Chapter Five

As they neared the building, the Doctor noticed something peculiar about it. It had HUMAN SPOOK HOUSE above the front door in big white letters but the outside was decorated oddly for a haunted house. Instead of bats or skeletons or zombies, there were colorful birds all over the building. Birds in flight, birds pecking at the ground and then suddenly he came to an understanding when he saw a robin on the side of the building. The robin was holding a lizard by the tail in its beak. He realized that even though the haunted house was based on human ones, they still featured things that would scare the Sissshak. The Doctor said this to Khassstra and he nodded.

"When we were on Earth, we observed birds while they ate and noticed some seemed to have a voracious appetite for lizards. We were horrified at first since we figured these primitive lizards were genetic relatives but we realize that these lizards don't have the same level of sentience that we do. Still…we have horror films that feature giant birds attacking our people. They're quite popular. So I apologize in advance since the spook house has giant birds in it and I know those are not horrifying to you."

"Nah, it all depends on what you lot did to make the bird scary," the Doctor said. "If presented right, a bird can be just as scary as a monster."

They reached the front door, a wooden door painted black. Khassstra opened it and they went inside. The lighting was dim and there were moans, groans and bird chirps. On either side of them was a simulated forest with limbs that jutted out over their heads. They were supposed to go through the center of the artificial forest but they could barely see the way.

Amy smirked when she saw the Doctor put his arm around River's shoulder.

"Remember, Melody, no means no," Amy said.

"Will you shut your trap?" the Doctor said, looking over his shoulder while River giggled.

"Just making sure a lush like you doesn't corrupt my daughter," Amy said.

"Ha!" the Doctor barked while River laughed harder. "Oh, that's hilarious, Pond. I think you're looking at your daughter with rose colored glasses on," he said over his shoulder while they followed Khassstra through the fake forest.

Suddenly, an animatronic robin came out of the trees beside the Doctor. It's head fell forward and it opened its mouth and bellowed "CHEEP!" in the Doctor's ear. Amy roared with laughter when the Doctor gasped and staggered back while the robot robin opened and closed its bloody beak.

"Oh, that was brilliant," Amy said while the Doctor gave her a dirty look. "The Oncoming Storm afraid of a robot bird. That alone was worth the trip in here."

"Keep running your gob, Pond, and I'll shove your body into the animatronic bird," the Doctor said.

They walked on as the bird reset itself inside the forest. There were a few hologram ghosts floating throught the trees, moaning and groaning while the ends of their sheet-like bodies rippled. They passed one set of trees that had huge lizards crawling all over them. The lizards were dressed in their skeleton outfits and they hissed at the Doctor and his friends as they passed by. The Doctor gave them a once over and confirmed that they were real Sissshak and not robots. Then another bird robot came out of the trees and bellowed a chirp at them but this time the Doctor was ready for it. He patted what the bluebird on the head while they passed and the bird reset itself in the trees. While they walked, the Doctor looked back at Amy for a moment before resting his hand on River's ass and patting it. Amy let out a mock gasp of indignation.

"Lecherous dog!" she said to the Doctor.

"Paranoid In-law," the Doctor retorted while River giggled. "I believe I married this woman which means she's mine to do with as I please, so there!"

Amy ran up and snatched his fedora off his head. She exchanged it for her witch's hat and put his fedora on her head.

"So there," she said while she caught up with Rory.

The Doctor tilted the witch's hat on his head to a jaunty angle before he took River's hand. They walked through the forest, viewing jack-o-lanterns, fake corpses, ghosts and more birds before Khassstra stopped them on the outskirts of the fake forest. There was a large perspex case beside the fake forest that was big enough to accommodate two people. The front half of the case was visible but the second half was covered by black paint.

"This is a holographic fear projector," Khassstra said to them. "If you go inside, a machine will scan your memories and project a hologram of one of your deepest fears in front of you. The black paint obscures the fear from view since not everyone wants their fear to be shown. Is anyone interested in this?"

"Go on, Doctor, show us how brave you really are," Amy teased.

"Why not you, Pond?" the Doctor said. "Aren't you the big, bad Amelia Pond? Show us how brave you are."

