Doctor Who Fiction
This is a story that was submitted to the Big Finish team for inclusion in their Short Trips: How the Doctor Changed My Life anthology.
There were 1000 entries but just over 20 were chosen so, I'm not upset that I missed out. The other stories were much better!

I hope you enjoy Dark TARDIS as much as I enjoyed writing it in a two hour period one drunken evening in 2008! - Neil A. Hogan


 
Dark TARDIS
By Neil A. Hogan

The TARDIS was scared.

The Doctor could feel it. A deep sense of fear and foreboding. A cold dread seeping through the gloom of the Ship.

It was night in the TARDIS, and the lights had dimmed. Now they flickered as though the Ship was trembling.

The Doctor stroked the six-sided central console. He'd travelled in his Ship for hundreds of years across space and time. He'd soon be approaching his 953rd birthday and was definitely feeling middle-aged.

A sense of disquiet had been dogging him for the last few days, and now the TARDIS seemed to be amplifying it.

The interior door opened, and a decidedly anxious red-head stumbled into the control room.

Mel had only been on a few adventures with the Doctor. She'd gone from being a shy computer programmer to an active, outgoing champion of justice. Does he have that affect on everyone? Humph. The TARDIS was making him maudlin.

"I can feel it." Mel's voice seemed highly strung. "The TARDIS is terrified."

"Oh, don't be so preposterous Mel." The Doctor didn't want her distracted. "She's a bit perturbed, or maybe even concerned, but terrified? Nonsense!"

"You always bluster when there's something wrong. There's something wrong isn't there?"

"No, of course there isn't. Go back to bed and forget it. You've had a tiring day"

"Doctor." Mel looked at him in a way that meant that she wasn't about to go anywhere.

"Hmm. I always forget that perspicacity is your strong point." He sighed.

The TARDIS lights increased and the flickering intensified. It wasn't night inside anymore. 

Mel looked concerned. "Where are we?"

The Doctor poked at a couple of buttons on the console to a laboured chorus of beeps, and read the results. "That is what I am trying to find out. We're still in the vortex but the TARDIS is behaving very, er, sluggish"

He could feel that the TARDIS seemed to be slowing down. Even the ubiquitous hum that meant the TARDIS was in flight seemed to be struggling to maintain its rhythm.

A deep bell began tolling in the bowels of the TARDIS. The sound reverberated around the walls of the Ship.

"Uh, oh," muttered Mel.

"Uh, oh, indeed Mel. The understatement of the century. That, my dear, is the cloister bell. It means danger, disaster, or even total destruction." The Doctor's eyes were alive with excitement.

He rushed around to one of the other computer screens on the mushroom shaped console.

"Look at this Mel. It says that there's something out there, travelling in the Vortex with us." The Doctor peered closely. "It seems to be the remains of another TARDIS. Maybe it was left over from the Time War. I'll run a scan and find out what Type it is. Maybe we could pick up some spare parts... oh"

Mel was peering over the Doctor's shoulder. "What is it?"

"Oh, nothing at all. Just a derelict. An empty hulk. We'll continue past it."

The Doctor's troubled voice belied his bluff. Mel reached over and twisted the knob that activated the TARDIS scanner, allowing her to peer outside.

It looked like broken pieces of wood, just turning slowly in the Vortex. The scanner automatically zoomed in for her and she got to see it closely. As the flat pieces turned they revealed the other sides to be deep extradimensional pockets containing what looked to be parts of rooms. She could even make out a hat stand inside one piece, a bed inside another.

The scanner zoomed closer and Mel was able to pick out colours. As the pieces rotated again she gasped. On one side, they were blue. Police Box blue.

The Doctor sighed. "The readings say they are pieces of a type 40. This type 40. Sometime in the future, that will happen to my TARDIS."

Mel stood there dumbfounded. "What could have caused it?"

"What, indeed? The TARDIS may look like a simple London Police Box on the outside, but that is just a result of the chameleon circuit changing the outer plasmic shell. It is supposed to be indestructable. How it was destroyed, I hope never to find out."

"So, what should we do?"

"We've seen a glimpse into the future, Mel. Nothing more. It may not happen to the ship we're travelling in for hundreds of years." He looked downcast. "The curse of being a Time Lord." He stroked the control console. "I'm sorry that you had to see this, old girl." he whispered.

