“Slaves! Halt!” The Roboman snapped in his synthesised voice. “Slaves! Rest period!”
Without a word Katee obeyed the order. Pulling her coat, well it was her coat now, underneath herself and sitting down on the muddy bank at the edge of the roadway. Her feet were sore, her clothes felt dirty and uncomfortable, her scalp had begun to itch it had been so long since she last washed her hair and she was hungry, but at that moment all that concerned her was that she was glad of this rest.
She had only been sat there for a few moments, her feet still aching and sore, when the second Roboman walked along the line of slaves. Silently he handed out bottles of water and food concentrate tubes. He thrust a bottle of water and a foil tube into her hand and then moved on to the old woman next to her. She looked up at the Roboman and saw a jagged and angry suture line running down the side of his neck, the edges of which were still held together with metal staples; was that why he couldn’t speak? He was dressed in the uniform of a Millennium City Policeman. The other two Roboman were dressed in military uniforms. At the end of their column was a solitary Dalek. Even this close the creature looked frightening and ugly.
Katee looked down at the food concentrate tube in her hand. They had been designed for disaster relief and emergency use only. She knew this because she had ordered them previously, ordered them in her old life, but her old life was now dead and gone. She was still hungry. She broke the tube open and ate a portion of the pink paste that oozed out of it. It tasted of meat, but that was all she could taste, not even the type of meat, in its sticky texture. Even a taste of this bland protein made her stomach churn, and quickly she pushed the rest of it into her mouth.
She had stayed behind in Millennium City because Amy had stayed. They had been partners for seven years, so if Amy chose to stay then her place was with her. Amy was a doctor, the senior medic, in one of Millennium City’s Medical Treatment Centres – where Katee worked as the centre’s administrator. All through the Dalek attacks, as they swept the over planet and then through the city, Amy had kept the Treatment Centre open, with the help of her three nurses. To her surprise, as the patients rolled through the Treatment Centre, Katee had found a role for herself. Amongst the chaos the place had still needed an administrator, someone to organise the patients, someone to make sure that the treatment rooms were kept stocked, someone to make the drinks and keep morale up. It also meant she stayed with Amy. Through those crazy and chaotic days she felt a swelling pride and love from just being with her, even though they were both tired. At night they fell asleep in each other’s arms, lying in one of the narrow beds on the top floor of the Treatment Centre – it was so different from their recent home life, always sleeping with a huge space between them in their double bed.
They were finally evacuated from the City, by the military, when the Daleks had entered the City limits. The military took Ellen, Sam and Mike, Amy’s nurses, first, coming back for her and Amy an hour later. In that hour they saw no more patients, but in that hour they also heard the distant rumble of explosions. When the military returned, in the form of two nervous corporals, Katee felt relief physically wash through herself.
They were taken, through now empty streets, to one of the city’s landing ports, where they boarded a Flyer. The Flyer was already filled with nervous and tired looking people. They were mostly civilians, dressed in dirty and worn clothes, but there were a few military personnel seated at the back of the Flyer. The steward, looking as tired and worn as everyone else, seated Amy and Katee in two seats over the Flyer’s wing. Quickly they buckled themselves into their seats.
As the Flyer took off, in a rush of vibrations, Amy reached over and took hold of her hand, and Katee squeezed Amy’s hand in return.
As the Flyer rushed over the City, Katee didn’t look out of the window, she would have had to lean over Amy because she was the one sitting in the window seat, but mostly she didn’t want to see the city she had lived in all her life ruined. Instead, she rested her head back against the seat and closed her eyes. She was tired and suddenly all she wanted to do was sleep. Yet she didn’t sleep, she just sat there with her eyes closed
“Oh God, Look! Look!” Amy screamed, her fingers gripping at Katee’s hand.
She quickly opened her eyes and looked over at Amy, who was now staring out of the Flyer’s window.
“No, no, no…” The Steward’s voice called out from over her shoulder.
Out of the Flyer’s window she saw what had horrified them. A group of Daleks, on their strange antigravity disks, were flying very fast towards them. They seemed to bearing down on the Flyer.
“No…” the Steward cried out again.
The Flyer gave a sudden lurch to the left, away from the approaching Daleks. Someone in the cabin started screaming, The Steward grabbed the back of her seat and Amy’s hand gripped tightly onto her own. The Flyer banked sharply to the left, the force of which pressed her into her seat, and then levelled out. As soon as the Flyer had stopped turning she looked out the window again, but all she saw were grey clouds.
“They’ve gone,” the Steward exclaimed over her shoulder.