"I'll do it if you do it," Amy said.

The Doctor looked at Khassstra.

"Can two people be in this thing at the same time?" he asked him.

"Yes, I believe so," Khassstra replied.

"Come along, Pond, face your fear," the Doctor said, beckoning to her.

"Are we betting on this one as well?" Amy asked.

"No, we're merely going to step inside and see our worst fears," the Doctor said.

"After you," Amy said.

Khassstra opened a door on the uncovered side of the case and they stepped in together. He closed it and they looked out the Perspex while Khassstra stepped back until he was beside River and Rory. Amy frowned when she heard a humming sound coming from inside the box.

"What's that noise?" she said to the Doctor.

"Scanning us, I imagine," the Doctor said.

In front of them was the blacked out area of the box. They couldn't see anything there while the humming continued but then the humming stopped and there was an eerie silence. Then a white mist appeared in the covered side of the box. It formed into a giant cobra and Amy gasped as it hissed and lunged at her.

"Really? You're afraid of snakes?" the Doctor said, bemused.

"I had a cousin that went to India and ended up dead from a cobra bite," Amy said. "It happened when I was four and since then I've had this fear I'd end up the same way."

"So…don't take you where cobras could bite you, got it," the Doctor said as the image dissolved back into mist.

The humming began again.

"I'm guessing I'm being scanned now," the Doctor said to her.

"What's yours gonna be, a dalek?" Amy said.

"Perhaps, perhaps not. I've seen many horrifying things in my travels," the Doctor said with a shrug.

The humming stopped and the mist appeared again. The mist formed an image of two people, a man and a woman. The woman was strapped to a table and the man was standing behind her. As the image became clearer, Amy realized she had seen the woman before when she asked the TARDIS to show her photos of the women that had traveled with the Doctor. The woman had long blonde hair and was young and slim. Her eyes were closed and she looked unconscious. The man was tall and gangly with tousled brown hair. The man was looking at them with cold eyes and an evil smirk on his face. Amy looked to the Doctor for an explanation and was shocked when she saw the anguished look on his face. She gently took his arm and the Doctor looked at her.

"Doctor, who are these people?" Amy said. "That woman was one of the women I saw when the TARDIS showed me women who traveled with you but who is the man?"

"Me. The man is me. My previous life," the Doctor said softly while his eyes were riveted to the image in front of them. "The woman is called Rose. She was…my girlfriend…before I met River."

"What are you doing to her?" Amy said.

"Experimenting on her, changing her into me," the Doctor said after swallowing hard.

"What? Into you? You mean like Time Lord," Amy said, confused.

"No. Something worse," the Doctor said in a hushed voice.

"Doctor, tell me what this means," Amy said, suddenly afraid. "Is this something that could happen to me as well?"

"No!" the Doctor said emphatically. "Not to you or Rory or River. Never would I do anything like this to you," he said, pointing to the hologram.

"Then why is your past self doing it?" Amy said.

"It's…a possible future," the Doctor said. "One I try with all my hearts to avoid."

"Changing us into Time Lords?" Amy said.

"No, making you evil…like me," the Doctor said.

"What? You're not evil," Amy said.

The Doctor lowered his eyes and Amy, now frightened, shook her head.

"No, you're not evil, Doctor. This…fear of yours could never happen," she said, pointing to the fading hologram.

"But it could happen to someone else," the Doctor said. "Rose is trapped in another universe with another version of me, a clone that I gave to her because I couldn't be with her as a human. That version of me is half human and could grow old with her. But…I kept thinking I made a mistake and left her with someone who could be twisted by human emotions and greed and she ends up paying the price for it someday. It's…just a silly fear, Amy. That's all this thing is, showing you one of your deepest fears and fears often turn out to be unfounded."

Amy could tell he was saying this more for his benefit than for hers. It frightened her, this vision of his, even more than the cobra. To think that her best friend and son in law could turn on the people he cared about and corrupt them chilled her to the bone. The hologram was gone now so Amy urged her friend to come out of the box. The Doctor smiled tenderly at her, put his arm around her and kissed her cheek before the two of them opened the door behind them and stepped outside.

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