|miss_s_b (miss_s_b) wrote,|
@ 2006-11-05 01:04 am UTC
|Current location:||the depths of PHEAR|
|Entry tags:||evil!, fic|
Rating: 18 for lots of gore and violence and nasty deaths (and ginger curls)
Prompt: 5. Power has run out. One of the characters says they will go outside and fix this. They do not return. There is a scraping noise on the roof, which turns out to be a man grinning psychotically and swinging the decaptitated head of the character who went outside1.
Spoilers: Some quite serious ones for the denouement of the Tigon film “The Creeping Flesh” 2. Because I’m honest, I’ll also admit to “borrowing” a major plot idea from the film The Shadow of the Vampire. There are lots of other Who/horror/sci-fi references in there; therefore this posting has geeky endnotes explaining them all.
Word Count: 6712
Notes: This was written for the Halloween Challenge in dwliterotica. It hasn't got much sex in it (sorry, those of you who got excited by the comm name) but it DOES have lashings of blood and gore and violence to make up for that.
* deep breath *
“Only in an English horror film of a particular vintage would you find The Supreme Evil of the Universe knocking politely on someone’s door!” complained the Doctor, petulantly.
“Shhhh! This is one of the best bits!” chided Mel, digging her elbow playfully into his belly, before settling her head on his chest again. Her legs were propped on the arm of the sofa, and his arm was draped over her shoulder, hand on her abdomen, which was rather less soft than his own.
They both went for the bag of jelly babies at the same time, and a minor conflict ensued, neither of them looking at the bag, but eyes concentrated on the mock-Victorian scene unfolding before them. After a short bout of playful hand-slapping and half-hearted arm-wrestling, the Doctor gave up the struggle and let Mel delve into the bag; she chewed the spoils of battle methodically.
The Doctor wasn’t really a big fan of the Hammer school of horror film; he saw himself as more of a nineteen-thirties German Expressionist man. Nevertheless, he considered it a price worth paying to watch the films ad nauseam as it was the one time Mel would allow him to snack as much as he liked3. A book might be preferable entertainment, but a break from the relentless diet and fitness regime4 was worth sitting through any number of turgid melodramas. On reflection, he was rather glad that his trip to the Gogglebox with Peri5 had inspired him to install a mini version of it in an unused area of the Tardis. It hadn’t taken much fiddling to induce the old girl to create a room with dim lights, comfortable seating and a holographic projector, although Evelyn had found the genuine surround sound somewhat disconcerting. Mel, on the other hand, very much relished being within the thick of the action, and having merciless killers and evil from the dawn of time creep up behind (and indeed through) the sofa only seemed to add to the experience for her.
The rather Lovecraftian6 tale they were currently viewing was called The Creeping Flesh, and starred (as many of these films did) Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. The Doctor could understand the appeal of Lee; tall, grandiose, distinctively-voiced7… But Mel worshipped the smaller, slighter Cushing like a demi-God.
“Awwww… The poor monster only wants his finger back!” Mel opined, as Cushing was screaming his defiance at the advancing personification of evil. There was a sickening crunch, and the creature removed Cushing’s finger in revenge for the removal of its own earlier in the film.
“Ah, and Christopher Lee to the rescue!” the Doctor declared with some finality, and tickled Mel with an impish smile. “The requisite happy ending…”
“Just keep watching.”
The Doctor fell silent and his dancing fingers slowed to a halt as the scene unfolded to reveal the fact that what at first appeared to be Cushing’s laboratory was actually a cell in Lee’s asylum. The doctor assessing Cushing was agreeing with Lee’s conclusion that Cushing was quite mad, and Lee was smiling a crocodilian smile.
“But he IS his half-brother! And his character now has all the credit for, and the money from, their joint researches? Oh, how utterly venal!” the Doctor’s tone was delighted.
Mel giggled her approval as the closing shot of Cushing’s hand with its finger removed dissolved into the credits and the tickling recommenced.
“DEFINITELY one of Freddie Francis’s better efforts!” she declared, embarking on a revenge tickling sortie of her own.
“I did rather enjoy that” the Doctor surprised himself by replying. “It’s refreshingly unusual for a film to have such an ending! Everyone either mad or dead, and The Ultimate Evil8 left to roam the countryside… presumably to leave the option available for a sequel?”
“Ahhhh no stop it! Not my side!” Mel wailed. Ever the gentleman, The Doctor stopped immediately. She prodded him, then settled back into the default snuggling-on-the-sofa position, and let her eyes drift back to the credits swirling around them from the holo-projector. “Thanks. They never made a sequel. In fact, that was the last film that Tigon made9.”
“Really? I wonder why?” he mused, a thoughtful expression crossing his face.
“Well, a lot of the English studios died in the seventies10…” Mel began to explain, looking up. She saw the thoughtful expression and fell silent.
