The Legacy #2: Urban Decay

Introduction to The Legacy

Some called him the Lonely God, but he was no god. I knew him, travelled with him from the beginning. It was I who called to him, encouraged him to leave his home world. I, myself, had been waiting a long time for a soul like his, a crusader. He was a force of nature waiting to happen. A catalyst for great change.

To some he was simply the bohemian wanderer in the fourth dimension. Some worlds, those that belonged to the monsters, feared him; they knew that if ever he visited their worlds the threat represented by them would be destroyed. Even the Daleks, those most evil of creations, called him the Ka Faraq Gatri, the Bringer of Darkness.

Oh, you have never heard of the Daleks? Of course, I keep forgetting, they never existed in this universe. At least not yet, anyway.

That was his fault. His timeline got altered and reality itself was reshaped, just to fit around him. Entire worlds were destroyed; species once destined for greats things now amounted to nothing. Everything in flux because just one man’s future had been altered.

And although the universe was altered to fit him, he found it hard to fit into this new reality. His home was gone, his path unclear, and yet still he went out there, doing what he did. Finding the wrongs and putting them right.

But he is gone now. Some say he is dead, others think he is just lost. Most say his work is done, that the universe no longer needs him. I say they are wrong. He has changed so many, left behind so much.

His legacy lives on in me. I’m here, waiting, for I know he shall return. He always does.

His name is legend.

He is the Doctor.

And this is his story…

————————————————————————————————

Previously; The Catalyst

The Doctor walked at a sedate pace through a tree lined avenue in an unfamiliar city.  Essentially, he’d settled on an arbitrary point in time to land.  Without premeditation, the TARDIS arrived on Earth once again, in the first year of the 21st Century.

Spring was in its budding process and the weather was struggling with itself.  The Doctor was humming a ditty to himself about what he may or may not have seen in the middle of May.  As he strolled through a downtown park block, he was beset successively by chilling wind, the onset of dusk, and hail.

His brow, cheeks, and nose felt quite abraded.  The Doctor turned up the collar of his brown twill coat and grumbled.  Spots of his white linen shirt and polka dot tie were becoming rather damp.

Yellow sodium arc lamps dotted the distance and he continued onwards in his journey towards nowhere in particular.  The gloaming sky, while partially obscured by firs, pines, oaks, and buildings, was turning a bruised shade of gold, russet and purple.  A dozen metres ahead trudged the figure of a man obviously in an advanced state of inebriation.

Belching and stumbling, this man stopped and placed both arms against a nearby wall and expelled the oily contents of his stomach.

Quite put off from the thought of a dinner diversion, the Doctor quickly strode off down Everett Street.  Another spate of hail stones descended.  The Doctor grew decidedly more uncomfortable when he realised he had no idea where he was going… again.

*

Elsewhere in the Rose City of Portland, Brad DeMars was feeling the depths of despondency.  Naturally so, since he’d just attended the funeral of his bass guitar player.

Jacen Lewis had succumbed to a brain tumour after months of intermittent seizures, radiation therapy, and patronising medical practitioners.  Brad was very close to his friend and it did not help that the death of Jacen precipitated the dispersal of the band.  To add injury to insult, ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ had only been gigging for less than a year.

Brad opted to linger behind at Riverview Cemetery and Crematorium for a little while after the service.  He had been hoping to be able to play the last composition of the band at the graveside service.  He was thwarted in this, of course, since he had neglected to bring an amplifier or, indeed, a power source for his synthesiser.  For some reason, the other members did not show up.

Brad DeMars was very angry at them.

Why were things so off-kilter lately?

Progressive alienation and disappointment was wearing away at his hopes to fend off a state of jadedness for another year.

He eventually drove towards his studio apartment long after the rest of the funeral party left him.  Dusk was not dusk any longer.  Night was settling in after the day’s struggle with the weather.

Brad cruised in his green Volkswagen Sirocco down Burnside Street.  He was absorbed and feeling harsh.  The blaring of the car stereo assuaged little of what he was feeling.

