drew it away.
Neither of them would be able to out run the creature. The hundred yards to the TARDIS might as well have been a hundred miles when faced with an arachidonti warrior. A particularly large worker male as well by the looks of it. It was not going to stop until it had fed. It would feed and then return to the nest to regurgitate it’s partly digested meal to the queen arachidonti, and while being eaten was one thing, the Doctor really did not fancy being regurgitated to a queen.
There must be something about Donna and giant spiders, they really weren’t that common, but the Queen of Rachnoss and now this? They had supposed to be going to the cinema, to see the 1000 year remake of Back to the Future in 4D — a treat that all his willing companions got to see, because, well, it was just such a great film! Now, because of a slight error in a single coordinate number, a 6 instead of a 9, it was easily done — they were not on the movie capital of the Devalinci system, the seventh moon of Devalinci 3, they were on sixth moon of Devalinci 3, feeling as if they had been caught in the middle of a straight to DVD budget horror movie as the satellite had long since been abandoned due to arachidonti infestation, and one of the said infesting arachidonti was currently trying to make a meal out of him and Donna.
Eight obsidian eyes tracked the Doctor as he darted across the deserted street. The buildings were all boarded up in an attempt to keep out the invading spiders long enough to evacuate, but the cities had long since been empty of intelligent life. Those not killed by the spiders had been relocated to neighbouring moons, the spiders had turned to eating the wildlife, and now that was gone they largely survived by cannibalism, and so they would remain until such a time as a single spore would get caught in a solar wind and transport them to another world where they could hatch and thrive.
The Doctor skidded down between two long abandoned hover cars. One of them still floated on its buffer, but the other rested on buckled glides, its roof and bonnet had been crushed down. There were some small shards of glass from the damaged vehicle in the road and it needled the Doctor’s thigh as he skidded through it to seek cover.
The arachidonti was close. The Doctor could smell it. A foul stench of must, blood, and gore, of the infection of old scarring wounds from previous battles. More than smelling it he could feel it. Its electromagnetic senses interfering with his own Time Lord ones and putting him off guard momentarily as he tried to adjust. The hairs all over his body stood to attention, bristling, and shivering up and down him as adrenaline coursed through his veins and he heard his own heart beats hammering in his chest. He’d successfully drawn the arachidonti away from Donna as she fled, but that meant he was now the spider’s only target.
He tried to slow his hearts down to a normal rate, to calm them. There was no point in him panicking. He needed to allow Donna the chance to get to the TARDIS, but, asides from the Queen of Rachnoss he didn’t have that good a record with giant spiders himself. Even the little ones that somehow made their way into the TARDIS bathtub gave him the heebie-jeebies, not that he’d ever admit that to anyone. A giant purple and black one, as big as a double decker bus, and intent on eating him was taking the idea of aversion therapy just a tad too far too soon.
The floating hover car beside him rocked. Sparks flew up as it tilted down off the buffer onto the ground as the warrior spider smashed its front attack legs down onto it. The Doctor rolled backward out the way of the tipping car and into the shuttered doorway of a long closed shop. Some sticky silk of a spider’s web clung to the Doctor’s shoulder as he edged back into the gap. It set his stomach going and he tried to swipe it off his suit jacket only to get it wrapped around his fingers.
Shaking his hand to try and free his digits of the web he lunged out of the doorway. He did not want to get pinned and trapped in that. The only witness to his demise would be a tatty advertising poster glued to the shutter directly under a sign indicating that Bill Posters would be prosecuted. Poor William might be prosecuted, but if he didn’t move he was either going to be impaled or squished or both and then eaten.
The Doctor stole a glance down the street. Donna was only a few yards away from the TARDIS and she already had her hand in her jean pocket reaching for her key. She was close enough to the ship that she would be safe even if the spider decided to bolt towards her. He didn’t have time to breathe a sigh of relief as the spider swiped at him with its attack claws, the front two of eight legs serving as weapons to spear and hook hold of prey in order to lift it up to its plated mandibles. He dodged the blow but the spider smashed the shop window and glass showered down on top of the Doctor. He barely felt it cutting into his forearm as he skidded away as the spider lashed out with its leg again to try and capture him.
