How Do They Rise Up?
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"He's awake," the Doctor commented in an offhand manner as he walked by Jamie in the TARDIS hall, roughly a day following Jamie's heroic rescue of the boy on the burning spaceship. "Do tell me what he says, will you?" he added with a wink. Jamie watched as he rounded the far corner and then calmly waited about ten minutes before suddenly dashing over to the next door, an excited grin on his face. He opened it slowly and peeked in. Sure enough, the boy was sitting up and blinking slowly at his surroundings.
"Hi," Jamie greeted, stepping into the room and closing the door behind him. The boy jerked in surprise, then frowned. Jamie hoped they could be friends. The TARDIS was always more fun with more people, and he often found himself missing Ben and Polly, Zoe, and Victoria greatly.
"Who are you?" the boy asked bluntly. Jamie wasn't deterred by the boy's lack of a friendly hello.
"I'm Jamie McCrimmon. Who're you?" he responded cheerily, still standing by the door.
"This is the TARDIS, isn't it?" This question caught Jamie off-guard and he frowned, suddenly wary.
"Aye," he said slowly. "How'd you know that, then?" Again, the boy ignored his question, but instead suddenly brightened up and started to speak very rapidly.
"So the Doctor did save me, then? I knew he would! Where did you come from? Where are Tegan and Nyssa? Where's the Doctor?"
"Woah, slow down! How do you know about the Doctor?" Jamie said, immensely confused.
"Well, I travel with him, of course."
"Ye do not. I think the Doctor would notice if he left someone on a burning ship."
"Who are you? And what's with the skirt? " the boy said after a minute of confused silence.
"The person who saved your life, and it's no' a skirt, it's a kilt," Jamie said testily. "Be a little more grateful, would ye?" There was another awkward pause as the boy digested this.
"Where's the Doctor? I need to speak to the Doctor," he said finally.
Jamie had been thinking along the same lines--the Doctor would set this straight. "Aye, fine," he said and left to find him.
He located the Doctor not too far away, informed him testily that the boy wanted to speak with him, then followed the Doctor back into the room.
"Hello. I'm the Doctor," the Doctor said pleasantly. The boy seemed offended by this.
"No you're not. Is this some sort of stupid joke?"
"I assure you I am." The Doctor didn't look especially surprised. Jamie did.
"Oh no! Don't tell me, you've regenerated again? Already?"
"What?" Now the Doctor looked surprised.
"What?" Jamie asked at the same time. "Regener-what?"
"How do you know about regeneration?" the Doctor added.
"Well, it happened right in front of me," the boy said haughtily.
"Oh dear. I think we may have an issue," the Doctor said, wringing his hands. "What are the odds?"
"Oh...." The boy seemed to be reaching the same conclusion as the Doctor.
"What's going on?"Jamie was still mystified, and it was annoying him.
"Quiet, Jamie," the Doctor said. "What's your name, boy?"
"I'm Adric," the boy said.
"Well, Adric, I don't know you but you obviously know me, which means you must come from some time in my future."
"So how did you know to come rescue me?" Adric demanded.
"I didn't. We landed there by accident, and it was Jamie who rescued you." Jamie was sulking in the corner now. Adric didn't even look at him.
"But... you didn't know me when you found me. I'm sure of it. If we had met in your past, wouldn't you have recognized me?"
"That is the curious thing, isn't it," the Doctor said slowly, like he was thinking hard. "I hope we haven't created a paradox--that'd be a very bad thing. Still, it looks as though the universe is holding together, so I think for the moment we have nothing to fear. I'd refrain from telling me anything about myself, though."
Adric nodded but didn't say anything for a while. Eventually, he whispered, "What happens to me now?"
A little more than half an hour later, a slight jolt alerted the three of them to the fact that the TARDIS had landed. The three of them had been talking, though it was mostly Adric asking questions and the Doctor and Jamie answering them. Adric couldn't do much talking about himself, because anything he said could become a problem.
The Doctor jumped up from the chair he'd pulled in front of the bed. "Oh, I forgot I set her to land!" He ran out and Jamie turned to Adric.
"Come with us! I want t' know where we've landed," he said, smiling.
"Alright," Adric said, and followed him out. When they entered the console room, the Doctor was fiddling with the controls.
"What's going on?" Jamie asked and leaned over, trying to get a good look.
"Nothing, nothing," the Doctor said, waving him off. "The TARDIS is giving me some strange reading, but I'm sure it's nothing. The planet seems to be completely hospitable. Why don't you two go ahead and see what it's like? I want to finish something up here really quick, but I'll be right there, I promise."
"Aye, sure," Jamie said and pulled the lever to open the door.
"Don't go too far away!" the Doctor called after them as they exited.
Jamie and Adric found themselves in the middle of a long, deserted hallway.
"Weird," Adric remarked.
"Where are we?" Jamie asked. Adric shrugged.
"The architecture looks similar to that on Earth," he said. They chose a random direction and went that way, then took the first turn they came across.
Jamie, who had been ahead by a couple steps, wheeled backwards in shock. He nearly ran into Adric, who jumped out of the way just in time.
"What are you doing?" Adric asked angrily.
"Shh!" Jamie hissed, and gestured for him to look around the corner. Adric did, then gagged and pulled back. Just around the corner were several humanoid creatures, and they were all steadily cannibalizing another.