“I know that look! You’re interested, aren’t you?”
“Well, for one thing, that painting from the film would look superb above the fire in the library…” He risked a sidelong glance at her, unable to suppress a small smile.
Mel squealed with delight “You’re going to take me to meet Peter Cushing?!?”
The next thing the Doctor knew, a very enthusiastic kiss was being planted on his lips.
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Mel’s eyes shone with anticipation of the adventure to come.
“My pleasure” he grinned, almost laughing at her joyous enthusiasm.
Their eyes met and suddenly there was a charge in the air of the room. He tangled his fingers in the mane of red curls and pulled her close. “My pleasure” he repeated softly, against her lips, indulging in an entirely different but no less enthusiastic style of kiss.
The Tardis materialised in a neglected corner of the Shepperton studios lot, disturbing a pile of litter. Moments later the Doctor and Mel stepped out. Their usual outlandish clothing would hardly have looked out of place in a 'seventies England which was yet to feel the grimy influence of punk, but on the set of a film purporting to be in Victorian times, Mel had insisted, they would have stood out like a pair of sore thumbs. She was beginning to regret the insistence on trying to blend in as extras, though, because a late afternoon in February in England was not the most comfortable time or place to have mounds of fleshy cleavage on display. The Doctor looked rather dashing she thought, having exchanged his usual multi-coloured frockcoat for a plain blue one11. He had been suspiciously enthusiastic about lacing her up into her corset, though. Somehow the boning of it gave her a confidence of a different type to that which she was used to feeling; although it wasn’t quite enough to make up for the discomfort of the corset’s restriction on her breathing.
“I don’t envy these poor girls who have to stumble around in high heels with their chests on show for a living!12” Mel commented, gesturing to the profusion of ladies who were similarly dressed to herself milling about the lot. She pulled her lacy shawl tighter about her shoulders.
“They don’t look too bothered about it” the Doctor countered, his eyes sweeping the milling extras and not lighting on a single face.13
“They’re actresses! They’re paid to look comfortable in the most uncomfortable situations. Unless they’re being paid to scream14, of course. Or kill people.” She prodded him gently. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed where YOUR attention is, either.”
The Doctor raised his eye level six inches or so and pretended he hadn’t heard a word.
The area of the lot they had strolled into was becoming more crowded; they followed the drift of the crowd and soon found themselves on a tavern set.
“This would be where they filmed the scenes of Penelope’s madness then.” stated the Doctor, looking around with interest.
“Yes, those were the last few scenes to be filmed” confirmed Mel.
“I think it best if we avoid being noticed by those…” The Doctor gestured at the cameras “and go and see if we can find out some more behind the scenes details.”
They slipped out behind the flats at the back of the scene and explored the sprawling and somewhat dilapidated lot further. There was a confusion of interior sets on a soundstage, which Mel explained to the Doctor had partly been constructed especially for this film, but had mostly been reclaimed and adapted from the sets of The House That Dripped Blood15, another of her favourite films.
Beyond the soundstage was a jumble of administrative buildings, mostly of a temporary-looking nature. Make-up artists and set dressers bustled about. Men with clipboards contrived to look important16. A dark and shabby-looking office had a hastily-scrawled sign on the door, declaring “Tony Tenser – Producer”. The door was ajar.
The Doctor raised his eyebrow at Mel and pushed at the door with his foot. The door swung slowly inward and a scene of utter devastation was revealed. Everything destructible in the office had been destroyed. Papers were torn, shelves and chairs smashed to smithereens, and the desk was in pieces on the floor. Also in pieces on the floor was what, at first glance, appeared to be several joints of meat. It took a moment for the fact to sink in that the meaty chunks were the tattered remains of a human being.
“Mr Tenser17, I presume,” muttered the Doctor, as the attention of everyone in Shepperton was drawn by Mel’s vocal gymnastics.
“No, these extras found him. No, I don’t know what they were doing in his office. Yes, I’ll make sure they don’t leave. All right, officer, thank you.”
Freddie Francis hung up the phone and glared at the Doctor and Mel. The pair certainly had sheepish expressions.
“I don’t think I know you two,” he said, sharply. “What WERE you doing in Tony’s office?”
“Well, we saw that the door was open and wondered why…” began the Doctor
“Ah, NOSEY extras, then, are we?” Francis interrupted, his voice full of suspicion. “Just who the hell ARE you two, anyway?”
The Doctor’s chest puffed out in indignation. “Look, I do REALISE that it’s traditional that the prime suspects in any murder are the people who discover the body, and I also realise that I’m a rather burly chap” he flexed an arm proudly, causing Francis to lean back in his chair “but even I do not have the physical strength to tear a man limb from limb. I would suggest that Mel, here, is an even less likely candidate than I. Now, if you tell us what’s been going on here, perhaps we can help?”
