Doctor Who: The Internet Adventures - #9
Chapter 4 - "Interlude"
by Renton Patrick

The little girl clamped her eyes shut and wheezed, bunching the starchy
cotton sheet around her.  The fabric felt vaguely unpleasant, and smelled
of old people.  Her eyes fell open and she noticed that Ornphint was on
the ground beside the bed, leaning awkwardly against the chilly metal
tube that rolled beside her wherever she went.
   The Doctor leant his red-handled umbrella against the window and
turned away from the view.  The tinny "chik" of plastic against glass
somehow made the pair of them feel that much better.
   "Is it time, uncle?" the little girl asked.  Her eyes were wide, but her
tone was matter-of-fact.  "Where's my daddy?"
   The Doctor paused a moment and furrowed his brow.  The little girl
looked between the him and Ornphint and laughed.
   "You look like Ornphint!" she shrieked.  She opened her arms and the
Doctor scooped the plush bulldog from the ground, careful to avoid
stressing the needle buried in the small girl's arm.
   "Beatrice..." he began.  He turned and looked through the window again,
his eyes ignoring the washing streaks and focusing instead on the orange
sludge of the lake.  He looked at his watch.  Ace was here, seeing a
friend he'd met once, briefly.  The Time Lord rested his brow against the
pane and reflected.  So many people.  Too many people.  He rolled his
straw hat down one arm and up the other.  Beatrice didn't smile.
   "Bea," he sighed.  Beatrice looked into his face.  It was different
again, but she knew it was really him, in that special way children know
that Santa Claus is real and make-believe at the same time.   She decided
she liked this one better anyway.  She wheezed again, and let something
fleshy slip from her bottom lip into the curved pan by her elbow.
   "Bea, your father loves you very much."  His shoulders collapsed in on
themselves, his chocolate coat melting into strange shapes.  "I love you
very much."
   "I've only seen you twice before, silly," she laughed.
   "Nevertheless," he tutted.  The Doctor knew that his old friend had built
up stories in Beatrice's mind about him.  He briefly wondered if he had
been right to become Bea's godfather.  Far too many people had mistaken
him for a god already, but somehow Mike and Tom had talked him into it.
   "Am I going to die today?"
   The Doctor frowned.  Hospitals.  Institutes.  Etched on the drip stand
was a cartoon logo.  A bee.  A Bea.  How could he lie?  How could he not?
   "I know you can only see me on special days, in your ... TARDIS."  She
stumbled over the word.  "So today I am going to die."  She didn't seem
   "You don't seem concerned," noted the Doctor, instantly regretting it.
He wasn't sure what he was doing, but somehow felt that he had behaved
   "I'm going to change."
   The Doctor blinked.
   "Daddy says that when you get sick, you change.  And now you're here,
with a new face, so it must be true."
   "Oh, Bea...  It doesn't work like that."  The Doctor climbed over the
slim railing and lay next to the little girl, stroking her hair.  "Not
for humans."
   "I know Daddy's not my real daddy," Bea sighed.  "That's why he's not
here."  The Doctor started, waving his hands, but Bea ignored him.  "I'm
not afraid to die, because you're not afraid to die."  The Doctor didn't
know what to say.  He felt an ache, but it was vague, indescribable.  He
knew for an instant that he was not like Bea, that perhaps he never would
   "I'll never be a woman now."
   "Oh, shush."
   "Can women change?"
   "Some women.  Some women of my race."
   "Will you be a woman one day?"
   "It's possible.  It's rare, but then I suppose we're rare creatures, you
and I."  He touched her nose.
   She considered.  "I'm going to change.  I'll be something else tomorrow."
   "There are some things even I don't know."
   "If you become a woman one day, I want your name to be Beatrice. 
I don't know your name, uncle."
   He told her.
   "I can't say that!" she shrieked.  "It sounds like Doctor Suess!"  She
started wheezing again, and spent several long moments over her shaped
pan.  The Doctor looked away, looked at the bee, pensively.  Angrily.
   Bea felt weaker now, the Doctor seemed further away.  Hazy.  She
hugged Ornphint.  The bulldog was a gift from the Doctor, the other
Doctor.  The same Doctor.  He had told her it had once been alive, so she
told it secret things.  As she had learned to read, Ornphint had learned to
   Daddy and her uncle had argued about the gift; her uncle had obviously
won, but Daddy told her stories.  Stories about toys coming to life,
hoping to scare her into getting rid of the thing.  But deep down she
knew Ornphint could never hurt her.  She couldn't say the word Daddy
called the toys, but she remembered how he explained them.  Something to
do with ice cream.  Ice cream.  Ice cream cones!
   "Clones!" she burst.  The Doctor looked shocked.  "You can make me a
clone!  I know you can, in your ... TARDIS."  She stumbled over the word
again, as if it were somehow bigger than the length of the letters.  She
gasped for a moment and then breathed in.
   "But then I could..."
   The Doctor turned her head so that their eyes met.  "You don't
understand, Beatrice.  It wouldn't be you.  It would look like you, it
would walk like you, for a short time it would even think like you. 
But it wouldn't be you!"  His words were like waves, almost physical,
but she couldn't look away from those eyes.  She coughed, and the
Doctor looked away once more.  He felt trapped, helpless.  Uncomfortable.
   "I can't change?"
   "I can't be a clone?"
   She coughed again, and as the Doctor felt her warm breath against his
cheek he thought of a butterfly wing, pushing down a tiny front of air.
   "I'm not afraid to die," she wheezed, her eyes wide.  "I'm not afraid!"
   The Doctor held her to him, holding the plush bulldog next to their
heads.  "I know you're not," he soothed, stroking her hair.
   After a time the Doctor pulled himself free and gently leaned Beatrice on
her pillow.  Ornphint.  The Doctor molded her arms around the toy.  He
slipped the needle out of her arm and placed it on top of a soft machine.
 He turned and faced the window again, staring at the grey sky and the
orange sludge of the lake.  A grey sky and an orange lake.  An orange
sky and a grey lake with grey trees.
   The Doctor smacked the glass with open palms, knocking his brow
against the pane.  He smacked it again.  And again.  And again, harder. 
   He picked up the wheeled stand and smashed through the window,
watching it sail into the ill, mottled trees.  The room changed as the air
balanced.  "She will breathe!"  What had happened to this world? To his
   He grabbed his umbrella around the middle, the fabric bunching coolly
around his small hand.  A bee.  A clone.  He had things to do.  And if it
took him a life or two to get them done...  He scowled at the universe.
At least he had a life or two.  A bee.  A clone.
   It was time to collect Ace.  They had a bee to sting.  And the clone?
   That would come.