4. “The Gateway Is Open!”
Rain echoed in the background. It’s now night time. The Doctor and Charoc continued to defy Albert whilst they were in the dining room in his guest house. The wild half of Charoc beside Albert looked up at him as she begans to raise her claws. The other Charoc spoke up before the Doctor.
“We have existed before you, Albert!” she growled. “You cannot exist without us either! Without me!”
“Say what you like!” Albert said menacingly. “You can’t run away from me! Everything is mine! Mine, do you hear?!”
The wild Charoc beside Albert roared and attacked him by scratching and putting her claws into him. Albert writhed in pain and pushed the wild Charoc back in her chair all chained up. She fell back in her chair, looking up at Albert fiercely.
“You vicious little monster!” he said.
The Doctor turned to Charoc, whispering in her ear.
“What was that about?” he asked.
“My wild part!” she growled. “She attempts to tear Albert apart. He has tried to tame her, but has received many claw marks for it.”
“Does it ever hurt you when he hits you?” the Doctor asked. “Don’t you feel pain?”
“Everyday,” she growled. “And with everyday, I want to strike back!”
Albert heard Charoc and turned on her vengefully.
“But it won’t work,” he told her. “You see Charoc, I’ve been attacked by your claw marks many times and it doesn’t work.”
“But at least I keep on trying,” Charoc bit back.
“You do not oppose me!” Albert shouted. “You will not oppose me!”
“Stop!” commanded the Doctor.
The Doctor’s abruptness stopped Charoc and Albert arguing. They turned to look at him.
“I’ve had enough of you two bickering like horrid school children,” he said. The Doctor then turned to Albert. “You Albert should be ashamed of yourself! To think you can dream forever with the power you’ve got at your fingertips. How did you even get here? To this place? On Saron?”
“That is not your concern,” Albert retorted.
“Oh but it is,” the Doctor retorted back. “You see Albert; you are a part of me. Part of my being. Of what I represent. Of time!”
Albert stood up, fearful of what the Doctor might say next.
“You fear me now don’t you, Albert?” the Doctor challenged him. “I can see it in your face.”
“You will not oppose me, Doctor,” Albert rebelled against him. “Not anymore. With the rain and Charoc, I shall gain control of what I seek. I shall control everybody’s minds through dreams. With everyone asleep, the universe shall be reformed.”
“Not on my watch!” the Doctor defied.
Albert became silent for a moment. He then reached out his hand and showed the Doctor an image before his eyes.
“See Doctor!” Albert cried. “See what I show before you!”
The Doctor was shocked at what he saw before he became worried and panicked.
“Oh no!” he cried. “Jamie; Zoe! What have you done to them?!”
“Nothing…yet,” Albert stressed the last word for emphasis. “I’ve sent them to sleep. As I did also for Matthew and Chloe.”
“You attacked the king’s throne room, didn’t you?” the Doctor realised. “You allowed your Skeletrons and your rain to attack the castle! Albert, you’ve gone too far!”
“Not at all, Doctor!” denied Albert. “This is merely a warning. Your friends shall be safe. But be warned! With the power at my fingertips, I shall dispose of your friends one by one! They will die in their sleep!”
The Doctor became worried. He was thoughtful, placing his hands together whilst Albert carried on talking.
“One by one Doctor,” he continued, “I can let one of your friends. Jamie and Zoe. Or Zoe and Jamie. Or Jamie and Zoe together followed by Matthew and Chloe. I can let you have Jamie and Zoe pick a choice. On who’s to die first?”
The Doctor fumed as he saw how Albert was tormenting him.
“How does it sound, Doctor?” Albert asked cruely. “Would you choose which one you’d like to die…?”
“Enough, Zorbius!” the Doctor shouted, interrupting him. “That’s enough!”
The Doctor clasped a hand over his mouth, realising the mistake he just made. Albert was shocked and angry before he became berserk.
“Oh you said it, Doctor!” he yelled. “You let it out, Doctor! You said it in front of Charoc! You told her my name! YOU TOLD HER MY NAME!!!”
Albert saw Charoc and looked on desperately to see her reaction. Charoc roared with anger and fury. “You are him!” she realised. “You are… ZORBIUS!!!”
Albert shrieked and yelled with rage. He banged his fists on the dining table, turning vengeful and filled with hatred for the Doctor.
“Yes!” Albert screamed. YES!!! I AM HE!!! I AM ZORBIUS!!! I am energy! Energy of time that can manifest itself into any form it wishes!”
“Yes,” the Doctor agreed. “And what a ghastly job you’re making of it too. Making people sleep and dreaming endlessly. It’s obscene! Horrific!”
“I must have the power!” yelled Albert. “I told you before, Doctor! I must! Zorbius shall be mine! Zorbius shall belong to me! ZORBIUS…SHALL BECOME ME!!!!”
Albert then made his way over to the wild Chaorc. He released the chains off her from her chair. He then turned to the Doctor and the other Charoc.
“Suffer Doctor!” he yelled. “Suffer for your crimes against me! If you do not repent, you shall have the full force of my oblivion…”
The Doctor and Charoc watched as the wild version of Charoc leapt up at Albert and attacked him viciously. Albert screamed with rage and pain as he and the wild Charoc ended up on the floor. The Doctor became worried.