"Gross," Adric said.
"I don't think we should stay here," Jamie said.
"Right," Adric agreed. Jamie glanced around the corner again, watching in sickened fascination as the creatures ate. They looked as though they weren't feeling too well; they were dirty, their clothes were ragged, and the way they were eating was way beyond messy. Otherwise, though, they looked human. He stared, trying to figure out what he was looking at, and he was so engrossed that he almost didn't notice Adric pulling frantically on his sleeve. Then he heard a loud noise, and a sense of displacement slammed into him.
Jamie froze at the terribly familiar sound of the TARDIS dematerializing.
"What--" he began, turning to discover the space behind him was suddenly empty. "Doctor?!" he cried in alarm, but the TARDIS was most definitely gone, and the Doctor with it. Adric did not react calmly to this turn of events.
"Look! He left! He's stranded us here! My Doctor wouldn't do that! I knew he wasn't really the Doctor." Quickly getting over his own shock, Jamie immediately stepped in to defend his friend.
"Don' be daft, o' course he's the Doctor! There must be some sort of reason he left. Maybe the TARDIS malfunctioned or something, it wouldnae be the first time."
"Hah! My Doctor knew how to pilot his TARDIS!" Adric retorted. Jamie was prevented from responding because one of the feasting people around the corner had heard the commotion they were making and, having completed his meal, had lurched around the corner and spotted them. His actions alerted the other two and all three of them were walking haltingly towards the two boys, arms outstretched grotesquely.
Jamie grabbed Adric's arm and sprinted off down a barely-lit corridor to their left. The original lights had obviously burnt out or been otherwise cut off from electricity, and only the dim emergency lights provided any way of seeing. Their footsteps echoed loudly on the linoleum floors. The creatures were slow, though, and moved as if they didn't have total control over their limbs. As Jamie and Adric turned the next corner they were already several minutes behind. Adric spotted an open door.
"In here," he cried, skidding to a stop and dashing in. Jamie followed, pinwheeling his arms to keep from falling at his sudden change in direction. He slammed the door behind them and turned the lock.
For a few moments, they stood in silence, trying to catch their breath. Without warning, Adric whirled around to face Jamie.
"Where is your Doctor now, huh? He's run away at the first sign of danger!"
"He'll be back, I know he will be. He wouldnae just leave us here; something must've happened."
"You have too much blind faith," Adric scoffed.
"It's no' blind!" Jamie defended. "I have faith in the Doctor because he's my friend! Because he's saved my life more times than I can remember, and that counts for a lot."
"Yeah, but my Doctor wouldn't have just left us to fend for ourselves without an explanation!"
Jamie was silent for a moment, then said softly, "Your Doctor did leave ye."
Adric wilted, his mouth gaping like a fish as he searched for something to say. Jamie turned away from him and finally started observing the room they were standing in. It was dark just like the rest of the building and was in a state of cluttered disarray. There were papers and overturned desks strewn all over the floor. Books lay in heaps, dirty and torn. In one corner was a cracked chalkboard.
"We're in a classroom," Adric breathed, briefly forgetting their argument in the face of this revelation. "This was a school."
"What happened, ye think?" Jamie asked. Before Adric could respond, Jamie's natural curiosity got the better of him and he moved further into the room, hoping to explore. When nothing jumped out and grabbed him, Adric followed. Jamie sifted through a pile of papers, which turned out to be half-graded essays.
Uninterested, Jamie put them aside and began sifting through the largest desk, which was situated at the front of the room next to the chalkboard. It had a chunk of one corner missing, and there were some unpleasant-looking scratches on the top, but it was standing upright. If anything had been sitting on top of it, it had been swept to the floor and was mixed in with all the other debris. The drawers, however, appeared to be untouched and so Jamie went right for those.
Adric, meanwhile, had found a tall metal cabinet that was still standing against a wall, though it was leaning somewhat precariously to the right. He made his way over through the mess on the floor and tried to pry it open, but the door was blocked by a large pile of badly damaged books on the floor. He kicked and pushed them out of the way and pulled the door open with a little effort.
A couple of books, markers, pens, and a globe fell out on top of him.
"Ow!" Adric cried in alarm.
"Hush!" Jamie hissed from across the room. "Be quiet or those beasties will find us!"
"Sorry," Adric grouched. "I didn't ask for all this to fall on my head or anything."
"Well be careful. There may be broken glass or something lying about. It wouldnae do any good t' hurt yourself."
"I'm not a child, you know," Adric shot back petulantly. Jamie ignored him and went back to his own explorations. Adric pouted, then bent down and picked up the globe. He examined it for a minute with detached curiosity, holding it up so he could see it better in the dim light, then made a quiet sound of surprise. "Look at this! It's the Earth! We're on Earth! We must be!" Jamie shot him an incredulous glance.
"Doesn't feel like Earth," he said doubtfully. "It feels too evil. Makes my bones shiver. Earth never did nothin' like that, not even at the worst o' times."
"Well, it looks like Earth to me." Adric examined it more closely.
"Just because they have a... statue of Earth doesn't mean we're on it," Jamie reasoned.
"Oh, no, wait," Adric responded, ignoring Jamie. "I'm obviously not that familiar with Earth geography, but I'd like to think I've been there often enough to recognize major things, and isn't the big landmass that England's on called Europe?"
