Doctor Who: The Many Hands (4 page)

BOOK: Doctor Who: The Many Hands
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SIX

As the cart jostled and jiggled through the streets,
Martha gradually slid herself from under her pale
travelling companion. She even made it to the edge
of the cart and lifted the tarpaulin. She couldn't see
anything of the street except for the cobbles below
rolling by, but at least it let some fresh air and a thin
trickle of light into the cart. As her eyes adjusted,
Martha could see the body reasonably well.

She knew what the Doctor would do.

Part of her really wanted to do what her brother Leo
would do, which was to close his eyes, pretend that
none of this was happening and jump out of the cart
at the earliest opportunity. But she hadn't joined the
Doctor on his travels because she wanted new scenery
to be a coward in and, besides everything else, she
was a doctor. Nearly. Since the Doctor couldn't seem
to make up his mind between being 'not that sort of
doctor' and 'a doctor of nearly everything', he might
need a proper professional diagnosis of their zombie.

Martha folded the tarpaulin back a little to let more
light in, and wished very hard that she hadn't called
the body a zombie. If she just thought of it as a body –
just a normal, everyday body like the kind they used in
anatomy classes – then she wouldn't have to think of
it suddenly coming alive and trying to eat her brains.

The skin was cool and clammy, like damp marble
in the early morning, and it was pretty certain that the
body had been dead for a day or two. The autopsy scar
ran down his chest, red and vivid and bound together
with black surgical thread. Martha opened the body's
shirt a little further to see how far it went down,
and then found herself looking at the chest instead:
the body had been shot through the heart. There
was no blood, on his clothes or in the wound itself.
Martha could only assume that it had happened postmortem,
when the body was attacking the stagecoach
on the Cowgate.

Perhaps, Martha thought, it was the bullet that had
killed him for the second time: perhaps whatever they
were dealing with here needed the heart to keep the
zombies going.

She looked carefully at the bullet wound, having
to almost press her nose against it to see in the dim
light. There were little hairs growing out of the
edges, all arranged in a neat line around the heart.
No, not hairs... more surgical thread. Whoever had
performed the autopsy had sewn something onto
the body's chest. Was it just coincidence that this
particular body had been up and running around
again? Was it coincidence that, now whatever had
been sewn on was gone, the body had stopped?

Was it coincidence that when the sun went down
it got dark?

She had to let the Doctor know: there might be
something that the body could still tell him, but
somewhere out there on the Cowgate was whatever
had been shot off the zombie's chest. They had to find
it before someone else found it and took it away...
especially if that someone was whoever had sewn it
on in the first place.

It took Martha a few moments to realise that it had
suddenly gotten a lot lighter. She looked behind her,
and saw a red-coated soldier with a tarpaulin in his
hand and a surprised expression on his face.

Martha smiled up at him. 'It's all right,' she said.
'I'm a doctor.'

She heard a snort of disbelief at that. Looking
around, she saw that the cart had come to a stop in a
large courtyard surrounded by large stone buildings.
Standing outside the nearest were two men dressed
in long dark robes, one a good thirty years older than
the other. The older man had thick black eyebrows
and a rather large nose, with a face that seemed to
have been extended downwards simply because his
neck wouldn't have made it up that far. The younger
looked almost exactly the same, only – well, younger.
They had to be father and son.

'Do you know this girl?' the younger man asked the
soldier.

The soldier looked apologetic. 'I'm sorry, Mr
Monro,' he mumbled. 'There was... Something
happened on the Cowgate today. She was involved.'

'He was involved,' Martha protested, pointing to
the corpse. 'Somebody sewed something to him and
it made him get up and walk about. I know it sounds
crazy, but it's true: you can see the thread on his chest.
Look.'

The soldier didn't look.

'You say she was involved?' the older man said
nervously. 'How so?'

'A stagecoach driver lost control of his horses,'
the soldier said. Martha could tell he was choosing
his words carefully; she suspected that he had seen
the pale body in the cart standing on top of the
stagecoach as clearly as she had. 'She stepped out in
front of them.'

'Oh dear, oh dear!' exclaimed the older man.