“Thank God…” Katee muttered under her breath, as Amy eased the grip on her hand.
Then, as if approaching from nowhere, on its antigravity disk, a Dalek appeared in front of the Flyer’s wing. The next second the Flyer’s wing struck the Dalek, slicing the top off it as if it was a knife cutting through a boiled egg, followed by the Dalek exploding in a ball of flame. The Flyer shook violently, rolling from side to side, throwing her against her seat harness, but she didn’t take her eyes off the window next to Amy. Thick, black smoke was rushing out from under the wing as some of the casing from the leading edge fell away.
The Flyer was severely vibrating now, her whole seat was shaking from side to side, people were shouting and crying out, the cabin was filled with noise, the Steward was gripping hold of her seat’s back and Amy’s hand was tightly holding onto her own.
Then another flying Dalek appeared, seeming to fly up behind the Flyer’s damaged wing. In a flash of bright, white light the Dalek opened fire on the damaged wing.
Katee didn’t have time to react, to shout or even more, before the wing exploded in a fireball.
The Flyer was now violently rolling from side to side, the vibrations shaking the whole craft. The noise in the cabin seemed to be overwhelming, the sheer noise from the injured vehicle and the sounds of people shouting.
She turned to Amy and Amy’s white, terrified face stared back at her. Her eyes were wide with fear, her lips pursed thinly together, her white cheeks drawn in. She’d never seen her so afraid, so out of control. With her free hand, the one not clutched tightly by Amy’s fingers, she reached over towards her. As she did she saw it, a large and jagged crack that had appeared in the cabin wall, just behind Amy’s head.
Her voice was lost in the deafeningly loud metallic sound as the crack ripped across the cabin wall, in an uneven curve.
In only a tragically short moment the crack had ripped a circular slash in the cabin’s wall, the air in the cabin was rushing through it. Then the whole of the cabin wall, inside the crack, was ripped away from The Flyer. In that blunt second everything changed, as the wall of the cabin suddenly fell away causing a massive decompression. In a rush of movement objects flew past her, some of them actually striking her head, but she didn’t take her eyes off Amy’s terrified face.
Then the seat gave a violent lurch towards that gaping hole next to her, Amy screamed in terror, but her words were snatched away by the rushing air, and Katee grabbed hold of her hand with both her own, her fingers clutching tightly onto Amy’s hand. With another violent lurch the seat pitch further towards the gaping hole, Katee tried to grab hold of Amy’s arm but her seat harness stopped her. Then, with a metallic tearing sound, the seat fell out through that hole, snatching Amy’s hand out of Katee’s grip.
A brief moment later something heavy smacked into her upper body and then was dragged out of that hole. Only after it was gone she realised it had been the body of the Steward.
In those brief seconds her whole world had been broken apart, Amy had been ripped from her, Amy was gone… gone.
Then she saw the Flyer’s whole wing had gone, and she realised the Flyer was now spinning out of control. Sky and then ground, sky and then ground flashed past the open hole in the cabin.
Her ears were attacked by the sheer volume of sound around her, her body was thrown around inside the seats tight harness, her mind was whirled around and around by the spinning of the Flyer, her whole world was out of control. She threw her arms over her head and tired to pull her knees up to her chest, trying to block out everything around her.
A few seconds later the Flyer struck the ground.
In an explosion of sound and force Katee’s body was thrown against her seat harness, the force and pain knocking all the breath and thoughts out of her. Again and again her body was tossed around in the harness, all she felt was pain and discomfort rushing through her body, no thoughts in her mind, her eyes tightly closed. Then, seconds later, it was all over and all around her was stillness.
At first there was silence, a strange and uncomfortable silence, in which she simply stayed still and tried to comprehend what had happened to her. Then people started to cry out and moan, their voices low in volume but insistent. She opened her eyes, her body aching with the force of the impact, and found the Flyer was lying on its side and through the whole in the cabin she could see the dull grey sky.
Slowly she undid her seat’s harness, bracing herself as she did for the moment the harness was off an aching pain rushed through her body. Then slowly she pulled herself up and out of the hole in the cabin. As she pulled herself through the hole she caught sight of the two people in the seats behind her. They were a young man and woman, both with long and very blonde hair, both of them still strapped into their seats, both of them unmoving with their dead eyes staring in front of them.
The Flyer had crashed onto an avenue and been stopped by what was left of a building, causing the Flyer only to leave a short groove on the road but completely destroying the Flyer’s cockpit – there was no hope that the flight crew was still alive, she told herself.