The Doctor scrambled backward unable to get directly to his feet as he was partially under the spider and partially under another hover car. He could look up into the bottom of the arachidonti’s mouth and see two six inch fangs nestled against a row of three inch teeth, partially obscured by the solid chitin mouthparts that would crush, pierce, and rip the flesh of any prey mammal they got to. The Doctor knew that the warrior arachidonti could bite through the tough exoskeleton of any of the other spider species. It was going to make short work of a Time Lord if it got close enough.
“Blimey, they are big teeth,” the Doctor muttered. “I don’t want to have to kill you,” he commented as he continued to shove down the pavement on his backside. Trying to find the opportunity to get up and bolt. He was edging his way down toward the TARDIS as he did. Trying to shorten the amount of time he was going to have to be in the open. It was a good tactic if it had been slightly more successful, he was still ninety yards away from the ship. “Why don’t you let me get back to the TARDIS, eh?” the Doctor suggested trying to sound confident and pleasant. “I can leave you to your ghost town then. You can happily eat other spiders until an even bigger one comes along and eats you.”
The spider leapt up onto top of the car nearest to him. It wasn’t going to let him get to the TARDIS willingly. Not when there was a cheap blood filled meal to be had.
“Come on Spaceman!” Donna yelled from the safety of the TARDIS. She had the door open, waiting door for him. “What’s keeping you?!” She hollered.
“Um, giant spider?” the Doctor called back. “I think it wants to eat me.”
“Oi! Spidey! You leave him alone!” Donna banged on the TARDIS doors to draw the spider’s attention long enough for it to give the pinned Time Lord a chance to gain his footing. He attempted to make a sprint start straight from the ground, but the debris didn’t give him a good enough grip and he stumbled, sliding and rolling. He scrambled rolling into the gutter by a hovering car only for the three tonne spider to pounce and smash the car off its buffers.
“Doctor?!” Donna yelled in horror as she lost sight of the Time Lord and a primordial screech twisted her guts and stuttered her heart. “Oh God?” Donna didn’t know what to do. A further animal scream burst into life on the abandoned moon. It was not the spider making that noise. It was the Doctor. It had got him. It had bloody well got him!
The Doctor had been part pinned beneath the car and an explosion of agony destroyed him where he was being crushed. He couldn’t get away. The pain driven blood rushing by his temples muffled the sound of the spider’s exoskeleton creaking, and the sound the of the hover car’s bodywork crumpling and crunching beneath the massive weight of the spider, as it all popped and ground down onto his body.
He was partially saved by being mostly in the gutter. The car glides hit the kerb and didn’t crush him totally, but the entire weight of it was pinning his leg. He was finished. He knew it. Donna had to know it too. He could hear her screaming at him. He could feel the spider towering above him; its attack legs poised.
Donna watched helplessly as the spider plunged an attack claw down over the far side of the buckling hover car. It was where she knew the Doctor was. A further scream erupted as the hooked chitinous scythe smashed though his body, through his scapula and out the front of his shoulder. It tried to drag him up to its mouth to feed. The Doctor’s shrieks became more pained and more panicked as the car pinned his leg, the spider pinned the car and still it tried to drag him up by his impaled shoulder. He was going to be ripped in two.
“Doctor?!” Donna screamed for him.
“Stay… in the… TARDIS,” the Doctor tried to call out to her, but only a garbled warbling whine escaped as he was engulfed by pain. Hot and fiery rawness in his shoulder as he’d been impaled and hooked and the spider was trying to drag him upwards, and then the sharp hateful excruciation of his pinned leg.
The spider spun on the car, the sound of its feet clicking down onto concrete and tarmac, and releasing its weight off the hover car meant that it was no longer pressing down off the buffers totally. It was not lifted up from the Doctor, it was beyond that kind of mechanism, but it rolled slightly, renewing the pain in his leg.
