In Which Our Story Reaches Its Climax … and Then Explodes
It’s sunny outside, but the wind is biting. My eyes feel dry and my nose is clogged. Thorne is threading his rocket onto the launching pad in the middle of the abandoned field I’ve taken him to.
Have you done this before?
“Certainly I have,” he says. Attaching the igniter, he walks away, spooling out a length of wire in his wake.
How high will it go?
“It’s not the height that matters, its how far it falls that determines whether its a success or not.”
I guess I follow you. The harder they fall.
“Yes, well. I’ve solved that problem. When I was younger, a friend of mine rigged up a model rocket to fire its engines in stages. He thought he could get his rocket into space. He had 37 engines on it, all timed to fire in succession so that momentum was never lost.”
Did it work?
“He blew himself up.”
Smiling, Thorne flipped the switched and the model rocket shot up into the air with a whoosh. It seemed like it would go on forever, but then it noticeably slowed and reached an apex. Then it promptly exploded.
“Always quit while you’re ahead. Then you won’t have to worry about the fall.”
So, are we going to finish this story, or what?
“Prepare for explosions.”
Adventure of the Prime Machine
I groggily clawed my way back to consciousness as I felt my body being jostled roughly. It took several moments to orient myself with the environment, but soon I deduced the truth of my predicament. I was still bound by the wrists and ankles but my gag had slipped away from my mouth. I found myself tightly bound to the side of a hansom with little ability to move. Next to me sat Sherlock Holmes, whipping the frothing horses that pulled our carriage.
I did not recognize the countryside surrounding us, but it reminded me of Switzerland, if not some bizarre mock-up of it. A cold wind bit my face and tears cut cold paths from my eyes as we moved at unsafe speeds down a dirt road.
“How do you know about the Doctor?” I asked aloud.
“It’s my business to know the facts, Watson,” he said evenly. “Do you really think that all this time I didn’t know exactly what was going on?”
“You’re not Sherlock Holmes,” I challenged. “None of this is real.”
Holmes jerked his head to regard me momentarily with a look that might have been surprise, but the glance soon faded into a sneer. “You’re out of your depth here. Don’t be so sure you know the truth.”
“I suppose you expect me to believe your little charade about this all being the result of breathing fumes at the opium den?” I snapped. “Ridiculous. This is a game – a game being controlled by a computer.”
“Now it’s you who are being ridiculous, Watson,” he replied.
“You, yourself, admitted that you know who the Doctor is,” I cried in retort. “You do not exist. You are a construct of a very complicated game being played out by -”
With a speed unlike anything human, Sherlock Holmes reached a hand over and grabbed my forehead. Before I could pull away I experienced a sharp blinding pain that echoed down into my spine. The scene slowed and I felt myself being blurred and stretched in time and space until all light was pulled into a pinpoint set within a deep and foreboding void of darkness.
My mind flashed through the events of the last several months, time I had spent in the game, trapped by the Prime Machine. A whirlwind of visions assaulted me and I witnessed past occurrences being replayed in my head. With each vision, a new altered one replaced it. Holmes was erasing my memories – rewriting my personal history as I watched.
“You didn’t really think you were the smartest being in this universe, did you?” his voice echoed in my head. “Haven’t you ever asked yourself why you play the part of the sidekick, and not the master?”
In fact, I had pondered that point many times since I had learned the Doctor’s version of the truth. It was that nagging doubt in the back of my mind, that question never asked aloud that faded as quickly as it came to the surface – the one piece of the puzzle that all others suggested existed by the void it left, but was never found to fill it.
“This goes beyond tests of intelligence and games of wit.”
I saw Coraline and my wife, Chief Galen and the people of Dreides VII, my whole life vaporized and replaced by a story I knew so well that I had created an entire miniature universe from my visions of it alone.
“I am the one chosen to beat this game. You are merely a pawn in a greater struggle.”
