Jack let himself into the hallway of the house. As ever he felt the memory of Estelle. Louise and Sian had redecorated and stamped their own identity on the rooms, with their own choice of pictures on the walls, mirrors, ornaments, their curtains and cushions. Even so, it still felt as if a little of Estelle was there - an echo of her voice, a fleeting scent of the incense sticks she burned, tantalised him.
He smiled. If her ghost was here, then it welcomed him into this house with love.
“Jack!” Louise came part way down the stairs. “Oh, thank you for coming.”
“Anything for my two favourite tenants,” he told her. “This is Gwen. She works with me. But she used to be a police officer. I thought she might be able to help.”
“Come up, both of you. Sian’s in bed. I tried to make her comfortable.”
Jack followed, taking the steps two at a time. Gwen was a little slower. She had been here before, when Estelle was alive, but only in the kitchen and drawing room. Going upstairs, to their bedroom, was different. She was an intruder, not a guest.
“Sian, honey,” Jack said gently to the young woman lying in the bed. He looked at her face. It was puffy and streaked with tears. She had cried a lot.
Gwen looked at her, too, and her heart thudded. She had been a police officer only for a few years, but she had taken statements from rape victims so many times she didn’t want to have to count them. And they all tended to look like Sian did, now. Devastated, reduced somehow, drawn into themselves.
She looked up at Jack and began to cry again. But she let him hug her. She had been abused by a man, or men. But she turned to Jack for comfort. There was something about him, and not just the fact that he was gay, that made people trust him.
“You didn’t call the police?” he asked Louise as he let Sian cry away the hurt pressed up against his chest.
“It isn’t that simple.” Louise answered. “She’s…. it’s not exactly rape. It’s… That’s why we called you. I know you’re a sort of investigator. And… we trust you. Both of us. And... you won’t think the worst.”
“Just tell me what happened,” Jack told Sian as she came to the end of her tears and just clung to him. “In your own time.” He shook his head very slightly to Gwen as she reached for her PDA. This wasn’t on the record yet.
“This afternoon,” she said, still hiccupping slightly in the aftermath of crying. “I was on the bus, coming home from Uni… The traffic was absolutely chocka. I could have walked faster, but I was too tired. I was dozing off. Then I noticed this old woman looking at me. I think she got on about two stops back. She was really old, bent over old, wrinkled and leaning on a stick. But her eyes were so alive. Almost as if her eyes were young. She kept on looking at me, and it was so creepy. But I couldn’t tell an old woman to stop looking at me. And then I felt as if I could hear her thoughts. She was thinking that I had a good body, young, strong. I would DO. And then… she was in my mind, in my thoughts. I was still there, but I wasn’t in control. I felt as if I was being squeezed out of my own brain. I wanted to scream, but she was in control of my voice.” Sian stopped. “I’m not making this up, Jack, please believe me.”
“I do believe you, sweetheart,” he said. “Carry on. What happened next?”
“She made me get off the bus and go into a pub. She ordered drinks. I don’t usually… a gin and orange on a Friday night, a glass of wine with a meal… I don’t drink neat shorts one after another. It was horrible. And then she started coming on to this man. He took me out the back, up against the wall. Oh, my God, it was awful. I’ve never even been with a man before. It was so sordid and cold and horrible. Then she made me go to another pub, and she did the same again. This time it was in his car. He was so rough. I tried to struggle. Tried to make her stop it. But I was powerless. And then I felt her move out… She moved from my mind to his. He… she… laughed and pushed me out of the car and drove off. I walked home. I couldn’t find my handbag. I think it was in the last pub. I couldn’t even phone Louise. I couldn’t go to the police. It felt like I was being raped. I didn’t want any man to…” She sobbed again as she remembered. “But if I told the police… if they picked up either of the men, they could swear I was willing. And there were plenty of people in both pubs that saw me go out with them. But I wasn’t willing. She made me…”
“Using you against your will,” Jack said. “I call that rape. But you’re right. it would be hard to get the police to take notice. It’s a good job you called me. I’ll do what I can to help.”
“Thank you,” she said. “Jack, thank you for believing me.”
“It’s what I do,” he answered. “Believe people with incredible stories. You wouldn’t believe some of them But if I told you…”
“What?” Sian laughed despite her grief. “you’d have to kill me?”
