(This novel is based on a story by Tom Baker and Ian Marter.)
John Ferguson hadn’t moved in hours. He sat almost frozen in terror in his rocking chair, holding his rifle up, waiting for one of those abominations to strike at either the windows or the doors.
He couldn’t figure out why they hadn’t made a move? There were hundreds of them in the woods. They literally sprang out of nowhere, like Demons from hell, though they looked more like Scarecrows. Scarecrows with flaming red eyes and clawed hands! John had only barely been able to get away from the monsters on his tractor when they first attacked. He had been forced to leave a young family he had spotted on the other end of the fields, cornered by those awful things against a tree. They had even called to him for help, but he had no choice but to leave. There was nothing he could have done, but the image of the helpless family pleading with him would stay with John for the rest of his life, however long that would be.
John had also been forced to abandon his tractor in the struggle. When he tried to drive it through a field, the monsters swarmed his vehicle from all sides, stopped it in its tracks, and turned it over. John was able to crawl out unseen and get a good head start on the creatures into the woods however. Once John made it back to his farm, he noticed the creatures were no longer following him. In fact they were nowhere in sight.
The only village on the island was three miles away and he would have to go through more woods along the way. Ferguson felt it would be better to hold up in his house for the time being until the authorities could deal with this crisis.
Now however several hours had passed and there was no change. Had those things been dealt with? Had they overrun the island? Had they just forgotten about him? There were too many what ifs and eventually it got to the point where John couldn’t take it anymore and he peeked outside.
It was completely pitch black outside, but even with that John was still sure there was no one there. For just a second however he thought he could see his own scarecrow standing in the middle of the field move, and he even shot at it.
“I must be going crazy” he thought. “Scarecrows don’t move. Something made of straw couldn’t lift up a tractor!” This must be some kind of ridiculous prank. The young punks from the village playing a joke on us country folk? I don’t believe in magic”. He tried to reassure himself
Suddenly however Ferguson heard a scream from his cellar, enough to make him jump and drop his rifle. He thought about making a run for it, but where would he go?
Holding his rifle firmly in his hands, John Ferguson ventured into his cellar, more terrified than he had ever been in his life.
John crept down the stairs, pointing his gun ahead at all times. The cellar was pitch black and he could barely make out anything ahead. As he searched around, John suddenly felt something grab him by the leg for a moment before he pulled free. He turned around only to see nothing, though he could hear a hideous, high pitched scream echoing through the darkness. Suddenly John heard the door to cellar slam shut, and he ran back to the stairs, only to see two piercing red flaming eyes at the top of the staircase.
John lifted his rifle. “Stay back, I, I, I mean it. I don’t want to hurt you, but”. The figure didn’t respond, and instead slowly moved down the stair case.
As it got closer John could see that it resembled a Scarecrow, just like the creatures in the woods. Its face was a bag, with red firey eyes with no pupil in the sockets. Its mouth was also twisted into a hideous, rictious grin, whilst its fingers ended in razor sharp, metal claws stained in blood.
Ferguson pointed his rifle right into the beasts chest, but it didn’t back down. With no choice, Ferguson fired at the Scarecrow three times, but the creature wasn’t even phased. It simply grabbed Ferguson’s rifle and snapped it in half.
The monster then dug its claws into Ferguson’s stomach. He screamed in agony and was brought to his knees as the monster twisted its hands deep into his guts. He tried to fight back, but it was no use. The creature was a lot stronger than its withered frame would suggest.
After digging in deep the monster pulled hard tearing out Ferguson’s insides. Ferguson collapsed onto the floor, with the few organs left inside his stomach, dropping out. Everything faded to black, with the last sight the farmer saw being the Scarecrow wrapping John’s intestines around its neck like a scarf whilst smiling and blowing a kiss at him!
Just a few seconds later Ferguson started to wake up. He wasn’t in his dark, dank cellar however. The place he awoke in was unlike anywhere he had ever been before in his life. The ground was burning hot, the sky was nothing but fire, and the entire landscape around him was completely red, the massive rocks, even the sand. The huge, seemingly never ending lake just behind John however was bright purple. All around were the deafening and pitiful screams of damned souls.
“Where am I, how did I. What is this place!” John shouted in panic. Deep down, however he knew where he really was. A place that had terrified him for his entire life, but that he never actually believed in until now.
“No, no, no it can’t be. I’m not dead, I’m, I’m a good man. I’ve never done anyone any harm, why am I here!”