"Aye, I think so. Why?"
"Well, it's definitely labeled as Europa here."
"Ah hah! Told ye it wasnae Earth," Jamie declared triumphantly.
"But everything else looks right to me! Maybe it's a typo or... or maybe it's called that in a different language. Or maybe we landed in the future and the name has changed!"
"Maybe," Jamie reluctantly agreed, though he sounded doubtful. His rummaging through the desk had revealed few items of interest. There were lots of pencils and pens, and papers, tape and a stapler, and a wooden red apple that was only a couple inches tall. He eyed the apple suspiciously for a minute before putting it in his pocket for later inspection and moving away from the desk.
There was a single, large window on the wall opposite the door, but the blinds were drawn so tightly it was impossible to determine whether it was night or day. Jamie trudged over and tried to pull them open, but something seemed to be sticking them there and they refused to budge at all.
"These windows," he grunted as he tugged on the string, "are stuck or something! I cannae get 'em open!" Suddenly, the string snapped and Jamie stumbled backwards and tripped over a dictionary. He landed flailing on his rear end. "Ouch," he whined, picking himself up gingerly. "Well, no way those blinds are gonna open now."
"Why don't you just try lifting them up and looking under?" Adric suggested in an off-hand manner from across the room. Jamie rolled his eyes.
"I'm no' daft, ye dumb kid. That's the first thing I tried. They're glued down or something." Adric, meanwhile, had reluctantly put aside the globe and was examining with interest what appeared to be behind an otherwise completely innocuous bookcase. He had noticed that the bookcase looked like it had been shoved where it was at short notice, rather than put there purposefully.
He cleared away the debris on one side and tried to push it out of the way. It was proving too heavy for him, though, and he managed to move it little more than an inch.
"Get over here and help me with this!" he said crossly. Jamie looked put out at first, but curiosity got the better of him fairly quickly and he trekked over.
Together, they were able to move the bookcase out of the way and found that the thing hidden behind it was a door. It was predictably locked.
Jamie pounded on it and shouted and it wasn't long before there was a distinct scuffling sound behind the door. It cracked open and there was an emphatic shushing noise, followed by a woman's head poking out. There was a very stern expression on her face and she looked to be in her mid-thirties.
"Stop all that noise! You'll wake the dead. Literally," she added as an afterthought.
"Er," Adric managed.
"What--" Jamie began.
"Who are you and where did you come from?" demanded the woman.
"Um," Adric gaped.
"What--" Jamie tried again.
"No, hold up, come in here. It's dangerous out there," the woman interrupted again. Jamie looked livid but Adric, eager to put more walls between himself and the flesh-eating creatures outside the room, gratefully pulled him in.
The room they found themselves in was smallish and looked vaguely like a bomb shelter, though there were two other doors that presumably led elsewhere, a couple of folding chairs, and an armchair. The woman sat in the armchair and gestured for the boys to sit as well. Adric did, but Jamie just glared.
"Now," she began again sternly, all business, "who are you and where did you come from?"
"I could ask you th' same thing!" Jamie sputtered indignantly.
Before the woman could remark upon this outburst, Adric interrupted. "My name is Adric, and this is Jamie," he said, then pulled Jamie into a sitting position by the back of his kilt. "Who're you?"
"How did you get in here?" asked the woman suspiciously.
"Now wait a minute! Be fair! Answer our question first; we answered yours!" Jamie protested. She eyed him briefly, then apparently ended her internal debate and decided they were more-or-less harmless. She let out a little sigh.
"My name is Lynn, and I'm a teacher here at Duchess. Or I was, at any rate."
"Duchess?" asked Jamie.
"What happened here? What are those... monsters?" Adric asked.
"It's my turn! How do you not know?" Lynn interrupted in a loud whisper. "What they are, I mean. And how the hell did you get in here? Is there a way out? Have they come to rescue us?" She began to get excited. Before either of the boys could respond, another woman stepped out of one of the nearby doors. She was older than Lynn and had very short grey hair that, combined with a set of severe-looking wrinkles, gave her a very wise demeanor.
"Judging from their reactions, I'd say they're definitely not part of a rescue team," she said bluntly, not bothering to hide the fact that she'd been listening in. "Thus we have to ask, how did they get inside the building?" The older lady turned her severe gaze on Jamie and Adric.
"How do we get out is a better question, I think," Jamie responded stubbornly.
"Well that's the problem isn't it?" Lynn said. "They've quarantined the whole school in hopes that they could contain the virus. No one is allowed in or out, under any circumstances."
"But you obviously weren't here to begin with, since neither Lynn nor I recognize you. So, how did you get in, and why?" the older lady finished. Jamie and Adric shot each other sheepish glances.
"Errr... that's a wee bit hard t' explain," Jamie said nervously.
"We had a spaceship, see," Adric tried to explain, but the older lady but him off.
"Don't lie to me, boy. I've seen liars of all types here and I don't have the patience or time for silly jokes right now." Adric rolled his eyes, not surprised, but Jamie gaped at them, shocked that the two ladies wouldn't believe him.
"He's telling the truth!" Jamie protested.
"Don't be silly," Lynn broke in testily. "If you're going to be joking around at a time like this, we'll just throw you back out there for the zombies. And we really don't want to do that, trust me."
