“Going to a chapel and we’re gonna get married, going to a…” rang out along the dark, empty streets shortly before midnight.
The bride-to-be and her two blushing bridesmaids were stumbling and staggering, slightly worse for wear after the justified festivities of a long-awaited Hen Party.
“So, how long ‘til you get married then Soph?” came the words from the mouth of the bride, Louise Parker, a slightly overweight but pretty 24-year-old. “Little Miss Perfectionist, you will be single forever!”She was struggling to keep her wrangled, blonde hair from falling in her eyes from under her slightly askew veil.
“I aint a perfectionist!” protested Sophie, a bubbly redhead. “I just want things done right. And perfect!”
“You can’t talk anyway, Lou; I can’t even believe you managed to get Tim to marry you in the first place! I hope he knows what he’s getting himself into!” joked the third girl, Tanya, a female who one might perhaps say was slightly jealous at her friend getting married, but who never let her envy show.
“Hey, Tim asked me to marry him, not the other way around!
“Yeah, but only after you nagged him for years!” protested Sophie, jokingly.
“That’s the best way to do…”
Louise and her slightly askew veil were interrupted by a bright light that illuminated the entire street, making that dark street in Scunthorpe look like Las Vegas. The luminous colours reflected on the faces and in the eyes of the three friends, as they looked dumbfounded at what they saw.
In front of them, where only seconds earlier seemed a blank hole, was a shop that they hadn’t noticed before. The neon lights staring down at them spelt out two simple words: Fortune Teller.
“Where did that come from?” shrieked Tanya happily. “I’ve lived here for years and never noticed it before!”
“Let’s go in, I want to have my fortune read,” proclaimed Louise, “and maybe she can see a tall dark stranger in your future Soph!”
“Ha-ha. Look, I’m not so sure. These things creep me out,” Sophie replied, a nervous and worried look on er face.
“Please? For me?” the bride-to-be asked, putting on her best puppy dog eyes and pouting.
“Yeah, come on Soph, don’t be a spoilsport,” pleaded Tanya, as she joined in and pursed her lips into what she thought was a sympathetic face but what actually looked like a strange human/fish hybrid.
“Ok,” Sophie finally conceded. “But I’m not having mine read.”
They opened the door and went it. A bell rang out a sharp, high-pitched ding as they entered, a sign that they were there.
In a dark dusty room, at the back of the shop, surrounded by voodoo dolls and crystal balls, sat the fortune teller. She blended in with her surroundings like a gothic chameleon, her dark robes falling down over almost thin, almost non-existent legs.
The strange woman had her eyes closed and her pale face was expressionless and lifeless, as she was seemingly meditating, but before the metallic clang of that tiny bell above the door had even stopped ringing, her eyes were open.
The contrast between the bright, Vegas-style lighting of the outside of the building, and the murky, dusty interior couldn’t have been greater. Gone were the reflections of the neon lights on those slightly tipsy 20-odd year-old faces and replaced by nothing.
There was no glow shining through the windows, although with the smears of dust that layered the pane that was hardly surprising. Every layer of the room, every surface and object, was covered in thick layers of grime and dirt that looked as if it hadn’t been cleaned for years, even centuries.
“Eww, this is disgusting. Come on guys, I told you stuff like this creeps me out,” protested Sophie, as she tried to back out of the door that was not even fully closed yet.
In contrast, Tanya had a look of fascination on her face as she picked up a voodoo doll, with no regard for the dust that could dirty her glad rags. Louise was equally fascinated, running her plump index fingers across crystal balls.
Sophie approached her two friends, reaching out to drag them out of the dust hole that they had entered.
“Come on, there’s not even anyone here to read your fortune. It’s probably closed, and they just forgot to turn the lights out at the front.”
She released the grip on their shoulders, turned to the door, and received the shock of her life. Standing between the three girls and the murky door, was the fortune teller who had been seemingly awoken from a deep slumber merely seconds before.
“Crikey, you made me jump!” Sophie said, holding her hand to her chest as so many people do, for some unknown reason, in times of shock.
There was no reply from the mysterious lady dressed entirely in black. She cocked her head to one side, as if she were a dog examining what was in front of her.
“Are you the one who does the fortune telling?” enquired Tanya, who had turned round at the touch of her friend.
Once again no words escaped the lips of the puzzling lady, who looked neither old nor young, instead seeming to be everything at once. She cocked her head upright and stared at Sophie. She turned her head to look at the other visitors. Suddenly, as quickly as the lights outside had come on, she spoke.