I struggled to breathe. His hand felt like hot coals against my skin and I could not move away from that searing pain. I tried desperately to hang on to some memory of my life I had just rediscovered and my eyes flashed to my forearm, covered by the sleeve of my overcoat. I knew there was a truth there, something to hang on to, but I could not move my hand to pull back the curtain covering what was hidden there.
“They chose poorly. Even the great Prime Machine doesn’t realize it is being used.”
Slowly the trees at the sides of the dirt road were coming into focus and I could make out the forms of the horses pulling us in our carriage.
“Listen, Watson, as I tell you this before I erase it forever from your mind. My race was destroyed long ago, erased from history forever. We were the pinnacle of sentience in the universe and our master race was the supreme force of change sweeping across the galaxies as we wiped out all those lesser than us. This man, The Doctor, fought us, tricked us, and destroyed us, binding our fate forever to the void. Some of us escaped to return here, but always this one figure stood in their way, preventing our return to supremacy.”
As he spoke, he transferred some of his thoughts to me in visions. I saw a humanoid race, proud and vicious, mutated and changed into a superior form – a perfect machine. I saw a man battling their evil through time, always wearing a different face, but obviously the Doctor.
“The race of beings that created the Prime Machine created a universe from scratch, and in doing so unwittingly wrote the laws of that alternate universe to allow for gaps – holes in the fabric of space and time. It sought out the greatest minds to test, and, without knowing it, pulled me from the void. I am a god in this universe, and soon, using the ramshackle physics that allow this alternate universe to exist, I will pass into your universe, where I will retain my powers. Even now, your Doctor struggles against me, thinking he faces off against a powerful artificial intelligence, but soon he will come here and he will learn the truth. And then he will be destroyed once and for all. I am the last hope for my kind.”
The visions faded as I slowly came back to full consciousness. Holmes’s words slipped into my mind and then faded away as they were spoken.
“We will survive!”
With extreme mental struggle, I managed to whisper a question before my last true memory faded away forever.
“Who are you?” I gasped.
“As far as you will ever know,” he said with an evil laugh, “I am Sherlock Holmes.”
As he pulled his hand away, the sounds and vibrations of the carriage came rushing back to the surface of my senses.
Once again, I was Watson.
“Goodness, Holmes,” I said, shaking my head to clear it. “Why am I tied up? And how did we get to Switzerland so quickly?”
“Feeling better, Watson?” he said with a smile. “Let me help you.”
With one hand still holding the reins, he untied my bindings and tossed the ropes to the road.
“You were slipping in and out of consciousness throughout the trip here and I’ve taken excessive measures to ensure your safety on our long journey, but we could not delay this part of it any further, so I tied you firmly to the side of the carriage to prevent injury,” he explained.
“A bit tight on the knots, I’d say,” I remarked, rubbing my wrists vigorously. For a moment I felt the sudden urge to pull back my sleeve. I did so, but was unaware of what I expected to see there. I saw only pale skin, reddened at the wrist where the ropes had rubbed the flesh.
I quickly ran my hands over various parts of my body, feeling inexplicably sore in several places. My hands fell upon the gag hanging loosely around my neck.
“A gag?” I queried.
“You were feverish. The cloth served to soak up some of the sweat,” was Holmes’s reply. His eyes were distant, but focused on the road ahead of us.
“Here let me take over the reins,” I offered. With a queer smirk, Holmes surrendered control to me. Using my familiarity with horses, I was able to coax more speed out of them and we tore through the countryside at incredible speed.
“Keep following this road until it forks. Take a left and follow the river for a distance until you see a large barn in disrepair. The rest of our journey will start there on foot.” Holmes removed his pipe from an inside pocket and tamped the tobacco before lighting it. Puffs of smoke swirled around underneath the canvas top covering us before being caught in the rush of air from our movement.
“That damned Moriarty,” I spat. “He’ll pay for his crimes.”
