Contents page - Previous chapter - Next chapter


The Michaelmas Phantoms


The Horror in the Mortuary


Colin pushed open the door of Saunders's study. There was no sign of the Professor. Colin glanced at his watch. It was still quite early, but he had expected Saunders to be here by now.

After all that had happened last night, Colin supposed the Professor might not be so keen to come in this morning. The Doctor had finally been proved right, which meant that Saunders had been proved wrong. And Colin knew well that the Professor didn't like to look a fool.

At least now he might co-operate with the Doctor, and dismantle the particle accelerator before it did more damage. Except that the Doctor was now talking about modifying it.

Of course, that was where Saunders would be, over at the accelerator. Perhaps he was helping the Doctor - more likely he was pleading for the project to be spared. Colin didn't think the Doctor would listen to such entreaties.

It seemed that the project had come to an end. It was just as well that he had other options open. Colin reached into his pocket, and drew out the envelope that he had found on his doormat this morning. As soon as he had seen the Devesham postmark he had known what it was.

He had been expecting a rejection of course, so he had been pleasantly surprised by the job offer it contained. Colin thought it likely that he would take up the position. But he would wait to see the outcome of today before he made his final decision.


"Good morning," said the Doctor, sweeping into Sonia's office with boundless enthusiasm.

Sonia looked up blearily from a strong cup of black coffee. Once again, she had only managed a few hours' sleep. Even now she was only half awake. "What are you so cheerful about?" she asked. "Did you find Wells?"

"Yes," replied the Doctor. He helped himself to coffee.


"I think he'll be amenable."

"What if he's not?" Sonia enquired.

The Doctor shrugged. "I'll leave it up to you to persuade him," he said.

"That doesn't sound like you," Sonia said. Usually the Doctor frowned upon the use of military force.

"Wells has caused this mess," the Doctor replied. "He has to take the responsibility for that, and help to sort it out." And, he thought to himself, if that means holding Wells at gunpoint, then so be it. There wasn't time to apply gentle moral arguments. Anyway, Sonia didn't actually need to use the gun. The threat was enough.

"I've made him quite a persuasive offer," the Doctor added. "He'll agree to it."

He put down his coffee cup, and turned towards the door. "Come on," he said. "Rhonwen's waiting in the car."

Sonia struggled sluggishly to her feet, and started to follow him. "Where are we going?" she asked.

"The particle accelerator of course. There's a great deal to be done."


Wells looked down at the scrambled innards of his transfer capsule. It was no use deluding himself. He would never be able to repair it. The Doctor knew that. He also knew how tempting his offer would be.

Wells could not decide whether to trust the Doctor. The fundamental point was that the Doctor, by his own admission, was a Time Lord. And for an anachronaut, Time Lords were to be feared, more so even than the Silencers.

The Doctor did not behave as Wells would expect a Time Lord to. His offer to repair the transfer capsule had to be a ruse. The Doctor would just hand him over to the Silencers.

But if that were the case, there would be no need for an elaborate deception. The Doctor could simply tell the Silencers where to find him, and leave them to carry out their mission. Which meant that the Doctor really did want something from him.

Was the tale of the alien entity true? And would the Doctor keep his word, or hand him over to the Silencers once he had got what he wanted? The Doctor seemed to exude sincerity when he spoke, but really there was no way to tell.

Wells decided to be pragmatic. He had a choice to make. What were the consequences?

If he declined to help the Doctor, and fled, he would be marooned in this backward century for the rest of his life. Or worse, the Silencers might eventually locate him, and he would have no means of escape.

If he did assist the Doctor, and found himself betrayed to the Silencers, there was a slight advantage. He would be returned to his own era. There would be a chance to escape then, and acquire another transfer capsule. It was a slim hope, but it was better than staying here.

Alternatively, the Doctor might have told him the truth. Wells found it difficult to trust anyone. It was a consequence of spending his life in perpetual flight.

Overall, it seemed he had nothing to lose by throwing in his lot with the Doctor - and possibly everything to gain.


The Wolseley was tucked into a small side road, crammed between a large red brick construction on one side, and an elegant house from a much earlier architectural period on the other. This vantage point allowed Crabtree a good view of the glass and metal edifice which seemed to be the centre of the temporal disturbance.

They had been here some hours, since before dawn, waiting for a sign of their adversaries. So far they had seen one person enter, the young man who had been the last to emerge from the building yesterday.

Suddenly, they heard the roar of an engine. A yellow car, of a design that seemed even more ancient than the Wolseley's, drove up to the front of the building and stopped on the forecourt.