Suddenly several hideous creatures began to emerge from behind the rocks in response to John’s anguished cries. They were all roughly six feet tall, with black skin, 6 limbs, 2 arms and 4 legs, as well as two heads. They all had long sprawling tails, each of which ended in spikes, whilst their heads all had two spikes at the back. Their faces were long and ended with mouths filled with sharp teeth and three, piercing blue eyes, each with a long thin, green pupil.
The monsters scuttled towards John pushing him back to the very end of the lake. There was nothing John could do to defend himself against the creatures, yet he didn’t fancy his chances in the lake. The farmer tried to run through the Demons, but one of them batted John backwards with its tail, sending him head first into the lake.
The water burned John’s skin. The pain was absolutely overwhelming, and he struggled and struggled to swim back to the shore. The monsters meanwhile were laughing at John’s pain and taunting him. Still Ferguson was determined not to give up. He fought through the pain and paddled harder to the shore, but just as was within a few feet of it, a woman, with a burned, mutilated face emerged from the water in front of John and tried to shove him under. John fought back, but more figures emerged from the waves and started to push him down too. After a few minutes of struggling, they eventually dragged the hapless farmer beneath the surface of the burning lake.
“Ah Elena my dear, have you seen Yarox?” The Doctor said as he walked out of the Library.
“He’s down in the garden again as always.”
“Well in all fairness to him, he’s never seen an actual sky before. He’s never seen a landscape or trees or anything but cold, empty corridors and rooms.”
“I’m amazed it’s taken this long? We must have been travelling for a month.”
“What do you expect? We were at the very end of the universe itself. Besides I told you the TARDIS journey’s are completely random. Still we’ve landed now, can you please tell Yarox while I check and see where. I hope its somewhere nice. You never forget your first alien planet.”
Yarox how come from trillions of years in the future, in a time when most of the stars and planets had gone. His people were the final descendants of the human race and various other species throughout history. The indomitable will of humanity had helped them endure through countless wars, alien invasions and even home planets and galaxies burning out. By the time of Yarox’s people, humanity and the other species who had cluttered together and interbred into one new race, had finally begun to wonder why they had bothered for trillions of years.
They had struggled and struggled through so much, and what for? To live in a cold, desolate spaceship, still struggling to survive every day, with no future in sight, except to sit and wait for the last sun to burn out?
Yarox joined the Doctor more to escape his awful existence back home than anything else. He was still quite fond of the old man and especially of his companion Elena in particular, who was unlike anyone he had ever seen. In Yarox’s time humanity were a clone race, and there was very little distinction between most people, as they were all created from the same few batches of humans. Most individuality was erased both physically and mentally in the cloning process. It was an attempt to ensure that there would be no infighting during such desperate times. No prejudices, no individual desires, or goals that weren’t for the good of the species were allowed to emerge among Yarox’s people.
Yarox looked exactly the same as his other 10 thousand brothers. Elena who had a single gigantic eye at the centre of her head, and long flowing, orange hair meanwhile, looked like a monster to Yarox’s people when she and the Doctor first visited their vessel (and saved them from the last of the Daleks.) The Doctor who always dressed in the most emaculate, sharp penguin suits was also somewhat striking to Yarox’s people too.
From the start however, Yarox could see that the Doctor and Elena though different, were good people. Granted that was only because they had saved him from a cull. In the far future due to the finite resources, there were regular culls of people. The culls grew larger every year due to the resources depleting.
After joining the TARDIS, Yarox had used the Doctors projector to create images of the skys of all of the worlds his people’s ancestors were said to come from. He’d spend entire hours just staring at the beautiful alien sky’s and imagining what it must be like to set foot on an actual planet.
“Yarox” Elena shouted.
“I’m here, have we landed!” He replied excitedly.
“Yes finally. Who would have thought it’d take so long to journey to the end of time and back” She joked.
“Come on, the Doctor thinks we might have landed on earth.”
“Is it during your time?”
Elena had come from the 31st century, long regarded as one of the greatest periods in human development. She’d told Yarox all about her upbringing and it had utterly fascinated him. Even the more ordinary mundane details such as the fact that she could choose when she wanted to eat, and had parents who genuinely cared for her, fascinated Yarox. He wanted to visit her time more than any other.
“Sorry I’m afraid he thinks we’ve landed during the early 20th century. Its a, eh interesting period in human history to say the least.”
The Doctor waited patiently by the console. According to its readings, they had landed on a small island just off the coast of Scotland. “It will be nice to get some fresh air.” The Doctor said to himself. “I don’t know how he coped all that time cooped up in that dreary ship. I wouldn’t have minded if it had been cosy like you old girl.” The Time Lord said with pride as he tapped the TARDIS console.