“No,” he answered. “I’d have to slip a little white pill in your tea that makes you forget everything I told you.”
“Wish you had one of those right now,” she answered. “Then I could forget this afternoon.”
Gwen looked at Jack. Jack looked at Louise, then back at Sian.
“What bus were you on and what time? And where was it that the old woman got on?” He nodded to Gwen. This time it WAS time to take out the PDA. He asked a few more questions and Gwen noted the answers.
“Ok, Sian,” he said finally. “This is the really nasty bit. But you’ve been brave so far. Gwen used to be a police officer. She knows about this sort of thing. If you’ll let her, she’ll take a DNA sample that will help us identify the two men.”
Gwen did her best to look warm and friendly and reassuring.
“Ok,” Sian agreed.
“After that’s over with, Gwen has two pills to give you, prescribed by our own Doctor Harper. One is the standard morning after pill. That’s for you to decide about, yes or no. The other will clear up any nasty infections or viruses either of the two men might just possibly have had, and a few they probably don’t have unless they come from Alpha Centauri. I suggest you DO take that one. For your own safety. And I have a third pill. It really is the little white one that will make you forget. Take the first two and go and have a long hot bath. And then when you’re tucked up in bed again Louise will bring you a cup of tea with the white pill dissolved in it. I promise you won’t taste the difference. And you’ll fall asleep soon after. When you wake up in the morning, feeling refreshed, you won’t remember anything about this afternoon. Louise will make up something about you feeling faint on the bus and going straight to bed when you got home.”
“I won’t remember anything?”
“Not a thing.”
“I’ll do that, then,” she declared. “I don’t want to remember this.”
“Sleep well, honey,” he told her and kissed her cheek gently. He kissed Louise on the cheek, too, as he left the room. What followed was best left to Gwen. He went downstairs to the living room and sat quietly, thinking over everything Sian had told him, until Gwen came to him with the ‘evidence’ sealed and put away inside the discreet plastic case that doctors and police officers called a ‘rape kit’.
“I know that’s a rotten job,” he told her. “Thanks for doing it.”
“It’s not as rotten for me as it is for her,” Gwen answered. “But the Retcon will take away the memory of it all.”
“I’ll drop by and see them tomorrow morning, anyway,” Jack said. “Make sure thery’re ok. We can go now, though. I’ll drop you off home before I head into the Hub. Owen will have to work late on the DNA sample. But he’s had sod all to do all day today, it won’t kill him.”
“You don’t need me to follow up the investigation?”
“We don’t have an investigation, yet,” he replied as they stepped out and closed the front door behind them quietly. “Nothing we can do until tomorrow, even if we had the manpower. But Ianto and Alun aren’t back from checking out the Aberystwyth poltergeist outbreak. Toshiko needs a good night sleep, and isn’t likely to get one. Etsu is cutting her first tooth. Even Beth will have knocked off by now. And if we manage to get an ID on our man, the best Owen could do is prescribe him some Viagra. If our body snatcher is looking for sexual kicks… a man controlled by a woman… He’s going to have a heck of a night.”
“What if she jumps into another woman and forces her…”
Jack considered that and felt a little ashamed of himself. The woman in a man combination had been amusing. But another woman going through what Sian went through wasn’t funny.
“Still can’t do anything about it until we get an ID,” he said. “And unless he’s in the criminal database that could take time. You might as well get home and remind Rhys what his girl looks like.”
He dropped Gwen off at her home and then headed back to the Hub. The city centre was starting to get lively as the clubs opened up for the evening. He half looked, wondering if it was possible to spot a man possessed by a sex mad woman in a crowd like that, but it was unlikely. Aliens with feelers instead of arms, extra limbs, scales, talons, fish heads, blue faces, those he could deal with. They tended to stand out in a crowd, after all. But this was going to be a lot harder.
Owen was not too optimistic about the possibilities of a DNA match, either.
“It wasn’t rape. It was just an ordinary bloke who thought his luck was in. A rapist, good chance he’s on record somewhere. But we haven’t got a nationwide database of ordinary blokes who like to get their rocks off in parked cars.”
