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Dr. Who - The Eighth Doctor 12 - Seeing I

Dr. Who - The Eighth Doctor 12 - Seeing I

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Published by ninguls

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Published by: ninguls on May 05, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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An Eighth Doctor Ebook
By Jonathan Blum and Kate Orman
For the ones who make a difference – starting with Frank Brannigan, Dick Kelly, and Alpha Phi Omega.“Well, that was the whole point of growing up, wasn’t it? To stop wishing and start doing.” Paul Cornell, Timewyrm: Revelation 
Chapter OneAn Ordinary World
First step: find somewhere to sleep.Sam Jones hurried down the city street, the evening heat sticking to her as she ran.No – as she walked. She was going to walk this, no matter how fast she did it, she had to make sure shemade each damn foot touch the damn ground before picking up the next one, because no way was she goingto run, no way was she going to lose her grip on the one thing in the world she still had any control over.She didn’t break stride as she squeezed through the pedestrians. The orange sun was almost down, but theday’s heat hung in the air, heavy after the air-conditioned spaceport. The streets were filling with people, toomany people, and lots of flat cars with big black solar-cell things on their tops, and concrete walls andpavement stalls and street signs she couldn’t make any sense of.There were too many details to really take them in. Even now, her mind was full of burning wires and thin,freezing air and the taste of the Doctor’s skin.First step: find somewhere to sleep. You’ve got to stop moving. There’s no one chasing you, there’s no oneon the whole planet who even knows or cares who you are, and you’ve got to find somewhere to sleep nowand for ever, because you’ve run out on the Doctor.
She knew this planet was called Ha’olam, and this city was El Nath or El Neth or something like that. Thatmuch she’d been able to pick up from the succession of wallpaper-faced bureaucrats in whose offices she’dbeen detained. The other evacuees had visas and identity numbers, or could get them by applying to centralrecords. She was about two hundred years too late for any of that.No, they told her, without an I-card number she wasn’t eligible for refugee support. No, without her computerrecord, she couldn’t apply for an I-card. No, the Earth embassy had closed years ago, during the war. No,she couldn’t use the employment services. Even the dole was right out.She’d snapped at them and tried to plough through their denials (it always worked for the Doctor ), but theirresponses just grew blander and vaguer. Finally they gave her some directions and escorted her through thedoor at closing time. She’d wandered out of the spaceport, blinking in the unfamiliar sunlight. They hadn’teven locked her up – just tossed her out on to the street. Welcome to Ha’olam.An alley up ahead, with rubbish piled by the skip at the corner. Without even thinking she headed for theopposite edge of the pavement, to give her that extra second in case someone was hiding back there. Stayrelaxed, act as if you belong here. Look up, look fearless, and maybe the fear will go away.What would the Doctor do?She didn’t know.There was too much crowding her attention out here, all the rattles and buzzes and smells – people,machinery, garbage, smoke, cooking food – of a new city on a new planet. She didn’t want to take it all in,not now. She turned right, away from the traffic, into a side street full of sandblasted stone buildings.There was no one in sight, which was either a good thing or a bad thing. Now at least she could handle a lookaround – read the signs on the buildings, lettered in what looked like Hebrew and Arabic and, thank God,English. At least the bureaucrats had got their directions right.The second building on the other side of the road had a small hanging sign. A stylised sketch of a blue doveholding an olive branch, and the words SOUP KITCHEN in six different languages.She didn’t let herself think about it, because she was ravenous.She hurried across the street and clambered up the steps to the front door. like all the buildings around here,the place looked worn, as though a passing sandstorm had scraped away the top layer of paint. Maybe it had – for all she knew this place was in the middle of a desert. For all she knew, it was in the middle of a blackhole.The screen door gave her a glimpse of what lay ahead: a crowd of scraggly bearded men and thick-leggedwomen, shuffling about, bowls in their hands.Beggars can’t be choosers, she thought, and went inside.The volunteer’s name was Sara. Her dark hair curled, her voice was breathy, her smile sweet, and she setevery single one of Sam’s nerves on edge.