The helpless terror that Harriet experienced as she watched her mother die was as nothing compared to the journey through the worm-hole to the Dalek City. This was like the flume ride from hell, with the added horror of travelling with a metal monster that had just killed her mummy. Her stomach was doing horrible somersaults and she felt like she was going to be sick.
She opened her eyes to find she was sprawled over a green marble floor. Looking upwards she was aware of an intense light coming from a nearby window. She jumped when she heard the Dalek voices.
‘ Mission Completed, I have located the human larva.’
Larva? She could just make out that the window was enormous and wanted desperately to have a look outside. However a second Dalek voice stopped her in her tracks. ‘The negative energy generator was a success. But matter transfer was at huge cost to static electricity reserves on Skaro.’
They continued on in this way for a few minutes longer. Harriet’s curiosity was getting the better of her, no matter the terror she felt.
‘The Human Larva is awake!’
Harriet had got to her feet and was looking out through the huge crystal glass window that dominated the Dalek Space Station. Down below the lights of the Dalek’s City glowed all the colours of the rainbow against a stormy sky. So beautiful, so strange. As she looked she could make out tiny dark shapes scuttling across the metal walkways like thousands of black ants. Daleks on hovering platforms travelled across the night sky, headlamps winking in the darkness.
She started as the Black Dalek came up behind her. It was bigger than the other Dalek and more intimidating in its shiny black carapace with silver bubbles. When it spoke its eye stalk flashed as well as the head lamps.
‘You will come with me!’
The police found Judith’s unconscious body on the floor of her daughters bedroom. She was immediately taken to hospital for treatment. Leo returned from Wales that evening, driving like a maniac through the silent hills at break-neck speed. When he arrived back at the cottage at dawn he found a policeman waiting for him. Actually he found an entire incident room full of detectives and ticker-tape waiting for him.
“My name is Detective Sargent Harris,” said a dapper looking man in sharp suit. He had bright blue eyes and fair hair, a supremely confident member of the master race.
“Where’s my wife and daughter?” Leo demanded.
“She’s at the Royal Solenton,” said Harris. “Mr. Portnew I’m afraid it looks like someone has broken in and abducted your daughter.”
“No! God no!” exclaimed Leo in dismay.
“I think you had better sit down sir.”
They took him to a mobile office in the garden. The entire cottage was swarming with policemen and ancillary support, photographers, artists, computer and IT specialists, psychologists and so on. To Leo it was a regular travelling circus. The office offered some small respite from all this activity.
“Mr. Portnew can you tell me where you’ve been for the last twenty-four hours?” asked Harris.
Looking rather gaunt and drawn from his over-night drive. “I-I’ve been working at a Military of Defence Establishment in North Wales.”
“Fine, could you be more specific about where that is exactly?”
“That might be tricky,” said Leo. “I work under the Official Secrets Act you see.”
“Oh, I see. Well we can come back to that sir. Tell me, you are a physicist is that correct?”
“That’s right. I am involved in a line of research into quantum mechanics.”
“So, this work doesn’t involve any heavy machinery then?”
Leo thought of the time-machine in Wales. “No, not really. It is mostly theoretical, why?”
“It’s just that we found evidence of something large and heavy being moved in your daughter’s room, track marks on the floor. Do you know what that could be?”
“No, sorry I have no idea,” said Leo. The Detective scrutinised his face carefully trying to ascertain if Leo was genuinely baffled or not.
“It also looks like your wife was electrocuted sir,” he said, somewhat tactlessly.
“Yes, certainly the burns she suffered”-
“Burns! God! I can’t stay here talking to you!”
Oblivious to the policeman’s protestations Leo stormed out of the portacabin and ran to his car.
“Mr Portnew, please come back! I have more questions I need you to answer!”
“And I have a wife who is in hospital,” said Leo determinedly. Before Harris could say anything else he jumped in the car and drove off to Solenton.
Harriet was led through endless corridors, plummeted down a score of elevators and across dozens of walkways before she came to ground level at the Dalek City. Her little legs were so tired that she collapsed on the stone walkway unable to stop them from folding up beneath her.
‘ Get up! You will get up or you will be EXTERMINATED!’
Harriet looked at the Black Dalek in terror and dismay. “I can’t move any more!” she wailed, choking on the tears. “I just can’t!”
The Dalek loomed forward, levelling its horrid little arm at her as Harriet looked on in terror. Desperate to blot out this vision of her impending doom she shut her eyes. The Black Dalek inspected her tears through its single eye. Deep within its metal carapace the mutant seethed gleefully. Killing was one of the few things that brought pleasure to this degenerated remnant. But then a voice enunciated itself in its evil little mind.