“I know that,” Jack answered him. “Do your best. There ought to be two DNA traces. She said one had her up against the back wall first. It’s the one in the car we need to find.”
“Hard enough tracing one bloke! Now he wants two finding and one eliminating.”
“I’m doing my bit, too,” Jack answered. He was sitting at Toshiko’s workstation, with the CCTV network in front of him. He wasn’t as adept with it as Tosh. She played the keyboard like a virtuoso pianist, seeming to know the access codes for each camera location by heart. It took him a while to find the one near the pub where Sian had experienced her first close encounter of the heterosexual kind and access its digital archive for five hours ago.
That particular pub, by chance, backed onto a department store, which had CCTV coverage of its staff car park. Jack watched the corner of the pub yard that was included in the wide frame. The sight of a man pulling up a young woman’s skirt as he pushed her against the wall did nothing for him. It wouldn’t have done even if he didn’t know the facts behind this particular act of casual sex.
“Got one of them,” Owen said. “He’s got a record. Sex with an underage prostitute. Claimed she said she was twenty. Stupid sod.”
Jack glanced at the file from the criminal record database on Owen’s screen and shook his head.
“No, that’s the ‘up against the wall’ man. Scumbag, but not the one we need to talk to.”
“The other one isn’t coming up. He must be a fine upstanding pillar of the community. Even I’ve got a couple of parking fines.”
“They don’t take DNA samples for parking fines,” Jack pointed out. “And it’ll be another three centuries before there is a DNA record for every citizen in Britain. A lot of civil liberties to ride roughshod over first. Meanwhile, in the 21st century, we have to get lucky.”
But they didn’t get lucky. Jack found the archive footage of the front of the second pub. He saw Sian coming out of it on the arm of a middle aged man. He followed them to the NCP Car Park where the man was intending to have sex with her in his car. But he couldn’t access the archive footage from the car park, only the live feed. It must have been an old fashioned system that stored its archives on cd roms rather than digital storage and it couldn’t be accessed remotely.
“Damn,” he swore. Technology had let them down.
He sighed and stretched and stood up from the desk. “I need coffee,” he said. “You?”
“Yeah, why not?” Owen answered. He turned back to the screen and pretended to be busy. In truth there was nothing else for him to do now. But he actually didn’t feel like going home. As long as Jack didn’t actually turf him out, he might as well stay. Coffee gave him something to be doing.
Jack strode into the kitchenette and poured two cups of strong coffee from the ever bubbling pot. He and Owen both took it with milk but no sugar. It was probably the one and only thing they had in common. He wished there was more. Owen was the most senior of the team in terms of how long he’d been working there, but he was the one Jack knew the least about, really, beyond the bare bones of his CV, and the lurid tales of his sex life.
“Thanks, Boss,” Owen said, taking the coffee and sipping it slowly. Jack sat on the leather sofa and watched him, searching for an opening into a conversation.
“Do you ever think of going back to being an ordinary doctor?” Jack asked. “Working in the hospital?”
“No,” Owen answered without hesitation. “Why? Are you thinking of making cutbacks? Voluntary redundancies?”
“Hardly. We need more people, not less. But you really are happy working here?”
“Funny idea, isn’t it. Working down here. Nobody knows we’re here. They don’t know what we are, even the ones who have actually heard the word Torchwood. They don’t know that they’d all be dead without us.”
“Ah,” Jack said with a smile. “The Men in Black script. Nobody knows us, so nobody can ever care about us. Corny, but true. I’ve had the same conversation with every member of the team since… since way back. No, we will never be appreciated. We won’t ever get medals for what we do. The only satisfaction we have IS that people up there, above us, are safely ignorant of the real dangers facing them.”
“I don’t need medals. Bloke next door when I was a kid had a whole cabinet full of shiny medals from the war. When he died, his son got twenty quid for the lot from a dealer. I’d like my life to be worth a bit more than that. I like knowing that we’re making that real difference. That’s why I couldn’t go back to being an ordinary doctor patching up broken heads at A&E on a Friday night. Now that I KNOW. I couldn’t go back.”
“Nor me,” Jack admitted.
“What would YOU be going back to, Captain?” Owen hoped Jack would answer that. He didn’t. Owen felt a little disappointed, a little let down by him. Opening up about yourself ought to be a two way thing. But Jack wasn’t playing fair.
