Legacy #6: Three Night Engagement

Previously on LEGACY - Once Upon a Memory

‘Look at me

I opened a door I cannot close

I feel strange winds

Walk into here, open your door.

This is an introduction…’

 

Another night offered Brad a chance. ‘Philosopher’s Stone (or Lapis Philosophorum)’ was about to set up for their first night’s performance at Dante’s.  Formerly a Mongolian grill, Dante’s was a very small bar and musical venue. A plain bar counter, a stage raised about two meters, and about a dozen tables comprised the establishment.

The group was just about getting their drink on. Jacen was a whiskey sour man, Tobias a White Russian swiller. Brad didn’t sit well with hard liquor since he was in fact a dark beer and cannabis aficionado. Jessene, the sessioning violinist, didn’t show.

‘Guess what, man?’ Jacen chirped suddenly over the subdued din of the early bar crowd.

‘What?’ groaned Brad who was pretending to be dim for the moment.

‘I’m a whale!’ Jacen sprayed a mouthful of whiskey all over the table through his pursed lips.

Tobias slugged him forthwith in the bicep.

‘You want me to smack you in the ass, man?’ Jacen leered.

‘Oh, you wish!’

‘Yeah, well screw you, people. Jessene ain’t here and we’re going to have to do an improv show. Bitch’s probably tweaking anyway.’

Bradley was on fire and he didn’t care one whit.  This was it.  He swallowed the last of his beer and cruised over to the bar to check the time.

*

The flimsy curtain parted. With much gravitas stood Jacen with bass strapped on.

‘It’s so nice to see so many faces.  Good evening,’ he drawled, resplendent in his pressed business suit and neatly coiffured platinum blonde hair. His handsome features creased into a scowl behind the microphone as he began.

‘One thing I have to ask. Is it loud enough for you?’ The question was asked as a shrieking exclamation delivered in his baritone voice.

Thus commenced ‘Philosopher’s Stone’s’ first night at Dante’s. The set began with the stage being bathed in a lunar blue light which seemed to cool the feverish and smoke filled club.  Jacen began with a droning yet staccato series of electronically processed chords.  Then he began a simple Latin chant.

Ignit natura renovatur integra.’

Brad initialised a short series of pre-programmed samples as he also began an improvised synth fugue.  Tobias did his part in the proceedings by commencing a shamanic drum beat interspersed by a mighty gong strike.  Later, he would try out his set of Tibetan singing bowls.

Tobias was rude and often painfully surly in his interpersonal dealings.  On stage, his peculiar brand of magic was expressed in his percussion. Brad and Jacen, however, manifested total sublimity – something that pleased Brad no end.

Look at me.

I opened a door I cannot close.

I feel strange winds. The path I chose

This, but an introduction, no more.

Walk into here, open your door.

This is an introduction…

 

Brad sang one of his own songs that first night as well.

What dream has come

Where time has gone?

Stunned, unsummoned and still

Again, I tried to lift up my eyes

And not shield them from the sun,

Again…

*

A fetching and somewhat muscular young woman in an overly decorated bomber jacket turned to speak to her companion.

‘Professor!’ She had to shout over Dante’s PA system as the band played through a delirious second night. ‘Can I get a drink?’

‘Ace, I didn’t procure your ID so you could “catch a buzz”, or whatever you’d call it! Keep a clear head, please.’

Ace glowered at the Doctor.  A thought came unbidden to her of chucking a bar ashtray at him.  It would serve him right just to knock his silly hat off his head.  The Doctor had been so maudlin recently, ever since giving that little bit of life force away to his past self.

‘What are we looking out for, anyway?’ she asked. ‘I thought we were tracking the Master.’  She looked around at the dancing crowd.  ‘I don’t think this is his scene, Professor,’ she pointed out with a smirk.

The Doctor passed Ace a napkin with something scribbled on it.  Two names stood out in the message, whatever it had been.

Brad DeMars and Jacen J. Lewis.

‘What’s this, then?’

