The security system was the best that had ever been created. Networked to a computer system that had infallibility programmed into its core programming, each room consisted of no less than six separate scanning camera ( all expertly hidden, naturally ). Each camera was then linked to the system, but independently from the others, so if one went down, that would be the only one that went down.
Eight concurrent back-up systems worked in total unison. A system cash would knock the whole set-up down for less than one-thousandth of a second, and then it would be up and running again. Escape and all its thesauri permutations were words long lost here. The perfect system of imprisonment that was totally and utterly impervious to any attempts to shatter its flawlessness.
The Governor spent three hours on the stand trying to explain to the judicial review body, selected to get to the bottom of this unspeakable breach of security, just how it was possible for all the cameras in one cell to be totally blanked for one minute, and how in that time, the light-covering electrification grid had been switched off and then restarted, only rewired to the frame-work of the cell door and how an escape had been made. But for all the facts he had at his disposal, a explanation, no matter how irrational, could not be found, by anyone.
ii) Dark side
The fog crept down, down and filled the concourses and alleyway, cascading over the street and disguising the chimney-soot blackened grotesque that was Victorian London.
The slums were alive - breathing, pulsating filth, ragged curtains over dirty windows, the grin houses packed to the rafters with the detritus of the town that formed the backbone of the industrial workforce of the city, feeding large families that had to compensate for the high infant mortality rate.
The noise and shouts from the public houses filled the night air. Hardly a soul moved on the street, beyond the odd brave rat edging from the stinking darkness to claim a prize from the rubbish and shit filled gutters.Another sound. A dragging sound...moving. Detaching itself from the darkness of the deserted alley came a figure of a man. His back was severely arched. his left arm hanging limply and lower than it should have. Saliva pooled at his bottom lip, spilling down the grimy shirt. Two dark eyes gave up nothing but twin flicking pinpoints of light as they flicked around the street, making sure that the way was clear so he could get across the cobbled road and back into the darkness of another backstreet alley opposite.
The scrape of glass on brick.
The figure scuttled back into the darkness, encapsulated by the shadows.
A young woman staggered up the road, her right hand holding a black shawl around her head and shoulders, her left holding a empty bottle that brushed the wall as she staggered up the street, the reek of cheap booze following her like a sickly perfume. She was laughing to herself, her wooden soled boots scraping along the cobbles as she made her way home.
The corner of her eye caught movement to her right. She turned slowly and squinted into the dark alleyway opposing her, trying to distinguish anything in the thick night. Tottering on wobbling legs, she walked over the road. There was someone watching her…
'Who's there?' she asked. A shuffle in the shadows. She smiled, yellowing teeth showing from behind cracked lips. 'Hello, dearie...' she mumbled to the figure she could make out, 'What you doing down there?' No reply. The moonlight caught the face for a second before the figure edged further back. She edged forward. 'Do you want me to show you a good time dearie?' she asked the silhouette. She peered forwards, stretching her neck to see...anything.
The blade came up quicker than she had ever seen anything move. In one fluid motion, her throat was open and blood coursed vividly and wildly down her dress, a thick gurgling screech trapped in her throat. She fell to her knees, the gin bottle on the ground, glass shards penetrating her face.
The one cut had killed her, but the blade came down again, again, and again Eviscerated, the cobble stones slick with a sticky tide, staining as the blood gushed between the stones.
Wiping the knife clean in the dead girl's hair, the figure continued his journey, the fog covering him and spiriting him away.
Cautiously, slowly, the rats came from the darkness to sniff the warm remnants of the omen, her insides out, their paws sticky in the crimson flood
Jeremiah Hardstaffe's bearded face cracked into a smile and his hands met each other with a thunderous clap. He turned to the door as his small assistant entered and shook his shoulder with enough vigour to almost dislocate it. 'Well, Morris me old son, we've got us a roaring little trade going here, ain't we?' he said, driving his hand deep into a large hessian sack and withdrawing it, dramatically allowing the handful of coins to fall back, one by one, chinking as they went, his deep laugh reverberating around the colourfully painted caravan.
Morris smiled weakly. 'I got something to tell you, Mr. Hardstaffe. It's about Jacko...'
The atmosphere froze with a sheen almost as palpable as the gloss of sweat forming across the smaller man's forehead. Hardstaffe's smile vanished.
'Where is he?' The question hung in the air, pregnant with anger, his face reddening with rage. 'Where is he??'
( Elsewhere, a gloved hand moved across an illuminated and highly sophisticated control panel. A voice, as rich and as smooth as silk, pawed the air. 'Do not concern yourself, Hardstaffe. The matter's in hand.' )
Hardstaffe paused, drew breath and noticeably calmed. ' 'ell be back, I suppose. He knows we got a show tonight.' He sat down heavily on a wicker costume basket, his back against a tatty edged poster for his own freak show. The bearded lady, the crocodile boy and other assorted unfortunates with no other means to support themselves - well, that was how Hardstaffe justified the travelling show to himself as he raked in a small fortune from town to town, handing over nothing sort of a pittance to the stars.
'But Jacko...he was different, there was something genuinely...odd about him.'
' 'ell be back. Mark my words, Morris.'
The early morning grey of the sky was slowly turning blue by the ascending sun, as it hauled itself over the horizon and began its slow climb to the summit of the infinite expanse. With it came another visitor to the cold territory, the shimmering shape of the TARDIS taking substance and becoming solid, the whining of the machine dying away and the flashing light on the roof halting itself.
The white glare of the TARDIS console room merged with the white Victorian ladies frock that hung from Peri's young body. She walked into the control room, whirling her skirts about her ankles as she came. 'What do you think? A good fit?' She didn't seem to notice a low repetitive "bleep" coming from the console.
The Doctor turned to her and winced, a look of despondency smudged across his face.
'What's wrong with it? I thought it looked kinda neat.'
The Doctor's expression didn't change. The look finally sunk in with Peril, who sat down heavily onto the floor of the time machine. 'If we aren't at the Crystal palace opening celebrations, where are we?'
The Doctor smiled wearily, raised his eyebrows and strode across to his companion.
'We are... a few years late...' he said.