“Oh dear,” he said. “How dreadful. What is she doing?”
“The wild me,” Charoc explained. “The dark side of my heart as opposed to my light has been released. It now intends to shred Albert apart.”
“She’ll kill him?” the Doctor enquired.
“She might,” Charoc replied.
“But we can’t let that happen,” the Doctor told her. “If Albert’s still connected to the Zorbius energy…”
“We must go,” Charoc interrupted. “We must rescue your friends. Then we must stop the rain.”
“Yes, yes,” the Doctor agreed. “We must rescue Jamie, Zoe, Matthew and Chloe. But Albert! I know what this Zorbius energy can do…”
“What power does Albert possess in this land, Doctor?” Charoc interrupted him again. “What control has he got on the planet Saron?”
The Doctor thought for a moment. “Why…Albert controls the Skeletrons and the deepening rain. Like you said…” Then he realised. “Of course! The Zorbius energy! It’s in the rain itself! That’s how Albert controls people’s minds and makes them dream!”
“With Albert distracted from his control by my other self,” Charoc explained, “we can save your friends again.”
“Yes, of course,” the Doctor said. “How silly of me! Well, waste no time then! Come on! Let’s go and find Jamie, Zoe and the others!”
Taking each other’s hands, Charoc and the Doctor left the dining room. The wild Charoc still attacked Albert as he screamed with rage and pain.
“I am Zorbius!” he declared. “And I will win! I WILL WIN, DOCTOR!!! I WILL HAVE THE POWER OF TIME!!! I WILL!!! I WILL!!!!”
Rain echoed in the background. On the sea bed of Riseford; Jamie, Zoe, Chloe and Matthew were asleep. They struggled, having bad dreams. They twisted and turned in anxiety, before the Doctor and Charoc turned up on the sea bed.
“Here they are!” the Doctor cheered. “They’re still sleep!”
“They should be easy for us to wake!” Charoc growled. “Albert’s power is weakening in his dream world with the wild me distracting him.”
The Doctor and Charoc made their way over to thier young friends. Charoc woke up Matthew and Chloe whilst the Doctor attended to Zoe and Jamie.
“Jamie; Zoe,” he prompted. “Wake up! Wake up, Jame and Zoe! Wake up!”
Jamie and Zoe woke up with a start. They were then relieved to see the Doctor before them.
“Doctor!” Jamie laughed. “Are we glad to see you!”
“Yes Jamie,” the Doctor said reassuringly. “I have been in danger but I’m alright now. Charoc’s been protecting me.”
“You know what it was you came for, Doctor?” Zoe asked. “About Charoc’s game?”
“Yes Zoe,” the Doctor replied. “I had a little guidance from Charoc on meeting our enemy. And I’ve faced him before. Or at least the entity inside the person. He’s been waiting for me all this time to grant his wish.”
“So you know what we’re up against,” Jamie enquired.
“Yes Jamie,” the Doctor told him. “I believe I do, yes.”
“Well then,” Jamie seemed delighted. “That’s alright then. We can fight the Sassenache…”
“It most certainly is not alright, Jamie,” the Doctor said abruptly. “Why, I don’t even know how to defeat this person!”
“You said ‘grant his wish’,” Zoe quoted him. “What do you mean, Doctor? Whose wish? What person is it we’re…?”
“Later, Zoe,” the Doctor interrupted her. “I’ll explain on the way.” He then turned to Charoc. “Charoc, are we ready? Have Chloe and Matthew recovered?”
“They have,” Charoc growled. “We must be on our way!”
“Then let’s go,” the Doctor said encouragingly. “Come on, Jamie; Zoe.”
They all headed off as Jamie, Zoe, Matthew and Chloe followed the Doctor and Charoc. Matthew and Chloe groaned as they felt disorientated.
“I feel as if…” Matthew stammered, “…as if I’ve been sleeping hours on end.”
“Me too,” Chloe concurred.
“You have been sleeping, I’m afraid,” the Doctor told them. “In fact, we’re still asleep.”
“What?” said Jamie shocked. “You mean…we’re still dreaming.”
“For the moment, yes,” the Doctor replied. “But don’t worry, we’ll find ourselves a way out.”
“But Doctor,” Zoe enquired, “if you don’t know how to defeat this enemy of yours, how…?”
“Trust me, Zoe,” the Doctor reassured her, “I know what I’m doing.” He then turned to Charoc. “Charoc, it’s back to the guest house I suppose.”
“We must confront your enemy, Doctor,” Charoc said. “It is far more urgent now.”
“Right then,” the Doctor said. “Come on!”
The Doctor started to sprint with the others following behind him. They were heading back to Albert’s guest house.
Rain echoed in the background. Albert was alone in the dining room, brutally wounded by the wild Charoc’s attack. He lay there, sobbing and feeling sorry for himself. He gradually stopped sobbing, clearing the tears from his eyes. He began to grow stronger.
“You shall not be rid of me,” he said. “You shall not oppose me. No! I will have the crystal power, Doctor! You will grant me my wish! I shall absorb it into the rain! The rain shall be my power! The new container! The crystal is dead! The water shall flourish!” He then yelled out loud, “I shall destroy you, Doctor! Never forget that! I shall destroy you before your future ever happened! I will win! I will not fail! NEVER!!!”
