Monday 25 April 2011

Tears in Paradise, by Matthew Clarke (my fan fiction)

I like the idea of the TARDIS crew being a family, an idea that was strong in the Hartnell era. The TV Comic's John and Gillian offers this, but I feel that they could benefit from a motherly or big sister figure like Barbara. This is my attempt to provide that.

I think Venussa (played by Eileen Helsby) from The Ark would have made a brilliant companion. So I have reintroduced her here. I think she fits brilliantly with the 60s kitsch of the TV Comic.

A woman rushed through the forests at the edges of the colony. The hills were dotted with ancient buildings that had once been inhabited by the people of Refusis before they had lost their physical form.

The woman wore a long tunic made of strips of material. It concealed very little of her body. On her feet she wore sandals. The woman wept again.

This happened so often. Sometimes it became too much for her. Sometimes she became overwhelmed by the joy and happiness of the colony. The humans were happy, free from oppression and watching their families grow. The Refusians were happy in sharing their world and watching its new inhabitants delight in paradise. Even the Monoids were happy, learning to be content and gaining the respect of the humans. Surrounded by so much joy, it seemed almost like rebellion on her part to be miserable. Yet she was.

Six years ago, she had shared in that joy. When her people were freed from the slavery of the Monoids, it seemed like a dream. To be free, to be able to live on a new world and to enjoy its fruits. She had married Dassuk not long after. Six years later, she had watched them bury him.

So many young families with children delighting in a new world and she was left alone, a widow with no children. They had shown such kindness to her. Her relatives, other humans, even the Refusians and the Monoids had offered sympathy and condolence. But she was the one who had to go through it. All the sympathy in the world could not take away the fact that she was alone in an empty house.

She needed to be alone. She needed to be away from people singing and dancing, from endless feasting, from handsome husbands with their young wives and from happy children. Just seeing them made her grief the more painful.

Refusis was a warm planet, but the forest was refreshingly cool in the evening. She heard the sound of insects and flying creatures in their nests. She had no fear; there were no dangerous creatures on Refusis. Then she heard a noise that she had heard before. A noise that awakened a memory six years old.

A wheezing, groaning sound. She watched in amazement as it appeared before her, that strange blue box that she had seen six years ago.

The strangers had returned! After freeing her people from slavery, they had come back again. She realised this should not be a surprise; even before their last visit, the mysterious Doctor had come to her people centuries before.

Forgetting her sorrow, she watched the box with anticipation. Expecting to see a small white-haired old man come out of it, she was shocked to see a man about ten years younger with dark-hair step out. He was followed by a dark-haired girl aged about fifteen, clearly a different girl to the one he was with last time and a boy with curly red hair and freckles who looked about a year younger. This was clearly not the same group of strangers she had met six years ago.

"Ah, I've met you before," said the man. "Venissa? Venatta? Venalia?"

"Venussa," she corrected. How had he known her name. "I'm afraid I don't recognise you, sir. Though I have seen a machine like this before."

"I've changed my appearance since we last met. It's something I do. I must introduce my grandchildren, John and Gillian." The two children smiled at her and she smiled back.

"You are the Doctor, then? I am so glad to see you once again!" exclaimed Venussa.

"It is nice to be back on Refusis again. These forests are quite lovely. How have things been since I was last here?" the Doctor asked.

"Life is so peaceful here. The Refusians have made us so welcome. They built many houses for us, but we have also built many of our own. The Monoids no longer resent us and are becoming our friends again. This is a good place," Venussa explained.

"It's always nice to see a job well done," said the Doctor. "Venussa, would you care to show us around?"

Venussa happily lead them back to the settlement. For the moment, she had forgotten her sadness and was glad to be among friends again. She introduced the Doctor and his companions to her fellow colonists. The visitors were welcomed into the seemingly endless festivities of Refusis, joining in the songs and dances, eating the tasty produce of the fertile soil and telling of their travels since their last visit.

While his grandchildren danced with the colonists, the Doctor approached Venussa. He spoke to her softly. "Venussa, I know you were upset before our arrival. I could tell from your face. You told me about how things were on Refusis, but how is it for you?" he asked her.

Venussa wept. She could not help herself. The Doctor passed her a spotted handkerchief.

"Oh Doctor, things have been so wonderful here for our people, but my life has been such a disappointment. Not long after you left I married Dassuk. We were so happy. We were going to have a family. Yet we never had children. I became pregnant three years ago, but it was just a miscarriage. It was such a painful time for both of us. It was so hard watching women younger than me having baby after baby! Then Dassuk died just two months ago in a machine accident. I don't know how I can live through this!" she said, her heart aching with every word.

The Doctor gently laid a hand on the woman's shoulder and she fell into his arms sobbing. It was so sad for him to see the young woman he had known such a long time ago destroyed by grief. She had been so intelligent, so bright and so energetic. Slavery and tyranny under the Monoids had not crushed her indomitable spirit, yet here she was in paradise sobbing. So often the Doctor had left leaving happy people, freed from oppression and full of hope for the future. So rarely did he visit them again to see how their lives had changed. How many men and women had he helped only to sink into lives of personal tragedy?

The Doctor remembered Victoria, grieving after the death of her father. He remembered the words of comfort he had offered her. This time he decided it was best to say nothing at all.

"What am I going to do now, Doctor? I don't think things can ever be the same for me?" Venussa asked.

"Venussa, I want you to come with us. Come and travel with us. See other worlds. You will always have the memory of your husband, but you can gain other memories. See the most beautiful worlds, meet strange creatures," said the Doctor.

"You would let me do that, like Steve and that young woman Dodo did?" she asked, amazed at the thought.

"It's a strange thing, Venussa, but my ship has a habit of turning up near to people who end up travelling with me. It can't be a coincidence. It sometimes almost seems as if the ship comes to the people it wants on board," he said.

"After I first met you, I wondered sometimes what it might be like to travel with you to other worlds. If you had asked me to come six years ago, I would probably have said no. I was too happy. I wanted to make a new future with my people on Refusis. But now it seems like there is nothing for me here," Venussa said.

The Doctor smiled at her. "Even if you weren't quite so sad here, I might still have asked you to come with us. John and Gillian have had a lot of fun helping me fight monsters and save planets, but they are both growing up. It's not always easy between Gillian and myself. She is becoming a young woman. I think she could do with some female company for a change. She could do with a nice, sensible young woman like yourself to look up to. Even John could benefit from getting used to women being around a bit more."

"What happened to their parents?" asked Venussa.

The Doctor's face became grave. "They are dead. It was a terrible event," he said solmenly. It was clearly a subject the Doctor did not want to go into.

"I'm sorry to hear of the loss," said Venussa. Changing the subject she asked, "When are you going?"

"Tomorrow," replied the Doctor. "The leader of your colony has very kindly offered to put us up for the night. If you can be ready to go in the morning, that would be very helpful."

Venussa returned to her small house and began packing some possessions. Not only had she met old friends again, but she had a new chance to leave behind the sadness of the past and find a new future. She had been denied the chance of a family here, but she now she had a new family amongst these strangers. She could offer them the love and care that she would have given her own children. She felt that same joy that she had experienced when she had won her freedom from the Monoids. It was time to leave paradise.

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