Jack knew he wasn’t. And he felt bad about it. But ‘back’ for him was a complicated matter.
“Tell you what, though,” he conceded. “We do need to be ready. This… tonight… I’m not saying it isn’t important. This entity, whatever it is, has already hurt an innocent woman. It has to be stopped before it does any more damage. But it’s small time compared to what’s coming. Nothing we’ve dealt with before, the rift opening, Abaddon, the end of the world… Every end of the world we’ve managed to avert… It’s nothing. There’s worse to come. And we have to be ready. We have to be as strong as we can be.”
He always talked like that, Owen noted. That line of his about the twenty-first century and ‘you’ve got to be ready’. Somewhere along the line it changed from ‘you’ to ‘we’ and Owen wasn’t sure when that was, but he knew it meant that Jack was here to see it through with them.
“You really do know the future. That’s a creepy thought. I’m not going to ask what’s worse than Cybermen invading our streets, or the devourer of worlds, or averting nuclear annihilation. Even if I did, you wouldn’t tell me. But how do you deal with it? What stops you from jumping into the next rift opening and hoping that you end up a long way and a long time from here?”
Jack had an answer. He got ready to give it, but the phone rang in his office and Owen’s computer bleeped in a significant way at the same time. He put down his coffee cup and went to take the call.
When he returned, Owen looked triumphant.
“This is our man, isn’t it?” he said, swinging the screen around so that Jack could see the mug shot. It was the same man who had taken Sian into the car park. “Just came up on the system. This guy walked into a police station and admitted to a murder.”
“Murder?” The word chilled him. While they were drinking coffee with their investigation driven up a blind alley, had the entity made a man into a killer?
“I got a call from the hospital. They’ve got a body they think we should take an interest in.”
“Did they say why?”
“No, just that their morticians don’t want to go near it and they reckon it’s our territory.”
“Ok,” Owen decided. “I’ll take the body. You go and see what’s up with chummy.”
“Seems a fair swap,” Jack admitted.
‘Chummy’s’ name was Walter Dean, a travelling salesman from Norfolk. Jack looked at him through the observation panel in the cell door. He was sitting quietly, but looking very sorry for himself.
“So… let me get this straight. He walks in here and confesses to a hit and run last August in Surrey…”
“His story checked out. The Surrey police have it on record. Janine Kinsella, teenage hitchhiker, left to bleed to death at the side of the A246. His car has been impounded and we’re waiting for forensic confirmation… paint chips at the scene of the crime, that sort of thing. But his confession puts him in the frame. Only… now he says it wasn’t him. An alien in his head made him say it. But if that’s what he’s going to say in court, he’s not going to get very far.”
Jack wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or worried. The alien – if that was what it was - hadn’t made an innocent man commit murder. It had made a guilty man confess. That was different, to say the least.
“I would like a word with him, anyway,” he said. The Duty Sergeant nodded. He opened the door and Jack stepped in. The Sergeant remained outside. He knew perfectly well that a civilian – if Torchwood counted as civilian – in a cell with a prisoner was against every rule in the book. But the words ‘alien’ and ‘Torchwood’ had been mentioned far too often in the past quarter of an hour. The Sergeant recalled the rumours about why the station on the other side of the city had to have all that internal remodelling a while back. Rumours about man eating monsters, blood, body parts, and worse. He was happy to keep a strong steel door between him and whatever this was all about.
“So,” Jack drawled slowly as he stood above the miserable prisoner. “Hit and run.”
“I didn’t. I never…”
Jack looked at a small hand held device in his hand. One of the devices from the inventory. It was supposed to be a lie detector. If it was working properly, the man was lying. That didn’t surprise him.
“Don’t waste my time,” Jack told him in a cold, hard tone that caused the prisoner to shiver involuntarily. “For the record, you disgust me. Leaving a girl to die in the road? You didn’t try to help? Not even an anonymous 999 call? But I’m not here about that. It’s somebody else’s responsibility to make you pay for that act of cowardice. I’m here to find out about the alien entity in your head that made you confess.”