The cloister bell continued to toll.

"Though," he said louder, "why are you continuing the alarm?" He rushed around the control console again, flicking switches and checking readouts.

Then he stopped, his mouth agape. "I don't believe it" he muttered. "Impossible!"

Mel, looked back at the scanner. The shattered TARDIS looked more like an animated Jackstraw game.

Then she saw it. Another flickering piece was gliding through the Vortex. The new piece seemed to have a green glow about it. The other wooden pieces were starting to move together as though getting ready to greet it. Like orbiting pieces of rock coming together to eventually form a planet.

"Is it possible? Is it regenerating?" she whispered.

The Doctor was flustered. "Strap yourself in, Mel. We have to get out of here."

The room started to judder as they came closer to the flickering and spinning mass. Faster and faster the ball of pieces whirled as the new piece approached. Suddenly the pieces dissolved, merged and a new blue Police Box was floating in the Vortex.

The Doctor tried to dematerialise, but nothing happened. There was a massive grinding noise as the engines struggled vainly to leave the Time Vortex.

The Doctor kicked the console. "Oh, why didn't I just leave?"

"You never leave."

"True, but this time I should have."

"But if the new TARDIS has repaired itself, it'll go and find you, wherever you are, right?"

The Doctor pursed his lips. "Mel, I thought that was this Ship. It's not"

"It's not?" Mel raised her eyebrows and glanced back at the identical Police Box on the screen, floating nearby.

"Imagine if you lost a leg in an accident but were able to grow it back. Now imagine the leg you lost forgot that it wasn't part of a body anymore and started to regenerate what it was missing. What happens?"

"Well, I assume it will try and grow the rest of the body, then the brain."

"But your mind isn't grown; it is created through many years of learning. So, you get a brainless body. It might even become animated, walk around, but it won't think."

"So, what you're saying is that this was a piece of the TARDIS and it has somehow continued to grow?"

"I recognised some of the pieces. That last piece was Romana's room. She had a lot of energy experiments running when I had to jettison it."

The bell stopped, and a screeching noise echoed through the TARDIS.

"Oh, no you don't" The Doctor madly dashed around the console room again, desperately pressing buttons and pulling levers. A few sparks flew, and Mel helped put out a minor explosion as the TARDIS shuddered to a halt.

"Now what?" Mel screamed above the screeching engines.

"The other TARDIS is trying to steal our power." The Doctor yelled back.

"Can't you stop it?"

"I'm trying"

"No, stop this TARDIS. It can feel the engines so, shut everything down!"

"Good idea, Mel. It's worth a try."

He pressed a few buttons and the TARDIS noises started to subside. The lights flickered off and then there was silence.

The other TARDIS disappeared from the scanner, but the Doctor could feel its presence. Perhaps it had lain in wait since the beginning of time. He could remember he jettisoned quite a large amount of the TARDIS when he once got trapped at the beginning of the universe. Perhaps even enough to build a new TARDIS. 

The Doctor shuddered. It's been slowly gathering up all the pieces, waiting to be whole again. But it can't be whole because he has the mind of the TARDIS. It is the one thing that the mindless monster TARDIS doesn't have, yet.

What would be its next step?

A whooshing, scraping noise, sundering time and space, echoed within the console room. Mel looked about in alarm.

"It is coming for us." The Doctor's shadowed face looked grim as he stood and waited.

The Police Box materialised in the middle of the control room. There was no flashing light on top and the glass windows were cracked. The sign on the front seemed to be peeling, a reflection on the condition of this TARDIS.

The doors opened and it was dark inside. A faint hum came from within that sounded more like a low growl. The Doctor knew this TARDIS wanted him to enter but he knew he couldn't. If he entered he may never return.

Mel screamed. Something invisible was attacking her.

She was being pulled towards the yawning Police Box doors. The TARDIS had extended its force field around her and was pulling it towards itself. Mel struggled against the inexorable invisible wall. She screamed again as she tripped and fell, rolling towards the doors.

"Alright!" yelled the Doctor. "I'll go"

Mel stopped rolling as the wall dissolved. The Doctor straightened his multicoloured cloak, run his hand through his curly blonde hair, adjusted the cat clip on his lapel, checked a reading and strolled nonchalantly up to the dark TARDIS doors.

"I'm going now Mel, and I may be some time."