As they watched, the Time Lord emerged, together with the two women with whom they had seen him last night. They climbed the steps to the door and disappeared inside the building.

"Now we wait," Crabtree said.

"Wait for what?" asked Gates.

"An opportunity," replied Crabtree. "We need a strong position from which to bargain. We could seize the Time Lord, but we would never extract information from him."

"Then what do we do?"

"We seize one of his associates. The younger woman seems the most vulnerable."

"The one we encountered at the temporal disturbance in the meadow?" Gates queried.

"Exactly," said Crabtree. "By holding her, we may be able to control the Time Lord. We may even force him to exchange Wells for the woman."

"Would he not take reprisals for such an action?" asked Gates.

Crabtree shook his head. "He has no power to do so. If he is helping Wells, then clearly he cannot represent the authority of the Gallifreyan High Council. He must be a renegade. Perhaps a criminal fleeing their justice, as Wells flees ours."

"That seems likely."

"Thus," said Crabtree, "he cannot complain to his own people, for fear of revealing his own involvement in the affair. We are safe. All we need do to complete our mission is to arrest Wells. And using the woman as a hostage will secure that."


Colin stared into his computer screen. The monitor was switched off, and all he saw was his own reflexion in the glass.

He had not found Saunders here either. He supposed it was possible that the Professor had decided to stay at home, unable to witness whatever action the Doctor planned taking against the accelerator. But somehow that didn't seem like Saunders. He would fight to save his dream.

The door opened, and Colin looked round expectantly. The Doctor came in, followed by Rhonwen and Sonia McIntyre.

"Hello, Colin," said the Doctor. "Is Saunders here?"

Colin shook his head. "I haven't seen him since last night."

"We'll just have to start without him," the Doctor said. He marched briskly towards the accelerator chamber.

Colin jumped to his feet, and started to follow him. "What are you going to do?" he asked.

The Doctor turned to face him. "I need two heavy duty power conduit cables," he said. "The same as you use for the power output on the accelerator. Do you think you can get those for me?"

"Yes, I suppose so," Colin replied. "There'll be some in the stores. What are you going to use them for?"

"Stone walls do not a prison make," the Doctor said. "On the other hand, a temporal pulse interference field does. I want to run the output power back into the chronon injector to create a continuous repeating loop. I'll connect my temporal vector scanner into the circuit, to feed an interference pattern into the temporal distortion, which will trap the alien entity inside. Effectively, it'll be a giant version of the trap I built yesterday."

"All right," said Colin. "How does the alien get inside the accelerator?"

"For that, I need to wait until Wells turns up."

"Is Wells coming back here?" Colin asked, a little surprised.

"One way or another," said the Doctor. He glanced meaningfully at Sonia.

"I'll get those cables," Colin said.


The room was familiar. The wood panelled walls and the large leather topped desk evoked feelings of comfort and security. Saunders had evidently spent a lot of time here.

Saunders? Yes, his name was Saunders. All the memories had been absorbed. It would take just a short time to assimilate them. Until then, it was best to avoid contact with other humans. They might be made suspicious by unexplained lapses in memory.

But soon Saunders would be rejoining them, once full control was established over the mental processes. The desire for revenge was too strong to be ignored.

Contact had been made with the mind of the Doctor. Centuries of elapsed time had altered the personality of the time traveller, but there was no mistaking the intellect. The Doctor would be made to suffer for the defeats of the past.

And this world was Earth. Once again, it would be the place where physical substance was created. This time, there would be no defeat. This time, the Doctor would see the world inexorably engulfed - the world he loved and defended.


With a hefty shove, the Doctor pushed up the ceiling panel. Standing on Colin's shoulders, he hauled himself up into the overhead ducting.

"Now, you're sure this is the right place?" he called down.

"You studied the technical schematics," Colin replied. He glanced back at the plans laid out on the floor of the accelerator control room. "The ducting runs through the ceiling above the accelerator chamber. I know, because I had to crawl through it when I plugged in the output cable in the first place."

"All right," said the Doctor. "Pass me up the cables."

Colin stooped to uncoil the cables from their drums, and passed the free ends up through the opening. The Doctor grabbed hold of them. He would be able to pay out as much cable as he wanted, simply by pulling. The drums span freely.

The Doctor started to crawl through the service ducting, pulling the cables behind him. After a few minutes, he found the power output point for the particle accelerator. According to the schematics, the output had been installed up here to link with the National Grid, whose cables lay in the earth at this depth. In addition, by going straight upwards, the cables did not clutter up the floor of the accelerator chamber.

