Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sudden Short Story 27

Dials and switches covered the controls.  Gauges gave readings that had meaning only to the being that operated them.  The patient, strapped to a flat, metallic surface, summoned the strength to ask, "You're going to kill me, aren't you?"
"I assure you that whatever legends you've heard about me have probably been quite twisted by time," came the reply, "I help people, and humans especially."
"Is that why you refer to yourself as a healer?  Do you honestly believe any of that?"
He turned a knob and attached a canister of fluid to a port as he replied, "I know that you're upset now, but you'll see.  You're the last one, you know.  In just a few moments, there will no longer be any humans with any sort of prejudice at all."
"Well, doesn't that sound just lovely?" asked the patient, sarcasm not the only thing dripping from him in this makeshift medical laboratory.  "When you put it like that, it sounds like you're not killing me at all, and certainly not leaving my body to some shell of a man who happens to share the same memories."
The Doctor smirked at this, and approached.  "You make it sound as if I don't know anything about bodies and memories.  I'll have you know that this--"
"Twenty-seventh," replied the patient, silencing his would-be executioner.  "You were going to say that this is your twenty-seventh incarnation, weren't you, Doctor?"
His face blanched at the interruption, and a moderate frown crept across his face.  "Well, you seem to know more about me than you let on.  You've even kept count.  And how did you manage that?"
A smug grin snuck its way onto the patient's face, but was quickly squelched.  "Surely a man of your experience knows that there's more than one way to travel through time.  Let's just say that we got here the old-fashioned way."
"'We'?  Who exactly is 'we'?"
"Never mind, Herr Monster.  The point is that I've served as more than adequate bait for you," and with that, the patient slipped out of consciousness.
"Hey.  HEY!"  The Doctor went back to the console, adjusted some knobs to reduce the sedative effect, and returned.  "What did you mean by all that?!"
"Ah," said the patient, sluggishly, "Anger.  How characteristic that is of your fifth, tenth, seventeenth, eighteenth,...."  He passed out again, the mad scientist grabbing his most important tool and running off.  He returned promptly, even angrier than before.  "The TARDIS, where is it?!"
"Should I tell you?  You'll find out eventually, but will you be able to do anything about it if you find out too soon?"
"Don't you dare think that you can out-clever me, I'm the cleverest one of all!"  He began a casual pace.  "You said that you were the perfect bait, so this must be part of some elaborate trap.  Well, never mind that.  Nobody can keep me from the TARDIS for long, for I have a TARDIS key!"  He produced the key from a pocket, holding it tightly in his grip.  He stick it horizontally in the air, waited a moment, and then withdrew it, puzzled.
"It's a good thing for you that you came back in as quickly as you did.  You forgot to count the stars, but I can count them from here.  Herr Monster, would you like to know why I was on an abandoned planet when you found me, or have you figured it out by now?"
"There aren't any stars, are there?  You've somehow sent us to an empty universe.  But, if that's so, then you'll die, too, freezing to death with me.  But, why?  For the lives of us both, why?"
"You know, I'd like to explain about how it all started when you started systematically 'correcting' people for what you saw as their flaws - around thirteen or so - but really, we had to be sure, you know?  So, that rumbling sound just now will be Osterhagen system."

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