The spider hauled the Doctor up, rag doll limp with its front leg. The Doctor dangled from the claw like an animal carcass in the slaughterhouse waiting to be butchered. He hung six foot from the ground, unable to do anything. He tried to reach up to free himself from the hook, but his pierced shoulder rendered his left arm useless. His right shook too much with adrenaline, shock, and pain to do much good. What a way to go?
“Oi! Incy! You don’t want to eat him! He’s far too skinny. Nothing more than a toothpick that one!” Donna raged. She sounded close.
“No, no… stay… in the TARDIS…” the Doctor’s pleas on a silent whisper went unheard.
Donna was not going to lose him. She watched as he was lifted up. The spider had hooked his jacket. It was his jacket. Please, let it just be his jacket. He was going to lift his arms up any minute and slide out of his jacket and then run back to her. A bit battered and a bit bruised and cursing that the spider was dining on pinstripes. That was what was going to happen wasn’t it? Because that shiny black claw that went in the back of his jacket and out the front of it was just through the clothing was it? The growing stain of red marking the front of his shirt: that was nothing was it?
It had impaled him. Donna felt sick. Her spaceman was dangling on the claw of a giant spider and that was not going to happen. More than the sour bile she felt rising in her throat she felt an anger raging within her. How dare anything hurt him like that?!
Donna marched away from the TARDIS, grabbing a length of metal pole that was discarded at the side of a shop window. There were other bits of it. This was about six foot long and was hollow. It was heavy but she could grip it. It looked like a bit of scaffolding pole, but she couldn’t imagine that she would be able to lift it as easily if it was steal. It felt strong though. It was probably some futuristic metal that made it easier to move because it was lighter than it looked.
“You let him go!” Donna ran at the spider and swung the metal pole into one of its back legs. The pole bounced off with an almost musical thwack that reverberated as if she’d hit it with a tuning fork. It had no effect other than to cause the pole to vibrate in her hands until she almost dropped it.
The spider spun round to investigate the annoyance at its rear. For a moment Donna thought it was starting rain until she looked at one of the droplets that had landed on her arm and saw the crimson splatter. She looked up in horror. It was raining Time Lord blood. The Doctor simply hung limply from the raised spider’s leg. Too far off the ground to do anything, the curve of the claw through his flesh meaning he couldn’t just slide off it, he would have to lift himself off it, and he had no strength left. He was only vaguely aware that Donna was no longer in the TARDIS but was foolishly trying to save him. She should have just shut the doors and let his inevitable fate take him and then the TARDIS take her, back home on a priority one. But, no, that was not Donna’s style was it? And that was why he loved her, but it was going to do her no good now.
Donna jabbed at the spider with the scaffold pole. She used it like a spear rather than trying to swing it like a cricket bat. With all her weight behind it the sharp metal circular end of the pole was more successful and it cracked and pierced the exoskeleton covering the thigh section of one of its legs where it connected. The exoskeleton cracked open and a yellow pulp squeezed through the crack. A roar erupted from the spider as it spun round toward Donna. The Doctor swung and twisted on its lofty front attack leg as the spider twisted and whipped round to face its attacker, but Donna had done some damage. The hind leg she had struck cracked and buckled away when the spider tried to stand on it, making it rock and rely on the other six legs on the floor.
Donna smashed the pole into another leg in the same manner. She just managed to dodge as it lunched toward her with its second front leg, but it jerked and almost tipped as the leg that Donna had hit gave out on it. More yellow pus and goo dripped down onto the ground from the wound she had made.
Donna roared as she drove the pile at the spider again. Using it like a lance as she rammed it to crack the exoskeleton on a third leg. Under a definite attack the spider needed all its attention on the new threat. It flicked its front leg up to lose its meal, tossing the Doctor down the street like garbage.
Donna watched the Time Lord spin in the air and then crash down onto one of the abandoned hover cars. He smashed into the bonnet and windscreen before sliding in a boneless heap off it into the gutter. For a moment Donna was petrified and glued to the spot. He wasn’t moving. Was he dead? If he was dead?