“Well, there have been some funny… Hang on, I’M asking the questions here. And you didn’t answer my question. Who the hell are you?”
“I’m the Doctor, and this is my companion Melanie Bush” said the Doctor, smiling beatifically as if this could quell all possible doubts anyone might have.
“The Doctor? Doctor WHAT, exactly? I presume you have a name?”
“Of course I have a na…”
The sudden entrance of a very thin man with a distinguished face, a grey widow’s peak and a harried expression interrupted the Doctor. He was wearing white gloves and a half-smoked cigarette drooped from his fingers. He spoke in an extremely cultured soft baritone.
“Freddie, dear boy, is it true? Our producer is dead? VIOLENTLY dead?”
Francis sighed heavily “Yes, Peter, it’s true.”
The Doctor became aware of Mel quivering beside him and glanced at her face. It was blushing as red as her hair and she clutched his elbow so tightly her knuckles glowed white. He patted her fingers distractedly, then held out a hand to the actor.
“Mr Cushing,” the Doctor said. “I’m the Doctor and this is Mel. We discovered the…uh… Mr Tenser. We’re trying to find out exactly what happened.”
Cushing shook the proffered hand politely, to the obvious incredulity of Francis. “Delighted, delighted. Anything I can do to help?”
“Oh, now, Peter, these people are total strangers! Are you sure…?”
“They are offering to help” Cushing said, simply. “At this stage I would suggest we need all the help we can get. Lord knows the police have been baffled so far, and that’s without even telling them about what’s just happened. So, Doctor, if there is anything a simple actor can do to assist you…?”
“I don’t know how much you can help yet.” mused the Doctor “The body was… Well, Mr Tenser had been mutilated rather badly. This might sound a little unbelievable, but I do not believe he was killed by a human being.”
Cushing and Francis exchanged glances
“You mean some sort of animal is loose on the set?” Francis said, his tone guarded, rather than panicked.
“Well, possibly, but…” The Doctor’s eyebrows furrowed, and he looked first at Francis, then at Cushing, noting their expressions. “If you two could perhaps tell me what you’re not telling me at the moment I might be able to form a clearer picture?”
There was another look exchanged between the two Englishmen, and Francis shrugged, seemingly giving Cushing his assent to tell the tale. Cushing’s stance changed. He closed his eyes, steepled his hands, and took a deep breath18. When he opened his eyes again it was clear that he was in story-telling mode.
“This film set” he began, his usual speaking voice deepening by at least an octave “has been a very odd place of work from the moment my involvement with the picture began. The problems first came to my attention in rehearsal. Jonathan Rumbold19 was the one who found… Oh, what IS his name now? – the man who plays the monster – and suggested him for the part, which caused a big row with Anne Donne over demarcation. And then when he actually appeared at rehearsal he was in full make-up! And he didn’t speak! Not a word! Obviously, we thought this was odd, and we asked about it. We were told that he was a method actor of the Stanislavsky school, and liked to live the character.”
“Of course, looking back on that now” interrupted Francis “it seems like a rather pat answer. But at the time everyone just accepted it. It’s not that odd for an actor to be, well, odd.”
Cushing’s eyes closed again. He inhaled theatrically, and settled himself back into a flow. “Things tend to go wrong on a film set more than might be obvious to someone who doesn’t work in the industry. Still, more things have gone wrong on this film than on any other I have worked on, and I have been in the business for a long time now. At first it was small things. Actors’ personal belongings going missing. Props getting broken. Then it progressed to bigger things. A camera smashed. One of the extras was beaten by an unseen assailant.”
He paused as if the telling was causing him physical pain.
“Go on,” the Doctor encouraged, softly.
“None of the things I have yet mentioned caused any great concern. Obviously, they caused SOME concern, but although they were a little odd, they were not unusual enough to cause anything more than the usual histrionics of those in the film business. We are all rather prone to hysterical outbursts; it’s in the nature of the game. But mostly that’s exactly what it is; a game. We gossip and we giggle about a film being cursed, especially if it’s a film to do with the fantastic and horrible, like this one.”
“Oh, God, yes!” Francis said. “Actors are terrible for that.” Cushing shot him a glance and he hurriedly added: “of course, in this case it seems to be rather more justified than usual.”
“Four days ago” Cushing continued, pointedly, “we found the body of one of Roy Ashton’s little apprentice girls. She was around the back of the set. Her neck had been snapped. She didn’t appear to have… Well. There wasn’t anything like THAT. You know?”
Mel’s hand had slipped into the Doctor’s, and he squeezed it as he nodded.
“When was she found?” Mel asked.
“First thing in the morning. It must have happened overnight. She didn’t seem to have been moved.” Francis stated, baldly. “Where we found her, according to the police, was the scene of the crime. The thing is…”
He shrugged, and looked at Cushing for guidance, if he wasn’t exactly sure how to continue.