Understandably, he was quite suddenly alert when his brakes locked up.  The car spun and skidded, finally stopping dead mere centimetres from a fire hydrant.  The twenty-six year old synthesiser player with a black mop of hair tipped in nuclear red, lost consciousness as his forehead struck the steering wheel.

Kinetic force had to go somewhere.

*

‘Oh, Doctor, you’re bound to get lost if you keep weaving in and out of these blasted side streets!’ The Doctor bemoaned his lack of planning again.

It could not have been so late in the evening that every person had gone home, could it? After all, he was still relatively close to the downtown area wasn’t he? This excursion was revealing itself as quite dreary indeed, despite the greenery and quaint mix of architectures.

With a sigh, the Doctor settled his girth onto a nearby bench to gather his thoughts.  He withdrew his pocket watch in an attempt to regain his bearings.  Apart from being a compact and sophisticated time piece, it was also a wide range scanner capable of detecting temporal variations and geophysical positions.  To the Doctor’s chagrin he saw that the readings were unsteady – indeed they were fluctuating wildly.

‘Why should this be?’ he murmured aloud.

Another piece of evidence revealed that something was not as it should be.  Many certain some things were decidedly amiss.  Ever since the Doctor left UNIT HQ he had periodically been assailed by a sense of disassociation; that a matter of urgent importance was manifestly out of order was clear.

Rubbing his beard momentarily, he replaced his pocket watch to its home.  He brought out of another pocket a deck of playing cards he had found when he commandeered the coat.  He tapped the deck against his forehead and thought.

With eyes closed, he withdrew a card.  Ace of Hearts.

Gloomily wishing for a good game of Blackjack, the Doctor stood.  Perhaps he could find some answers if he returned to the TARDIS.  The watch might simply need recalibration.  Also a good nap in the Zero Room would do worlds of good.  The sense of displacement could possibly be a side effect of his recent regeneration.

Once again steeling his resolve to get to the bottom of matters, the Doctor attempted to retrace his path.

*

Brad awoke with his temples throbbing. ‘Oh, ow. What the…’

Not a car or pedestrian was near.  No ambulance, no fire truck and certainly no paramedics had come to investigate.  Where were the sirens of the law?

The synth player gingerly touched his face and fortunately found no blood.  He checked himself out in the rear view mirror.  An angry looking bruise was forming in a line on his forehead.

There should have been plenty of traffic for the time of day. In a quiet and orderly array, an average number of vehicles were parked as usual.  Yet there was no motion signalling the end of day.  It was as if every single person in the city, as far as one’s eye could see, had tucked themselves in for the night and turned the lights out.

The yellow nimbus of sodium arc lamps still stood their vigils.  From what Brad could see, the city became cloaked in a brooding and mutely subdued mystery.  He shook the tangles of his black and nuclear red hair out of his field of vision.  Getting out of the dead car, he set out on foot towards home.

*

A humanoid shape like a semi-collapsed marionette lowered itself from a tree.

‘Tick tock,’ said the plaintive voice of the Dommervoy.

Across the lane, another featureless mannequin lowered itself down to a height matching that of its counterpart.

‘Tick tock.’ A tittering sound followed, neither here nor there.

*

The stout and bearded Doctor stopped in his tracks, uncharacteristically startled.

He could only just make out the indistinct forms.

He looked closer, and indeed a few blocks away he could see that there were several humanoid shapes milling about like extras in a film.

*

On the West Hills, two kilometres away, the lights of the broadcasting towers flared brightly in a syncopated pulse.  The surrounding hills were intermittently bathed in light crimson ambience.  The surrounding hills were for a while briefly bathed in the glow.  Then they winked out for good.

*

The Doctor stole quietly west on Glisan Street, then bolted down Sixteenth Avenue.  He gasped for breath on the corner of Flanders Street and finally slumped onto a concrete bench before an old blue apartment building with red trim.  Nearby was a sign marked ‘18th Ave.’.