“What a brilliant plan to lure him to the location of your last meeting with him. Reichenbach Falls. If only his tumble into the falls had killed him the first time, both Tristan and Mycroft would still be alive,” I remarked with a sigh.
“This is the end game, Watson,” he stated. “I will need your complete devotion to the task at hand. You are the bait. Our subtle communications through his network of thugs and lackeys will bring him out of hiding, but rest assured he knows what this is leading to. Once he arrives, leave him to me.”
“As always, old friend, you can count on me.”
The rest of our trip by carriage was colored in silence and scenery. After the fork in the road, the elevation gradually began to grow. Our horses showed signs of tiring and the last few miles to the abandoned barn were at a noticeably slower pace.
Once we arrived at our last destination by carriage, Holmes and I both quickly exited the carriage, not bothering to secure our transportation. The horses were unhitched and allowed to forage and drink from the running river nearby. They would not stray far in their state.
“Up for a bit of a hike, Watson?” Holmes asked, proceeding towards the foot trail that would lead us to the falls.
“Lead on,” I replied.
The path gradually climbed upwards for a few more miles, and it was close to sunset by the time we were close enough to see the falls in the distance. I found myself full of energy, even after my trials since the incident at the opium den. As I walked I tried to remember exactly what happened, but the details were shrouded, as if seen through silk. I remembered the meeting with Tristan, Holmes’ bizarre doppelganger, but no events after that point. Even the details of our trip by train were cloudy in my mind.
“I will wait here in cover,” Holmes said as we reached a dense growth of bushes and trees. “You go on to the end of the trail and soon Moriarty should find you there. I will then come up behind and surprise him.”
I nodded my understanding and left Sherlock to hide in the brush.
Again, I felt the urge to look at my forearm, and this time I distinctly felt I should see something written there, but again I saw only bare flesh under the sleeve.
Approaching the falls, I wondered if Moriarty was watching me ascend. Mist from the roaring water washed over me in curtains sporadically. Feeling the chill, I shoved my hands in my pockets and in the right one I discovered a pistol. This struck me as unusual, as the entire hike I should have felt the weight of the gun there, but did not. It was if it had suddenly appeared there as soon as my thoughts drifted towards the possibility of it being there.
My confusion quickly dissipated as I reached a narrow ledge, barely wide enough for a cart to traverse, that led to the spot where Holmes and Moriarty had grappled with each other those many years ago.
I had not been present for that climactic battle, but had heard its telling in detail by Holmes himself many times.
At the end of the trail, I chanced a look over the ledge to the bottom of the falls. How a man could have survived the fall was beyond me. The rocky walls were slick and seemingly devoid of any handholds or place to make as ascent. Moriarty must have survived by a miracle to have fallen that distance and not been broken against the rocks at the fall’s base.
Turning around and steeling myself for possible combat, I prepared to meet my friend’s arch nemesis. His method of arrival, however, completely caught me off guard.
From out of the roar of the falls I heard an all-together different sound – a groaning of machinery that seemed somewhat familiar, but at the same time completely alien. I glanced around for a mill or man-made structure that might house machinery that would make such a racket, but as the sound grew louder I determined its source.
A strange blue box, with English text labeling it as a Police Box, suddenly shimmered into view out of thin air. My pulse began to race at such an unusual site. I clamored for some rational explanation, as my friend had often instructed during moments of seemingly irrational occurrences. No rational deduction of the clues at hand came close to making sense of what I saw.
With a final thump, the strange box appeared fully and its door opened. Immediately, and mostly by instinct, I removed my pistol from its pocket and leveled at the door and whatever might come from within.
Professor Moriarty stepped out and immediately jumped in surprise.
“Jeffrey!” he said. “What are you doing here? I told you to stay on Dreides VII!”
He seemed very cross at seeing me there, which was contrary to what I had been led to believe would happen. His mention of the name Jeffrey and Dreides meant nothing to me.