The stricken Time Lord took her attention for a moment too long. The spider raised up behind her and it knocked her down. She landed heavily on the ground. The wind was knocked out of her and she lost a hold of the scaffold pole. Yellow pus splattered down onto her from the spider’s wounds, it was thick and foul smelling gunge. The scaffold pole clanged and then rolled slightly and she scrambled for it, moving between the deadly legs of the spider.
Donna managed to grab the metal pole just as the spider ducked down and tried to attack her directly with its mouthparts. She rammed the pole up through its mouth as the spider lunged downward. The end of the scaffold pole gouged into the concrete leaving a white line of stone dust before it ground and wedged in a moss filled crack. The pole didn’t move and the momentum of the spider’s attack drove the pole up through its mouth to burst out the top of its head.
Donna rolled out the way and made it to her feet. Staggering back between the cars on the other side of the street and pressing herself up against boarded windows as the spider raised itself up on four of its legs, roaring and shaking its head back and forth. Donna was amazed that it hadn’t immediately dropped dead when it had six foot metal pike rammed from its mouth and through the top of its skull, but it didn’t. It wasn’t happy though as it staggered backward. Its legs were not strong enough, three of them rendered useless by Donna’s attack. It pitched over and fell, twitching as its legs bent under it, but the pole through its head holding it up a little higher than it otherwise would be.
Watching for a moment Donna could see that it was no longer a threat. She was sickened by the sight and almost sorry that she had done it, as the giant spider twitched in its final death throes. The patterns of black and purple marbling over its armoured body were almost beautiful. Dark and sleek and dangerous, it really was quite a spectacular creature, but it had attacked and the Doctor?
“Doctor?!” Donna cursed her own delay as she ran back across the street and further along to where the Doctor had been thrown. A heap of ragged, blood stained, pinstripes covered the drain port and the buffer access to the hover car he had landed on. The bonnet was dented and there was a circular break pattern in the dented windscreen.
“Oh God, please don’t be dead?” Donna whispered as she closed the gap between her and him, almost not wanting to go to him in case she discovered the worst. “Doctor?” Donna didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know where to touch him. Thank fully he was breathing, but it didn’t sound like the clean breathing of sleep. He was breathing in short pained gasps that seemed to contort his entire body with the effort of just getting air into his lungs as he lay crumpled on the floor in the position he’d landed from in the car.
“Well, what did you go and let it do that to you for? You big out of space Dunce,” Donna accused him. Not knowing if she was going to get any response from him at all. Not knowing if he even could respond.
“Donna… run… TARDIS.”
“Don’t worry; it’s okay,” Donna assured him. “I killed it. It’s dead.” Donna tried not to simply break down, but she didn’t know what to do. “Doctor?” Donna could see the blood on his clothing and there was some collecting in the gutter. Not a lot, but enough to know he was still bleeding. “You’re losing blood,” she tried to sound calm even though her heart was racing and her thoughts were keeping pace. “What do you need me to do?”
“TARDIS…” the Doctor whimpered. “Help me… to… the TARDIS.”
“Okay, we’ll do that,” Donna offered. “Then the TARDIS can fix you up good and proper can’t she? Do you think you can stand if I help?”
“No…” the Doctor whimpered and a pained moan caught in his throat. “…leg.” Donna put her hand on his shoulder to try to support him as pain wracked him, but as she touched him he cried out in pain.
“Oh God? I’m sorry. I’m sorry?” Donna lifted her hands back off him. How was she going to help him if she couldn’t touch him without him screaming? She couldn’t lose it now though could she? He was really hurt. Properly hurt. Hurt in the way that he should never be hurt. He couldn’t even stand up. His leg? He had complained about his leg. She tried to see why he might have done that.
The way he was lying his legs were splayed out along the gutter. The material of his trouser leg was bloodied and tattered and had been ripped away. There was something sticking into his leg just above his ankle. It was poking right into him through a wide bloody gash and she felt sick for him, but then she looked again and realised. It wasn’t something sticking into his leg. It was bone sticking out! Bile rose in her throat and she felt her senses grey out momentarily as she felt a nausea and dizziness rise. Christ she couldn’t faint! He needed her. She needed to pull herself together.
