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the homeland

The vast expense of ocean rose and fell in one giant heaving sigh. The grey met the grey as the sky became one with the fluid landscape, fused as one dark soul. And so the rain inevitably fell, the waves taking each drop deep into their hearts, swelling - the sea rising higher. The water-buoys danced to the rhythm of the tide, waves to kiss and caress, to strike every hull, before falling away, leaving little lights a-burning, little bells a-ringing, ringing into the deep and far past; the wing of the gull, one motion of continuity. The ocean depths thrown upwards, only to go down again. Rain, sea and sky were one. No separation or division, one mass entity.

The lighthouse, tall shoreline angel, throwing deep beams into the dark, swinging glare carving great chunks off the night, sweeping, majestic. It watches the treasures of the sea thrown sky-high and then dragged silently down, all in deep crashing silence.

The lighthouse - thrashing by the effervescent fury of the sea, its needless-eye view point of the world, its frenzy beams swaying over the empty chill of the night-time sea. One structure above all others, one high point sculpture, its isolation...

The beach listened to the roaring scream of the tide, its large echoes. The hollow pearl of the Moon allowed its glaze to drop, its blank eyes reflected in the ripples, going absolutely nowhere...

Midnight. Winter curtains lapsed into temporary closure. Outside the warm windows the moths collided on failed night-vision flight paths, frantic urgency running in their hearts. They played hide and seek in moonlit shadows, craving the security of the lights inside.

Inside, there sat a single man. Solitary in a sparsely furnished room, lit by a bright, bare 40-watt halo Evil shadows hung in the corners of the room, drapes of despair to the figure. He glared at the large clock that rested in the dead centre of the largest wall. The monotonous 'tick', another second, then another. The digital face on his watch shifted its LCD struts to form the numbers '12.00'. The letters 'a.m.' appeared by them in small black letters. The clock stopped. The ocean-blue eyes swung instinctively towards the door. It stood like a head-stone on the opposite side of the room, imposing, deadly, evil.

Three knocks resonated through the bare room. A mist-fine sheen of sweat reflected a million points of light as the man stood up, directly under the burning light-bulb.

Wiping his sweating hands down his trousers, heart racing at impossible speeds, his eyes dodged from one side of the room to the other but always it seemed, to fall on the door. It became like a mile walk across the acre of plain floorboards to the cause of his fevered condition. His hand reached out slowly, almost painfully, to the shinning handle, the brass with a life of its own in the darker region of the room. The man swallowed deeply and turning the handle, pulling the door open and inwards in one flowing sweep. The clock started again and agonisingly it struck midnight. The nervous man stepped backwards as another figure entered the room.

The figure stood in deep shadows on the threshold of the room, watching his prey, waiting for some kind of protagonist move. None came. He stepped into the room and was set alight by the bulb, his face ablaze with wide smile of triumph and victory.

He looked exactly the same as the man who had answered the door, with the exception of his clothing. He was decked from head to toe in black, the evil shadow-land colour.

He turned his head to his sweating mirror image who began to walk backwards to the far side of the room, hoping to find some form of protection or defence, but only finding his hopes ravaged by the bareness of his apartment. With his hands deep in his pockets, the figure in black walked a few slow paces across the room and stopped. He tilted his head, and smiled at his refection.

'Cuckoo,' he said, 'Cuckoo.'

The tide hammered relentlessly against the door of the midnight shoreline, dredging the depths for some vestige of key. The stars were held above it all, motionless pin-pricks that in reality, in fully-blown-up-in-your-face-reality, were white screaming fires, heat beyond any temperature scale, size beyond any measurable scale. Burning deep in the dark. Burning bright.

'Who are you?' asked the man, sweating and involuntarily shaking.

'Don't play games with me,' the figure snapped, his hand shooting from his pocket to point a sharp finger towards the man. 'You know me. I am your soul,. I am your conscience. I am the ocean in your eyes...' The voice trailed into a whisper as the man in black shut his eyes and listened to the sound of the waves on the beach many miles away. 'I am the lighthouse,' he added, impaling the clammy figure opposite him with a bayonet stare. 'Oh yes, you know me, and you know what I want.'

