By accident or design, RTD's Doctor Who has managed to rip me off on more than one occasion.
I haven't seen Planet of the Dead yet, give or take a trailer, and it might be completely original. Or at least not based on one of my abandoned Youth of Australia scripts. But just to note that I actually came up with a story back in 2005 - just after I first met Sparacus, in fact - called Planet of Death.
The main thrust of the plot - which I later turned into a short story called Last Man Standing on fanfic.net, before my aborted Ninth Doctor novella Carribean Blue - basically concerned a very powerful, crude teleport. I was inspired by some Today Tonight style infomercial show explaining that the theory of teleportation was flawed: if you had a device capable of creating a perfect copy of a living thing, you would end up with two of them, one at either end of the teleport. Ergo, to achieve a proper teleportation, you'd have to destroy the original. (Dave Stone gave that idea a nice reference in The Slow Empire, by the by).
My idea was this teleport that would create another copy of the person, but transfer their spirit (for want of a better word) into the new body. Thus, as our hero teleports to safety, he leaves a corpse for the enemy to find and assume he's bought the bullet.
My story Carribean Blue/Planet of Death/Last Man Standing focussed on a deserted world where human colonists were being found dead, in fact whole chunks of forest destroyed, animals lifeless, birds falling from the sky and the cliffhanger of course the Doctor being found dead outside the TARDIS. The story would then move to the other end of the teleport and what the Doctor found there. The fact that he would meet all the supposedly dead people from the story lead to a kind afterlife vibe.
I must note however, that from what I've seen, features the Doctor and his pals on a bus that seemingly explodes, leaving corpses, while they are transported to a distant planet inhabited by "the dead".
Coincidence? Probably. Anything else would be less annoying.
Anyway, a feature presentation of the few bits of Carribean Blue I finished before I discovered Rob Shearman had already done the whole story and called it The Cruel Sea.
The rest room was one of several placed throughout the Stormeye, though it was the only one being used at this time of night. With the ship grounded on the planet, the two pilots had found themselves with little to do and no interest in doing what little there was.
Eljay Loobanz had been the first to hit upon the idea of reprogramming the food dispensers to create plitka martinis, though it was Macdon Alexis who actually knew how to achieve it. Since that time most of their evenings had been spent in one rest room, trying to stave off boredom. They had read, watched and studied about every possible bit of entertaining information aboard the ship, and had by the end of the second week been reduced to story-telling.
"So, remember," Eljay with drunken earnest, "this little blue-green planetoid is way, way, way out. And the regular flow of galactic traffic? Can’t even be seen on the extra-long-long-long-long range scanners. That’s how far out this little mudball is. Just these two young love birds, an and..." Eljay shook his head and focussed his clouded wits, "...and an isolated, uninhabited complex," he finished, enunciating every single syllable with undue care and attention.
Macdon leant back on the chair and studied his fellow pilot, pausing only to blink.
"You forgot to mention the outside," he reminded Eljay with a half-hearted frown.
"Did I? Oh, yeah, so I did. The outside... Yeah, the outside. Rough. Unruly. Lots of trees. So, there’s this couple in the base. And, you know, fixing circuit boards and stuff gets boring. And well, there’s only so much... ahem... recreation you can do before even that starts to lose its appeal."
"Oh, I wouldn’t think so," Macdon shrugged.
Eljay ignored him. "Anyway, they’re bored. Bored to tears. They are – dare I even to think it? – even more bored than we are at the moment," he added with venom. "So they get into a flyer, right? Watch the sunset on the valley, skim past a cliff, watch the sun go down. All that rubbish."
"And the flyer breaks down in mid-flight?" Macdon suggested, draining his tumbler dry.
Eljay scowled. "You know this one?"
"Nope," Macdon shurgged, dropping the empty glass onto the table. "You’re just very, very predictable."
"I am not. Go on, guess what happens next!"
"If I do you’ll just change the story."
"I’ll lay you five to one I won’t."
"OK," Macdon said, pouring himself a fresh tumbler. "The flyer breaks down and after a lot of near-death thrills, our hero manages to land the damned thing in the middle of a deep dark spooky cave."
"Actually, it was a forest," Eljay corrected huffily.
"Forest. Whatever. And the hero decides to walk back to the base to get a fresh flyer, but the other one..." Macdon leant forward and knocked back his drink in one swallow. "I forget the genders of this particular relationship. The other one insists on following. And they head off into the dark wood when they find this creepy old castle, full of lots of weird people singing and dancing and..."
