May 16, 2011

Enchanted Garden Chapter Eighteen

We dare you to take away all your characters’ ability to speak for one whole chapter.

They walked back to the TARDIS in silence, their hearts light. Newt felt happier than she had felt during their entire adventure, since the moment they had first realized they were on an enchanted path in Old Mrs. M’s garden.

We dare you to incorporate three of the things nearest to you that start with the letter “n” into the next paragraph.

When they reached the TARDIS, Newt went off to her room. She had sweat pretty badly when they had been running through the forest away from that very frightening fortune teller, Madame Du Pompadour, and Newt wanted very desperately to take a shower and get cleaned up. When she opened the door to her room, Newt realized that someone had been in her room while she was gone, because a New rubber stamp, a Novelty pen that had a combination magnifying glass and microscope on the top of it, and a Never opened package of Smarties were all sitting in the middle of her bed.

She grumbled to herself that the pirates had been in her room, and made a mental note to ask the Doctor how she could lock her bedroom door while she was gone. For that matter, she wondered how to lock the door while she was here. What if they had come in while she was in the middle of changing clothing, or showering? That was certainly not a pleasant thought, especially since she had been warned not to trust them. At least one of them had been proven to be a liar, and at least one of them had entered her private space without her express permission.

Newt went over to the door and looked for some way to lock it or otherwise secure it closed. She saw no obvious latch, but there was a small metal plate set into the wall at about chest height, right next to where the lock should have been, if there was a lock on the door. Newt pressed her thumb against the metal plate, and heard a distinct click. Startled, she pulled her thumb back, but nothing else happened. She reached out to the latch on the door, and tugged, but the door refused to open. Experimentally, she pressed her thumb to the small metal panel again. Although there was no feeling of “give” to it, she heard the small snick of a lock again, and this time when she tried the door handle, it opened easily.

Newt stepped out into the hallway and investigated the wall next to the door frame, and discovered a similar panel on this side of the wall. A little further experimentation, and she knew she had found her door lock.

She went back inside her room and locked the door, then proceeded to the small bathroom, where she made use of the facilities, and then cleaned both her laundry and herself.

Shortly, she had located something else nice to wear, a long green skirt, paired with a pale pink tunic that had long trailing sleeves. As the tunic had rather open sleeves and the neckline was quite a bit lower than Newt was accustomed to wearing, she supplemented the outfit with a tight fitting, long sleeved black body suit that really fit like a turtleneck sweater that had been melded into a single piece with a pair of long, ankle length leggings. Once Newt had zipped up the zipper that was cleverly hidden in one of the sleeve seams, you couldn’t tell how it was possible to get in and out of the body suit. With the green skirt, and the loose pink tunic, Newt felt very posh and sophisticated. She braided her hair up, and swirled the braids into a coronet. The green ribbons she had braided into her hair matched the skirt. When Newt stood before the mirror and swished her skirt, she was suddenly glad that the body suit went all the way to her ankles, because the green skirt proved to have slits up the sides all the way to her waist.

She unlocked her bedroom door, went out into the corridor, and carefully relocked the door, before moving off down the hallway in the general direction of the kitchen.

She thought it would be nice if she made dinner for everyone tonight, and she had a few good ideas on what, exactly, she was going to serve them for dinner.

We dare you to put lime Jell-O into your next scene. Food fight? Jell-O eating contest? It’s up to you!

Newt entered the kitchen in the TARDIS and discovered to her great pleasure that she had the facility all to herself. She went over to the food machine that she had used earlier to make a sandwich for her lunch, and opened the door where she had placed her hand before.