‘I’ve no idea. I found it a few hours ago before we got on that Tri-Met bus. It’s coated in temporal residue.’

‘But who are they?’ Ace had to shout again over the chorus of electronic damnation. The Doctor simply pointed at the stage in reply to Ace’s question.  The one with the dark hair caught Ace’s eye. A corner of her mouth twitched into a half-smile. That familiar feeling went through her body again. He was cute. It had been such a long time since she…

‘Can we meet them later, Professor? After the show maybe?’

‘That’s what the intention is.  Not that I really enjoy this sort of music, Ace.’ The Doctor’s tone was that of one discussing a particularly messy surgery. ‘It reminds of me a Ninhana symphony orchestra.  It’s like an incompetent dentist attacking a cavity with a rusty nail,’ he added while gritting his teeth.

*

The ambulance arrived at half past two in the morning. The stressed out bar staff had been looking forward to going home for drinks and bed.  But Jacen had ‘collapsed’ while descending the stage steps.

‘I just tripped, man!’ Jacen screamed at a paramedic.  ‘No! I don’t have any damned insurance! Let me be!’

*

In the narrow alley behind Dante’s, a pool of turgid shadows formed in defiance of the nearby streetlight’s attempt to stand sentry against such things.

‘Tock tock tick,’ said one Dommervoy to its featureless mates.  In unison they softly clapped their stiff semblances of hands together and disappeared back into that portable umbra of theirs.  A solitary thread of violet tinged blackness congealed into the receding anomaly.

A homeless man, who happened to be crouching behind the dumpster, simultaneously went blind.

*

‘What the hell was that?’

The Doctor narrowed his grey eyes, and stepped gingerly into the alley, holding a hand out before him. ‘Temporal disturbance of some kind.’

‘And those puppet things?’ Ace asked.

‘I’m not sure,’ the Doctor growled, pulling his hand back sharply, as if stung. He sucked his fingers, and said around them; ‘thhs pase ss ahive wff tempul ennery.’

‘Come again, Professor?’

The Doctor removed his fingers. ‘This place is alive with temporal energy. Those things must feed off it.’

‘Are they following the Master, too, then?’

‘I have no idea, Ace! Will you stop asking all these questions!’

Ace stepped back in shock. She hadn’t heard him sound so angry since the army barracks in 1941. ‘Sorry!’ she snapped back, and noticed the homeless man stumble from behind the dumpster at the other end of the alley. She pushed past the Doctor. ‘I’m going to help that poor sod over there,’ she said and made her way to the blind tramp.

The Doctor watched her, and raised the handle of his umbrella to his lips. ‘Bradley DeMars, he’s at the epicentre. We musn’t get too close to him again.’ He turned from the alley and called back. ‘Come on, Ace, we need to find the Master another way.’

*

‘I can’t believe this… sea-change,’ groaned Jacen, sprawled on his studio day-bed.

His head had been shaved by the neurosurgeon’s nurse. He wore an eye patch since he’d lost muscular control over his left eye. During the past four months, he had suffered from several more seizures. An MRI scan revealed that a tumour the size of a golf ball was resting on his brain. Subsequently, Jacen endured radiation therapy and ultimately surgery to excise most of the growth.

Brad’s mouth was painfully dry.  He had to say what was on his mind.

‘I just want you to know that I love you. You’ve been my greatest friend and collaborator.’ A bead of sweat trickled behind his ear as he spoke.

‘I know, Bradley Boy. I know. Sorry I can’t return it. Shit, I had enough of a time dealing with Jessene before she went to rehab.  God! You need to give it up.  I hate to see you so frustrated and pissed all the time, man.’

They locked eyes and Brad took Jacen’s weak hand in his own.

Brad knew exactly what Jacen was referring to. The love he held for Jacen was so much more than platonic, sometimes it hurt, and sometimes it lifted him above the clouds.  But most of the time it just hurt ‘cause Brad knew that he could never have Jacen, but at the same time he didn’t want anybody else, either… it was a tough path Brad walked down.

