The Lost Doctor
Episode 5 – Play it One Last Time, Sam
Play it one last time, Sam
Samantha stood near the street light on a dark street in New Chicago. Her dark trench coat lay loose and open over her frame, her hands stuffed in its pockets, one held the smooth handle of a revolver. The light above cast a shadow from the brim of her fedora over her face.
The orange glow of a cigarette slowly approached through the darkness. Occasionally it would glow brighter as the man inhaled, but stayed at the same height. The man stood at the edge of the globe of light, never being more than a shape in the darkness.
“I am looking for the falcon.” Sam asked.
The man raised his hand, taking the cigarette from his mouth. He flicked it to one side. The glow of orange bounced a few times along the street before dying in a nearby puddle.
“Max Hodges.” The man said as he lit up another cigarette. Then he turned and walked back into the darkness.
Sam got a smile on her face as she turned and walked back in the direction she came in. Two months of work summed up in two words. It was all coming together.
Hodges worked for a military research company across the city. Word on the wire is they had been working on something big—real big—but no one had any idea what it was. Only bits of information were getting out and not always from reliable sources. The Gargoyles were the main project, with the Falcon being the second. What they were was a well hidden secret.
For others, that is. Sam was all too aware of their meaning.
Like any of the major military’s contractors, employees were run through an extensive background check before they could work. The firm who took care of Hodges’s corporation was two blocks over from Sam’s office. She wrapped her coat around her and set out into the darkness.
Ten minutes later Sam wandered down a dark alley between an old brick office building and a newer hotel. She scanned up and down the alleyway before walking up to a back door to the office. She pulled a thin card from her pocket and slipped it between the door and the frame. She jiggled it for a moment before there was an audible ‘click’ and the door opened inwards.
Up three flights of stairs she found the office. Again her card provided her access to the room beyond. She quietly closed the door behind her and pulled out a small flashlight from her pocket. A quick scan of the filing cabinets revealed which would hold employees with a last name of “H”.
These were electric safe file cabinets. She placed her card on the side next to the keypad and turned it on. The card blinked a few times, then paused. Then it blinked a few more times and the drawer opened.
Sam bit down on the end of the flashlight as she looked through the folders with both hands. It was only a moment before a folder marked “Max Hodges” was in her hands.
She opened it and was greeted with a paper clipped photo on the main page. There were records of interviews and notes from background searches. It was everything she would need.
There was a light moving up the hallway and it illuminated the window on the door to the office. Sam turned off her own light and closed the drawer to the file cabinet.
She slipped the flash light and pulled out her revolver. The door to the office opened hesitantly. Sam slid along the back wall towards the door. A large older man entered, shining his flashlight over the office.
“Don’t move,” Sam said from behind, pushing the end of her gun into his side. “Don’t say nothin’ either.”
“Sam?” the man said. His arm was slowly moving south.
“Don’t do it Frank,” Sam said with a slight jab of the gun. “You retire in what, three weeks? Don’t do it.”
“Sam, you know I gotta…”
“You ain’t gotta do anything, Frank. Just let me go. Just let me walk out that door and forget I was here. Spend your days with that wife of yours.”
The big man sighed.
“Alright, Sam. Alright,” He raised his hands up. “You got five minutes. But you can’t come round here anymore.”
“That’s alright, Frank. After this I’ll be outta here. You tell your wife I’ll always remember those pies she made for me.”
There was a moment of silence and then Sam pulled the gun away and headed out of the building. Frank turned to see her walking off. He tapped his radio twice but didn’t turn it on.
“Be careful,” he whispered.
Back down the flight of stairs she went, exiting back out of the alleyway door. Again she checked to see if it was clear before heading out. Her office was close, but she did not take the direct route, just in case.
It was another ten minutes before Sam was sitting at her desk. The building her office was in wasn’t as nice as the one she’d just broken into, but appearances had never been the important part of this whole setup.
She threw her coat over the hanger near the door. She wore a white button up shirt underneath, top button undone, drag tie pulled down some from her neck.