"Look," Adric began, "you don't have to believe us, but I don't have the energy or inclination to make up some silly story in order to appease you. We came here entirely by accident. Our-- uh, spaceship landed in one of your hallways and then our traveling companion left without warning, leaving us stranded--"
"It was an accident," Jamie interrupted emphatically. Adric ignored him and continued.
"We don't want to be here, and we have no idea what is going on, so if you could please just fill us in that would be great." Several tense moments of silence followed this speech. Jamie fumed and sent dirty glares at Adric, who pretended not to notice him.
"All right," the older lady broke the silence. "My name is Diane. I'm not saying I believe you, but for now we can just agree to disagree."
"Great!" Adric brightened up. "So, where are we and what's going on, eh? You said this was a school?" Lynn seemed content to sit back and let Diane talk, so Diane adopted a long-suffering expression and did so.
"You're in Brownstown, at the Duchess Elementary School."
"Okay, but what country? What planet? What year?" Adric cut in to ask.
"What year?" asked Diane, taken aback.
"Och, we don't know, that's why we asked you!" Jamie said. Adric rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, our spaceship is also, uh, a time machine." A couple moments passed with the speed and grace of a glacier.
"Uh huh," Diane finally said. "Okay, then, before I continue at all, I have a question: If you're telling the truth and you really have a spaceship, how did you land it in an enclosed space like this school?"
"Oh boy. It sort of... appears. It, er, disappears in one place and reappears in another. It teleports," Adric tried to explain.
"This is sounding more and more like a tall tale," Lynn stated skeptically. Adric shrugged.
"Sorry," he said curtly, not sounding sorry at all. "So exactly where and when are we then?"
Jamie was still a little more than vexed over being disbelieved. "It's true! How else would we get in here?"
"I wish I knew," sighed Lynn.
"It doesn't matter right now," said Diane. "It's the year 1996 and you're on the planet Gaea in the country of North America. And the world's most rare and most dangerous virus has broken out here in this school."
"Are you trying to tell me that a virus turns people into rotting cannibals?" Adric asked incredulously.
"Well, it doesn't really... It kills them, within a day, or not much more, and then attaches to the brain nerves and mutates itself to keep their bodies functioning. Well, sort of functioning. They have no heartbeat, no pulse, they don't breathe, they have no signs of life, but they still keep moving. They have an insatiable hunger for fresh flesh, and they go after other humans first. The only way we've found to destroy them is to completely destroy the brain, but we really don't have the resources to do so. There are too many."
"Why are they so slow?" Jamie asked, thinking back to the group he and Adric had seen earlier.
"Well... of course we don't know for sure," Lynn told him. "It's dangerous, of course, attempting to capture them. One bite or scratch that breaks the skin even a little and you're infected with the virus. Then you inevitably become like them, if they don't devour you first. But they don't seem to have full motor control. The bodies are essentially dead, so not everything is working properly. And their digestive systems don't actually work either, so they're not digesting what they eat. It just sits there in their stomachs; that's why some of them are so bloated."
"So why, then? What's the point of eating? Where does the virus come from?" Adric's head was swimming with impossibilities and questions.
"Well, like I said, we don't really know," Lynn said, sounding uncomfortable. There was a brief pause.
"So, are we on Earth or not?" Jamie asked suddenly, as though this had been troubling him for a while.
"No. We told you, you're on Gaea." Diane was confused.
"But.... you're humans?"
"That's what I said."
"Well, I don't get it," Jamie declared, turning to Adric, who looked a little impressed that Jamie had caught that.
"You see," he explained, "Jamie is from a planet called Earth, where almost all of the customs are nearly identical to here, as far as we can tell. They also call themselves humans. Come to think of it," he added thoughtfully, "the language must be the same as well, or nearly the same. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to understand you without the TARDIS translating for us."
"What?" Lynn frowned.
"Och, who cares?" Jamie said evasively, not in the mood to do more explaining. "Let's get back to the point! Walking dead people?"
"Well," Adric began slowly, trying to logic his way through the identical planets conundrum, "from a purely statistical standpoint, it should be possible. I mean, if, as according to theory, time and the universe--this universe, at any rate--is infinite, there must accordingly be an infinite number of possibilities. Therefore, it follows that anything that can exist, must eventually exist in some place or time. So theoretically, it's possible for a planet somewhere in the universe to have undergone almost the exact same climatic and evolutionary changes as Earth, resulting in two nearly identical planets."
"What?" Jamie said, flabbergasted, a minute or so after Adric had finished. Lynn and Diane, however, peered at him with grudging approval. He shifted anxiously under their combined stare.
"As improbable and overly convenient as that sounds," Diane declared, "it is very, very clever. You're older than you look, aren't you?" Adric blushed, then looked as though he didn't know whether to be pleased or insulted.
"Not really, ma'am, I'm just good with mathematics, and that is a well-known mathematical theory."
"Just one thing," Diane continued. "The universe isn't infinite. It has an end."
"But," Adric interjected, affronted, "it's constantly expanding! And since time is infinite, we are forced to conclude that it will continue expanding indefinitely. And if you don't see time as a straight line, because it most definitely isn't, then the universe is infinite." Adric suddenly seemed embarrassed by his defensive outburst and added, "Either way, though, it is just a theory." Diane seemed impressed despite herself.
