Doctor Who Internet Adventure #18 - "Ticket to Writhe"

Chapter 3
"Points of View"
by Susannah Tiller


"Ryan, darling," Purity winces at Mammon's endearment. "What do you want?"

       "Anatoli? I have the Doctor's woman. You want me to kill her?"

       Angela's eyes swing around in desperation, searching for some salvation. The club puckers in her vision, the colours drain to sepia. The rhythm all around is indivisible from her dying heartbeat, and she realises that she is no longer hearing the sounds only feeling them. She thinks of Jadi, wonders where he is, why he isn't behind the bar to cover her back. She looks back into Ryan's gaze. He is smiling even more than before.

       Fade to black.

* * *

The lights fade up, flashing on and off in time to the beat of some alien song. There's a thump-thump, a bass beat that goes all the way through you. The joyboys and floozies and v-heads are lost in their own little world, a spiral of music and sex and drugs. Often all three at once. No one hears Angela scream, no-one even cares as Purity drags her across the table in his own little dance. A paired dance it is, the lady following the gentleman, each step complementing the other, and all to the bitching beat of the sound system.

       Lights go up. Angela is slumping forward, Purity leaning over her. His medallion falls forward, dangling in front of Angela's face. He reaches out an arm to the back of her neck, grabbing her like you grab a stray cat. Luke is watching, watching from a distance.

       Lights go down, and there's just time for a quick feel of your partner, a quick breath in the sweat-filled, smoke-crowded haze of Club Feel.

       Lights go up, and Purity has Angela halfway out of her chair, pushing, prodding, escorting her towards the Staff Only door. He has to push his way past a couple of vricks, but they're just about oblivious. And anyway, they don't care. For all they know, he could be about to get lucky. They're about to get lucky. They lean back and start giggling as the id kicks in. Purity pushes past them. Angela twists a little, and he tightens his grip. He glances scornfully at the vricks. Crukking wastes of space, he thinks, his hand sliding down Angela's collarbone and settling on the upward curve of her breast.

       Lights go down.

       Lights go up, and now it's Purity who's slumped against the bar, one hand reaching up to his head. There's a smashed bottle on the floor, and the shards of glass are acting like a million tiny mirrorballs. The light hits them and spins off. A couple of metres away, Luke and Angela, clutching each other like lovers, are pushing their way through across the crowded dance floor. Purity glances around, sees them, and starts to wade towards them.

       Lights go down.

       Lights go up, and Purity's tangled up in the sky-high vricks. They're giggling; carrying on like it's the biggest joke of their short, wasted lives. Purity's trying to get free, being unnecessarily rough. He knows that every second, every crukking millisecond is letting Ferris and the nancy-boy get further away. He looks out over the dance floor, but they're gone.

       Lights go down, and the thumping bass beat almost hides his howl of frustration.

* * *

Jadi and River sprint across the rooftop, darting around areas picked-out by the floodlights above, as a dozen or so security officers charge after them, firing inaccurately and over-eagerly.

       River's gulping in lungfulls of air, trying hard to keep up with the man by her side. Her body's not quite up to this, still adjusting to the gravity difference. Altitude sickness, you'd call it, if you wanted to give it a name. Ray used to laugh scornfully and say that it was attitude sickness. All in your mind.

       //I'm escaping with a man in his underwear, we're both being chased by men with great big phallic-substitute guns, and I'm thinking about my husband? Sigmund Freud, eat your heart out!//

       Then Jadi grabs her hand, and pulls her along with him. The touch of his skin is unfamiliar, strange. For a second she tries to pull away.

       Then one of the guards pulls off a lucky shot, and River pitches forward. It's only Jadi's rain-slicked hand that stops her falling off the edge of the building.

* * *

River wakes in complete darkness, and wishes that she hadn't. Her left shoulder is burning. She touched a hand to it, and it came away wet. She sniffed her hand carefully. Blood, and... something else. Oil? Gas? Too dark to see, even for her eyes.

       With her good hand, she feels the rest of her body. A few cuts and bruises here, but nothing that won't heal, given time. Assuming that nothing worse happens. A dangerous assumption to make, when the Doctor is involved.

       She is sitting up against a hard, irregular surface. Feels like rock, or something. As far as she can tell, she isn't out in the open. There seems to be some kind of roof over her head, and the air is a little stale. Underground, she decides.

       There was a rustling to her left. Instinctively, she drew her legs up, trying to make herself into a tight little ball. The noise is getting louder now, and she scrabbles around with her right hand to find something, anything, that can be used as a weapon. Her hand touches something hard in the pocket of the stolen waistcoat. She investigates, and finds a corkscrew. River clutches it tightly, holding the point outwards.

       There is a soft cough. "Um, it's me." The waiter, the Doctor's companion, she realises. River exhales sharply.

       He starts moving again. "That's good, keep talking to me. I'm trying to find my way back to you, but it's hard in the dark."

       "Don't you have a light?"

       "Don't you know where we are?"

       His voice is getting closer now, she notes with relief. "Could be anywhere, I guess."

       "Cupid gets most of its energy from the surface of Venus. They're connected through the Pillar. It brings up oil and gas and stuff like that. We're under the surface of Cupid, in one of the service shafts leading to the Pillar."

