Donna | The TARDIS | Day 35
“ What the fuck.” There was no frail old woman to concern herself with and so Donna said exactly what she was thinking. There was no frail old woman because Donna was not where she had been. She was in the middle of what looked like a frenetic toddler’s idea of a science fiction set, surrounded by orange lights and spiky coral and a soft golden glow that emanated from the console in the center of the space. Donna tried not to look at that light because it did funny things to her stomach, like it was pulling on her.
She did not like it.
“Oi!” She shouted. Her voice echoed for a moment before dying away. “Is there anyone here?” she tried. Surely someone had organized all this, she wasn’t just kidnapped from her bleeding wedding by the Universe after all. Come to think of it, how was she kidnapped from her wedding at all? There hadn’t been anyone odd about and she didn’t notice any wires or funny tastes in the air or anything else that one might expect if they were to start glowing, black out for a mo’, and open their eyes standing in an apparently abandoned underwater villain’s lair. Well, she assumed underwater, what with the coral and all.
No one answered her. She scowled and crossed her arms in front of her chest. She could feel the seconds ticking away, by now she should have reached the altar. Her hands should have been warm because they were wrapped around Lance’s, her heart full as he gazed into her eyes. She allowed herself one watery sniff before advancing on the circular console in the center of the room.
“Fine,” she muttered, “Kidnap me and abandon me in a REALLY UGLY ROOM will you? These look important.” She jabbed one finger into the largest button she could see and peered out at the room in vindictive pleasure.
Nothing happened. She’d half expected alarms to start, the sound of boots on the metal floors as her captors realized she was free and angry, anything really.
The room was as quiet as before. There was a faint humming noise that seemed to settle into her bones, but it did not change even a bit.
She pressed another button. Another. She grabbed one of the levers and yanked as hard as she could. She spun the odd little dial that jutted out from the console and, when nothing happened and no one appeared, smacked the glass tube with the golden light. A jolt of electricity sang through her and she cried out, yanking her hand back.
“Fuck you, too,” she snapped at the console. She inspected her hand. It didn’t appear damaged but she could still feel the muscles twitching in response to the shock. She stepped away from the console. As she did so, her left heel caught in the grating and twisted. The heel snapped from her shoe and the sudden shift send her tumbling to the floor. There was the sound of ribbing fabric as she landed hard on her hands and knees.
“Why is this happening?” Donna asked as she shifted to sit back on her bum. She did not expect an answer and she did not receive one. She pulled off both shoes and threw them at the console. They hit the glass with a thump and tumbled to the ground.
Donna sighed. She could feel tears gathering at the corners of her eyes, but she absolutely refused to cry. She’d spent a lot of money on makeup and hair and she would not let whatever was happening right now ruin it. She wanted to look good for Lance, he was so kind, he deserved her looking good.
After a few moments spent feeling sorry for herself and picking at the scraped skin on her palms, she decided that she had well and truly missed the ceremony and that was that. She stood and began inspecting the space. There were a number of hallways to her right and a single door to the left. She stamped over to the door and pushed. It did not budge.
“Right,” she said, “That would have been too easy. If the door did what doors are supposed to do.” The door appeared unaffected by her sarcasm. She turned back to the hallways. There were three of them (though something at the back of her mind wanted to insist there had been four when she first looked, she ignored it, hallways did not just disappear after all) but only the middle one was lit.
“Right,” she said again, “Let’s see, I can choose either dark and spooky hallway one or dark and spooky hallway two or the nice well-lit hallway two. I think I’ll take hall number two, Monty.”
She approached the hallway, taking a moment to glare at the golden column in the center of the room as she passed. At the very edge of the room she hesitated. What if she found someone? What if she didn’t? She really wasn’t sure which option was worse.
“Hello?” She called. It had been at least a quarter hour since arriving here and her brash anger had fizzled without anyone to direct it towards. She received no response.
“Okay,” she told herself, “You can do this. It’s a bleeding hallway. Just start looking in doors. Maybe one of them leads out.” She hoped they weren’t all as securely locked at the one in the circular room.