Albert laughed to himself, mocking the Doctor as he continued to contend with his bruises. It was at that moment the Skeletrons appeared, along with the deepening rain, to approach Albert.
“You sent for us, master?” the Skeletron leader questioned.
“Skeletrons!” Albert cheered, delighted. “Yes, my servants! I have a job for you all! You and the rain!”
“Tell us what we must do,” the Skeletron scout demanded.
“Be ready,” Albert told them. “Be on guard. I shall endeavour to have my final confrontation with the Doctor. This time…he will suffer for defying me!”
Rain echoed in the background. In the hallway of the guest house; the Doctor, Jamie, Zoe and the others entered. Charoc, Matthew and Chloe walked on ahead whilst the Doctor remained behind with Jamie and Zoe. He briefly related to his companions his previous encounter with Zorbius.
“You see Jamie; Zoe,” he explained, “this man Albert has been the cause for the deepening rain. It’s far more than we imagined than just rain.”
“Then what is it, Doctor?” asked Zoe.
“Well you see Zoe,” the Doctor began gradually, “there’s this energy inside that rain. Energy belonging to a very special power. It’s the energy of the Zorbius crystal.”
“Zorbius crystal?” Jamie was puzzled. “What’s that?”
“Zorbius is a star, Jamie,” the Doctor told him. “A star found long ago made into the shape of energy. Energy which was placed inside a crystal. A crystal of time.”
“And you held this crystal yourself, Doctor?” Zoe enquired.
“A while back,” the Doctor admitted. “When I was very younger. You see…Zorbius gives you the power to control any space-time event in the universe. To control anybody’s lifespan or to change the fabric of reality at a constant rate.”
“You mean it makes you do whatever you want,” Jamie realised. “The power to control anything. Like with the power of God?”
“Yes Jamie,” the Doctor replied. “Like the power of God, but not quite like it. It’s rather more complicated than that.”
“Well if this energy was stored in the crystal,” Zoe asked, “how did it get inside the rain?”
“Ah, well you see the energy got released when the crystal was destroyed,” the Doctor told them.
“Destroyed?!” Jamie exclaimed, shocked. “How did it get destroyed then?”
“Well if you must know Jamie,” the Doctor answered gradually, “I…I was partly involved with the crystal getting smashed.”
“Smashed?!” Jamie couldn’t help laughing.
“Yes like I said, it was an accident,” the Doctor reiterated. “I didn’t mean for it to happen. It just happened.”
“Aye, I’m not surprised,” Jamie laughed. “It’s the same with the TARDIS. You can nae control it.”
“Can’t control it?” the Doctor was aghast. “Whatever do you mean?”
“So you’re saying,” Zoe enquired, “the Zorbius energy was released and it got caught up in this rain.”
“No, no,” the Doctor contradicted her. “The energy became the rain, Zoe. Albert, the man Charoc’s fighting against…well sort of fighting, is responsible for converting the energy into rain to freeze people and put them in a dream-like state. And at a constant rate.”
“Well, what’s the matter with the man?” Jamie wanted to know. “Why does he want to do that?”
“Well, to control everyone,” the Doctor answered, as if it was completely obvious. “To control people in their sleep forever so that he can control the universe by himself without any interference.”
“Well, that’s horrible,” said Zoe shocked. “To create skeletal robots is bad enough, but this. Forcing people to sleep!”
“Yes, but not to worry, Jamie; Zoe,” the Doctor reassured them. “I have everything in hand. I have a plan.”
“I thought you said you didn’t have a plan,” Jamie challenged him.
“Yes well, I was wrong,” the Doctor told Jamie. “I do have a plan. Look!”
The Doctor then showed Jamie and Zoe a make-shift crystal. It was sharded and put together rather crudely.
“Hey what’s that?” Jamie asked, intrigued.
“The original Zorbius crystal, Jamie,” the Doctor answered. “The crystal of time.”
“But you said…”
“It’s my own make-shift version of one, Jamie,” the Doctor interrupted him. “I built this after the crystal got destroyed and after the energy was released. I’ve kept it in my coat pockets just in case I needed to use it whenever I came across the Zorbius energy again.”
“Aye but what good will that do?” Jamie asked dubiously.
“Well, I should be able to keep the energy in here and place it in my TARDIS so that no thieving entity can get their grubby hands on it,” the Doctor explained.
“And you had that crystal all that time in your coat pockets?” Zoe asked, unconvinced.
“Yes Zoe,” the Doctor reassured her. “I had this crystal all that time in my coat pockets. Bit paranoid of me I know, but I wouldn’t be a genius if I hadn’t known I was going to encounter Zorbius again one day soon.”
“Aye, but will it work?” Jamie was still unsure about this.
“Of course it will,” the Doctor insisted. “I know what I’m doing.”
At that moment, they stopped as they came to the dining room door. Charoc turned to the Doctor.
“He is waiting for us,” she said. “Be warned, Doctor. He is not happy.”
“No, I thought he might not be,” the Doctor remarked. He thought to himself for a moment before he turned to Jamie and Zoe. “Jamie; Zoe. Whatever happens, don’t interfere. Watch by all means, but don’t do anything to interrupt me when I’m confronting Albert.”
“Why?” Jamie asked, puzzled. “What are you going to do?”
