When they stepped out of the TARDIS the Doctor locked the door for good measure. Even though the ship had a perception filter that stopped most people from noticing it he still locked it anyway, more out of habit than anything else.
The TARDIS was parked right across the street from the Noble household. Thankfully, it was only a little ways walk to get to the house. The summer air was unusually cold this time of year. The sky was cloudy and overcast as they started walking.
“Ah! Smell that air!” the Doctor exclaimed enthusiastically as he took a deep breath and looked at his companion. “Smells like rain, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Donna replied with less enthusiasm. She could feel the cold breeze through her sweater and pulled it tighter around her body to keep the chill off. She wasn’t sure if she was imagining it or not, but she could have sworn that she felt the first few drops of rain beginning to fall on her head. “And I want to get inside before I get soaked.”
The Doctor turned and faced Donna, walking backwards. “Oh, Come on, Donna! It’s just rain. I love the rain, especially thunderstorms! I could stand outside and watch it rain all day. There’s nothing like a good thunderstorm!”
“You’re just saying that because you don’t want to go inside and visit.”
The Doctor didn’t reply. He turned around and they kept walking in silence until he stopped suddenly in front of the red head.
“Now what is it?” she asked, turning to face him.
He looked up and down both sides of the street with a puzzled expression on his face before glancing at Donna. “Is it just me or is it really dead outside?”
Donna took a look around and noticed how deserted and empty the street was. Almost every single house had a car parked in the driveway as if people were still at home. A few doors over, on the left side of the Noble house, a few bikes lay on their side in the grass completely abandoned by their owners. Another house had a lawnmower out on the front lawn as if someone was going to cut the grass but then thought better of it.
Donna seemed a bit unnerved by this; however, since traveling with the Doctor she had seen a lot of strange and unexplained things that normally involved aliens attacking and the two of them running for their lives. As strange as it was to see no people whatsoever and everything abandoned on the lawns, it didn’t seem that unusual after all.
“It’s always dead outside on the weekend, Doctor.” She looked at the Time Lord.
“But school’s out. People aren’t working. There should be someone around.”
It's fine, Doctor, trust me.” She could see a few drops of rain falling from the sky and hitting the pavement with a soft pattering. Great, she was already getting wet.
“Where is everyone?”
Donna sighed. “I think that maybe you’re trying to see something out of the ordinary when there’s nothing really wrong. I told you, weekends are normally quiet around here. And plus, it’s raining, and anyone with half a brain in their head would be inside already. Let’s go! I don’t want to get drenched!”
She grabbed the protesting Time Lord by the arm and pulled him along with her towards the house. They were halfway across the street when she heard a strange noise.
Wait! Doctor, do you hear that?”
The Doctor stopped and glanced at Donna, raising a curious eyebrow.
“That noise. It… It almost sounds like groaning.”
“Oh that! I thought that was your stomach growling,” the Doctor replied.
The groaning noise got louder until it sounded like it was coming from all sides, surrounding and closing in on them, some unseen inescapable horror beyond imagination, until they suddenly emerged, coming out of nowhere from between houses and behind cars, quickly swarming the once deserted area.
“Zombies! Brilliant!” the Doctor exclaimed happily. “I’ve never seen them before.”
“Doctor, they’re surrounding us. We have to get to the house and make sure that Mom and Gramps are okay.” Donna was starting to worry. Dozens of zombies were between them and the houses across the street, making it nearly impossible for them to get to the house without being eaten.
The Doctor took a few steps toward the nearest zombie, eager to get a closer look. “Oh! Look at you! You are beautiful!”
“Doctor, what are you doing? Get back here!”
“Don’t worry. I’m just taking a closer look. It’s fine.” He poked the nearest zombie on its bloody arm and tasted it. It didn’t taste fresh. It tasted days old and smelled horribly rotten like decaying flesh. He wrinkled his nose at the offending taste and smell.
The zombie seemed to perk up at being touched and made a grab for the Time Lord, but the Doctor jumped back just in time, narrowly avoiding getting scratched.
“Doctor, get back here.”
The zombie moaned differently, a louder moan that signaled the other zombies. More zombies came out from behind and off to the sides of the TARDIS, while the ones near the houses across the street converged towards them, craving the taste of fresh meat. Donna was cut off from the TARDIS. And the Doctor, who was even further away, was cut off from both of them by zombies that surrounded him on all sides.