She took a deep breath and stepped into the hall. She was more sure than ever that she’d been right and this was some kind of submarine, the walls curved out and away from the floor in the same way she thought a sub’s should and there were what looked like bulkheads every few yards.
The first section she stepped into contained only a single door. It was bright blue and had clearly been painted by an inexpert hand, the brushstrokes were visible and chaotic. A riot of tiny white flowers were painted across the bottom. Against her better judgement, Donna quite liked it, there was something sweet about the way the paint at the edges of the flowers dripped and ran; whoever had done it was clearly impatient and over-eager to be finished. Sure, wood was an odd choice for a submarine, but perhaps it was actually metal that had been treated to look like wood?
Donna approached the door. She reached for the old-fashioned brass handle before pausing. Perhaps she should knock? That seemed like the polite thing to do. The, the reality of her situation crashed back down on her and she rearranged her face into a snarl. Whoever was in this place had kidnapped her, she wasn’t about to follow common courtesy .
She opened the door. To her surprise it swung open without even a hint of the resistance the other door had presented. The room inside was... Donna leaned in, reluctant to cross the threshold into something so wildly impossible.
It was a garden. A garden with overgrown plants and oddly colored vegetables and, she blinked in an attempt to clear away the obvious hallucination, two suns in the sky above it. Even the air that wafted from the room smelled wrong in a way she could not put her finger on. Donna took a few rapid steps back and allowed the door to close. She wanted to escape, but she knew in her very bones that that room was not her way home. She hurried into the next section of hallway.
There were two doors here and, spurred on by the lingering disquiet from the impossible garden outside the first door, Donna quickly opened the door on her left. Unlike the first, this door was made of the same metal that formed the walls around her and creaked slightly as it moved. Donna shuddered. Nerys had forced her into seeing that new horror movie just last week and all Donna could picture was the strange, stretched face of the monster waiting in the shadows beyond the-
“Oh,” she laughed at herself. It was a bedroom. A perfectly ordinary bedroom with what looked like men’s vests and pants strewn about. The bed was unmade and expansive with a thick duvet in robin’s egg and a veritable mountain of pillows haphazardly covering the upper-half. Donna wasn’t really a details person, something Lance was always saying he liked about her, but she found her gaze caught by the pair of thick framed specs on the nightstand.
Kidnappers didn’t wear nerdy glasses. She might never have been kidnapped before, but she was sure of that fact. Perhaps there were other victims here? But why the luxurious bed? Why the unlocked door? Something within her yearned to be curled up in that bad, to bury her nose in the pillows and breath in the smell that seemed to permeate the space. She sucked in a sharp breath at those thoughts. What was that? They had seemed almost foreign. She certainly did not wish to be in any man’s bed besides Lance.
The desire to be back in the church, where her biggest problem was avoiding looking to smug as she passed Nerys, overwhelmed her.
She closed the door.
A quick peek in the other one showed her much the same; a bedroom, slightly larger than the first and in shades of pink and cream rather than brown and blue, with a comfortable looking bed and little signs of a happy life.
Donna swallowed heavily as she continued making her way down the hall. Each door was less helpful than the last; bedroom, bedroom, office, workshop, another office, storeroom. The only thing they all had in common was the lack of windows. She was beginning to fear that, despite the clear evidence of a huge crew, she was alone on this submarine.
She hoped she wasn’t underwater. That would be a nightmare.
Finally, she turned a corner and froze. Before her stretched the largest library she had ever seen. The shelves towered over her head and that bothered her. Why was that upsetting? She wracked her brain trying to come up with why that might be-
Oh, lord .
No submarine was that tall. It wasn’t possible. These shelves were at least fifteen feet tall and there was an entire second floor above that. Worse, the stacks stretched in front of her as far as she could see, fading into darkness after the length of a at least a football pitch. She took a few steps into the room and realized it also opened up to the right and left.