“Jamie,” the Doctor stressed. “Don’t do anything! Understand?”
“Oh, alright then,” Jamie replied, still puzzled. “Whatever you say. You’re the brains!”
“Zoe?” the Doctor turned to her.
“I understand,” Zoe replied.
Matthew and Chloe nodded in agreement.
“You know how seriously I take this, Doctor,” Charoc answered. “Time is connected to me as well as the dream.”
“Right then,” the Doctor said gradually. “Let’s go in.” He breathed deep before he said, “Come along.”
With that; he, Jamie, Zoe, Charoc, Matthew and Chloe entered to confront Albert inside the dining room.
Rain echoed in the background. In the dining room, the Doctor stepped forward to confront Albert…or Zorbius as he was now know. His companions looked on. Albert glared at the Doctor admonishingly whilst the Doctor remained serious and dignified.
“So Zorbius,” the Doctor began. “You’ve been waiting for me all this time. I wondered what became of you.”
“I had to track the Zorbius energy to here, Doctor,” Albert explained. “In order to meet up with you. Your present incarnation. Not the most inspired I would think. Cosmic hobo? More of a clown than a scientist, aren’t you?”
“Clearly your manners haven’t improved either, Zorbius,” the Doctor commented. “At least your appearance has changed. Last time I saw you, you were a demented and decaying creature.”
“You know, Doctor!” Albert exclaimed. “You know I change into any form I wish. I am Zorbius! I am power! I am time and glory!”
“Not yet, you’re not,” the Doctor retorted. “I mean, what have you done here? You’ve abused the dreaming powers of a good and noble woman! You force people to dream their lives out in order to serve your purposes!”
“If you had power like me Doctor, wouldn’t you want to do the same yourself?” Albert asked.
“And on top of all that,” the Doctor continued, ignoring Albert’s question, “you’ve created monsters in the form of robots! Plastered with the bones of the dead!”
“Yes Doctor!” Albert exclaimed. “The Skeletrons are my creation! The invention of Zorbius! Inspired are they not?”
“They’re an abomination!” the Doctor retorted. “Horrific! You have no right to…”
“You shall soon be meeting the Skeletrons,” Albert interrupted him, “and confronting them time and time again in your life times! It is not the last you’ll see of them! They’ll come back to haunt you for the rest of your life!”
“What are you talking about?” the Doctor asked, worried.
“I can prevent you feeling the pain of encounters with my creations,” Albert as Zorbius said. “I can do so…by ending your life abruptly!”
“Now wait just a minute, Zorbius…” the Doctor began to protest.
“If you grant me the power of the crystal energy inside this rain of mine,” Albert said, “then I shall spare your life! If not, then it’s over! For you!”
“Zorbius,” the Doctor tried to reason with him. “Now you listen to me! If you destroy me…”
“Do you grant me the power?!” Albert demanded impatiently.
“No!” the Doctor responded. “You know I can’t, Zorbius. Not only is it against every principle I hold dear, it’s against the laws of time! I can’t let you have the energy! You know I can’t!”
“Then you must die, Doctor!” Albert shouted. “DIE!!!”
“No!” the Doctor cried.
“Then you do intend to give me the crystal energy,” Albert challenged him.
The Doctor became hesitant, unable to decide how to answer his enemy at that moment. Then it came to him!
“I challenge you, Zorbius!” he said boldly. “A battle of wits between you and me!”
“You challenge me?” Albert scoffed.
“Yes! A fight for the crystal energy,” the Doctor said. “If I win, I shall keep it from you. If you win, then you can have all the power you want. A battle of the minds! Do you accept or reject? Or are you afraid?”
Albert fumed. “I, Zorbius, am never afraid!” He heaved deep breaths of anger before he spoke again. “Very well! I accept your challenge! Take your chair, Doctor!”
The Doctor and Albert made to sit down at the dining room table, facing each other. The challenge was set. Jamie and Zoe saw this and became anxious.
“What’s he doing?!” Jamie wanted to know.
“Doctor!” Zoe called out to him. “Don’t do it! Please come back!”
“Aye, come back!” Jamie called. “You’ll get yourself killed!”
“I told you, Jamie; Zoe!” the Doctor warned his companions. “Don’t interfere!”
Once they sat down at the dining table facing each other, Albert as Zorbius asked, “Are you prepared, Doctor?”
“Yes!” the Doctor replied. “I am prepared! On guard!”
The Doctor then gave out a cry of pain. Albert already started his attack in the mind to weaken the Doctor. The Doctor struggled to gain control as he slumbered in his chair.
“Oh now!” the Doctor groaned. “That’s cheating! You’re cheating, Zorbius!”
“Play, Doctor!” Albert demanded. “Play the game of minds or else you die!”
The Doctor cried out in pain again as he was weakening. Jamie and Zoe panicked as they watched in horror.
“We’ve got to help him!” Jamie insisted. “We’ve got to help the Doctor!”
Jamie and Zoe were about to move forward before Charoc stopped them.
“No!” she growled. “You must come with me!”
“But we can’t just leave him!” Zoe protested.
“You can save him!” Charoc told them. “But there is another way!”
“How?” Jamie asked.
“Follow me!” Charoc commanded.
