(Based on a story by Tom Baker and Ian Marter.)
“I don’t know why we bothered to come down here.” Yarox said.
“The Doctor said he needed our help to build the machine and for the last few minutes he’s shooed us away every time we get near it.”
“I just didn’t want you to feel left out.” The Doctor said as he tinkered away.
“You just want an audience more like” Elena said.
Suddenly the Tardis began to groan.
“What’s going on?” The Doctor said with concern.
“How do you expect me to know?” Yarox replied.
“The TARDIS is taking off.” The Doctor said as he burst down the corridors to the main console room with his new weapon in hand.
On the scanner outside the Doctor could see that they had been teleported to an entirely different location. It looked like the top of a mountain and there were over 50 Scarecrows gathered below a gigantic red cloud. There were also at least 20 people tied up to large wooden beams beneath the cloud at the very edge of the mountain top. The human prisoners all looked beaten and bloodied.
“We don’t have time to wait for me to perfect this machine. Whatever they’re doing now they have to be stopped.” The Doctor said as he opened the TARDIS doors. The little girl hugged Elena in fear, begging them not make her go outside. Elena tried to reassure her.
“Don’t worry the Doctor knows what he’s doing, I think.” Elena said to the girl. “Tell me what’s your name.
“Don’t worry Sophie, I promise we’ll find your parents and stop whatever’s behind this horror.” Elena had no idea how she was going to keep that promise, but she couldn’t bare to see the little girl cry another second.
The Doctor ran out into the field of Scarecrow’s pointing his machine like a weapon.
“He has arrived, the one the Master told us about.”
“Yes well if you know who I am, you’ll know that I have a knack for improvisation. This machine which I cobbled together in just a few minutes.” The Doctor said boastfully. “Can send you back to the hell you came from, unless you release the prisoners.”
The Scarecrow’s paused for a few seconds. The Doctor had no idea if his weapon would actually work. He hadn’t had time to either test it out, or even charge it for as long as he had wanted.
One of the Scarecrows’ responded by slicing the neck of a young male prisoner open. He couldn’t have been older than 14 years old. As the boy bled to death the red cloud began to grow larger and darker.
The Doctor knowing he couldn’t take any more chances fired his weapon. The Scarecrow’s all clutched the sides of their heads and sank to their knees.
“It’s working come on.” The Doctor said as he ran frantically to untie the prisoners. The red sky became more erratic meanwhile. Lightening bolts began to fire from the mass, with one just narrowly missing the Doctor.
“You’re too late” One of the Demonic Scarecrow’s shouted. The mass soon began to form into a flaming humanoid with horns who then began to descend on the Doctor.
The Doctor fired his weapon at the flaming monster which caused it to place its hands at either side of its head and scream.
The Demon swirled through the air, until it became a mere mass of flames. Just as the flames seemed to disipate however, a large bolt of fire came shooting out of the mass and struck the Doctors machine. It didn’t destroy it completely, but the machine was still thrown out of the Doctors hands and shut itself down.
The Doctor ran for his weapon, but more bolts of fire began to strike the machine. Fortunately it was made of an extremely durable metal and the flames did little to damage it.
The flaming mass then tried to strike at the Doctor instead who narrowly managed to avoid the beams.
Yarox and Elena meanwhile were busy untying the prisoners. Yarox was a little shocked at the sight of them at first. Never had he seen so many different looking people gathered together before. Sophie recognised one of the prisoners at the very edge of group as her mother and ran to embrace her.
“Sophie thank god you’re alive.”
“Where’s father?” Sophie said, but her mother couldn’t answer.
“No, please don’t.”
“I’m sorry Sophie they, they tore him apart.”
Elena who overheard the conversation looked over the cliff edge the prisoners were placed near. At the bottom of the cliff were the mangled remains and body parts of the fromer prisoners were kept. Hundreds of them had been slaugthered by the Demons.
Whilst Yarox, Elena and Sophie were distracted, the Scarecrow’s began to rise up again. The Doctor shouted to his companions, but it was no use. Within a few seconds the monsters were as strong as they ever were again, and overpowered Elena and Yarox, effortlessly.
The mass of flames spoke. “You’re trapped Time Lord. We don’t need you alive. We only need your vessel. It would be easier if you did help us, but you will die if you dare to defy the Master any longer.”
“Well” The Doctor said he clutched his lapels. “I’m not too proud to admit when I’m beat.”
The Doctor reached into his pocket. “WHAT TRICKERY IS THIS!” The flames screeched as it grew darker.
