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Doctor Who - 42 - main index

Erina...

Erina Lissak dropped the welding torch and spun around. Beneath the never-ending roar of the engines she could have sworn she'd heard someone whisper her name. But that was just ridiculous, wasn't it? She was alone in Area 27. Yeah, she was always alone. She looked down the corridor, peering into the darkness. She was alone, wasn't she?

'Hello?'

She took a step forward.

'Who's there? Riley?'

Yup, she figured, turning back. Riley Vashtee, winding her up. Winding her up to impress the others.

'Just stop mucking about.'

But there was silence. Silence except, of course, for the never-ending roar of the engines. Erina sighed and picked up the welding torch.

Which is when the never-ending engines... ended.

And suddenly, there really was silence.

She dropped the torch and ran over to the nearest terminal. She stopped and stared at the screen.

IMPACT PROJECTION: 46:27

She stood back, terrified. The engines had stopped which meant forty-six minutes until... Desperately trying not to panic, she ran over to the nearest porthole and looked out... forty-six minutes until they crashed and burned.

Right, she thought. Don't sweat it. Something's gone wrong but things that go wrong can be put right. And, who knows, perhaps this could be her chance to finally impress the others. Taking a deep breath, she ran over to the nearest communicator and pressed the call button.

'Ashton, come in please.'

Dev's voice crackled through the speaker. 'No time, Erina! Try someone else!'

Great. The brush-off. No change there. Fine, she'd try someone else.

'Captain McDonnell, come in please.'

'Erina? Where are you?' McDonnell sounded as if she was running.

'Area 27,' Erina replied. 'The engines...'

'Have gone dead.' McDonnell cut her off. 'Yeah, we'd noticed, thanks.'

Erina took a deep breath. Stay calm. They don't mean to be rude.

'What should I do?'

'What?' McDonnell laughed. 'Do your job! Activate the distress signal and sit tight. I'm heading to Engineering with Scannell and Vashtee. Out.'

The communicator crackled once more and for a second, Erina thought she heard her name being whispered again. She stepped back and looked at the speaker.

'Just interference,' she muttered.

She ran back to the computer terminal and activated the distress signal. Things must be bad, she realised, if the Captain was calling for outside help.

IMPACT PROJECTION: 45:48

Erina watched as the seconds ticked away and suddenly felt very alone. She collapsed against the hull and waited. She wasn't even sure what she was waiting for. Orders? To be rescued? Or was she just waiting to die? That's it, Erina. Cheery as ever.

IMPACT PROJECTION: 45:29

She turned away from the monitor and bit her lip. She could smell something burning.

'What the hell am I doing here, anyway?'

She thought back to the coffee house where she'd met Riley Vashtee only a few months before. Back on Torajii Alpha. Back home.

She'd been managing the place. Bored senseless week after week after week until one day, he'd arrived. She'd watched as he'd come in looking lost. Looking so cute.

Erina smiled as she remembered how she'd gone over to him, sat down uninvited and asked his name. He'd told her. Said he was working on some cargo ship. Then, apparently nervous, he'd asked about her. She was a waitress, yeah? Before she could stop herself, she'd told him how her mum owned the chain of coffee houses.

Mum.

Erina stopped smiling as she thought about her mum. What if she never saw her again? They'd never been close exactly. Mum had always been more interested in Stefan, Erina's oh-so-perfect older brother. As long as Stefan did well then Erina could fend for herself. Which had been fine. She'd not let it get to her. Well, she'd tried not to anyway.

All she'd really wanted to do, though, was get away. Get away from home. Get away from the family. Get away from everything. See the stars.

She remembered how she'd told Riley this, desperate for him not to think she was just some rich kid. She told him how all she'd wanted to do was travel. See the System. She'd loads of mates who'd gone backpacking around the Outer Worlds but she wanted to do it for real. And he'd told her about the ship he worked on. The Pentallian.

A crewman had just left to settle down so they were looking for someone to be a basic dogsbody. And in that moment, being a basic dogsbody had sounded like Heaven to Erina Lissak. If it meant getting away from the comfort zone of Torajii Alpha then she'd do it. She'd begged him there and then to introduce her to his Captain. So, that afternoon, she met Kath McDonnell and signed up.