“Hang on. I’m coming!” the Doctor shouted back to Donna. He dived out of the way by sliding between a zombie’s legs and ran straight back to Donna.
Donna was only a few feet away from the safety of the blue box, but the TARDIS was locked. She couldn’t get in and the zombies were coming closer and closer towards her. She saw the Doctor rush past the zombies and slide between one of the zombie’s legs before she lost sight of him in the crowd and feared the worst.
“Doctor! Are you okay?!”
She wanted to go after him and save him but there were so many zombies that she lost sight of him until she saw a flash of a tan coat on her right and ran towards it, bravely risking her life to save the Time Lord. She kicked and punched her way into the ravenous crowd, trying to keep the zombies at bay, but there were too many. In a few short seconds she was surrounded on all sides with the groaning undead herd clawing at her arms and legs, trying to bite her. She could feel them tearing at her clothing. One of them grabbed her shoulder and she whirled around ready to fight it off when she realized it was the Doctor.
“Come on!” he urged, taking Donna’s hand and leading her to the TARDIS. He unlocked the door and pushed her inside before stepping in behind her, closing the door at the last second, and locking it. Both of them leaned against the door and took a moment to catch their breath.
“What just happened?” Donna asked breathlessly. “Where did they come from?”
“Well, at first I thought they were people dressed up for a comic convention, but they definitely taste a little too ripe for that. They are people and they are dead, but we need to figure out where they came from and how to stop them.”
The Doctor started walking towards the console but Donna stopped him.
“What about Gramps and Mom? We have to make sure they’re alright first.”
“Okay. What do you have in mind?” the Time Lord asked, looking at his companion.
“I’m tired of running. It’s time for us to fight back. I don’t care how many there are out there. I’ll stop them all by myself if I have to. No one messes with me and gets away with it. Let’s show those zombies who’s boss!”
The Doctor grinned widely, admiring his companion’s strength. “Donna Noble, you are brilliant.”
“What’s the plan?” Donna asked curiously.
They were in the kitchen. She was watching the Doctor frantically pulling open drawers and cupboard and tossing items onto the floor in search of something.
“What are you looking for?”
The Doctor was crouched halfway inside of a deep cupboard, still searching for what he needed. He called back to Donna, yelling loudly to be heard over the clatter of banging pots and pans.
“We can’t just run over there. There are too many zombies. We need weapons to fend them off with. I’ve got just the thing. It’s in here somewhere but I can’t quite remember where I put it.”
Donna knew the perfect weapon to use. She had come across it the other day in one of the bedroom closets. Knowing exactly where it was, she quickly left the kitchen and returned minutes later holding a cricket bat just as the Time Lord emerged from the deep cupboard.
“So, what do you think? Which one should I use?” the Doctor asked seriously, holding up one item in each hand for Donna to decide.
When Donna saw what the Doctor was holding she burst out laughing. “Are you serious? I can’t tell if you’re thinking of unclogging a toilet or baking a cake.”
“What’s wrong with them?”
The Doctor gave Donna a confused look and glanced at his choices. In one hand he was holding a whisk, the other a plunger.
“Don’t they remind you of anything, Doctor? Something that looks like a salt and pepper shaker?”
“Alright, plunger it is.” He tossed the whisk behind him and stepped over the mess of kitchen utensils covering the floor to get to Donna. “How’d you make out? Have you got anything better?”
“Just a little something,” Donna replied, showing the Time Lord the cricket bat she found. “It was in the closet beside this weird sweater that had a stalk of celery on it. Now that is a fashion disaster, but not nearly as bad as the multicoloured catastrophe beside it. I wonder how many clowns died to make that horrible outfit.”
“What did you think of the scarf?” he asked, feeling slightly embarrassed and deflated at how she was attacking his fashion sense.
“I liked it.”
“Anyway, moving on…” the Doctor said, changing the subject to avoid any more embarrassment as they made their way out of the kitchen and back to the console room.
As they made their way towards the doors the moaning and groaning of the zombies got louder. There had to be way more of them outside than before. Donna wasn’t too worried. She could handle herself. She was more worried about the Doctor and wished that he would’ve picked a better weapon to defend himself with. The idea of him fighting off the undead with a plunger was absolutely ridiculous.
