|Doctor Who Internet Adventure #22 - "Clockwork Orange"
by Alan Taylor
On the outskirts of Las Vegas, there's a dirt track that leads off the main highway. It's not a remarkable road, nothing that you would even look twice at. There's a simple sign that points the way to Clearwater View, but aside from the fact that it's in the middle of a desert, there's nothing you'd notice about it at all.
A couple of miles down the track there's a store. A gift store. It sells souvenirs - postcards, mainly, and little snow globes showing a fictional winter over the fictional skyline of Vegas. Everyone stops at the gift store, and most people turn back there. There's nothing to see at Clearwater View, they're told. So you might as well go home.
Just after the gift store, the track heads into the hills, and becomes harder going. You pretty much need a four wheel drive to get that far, and you'll probably find yourself wishing you'd taken their advice back at the gift store and headed back to the bright lights of the big city.
But if you press on further, you'd find that the road enters a tunnel. Interesting, you might think. It looks like an old mine, although you didn't know there were any mines here. You start to wonder why they were so keen for you to turn back, back at the store, and you think that there's something a little odd going on here.
About a hundred yards in to the tunnel there's a gate, with a dilapidated sign saying that it's dangerous to proceed further. You pull up, wondering what to do now. You've got pretty much no option but to reverse back out of the tunnel and head back to Vegas.
But you're curious. You get out of the car and get the flashlight from the trunk. You decide to have a closer look at the gate, see if you can make out what's beyond it. Something isn't quite stacking up here, you think.
And it's round about this point that you feel something poking into your back, something that your instinct tells you is probably a gun. Since you're shot in the back fairly quickly after that, you don't have time to register that nobody asked you who you were, they just took matters into their own hands. And then you die.
Except that's not where it ends.
It ends hours later with a sudden awareness, a pain where your eyes used to be, and something in your mind. Something that is so alien that you can't understand it, can't react to it, and you drown in it. Clockwork.
* * *
"The procedure differs slightly every time," says Krebs. Luke recognises his voice now. "In this case, we have left the bulk of the eye intact, although we have severed three of the nerve endings beneath each eye. We are currently investigating the impact of blood chemistry on the reaction with the implants; sample 43291 here has not been given any sedatives or anaesthetic.
"As a result, we have been obliged to find other ways to ensure her compliance, and you will note that we have been obliged to restrain her. We have also removed her tongue and vocal cords.
"As you are aware, the implants show a high degree of autonomy when disconnected from Hydra. However, our remote trials have proven almost 5% less effective than the on-site experimentation, and this, combined with the extra risk of discovery has led to the recent abortion of these trials."
Another voice. A woman. "May we observe implantation?"
Luke really doesn't want to see implantation. He has seen too much that sickens him in this place. He thinks about Kirena, hiding out in Maxim's office, fearful of being observed. He wishes he was there with her. He thinks about John, and about Maxim's promise that he won't remember a thing. Maxim's a third rate hypnotist, strictly fairground material. John'll be coming round soon and he'll be scared. He'll need to see a friendly face. Luke realises that no matter how scared he feels, John will be more scared. He pushes the cupboard door a little further open, enough to see into the operating theatre.
Krebs agrees to the request and operates several controls. Luke watches as a hatch in the wall behind the girl slides open, and two silver snakes emerge. They peer around the room, observing, searching for something.
They seem to be part of a machine, part of something larger that lurks, somehow, below. The eyes of a caged metal beast, its body made up of ridged metal rings that slide over and inside each other in a serpentine oozing that mimics life.
And then they make eye contact.
With surprising speed, they rear up, hydraulic pythons.
Luke squeezes his eyes tight shut. He can still hear the squelch, the whirring of blades, and then silence.
A quiet voice. "I didn't expect there to be so much blood."
It's another five minutes before Luke can bring himself to open his eyes. When he does, he is alone.
* * *
Peret pulls on one of his gnarled fingers and considers his options. He has been brought news of an escape of two out of the last three subjects. The third is in an almost comatose state and is now asleep in the infirmary, prepared for pre-hydra surgery.
Peret's concerns are twofold. There is the obvious, superficial concern that two intruders are loose in the complex. There is only one exit. They won't get out. There is a second, more pressing concern. The fact that they escaped at all strongly suggests a third party, a traitor in their midst. He wants it to be Krebs.
He sighs. It has been a long day, and he is growing weary. He's getting weary of a lot of things these days, not least the Project. He has an urge to return to Lyon, to see Claudette again and to dance all night. He wonders if she is still as beautiful as she was when she left him.
He reaches into the right hand drawer of his desk, takes his pistol and puts it into his pocket. He keeps his hand on the trigger and the safety off as he walks along the corridor. The escapees are probably armed. They're probably armed and dangerous. It never hurts to be careful.