“Stay where you are, Moriarty,” I snapped. “I will fire upon you if I must, but your life is not mine to take at this time.”
Moriarty sighed, placing his hand to his brow, and said to himself, “Not this again.”
Exasperatedly, he ran his hands through his floppy hair. “Jeffrey -”
“My name is Dr. John Watson.”
“Your name is Jeffrey, and you’ve made a very silly, very human error in coming here,” he replied.
“You’re the one who has made the error, fiend,” I stated confidently. “You escaped death here once before, but not this time. One way or another, Professor, your end comes here and it comes soon.” I glanced down the trail and did not see Holmes approaching. I wondered what was taking him so long.
“Look,” Moriarty said calmly. “Let’s just put away the gun and talk for a moment. Surely, I’ve got no where to run. For you to be that confident in my demise, you must have some cunning trap laid for me. It won’t hurt to point that thing somewhere else before you hurt one of us.”
I thought briefly about the situation for a moment, and decided he was right. He had no where to run – except back into his box.
“Step over to the edge,” I directed. “Away from the box.”
“Fine. Fine.” Acquiescing to my demands, he carefully moved toward the ledge and looked over. “I’ve seen bigger.”
I moved between him and his box to cut off any escape, and then lowered the gun.
“So,” he said casually. “Where is old Sherlock, by the way? Sent you off again to do the hard work while he puffs away on his pipe like some pompous prat?”
“He’s a better man than you, Moriarty.”
“Yes, well, it remains to be seen if he even is a man.”
Incensed, I raised the gun at him again.
“Alright,” he said quickly, raising his hands. “What have they done to you, Jeffrey?”
His face fell into a look of concern. “I told you to stay out of this. Your wife and child need you.”
“My wife is dead, and I have no children,” I snapped. “Now shut up, or I will take your life whether Holmes arrives or not.”
“You don’t remember?” he said, lowering his hands slowly. “You don’t remember Coraline?”
His words meant nothing to me. Purposefully, I cocked the pistol.
Before I could fire, there was a loud explosion above us. Huge pieces of the cliff wall broke loose with sickening slowness. With an overwhelming feeling of dread I realized I had been tricked by my only friend. He had sacrificed me for his own sick game against his adversary.
As rocks began to rain down upon us, Moriarty sprinted towards me. I didn’t bother to lift the gun. At that moment, seeing an enormous sheet of rock teeter over my head, I resigned myself to my fate – death at the hands of a man I trusted completely.
Moriarty hit me hard and propelled me backwards into his unusual box. As large rocks hit us, the door opened and we fell in a heap inside. He quickly shut the door and I noticed immediately that we seemed to have been transported somewhere else. My first thoughts were that I had died, but soon I realized I had been here before.
“It’s bigger on the inside,” I said, a trickle of blood running into my eye.
“That’s more like it,” Moriarty said. He pulled a handkerchief from one of his pockets and dabbed a wound on my temple. “Not so bad, not so bad. You’ll survive.”
“TARDIS,” I said, the word sounded familiar and fitting, and with the spoken word images flooded my thoughts.
“Yes, Jeffrey,” he said, smiling as he stood. “You’re getting now.”
As quickly as the memories had been erased by the being pretending to be Sherlock Holmes, they came rushing back in full clarity.
“Doctor,” I said, recognizing my savior for the first time. “There’s something you must know. Holmes is not part of the game, he’s a competitor in the game.”
“Yes,” he confirmed. “My little trip to see the Huulanix yielded some unexpected surprises. That realization was just one of them. Did he tell you who he was?”
I shook my head, struggling to stand, then decided to remain on the floor. “Not directly, just that you had faced his kind before and destroyed his race.”
“Well, that could be anybody,” he said, slightly smirking. “Everyone’s always saying I’ve wiped them out, or knocked them down, or beaten them up, but they always come back. Especially, the really evil ones.”
