"Please don't leave."
I shake my head, clenching my fists so tightly that my uncut nails start digging into my palms.
"You can't leave me here!"
And here we go again.
When I was younger, I often imagined friends for myself when no one else wanted to play with me.
Shōto was one of those imaginary friends.
When I turned ten, all those imaginary friends disappeared. I thought I'd forget them, but my conscience had other ideas.
For years I had the niggling feeling that maybe those imaginary friends weren't so imaginary after all. The day I first met the Doctor, that feeling was confirmed.
Back then she had still been a man; a tall one with brown hair he often styled differently every day. I had only been twelve when he crashed through my bedroom window in his blue box, demanding to see the 'Creator'. That was the day that I learned that my fictional worlds, all the stories I'd written - they were real. Somewhere, at least. In another universe, perhaps.
Oh, we shared a magnificent adventure, the Doctor and me. But too soon it was time for him to go, and he left in his blue box to seek out another adventure. I saw in him that he was lonely, but that he did not want another friend, and so I let him go.
Perhaps that was a mistake.
Two years later, the Doctor crashed back into my life. This time she had a new face and new friends, but I didn't care. And so I ran away with a madwoman in a box, and I never looked back.
And all this time, those imaginary friends...
Shōto is, at least.
He steps closer with a pleading look in his hetero-chromatic eyes. I feel like screaming with grief, but my throat clenches and I cannot speak.
He reaches out to me, and for a moment we stand, a glass girl and an imaginary boy and, in perfect unison, we reach out and clasp hands.
His voice is like a breath of fresh air; my voice is suddenly there again, and then I'm crying, harsh tears sliding down my face against the unfriendly chill around me.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry I left you behind!"
He steps forward, still silent, and wraps his arms around me. Even in my almost hysteric grief, and can feel his almost-there-ness, that feeling of him being here but not quite. I feel as though he might fade away if I let go, and the tears, quite suddenly, stop.
We stand in perfect silence, and I hear a voice, faint in my hear.
I feel like I might know the voice, and I make to walk away. Shōto's hand lands on my arm, threatening and comforting at the same time.
"You don't know her," he says, his voice lulling me into a relaxed stupor. "You're okay. I'm here. You don't need anyone else."
I do not hear the quite malevolence in his tone. I only sink further into his arms, this broken girl finally falling apart.
I look up, and, quite suddenly, I see something in his eyes. I take in ragged breaths, a new feeling welling up inside me.
"Wait," I try to push away, but Shōto's grip is unyielding. "Y-you're not... you can't be..."
"I'm real, Phoenix. As real as you are."
I shake my head, and try to speak, but the tightening feeling in my chest is here again, and I cannot find words.
The voice in the corner of my mind calls out again, and I feel a pull towards it.
Shōto takes a sudden step forward, and he bends over me, my arms trapped by my sides as he says harshly, "You cannot go back. you have to stay with me."
And suddenly something seems to break in him.
"You can't leave!" he wails, "You can't leave me behind again!"
Another voice calls out to me, soft and familiar. "It's not real. It's not him!"
I shake my head, confusion flooding me. Shōto leans forward.
"You are the most important person in some universe out there, and that universe is here," his voice is frantic but unyielding, "You created me. You created us!"
And suddenly there are more people, gathered around us. They cry, they wail, they sob, and with a horrible jerk of my heart, I realise who they are.
All the people... the characters I've created.
The voice in the corner of my mind shouts louder.
"You need to come back! It's not real!"
Shōto looks into my eyes with a kind of fierce pride.
"Remember this, Phoenix," his voice is quiet. "You are the most important girl in the universe right now. Stay with us. Please. Do not leave us behind again."
I look back, a small smile tugging on my lips.
Maybe I want to stay.
And then suddenly that tiny voice comes back, louder than ever. I recognise it.
She shouts back broken words, random words. They all seem so familiar...
"TARDIS! Dalek! Us! Doctor! Graham! Ryan! Yaz! You! Phoenix!"
And quite suddenly, one thought makes itself clear to me.
I need to get back to the Doctor.
"I'm sorry," I whisper. "I need to go back."
Shōto's face twists, and he wails. "You can't! You can't leave us!"
The people surrounding us chorus back, "Don't leave... we are so lonely..."
I shake my head frantically, pulling away.
"No... I can't...."
And suddenly Shōto's grief is replaced by something else.
He raises a hand and for a moment I think he is going to slap me, but instead he points at me and says in a terrible, echoing voice. "You liar!"
And suddenly black rushes into my vision and pain spreads though my body. I want to scream, but I can't.
The Doctor's voice says something.
"They're just lonely... but you need to come back."
I cry out; I am suddenly blind.
But in my mind's eye, I see the Doctor. I reach out, but she seems to disappear.
And she flies away in her blue box, like the Doctor I knew two years ago.
And as I slip from consciousness, one thought spills clearly into my mind.
'I really want some biscuits right about now.'
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YOU ARE READING
Episode 9 Comment ChallengeScience Fiction
It's time for this week's comment challenge! Here's your task... Write us a story in 4 comments or less about entering the solitract universe. Who do you meet there? And how do they attempt to make you stay?