Four drew his sonic screwdriver out of his pocket, skimming it quickly over the surface of the Node. It was interesting technology, to say the least, and very advanced. To say the least, the Time Lord was impressed. “Books, computer terminals, research assistants,” he murmured to himself. The answer to the inspector’s question was obvious, of course.
As he opened his mouth to speak, the Node beat him to it. “This is the Library, the largest in the universe. In the Library are books from all corners of the universe, in all languages. All literature ever written in all cultures can be found here.”
Four closed his mouth, somewhat chagrined that he hadn’t gotten to respond. A thought struck him and he addressed the Node, “Ah, hello there! I’m the Doctor, very nice to meet you, lovely face as well. If you don’t mind me asking, when are we?”
Behind him there came a scream that choked off suddenly after a few seconds. He whirled around in time to see a human skeleton collapse to the ground two aisles away, stripped of all flesh. Across the room the flesh peeled away from another UNIT man, and a femur skittered across the floor, hitting the side of Four’s shoe. He kicked it away distastefully, attention now focused on the shadows. “Here, come here!” he yelled to the remaining two men, who wasted no time running to join the human and the Time Lord. The shadows were slowly creeping towards them, and Four began looking around desperately for a clear aisle.
The answer Lestrade received from the node was not any different then he had expected to hear. It was just nice to have it actually confirmed by something that hopefully knew what it was talking about. Lestrade moved to the side as Four asked a question and examined the side of the node. Looking for something. He paused in his exploration when he heard what the Doctor was asking. He had presumed that whatever had landed them here in the first place was one dimensional. It would make sense it may also have impacted their date in time. Considering humanity….
Hearing a chocking sound from behind him Lestrade turned, reaching to grab the UNIT soldier now standing on the verge of the shadows. Seeing the other officer move back when Four told him so Lestrade moved to place his back against the node, pulling the officer with him.
Backing into the device Lestrade noticed it was speaking, apparently responding to the Doctor’s question. “It is currently year 5219 by the Semiolian Calender from the plant Scyrox. Though the planet has been dead for many years the calender is still adopted by many planets as a sign of appreciation for the variety of devices created by the Scyrox people.”
Ignoring the node as it continued speaking Lestrade glanced around. Not seeing anything to help them out of this little predicament he cursed. “What the hell,” he muttered moving quickly around the UNIT officer, “Node, is there a way we can get on the roof?” Though this experience took the cake Lestrade had been in plenty of situations requiring creative mistakes. As it stood, the shadows weren’t about to let up and let them pass so some other means of movement was necessary.
Four’s eyes were trained on the shadows, which were slowly advancing towards them, when another scream rang out—choked off like the first. He looked up, startled, and swung around to see that their numbers had dwindled to—hang on a moment.
Lestrade and the two remaining UNIT men were still there, by the node. Lestrade was asking the node something, but the Time Lord didn’t catch his words, too focused on determining who had screamed. He pivoted again to face the previous direction and saw the skeleton of the UNIT man who’d screamed. Except it was no longer in a pile on the floor, but moving steadily towards them. The tattered remains of a belt hung off its pelvis, and attached to it was the soldier’s radio. As Four watched, the same piercing scream was repeated, not coming from the skeleton’s mouth—the muscles that worked the jaw had been devoured—but from the radio. It had recorded the scream, and it was now on a loop.
“That’s simply not right,” Four muttered, staring at the skeleton. Behind him, the node was replying to Lestrade’s question, but he only caught a few words: “…Library built in…no exit through the roof…glass dome allowing a view…”
“Node, when was the last time someone visited this library?” he shouted over his shoulder, eyes locked on the approaching skeleton. Seeing no sign of it slowing down, he threw out his arm, palm towards the skeleton, and yelled, “HOLD UP, YOU BEASTIE, I’D LIKE TO HAVE A FEW WORDS WITH YOU!”
The skeleton froze. The shadows ceased their approach. Then, ever so gradually, the shadows retreated, save for the pool of darkness around the base of the skeleton. Four blinked in surprise, hand still outstretched. “Blimey. Never thought that would work,” he muttered, before lowering his hand and taking a step back. “Right, like I said, I have a few questions for you shadowy lot, now, eh, let’s see, what were they…” He glanced over his shoulder at Lestrade, clearly stalling for time.