'Excuse me?' Martha said.

She was ignored.

'I'm sorry that she has put you through so much
trouble,' the younger man, Mr Monro, said to the
soldier. 'She is, as you can tell, quite troubled. We
should have done more to find her when we realised
she was missing, shouldn't we father?'

The older man merely blinked at his son.

'You know the girl, Mr Monro?' the soldier asked.

'Oh, I—' stammered the older man.

His son jumped to his aid. 'She was placed in our
care some months ago. She is an orphan, and suffers
from strange fantasies. But she helps us as best she
can, doing chores. Cleaning, and the like.'

Martha bristled at that. 'I'm a doctor!' she
protested.

'Of course, my dear,' Monro said, slickly patronising
her.

Martha sighed and held up her hand. 'Distal,' she
said, pointing with her other hand.

She didn't get any further. Monro put an arm
around her in a fatherly gesture of comfort, and
pulled her sharply to the doorway. His arm seemed
to be made of steel, it gripped her so tightly. Much as
she was against the idea, it looked like she was going
inside.

'Come now, let's get you to your room,' he said
firmly.

'Mr Monro,' the soldier said.

Both men turned back to him.

'Yes,' they said as one.

The soldier looked flustered.

'Forgive me,' he said. 'I meant the junior.'

'Please, don't trouble yourself,' the son said with a
smile, still pushing Martha towards the door. 'You can
tell your captain that if he needs her, young... Mary
will be here.'

'My name's Martha!' Martha protested to the
soldier.

'Quiet, Mary,' the young Monro ordered. 'You may
leave the body there: I shall ask one of the orderlies
to collect it. We were most embarrassed about having
mislaid it. Mr King may have been a vagabond in life,
but in death he shall be invaluable to our students.'

The Doctor had been right: Martha didn't know as
much as she should about the history of medicine.
She'd been assuming that things worked pretty much
the same as they did in her time, where surgeons were
the people who operated on the sick and made them
better.

She'd forgotten for a while how different things
were in the eighteenth century, that surgeons had a
whole raft of other jobs that by her time were done
by different specialists. She'd forgotten that they were
teachers too.

She'd forgotten that they carried out autopsies.

As the younger Monro pulled Martha over the
threshold of the Surgeon's Hall, she briefly considered
crying out one last time for the soldier's help. He
seemed nervous enough about leaving Martha with
the two surgeons – probably afraid of what Captain
McAllister would do when he heard that one of his
escaped prisoners had been left in the care of two
civilians – and might be persuaded to rescue her if she
made it clear that Monro was lying.

She didn't cry out.

The soldier wanted to take her to prison and have
her securely locked up while they continued the hunt
for the Doctor. If she went with him, she'd just have
to wait for the Doctor to rescue her. If she stayed here,
with the men who had done whatever had been done
to the corpse to make it walk again, she might learn
something useful. There was no real contest.

She kept quiet, and listened to the Monros bicker.

'Why did you do that?' the father asked nervously.

The younger man snorted. 'She saw King walking,'
he said, pushing Martha in front of him. The corridor
was long and without doors: with them behind her,
she could only go forward. 'There would have been
questions.'

'And what are we going to do with her?'

'I don't know.'

'Alexander!'

'Be quiet!' the younger man snapped, and
surprisingly his father obeyed. 'We are nearly finished
here. It worked: you heard what she said about King.
There is no reason to delay any longer. We keep her
here for the next few hours, and then what does
it matter? Everyone will know. Stop fussing. Is the
theatre prepared?'

'You know it is,' the father answered sulkily.

'Well then.'

'Excuse me,' Martha said, stopping and turning.

The two men looked at her.

'Aren't you even going to ask who I am?'

'You are an annoyance,' the younger Monro said.

'Oh I'm more than that,' Martha said. She planted
her hands on her hips and gave a defiant stare. 'I know
what you're up to: bringing people back from the
dead. That's pretty freaky stuff. What are you? Aliens?
Witches? Alien witches?'

The two men just looked at her blankly.

'We're the Chair of Anatomy,' the older Monro said,
more than a little confused.