Once clear of the wreck Katee began to search for Amy. Slowly she walked through the ruins of the city, back along the Flyer’s path, combing her way through the remains of buildings, her eyes constantly searching for any signs of her. As she walked she ignored the aches and pains pulsing through her body, she seemed not be seriously injured but her body had certainly been thrown around in the crash.
After hours of searching she found Amy, her body still strapped into her seat. Her body seemed intact, her right arm was badly gashed, her shoes were missing, her trousers shredded below her knees but her shirt was intact. Her mouth was open, dried blood and saliva at each corner, so were her eyes but they were lifeless and dead, like the rest of her.
It took her an age to drag Amy’s body clear of the mangled seat. Once that was done she dug a grave, using a piece of metal from the seat, in the dirt of a ruined garden, where they were. Then she carefully laid Amy in that grave and slowly begun to cover the body with dirt. This she found the hardest to do, to watch the dirt falling into Amy’s hair, onto Amy’s face, covering the curves in her clothes; that grey dirt falling on and soiling her. Soon she just shovelled the dirt into the grave without looking at what she was doing.
When the grave was finally filled in Katee took a piece of wood and simply wrote Amy’s name on it, before she planted it in the ground at the head of the grave. Then, for a long moment, she just sat motionless at the graveside.
Afterwards she began to walk back to the wrecked Flyer; there was nothing else she could think of to do. On the walk back she found herself crying, silence and individual tears escaping her eyes and rolling down her face. She didn’t try to stop them.
It was nearly sunset when she finally reached the Flyer. There were only a handful of surviving passengers and none of the flight crew left. They had built a fire next to the wreck and were huddled around it. Quietly she joined them. A man, with a wound on the side of his face and a badly injured arm, handed her a bottle of water. A woman, who still had dirt and dried blood in her hair, handed her a thick full-length coat and a pair of equally thick men’s trousers. She didn’t know whose clothes they were; they had probably come from the wreckage. Katee didn’t ask any questions; she simply pulled them on over her own clothes.
They all sat around the fire in stillness, occasionally someone would put more wood on the fire, and they all eventually fell asleep where they sat. She wrapped herself up in the coat to sleep.
The next morning they were all woken by a patrol of Daleks and their robomen. All of the surviving passengers, without a word, raised their hands in surrender, Katee following them. The leading Dalek barking that they were now slaves of the Dalek Empire.
As she ate the last of the food concentrate she watched the second Roboman as he walked up and down in front of them, his gun held at the ready. What she couldn’t take her eyes off were the metal implants on his head. Around the top of his head, across his forehead, was a band of silver metal, which seemed to be attached to his very skin. Around his neck was another band of silver metal. Connecting the two bands were two cylinders of the same silver metal. The cylinders also seemed to be attached to the man’s skin. These were obviously the visible parts of the Dalek implants that made these people human robots, mere extensions of the Daleks without a thought or grain of their own personality left. Were these people awake when the Daleks operated on them, she wondered and then quickly tried to push the thought out of her mind.
The woman sitting next to her turned to Katee and said:
“Hello, I’m Doris, who are you?”
Katee blinked in surprise, none of the other slaves had tried to speak to each other. She took a moment to reply.
“I’m Katee,” she replied.
Doris, the other woman, smiled back at her, even though Doris’s face was dirty, streaked with dirt. She looked as if she was in her sixties, her white/grey hair held in a loose bun on top of her head. Small bright eyes staring out from a round, almost chubby, face. Doris’s curving and plump body was covered in what looked like expensive clothes, her fur coat and tailored trousers did not look cheap, though they were now very dirty. Though her face and hands did not carry any jewellery.
“How did the Daleks capture you?” Doris asked.
“The flyer I was on was shot down and they caught us from the wreckage,” Katee said, not wanting to talk about Amy.
“I was at Millennium City’s Space Port. I’d just missed the last shuttle leaving, which actually saved my life because the Daleks attacked and destroyed it before it even left the atmosphere. Then the Daleks attacked the Space Port. I was one of the few souls who survived that, I lost all my possessions but at least I’m alive. The Daleks rounded us all up, after they captured the Space Port, and made us slaves.”
“At least we’re alive,” Katee muttered.
“Too true,” Doris agreed.
“Some life,” said the man sitting behind Katee.
Katee looked over her shoulder at him. He was no more than a teenager, his face thin and pale, his features pulled down in a frown. His curly brown hair was lank and dirty. His once fashionable leather jacket was now torn and dirty.