The Doctor unlocked the door and hesitated with his hand on the door handle. Donna looked a little uneasy and he didn’t blame her. It wasn’t every day that zombies appeared in Chiswick.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
Donna ran her hand along the wood of the cricket bat and swung the heavy weapon a few times, getting a feel for it. It was perfect. “You better believe it. Those zombies aren’t going to know what hit them.”
“You’re right.” The Time Lord nodded. “If your swing is as good as your slap you’ll be able to knock a few heads off.”
“Oi! Watch it, Spaceman! I might just be aiming for you next.”
“Fair enough.” He rubbed his arm slightly, vividly remembering the stinging pain of her slap from a few days ago. The bruise on his arm was shaped like her handprint. He was almost starting to feel sorry for the zombies.
He gripped the plunger tightly in his hand and took a deep breath to steady himself before he opened the door.
It was worse than before. Much worse. There had to be at least 40 or 50 of them shuffling around since they’d last been outside. The second he and Donna stepped out onto the street the zombies sensed them and turned at the same time to come after them.
Zombies came at them from behind and Donna noticed just in time. She wound up and swung the cricket bat as hard as she could and hit the zombie right in the chest, but it didn’t stop reaching for her.
“Doctor!” she hollered, continuing to hit the zombie on the same spot. “It’s not working!”
“Aim for the head.”
Donna whacked the zombie on the head as hard as she could. Its skull exploded, sending bits of decayed brain and skull flying everywhere in a spectacular mess. Bits of zombie gunk were in her hair, her clothes and her shoes. It was absolutely disgusting. She hoped she could get her sweater dry-cleaned. There was no way she was sticking her messy clothes in the washing machine after this.
Once she got over the trauma of her clothes being ruined she easily got into the swing of things and finished off a few other zombies around her. It wasn’t too hard. She was better at it then she thought. She heard a girly shriek come from behind her and whirled around, ready to fend off more of the undead.
“AH! My hair! It’s in my hair!” he cried miserably. He’d spent two hours on his hair in the morning and now it was covered in zombie gunk. He moaned and tried to brush the gunk out with his hand but only succeeded in spreading it further into his hair. He was so preoccupied that he didn’t even realize another zombie was coming up behind him until its brains exploded and even more goo splattered all over the back of his precious coat. The shock snapped him out of it and he kept going, attacking zombies and trying to get closer to the house.
“You should have picked something instead of a plunger,” Donna said. “Like a golf club or something. Even the whisk would probably work better than that.”
“I don’t golf.”
The Doctor used the handle of the plunger and poked a zombie in the eye, squishing the eyeball, popping it like a grape and destroying the brain. This time zombie eyeball juice splattered him in the face and he wiped it off with his hand. Another one came at him and he stuck the rubber end of the plunger on its face and punched it in the head. There were so many zombies it was getting harder and harder for him to find Donna in the crowd. Between the two of them they’d taken out at least a dozen of the undead, but it seemed like for every zombie they killed two more took its place. They couldn’t keep this pace up forever. Every second that went by was another that Donna’s mom and Wilfred were in danger. If anything happened to them he’d never forgive himself. He couldn’t let anything happen to them.
He glanced over at the house and assessed their situation. The front of the house was swarmed with zombies, making it nearly impossible to make it past them and get inside. They’d have to get in another way. A safer way.
“I’ve got it!” the Doctor exclaimed loud enough to make Donna jump.
“AH! What is it?”
“I hope you know what you’re doing.”
Donna followed behind the Time Lord, wondering what he was planning. As the two of them cleared a path between the crowd of zombies to get by, she could just make out a bit of a fence straight ahead of them. Apparently the Doctor was taking the scenic route through the neighbours’ backyard. She wasn’t sure if it was safer that way or not, but hopefully there’d be fewer zombies.
The Doctor got to the fence and grinned smugly at the red head. He held the plunger over his shoulder and bounced energetically on the balls of his feet. “See? I do know what I’m doing. We’ll go through the neighbours’ backyard, hop over the fence, and go in through the back door. It’s perfectly easy. Can you fight off the zombies long enough for me to open the gate?”