Taking the pen laser from his pocket, the Doctor severed the original output cable to the National Grid. He then started to connect the two new cables to the power output.

Once he was finished, he crawled back to the power input for the accelerator. It was a rather more difficult task to connect the two new output cables into this. He had to sever them in the right place, and then start to cross wire them with the original input, and a new set of cables which would trail back into the control room, eventually to link to the temporal vector scanner and the directional systems of the transfer capsule. It was necessary to use several self activating drone clamps to hold the whole ensemble together whilst he completed some minor readjustments.


The ringing of her cellphone had Sonia reaching for her pocket. She took out the phone and raised it to her ear. "McIntyre," she said.

She listened to the voice on the other end for a little while. "All right," she concluded. "We'll be right over."

She broke the connexion and stuffed the phone back into her pocket. "Doctor?" she called.

There was a scuffling sound from above them, a sudden clatter of dropped tools, and a loud curse in an incomprehensible alien dialect. Then the Doctor's head poked out of the open ceiling panel. "What is it?" he asked.

"Have you finished?" said Sonia.

"Yes, all done."

His head disappeared into the opening once more, to be replaced a few moments later by his feet. "Look out below!" he called, and dropped neatly down to the floor, landing like a cat.

"Was that a phone call for me?" he asked.

"Sort of," said Sonia. "It was Brennan. He wants you to go over to the mortuary right away."

"What is it?"

"I'm not sure. I don't think Brennan really knew, to tell the truth. But he said Doctor Jackson had got really excited about something, and had asked for you."

"Well," the Doctor replied, "I suppose I'd better put in an appearance."

"I'll come with you," said Sonia.

"All right. Colin, if Wells turns up, tell him to do nothing until I get back."

Colin nodded.

"And," the Doctor added, "if Saunders arrives, be diplomatic."

"I'll do my best," Colin replied.

The Doctor started towards the door, Sonia following close behind him.

Rhonwen took a step forward. "Can I come with you?" she asked.

The Doctor paused. "Ah no," he said. "I think you should stay here and help Colin."

"But there's nothing to do until you get back," Rhonwen protested.

The Doctor glanced at Sonia. She understood the message, and went out through the ante-chamber to wait in the corridor.

The Doctor took Rhonwen's arm and drew her gently into the ante-chamber, where they could talk together privately.

"Why do you want to leave me out?" Rhonwen asked.

"I can't be everywhere at once," the Doctor said. "I need to leave someone here to represent my interests."

"Oh, what use am I going to be?"

"Don't underestimate yourself," the Doctor admonished gently. His face clouded for a moment. He could see Rhonwen was keen to accompany him, but he didn't want her with him. She didn't want to accept any excuses. He would have to tell her the real reason. "I don't think you'll like it there," he said. "There are a lot of dead bodies."

Rhonwen looked puzzled for a moment, and the Doctor wondered whether he had judged her emotional responses correctly. It was so difficult to understand what made humans tick.

Then suddenly she understood. "Peter Starling?" she whispered.

The Doctor nodded gravely.

Rhonwen found it hard to suppress a shudder. She gave him a brave smile. "I'll stay here," she said. "Thank you, Doctor."

The Doctor patted her on the arm, and went to join Sonia outside. He had successfully interpreted Rhonwen's feelings. He awarded himself a pat on the back.


Crabtree suddenly tensed. He tapped Gates on the shoulder, and drew his attention to the building they were watching.

In the last hour or so, many more people had entered, the majority of them young adults. Crabtree wondered whether their presence would make his task more difficult. He had dismissed the possibility that they could all be associates of Wells or the Time Lord. As he understood his briefing, many of the buildings in this city were part of an educational academy. It was therefore more feasible that the young people were students, and entirely unconnected with the temporal distortions emanating from within.

The cause of his sudden alertness was the appearance of the Time Lord on the steps of the building. Accompanying him was the older of the two women. They climbed into the yellow car, and drove away.

Crabtree waited until the vehicle had disappeared from sight. "We now have an opportunity," he said.

"There are many people in the building," Gates pointed out.

"It is a large structure," said Crabtree. "They could be in different rooms, even on different floors. We shall investigate. If we have a chance to remove the young woman unhindered, we shall act."

"Very well."

They got out of the Wolseley, and started towards the building.