A thought crosses his mind that he might bump in to Krebs as he walks through the labyrinthine complex. He likes to visualise the moment when he comes across Krebs alone, in one of the more remote corridors. A nod, a smile perhaps, letting the little shit feel smug. Perhaps they talk — idle speculation about the weather - before they continue on their way. And then, just as Krebs is making his smug way back to his lab, Peret calls him back, as if he has an afterthought, some insight to share. That's important, because Peret wants to be able to see the look on Krebs face as he sees the gun in Peret's hand, and knows who has taken his life, just as Krebs and his kind took so many back in Europe.
He met Claudette in 1928, when the Directory moved him to Lyon. He was 42, she was a year or two older but she would never say exactly. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on, and he told her so. She told him that his breath was full of Pernod, but she thanked him politely and let him walk her home, as much so that she could keep him away from her friends as for any other reason. They were together for ten years. It only struck him after she left him on that cold night in 38 that their relationship was characterised by accepting each other's secrets. He thought that perhaps because he could never talk about his work that he never thought to ask her about her own life. Perhaps that was why she left him. His memories of that time of his life are confused. From somewhere, he has a memory of Claudette crying out his name as a jackbooted German trooper burned her nipple with his cigarette. It may only be a memory of a dream.
They had been more innocent times, and the world was so full of promise. Claudette had told him once that she was going to change the world, make it more beautiful and strange. His own urge is to live in a civilised world, but this is not a civilised world — not yet, anyway. There is still room for necessary brutality, for pure clean vengeance. He will kill Krebs.
He pauses outside Maxim's office. He doesn't really have a reason to enter it, but even as he pauses, he thinks that he might feel a headache coming on and Maxim may have a painkiller. Or Maxim should be aware that there are intruders loose in the complex. In fact, the chances are that Maxim won't even be there. But he pushes open the door nonetheless.
* * *
Matt Harris is watching The Feeling. He's waiting for Hallaghan to return, but his mind is half a universe away. He's thinking about John, about the way John looked the last time he came back from this place. He's thinking about the bruising on John's face, and the fact that John wouldn't let Matt touch him, and how much that hurt him. He's thinking about the little places on John's body that only he knew about. The point between the eyebrows, the spot behind the knee. Dozens of little ways to share pleasure.
He doesn't know where John is. He reckons that Hallaghan knows, but he can't ask. He won't ask. He'll just follow Hallaghan, play along with Hallaghan. God, that sounds pathetic. John's in trouble and all Matt can think about is saving his own hide. He should be thinking of a way to worm information out of Hallaghan without putting himself at risk.
He's not thinking straight. He's thinking about the taste of John's skin, the trail of hair leading down from his navel, the way the light catches his eyes first thing in the morning. He's not thinking straight at all.
And all the time he's thinking about John, he's thinking about how wrong it is to be thinking these things, how he doesn't want to be thinking these things, doesn't need to be thinking these things because they're not who he is. He's Matt Harris, blue-eyed boy of the force. He's going places, headed for the top. He's not a homo. He can't be a homo. That's not part of the plan.
The thing about John, he guesses, is that he doesn't pretend. He doesn't have to put up with any of this self-doubt because he doesn't care. He knows who he is and there's no pressure on him to be anyone else. So he can be himself. That's probably what Matt loves most about John, he reckons.
He drums his fingers on the steering wheel, thinking about a better world.
He hears a woman swearing, recognises the voice. Roni Hallow. She's standing in the doorway of The Feeling, with Freddie Merker, and they're carrying something between them. It takes him a moment or two to recognise Hallaghan's body. It doesn't look real somehow.
There's a woman with them, a blonde. She's not being much help, just giving directions by the look of it. He sits behind the wheel and watches them, thinking about going over, helping Hallaghan. He really doesn't want to. He knows that if their situations were reversed, Hallaghan would be sitting right here, drumming his fingers.
When Merker drives off with Roni beside him in the front seat and the blonde and Hallaghan in the back, Harris follows.
* * *
Peret pushes open the door nonetheless.
Kirena's on her feet almost as soon as the door opens, diving for the sideboard where her blaster rests next to the carriage clock. She tries to make it look like a casual act, as though she has suddenly decided that she needs a cigarette. Maxim also rises, more slowly. He manages to say "How dare you..." before Peret shoots him in the chest and he falls, painfully slowly. By the time Peret turns the gun on Kirena she already has the blaster in her hands, and although he has never seen one before he recognises its purpose instantly.
"A space gun," he says, with a wry smile.
"I don't want to use this," says Kirena, "but I will, unless you put down your gun before I count to five."
As she counts, Peret considers his options.
He could shoot her now. Call her bluff.
It would be a waste of valuable subject material, though. He could aim for her wrists, disable her.
Except he's not that good a shot. He'd probably end up killing her, or letting her kill him — neither of which is desirable.
Although the temptation to shoot her through the skull is still there, he lowers his gun.
A blow to the back of the neck; Kirena crumples to the floor, her finger tightens on the trigger, but her shot goes wide, burning in to the wall behind Peret. A boot stamps down on her hand, and she drops the gun before she can fire again.
"It seems that you have killed one of my colleagues," says Horowitz, his pistol still in his free hand. "I think that you should probably come with me."
To be continued...
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