“Alright. Make it quick before all of them notice we’re over here.”
The Doctor tugged on the gate and tugged harder when he realized it wasn’t opening. “Uh oh.”
“What do you mean ‘Uh oh’?” Donna asked, feeling her temper rising.
The Doctor rubbed the back of his neck with his hand and chuckled nervously. “It’s locked.”
“It’s locked? Well then, unlock it. Just use your sonic thingy. Press the button and whirl it around like you always do and it should be fine.”
“Yeah… About that…”
The Time Lord pulled the sonic screwdriver out of his pocket and tossed it up in the air before catching it. “It doesn’t do wood.”
“What do you mean?!”
“It doesn’t work on wood. I’ve been meaning to fix it, really, but-”
The look on Donna’s face shut him up. He didn’t think it was possible for someone to get so red in the face but Donna’s face was turning redder than her hair. He was starting to worry that she’d pop a vein or something. It was really freaky.
“It doesn’t work on wood? It has over 200 settings-”
“263 actually, but who’s counting?” He grinned but the smile quickly fell from his face.
“263 settings and you can’t use it to unlock a wooden fence gate. Next you’re going to tell me that you can’t put up shelves. Don’t answer that,” she added as the Doctor opened his mouth to speak.
“Right. Okay.” He nodded to himself and put his screwdriver back into his jacket pocket. “Don’t worry. I have a plan. I’ve got it covered. Stay here and I’ll be back before you can say Raxacoricofallapatorius.” He stepped back, took a running start, and gracefully cleared the gate-
Only to collide into a metal garbage can on the other side of the fence.
The crash signaled more zombies to where they were and within seconds Donna was surrounded by them. She took a practice swing and adjusted her grip on the cricket bat. The party was just getting started and she was ready for more.
“Bring it on!” she yelled.
She saw a zombie that was wearing a Spaceballs t shirt and jabbed it with the end of the cricket bat. It toppled over into the one behind it, sending at least six other zombies toppling like dominoes. Sure she was tired and worried about her mom and Gramps but she had to admit it was a lot of fun. She hadn’t won any medals for sports when she was a kid in school, but it there was ever a medal for killing zombies she’d probably get it now.
A couple of minutes dragged by and she still hadn’t heard or seen the Doctor. She could handle herself but she wasn’t sure about the Time Lord. He really should have picked something else besides a plunger. It didn’t matter where they went: a planet full of Ood, a library full of Vashta Nerada, or saving Agatha Christie from a giant wasp, the Doctor was always a trouble magnet.
To the zombies he might as well have been wearing a large flashing neon sign that said, ‘Eat my brains, I don’t need them’. If he didn’t come back soon she was going to have to find him. If the zombies didn’t kill him she was going to for making her worry. She couldn’t save the world alone. She didn’t know how to stop a zombie apocalypse. She was just a temp.
The Doctor groaned heavily. He’d landed head first into the garbage can before it fell to the ground leaving half of his body sticking out of it. The bags tore and loose bits of garbage were thrown everywhere. It wasn’t just glass bottles, cans and food packaging. He extracted himself from the garbage can and got to his feet. His shoes made a nasty squelching sound on the grass and he realized that he’d found where the diapers he’d smelled had got to. The smell was so ripe it made his eyes water and he was trying not to gag was he wiped his shoes clean on the grass. He was covered in bits of food, paper, plastic and… well… he didn’t want to think about what else there could be. The squeak of the gate opening got his attention and he saw Donna trying hard to keep a straight face as she walked into the backyard and closed the gate behind her.
The first thing Donna saw when she walked into the backyard was the Doctor covered in putrid filth. It was everywhere, all over him and the ground almost as if a bomb had gone off. She instantly took in his disheveled appearance in a glance with the skill of a woman who faithfully read the weekly fashion magazines and tabloids. The Doctor’s new look easily rose to the top of Joan Rivers’ worst dressed list.
The Doctor’s converse was covered in brown poo up to his ankles. A multicoloured smear of what might have once been ice cream, juice, lettuce and meat covered his suit and the sleeves of his coat. A banana peel and bits of newspaper were stuck in his hair and his face was covered in zombie goo. She was trying hard not to laugh but the expression on his face was priceless. She burst out laughing so hard that it hurt and her eyes started watering.