"Yeah, well, one thing's for sure," Jamie grouched. "There never were any walking dead people on Earth. Dead people usually stayed that way, or else just got deader."
"Well yeah, that's true, as far as I know. There are obviously some differences. But the idea of zombies definitely does exist on Earth," Adric said.
"Well, maybe not during your time, I don't know, I'm not so good with Earth history. But I've read several stories about them in the TARDIS library. Humans--err, Earth humans--like to use them in fiction to scare each other, like vampires or ogres. For entertainment, I guess." Adric paused. Jamie scowled. "Uh, you don't have vampires here too, do you?" Lynn shrugged.
"Dunno. What are they?"
"Um, nocturnal people with fangs, drink blood, turn into bats, etcetera?"
"Don't think so," Lynn confirmed.
"This is stupid. There's no way there's two Earths" Jamie whined. In the face of so much chat and so little action he was becoming restless.
"There aren't," Adric tried to explain. "Like I said, there are differences. For example, this planet is called Gaea, remember?" Diane chose that moment to speak up for the first time in quite a while, cutting off Jamie's retort.
"Well, I must say," she said, "at the very least, you two are putting on a convincing show."
"Um, thanks," Adric said uncertainly. Jamie pouted, but didn't say anything. There was an uncomfortable silence that was broken a minute later by a new voice.
"Mrs. Barry? Mrs. Walters? What's happening?" A young blonde girl, thin and dressed in a slightly dirty blue shirt and skirt, stepped out of the door to their right and closed it behind her softly.
"Nothing, Mary. Go and get some sleep like the rest," Lynn told her. Mary's lower lip wobbled a bit and her hand fisted a part of her skirt.
"I can't sleep," she complained. Lynn sighed.
"Oh, very well. Come here, then." Mary climbed happily into Lynn's lap and turned inquisitive eyes up at the two boys. She smiled nervously at them and then turned her attention to Diane.
"Mrs. Walters, are they here to help us?" she asked quietly.
"No, Mary. It doesn't look like it," Diane said sadly. Mary yawned.
"Then why are they here?"
"They're aliens from another planet," Diane told her, shooting Lynn a significant look. Jamie was mildly offended.
"Oi, we're not the aliens, you are!" he protested. Mary giggled at him.
"They came here on a spaceship. But they've lost their ship and their friend and now they need help too," Diane continued.
"Wow," Mary said, awed.
"How many kids are back there?" Adric asked.
"Not enough. Eight. Mary is the youngest. As far as we know, we're the only living people left in this school," answered Lynn. Jamie made a shocked noise.
"Wait--" he stammered. "A whole great building like this, full of kids, and they're all dead?" He looked truly horrified for the first time.
"Duh," Adric said. "Where did you think all those zombies came from?"
"I didn't think about it," Jamie muttered, ashamed and repulsed at the same time.
"This school goes from the first through the ninth grade. Mary is the only survivor from the elementary section, as far as we know," Diane said.
"And you're all just living here? How? What about food, and water?"
"Well, luckily there's a water fountain in the other room that still works. The disease only travels by direct contact, so they can't contaminate the water. They're not smart enough to, anyhow. Food is harder. We have to make runs to the cafeteria for canned food. The zombies don't go for anything other than flesh, so the food in there is relatively unspoiled, but lately it's been more dangerous than ever. They're starting to catch on, and they're patrolling our routes. We're running out of food, so if help doesn't come soon..." Diane trailed off, apparently at a loss for how to continue tactfully, but the point was clear. Mary had fallen asleep on Lynn's lap. Adric suddenly had an idea.
"If you let us sleep here tonight, we'll get you food tomorrow," he said.
"Of course," Lynn immediately agreed. "We would have let you stay anyway. We're not so cruel that we'd send you back out there."
"What makes you think you'll be able to get to the food?" Diane asked suspiciously. Adric grinned at her.
"Oh, I'm sure we'll manage. We've been through worse. Anyway, I won’t be going. Jamie will." Jamie sputtered.
"You can do it," Adric said, patting his shoulder. Jamie slumped grumpily into his chair but didn't protest. "Now, we're pretty tired.... Where can we sleep?"
"No, no, no, nononono! What's happening? Why now?" The Doctor ran frantically around the console, trying desperately to make his TARDIS stop dematerializing. Nothing he tried did any good--it seemed like the TARDIS was going into an emergency mode.
"No! At least tell me what's wrong! Oh, Jamie, oh no, we can't just leave them there!" The Doctor banged his fist against the console furiously, not really believing that it would help but needing to let out some frustration. The TARDIS abruptly stopped making noise altogether. "What? Shutdown? Why?" The Doctor looked mournfully up at the viewing screen, but it showed nothing other than empty space.
"What happened...?" Instead of wasting more time on his anxiety, he immediately set about trying to discover what had gone wrong. He opened a panel in the wall and grabbed a couple of simple tools, then closed that panel and opened a few more.
"Oh, I do hope I'll be able to find my way back," he mumbled to himself as he tinkered with the innards of the TARDIS. Not five minutes later there was a small explosion and the Doctor reeled backwards, tripped over his own feet, and landed on his rear. "Oh dear," he muttered. He wiped his brow and sighed when a large amount of soot came off onto his hand. He pulled his handkerchief out of his front pocket, wiped his face deftly, and then got back to work. Something had to be up for the TARDIS to act that way, and if he didn't figure out what quickly, who knew what could happen to Jamie and Adric?