“That is correct. My name is Madame Karuk. I trust you are here for a consultation?” Her voice was calm, with not a hint of emotion, but with a slight, non-descript twang that seemed to be a universal foreign accent.
“You tell us, you’re the fortune teller,” quipped Sophie. She turned her head to her friend. “Oi, Louise, Mystic Meg’s here!”
There was no reply. Louise stood where she was, with her finger on a crystal ball, staring into the heart of the glass. Tanya dropped the doll she was holding and moved to her friend, tapping her on the shoulder. At the touch of the fingers, Louise snapped out of the trance-like state, and smiled.
“What? Oh sorry, I’m here. Sorry, I was in a world of my own.”
Tanya stared into the ball that her friend had been touching. There was nothing there.
“Which one of you ladies is first then?” enquired the mystic.
“Only Louise there,” replied Sophie before anyone else could say anything. “She’s getting married and wants to know what the future holds.”
“Then walk with me,” insisted the dark lady, approaching Louise. “And seeing as how you seemed to be taken with this particular crystal ball, we shall use that one for the reading. However, I must insist that you two ladies wait outside the building. It has been known that people here have interfered with the psychic energy inside the building.”
“You are joking, right?” questioned Sophie, a look of cynicism on her face.
“No, it is no joke. Now please, I shall start only when you are out.”
Muttering under her breath, Sophie moved towards the door. She couldn’t lie; it was a relief to be out of there, she thought, but being made to leave irritated her. Tanya was more understandable. Fortune telling and horoscopes were something that had fascinated her for years. She was thinking ‘how had she never noticed this place? She would have come here every week.’
Madame Karuk seemed to glide across the floor as Louise followed her towards the back of the shop and into the consultation room, but the eyes of the bride-to-be never left the crystal ball that the medium was carrying. As she stepped over the threshold, there was only one thought in her mind: The ball.
Basking in the neon glow of the street, Sophie was continuing to mutter her discontent at being made to leave.
“You can’t actually believe that stuff really Tanya? It’s all a load of old nonsense,” she mumbled.
“No it’s not!” protested her friend. “It’s a serious art. Like with the tarot cards. You have to know how to interpret them in the right way. Like with the death card. It doesn’t mean death at all; it means change.”
“It means a load of rubbish. Still, it’s not going to take long is it?”
“Who knows? It’s not something you can rush,” was the reply.
In the previously dark, dusty back room that only a few moments ago Madame Karuk was meditating in, an electric chandelier lit up the entire area. Not a single spot of dust lined a surface. The walls were of a shiny, silver metal. A holder for a crystal ball sat in the middle of an immaculately polished glass table, around which stood two ornate looking chairs.
On the back wall immediately behind one chair was a large oil painting. Now, if Louise hadn’t been so fixated with the crystal ball that the gypsy woman was now placing in the holder on the glass table, she might have found the content of that painting slightly unusual to see in the context of a fortune teller’s consultation room.
At first. she would have seen a strange looking robot, covered with round balls and with two lights on top of it’s domed top. And if she had carried on looking, she would have seen a strange looking creature covered in suckers as the content slowly changed. The painting was changing its picture like a screensaver on a computer, but of course Louise couldn’t know this. There was just one thought, one instinct in her head, and that was of this sphere that was now in the middle of the table. She had already sat down without knowing it, with Madame Karuk sat underneath the ever-changing portraits
“Do you hear me?” spoke the strange old\young woman. Louise nodded without saying anything, eyes fixated on the orb in front of her. From the other side, the woman’s eyes were focused intently on the glass in front of her.
“I want you to clear your head. Try not to think of anything, and concentrate on the ball, just as you are doing now. Understand?”
The young lady nodded once more.
“I can see a huge change coming in your life. Something that will change who you are forever! And it is coming very soon…”
As the fortune teller whispered this, the bulbs in the chandelier started to fade and brighten, and the crystal ball on the table began to glow. A dull radiance to start with, getting brighter with every passing second, until it was projecting a huge white light throughout the room.
Suddenly, Louise snapped out of the trance that she had unwittingly found herself in and started to scream, but it was to late. The sphere was sucking her in. She panicked and tried to move, but it was no use; she was getting closer and closer to the glass orb that still stood in the middle of the table. Slowly her flailing hands touched the glass and disappeared inside.
