A nudge into my side woke me up.
"We're there in half a n hour," the Master announced.
Groggily I blinked up at him, my eyes still heavy. Had I slept this deeply? My head felt like it was filled with a thick fog and I yawned widely.
Sleeping in a train... that was a first-timer.
Well... sleeping leaned against a lunatic mass murder who was about to end my own life, was also a first.
Did I imagine it or did the Master look peeved?
"What's with you?" I slurred. "Did I do somethin'?"
"You slept," he grumbled, eyes narrowed to annoyed slits.
I blinked again a few times, trying to get my brain to decipher the meaning behind why he mentioned this. Was he mad because I used him as a pillow? Then why hadn't he just moved away? Again I yawned and stretched a little.
"Not nearly long enough," I mumbled.
The Master gave off a low growl of sorts.
"What? Haven't done a thing," I protested meekly.
His eyes narrowed even further, lips pursing slightly. "How can you sleep with me? You should be way too frightened to close an eye."
Alright, my brain decidedly was still too tired to process this. I only shook my head and rubbed my eyes. "Dunno. 'M not sleeping too well, lately. Just tired as hell, 's all." I shrugged and slipped from the seat, one hand already on the door when I got grabbed at my jacket and pulled back.
"And where do you think you're going?" the Master snarled.
"Eh... toilet," I drawled. "Bet there is one nearby. Always is. And splash some water in my face. Gosh, I need coffee..."
He let go of me and poked my head. "You're even awake?"
"Noooo, sleepwalking. Don't you see?" I yawned again. "'S not as if I could run away or somethin'. We're on a friggin train. And I sure as hell don't wanna jump from it. So... if you excuse me." My hands gestured towards the door. "Or wanna come along and guard the toilet? Won't let you watch, that's for sure."
This time he let me and I slipped out into the empty corridor that was only illuminated by dimmed night lights. On my way I stopped at a window and glared outside, a small smile creeping over my face when I recognized a church tower in the distance, raising into the air against the dark sky. I always loved old architecture, even though I don't have a clue about it.
For the second time this night a hand lay itself over my mouth, a strong arm pulling me back and pressing me tightly against a thin body.
"Don't scream," a man's voice warned softly. "I won't hurt you. But the Master mustn't hear us."
I simply nodded and the hand vanished. At least I was somewhat awake now, turning around to face the same man I had bumped into not so long ago. He still wore his brown coat, a pinstripe suit and red converse. Weird style choice, but who am I to judge.
"You're the Doctor, aren't you?" I concluded uselessly. I mean, who else would he be?
A beaming smile split his lips, he nodded enthusiastically, then thumped behind him to signal me to follow him. My mind told me it would be the wiser choice, my gut told me he was someone I could trust - to a certain extend - and who wouldn't harm me. Still, my head turned back to the door I had just left and a small part of me was almost about to simply walk back.
Bad idea. Really, really bad idea. It would be useless to go undetected by any authorities if I wouldn't survive it anyway. Somehow it would still be worth it, for the sake of my Dad and my little sister. But no... I'm not that much of a good person to sacrifice myself like that.
Silently I followed the Doctor, watching his coat swaying with his steps, listening to the music of the train. Shortly after, we reached the end of the hallway and he opened a blue, wooden door. I glanced up and noticed a sign saying: Police Box.
"Huh?" I made perplex, but didn't dare to speak a word just yet.
The Doctor rushed inside and I simply followed, not knowing what else to do, but still wondering why they would put a thing like that in a train. Was it a decoration for some sort of party? The doors definitely lead to another part of the train, so... wait, no.
That certainly wasn't the train anymore. It was way too spacious and looked completely and utterly so much not train-like at all.
Slowly I took a single step into the large round room, my eyes skimming over the coral shaped pillars, the weird round patterns on the bent walls, the downright alien looking table in the middle and the glass tube with the weird up and down sliding things inside. A warm blue-greenish light emanated from it, fell down to countless wires and levers and buttons and all sorts of things my mind couldn't even wrap around.
Alien, it shot through my head. Those two really are aliens.
"Could you close the doors?"
I looked at the Doctor, who beamed at my reaction, hands in his suit pockets, bouncing up and down on his heels. While I did what he said, he shrugged off the coat and threw it over what looked like an old jump seat. It was too far away from the console to be really useful in that place, though, probably only existing for when he needed to rest a little. Then again... my eyes found another door that probably lead deeper into the...
"It's a spaceship, isn't it?" I concluded. The Doctor beamed even wider, nodding enthusiastically, although it seemed he awaited something more. "And... you attached it to the end of the train?" I pondered. "We walked through a door and now we are here... so..."
"Wait a moment."
He shot towards the controls and started to push several buttons, then pumped a weird mechanism, flung some levers and I have no idea what else, but suddenly the whole ship shook so violently I stumbled backwards and almost landed on my bum.
Some weird mechanical noise filled my ears, one so strange it almost gave me a spontaneous headache, but was also weirdly soothing. It stopped too fast, though, to get used to it, and when I glanced back at the Doctor, his grin was even wider than before. He waved towards the doors.
"Come on, take a look."
"Are we flying now?" I wanted to know. "Felt like a pretty rough start... don't people see us?"
