The Things that are Human

by vegetables [Reviews - 1]

Printer Chapter or Story
  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Drama, General, Horror, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, Introspection, Mixed, Series

Thank you for your time. You will be redeemed,” said the Cyberman to Lorna once again. Lorna had run back behind the rolling metal trolleys, all loaded with food time-travelled to a point that was well past its sell-by date. Boxes of puddings and ready meals fell to the floor as she scrabbled for something to throw, but her hands were shaking so hard that she couldn’t pick up anything at all.

We’re afraid emotions mean you can’t do everything you’d like,” said the Cyberman cheerily. “You will be redeemed.”

“Redeem THIS!” shouted Lorna, throwing a giant pot of yoghurt as hard as she could at the advancing Cyberman. It hit the scanner on its torso with a beep before glomping uselessly to the ground, and a price briefly flickered across the Cyberman’s eyes.

“I… I didn’t mean that literally,” said Lorna weakly.

MUM!” cried a voice from the far end of the storage area. The Cyberman turned, confused by the intrusion, before being smacked hard in the chest by Chris’s hard plastic arm.

Christina!” said Lorna, horrified as she ducked behind the trollies. “They’ve turned you into a robot! And a teenager!”

“And you’ve been fighting the Cybermen with yoghurt!” said Chris, laughing and crying at the same time. She kicked the Cyberman’s legs from underneath it, then ran towards the nearest trolley, picking the whole thing up as expensive beer shattered to the floor.

Management required,” trilled the Cyberman, “ colleague affecting quality of service.”

“I’m not a colleague,” said Chris, “I just wear the uniform. Humza!” she yelled, “get the barcode!”

She smashed the whole trolley down over the fallen Cyberman, glass breaking and curries glooping as the metal shelves gave way against its form. Chris held the makeshift cage tight as the Cyberman continued to complain, and Humza ran forward with a piece of paper attached to a long chain.

“Okay, Cyberman,” he said, “I’ve got an unexpected item for you.”

He thrust a grubby barcode into the caged creature’s chest. It turned round to look Humza right in the face as the lights in its eyes flickered and dulled.

Void,” it said.

“That’s right, mate,” muttered Humza, “stare on into the void.”

Void,” it said again, its cheery voice somehow utterly without hope. “Beyond everything. Behind everything. There is a void.”

Its eyes snapped off into endless darkness.

“Ah, nihilism,” said Humza happily.

“What’ve you done?” said Lorna. “You’ve turned him off with a piece of card?

“Oh, no,” said Humza. He’s dead.

Dead?” said Lorna. “But he was my friend! I mean, not really. As much as a colleague can be. But him, and my next door neighbour…”

“Everyone’s gone,” she said, sadly.

“Not you,” said Chris, clomping over the fallen body of the Cyberman. “You came back. You’re here.”

“You thought I was dead,” said Lorna, realising. “A day’s past for me and it’s been years for you. And I never came back.” Tears welled in her eyes. “Bloody Doctor!

“Bloody Doctor,” agreed Chris. “For a long time I blamed her for all of this,” she waved her arms, “for the Cybermen; What they’ve done to the city. But the thing that was worst was that she’d taken… that she’d run away with…”

Chris broke down in tears and began sobbing, squeezing her mother tightly in a plastic hug.

“Careful, love,” said Lorna. “You’ve gotten a lot stronger, since you were ten.”

Chris laughed through the tears. “When they said it would be better, having no emotions. I never agreed, because I thought about this, you know? And I thought as long as there was a chance, that you weren’t dead, that I’d see you again… that I’d want to feel everything in the world. She was right about that, at least. The Doctor. You can’t let go of hope.”

Lorna didn’t respond to that. Her daughter hadn’t said where the Doctor even was, but she must have been taken away by the two men who were also the one. When Lorna had first met that woman she couldn’t have imagined her being rattled, but something about the shop and the work and the losing seemed to have broken something that ran deep. And she didn’t want to say what she was thinking to her daughter, as she cradled her checkout body in her arms.

She didn’t want to say that the Doctor might’ve let go of hope, after all.