Sergeant Dean Holloway pressed his body down close against the drainage ditch’s bank, as flat and motionless as he was able to be, and almost held his breath. He was laying there, halfway down the side of the drainage ditch, his body half-in and half-out of the cold water, and he didn’t dare move. The water was up to his hips, he had been lying in it for so long that the cold had seeped right through his pants and was painfully freezing his flesh. He could feel the cold water numbing his genitals, but he didn’t dare move – not even to scratch the itch on his nose.
He could hear them, barking out their orders, as they moved along the pathway, only metres from the top of the ditch. There was no longer the sound of firing, any resistance must a long since perished or fled, only those orders barked back and forth. Those Daleks had destroyed everything and everyone in front of them and now they were only a few metres away from him. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest, fast and loud, but he didn’t dare move.
Until five days ago he had been a Sergeant in the Karbala Minor Defence Military, before the Daleks had overrun them and killed everyone.
He had been in charge of a command of Attack Droids and ordered to defend the Landing Port outside North Peco, in a classic defensive format. He had made his Command Post in the Landing Port’s reception building, overlooking the whole area. He had found two of the Landing Port’s personnel, a scared man and woman, and two-dozen or so service droids (useless for fighting even if armed) waiting in there. He had just ignored them and took up his place on the Observation Deck, to supervise the droids.
They had a long and nerve breaking wait. Dean had found himself pacing the Observation Deck like some kind of caged animal, back and forth, back and forth. As he waited his mind went over and over his battle training, formatting and re-formatting how he would defend and hold the Landing Port.
When the Daleks attacked it was with such speed and ferocity that all his plans and training didn’t help him one degree.
The moment his proximity alarm sounded he had looked out of the observation window but the Daleks had already arrived. The Daleks had been moving so fast that they only registered seconds before they broke through the Landing Port’s perimeter. The huge Spider-Daleks were already cutting down any Attack Droids in their path. Behind them came an army of squat Daleks riding on their round flying disks and firing their energy weapons.
Via his communicator he fired off orders to the Attack Droids to converge on the Daleks, but to no avail. The Droids only formed more cannon fodder for the Daleks. The Droids, firing at their full strength, hardly made a mark upon their armoured shells; they certainly didn’t stop any of them. The Daleks cut down the through Attack Droids like a scythe through grass.
In only a few minutes the Daleks had destroyed over three-quarters of his Attack Droids and were nearly at the Landing Area. The two hoppers, left out in the open at the North Landing Pad, were already in flames – one was his hopper. It was then that Dean decided he had to withdraw from there, as quickly as possible, or else he would be Dalek cannon fodder too.
He did not try to contact his superiors, he knew they would have ordered him to stay there and ignore the risk he was facing. So he switched off his communicator as he quickly ran down the two flights of stairs to the ground floor.
As he reached the foyer he saw the man and woman, their faces twisted up by fear, standing just inside the main doors. Then his whole world exploded. With hindsight, he realised one of the Spider-Daleks must have opened fire upon the building, hitting the doorway, but at the time he was so shocked he couldn’t think about it.
The force of the explosion threw Dean backwards, smacking his body hard against the wall, knocking all thoughts out of his mind. He couldn’t have been stunned there more then a few seconds, though it seem like an eternity, but when he pulled himself upright he was greeted by a terrible sight. Where the doors had been was a large and blackened hole, rubble thrown right across the foyer and thick dust filling the air. The man’s body had been blown halfway across the foyer floor, he was now lying in an unnaturally twisted way, while the woman’s body was still just within the doorway but she was half buried by rubble. Neither of them were moving. Then Dean heard the metallic angry voices of Daleks outside the building.
He didn’t wait to see what else could happen. Quickly he pushed himself up onto his feet, trying to ignore the pain in his right-hand side, and ran for the rear exit.
Outside the air tasted sharp and acid, a thin layer of grey smoke hung around the building, but he paid it no notice. To his relief, there seemed to be no Daleks at the rear of the building, none in sight at all. Without looking back, he ran for the Landing Port’s perimeter, his feet pounding hard and fast over the neatly trimmed grass, carrying him closer and closer to the safety of the perimeter.
As he ran, no one fired at him, no Daleks turned their attention to him, he heard nothing except the distant noises of the Daleks destroying, but still the pounding adrenaline pushed his body on and on. He ran as if the devil himself was breathing at the back of his neck.