She pulled a mostly finished bottle of whiskey from the left hand bottom drawer and then followed it with a mostly clean glass. She spun open the top and poured in a sip or two. After a moment of thinking, she emptied the bottle into the glass.
She took a sip as she started to read about Max Hodges. He was the key to the Falcon. He would be the key to everything.
Some hours later, Sam sat slumped in a seat on a passenger train her fedora pulled over her face, coat wrapped about her. The train rocked softly as it sped across the massive city to uptown near the lake. The sun came in the nearby window, the first time in while the thick winter clouds weren’t covering the entire skyline.
“Not every day you see a girl in a three piece suite,” A voice said.
Sam lifted up the brim of her hat enough to see the man standing in the aisle.
“This seat taken?” he asked
“Both are open,” she said, starting to stand.
“Sit down, Samantha,” he said, taking the seat next to her. He pulled out a cigarette and lit it.
“Hodges is in over his head,” he started. “And he knows it. The Falcon and the Gargoyles are game changers. Too much power, real and political, for anyone one group to hold. The one who wants them…”
“The Keeper,” Sam said.
“Seems you’ve done your homework,” the man replied, giving Sam a sideways glance. Sam immediately regretted it; she’d given something away.
“His men came to us with promises like you would never believe. Immortality, perpetual energy, teleportation, end of disease. Bring me the Gargoyles, he said, and I’ll bring you anything. He was asking the impossible, but even if half the promises he made are real, it would be worth it.”
He stopped, taking another long drag.
“Hodges figured it out, figured out the impossible. The Gargoyles are really a feat of science, if you ask me. Trapping something like that… And the Falcon, well, that was an accident. The Keeper had mentioned it, but had never made it a part of the deal. But I suspect there will be a significant bonus for that little item.”
The man stopped speaking as a conductor walked down the length of the train car. He took a deep drag off his cigarette, letting the smoke blow through his nose as the conductor exited into the next car.
“Whoever has those Gargoyles, and the ability to make more of them, could rule this entire city and there would be nothing to stop them. The power they represent is inconceivable to anyone with the wrong kind of ambition. And to someone with the right kind…”
“They are a gift from the gods. Sounds like Hodges will have a big hat to wear,” Sam said.
“Hodges is a pawn. They are all pawns. Hodges is just the brains in a military complex. No, the power won’t go to him. The power will go to someone much higher up. The rest of us will be expendable, or possibly worse.”
“Sounds like you’ll have a power struggle, or worse on your hands soon.”
“And you, what is your interest in this power struggle?”
“I am only interested in the Falcon,” Sami said.
The man nodded, taking a pause to inhale more of his cigarette before he spoke.
“You know about the ball, I suspect, and that is why you are heading to the east side. The Keeper’s men will be here in a few days to inspect the package. Word on the street is that if they like what they see, the man himself will be here to retrieve them.”
“Sounds pretty serious,” Sam said.
“And dangerous. Don’t suppose I could talk you out of all of this,” the man said.
Sam didn’t reply.
“Didn’t think so. You’ll need this,” he handed her an envelope. “I suspect you know what it is.”
“What is your interest in helping me?” Sam asked.
The man stood and straightened his coat. He put his cigarette out in ash tray in the arm rest.
“Let’s just say I have some old debts to clear,” he said. He paused and gave Sam a once over. “A red dress will work wonders.”
Then he turned, heading into the next train car.
Sam waited until he was gone to open the envelope. A metallic cylinder rolled out into her hand. For the first time in a long while she felt hope.
The red dress she wore was slit up the left leg almost to her waist. Sleeveless, she work long white gloves that ended just above her elbows.
The ballroom was filled with all facets of the military complex from scientists and soldiers to senators and money pushers. The event was half social, half awards and always full time business. Groups of soldiers, politicians, businessmen and women stood around talking everything from sports news to war news.
The lights were dimmer than normal, but bright enough to see everyone there. Sam looked across the big room as she slowly wandered in. A group of four stood near an hor’derves table off to the left side. He was one of them.
Sam sauntered across the ballroom to him. She felt eyes from all over fall on her as she made her way to him. He stood near a few others talking, his back still mostly her her. Right before she got to him he took a martini from a nearby waitress.