With that, Jamie and Zoe followed Charoc. Matthew and Chloe joined them too as they headed out of the dining room. The battle continued between the Doctor and Zorbius in the dining room. The Doctor contorted in pain – almost like his face was being pulled apart.
Rain echoed in the background. Out in the hallway, Jamie and Zoe escaped with Charoc, Matthew and Chloe. Jamie became angry and Zoe almost started to sob.
“Now what did ye bring us out here for?!” Jamie asked angrily. “We could’ve rescued the Doctor and you stopped us!”
“It was horrible,” Zoe sobbed. “Seeing the Doctor in pain like that. We must do something to save him.”
“You can, Zoe Heriot,” Charoc told her. “With your mind.”
“Ach not your brain-playing tricks again,” Jamie said bitterly. “We’ve had enough of those! It made us go to sleep to dream and where has it got us? Nothing!”
“Dreams are vital to us all, young Highlander,” Charoc growled. “But it wasn’t the dreaming I was referring to. It was the intelligence! Zoe’s intelligence!”
Zoe then began to realise. “You mean…my computer skills and astrophysics could come in handy somehow.”
Charoc pointed to the computer on the wall. “See that?”
They made their way towards it. Jamie and Zoe eyed the computer curiously.
“Oh aye!” Jamie remarked. “What is this box of tricks then?”
“It’s a computer,” Zoe told him as if it seemed obvious. “A highly advanced computer.” She then realised. “This must be the computer that controls the rain! As well as the dreaming!”
“So that’s what’s been giving us trouble,” Jamie said eagerly. “Aye well, we can smash it up then!”
“Is that all you think about, Jamie?” Matthew said, annoyed. “Brute force?”
“How will this save the Doctor though?” Chloe wanted to know.
“The Doctor is in trouble and on the verge of death,” Charoc growled. “But all hope is not lost! Contact can be made!”
“Contact?” queried Matthew. “Contact with who?”
“With the friend the Doctor sought for when looking for me,” Charoc answered.
Jamie realised. “You mean…Craiger? The sleeping man Craiger!”
“We can use this computer to make contact with him?” Zoe asked, surprised.
“It accesses the mind,” Charoc explained. “That’s how one brings the dreams into being by Albert with the use of the deepening rain.”
“You mean Zorbius,” Jamie corrected.
“Yes,” Charoc said, giving a low growl. “Zorbius.”
“‘Ere, I thought Zorbius was energy and not a person,” Jamie thought out loud.
“Albert must be connected to this Zorbius energy,” Zoe said to Jamie. “I don’t fully understand it myself.” She then turned to Charoc. “Can you help us to make contact with Craiger via this computer?”
“With computer skills, no,” Charoc answered. “You are far versed in that area of knowledge, Zoe.”
“I don’t even know about this model or design,” Zoe admitted. “It’s far more advanced than anything I’ve come across.”
“I shall help you to contact Craiger,” Charoc said. “Through sleeping.”
“Aww great!” Jamie moaned. “That means we’ll have to dream again.”
“It’s the only way,” Charoc told them. “In order to save the Doctor.”
A tense moment of silence ensued.
“Aye well,” Jamie then said. “If it’ll save the Doctor, then there’s no point in arguing, is there?”
“Indeed not,” Zoe agreed. “Let’s see if we can get this computer set up. I may not know this model or design, but I’m a fast thinker and learner. I’m pretty sure I can get the computer running in order to help the Doctor.”
“I shall assist you through the dreaming process,” Charoc said.
Zoe acknwoledged Charoc before turning to Jamie, “Jamie, help me with this.”
As Zoe got to work setting up the computer with Jamie helping her, Charoc got ready with setting up the dreaming process. Matthew and Chloe stood nearby.
“Matthew and Chloe,” she commanded. “I shall need your help too.”
“Oh, really?” queried Matthew, surprised.
“Tell us what we can do to help,” said Chloe eagerly.
At that, Charoc began to explain as she whispered in their ears.
Jamie and Zoe eventually managed to gain contact with Craiger as they talked to him via a dream. Once they told him what was happening, Craiger said, shocked, “The Doctor? Dying?”
“We can nae explain it now,” Jamie said. “Look! The Doctor’s fighting a monster called Zorbius! And he needs your help to save him!”
“My help?” queried Craiger, astonished.
“That’s why we came,” Zoe said. “To wake you to save the Doctor. We’re using a computer to directly make contact with you.”
“But how come you’re able to contact me via a dream?” Craiger asked. “Dreams are confusing and convoluted, aren’t they? Yet I can sense you and be aware of you clearly.”
“Ach well, there’s this lassie,” Jamie told him. “A lion called Charoc.”
“She’s the one who’s controlling the dreams, Mr. Craiger,” Zoe continued explaining. “But Zorbius wants control of these dreams too!”
“And it’s through her you’re able to contact me,” Craiger realised.
“Look!” Jamie interjected. “We’re wasting time here! We need your help to save the Doctor! Now are you with us or are ye not?”
“Anything you want me to do, I will, my boy,” Craiger said, determined. “What is it you want me to do?”
“First…get up,” Zoe told him. “Get out of your bed.”
“Ah,” Craiger responded. “That seems easy enough.”
Craiger immediately got up out of bed. Zoe was embarrassed. Jamie hid her face.
“And please, put your clothes on!” Jamie complained. “You can nae go about all nuddy, can ye?”