“Its just a cigarette. Would begrudge me a last request before you take me to hell?” The Doctor said as he put it into his mouth.
“I quite smoking for over 11 centuries you know, but well I’m on my 10th life now so I thought why not. You don’t mind do you? Of course not you’re made of fire.”
The Doctor reached into his pocket again and quickly pulled out his sonic screwdriver this time. Before any of the monsters could react the Doctor used his screwdriver to activate his machine from a distance, incapacitating the Demons a second time.
Whilst Yarox and Elena continued to free the prisoners, including Sophie’s mother, the Doctor headed for his weapon. When he tried to grab it however he burned his hands off of the metal. The Doctor pulled a long cloth out of his pocket, almost bigger than the pocket itself and wrapped it around the machine before hoisting it up into the air. As he tried to fire it again however, the machine’s power began to run down.
The mass of flames began to form back into its humanoid shape, but the Doctor was able to ring the last bit of power out of his machine long enough for Yarox and Elena to get the 20 or so prisoners free, who they rounded up back to the TARDIS. They had to push the first few prisoners into the TARDIS as none of them were willing to go into a tiny blue box! The Doctor covered them all, using his weapon to blast several of the Scarecrow’s back, and as a shield to block the flaming demons bolts of fire.
Once they were safely in the TARDIS, the Doctor tried to take off, but the flaming Demon enveloped the outside of the TARDIS. The TARDIS from the outside looked like it was made entirely of fire!
The Doctor tried to take off, but the entire console room simply shook violently instead. Two small parts of the console even exploded.
“You will help the Master. You will free him from the pit.” The voice boomed whilst the Cloister bell rang non stop.
The Doctor in desperation wired his weapon to the TARDIS console to power it up again. The Doctor fired the weapon with a range that covered the entire area, but the flaming Demon held on tight. Its screams echoed through the TARDIS, and as its grip around the time machine got stronger, the white walls of the TARDIS began to turn bright red. Blood began to drip from the roundrels which terrified the prisoners who huddled together helplessly. Even Yarox and Elena were beginning to get more visibly frightened. (Which was very unlike Elena.)
“Cheap parlor tricks” The Doctor shouted as he drew more energy into the weapon. “I’d be embarassed if I were you, a Demon from hell and that’s all you can muster up.” Suddenly the roundrels in the TARDIS became transparant and faces began to appear within them. The faces were of men and women, even children. They all looked burned, and mutilated beyond all recognition. The one nearest to Elena, a young boy was missing his eyes, whilst his lips were burned into a hideous grin. She couldn’t stand to look at it.
The damned souls faces started to move out of the roundrels and scream at the prisoners. As Elena, Yarox and the prisoners all backed away from the faces, several rotting arms started to appear out of the TARDIS floor. They tried to pull everyone to the floor. As the Doctor tried to struggle free, he looked up and saw the ceiling of the TARDIS had turned into nothing but fire. The fire slowly began to form into a Demonic face that began to laugh at the Doctor.
“The legendary Time Lord, has such a feeble mind and will. Our master will break you easily.” The face said before bursting into a fit of diabolical laughter.
The Doctor using all his strength managed to pull free from the arms and fired more energy into the weapon. He was worried that if he tampered with the TARDIS core much longer then it would be in danger of exploding! Still the Doctor pressed on as he had no choice. Eventually there was a small explosion within his machine followed by the flaming face screaming in agony. A few seconds afterwards the flames around the TARDIS vanished completely, and the inside of the TARDIS returned to normal.
The Doctor looked on the scanner outside to see the Scarecrow’s had been felled by the machine as well.
When he turned to his weapon however the Doctor saw that it had been completely burnt out.
“Damn the energy from the TARDIS’ core was too much, I just hope it wasn’t too rough on you old girl.” The Doctor said as he tapped the TARDIS console.
“What is this place.” Sophie’s mother said as she cradled her crying child.
“It’s a time and space machine. I’m the Doctor, I’m from the planet Gallifrey and this is Yarox and Elena, they’re both from your future. And if you find that too fanciful, well remember that I just saved you from the Devil.”
“Doctor, please she just lost her husband.” Elena said.
“Right, right I’m sorry for your loss Mrs?”
“I’m sorry what happened to you, to all of you. I wish we could have arrived sooner, but that lot at least looks taken care of for now.” The Doctor said more gently as he adjusted the TARDIS controls.
“Those monsters”. One of the men at the back interrupted. He was old and withered looking, and covered in scratches and bruises.
