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Ghost Ship Extract

November 22, 2014

Ghost Ship - John Gordon Swogger - MediumThe Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS and onto the deck of a dimly lit transmat room. Large capsules almost twice as tall as the Doctor lined either side of the elongated chamber. He counted them off in his head – five on either side.

Any spacecraft worth its salt should be able to evacuate all personnel within twenty minutes. With ten transporter capsules available, five minutes response time and allowing for a standard three minutes for each person to complete a trip, this ship would be able to evacuate up to fifty people within the allocated timeframe.

“A bit quiet, isn’t it?” Tom asked from behind him.

The Doctor nodded without turning around. “I was just thinking the same thing myself, Mr Brooker.”

“Maybe everyone has already left?” Val said hopefully. “This is obviously some kind of transport room. If there was trouble here then everyone has probably been evacuated already.”

“She’s right, Doctor. We’re wasting our time.”

“Incorrect. We have traversed space, not time. We received the distress signal only minutes ago, far too soon to evacuate the number of people who would be aboard a ship equipped with ten transmat capsules.”

The Doctor approached the nearest capsule, flicking the sonic screwdriver as he drew it from his pocket.

“This transmat is not functional. It can’t have been used recently,” he said, giving Tom a significant look. He moved to the next capsule. “In fact, someone has taken all of these transmats offline and that can only be done from the main computer.”

He strode towards the door at the end of the room and pressed his face against the round window.

“The corridor is clear –”

“Of course it is,” Val interjected. “There’s no one here.”

“– and so I think we should make our way to the flight deck. If someone has shut down the transmats then I believe we will find that person there,” the Doctor finished. He pushed down on the handle and leaned into the door. It didn’t budge. With an apologetic shrug, he put his sonic screwdriver to the lock. It clicked open obediently.

Dim lights ran along the base of the corridor. They reminded Tom of the emergency lights in a plane. The dull lighting, together with their footsteps echoing into the silence gave the ship an entirely unused feel. The trio passed another branching corridor and movement in the corner of his eye caught Tom’s attention. He stopped abruptly.

“Doctor!” he called before dropping Val’s hand and jogging up the branching corridor. He reached the T-intersection at the end and looked around the corner. It was empty.

Val and the Doctor reached him a few moments later.

“What are you doing, Brooker?” the Doctor asked.

“I thought I saw someone,” Tom replied as he glanced up and down the new, and much narrower, corridor to either side of him. Val took a few steps down the left hand hallway, peering into the darkness. Tom hooked his arm through hers, drawing her back slightly.

“This lighting isn’t the best. Probably just shadows,” the Doctor said, turning back.

“Maybe we should try searching this way,” Val suggested, still squinting up the corridor.

“Narrow hallways don’t lead to flight decks,” the Doctor told her certainly. “They lead to the galleys or sleeping quarters.”

He turned and headed back the way they had come.

“Wait!” Val hissed. “I saw something.”

The Doctor spun and armed with the evidence of two sightings, ran past his companions in the direction that Val was pointing. The sound of a door opening and closing told Tom that someone was indeed ahead of them. The Doctor skidded to a stop in front of the door.

He threw it open.

In the middle of the galley – it was a galley after all –  two men faced  one another. One shimmered with an opaque glow. The other, a man dressed in what might have been military garb, turned to look at the new arrivals. His eyes, wide in horror, took on a desperate look.

“Help me,” he begged.

“It’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you. I’m the Doc–”

A light shot from the eyes of the opaque man, hitting the soldier directly in the chest. The soldier glowed brilliantly, his entire form encased in light. And when the light dissipated, the soldier was gone.

The Doctor glared at the hologram – yes, it was definitely a hologram – and tried to make sense of what had just happened. The hologram turned and began gliding towards him.

“Doctor!”

The Doctor spun towards the sound of Val’s voice. Already halfway up the corridor, Val pulled against Tom.

“For God’s sake, run!” she yelled, and let Tom drag her away, back the way they had come.

The Doctor ran after them, shooting glances over his shoulder. The hologram followed, drifting a hand span above the ground as it gathered speed. It flickered, its opaqueness becoming more transparent with each pulse.

“Wait!” the Doctor called, and stopped in his tracks.

The hologram turned suddenly, heading away from the Doctor. It raced towards a computer terminal fitted into the wall and like a wisp of smoke, evaporated into the screen. A moment later, the screen shattered.

“What on earth was that?” Tom asked, appearing behind the Doctor.

The Doctor shook his head.

“A hologram. Other than that…”

Val frowned. “Well, at least we know why someone sent the distress signal. Maybe that thing destroyed the engines as it did that computer. And if it has been attacking people…”

“Then anyone left is in serious trouble,” the Doctor said, resisting the temptation to point out that Val was the one who had insisted the distress signal meant nothing.

The Doctor jerked back, suddenly struck with a thought. “That hologram may have used the transmat system to gain access to the ship.”

“It would explain why someone has shut it down,” Tom agreed but the Doctor was already running back towards the transmat room.

“I must check!”

Tom arrived on the Doctor’s heels, almost slamming into him when the Doctor skidded to an abrupt halt.

The TARDIS was gone.

From the forthcoming Season 40 Premiere available November 29 2014

© 2014 KRISTA WILSON & MATTHEW JAMES

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