The Doctor strode over to a large console rising to the ceiling in the center of the room. Half of it looked extremely complex, the rest looked remarkably like random junk tossed together. Pulling a suspended screen towards him, he tapped it and seemed to be pleased with what he saw.
“We’re a bit buried, but no worries. She took the rockfall like a champ, the sexy old gal.”
Turning back to face me he asked, “Was there anything else he said?”
I nodded, “Something about the void. And how the miniature universe would give him the ability to cross over into our universe. He said he was his race’s last hope, and that they would survive.”
The Doctor looked suddenly weak and turned, bracing himself against the console.
“No,” he said. “It couldn’t be.”
Watching him, I noticed that for the first time since I had known him, he looked genuinely scared.
“How did he say it?” he asked.
“I don’t know. Angrily, as if he didn’t like you very much at all.”
“No, I mean the last part about surviving. What were his exact words?”
“He said, ‘We will survive’,” I said. The Doctor bent over and softly banged his head against the console.
“No, no, no. Not them, please. And if so, why them?” he moaned. “Anyone but one of them. An infinite number of races in the history of the multiverse and it would just have to be them.”
“We should get away from here,” I pleaded. “He … did something to me. Erased my memories. He said he was a god here and had powers.”
“Oh, we’re not going anywhere,” the Doctor said, suddenly standing up straight. He made a few adjustments to dials on the console and pulled a lever. The room shook and the roaring sound I had heard earlier echoed through the room. “We’re moving just a bit, but we’re staying right here and waiting for our good friend to show himself. We have to stop this right now and right here.”
Leaping from the console he trotted over to the doors and listened. The shaking and roaring stopped. The Doctor turned towards me, a serious look on his face. “I told you not to come, but I understand why you did. I’d have done the same thing, but what we’re about to face is possibly beyond both our abilities. The thing is, you have powers here too. Remember the rottweiler?”
I nodded, once again resigning myself to a fate that might not end with survival.
“You may be our only hope here, Jeffrey. If it comes down to it, I may not be able to help at all. If he really does have powers here, you’re the only one who can stand against him. My skills are useless in the face of that much power.”
“I was always the only one who could fix this,” I said to him.
Smiling slightly he walked over to me and patted my shoulder in encouragement. “Just remember, you’ve got a family waiting for you back home.”
Smiling back, I raised my sleeve and showed my forearm to him. Written in ink, just like it had been during our visit to Mycroft, was the name of my daughter, Coraline.
“Right. Let’s end this adventure, Jeffrey. And hope for a happy ending. I always like happy endings – not enough of them these days.”
With a flourish he opened the door and stepped out on the ledge. The TARDIS had moved about twenty feet from its original position. Where it had stood, a huge pile of rocks stood – dust and pebbles still trickled down from the cliff walls above.
“Here I am, whoever you are!” the Doctor shouted. His voice echoed deeply through the area, only slightly dampened by the roar of the water over the falls.
“I knew you’d fail me, Watson,” said a voice behind the TARDIS. Brazenly, Sherlock Holmes strode out from his hiding place, puffing on his pipe. “I’d hoped he’d have goaded you into killing him for me, but I suppose the hard work is really the master’s work after all.”
“”Let’s end this charade,” the Doctor said confidently. “Who are you?”
“You mean you haven’t figured it out yet?” Holmes said, then burst into laughter. “Some Time Lord you are.”
I raised my pistol and aimed it at our adversary. “The Doctor asked you a question.”
“And I will tell him when I chose,” Holmes snapped. “Just before I extinguish his life and his remaining regenerations, once and for all.”
Raising a hand, Holmes gestured towards the Doctor. A shimmering wave of energy erupted from his hand and encircled the Doctor’s neck, raising him off the ground. The Doctor struggled, frantically grasping at the energy beam choking him.
I fired the pistol three times directly at the head and torso of Holmes, but the bullets never reached him. They stopped in mid-air and fell to the ground.
“Your weapons cannot kill me!” Holmes shouted triumphantly. “I am superior!”
