Friday, April 27, 2018

Fiction Break: A Still Point In Time

In the spirit of Infinity War's crossovers...

The man shifted uneasily in his chair, scratching at his grayed temples. Across from him sat, to his eyes, a walking scarecrow and a very pretty (if out of place) girl. She looked annoyed, but the scarecrow man looked impatient, perhaps expectant.

The man's hand shook as he reached for the small tumbler of whiskey. He sipped, choked back a grimace, and took a deep breath.

"I know you are going to think I am crazy, but I believe very much so that I am not. Everybody in Lagos remembers the day the heroes came crashing through and 'accidentally' blew up the Wakandans," his voice catching on the word 'accidentally' like it held a bitter taste to it, "but no one remembers when the mutants came to Lagos. No one but me."

The scarecrow man's eyebrows furrowed together, and for a moment the man was afraid they would leap off of his forehead and assault him. There was a moment of quiet, then he continued.

"And that's not all. I remember both of these events, and I remember the great Apocalypse. I read in the news about the robots in Europe, but no one else remembers entire cities disintegrating. What's wrong with me, Mister Doctor?"

One Hour Earlier...

Clara stumbled out of the TARDIS, choking on the smoke that followed her through the doors. Whatever was burning in there, she decided, could not be anything but hazardous to her health, and she sometimes worried she'd breathed in far too much of it over the years she'd traveled with the Doctor. She took in a lungful of dusty air and looked around. Hot, dry sun beat down on her, and she was surrounded by the noises and smells of a bustling marketplace of a dusty, dry city. The Doctor came charging out of the doors, dispelling the cloud of smoke that had followed her, his coat covered in soot and his face crossed with more lines than she'd remembered before the explosion. He was muttering something to himself about time tracks, dimensional boundaries, and crossed realities until she interrupted him.

"Doctor? Doctor! Where are we?"

He stopped and looked around for a long second before sticking his finger in his mouth and holding it up in the air and pronouncing, "Lagos. Nigeria. Earth. 2016. But the wrong one." He glanced up at the side of a building that looked like it had seen better days. Several of the upper floors of the North side of it had suffered structural damage and had clearly been on fire recently. He frowned, digging in his pocket until he found a small wooden box, tilted the lid open, then shut it firmly and shoved it back in his pocket.

"How can it be the wrong one?" Clara asked, "Isn't there only the one Lagos?"

The Doctor looked supremely annoyed, "Clara, do you remember that awful bingy-bingy noise before the cloister bells started ringing? That was the TARDIS jumping off course. And then when the walls started closing in? Something went wrong with the dimensional stabilizer, and we got pushed through a weak point between universes. Wherever we are, it's not the right Lagos. For one thing, that building," he said, pointing up at the burned out husk, "isn't supposed to be all exploded. I should know, I had tea there just next week and it was still in one piece."

Clara, trying to keep up with the shifting tenses in his explanation, suddenly noticed an elderly Nigerian man staring at them in disbelief. She tugged at his coat and whispered under her breath at the Doctor.

"Doctor, I think that man there just noticed us."

"Well of course he noticed us. We just stepped out of a smoking blue box that probably made an awful racket landing and... hold on, that man just noticed us. The TARDIS telepathic fields must have malfunctioned and -"

Clara cut him off, "Then why hasn't anyone else noticed us?"

"Ah," The Doctor patted the pocket he'd stowed the box in, before starting off towards the man. Clara shook her head and followed.


His name was Isaiah, and the Doctor was drinking in every detail of his story. Every fantastical detail. In this world, it seemed, there'd been a swell of enhanced individuals -- soldiers and inventors, robots and aliens -- appearing through history and operating quite publicly. But Isaiah's story fell apart in several places as he tried to reconcile two very different versions of history that were living in his head. This was very distressing to him, especially as it seemed no one else remembered one set of events. The Doctor and Clara sat with him for a very long time, listening to all he had to share.

When Isaiah had finished his stories, one accounting of bizarre events from two perspectives throughout his remembered history, the Doctor leaned back in his chair, his eyebrows finally leaving attack position. He pulled a slender tool from his coat pocket, shoved it rudely in Isaiah's face, and pressed the button. Isaiah flinched at the green light on the tip and the whine it let loose. The Doctor snatched it away from him, popped open the tip, and stared intently at the shifting metal on the inside.

"Well then. It's little wonder you're so perturbed. Your consciousness is split between two versions of reality, one that doesn't exist anymore and the one that exists around you, and you can't reconcile the two. Part of that little human pea-brain is quite literally stuck in the wrong universe. But why? What makes you of all people special?"

Clara sunk her elbow into the Doctor's ribs, handing him a notecard that he studied intensely for a moment before grudginly bringing his gaze back to Isaiah.

"By which I mean 'I am terribly sorry to hear about your distress. I can only imagine how I would feel in your place, and I will do everything I can to resolve this situation for you. Shake hands and smile politely.' "

Clara rolled her eyes and looked apologetically at Isaiah as the Doctor took off towards the ruined building.

To be continued...

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