“Donna…” the Doctor whined.
“I’m here,” Donna swallowed a mouthful of bile back down. She could taste the sourness of it and it assaulted her senses. She hoped the Time Lord wasn’t going to be able to smell it on her. “You’re going to be okay, Doctor. I need to find something to put a splint on your leg, don’t I? That is what I need to do before I get you back to the…” Donna froze. She heard the ominous click clack click clack click clack click clack of eight clawed legs on tarmac. She rose up onto her knees and peered over the body-dented bonnet of the car. It was another giant spider. Not as large as the one they had faced, but this one was red and yellow rather than purple and black.
“Donna…” the Doctor whimpered.
“Shhhh,” Donna ran her fingers lightly over his cheek. It didn’t look like it would hurt him there. “There is another spider.”
“Get… to the… TARDIS… leave me.”
“Not on your scrawny life, Dumbo,” Donna hooked her arms under the Doctor. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. God, I’m sorry,” she whispered as she dragged him up out of the gutter. He screamed at the movement. He was going to draw the spider to them. “I’m sorry,” Donna wrapped her arms right around him. Stooping over. She was going to end up putting her back out but it was the only way she could do it.
She ignored the sticky red that was coating her arms. She could see the blood welling up within the wound at the front of his shoulder. It filled it like an overflowing spring, rising up in the wound glossy and red and then flowing down under his blood drenched shirt beneath. She had no idea how much blood he could stand to lose but he was losing it from his chest and from his leg as well. His leg was crooked. Bent and she was dragging him along the uneven ground even as bone poked up at the front of his twisted ankle. The only thing she could think was to get it over for him as quickly as possible as she hurried. His screaming had stopped, but she wasn’t sure that it was a good thing, as now a soundless gurgle was catching in his throat as if he were choking.
“You better not die on me now, Spaceman, you hear me?” Donna warned him. “You’re never going to hear the end of it if you do that! I mean it. You die and you’re in the biggest trouble ever. And you know, what, Doctor? For someone so skinny you’re heavier than you look! What have you been eating?! Bleedin' rocks?” she demanded of him.
Donna looked behind her. She had twenty yards to get him to the TARDIS. She looked up the road again. The yellow and red spider had stopped. “Oh, thank God for that,” she commented. “At least that is good news, eh, Martian Boy. That new spider has decided to chow down on his big brother over there,” she advised him. “The new spider is red and yellow. It is only about half the size of the purple and black one. It is right on top of it and it is eating it. Why are they different colours?” she asked him. “Do you know?”
She got no answer. She looked down on him. The Doctor’s hands were dragging in the dirt beside him and no longer making any attempt to cover his wounds. “Oi, Spaceman?” Donna heaved him a couple of yards more and then paused. “Oi? Hey? You’re not dead yet are you?” she asked him casually despite the fear that was raging within her. “Oi, are you going to answer me?” A noise came up from him, it wasn’t exactly a response. “Good enough. We’re almost there.”
Donna had to let go of the Doctor to open the TARDIS door. She tried to let him down gently but he let out a garbled cry and tried to reach for her hand to maintain her contact with him even if that had been the cause of the torturous drag along seventy yards of tarmac. Her heart was breaking for her Time Lord. She had no idea what to do for him. She opened the door and dragged him in. As she laid him back down on the floor his head rolled back and clunked on the metal grating.
“Sorry,” Donna muttered, wincing because she might have just hurt him again. “Please, Doctor? You need to tell me what to do? I don’t know what to do?” She knelt down beside him. His breath was coming in short rasps and there were tiny speckles of blood on his lips. His shirt was entirely soaked in blood, so was his trouser leg. The blood flooding into his chest wound and then flowing out of it to fill it again was bright scarlet red, but the blood oozing out of the long gash opening up the outside of his thigh was darker crimson.