Gesturing with his other hand, another energy beam snaked toward me and knocked the gun from my hands.
“This universe has given me powers beyond your conception. Once I vanquish you, I will receive the reward promised me by the Prime Machine – this universe to control!”
“You forget,” I said cryptically. “We are competitors on equal ground here. You’ll not find me so easily put down.”
Suddenly, there was the sound of great amounts of air being inhaled. A noise like a balloon inflating caused Holmes to turn towards the new threat. His eyes fell upon the firebear I had conjured up from the depths of my mind. The fantastic creature expelled a concentrated fireball directly at Holmes. A look of pure fear crossed over his face before he vanished, along with the energy beam suspending the Doctor.
Running over to the Doctor’s crumpled form, I motioned for the firebear under my control to stand near us, in case Holmes returned.
“Great idea, Jeffrey,” the Doctor gasped. “Nearly had me there, he did.”
“Are you alright?” I asked, glancing around for any sign of Holmes.
“I’m fine, just keep on your guard. It only gets rougher from here.”
Just then, Holmes blinked back into existence beside the firebear. Before the creature could unleash another fiery blast, Holmes raised a finger at it and fired a concentrated beam of energy at it. For a moment, we could see the creature’s skeleton glowing through transparent flesh before it crumpled in a heap, dead.
“I know that weapon,” the Doctor said quietly.
Next, Holmes gestured towards me and I felt myself shifted from my position faster than I could think. The world went dark and I was paralyzed, unable to move or breathe. After several minutes, I realized I could project my mind outward from my position. Holmes had transported me into the solid rock wall. I was trapped.
Using my mind projection, yet completely unfamiliar with how to use it effectively, I saw the final struggle between the two adversaries through the rock.
Just as the story went, detailing the original fight between the detective and his nemesis, Holmes charged the Doctor, intending to throw him over the falls. The Doctor deftly maneuvered to brace himself and physically grappled with Holmes at the precipice. For several seconds, with both men seemingly about to topple over the edge, they wrestled for dominance.
“I’ll kill you without use of my powers, Doctor,” Holmes shouted, spraying spit as he desperately tried to gain the upper hand. “Then you shall know once and for all that we are supreme.”
“Nice weapon you used against the firebear,” the Doctor retorted. “I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it before. And it makes me wonder …”
With a brilliant shifting of his weight, the Doctor bent and propelled Holmes over his shoulder. Holmes landed on his feet but teetered on the edge, his arms flailing. Unfortunately, he regained his balance and stood defiantly, prepared to continue.
“I bet you’re wearing a perception filter, aren’t you?” the Doctor said. Brandishing his sonic screwdriver, he aimed it at Holmes and used the device. Holmes form shimmered and faded to reveal a metallic being with a dome top. Two implements extended from an area at its front, and strange spherical protrusions lined its lower plating.
“Dalek!” the Doctor shouted triumphantly.
With an altogether different voice, one metallic and grating as befitting its appearance, the Dalek responded, “Your discovery of my identity makes no difference! You will only know me as Death!”
One of the forward implements, obviously its weapon, pointed at the Doctor and fired. There was no way to escape it.
As the Doctor braced himself for his death, I concentrated on the scene. Closing my eyes, I imagined time stopping completely. The sound of the waterfall stopped and I found myself in complete silence. I willed myself forward out of the solid rock until I felt ground beneath my feet. Opening my eyes, I saw the scene frozen before me.
The waterfall was frozen, sheets of rushing water suspended in mid-air. A beam of energy was extended from the Dalek’s weapon and reached halfway to the Doctor, who stood frozen waiting to die. Mentally, I moved the Doctor’s position to the right enough for the beam to miss him. Seeing that I had done what I could and losing focus on holding the scene in time, I let go.
The beam exploded against empty rock wall. Before the Dalek could reorient itself and target his nemesis again, the Doctor rushed forward with a war cry and shoved the Dalek over the edge of the precipice. With an inhuman scream, the Dalek toppled over to its demise.