He really had to remember that his new body was not half as agile as his previous lanky form.

Just as he was preparing to open the fob of the newly constructed homing locator linked to his homely timeship, a small gale blew past.  For this reason, the Doctor looked upwards.

A vast ring of angry black clouds formed an icy nimbus around the moon.  Lambent violet arcs of energy strobed through the adjacent sky.  Then the moon blatantly vanished.

Some type of dimensional ‘storm’ was wrenching open the vaults of local space/time.  This the Doctor knew intrinsically and viscerally.

Considering his unusually graceless size, he made rather good time south and found himself on a broad road: Burnside Street.  On the intersection was a small green car parked askew to the curb.  Its tapered nose was scant centimetres from a fire hydrant.  The driver’s side door was wide open.  Yet the Doctor could clearly see a man walking about a block and a half away, hefting a large something on his shoulder.

*

On a gossamer thread of scintillating colour, dangling ten meters above the street, hung a blank faced caricature of a person wrapped in what looked like black packaging material.  Its black button eyes glared towards the receding figure in a brown wool overcoat.  It tittered and without moving its poorly drawn on line of a mouth, said; ‘tock.’

The Dommervoy quivered slightly and jerked upwards, promptly vanishing.

*

Brad DeMars was rightly upset and was experiencing the onset of a cold sweat and a peculiar knotting in the bowels, when he felt the wind and saw the sky swallow itself.  He found himself standing stock still and gawking at the impossible.

Many of the buildings of downtown Portland were usually visible from this stretch of road and for the most part, still were.  They were also somehow… changing.  ‘Big Pink’, the massive banking tower which was done up years ago in Bauhaus style copper collared glass and steel, was wavering and undulating.  Now it appeared that its foundation was set anywhere between thirty five to forty five degrees to the elevation of the surrounding ground.  The process continued to approximately nine storeys below the structure’s apex.

It was happening as far as the musician’s eyes could scan.  Trembling, he may well have stood there forever until he felt a hand on his shoulder.

‘Hello, I’m the Doctor, are you all right there?’

A sturdy looking and burly man he was.  Brad was nearly too shocked to respond but clasped the stranger’s proffered hand instinctively.  Dumbly, Brad managed a nod and closed his gaping mouth.

He swallowed and replied.  ‘This isn’t supposed to be happening, is it?’

He found himself regaining control in spite of the reeling and spinning sensation.  Somewhere in his subconscious mind, the idea was gestating.

‘I don’t know what it is, but I’ve got to put a stop to it,’ said the wide girthed man.

The bearded stranger appeared like some kind of archaic sea captain.  Although he was smiling, this Doctor could not conceal his grave concern.  At any rate, his manner suggested some degree of confidence and weird professionalism.  Brad was vaguely aware of being embarrassed.

‘Believe me, young man, you are not going mad.  I’m surprised you’re even here at all.  Surely some kind of anomaly within an anomaly has spared you? We’re standing in a city’s ghost, after all!’

He seemed almost pleased, like a child with a brand new book that came with a funky stain on it.  ‘Never mind that for now.  If you’re willing to trust me, we can find shelter from the quantum storm.’

What a mouthful! Still, he seemed far less crazy than whatever was happening to the city.

*

Gradually, while both of them watched on, the entire vista gained the aspect of becoming somehow digitised.  It was as if the place was an environment created for a first-person perspective computer simulation.  Pixels and stilted looking patterns appeared in formerly natural patterns.  The improbable pair of men ambled off at a pace towards the Holocaust Memorial a short distance away.

‘I’m, uh, Brad DeMars.  I was in a car accident.  Um…  My friend died last week.  I’m a musician.  Do you…  How…? What the hell did you say was going on?’

The Doctor’s booming laugh was like a war cry against the poisoned architecture.  Even over the keening of the wind and the thrumming of the shifting non-linear planes of reality, he could be heard clearly.