She clearly imagined a lavish dinner of meatloaf, mashed potatoes that were made from fresh, whole potatoes, and so were still slightly lumpy from the mashing process, nice dark brown gravy, and a big bowl of sweet green peas, the smaller, perfectly round ones that were more expensive because they were the first, almost ripe pick of the season. Spring peas, she thought they were called. She imagined her mother’s freshly baked bread, still hot from the oven, and slathered with butter that melted directly into the bread and became an integral part of the flavor and olfactory experience. She imagined big water goblets with tiny ice cubes in them, and filled with the fresh, delicious, moss filtered water that she had been privileged to drink at the little cottage today, and then for dessert, she imagined elaborate dessert dishes filled with colored cubes of Jell-O in all varieties of flavor—lime, cherry, orange, lemon, blue raspberry, peach, banana peach, black cherry, grape, blackberry—everything except strawberry and watermelon, because she hated the artificial strawberry and watermelon flavoring. The dessert was a rainbow of Jell-O cubes topped with freshly whipped sweet cream.

While the machine worked on making the dinner, Newt busied herself finding a nice table cloth and china, and silver utensils, and bustled about setting the table. In one cupboard, she found a vase, and Newt filled it with water and set it in the center of the table, then, when everything was almost ready, she went outside and gathered some of the purple grasses that had been blooming, and brought them in to put in the vase.

A bell that reminded Newt of the timer in her mother’s kitchen went off, and she set her hand in the cubbyhole slot of the food machine and instructed it to keep the hot foods hot and the cold foods cold while she rounded everyone up for dinner.

She was about to leave the kitchen when the door slammed open, and the boys entered, distress on their faces.

Newt opened her mouth to ask what the problem was, and realized that there were no words. She was still thinking in words, of course, but she found that it was impossible for her to say anything. Her eyes widened with her own distress, but realized almost immediately that this must be the source of the boys’ affliction.

Newt pointed at their seats at the table and motioned to them to stay put, and then she flitted off down the hall to the craft room to gather up the lady pirates, as well as some pads of paper and pens to use for communication purposes until this new contretemps could be sorted out.

The scene in the craft room couldn’t have been funnier. Three of the pirate ladies, Knit Wit, Hollerin’ Holly, and Mama Wolf, were all sitting at a table, staring at each other with tears in their wide, roundly opened eyes, grasping their throats, and flapping their mouths open and shut, looking for all the world like fish out of water gasping for their last breath. The fourth lady pirate, RavenWolf, was sitting at her computer, furiously pushing buttons on the keyboard. When Newt got closer, she realized that the screen was blank, and concluded that even her written words had been taken. This didn’t bode well for using paper and pencil for communication, but she gathered up pads and pens anyway, and motioned to the pirates to follow her. Newt led them to the kitchen, and realized that the Doctor was now the only person not in evidence.

She handed the pads of paper and the pens to Knit Wit, and made shooing motions with her hands. The lady pirates went into the kitchen, and Newt set off to the control room in search of the Doctor. Something else had now gone wrong with the TARDIS; something that had effectively stripped them of all language.

Newt found the Doctor in the control room of the TARDIS. He had pulled up one of the floor panels and climbed down into the pit that contained a maze of wires and lights and other components, not all of which seemed to be entirely electronic. The Doctor was furiously shaking wires and applying the glowing blue end of his little stick to the various parts of the TARDIS. Every time he manipulated a different part, he would open his mouth as though he was trying to speak, and then he would move on to another part. As Newt watched, he threw the tool with the glowing blue end on it across the room in frustration, and slammed his fist against one of the more solid parts of the TARDIS. There was a loud crack, and the Doctor cradled his hand against his chest and let out a howl that bespoke his frustration and pain without the need for words. Newt guessed that he had probably broken his hand in hitting the machine, and felt a great wave of sympathy for the pain the Doctor must be experiencing.

She crossed the room to him, and plucked at the shoulder of his suit, gaining his attention. Newt sat on the floor of the TARDIS, and dangled her legs down the open hole, then patted the floor next to her. One handed, the Doctor heaved himself up out of the hole until he was also sitting on the floor with his legs dangling down the hole.

Newt knew that there were no words available to her, but still, she had watched her mother often enough to know that some emotions could be conveyed entirely without the need for words. She put her arms around the Doctor and leaned her head on his shoulder, striving within the confines of her heart and mind, to radiate her concern, and her sympathy, and to offer him comfort. She wanted to be soothing, hoping that she could take away his anger and frustration so that he would be able to think calmly, and figure out how to fix what was wrong, for she somehow knew that restoring the Doctor to rational thought was the only chance they had to regain their language skills.