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no," Eljay replied smugly, shaking his head from side to side with such force he found himself unable to stop that momentum for a full two minutes after he’d finished speaking. "It’s not like that at all. Completely different, in fact."
"Sure. Shall we have another bottle while you think up a new set of cliches?"
"It’s not a cliché. This is a true story. Happened to friends of a friend of my friend."
"You have no friends," Macdon laughed. "Just ex’s."
"Look, you’re right for some of it. But it’s completely different. Now I come to think about it." Eljay rubbed his empty glass between his palms, absorbed in the patterns of light on its rim. "The hero decides to go back to the base. Yeah. But the other one – cause I forget if it’s guys or girls or both, but it’s not a hundred per cent relevant... Where was I? Oh, right. The hero, he wanders off into the woods. And it’s getting dark. And although the sun’s still above the horizon, it’s not reaching the forest."
Macdon tried to whistle with sarcastic surprise but instead it came out as a slightly sinister sigh.
"Do you mind?" Eljay snapped. "Now, the other one – let’s call her a guy – the guy stays in the flyer. Hears something rustling in the undergrowth. And like, we all know this planet is uninhabited, so the guy’s a bit freaked. He pulls the door closed and locks it and sets on the communicator. And guess what? It’s not working! Nothing in the flyer is working, it’s like its dropped dead or something."
"How very ominous." Macdon hiccuped.
"Anyway, the flyer’s structurally all right, and its safe for our guy to just hide in there. After a while, whatever’s outside clears off. And the guy, he starts to get a bit drowsy. Drowsy, drowsy, drowsy. Starts to nod off... into a macro-sleep." Eljay inhaled deeply as a warmth began to cloud his head. "I’m awake. Like that. Snap." Eljay tried and failed to snap his fingers. "Wide awake."
"So?" Macdon urged with no real interest.
"Well, what woke him up was this weird nose. This sort of ‘erk’ noise. ‘Erk’. A little pause, then ‘erk’. Over and over again. And the guy looks around the flyer, through all the windows. It’s pretty dark out there, but the rustling thing? No sign of it. Just ‘erk... erk’. Does that noise scare you?"
"More like irritates."
"Exactly," Eljay beamed happily. "After a minute, that noise has gone from scary to curious, to boring, to irritating. Soon, the guy’s completely calm and gets out of the flyer. And he looks around. The same noise ‘erk... erk’ a bit louder because he’s outside now, but nothing else. Wanders all the way around the flyer. Not a thing. Not a thing."
"Except the noise."
"Well, of course the noise! That goes without saying, doesn’t it? Finally, the guy gives up and turns to get back into the flyer. And then he sees it."
Macton tried to arch an eyebrow.
"The hero, as you so crudely called him, is there. Dangling from a rope, tangled round his broken neck. Something strung him up from a tree over the flyer. He never got to the base. And his head’s dangling at this horrible sort of... angle, and his tongue’s poking out and his eyes are open."
Macton licked his lips, turning his attention to his empty tumbler.
"Now, as you can imagine," Eljay continued remorselessly, "seeing your lover like that, never a good thing. But to find something killed him, on an uncharted planet, that’s you’re not alone and worse that other thing is a cold-blooded homicidal maniac... Well, the guy’s freaked. So freaked, hah, that he doesn’t hear the thing that killed the other guy creeping up behind him. He does, however, feel the sharp fur and the claws digging into his flesh. And then he feels nothing at all."
Eljay burst into what he hoped would be a peal of diabolical laughter, but ran out breath and was soon all but collapsing in a coughing fit.
Finally he was able to breathe in and out again normally and he noticed that Macdon had not laughed or indeed made any kind of agreeable noise. In fact, his expression was slightly grave as he looked over Eljay’s shoulder. With more effort than was dignified, Eljay managed to follow his gaze.
Palleen was standing in the doorway of the store room. Her mouth was a thin line, but her breathing was faster than normal and there was a trace of panic in her eyes. The knuckles on her left hand were white as she gripped the doorframe.
"What?" Eljay grunted. "Come on, Palleen, it’s just a story!"
Palleen didn’t reply, but simply swallowed and looked tired.
"So, er, Palleen," Macdon said brightly. "Did you need anything at all?"