The neon lights outside had started to buzz and flash, as if they were auditioning for a role in a film noir. Louise’s screams became louder and as soon as Sophie and Tanya heard, they looked at each other and ran to the door. It was somehow locked, but neither girl had seen anyone lock it in the short time they had been outside.
“Louise!” the two of them screamed in unison.
“Why is the door locked? Louise!”
The flashing of the lights accelerated, giving a neon strobe lighting effect that neither girl were taking any particular attention to, getting faster and faster until…
The two words on the sign went dark. The entire street was once again covered in a blanket of darkness.
Just before midnight, on that dark, abandoned street where no creature stirred, there was nothing. The bridesmaids looked at each other, a confused look in the eyes of each of them.
“What are we doing here? Where’s Louise?” asked Tanya with a look of perplexity covering her face.
“She’s probably just got left behind, being sick in an alley somewhere or something. Come on, we’ll go and find her.”
They stumbled and staggered away singing, with no recollection and no notice of what they were doing.
The chandelier was shining bright once more, and the ball that had been on the table was now in the hands of Madame Karuk, who had a smile that could have filled the room.
“Just two to go,” she whispered to herself, looking into the ball.
Looking out of the ball, with a face of pain and horror and a wedding that she would never attend, was Louise Parker.
The Time Rotor wheezed and groaned as the Doctor ran wildly around the TARDIS console, flicking switches and pressing buttons seemingly at random as the Ponds looked on. He tapped at an old-fashioned typewriter, turned the tap heads and looked in the viewfinder. Satisfied with what he was seeing, straightened his maroon bowtie in the reflection of the screen and gave a smile to himself.
“Where are we off to this time Doctor?” inquired Amy, her long red hair hanging over a red plaid shirt as she sat back in a soft, cream chair with her legs resting on the console of the TARDIS.
“I’ve always wondered about the JFK thing, you know, the assassination. Can we go there?” Rory asked as he tried to avoid getting in the way of the Doctor’s manic run.
The Doctor said nothing but gave a look that Amy and Rory had seen before.
“You were there?” asked Amy.
“Of course I was there. But before you ask, it had nothing to do with me. I was just a patsy. No, this time we have got something much better. You want something exciting Rory? Outside that door is gonna be so breath-taking it will change your life!”
Rory and Amy flashed each other a smile as the central column ceased to move. They both rushed towards the door, and as they pulled it open with huge grins on their faces and…
They stopped dead in their tracks.
The first thing they saw was a huge chimney, blowing out black smoke into a rainy sky. The Doctor pushed past them, adjusting his bow tie as he went. Feeling a sense of dissatisfaction, Amy rushed to follow him.
“This doesn’t look very exciting to me Doctor,” she claimed disappointedly.
“It’s very exciting! Look, you have chimneys. It’s raining. I love rain!”
His childlike enthusiasm wasn’t having its desired effect on the couple.
“Ok, I’ll tell you where we are. You ready? Rory, drum roll please.”
Having already had his excitement dashed once, Rory Pond simply crossed his arms in an act of rejection.
“We are in, wait for it, we are in….Scunthorpe!”
The silence that fell was almost deafening, until Amy asked what she considered to be a fair question.
“Scunthorpe? You promise excitement and take us to Scunthorpe?” “You said it would change our lives!”
“It’s a nice place! Lovely Scunny! And it rhymes with stuff! Funny Scunny, Sunny Scunny! Not today obviously, but sometimes! Well, once, but it was a good once!”
“Ok,” said Amy, running her hand through her damp hair. “Is there at least a reason to be here?”
“Amy, there’s always a reason to be everywhere!” came the reply. “The TARDIS traced psychic radiation to this area.”
“Yep. It’s like normal radiation but psy…”
He was cut off mid-sentence by a disgruntled looking Rory.
“Psychic. Yes, we get it. But what does it mean?”
At first too excited running around with his sonic screwdriver in the air, the Doctor seemed to ignore the question, much to the disappointment of his companions.
“Has he had too much sugar today?” Rory questioned Amy sarcastically, his voice barely louder than a whisper.
Before she had a chance to answer, the Doctor gave his reply.
“I don’t know what it means. I love surprises! But for now, the radiation is too weak, which means we will just have to wait.”
“For it to become stronger again.”
“And what’s causing it?” enquired Amy. The smile on the Doctor’s face faded, replaced by a concerned grin as he a placed the sonic screwdriver into his coat’s inner pocket.
