CHAPTER THIRTY LOOPHOLE

*** It rained. It rained long and hard. A torrent sweeping across the plains of marijuana grass, dousing the Ecstasy trees and pummelling the Ketamine flowers. He held out his tongue, taste-testing the drops that poured from the heavens. It was Ale-rain today. A nice, full-bodied ale. He set about placing his collection glasses about his lawn, being careful not to squash his grass. It was almost time to mow it again, set the cut-offs aflame inside a confined area with his mugs of rain and while the night away. He danced about in the rain triumphantly, beating together his boxing-glove-clad fists with glee. He loved it when it rained. It brought the grass of Narcotica out in such a lovely shine. If he was lucky, he might even see a rainbow today. A lovely ale-induced rainbow. And he wouldn’t even need to eat the purple flowers to see it. Then the rain ceased. Such a brief shower, but such a prosperous one. All of his large glasses were almost filled. Now that the heads had settled, they were just about perfect. He looked up from his manic dance, and there she was. The female. He had caught her scent on the breeze amidst the wafts of cocaine dust that came down from the mountains. She was intoxicating. Her powerful frame signifying her dominant nature. Her black hair blew wildly on the wind that caught the trails of her brilliant white gown, making her look like some kind of apparition. A figment of his imagination. Which wouldn’t be all too unbelievable. She stood at the end of his garden, admiring his flowers, inhaling deeply. ‘You have a good harvest this year,’ she said in her commanding voice. He raised his eyebrows. She had never spoken to him before. ‘Yeah,’ he nodded. ‘Me and the guys, we’re going to have a party … you should come … yeah … you should really, really come.’ She smiled. By the gods she was sexy. So sexy in fact that he thought about taking her inside and ravaging her right now. But he knew he couldn’t. There was something about her that told him he’d get nowhere using force with this one. Except perhaps into a body bag. It would be worth it, he thought to himself, imagining what it would feel like to lay his hands upon her. ‘Actually,’ she said, licking her lips. ‘I’ve got a better idea,’ she leaned on his garden gate, displaying her cleavage. ‘I’m having a party of my own,’ she grinned. ‘In a lovely little place called London … tonight. What you would you say to … supplying some light refreshment there?’ ‘I’d ask you how much you’re willing to part with,’ he replied. She smiled. ‘Oh, believe me,’ she said with a wink. ‘IT WILL BE WORTH IT.’ *** ‘So … Time Lord then?’ Freaka-chu said, knocking back the beer he had graciously accepted and holding the cold bottle against his rapidly developing black eye. ‘I suppose time’s something that needs looking after really.’ ‘Just a bit,’ The Doctor replied with a smile. He looked around the interior of The Doctor’s TARDIS. After having commented that it was much smaller than the inside of the RETARDIS, he accepted that the capacity within the blue box was, like his own machine, infinite. The Doctor simply managed his space better. His control terminals were so much closer to the door than they were in The RETARDIS.

‘Though I can see where you’re coming from. There’s probably more Videos than there are seconds from one end of time to the other. Besides, from what you’ve told me, the things that you do … we’re not so different.’ ‘No,’ Freaka-chu smiled warmly. ‘I guess we’re not … so … you’re stuck in a time loop then?’ ‘It’s like a loop … hole,’ The Doctor replied. ‘For some reason, my TARDIS just doesn’t want to leave here. Which is very strange because it’s me that does the driving.’ ‘I know that feeling,’ Freaka-chu smiled. ‘My RETARDIS has a mind of its own. It goes where it wants to. No, actually, it goes where it thinks I should want to. But we’re not exactly on the same wavelength … not even close.’ ‘Well, whether The TARDIS has suddenly developed an attitude problem or there’s a tangible solution, which I’m more in favour of naturally … either way … I’m stuck.’ ‘Radiation from the surrounding area?’ Freaka-chu offered. ‘Some anomalous energy source that The Lithium Rooms were built over?’ ‘So far, all I’ve been able to discern is that I brought myself here,’ The Doctor frowned hard. ‘My presence here now alerted my TARDIS that I needed to be here … but I couldn’t save them. I couldn’t stop the Titans.’ ‘You guys keep using that word, Titans,’ Freaka-chu said pointedly. ‘Surely you’re not talking about The Titans. Forerunners to the Gods of Olympus defeated by Zeus and all of the other toga-wearing deities?’ ‘No, but they may as well have been,’ The Doctor said sombrely. ‘They’re animals, let loose on The Lithium Rooms to destroy them. No other purpose but to destroy, to bring death.’ ‘Where did they come from?’ Freaka-chu asked as calmly as he could. The Doctor’s face, bathed in shadow, looked up from across the TARDIS controls. ‘They’re the final tool of annihilation,’ he said finally. ‘From The Video Makers.’ *** ‘Gather up everything,’ Wish said commandingly, marching through the rebel camp, which was already pretty much packed up. ‘We leave within the hour.’ Yanwaell held up a picture of a person looking exceedingly over-excited with a caption that read: “WOW! Old News Is SO Exciting!” ‘Back in my day!’ The Resident Old Man exclaimed. ‘We had trained tigers to do our packing for us. Although, back then, folks only had a toothbrush and their elephant butlers to pack up before they moved on to the next airport hanger motel.’ Yanwaell gave a sour look and held up another picture of an unhappy man holding up clenched hands in a begging position: “Please Just Kill Me Now!” ‘Professor,’ Wish said, striding up through the Medical Centre and shook hands with Lotvilo. ‘Are you ready here?’ The Professor hung his head. ‘Yes,’ he said, biting his lip. ‘All the ones that will ever recover are ready to go.’ ‘What about the ones that won’t?’ Will-ko cringed. ‘Don’t worry,’ Skelifish said softly, hefting his scythe. ‘I’ll take care of them … I’ll make it quick … Painless.’ ‘Thank you,’ Professor Lotvilo said, pulling off his latex gloves and slouching off out of the Medical Centre. ‘Thank you so very much.’ ‘You’ll understand if I don’t stay for this part,’ Fred said, getting off his bed and following the Professor out of the door. ‘Wait!’ Will-ko said, following in Fred’s wake. ‘Hey, wait!’ ‘I also have some things to attend to,’ Wish said, heading for the spiral stairs, leaving Skelifish alone with the almost lifeless victims of the Ghosts. ‘So,’ Will-ko said after finally having caught up with Fred on the fringes of the encampment. ‘What’s been happening back home? Anything interesting?’ Fred smiled wryly. ‘Oh, you know,’ he shrugged. ‘This and that.’ ‘No,’ Will-ko coughed. ‘I don’t know at all. I’ve been stuck here this whole time.’

‘You wouldn’t know it,’ Fred shrugged. ‘They never talk about you. They even replaced you … really quickly actually.’ ‘They … replaced me?’ Will-ko gasped. ‘With an alien,’ Fred sneered. ‘The guy who finally fixed The Black Hole.’ ‘So, it’s working again,’ Will-ko managed to smile. ‘That’s good. Time’s all fucked up here. I’ve been waiting for everything to go boom.’ ‘Didn’t you hear what I said?’ Fred rasped. ‘They replaced you Will … with hardly a second thought. Just like that,’ he snapped his fingers. ‘Their lives go on. They haven’t even tried to look for you. Doesn’t that piss you off? Even a little?’ Will-ko tapped his lip and shrugged his shoulders. ‘A bit,’ he admitted. ‘But, the guy who saved the Universe is probably going to be more deserving of being a mod than the dopey escapee lab rat with nothing to show for his troubles.’ Fred scowled. ‘You think very little of yourself.’ ‘No,’ Will-ko retorted. ‘I just don’t see the point in getting all huffy and angry about something I can’t do anything about … not from here anyway.’ ‘But, when you get back to The Mercury Rooms …’ ‘Then I’ll have a hissy fit,’ Will-ko laughed. ‘Well, no, probably not. But I’ll have a bitch about it, don’t you worry.’ ‘Well then,’ Fred mulled, fishing around in his pocket. ‘That portal of Mezmaron’s could lead absolutely anywhere, really. It just so happens, that while you were gone, the new all-singing all-dancing wonder-boy, The Dr. came up with a marvellous little toy.’ ‘What?’ Will-ko puffed. ‘Simply saving the Universe wasn’t enough?’ ‘Not by a long shot,’ Fred chuckled. ‘But The Dr. realized how dangerous everything is at the minute. What with stuff like The Buster-Bot floating around … that’s the thing that was deleting all the Videos,’ he added by-way of explanation. ‘Nasty little bastard. Anyhow, The Dr. invented a recall system, so that any Allucian in danger can just zap themselves straight back to The Mercury Rooms.’ Fred handed Will-ko a small golden badge, allowing the blue light to glint across it surface as he placed it in the boy’s outstretched hand. ‘It doesn’t work here, obviously The Dr. didn’t figure in alternative dimensions. But I bet if you tune that into the portal. It’ll take us all to where we’re supposed to be.’ ‘Cool,’ Will-ko grinned, pocketing the badge. ‘But, don’t you want to hang onto it?’ ‘No need,’ Fred said, tapping his pocket. ‘I’m all stocked up on them.’ ‘Come on people,’ Wish said, marching past with a rather sombre-looking Skelifish in tow. ‘We’re wasting time, every second counts here!’ ‘Aye-Aye Captain!’ Will-ko said, saluting and falling into line behind Wish, grabbing one of the cases of supplies as he went, not wasting an instant in getting close enough to Wish to show him the badge and explain about its properties. Something that Wish was seemingly very appreciative of. Fred watched as the rebels trailed off into the Labyrinth. Guy Garner flew off overhead, guiding the way. Apparently there simply wasn’t enough alcohol available for him to airlift the entire encampment over to the battle zone. ‘So,’ he said to Professor Lotvilo, who was at the very back of the crowd. ‘To war then?’ ‘So it seems,’ Lotvilo replied with a cruel smile. ‘After all these years, finally, I’ll be able to leave this hell-hole.’ ‘I can’t even imagine,’ Fred said dryly. ‘I’ve only been here a day and I can’t stand it … Truth be told, I’ve never liked blue. It’s just not my colour.’ ‘Au contraire,’ Lotvilo wagged a finger as they exited the clearing out into the maze of blue walls. ‘I think it really brings out your eyes.’ *** ‘My good gracious,’ Dorian puffed out a plume of smoke. ‘I don’t believe I’ve ever had such fine … pleasures.’ Elysium leaned across and tossed another pill into his wine. ‘Your taste in finery and home design are one thing, my love,’ she smirked. ‘But your adventures into the truly finer things in life leaves much to be desired.’

‘I doubt that I could endure much more,’ Dorian said dreamily. ‘Where do you find these … items? I can only imagine what state my portrait is going to be in come morning.’ ‘Oh, here and there,’ Elysium replied teasingly, toting on a large spliff. ‘I have my little secrets.’ ‘In abundance if I recall rightly,’ Dorian said hazily, drinking deep from the happily spiked wine. ‘With good reason,’ Elysium grinned. ‘Plus, it gives me a chance to cause a little chaos.’ ‘Oh?’ Dorian raised an eyebrow. ‘To mutual advantage, I assure you,’ Elysium smiled sweetly. ‘I get to invest in my supplier’s wonderful menagerie … and he gets to sample some of London’s finer qualities.’ ‘A fan of architecture?’ Dorian was laughing even as the remark left his mouth. ‘Of a sort,’ Elysium chuckled. ‘But I’m afraid my little friend’s tastes are a little more exotic than bricks and mortar. It makes my plans to create our own little Universe even more of a pressing issue. London is changing for the worst and I wish to remain in this time forever. Our little friend, however can continue to wreak his carnage on the fairer sex.’ ‘Ah,’ Dorian nodded knowingly. ‘A taste for the ladies?’ ‘More than a taste,’ Elysium laughed placing the day’s newspaper onto the coffee table between them. The headline read: SERIAL RAPIST STRIKES AGAIN. ‘APPARENTLY,’ Elysium mused. ‘HE HAS THE MOST WONDERFUL AND DISTURBING URGES.’ *** ‘I’m having a thought,’ Freaka-chu said, suddenly rising and placing his third empty beer bottle to one side of the TARDIS console. ‘Just one?’ The Doctor puffed. ‘Well, no,’ Freaka-chu rolled his head. ‘I’m having thousands of them, but only one of them strikes me as being relevant right now.’ ‘And that would be?’ The Doctor raised an eyebrow. ‘So far you’ve only come out with utter nonsense. I’m drastically considering revoking your right to talk to me at all.’ ‘There’s that arrogance again,’ Freaka-chu huffed. ‘I hope I’m not that egotistical.’ ‘I’m a Time Lord,’ The Doctor persisted. ‘The last of the Time Lords to be precise. I’m in my ninth life and I’m eight-hundred and ninety-nine years old. I think I’m allowed to be a little uppity. It suits me.’ ‘Wow,’ Freaka-chu said sarcastically. ‘Nearly nine-hundred you say? I didn’t realize this was kid’s hour.’ ‘How’s that?’ The Doctor frowned harshly, looking down his nose. ‘Well, not to brag or anything,’ Freaka-chu said, tracing around several circuits with his finger. ‘But I’m only in my fourth life. I guess you’re not as careful as me … and I’m a bit older too … I guess I’m better at this than you are.’ ‘You can’t be that much older,’ The Doctor sneered. ‘Twelve-thousand, eight-hundred and one, actually.’ ‘WHAT?!’ ‘And counting.’ ‘That’s not possible,’ The Doctor snapped. ‘Actually, it’s just very unlikely,’ Freaka-chu beamed. ‘But absolutely accurate I assure you.’ ‘This is getting us nowhere,’ The Doctor hung his head. ‘Quite right,’ Freaka-chu nodded, taking another beer out of the crate. ‘We can organize a pissing contest later. Right now, we’ve got a job-on … and I was having a thought.’ ‘Yes,’ The Doctor smiled harshly. ‘I’m on tenterhooks, look at my hand; it’s practically quivering with anticipation.’ ‘Not helping,’ Freaka-chu sang. ‘What’s the matter?’ The Doctor asked triumphantly. ‘Can’t work under pressure?’

‘Okay,’ Freaka-chu said, shooting The Doctor a dark look and putting his fingers to his temples. ‘You say that your TARDIS is keeping you here because of your own presence in The Lithium Rooms. You, The Doctor, an instrument in your own captivity, like there’s an underlying purpose to you still being here in the ruins.’ ‘Exactly,’ The Doctor nodded. ‘Every time I try to leave, the systems malfunction. I intended to find my own way out and then come back for the others. I didn’t want to take the risk of anything going wrong and then having even more lives on my conscience …’ Freaka-chu was silent for a time, allowing the meaning to settle between them as an unwelcome reminiscence flashed behind both of their eyes. ‘You were saying,’ The Doctor prompted urgently, grasping the edges of the console. ‘I was,’ Freaka-chu nodded, his voice cracking as he shook himself back to reality. ‘I was, uhmm …going to say that … … … YES! I was going to say that you think you’re supposed to be here because you … are … here … wow, paradoxes are confusing aren’t they?’ Freaka-chu ran a hand through his hair and looked up expectantly, finding only a scowl from The Doctor waiting for him. Freaka-chu cleared his throat and continued. ‘You brought yourself and now you can’t leave because you’re needed here for some reason. You, The Doctor … well, I’m thinking, what if it isn’t The Doctor that’s the reason for The Doctor being here … what if it’s The Dr.?’ The Doctor’s head snapped up, his eyes dancing with possibility. ‘You mean that it wasn’t my presence at all … it was yours … and I just arrived much too early.’ ‘You’re here to help me out,’ Freaka-chu grinned madly. ‘You couldn’t leave because you were supposed to be my ticket out of here. That’s the job you’re here to do. That’s why your machine hasn’t allowed you to leave.’ ‘It fits,’ The Doctor said, grabbing a large lever on the TARDIS console. ‘Let’s test your theory, Dr.’ ‘We could,’ Freaka-chu nodded. ‘If you hadn’t severely depleted your energy levels trying to escape all those times.’ ‘She’ll handle it,’ The Doctor replied surely. ‘Yeah,’ Freaka-chu clucked, fishing inside his many pockets and producing a small golden egg. ‘But can’t help to give it a bit of a boost now can it?’ ‘How’s a cryo-stasis pod going to give us an energy boost?’ The Doctor frowned. Freaka-chu held the egg up to the light. ‘No … no, it’s a power cell.’ ‘No,’ The Doctor replied sharply. ‘It’s a stasis pod. Good grief, you really are dense aren’t you?’ ‘Alright, alright,’ Freaka-chu said, turning the egg over in his hands. ‘I went through a memory wipe and I had a war praying on my mind too, I think I can be forgiven small errors … still … I can deliver what I promised,’ he produced his bionic screwdriver with a mischievous smile. ‘Stasis pods need plenty of juice to keep them functioning, of course, we’ll probably interrupt the stasis field, but I think it’s time this little guy got out and stretched his legs a bit … now then,’ he said, pulling apart the underside of the pod and connecting it to The TARDIS’ console. ‘Let’s get on with that whole proving me right bit.’ *** Wish collapsed from the effort. Heaving in great breaths as he stumbled to the side and had to lean against a wall. But the damage was done. A cataclysmic hole had formed in the ranks of the Ghost forces, leaving only a scattered few remaining. ‘Sir, are you okay?’ CAD asked, helping to support the wheezing Pacman. ‘I’ll be fine, CtrlAltDel,’ Wish said rapidly. ‘Is there a path cut through to the portal?’ ‘More than enough,’ Blacky grinned, hoisting up his bag. ‘I’ll deal with the rest,’ Guy Garner said, kissing his power ring and downing a can of Guinness before turning his attention on the remaining Ghost forces. ‘Mezmaron,’ Wish wheezed. ‘Can anybody see Mezmaron?’ ‘No, he’s nowhere to be seen,’ Skelifish said, squinting. ‘Not that I’ve ever seen him, but I’m guessing I’ll see a maniacal tyrant when I see one.’

‘Are you certain?’ Professor Lotvilo asked wryly, stepping forward to examine the blue ring that had been constructed around Elysium’s puncture wound in reality. ‘They come in all shapes and sizes.’ ‘Believe me, you’ll know him if you see him,’ Wish coughed. ‘That stupid mask’s unmistakable.’ ‘So, what’s the story, Proff?’ CAD asked as The Professor went about examining the portal ring. ‘Can you open it?’ ‘This portal was opened by means of magical energies,’ Lotvilo replied. ‘It’ll take magical energies to open it again.’ ‘And that means me,’ Guy Garner said, rolling up his sleeves and approaching the blue ring. He held up his power ring and concentrated upon the white crackle that sporadically erupted across the inside of the ring. Nothing happened. ‘I said magical properties,’ Professor Lotvilo said, rolling his eyes. ‘Your ring operates through energy principals. We need somebody with a connection to Magical forces.’ ‘But, we don’t have anybody like that,’ Blacky huffed. ‘So, we’re trapped here … that’s the point of all this? Same old story. We’re here to stay.’ ‘Oh, I wouldn’t say that,’ Fred said, stepping forward, laying his hands on Will-ko’s shoulders. ‘I think I’ve got just the man for the job.’ ‘Wait … no … what?!’ Will-ko exclaimed, tearing himself from Fred’s grip. ‘I lost my powers. Don’t try to put all of this on me.’ ‘I told you,’ Skelifish said, holding his brow, trying to remain calm. ‘Magic never leaves a person. It’s still inside you; you just have to discover how to use it.’ ‘IT’S NOT THERE!’ Will-ko shouted, his fists clenched. ‘I KEEP TRYING BUT IT’S NOT THERE! DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?!’ Will-ko caught himself, breathing hard, he unclenched his fist and panted. Being angry really took it out of a person. But it did feel good to get it out. ‘Do that again,’ Fred said in awe. ‘Do what again?’ Will-ko glowered. ‘That, whatever you just did,’ Fred continued, spinning Will-ko around. The white crackle in the centre of the ring had gotten larger. ‘I did that?’ Will-ko’s eyebrows flew up. ‘Just a spoonful of anger helps the magic get out,’ Fred said, licking his lips. ‘Now, come on Will … let’s see some rage.’ *** The night air was cold. The moon was completely absent and the stars shone brightly over London. The lady straightened her hat and ventured out into the street. She had not meant to stay so late or stray so far from home. But it had happened. Mother always said how un-ladylike she had become. Perhaps she was right. But soon none of that would matter. Soon, it would all be a matter of the past. Her footsteps echoed off the pavement as she strode down the avenue. There was the clatter of a horse and trap somewhere off in the distance, but otherwise all was quiet. Nothing moved. There was only her and the empty street. That’s why she was perfect for him. He watched her make her way towards the bridge and silently followed. Making his way without noise over the rooftops, trailing her every move. He was a coiled snake, waiting to strike. He was a viper. A giant spider, waiting for the beautiful fly to fall into his web. A few more yards and she’s descend into the darkness … into his domain. She paced with such strong, confident strides that he was almost apprehensive about this one. She looked like she could be different. A real prize. He silently thanked the sorceress for the gift he had been given. A new playground to hunt in. To satisfy that primordial urge that beckoned to him from deep inside. That nameless voice that demanded satisfaction of his urges. So very many urges. He took a deep breath and pounced.