“Ha ha ha!”
The Doctor crossed his arms, feeling himself go red in the face. “It’s- It’s not funny!” he whined.
“Yes,” Donna said between fits of laughter. She thought she was going to pee herself she was laughing so hard. “Yes it is! Were… were you trying to dumpster dive or is this a new look?”
“Just- Just stop. Just stop it,” he said, trying not to get caught up in Donna’s contagious laughter. His cheeks were bright red and his face was burning with embarrassment. He was trying desperately hard not to smile and laugh but he couldn’t help himself. It was a little funny.
“Where… Ha ha! Where’s your plunger?”
She wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. She couldn’t stop laughing even though it was starting to get painful. The banana peel was killing her. All he needed was a cherry on top. She saw the Doctor bend down to look for the plunger in the mess and laughed harder when she noticed where it was.
“Plunger butt!” She yanked the plunger off of his butt. It made a hilarious popping sound as it came free.
The Doctor’s eyes bulged in surprise. He slapped his hands on his butt and whirled around to face Donna, who handed him the plunger which he took without a word. Thankfully Donna’s laughter was dying down enough for him to get a word in. He shook his head and ruffled his hair with his hands to try and get as much of the garbage out of his hair as he could.
“How did you get in here? The gate is locked.”
“No. It’s not locked, just stuck. I just had to jiggle the latch back and forth a few times and it opened really easily,” Donna replied.
“But I did jiggle it. It wasn’t working.”
“You didn’t try hard enough.”
“Well, lead the way, Spaceman. Let’s get to the house.”
“Right.” The Doctor nodded and swung the plunger over his shoulder. He went up to the side of the fence and cautiously peered over, looking for stray garbage cans that were out for blood, but thankfully the coast was clear. “Okay. We’re good. The coast is clear.” He easily hopped the fence, followed an instant later by the fiery red head. He admired Donna. She was never afraid to get her hands dirty.
The two of them looked at each other and chuckled, clearly having fun despite the danger. It’d take more than an unexplained zombie apocalypse to ruin their day. They were inseparable, the best of friends until the end. They were going to stay together as long as they could and make the most out of whatever came their way. Zombies? Ha! They’d taken on worse and survived. This was no different, just another day at the park.
Donna tried the latch on the patio door while the Doctor had her back in case of an imminent zombie attack. Things were looking good, unless ninja zombies somehow appeared. Then they were all screwed.
“It won’t open. It’s locked.”
“Did you try jiggling it?” the Time Lord offered smugly.
“Of course I tried jiggling it!” The curtains were closed. She couldn’t see anything. “Mom! Gramps! It’s Donna and the Doctor. Can you open the door? It’s locked!” She banged on the glass door with her fists, becoming increasingly worried.
“Here.” The Doctor gently nudged Donna out of the way. “Let me try.”
“Hurry!” the red head urged.
He tried jiggling the lock but it was no good. It wouldn’t open. A loud crashing sound got both of their attention and they looked over to see that the fence had buckled under the sheer weight of the amount of peckish zombies. The moaning and groaning became louder than ever. All of the banging on the glass door must have advertised their whereabouts to the undead. Moments later several zombies had broken into the backyard.
Cue the music.
The Doctor hit a zombie with the handle of his plunger and gasped in surprise when its head came clean off and fell to the ground.
“Look, Donna. No hands!” He kicked the head with his feet a few times before he used his knee to toss it up into the air and headed the head over to Donna, who caught it and threw it like a bowling ball, knocking over a few zombies.
“Strike.” Donna said happily.
While Donna continued to fend off the undead, the Doctor got to work unlocking the patio door. He pulled his screwdriver from his jacket pocket and aimed it at the lock. The sonic buzzed and a few seconds later the lock clicked.
“Now we’re in business.” He whistled to get Donna’s attention and held the door open for her as she ducked inside. He felt a hand on his shoulder and glanced back to see a zombie reaching for him, its milky white dead eyes looking right at him. Its putrid stench was-
Oh wait… That was him.
“Sorry. Can’t stay and chat,” he said. The Time Lord pulled himself free and jumped into the house, landing hard on the kitchen floor with a thud just as Donna closed the door.