“I don’t know, and I hate nor knowing. That’s the worst thing about surprises. Why did I say I love surprises? I don’t like surprises. Ponds remember; Never surprise me!”
As the TARDIS materialised within the grounds of a nearby factory, Madame Karuk was sitting lifeless within the same darkened room.
She seemed once more to be in a state of meditation but suddenly her eyes flicked open, but this time no bell had rang on the front door. There had been silence. It was what she had seen with her eyes closed that jolted her to life. A worried look had come across her face as she thought about what she had seen. She wasn’t sure what it meant.
She’d had a vision, or several visions to be more accurate. An older man playing a recorder. A different man wearing a brightly coloured coat. A younger man but dressed in Edwardian outfit. She wasn’t entirely sure what it meant, but she had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be good. She clapped her hands twice and the chandelier brightened the room, once more exposing the spotless surfaces. She stood and went to the painting, this time showing a creature in blue armour with a small domed head that rather seemed to look like a potato. She pulled the painting away from the metal wall to reveal a safe behind. She typed a code into the keypad on the door, moved towards a microphone built into the top corner of the panel.
The safe clicked open to reveal six crystal balls lined in a row. There were two spaces unoccupied.
As the rain continued to fall, the trio of travellers were walking down a deserted street. The Doctor couldn’t help noticing a lot of posters for missing people attached to lampposts and walls, something that neither of his friends had noticed. He took one and looked at it carefully. Seemingly satisfied, he took another and examined it. He repeated this four times, oblivious to Amy and Rory who had continued to walk.
“Have you seen these? Six people, all gone missing in the last nine days. Says here this one even disappeared just before her wedding.”
The Ponds had stopped and turned towards the Doctor.
“Could that be related to your radiation?” asked Amy.
“It’s don’t know, it’s possible. But unless the signal gets stronger, I have no way of knowing. Anyway, while we are still waiting, anyone fancy some food. I’m starving. What shall we have? Look, there’s a sushi bar! I love sushi! Well, I should do, I invented it!”
“You really think that now’s the time to eat?”
“Of course! You can’t work on an empty stomach Pond! Now come on, allons-y!” There was a brief silence until the Doctor carried on. “Oh, I haven’t said that for a while.”
The Doctor, Amy and Rory were sitting next to a conveyor belt, plates piling up on the table, with most of them on the side of the man with the bow tie. Sitting next to them were an American couple, both overweight and dressed in cowboy clothing.
“So, there’s something out there giving out some kind of psychic radiation. It could be related to six missing people. You don’t know what it is…and you’re just eating sushi?” frowned Amy.
“Correct. Here, get this one coming along here… oh someone already got it. That’s right, but it’s not just a bit of radiation, it’s a lot. And a lot of radiation is never good, regardless of the type. Oooh, here comes another one…oh someone got it again. Right, watch this.”
He took his sonic out of his coat and pressed the button. As it hummed, the conveyor belt carrying the food sped up and no one could collect anything. As the Doctor pressed the button again it went back to normal and he collected a plate.
“My favourite this one!” he said with a mischievous wink.
As he ate, the American couple who had been viewing him with amazement stood up to leave and walked past the table.
“Howdy partner! I tell ya there pilgrim, I sure love your little gadget there! That was quite a trick!” came a voice from the fat man with a cowboy hat on his head and a sweaty red face.
As the Doctor looked up, a smile broke out over his face. “Well, I don’t like to brag but it was pretty good. But I tell you what’s better! Your hat! Stetsons are cool!”
“Thanks partner. So where can you get them from? China? Hong Kong?”
Before he could answer, the Doctor was interrupted by the American woman, her face as equally red as her husband.
“Randall, leave the poor man alone. I’m terribly sorry about this,” she said, turning to the Doctor and bobbing a curtsy. “Randall, let’s go!”
Before the Doctor could answer she stormed off, leaving poor Randall standing there, red and sweaty.
“Coming dear,” he said, giving the Doctor an exasperated look.
“You can only get them from Gallifrey I’m afraid,” he informed Randall with a wink.
“Gallifrey huh? Didn’t know the Irish had technology like that. Who would have thought it?” Ok, well I better get going. Nice talking to ya partner.”
He turned to leave with a tip of his hat and went to his wife.
“What a lovely couple,” said the Doctor.
Outside of the restaurant, Randall caught up with his wife, Marie, and almost regretted he hadn’t. They had only walked a couple of steps when her bickering began.
“Why do you have to talk to everyone you meet? You know I find that so embarrassing!”