Craiger was puzzled. Then the clock in his bedroom began to chime. He looked at it closely to see the time.
“Eight o’clock in the morning,” Craiger realised. “Hmm. Well, no good standing about here, is there? I’ll put some clothes on, shall I?”
Rain echoed in the background. Back in the dining room, the Doctor continued to struggle fighting against Albert as Zorbius. Albert laughed mockingly as the Doctor stumbled forward.
“You’re weakening, Doctor!” Albert mocked. “You cannot resist me! I am Zorbius! I am the king!!! Everything I say, you will do according to my will!”
“No!” the Doctor defied him. “I will fight! I must resist you! I will resist you, Zorbius! I will!”
“But it’s far, far too late, Doctor!” Albert mocked again. “Already I’m absorbing your Time Lord energies within you as much as I’m absorbing the crystal energies which you stole. I am patient when it comes to achieving full victory. It won’t be long this time for me to achieve my ambition!”
As the Doctor struggled in pain from Albert’s attack, it was then that Jamie, Zoe, Charoc, Matthew and Chloe entered the dining room. They saw their dear friend in deadly peril.
“What have you done to him?!” Zoe cried out to Albert. “He’s so pale! You’re killing him, Albert!”
“Let the Doctor go!” Jamie demanded. “What harm has he ever done you?!”
“Much harm!” Albert shouted. “More harm than you can ever imagine! The Doctor is a dangerous man to be with! You have no idea what you’re dealing with if you continue being in his company, you young people!”
Jamie and Zoe turned to Charoc.
“There must be something we can do, Charoc!” Zoe insisted.
“We’ve done what we must,” Charoc replied. “Now it’s up to how time turns. There are no answers left now.”
Jamie and Zoe looked on with worry as they saw the Doctor suffering. Just then at that moment, Craiger appeared in the dining room. He looked to confront Albert.
“Excuse me, you vicious fiend!” Craiger called out. “You’re hurting my friend!”
Albert looked at Criager in shock. “Where did you come from?!” he demanded. “What are you doing in this palace?!”
Craiger’s distraction was enough. The Doctor was able to gain some of his strength back as he got himself up to his feet. Jamie and Zoe were relieved.
“Doctor!” Jamie said, thrilled. “You’re still alive!”
“Oh Doctor, thank goodness!” exclaimed Zoe, equally relieved. “We thought you’d…”
The Doctor put his fingers to his lips to hush Jamie and Zoe up. He spoke rather quietly to them.
“Now whilst Mr. Craiger’s distracting Albert, I can use my chance to retrieve what was lost. Using this!”
The Doctor took out his make-shift crystal and showed it to Jamie and Zoe. Before they could ask, the Doctor silenced them as he made his way over to creep behind Albert who was still facing Craiger. Craiger continued his distraction as he looked to the Skeletrons.
“Not fine bedfellows you have with you, sir,” Craiger said. “In fact, I find your behaviour most appalling. What do you mean by treating my friends this way?”
“Out of my house!” Albert shouted. “OUT!!!” He turned to the Skeletrons. “Skeletrons! Take this man away and throw him out! THROW HIM OUT!!!”
The Skeletrons advanced forward as they moved in to grab Craiger. But suddenly, the deepening rain began to disperse. It was drawn away from the Skeletrons. Albert saw this and became horrified.
“What is this?” he demanded to know. “What is happening to my rain?!”
Albert then saw the Skeletrons weakening as they began to crumble to the floor. They groaned as they fell. The bones collapsed apart from their robot bodies. This horrified Zoe and Chloe once they saw this.
“How horrible!” Chloe exclaimed. “How ghastly!”
“Thank goodness that’s the end of them,” said Zoe relieved.
The two girls were comforted by Jamie and Matthew respectively. Albert turned and saw the Doctor absorbing the rain that contained the Zorbius energy as it was being kept inside his makeshift crystal built from last time on the Rotenhend Hotel in the 36th century.
Albert was mortified. “Doctor! What are you doing?! You’ve stopped the rain! My rain!”
“That’s right, Zorbius,” said the Doctor defiantly. “I absorbed the rain which is the crystal’s energy back into this make-shift crystal I’ve made. You remember it, Albert? From last time. When we were on that space hotel. How long ago was that for you?”
“Give it to me, Doctor!” Albert demanded angrily. “Give me the crystal of time! I must have it! I must! Give it to me!”
“Too late, Albert,” the Doctor told him. “Your house is beginning to crumble!”
This was true as the ceiling, masonry and walls in Albert’s guest house began to crumble and fall. Albert panicked before he yelled in a furious rage. “I shall smite you, Doctor! You’ve done this to me again! You’ve ruined me!”
“I’m very sorry, Albert,” the Doctor mock-apologised. “But you gave me little choice. You can’t use your powers on me now. You’ve already weakened. Mr. Craiger’s distraction was enough for me to get the better of you!”
Albert’s rage became greater as he crumbled to the floor. The Doctor turned to Jamie, Zoe and the others.
“Quickly! We must get out of here! All of us!”
“The gateway is open!” Charoc growled. “The curse is over! You have nothing to fear! You should all leave!”
“Yes, so come on!” said the Doctor keenly. “Let’s get out of here! RUN!!!”