She didn’t reply, merely turned and left.
Eljay sighed and sank deep into his chair, rubbing a hand over his bleary gaze. "How much do you think she heard?" he asked quietly, his voice low and dry.
Macdon shrugged. "I’d say circa the moment the guy realized the flyer wasn’t working."
Eljay blew out his cheeks. "Jacobs!" he groaned. "Vlyn is going to irradiate me."
"This is just unfair. I mean, I didn’t even know she was there. And if she’s so upset, she could have told me to stop or interrupted... Something! It’s not like I’m banned from the old telling of dark fables of blood-chilling terror, now is it?"
"Actually..." Macdon belched.
"All right! So, it is a slight breaking of the rules, but I was doing it in private! I wasn’t hurting anyone!"
"What about me?" Macdon retorted. "That was the worst excuse for a thriller plot since the last Glittergun movie! You wouldn’t know decent stories, plots, character development or linear narrative if you saw a lecture of... suitable authors." Another belch. "What are you going to do?"
Eljay moistened his dry teeth. "Damage limitation."
Palleen Kadijah was slumped in a side corridor, hugging her knees to her chest, trying to stay calm. She wasn’t a particularly nervous person or easily-frightened; indeed, her level-headedness was the main factor she had been chosen for the mission.
Two figures appeared at the end of the passage. One stocky and hairy, the other slimmer in build with a trim beard. Palleen relaxed ever-so-slightly. It was just Eljay and Macdon, swaying uncertainly from their binge drinking.
She didn’t emerge from hiding, however.
"That story was awful, by the way," Macdon said abruptly, balancing himself on the wall.
"What?" Eljay replied, scandalized. "That’s a classic!"
"It doesn’t make a bit of sense. How come these hairy monsters can live on a planet without being detected, huh? It defies logic."
"There’s only the one monster..."
"Even so. And how did the creature manage to make the flyer break down?"
"I don’t know, I didn’t write it. Maybe it was just a coincidence."
"And why did it go to all the trouble of killing the hero and hanging him? Why didn’t it just kill him and the other one the same way? Why did it want to kill them at all? And if they both died, then how the Jacobs did we ever find out about this story? It’s just rubbish!"
"Your trouble is you pay too much attention to details. Not everything in life has an explanation, you know!"
"Of course I do. You’re living proof."
Palleen could feel herself relaxing. Yes, the story was stupid and cliched. No reason to upset her. Just a story. She let out a sigh, ignoring the headache in her head.
Gelver was sitting at the central console on the flight deck, working at the computer terminal. On the forward screen was a recorded sequence of the Electrodes’ latest hit single. It had taken Gelver three days of editing and re-programming to get rid of the rest of the band and the background images, isolating the one musician he was interested in – the sonic tambourine-player.
He punched in the command he had spent the last hour on watch programming and watched as the computer worked. The short T-shirt sleeve of the girl rapidly changed colour until it was identical to her marble skin-tone, then its material began to soften. The program completed itself and now the musician’s arm was completely bare.
Satisfied, Gelver began to repeat the program on the tambourine-player’s chest when he heard footsteps and voices from the port-side corridor that lead to the rest of the ship. Sighing, Gelver saved the re-edited recording and shut down the program. The forward screen was now showing the dark woods outside.
His expression soured as Eljay and Macdon entered – Gelver didn’t have much time for pilots, or indeed for anyone for that matter. "What are you two mental defectives doing out of bed?" he sneered.
"I’d tell you," Eljay offered, "but it’d probably make your hair turn white... er," he added, waving in the direction of Gelver’s albino mop, contrasting with his chocolate-coloured skin.
The Commisar’s aide winced at the smell of homemade plitka martinis – at least, that’s what he assumed the smell was of. Gelver was well within his rights to charge both of the pilots with both drunken behaviour and illegal possession of alcohol on a frontier planet. However, that would put at risk the private flask of spiced wines Gelver he kept in his quarters, so he let the matter slide.
Macdon, who seemed to be the more sober of the two, gave a stern look at the floor beside Gelever’s chair. "We want you to put a trace on Palleen, you know, find her."
"I do know what ‘putting a trace on someone’ means, you despicable heathen," Gelver snapped. "Why? What have you two gone and done now?"
"Hypothetically speaking?" offered Eljay with manic optimism.
"If you like."