“The thing is,” Cushing picked up on Francis’ phrase “The police, having examined the body, were of the opinion that she had been attacked by a large man. An UNUSUALLY large man. There’s only two of those among the cast and crew, and one of them is my co-star and I have known him as a friend and colleague for almost thirty years. So naturally suspicion fell on the other.”
“Naturally!” agreed the Doctor, with only a minor hint of sarcasm.
“The mysterious method actor,” said Francis. “Nobody knows anything about him. Jonathan tells me he wrote the script with him specifically in mind as the monster, and that he met him in Papua New Guinea, which is where the idea came from for the origins of the Creature in the script. But he didn’t know where he lived, or anything else about him, really.”
“And nobody has been able to find out anything about him since he has been on set, “Cushing pointed out. “He keeps himself to himself, even in the canteen, and as I said, is never seen without full make-up, which he does himself, and he never speaks. Roy Ashton was a bit annoyed about that, actually. Not about the not-speaking, I mean, about the make-up. Roy has something of a reputation as a make-up artist and he didn’t feel that some actor should be stealing his thunder.”
“I can see where this is leading” interjected the Doctor. “But… is it not possible that this man IS just a rather strange actor, and there is some other explanation for what’s been going on? That there’s something else loose on this studio lot, and this man has become an unfortunate scapegoat?”
“Yes, that’s entirely possible,” stated Cushing. “Which is why we haven’t told all this to the police. Well, that and the fact that they would think we were mad. I mean, accusing someone of actually BEING a supernatural monster…”
“Hang on!” interjected Francis “Being a big psycho is a LONG way from being a supernatural monster…”
The brewing discussion was cut short by a piercing shriek from outside. Darkness had fallen while they had been conversing, and as the Doctor and Mel leapt to their feet and reached for the door handle at the same time, Cushing picked up a lamp from a shelf and followed without hesitation. The shrieking continued, and they ran towards it, Francis reluctantly bringing up the rear.
As they got closer, the screams faded into bubbling, squelchy noises. They rounded a corner and were greeted by a sight which, although half expected, still caused Mel to scream so ear-piercingly that Cushing dropped the lamp, which smashed. A seven foot apparition in a hooded cloak stood with its back to them, a terrible tableau in the moonlight. Its arms were held out at full length either side, and in each hand was the ankle of a human being who had been physically torn in two. Blood pooled on the ground at the creature’s feet, and the arms of the corpse swung obscenely from the section of cadaver that dangled like a side of beef from the monster’s left hand.
Mel’s scream had made the monster turn. Its face was an unhealthy white, and the flesh adhered to it in an ad hoc manner. Bits of face seemed to be almost melting, and dripping off. It glared at the foursome as they stood frozen in shock, and then hurled the two halves of the corpse at them. The open torso of the larger half slapped wetly into the Doctor’s chest, causing a chrysanthemum of blood to flower on his blue coat. The other section of the body landed at Mel’s feet, causing a renewal of the screaming.
The monster ran.
After a shocked silence in which they all tried to work out if they had really just seen what they thought they had seen, Cushing was the first to speak.
“Not a supernatural monster, then?” he asked, quirking an eyebrow at Francis and trying not to shake.
“Never mind that, who is the body?” Francis countered.
The Doctor crouched, and grabbed the head of the corpse by the hair, lifting the face out of the mud.
“Anyone you know?” he asked.
Francis took one look, turned away, and began being noisily sick. Cushing turned white and began to quiver visibly.
“It’s Marianne Stone. She played Mr Cushing’s assistant in the film.” said Mel, sounding rather queasy herself.
“Oh dear,” said the Doctor. After a short pause he started to chase after the monster “You deal with her, I’m going to follow the creature; we need to know where it goes to when not on set!” By the time the Doctor had finished the sentence he was a hundred yards away from the others and accelerating on the monster’s trail.
Mel and Cushing watched him disappear into the darkness and then looked down in unison at the dismembered girl at their feet.
“What did he mean ‘deal with her’?” asked Cushing querulously.
“I think he possibly meant to call the police,” said Mel. “I don’t think that even HE expects us to mend THAT with a first aid kit…”
They backed away from the corpse, almost unwilling to tear their eyes from it, and turned to Francis, who was still vomiting behind them. Between them they helped him back to his office.
Cushing telephoned the police while Francis laid his head despairingly on the desk, unable to function.
The Doctor returned to Francis’s office some time later, sweating heavily and somewhat out of breath.
“I kept pace with the creature for a while, but I couldn’t catch it. I lost it in the woods,” he panted, flopping into a chair.
“Sorry,” he added.