“Sorry, who are you?” Doris asked him.
“Jan,” the young man answered.
“And how did you survive?” Doris asked.
“By the skin of my teeth, but I lost all of my friends and family,” Jan replied, his voice flat but rippling under the surface with anger and hurt.
“But the important thing is that we survive. As long as we survive we can begin to fight back,” Doris said.
“Crap,” hissed Jan. “The Daleks have won and we’re all going to die.”
“This isn’t the first time we’ve fought the Daleks before and won,” Doris said, her face setting back into a knowing expression.
“Yeah,” Jan hissed again.
“Yes?” Kate asked.
“It was a thousand years ago now, before we colonised all these thousands of worlds and set up our Earth Empire,” Doris said. “We had hardly begun to explore our own solar system when the Daleks found us. They invaded Earth after first destroying so many of our cities in a rain of meteorites. They killed nearly seventy percent of the population of Earth but people still managed to fight back. They overthrew the Daleks, destroying and driving the rest them from Earth. With the technology they left behind we began our conquest of the galaxy.”
“Yeah, I know,” Jan said. “I learnt all that at Uni. After that war the balance of power changed, Europe was the new superpower and lead the expansion into space, because the Daleks nearly totally destroyed America. So what, it was over a thousand years ago.”
“But we survived and fought back and won,” Doris said. “That’s what we have to do this time. We have to survive and then we can fight back.”
“That was Earth and millions of people were fighting for their home,” Jan replied. “This is Karbala Minor and the Daleks have killed almost everyone. There’s no one left to fight back. We’re finished.”
“Why have the Daleks invaded as?” Katee asked, interrupting both of them.
“That’s not important, the important thing is that we survive to fight back,” Doris replied, fixing her with a serious and stern expression.
“Slaves! The slaves! Sleep time!” The first Roboman barked at them as he marched up and down their seated line. “Sleep time now! Sleep now! No talking! Sleep now! No talking!” It barked in that synthesised voice, that voice that somewhere had a Karbala Minor accent at the back of it.
Without a word or complaint Katee pulled her coat tightly around herself, pulling the hood over her head, and then laid down on the bank where they were sitting.
It was dusk and her body ached with tiredness and the bruises she had received the day before, but still she found it difficult to fall asleep. The Robomen were constantly walking up and down, their feet crunching on the ground. Also it was cold, suddenly bitingly cold on this road out of Millennium City, but most of all her mind couldn’t settle, it kept going over and over the events of the past two days, the events that had so completely destroyed her life.
Eventually, with her hardly realising it, lethargy came over her and she fell into a fit-full sleep. A sleep that was filled with disturbing dreams of Amy, dreams of loss, dreams of Amy’s destruction.
Sometime shortly after dawn she was woken from her disturbed sleep by a Roboman kicking her legs.
“Wake-up!” It barked in its soulless voice.
Without a word she sat herself upright, pulling the hood from her head, as those unsettling dreams fell from her mind. Her body still felt tired and sore.
“Wake-up!” She heard the Roboman bark. “Wake-up! Wake-up!”
She glanced over and saw the Roboman trying to wake the prone figure of Doris by harshly kicking her in the legs. The Roboman’s kick caused Doris’s body to roll on to her back. Her waxy coloured skin and glassy, lifeless eyes staring straight up, a small trickle of dark coloured saliva oozed out of the corner of her mouth.
“She’s dead,” Jan said, his voice coming over her shoulder. “She won’t wake up.”
The Roboman didn’t acknowledge him but it did move away from Doris’s body, moving down the line of slaves barking wake-up orders.
As they stood up, Katee said, as she looked over at Doris’s body:
“She must have died in her sleep. Probably her heart gave out.”
“She didn’t survive to fight back,” Jan added in that flat voice of his, the anger still somewhere under there.
She glanced at him and saw that his face was even paler then the night before. She glanced away from him and saw the Roboman was back at Doris’s body.
“Can we bury her?” Katee asked the Roboman, she felt uncomfortable just leaving Doris there – even though she hardly knew the woman.
After a brief moment, where the Roboman stood motionless, it answered her:
“No. Leave the body there. Slaves stay silent!”
Without protest, trying not to look at Doris’s body, Katee joined the line of fellow slaves, waiting to the marched off.
“The important thing is to survive… hey…” Jan’s voice hissed quietly behind her.
She ignored him, just waited for the line to begin moving.
Story © 2005 Drew Payne.
Layout © 2005 Visagraph Films International.
Thanks to Andrew Panero for the editing on the story.