“Ah Yarox nice to see you again, I was starting to wonder if I’d just dreamed you travelling with us?”
“I’m sorry Doctor I just had to see all of those different landscapes. They were so beautiful.”
“Yes well now you’ll finally get to see the planet at least some of your ancestors came from for real.” The Time Lord said with a massive smile on his face, barely able to contain his glee. He always enjoyed his companions first trip to an alien world the most.
Outside the TARDIS was a fairly dull landscape. Nothing but a field with a scarecrow stuck straight in the middle. At the end of the field there was a massive forest.
The sky was grey and cloudy and there was also fierce wind in the air. Still to Yarox it seemed like the garden of Eden. He got on his knees and touched the grass for a few minutes.
“I knew you’d like earth. Come on lets see if we can find a better spot” The Doctor said as he headed towards the forest.
Yarox was a little confused by the Scarecrow. It didn’t look like a real person, but then again neither did Elena. When they reached the edge of the forest Yarox asked the Doctor about the strange figure in the middle of the field.
“That, that man back there, he looks like he’s tied up, should we not help him.”
The Doctor laughed. “Don’t worry he’s not real. Just a bag of straw to scare off some primitive animals. Nothing more.”
“But I saw him move!”
“What?” The Doctor said, preparing to believe it, considering the type of things he’d seen. The Doctor ran back to the scarecrow and examined it.
“You must have been mistaken Yarox. It really is just a bag of straw. Come on”
Yarox still wasn’t convinced. He was sure that just for a moment he not only saw one of its arms move, but its eye sockets flash red! Still he felt it was best for the moment not to question the Doctors judgement.
The trio wandered through the Scottish woods for about 20 minutes or so, not encountering anything particularly interesting. Though Yarox was still marvelling at the sights around him. He must have spent 5 minutes staring at a small robin in the distance before the Doctor and Elena noticed he wasn’t behind them.
“Finally some signs of life” The Doctor bellowed. The trio had stumbled upon a small cottage, surrounded by a field.
“It looks boarded.” Elena said, somewhat concerned “Whoever’s in there doesn’t want anyone coming in
“Well even more reason to investigate. Come along.” The Doctor replied.
“Are you crazy? Whoever’s in there could shoot you before you get within ten feet of it.”
“True, but if that house is boarded up, don’t you want to know why? Whatever they want to keep out is roaming the woods, it could be round any tree.”
The Doctor approached the house slowly calling out to anyone inside. When he reached the door however he saw it was open.
“Looks like it was broken into. I just hope that whatever did this isn’t still inside.” The Doctor, Elena and Yarox investigated the house. Inside it was seemingly deserted, but most unusually there was a line of straw from the door that led to the cellar.
“Please don’t go down there. You won’t want to see it”
The Doctor, Yarox and Elena looked around to see a young girl, no more than 13, hiding behind a nearby sofa.
The girl was a little taken aback at Elena’s single eye, but Elena reassured the girl that she was here to help.
“What’s down there?” The Doctor asked.
“The remains of old Mr Ferguson. Those things they, they tore his guts out. They left him to rot.”
“Scarecrows?” The Doctor said?
“They suddenly came alive. They attacked us. Me and my mum and dad we were on a picnic when those things, they.” The girl started to sob, and Elena hugged her.
“Please don’t cry, you’re safe now.” Elena said as she tried to comfort the young girl.
“No, no they’re all around. I managed to run away, and I’ve been hiding in here for the last few days, but I hear them. Every night, they shamble about in the woods. I hear them howling and screaming, wondering when they’ll come for me. They…”
She paused for a few seconds.
“They what?” Elena asked gently.
“They said they were from hell itself. When they dragged me and my parents away, they told us they’d burned in the fire, and that we would too.”
“Where’s hell?” Yarox asked.
“Its a mythological place where the souls of the worst people go when they die. I like to keep an open mind, but I’ve always found the concept rather fanciful.” The Doctor said as he clutched his lapels.
Suddenly the the trio were alerted by a screeching noise from outside.
“They’re here, they’re here” the little girl screeched as she hugged Elena more tightly.
The Doctor looked outside to see 4 Scarecrows standing in the field. The creatures eye sockets were flaming, whilst their claws were solid reinforced steel.
“We have been waiting for you. You will free our master from the pit and he will burn this earth to cinders.” One of the monsters chanted as the other three cackled.
The monsters advanced on the house, with two breaking their way in through the windows, and another coming in through the door. Elena tried to overpower the monster that came in the front door but it was no use.
She kicked it in the chest, but it didn’t even make it flinch. She tried to punch it in the face, but she burned her hand off its flaming eyes.