*** ‘Does somebody want to tell me what in the name of fuck just happened?’ Elion exclaimed as The TARDIS disappeared with a roar of its engines and the flash of it’s light. ‘Relax,’ Noile waved a hand. ‘He’ll be back. He can’t leave, not for long anyhow.’ ‘You’d better be right,’ Red snapped. ‘That’s our only way out of here.’ ‘If he ever figures out how to break out of that loop hole he’s stuck in,’ Lucy added. ‘Greg doesn’t think that he’s smart enough to figure it out. Greg probably could if he wanted to … Greg is awesome.’ ‘Jazz is getting rather tired of Greg talking about himself,’ Jazz scowled, producing his large purple gun from inside his jacket. ‘It makes Jazz want to act on impulse … because it is Jazz whom is awesome.’ ‘Greg does not consider this interloper any kind of threat,’ Greg replied, taking out his large yellow gun. ‘Greg’s Leprosy Rifle will dominate Jazz’s puny weapon.’ ‘Jazz’s Cancer Ray will make Greg’s testicles uneven and lumpy if Greg is not careful,’ Jazz hissed. ‘Guys!’ Elion shouted. ‘This is getting us nowhere!’ ‘No, but it’s kinda entertaining in a really fucked up way,’ Red said, his eyes transfixed on the two doppelgangers brandishing almost identical weapons and insults. ‘Jazz has decided that Greg fails, epically!’ ‘Greg deems that Jazz fails even more epically! Because Greg is awesome!’ ‘Greg fails times infinity!’ ‘Jazz fails times infinity plus one!’ ‘Greg fails times infinity squared!’ ‘Jazz fails times infinity cubed! HA! Greg told you! Greg is awesome! Jazz fails, this is the end of the matter if you ask Greg, which you should, because Greg is awesome!’ Jazz snarled and then pistol whipped Greg across the head with his Cancer Ray. ‘Not so awesome with a broken nose,’ Jazz said with a triumphant nod of his head. VROOOOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOK! The group stopped fighting as the sound of the TARDIS’ engines resonated around the ruins of The Lithium Rooms. ‘Weird,’ Noile commented, checking his watch. ‘It hasn’t been seventeen minutes.’ VROOOOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOK! ‘Is it just me,’ Red said over the noise that was gradually getting louder. ‘Or does it suddenly sound like we’ve got that noise in stereo?’ VROOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOK!

VROOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOK!
The TARDIS’ blue form appeared, with the flashing light atop it’s structure. VROOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOK!

A red Post Box materialized along side it in just as brash a manner. The two machines stood idle for a moment before the door of The TARDIS opened, revealing The Doctor standing happily in the doorway. At the same time, the metal hatch in the front of the RETARDIS swung open, with Freaka-chu squatting on the inside, a warm smile spread across his face. ‘Guess what,’ The Doctor said. ‘I’m brilliant no matter what dimension I come from.’ *** She screamed. They all screamed at first. He had the chloroform ready though, the rag clasped tightly in his boxing glove-clad hand. He thought about which line to use first. He was thinking of “excuse me miss, but does this rag smell of chloroform to you?” Not exactly original, but classy. Then she did something he didn’t expect. She kicked him. She kicked him hard in the groin. That bit he expected. What he didn’t expect was for her to stick around afterwards.