“You mean you believe me?” Dean sounded relieved for a moment, but Jack’s expression brought that shiver back. “Please, you have to make them understand. It wasn’t me talking. It… the alien… it pushed me down. It wouldn’t let me speak. It wouldn’t let me be me. It read my mind. It knew me. It acted like me. But it wouldn’t let me… I tried to stop it, but it brought me here.”
“Where you belong,” Jack responded. “I don’t know why a mind-robbing alien gives a shit about your crime. When I catch up with it, I’ll ask it, along with a whole lot of other questions I want to ask.”
“The girl I was with this evening…” Dean began, and Jack paid close attention. “She did it to me. It was her. One minute I was… she was gagging for it and I was giving her what she wanted. The next… she was screaming rape and I wasn’t in control. I never… She came onto me, right. She asked if I was up for it. And I was. It was consenting.”
Jack didn’t have to look at the lie detector that time. He knew the man was telling the truth. He already had Sian’s side of it. Whatever else he was guilty of, rape wasn’t on the list. Earlier he had wanted to hit the man responsible for making her feel so cheap and used. But he had thought about it since. He knew how often he’d had casual sex with people he met in pubs. Owen did the same. There but for the grace of God… Dean was a coward and a murdering bastard, but he wasn’t a rapist.
“Shut up,” he said. “I don’t need to hear any more details about that. What I need to know is when the alien left your head and where it went.”
“It was in here,” Dean answered. “An hour ago. At least I think it was about that long. I don’t have my watch. I don’t even know how long I’ve been here. But a policeman brought me a cup of tea. I… I mean the alien… reached out and grabbed his hand and… and it went from my head and into him.”
“Shit.” Jack swore and realised he probably should have asked that question first. He knocked on the door. The Sergeant let him out. “The officer who brought your man there a cup of tea? Who was it and where is he now?”
“That would be Andy,” the Sergeant answered. “He should be in the station, somewhere.”
They wasted precious minutes finding out that PC Andy Davidson had left the station two minutes after Jack arrived. They managed to confirm that he had taken a panda car and reluctantly gave him the GPS tracking code for it. Jack made sure all the traffic lights were in his favour as he followed the car in the SUV. As he turned onto the dual carriageway he tapped his hands free communicator.
“Owen, are you mobile yet?” he asked.
“Heading back to the hub, now, boss,” he answered. “Do you want to hear about what I saw at the hospital? A body of an elderly woman that disintegrated in front of my eyes. I’ve got the dust in a specimen jar for analysis.”
“Got to be. The only Earth resident known to do that is Count Dracula. The body was found – you’ll love this – on the back seat of a bus when the driver went back to the depot for his teatime cuppa.”
“What bus?” Jack asked sharply.
“You guessed it. The one your girl was on.”
“The alien body was dying. So it grabbed a host. That much makes sense. What it’s been doing with the hosts doesn’t. Owen, call Gwen and go and pick her up. And then catch up with me. PC Andy is the new host. He’s heading up the A470.”
“Andy, as in Gwen’s dopy looking constable pal?”
“That’s the one. I’ve persuaded his colleagues to back off and I’m tailing him. I hope I can bring him in before he does anything that would get him fired.”
“Oh, you’re all heart, Captain.”
“I’d do the same for you.” He closed the communication and looked at the car in front of him. So far, the alien entity in charge of PC Andy’s body was obeying the highway code. The police car was not doing much more than sixty miles an hour, well within the speed limit for a dual carriageway with only light traffic on it. It wasn’t drawing any attention to itself, and neither was he, following behind at a safe braking distance.
Then he caught a flash of emergency vehicle lights in his rear view mirror signalling him to pull over.
“Like hell I am,” he murmured as he tuned his communicator to the police frequency and contacted the car that was pursuing him.
“This is Torchwood business,” he said. “I’m not stopping to play silly buggers with you. An innocent man’s life and sanity is at stake. Back off out of my way.”
“You are illegally using blue strobing lights to impersonate an emergency vehicle,” came the reply. “You are also using a police radio without authority.”
Jack swore in a language that didn’t originate on Earth. He liked the sound of the word.
“I’m using a hands free set,” he pointed out. He noted that PC Andy had speeded up to the maximum seventy miles per hour and pulled ahead of him. “I’m still not stopping. Contact your HQ. They’ll tell you that Torchwood have priority.”
