“No idea. She wasn’t here last time.”
Sat on the very point of the floating island sat a young girl, playing an acoustic guitar. Landing some distance behind her, and a red-and-white striped windmill, our arrival had gone unnoticed.
I’ve always loved coming here. It radiates a natural state of peace and beauty. Like a small chunk of Heaven decided to detach itself to see the world. The girl’s new, though. The island was here way before her. And it turns out there’s a way of accessing it besides a time machine.
Womble’s gone off to sit on the arm of the anchor mechanism. Recent addition, that thing. Clearly somebody wanted this place stopped. Though I can’t imagine why. Still, he seems fine where he is, so I think I’ll go check out the windmill. Might be time for another moment of quiet reflection.
…windmill, windmill, for the land…
The world truly needs this place. Escpecially in this future where even the need to feel good requires an incorporation. No doubt the world will ‘put right’ this scrap of defiance, drag it down into Hell because People and Happiness just don’t get along anymore. I wonder who
A voice like that and I’m running. On this island, getting about hardly takes a second. And I think the girl’s noticed us.
I join Womble at the back of the land, him still sitting on the metal arm. “What’s up?”
“There’s a ‘chopper right above us.”
A helicopter breaks through the clouds slightly above us, and I see his point. Entirely gun-metal black, army-class, and armed well enough to confidently enter a war. And then a second one appears with it.
“Ah. This can’t be good.”
The two ‘copters pass us, travelling either side, along the length of the island. She finally gets up, moving into a stance ready to run. But they keep on flying, back under the cover of clouds.
“What now?” I ask.
“Well we can’t just leave her.”
We join her, still at the point of the island. Beneath us, the world stretches out like a poorly coloured map. “Hello,” I venture.
Japanese, if I’m not mistaken. I also get the feeling she’s just exhausted her English vocabulary. She does give off a strong vibe. Young, hardly naïve, can probably handle a mean keyboard solo. I doubt she takes any crap.
Womble steps forward, possibly to make an introduction. I silently wonder if his enigmatic nature would suddenly reveal he’s fluent in Japanese, when the helicopters return. Darkness is already beginning to cover the sky, and they’re slightly harder to make out.
One of them swoops; the three of us are already running. The footsteps we leave are broken by bullets; death haunts us at our heels. We each take a different path; she enters the windmill and Womble and I dart opposite ways around it. We both duck, as one helicopter smashes through one of the windmill’s sails, filling the air with noise and splintered wood.
Once again, they disappear.
“We seriously need to get out of here.” Womble whispers at me. The dark is abating now, driven away by fires breaking out on the windmill’s roof.
“What about her?”
“Bring her too.”
“Oh right. Here’s a plan, you silently invite me into that blue box and I’ll see how that looks.”
“Round about now, she doesn’t have many other options.”
He’s right. Orange and reds reflect in his eyes, as the fire grows about the windmill. Yet she does not scream. “Alright, you go inside and wait. No need for us both to be in danger out here.”
He hesitates, apparently genuinely considering an argument, but goes and enters the box nonetheless. I creep back around to the front of the windmill. “Er…”
Her head appears in a smashed window. I try a simple ‘follow me’ motion; she doesn’t need anything else. Her face disappears from view.
I look about, and from behind the near-black clouds, the two angels of death reappear. “Wait! Stay in there!”
The two ‘copters swoop together, dual machine guns blazing, puncturing the windmill. Still no scream, but that isn’t a comfort. The ships swing round for another attack. I sprint back towards the TARDIS, growing aware that we’re losing altitude quite alarmingly.
Wrenching the doors open; “I’m sorry, Womble, I’m an idiot. See if you can go get her, I’ll get us ready to make a quick exit.” I have just one foot through the door, and the world slips. One fluid motion, and we’re pointing straight at the ground.
At a 180degree angle, I mange to get a hold on the door-frame. Beneath me, the world rushes up to greet us. Womble, unaffected in the TARDIS’ gravity field, tries his best to grab onto my wrist.
Solid ground, ready to welcome us, is just metres away before he manages to drag me up and in at a bizarre angle. We both crash onto the floor, and I use the spare moments to kick the doors shut before we’re flung to different points across the room as the island ‘lands’.
Upside down between a wardrobe and a desk, I groan back into life. “Oh god, the girl.”
Womble picks himself up and shakes himself off. A dull boom roars through the control room, and we’re both shaken back to the floor again.
“That…that was…a bomb…”
On the TARDIS screen, we both watch the scene of fiery damnation going on outside. The island, now a slab of charred mess, lay silent and burning.
I sink into a chair, head in my hands. The hand of Humanity. Again. I even predicted this one happening. Womble, still staring at the screen, doesn’t see the tears.
“Save her.” His voice is barely louder than a whisper.
I look up. “What?”
“Womble, I can’t.”
His directness throws me for a second. “I can’t travel back on my own timeline, the effects of”
Womble whirls around; his eyes almost reflecting flames again. “No. Don’t give me that crap, HH.” He looks at me, right into my soul. “I don’t give a damn about all your rules. Time doesn’t stop for one dead child. Now save. That. Girl.”
A pause sits between us. He doesn’t even blink.
I stand, eye-to-eye with him. “Womble…you’re absolutely right.” Long coat flapping, I run a circuit of the console, pulling, pushing, turning and moving all the right pieces. “Hold onto something.”
Only once have I done this, and the noise of protest is exactly the same. The TARDIS roars like a wounded animal, but grudgingly gets moving. The entire room shakes and rolls, console parts spark and flash, but still I keep on.
Womble’s right. Completely, undoubtedly right. So many lost before, so many names wiped by my hand. No longer. The same fire, in Womble’s eyes and mine, burns as I pull the last lever.
“Okay,” I bellow into the noise, “we’re a few seconds before. You stand by the doors and be ready to catch her. I’ll be ready to get us away. We’ve only got one shot.”
Womble nods and goes to open the door. Outside, the island shoots down towards us, like the world’s best 3D movie.
“Here she comes!”
Cowering in the doorway of the windmill, the girl screams with her eyes clamped shut; getting ever closer.
The island’s tip hits the ground before she reaches us. Everything trembles, but sure enough, she falls into Womble’s arms. My hand, already hovering over the right lever, wrenches it down almost to breaking point. For a brief glimpse of a second, the screen shows the scene again, plus one familiar blue box.
Womble carries her past me, towards my chair. “Thank you.”
I mean it. Anytime, from now on, I shall act. Timelord and Timeless. Ignorant of the great domain.