‘ Unit 20-9, your orders are to bring the human larva to me alive!”
The Dalek paused and raised its eyestalk skywards. “Supreme Dalek!”
“You will bring her to me alive. Arrange transport for her.”
Leo was able to see Judith briefly, as she had been moved off the critical list and was now in Intensive Care. He had a shock when he saw the bandages all the way up her torso and arms and a swollen distorted face that stared blankly from between the bandages.
“We think she experienced a severe electric discharge,” said the Consultant in charge of her case. “The only thing we can think of is that she was struck by lightening.”
“What? That’s impossible surely?”
The consultant shrugged her shoulders: “Who knows? All I can say at the moment is that your wife is very lucky to be alive.”
Filled with guilt and dismay Leo returned to the house to speak to Harris. He felt responsible for leaving his family at their hour of need and was ready to make a full and frank confession. Fortunately for him DS Harris had gone home for the day. Leaving his mobile number with the Police he made his way to a hotel in Solenton.
He was desperately fatigued after the events of the last day, yet he was unable to sleep. Instead he sat on his bed and blankly flipped through the dozens of channels on his rooms Satellite TV.
The phone rang; warily he answered it. Leo recognised the voice instantly.
“Who are you? What have you done with my wife and child?”
“Mr. Portnew it is not I who is responsible for this.”
“Yeah? Well how come you were there last night when my wife was attacked and my daughter disappeared into thin air? Pretty strong coincidence, don’t you think?”
“Look, we don’t have time for this! Listen to me carefully Leo, your family’s life depends on it.”
Leo straightened up. “Okay, I’m listening!”
“Good. As I said last night I was an associate of the Professor, so I know where you were last night, in fact we met at one point, though I’m not sure you remember it.”
Leo had a fleeting memory of this voice associated with a face, a long sharp face with raised eyebrows. A pixie playing a recorder.
“I was here last night trying to prevent your daughter being snatched. Alas, I was too late. When you used the Professor’s machine you breached a hole through the fabric of space-time. The beings that dwell in the realm you entered, the memeons drew substance and form from this entry. Before you came they weret insubstantial and inchoate.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Your wife is only alive because as of yet they can only sustain a brief sortie into this reality. And that is achieved at great cost in terms of negative energy.”
The penny dropped. “They can open worm holes?”
“Exactly. They are themselves constructed of exotic matter. But there substance is so plastic that they can draw reality from ideas and constructs. A thought becomes reality in the reification zone. This is the space between one reality, one universe and another. Now do you understand what you have unleashed?”
Leo was suddenly very afraid. “W-what ideas and constructs exactly?”
“I think you know the answer to that already, Leo. I urge you to help me now. I need you to come to the reification zone again. I need you to help me rescue your daughter from the Memeons.”
“What do they look like, these creatures?”
“I think you may know them by the name of…Dalek!”
Harriet had to crane her neck to see the Dalek Emperor. Even then all she could see was a distant glint in the lens of the eye stalk. The voice was clear enough however, superior and chilling.
‘The Daleks are the supreme beings and I am the Supreme Dalek,’ it announced darkly. ‘You will serve me or face annihilation. Resistance is Fatal.’ He turned to his lieutenant, the Black Dalek. ‘ See that the human larva is prepared.’
‘ I obey!’
The Emperor turned its eyestalk back to Harriet. ‘Bring the other hu-man!’
The Black Dalek scuttled away across the metal bridge that connected the Emperor’s raised circular dais to the entrance to the ‘throne room.’ Moments later it returned followed by a tall imposing figure of a man, dressed in a sober grey suit. There was something vaguely familiar about this man that Harriet felt instinctively, something warm and reassuring in this world of nightmare evil. Maybe it was his kindly grey eyes and silvery hair. Maybe it was his strange avuncular voice that resonated with the vowel sounds of someone to whom English was a second language.
“Hello Bambino!” said Professor Enrico, ruffling her hair with his hand. “My you’ve grown since I last saw you!”
“I must say you’ve excelled yourself Brian!” exclaimed Leo with pleasure when he saw his research assistant’s version of the Professor’s ‘time-machine’. They had hastily thrown it together in less than twenty-four hours in a basement laboratory in Solenton University.
“The Professor’s machine itself wasn’t hard to duplicate,” said Brian with false modesty. “It was the adaptations you asked for that were the problem. Cryogenics weren’t too pleased to part with their precious liquid nitrogen.”