"Well, let us suppose for some reason that two hardened pilots were exchanging the usual horrific anecdotes of hideous stuff happening on unexplored, uncharted planets and just hypothetically speaking, maybe the extremely overwrought psyche-tech who’s been cracking up for the last three weeks overheard the blood-curdling details and then ran off."
Gelver stared at the duo. Then he smirked. Then he started laughing.
"You two are dead meat when Vlyn finds out," he cackled.
Eljay scowled, knowing that just this once Gelver wasn’t simply exaggerating. "The state she’s in, the lights going out could have been..." He fumbled for a suitable phrase. "...just as bad as her hearing that story. Anything could have set her off."
"Sure, sure," the aide chuckled.
"I mean it," Eljay insisted. "Why did they send her out here if she was so instable?"
"Unstable," Macdon corrected.
"That too," Eljay agreed. "Look, just locate her bracelet."
Gelver continued laughing, deliberately stringing out the sequence he was punching up on the computer. "Then what? Why don’t I teleport you right behind her to scare the wits out of her? Can’t make things much worse than they already are?"
"Gelver," said Macdon gravely, "has anyone told you you’ve got a truly remarkable sense of humor?"
Gelver tittered. "Once or twice," he revealed.
"Then they were lying. Just do it."
Gelver’s laughter broke off and, after another scowl, began working on the console.
Palleen was running on fear and adrenaline, but even these were starting to fail her now. She had no idea where she was in relation to the colony, having lost all sense of direction negotiating a field of knee-high grass and running up a ridge of rock that pushed out of the earth. She had fallen over the other side into a clearing with enough force to knock the breath from her body.
Not giving herself time to recover, Palleen had hauled herself to her feet and raced straight into the bushes on the other side of the clearing. Now she was in a valley she’d never been to before, near a river lined with stained gravel. Low-growing bushes were huddled down beside the water, their leathery leaves rattling in the cold, sharp-smelling breeze. They seemed to be alive, watching her.
They’re coming to get you.
The thought was as terrifying as ever, but Palleen’s body was struggling to stay conscious – there was no way she could sprint off across the thick damp grass to the rest of the forest on the mountainside. She was left in this wild, clean place, in the dark, with only the sounds of flying creatures as company.
And then she noticed it.
There was silence. Complete silence. Her breathing was loud and rough in her ears, followed closely by her thumping heart. But apart from that, the silence was absolute. Massive. Deafening. It was like a roaring in her ears, getting louder and louder and louder and louder.
They’re coming for you. They’re right on top of you.
The roaring silence was swallowing up even her desperate pants for air and her heartbeat slamming in her chest. The mist seemed to be gathering around her in ways she wasn’t quite sure she could conceive, and there were shapes forming in the fog, shadows of... things. Things that were not human, sometimes not even humanoid, but intelligent. Shadows, phantoms, lurching towards her.
Shadows awoken from their sleep.
Shadows that were lonely.
So very, very lonely.
And they’re coming for you.
The chiming of her bracelet dragged her attention away from the shadowy figures and suddenly she was alone in the valley, only the faintest bruised track in the grass to show her where she’d come from. She plucked the band from her wrist and threw it into the grass, before hurrying onwards for the trees. She’d wasted so much time. She had to get away from here before the shadows in the fog returned.
Too late. Too late. No more time.
More trees. Was there anything on this world apart from trees? And ghosts? And... and...
She finally ran out of energy in the depths of this patch of woods. The overhanging branches blocked off any light that was forming in the sky as the sun rose. Surely daybreak would stop this? Daybreak would end this madness. Wouldn’t it?
Too late. Far too late.
Palleen reached the edge of another clearing just as a breeze began to pick up around Palleen, wafting through the trees towards her. Grey clouds were rolling in across the gloomy sky from the east.
No more time left. Nowhere left to run.
Was that thunder booming in the distance?
No, it was something closer to her.
The rumbling was coming from the very ground in front of her. With a splintering crack, a patch of the earth suddenly was ripped open, a fissure large enough for her to fall through if she approached it. Even as she watched, it suddenly widened with a sound like lightning striking. Coiling tendrils of black smoke began to seep out of the fissure, smoke that smelt of... water evaporating.
The smoke increased, billowing as the wind howled through the forest. Birds were screaming and flying around madly. Something had been unleashed. Something inside the fissure. Something evil. More smoke belched out of the ground.
