Dreams of Shansheeth
It was happening again. The sound wasn’t so much a weeping, as a moaning or a wailing.
A keen feeling of sadness was all-pervading.
There was a weird stench in the air. The sky was brown but burning, perhaps reflecting the lava-featured landscape surrounding the valley.
The battlefield hadn’t been cleared of the dead. It had been converted into an enormous graveyard.
The burials already stretched as far as the eye could see, with their distinctive headstones.
Even the unknown soldiers were afforded the luxury of a lead-lined coffin.
The services were being conducted by the Shansheeth, Intergalactic Undertakers who looked like priestly vultures.
The Wide Wing of the High Shansheeth Nest had sent the very best Funeral Fleets.
They’d come in search of slain heroes and had agreed to put the deceased to rest.
Funeral after funeral after funeral… The services consisted of the playing of ‘The Cradle of the Lost Chord‘, a sort of musical reminder played on harp-like instruments. The Shansheeth claws plucked away, and the memories were reawakened. So; deeply spiritual memorials, remembering the deceased, followed by the actual burials.
A mass service was never on the cards… It might seem more practical, but the honouring of each individual would remain… individual. Great time and effort was given to each unique loss.
A further tinge of grief was added by the fact that the heroes’ side had lost the battle.
Died and lost. Irreplaceable. Only a void where they should be, by rights. How would life play out now, without them?
The Universe shivered.
Everything went black and there was a lurch – like a zero-gravity forward roll.
Then he was there. The cold secret. He just stood there, unwavering as the whole of Hell flickered behind his eye. Unnerving. Content to be broken.
Clyde awoke in a cliché of cold sweat.
The bed was empty. Of course. Rani was away on her Journalist Work Experience thingy.
The flat was sort of tidy for a student residence, despite lots of nick-naks. Clyde looked around the room, registering the familiar furniture of his surroundings. The drawing board, the his n hers PCs, and his laptop with ‘The Dark Crystal’ blu-ray next to it. Rani’s pinboards. Clyde’s artwork. His scanner. The phones.
The souvenirs. Not the empty beer cans and wine bottles of many a ‘young ones’ home. But rather; strange bits of rock, fragments of bizarre armour, some jars of pink goo, a stack of triple-deadlocked luggage, and the like…
He was wide awake. He knew that he really was home & that he was safe. That the dream was a dream. You had to know when to take a bad dream seriously and when to laugh it off. It could be a matter of life or death, or merely one of saving your sanity.
Strange dreams weren’t a rarity in Clyde’s life. Only a couple of years ago he was living a different life. The time of dealing with Aliens (with a capital A). He’d had dreams and nightmares about them all. Some especially bad ones about the Giant Spiders, and also the Ha’rik, and of course the Trickster, before his final destruction. Then of course there was that old one about the Giant Beetle and the Moon Judoon and everyone suffocating to death. But this particular nightmare was in a league of it’s own…..
So actually, no… He didn’t feel safe. The despair was even stronger than last time. A recurring nightmare…
Thankfully Clyde didn’t see himself as a prophet, haunted by visions of the future. Usually.
This time he was more than worried. He’d lost count of how many times he’d dreamt this.
He instantly confirmed that this was not a guilt thing. Not an ‘I don’t save the day much any more… Tsk! Tsk!’ thing. It was just how life had played out. He was fine with himself. He was even fine with Manchester. He missed his Mum’s cooking though, even though he was quite a good cook himself. More than that, he missed his Mum.
He looked over at his drawing board. He gazed at the comic strip artwork clipped to it. He saw and remembered that he’d been drawing the Shansheeth the day before. It didn’t calm him. He didn’t assume that the drawing had spurred on the dream. He perceived an affirmation of prophecy. The creative process often did that. Usually in little ways.
He’d met the Shansheeth before. They were real! It was during the last time he saw The Doctor. The bunch they’d met were a renegade lot who’d lost the plot. They’d wanted to steal the Doctor’s TARDIS and stop death! Death itself. Not entirely practical, but he could now understand…
Anyway, the gang had ‘Kentucky-Fried’ that rebel lot. But apparently, your orthodox Shansheeth is thoroughly decent. They weren’t the scary bit of the dream, though…
Clyde was struck again by the truth – the obvious cause of his visions. He didn’t want to dwell on it. That the first time he’d met the Doctor, he’d touched the TARDIS and been given Artron Energy. That had enabled the Doctor to body swap back and forth with Clyde across the Universe the time they’d met the Shansheeth! There had been no obvious lingering mental link to the Doctor or the TARDIS since. Other than this…
This strange connection. He’d told no one about the nightmare. Only his laptop, which was in reality The Xylok Subset. Clyde had confided in ‘Junior Smith’ about his visions, but the laptop had no answers. All it could do was to promise to keep the secret and to monitor the Temporal-Spatial Fabric for any approaching danger. So there was nothing to be done. And Clyde didn’t want to burden anyone else. Share the doom? Na!
He diverted his mind back to the strip he’d been drawing. He chuckled internally at the crazy idea about a leaf as a symbol for a key to a solution. How did he come up with that? Why?
The diversion had wiped the stress in Clyde’s head. Then he peered over at an old comic page, a splash panel he’d done from a few years ago that sat next to the drawing board. It too had a Shansheeth on it. And over it’s feathers the caption read: ‘The Shansheeth are waiting. But for what? Or who…?’
Clyde Langer sat perfectly still as the hot tears poured down his cheeks…