She looked down at him, almost pityingly as she studied his diminutive frame. He was small, but with strong features. A lot of tattoos and boxing gloves that seemed to be taped onto his wrists. ‘The King’s Cross Serial Rapist,’ she spat. ‘Somehow I thought you’d be taller,’ she planted her boot in his groin again and pressed down with enough force to make him give a whimper. ‘Who are you?’ She hissed. ‘What are you?’ He didn’t answer. She pressed down harder. ‘I’ll tell you what you are,’ she said, squinting at him harshly. ‘You’re an enigma. You’re a freak … you’re unnatural.’ His eyes bulged as she pressed even harder. ‘That works for me,’ she said with a manic glint in her eye. ‘You what?’ he spluttered. ‘It really works for me,’ she said, licking her lips. ‘You’re coming with me,’ she said, taking her boot off his testicles and helping him to his feet. ‘But not in the way you’re thinking, little man,’ she chuckled. ‘I want to know what you are.’ ‘I’m an urge,’ he said through gritted teeth. Dear fucking god she smelled terrific. He could barely see her face over her beasts. ‘An urge that can’t be helped. An urge that won’t be helped. The urge to molest some ass … maybe grab a booby or two … maybe hide under your bed while you’re sleeping and touch myself … then you.’ She threw him back against the wall. She was touching him. Her flesh meeting his. ‘It’s not going down like that at all,’ she said maliciously. ‘But I’m going on a little trip in the morning, and you’re going to come with me … as my protection. As my bodyguard.’ ‘What makes you think that’s going to happen?’ He asked angrily. ‘Because,’ she replied coyly in her Scottish tones. ‘You just might get lucky.’ *** Will-ko stood silently before the portal. He tried everything he could think of. He seethed, he raged, he held his breath and stamped his feet. But so far, nothing had worked. He had tapped into something when he had gotten angry before, but somehow, he couldn’t replicate it now. Something was different and he couldn’t put his finger on it. That thought should have annoyed him, but he found that it didn’t. Something wasn’t right. Something was missing. He had only tapped the edge of whatever lurked inside him. He needed something else to bring it out. But what? He clutched the badge in his hand tighter and suddenly it hit him. Holding something in his hand whilst trying to access his magic seemed right. It had a purpose. It’s what he was missing. He cast his eyes about and plucked a pen from CAD’s pocket. It would have to suffice for now. He pointed the pen at the ring and felt whole. He felt complete. He had been a wizard without a wand. That was the problem. A wave of warm air wafted past him. He opened his eyes which he discovered he had screwed up tightly and found that the portal was open. He didn’t realize that there was cheering all around. He had done it. ‘I guess you’re not completely useless afterall,’ Skelifish said, patting Will-ko heartily on the back. ‘In my day, young ‘uns spent their time plugging their pubic hairs into car tyres!’ Resident Old Man shrieked as he joined the queue that was already filing through the portal. “Congratulations On Not Fucking Up!” Yanwaell’s card read as he passed by. ‘Good work soldier,’ Wish said, inhaling deeply. ‘I can’t tell you how proud I am to have you on my team.’ The rebel band moved forward, disappearing through the portal as quickly as possible through fears that it would closed. There were no goodbye ceremonies and pretty much all of them couldn’t wait to see the back of The Forbidden Zone.

‘These Mercury Rooms of yours better be all you say they are,’ Skelifish commented as he passed by Will-ko and vanished through the portal with a ripple across the event horizon. By the end, only Will-ko, Fred and Professor Lotvilo remained. ‘Come on guys,’ Will-ko said hurriedly. ‘Not to rush you or anything, but I don’t know how long this thing’s going to stay open.’ Fred smirked and chuckled. ‘Oh, Will … oh little, stupid Will-ko.’ ‘What?’ Will-ko exclaimed. ‘Fred, stop messing about, get through the portal!’ ‘I’m not going anywhere near that portal,’ Fred said, his eyes aflame with malice. ‘I don’t think it’d be too good for my health.’ ‘You’re not making any sense, Fred.’ ‘My name is NOT FRED!’ he thundered back. ‘I … AM … BUSTER!’ ‘Fred? What are you saying?’ ‘You’re still using that name,’ Buster glowered. ‘I’d tell you to spread the word around … That Buster’s going to be heading back into town pretty soon … but you won’t be alive long enough to tell anybody that matters …’ ‘What?!’ Will-ko breathed. ‘See you in hell,’ Buster grinned and kicked Will-ko savagely through the portal.

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