“You don’t have to make such a fuss. I was only asking him about that magic wand of his. And at least he was a friendly person. We haven’t met many of those since we been here now, have we?” Randall argued. “Now, where do you want to go? You’ve been pretty miserable since the day we got here.”
It was true, Marie thought. She’d had a bad feeling about the trip even before they had taken off from Dallas.
“It’s because of what Miss Lizzy told me ‘bout ‘fore we left, when she did the cards.”
“I told you not to believe in that stuff. It’s just superstitious nonsense Marie. Remember when she warned you against cutting your hair because the cards said so?”
A look of offence came across the face of his wife, although at that point she had to agree; That was silly. The look, it seemed wasn’t lost on Randall, who immediately began to feel guilty.
“But if you really want to, I reckon I know what to do to cheer you up now Marie. You see over there? I see a sign over there saying ‘fortune teller’, so why don’t we go in and see what they have to say about it?”
Marie smiled at this suggestion, although she didn’t think it would help. She knew she wasn’t a superstitious person, and that her sporadic visits to Miss Lizzy were mainly to hear the latest gossip, but something was weird this time. It was something…different, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Still though, maybe some calming news would help settle her down, even if only for a few hours. They had spent a lot of money on their trip around Europe, and she thought if she could just get have at least a good few hours on their penultimate day then it wouldn’t have all been money wasted. They walked through the front door, ringing a small bell that was hanging above the door as they did so.
“So what did happen to JFK Doctor? You can’t say you were there and not tell us,” argued Rory on the basis that if you could see the whole of time and space, you might as well share some information on it, but before he could finish his argument the sonic screwdriver started buzzing at intervals.
All three of them looked at it.
“Doctor? What’s that?” asked Amy, worried by the Doctor’s reaction.
“That’s Ground Control to Major Tom. Let’s go.”
He jumped up from his chair, knocking countless empty plates from the stack he had been piling them up on, and made a run for the door, staring at the sonic screwdriver.
In her private chamber, Madame Karuk opened her safe behind the ever-changing painting. She placed two crystal balls in the two previously unoccupied spaces, and as she was closing the safe and replacing the painting, now showing a humanoid with lizard skin, her foot brushed again something. She looked down to see a cowboy hat lying at her feet.
The sonic screwdriver started to buzz more rapidly as the Doctor ran, and Rory and Amy were struggling to keep up.
“We’re getting closer,” he cried, until he stopped with the screwdriver now on constantly.
They were stood opposite the shop that had the bright neon Fortune Teller sign outside, although the light was out. The day was getting darker and wetter and if it had been on, the neon glow would have reflected off the little droplets of rain as they fell from the sky. As it was, the beads were clear as they fell onto the Doctor’s face and ran down his cheeks.
“What is it then Doctor? If this is where the radiation is coming from, what’s causing it?” asked Amy, confused.
“Here, opposite,” he replied.
“There is nothing here,” Rory agreed.
“Yes, there is, you are looking at it now, can’t you…” He stopped, paused and beat his forehead with a fist. “Of course! How could I have been so blind?! Watch.”
He pointed the sonic at the building and as it buzzed and hummed, the lights came on.
“Oh cool, a fortune tellers! Let’s go in Rory! See what they have to Say about us!” Amy exclaimed.
The Doctor flicked the sonic again and the lights went out.
“So where is the radiation coming from Doctor? I still don’t see anything,” queried Rory.
“You see it and then forget it when it’s not there. Please, not again!” shouted the Doctor at nobody in particular
Inside her chambers, the fortune teller was frantically punching buttons on a console inside the safe.
“This cannot be! The systems are fine, what caused that?” she worryingly said to herself.
She couldn’t believe that it could be malfunctioning now, just as she was getting ready to leave. Just a few more minutes and she would be gone, she said to herself. Nothing could stop her now, she wouldn’t let it, but she couldn’t help but think that it was related to the strange vision she had had earlier in the day. These strange looking men, she thought. Were they doing this? Were they here? It was only speculation, but she wasn’t planning on staying around to find out for sure.
In the street, the Doctor turned the lights on and off for a second time.
“There, across the street, is a building with a perception filter,” he explained. “That’s why you can’t see it. Only this is more than that. It’s also an amnesia beacon. When that building is lit up, you see it and want to go in, like moths to a light bulb. It’s an SOS to the desperate, but when those lights go out, you don’t notice it again, and you forget you’ve ever seen it.”
