The Things that are Human

by vegetables [Reviews - 1]

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  • All Ages
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  • Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Drama, General, Horror, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, Introspection, Mixed, Series

“This is amazing!” said the Doctor happily, pulling the ninth lever on the chair again. A plastic compartment slid out of one of the arms, in which sat several extremely expensive hats.

“Can I have a hat?” she said.

“Stop asking that,” said the younger Simon. “You know, Simon,” he said to his older self, “I’m starting to think this might’ve been one of the,” he hesitated over his words, “less fantastic ideas in our partnership…”

“Nonsense!” laughed the older Simon. “She’s just being annoying on purpose, in case that means we’ll let her go.”

“No I’m not,” said the Doctor unconvincingly.

“Won’t work, anyway. There’s eyes all over the city, some of them literal. People converted to cameras, nosy as they were in their lives! We’d get you back, Doctor, whenever we wanted you again.”

“Right,” said the Doctor. “Trapped here forever, then.” She looked round. “At least it’s pretty plush, as eternal prisons go.”

She looked round the room properly for the first time. It was grey and dull in the way that cost an awful lot to afford, with the very fattest sofas and the very flattest screens. Everything was in the exact place a famous designer might put it– except for a strange device on the mantelpiece, squat and blue and made like old meccano. It looked very like something she had seen a hundred realities away, on the sugar planet of Ipsico 9, and on seeing it she knew that something was terribly wrong.

“Whisky?” said the older Simon happily. “Something old, for the ancient guest we have here.” The Doctor looked at him oddly, as she saw him properly for the first time too.

“Oh Hell,” she said softly to herself. “And he’s now gone terribly wrong, at that.”

“I’m sorry?” said the older Simon.

“Oh! I was just saying how much I love my whisky,” said the Doctor. “When I’m one of the ones that drinks, in one of the situations like this. Can we have one that’s–” she considered the possibilities “–got a nose a bit like blueberries, but not too like them, and which is smoky, but not in a peaty way. And it has to be from the eighties, so it’s just a little bit disco.”

“I’m sorry?” said the older Simon.

“It’s only right that you make your guest comfortable. And I’m picky about whisky, now. This body has a very snobby tongue.”

“Well… only the best for our new god, I suppose. We are keeping her prisoner, after all.”

“Prisoner is such a harsh word, Simon,” said his younger self. “I prefer to think of it as… a very long holiday.”

“Then let us drink to the start of the journey,” said the older Simon. He smiled in a way that was only slightly exhausted, then disappeared off to the cellar below.

The Doctor waited until she was sure the man had gone.

“Would you like to hear something funny?” she said to the Simon that remained.

“Not really.”

“I don’t actually like whisky at all!”

“See, that isn’t funny. That’s annoying. You’ve sent my older self–“

“A long way away. Because I wanted to talk to you about him.”

She turned to look at the younger Simon, suddenly very serious.

“You know all about me, right? So you know that I can see things a human couldn’t, sometimes. When you lot know something’s wrong, and you can’t put your finger on why, I can feel what it is, with my alien thumbs.”

She flexed them up and down, as if to demonstrate.

“I’m afraid I’ve no idea what you mean,” said Simon.

“Well, he’s smart, isn’t he, your older self? He’s a very intelligent chap. And that’s an interesting thing, because–“

She looked at him with eyes of stone.

“Because he doesn’t have a brain.”

Simon fell silent at that. His eyes glanced at the nearest screen, then to the one that was furthest away. Suddenly and without warning, he lunged at the Doctor’s throat, then fell screaming to the floor as she did something clever with her arms.

“You shouldn’t attack a defenceless woman,” she said as he cried out in pain. “It’s not like I said you don’t have a brain.”

“My brain is thinking exceptionally fast,” panted Simon on the floor. “And if you’re not going to die then by God I hope that you’ll still listen–“

He turned his head up to her and stared furiously into her eyes.

“–you can’t mention the brain thing to him, do you hear? You can’t tell him that I already know!