They began to run out – Jamie, Zoe, Matthew and Chloe with the Doctor. The Doctor called to Craiger, thinking she joined them in the escape. But then the Doctor saw that Charoc was remaining behind.
“Aren’t you coming, Charoc?” he called out to her.
“Albert needs me,” Charoc replied, growling. “Far more than ever. I shall keep watch over him. You go, Doctor. You must live to survive.”
“But Charoc!” the Doctor cried. “You’ll get killed!”
“There is much you do not understand about me, Doctor,” Charoc told him, growling. “Trust me! Isn’t that what you always say to others?”
The Doctor thought about this for a moment. He saw the sincerity and dignity in Charoc’s eyes. He went back over to Charoc, took one of her paws and shook it gently to say goodbye.
“Thank you, Charoc!” he said. “Thank you for all you’ve done for me and my friends.”
“Doctor, will ye come on now!” Jamie called to him. “Get away!”
As the Doctor heard Jamie call to him, he began to follow after his friends, giving one last look at Charoc. Charoc stared at the Doctor with wild eyes. “Go now, Doctor! Beware of the future! The danger that still lies ahead! In your next lives!”
The Doctor didn’t know what to make of that. He dismissed it instantly as he headed out following the call of his companions.
Charoc meanwhile looked back to Albert who was howling with rage. Charoc made her way over to Albert and stood above him, neither comforting nor reassuring him.
“You are in my game now, Albert,” she told him. “Forever! You will never escape me now! You are to remain here with me! In the game of Charoc! Isn’t that what you wanted? Everlasting dreams?”
Albert’s rage increased and he cried bitterly, sobbing away. It wasn’t before Charoc started attacking him with sharp wild claws. Both her good side and her wild side.
The Doctor, Jamie, Zoe and the others woke up back in the king’s throne room. They all came out of their dream.
“Doctor, are you alright?” asked Jamie concerned.
The Doctor sat up on the throne room floor, brushing himself down. He turned to Jamie to reassure him. “Yes Jamie, I’m quite well thank you. You are too, I take it?”
The Doctor turned to Zoe before Jamie could answer. “Zoe?”
“I’m fine, Doctor,” Zoe reassured him. “Really, we’re all fine. But you. You were on the verge of death by that horrid man.”
“Oh nonsense,” the Doctor retorted. “I told you I’d think of a way out of this. And here we are. Safe and sound. See?”
“Aye,” Jamie said unconvinced. “Well, at least we’re in one piece.”
The Doctor and his companions got up from the floor and took in their surroundings. They saw King Rowan standing there, looking completely astonished and appalled. Captain Carey was beside him.
“You Doctor!” King Rowan said somewhat accusingly. “And your friends! You’re awake again!”
“Ah, your majesty!” the Doctor said cheerfully. “How good to see you again!” He then turned to Carey. “The Skeletrons have stopped fighting I take it, Captain Carey?”
“I…well…yes,” Carey stammered. “They’ve stopped fighting…”
“Oh good,” the Doctor said, satisfied. “I thought they might have. Very pleased indeed. All the Skeletrons would eventually stop once I absorbed the rain into my makeshift crystal.”
He held out the makeshift crystal for people to see. Zoe looked around to see somebody missing.
“Doctor, where’s Charoc?” she asked. “She’s not here with us.”
“No Zoe,” the Doctor replied. “She decided to remain behind. With Albert…I mean, Zorbius. Yes, she’s with him.”
“Hey, what for?” Jamie asked, baffled and appalled.
“I’ll explain later, Jamie,” the Doctor said reassurringly.
The Doctor then saw Craiger. The two men greeted each other happily.
“My dear Craiger!” the Doctor cheered. “How good to see you again! And looking so well! You’ve grown up!”
“I’ve missed seeing you, Doctor,” Criager said. “I’d always hoped you would return to our planet. Though not in my mature years.”
Jamie and Zoe were also reunited with Chloe and Matthew. Jamie met Chloe.
“There you are you see, lass,” Jamie said. “Nothing to worry about. Easy as pie.”
“You speak for yourself,” Chloe snorted. “But I’m glad we’re all safe.”
Zoe met Matthew.
“I’m glad we got through in the end,” Matthew said. “I only wish we had more time to get to know each other.”
“So do I, Matthew,” Zoe said sadly. “So do I.”
In the end, Zoe embraced Matthew with an affectionate kiss on the cheek. Matthew and Chloe as well as Craiger also thanked the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe for all they’d done in saving Riseford from the Skeletrons and the deepening rain. The Doctor blushed modestly.
“Oh no. There’s no need. Only too happy to help.”
King Rowan interrupted the happy atmosphere very angrily. “Now see here! I protest! I don’t mind admitting I don’t know what’s going on, but as king I deserve some respect…”
Matthew and Chloe then turned on King Rowan defiantly.
“No you see here, king!” Matthew said defiantly. “You’ve got a nerve to talk to us like that!”
“Yeah!” Chloe joined in. “It’s you who should be respecting us!”
“What did you say?!” the king said threateningly.
Craiger interjected to keep the peace. He said to Matthew and Chloe, “Steady, you two. Let me handle this.” Then he said to King Rowan, “Now, your majesty. I think it’s fair to say that you’ve gone a little too far!”