“But I can see it now,” Rory shouted. The rain was coming down heavier, and the wind was blowing stronger. “I can see the fortune teller sign.”
“That’s because I’ve told you it’s there. I could see it anyway; Time Lord’s practically invented the perception filter.”
“And why a fortune teller?” wondered Amy
“Desperate people are more likely to go there, try and find some solace. I know someone who got conned by one once, they can be powerful people. Imagine the power that horoscope writers and fortune tellers have, being able to affect the lives of millions, of billions, of people around the world who believe in what they write and say. But they are all just conmen.” The Doctor was struggling to make himself heard amongst the howling wind. “But why would a conman come here? It doesn’t make sense.”
“Make some money?” argued Rory.
“No conman would travel all that way just for that. Well, I know one who did but that was a lifetime ago and doesn’t matter now. Right, Amy I need you to trust me ok? Rory, you too. Amy, I need you to go in there for me ok?”
A pained expression came across the face of the pair when they heard the Doctor’s words.
“It will be fine, I promise. Amy, come here.”
She did as he asked, and the Doctor raised his fingers to her temples, rain and wind lashing her red hair around his fingers.
“I’m going to make a mental block, ok? Whatever is in there is powerful and cannot be allowed in your head, but with this it will only go as far as I say. Now, Amy, think about a door. Have you got a door?”
She nodded her head slowly.
“Good, now whatever you do Amy, close it, lock it, and do not open it!”
Madame Karuk was still tapping on her keyboard; a maniacal and desperate look had come over her face. She pushed a button, and a pulse of white light ejected in all directions from the chandelier. That should do it she thought to herself as she closed the safe once more.
Outside of the shop, the pulse of light spread from the building, knocking Rory to the floor. Amy and the Doctor stood there looking at him, the Time Lord’s fingers still on her temples.
“Whoever, or whatever, is in there has just sent out a psychic pulse. Like an EM pulse, but it knocks out people instead of electrics. That door blocked it. Now I need you to go in there. I’ll take Rory back to the TARDIS. He’ll be fine. Now in you go.”
He pressed the sonic and the lights went on. Amy went for the door.
“But should I do?” Her face was full of fear.
The Doctor, with Rory under his shoulder, stopped and turned. He had a worried look on his face and suddenly over 900 years of time were showing in the cracks on his face.
“Whatever it says.”
The fortune teller once more had a crystal ball in the centre of the table, and again she sat under the mysterious painting.
Opposite her sat a redhead whose clothes were soaking from the storm outside. The manic expression had gone from her face, and the black fabric that she wore stood in stark contrast to the metallic shine radiating from the walls and ceiling.
“I don’t know what brings you here my child, but I hope you can get the answers that you desire. All you have to do is look into the ball here, relax, and clear your mind.”
“My mind is clear.”
“Hush. Do not talk. Just relax.”
Karuk trained her eyes intently on the sphere that stood between the two of them.
“I feel a special energy around you, as if… a storm is coming but not the storm that is here… but, that cannot be! They are all dead!”
Suddenly a worried look came upon her face, as she saw something. It was the look she had worn earlier in the day, but before she could register what it was that made her feel that way, eleven faces jumped out at her, invading her mind and visions.
As she saw that final face, the projection of the Doctor lifted up his sonic screwdriver and pointed it at her. A pulse flew out and Madame Karuk was knocked off her chair and flew to the floor, laying still and unconscious.
She had no idea how long she had been out for, but as she came around and lifted her head groggily, she saw that face in front of her, but it was no vision. The figure adjusted his bowtie and strode towards her. He turned to Amy as he walked.
“Good work Pond, you did well, but you weren’t so successful were you. What did you think when you saw me hmmm? Not right? Impossible?”
Karuk suddenly looked a hundred years older as she cowered in the corner but with the Doctor standing over her.
“What happened?” asked Amy, still in shock over the invisible, violent explosion that had happened.
“You see, she’s not the only one who can use a psychic pulse. When I was in your head I tuned in to your brainwaves, and when I got to the TARDIS, I used the screwdriver to send the pulse and, boom, down she went! Pretty fantastic I know, but what I’m more interested in, is what’s this painting? And what is something like this doing here?”
The Doctor walked to the painting and saw the Stetson on the floor. He looked at Karuk and pulled the painting. It swung open and the Doctor saw the previously hidden keypad. He used the sonic but there seemed to be no change.
“What is this hat doing here and what is in here?” he demanded at the top of his voice.
