Escaping The Future

by badly_knitted [Reviews - 0]

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  • Teen
  • None
  • Angst, Drama, Horror, Standalone

Author's Notes:
Written for Prompt 055 – Writing On The Wall at fandomweekly.

Spoilers: Everything up to and including CoE, but especially Fragments.

Alex Hopkins stared blankly across the Hub, seeing nothing but what was unspooling inside his head. Horrors beyond imagining flickered past, one piling atop another in endless succession to the point that he no longer flinched or shook when a new scenario played itself out in his mind’s eye, no longer fought to somehow escape what he was seeing. There was no escape anyway and he was already in so deep he might as well see it all.

He wished he’d never opened the damned locket, wished he could believe what he was seeing was nothing more than a nightmare or a fever dream, as insubstantial as smoke; something that would fade from his mind once he opened his eyes.

But he knew that wouldn’t happen; his eyes were already open even if they weren’t registering the shabby familiarity of Torchwood’s underground lair, all stained grey concrete and corroding metal. What his eyes and mind perceived was all too real; it just hadn’t happened yet.

It would, he had no doubt about that. A few days in the future, or weeks, or months, maybe even years, but everything the locket was showing him would come to pass. There was an ironclad inevitability about the visions the locket was showing him, a certainty that would not be denied; this was earth’s future, and it was bleak indeed.

There was no sense of order to the visions, he couldn’t tell which event would happen first, but surely the one with the metal monsters must be the last, an unstoppable robot army, turning humans into foot soldiers to fight an equally unstoppable mechanical enemy, the two sides using earth as their battleground and trampling humanity underfoot in the process. Torchwood had nothing with which to fight such a threat, and in his visions, the Tower was the first to fall, the hundreds of people who worked there among the first to be converted and compelled to do the same to their friends and colleagues, on and on until there wasn’t a single living human being left on the whole planet.

Civilisation would collapse long before that happened though.

But other horrific events would occur before humanity’s final and utter extinction, and thanks to his own foolish curiosity he was being forced to witness them all in excruciating detail.

Metal balls wielding savage blades, cutting people down the way a scythe cuts through wheat while whole cities burn. Scattered groups of people dressed in rags trying to survive in the smoking ruins, scavenging for food…

Alien sleeper agents with bony blades that shoot from their arms to impale their victims as they prepare the planet for the arrival of their invasion fleet…

Bestial humans turned into cannibals, capturing and slaughtering unwary travellers…

Malicious creatures with inhuman strength, unearthly powers, and the ability to control the weather, ripping families apart as revenge for humanity’s defiance…

Bombs exploding and the whole of Cardiff in flames…

Catastrophic meltdown of the Turnmill nuclear reactor while roving hordes of Weevils, immune to the radioactivity, slaughter survivors as food…

Timequakes ripping the fabric of reality apart, the past and present becoming hopelessly muddled…

Huge insects using humans as hosts for their developing young…

Earth ripped from its orbit, left adrift without the life-giving light of its sun…

A monstrous demon taller than a skyscraper striding through the city, felling everyone its shadow touches…

Hideous aliens demanding millions of innocent children as tribute while armed soldiers bludgeon to death parents who dare to offer resistance…

The writing on the wall had never been clearer; Torchwood wasn’t ready for any of what was to come. No one was. There was no way humanity could survive against such overwhelming odds. Even if every able-bodied man, woman, and child on the planet banded together they would still lose. What possible hope did the small band of people comprising Torchwood Three have? He’d seen their future; they were all doomed to die agonising deaths, and for what? To buy the human race a few more days or weeks of suffering?

No, he wasn’t about to let that happen, not when he knew with such complete certainty what was to come. He couldn’t help the rest of earth’s billions, but perhaps he could spare his colleagues his friends, the agonies that lay in their future. It wasn’t much, not in the face of all he’d witnessed, but perhaps it would be better than nothing, a few shreds of mercy for a handful of people who would otherwise be in the frontlines of a battle that couldn’t be won. Perhaps it was selfish, but it was the best he could do.

Opening his desk drawer, he took out his gun, checked it was fully loaded, reminding himself that this wouldn’t be murder; it would be a kindness. A brief pain, then blissful oblivion. None of his team would have to see the future he’d witnessed.

Except for Jack. Poor Jack, dying and coming back, over and over through all the horrors to come… Alex couldn’t in good conscience do what had to be done without at least letting Jack know why it had been necessary, but Jack was out dealing with the Millennium Bug; there was no way of knowing when he’d be back, and Alex knew he couldn’t delay.

He took a piece of chalk and wrote on the wall of his office.

Jack. I’m sorry, but I had to do this. I had to spare them, and myself, from what’s coming. I wish I could spare you as well, but we both know that’s not possible. I’d tell you in person, I’d prefer to do it that way, but I’m not sure how long I can wait, and I just need you to know. There was no other way. The twenty-first century is almost here, and Torchwood isn’t ready for what’s coming. I know; I’ve seen the future. I’m leaving it all to you. It’s unfair, but I’m confident you’ll do your best, for as long as you can. Try not to hate me. Goodbye, Jack, and good luck. Whatever you do, don’t look in the locket.

As each of his team returned from their various missions Alex shot them. One. Two. Three. Then he sat down on a barrel, gun in hand, and waited, hoping he’d get to see Jack one last time before he committed his final act of mercy.


The End