Dr who BBC eighth doctor 37 the burning (v1 0) justin richards

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The late nineteenth century – the age of reason, of enlightenment, of industrialisation Britain is the workshop of the world, the centre of the Empire Progress has left Middletown behind The tin mine is worked out, jobs are scarce, and a crack has opened across the moors that the locals believe reaches into the depths of Hell itself But things are changing: Lord Urton is preparing to reopen the mine; the Society for Psychical Research is interested in the fissure; Roger Nepath and his sister are exhibiting their collection of mystic Eastern artifacts People are dying Then a stranger arrives, walking out of the wilderness: a man with no name, no history Only one man can unravel the mysteries; only one man can begin to understand the forces that are gathering; only one man can hope to fight against them And only one man knows that this is just the beginning of the end of the world Only one man can stop The Burning This is another in the series of original adventures for the Eighth Doctor THE BURNING JUSTIN RICHARDS Published by BBC Worldwide Ltd, Woodlands, 80 Wood Lane London W12 0TT First published 2000 Copyright © Justin Richards The moral right of the author has been asserted Original series broadcast an the BBC Format © BBC 1963 Doctor Who and TARDIS are trademarks of the BBC ISBN 563 53812 Imaging by Black Sheep, copyright © BBC 2000 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Mackays of Chatham Cover printed by Belmont Press Ltd, Northampton Contents Chapter One Fighting Fire Chapter Two Manson’s Progress Chapter Three Under Mine 11 Chapter Four Warm Reception 19 Chapter Five Heated Conversations 31 Chapter Six By the Light of the Fire 43 Chapter Seven The Fires of Hell 53 Chapter Eight Curio 69 Chapter Nine Souvenir 75 Chapter Ten Firing Test 87 Chapter Eleven Night Callers 97 Chapter Twelve Lines of Inquiry 107 Chapter Thirteen Into the Depths 115 Chapter Fourteen Fire Pattern 125 Chapter Fifteen Torchlight 131 Chapter Sixteen A Death in the Family 139 Chapter Seventeen Moving Mountains 157 Chapter Eighteen Doctor’s Orders 169 Chapter Nineteen Solid State 179 Chapter Twenty From the Embers 191 Acknowledgements 195 About the Author 197 Chapter One Fighting Fire The fire was a living thing Burning Roaring its way through the roof timbers and running liquid down the front of the building It licked its way out of the eye-windows of the house, crackling and cackling in the doorway The glow was hot on the boy’s face as he watched His eyes were wide, his mouth an open ‘o’ of rapture He sat immobile, letting the firelight dance and flicker in his eyes and across his reddened cheeks The blur of movement, of people running, buckets passed, hoses unwound, hands at the pump, was lost to him Only the flames mattered, the heat The burning ‘There you are.’ There was relief mixed in with the annoyance in her voice ‘Mum was worried We all were.’ He did not reply He leaned slightly to the side, to watch the flames past her They seemed to erupt from the black silhouette of her body in the autumn dusk ‘Supper’s been on the table for an hour,’ she said ‘Don’t you know what time it is?’ More anger now ‘What you think you’re doing?’ ‘Watching.’ His voice was barely more than a whisper ‘I’m watching the fire, aren’t I?’ She raised her hand, ready to cuff him for his insolence ‘I can see that,’ she hissed ‘But it’s time to come home Long past time Mum’ll learn you to be late when we get back.’ There was a crack from across the street as a wooden beam gave way under the onslaught of the fire It crashed through the weakened first floor joists sending cascades of sparks flying out of the ruptured roof and through the sightless windows The girl turned to watch For a moment, the briefest of instants, her expression mirrored her brother’s – awe, excitement, rapture For an instant she too seemed to see the beauty and life in the dance of the flames Her hand rested on her young brother’s shoulder, holding it affectionately, protectively Then a fireman ran across in front of her, oilskin jacket glistening as the water from the steam pump dried in the heat Behind him a horse whinnied and trod the air in fright and surprise at the sparks and the flames The steam pump lurched as the horses moved Firelight gleamed off the brass of the boiler mounted on its carriage Black smoke rose from the funnel, mingling with that from the house fire The people encircling the burning house stepped back, as if part of the dance, as the fire jumped and raced to the adjacent house and started to rip into its roof with a dry throaty cackle ‘Mum says you’re to come now,’ the girl said Her voice was husky and dry, barely audible above the cracking and popping of the fire and the cry of the horses and the people Somewhere down the street a baby cried At the front of the house the flames balled and gathered, as if preparing for an attack on the house opposite The fire was gathering itself The boy licked his lips Chapter Two Manson’s Progress The tankard had a glass bottom Harry had told him more times than