Read Part One here.
Deep within the dead TARDIS, Vastra and Strax wake up. Jenny, however, doesn’t. She’s dead: a complete cardio-collapse, induced by shock. Strax holds his medical scanner over her and releases an electric pulse – and Jenny starts breathing again. “The heart is a relatively simple thing,” Strax says. And Vastra replies, simply: “I have not found it to be so.”
The Great Intelligence is behind them; Doctor Simeon, surrounded by his Whisper Men. The creature lives on – a mind without a body, merely using the husks of the Whisper Men as his puppets.
The Doctor and Clara – the latter having been told by River that she is, in fact, dead, but saved in the biggest library in the universe – try to find their way to their friends, but the telepathic circuits are leaking and reawaken some of Clara’s memories. Ones she lost when the Doctor pressed a Big Friendly Button. Time leaks back through: her and the Doctor by the TARDIS’ snarl, right on the edge of the cliff. “Why do I keep meeting you?” she remembers him saying. “The Dalek Asylum. There was a girl in a shipwreck and she died saving my life. And she was you.” She tries to shake it off, but it keeps coming: “In Victorian London there was a governess, who was really a barmaid, and she died. And she was you.”
She was you.
- The girl who died he tried to save/ She’ll die again inside his grave.-
The Whisper Men suddenly pursue them. Run!
“Welcome to the tomb of the Doctor,” the Great Intelligence says, and the Time Lord and his companion join them. There’s only one way to open the doors to the Doctor’s tomb, though: “Doctor, what is your name?”
He won’t say, of course. So the GI instructs the Whisper Men to stop his friends’ hearts. The creatures advance, their hands phasing through the chests of Strax and co. The Doctor begs, but the GI shows no mercy.
And then the tomb opens.
“I didn’t do it. I didn’t say my name.”
“No, but I did,” River says. The TARDIS can still hear her, despite only being an echo, a ghost. They are linked, though, River being the child of the TARDIS.
The group enter as the cloister bell booms. In the control room, the central column has been ripped away, to leave only a gleaming slice of light, reaching out in spikes and scars. This is the Doctor’s grave: not his body – bodies are boring and he’s had loads of them – but as the trail of his tears. “Time travel is damage. It’s like a tear in the fabric of reality. That is the scar tissue of my journey through the universe. My path through time and space from Gallifrey to Trenzalore,” he explains. “My own personal time tunnel. All the days: even the ones I… Even the ones I haven’t lived yet.” The paradoxes are too much for him – and he collapses.
This is the Great Intelligences’ time to shine though: “I can rewrite your every living moment. I can turn every one of you victories into defeats. Poison every friendship. Deliver pain to your every breath.”
And he steps into the Doctor’s time stream, scattered forever throughout all his days.
The Whisper Men fade away and the Doctor screams in agony. The Great Intelligence is everywhere, attacking his entire timeline. He’s dying on Gallifrey, on Iceworld, in the Dalek Asylum, on Androzani, in Victorian London.
“The Dalek Asylum?”
Local star systems start vanishing. The stars are going out. All the worlds, all the people the Doctor saved. Jenny vanishes. Strax fades away. Undone.
And Clara, linking up the Dalek Asylum and Victorian London with what the Doctor had said about her dying over and over again, approaches the scar in time. The Doctor begs her not to go: it will destroy her. “But this is what I’ve already done,” Clara says. “You’ve already seen me do it. I’m the Impossible Girl, and this is why!”
“The time winds will tear you into a million pieces,” River begs her too. “A million versions of you, living and dying all over time and space, like echoes.”
Clara: “But the echoes could save the Doctor, right?”
River: “But they won’t be you. The real you will die. They’ll just be copies.”
Clara: “But they’ll be real enough to save him. It’s like my mum said. The soufflé isn’t the soufflé, the soufflé is the recipe. It’s the only way to save him, isn’t it?”
River nods, sadly, looking at the man she loves.
“Spare me a thought now and then,” Clara tells the Doctor. “In fact, you know what? Run. Run, you clever boy, and remember me.” And she steps forward.
I don’t know where I am! I just know I’m running. Sometimes it’s like I’ve lived a thousand lives in a thousand places. I’m born, I live, I die. And always, there’s the Doctor. Always I’m running to save the Doctor, again and again and again. And he hardly ever hears me. But I’ve always been there.
GALLIFREY. A VERY LONG TIME AGO…
The First Doctor and Susan bustle into the TARDIS – but there’s someone behind them. “Sorry,” Clara, the Impossible Girl, says. “But you’re about to make a very big mistake… Don’t steal that one, steal this one. The navigation system’s knackered, but you’ll have much more fun.”
Right from the day he started running.
A flash of a colourful jacket; a scarf; a cliff on Iceworld; Bessie speeds past; a ponce in a frock coat; a clown in a fur coat; a cricketer; the Dalek Asylum; Victorian London; and a man, with crazy hair and a sharp suit.
Back in the Doctor’s tomb, he fixes his bow tie. Jenny and Strax are restored. But Clara is gone. There’s only one thing he can do to save her.
“There has to be another way,” River yells silently at him. “Use the TARDIS, use something – save her, yes, but for God’s sake be sensible!” Her echo reaches out to slap him – and he catches her arm. “You are always here to me,” the Doctor tells her. “And I always listen. And I can always see you.” She’s should’ve faded by now. He can’t say goodbye to her though. He just can’t. So he says it the only way she’d accept: like he’s going to come back.
He kisses her. “See you around, Professor River Song.” And she disappears.
I don’t know where I am. I don’t know where I’m going or where I’ve been. I was born to save the Doctor, but the Doctor is safe now. I’m the Impossible Girl, and my story is done.
Clara falls to the bottom of his time stream, all his bodies running past her. A leaf falls from nowhere: the most important leaf in the universe. And her bow-tie-wearing Doctor reaches out for her, grabbing her, hugging her. “Clara! My Clara!”
But there’s one face there that she didn’t see: a man who isn’t the Doctor. He’s one of his bodies – but he is not the Doctor. The name you choose is like a promise. And this is the one who broke the promise.
“What I did,” the other Doctor says, “I did without choice – “
“- In the name of peace and sanity.”
“But not in the name of the Doctor.”
TO BE CONTINUED… 23RD NOVEMBER 2013.