Miss Dorothea ‘Dot’ Whimple slapped her sombre fan against the table top and stood, her expression calm past the fire in her eyes. The two burly Dockers, who had sat opposite, shrank back at her glare.
‘This is intolerable, I will not see my good money wasted on this... this...’
‘Chicanery?’ prompted Mercy, wide eyed. Her elder sister succumbed to a scowl.
‘Mercy, I will pay such distasteful thoughts no mind.’ Dot knew that her youngest sister did not have the faith of the rest of her family. Their late father Boswell Whimple had been a firm believer in the powers of the lord. Admittedly he had been somewhat vague in the way that he approached his belief, knitting spirituality seamlessly into the New Testament in place of the resurrection. As this conviction had crept upon him relatively late in life there was a certain question as to just how reliable the final will had been. Hence Dot’s interest in contacting him.
‘You there, go and see what the fuss is this time. It sounded like the stairs fell in.’ she snapped at one of the Dockers. The poor man was white as a sheet and clearly in fear of his life but stood none the less.
He pulled the curtain away from the door and blinked in confusion. He crossed himself and backed away from the door, a soft yellow light following him. Dot’s scowled deepened and she walked towards him. A woman in a yellow dress drifted into the room, chanting the same litany as Madame C had used at the table. She turned her head to each of them in turn, bestowing them with her smile. Each of the mourners stared back as the burning orange gaze flickered over them.
In the hallway Max’s step forward finally came to ground just in time for him to catch the tumbling form of the elderly woman that had opened the door. His head spun around to the three figures with whom he’d been struggling the moment before. They too seemed on the verge of collapse. A blink of his eyes and the hall was dark, the drawing room door closed and the top of stairs enveloped in the same mouldering void that encroached further down the hall.
‘Did anyone else hear that howling?’ the Woman asked her team. Both men nodded in reply.
‘It wasn’t a howl; it was the sound of two universes touching where they shouldn’t.’ Max told them, checking the old woman’s pulse.
‘Universes? How would you know about that?’ the man with the case of equipment snapped suspiciously.
‘Because I’ve heard it before. ‘Max warned them.
At the top of the stairs the Doctor flicked on a pocket torch only to find its beam swallowed by the darkness below him.
‘Now that can’t be good...’ he muttered to himself. He pulled a carefully folded paper bag from his pocket, removed a jelly baby and chewed thoughtfully. Then he removed a second one and dropped it towards the darkness. It fizzed and burst into a flame as it struck the level of the first step.
‘..In fact I may go as far as to say that is very bad.’ He turned and sprinted back to the TARDIS.
Ichigo stood at the console, stroking her chin as she examined the swirling patterns on the screen. Xan lent on the rail behind her and inclined her head. ‘Can you read that or are you just impersonating the Doctor?’
‘I was trying for Ben Kenobi, but yes I can read It.’ it was unusual to hear her speak without humour in her tone. ‘I wish I couldn’t.’
‘Why?’ Xan stiffened but the Doctor burst back into the ship before Ichigo could reply.
‘Dimensional transference!’ he called, running for the library, shoes skittering as he slowed to grab at the filing cabinets.
‘What he said, it’s like we’re stuck in a bubble.’ Ichi pointed at the screen but it was still so much digital spaghetti to the Siabaran.
The Doctor appeared at their side, clearing the screen to bring up a map of a thin two story house that, even in line art, had seen better days. ‘This is us, the gap in reality is here’ he tapped the top of the stairs.
‘So we’re cut off from the ground floor?’ Ichi asked.
‘Where’s Max and Lily, if it’s not too stupid a question?’ Xan interrupted. The Doctor tapped the ground floor without further comment. Xantist just sighed.
‘Out the window?’ Ichi suggested. The Doctor lifted the rope that he’d scavenged from the library and Ichi rolled her eyes at him.
‘Hello? Shape shifter here?’
‘I’ll stay here.’ Xan told them but they were already off. She shook her head and made her way silently to her room.
Max stared defiantly back down Albert’s gun barrel. ‘I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. I just don’t expect you to understand It.’ he eyes moved to Eleanor and his expression lightened ‘you, on the other hand, seem a little more open minded than the artful dodger here.’
Eleanor waited for Max to sit up after Albert clubbed him with the gun.
‘Universes?’ Clement tried again.
‘Existences, plains of reality, whatever way you need to explain it to yourselves.’
Eleanor looked at the old woman in Max’s arms ‘the afterlife?’
Max frowned at her, surprised. ‘I wouldn’t go that far, but if you like.’
‘That woman was possessed; I have seen such things before.’ Eleanor replied defiantly.
‘This old lady...’ Max started before he realised whom she meant. ‘Ah, Lily? Well Lily’s complicated...’
Lily had taken the seat at the head of the table Dot Whimple was still stood, transfixed. The two Dockers had tried to flee the room at the first opportunity but found the door sealed by some force beyond that of mortal man. The windows reflected the unearthly glow from the girl and neither man would take a step toward them.
‘Is that Bleddyn Udd?’ Charity whispered to her sister.
‘Don’t be stupid girl,’ Dot scowled in reply ‘does this look like a Celtic Chieftain?’
‘It looks like a frightened young lady if you ask me.’ Mercy muttered.
Lily tapped the table impatiently, echoing Madame C’s movements. Her finger rose towards Dot, the baleful orange eyes followed the finger and her mouth opened to emit a ghastly wail of noise that froze its listeners to the spot.