he cared to recall how he was forced to watch the beer slosh about as Pete Manson drank Harry had also told him just as often that he didn’t care for the view of the inside of Pete’s mouth as he drained the pint But Pete didn’t care In fact, it made him smile almost every time he saw the picture etched on to the bare of the tankard emerge from the froth and body of the ale Almost every time But not today He kept the tankard raised as the last drips of warm liquid ran into his mouth Even the beer didn’t stay cold in winter these days What was happening to the weather? The picture revealed on the glass disc beneath the ale was a gallows Not an especially good sketch, it showed a sticklike figure hanging from the noose There was nobody else depicted The man was dying in a world of his own Beneath his perpetual death was inscribed: ‘The Last Drop’ The last drop indeed, Pete reflected as he set down the tankard and wiped his mouth His last drink in The Pig and Trumpet His last drink with Harry Devlin His last ale in Middletown ‘Another?’ Harry asked, as if offering a reprise Pete shook his head ‘This is it then.’ ‘This is it,’ Pete agreed ‘Well.’ Harry considered He pulled himself slightly unsteadily to his feet ‘You’d best be off then.’ ‘Best be off,’ Pete repeated a fair walk to Ambleton.’ He stood up beside Harry Devlin He reached almost to Harry’s shoulder He felt his hand smothered by Harry’s huge paw as the big man sadly said his farewells Then abruptly, Pete felt himself dragged into a crushing embrace When he stepped back, there were tears in Harry’s eyes ‘We’ll miss you, lad,’ Harry said ‘You have to go, I suppose.’ Pete looked round the public house It was almost deserted By eleven in the morning on a Saturday it should be heaving with life They should have to shout to be heard As it was, the loudest sound was the click of the dominoes from the other side of the room ‘I have to go,’ he said ‘Nothing to keep me here Not now the mine’s closing You know that.’ Harry nodded ‘I’d go myself,’ he said, staring past Pete as if afraid to look at him ‘If I had anywhere to go.’ Pete slapped him on the shoulder ‘And you’ve got Rosie and the kids to think about.’ He tried to sound bright, optimistic ’Hey, you’re the foreman You’ll get another job easy.’ ‘Sure I will,’ Harry said quietly ‘Mind how you go, eh?’ Pete laughed, but there was little humour in him ‘I’m only going to Ambleton, no harm in that.’ He hefted his holdall over his shoulder The sound of breaking glass made them both flinch with surprise A moment later there was another crash as the floor trembled beneath them A bottle behind the bar edged and jiggled its way to the front of its shelf before toppling forwards and shattering on the flagged floor ‘Not again!’ Arthur Melstead said loudly He dropped the cloth he had been using to polish a glass and started to push bottles back deeper on to the shelves He grabbed other bottles from the more crowded shelves and dumped them on the bar ‘Give us a hand, will you?’ he shouted He had to shout to be heard above the crash and splinter of glass A framed map fell from a wall and cracked on to the table beneath The lamps swung, spreading smoky trails of light in their wake ‘Another tremor,’ Harry sighed ‘Best be on your way,’ he said to Pete ‘Otherwise Arthur’ll have you sweeping up and you’ll be here all day.’ Arthur’s noisy swearing cut across Pete’s reply Harry turned away ‘All right, all right, I’m here.’ The tremor was subsiding now, the shuddering of the floor, the shaking of the walls abated, faded Stopped Middletown was dead How many of the houses were empty shells now, Pete Manson wondered? There were a couple of hawkers in the street A costermonger with a barrow of fruit and vegetables stood alone and forlorn on a corner He exchanged a sullen nod with Manson The community had been and gone Only the tin mine helped Middletown to ding on at all after the railway ignored the town and came to Ambleton instead And now even the mine was closing Empty factories, empty houses, empty ground Soon there would be nothing left and the place would become in reality as well as name just the midway point between Ambleton and Branscombe-sub-Edge A place defined by where it was rather than what it was, with no identity of its own The built-up centre of the town was very small, just a few streets The housing was mainly stretched out towards where the factories had been The mine was in the opposite direction, on the Ambleton side, and close to that ... beginning of the end of the world Only one man can stop The Burning This is another in the series of original adventures for the Eighth Doctor THE BURNING JUSTIN RICHARDS Published by BBC Worldwide Ltd,... over the edge at the dry land one side, the new reservoir the other They were hauling up the ropes with the tiny red figures clinging to the ends But the blur was not caused by the motion of the. .. 2000 Copyright © Justin Richards The moral right of the author has been asserted Original series broadcast an the BBC Format © BBC 1963 Doctor Who and TARDIS are trademarks of the BBC ISBN 563 53812
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