“Too far?!” King Rowan bellowed. “TOO FAR?!!!”
The Doctor took this opportunity to slip away as he nudged Jamie and Zoe.
“About time we should be leaving, I think,” the Doctor said quietly. “I hate goodbyes anyway.”
Taking his cue, Jamie and Zoe followed the Doctor as they left the throne room. Craiger, Chloe and Matthew continued arguing and making their case with the angry king.
“You are too indulgent in your ways, your majesty,” Craiger said to the king. “After all, you show no gratitude to the Doctor and his friends. They’ve saved you and you don’t acknowledge it.”
“Saved me?!” King Rowan shouted. “How did they save me? I did not ask them to save me, did I? DID I?!”
“Of course not,” Chloe said. “You didn’t have to! They did it out of selflessness and compassion! And I think you should apologise to them for your insulting words right now…”
But Chloe turned and saw that the Doctor and his friends had gone. Both she and Matthew were astonished.
“Where…where have they gone?” Chloe asked. “Why didn’t they say goodbye?”
“They were insulted,” Matthew said. “The king insulted them and they went on their way.”
“No,” Craiger said gradually before the king spoke. “I don’t think it’s that, my young friends.” He paused for a moment. “The Doctor is a traveller. He helps those who are in great need. When he’s finished, he always moves on to the next adventure.”
The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe eventually returned back to the TARDIS. The blue box was where they left it on the sea bed. As they walked, Jamie and Zoe asked the questions they’d been meaning to ask the Doctor.
“So Doctor,” Jamie began, “What did happen to Charoc and that…Albert person in the end?”
“Well Jamie if you must know,” the Doctor said gradually. “When Albert lost his powers from the Zorbius energy in the rain…”
“Which you’ve got safely tucked away in that makeshift crystal of yours,” Zoe interrupted. “It is safe isn’t it, Doctor?”
“Yes Zoe, it’s quite safe,” the Doctor reassured her before he cleared his throat. “Anyway, as I was saying, when Albert lost his power, he could no longer have the power to control people dreaming. The reason why Charoc stayed behind was to keep him going in that game of hers.”
“Hey, you know what Doctor,” Jamie realised. “We still don’t know what that game of Charoc’s was, you know.”
“Oh Jamie!” the Doctor said quite desparingly. “I thought that was obvious.”
Jamie shrugged. The Doctor looked to Zoe. She didn’t know either. The Doctor rolled his eyes.
“Charoc’s game is…well, it’s err…it’s basically the mind working to cope with being awake in the dream world rather than sleeping in it. Albert, or rather Zorbius, had the deepening rain and the Skeletrons to help him in order to control his awareness when dreaming.”
“But now he’s lost the rain the Skeletrons, he won’t be able to keep awake,” Zoe remarked. “Yes, I see. Charoc was testing us all on how long we could keep awake.”
“It was a struggle for us all I know,” the Doctor said. “Now he’ll struggle without the control he had and Charoc will always be there to torment him for the rest of his life.”
“Aye but, remember what he said to you,” Jamie pointed out. “What Albert said to you when we were in that dining room.”
“No Jamie, what?” the Doctor enquired. “What did Albert say to me when we were in the dining room.”
Jamie couldn’t believe the Doctor didn’t know this. “He said the Skeletrons will come back to haunt you. You’ll be encountering them again and again.”
“Yes Jamie, I err,” the Doctor stammered, worried, “I hadn’t forgotten that.”
“So we haven’t seen the last of the Skeletrons then,” Zoe pondered. “They’ll be back to get us. Isn’t that right, Doctor?”
“Yes Zoe,” the Doctor replied, still worried. “I-I’m afraid that might be the case.”
“Ah well,” Jamie said casually. “Nothing to worry about. We’ll be ready for them next time. Won’t we, Doctor?”
“Yes Jamie,” the Doctor said sadly. “Or rather, I’ll need to be ready for them.”
Jamie and Zoe looked at each other, puzzled by the Doctor’s words. The Doctor told them to ignore what he said.
“Come on,” he said insistently. “Let’s get inside the TARDIS and get away.”
The Doctor fitted his TARDIS key into the lock of the door and opened it. Before they went inside, Zoe tugged at the Doctor.
“You’ve got that crystal safe haven’t you, Doctor?” she asked.
The Doctor grinned and showed them the make-shift crystal. “Oh yes, Zoe. I’ve got it safe here. Safe and sound as I always say.”
“Huh!” Jamie scoffed. “Doesn’t look it! Don’t drop it or lose it like last time.”
“Of course I won’t, Jamie,” the Doctor retorted. “I’m going to careful this time. The crystal contains the crystal energy. I’m going to put it somewhere in my TARDIS where it’ll be safe. You’ll see.”
“Aye, but how safe, Doctor?” Jamie mocked.
The Doctor saw how Jamie and Zoe were teasing him. He sighed annoyed, “Oh please, let’s not have this. I’m really tired.”
“Perhaps you could do with some sleep,” Zoe teased. “Sweet dreams, Doctor.”
The Doctor grimaced as he went inside the TARDIS. “Oh really, Zoe,” he sighed. “You’re as bad as Jamie is.”
Jamie and Zoe smirked as they followed the Doctor. All three left in the TARDIS, leaving the planet Saron behind them.
© Tim Bradley, 2020
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