Copyright 2015 by Rachel Beth Ahrens. All rights reserved. Printed online via WordPress, Lady in the Blue Box publishing, United States of America. No part of this story may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission of the blogger, except in the case of quotations embodied in critical articles, reviews, and other online blog posts.
Plagiarism is a crime and not dealt with lightly… You steal my words, and I will call Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and set her flying monkeys on you with extreme prejudice! (My pretties…)
Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. (That also means all Doctor Who characters and references are property of BBC Cymru Wales Productions, British Broadcasting Corporation International, with full absolute respect to that regard.) Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Especially you, Scottish Peter.
(Even you know I’m being silly.)
(Congrats, Twelfth Doctor Capaldi, love you!)
Sunday morning was pleasant: brunch and mimosas, reading in the library, a full stomached dinner at home, and karaoke after hours with old friends.
Monday morning, the karaoke must have ripped my throat raw, and everything I drank or swallowed felt like sandpaper. Quite possibly the “crack in the wall” of my larynx I asked for, I may have swallowed one too many cough drops.
Tuesday, my nose joined the sore throat combo, adding the sinus headache and ear pressure to make a viral barbershop quartet. I couldn’t watch ABC’s Forever once again from so much pain. Bring on the Sudafed and Kleenex…
Wednesday, the loud congestion arrived, for I had a hard time breathing with the tickle in my lungs. The sore throat was nearly gone, but everything else stayed longer. Skip the cough syrup, grab the elephant sized 12-hour cough expectorant tablets…
Thursday morning, I opened my eyes at the precise second my heart lunged against my chest. I took my fingers and felt my pulse on my neck. I counted… one, two, three, four, five, six… I had maybe eleven or thirteen pumps, 130 beats per minute at least.
My hands and legs trembled when I stood to use the ladies’ room next door. I lied back down on the bed, slept a few more hours, but the irregular heart wanted to stay frantic when I awoke again. Weak as a newborn kitten, but felt like I ran in a 100K marathon for charity. What was this?
I called my mother in a panic, no answer. I had more apple juice to fight my “common cold”, still like sandpaper on a throat. My mother called me back and told me to stop hyperventilating, that it was just another panic attack. I was no stranger to panic attacks, but this one had no cause and no purpose at all; I wasn’t upset that morning! How could I have a panic attack when I’m diseased with the cold viral plague?
I hung up and finished my juice glass, heart still playing double Dutch rope on a hopscotch of sidewalk chalk. Last night caused this, right? What I did last night, something… What was it?
I have several DVDs stacked up with tales and trials of the last great Time Lord in the universe. All night long, I stayed awake for every interview, a quick preview of a train mystery a la Agatha Christie but in outer space, and every second of a music video, a pretty English singer jazzing up an old Freddie Mercury/ Queen song.
But the last frame froze on the mysterious old man, gray hairs, sleek navy suit, the furrowed eyebrows and fearsome lines. Scottish voice, temperament neither good nor evil, and he was on his way to finding his darker side, yet I liked him already as the man of the hour. The Man of the Twelfth Hour.
Midnight had long passed already. Close to five in the morning, Mother tapped on my door with a ‘go to bed’ tone. I must have been frustrated then, maybe just startled, might be tired and I never realized. I went to sleep and woke up in a hot flush attack.
This couldn’t be happening, it can’t! Right now, I want to shout, scream, let the rain fall from my eyelashes, but I have no strength. I try to picture that hot man in the bow tie I dearly loved, putting me to bed and fixing a quick tannin remedy to rid everything in me in two hours.
Instead, a much older version pulls me to my feet.
“You on the sofa, get up. Now.”
I stand, feeling the blood moving to my feet and out of my head. My limbs feel like half-lead-half-blood as my heart still tremors. I don’t know what to think, the sunlight from the partial clouds and pleasant day stung my eyes, leaving me with slight blindness.
He drags me to the kitchen, I slump to the chair. If my heart didn’t bust through my ribs and explode, my head would do it first. I couldn’t look. He lifts my head.
“Both eyes open,” he orders. “Breathe in. Eyes on me.”
I blink. Midnight Hour stares right back at me, tailored suit, red coat lining, all of it.
“Wh… wha… why…” I find it hard to speak.
“You might feel a bit stressed on top of your illness,” Midnight says. “Please, don’t be.”
“How can I? I’m already…”
He cuts me off from saying anything else. “Something, or someone, poisoned you, and we have to get that out.” He turns to the cabinets for the tea and adds, “Dry your eyes, Rachel Elizabeth. Crying’s for soap opera stars and women on The Bachelor series.”
I finally notice my cheeks are wet and tear ducts all watery with saline. It dumbfounded me that some Scottish wanderer would just jump into my house and pull me aside from death getting cozy next to me.
He paid me no attention as he busied for tea. I wanted to faint until he successfully brought two coffee cups of chamomile and insisted that they were both mine. Slamming both of them down on my table with a loud clank, he said he didn’t want any, but I only wanted to use one tea bag of strong honey vanilla. At least I was relieved he didn’t touch the Lady Grey or Darjeeling up there. Black tea could still rattle me like half a coffee or a sugary coffee milkshake.
“Should be warm enough now. Drink up.”
“This is your solution?” I ask after my first sip. “I was handling this quite perfectly.”
“No, not like that. You were handling it all wrong,” he says, narrowing his brow as if he was still angry at me for something. Was he angry at me last night? Maybe I was the one mad at him, not sure. He’s sort of the angry one most of the time, always dragging his lady friend he calls his “carer” and throwing all kinds of problems in her face like a key lime and whipped cream pie at three in the morning London time while she’s sleeping. I remember what he said about her, that she “cares so I don’t have to.”
That was enough to ask him to leave. He even ordered me to get up and make the tea myself, pouring the refrigerator-cold water to heat in the microwave, then adding the tea bags, sugar, and the hot water over-top to brew it all for several minutes. All he did was slam the two mugs in front of me and told me to fix both of them the way I desired, because, “clearly, you American pudding brains don’t drink tea the same way.”
I can’t argue with him on that. The 1996 movie version and poor excuse for a revival attempt was cooked up by people of my home country, but I wish I was older and educated enough to rewrite the thing. I mean, there are American “pudding” heads, but some are even more so than I.