The Doctor put his good arm around her shoulders while still carefully cradling his injured hand against his chest.

After a time, Newt felt a warm, wet drop on her cheek, then a second one against her neck, and she realized that the Doctor must be crying. She knew that men don’t like to be caught crying, as most of them consider it most unmanly, so she didn’t move or react to the tears in any way, but just sat still with her arms around the Doctor’s skinny chest, and did her best to radiate comfort as he relieved himself of the frustration he had been experiencing with his ship for…she paused to calculate how long the TARDIS had been broken, and realized with a shock that they had only met the Doctor at dinner time yesterday, and that the great environmental controls blow up in the control room had only occurred this morning. However, there had been an awful lot of living that had been packed into one single day.

Slowly, the Doctor’s sobs and tears subsided, and Newt felt, almost as a palpable thing, the stern resolve that came into his entire being and was reflected in his body posture. He gently unwound his left arm from Newt, and she let go of him and sat up straight. Without a word, because of course, he couldn’t have uttered one anyway; he heaved himself to his feet, stalked across the room and retrieved his useful tool with the glowing blue tip. The Doctor tucked the tool into the inner pocket of his suit and returned to Newt, offering his uninjured hand to help her get up. She accepted his aid and rose from the floor, feeling acutely for the first time all the little pin pricks from the expanded steel floor as they left their imprint on her flesh right through the clothing she was wearing.

The Doctor offered his arm, a gentlemanly old world gesture fraught with meaning, and Newt’s thoughts took an amused turn, as she realized how many ways the human race had developed to communicate with each other entirely without the use of words.

The Doctor went first down an unfamiliar corridor, and through a door, and as Newt looked around her at the very unfamiliar machinery, she wondered what they were going to do in this room.

The Doctor opened up one of the panels on a machine, a little awkwardly, since he was forced to use his left hand, and it was patently obvious that he was very right handed.

Once the panel was open, he pressed a button, and the machine unfolded by itself, becoming a large table or bed, with several pieces of equipment hanging over and around it.

The doctor pulled one of the bits of machinery over the bed near the head of it, and carefully positioned it with great attention to exact details. When it was where the Doctor wanted it to be, he carefully laid his injured hand beneath it, slowly and with great grimaces of pain on his face, using his left hand to straighten out his fingers and lay the hand flat on the surface of the bed.

Suddenly Newt realized that they must be in the TARDIS’s equivalent of a sick bay, or urgent care treatment center, and that the Doctor was trying to work the machinery with his left hand only because he couldn’t explain to her what needed to be done.

When his hand was flat against the table, he stood still for a long moment, panting and gasping from the pain the small effort had cost him, then motioned Newt over to the control panel of the machine, which was out of reach from where the Doctor stood near the head of the bed.

It took a long time for her to find the right switches and buttons, because they each had to be pressed in the correct order. She had to go over each button on the panel, while the Doctor nodded or shook his head on each one, then start the process all over again for the next control. One of the dials had to be set to a number, which the Doctor was forced to count out to her in groups of five, since he could only signal with one hand to do so.

Eventually Newt got everything set the way the Doctor needed it done, and was allowed to push the great big threatening red button that apparently powered everything.

There was a great deal of whizzing and whirring, and bluish green and orange lights emanated from the part of the machine that was suspended above the Doctor’s hand. Newt found herself desperately hoping that this part of the TARDIS wasn’t also broken, and that it would properly heal the Doctor’s hand.

Within a few minutes, she could see the tension the pain had caused leaving the Doctor’s shoulders, and a few minutes later, the lights emanating from the machine went out, and the Doctor pulled his hand from beneath the machine, flexing and stretching the fingers and thumb experimentally. Apparently everything worked as it should, and he gleefully wiggled the fingers at Newt to show her it was now healed. He folded the machine back up again and put it away, a process that went much more quickly with both hands working, and then walked over to the door and held out his hand to Newt, and she joined him at the door and took his hand. They walked out into the corridor, and the Doctor closed the door and secured it carefully behind him.