Palleen turned and ran through the trees. Then she was brought short.
There was something up ahead of her in the forest, coming from the west as the evil behind her swept in from the east. There was a faint glow between two distant trees, a blue haze getting brighter and brighter. It was coming for her.
Nowhere left. Nothing. No way out.
Palleen remembered her belt and pulled it from her waist. Her hands were shaking, but she knew there was only one way to escape the smoke behind her and the blue light in front of her. The only way out. And she would take it because she simply would not accept the others.
In front of her the blue glow was spreading outwards, between the trees, seeming to engulf it and all the time getting brighter and brighter, shifting from dark blue to turquoise via cyan. The area it covered was lost in the brightness as it swept across the forest towards her.
They’re not coming. They’re here.
Palleen had managed to make a reasonable noose at both ends of the belt. Frantically she clambered up on top on a rock next to the nearest tree. She grabbed the nearest branch and looped one end over it, and the other around her neck. She had to do this quickly before the doubt got to her and made her reconsider.
The air itself was humming with power. The azure light was scant metres from her.
"I’m sorry," she said sadly and jumped off the rock.
There was a jolt of pain over her neck, a moment of incredible dizziness and massive burst of pain in her arms and legs as if her whole body had been slammed against the ground. Indeed, maybe it had. She cracked her eyes open and saw she was now lying on the ground, looking straight at the glow.
They’re not coming. Because they’re already here.
The noose was tight around her throat, enough to make breathing difficult, but not enough to escape the light as it expanded over the ground towards her. She couldn’t summon up the energy to run, or move or do anything but let the glowing wall rush towards her.
The light seemed almost like a physical force, washing over Palleen like a wave. The pressure seemed to be building up, crushing her. It was as though her very soul was being squeezed out of her body. The light grew more intense, blocking out even that awful sensation.
Gelver punched the receive control on the forward console as it began to chime. "Have you found her?" he asked the communicator.
Macdon’s voice replied, "No. We found her bracelet, she must have dropped it or something."
"Or taken it off," Gelver suggested.
"Why would she do a thing like that?" Macdon demanded.
"Why has she run off into those woods in the middle of the night? How should I know?"
"Eljay’s having a scout-round, I mean she could have gone anywhere," Macdon continued, before breaking off. "Oh, where’s he got to now?" His words were now slightly blurring, as if he were speaking through a layer of water.
Gelver frowned and adjusted the frequency. It did not improve; if anything, it had gotten slightly worse.
"Something wrong?" he asked. "Your transmission’s distorting."
"Seems to be all right... Wait. There’s something over there!"
"What? Is it Palleen?"
"No, it’s something blue," came the reply. The words were now muffled and slurred. A faint crackle became audible in the background. "A sort of glow or something – an energy shield? It’s blue and silver and... something else... I... my head... this brilliant blue light all around us... where..."
The crackling, sparking noise suddenly grew louder, blotting out the next few syllables. Gelver listened to the flat for of static for a moment before flipping down the volume. He turned to the forward screen, only to see a swirl of static. He flicked through the channels, but whatever the interference was it was blocking out every one of the Stormeye’s sensors.
He tried the communicator again. "Macdon?" he yelled over the crackle. "Eljay? Macdon!"
Nothing but static.
Gelver looked up at the screen and felt nervous for the first time in months. It was not a pleasant sensation.
"What’s happening out there?!" he complained.
No one answered.
The Doctor strode across the clearing, delving into his inside jacket pocket to remove his sonic screwdriver. As he reached the door, his keen senses detected a faint noise from behind him. A kind of soft, deep sighing, like something breathing heavily.
The Time Lord stopped by the door, listening.
The breathing noise was getting louder, coming from his... left.
The Doctor spun around to face the corner of the building as something ducked around said corner and out of sight. The Time Lord’s sharp features softened into a pleased expression and he dropped his sonic screwdriver into his pocket. "Ah," he said cheerfully. "You’ve finally come to see the neighbors, have you? A cup of sugar needed? Glass of water? Plate of milk? Or do you just want to say hello?"
Silence. There wasn’t even the breathing noise.
The smile began to leave the Doctor’s face. "You can hear me and I know you understand me. I know you’re out here. You’ve been following me and my friends since we arrived. There’s no need to hide – we can talk like civilized aliens, you know."