He put his foot down and gained on PC Andy, leaving the traffic police behind. A minute later he heard an apologetic tone on his communicator.
“We’ve been told to assist you in any way…”
“Good. You can assist me by backing off. And by the way, there’s a blue Mazda MX 5 trying to catch up with me. Don’t even think of booking the driver for speeding.”
Owen’s brand new sporty looking two seater soft top caught up fast without any interference from the traffic police and slowed to match the SUV’s speed.
“Is Andy ok?” Gwen asked anxiously.
“He’s still driving in a straight line,” Jack answered. “I have a feeling the alien knows where its going. I really don’t think we’re on this road for the fun of it.”
“The A470 goes all the way up through Wales to Llandudno,” Owen pointed out. “Do you think it wants to go to the seaside?”
“Doubt it. But past Merthyr the dual carriageway becomes two way and cuts through all the lovely scenery the tourists come to Wales for. Who knows what might be out there.”
“Yeah, villages full of cannibals, brain sucking aliens, body duplicating aliens. When have we ever been out in the countryside and it’s been GOOD?” Owen pointed out.
“Me and Rhys drive out at the weekends sometimes, just for a nice pub lunch,” Gwen said. “Sometimes if he wants a drink or two we stay in a nice B&B.”
“Yeah, well, one of these days the landlord will grow tentacles and long teeth and you’ll be lunch,” Owen answered.
“Anyway.” Gwen added. “Is Andy going to be ok, do you think? I mean… the alien body disintegrated, but that was because it was alien. Sian is all right. And the man who was taken over after her… Andy will be all right? I know you all think he’s a drip, but he’s a nice man. He is. Really nice. And it would be awful if something happened to him.”
“I know,” Jack answered her. “That’s why I’m biding my time. Sooner or later he has to stop.”
“We should do what the police do to stop speeding cars safely,” Gwen said. “One goes in front, and the other behind, matching speed. Then another alongside to stop overtaking, and they slowly reduce the speed and force the car to slow…”
“Yeah, we’ve all seen Road Wars. Just one snag,” Owen pointed out. “We’re one car short for that little manoeuvre.”
“Maybe not,” Jack said. “Alan and Ianto are heading home. They should be somewhere ahead of us.” He checked the alien technology enhanced satnav on the dashboard. It not only told him where PC Andy was, but also where any Torchwood cars were within a twenty mile range. Alun’s Audi Quatro was heading towards them on the southbound side of the A470. He contacted him.
“You’re five minutes from the Merthyr bypass roundabout,” he said. “So are we. Get ready.”
“Yes, sir,” Alun answered. “Don’t worry you can count on us.”
Jack knew he could, but what he wanted to happen depended on a lot of luck.
And they had the luck. Alun’s car went around the roundabout just as the Peugeot turned onto it, and the SUV and the Mazda came up behind it. Now Alun and Ianto were in the lead of a four car convoy. Another mile and a bit and the dual carriageway ended. So did the good street lighting as the dark bulk of the Brecon Beacons loomed either side. The headlamps showed up a smooth tarmac road, though, and the same alien enhanced technology told him there was no oncoming traffic for at least the next fifteen minutes. Now was their chance. He signalled to Owen to close the gap as he pulled out into the right hand lane and accelerated enough to bring him level with the police car. He glanced left and saw Andy looking straight ahead intently. He was going fifty miles per hour, again within the speed limit for this kind of road. But Jack was well aware that for him to continue driving at the same speed in the wrong lane was an accident waiting to happen. They had to start slowing things down, now.
And at first it looked like it was working. Alun gradually decelerated and the Peugeot was forced to match his speed. They were down to thirty five, which still felt pretty fast in the wrong lane of a dark road when Ianto swore loudly. Jack saw why right away. A slip road opened up on the left and the Peugeot escaped their box. Alun had already passed it. Jack braked and let Owen follow before he brought up the rear. Ianto was still swearing loudly and to his right as he drove the SUV along the roughly surfaced single lane he saw the four wheel drive’s headlamps bouncing ominously. Alun had cut across the rough ground that separated them from the main road. The Audi cannoned down an uneven slope and Ianto let off another sequence of words that would make his chapel going mother blush as they landed on the road just ahead of the Peugeot, in the front of the convoy once more.