Hand in hand they started off through the corridors and Newt gently pulled the Doctor in the direction of the kitchen where she knew dinner awaited them.

The Doctor shook his head and pulled her instead to the control room where he grabbed a large rubber mallet and started banging on the walls, with his ear close to the wall, as though he was listening to the sound it made, and looking for something in particular.

Finally at one section of the wall, he did an awful lot of tapping in a small area, as though narrowing down exactly where the problem lay.

It reminded Newt of the time her father had been trying to locate a wall stud in order to hang up a very expensive and heavy mirror on the wall. He had used the electronic stud finder, and the magnetic stud finder, and then tapped the wall for a very long time, with his ear pressed carefully to the wall to hear some slight and subtle difference in the tapping sound.

Finally he had decided he had the right place and had installed the hanging hardware triumphantly on the wall, and then he and her mother had carefully lifted the large mirror up and, with many a grunt of effort, had strung the wire hanger over the hook on the wall, then stepped back to admire their handiwork just in time to see the mirror pull the hangar through the unsupported drywall and tear a large hole in the wall as it crashed to the floor and shattered, exploding flying shards of silvered glass throughout the entire room.

Some of the bits of glass had penetrated the wall on the far side of the room, and Newt and her parents were very lucky indeed to have escaped with only a few very minor cuts each. Newt had had to have three stitches right in the center of her eyebrow, and to this day, the hair wouldn’t grow in that scar tissue, leaving her with a small, straight, bald patch right down the middle of her right eyebrow. Her mother told her later that she had been very grateful the glass had pierced Newt’s eyebrow instead of being a couple of inches lower and destroying her eyeball itself.

Newt brought her attention back to the present and concentrated on what the Doctor was doing. He had located a certain spot in the wall of the TARDIS, and was tapping out strange rhythms on the wall. Incredibly, the wall was tapping back, and the entire control room thrummed and beat with the sound of the Doctor and the TARDIS tapping at each other as though they were using some sort of Morse code.

The Doctor pulled out his favorite tool with the glowing blue end and held it to that particular place on the wall, while the blue light glowed and the tool whirred. The tool began to shake in the Doctor’s hand, as though the TARDIS was fighting against whatever it was that he was doing, but he relentlessly held his hand firm, and the tool steady. That section of the TARDIS wall started to turn the same color blue as the end of the tool, and Newt wondered what, exactly, the Doctor was trying to accomplish.

Suddenly, all of the lights went out, the darkness nearly a palpable thing, but the tiny blue glow of the tool and the part of the wall that it had caused to glow blue instead of its normal ruddy orange remained alight, the only light source in the room.

Distant screams from the direction of the kitchen informed Newt that the thick darkness wasn’t just in the control room, but a general power failure for the entire ship.

Slowly, the patch on the wall grew larger and brighter, and the Doctor still fought, harder than ever, to keep his tool on the exact spot that he had worked so hard to find.

With a suddenness that was almost as breathtaking as the lights going out, there was a tremendously bright flash from the area where the Doctor had been working. Newt rubbed at her eyes, trying to reduce their dazzlement, and discovered that the Doctor was still trying to hold the tool to the wall, but now the tip of the tool had been pushed an inch or two from the wall by a dazzling ball of white light that had apparently been drawn out of the wall by the glowing tool.

The Doctor’s arm was shaking with his efforts to push against the light, so Newt moved to his side and put her hands on his, helping him push. Soon, they were both pushing with all their strength, and the dazzlingly bright white light disappeared with a soft popping sound, like a soap bubble vanishing. With this disappearance, the room was plunged into absolute blackness, for the whirring blue tool exploded in the Doctor’s hand at the same moment that the white light had vanished.

As the thing they had been exerting all their strength against vanished, Newt and the Doctor both staggered against the wall and each other, but quickly managed to regain their balance, clinging to each other in the darkness.

“Thanks,” the Doctor said quietly.

“You’re very welcome,” replied Newt, rejoicing in the fact that she could speak once again.