Sam walked into his view, which interrupted what he was saying. She took the martini and sipped it. He looked her, confused but intrigued.
“Do I know you?” he asked.
“Not yet,” Sam replied, handing him back his drink.
“Max,” he said. “Max Hodges.”
“I was warned about you, Max Hodges. And here I pick you out of this whole crowd.”
“Warned about me?”
“You have a reputation, it would seem,” Sam said, giving him a coy look.
“And what part of my reputation do you mean?”
“How about the part where you buy me a drink?” Sam said. Max smiled and turned to the men he had been talking to.
“Some other time, gentlemen?” He said. Max extended his arm, and Sam took it and they went to the bar.
“You never told me your name,” Max said as they waited for the bartender to bring Sam a drink.
“Samantha,” she said.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Samantha,” Max said.
The party went on well into the night. Sam stayed by Max’s side as they talked, first near the bar, then in a table near the piano player. Hodges was telling her a story about being a boy on the south side of New Chicago. He held his glass in one hand as he spoke, and despite his gestures, didn’t spill a thing. Sam’s index finger traced the rim of her wine glass as she listened, smiling, brightly and honestly, as the tale of boyhood antics was told from its seemingly impossibly lucky protagonist.
“And after that?” Sam asked.
“Well, isn’t obvious? I still don’t wear blue shirts.”
The two laughed. Sam took a drink of wine and caught Max looking at her as she did. She caught herself looking back.
The song changed on the piano. Slower, it was famous once many years ago. Max put down his drink and stood, extending his hand to Sam. She followed, putting down her drink and standing. He took her by her gloved hand and lead her to the dance floor. Gracefully he slid his arm around her waist; she wrapped her arms around his neck and the two began to dance.
“I think I might kiss you, Samantha,” Max said.
“You must remember this, A kiss is just a kiss,” Sam replied.
“Are you so sure?”
The door to Max’s hotel room closed behind them.
“Can I get you a night cap?” Max asked, going to the mini bar and grabbing a bottle of red wine and two glasses. He turned back to face her and paused. Sam had drawn her revolver from her purse and was pointing it dead center on Max.
“Well, this was unexpected,” Max said. “Is that a no to the wine?”
Sam started moving closer to him.
“I want your ID card,” she said.
Max’s shoulders slumped some.
“Of course,” he said, turning to put down the glasses. “Here I thought the beautiful lady was interested in me.” Sam took a closer step, brushing the barrel of the gun against Max’s side.
He looked at her. Their eyes locked in a stare for a moment.
“Damnit,” Sam said. “You were supposed to be a bastard.”
“I think that is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me,” Max said.
Sam grabbed his coat with her free hand and pulled him into a kiss. After a few moments, she let the gun drop to the floor.
Sunlight passed through the smog filled morning air putting a single piece of golden light across Sam’s face. Max, now fully dressed, sat at the end of the bed, his back to her. Sam stirred, awakening. She sat up, holding the sheet over her naked body.
“Is the Falcon really that important to you?” he said.
“Yes,” Sam simply replied.
Max held up his ID badge in his right hand, but still did not turn to face her when she took it.
“I am sorry, Max,” she said.
He stood, grabbed his coat. Only when he was at the door did he turn to look at her.
“Don’t go tonight, they will expect it. There will be extra guards in the Falcon room and the Gargoyles will have moved to a different location to keep them separated.”
“I have no interest in the Gargoyles,” Sam interjected. “Only the Falcon.”
“Go at lunchtime, there will be too many people there for them to notice someone who doesn’t belong. Once you access the Falcon you’ll get about five minutes before security has the place on lockdown.”
Sam stood up, dragging the sheet with her. Max tried to look away, but wasn’t able. She ran her hand along his cheek before kissing him.
“Thank you, Max,” she said.
Max started to reply, but swayed and had to use the door for support. The world started spinning and blurry. He looked up at Sam.
“I’m sorry, Max. It is better this way though. It will look like I used you and drugged you.”
Sam looked into his eyes as he slumped to the floor. She kissed him one last time as he fell unconscious.
