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Time, Space, Soda in a Paper Cup

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You crash-land into a pond on your first attempt to reach Gorex VII-- you’ve got enough time on your hands to stop by and overthrow an alien dictator or two, get your feet wet testing out the new body and all that, except when you step out of the TARDIS and literally get your feet wet, you realize that you must’ve miscalculated.

Maybe ‘pond’ is a little dramatic. It’s a puddle. But it’s a large one, and your socks are now wet, so evidently god is dead.

You step out of the puddle. It’s drizzling-- water, you’re pretty sure.

And somebody is watching you.

“Hi,” you say.

It’s a small person, either a human child or a Yalehuniani adult. Based off the way they aren’t trying to burrow into the mud, you want to guess human, but you don’t like to assume things.

Also, they aren’t talking.

“What planet is this?” you ask, raising your voice a little so they can hear you from where they are, hunched up on the front steps to a house. Which is decidedly Not Normal, now that you’re thinking about it, since it’s dark and rainy and lights are on inside so clearly someone is home, but first thing is first-- where, and when, exactly, have you ended up.

“Jersey,” is their short reply.

“Oh.” You nod. That narrows it down, a little. “...Which one?”

They don’t seem to have a response to this. You try again.

“Are you a human?”

They pause, contemplating, before nodding and shooting you a thumbs up.

“Okay,” you say, “that’s enough information. Well, no. It’s not. Why aren’t you inside? Is this where you live?”

They turn to the house, and then back to you, and they shrug. “Aunt Stephanie told me to go play outside.”

“It doesn’t look like you’re playing,” you remark.

The kid shakes their head. “Can’t. No rain-boots,” they emphasize their point by kicking socked feet out in your direction.

“Who needs ‘em? My feet are all wet and I’m having the time of my life. See?” You kick a puddle, and water goes flying. The child seems to ponder this.

“If you get too cold, we can go inside,” you assure them.

They shake their head. “Door’s locked.”

“Not that one,” you say, pointing back to the TARDIS.

They frown. “Too small. We’ll be squashed.”

“You’re awfully rational for a little kid.”

“What’s that mean?”

“It means you should stop worrying and come jump in some puddles with me.”

The kid stands up. “Okay.”

You splash around for a while. They ask you what your name is.

“People always call me the Doctor. I don’t like that, though. You can call me Kris,” you tell them as you stomp in a puddle, mud caking your sneakers.

“Why?”

“Why what?” you ask. “Why do they call me that?”

They nod. You shrug.

“It’s just how people know me, I guess. I stop one plague in ancient Tsebion and suddenly it’s my nickname across the galaxy. I guess I don’t care that much. There are worse things to be called.”

“Like pig-fart,” they say matter-of-factly.

“Exactly.”

You splash some more.

“People always call me Francesca,” they utter, suddenly, “but I don’t like that, so you can call me Frisk.”

“Okay.”

“And I’m not a girl.”

“Okay.”

“Or a boy.”

“That’s fine. Neither am I. Gender’s a waste of time,” you say.

“Okay,” they say.

You splash around for a few more minutes.

“Can we go inside, now?” they ask, stopping short in the middle of a puddle.

“Yeah. The rain’s stopping, anyway. Won’t be as fun,” you say.

Frisk dashes along to your side and grabs your hand, marching you both to the TARDIS. You open the door for them and they step right in with an unusual amount of confidence. You follow them.

They’re quiet for a second as they take in the TARDIS’s interior. You wait for them to speak before you say anything yourself. It takes them a long time, and you get worried that they might faint or something, but they finally speak with a quick remark of, “Good magic trick.”

“Thanks,” you say, watching them dash up to the flight deck.

“What’s that do?” They ask, gazing at all the buttons and levers on your console.

“A lot of stuff. It mostly drives this thing around.”

“This is a car?” they ask, looking genuinely surprised for the first time since you’ve materialized from thin air and broken the modern laws of physics by leading them into a pocket-dimension inside the walls of a police-box. You like this kid.

“No,” you explain, “it’s more like a spaceship. Slash time-machine. It’s called a TARDIS, which stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space.”

“Oh. What else does it do?”

You come up to join them. “Well, there’s a soda fountain around the other side.”

“Can I have some?”

“Sure.” You swing around and press a few buttons. “What do you want? There’s Solomorp, which is popular in fiftieth-century Rexiton-- I think it’s overrated, personally, but to each their own. Um, I have Fan Tenta, only diet, though, and the Vitex machine is broken, but there’s Ket Cola, which is similar--”

“Sprite, please.”

“Coming right up.”

You fill a large paper cup with Sprite and hand it over. Frisk sits down in the jump seat and sips thoughtfully.

“Can we go somewhere?” they ask, after a moment.

“Sure. Where do you wanna go?”

This catches them off-guard. Lips pressed against the rim of their cup, they look into their Sprite and frown.

“I dunno,” they say. “Where do you wanna go?”

“Kid, I can take you literally anywhere. Name a place,” you urge, leaning back and drumming your fingers against the console.

Frisk takes a moment to think. “Space?”

They say it like it’s a challenge. “Space,” you parrot, turning around to press some buttons. “Not much to do in plain old space, but sure thing. Might wanna finish your drink, first, though. It’s a bumpy ride.”

They tilt their head back and try to chug the soda, but they don’t get very far. “Can’t,” they say, “I’m full.”

“Give it to me, then.”

They hand over the cup and you toss it over your shoulder.

“Hang on to something,” you advise. “I’m still getting the hang of this.”

You pull the lever. Everything jerks, and you’re off.


You hang onto their ankle to stop them from floating off-- the TARDIS creates a protective bubble around you, but still. Little Frisk laughs and laughs as they float upwards, hair flowing around them, like they’re underwater. They reach their arms up and up, making grabbing motions at the stars.

You think you’ll keep them.