Chapter 14

Running for the other side of the bridge the Doctor's feet pounded the cobblestones. Amy and Rory ran for their lives. Yet, the mob of thugs kept closing fast behind them. An unhealthy yellow fog reeking of coal-fire smoke slowly crept its way over the city. So thick was it, that it began to smother London Bridge. The Doctor suddenly pulled up short. Out of the encroaching premature darkness, another band of unsavory looking men had appeared. These newcomers were quite effectively blocking the Doctor's escape route off of the bridge.

Amy coughed on the turgid night air. Only minutes ago, the tranquil evening sky had been fair and clear. The fog and damp, foul atmosphere had seemingly appeared as if by magic. She looked wildly around. However, there seemed to be no way out of their predicament. They were trapped! One band of thugs, their hulking forms mere shadows in the yellow murk, were herding the Doctor and his friends towards the other men. Amy suddenly knew what cattle being sent into an abattoir must feel like.

Strangely, the Doctor didn't seem the least bit disturbed by their abrupt and unfortunate downturn of luck. In fact, he was grinning like a child about to be given a sack full of boiled sweets.

"This is so not good!" Rory sighed, putting his arms protectively around Amy's shoulders. On getting a snootful of her parfum du sewáge, he made a face and quickly removing his hands, stood slightly downwind of his wife. Shooting a guilty, sheepish look at Amy, Rory asked, "Now what, Doctor?"

"Oh, I imagine I'll think of something...given time." He shrugged, casually jamming his hands in his jacket pockets and watching the thugs slowly closing a circle around them. The Doctor behaved as if they were stranded on a motorway with a puncture, instead of being in real danger of getting shot or bludgeoned to death. Or both.

"I hope by 'time' you mean sometime within the next thirty seconds, Doctor." Amy said dryly.

"Yes Amy, time." The Doctor sniffed indignantly. "And to be more accurate, I'd say we have something like four minutes and thirty-nine seconds before those nasty gentlemen come to grips with us." Taking his hands out of his jacket pockets, he smiled and pointed at the bridge like a tour guide. "In the meantime, why don't you take a moment to enjoy being on one of the truly great landmarks of the early twentieth century, hmmm—?"

"Oh sure. Great. Ye olde London Bridge. Lovely. I'll buy a post card later and give it to my mum. If I live to see her again, that is." Amy replied shortly.

"It is lovely, isn't it?" The Doctor nodded eagerly in agreement, either oblivious to the sarcasm or choosing to ignore it. "I was saying so to Rory earlier. All the artwork in the world simply doesn't do this bridge justice. You have to see it up close to truly appreciate it."

"Yeah, Doctor. Especially with all of this beautiful fog to hide it." Amy coughed, waving tendrils of yellow mist away from her face.

"I think I can help with that." He said, palming his sonic screwdriver.

The Doctor sonicked two gas lamps, first one behind them and then one across the road. In each, a flame instantly sputtered to life. The lamps barely lightened the gloom of the insalubrious atmosphere, which gathered itself around them like a woolly, damp cloak. Still, however dim, their glow was a welcome beacon of civilization in a world reverting to the barbarians.

"There!" The Doctor chortled, spinning in glee, "That's more like it! Let there be light!" He stopped spinning and admired his handiwork, spreading his arms wide and quoting reverently, "'Those posts of magic light, blessed lamps of ceaseless mystery are there, are there to light the trampers and the holes that might be fear.'"

"'Light and Fog: London'. It's a poem by Lorna Green, young American woman from Vermont." The Doctor rattled off, "Well, she hasn't written the poem yet. She will, though. About a dozen years from now. Marvelous girl! I think she had a crush on my companion, Bernice. The three of us had a splendid picnic on top of Mount Ascutney. Lorna made the best deviled eggs and fried chicken I'd ever tasted. Afterwards, I took her to see Ramses riding his chariot before the walls of Kadesh."

"Is that your plan, then?" Amy asked incredulously. "You're going to spout poetry at those blokes until they fall asleep?" She shook her head at Rory, rolling her eyes.

He too, looked more than a little dubious. "I know you're over nine hundred years old, Doctor. But I didn't think you were going potty...until now." Rory said. Then he cocked his head, pondering, "Or are you deliberately planning on making them think you're crazy? Maybe they won't want to harm a lunatic?"

Ignoring their remarks, the Doctor stared intently at the gas lamp across the road. Its light was slowly being suffocated in the choking gloom. Nevertheless, to him the fading circular glow shone like a halo of hope in the melancholy night.

"Judging by how fast it's come in," the Doctor frowned, "I'd say this fog isn't entirely a natural weather phenomena. The Eternals could show the Nazi's a thing or two about intimidation tactics. Actually they did, come to think of it."

"That Black Guardian chap is making things rather difficult for us, Doctor." Rory agreed, squinting through the fog at their would be assailants and wishing he had his trusty Roman sword. He'd show those thugs a thing or two.

"The who?" Amy asked.

"No, no! Not 'The Who'! They haven't been born yet. Pay attention, Pond." The Doctor said, tearing his eyes away from the lamp post. "The Black Guardian is the man you saw in the portrait." He explained. "He's an old enemy of mine. Probably still upset over that whole Key to Time thing...and losing The Great Race...and..." the Doctor swallowed looking suddenly uncomfortable, "... that incident with the cream pie on Metabellis One." He shook his head mournfully. "Sad to say that with the exception of Captain Jack, immortal beings have absolutely no sense of humour whatsoever. I'm telling you Amy, that whole living forever thing is such a drag. I have no clue why anyone would want to do it. That's why I'm glad I'm merely a Time Lord. Love a good laugh, me."