When he reached the perimeter he quickly cut the links of the fence and slipped through it. Once on the other side of the fence he carried on running, fast and fearful. He only stopped running when he was deep within the woods that press up against the Landing Port, only when his body was hidden by trees and undergrowth. Stood still, deep in the undergrowth, Dean found his body was exhausted. Slowly and quietly he sank down onto the ground.
The Daleks had landed, in their giant silver-grey saucer ships, on the Southern Continent only four days before (their huge battle fleet had swept through Karbala Major’s moons even faster). When they landed their giant ships opened and thousands upon thousands of Daleks poured out and spread across the landscape. Nothing seemed to stop them.
Before the Daleks invaded, Dean’s role had hardly been more than a guard. He had been responsible for guarding different government facilities. He had not actually patrolled the facilities, that had been the role of hundreds of military droids under his charge, but he had been the one responsible for organising those droids and making sure all areas were guarded. But Karbala Minor was a dull, peaceful planet, the worst trouble there had been prior to this was from overexcited tourists. Until that day he had never been in combat before.
He waited for nightfall, just lying there in the undergrowth of those woods, for hours before sunset. Then, using his night-vision lenses, he had carefully picked his way through the dark woods. He had headed away from North Peco, reasoning that it was probably already overrun with Daleks now, but that was all the plans he made.
He walked all through the night, leaving the woods far behind and heading across open farmland. The more he walked the more the pain in his left side eased. By dawn it had eased down to a dull ache.
At dawn he found himself walking through a two-metre high field of wheat. Except for the wind and his movement through the wheat, there was no sound to be heard, certainly no sound of those relentless Daleks. So Dean carried on walking.
He walked right through the wheat field and two others, through an orchard and a large rolling meadow. He only stopped, in late afternoon, when he came upon the still burning remains of a large farmhouse.
He didn’t try to tackle the fire, simply stood at the edge of farmyard and watched it burn, for a long moment. Watching the flames lick at what was left the building. He switched on his communicator for the first time in nearly twenty-four hours and slowly searched through the channels. All he found was blank static on every channel – no one was broadcasting at all.
He turned off his communicator and started walking again. He walked on through the rest of the farm’s land and onto the land of the next farm. He saw no one on the next farm, just countless numbers of abandoned and lifeless farming droids.
As he crossed this farm he came upon a huge, deep drainage ditch. On both sides were wide, gravel paths but no one in sight, the drainage ditch stretched out to the horizon on either side in a straight line, but there was no bridge or crossing in sight.
As he stood there, debating whether or not to swim across the drainage ditch, he saw a flash of light momentarily glint on the white horizon. Quickly he pulled out his field glasses and turned them onto where the flashing light had been. It took a moment, a long and nervous moment, while his glasses adjusted and located the image.
Then, as the image cleared, he almost stumbled backwards, almost turned and ran. In his field glasses he saw the image of a line of Daleks moving fast along the path.
In a suddenly rising panic, he pushed his field glasses back into his pants pocket, turned his back on the distant Daleks and began to march briskly away. Suddenly the tiredness and fatigue, which had been pulling at his muscles and mind, was gone. Quickly, his feet crunching down the gravel of the path, he tried to get away from there.
He had hardly been walking a few minutes when he heard strange and rushing noises, which suddenly seemed to appear over his head. Without breaking his fast pace, so he hoped, he glanced upwards. Coming down out of the sky and heading for an obvious landing in the maze field next to him was a Dalek saucer. It seemed massive, hovering there above him, the sunlight almost bouncing off its silver-grey surface, the main body of the craft slowly rotating. Cold fear pushed all other thoughts from his mind. The Dalek ship was landing only a few hundred meters away from him.
In only a few moments the whole area around him would be full of Daleks, none of them wanting to accept him as a prisoner. He now only had one choice.
He jumped over the edge of the drainage ditch, slipped down the earth bank and came to rest with the lower half of his body submerged in the cold and dirty water of the ditch, the rest of body hidden by the tall reeds growing on the bank. He wanted to shout out in shock as the cold water grabbed at his legs, but he bit down on it.
He had lain there for hours, not moving as the cold water bit into his flesh and pain pulled at his muscles from inactivity, but still he did not dare move. It was still daylight and the Daleks were still very close to him. He couldn’t see them but he could hear them moving to and fro, on the path above him. The Daleks seemed to be massing in the field above him. It was hours before darkness fell, hours before he could try to quietly slip away, hours before he could escape. He had to wait, he had to keep quiet and hidden away, ignoring the pain in his body, he had to survive.
Story © 2005 Drew Payne.
Layout © 2005 Visagraph Films International.