Chapter One

"Here we are, Benny's Pet Shoppe, the largest pet shop in three galaxies," the Doctor said to Rose as they came outside the TARDIS.

Rose gasped. Across the street from them was a humongous store that stretched on for miles. Rose tried to see the ends of the rectangular, white plaster building but she couldn't spot the corners. She walked to the side of the TARDIS and looked behind it. She saw a pub and a small grocery store. Both looked tiny compared to the pet shop.

"So, are you shopping for a pet?" Rose said to the Doctor while he closed and locked the TARDIS door.

"No, we're just looking, got that?" the Doctor said. "Don't get all wubbly about a puppy and try to talk me into taking it. We're just looking!"

"Okay, we're looking, I got it!" Rose said.

The Doctor took her hand and they walked across the street. They entered a set of glass double doors and Rose's mouth dropped open. There were display cases stretching as far as the eye could see, all filled with exotic animals, young and old.

"How do you see everything?" Rose said to the Doctor.

The Doctor led her to a teleport platform and pointed to it.

"These are scattered around the building. You can go to any section you want. You get on and say aloud what animal you want or say random if you're just browsing."

"But how d'ya know what animals are in here?" Rose said.

The Doctor led her over to a long table by the front doors. There were several computers on top of it and a young blonde woman and a green skinned alien were using two of them. The Doctor walked up to an unoccupied one and pointed to the screen.

"This is a search engine if you're looking for a specific animal," he said. "Um…let's say you want a vorga. You type Vorga in the search box and hit enter."

"What's a vorga?" Rose said.

"It's a bit like a rat, only pit bull sized."

"What? Why would anyone want that?"

"Why would anyone want tarantulas for pets?" the Doctor challenged.

"Good point," Rose said.

"Here we go, vorgas are located in area 57, section B. You tell the teleport you wanna go to those coordinates and hey presto, you're there."

"Do they have Earth animals?" Rose asked.

"Oh yes, they're considered very exotic," the Doctor said.

Rose thought for a moment and searched for yorkies.

"Area 13, section 7," the Doctor read when the results came up. "Wanna go there?"

"Nah, I was just trying it out. What do you recommend?"

"What are you interested in?"

"Um…something really weird! A great big, fantastical creature," Rose said.

The Doctor thought for a moment before he began typing. Rose watched while he typed in Sherhan and hit enter.

"What's that?" Rose said, pointing to the screen.

"You'll see. Let's see, Area 90, section G. Follow me."

They stepped up onto the teleport platform and Rose kept near the Doctor while he said aloud the coordinates. There was a flash and the Doctor took hold of her arms when Rose shook her head trying to shake off the dizzying effects of teleport travel.

"Disoriented?" he said.

"Yeah, a bit."

The Doctor helped her step down and stayed at her side while she recovered. When she felt better, he stepped away and walked over to a large display case made out of wood and Perspex glass. Beside the cases was a long metal pole with an intercom box on top of it. The Doctor pushed a big red button above a speaker mounted in the box while Rose came up beside him. The case was filled with white blobby creatures that rolled around on the Perspex floor.

"Why would anyone want these? They look like big balls of phlegm," Rose said.


Rose looked at the intercom box when a male's voice came from the speaker.

"Yes, we'd like to look at one of the Sherhans?" the Doctor said.

"Certainly, sir, be with you in a moment," the voice said.

"When you need assistance, look for one of these intercoms," the Doctor said, pointing to the box.

There was a flash and a bald young man with pale pink skin and red eyes appeared on the teleport platform. He was dressed in a white shirt, blue waistcoat, black trousers and black shoes. When he stepped off, Rose saw a pink lizard tail swish behind him.

"I am Gorsh. You wanted to see a Sherhan?" he said to the Doctor.

"Yes," the Doctor said.

They stepped aside when Gorsh pulled a small metal box out of his pocket. He aimed it at the Perspex wall in front of him and turned it on. A circular hole appeared in the center of it and he reached in and grabbed one of the Sherhans while they tried to flee him. He gave it to the Doctor and guarded the hole while the Doctor showed it to Rose.

"Looks like a big ball of snot," Rose said.

"It's a shape shifter. It does what parrots do and mimics but it mimics bodies instead of voices. That's why it's a glob with no definable characteristics. It hunts by assuming the form of its prey and luring it to them and then it pounces and absorbs the animal into its body," he said, pointing to it.

"And people want it as a pet?"

"Well, it's more like a conversation piece. It's not cuddly and soft like a puppy but…oh my…" the Doctor said when the creature suddenly shape shifted and formed a tiny version of Rose. "See? It mimics things around it."

"Okay, that's creepy. I think I'd give this thing a miss if I wanted a pet," Rose said.

The Doctor handed it back to Gorsh and the creature dissolved back into its blob form. Gorsh put it back, sealed up the hole and asked if they wanted to see anything else.

"Anything else capture your fancy around here, Rose?" the Doctor said.

Rose looked around. The creatures in the cases were all unfamiliar to her; all of them were just as bizarre as the Sherhans. Her eyes fell on a vine creature about twenty feet away and she walked towards it.

"It's a Bulgara Vine," the Doctor said, coming up behind her with Gorsh when she stopped at the case and peered in.

"What does it do?" Rose said, looking at Gorsh.

"It's incredibly dangerous, Miss," Gorsh said.

"It is? Why do you sell it then?"

"For the same reason some people purchase a tiger or a bear as a pet, Rose. It's exotic," the Doctor said.

"What makes it dangerous?" Rose asked.

"Wait a moment, Miss, I'll be right back."

Gorsh walked back to the teleport platform, got on it and vanished.

"Don't know what he's doing but in answer to your question, these creatures wrap themselves around their prey like boa constrictors and they hold them mobile while the leaves on their vines go into their minds and control them. They make them fantasize about other things while the vine keeps on wrapping itself around them. Once the vine is completely around the food source, it makes a tight cocoon and gastric juices fill up inside and break down the animal. Then the vine absorbs the juice and the remains through its skin. Takes about three days to fully feed."

"I wouldn't want that," Rose said, making a face.

Gorsh teleported back to them. He was carrying a large slab of meat attached to a wooden post. He walked over to the case, opened the top and lowered the post in. Before the post even reached the floor, the vine moved quickly and coiled around the meat, jerking the post out of his grasp. Gorsh quickly closed the top while Rose stared at the vine. The vine was slithering around the meat and she could see the leaves fluttering against it.

"It's trying to link itself into the mind. It's frustrated because it can't find anything and that's what the fluttering is about," the Doctor said.

"Do you own one, Sir?" Gorsh asked him.

"Nah, I just know about them. I'd never own anything this deadly."

Rose watched while the vine constricted and secured the meat to the post. It kept on coiling and was making the cocoon the Doctor described.

"It knows the flesh is dead, that's why it's going ahead and encasing it," Gorsh said.

Rose felt uneasy as she watched the vine encasing the meat. The Doctor glanced at her and put his arm around her back when he sensed she was uncomfortable.

"Want to go somewhere else then?" the Doctor said.

"Yeah, I've seen enough in this section," Rose said.

They thanked Gorsh and he told them to ask for him if they needed anything. He walked to the platform and vanished in a flash of light. As they were walking to the platform, Rose glanced back at the carnivorous vine and got the heebie jeebies when she saw it had formed the cocoon around the meat.

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