river, pond; melody, song "History's Edges"

Fiction By Julie // 10/22/2011

A noise echoes down the corridor. "Ah, that would be the phone. I'll leave you ladies to talk, get things sorted out." The Doctor practically leaps from the bench and runs out of the room.

I turn to a display of 12th –century illuminated manuscripts, but River grabs my left arm and twists it behind my back. "So maybe it wasn't your idea to be my clone, but I swear I will never let you take my place. You do anything—you look at him the wrong way—and you will pay."

"That's rich coming from you—the woman who kills him."

She presses in closer. "Yes, I tried to kill him. Four times—or was it five—in as many minutes? And I could kill you just as casually. The first place we stop, I want you to leave and never come back."

"What for? To be chased by your enemies till I die of old age? Which would be quite an achievement, since I still have all my regenerations."

She slaps my cheek. "Just so we understand each other."

"Let's see…I do anything you would normally do, and you kill me. That makes perfect sense." I slip out of her grasp and strode towards the door.

This time the door opens into a medium-sized room where the walls looked like bubble wrap. A few very skimpy outfits are in a heap on the floor, with a knife atop a simple wood cot. The clothing's not my type, but whoever used this room before was a warrior. "I wonder whose room this was," I ask myself. But I'm not interested in some old room now.

I open another door on the far side, stepping into fields of red grain under twin suns. Gallifrey? But Gallifrey was gone, lost in the War. I know it in the same way I recognize the Doctor and River, a sub-level psychic echo in my second heart. Yet that same echo tells me that I belong here, that this is home. Home? I was born in a batch of goo, a fully grown twin sent out to fight a war I never asked to join.

I kick off my boots and let my toes burrow into the soil. A bird flutters past, wings the same color as the wheat. The Gamma Forest has a legend that birds are memories that have slipped out of our heads through our dreams. What memory might have fledged this offspring? None of mine. I'd more likely be surrounded by a gang of angry crows forever mobbing one small wren.

Not all legends are true.

But enough of them are. The Pantheon of Discord, the Cult of Skaro, the Oncoming Storm.

The natives of L'angel are sentient nebulas. When they give birth, the star is small enough to hold, warm to the touch. Only as it grows does it burn the blackness that birthed it. The planet itself cannot even retain an atmosphere, but the view from its surface is one of the five hundred wonders of the galaxy.

I, as River and as Melody, have visited 187 of them. But they all had two things in common: legends and loneliness. Some were at the center of a sprawling tourist backlog, others in a distant galaxy. But each time, the story and the sight only made me cry because there was no one to share it with, no one to turn to and say "Isn't it beautiful?"

Maybe that's why the Doctor takes companions. I haven't had time to study him, but between River's memories and common gossip, you know the Doctor rarely travels alone. He's traveled with robots, other aliens and humans: mostly humans, including your parents. I also heard that he once traveled with a fellow Gallifreyan, but those stories are the most confused, calling her Jenny or Susan or Romana, unclear whether she was daughter, granddaughter, or lover.

I am not Gallifreyan—no, I was not born there nor were my parents. But I am the child of the TARDIS. Conceived to human parents in the Time Vortex, I am something new.

She is. The thought squeezes like River's hands on my arm. I am the clone, the living copy of the original. Any life I try to find will be overshadowed by her reputation.

 

 

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"River? Er—Melody, Melody Pond."

I whirl around, frantically groping for a weapon. I had one in my clothes—where is it?—bloody new outfit!

"Well, that was certainly entertaining." He stands in the doorway, sporting a black knit cap with a cheerful red pompom and a red and white checkered band. "At least you didn't try to disintegrate my hat like River did."

"What is that?"

"It's a balmoral, also known as a tam o'shanter, a traditional Scottish hat. Thankfully, I had swapped her gun for a banana. Do you like banannas? They're quite good, unlike apples. Or pears. Pears are disgusting."

"Did you come in just to show off your hat?" I straighten my skirt and tug down the shirt.

"Not exactly. That phone call was from an old friend of mine, Liz Ten. Someone's been advertising a neo-masque on Starship UK. After all that trouble with the star whale, the last thing she wants is a game of secrets. Wondered if I could help her check into it."

"What's a masque?"

"Oh, it's great fun, you'll love it. Lots of people dressing up as other people, lots of disguises and dancing. I'm not too bad at the dancing, really—don't believe what you're heard, they loved me at Versailles."

"You mean I'm going along? I thought you'd take River."

"I am."

"You mean you're taking both of us?"

"Yes, what's wrong with that? You two have a lot in common, you should enjoy it. "

I thought River's memories had overestimated his romantic ignorance, not understated. "Well, I should find something else to wear." I walked through the door, taking one last look at the scene. "By the way, what is this?"

"Never been in, not for a long time. Too busy, too much to do." He slammed the door.

"But it was outside, and it looked like—"

"A time slice. Like a photo, but multi-dimensional." He babbled. "Now, let's see what the wardrobe has."