Once more he attempted to use the screwdriver and once more was unsuccessful. From her position on the floor, Karuk simply laughed.
“You won’t get in there. Voice recognition and isomorphic controls! Only I can get in!”
“Oh, I hate isomorphic. What is behind that door?!” the Doctor asked, his voice becoming uncontrollable.
“What is behind there… will break your heart. Or should I say hearts? Time Lord.”
He turned to Amy and checked to make sure she was fine.
“I’m ok, but Doctor, what is that?”
At the mention of the Time Lord’s name, Karuk’s face was wiped of her smugness, and replaced with a look of pure fear.
“Doctor? You are the Doctor? So, that was the storm I saw. You are the stuff of legend. The man who wiped out his own people. The destroyer of worlds. Then I believe you have the right to see this. After all, I don’t think it could be compared with a single thing you have done.”
She stood up and walked to the safe. She tapped at the keypad, entering a code, and then repeated the password out loud.
From behind her Amy gave out a short grunt of laughter.
“That’s a pretty terrible password,” said the flame-haired Scot.
“You can understand that?” Karuck asked, a look of confusion on her face.
“Yeah well, that’s me, well, more the TARDIS, translates things,” interrupted the Doctor, “but that doesn’t matter. Now show me this.”
He pushed his way past the fortune teller to see what was behind the keypad. One look turned the Doctor’s face to sadness and then to anger.
“No, this can’t be. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
He turned to Karuk once again, face to face.
“What have you done?! Free them now!”
“What are they Doctor?” asked Amy, afraid of his reaction.
“They are like batter… well they are batteries. Human batteries. The car is broken and needs a jump start,” he explained to Amy, before turning back to Madame Karuk. “You cannot murder innocent people for transport!”
“They aren’t dead yet Doctor. Just frozen. And trapping people in crystal balls is something you have experience in, if the legends are true.”
“The Carrionites were different. They were a threat to this planet!”
The fortune teller walked to her control panel and started typing.
“Oh, but Doctor, you too have walked this world alone, and know how lonely it can be not to be able to return home. But thankfully you don’t like to travel alone, which is why, Doctor, when I press this button, I will break your hearts again.”
There was a thud on the button, and the crystal ball on the table began to glow. A stream flew from the ball and wrapped around Amy. Struggle as she might she was unable to break free from its grasp. She screamed for help and the Doctor frantically used the sonic, but to no avail.
Just as Amy dropped to the floor, Rory burst through the door.
“What have you done?! You said she would be fine!” Rory was overcome with emotion, his face twisted with anger as he saw his wife lying unconscious of the floor. The Doctor’s face became snarled with hated as he knelt next to the lifeless body. His head was bowed, but his anger towards the fortune teller that had taken the life force out of his friend was obvious.
“I thought I was wrong when I felt that energy, but I was right Doctor, wasn’t I? Time energy doesn’t just have the ability to wake the dead. It can do so much more!”
Karuk smirked as she witnessed the pain travelling through the Time Lord, enjoying every second.
“What does she mean Doctor?” Rory asked, his fists clenched.
“Rory, when you travel through the vortex, you pick up time energy, a sort of dust, and it sticks to you. And to your conscience. She’s taken all that energy away…”
“…And her soul with it.” Rory finished the Doctor’s sentence for him. “You said you would look after her, you sad she would be safe.”
“And she will be. I’ll save her, trust me.”
“Trust you? Trust you?! You said trust you before and look what has happened!”
Rory was livid. The Doctor stood, and once more moved face to face with Madame Karuk, his face so close that she could feel his breath on her face, a face that was smiling with enjoyment at every passing moment.
“Why do you need her? You have your fuel. What is it? Backup in case you run out again?”
“No, you still don’t understand Doctor,” whispered the mystic in a barely audible voice that managed to drop even quieter as she spoke. “Why have eight when you can have one?”
At this, the Doctor’s voice dropped, his shoulders dropped, an expression on his face worried Rory.
“Doctor? What is it? Save her!”
There was no time for the Doctor to answer. Karuk had already interrupted, wanting to savour the moment. This time there was no whisper in her voice. It was a sentence she wanted Rory to hear as well.
“Make your choice Doctor. The lives of eight strangers for the life of your friend. You cannot win. I shall leave this planet; it’s your choice how.”