“Will you be needing fresh underwear later, Ianto?” Owen asked.
“No, but it was a close thing,” he answered. “Where the fuck are we?”
“Heading up to Llwyn On reservoir,” Gwen answered. “This is where me and Rhys stay at the B&B. Watch out. there’s a sharp left turn in a minute, across a little bridge where the overflow runs into a creek.”
Judging by the sounds from the Audi Alun had negotiated the sharp left turn successfully. Judging by the swearing that came from the Mazda, the Peugeot hadn’t.
“He hit the parapet and burst a tyre,” Owen reported. “He’s out of control Shit!”
They all saw the Peugeot crash through the low wall, its wheels leaving the ground. Owen and Jack both braked and they were all out of their cars and running in time to see it land in the reservoir and start to sink.
“Torches,” Jack ordered. “And keep your headlights on so we can see.”
Ianto was already running with a torch. As Jack joined him with another powerful beam they caught the shape of Alun throwing off his jacket and kicking off his shoes before he dived into the dark water.
“Oh my God!” Gwen screamed. “They’ll both drown.”
“Emergency blankets, in the SUV,” Jack said to her. “Quickly.” As she turned to do as he ordered he and Ianto, with Owen behind them scrambled over the ruined wall and onto the concrete edge of the reservoir. They swept the surface with their torches, but there wasn’t even a ripple to show where the Peugeot had gone down. And no sign of two Human beings in there.
“Alun!” Jack heard Ianto’s plaintive cry. “Where is he? They shouldn’t be down that long. Oh fucking hell. He was meant to do filing. Not…”
“There!” Owen yelled as he turned his torch towards the splashing sound and two heads were visible in the water. All three of them ran to the water’s edge, but there was nothing they could do except watch and keep their torches on them.
“Alun, don’t let him touch you,” Jack called out. But it was already too late as Alun dragged the struggling PC to the concrete bank. Jack and Ianto both leaned forward to pull them out. Gwen ran with the blankets. Ianto wrapped Alun up in both a blanket and his loving embrace. Gwen was a little more circumspect as she looked after Andy.
“Gwen, be careful,” Jack called out to her. “Don’t let him touch you. The alien has to have physical contact.”
“G…Gwen…” Andy stammered as he looked around. “Where are we? Why did… The thing that was in my head. Oh, my God! It was… It was like I was drowning all the time…”
“You’re ok now, Andy,” she told him. “It’s gone. You’re ok. Come on. Let’s get you inside the SUV where’s it’s warm.”
“Where did the bastard go?” Owen asked. “If it’s not in PC Plod now? Who..”
“Ianto,” Jack called out. “Step away from him. “He may not be…”
“I’m me,” Alun answered, breaking from the warm kiss Ianto was administering. “Honestly, boss, it really is me.”
“Ianto?” Jack reached for his gun, then put it back. He wasn’t going to shoot either of his friends even if one of them was taken over by an alien.”
“It’s not me, either,” he answered.
“It didn’t jump into me,” Alun insisted. “It didn’t even try. I don’t think…”
“Then that means…” Jack turned and ran back to the SUV. On the back seat PC Andy was shivering with cold as Gwen tried to pour tea into a flask top cup.
“Oh my God,” he kept saying with chattering teeth. “That thing… in my head. Using me.”
“Gwen…” This time Jack did pull his gun. Gwen stared at it.
“Jack, no. It’s not me. Honestly, it’s not. It’s…” She turned and looked at Andy. “Oh… he’s lying. It’s still in him…”
“It’s in her!” Andy shrieked. “It jumped out of me and now…” He shrank back away from Gwen in horror. “Keep her away. She’s got an alien in her head.”
Jack looked back momentarily as Ianto and Alun kissed as if it was going out of business. It was still possible one of them was the host. But it was more likely…
He turned back to Andy and Gwen.
Step out of the SUV, both of you,” he ordered. He stepped back as both of them obeyed. He carefully put his gun back in the holster and reached instead into his coat pocket.
“Tell me your name, Gwen,” he said.
“Gwen Cooper, of course,” she replied.
“And yours?” he added, turning his gaze on PC Andy Davidson.
“En’ior D’A’tlic-a-tuan,” he replied in an alien accent.