Preparation for the day only took an hour. The primary issue was carefully updating the picture on Max’s ID with one of her own. At close inspection, the ruse would be revealed. Sam wasn’t planning on being in that long.
Max had been right about lunchtime. The main building was a flurry of activity as the employees took their meal break. Sam wore a business suit, her hair combed back and small rimmed glasses. The briefcase she carried had the tools she would need to get to the Falcon.
Through the throngs of people, Sam made her way to the first of the security doors. A swipe of Max’s ID card, the door light changed from red to yellow to green and Sam entered the other part of the building. The demeanor changed from a busy office space to a more sterile environment.
Sam passed a few other workers, but no one spoke and Sam ignored them. She walked with the air of someone who was where they were supposed to be. The hallway was filled with the sound of her heels on the floor. Her card opened the elevator door and she hit the button for the top floor without hesitation. Plans for this building had not been easy to come by, or cheep, but had proven to be highly accurate.
The top floor was even quieter than the lower ones. Sam again walked down the hallways with a purpose. In less than five minutes the Falcon would be hers.
The containment room that housed the Falcon and the Gargoyles was the only door with guards. One stood on each side, straight backed and unmoving. Neither turned to look at Sam as she approached.
Sam ran her ID over the card reader and the light changed to green. One of the guards looked at her a moment.
“We’ll be moving the package early,” Sam said quietly. “More guards will be here in a few minutes.”
“We didn’t hear…” one started.
“Of course you didn’t,” Sam said, stepping inside. “And there is a reason for that.”
The door closed behind her and Sam took a deep sigh. That should buy her a few moments; she hoped that they would be enough.
In the center of the room was the containment machine. It was a pedestal with a glass bell that lowered over it. There were displays nearby as well as a mass of tentacle like wires and tubes that descended from the ceiling and attached all over the device.
The Gargoyles were lined up along one of the walls. They were as black as obsidian, grotesque shaped. No two of them looked the same, yet they were all obviously the same thing. Sam gave them a look, but did not dare touch them. She knew what they were.
The Falcon sat under a glass case on the far wall. Unlike its counterparts, it was golden, sleek smoothed lines. Its eyes stared forward, piercing but strong.
Sam pulled out the sonic screwdriver. A few moments on each of the restrains and the case around the Falcon came off. She placed the screwdriver back in her pocket and carefully, using both hands, lifted up the Falcon. That would set off the alarm downstairs.
Sam placed the Falcon on the containment machine. She could already hear the guards outside trying to get in. She flipped the first switch which lowered the glass casing down to the floor. She flipped the final switch on the control panel and the display went to green. Electricity shot out of the top of the glass bell, focusing like lightning onto the falcon. The small statue began to glow and it was bombard with energy.
The door started to open.
“Not yet,” Sam whispered, turning. The door opened all the way and the guards started to enter. Without hesitation Sam pulled her revolver from her pocket and shot both of them.
She turned back to the case. The falcon was growing now, changing. No longer was it a statuette of a bird, rather it stretched into the shape of a man. Transformation complete, he stood in the center of the bell jar, eyes closed and unmoving. Sam’s eyes filled with tears as she saw him.
Slowly he opened his eyes. As the world came into focus he saw Sam standing in front of him. She was looking at him as someone who has been gone a long time. He reached on hand out and put it on the glass.
Sam reached over and hit the display, but instead of opening the glass it beeped. Still not completed, it told her.
“Almost done, Doctor,” she said. The words were muffled through the glass, but he had an idea of what she said.
The sound he did hear clearly was a gunshot. Sam fell forward onto the glass. She turned to face the door, pulling her revolver. She shot the first guard dead, but the second fired twice more hitting her in the abdomen. Sam fired again, striking the officer in this shoulder. He dropped his gun as she slumped down the glass.
The Doctor saw the red starting to spread on her back. He pounded the glass, looking for a way to open it.
The officer held his arm and his own blood started to flow. He was not dressed as the others, instead he wore a uniform that the Doctor had seen before deep in the earth in Virginia. He looked up at the Doctor, but only for a moment, before moving to the Gargoyles. He swiped four of them in his good arm and turned to leave the room. There was another shot and the officer stumbled forward, falling through the door. His leg now being covered with the dark red.