The realisation dawned that there were more people in the office than there had been before. Two uniformed police constables were staring at his chest with expressions of disbelief writ large across their faces. He looked down at himself, noticed the profusion of blood soaking into his front as if for the first time, and looked back up at the policemen. The portlier of the two men slowly and deliberately turned back to Freddie Francis and pointedly continued a conversation which had plainly been going on before the Doctor’s rather abrupt entrance.
“My problem is, sir, that we have a corpse, and I grant you you’re telling me the truth about THAT… but I’ve seen no sign of any strange creature” he pronounced the words “strange creature” as if they left a nasty taste in his mouth. “However, we do have a man covered in a large amount of blood, here…”
Both policemen’s head swivelled back to look at the Doctor and he realised with sinking hearts what was about to happen.
“If you wouldn’t mind coming with us, sir?”
Each constable grabbed an arm and half-led, half-dragged the Doctor to a waiting car, somewhat hindered by Mel’s entreaties.
“The creature threw a bit of the body at him! That’s where the blood came from! He hasn’t hurt anyone!” she exclaimed, trying to tug on one of the policemen’s arms, and having about as much effect as a grain of sand on the ocean.
“Now, miss,” he said, not entirely unkindly. “We’re just going to ask him some questions, down the station. You don’t want us to arrest you for obstruction, do you? So just let us get on with our jobs.”
Mel looked at the Doctor and he nodded curtly. She backed off and watched helplessly as he was bundled into the car. She watched the tail lights recede, and her shoulders slumped. She was feeling utterly defeated. To think she had been looking forward to this! It had all seemed like larks back in the Tardis, to go and solve an unsolved mystery; but now it was unrelentingly, depressingly real, and real people were getting hurt.
Blankly, she lifted her wrist to her face and squinted at her watch in the darkness20. Two o’clock in the morning. She trudged back into Francis’s office and gratefully accepted the cup of tea that was waiting for her, unable to think of what to do next.
The Doctor lay on the bench in his cell and fingered his right eye gingerly. It was swelling rather impressively, and he suspected it would approximate to the colour of a ripe plum at the present moment. Most of his clothes had been taken away for evidence, although he had been left with his trousers. Congealed blood, some of which had soaked through his clothes and some of which was his own, matted his chest hair21, and the concrete of the bench was pleasantly cool on his naked and somewhat bruised and lacerated back. He had forgotten exactly how corrupt and brutal the English police could be, especially in the latter half of the twentieth century22. He had paid the price for his repeated assertions of innocence, and his inability to satisfy the police on the matter of his name and address, in the fabled manner.
He had not been in need of sleep, and thus had spent the hours in the cell trying to remember exactly how many times he had been imprisoned by the authorities of various planets since he had left Gallifrey. He was debating with himself whether or not the seven hundred and fifteenth instance counted as being imprisoned by the authorities or by a rebel faction when the sound of the locks turning on the cell door made him go from prone to bolt upright in nanoseconds23.
He breathed an audible sigh of relief when Mel entered, bearing clothes.
“There’s been another…” she began, and stopped abruptly. She dropped the pile of clothing on the bench and lifted his face to the light. He grimaced.
“What the bloody hell happened to YOU?” she demanded.
“The ah… honest British Bobby behind you will doubtless tell you that I fell down the stairs. Interestingly, on the way down, various parts of me hit various entirely innocent officers on their boots…” he said, sounding almost apologetic.
“I see,” said Mel, her fists balling and her mouth a grim line. “And did your unfortunate ‘accident’ have any effect on your ability to say what they wanted to hear?”
“Sadly not,” the Doctor deadpanned, giving a slight frown as another twinge of pain struck.
Mel was furious at what they had done to him, but she could feel the presence of the policeman behind her, and forced the fury down, reflexively opening and closing her hands.
“Well,” she continued, in tones of forced jollity “there’s been another killing, and so they have acknowledged that it MIGHT not be you who’s butchering people, and have decided that you don’t need to stay in the cell. They told me you might need a change of clothes, so I borrowed some off one of the actors.”
“Thank you Mel,” said the Doctor calmly, his eyes on the policeman looming over his companion’s shoulders.
“Uh, yeah. You might not say that when you’ve seen the clothes.”
She held up a wing-collared shirt in an odd shade of beige and a jacket of the type favoured by chemistry teachers, with a horrible checked pattern in shades of bodily fluid and leather patches on the elbows.24
“And people say that I have no taste!” exclaimed the Doctor, seizing the chance to concentrate on something less terrible than the killings.
“Yes, well, Mr Lee was the only one who was anywhere near your size,” Mel pointed out, reasonably. “Apart from the creature, that is, and we didn’t think you’d fancy his hooded cloak thing.”
“Yes, you’re probably right about that.”
The Doctor dressed hurriedly and followed Mel out of the cell, the resentful eyes of the policeman following him as he went.
