Last Orders

by vegetables [Reviews - 0]

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  • Teen
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Angst, Drama, General, Horror, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, Introspection, Mixed, Series

Exhausted, the Doctor emerged from an alley that wasn’t there. She watched as the shadows behind her shifted until they were just the suggestion of a street, until there was nothing left but a crumbling wall.

“So many levels of non-existence,” she said. “I’ve now long lost track of them all.”

“I’m lost,” said a voice behind her.

“That’ll be two of us,” she said, then felt her voice catch in her throat. It was just a small boy, who stood on the street all alone.

She tried to start saying that he wouldn’t be safe without his family, but stopped when she saw where they were. Behind them was the theatre and its enormous clock, which proudly showed it was almost eight o’ clock. Nobody was safe anymore, whether they were with their families or not.

The Doctor gazed down at him with compassion. There was nothing she hated more than looking into the eyes of a child who she couldn’t save.

“Stop staring at me!” said the boy. “It’s creepy.”

“I was just thinking about how you were going to die,” said the Doctor awkwardly. “That’s even more creepy.”

“My Mum says there’s no use worrying about it,” said the boy.

“Maybe not. But I hoped just once I’d be able to save your planet. Even when it’s gone as off the rails as this. Do any of you even know what it’s called anymore?”

“Don’t be silly,” said the boy, “it’s obvious where we are. This is the Earth; isn’t it? When you don’t know what a planet is, in the book. It always turns out to be there.”

“It’s not the Earth,” said the Doctor. “It’s not in danger this time.”

“Oh. Then is this your planet, too? You might be old enough to remember it had a name.”

“It’s not. But you’re less far off with that. Once I thought there was only one left of the kind of person I am. And I thought that of him, too. That however many of his kind there were out there, he’d be the only one you could ever call a person.”

The boy frowned. “This planet’s not a he.”

“It’s a man of your species I’m talking about. The one who’s in that theatre right now. My greatest ever enemy, or the shadow of it. They call him Davros.”

The boy shrugged. “That’s just a name.”

“That’s what all good tyrants have in common. Once, their names would mean nothing to anyone at all. But out there, Davros– it means something that’s worse than evil. If evil got smarter and a bit more full of itself, if it thought up a way to feel justified. He’s what it means for the darkness to win. And he’s the creator of the Daleks.”

A bird was flapping across the sky that was shaped like the shadows of hands. But they’d never been human hands, however much they might look like them.

The boy frowned. “But you’re saying he’s from here. This isn’t ”–

“It is, though. This is the planet of the Daleks.”

There had been other shadows everywhere all along, she now knew. Like pepperpots or rubbish bins, but always unmistakable as what they were. They haunted everywhere because they had to. But this was the place they threatened most of all.

“But we’re not the Daleks!” cried the boy. “We’re people! We don’t want to exterminate everyone; we’re just into an alien book!”

“That’s right!” said the Doctor. “You’re nothing like the Daleks at all. That’s what makes this planet so astonishing. Or this version of it, at least.”

She waved her hand to indicate the whole of the planet, far greater than the theatre and eight ‘o clock.

“My people fought the Daleks once,” she said, “and we ended up sure that they’d always happen here. In every version of this place, in every reality, whether there was a Davros or not. The Daleks would exist because they had too, as much of a law as… gravity, or the speed limit. But one of us found some realities where they didn’t. The very few; the drops in a billion seas.”

She grinned.

“Infinitely improbable.”

The boy stared blankly at her.

“Oh, come on!” said the Doctor.

She sighed.

“Point is. These places kept us safe. Gave us hope, ‘cause they could hold it back. Everything in the universe couldn’t become the Daleks, not with those planets resisting. But this might be the last one left, I think. And now”–

“Now nothing,” said the boy. “Everything’ll be fine.”

“That wasn’t what happened in your book,” said the Doctor. “On every planet, in every reality. It didn’t work out in the end.”

“Yeah,” said the boy. “But it was just a story. And everyone knew that there should be a happier ending.”

“It was only the beginning,” said the Doctor, “that’s the bit that really mattered. One day there’s an ending that isn’t happy. There’s a point when I won’t be able to save the world.”

“But it’s silly, right?” said the boy. “None of it was ever meant to be real.”

“Yes,” said the Doctor. “But when something is very, very silly, you forget when it’s also all true.”

She looked up at the clock, which was now drawing close to the hour.

“Slightly less than two minutes now,” said the Doctor. “That’s a reference to”–

“Yes,” said the boy wearily. “I know what it’s a reference to.”

“An adult would tell you not to be afraid. But it’s fine, really. You can be absolutely terrified. Though perhaps I should be even more frightened than that. ‘Cause the end of the world is one thing, but the man in there?”

She nodded at the door.

“He’s Davros. He’s the thing that’s even worse.”

“Than who?” said the boy.

“Than death!” said the Doctor. “You must’ve been following along.”

“I meant the people up there in the dome. Who you think will destroy the whole world.”

He gasped.

“Is it the Vogons?” he said.

The Doctor snorted. “The Vogons?! That’s ridiculous! No. You already know who it is.”

“Them,” said the boy, who finally looked afraid. “They’re here to take back their world.”

“Yes,” said the Doctor with a sigh. “It always is, isn’t it? Every time, it has to be the Daleks. When you look at that thing, then you just know it right away. A weapon as awful as that”–

She nodded up at the dome.

–“Who else could it possibly be?”