Despite the murky weather, the Doctor, Amy and Rory could clearly see their opponents now. Silently gathering around them were a dozen men of various shapes and sizes, from beefy middleaged bruisers to slim young men with builds like jockeys. All of them garbed in ragged, dirty clothing, slowly they advanced, relentlessly forming an ever-tightening circle around the Doctor and his friends. Some hefted clubs and cosh's weighted with lead shot, others possessed knives. A few had pistols gripped in their hands. One enormous bald, gap-toothed fellow was brandishing an ax. When that fellow leered nastily at Amy, she felt herself give an involuntary shudder.

"OK, this is looking rather grim." Rory said unnecessarily. "What are we going to do now, Doctor? I mean, you do have a plan, don't you?"

"Let the nice thugs talk to us, have a little chit-chat. Exchange biscuit recipes, gossip about the Royals, trade tips on breaking and entering, ask them if they've seen the latest West End musical, and then get them to tell me all their plans so I can foil them. You know," the Doctor said flippantly, unconsciously waving about his hands for emphasis, "the usual thing."

"Why don't you pretend we're sightseers and ask them to take our photo while you're at it?" Amy asked sarcastically, staring at the Doctor as if he'd finally gone round the bend.

"Hold on, Amy. I think I get it. He wants them to take us to the Black Guardian." Rory suggested.

Beaming at Rory the Doctor spun around, pointing both fingers at him. "Exactamun...oh no. I don't like that word anymore, do I? Bad, bad word. Well, not 'dirty' bad, but...what was I saying? Oh yes! Rory! My brilliant Mr. Pond! I knew there was a reason I let you keep him in the TARDIS, Amy. Sharp as the proverbial tack, our Rory."

"'Our' Rory?" Amy gave her husband an affectionate nudge. "My Rory, Doctor. And don't you forget it!" She said with mock sterness, waggling a finger at him. And he has to be in the TARDIS. I don't go anywhere without my boys."

"Hold on a tick." Rory said suddenly disconcerted. "That makes us sound like your pets."

"Well, you are cute and cuddly and great at fetching things." Amy teased. Then she caught a glimpse of the ax bloke again. He was so close now she could see a jagged red scar running across his stubbly right cheek. "Doctor," She asked, "What if they don't want to take us to their leader? What if they just want to kill us and chuck our bodies off the bridge?"

"I've gotta' say that I don't really fancy a bath right now, Doctor. Though Amy could certainly use one." Rory said, quickly ducking away before his wife could jab him in the ribs.

"Er—sorry. But I'm afraid that's exactly what you're going to have to do, you two. The Thames isn't too terribly cold this time of year. You shouldn't have any worries about hypothermia." The Doctor said apologetically.

"What!" Amy and Rory both exclaimed.

"No way, Doctor. You'd better not be thinking what I think you're thinking." Amy said, with a worried frown creasing her face.

"Have you gone completely bonkers? That's one helluva' drop, Doctor. We'll both be killed!" Rory protested, casting a frightened glance at the bridge railing behind them.

"I've been slowly manuvering us towards the end of the bridge. It's not that far down from there. I wouldn't ask you to do this, if I didn't thought you wouldn't survive the fall." The Doctor said encouragingly. "Besides. The Black Guardian wants you dead. He wants me alive to watch you die. I won't let that happen. Amy. Rory. You must trust me," He whispered affectionately, drawing them closer to him, "here's what I need you to do..."

Across the road, a bearded man in a torn and dirty frock coat and scruffy top hat was taking careful aim with his pistol. It was pointing directly at Rory's chest. Closer in, one of the thugs approached them. It was the ax man. Smiling evilly, he hefted the weapon over his head.

Amy, instead of shrinking back from him, smiled alluringly, lifting up her skirt to show off one leg. The big bald-headed man wavered slightly, the ax wobbling, stopped dead in the course of its swing over his head.

The Doctor used the momentary distraction to palm his sonic screwdriver and point it at the lamp post on the opposite side of the road. With a quick burst of humming noise from the sonic, the gas within the lamp post exploded violently. An gout of flame roared upwards lending the yellow fog an eerie glow. The sleeve of the thug pointing a pistol at Rory caught fire. Screaming in terror, the man threw himself off of the bridge.

The bald man yelped with surprise. He dropped his ax and ran for his life. Others in the circle of thugs scattered, running every which way, screaming incoherently in their fear of further explosions. Others, the toughest of the lot, stayed put. Still, even they backed off from the Doctor and his strange wand thing that could make street lamps explode.

Waiting until he was certain the way was clear, the Doctor turned and called out to his friend. "Now! Go! Jump!"

Amy and Rory scrambled up on top of the wall at the end of the bridge. "It's still a long drop, Doctor!" A Rory said through gritted teeth.

"Don't look down then, Rory." Amy said, closing her eyes, taking a breath and gripping Rory's hand.

Together, they jumped. "Geronimo!" Amy yelled on the way down, mimicking the Doctor. There was a spash, and then they disappeared under the fog shrouded waters of the Thames.

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