“Don’t go too far, now, sir, will you?” the constable called after them as they exited the station.
The taxi sped away, its somewhat perplexed driver shooting glances at the odd assortment of cash he had been handed. Ten pounds was a GOOD fare from the police station to the studio, no doubt, and mornings were always quiet for good fares, but he hadn’t really wanted to be lumbered with all the other coinage as well. What in God’s name, he wondered, was a “Euro” anyway?25 And as for the odd coin with a hole through the middle…
“I know that there are more important things going on here at the moment,” the Doctor said, apologetically, “but I really need to have a wash.”
They made their way to the Tardis and slipped inside, unnoticed by anyone else. The Doctor headed straight for the shower, discarding Christopher Lee’s jacket and shirt as he went. He unfastened and stepped out of his trousers without slowing down, cursing himself for having the washing facilities so far away from the door.
The moment he stepped into the shower room myriad jets of steaming water drenched his body. He turned slowly, revelling in the soft pummelling that the shower was giving his aching frame. The rivulets of hot water seemed to take the pain of his beating with them as they ran down his legs and into the drain. He glanced up at the incongruously vaulted ceiling, half-hidden in steam.
“Thanks, old girl,” he said, genuine gratitude and affection in his voice26. “You always know the right temperature and water pressure don’t you?”
He picked a dispenser at random and squirted a jet of shower gel into his hand. The pleasantly earthy smell of sandalwood blended with the steam as he scrubbed himself with some vigour.
Some time later, when he emerged pink, shiny and dripping from the shower room, Mel was waiting for him with an enormous fluffy towel and some ointment for his bruises. After tender and judicious application of both items, he dressed in his own clothes while Mel took her turn in the shower. By the time she was dry and dressed as well, he felt almost back to normal.
“Right then,” he said. “Once more unto the breach dear Mel…”
The bodies of the murder victims had been taken to the set which was Cushing’s laboratory in the film. Francis had closed the set on the advice of the police, and he and Cushing were the only people remaining. The atmosphere on the deserted lot seemed to mirror events, feeling strangely dead itself. The Doctor and Mel were guided into the makeshift morgue by Cushing. They gazed numbly at the corpse of Lorna Heilbron. Like Tenser and Marianne Stone, she was in several sections, torn to component parts by a creature of immense strength.
“So…” began Cushing in a far away voice “Obviously we can’t allow this to continue. How do we stop it?”
“Well,” the Doctor stated “I can’t be sure, but from what I saw last night it looks like the creature is a Moron from the planet Mordrax27. It’s not that far away, in the horse-head nebula. They’re not usually hostile to humans, but he’s a long way from home and has possibly gone a little bit… I think the vernacular is ‘stir crazy’?”
“And that makes him kill people?” Mel asked, incredulously. “He really IS a Moron!”
“People go and kill other mammals all the time. And each other,” the Doctor stated, reasonably. “To him, you’re just an inferior race. And it probably didn’t help if he found out what Moron means in your language.”
“So how do we catch him? Send him back home?” asked Cushing.
“Early nineteen-seventies England? On a film set? There should be enough material here for me to cobble together a rudimentary transmat” said the Doctor, with a reassuring smile. “And the transmat is the Morons’ usual mode of transport. I should be able to hack into their system from here. As I say, the horse-head nebula isn’t that far away, in relative terms. Luring the creature to stand on it will be the difficult part.”
Dusk had fallen once more, and Mel wandered the outdoor areas of the lot, trying to look nonchalant. Her earlier volunteering to act as bait was perhaps not the safest idea she had ever had, but it was clear to her that it was the only logical course of action. Apart from Tony Tenser, all of the other victims of the Moron had been small, and female. She had, therefore, waved the Doctor’s gentlemanly objections aside. Apart from anything else, she knew she could run faster and further than him. Sometimes being a health freak had its advantages.
It began to rain. She looked about herself, mentally checking her position relative to the Doctor’s hastily constructed contraption. A movement in her peripheral vision caused her to tense, and her head whipped around. The creature had appeared at the other end of the fake street on which she was currently standing. Its cloak was sodden and filthy and its hands were covered in caked blood. Mel froze for a moment like a rabbit in the headlights of an artic, and then turned and fled.
She could hear the slapping of the monster’s bare feet in the mud as it closed on her.
She jinked left, and then right, and then bolted straight forward, hurdling the transmit platform without a break in stride. She heard the Doctor yell “now!” and the sound of machinery as she skidded to a halt next to the hurriedly built control panel for the transmat. She checked the controls and then turned to look behind her. The creature was held fast by a beam of pure white light.
“Oh, well DONE Mel!” cried the Doctor, the rain plastering his curls to his forehead. “We have him!”