The man slid down the surface of the wall to the floor, hands tightly griping his head, whimpering gently in the vicinity of skirting board and the figure in black squatted silently down in front of him, the dark smile flickering like yellow lightening. 'Time has walked on. I need paying.'


~~~

The immense wall of sound created by a dark beach is frighteningly vast. A complicated sequence, built up of a hundred thousand well-sequenced cogs that have run the dark machine of midnight for countless years. The hiss of the with-drawing tide on the shingle, fusing with the heavy breath of the incoming tide.

The shuddering breath of the TARDIS materialising was carried along the windswept shoreline, thrown and taken by the warm, damp wind to far-off shores. The blue left-hand door swung inwards, towards the infinite passages of the craft, and towards the young girl who moved out and onto the moon sprayed beach. She pulled back her black bomber jacket tight upon her body, the warm breeze no protection from the cold knife of the night, slicing into everything with a cold bite. She started to walk along the beach, the low delicate crunch of small stones under her boots, the only noise in competition with the lapping beat of the oceanic acre to her left.

She felt the isolation of the distant Moon, a feeling she couldn't remember ever feeling before. She involuntarily shivered, and turned to walk back to the comforting shadow of the TARDIS, just as the Doctor was locking the door.

The key dropped into his pocket, another penny in a deep well. He took his watch from the top pocket of his jacket and flicked the cover open in one oiled, practised movement.

'So, where's your friend then, Professor?' Ace asked, turning 360-degrees, but catching nothing in her circle of vision.

'I don't know...' mumbled the Doctor, tapping the back of his watch with his umbrella handle. 'I told him to meet us here at 11 0'clock...but my watch seems to have stopped...' He looked suddenly at the high white orb of the Moon. It silently looked back.

'When did you arrange to meet him here?' Ace questioned, not remembering any encounter with a strange man, with a set time and place.

'Oh years ago...' came a muttered reply, the back of the watch was removed and the innards carefully examined. 'Or, it might be in a few years time, who knows?' The watch remained dead.

'A Time Lord who doesn't know the time,' said Ace with a wide smile. 'There's a neat little paradox for you...' Her eyes wandered in and out with each new wave that broke on the wet sand.

'Well, we'll just have to go to is flat, won't we?' said the Doctor, pushing the watch that had defeated him back into his pocket 'This way..' he added, pointing up a sharp sandy incline with his umbrella to where the dunes held the tangled weeds, each blown in different directions, captured and held down, left to watch their arms thrown around by the harsh wind.

Cars swung into the night, headlights flaying wild beams in all directions, red tail-lights blurring and receding, swaying light patterns weaving in and out of trees and hills into the distance, gone.

Sand had been blown by the breezes to the edge of the roadside, the point that Nature reluctantly fuses with man-made reality. It had heard the angry sirens of midnight and cool sirens from the sea, caught in the swinging glance of the lighthouse beam.

'How far now, Professor?' Ace felt they had walked an interminably long way, and she felt sure her rucksack was gaining weight with every leaden step.

'Not that far. I think. Darkness can be so disorientating...' He stopped and turned, catching the distant pin-prick of the lighthouse glare as it moved in the dark. So far away. He tapped his lips thoughtfully with the umbrella and walked on, Ace in tow.

Far ahead, the Doctor could see the sparkling glowing lights seemingly held before him at arms length, small dots burning white in the night. The empty streets, not cold, yet not warm, alone and so lonely, just a thin yellow line that were the burning leads of street lamps. Another car swished by, oblivious and confident, away into the distant grey and dark hillsides and beyond. The Doctor allowed his eyes to be mesmerised and followed the pathway of the vehicle, a buzzing red light becoming the recurring image on his eye as he crossed the road, the weary Ace behind him, until they finally faced a set of steps running up the outside of a house, cold and solid in the bleak night.