She was afraid. It wasn’t something she wanted to admit, but there was no one here- Lance wasn’t here and she was beginning to think she might not get back to him. None of those bedrooms had any people in them and she was starting to suspect someone has done something to them.
Then, she noticed a sound other than the low thrumming that had been there since she opened her eyes. Crackling, the sort of warm sound she associated with sitting outside with her grandpa and trying without success to roast the perfect marshmallow. There was a fire somewhere in the library and where there was a fire there was a person (or at least she hoped that was the case).
She made her way through the central aisle, looking down each row as she passed for the telltale flickering light. Finally, after about five minutes of searching she spotted it. Better than that, she could just see the edge of a foot propped up on the arm of a gingham settee.
“Hey!” She snarled, all of her earlier rage writhing back to the surface, “Hey, you!” She hitched her dress up and stalked across the space between herself and the little sitting area. The foot did not move.
“Oi, you! I demand you take me home right now ,” she snapped.
She rounded the edge of the space and froze in her tracks.
There was a girl curled up on the settee. Her head was pillowed on a pile of shiny black fabric and her limbs, save the one outstretched leg, were tucked as tightly as she could manage in to her chest.
“Hello?” Donna asked. The girl did not move. Donna took a few steps closer, shifting so the lift from the fire could hit the girl’s face.
She looked like she was maybe a few years older than half Donna’s age. Her hair had clearly been bleached blonde, but it was nearly halfway grown out. It had been pulled into a messy bun, but large chunks escaped to frame her exhausted features. Donna winced at the dark circles under her eyes and the way the skin stretched across her prominent cheekbones.
She looked wan and ill and Donna really, really didn’t want to be here anymore. Was this what she was going to look like? Was this what whoever had taken her did to people?
The girl’s eyes squeezed tighter. She mumbled something in her sleep and pulled the outstretched leg in. Donna wouldn’t know her from Adam on the street, but her heart clenched in her chest when she realized it was not clumped mascara on the girl’s lashes but teardrops. She was crying in her sleep and Donna couldn’t take it anymore.
She reached out and put her hand on the girl’s shoulder.
“Hey,” she said, “Hey, wake up.”
“Doctor?” The girl muttered. She sounded like home in a way Donna had not been expecting. A smile crossed her face for the first time since she’d been so unceremoniously stolen from her ceremony.
“No, sorry,” Donna said, “Do you need a doctor? Did they hurt you?” She dreaded to think what their captors might have done to reduce the girl to this state, but a doctor was probably in order.
There was a beat of silence before the girl seemed to process her words. She jerked upright, throwing Donna’s hand from her shoulder and lurching away, towards the opposite end of the settee.
“Woah, blondie!” Donna said, “I’m not going to hurt you! I’m not with them.” She spat the final word into the space between the two women.
“Who are you? How did you get here?” The girl asked. She looked up at the ceiling and then at Donna, “We haven’t landed. How did you get on our- on my ship?”
“What?” That certainly threw a wrench in all Donna’s idea about what was happening. “Who are you?”
The girl stood on shaking legs and Donna did not try to hold back a wince. She was unhealthily skinny with knobby knees and prominent collarbones that made Donna want to go find a plate of biscuits, sit her down, and not let her leave until they were gone.
“This is impossible,” the girl muttered, “You can’t be here. No one can be here. You can’t just appear in the TARDIS.” She raised one hand to her hair and yanked at the loose fringe. Donna noticed for the first time that she was gripping a slim, fabric covered album in her other hand.
“That’s not even a proper word,” Donna said without thinking. Then, she winced. It was true terdis or whatever was not a word, but it seemed insensitive to say given the girl’s obvious distress.
“That’s the ship’s name,” the girl snapped. “It’s a word and it’s her name!”
Donna held up her hands in surrender. The girl studied her for a long minute before she spoke again.
“Who are you?”
“Donna,” Donna said, “Noble. Or, well, it’s Noble right now. It’s meant to be Bennett. Except someone kidnapped me and brought me here.”
