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

The world felt whiter in 1962, but not just because of the colour of people’s skin. Everyone the Yaz and the Doctor walked past on the busy street looked ashen; shaken. This was nearly sixty years before Yaz’s time, and she knew she should be noticing that. The smell of cigarettes lingering everywhere; the fashions too young to be retro. But all of that was vague, at a far distance. All that was at the front of her mind was fear.

The past was never like it was in the movies, Yaz often thought. It was all both much too old, and far too new. In a film you would see about the sixties everything might seem to gleam: the classic cars and forgotten fashions pristine. But the real cars rusted at the edges, the skirts and the hemlines were frayed. The sixties were too busy living to look like they should be the sixties. They needed to be, if there weren’t many days left to spare.

“It’s funny coming to a place the year before you lived there,” said the Doctor as they walked up the street. “Places you remember that haven’t opened up yet; graffiti missing which nobody’s thought to paint. That wasn’t here in 1963,” she added, pointing to a grand looking building with turrets.

Yaz looked up at it.

“But it’s beautiful,” she said.

“Don’t understand it myself,” said the Doctor. “They really like knocking things down.”

She glanced at Yaz’s face, and her face dropped when she saw it. Hopefully she’d think it was the building that Yaz was looking down about.

“C’mon,” said the Doctor. “Don’t look so glum. Read this week’s Beano!” she added, waving it in her hand. “It’s funny.”

“The Beano’s never been funny,” muttered Yaz.

The Doctor looked over at her, now sympathetic.

“Being here is bothering you, isn’t it?” she said.

Yaz sighed.

“I know you think everything’s going to be okay,” she said, “but it’s hard to believe. For me as well as that Judith. The look in people’s eyes, not quite hopelessness. It”—

She felt her voice catching as she spoke.

“It reminds me of home,” she said.

The Doctor looked at her friend’s face, at the faces of all the people around. Like she was trying to take them in for the first time, to understand.

“I know it’s scary, Yaz,” she said. “Really, I do. But you don’t just have to take my word that things’ll be fine. I can prove it.”

From a pocket she took out an instrument a bit like her sonic screwdriver— long, thin and silver, with a little blue bulb on one end.

“Had this for a while,” the Doctor said. “See? Regular Geiger counter; bit of Doctor magic sprinkled in. Decaying timelines are a bit like decaying atoms; give out a sort of radiation as they break. Switch it on and you’ll hear it; the timeline’s as stable as anything”—

She pushed the button on its side and it started beeping wildly, loud enough for the people passing by to notice. Despite herself, Yaz flinched, recoiling like she’d somehow been shot by the noise.

“No!” shouted the Doctor .”Yaz! That’s— it’s not the right sort of radiation. It’s the normal kind. Like you’d get from a”—

“Nuclear bomb?” said Yaz, very quietly.

The Doctor grimaced.

“I didn’t want to say it,” she said. “C’mon,” she added. “Follow that beep!”

Yaz felt her legs ache as she ran after her bounding friend, sky-blue coat billowing out like a cape. The beep of the Geiger counter grew louder and more frequent as they stormed up the busy street, until they reached a near-abandoned stretch of road where the shops were faded or boarded up. Almost everything there looked ruined and old—

—except a bright, blue police box, its paint not beginning to peel.

The two of them looked at it, uncertainly. Steady in the Doctor’s hand, the Geiger counter continued to blare.

“Stay back, Yaz,” said the Doctor. “That much radiation, it isn’t safe. Not for a human, at any rate. Some of us are made of sterner stuff.”

Yaz weighed up the question neither of them were asking, and decided that it needed to be asked.

“Do y’think it’s you?” she said. “That it’s your TARDIS?”

The Doctor frowned, face scronching with concentration.

“It’s not a version of the box I recognise,” she said. “But I don’t know anymore. There could be loads of me in my future.”

She sighed.

“And in my past. It’s come to something when it’s an alien spaceship you’re expecting in one of these”—

She flung open the police box door and something much worse than an alien spaceship fell out. The corpse of a policeman, cracking heavy on the concrete pavement. Stiff and waxen. He’d clearly been dead for a while.

“Don’t come near him,” said the Doctor, quietly. Clumps of his hair came off as she touched his head. Something about his skin seemed slightly wrong.

“Radiation poisoning,” she said, softly.

She turned round to look Yaz in her face.

“I wasn’t wrong, Yaz,” she said. “There’s nothing interfering with the timeline. Everything’s stable; nothing’s rearranged. Atom bombs don’t fall on this city in 1962.”

She sighed heavily, looking back at the corpse of the policeman.

“But I think he might have died from them, anyway,” she said.