(Based on a story by Tom Baker and Ian Marter)
“I’m sorry it’s taken us this long to meet. I’ve been a fan of yours for quite some time, Doctor. You’ve sent more humans to me than you’d think, like when you torched Rome. I got quite a few good souls out of that blaze.” Scratchman said as he led the Doctor and Yarox up a large staircase.
“You did what?” Yarox asked?
“It was an accident. Plus it wasn’t really me, it was Nero.”
“Yes but you were his muse, shall we say Doctor.”
“Something like that.” The Doctor said as he struggled up the steps, with Yarox even having to help him out. They’d been following Scratchman for the last twenty minutes from when he had first led them from the cave. It had all begun to take an effect on the Doctors more frail body.
“Now, now Doctor I can always kill you and you can regenerate into a younger, much fitter man if you want?” Scratchman taunted.
“Thanks for the offer, but I can’t see you leaving much left to regenerate.”
“That’s true I do get a little carried away.”
All round the stair case were gigantic Demons and nothing but fire. The screams of the damned souls were defeaning at the ground level, but as they reached the top, they became almost completely silent.
At the top of the stair case were two gigantic doors made of still dripping flesh and bone. They both swung open on Scratchman’s mental command, whilst inside was a long gold dinning table, with several figures, whose heads were nothing but blue flame, darted around the room. The figures remained completely still, though Scratchman assured the Doctor that they were very much alive.
There were several paintings of Scratchman and his Demon hordes invading planets on the left hand side of the room, whilst on the right hand side there was a gigantic window, with a view of the hellish landscape outside.
Just below the castle the Doctor could see the war between Scratchman’s horde and the resistance. Beyond the battle however were massive mountains, and pits, all of which were filled with the souls of humans and other strange creatures being subject to the most horrific torture.
“Those idiots trying to make their way into this castle. There is only one way to get to the tower. All the others lead to some rather nasty little traps I’ve set out.” Scratchman said as he sat down and conjured up a glass or red wine for himself.
“I must admit I’m surprised given how elaborate everything else is here that you’ve chosen such a shall we say human appearance? Is that just for our benefit.” The Doctor asked.
“Oh I assure you Time Lord. Nothing here will be for your benefit. I like this face. It belonged to someone from this universe before I took it over. He was a man like you Doctor. He was a traveller, but after saving a few worlds, he got delusions that it made him some kind of hero. He thought I was just another two bit villain for him to defeat and boast about to his followers after. In all fairness he did give me some trouble, but in the end he now rots at the bottom of this castle. I took his face because it used to represent hope to people. He loved that. It meant more to him than anything else, so I thought it would be funny if his face came to represent fear and terror to all the people he once tried to save. I was thinking about doing the same to you, but you’ve had 10 already. You can never hold on to one too long can you?”
“Yes well this has been fun eh, Scratchman? Or do you prefer Satan?”
“Please call me Harry Scratch. I’ve forgotten my real name, if I ever had one. I’ve been given so many over the millions of years by so many people and they’re always so damn negative. I try my best to be liked damn it. Harry Scratch I think has a more casual sound to it, don’t you.”
“You’re a monster.” Yarox said.
“You’re only just getting that now.” The Doctor replied sarcastically.
“I am a monster to you, yes, but then tell me Doctor, what intelligent species doesn’t exploit and slaughter what it perceives to be lesser creatures for it’s own survival? The great predators of the earth, such as the Lion, the Shark, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, they all hunt less intelligent, weaker creatures do they not? Humanity is not much better. Look at the way they treat animals? A butchers shop may look harmless to you Doctor, but to the species strung up in it’s windows, it’s no worse than my pit out there.”
“You don’t just kill, you torture your victims. You break them them down to your level.” The Doctor protested.
“You are wrong, I feed on fear, chaos and pain. I need it as you need food. I sacrifice lesser creatures to keep myself alive, the same way a human does when it sinks it’s teeth into a steak. The gulf between even you and me, Time Lord is far beyond that of a human and animal. My lifespan is greater than that of entire universes, I have knowledge that even your people would never understand. You are all nothing to me, and so I therefore see no evil in making you suffer to prolong my own life, anymore than a farmer does when he slits a bovid’s throat.”
“In spite of your supposed superiority, you still need me and my old, broken down, obsolete Time machine hmmm.” The Doctor said as he proudly clutched his lapels.
“Yes well that’s only because of the tight situation I have found myself in. Eons ago when I first conquered this universe, the latest in billions I have destroyed I was sealed in here by the inhabitants of another reality. ” For the first time Scratchman started to show anger as he spoke.
