Changing Me

DOCTOR WHO.

Rating may be at a precautionary high, but better safe than sorry.

"Doesn't it get lonely?" He paused for a moment, fingers ghosting over the controls. "From time to time," he replied evenly, his tone barely changing. My frown cleared as I joined him near the controls, leaning backwards against the cool metal console. He glanced over, blue eyes unreadable. "It always seems so much better through someone else's eyes." Eventual Doctor/OC.

Story is complete, and part of a never-ending series.

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12. Skith

Twelve: Skith

I came to back in the cage. Louie was against the bars and calling out to me softly; I noticed with a smile that the Skith had given us both a blanket each. Apparently, my co-operation had given us brownie points. I wondered why they hadn’t tried to do the same with Louie?

“Are you okay?” she was asking, and I sat up gingerly, my head spinning and my eyes slightly unfocussed. Something cold pressed against my chest and I felt the fob watch; why was it cold? It was never, ever cold! “Hey! You look like you’re gonna faint again- hey! Are you alright? Kia?”

I looked at Louie, biting my lip and cuddling the watch close to me, hoping to warm it up again. Something wasn’t right, that was for sure, and it scared me that the watch was suddenly different. Oh, where the hell was the Doctor? “What-“ I croaked, stopping and clearing my throat. It could’ve been hours since I blacked, I realised. They could’ve taken information from me while I was unconscious. The thought made me shudder and nearly burst into tears, but I forced the lump in my throat back down. “What happened?” It occurred to me that I hadn’t answered her question, but I didn’t have the energy to correct myself.

Louie seemed relieved that I was finally talking. She slumped against the bars, huddled in her blanket, and stared at me with wide eyes. “They took you, and I heard you screaming. You were only gone a few minutes, then they brought you back- you’ve been out for so long, I thought they’d killed you... but you’re alright?”

“In a manner of speaking,” I muttered, blinking several times to try and clear my vision. “They didn’t hurt me, Louie,” I added, at my fellow captive’s panicked look. I almost wanted the Skith to come back, because I had questions. Foreign images whirled around in my mind and I struggled to sort my own thoughts out from the things that had been planted by the Skith; the images of a war, of a planet being torn to shreds, of a single ship with six beings hurtling through time and space to land on Earth, having to hide when the sun came out...

“What happened to you?” Louie asked, her voice quiet and fearful. I struggled to raise my head, feeling so top-heavy with the longing to sleep. Or run, I don’t know which I wanted more, but I knew this feeling of exhaustion and exhilaration rolled into one was doing my head in with confusion.

“The Skith,” I said, nodding to the doors of the cage so she’d get that I was introducing our captors. “Are trapped. They’re space-explorers, gatherers of information and anachronistic beings. They found me and you because we’re clearly out of time, and they want information on how we did it, because they’re sick of Earth and want out.”

“But I don’t-“

“You’re easy; naturally occurring wormhole, a fissure in time and space drifting about that you just happened to walk into. Wrong place, wrong time. They haven’t taken you because of two possible reasons- one, you don’t know, or you’re not psychically compatible. On the other hand, I do know how I got here, and apparently am,” I interrupted casually, the words rolling off my tongue as easy as my own name. How I knew about wormholes and time-cracks escaped me at that point in time, as I crinkled my nose as a horrid smell halfway between rotting meat and petrol fumes drifted into the room. “Oh, ick. What are they doing now?” I muttered.

“Probably some kind of space probe to rip out our brains,” Louie muttered morbidly. I cast a faintly irritated look at her and shook my head.

“They’re telepathic,” I replied, as if that ought to explain everything. To me, everything was plain as day- if the Skith wanted information, they’d take it with nothing but their minds. They didn’t need to build probes or machines, they could simply take what they wanted. Or could they? Perhaps the reason why Louie hadn’t been shown was because she couldn’t be? But then, what made me so special? “Oi!” I shouted, rattling the doors of the cage as Louie moaned with fear behind me. At first, I’d felt nothing but sorry for her; now, I wished she’d toughen up a bit. That might have had something to do with the fact that I had just a smidge more experience in dealing with life-or-death than she had, or maybe because I could hear a faint singing in the back of my mind that had been there since the Skith touched my head. The song was beautiful, comforting me and making sure I knew that whatever the Skith were, they were not a threat to me.

Right on time, the head ice-man appeared and the door to the cage was opened. I took my cue and stood up, waiting for them to release Louie too. She might be irritating me, but I wouldn’t leave her behind. She rushed to me and hugged my arm, practically walking on my heels as the Skith lead us closer to the source of the smell.

“So,” I began cheerfully, as if I was confronted with aliens every day and this was a casual chat with old mates over a cup of tea, “Do you have individual names, or are you just the Skith?”

Our names are incomprehensible to human ears.

Their voice was inside my head and he wasn’t even touching me. That was new... and a little exciting. I was almost certain that they didn’t want to hurt me or Louie, and to be honest they were kind of pretty, like diamonds in human form. And that singing in the back of my mind was making me feel quite dizzy, like some sort of sugar-rush. I was buzzed and I liked it.