“Get her out of here now, get the girl to safety” the Doctor said to Yarox as he tried to fend off one of the Scarecrows with a chair only to be hopelessly overpowered.
Yarox however couldn’t leave the Doctor and tried to grab the Scarecrow from behind. Unfortunately another one of the beasts grabbed Yarox from behind and lifted him into the air. He kicked and kicked at the monsters chest, but again it didn’t even phase the monster.
In desperation the Doctor ripped the bag from the Scarecrow’s head. Underneath was a hideous, rotting face. Most of the flesh looked burned off, its hair was thinning, whilst one of its eyes was missing. Its teeth meanwhile were broken and rotting which it revealed as it smiled.
The Doctor tried to punch the monster in its rotting face, only for his fist to go straight through its head. The monster laughed at the Doctor before throwing him into a wall. It then tried to ram its claws into his chest, but the Doctor quickly dodged the monsters attack and used his body to ram the Scarecrow into the monster attacking Yarox.
Elena meanwhile was able to overpower her Scarecrow by flipping it over her shoulder out of the front door.
The little girl had sat at the back, too terrified to make a move against the monsters, or even run away in case more of the creatures were waiting outside.
The Doctor Elena, and Yarox ran towards the little girl. The three Scarecrows were blocking the door and the only way out was down into the cellar, or up the stairs. The Doctor chose the latter option, but as he ran up the stairs, he could see the 4th Scarecrow waiting for him at the top, smiling whilst licking the blood from its claws.
With no choice the Doctor told them to get back to the cellar, but the little girl refused to.
“We have no choice, we’re surrounded” Elena said to the screaming girl, as the monsters on both sides closed in on them.
The Doctor had no time to argue and so he simply ran down the stairs to the cellar, knowing his companions would follow.
Down in the cellar the Doctor could see the rotting remains of the house’s former owner. The young girl couldn’t look at it. She had known Ferguson in life. He and her father were great friends, and he even used to babysit her. She couldn’t bare to see him like this for a second.
The Doctor noticed a window at the top of the cellar.
“Quick get the girl through that window. I”l hold them off.”
“How on earth will you” Elena said, before the Doctor cut them off.
“I’ll win them round with my charm just like I did you two, now go” the Doctor said firmly.
As the Scarecrows came tumbling down the steps to the cellar, Elena didn’t question the Doctor any longer and crawled through the window. She needed to make sure there were no monsters outside waiting. Yarox then helped to push the girl through the window, before following whilst the Doctor stood in front of his companions as the Scarecrows drew nearer.
“Now then you told me that you were waiting for me?” The Doctor said with a faux confidence and bluster to cover up his fear as he clutched his lapels.
“What may I ask for?”
The unmasked Scarecrow spoke.
“Our master, Scratchman was sealed in the pit millions of years ago. He has been clawing at your reality, peeking into its dreams, stealing souls. Now he will finally walk this earth thanks to you.”
“Scratchman?” “You mean…. the Devil?”
“That is what you would call him. He has always been our master. Though he is the master of you all.”
“What on earth do you mean?”
“You are all destined for his pit one way or another.”
“Well if that’s the case why does this Scratchman fellow need to come here then? Also what about heaven? If there’s a hell, then shouldn’t there be a heaven?”
“Heaven is a lie told by the master to give you all false hope that you can escape his grasp” the monster sneered.
“Well that’s a rather bleak view to have of life.” the Doctor said in an awkward, humorous tone.
“Still whoever your master is I don’t intend to help him escape. Judging from you lot, it seems whoever locked him in the pit had a good reason too. I’d thank them if I could.”
“Stop wasting time. The Master waits.” The unmasked Scarecrow shouted as it attempted to grab the Doctor, who quickly ducked and grabbed John Ferguson’s rifle from the floor only to see it had been broken.
The monsters laughed at the Doctor who backed into a corner.
“The Master awaits. You will suffer for making him wait longer than he needed to.”
“You should tell Scratchman that’s no way to get people to do him favours.” the Doctor replied before throwing a large bag of compost behind him into one of the Scarecrow’s faces. The Doctor then ran past the other two monsters to the window.
As he climbed through it however, one of the monsters, the unmasked Scarecrow jumped up and grabbed the Doctor by his foot as he was almost clear. The Doctor tried to pull free, but the monsters metal claws dug deep into his ankle. Fortunately however Elena and Yarox quickly came to the Doctors aid. It was still no use however, as the strength of the Doctor and his companions combined was no match for the monster. Elena started to kick the Scarecrow over and over again. She didn’t hurt the monster but she distracted it long enough for the Doctor to wiggle his foot free and kick the monster in the chest knocking it back into the other Scarecrows.