“They ripped us from our homes, tortured us, and started to slaughter us as part of a ritual to bring that, thing into the world.”
“Doctor what was that creature, was it really what it said.” Elena said noticably more scared than she usually was in these kinds of situations. She wasn’t a religious woman at all, and deep down she knew there was probably a rational explanation for these creatures. Still Elena couldn’t help but think back to how many other incredible things she had seen on her journey’s with the Doctor, that she would have undoubtedly dismissed before.
“No of course not. It’s a creature from another universe. Its just relying on superstition to scare us.” The Doctor said.
“What does scare me is that it knew who I was. It wanted me, or rather this ship for something. I don’t know what, but I can’t help but feel we should leave here at once.”
“We can’t.” Elena said. “If we hadn’t done anything then these people would all be dead right now.”
“I know, I know Elena, but that thing also wanted the TARDIS and for all my bluster well.”
“It almost took control of it.”
“How is that possible?”
“I don’t know, but it was. Those weren’t parlor tricks. That creature was attempting in its last few moments in this reality to pull the TARDIS back into its realm. We saw those faces because our ship briefly merged with the creatures home reality, but fortunately when its link with our world broke, we were sent back.”
“You mean those faces were real?” Elena said with horror.
“I’m afraid so. Also whilst we may have sent those creatures packing, according to the sensors there is another dimensional breach on the other side of the island. More monsters will be coming through”
“We have to get there now.” Elena said.
“Do we? Or is that what it wants. If we go there, will it just use the TARDIS to rip a bigger hole in reality.”
“If there are people on the other side of the island in the same position as they were, how can we leave them.” Elena said. “Besides even if it is a trap, we’ll think of a way out. We always do.”
She expected the Doctor to respond in his usual chipper tone, but instead she was met with a concerned look. The Doctor was always such a fun, boistrous figure even in the face of death that it was quite alarming for Elena to see him take things so seriously.
“I just hope you’re right” The Doctor said to Elena as he adjusted the controls to take the TARDIS to where the other dimensional breach was.
On the scanner the Doctor could see an old church just ahead.
“Its Liage, the main town on the island. It was the last place to fall to those monsters.”One of the villagers said at the back.
“They came bursting out of the ground. Our village was protected, or so we thought by a large wall. It had been built centuries ago to protect us from Viking invaders. It had become a tourist attraction, but we thought it could hold the scarecrow’s out, until.”
He couldn’t go on any longer.
Whilst Elena comforted the man, who had massive claw marks down his face. The Doctor tinkered with parts from his burnt out weapon.
“What are you doing?” Yarox asked.
“Oh its simple. I won’t have the time fix up another weapon, but with a few bits and pieces of equipment here I might be able to disrupt one of the Scarecrow’s in a different way. They’re just projections into this reality remember. All I need do is disrupt the signal, but this time I’m going to interfere with it. Use it to create a force field around the Scarecrow that will trap it, allow me to control it.”
“You can really do that?”
“Of course! Well….. maybe. Actually it probably won’t work, but still I have to try. If we can get control of one Scarecrow then I can figure out what’s going on around here, who’s pulling their strings, what they want. Scratchman indeed!” The Doctor scoffed.
After putting the gadget together, the Doctor told Elena to stay in the TARDIS and watch over the villagers.
“What? I always go with you. You can’t leave me out now.”
“I’m sorry Elena, but well for once I don’t think the TARDIS will be enough to protect everyone here from what’s outside. I need someone I can trust to look after these people. No offence Yarox but we have just met, and no offence to you old girl.” The Doctor said to the TARDIS console.
“You’re right I suppose.” Elena said somewhat resentfully. “Though be honest you just don’t like a lot of strangers in your TARDIS while your out.”
“Well obviously, but I’m serious Elena. I can’t guarantee that nothing will get in. That Demon managed to rip through the defences of the ship and nearly dragged it to whatever pit it came from. Be careful. I’d love to just take these people somewhere safe, but you know how unpredictable the TARDIS can be. Again no offence old girl. We could end up on Mars in the year 2525. Please look after them.”
“You have my word.”
“Right come Yarox it’s time we were off.”
Yarox wasn’t too keen on the arrangement either. Though he wouldn’t admit it, he was absolutely terrified of the Scarecrows and would much rather be the one who was sitting back in the TARDIS. Fear was a new sensation for Yarox in some ways. Back where he came from he was always told that his life was meaningless. He was just a clone after all, and no individual life mattered. All that mattered was the survival of the race, but now in even just the short time he had been with the Doctor and Elena, he had come to enjoy his own life.