“Well done, Jeffrey,” the Doctor said, panting. “Excellent show. You saved my life.”
“We’re even,” I said flatly. “But what about this place and all the people still trapped here?”
“Yes, well,” the Doctor hesitated. “About that.”
“I’ve got nothing.”
“I’ve won the game,” I exclaimed. “My prize is this universe as a sandbox, like the Dalek said.”
“Yes, that is the prize,” the Doctor agreed. “But you obviously didn’t read the fine print. No cheating.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You manipulated the game world. The game will keep going with all its participants until someone wins legitimately. We’ll have to go back to the Huulanix and figure out a way to stop the game at its source.”
“But thousands more could die here!” I yelled. “We have to destroy this place.”
“We’ll figure out something,” the Doctor said placating me. “But for now, we need to leave. The Prime Machine won’t like what we’ve done here and may send something unpleasant to make sure we get a real ‘game over'”
“GAME OVER IS NOW!” came the cry of the Dalek. Using jets at its base it rose over the ledge and hovered with its weapon aimed at the Doctor. “DALEKS MUST SURVIVE!”
Concentrating again, I mentally bent the weapon to fire back at the Dalek. With a tremendous explosion, the Dalek’s own weapon blew a hole in its casing. The Dalek fell to the ledge with a crash. Inside I could make out a disgusting creature set within the machine shell.
Both the Doctor and I walked over to the incapacitated creature and knelt down to observe its true form.
In a weaker, non-amplified voice the Dalek spoke, “Have … mercy …”
“Always the same with you Daleks,” the Doctor remarked. “You show no mercy, yet you beg for it at your pitiful end.”
“Daleks … must … survive.”
“And always I show you the mercy that you’ll never visit upon anyone.”
“Daleks … must … sur-”
The Dalek froze and spoke no more. The Doctor’s eyes widened and he turned to me wrathfully. “You had no right to do that!”
“And you did? Would you have let him suffer?”
“I would have let him breathe a final breath of this universe! You murdered him when he was defenseless!” the Doctor shouted.
“I merely froze him in time,” I said. “There will be no more deaths here.”
Looking quickly back to the Dalek’s frozen form, the Doctor apologized, “I’m sorry. It’s just …”
“I know how you feel,” I replied.
“I think you do now,” he said, rising to his feet. “Let’s get out of here.”
I stood up straight but did not move from my position.
“Come on, Jeffrey. We should go pay a visit to the Prime Machine.”
“I’m not leaving,” I stated.
Coming back to stand before me, the Doctor grabbed my shoulders. “You can’t stay here. You have people that need you back on Dreides VII. What can you possibly do here now? The Prime Machine will use all its power to eject you from the game alive or dead.”
“Not while I still have these powers, Doctor.”
“Jeffrey,” the Doctor said quietly. “What are you thinking?”
“Every universe has an end. I can control time and space in this universe,” I said. “I can collapse it into nothing.”
“Jeffrey don’t,” he pleaded. “Jeffrey please don’t do this. There’s another way.”
“This is the only way.”
“For the love of your family, Jeffrey, you can’t do this!” he said, shaking me roughly.
“For the love of my family, I have to do this,” I replied.
Concentrating my power, I transported the Doctor into the TARDIS. For a brief moment, my energies mingled with that of the TARDIS and I felt it say to me, “This is the right thing to do. I shall keep him safe.”
Projecting my voice and awareness, I asked the Doctor a final question. “What will happen to my body back on Dreides VII?
The Doctor slumped against his console, and banged a fist against what looked like a puzzle cube set into its face. “I don’t know. Maybe you die, maybe you turn into a vegetable, maybe you go ‘poof!’. I don’t know. Jeffrey, I beg of you one last time, think of Coraline.”
“And I tell you one last time, Doctor: I am.”