Somehow I wasn't so eager to open a door and stare into some unimaginable depths below me. I'm not too much afraid of heights, but I don't love them either. And who knew if that man wouldn't just push me out? All I knew about him, so far, were the things the Master had told me. And how much of his statements were believable at all was hard to guess. The Doctor could be an accomplice, he might be a worse person altogether.
Heck, he isn't even human!
I stayed put, frozen in place without knowing what actually to do. The Doctor tilted his head to the side, observing me as if I were some peculiar specimen he had never seen before.
"Normally people are so excited to rush out and see something new."
"Yeah, and then die horribly..."
"You're a cheery one," he remarked amusedly.
"Just careful." I shrugged and took a step away from the doors. "I can't even predict human behaviour... who knows what you're planning with me."
The Doctor's face dropped and I almost felt a little sorry about my cautiousness. But then again had I been an easy target, in the past, for being too sympathetic. A thing other people loved to abuse and manipulate. And there was no way of telling how an alien would react.
"Ahhh, come on," he tried again, waving towards the doors. "Nothing out there that will eat you, promise." For a second his face turned thoughtful. "Probably. Can never be sure. But anyway..."
He tried to grab my hand, but I jolted backwards.
"What's that?" he mumbled more to himself. "Not afraid of the Master, but of me."
Somehow, in this very moment, I indeed felt a lot more scared than I had with the Master. With him I at least knew what I had to await. The Doctor was completely unpredictable to me. It's almost always like that when you can't read people, but having a non-human in front of you...
Suddenly the Doctor produced something from his pocket that almost looked like some sort of wand for a moment. A metallic one with a blue light, but still... the way he held it and started to wave it over me...
"Not hypnotized, good. Maybe... No... definitely human," he mumbled. "Some weird patterns in your brain, though."
"Dammit," I mumbled. "Don't look at me like that. I'm just autistic, not some eldritch abomination."
At that his eyes lit up and he came a few steps towards me, making me tense up again. But he only started to babble on, "Are you? Einstein too, did you know? They didn't know much about autism back then, though. Met him a few times, great man, although he keeps on trying to steal stuff from my TARDIS. I always tell him it would be unwise. Altering history never ends well..." He hurled towards the doors, clapping his hands. "Anyway, out with you! I'll go first, how about that?"
With that he strode to the entrance, pushing the doors open and... stepping outside. My mouth gaped open and my heart fell for a second, before my body sprang into action and let me run the few steps to the exit.
Instead of clouds, though, I glanced at a completely ordinary field of grass. There were trees in the distance and a few houses over a hill nearby. The Doctor stood there, bouncing up and down on his heels a little, a happy smile on his face.
"Whoa... that ship of yours is fast," I admired, unable to comprehend how we had gotten to this place in only a few seconds. Cautiously I sat a foot outside, feeling the ground below to convince myself it wasn't a hallucination. Then I turned around to take a first proper glance at the Doctor's ship and... "Uh... what?"
My eyes couldn't comprehend what they were seeing, leaving me with an opened mouth, gaping at the weird image in front of me. There on the grass stood the same small blue police box I had seen in the train and had thought of as only a decorative door. But it actually was the whole box, and there was absolutely nothing around it but grass and space.
I blinked, glanced at the Doctor to let the question appear if he could split his whole head with that grin, then I took a step, and another, slowly walking around the box to see if the rest of the ship might just be invisible to my eyes.
My hands only reached into nothingness. Behind the box I peeked around the corner. The Doctor was still standing there, bobbing up and down on his heels.
"What do you think?" he finally asked happily.
"Well..." I came back to the front and opened the door, finding the same large room inside. "Considering everything I know about quantum physics, holographic universe theories and stuff... I'd say those doors lead into another dimension... of sorts." Thoughtfully I rubbed my chin, my brain running a thousand miles per hour, putting together every single useful and not so useful fact my nerdy mind could remember. "So... the outside moves, but the inside probably stays at a fixed position?"
"Weeeell... almost." Suddenly the look on the Doctor's face wasn't quite so happy anymore, as if he had awaited a different answer. He waved towards the box. "But what do you see?"
"Err... a police box. Okay, that's not what you wanna know, right? Oof, what else is there, beside it being bigger on the inside..." I stopped as the Doctor's face lit up once again.
"I always love when people say that," he announced. "Can't wrap their heads around it."
"No wonder. It's not a thing you normally see. And as much as I would love to know how it works, I probably wouldn't understand it, right?"
"Oh, not even we Time Lords know that. Not entirely, completely, in every small little detail, that is. A TARDIS is such a fascinating machine, we'll probably never stop learning about them. Took me years to even get her to land where and when I wanted."
There it was again. That word. "Tar...dis..." I repeated.
"T.A.R.D.I.S." he spoke every letter. "Time And Relative Dimension In Space."
"Is that the name of your ship? And why in English? Don't tell me your people live here." Which wouldn't be that surprising, honestly. I watched way too many conspiracy theories about aliens.
"Oh, no, no, they don't. And it's not her actual name," he admitted and his smile faltered almost unnoticeably, but then flashed back to its full brightness. "My granddaughter came up with the acronym."
Okay, not secretly living on earth, then. But...
"Wait... Granddaughter? You look way too young to have one..." I tilted my head, my brain coming up with at least twenty possible explanations at once.
"We age a lot slower," the Doctor told, nodding his head. "Among other things."
"And among all your weird and fascinating alien things here..." I sighed, stepping from one foot to the other. "Say, you don't happen to have a loo in that ship of yours?"