All energy levels were now stabilized. Mental activity was now under control. The memories had been properly assimilated, and personality traits were integrated. Now this form would pass as Saunders, even amongst those who had known him closely.

There were things to be done. This study was not the place to be. The memories of Saunders had been filled with images of a particle accelerator, a source of immense energy. It must have been this device which had provided the power to make the transference to this world.

The power of the accelerator would provide the means for the Great Purpose. A massive release of raw temporal energy would create the conditions necessary for the formation of true substance. It was clear to see how this could be achieved.

Saunders got to his feet. He left his study, and set out for the particle accelerator. Soon, there would be no need to hold onto this body. Saunders would serve his final purpose and be abandoned.


There was no one in the entrance chamber of the building. Crabtree supposed that they were fortunate. He looked at Gates, who was comparing readings on one of his scanners.

"It is difficult to calibrate using the data recorded yesterday," said Gates. "There is currently no temporal disturbance to track."

"I would settle for an estimate," replied Crabtree.

"I think we must travel downwards," Gates said.

"A subterranean chamber?" mused Crabtree. He looked around and saw the entrance to a stairwell ahead of them.

They passed cautiously through the door. Crabtree glanced both up and down the flights of steps. Again, there was no one to be seen. He was glad of some good fortune for a change.

They descended the stairs, and found themselves in a short corridor, which ended in a metal door. There was an electronic lock, but fortunately the door had not been shut. Crabtree gently pushed it open a crack, and peered through the gap.

The room beyond was small, containing a table and chair. Otherwise it was empty. Crabtree opened the door fully, and they passed through.

Another door ahead led presumably to a further room. The door was only half shut, and they heard the low murmur of voices coming from beyond. Crabtree looked enquiringly at Gates, who studied the readings on his medical scanner. Finally he held up two fingers, to indicate the number of people within.

It was a guess, but it seemed likely to assume that one of them would be the young woman who had accompanied the Time Lord. The other was possibly the young man, whom they had seen arriving first earlier that morning.

Crabtree decided that the situation was within their control. He nodded to Gates, and suddenly pushed open the door.

Rhonwen and Colin looked round, expecting anyone except the two who did walk in. Rhonwen found herself shuddering, for the sight of the men in black brought back memories of Peter Starling's demise, and her own brush with death.

Colin leapt to his feet, and stood facing the intruders. "Who the hell are you?" he demanded. "This is a restricted area."

Crabtree turned for a moment to regard him. "Be silent," he said. He had no time for arguments.

"Now, just a minute!" Colin shouted. He marched purposefully towards Crabtree, prepared to eject him by force if necessary.

He stopped suddenly as Crabtree pulled a black box from his pocket and pressed a control. Colin found himself enveloped in a strange blue glow, and felt consciousness slipping away.

As Colin slumped to the floor, Crabtree turned his attention to Rhonwen. "You will come with us," he said. "If you resist, it will be necessary to incapacitate you."

Rhonwen managed to find her tongue. "What do you want?" she asked.

"From you," said Crabtree, "nothing. But you will be useful in ensuring the co-operation of another."

Rhonwen understood. They wanted to use her to blackmail the Doctor. "You're wasting your time," she said. "The Doctor wouldn't betray himself, even for my sake." She knew the argument didn't sound very convincing. She didn't believe it herself.

"We shall see," Crabtree replied evenly.

Gates grabbed hold of Rhonwen's arm, and started to drag her towards the door. She pulled against him, and managed to force him to a halt. She pointed at Colin, and faced Crabtree accusingly. "Is he dead?"

Crabtree shook his head. "He will recover shortly. I used a minimum power stun field." He set his face into a more threatening expression. "If we are still present when he awakes, it will be necessary to stun him again. The effects of a second blast could be more permanent."

Rhonwen looked down at Colin. She didn't have a lot of choice. She couldn't place Colin in danger. Besides, it was obvious that, conscious or comatose, they were determined to take her. She surrendered herself, and allowed Gates to lead her out into the corridor.


The Doctor strode along the corridor of the mortuary, Sonia following close behind. Ahead, they saw Brennan waiting outside the door of the post mortem room. He came towards them with a relieved expression on his face.

"What's going on?" the Doctor asked.

"I don't really know," said Brennan. "But Jackson's having kittens. You'd better go and see."

The Doctor nodded and started to move towards the door.

"Doctor?" Brennan said.

The Doctor stopped and turned back towards him.

"I suppose I ought to send someone to pick up Inspector Keane's remains," Brennan began. "But I don't know what to say. There isn't even a body to speak of. I haven't made out a report yet."