‘There’ll be time enough for that when we get inside.  Let’s go!’

*

Brad and the Doctor made good time in reaching the Memorial grounds which were a mere fifteen blocks from where the two initially met.  The young keyboardist was noting his unusual companion’s endurance.  Whoever he was, this man had not even began to sound winded in the slightest.

‘There we are!’ exclaimed the Doctor.  A meaty finger gestured to an object behind a copse of alders and cedar trees just off the inlet road to the Memorial; an object Brad had never seen before in his north-western American state.  He could just make out the markings on it which read, ‘POLICE Public Call BOX’.

‘Hey, man, where are we going?’ he asked, now totally out of breath.

‘Why, right in there, of course! Unless you’d rather stay out here and contend with that!’

‘This is too much.  I think I’ll bail out towards my place.  Nice meeting you, man.’ Brad turned away and tried to trot off, readjusting his gig bag containing his portable synthesiser.  He made it back to the main road and saw… next to nothing.

Brad DeMars spun on his heels and sprinted apace back towards the Doctor’s blue Police Box thing and banged on its narrow double door with both fists.

‘All right! I believe you! Talk to me, Doctor!’

The right hand door opened silently inwards, an arm clasped Brad’s forearm and pulled him inside and shut again.

*

The world turned abjectly grey while a gang of sawdust filled figures converged on the spot where the TARDIS once sat…

*

In a white control room, intensely scanning over a console, the Doctor gravely looked at Brad.

‘Well, Brad, I don’t have your answers.  What I do know is that the place we have just left was not Portland.  Your survival is a… miracle.  That place was a sort of analogue to your home.  A great force has wrested an entire temporal and spatial nexus out of its proper place.  For what cause or reason, I just don’t know.  I don’t know.  But I intend to find out.’

Fields distended and Brad DeMars lost consciousness. For being such a hard bohemian kind of guy (at least in his own estimation), this turn of events was too much.  The consciousness as a whole had to find a way to compensate for the sudden and somewhat violent wrenching of expectations…

To be continued… Sunday 31st October


Edited by Andy Frankham-Allen, Greg Miller & Elizabeth Medeiros.
Cover © 2010 by Ewen Campion-Clarke.
Urban Decay © 2001, 2010 by Christoph Lopez,
Introduction © 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen,
The Legacy © & ™ 2001, 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen. 
Doctor Who © & ™ 1963, 2010 by BBC Worldwide. All Rights Reserved.
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10 thoughts on “The Legacy #2: Urban Decay”

  1. And I was hoping the rewrite would explain who the vomiting man was. Oh well, I like to imagine it’s the same guy retching outside the Kebab and Calculator in The Young Ones. The intro was rather pointless too, when all is said and done.

    1. And maybe he is. Or maybe he’s the same tramp who gets zapped in The Convocation? And the intro makes sense in the long run… setting up the big story as it does. But, you don’t need to like it, Ewen, it’s not in your contract as a reader. 😉

  2. On the bright side I wouldn’t have to worry about changing the discon guide. I do hope the *next* story is an improvement on the original though.

  3. After waiting years for stories like the Reality Robber and suchlike, I’ve become a proponent of the “instant gratification”. Hanging around here for the next five years waiting to catch up with Matrix Revelations has surprisingly no appeal whatsoever. Hell, waiting to the end of the month for the next story has no appeal either.

    Good luck with all this. I’m off.

  4. Sorry to hear that, Ewen, but alas life gets in the way and I do have much more important things to do. Putting The Legacy on here is a nice and cheap way for those who missed it the first time to catch up with it. If you wish to continue reading, then that’s cool, if not, that’s cool, too. No obligation from the old guard to read them all again.

  5. I get that. Good luck to them. Mind you, this livejournal thing isn’t half as friendly and personal as the old legacy website…

    Still, if you need covers done, give us a shout. I’ve managed to crudely master this thing you call “photoshop”…

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