“I’m sorry,” spoke the Doctor in a voice that only he could hear. He took his sonic screwdriver, and once more at the push of a button Karuk was sent flying, only with lesser violence this time. He ran to Amy, still lying lifeless on the floor. He lifted her eyelids, his sonic screwdriver frantically humming. He picked up the ball and started buzzing at that too.
“What are you doing? Can you save her?” Tears were welling up in Rory’s eyes. After the many times they had been taken apart it never got easy he thought.
“If can reverse the flow of the ball I should be able to take the energy out and back into Amy. Like giving it a bad belly and making it sick. I’ve got to be quick before that mad women wakes up. I sent a second psychic pulse but it wasn’t fully recharged so I don’t know how long she will be out for.”
The crystal ball in the hands of the Doctor started to glow; the white light that had earlier appeared was once more there, this time travelling in the direction of the stricken girl on the floor. It slowly travelled through her partially open lips. Her eyes opened and she gasped for air.
“Oh yes! And now for the others. The system is still open and that means I might be able to release them! Oh Rory, I love it when a plan comes together!”
The Doctor jumped across to the safe with the eight crystal orbs, and frantically waved the sonic screwdriver in front of them.
On the floor, the black creature started to stir. The grin that had briefly passed the Doctor’s ancient face was no longer there, replaced once more by grief.
“I can’t do it. Its deadlock sealed. I can’t get into the system.”
A short burst of laughter came from the fortune teller on the floor.
“I told you Doctor. I am leaving this planet. Did you really think it would be that easy? I open the system for you so you can save them? They all die Doctor, everybody, and there is nothing that you or your Time Lord technology can do about it. Be happy. At least you have saved a friend while strangers die!”
The Doctor gave the system one last attempt, but once more nothing happened. He bent down, picked up the Stetson that was lying forlornly on the ground, and headed for the door. Behind him Rory was steadying Amy; neither could believe what they were seeing.
“You can’t just leave Doctor! What about the others? What about her?”
“I can’t save them Rory. And she can go. I’m going back to the TARDIS.”
“Bye bye Doctor. Enjoy yourself. And remember: you can never win.”
He stopped at the door and turned. His face was laced with anger and hatred, sorrow and loss.
“I already have,” he snarled.
The smile on Madame Karuk’s face was replaced with a look of confusion, as the ancient traveller strolled out of the door, followed by Rory, with Amy under his arms.
The Doctor said nothing as he walked from the shop and back to his blue box and neither of the Ponds dare say anything for fear of his reaction. It was only after they had crossed the boundary marked by the badge of St John’s Ambulance that either of the married couple said anything.
“So that’s it? She walks away and you just say nothing? And do nothing?” asked Rory.
Amy was still regaining full consciousness but the disappointment on her face was evident.
Madame Karuk was once more typing on the keyboard behind the painting, only this time, instead of a small safe opening, a much larger door to the left opened and she walked through. There were thousands of buttons lining the walls, with a solitary chair to sit in. Down she sat, the queen of the crystal balls, alone with her technology. She pushed a couple of buttons, and a voice command reacted: Destination Confirmed.
“Rory, I told you; I cannot save those people. They are already gone. Trapped, being used for fuel. That monster had to make an emergency landing here with no fuel to leave, and she harvested all the energy that those people had in order to power her ship again. They were already being processed, they were already dying. And they would have felt every second of it, each individual hearing the screams of the last until she reaches her destination. They will die the most painful of deaths. She was a witch, not a fortune teller. And do you remember what they used to do with witches? Do you remember that from your history lessons? They burnt them. That control panel, it was locked; I couldn’t get past it, well not for the people inside. But the control panel for the ship’s systems, that wasn’t locked.”
The Doctor had removed his jacket and was nervously fiddling with his bowtie.
“So what did you do?” enquired Amy groggily.
The Doctor went to the TARDIS control panel and pressed a button.
Inside her ship, Madame Karuk was enjoying her freedom. I knew I would get away this time, she thought to herself, but the smile vanished from her face when the ship computer gave a voice command that she was not expecting: Destination Change. Confirm Destination. Destination Confirmed.
“I set the controls for the heart of the sun.”
Karuk’s spaceship made a sudden U-turn as it hurtled at breakneck speed towards the sun. Eight innocent souls being released from a painful death, and one death that, for the Doctor, could never be painful enough.
Amy and Rory walked away, leaving the Doctor alone at the console. He stood staring into the thin air as the TARDIS wheezed and groaned, and the Time Rotor began to rise and fall. A tear ran down his cheek.
“Everybody dies,” he whispered to himself.