“Now, now Harry, you of all people can hardly complain about people not playing fair.” The Doctor said.
“Yes well anyway.” Scratchman continued. “For thousands of years I had to make do with just this one universe, and the remains of a few I’d conquered before, but it wasn’t enough.
The universe was gradually decaying into nothing, and with it my food. Once it had gone, I’d be left here all alone, still trapped by the barrier, but unable to get more food. I’d rot away to nothing. The only reason this place is still standing is because of me.”
“Not much of a claim when you’re the one who more or less tore it apart in the first place Harry.” The Doctor replied flippantly.
“Yes quite, but then when all hope for me seemed lost, I noticed a tiny little rip in the barrier. When I was at full power and had struck at the barrier with all of my fury. I didn’t realise it until much later, but I had obviously managed to create a little break. The rip led to a small seemingly insignificant planet named earth.
“I don’t think I like where this is going” The Doctor said.
“For centuries I could only peer through the rip. A few delusions of grandeur here, the odd lingering resentment towards something, or someone. I was also able to send through the odd creature, and absorb several human minds both before and after death into this reality.
Over the centuries the primitives told stories about me, even came up with ideas to comfort themselves about how only the wicked were sent to my domain. You should see the looks on the faces of the humans who lived an honest life when they arrive here. Even after centuries they still can’t take it in.”
“I can imagine” The Doctor replied in a dry tone.
“Yes well that’ll teach them to think they’re better than anyone else. Still whilst it was an amusing distraction from my impending death, toying with the primitives, it was only when I saw your vessel arrive at various different points that I realised I could free myself. Other aliens had visited the earth, such as that worthless Charon. However none of them had the technology you did. It took me a while to realise you were different. At first I didn’t even know you were the same man, but my followers kept note of enough of your visits to slowly learn the trut.
For centuries I’ve used all my power to widen the rip to send through more of my minions to capture you. Finally I was able to send through the army on that Island to try and trap you. I knew you’d show up sooner or later to something like that, though I was disappointed at how unprepared my warriors were. I’m glad at least that Pan was of use to me. They were my best warriors as well.
Your machine, old, outdated and worthless as it may be.” The Doctor was getting visibly annoyed at Scratchman talking about the TARDIS that way, but of course the Demon didn’t care and continued.
“It still contains tremendous power. If I were to link it to the to the rip and drain all of it’s energy into it, it might widen the rip just large enough for me to pass through completely. I’ll have to be at my lowest stage even to get through it. Right now it’s still too small for me even if I were completely drained. Your machine is the key Doctor. It’s quite funny in a way. When you ran away to go exploring, you never thought how reckless it was to take a piece of advanced technology like the TARDIS with you? If it weren’t for your carelessness I would never have gained the means of my escape.”
“Yes well I could be forgiven for not thinking, oh dear Satan is going to steal my ship and use it escape from hell, when I first ran away.”
“Well maybe next time you’ll be more careful. I need you to help me break through your ships defences Doctor. Oh sure in time I could easily rip through them, but I don’t have much time. Its taken all of my limited power to hold this planet together. My power is only great in this castle. That’s the real reason I didn’t come and get you myself. If I had left this place for even a few minutes I’d have been drained.”
“Why would I help you? Aside from the obvious, you can’t threaten me with anything but death. If what you say is true in a few days, maybe even a few hours this entire place will crumble.”
“I have enough power Time Lord to ensure that at least one person will become an immortal like me, and share my fate in the eternal nothingness this universe will soon become. I can think of no one better to take my frustration’s out on than you, Time Lord.”
“Well when you put it that way.” The Doctor said.
“Tell me where do you come from.” The Doctor asked.
Scratchman seemed to stop for a minute at the Doctor’s question.
“Why do you care Time Lord?”
“I always care. That’s what got me into this mess in the first place.”
“If we had only ignored that Scarecrow.” Yarox said.
“No I was talking about my life.”
“I don’t know where I came from.” Scratchman said, honestly.
“My first memory is of nothing but fire, pain and struggling with a creature like me before being cast across the stars, that I later destroyed. I tell my followers here that I am god, because I feel it makes no difference. To them I am a deity, and I also believe firmly that I am part of his plan too.”
“You believe in a supernatural creator? What makes you think that you weren’t just some cosmic accident hmm”
“Something like me could not come about by accident, Time Lord. I am designed to feed on the suffering of others. I am part of the Creators plan. He clearly is not benevolent. How could he be if he created me. As far as I am concerned, I am following the universal way of life for stronger life forms to dominate lesser creatures. Now then let’s not delay any longer shall we? I so can’t wait to visit your reality properly.”