Chapter Thirteen, Part One: Man on Fire in a Chinese RoomMature


Once more, a comely spoon threatens the nirvana of bliss that is unconsciousness, so the Doctor opens his eyes again.                            

The gnarled old handle is there, just like before, and, just like before, the gnarled old hand has wrapped its gnarled old fingers around it. 

Slowly, delicately, as though he is a mother reptile enfolding precious, leathery, soft, easily-torn eggs in sharp, chipped, monstrous teeth, he props one eyelid up and reaches for her hand, folding also the wrist-resting spoon  into his touch as though skin, utensil and all were uncooked dough in need of leavening. 

“ I admire you, old woman.” he mumbles quietly after finishing such a soup as has never been drunk on  grey sand before or since, “I would never have done it. You are stronger than I.” With much less a sigh than an exhaled seal of ephemeral contentment, he slurps the last of the hot liquid from the bowl; unlike the scrumptious, sumptuous soup, it smells of vaguely heavy fish and some sort of chowdery cheese. Delicious, on any other day. 

“All these I’s! You always were such a lovely boy, daft and selfish to a fault. I have to get you back on your feed. You are not well yet, and there is still journey ahead of you.” The wrinkles on her hands squirm like little butter snails over his face, then drop down to his stomach, where they situate themselves across the small of his back and begin to rub, dousing a lance of stabby ache he’d been feeling since before he’d woken this last time.


The End

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