The Ends of the Earth

by vegetables [Reviews - 1]

Printer Chapter or Story
  • Teen
  • Explicit Violence, Swearing
  • Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Angst, Drama, General, Introspection, Mixed, Romance, Standalone

Light and heat were flickering from the other Doctor’s hands. As they did, the hospital flickered too. Other versions of the ward appeared and were snatched away, like an image on an ancient television as it came in and out of tune.

“Laser eye surgery, they said they were offering!” the Doctor heard an old woman cry. “But I never expected anything like this!”

The Doctor saw the patient on the bed a second before she knew she had to act, his eyes glowing, his expression vacant. She dove down as a line of energy sliced through where she had been, passing in and out of the other Doctor’s body like she was just a holographic projection.

“Slipped through the timelines,” she said with a smile. “I’ll bet you’ve even forgotten how to do that.”

Before the Doctor could respond she heard a panicked shout; yet another voice from another Earth.

“First in the cancer ward, then in the crabs clinic!” it said. “We should’ve known!”

The Doctor rolled from the place where she’d been on the floor as massive crustacean pincers smashed through the hospital walls, feeling herself barely getting away as they opened and snapped around her—

“It’s as UNIT always feared,” she heard a clipped voice say from somewhere else, “the Earth brought down by a truly second class threat”—

The Doctor swung around as she got to her feet again. The giant pincers had gone, replaced by almost human figures, sitting bolt upright in each of the hospital beds. Their eyeless faces red. Their mouths each a letterbox slit.

“THE POSTMEN DELIVER A POST-HUMAN WORLD!” they roared, as around them the ward flickered again—

—and then there wasn’t a hospital at all, only a vast, grey plain of ash and ruin. Beside the Doctor was a blue-skinned, red-robed person, speaking into a dictaphone, looking grave.

“A waste, really,” the figure was saying. “A species who got through a whole Cold War, then mistook a rocket researching the Aurora for a nuclear weapon! They were warned, too. But the warning got lost in the mail”—‘

The Doctor stumbled; the world flickered. The hospital ward was around her once again. Two surgeons crouched by a single patient, their tired faces both set still and grave.

“Look at his body,” one of them whispered. “What microplastics do to every living thing— it’s worse than what any of us feared.”

Another flicker; a thump. The hospital ward was baking in late spring heat. The Doctor’s coat felt heavy against her shoulders, like the warmth was now weighing her down. There was nobody there, of course. You couldn’t survive this if you were human.

“With temperature rises beyond even the wildest predictions,” a solar-powered radio was saying in the background, “the UN has confirmed it expects nowhere on Earth to be habitable by July”—

The flickering was picking up pace, now; the hospital walls shifting and dissolving as apocalypses slipped into view and were snatched away. More destruction. Even more cries of fear.

“Superintelligent robots taking all our jobs! It still sounds like something out of science fiction.”

“DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!”

“How can you keep on going? How can any of us go on?”

The real hospital ward was still there, somehow, a ghost on top of the others. The other Doctor was watching, and the Doctor was alone—

Except for a shape rising out of the smoke and the darkness. A bit like a pepperpot, or maybe a grater gone wrong. Its lights bright, blinking gently. Its eyestalk beginning to turn round.

“EVERYTHING HAS ITS TIME,” said the Dalek. “AND EVERYTHING DIES.”

The Doctor looked right at it, helplessly. Maybe this would finally be a release.

She motionlessly looked right at it, waiting for it to fire—

—but as it did something long and metallic smashed into its side. The Dalek was thrown to the right, its laser beam missing the Doctor, and both Dalek and Doctor swung round—

—to see something a bit like a policeman, with the badge of the Saint John’s Ambulance instead of a face. Its helmet cracked; its uniform ripped and stained with goo. But still alive.

“Nonfo,” it said. “Nanfren. Wonsillib.”

The COP turned to the Doctor, and somehow she knew it was looking right at her.

“Run,” it said.

The Doctor’s eyes widened.

“The COPs aren’t conscious,” she said.

Her other self laughed.

“Whatever gave you that idea?” she said.

“Everything you know is a lie!” screamed the Master in the Doctor’s head. “EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS A LIE!”

The Dalek fired its laser once again, and the COP exploded into a mess of metal and goo.

Not so long ago, it had all seemed to fit together. She’d thought she’d understood the whole of the universe; she’d even been starting to get bored of it. And now here she was feeling like she knew nothing at all; in a time she’d never thought was in danger from a person she’d never known that she’d been.

But that was the way of things, wasn’t it? However much you knew. There was always something you might never know you’d overlooked—

She dodged past another laser from the Dalek while she scrambled in her pockets. And then she had the CULLIS in her hand, feeling it grow warm as it started to glow.

“The Porter gave you that?!” her other self was shouting. “How long have you worked with him? How involved in all of this have you been?”

The Doctor wasn’t listening, just looking straight ahead. There was a door in the middle of the room, of course. There had always been a door. All you had to do was know how to look for it—

—there was a hole in the door where the handle should have been, and a magical doorknob there in the palm of her hand. Push it in. Twist it. Open the door. It’s not as if everything had to be difficult.

Her other self was shouting and the Dalek was screaming, and suddenly everything around her was a blur—

—and suddenly she was in the air and falling, landing on something hard with a smash. She felt the wood of it splintering round her, heard china breaking, and saw a jumble of confusing shapes as her superior Time Lord brain totally failed to make sense of what was going on.

Eventually she made out some wallpaper; framed pictures and a chair. And a familiar face looking over her, like it was unsure how to react.

“Judith,” said the Doctor. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to drop in uninvited.”

Her mind caught up a bit more with the situation. Judith’s eyes were red, and her face was puffy. She wasn’t sure how to cover up that she’d been crying.

“It’s a bad time,” said the Doctor.

“Isn’t it always?” said Judith.

The Doctor sighed.

“Yeah,” she said. “Yeah, I’m starting to get that idea.”