The girl seemed to realize that Donna was in a wedding dress. Her eyes raked across her, widening as they went. Then, they met Donna’s own and, oh, Donna did not like what she saw there.
“I’m sorry,” the girl whispered, “I can’t take you home.”
“What?” The room was slowly beginning to spin around her. Donna blindly groped for the edge of the settee for stability, “Why not? Oh, did Nerys pay you? This is just the sort of thing she’d do, that horrid cow. She’s paid you to keep me away long enough it ruins the wedding.”
The girl looked shocked. She held up her free hand, “No, no, I don’t know any Nerys and I wasn’t paid to take you.” She snorted, “I haven’t left this spot in,” she paused and looked at the ceiling again, “Oh, wow, uh, I haven’t left here in nearly twenty hours. I promise I didn’t kidnap you.”
“Then why won't you take me home?”
She swallowed and looked away, “I can’t. I want to, I swear! I would love to take you back to the minute you were taken and let you get married. What’s his name?”
“Lance,” Donna said. She knew she sounded like a sap when she said it, but well, it was Lance.
The girl nodded, “I’d love to take you back to Lance. You can’t know how much I’d love to do that. But, I can’t fly this ship.”
She sighed. “It’s a ship. A, uh, a spaceship and I can’t fly it.”
“Pull the other one, blondie.”
That elicited the tiniest of grins from the girl. “I’m not lying. Come on.” She gestured for Donna to follow and started out of the room. After a few steps she paused and turned back. She scooped up the shiny fabric and shook it out to reveal a beat up old leather jacket. She slipped it on. It was far too large for her, but Donna thought it would probably fit whoever wore the vests in the first room she’d looked into.
The girl led Donna back down the hallway and into the round room. Despite how her legs had shaken she moved with the casual confidence of someone in their own home. Nothing about this place made sense, Donna decided, it was all just coral covered madness.
The girl paused by the door Donna had failed to open when she first arrived. She took a deep breath and, with a glance back at the glowing golden column, pushed on the doors.
They opened without a hitch. Donna hurried across to join her. This was it, she was going to be able to escape, to go back to Lance and-
There were stars outside. Not just above, but below and in front and there was a huge gas cloud and oh oh... Donna couldn’t breathe.
When she came back to herself she was sitting on the edge of the doorway with her feet dangling into empty space and the girl beside her.
“I’m Rose by the way,” the girl said, “I didn’t say it before.”
“Pleasure,” Donna murmured. “Is that really, you know?”
“Outer space? Yeah.”
She saw Rose nod out of the corner of her eye.
“Why can’t you fly your own ship?” Donna asked.
Rose sighed. She shifted and pulled her hand inside the over-long sleeves of the leather jacket.
“She’s not mine really,” she said, “Or she wasn’t mine. I lost him, the Doctor that is. The TARDIS is his.”
“The Doctor?” That was the second time Rose had mentioned a doctor.
The younger woman snorted, “Yeah, he’s my friend. We travelled together and a few weeks ago we got mixed up in a bad situation.” her voice broke on the final word. “Anyway, he’s alive, I know he is. The thing is, he can’t come home and I accidentally sent the TARDIS into the Vortex and then she settled here. But, I can’t fly her, he never got the chance to teach me how.”
The grief in her voice still Donna’s own harsh inclinations. She wanted to rant and rave and demand to be taken home, but she knew that wasn’t going to get her anything and might just make the sad woman beside her sadder. She found she didn’t want that.
“You really didn’t mean to take me?”
Rose shook her head. “I promise.” She laughed, though it wasn’t really a pleasant sound, “I wouldn’t know how to even if I wanted to grab a random bride from, oh I didn’t ask. Are you from Earth?”
“Is that an option?”
Another tiny smile. “Around here, yeah. But, I’m from London myself.”
“Local girl, yeah? Me too. Well, Chiswick, but close enough I think given well,” she gestured to the wide expanse of stars before them.
“Yeah,” Rose said, “Close enough.”