After they left the TARDIS, Yarox said, somewhat nervously to the Doctor as they approached the church. You know maybe it would be better if Elena came with you. You know her better, she has more experience.”
“Now Yarox it’s fine to be afraid.” The Doctor said.
“Even after all these years and 9 deaths, some of which really, really, really hurt, I’m still scared of every time I step onto a new planet. Still we can’t let it overwhelm us my boy. That’s what our enemies want. For us to be too scared to lift a finger against them.”
The Doctor saw the door to the church was left open slightly, which wasn’t a good sign. He slowly nudged the door open, only to be overcome with the sight ahead of him.
The church was filled with bits and pieces of mangled bodies of men, women and even children. The body of a priest meanwhile was nailed to a the large cross at the back of the room. His guts had also been ripped out and spread on the altar below. The walls were literally dripping with blood.
“What.” Yarox could barely even bring himself to speak.
“It’s a house of god, a Church. The monsters whatever they were wanted to desecrate it. But why? If they are aliens, why should they care about a human belief system?”
Suddenly the two time travellers were alerted by the moans of dozens more Scarecrows emerging from the woods behind the church. The Demons gathered around the TARDIS and started to corner the Doctor and Yarox against the church. There was no way they could fight through them, so the only way forward was for the Doctor and Yarox to run through the Church.
As they ran across the blood stained floor however the Doctor slipped on the blood and dropped his gadget. It slid along the floor undet the mangled corpse of an old woman.
Yarox helped the Doctor up. He wasn’t hurt, but he was furious that his fine suit was ruined.
“I’m going to have throw this out!” The Doctor said in disgust. “Yarox can you be a dear and eh get my little gadget”. The Doctor didn’t want to touch the corpse. Yarox didn’t either, but he was less fussy than the Doctor. (He was arguably more used to gruesome sights than even the Time Lord.)
As Yarox reached under the body, the Scarecrow’s advanced on them. The Doctor picked up a nearby chair and waved it at the Scarecrow’s, but in the process the Doctor slipped on the bloody floor again and landed on his back.
The Scarecrow’s just laughed at the Doctor.
“Glad I could amuse you all in my humble little way.” The Doctor said. He then reached into his pocked and pulled out a few tennis balls and started to juggle them. Some of the Scarecrow’s started to giggle.
“I’ve had thousands of years to practice, but even with that in mind I’m still a natural.” The Doctor then three the tennis balls at the Scarecrow’s before picking up a nearby chair that he then threw out into a huge Stain glass window at the back of the room.
The Doctor and Yarox (who had managed to find the gadget while the Demons were distracted) quickly ran out of the window. (Though the Doctor nearly slipped again!)
Outside of the window was a graveyard. In the distance, the Doctor and Yarox could see a scarecrow digging a grave. It noticed the two time travellers and smiled, with is firey grin. They didn’t have time to worry about it now as several more of the Scarecrow’s started to crawl through the broken window behind them.
The Doctor and Yarox ran out of the grave yard and into the village behind. It was completely deserted. All of the windows in the buildings had been smashed, the doors were also kicked in, and bodies were littering the streets.
The Doctor and Yarox took refuge in a nearby alley. They watched as the horde of Scarecrow’s ran past, screaming bloody murder.
After a few minutes the Doctor felt it was safe.
“We need to try and isolate one of them from the rest of the group.” The Doctor said to Yarox.
“Quick hand me the gadget.”
Yarox obliged but the gadget was covered in blood.
“Oh god you could have wiped it first.” The Doctor said.
Back at the TARDIS, several Scarecrow’s kept clawing at the door.
Inside the villagers were getting frantic at the sight of the monsters, but there was little Elena could do to reassure them.
Many of the villagers were somewhat scared of Elena herself. They were all unnerved to some extent by her large single eye.
Elena was used to it. Even in her home time, the 31st century, she much like her mother tended to stick out in a crowd.
“Look don’t worry those doors have withstood hordes of Cybermen trying to smash their way through I’m sure.”
Elena was interrupted by the cloister bell.
“Oh dear” she said to herself. The TARDIS doors suddenly opened. Elena tried to close them. (During the many years she had been with the Doctor, he had taught how to operate certain parts of the TARDIS, though he could never teach her, or indeed any non Time Lord how to operate it properly.)
She tried again and again to shut the doors, but it didn’t work and the Scarecrows soon entered the TARDIS, smiling with sadistic delight at their cornered prey.
To Be Continued