Serenata was awfully quiet I noticed. She hardly spoke, seemingly wrapped up in her own thoughts too much to respond.
What was going on in that head of hers?
"Oi!" I knocked on the door to the room she had locked herself in.
"What...." She growled from the other side.
"Your parents have been gone for hours!"
The door creaked open half an inch revealing an ice-blue eye peering out at me.
I sighed, pulling the door open.
"How old are you? 'Cause you seem just a bit too old to be so..."
Serenata shuffled her feet, "Eighteen,"
"Good God!" I shook my head.
"You don't know what it's like," Her eyes were fixed on mine - and it made me feel...small.
"You don't know what it's like out there, on other worlds, where there are creatures more terrifying that anything you could ever imagine. You don't know."
I swallowed. It felt like someone had poured the entire desert outside down my throat.
"Who the hell are you?"
"I'm a Time Lady," She hissed, darting past me with snake-like accuracy. I shivered despite the fact it was quite humid.
"Well.... just because you're not human doesn't mean you're all that!" I shouted at her.
I watched in horror as the muscles on her back, turned towards me, twitched reflexively. She continued walking, never looking back.
"Oh, for pity's sake!" I muttered. I ran to catch up with her. She was headed down the hallway towards the control room.
"Listen, I'm sorry - I just don't understand," I told her gently.
She glanced at me out of the corner of her eye. She stopped walking and turned towards me. I found that we were in front of the doors leading outside.
"When I was little, my Dad took me to a planet where the trees were as tall as skyscrapers. There were....creatures...in the dark. He wasn't watching me and one..."
She lifted her shirt. Three long scars ran across her ribcage. The flesh around them was malformed as though it had seared her skin.
"Oh my God," I raised a hand to my mouth in shock.
"Now do you understand?" She pushed open the doors.
"Yeah. I'm sorry."
Serenata looked over her shoulder, "Apology accepted. Are you coming?"
I considered. After what she had showed me...Oh to Hell with danger.
We began to walk across the desert, towards the place where we had last seen the Doctor and River.
"There!" I pointed to where two sets of footprints trailed across the sand.
And someone was screaming.
Serenata began to run.
"Oi! Wait for me!" I cried, scrambling up the dune. How many bloody times did I have to climb these damn sand hills?
When we had reached the top, the strangest scene was unfolding below.
River and the Doctor were standing back to back, the Doctor holding a baseball bat, which he had not previously had as far as I knew, and was whacking hands grabbing his ankles.
Hands. Hands were sprouting up from the ground. And the sand was moving. Moving! It was trying to pull their feet out from under them.
Directly in front of us, a hand sprouted up. It curled its fingers and clawed the air towards us as though telling us to go away.
"Not on your life! If you have one that is," Serenata told it, smashing it beneath her plimsoll. An eerie scream sounded from beneath the sand as it slunk beneath the ground, injured.
"What the hell is it?" I gasped.
"I'm guessing...." She tilted her head to one side, considering her options, "Sentient planet?"
"ATTA GIRL!" The Doctor cried, beaming up at her.
Serenata grinned back. She began to scramble down the dune.
"You seriously aren't going down there, are you?"
She nodded, "Yep!"
"Tally ho," I murmured, sliding down after her.
A dozen hands grabbed my trench coat. My neck snapped for the second time that day and I found myself lying on my back with the sun in my eyes.
Serenata grabbed my hand, hauling me up.
"Thanks," I brushed off my pants and jumped the last few feet off the slope.
We darted past clusters of hands waving about like demented flowers in the wind. What was wrong with this place?
"Mum!" Serenata slid to halt next to River - she was half way buried in the ground.
"They have a hold of my ankles!" She cried.
The Doctor was occupied with a ring of hands surrounding him. He was whooping like an indian, battering their fingers with his baseball bat.
Serenata grabbed one of River's arms tightly, "Bellona! Grab the other one!"
I wrapped my hands around her left arm.
"One! Two! Three!"
We leaned back with every drop of strength two teenage girls could muster. I was seventeen! She really expected I could haul a grown woman out of the ground while evil possessed hands grabbed her ankles? Get real!
It was either sheer luck or the hands had given up because River came free of the sand.
All three of us fell backwards. Urgh. Sand in my hair!
"If I get pulled into the ground one more time," River muttered, standing.
The Doctor stood in the center of a ring of very dead hands, panting.
"Got em!" He cried, swinging his bat in the air.
River folded her arms, glaring at him.
"Oops," His eyes got big, "Sorry. You got pulled under didn't you?"
River blinked once - very very slowly.
Her eyes twinkled, "Love you too sweetie,"
Serenata made a barfing noise.
River rolled her eyes, sighing.
"Wow. You people are one disfunctional family," I shook my head, smiling.
"We have to go. We disabled the planet's defenses - but there's no telling when it'll be back up and running," The Doctor told us.
I watched, astounded, as he shoved the baseball bat into his pocket. He caught my eye and grinned, "Bigger on the inside,"