“I’m glad they did,” said Leo. “It is essential for the Casimir Field Generator.”
“What is that exactly?” asked Leo. His job was more as technician assistant. He made the mad stuff that came out of Leo’s mind into reality.
“The metal plates in the vacuum chamber need to be at absolute zero,” explained Leo. “That’s because we need to remove as much energy as possible between the plates so that we can trap the virtual photons zinging about between the plates.”
“And that way we generate negative energy, or so the theory goes.”
“Right, well if you say,” sniggered Brian. “You gonna fly this thing then?”
“Absolutely! As soon as possible,” said Leo. He hoped the technical adaptations suggested by his unknown benefactor worked. He had no idea if they would in practise enable him to get to where his daughter was being held. The whole business was beyond even the high level of weirdness he had become accustomed to over the last few years.
There was one final adaptation that Brian had fitted- a prototype virtual reality suit, that he had managed to procure from the Cybernetics Dept. A very expensive piece of hardware that he had to grovel most supremely for. He couldn’t help but feel anxious as he saw Leo squeezing into the thin polymer latex suit with special cyber-gauntlets and visor.
“You look like a gay space knight,” he said of Leo’s ensemble.
Leo sighed: “I need this to control the Electro-magnet and Casimir generators,” he said with exasperation. “You better start releasing the NO2, we’ve got to get those plates as close to absolute zero as humanly possible!”
“Yes, mien Fuehrer!” snapped Brian sarcastically.
As before there was the feeling of intense fear as the Electro-magnet kicked into gear. Stronger than before, Leo focussed his mind on the quantum foam, seeking out the fractures in the space-time continuum.
Dum-dum, Dum-dum, da-da, dum-dum! Dum-dum! Dum-dum! Dum-dum! Da-da! Da-da do-hoo!
The music again. He focussed on where this was coming from and eased down the electromagnet field. The Casimir effect came into play as the directed negative energy widened the mouth of the worm-hole.
Brian sat monitoring Leo’s progress with a certain amount of anxiety about how all of this would reflect on him at the end of the day. The developments of the last 24 hours had certainly stretched his technical skills to their limit. And he was still not sure what it was all for, in fact he half wondered if Leo was having some kind of bizarre joke with him. Then came the moment when his life was ruined for ever, the moment after which he found it impossible to get a regular job as a research assistant in any kind of hard-science project. The moment when his colleague unzipped from reality and was drawn into the reification zone.
Leo opened his eyes. He was surprised to see that he was back in his normal clothes. Dr Who was on the telly again, next to him a little girl sat mutely watching the Daleks screaming around in their monochrome universe.
She didn’t respond. Her eyes were glazed and distant, a fixed gaze at the monsters on the telly. Leo realised for the first time that unlike before he had not slipped into his two and half year old persona. This wasn’t a glimpse into the past. This was something else instead.
“Harriet!” he said urgently, grabbing her by the shoulders. “We have to get out of here now!”
“It’s too late for that I’m afraid!” came a familiar voice from the TV. Leo started- from the screen Patrick Troughton’s face creased with concern.
“You? How is that possible?”
“Never mind all that you fool! The Dalek’s are coming!”
On the screen a Dalek hit squad was prowling the corridors of their metal city.
‘intruder alert! Intruders alert! Seek out the hu-man intruder!’
The door to the living room burst open and a Dalek burst in, orange head-lights flashing crazily.
‘You will come with me!’
There were led from the living room to a huge chamber, at least five hundred yards across. At the centre stood a raised dais, and on this dais sat something that put Leo in mind of a giant virus body. It was obviously a Dalek, but much bigger than any of the others, with a more conical body and an octangular head perched at the top. Running from the chamber walls were dozens of cables and metal tentacles, the dais the creature sat on seemed to be one giant information port, plugging the emperor into his empire. Around the chamber gathered a horde of Black Daleks, their eyestalks panning Leo and Harriet as they were brought into the Chamber.
‘The human is here, Supreme Dalek!” announced one of their captors.
“GOOD!” boomed the Emperor’s cruel voice.
Now that they were closer Leo could make out a tiny figure in a frock coat standing on the dais. “I’m sorry,” said the Doctor/ Patrick Troughton as they approached. “I did what I could to warn you!”
‘Silence!” ordered the Emperor. “Now the stage is set and with these hu-mans the Daleks will be able to spread out and conquer all space and time! Let the Dalek Invasion of Reality Begin!”
With that the other Daleks in the chamber raised their plunger arms and began to chant in tinny unison.
‘We will have your reality!’
‘We will have your reality!’
‘We will have your reality!’