“Thank you” the Doctor said as he rubbed his foot. “We need to get back to the TARDIS now”
“Please, find my parents” the young girls cried.
“I will do all I can for them” the Doctor said. “I just need to get you back to the TARDIS. You’ll be safe there while I look for your parents, and figure out what is going on.”
“What do you mean the TARDIS?”
“You’ll see when we get there. Come on.”
The Doctor and his companions ran back the way through the woods. It was beginning to get dark and more and more Scarecrows were crawling around the woods. The Doctor and his companions kept hidden from the monsters behind several trees.
The foursome managed to crawl their way back to the large field where the TARDIS was.
“That blue box?” the young girl said perplexed?
“Trust me it’s a lot tougher and bigger than it looks. You’ll be safe in there.” The Doctor said confidently.
The foursome ran across the field when suddenly a metal hand came bursting out of the ground and grabbed Yarox by the foot, causing him to trip.
The Doctor turned round, only for two more sets of metal hands to burst out of the ground in front of him.
Several more metal, clawed hands came bursting out of the field all around the Doctor, Elena and the girl.
The Doctor looked back into the woods to see several more Scarecrows emerging from the woods, brandishing their claws, roaring and hissing.
The Doctor with Elena’s and even the girls help was able to barely pull Yarox free from the Scarecrow’s grip.
The foursome then bolted into the TARDIS, slamming the doors shut before the Scarecrow’s could follow.
The monsters clawed furiously on the door screaming at the Doctor to let them in.
“Fool you could flee to the end of the universe and he’ll still claim your soul. You’ll have to die one day!” One of the Scarecrow’s shouted.
The little girl was so scared of the monsters taunts that she almost hadn’t noticed how massive the inside of the TARDIS was compared to the tiny blue box she’d seen in the field.
“Don’t worry. None of them can get in here now. We’re safe, for the moment at least.” The Doctor assured the young girl as he checked the console.
“What are you looking for?” Elena asked as she hugged the young girl.
“Signs of an interdimensional disturbance. Those monsters said they wanted me to free their master from the pit wherever that is.”
“It’s hell.” The young girl shouted.
“Well wherever it is, I think its most likely another universe. Those creatures whatever they are, must have created a rip into our reality. I might be able to track it here.
The Doctor messed around with the controls for a few minutes. whilst the monsters continued to shout and claw on the doors.
“What is this place?” the young girl said somewhat frightened.
“It’s a time and space machine.” Elena said to the girl.
“A space ship? Are you, are you aliens!”
“I’m not. I’m as human as you. Well more or less” Elena said. “Yarox is part alien, and the Doctor over there is an alien, but don’t be scared he likes humans.”
“They’re my favourite species alongside the Therons of Venus” the Doctor said proudly as he adjusted the controls.
“Humans have better music, but Venusian food is better.” He joked, though none of the others were exactly in the mood for humour.
“Aliens and Demons? I can’t believe this is happening she said.”
“Well trust me those things out there are aliens too. They’re dishonest about where they came from, but well hopefully we can find out the truth.”
“Ah, I’ve located it. There’s a tear on the other side of the island. Just as I thought. It looks like its splintering. Very soon there will be more rips on our side.” The Doctor said as he left the room.
“Where are you going?” Yarox asked.
“To whip up something to sever those monsters from whatever’s projecting them into our reality. When I unmasked one of them in the house, my hand went through it. They’re projections. Projections given enough of a boost to affect this reality, but that’s all they are. If I can interfere with them then we can stop the monsters. Come on, you can help me. Better than just sitting here and listening to those things moan.”
The others followed the Doctor, though just before she left the console room, Elena looked on the scanner. She could now see what looked like hundreds of Scarecrows all amassing outside of the TARDIS.
“I hope he’s right about those doors holding” she thought to herself.
On the other side of the island meanwhile the Scarecrow’s had almost finished their blood ritual.
“Please, please stop.” Mary one of their sacrificial lambs begged as the leader of the Scarecrw’s sliced into her stomach again.
“Why, why are you doing this” she pleaded, only for the Scarecrow to laugh at her pain.
The Scarecrow’s claws suddenly became red hot.
“No, no please” Mary screamed as she struggled to get free.
Fortunately just as the monster was about to sink its burning hot claws in, a red whirlwind appeared in the sky, causing all of the Scarecrows to bow and chant in unison.
“He has come forth. Oh praise him!”
To Be Continued.