And, that evening, she'd left her mum a note and climbed on board the Pentallian with just a rucksack full of clothes and a need to impress.

IMPACT PROJECTION: 44:12

And here she was. Facing death. Perhaps Mum had been right after all. Maybe Stefan was the clever one. He wasn't the one about to die with a bunch of people who couldn't stand him.

She thought back to that first night on board. That desperation to hide her background, to try and fit in. There were seven in the crew, including her.

Riley and Kath she'd already met, of course. He was so lovely but clearly wasn't interested in her. She wasn't sure if he was just shy or whether he thought he was better than her. She wouldn't have been surprised if he had a boy or a girl waiting on every world.

Kath McDonnell was the only one who seemed to ignore her upbringing. She treated Erina the same way as she treated the rest of the crew. Well, the rest of the crew except for Hal. Hal Korwin was the Captain's husband. He was a good bloke. Great sense of humour. And, Erina thought guiltily, gorgeous with eyes you could lose yourself in.

Then there was Orin Scannell. He pretty much ignored her. She sometimes wondered if he had a thing for the Captain as they seemed to share lots of furtive glances. But, she'd always figured, she'd have known if something was going on. With only seven people on board, there wasn't much chance of secrets staying secret.

Although saying that, Abi Lerner, the Pentallian's doctor... she was strange. Outwardly, she was friendly enough, but there was something about her.

Something that Erina couldn't put her finger on. It was as if she was holding something back.

And then there was Dev. Dev Ashton. He'd made his distaste for her quite apparent from the moment she'd stepped on board. He was from one of the Outer Worlds and he clearly had a problem with her privileged background. He'd made that obvious on the first night when he'd 'accidentally' locked her inside Area 24.

All it had done, though, was make her stronger. She was determined to show them she wasn't some rich kid treating this as some kind of adventure. She was determined to make them like her.

IMPACT PROJECTION: 43:11

And, as the countdown continued, she realised again that she needed to toughen up. The Captain had told her to wait here but she knew, she knew that she could help. Erina suddenly realised that not only didn't she want to die, but she didn't want her crewmates to die. Even Dev. They were her family now. And, while some of them might not like her, at least they hadn't just ignored her. Not like Mum and Stefan.

She stepped away from the wall and moved towards the door. The Captain had said she was heading towards Engineering. Well, Erina was going to help whether McDonnell liked it or not. As she stepped into the doorway, she risked one last glance back at the computer screen.

And she gasped. The trajectory countdown had been replaced by another message.

SECURE CLOSURE... INITIATING

'What?' She looked up as, suddenly, the door started to slide down over her. She leapt into the corridor and started running. Secure closure? What the hell was going on?

She ran down the central corridor, her heart pounding, heading towards Engineering.

IMPACT PROJECTION: 42:43

And, there, at the end of the corridor, outside the venting rooms, she saw the Captain with Riley and Orin.

SECURE CLOSURE ACTIVATED

announced the computer. So calmly.

She tried to block out the computer's voice as she ran towards them. Sweat poured down her back and she could even taste it in her mouth. Then she suddenly noticed that her crewmates weren't alone. She blinked, trying to shake the sweat out of her eyes and continued running. There were definitely two others with McDonnell, Vashtee and Scannell. A man and a woman. Two others who weren't crew. Two others who weren't part of her new family.

Strangers.

She ran towards them, sweating as the ship's temperature increased and, ignoring the heat and the sweat and the smell of burning, Erina shouted.

'Who activated secure closure? I nearly got locked into Area 27!'

They all turned to look at her as the countdown continued.

She looked at the strangers. 'Who are you?'

The woman looked terrified. 'He's the Doctor and I'm Martha. Hello.'

Erina turned to look at the others and she realised they all looked terrified. Even the Captain. And, at that moment, Erina Lissak realised that she, and everyone else, were probably going to die.

And the countdown continued...

IMPACT PROJECTION: 42:27


Written by Joseph Lidster

Based on characters and situations created by Chris Chibnall

Artwork by Peter McKinstry



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