Grumbling under his breath about the poor design of the bloody library Lestrade turned away from the node to see what he knew to be another skeleton laying at the edge of the shadows closing in around them. Suddenly realizing that it was moving towards them Lestrade cursed under his breath. “What the hell is going on Doc? I don’t know much but I know for damn sure skeletons aren’t supposed to bloody walk and talk.”
Taking a step away from the node Lestrade turned away from the Doctor and the skeleton. The skeleton had froze so hopefully the Doc had some sort of plan. Other wise, well it already was but, it was going to be one bloody mess for the both of them. Hearing the Doctor start talking to the skeleton (why the hell would you talk to a skeleton?) Lestrade examined the wall behind the node. Shadows were creeping along the edges but a narrow strip was left in the light. Not like it looked like it would be any damn help but Lestrade moved towards it. Glancing over his shoulder Lestrade saw that some of the shadows had started moving towards the node again.
Cursing under his breath, the wall was smooth just as he’d expected, called out to the node. “Node! Emergency protocol 5.” Always works in the movies doesn’t it? When nothing happened Lestrade turned around, “4!” Still nothing. “9?” Nothing again. “Bloody hell,” he grumbled, “Not much time to figure this damn thing out. Protocol 1?”
Hearing a grating sound from behind him Lestrade spun back towards the wall. “Alright, bloody thing finally deciding to be helpful. Doctor! Might’ve found us a way out of here!”
Moving towards the door Lestrade suddenly lost his balance, stumbling as he rubbed his eyes attempting to clear his vision. Hit by a high pitched noise he fell into the “doorway”. Cursing he turned himself so his back was pressed against the wall. Avoiding opening his eyes, even the little light increased the headache, he slid to the floor attempting to block the noise out with his hands.
“Ah, yes, a question!” Four said hurriedly, as the skeleton take a step forward. It lurched to a stop once more, and he could have sworn that the skull was set in a rather displeased expression. Since it had no skin, the effect was marred some, but the Doctor had a good eye for facial expressions, and so could tell that it was, in fact, displeased. Which meant that he needed to hurry.
He ignored Lestrade’s question, focusing instead on the skeleton—or rather, the creatures manipulating it. Shadows seemed to be all that pieced the bones together and held them in place, so a logical assumption could be made that the creatures were the shadows, or were in the shadows. The next logical assumption was, of course, that they were in the shadows, since everyone knew that shadows were not alive. After that came an interesting contemplation that took into account all the things that Four had witnessed that were Most Definitely Not Supposed to Be Alive But Were, and following that was a discussion involving what would happen if tea cups and and ashtrays were Secretly Alive, but as interesting as the subject may be, he had to dismiss it, as none of what followed involved shadows that devoured people before you could say ‘I’d like a biscuit.’
Some sixth sense alerted him and he looked down to see shadows drawing near the fringe of his scarf. “Oh no you don’t,” he said severely, twitching his scarf back. “That’s cheating. Look, my question to you is…is…oh yes! What might you be, then? And why are you here? Why are you eating human beings? Well, that’s three questions, but an answer to any one of them would do at the moment!”
The skeleton’s jaw clacked and it looked even more displeased than before. If skeletons could look cross, Four had no doubt that this one would look the most cross of all the skeletons. “Oh, come now, we heard the screams!” he admonished. “Even after the poor man’s vocal chords were devoured we heard it! You have a means of communicating, now out with it!”
At that moment there came a grating sound from behind him, and Lestrade shouting. The Time Lord whirled around, scarf flying, and saw Lestrade stumble through a doorway that most definitely had not been there before. Remembering the shadows, he allowed his momentum to carry him in a full circle, back to face the shadows and the skeletal puppet. “Go on, you silly lot,” he barked at the soldiers, not taking his eyes off the creature. “Stop standing around with your jaws hanging down to your toes and get through that doorway!” He heard scuffling sounds as they scrambled towards the wall, and began slowly backing up. “You, you haven’t answered any of my questions yet!” he told the pile of bones, which was slowly advancing as he slowly retreated. “Go on then, talk!”