------------------------

Inside the dark TARDIS the Doctor could barely make out the control console. It was dead and seemed to still be rebuilding itself. Parts of the roundel covered walls were burnt black, others faded into nothing, as though the block transfer computation calculated to create them had somehow been half completed.

It looked similar to his TARDIS, with what could be white walls and a many buttoned central console. Part of the console was wooden, another part seemed organic. There was even a bicycle pump attached to one end, though what that was for he hadn't the faintest idea.

"Well, I'm here. What now?"

The TARDIS doors slammed shut behind him, and the Ship was in total darkness.

"Look, I came to talk. I can help you. I know, you've just been born and you need information. I'm sure I can help."

The TARDIS telepathic circuits lit up.

"Oh no! I can't give you my memories. You have to find your own. You'll need to hang around here for a bit, get your strength and then you can go off and travel anywhere you like. It won't take long."

He fished in his pocket for anything that he might be able to use to disable the TARDIS. He should really get around to building another sonic screwdriver one day.

"Well, it's been nice but I really must be going" He made to reach for the TARDIS door handle but then he felt a slight draft.

The draft quickly became a breeze, then a gale as the air rushed out of the room. It was getting difficult to breathe. He realised that the TARDIS wasn't going to just let him walk out.

"Alright! I get it." He muttered, disappointed as the air rushed back in. "Held hostage by my own TARDIS!"

He thought of reaching for the door control again but a faint smell of ozone stopped him. A crackle confirmed it. Only the lit part of the console could be touched. Other parts were alive with electricity.

Resigned to the situation, he placed his hands over two round knobs that had appeared there and concentrated, connecting with the feeble mind within this ersatz TARDIS.

The TARDIS began to probe his mind. It was a child. It had no idea about the world around it besides the limited information available in the pieces of itself that it had gathered in the eons it had been waiting.

He could feel it unlocking mental doors and rifling through his memories. But, at the moment, it was being quite specific. It was only exploring his knowledge of time travel. It was learning about flying, materialising, isomorphism, dimensional transcendentalism and more.

It was opening more doors in his mind now, accessing age old memories about the Time Lords. The memory absorption rate was increasing in speed and becoming painful as the TARDIS tried to take memories that weren't unlocked yet. The Doctor grimaced.

The Ship began to understand. It began to live. It realised what it was and what it should do. Its innocence over, the TARDIS leapt into the Doctor's mind and ripped open everything, including the dark areas that even the Doctor had forgotten about. He screamed.

"Stop this..." he gasped "you have... enough. You're destroying my mind" But still the TARDIS tore at him. He could feel it. It was starting to take his life force too.

"You only need to know how to travel. You don't need anything else. Why are you doing this?"

Then he realised and was struck dumb with horror.

 "No, you can't grow another me. I won't allow it." He tried to pull his hands off the circuits but they were stuck. "You can still dematerialise without me. You don't need me." He could feel his life energy falling. He was losing decades fast.

"No" he yelled. "You'll kill me. Stop this madness!"

The console seemed to pulse with a deadly malevolence as a green glow permeated the room. The TARDIS doors began opening and closing as though flapping with excitement. Energy pulsed through the walls.

The Doctor screamed again and suddenly went silent, crumpling to the floor. The doors stopped shuddering and the glow and the pulse disappeared.

Mel put down the book that she had just hit the Doctor on the head with and grabbed his arms. She dragged him out of the Police Box into their control room and laid him on the floor.

In the corner of the room the dark Police Box doors slowly clicked shut. The broken windows seemed to be like haunted eyes glaring malevolently at her. She shuddered and went over to the control console.

The Doctor had tried to dematerialise before but the dark TARDIS had stopped it. With the other TARDIS distracted, maybe she could try the dematerialisation circuits again. She copied what the Doctor had done before, and hoped for the familiar wheezing, groaning noise to fill the air.

The cloister bell tolled again. The Doctor's TARDIS was trying to dematerialise while the other TARDIS was inside. It was compensating but it was going to be difficult. Mel watched the readout screen which now showed two Police Boxes separating.

Suddenly, a flash of electricity shot out from the dark TARDIS, striking Mel. She fell to the floor unconscious as both Time Ships disappeared from the Vortex, the dark TARDIS spinning to somewhere unknown.

A lone word appeared on the coordinate screen. Lakertia.


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