Pass The Pen
Chapter Sixteen - Deus Ex Machina
'Welcome to purgatory.'
Archie Kennedy thought as he opened his eyes to just barely
enough to look at
the bright light around him. Odd, these were not lanterns, nor were they
candles and the whiteness of the light almost blinded him back into closing
his eyes again. He had heard tales about people who had nearly died and had
recovered. They had seen a bright white light too.
"Jelly Baby?" A hand appeared before his eyes, long
fingered; elegant with a
paper bag of what were little brightly colored babies nestled in the
obviously male palm.
'They must be candies! What is Saint Peter doing with candy?'
Archie tried to sit up, the jelly babies disappeared and the
hand eased him
back to the couch. Archie's fingers roamed over the surface of the cloth,
velvet, he was sure. At least this piece of furniture was normal.
"Kennedy. Acting Lieutenant Archie Kennedy." The
words came with a struggle,
his chest still hurt. Archie finally relaxed back on the couch and turned his
head just a little to see his host.
A tall man, folded up and sitting on a hassock, was watching
him. He wore
knee high boots, of a finer make than Archie was used to seeing, brown tweed
trousers tucked into the boots, a vest of dark brown suede and a big sleeved
shirt under the vest. His hair was the most noticeable feature. Great masses
of curly brown hair, much like Horatio's, but not under control and it was
SHORT! His nose was large and he had prominent teeth. Not an unhandsome man
"I was dead! What happened--Why am I here? Who are you?"
"Who. To answer your last question first." The elegant
fingers picked out a
yellow colored jelly baby from the bag and placed it delicately on his own
tongue. The bag came Archie's way again.
This time he took one.
"Yes. Who. I am called "The Doctor, or just Doctor,
if you prefer. I really
don't care." The man said.
"Cherries! It tastes like cherries!"
"Well, what did you expect? That it would taste like plum pudding?"
"No, but it's so intense!"
The mans eyebrows rose. "Hm I didn't think so."
He picked out a red one and
popped it in his mouth. "Nothing out of the ordinary."
Archie's gaze roamed further into the room, or rather the chamber
in which he
lay. It was a hexagon with a large pedestal in the center, a pedestal that
was moving up and down with a horrid wheeze. The sound was almost like a
bellows that had seen better days. He tried once again to sit up, this time
the man, The Doctor, helped him to an upright position.
"I was dead!" Kennedy repeated, "What happened to me?"
"You were stunned and you had this in your chest, driven
into your sternum."
The Doctor held up a half-inch pistol ball, flattened on one side. "You must
be marvelously tough." He dropped the ball into Archie's hand. "I must admit
for a few moments there I did think you were deceased. But, a touch with the
old sonic screwdriver did the trick," the man dug in a pocket and pulled out
a silver rod, " It still has the touch. You have lost some blood and do need
to take it easy. I took the liberty of lending you one of my shirts."
"Where am I?"
"You are in the TARDIS."
"Do you repeat everything anyone says to you?"
"It's a habit. Captain Pellew requires.oh my dear Lord,
I deserted and took
a prisoner Damn, where's Jack?"
The Doctor looked truly puzzled. "What question would
you like me to answer
"I've got to get back. What time is it?"
"Right now, time is suspended. The old girl is holding
us stopped for the
moment." The Doctor stroked the gray metal of the wheezing central tower.
"Won't be for long though."
"Time is suspended?"
The Doctor face screwed up in an exasperated frown. "Will
you please quit
that. Yes, time is suspended. The TARDIS--"
"You asked me that before. TARDIS, Time And Relative Dimensions In Space."
"Oh please, will you let me tell you what has happened.
Can you hold your
peace for five minutes?
Archie's mouth clamped shut. As hard as it would be, he would keep his peace.
The Doctor held out an arm and assisted Archie to his feet,
guiding him to
something that looked like a large glass wall. The Doctor turned a knob, then
pressed a button and spun a couple of wheels that were recessed into a side
panel. A picture flashed on and Archie jumped back with a yell!
"It's only a viewer."
Archie determined that he would not speak further, pursed his
He desperately wanted to know what a "viewer" was and how it worked, but now
was not the time. His eyes were drawn to the moving painting.