Despite his natural confidence and curiosity, the Doctor was suddenly feeling distinctly uneasy. He was fairly certain that the temperature had dropped. He folded his arms and listened. Bar the sound of the wind whistling through the branches there was nothing. No breathing noises, no bird calls, no natural sounds. He frowned as he noticed a curious pulsing, before realizing he was hearing his twin hearts beating.
Slightly more rapidly than he’d have liked.
"I’ve all day you know," the Time Lord challenged.
The Doctor, arms still folded, began to stroll towards the corner. "Do I have to count to one hundred or something?" he demanded as he reached the edge of the wall. The thing was beyond it, he was sure.
"All right," he shrugged. "One..."
The moment he spoke the silence was broken.
To his left, the Doctor heard something cry out. He turned to face it, and found himself staring into the woods. Something deep within had made that noise, a strange wail. But now there was nothing, nothing but silence. And the rapid beating of his hearts.
"Where was I?" the Doctor asked himself, still not taking his eyes off the forest. "Oh, yes, counting to a hundred before I go and find you. Now, one. Two. Skip a few. Ninety-nine. A hundred!"
The Time Lord lunged around the corner and turned to face...
...nothing. The thing wasn’t there. Just the smooth surface of the colony wall.
Either it had somehow managed to smuggle itself away when the Doctor’s attention had been caught by that noise, or there was some kind of secret entrance. The Doctor ran his hands over the smooth metal surface. No secret door. And why have one in a colony less than a year old?
So, it had gone. Not past him into the forest because he would have seen it, and not along the wall because it would still be visible. So that left straight up.
The Doctor looked up, remembering the last time he’d been in such a situation and found himself staring a particularly aggressive alien monster fused to a ceiling. But there was no monster, no alien, nothing. There were also no nearby ledges that the creature could have reached and hidden behind.
"And unless it had a teleport," the Doctor continued this train of thought out aloud, "that leaves one direction, rather, doesn’t it?"
He looked at the ground beneath his feet. It was smothered in a carpet of dying leaves.
The Time Lord crouched down to examine it when the silence was broken by the rustling noise, around ten metres away from him in the nearby clump of trees. He turned to face the source of the noise but he couldn’t see the creature. He couldn’t hear it, either. The rustling had ended and the breathing noise had not returned. And nothing was moving.
"This is getting old," the Doctor announced, unimpressed.
A twig snapped to his right.
The Time Lord’s eyes flickered in the direction the noise, but was not surprised to see nothing there.
"I’ll just go inside, you know. I’m a busy Time Lord, no time to hang around in dead forests while you lot try desperately to be stealthy."
There was a cry. This time it was more of a soft wail. The noise of something dead for a very long time, something that didn’t want to be here, that didn’t even want to exist.
"Bravo," the Doctor grunted as silence returned. "Bye then."
He turned to head back to the airlock and took his screwdriver to the entry coder.
Suddenly the whole forest seemed to come to life, a flurry of chaotic noises breaking the deathly stillness. The trees were swaying, the bushes trembling as something began to charge through the forest straight through the branches towards him.
The Doctor decided to concentrate on unlocking the door.
Out of the corner of his eye, the thing emerged from the woods.
And charged straight for him.
"Anyone on the other side, feel free to step in and open the door!" the Doctor said, not quite keeping the worry from his voice as blue energy spilt from the sonic screwdriver across the locking mechanism. The ultra-sonic vibrations should have struck the right code by now. He’d spent sixteen days straight programming all the lock codes he could think of into the machine.
It would be just typical if he’d missed this one.
The thing was advancing across the leafy clearing towards him.
"I’m not proud, I don’t mind being let inside!" the Doctor shouted, shaking his screwdriver to change the frequency all to aware that the thing was almost upon him. Unfortunately, he shook the screwdriver slightly too forcefully and the sonic device was flung into the leaves on the ground.
The Doctor reached down to pick it back up when a hand clamped around his wrist.
The Time Lord looked up at the owner of said hand.
"Mind if I cut in?" asked Captain Jack Harkness, standing in the open doorway.
The Time Lord was hauled straight into the warm, bright interior of the colony as the stalker leapt the last few metres towards him, but the door was already sliding closed. Its claws skittered across the doorway with sparks as the portal shut completely, leaving it outside in the forests.
The newcomers were with the colonists and out of reach.
And now to lighten the mood, a page from The Youth of Australia Annual.