The creature writhed in the beam of light, apparently in some pain. Mel and the Doctor flipped switches on the control panel and examined the readouts of the various absurd gauges and clocks which had been attached to the transmat apparatus.
“Something’s going wrong!” Mel exclaimed, flipping switches in a more panicked fashion than previously. “The confinement beam is well out of the acceptable range!”28
The light beam grew steadily more intense, and the creature’s writhing became more pronounced. Finally the creature exploded into dry, white dust. The dust settled on the transmat and the ground surrounding it. Spots of rain began to pepper the whiteness, blending it into the muddy ground.
“Oh dear,” said the Doctor “I was rather hoping to send him home in one piece…”
Mel patted his arm. “You tried your best, Doctor. And at least now the killing will stop.”
“Yes, and that’s certainly something to be grateful for,” he said, throwing an arm around her shoulders. “I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.”
“Well, I’m sure you could use Tony’s portakabin, until you can get back to… where is it that you come from, anyway?” Francis asked.
“That would be lovely!” said Mel, steering the Doctor towards the temporary building before he could object. “It’s this one, isn’t it?”
“Yes, that’s the one.” Francis replied, amused despite the horrors of recent events, at Mel’s behaviour. He watched the door close and turned to Cushing. “Come on Peter, I feel a cup of tea coming on.”
They walked back to Francis’s office and the kettle. Consequences could wait until after a pot of tea had performed its miracle of healing.29
Mel closed the door and leaned her forehead against it. She exhaled a long, weary breath. “So many people dead, Doctor. I may lose my enthusiasm for horror films after this.”
He rested a hand on her shoulder. “Don’t succumb to survivor guilt, Mel. Yes, we saw some terrible things. But we prevented MORE terrible things from happening. And we survived. Survival is always good.”
He gave her shoulder a squeeze, and she turned to face him, managing a small watery smile. He entangled his hands in her waist-length hair, and guided her close, intending a comforting hug. She stood on tiptoes and stretched for him, pulling his face down to hers. The Doctor was momentarily surprised, He hadn’t been expecting the kiss to be as passionate, as needy as it was; but then he realised that it should not have been unexpected at all. Mel approached intimate relations the same way she approached everything else – with an infectious, almost reckless, enthusiasm, and at this moment in time the Doctor was grateful for it. It was a very human thing; the need to do something to remind oneself that one was alive when one had witnessed something terrible, and was a large part of the reason why humans would always remain at number one on his top ten species chart.
Time Lord society saw it as terribly demeaning and undignified to have such a level of intimacy with another person. Hundreds of years of travelling with humans had left the Doctor firm in the belief that it was essential to one’s mental health, and that was why Time Lord society was so corrupt, decadent, and above all, DULL. Mel’s hands were pulling his shirt out from the waistband of his trousers now, and burrowing beneath it, desperate for flesh to flesh contact. Their tongues wove an intricate dance as they moved, half-stumbling, towards the bed.
Unseen by all, the motes of dust which were all that remained of the creature appeared to move, lifting themselves from the mud as though caressed by an unseen breeze. As if gaining in confidence, the movement grew more pronounced, and the dust motes began to move towards each other and coalesce.30
It was in the silent, heady softness of the post-coital embrace that the lights went out in the portakabin.
“Oh damn,” the Doctor complained “I was just about to suggest a cup of tea…”
“Ah, it’s probably just the power line come loose, I’ll sort it out.” Mel replied, reluctantly disentangling herself from his arms and hauling herself upright.
She threw on the Doctor’s shirt, for the sake of decency, and went outside.
After a few minutes the Doctor realised he could hear an odd noise, and it seemed to be coming from the roof of the cabin.
“Oh Mel…” he muttered to himself “You’ve surely not gone climbing on the roof in this weather?”
He pulled on his trousers, for the sake of decency, and opened the door of the caravan, stepping out into the cold February downpour. He turned to look at the roof, just as a streak of lightning lit up the night. The Moron, the creature they had all thought dead, was standing on the roof of the portakabin, and in his fist was a mass of wet red curls, from which dangled the head of Melanie Bush. Blood and tissue fluids dripped from the ragged, ravaged neck. The creature roared its triumph and lifted Mel’s head high, causing it to swing wildly. Splashes of blood landed on the Doctor, mingling with the rain running down his face. He fainted.31
The Doctor awoke. The moment of waking was accompanied by an unsettled feeling, which resolved itself as the events of the previous day flooded back into his mind. He sat bolt upright in horror32. And yet there was an incongruity. Something was tickling his left hand. He looked down and to his left, and saw a mass of ginger curls on the pillow.