‘It’ll be all right. You’ll be back to your old self soon. Look…’ Brad stopped speaking and took a deep breath in a concerted effort to slow his heart down a little. ‘I have to go before I break down again.’

His chest began to heave as the tears came.  Jacen tousled his hair and rested his good hand on Brad’s shoulder and said; ‘Remember, Requiem; Ignit natura renovatur integra.  The whole of nature is regenerated by fire.’

*

Almost two months later, in the TARDIS, Brad opened his eyes.  Regenerated? Yes! He had it…

*

The Doctor looked up from the console just as the inner door flew open and Brad entered the console room. He couldn’t help but notice that Brad had been crying.

‘Doc, I need your help. I have an idea about how to save Jacen.’

The Doctor was, not for the first time today, quite puzzled.  ‘Jacen? And just who is Jacen, Bradley?’

Next Time

‘You think I’m crazy, don’t you?’

Before Doctor Langton could respond, the young man appeared to slip rapidly back into quite floridly psychotic speech.

‘They’ve probably got the Doctor already. I’ve got to do something and I can’t afford to go to sleep. Do that and they’ve got me.’ He looked up abruptly. ‘You must have some kind of one-shot system stimulant?’

Doctor Langton could only shake his head by way of reply.  He wondered what age the man was. Early to mid twenties? It was a sad case. ‘I can see you’re under considerable stress,’ Doctor Langton heard himself say eventually.

‘Oh go on, say it,’ muttered the man in a dejected tone.

‘Say what?’ wondered the doctor.

‘I’m mad,’ said the man, running a hand through his black hair. ‘I am, you know.’ And he smiled, a little unnervingly. ‘If I understand it right, I go to sleep now and the whole of reality buys the farm. Me too, come to think of it,’ he finished a little disconsolately. ‘Oh well.’ He held out his hand, which Doctor Langton took a little uncertainly. ‘It’s been fun. Have a nice life.’ With that, he turned on his heel and was gone.

‘Yes, well…’ Doctor Langton continued to lean against the wall for a moment, regaining his composure.  Eventually he sat down and pressed the intercom on his desk. ‘Jean, could you come in here a minute?’

A few seconds later his secretary, Jean Brooker, entered the room, smiling enquiringly.

‘Is everything all right, Ian? We could hear raised voices in reception.’ She lowered her voice confidentially. ‘He left in ever such a hurry you know.’

‘That’ll be reality running out,’ said Ian Langton, nodding sagely to himself.

‘Oh.’ Jean looked flummoxed.

‘I’m sorry, Jean.’ He rubbed his eyes tiredly, aware he still had another six patients to see. ‘Chap was definitely a few cards short of a full deck.  I need to put a call through to social services before I see anyone else. What was his name again?’

‘DeMars,’ said Jean with a frown. ‘American I think. He didn’t give a first name.’

‘Okay, thanks, Jean.’

‘No problem.’

As he began to dial, Ian Langton smiled wryly to himself. He’d only agreed to see the chap as a favour; he wasn’t even on the books.  Ah well, no peace for the wicked.  He stared out into the reception area.

*

Unseen by Doctor Langton, Jean Brooker or the bored patients in reception, a needle limbed creature hung upside down from the reception’s wall mounted clock by its feet.  Button eyes stared as it mouthed a soundless ‘Tick’ then ‘Tock’ in an absurd call and response.  Swinging serenely to and fro, a malignant pendulum, it grinned a rictus grin.

To Be Continued… Sat 6th November

Edited by Andy Frankham-Allen, Greg Miller & Elizabeth Medeiros.
Cover © 2010 by Ewen Campion-Clarke.
Three Night Engagement © 2001, 2010 by Christoph Lopez,
Legacy © & ™ 2001, 2010 by Andy Frankham-Allen. 
Doctor Who © & ™ 1963, 2010 by BBC Worldwide. All Rights Reserved.

 

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