"My God, it's the Captain." The words went out in
a whisper, under his
breath. The Doctor turned to him, watching Kennedy's face as he took in the
spectacle playing out before him. "What happened? That's Styles kneeling,
and Bracegirdle! He's alive! Thank the Lord." The figures on the screen
pulled back to allow Kennedy to see Pellew, still with Styles supporting him,
laying on his back with a crimson stain soaking his breeches leg. The captain
appeared unconscious and there were bodies littering the beach where all the
ships small boats had been dragged onto the rocks. Maybe ten sailors and a
couple of marines were wondering around, dazed at the death and destruction
"They came after you and two men called Hornblower and
Simpson. I overheard
them as I captured these images." The Doctor fell silent as Archie continued
to gaze spellbound by the tableau.
"He should have never left the Indy. He was injured in the storm."
"There was no one else. You were gone, Hornblower had
been captured, I
believe and this Simpson, I don't know what has happened to him."
"I should have been on the Indy. I should have been there!"
"But you disobeyed orders? I heard your Captain tell the
rather pudgy balding
"Mr. Bracegirdle. The first lieutenant." Archie drew
in a long breath. He had
been wrong. Wrong in his decision to come ashore for Horatio, now everyone
had paid the price for his error in judgment. "I should have stayed with the
ship. I should have done my duty and followed my captain's orders. This is my
The tall man at his side nodded and placed a consoling hand
"What about Horatio?"
The Doctor shook his head. "I don't know. I'm only a Time
Lord. I'm not
Archie was too occupied still watching the "viewer"
to ask what a Time Lord
"I was sent here by the council and president"
"President..Of the United States?" Archie asked as
he turned his head to look
at the Doctor.
"No the Gallefreyan, oh never mind. Just take it that
I was sent here to help
you in whatever decision you make."
"Arghhhhhh!" The Doctor spun away from Archie, but
turned back with an
exasperated sigh. "The council called me home and gave me this." He held out
a crystal rod, oddly shaped, a tab with cut outs on one end and a gold knob
on the other. The center was cut out in a double battle-axe shape. "It's an
override key for the TARDIS. A Key To Time, if you will, that will allow me
to pass back to an earlier place in your time flow, if you wish it."
Archie curled a finger over his lips in thought. A chance to
go back, a
chance to make a different decision. A different decision, he would only make
a different decision if he retained his knowledge. "What happens if I don't
"Nothing. I return you, healthy as you are now, to where
and when I found
you." The doctor shrugged into a long coat and wrapped a scarf, a scarf that
seemed to stretch forever and was in danger of being trodden underfoot,
around his neck. "The decision is yours, Mr. Kennedy. Yours alone."
"If I go back.will I remember what happened?"
"I don't know. Perhaps as a sense of déjà
vu, a tiny shred of remembering.
I'm not human, so I don't know what effect crossing your own time line will
do." The Doctor went to the central console. The Key to Time was still in his
hand. He was waiting on Acting Lieutenant Archibald Kennedy to make up his
mind. Leaning against the pillar the Doctor crossed his arms. He had all the
time in all the worlds.
Archie turned back to the viewer. Mr. Bracegirdle had picked
up Pellew's hand
and was holding it to his own chest, his Bracegirdle's other hand reached out
to close Pellew's eyes. His captain was dead.
"What about them?" Archie gestured at the screen. "Will they go back as well?"
The Doctor nodded again. "Yes. With the same small remembering
of what has
"I'll do it. Turn back the clock. I need to go back. I
need to return to my
place and my duty."
A toothy smile spread across the Doctor's face, he inserted
the crystal key
into the pedestal.
'There's that bright light again.' Was Archie's last thought
started to make his way up the ladder, only to find Cutter was standing at
the edge of the hatchway looking down at him. With a shake of his head,
Archie turned his face upward. Cutter was trying to talk some sense into him.
"*However*... that would be a foolish idea.. The captain
has a plan of
action, but you know as well as I do, any other action taken before that he
wouldn't allow. You will be asking to kill yourself, Mr. Kennedy to take such
a reckless action. No, I advise you'd better keep your plans to yourself and
I won't tell him what you just told me. The captain would be, as I see,
neither satisfied, temperate, or amused," Cutter pointed out carefully.
Archie tossed his hair out of his eyes, damn; he had heard
before, when? He considered his answer carefully.