The TARDIS began to fade as the roaring sound of its passing grew in intensity.
“Thank you, Doctor. Farewell.”
As soon as the blue box disappeared, I imagined the entire universe drawing into my head. I could see outside my body as a brilliant white point of light erupted from the center of my forehead and suddenly drew inwards.
“It’s bigger on the inside,” I said as rocks began to roll towards me.
The Dalek, now unfrozen, said in its weak voice, “We all are.”
Reichenbach Falls shifted its downward course and the entire waterflow was sucked into my mind. The force grew and the cliffside buckled under me. I reached out and cradled the broken Dalek’s fragile form and pulled it into me. With loud cracks, the rock shelf around me broke and I floated in mid-air as I swallowed it whole into the supermassive void I was creating in my mind. I would take it all.
The clouds erupted in brilliant lightning. The moon stopped its slow pace across the sky and started to grow in apparent size. I reached a point that I knew I could not turn back from, and one last time I thought of Coraline.
The Earth exploded into flames and the seas boiled in protest, and still I pulled it in. The sky became impossibly bright as every star I could imagine came hurtling towards me. I heard a noise I soon realized was my own screams of anguish, and still I pulled on.
In a tremendous rush of light, matter, and energy, the universe collapsed into my mind and was no more.
I remember waking from that dream in a cold sweat. Apparently, I had been in a non-responsive state for several weeks before I finally came to. The events that had transpired in the dream were fresh on my mind, and I knowingly categorized the entire affair as a flashback to the episode I had in the opium den with my good friend, Sherlock Holmes.
This place they keep me in is bizarre. The leaps our human race has made in such a short time amazes me beyond comprehension. I still remember a time when I thought locomotives were the most advanced human construction I had ever seen, but now I stand corrected.
I’m an old man now, senile and incoherent. They take me for walks in a strange garden where I think I can see bars in the sky. Perhaps it is just the effects of the drugs they give me to counteract my quickly increasing dementia. How long I have been here, I cannot tell. Occasionally, I’ll remember times when I had visitors, especially a young girl who I think I may have seen grow old before my eyes.
One day, the visitors stopped coming. For a long time, I think they’ve tried to tell me that my dreams were real, but I know that to be untrue. The ridiculous nature of the dreams can easily be refuted by logic – the one thing I retain from my time spent with my one true friend, Sherlock Holmes. I ignore what they say, realizing that its my own warped mind creating the false conversations about that ridiculous dream.
In my spare time, I chronicle my adventures with the great detective. At least those events are clear in my mind. Sometimes, its as if that time and place exists in permanence in my mind, easily extracted to detail.
Often throughout my life, and growing less so now that I reach a doddering old age of forgetfulness, I suddenly remember a case we had shared involvement in that I had forgotten for a great many years only to have every detail flood back with a connecting familiar scent, or locale. Such sudden remembrances have fueled my writing for years after I felt I had written all there was to be written about my friend.
That is what this tale has been – a forgotten adventure, my last adventure.
The incident in the opium den has never been explained to me. I feel that they don’t truly know why I so violently reacted to the mix of fumes of smoked narcotics in that place. That incident ended my life as it was. Since then, I have remained here, alone.
Holmes is lost to me now, having apparently died many years ago. He never once came to see me here under my conjured cage in the sky, where phantom visitors pretend to be family I never had. I know he stayed away because he blamed himself for what happened. I do not blame him, though.
All along I’ve known the danger of being an assistant and close friend to Sherlock Holmes, and I wouldn’t have changed the way my life turned out for the world – for the universe.
And so, here I sit, writing what I hope will be my last tale about my friend and my final adventure with him. I grow weary and know that I am not long for this world.
Just the other day I imagined a man came to see me. He had brown floppy hair and a ridiculous bow tie. With him, he had brought a young red-haired girl and a young, slightly gangly looking boy. I remember the imagined words he spoke to them very clearly.
“This is the man who saved my life.”