“Oh Mel! Thank goodness! You’re here! You’re all right!” he reached for her shoulder as he spoke, and a subtle feeling of wrongness grew as he did so. Time seemed to slow to a trickle as Mel’s head began to move. His throat dried instantly and he gaped, voiceless. The decapitated head turned over and the Doctor saw with nauseous terror that the eyes had been removed. The gaping, bloody sockets mocked his inability to save his friend, his lover; and the head continued to roll. There was a sickening thump as the head hit the floor and the Doctor’s voice returned.
1, I must confess that I only chose this option because the image of Mel’s head swinging by her ginger curls from the psycho-killer (qu’est que c’est, fafafafa…)’s hand leapt into my head as soon as I read the prompt. Sorry, Mel fans, but I’ve wanted to see her die horribly for twenty years, and if I HAVE to do it myself… ;) But then the opportunity of writing something set in and around the filming of one of my favourite films appealed as well.
2, See: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068424/
3, Continuing my usual oeuvre of writer-masochism, there’s an element of Mary-Sue in Mel, because I’ve made her the horror film fan in this (and it’s not like it contradicts canon, is it? We know very little about Mel, so why not make her a fan of the Mighty Cush? I realise that Evelyn is the more likely Six companion for Cush fandom, but I don’t want to kill HER LOL).
4, I hope everyone has that lovely vision of Six on the exercise bike at this point… ;)
5, A reference to the Big Finish Audio play The Reaping, by the gorgeous and talented Joseph Lidster, which is utterly fabulous and I urge you all to buy it.
6, Lovecraftian because it combines the themes of a (possibly alien) creature from before the dawn of time and water being the root of all evil. Old HP was reputedly terrified of water, which is why a lot of his creatures have aquatic elements to them, even when they are star-born aliens.
7, Yeah, I’m a big Chris Lee fan, as well as a Colin Baker fan. Despite Chris Lee’s woeful dress sense (more of which later)
8, Which is, of course, the title of one of the arcs in the cancelled season of the Colin Baker era.
9, Although it is commonly referred to as the last horror Tigon made, they made Frightmare after this, and a non-horror between the two. A bit of artistic license, then.
10, Hammer, Amicus and Tigon all went kaboom in the seventies. Amicus were run by the guy who made the sixties Doctor Who movies with Peter Cushing as an AU Hartnell!Doctor in them, btw, fact fans.
11, See the BBC webcast Real Time
12, Sly reference to Peri. I do feel for Nicola B rather a lot, because she’s a very feisty and capable lady, and having to behave like a squealy idiot with her tits hanging out must have grated at times.
13, It’s a fun game to play, if you’re watching a Six/Peri story: spot the chest-glancing. Tee Hee.
14, And a reference to Mel’s companionly reputation.
15, According to English Gothic: A Century Of Horror Cinema
16, It’s a well-known fact that if you carry a clipboard and paste a hurried expression on your face you can get into practically ANYWHERE ;)
17, I don’t know if Tony Tenser is still alive or not, but he certainly wasn’t active as a film producer after the early seventies. So he was an obvious candidate for the first horrible death.
18, Reference: Blackadder the Third episode four: Sense & Senility.
19, The Creeping Flesh actually had two writers. I picked the one whose name I liked best LOL.
20, Mel’s watch is *fanwankfanwankfanwank* like Rose’s phone; it’s been jiggled about with by the Doctor and it always sets itself to local time without her having to do anything with it. Not magic; skience!
21, Which can be seen poking out of the open neck of his shirt in The Two Doctors (and in all it’s glory on the SPC), and always gives me the terrible urge to wax…
22, Birmingham Six, Guildford Four, etc. etc. etc.
23, a la The Caves of Androzani
24, For some reason, Christopher Lee has favoured this type of ensemble for many years: http://handson.provocateuse.com/ima
25, reference to the Big Finish audio play The Council of Nicea.
26, Doctor/Tardis. The one, the only OTP in Who ;)
27, Alien race and planet named by pmoodie.
28, Sorry, but I had to let a LITTLE bit of Trek creep in.
29, No, honestly, tea really IS this essential to English culture. It’s instinctual, even in me, to suggest a cup of tea the moment anything goes wrong, and I’m allergic to the damn stuff.
30, reference to the superlative The Call of Cthulhu by HP Lovecraft. Yes, James Cameron stole it from him too.
31, He’s a bugger for fainting, old Sixie, isn’t he?
32, Because I LOVE the last scene of the Caves of Androzani, and that sitting up moment, it gets put in the fic twice.
33, This coda is straight out of the Vincent Price movie Theatre of Blood. Anyone who hasn’t seen it should do so immediately; it’s excellent. I liked the idea of subverting the old Bobby Ewing in the Shower ending, as well. Thanks to tinuvielberen for THAT little plotbunny ;)
Anyhoo, I hope you all enjoyed reading that as much as I enjoyed writing it. And thanks to my lovely betas pmoodie (Creeping Flesh Expert) and missdiane (woman from neither fandom to check comprehensibility).