The Doctor rubbed his chin. "Killed in the line of duty?" he suggested.

"The enquiry board usually wants details."

"Leave it to me," said Sonia. "I'll get the Home Office to classify your investigation as coming under my authority. That way it'll be covered by a total security clampdown."

"Thank you," said Brennan. "But that still leaves the body."

"We can pick it up later," replied Sonia. "We don't want to involve anyone else. We want to keep this as secret as possible."

Brennan nodded.

Satisfied, the Doctor pushed open the door of the examination room and went inside.

Jackson looked up from the work bench, where he was hunched over a microscope. "Thank goodness you're here," he said. "I didn't know who else to talk to. And since you seem to know what's going on, I thought I'd ask you."

"Well, what is it?" asked the Doctor.

Jackson pointed at the body on the slab, covered with a plastic sheet. The Doctor drew back the sheet to reveal the face of Peter Starling.

Jackson said, "Rigor is just starting to set in."

"Now?" asked the Doctor incredulously. "But he's been dead more than thirty six hours. Under normal conditions, it would have been and gone."

"I know," replied Jackson. "But this is hardly a normal case."

The Doctor shook his head in bewilderment. "It shouldn't have happened at all," he said. "The life essence has been removed."

"So what does it mean?"

"I suppose," the Doctor began hesitantly, "if the life essence were somehow to be put back into the body, even after death, the natural process of decay would take place as normal, as if death had just occurred."

"Well," said Jackson, "the state of the body would imply that the life essence was restored between six and twelve hours ago. But how would it get back into the body?"

The Doctor sunk deep into thought. Something was starting to nag at him, something dreadful he had overlooked. He began to theorize aloud. "If there was a sudden release of human life energy, somewhere in this geographic area, it would seek out places where it could comfortably fit. In other words, it would occupy bodies which had had their own energies drained. Nature abhors a vacuum."

"So what causes a release of energy like that?" asked Jackson.

The Doctor slapped himself hard on the forehead. "Six to twelve hours ago?" he muttered. Suddenly it all became very clear. "I think I've made a grave error of judgement."


Colin painfully opened his eyes. He tried to remember where he was and what he was doing. It all came flooding back. The men in black hats, the strange blue glow.

He looked around. There was no one else in the room. Where was Rhonwen? Perhaps she had gone to fetch help. Perhaps they had taken her.

Colin tried to struggle to his feet, but found that he had no strength in his legs. He collapsed, sprawling on the floor. His head was spinning like a top.

He became aware that someone had entered the control room. He strained to lift his head and screwed up his eyes to focus on the newcomer. He was filled with a dreadful thought that it might be the men in black, returning to abduct him as well.

A face floated above him, just a vague shapeless impression. Colin managed to resolve it into the features of Professor Saunders. He felt relieved. At last a friendly face. He tried to speak, to appeal for help, but he couldn't get the words out.

Saunders glanced down at him disdainfully for a moment or two, and then stepped past him. Colin slumped onto the floor again. He couldn't believe that the Professor had just ignored his plight. He saw Saunders enter the accelerator chamber, and then the door shut behind him.


This was the place. The particle accelerator was a source of great power. More than that, it was a means of destruction. Saunders had known the dangers, and striven to keep them under control. Now, no such safeguards would be applied.

The accelerator needed a massive input of energy to activate it. This was not available at all times. There was a reserve of energy, but it was limited. No matter. It would be enough. There were but two tasks that needed to be completed.

The first was to remove threats. There were very few who would be able to stop the Great Purpose. The Doctor was one. The Doctor had to be dealt with. This necessity meant that revenge would not be sweet. How delightful it would be to make the Doctor suffer. But he was too dangerous, and had to be eliminated now.

Saunders turned to the emergency controls mounted on the side of the accelerator itself, and started to feed energy through from the reserve batteries.


The Doctor barged out into the corridor. His face looked so anxious that Brennan ran towards him. "Are you all right?" he enquired.

The Doctor shook off his concern. "I was mistaken," he said. "It's already here. It must have come through last night."

"Do you mean the alien?" asked Sonia.

The Doctor nodded. "When it made the transference, it would have released all the human life essence it had gathered. Once it had patterned itself, it wouldn't need it any more."

"How do we locate it?" Sonia demanded.

"It's taken over a body," said the Doctor. "Someone who was in the control room last night. I'd know if it was me, and anyway I'm not human."

"Well, it isn't me," Sonia replied.