The display beeped, and went from red to green. The glass bell opened upwards, freeing the Doctor from his prison. He leapt from the pedestal down to the floor kneeling at Sam’s side.
Her breathing was quick, deep and erratic. Her eyes were fading and she could no longer hold her revolver.
“I’m here,” the Doctor said. His voice was steady, but his hands were trembling.
“You… have to … stop him,” Sam said, looking at the Doctor. “You have to stop… the Keeper. You have to save us all, Doctor.”
Sam reached up and placed the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver into his coat pocket. She then grabbed his lapel and pulled him close, kissing him. She had time for one last smile before her life faded from her eyes.
“No.. no no no…” the Doctor mumbled, checking her vital signs.
He turned to look, but the officer was gone. He stood, pulling the sonic screwdriver from his pocket.
The direction in the hallway was self evident; the blood from the Officer’s wounds led the way. The Doctor set out after the man, an aura of darkness filling the space around him.
Two guards rounded the corner and nearly ran into him. Without losing focus on his target, the Doctor grabbed the first one by the gun and and threw him into the other. The two slammed against the wall and fell to the floor.
The officer was at the end of the hallway fighting with a door. He looked up at the Doctor who was heading straight for him.
There was a beep and the door opened. The wounded man fumbled with the Gargoyles and entered. The door closed behind him.
The Doctor aimed his screwdriver at the control panel. At first it beeped but then returned to red. He aimed it again, upping the power. The control panel beeped, sparked and blew out from the wall. The door opened.
Inside the Officer had pulled himself into one of the same escape pods the Doctor had seen before. He made eye contact with the Doctor as the door closed. It started its teleportation sequence. The Doctor raised his screwdriver and aimed. There was an audible pop from the pod’s door before it faded from view.
Again the sound was dangerously familiar.
In a different place, in a different time, the escape pod reappeared in a secure building. A figure stood surrounded by guards watching as it reappeared. He wore a dark black environmental suit that covered his entire form. Piping connected arm and leg sections to a collection of cylinders on the back. The helmet he wore was smooth and featureless. Anyone who stood too close would feel an electric field around him.
The pod came into view; the front door sat open.
The guards moved forward, first aiming their rifles inside, then inspecting the pod.
Inside lay the corpse of the officer. His body was ancient, mummified. He had a look of horror on the remains of his face. There were claw marks on the inside of the pod and on the body. None of the Gargoyles remained.
It was raining outside; somewhere in the midst of the thunder and lightening Mistress Katherine heard a knock on the door. She wrapped her robe around her as she descended the main stairwell. Leonard had emerged from his room to the side holding a cricket mallet in one hand. Katherine dismissed him to one side. The cubs were close behind, she knew.
There was another rumble of thunder as she opened the door.
He stood tall and stoic, his face calm, but frozen. His eyes were red and unfocused. He held her in his arms tenderly. She was wrapped in his coat, her head resting against his shoulder. Dark spots of red stained his shirt, his coat, his face. The rain poured down on him.
Some recognition came to his eyes and he looked at Katherine. He opened his mount to speak but stopped and closed it again.
Katherine stepped out into the rain, taking the Doctor by one of his arms and leading him inside.
“Blankets,” she simply said. One of the cubs scurried off, becoming visible as she did. The other faded into view, slumped on the floor near the Doctor.
It was still raining the next day as they buried Samantha. All the members of Katherine’s home were there.
After the ceremony, the rest of the viewers left, leaving the Doctor alone at the head of her grave. He stood, still unfocused.
“She is dead because of me,” he said aloud.
“She was alive because of you,” Katherine said behind him. “You saved her life in the first minutes you met her, took her on an adventure most could only dream about and you brought her home. Just as you promised.”
Katherine took the Doctor’s arm, but he did not look away from the headstone.
“She lived because of you, Doctor.”
They stood in silence for a moment.
“Come on, you’ll catch your death of cold,” Katherine said.
“Yes Mistress,” the Doctor said softly as she lead him back to the house.