       "Underground. I thought so."

       His hand touches her leg. She jerks instinctively, then feels stupid for doing so. "Sorry."

       "Not a problem." He dragged himself up beside her. "Look, I've got a medikit here, I'm just going to put some stuff on your shoulder, okay?"

       "Do you know what you're doing?"

       "I've been in situations like this before."

       "Travelling with the Doctor, that figures." She feels something cool go against her shoulder. The fire starts to die down, and she gasps with relief.

       "Are you okay?" He sounds concerned.

       She nods, then realises it is futile in the darkness. "Much better, thanks. Um, can't we have just a little bit of light?"

       There was a noise - perhaps he was shaking his head. "Too dangerous. If there's even a tiny imperfection in the Pillar, this close, and we could blow the whole thing up. Also, I'm not sure that those guards have completely given up on us."

* * *

Angela and Luke are making their way through the streets on foot. Although it's some ungodly hour of the morning, there are still people out and about. But nobody pays much attention to a young couple, arms round each other, as they stagger uneasily. Heavy night out, obviously.

       Angela's wrist is feeling better, but the rest of her feels like it had been for a an unshielded trip through the vortex. Goddess, she hurts. Luke stops at a Kwik Kurry vendor. "Hungry?"

       She is, funnily enough. Her stomach grumbles, and she scrabbles in her pockets for the local currency. "Yeah, now that you mention it, only I seem to be skint."

       He puts a hand over hers. "My treat."

       She frowns at him. But then she lets him buy her some sambal and rice, and eats it without stopping.

       They keep wandering down the street. "Are we going anywhere in particular?"

       Luke nods. "My flat."

       "Your flat?" She stops, turns to look at him. "Look, I appreciate you rescuing me back there, but it doesn't mean I've changed my mind about wanting to go to bed with you."

       He holds up both hands pacifyingly. "No, it's not that. I'm a journalist, okay. Mainly light entertainment, but it gets me access to places you wouldn't believe.

       "Oh yes I would," she mutters.

       "I've been watching Feels for a couple of weeks now."

       "Oh, so you're just there to case the joint. Riiiggght. Sure I believe you."

       He blushes; the first sign that she's getting to him. "Well, research and entertainment. Fifty-fifty."

* * *

Morning at Club Feel. The club has closed, albeit briefly, and a couple of people are cleaning up. There's a mess from the night before - the usual spilled drinks, bodily fluids, and even a couple who're so sky-high they've forgotten where they are.

       Tony Mammon walks across the empty dance floor, his feet echoing around the building. The young couple gets to their feet unsteadily, and head for the door. The blonde one mutters apologies. Mammon takes a couple of steps forward. "Not at all, love," he says, pressing a couple of free drink chips into his boyfriend's hand. "See you tonight, maybe?"

       The cleaners leave, and Mammon is alone in the club. Except, of course, for the Doctor. Then a side door opens, and The Angel walks in.

       They call her Angel because she looks like one. Six feet tall, blonde, and a couple of wings on her back. Nobody knows whether she was born with them, or whether they're a surgical alteration. There are whispers, rumours, but you don't say them in front of her if you want to live.

       She takes several steps into the gloom of Club Feels. Her feet make no sound, and Mammon notices that she's barefoot. An interesting contrast to her black leather trousers and singlet top.

       "Angel, love." He takes a couple of steps towards her.

       "Don't call me love," she says, in a voice that could cut through diamond. He flinches. She presses home the advantage. "You're stepping on my turf, Mammon, and I want it to stop."

       "I don't know what you mean," Mammon says, regaining control. "Come on, Angel, what say we sit down, have a drink, and discuss it like a couple of civilised--"

       Then he stops, because she's standing up against him, a knife pressed below his belt. "You know what I mean," she says. "The Pillar is mine."

       Then she turns and walks away.

       Mammon watches. He slides a hand across his stomach, to reassure himself that there's no blood. Then suddenly, his legs fail him, and he collapses to the floor.

       Above him, the Doctor's eyes flick open. He looks around the club, and his mouth opens in a silent scream of agony.

* * *

"Nearly there," Luke says. Is it Angela's imagination, or are the streets getting narrower and more dingy? Every glamorous city has its dingy underside, she reassures herself. And if worst comes to worst (as it often does) he's not a match for her, right?


       Luke is getting more confident now. "You should see some of the stuff I've got there. I know what's really going on at Club Feel, and you can help me blow it wide open."

       \\Sure, heard it all before,\\ Angela thinks. She just wants to bust back in there, armed and dangerous if necessary, and get the Doctor back. For a moment, her mind toys with the idea of trying Purity to the cross and leaving him there as a table decoration.

       "Here we are," Luke says. Then: "Oh shi--"

       As they turn into the smallest, dingiest alley of them all, Angela fumbles for a weapon, something, anything. The creatures waiting for them look cybernetic. Perhaps they were dogs once, but now they are metallic, with glistening fangs and shining joints. They have been sitting there patiently, like statues, but at the sight of Angela and Luke, they spring to life. There is a rush of movement, then Angela is lying on her back in the street, a pair of cybernetic teeth inches away from her neck, and coming ever closer.

To be continued...

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