“Yep, that’s the truth,” Jack glanced at the pocket sized lie detector and smiled disconcertedly before he lunged towards Andy, grabbing him by the neck. “If I squeeze the life out of this body you’ll have to jump into me. I’m the one you’ve got physical contact with. Everyone else stay back. Don’t get near him.”
“You won’t kill this Earthman,” replied the alien. “I see his memories. He knows you. He is a friend.”
“No, he isn’t. He’s Gwen’s friend. To me he’s just a copper, getting under our feet when we’re working. I don’t need him, and I don’t think even Gwen’s all that bothered.”
In his pocket the lie detector softly registered a lie. But the alien didn’t know that Jack was good at lying. He felt it reaching out towards him, felt it finding a way into his mind. He let go of Andy’s neck and stood up. He backed away from everybody.
“It’s not so easy with me, is it?” he said. “Sian, a young girl who didn’t know what was happening, Dean, too busy enjoying his shag. Andy… just bringing a cup of tea. They weren’t ready for you. I am. And my will is a hundred times stronger. I’ve been there, done it. Mind probes, torture, the lot. I’m not so easy. And I know… I know… if the body you’re in dies… you die.”
“Jack! NO!” He wasn’t sure which of his friends yelled as he launched himself into the icy water. Possibly all of them as they realised what he planned to do. The shock of hitting the water knocked the breath out of him and as he sank beneath the surface he felt his lungs filling up. He didn’t try to fight it. The alien did. It was trying to take him over and force him to survive. But he was stronger.
“Jack!” the voices calling his name sounded as if they were coming to him through water. But he wasn’t in the reservoir any more. He was lying in the recovery position on the concrete bank. He coughed and spewed up more water. Considering this was the drinking water for the city of Cardiff it tasted pretty awful coming that way. “Jack... is it you?”
“It’s me,” he assured them.
“How do we know?” Owen asked.
“I’ll snog you and see if anything tries to take over your brain,” Jack answered. “I was dead?”
“Technically, for about a minute,” Owen told him. “Not your usual trick, this time. It was just an ordinary Human miracle. We pulled you out and got your heart beating again.”
“Yeah… It felt different,” he admitted. “There wasn’t….” But the memory of what it was like to be dead faded quickly every time he was dragged back to life and he couldn’t have described exactly how it was different. It just was. “I felt its thoughts while it was trying to get into mine. It wanted… It wanted to try out Humanity. The first body… it was created as a vehicle for the consciousness, but it wore out too fast. So it jumped to Sian. And it decided the first thing it wanted to do with a young, female body was have sex. But it couldn’t get a real kick out of it because Sian was hating it so much. Her revulsion for straight sex spoiled it. So it latched onto Dean. It was planning to do other stuff. But when it saw his guilty secret… It decided to make him suffer for it. Not because it had a conscience, not because it cared about his crime, but just to experience his suffering. It wanted every sort of Human experience, good and bad. Then Andy… It was planning to drive fast, eat food, drink, steal, have more sex… do all the things humans do…” Jack laughed hollowly. “It just wanted to live life to the full. But it took away other’s people’s lives to do it. It took their free will. It forced Sian into something that hurt her deeply … It didn’t care as long as it enjoyed the experience. It would have ruined Andy’s life and then taken another host, and another. It didn’t care about its Human hosts. And the only way to stop it was to kill it.”
“It’s over?” Gwen asked.
“We’ve a few loose ends to tie up. Andy will have to be Retconned and I’ll have to work out some cover story. How about we make him a bit of a hero… in hot pursuit of a car thief when he plunged into the reservoir. He’ll wake up in hospital with a bunch of grapes and a get well soon card from everyone at the station. And if he’s really lucky a bit of sick leave.”
Gwen looked at Andy as he stood despondently by the SUV.
“Yeah, that would do him all right,” she said. “Come on, let’s get going. I’ll drive. You had a near death experience.”
Jack was happy to comply. He felt cold and weary and happy to hand the driving seat over. If he was lucky, he might sleep a little on the way back. And then once he’d sorted out Andy’s loose ends he could lie down properly for a few hours and then go and see Louise and Sian for breakfast before tomorrow’s working day began. On the whole, it could be worse.