Lynn led Jamie and Adric into a dark mid-sized room with aggressively uninteresting walls and absolutely no furniture aside from a mass of mismatched bedding on the floor, which contained at a first glance sheets, blankets, curtains, towels, washcloths, and sleeping kids.
"I'm sorry, but we can't spare any blankets," Lynn whispered regretfully as she carefully placed Mary down on an empty blanket, trying not to wake the slumbering girl. "We don't have much and the kids are using it all. I know it's chilly, I'm sorry."
"That's alright," Jamie said quickly. The room was dark but there was a small light on the ceiling that was providing a minimal amount of light, so they could see to navigate around the mess.
"There's an empty corner over there," Lynn said, pointing. "The kids tend to huddle so you should have a fair amount of space to yourselves."
"Thank you," Adric said gratefully and made his way to the corner Lynn had indicated. Jamie followed. Lynn gave them a last glance, then exited the room, shutting the door quietly behind her. She and Diane, she had explained, were taking turns watching the door while everyone was asleep, and so slept in the main room.
Jamie stood watching the door absently for a moment, but lowered himself gingerly into a sitting position on the floor when Adric, already sitting, tugged on his sleeve.
"We're stranded here," Adric murmured softly after a short silence. "This is a pretty bleak situation...."
"We're not stranded," Jamie whispered back confidently.
"Seems to me like we are."
"We're not. The Doctor will come get us." Adric wished he had Jamie's conviction and absolute faith in the Doctor, but he didn’t, and he decided it was better to remain silent.
Jamie watched anger and doubt war on his face. He knew the Doctor had told him not to ask questions about Adric’s experiences, but he didn’t see how it could hurt. After all, Adric didn’t recognize him which meant he wasn’t traveling with the Doctor when they met. If Adric wasn’t part of his future, it wouldn’t cause a paradox for him to find out about it. That was such an easy jump of logic the Doctor must have known... unless he’d been afraid Jamie would let something slip. Well, the Doctor could count on him! He’d do right by both the Doctor and Adric.
“If you dinnae trust the Doctor, why did ye follow him?”
Adric jumped, as though he’d forgotten Jamie was there. He gave him a sullen look from behind his bangs and didn’t reply.
“What were ye doing on that flamin’ ship?” he asked softly.
Adric still didn’t speak. The minutes dragged on, and Jamie was getting ready to give up when the boy finally said, “I was trying to save the Earth. I was trying to save Earth because the Doctor couldn’t. And it’s not even my home.”
Jamie sensed a faint jab at the Doctor; what was there that he possibly couldn’t do? Sure, Adric was smart--really smart; even the teachers admitted it--but the Doctor was, well, the Doctor. Then he looked at Adric huddled in the corner, his clothing ragged and scorched despite the fact that they’d been washed, and he just looked scared now. If the Doctor was here, he would know what to say, but Jamie didn’t. Jamie knew about action, not speech, so he reached out and pulled Adric to him. The boy flinched and opened his mouth to protest, but then he realized Jamie wasn’t attacking him and let himself be swept up into a hug.
“I don’t care who your Doctor was, he would never leave any of us.” He remembered, now that the Doctor had undone the efforts of his fellow Time Lords, how lonely he’d felt back on Earth. He didn’t even know why, but the Doctor had come back for him eventually. The Doctor would always come back. “But I promise ye, on a McCrimmon’s word of honor, that even if he doesn’t come back for ye, I will. I pulled ye out of that fire, dinnae I?”
He half expected Adric to reply with some scathing remark, but there was no response. The boy was limp in his arms, and as he watched his steady breathing, Jamie realized he’d fallen asleep.
It was only after Jamie himself had nodded off that Adric stirred. His eyes had been open the whole time, and now he lifted his head to get a good luck at Jamie’s face. His brow was smooth and untroubled. Dropping his head back onto Jamie’s chest, Adric closed his eyes, and for the first time since he found himself aboard an alien TARDIS, he felt safe.
When Jamie woke, he was still in a room with sleeping kids, but there were only about half as many as there had been when he went to sleep. Also, Adric wasn't there. Muffled noises from the adjoining room answered his question before his mind could even form it. He carefully stood up, winced at the ache in his back, and stepped over a few kids to get to the door.
"Great!" Adric beamed at him as he walked through the doorway. "You're up! They're really, really low on food." He gestured towards the dubious vegetables he was eating. They did look pretty weak, like there was a reason they'd been saved until last. No one wanted to have to eat them unless absolutely necessary. There were several kids sitting around eating similar breakfasts, or else doing other various morning activities.
"Right," Jamie said blearily. He wasn't sure if he was entirely awake yet; he didn't feel like he was. There was a short silence.
"So," Adric prompted.
"So?" Jamie asked.
"So go get some! You said you would, remember? And frankly, I don't care to be stuck eating this. It's really sub-par."
Jamie thought sub-par didn't even begin to cover it. "As I remember it, you said I would," he protested.
"Oh, quit your whining and just do it. How bad could it be?"
"Pretty bad, I should think." The retaliation was just for show. Jamie was already getting ready, checking to make sure his knives were in the right places and looking about to see if there might be anything he could use for a weapon that had a little more reach.
