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Father Figure

Father Figure

Posted on Apr 12, 2010

This story was written in late 1990 or early 1991, and appeared in the fanzine ‘Faithful Friends/Agreeable Companions,’ published in June 1991. The mirror sucks me in. The Routine — I do it every evening — takes me just a few minutes now. It’s a little dance I choreographed myself. One long, slow turn in front of the cheval in our quarters, to examine the splatter of freckles and moles that’ve appeared on my face and along my arms and across my chest and back over the past five years. So far, just shades of brown — nothing black, nothing bleeding. Then, arm in the air, my fingers press careful circles into my breast and up into my armpit. Then the other side. So far, no lumps. And I thank the Keeper for another day. But this mirror snuck up on me — mirrors have a habit of doing that. I pulled a stack of books off the shelf to pack, and there it was, the engraved looking glass Olvir gave me last year. “Is that a new mole on your cheek?” it asks. Terrified, I turn my head toward the light — but no, it’s just a shadow. I breathe again, and take the little mirror and place it face-down on the pile of packing cloth. I’ll wrap it later — I can’t look at it again yet. The door alarm shrieks, and I call, “Come in.” “Nyssa!” Olvir cried, squeezing through the doors as soon as they slide open. He’s out of breath and red faced from running. “The doctor…” he gasps, gesturing for me to follow him. My life has ever been like this, it seems, since I came to Terminus, and even now, having passed the torch on, I am still at its beck and call. I follow Olvir through the wide, white corridors — he’s leading me to the storerooms. What could be so urgent outside the infirmary? A team of orderlies, dressed in protective gear and dragging two empty stretchers behind them, beats us to the only open door in the corridor. As Olvir and I approach I catch a glimpse, just past the blur of the rushing orderlies, of a particular shade of blue, and I realise that what Olvir said was “The Doctor.” The TARDIS! I push my way past the orderlies into the closet — the funny old ship is squeezed in among shelves of crisp white bedsheets. My heart races at the sudden rush of memories… and then stops when my eyes fall on the Doctor, sitting on his heels before his ship, his hands on his knees. Sweat mats blond hair to his head and drenches his shirt — his hearts flutter visibly through the thin fabric. He makes soft fretting noises over a prostrate woman in front of him. A nurse, bent over her, checking her vitals, hides her face from me — my first thoughts are: Is she dead? Is it Tegan? The Doctor’s sodden senses...

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