'The Chair of Anatomy?' Martha echoed. 'Is that
your species?'

'It's our position,' he answered. 'In the University.'

Martha felt her cheeks flush.

'Right,' she said, trying to keep the upper hand.
'But I bet your university doesn't know what you're
up to here, does it?'

'And exactly what are we up to?' the young Monro
asked icily.

They did have her there.

'Sewing things to dead bodies?' she tried. 'Look,
why don't you just tell me everything before you get
into any more trouble? It'd look better for you at the
trial.'

'Trial?' the older Monro echoed nervously.

His son ignored him. 'Mary,' he said.

'
Martha
,' she corrected.

'Would you like to know what we attached to the
vagabond King's chest?' Alexander Monro asked.

Martha gave the anatomist a cautious look. 'OK,'
she said slowly.

Alexander Monro smiled and turned to the wall
beside him. He pressed his palms against it, and a
section of the wall pressed inwards, before swinging
back out to reveal a doorway. Martha looked carefully
through the hidden door, but the room inside was
in complete darkness, except for some greasy light
fighting through a smudged and dirty window in
the far wall. She thought she heard the sound of
something scuttling inside.

She looked at the younger Monro.

He smiled back, and pushed her in.

The junior Mr Monro slid the door quickly shut, and
within seconds it was as if it had never existed. He
couldn't even hear the sounds of the girl –
Martha

shouting on the other side. The craftsmen he had paid
had been well worth the money and the effort. Now
he could concentrate on other things.

'You should not have done that,' the senior Monro
admonished.

But the younger just walked away, without a second
glance.

Martha turned and pressed her back against the door,
letting out a sigh. She slid slowly to the floor and spent
a second resting her chin on her knees. She wondered
briefly if it was time to have another of those goodbye
arguments with her mother.

Something moved in the far corner.

Martha peered through the gloom, but the window
was barely the size of her two fists and was covered in
dust and cobwebs. She pulled herself back up to her
feet and told herself she should take a step forward.
She didn't, though.

'Hello?' she said cautiously. 'My name's Martha.'

She heard another sound, coming from a different
direction. It sounded uncomfortably like something
scuttling across a stone floor. She really wished she'd
paid more attention in history classes. Did they have
tarantulas in eighteenth-century Scotland?

Her hands started brushing up and down the walls
as she tried to find the hidden switch that would open
the door. Instead, they came across something cold
and metal attached to the wall. Feeling it up and down,
she found it was a little saucer filled with something
slick and wet, with a small piece of string poking out
of it. Martha realised that it was a lamp, and that she
had dipped her fingers into whatever the fuel was:
a quick sniff told her it was fish oil. She gritted her
teeth.

She put her hands in her pockets and rummaged
around as quietly as she could. All the time, the
sounds of scuttling were starting to grow: the light as
the door had opened had probably startled whatever
was in here, but now they were starting to wake up.
There was definitely more than one of the things in
here: she could hear them scurrying from all sides
of the room now. Her heart jumped as she heard a
dry click near to her feet and suddenly thought that
her roommates might be crabs. Crabs brought back
decidedly mixed emotions.

Her hand found what it was looking for in her left
pocket: a small box of matches with a gaudy Grampus
scrawled across them. They were a souvenir of a brief
stop-off at a bar on Io that the Doctor had insisted she
see: everyone who worked in the place was a dolphin,
walking around with the aid of sleek mechanical
legs and talking with a calm, Stephen Hawking-style
electronic voice. Even the dancers.

Martha lit a match, then the lamp.

Then turned.

The lamp seemed to give off more smoke than
light, but Martha's eyes quickly adjusted. She could
see most of the room, in a sort of misty early morning
kind of a way: stone floors, stone walls and a wooden
chair and table at the far end with a metal plate resting
on it. Every available bit of space at the far end of the
room was filled with them. They were on the chair, on
the table, clinging to the walls and trying to reach the
dirty little window. Except now they were all frozen,
sensing the light on them, despite the fact that they
didn't have any eyes that Martha could see.

BOOK: Doctor Who: The Many Hands
3.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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