"Again, thanks so much for doing this," Lynn said. "I don't know how we would have managed otherwise."
"Och, it's no problem. At least, not much of one," Jamie told her, and strapped a pipe to his back. "Where am I going again?"
A half-hour later found Jamie directly across from the cafeteria. He'd managed to cleverly avoid zombies so far, which was contrary to his usual abrupt and straight-forward methods, but these were creatures he'd really rather avoid if at all possible, and a little subterfuge was what was necessary. However, now there were three zombies blocking his path. Jamie glanced down at the hastily-drawn map Diane had given him (along with a sack for the food), frustrated. It seemed there was no way to get into the cafeteria, and every second he waited, hoping they'd wander away, heightened the risk that he'd be found. There was nothing for it but to charge them.
Jamie slowly drew the pipe from where it was strapped to his back. It was heavy and metal and about three feet long, but it wasn't a weight or style he was used to, and if he lost it all he'd have were a couple of small knives, which wouldn't do too much damage to a zombie. He had to separate the head from the body, or destroy the brain.
He took a deep breath and charged at the zombies. He slammed the pipe hard into the head of the closest zombie before the others could react, and it fell to the ground with a sickening thump.
"Raaaaugh," said one of the zombie's companions. It reached out at him and made a hungry face, but it was too slow. He took that one out in the same way. The third zombie grabbed his arm from behind, but its grip was weak and dead and Jamie twisted away easily, bringing the pipe down hard over its head. It made a horrible, high-pitched screeching noise, but it fell and lay still.
"That was surprisingly easy," Jamie muttered under his breath, but the pipe was much heavier than he was used to and he was a little out of breath. On top of that, the noise he'd just made would surely bring hoards of curious zombies. He didn't have long to get what he'd come for.
Jamie dashed through the cafeteria doors and screeched to a halt. The room was cluttered beyond belief, and he had to seriously watch his step to avoid tripping over some debris. There were overturned tables and trays and bits of rotting food everywhere. Worst of all, there were two more zombies who were now lurching determinedly towards him.
He took a deep breath and ran at them. They were close together and he managed to bring them down with one solid swing. He turned towards the kitchen, but one of the fallen zombies hadn't been hit thoroughly enough, and grabbed his foot, biting into his shoe. Jamie slammed the pipe down on it several times to make sure it wasn't going to move again, then bent to examine his shoe. Luckily, they were sturdy and the bite hadn't come close to piercing the leather.
Jamie stood and ran for the kitchen, hopping over several tables as he went. The kitchen was a mess and most of the food that was still there looked fully inedible, but Jamie darted around grabbing canned foods and anything that looked okay and tossing them into his sack. When he'd fit in all he could carry, he swung the sack over his shoulder like a particularly perverse Santa Claus and ran out of the kitchen, over the tables, and out of the cafeteria.
There were packs of zombies closing in from either side, and they were moving surprisingly fast, much faster than they had before. There was nothing for it--Jamie tightened his grip on the sack and charged at the least densely populated section of zombies, swinging his pipe wildly.
He didn't stop to aim or make sure they went down. Instead he just plowed right through them, swinging the pipe in front of him to clear a path. He felt hands grabbing at him, though none caught tightly enough to hold him, and had to fight back the urge to vomit.
Horrible moaning sounds filled the air and the rank stench of rot flooded his nostrils, but he kept going. With neither the time nor the necessary amount of hands to check his map, Jamie ran blindly in the direction he hoped was correct. He'd broken through the first pack, but zombies were still coming at him from all angles. He felt one latch onto his sack and he whirled around, bringing the pipe smoothly down onto its skull. The sickening crack echoed throughout the hall.
He was quickly becoming exhausted. The zombies were no match for him one-on-one, but the sheer numbers they had was overpowering. Finally, he burst into a corridor that was devoid of zombies. He could see, hear, and smell them closing in on him from behind and he realized with more than a little panic that he was completely lost. Jamie glanced back once more at the fast-encroaching hoard and then resumed running. A stitch in his side began to make itself known, but he ignored it.
There were no more monsters coming at him from ahead, but there was an innumerable amount chasing him, and more kept joining them with every passing second. Jamie was beginning to realize he might not escape this time when a familiar sound reached his ears.
Relief rippled through his body like nothing he'd ever felt before. His whole body felt like it was on fire, adrenaline pumping through his veins. Slowly the TARDIS materialized behind him, partially blocking the mass of zombies from view.
As soon as the TARDIS was fully materialized, the door swung open and the Doctor stepped out. He glanced around and grinned when he saw Jamie.
"Oh, good, it did work! Jamie, what's going on?" he said.
"Och, no time for that now, Doctor!" Jamie shouted at him, and ran headlong into the TARDIS, grabbing the Doctor by the coat and pulling him in with him. He slammed the doors shut, dropped the sack, and doubled over, heaving.
"Jamie, Jamie, are you alright? Where's Adric? And what is this disgusting old bag?" the Doctor was asking, alternating between looking Jamie over and casting worried glances at the doors.
"Why'd y' leave?" Jamie asked once he'd gotten his breath back. The Doctor looked apologetic.