"Isn't it?" snapped the Doctor. "You touched it, didn't you?"

"Well, I'd know if it was me, wouldn't I?"

"But you wouldn't be likely to tell us."

"Do you really believe I'm possessed by an alien?" said Sonia.

The Doctor smiled. "No. But the point is, we wouldn't be able to tell. Not by surface appearances. Little things would give it away. There would inevitably be some mental rejection by the host brain, and it would take a while for all the memories to be properly integrated."

"Well, I've been with you all morning," Sonia replied. "Have I done anything uncharacteristic?"

"No, of course not," said the Doctor. "But I know who has."

Sonia looked suspiciously at Brennan, who raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Steady on," he admonished.

"No," said the Doctor impatiently. "Not him."

"Who, then?" asked Sonia.

"Saunders, of course."

"But we haven't seen Saunders all morning."

"Exactly," the Doctor replied, rubbing his hands with suddenly enthusiastic energy. "Don't you think that's odd? Wouldn't he be there to stop me tampering with his precious particle accelerator?"

Sonia snapped her fingers. "You must be right," she said. "It went for Saunders last night. I thought I'd shoved him out of the way in time. That's when my arm brushed against it."

"No, you must have caught the last rush of the energy consuming Saunders."

"So, it's here and in Saunders's body," said Sonia. "Where does that leave your plan?"

"I don't know," the Doctor replied. "This alters everything. A being of vast mental powers is loose on this planet. It might be capable of anything."

He suddenly stood very still, like a hound picking up a scent.

"What is it?" Sonia asked.

He motioned her to keep quiet. The hairs were curling on the back of his neck. Something was very wrong. He strained his ears, and could just make out a sound like a dog snarling.

Suddenly they heard Jackson's voice shouting. "Doctor!"

The Doctor rushed back to the examination room, and flung open the door. Jackson was cowering back against his work bench. The room was filled with a vicious snarling and drooling sound, an animal hunting its prey.

Jackson managed to shout out. "There's something there! I can't see it, but I know it's there! What is it?"

"Stand still," called the Doctor, quite unnecessarily. Jackson was rooted to the spot, as unmoving as a statue.

The sound suddenly became louder, the snarling more agitated. The Doctor realized that the creature was reacting to his voice. It seemed to be coming towards him. "I think it's hunting me," he said.

There was a strange shimmering of the air before him, and the creature started to take on a visible form. At first, it was just a vague shadow, but as it moved towards the Doctor, it became more and more distinct.

It was a creature out of a nightmare. Rows upon rows of jagged teeth dripped saliva. Huge spines protruded from its back. Vicious claws slashed the air as it advanced upon the Doctor.

Sonia appeared in the doorway behind him, and drew her service revolver.

The Doctor backed out into the corridor, and the monster continued to stalk towards him.

As the danger retreated, Jackson managed to move his muscles. He pulled himself away from the work bench, and looked for a chance to flee. If the creature followed the Doctor out into the corridor, he might be able to make it through the door. He started to inch forward in the monster's wake.

Suddenly the beast snapped around to face Jackson. It lunged forward, and pounced upon the pathologist, its teeth biting deep into his throat. Jackson fell back, the creature cutting and slashing at him. A pool of blood started to ooze across the white tiled floor.

Sonia fired several shots into the body of the monster. They had no effect. The creature turned back to face the door.

But it did not advance upon them. It suddenly leapt up onto the examination slab, and fell upon Peter Starling's body. Sonia watched horrified, expecting it to tear and slash at the corpse.

Instead, it seemed to fade away, collapsing onto the body and disappearing.

"Has it gone?" Sonia asked.

"No," said the Doctor. "It's just about to get worse."

As they watched, Starling's body slowly sat up on the slab. His face was blank and lifeless. The limbs moved with stiff, jerking movements, like a puppet whose strings were being twitched. It got down from the slab, and started to march inexorably towards them.

"Oh my God," said Sonia. She fought down a wave of nausea. She raised her revolver, and tried to tell herself that it wasn't Peter Starling advancing towards them. She couldn't open fire on her own subordinate, even if he was dead.

The walking corpse came out into the corridor. It moved straight towards the Doctor, who was backed against the far wall.

Sonia forced herself to open fire. The bullets tore through Starling's body, but still he came on. His lifeless hands stretched out and fastened themselves about the Doctor's neck.

The Doctor struggled to pull himself free, but he was caught in a grip like an iron vice. The cadaver began to throttle the life out of him.


Contents page

Previous chapter

Next chapter