“Aw, well, can I name you?” the question blurted out before I could stop myself, but the Skith just looked amused. As much as ice can look amused, which to be honest, isn’t much. Yet somehow, I could read the mirth on their identical faces.

“Are you insane?” Louie hissed, glaring at me now as I tried to make friends with the Skith. The fact that they’d kidnapped me and held me captive was almost forgotten now, as the leader turned around and gave me what I could only call a smile. I grinned right back, almost drunk off the sensation spinning through my head now. My body was tingling and I felt like I could run a marathon or two, just off this vivacious energy flowing through me.

 “Maybe,” I said to Louie, sobering for a second to consider the possibility before grinning broadly and clapping my hands, skipping forward a little to walk beside the lead ice-man. “Make that probably. Wait, definitely!”

We continued through a brightly lit corridor, and as we emerged into a wide open room with the ship from my memories inside, broken and smoking and emitting that god-awful smell, I realised that I wasn’t cold anymore.

A second later, I realised I ought to be freezing. My fingers had little icicles forming and my breath was released in puffs of steam; but I was perfectly warm. Louie was shuddering violently and had her eyes closed, her lips turning slightly blue. She should’ve brought her blanket, even if it wasn’t particularly cold anymore. And the singing in my head was louder now, my drunken energy pulling my mind into the most wonderful of dances.

My body followed suit and soon I was spinning around the room, arms outstretched and hugging every Skith I passed. They didn’t seem to mind my actions, one or two even hugging me back, until I returned to the leader and gave him the lowest bow I possibly could. Something in the back of my mind screamed at me for doing so but I ignored that faint whisper, and the throbbing of the fob watch on my chest. Everything could wait, because I felt too damned good to let anything spoil this mood.

“Right, you needed information? Go ahead,” I smiled, my arms out wide and my eyes closing as I waited. “Take it, it’s yours. Anything you want, just take it.” I watched the shadows behind my eyelids as the Skith raised their hands to touch my forehead, and withdraw anything they needed from my mind. I longed for their touch again and wished they’d hurry up so I could hear that song, that beautiful melody that was enchanting my mind and soul. I wanted that feeling of being so loved, so warm, that nothing could penetrate the safety of my bubble.

My mind felt empty without the contact of theirs, and so naturally I wanted more of that feeling of companionship. And I wanted more of that song. And of the endorphins. And of the giddiness that had me swaying in time to an inaudible beat. I wanted to see the Skith homeworld and all the things they’d done, all the places they’d seen. I wanted to know how to repair a slip-stream engine and anything else they could teach me in a few seconds of a symbiotic information transfer. In return, I’d give them all they wanted to know...

Just as the tip of an icy finger brushed my temple, a voice rang loud and clear through the room. “Kia!” The hand was yanked away and I opened my eyes to smile at the Doctor in the doorway. I didn’t register the panicked look he shot me, nor Louie quietly asking if I was completely mad. I held up a hand before turning back to the Skith leader, my bare hand reaching out to grab his. I entwined our fingers and, hooked and drunk off the telepathic contact, brought it back to my head. I wanted it, needed it, craved it- “Kia, drop it!” there was a high-pitched buzzing from the sonic screwdriver and something on the ship exploded in sparks.

The Skith began hissing and I felt a blinding flash of agony stab behind my eyes as I flung them open to see the Doctor running towards me. I stumbled until my back hit the wall and I slid down it with a moan of pain, the light making my head ache and my entire body feeling weak and numb and empty. I couldn’t hear the singing and I was suddenly so extremely cold. Sleep would come very easily to me now...

“No! Kia, you stay awake, hear me? You, what’s your name?” The Doctor’s demanding voice brought me back, if only a little. He was touching my face- how nice- and rubbing my arms, trying to warm me up. I wanted his jacket, because I remembered he smelled good and I liked leather jackets and a jacket would be warm- as if he read my thoughts, the Doctor placed his jacket around my shoulders, a little extra lining between my bare skin and the walls as cold as ice.

“Louie.”

“Louie, interesting... You keep her awake, don’t let her fall asleep, will you? I don’t care what it takes, just keep her awake!”

I could hear the words but nothing sank in. I was drifting on a cloud of nausea and exhaustion, numb and electrified all at once. A million thoughts and sounds and sights were rushing through my head and I tried to stem the flow, only to feel my mind barrel over the barriers and the floodgates snapped. My eyes rolled in my head as I fought to hear what someone was shouting, fought to hear over the rushing of blood in my ears.

Something was moving against my chest... the watch.

It was warm again, probably the only point of warmth I could feel despite Louie sitting right beside me. She was talking to me, narrating what was going on- I was slumped against her shoulder, unable to move and unable to see. Someone was holding my hand and I wanted to know who it was- because they were so warm, and I was so cold...

And there was a voice in my ear, one I’d been longing to hear again since I was eleven years old. It broke my heart and saved me, all at the same time.

You are strong, Kiarna. It’s okay to fall asleep. I’m here, sweetheart, I’m here.

My eyes stung as I desperately clung to that voice. “Mum...”

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