"Ah, well, it wasn't me, it was the TARDIS. There's something here that causes paradox problems for her--she couldn't stay. I just wish she'd given me a little more warning.... But believe me, Jamie, I would never intentionally leave you behind, and I've been working non-stop to get back ever since." Jamie beamed at him. "That's not important right now, though, is it? Where's Adric? We need to get out of here before the TARDIS starts having serious problems."
"Right, right," Jamie said, suddenly serious again. He'd momentarily forgotten his original mission with the excitement of seeing the Doctor again. "I need t' get this back t' the children, we need t' help them! Adric and I found a group of survivors. They're all holed up in this wee room and they're out of food. Adric is there now. Och, how're we going t' get there now? We're probably surrounded by those nasty zombies!"
The Doctor was already fiddling with the console. "Zombies, are they? Well, not to worry, Jamie, I'm much better at piloting short distances. I'm sure I can make it. Where in the building are they, did you say?" Jamie looked dubious, but told the Doctor as best he could remember. The TARDIS shook as it dematerialized and Jamie felt a vague sense of dread, but it rematerialized very soon after and when he opened the doors he found himself looking at several kids of varying ages who were staring back at him, wide-eyed. He sighed in relief, then stepped out.
"I got the food, kids!" he said brightly. "Even better, I think I may have found us a way out of here."
The kids swarmed up to the door, looking inside and blocking the Doctor as he tried to get out. Adric, Lynn, and Diane stepped out of the side door and gaped at him.
"Doctor!" Adric said, sounding disbelieving. Jamie ginned, feeling overwhelmed with joy at the knowledge that he had been right about the Doctor, and that Adric knew it.
"Where did that come from?" Lynn asked. "And who are you," she added to the Doctor, who had finally managed to herd the kids away from the TARDIS and shut the doors behind him. They were all making a lot of excited noise, and she had to strain to be heard over them.
"I'm the Doctor," the Doctor said, and put out his hand for her to shake. She stared at it. He turned towards Diane. "Nice to meet you two."
"Hush," Diane told the kids. They hushed.
"He's our friend, I told you about him! He came back, I knew he would," Jamie said. "He can get us all out of here, too!"
The kids started whispering excitedly again.
"How did that get in there?" Lynn asked.
"That's not important right now," the Doctor said while Jamie and Adric both rolled their eyes. "If everyone could pile in, I can easily get us out of this building."
"I don't think we'll all fit," Diane said suspiciously.
"I think you'll find we will."
The Doctor dropped off the two fascinated adults and the pack of enchanted kids some miles away from the school in a completely zombie-free zone. They discovered that there was a large perimeter around the school into which no one was allowed entry. An apologetic and mystified guard told them that their scanners had picked up no signs of life at all inside the school, which was why there had been no rescue attempt, and that it was an almost entirely contained incident - an office building a short ways away had also had a zombie breakout, but it had been taken care of more quickly and there were several survivors. The Doctor had speculated that the reason their scanners didn't appear to work was because of all the zombies, which were essentially the opposite of life, blocking their path.
The Doctor was fascinated by the planet, which was almost a mirror of Earth, similar enough that it could have easily been from a parallel dimension, though that obviously wasn't the case. "This must have been what was causing the TARDIS to jump," he remarked. "She was reacting as though it were a parallel dimension!"
The area where they'd landed was a camp that was set up just outside the perimeter, around which a tall, sturdy fence had been built. Thus far they hadn't had any problems with zombies leaving the two buildings, but the fence was a necessary precaution until they figured out how to get rid of the zombies altogether.
The camp was a place to stay for survivors and also for the people whose homes had been within the perimeter. There were several hundred spacious tents, and guards and civilians milling about everywhere in between. There were large army trucks filled with rations, first aid, and other necessities. Jamie had eyed his own sad sack of dubious food, then gone and hid it underneath a nearby truck. Diane had spotted him and thrown him a wink.
By the end of the day, all the children were reunited with their families. The Doctor declared their work done, but Adric wanted to stay and explore a little more, so when they were offered a tent, the Doctor agreed to let them stay the night.
They didn't get much sleep; the Doctor wanted to learn as much as possible about the planet, and Adric wanted to know everything there was to know about the zombies. Jamie got bored with the questions quickly, and went outside where he found several young children playing with a frisbee who taught him how to play. Adric kept casting vaguely suspicious glances at the Doctor all evening, but he never said anything. The strong feelings of relief and discovery kept all three of them in a slightly giddy state and by the time morning came about, none of them had slept too well, though it didn't really bother them.
Satisfied that everything was fine, they quietly left despite protests from the people at the camp. Everyone was curious about the TARDIS and wanted them to stay, but the Doctor felt it best for them to leave.
As the TARDIS was dematerializing, Jamie pulled Adric aside. "I told ye," he said, grinning. "I told ye the Doctor would come back! He'd never leave us on purpose."
Adric looked torn between being relieved Jamie had been right and peeved that he had been wrong. "Yeah, okay, but--"
"How are you two?" the Doctor unwittingly interrupted him.
"We're great, Doctor!" Jamie said. "Where are we off to now?"
"Now? Oh, I don't know. I suppose we'll have to find out."
To Chapter 9: The Ninth Circle
Back to Chapter 8: Falling
Summary: Adric wakes up to find himself rescued by the Second Doctor and Jamie. His faith in the Doctor isn't exactly restored, however, when Two then loses both his companions in an abandoned, zombie-infested school.