‘You’re an olah, I can tell,’ said Sara, stirring stuff round in a huge pot. There was an incredibly sincere look inher unblinking brown eyes. ‘You haven’t even got a tan yet.’‘Yeah,’ said Sam, ‘I guess I’m an olah.’Sam had volunteered a couple of times for a soup kitchen in London. It hadn’t been much different. Thoughthese cookers were a bit more high-tech, and she wasn’t sure what some of the vegetables piled on thecounter actually were.‘Well, welcome to Ha’olam. I’m glad to see you here at the shelter. We can always use another pair ofhands,’ said Sara brightly. ‘You’ll like it here – it’s hard work, but it always leaves you feeling good.’
Sam could just see Sara driving off to her church meeting, an I’m saved and you’re not bumper sticker on hercar, having done her good work among the unwashed for another week.God, she thought, I hope I never sounded like that.Whatever those vegetables were, she wanted one right now, and she didn’t care who was running the place.Bite the bullet. ‘Uh, I’m afraid I’m not a volunteer,’ stammered Sam. ‘I, uh... need a place to stay.’Sara hesitated. Sam didn’t dare let her get out a ‘no’. ‘Of course I’ll work or whatever. I just need to get backon my feet. I didn’t mean to come here, to this planet I mean. I was evacuated. I was travelling withsomeone.’She scrambled along the metal wall, pulling at the grab-handles, shouting Stop! Go back! We have to goback!‘We were out seeing the universe together, but we got separated.’We have to go back we’ve got to go back I’m not leaving him again...‘That’s bad luck,’ said Sara. ‘Look, I’ll have to find out if we have any space left. In the meantime, get yourselfwashed up, and you can chop that lot for me.’ She nodded at the heaps of vegetables.The best part of getting the dinner ready had been washing up. She’d washed as much of herself as shecould without actually taking clothes off, scrubbing her fingernails, even ducking her head under the tap. Sarahad laughed and handed her a towel.Dinner was vast kettles of soup. Sam used a nearly blunt knife to reduce the great mounds of vegetablematter into manageable chunks – marrows, tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines, something blue and tough,something with a yellow skin and stringy clear stuff inside it. Sara added lentils, pepper and bay leaves.‘Normally there are three of us,’ Sara said, as she bustled, piling flat circles of bread on to a tray. ‘But Ari’sdownstairs trying to fix one of the toilets, and ChrisBen’s got the flu. So I’m glad you showed up.’‘So am I,’ said Sam. The smell of the soup was causing odd noises to emanate from her stomach. Shewished Sara would wander off for a few minutes so she could cram a chunk of carrot into her mouth.Sam was surprised when Sara sat down to eat with the rest of them. There were maybe three dozen‘customers’ – sick-looking old men and women, skinny young men and women, a cowed-looking woman withtwo children hanging on to her in terror. Quite a few teenage boys and girls trying to look as though theydidn’t care where they were. A seventeen-year-old space refugee didn’t look out of place.The ‘dining room’ was just a big, echoing hall, the walls made out of plasticrete or something. There were acouple of long tables and lots of plastic chairs, most of them broken, a sink at one end. Someone had stuckup some magazine printouts. The pictures clung tenuously to the wall on yellowing bits of tape.The stew was good – but then, anything would have tasted good by now, thought Sam. She made herself eatat a reasonable pace, one spoonful at a time, tearing off chunks of the flat bread like everyone else anddipping it in.Sam was used to everyone staring at her. Her jeans and horribly filthy T-shirt were probably about as out oftime as a hoop petticoat. The homeless people wore kaftans and loose shirts and skirts, in various states ofrepair. Sam stared down at the table, hoping they would think she was saying grace.They. Us.‘Where are you from?’ chirped Sara, making Sam jump.‘Um,’ she said. ‘Earth, originally.’ London in the twentieth century, to be precise. ‘My friend and I travelledaround a lot.’ Through time, since you ask. ‘How about you?’

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