“Doctor? Please? Help me? You need to help me so I can help you?” She patted his cheek very lightly with the palm of her hand trying to rouse him. “Come on, Dumbo, no time to be kipping on the job. We’re not done yet. You need to tell me what to do.”
“Door…” the Doctor gasped.
“Shit!” Donna realised that in her rush to assist the Doctor she had left the TARDIS door open. She leapt up and went and slammed it shut, not wanting any spiders to be getting in, and what was it with the Doctor and giant spiders? She didn’t even like the little ones that much. “I bleedin’ hate spiders. You know that Time Boy? I hate them. No more nice guy here. All of them are straight down the plug hole from now on,” she told him. “Are you listening to me?”
The Doctor moaned weakly.
“Look at me when I’m talking to you would you?” Donna scolded. “Please, come on?” The Time Lord made the effort to open his eyes. They were blood shot and glassy with unshed tears of pain. “Hello.” Donna caressed his head. “I need you to tell me what to do to help you, Doctor. What can I do?”
“I’ve got it here.”
“No… phone…” He tried to point to the console. “There.”
“You’ve got a phone?”
“S’not… mine,” the Doctor commented, but then he coughed and more blood rose from his mouth as he spluttered. He gagged as he tried to draw breath. Donna had to ease him up a little bit. She used the corner of the sleeve on her cardigan to wipe the blood from the corner of his mouth. She didn’t think it would help him at all, but she couldn’t bear to see it. His breathing was getting shorter and more difficult. “Handbrake…” the Doctor rasped.
Donna got up and took the handbrake off. The time rotor lit up a fraction more and the disk within it rose to the top where it was illuminated by the turquoise glow. It gave Donna some hope. “Where are we going?”
“Oh, yes, the phone.” Donna found it nestled in the console. She’d not noticed it before. “Who am I calling?” she asked him. “I hope you have the number?”
“There is only one number in it,” Donna commented and looked at the phone. There was a single number that had been texted through to him. He’d saved it and then left the phone on the console. It was strange. He’d sometimes looked at that phone both hopeful and worried that it would ring. Donna looked at the name on the phone.
“Martha…” the Doctor whimpered. “Call… Martha.”
“She’s a doctor,” Donna recalled. “A proper doctor, not a pretend doctor like you, ha! Good thinking, Time Boy.” Donna dialled the number. She was surprised that as soon as the phone started to ring the time rotor started to pulse and she could feel that the TARDIS was taking off.
A rather bemused Martha woke up to her phone ringing and the TARDIS materialising at half two in the morning in the middle of her bedroom. Her irritation vanished into concern when a red headed woman, probably his next companion, opened the door from within. She had obvious blood stains on her clothing.
“Are you Martha Jones?” Donna asked her. She was standing there in a vest top and her pyjama bottoms. “Sorry, is it night time?” She winced.
“It’s two thirty five,” Martha commented. “Where’s the Doctor?”
“He’s hurt.” Donna pushed the door open and Martha hurried in to find him barely conscious on the floor.
“Oh, Doctor?” Martha sighed.
“Martha…” he groaned.
“You’re kidding me?” Martha asked, but with Martha and Donna both there he could afford just to let the darkness take him. “He’s passed out,” Martha offered.
“It is probably better for him for the moment,” Martha assured her and glanced up to Donna even as she was busy unfastening the buttons on the Doctor’s shirt to see if she could get a good view of the wound in his chest before she took him into the infirmary. “A giant spider?”
“Incy Wincy on steroids,” Donna confirmed.
“Another day at the office then?” Martha commented and peeled the bloody fabric away from his chest.
“That goes right through,” Donna commented feeling slightly sick again as she remembered how he’d been pierced. “And bone is sticking out of his leg. Are you going to be able to treat him?”
“Another day at the office,” Martha offered and nodded. “He’ll be fine. If anything was fatal he'd have regenerated before you got him here," Martha commented, but Donna wasn't sure what that meant. "Come on, let’s get him to the infirmary. Giant spiders?” Martha sighed and shook her head. “Whatever next?”