Most days I remain inside my prison cell, serving my time for a crime that I sort of committed. I know that may sound confusing, but trust me, the truth is only that much more puzzling. Let’s just say I’ve been convicted of murder, although the man I killed is very, very much alive and kicking.
I prefer to sleep during my days. Actually, I’m usually recuperating from the night before. My fellow inmates have given up trying to get to know me or interact with me in any shape or form. As they learn more about me, either from the rumors that I’ve started myself or that have naturally materialized on their own, they quickly realize that it’s better never to cross the path of River Song. Which is all well and good by me. I’m just biding my time here, serving out my sentence just as I’d promised my victim I would.
But then the nights come. If he doesn’t come for me himself, which is far less often than you might expect from your husband, there are times when she will come instead. For while she normally does his bidding … well, at least he thinks it works that way … from time to time she will need that special touch, that singular approach to a problem that only I can provide. You see, she and I have a special … arrangement … and I’m always happy to keep it.
On those nights when she comes alone, I won’t hear the wheezing, grinding racket that normally accompanies my husband’s approach. Instead, I hear the breezy, gentle hum of her arrival. The dark void of my cell blazes bright and then returns to black as she arrives, the light on her top flashing on and off in tune to the hum. A soft thud and she is there in all her blue beauty. On the outside, she appears to be a police box from an insignificant time period on one of the most significant worlds in all creation. I can’t help but smile whenever she arrives, for I know there is always an adventure waiting for me inside. I rise from my bed, snap my fingers, and the box doors swing inward, beckoning me to enter. I reach under my pillow, pull out my blue diary and hop inside.
As doors shut behind me, I leave my prison life behind. The guards couldn’t get to me now even if they wanted to. Once those doors were closed, there is nothing in all of existence that could open them. My jailers have come to accept my unscheduled departures, knowing that at some point I will always return to my cell. It’s a mutually acceptable arrangement … at least for now.
“So, my dear,” I ask in my soothing, alluring voice that I’m oh so proud of, “what do you have in store for me today?” I happily unzip the front of my prison uniform and discard it on a hook of the ancient, wooden coat rack just inside the door. The trousers follow shortly behind. I don’t mind walking through the TARDIS naked. I’ve done it more times than I can count. And as far as I can tell, she has never minded either. Eventually I’ll find my way to the wardrobe and select something appropriate, but for now I’ll simply stroll up the stairwell to the main console.
The lights on the main engine lever flash green. “Oh? Already have something in mind, do you?” I can hear a soft throb sound from all around me, almost like the 0bedient sigh of a loving pet. I pull the lever back towards me. Another thud, and the gentle humming returns. In the center of the console, the transparent cylinder oscillates up and down as the TARDIS dematerializes from the Stormcage Containment Facility and enters the time vortex. “Where to this time?” I ask as I pull the monitor around from the far side of the console. I quickly scan the displayed data, and I can’t help but gasp as I read our destination. “Really? Not going to Earth this time?” I shrug. “Well, there are other planets in the galaxy, I suppose. Might as well visit some of them.”
I once checked the TARDIS’ flight logs. There are only two planets that she has visited regularly over the course of her life, not surprising considering the flighty nature of her usual pilot. Really, who would expect a ship that could travel through all of space and time to find itself at the same destination more than once, much less hundreds of times? And yet, besides the TARDIS’ home planet of Gallifrey, which was now long dead and gone, the only other planet in all of creation that she had visited the most was Earth. Not that I minded. Earth was the home planet of my parents after all, which kind of made it my home planet too. Even though my parents are human, I had been conceived aboard the TARDIS not long after they had gotten married. As the TARDIS travelled through the time vortex, my zygote was exposed to radiation and temporal effects that caused a massive shift in my cells’ evolution, making me a tad bit more Time Lord than human being. The way I see it, the TARDIS is my home planet, and I always do love to come home.
The humming continues, and the console blinks and beeps as we travel. I run my hands through my curly, red hair and sigh. We weren’t going to Earth, and we certainly couldn’t go to Gallifrey, and the planet we were hurtling towards sends chills down my spine.
“Really, Melody?” I hear a woman’s voice say from the other side of the room. “Couldn’t you put some clothes on?”
“Why, good evening mother,” I say with a genuine smile on my face. It had been a week or more since I’d last seen her. “I didn’t mean to wake you. Actually, I didn’t think you’d even be on board tonight.” My smile vanished. “He isn’t here, is he?”
“Who?” my mother asks as she crossed her arms across the front of her nightgown. “The Doctor?” My face flushed at the sound of his name. I can’t help it, never could. That man. That wondrous, dangerous, beautiful man. The very thought of him sends my pulse racing. “No, I haven’t seen him for hours. Who knows where he is?” Her voice trails off as she looks towards the console. “We’re moving, aren’t we?”
“Yes,” I sigh as I pretend to check the settings on the console in front of me. In truth, I’m glad the Doctor isn’t here tonight. Visiting Karn will be much more fun with just my mother. The Sisterhood is so sensitive when it comes to men, especially the Doctor and Time Lords. “Oh,” I say with a start, “is Rory here too?”
“No, your father is not here,” she answers as she walks down the stairs to stand on the opposite side of the console. I can never be sure at what point in Amelia Pond’s timeline I see her, so I’m always careful to consider whether she knows that she married Rory Williams and that they had a daughter named Melody (that’s me) who then became the woman who killed and then married the Doctor. Like I said, it’s a puzzling story. “Would you?” She pauses, turning her head to the side. “Could you please put some clothes on, River?”
I don’t mind it when she calls me River, no more than she minds it when I call her Amy instead of mother. Names are delicate things, promises we make to ourselves and to others whenever we speak them. Just ask my husband whose name is the Doctor, and you’ll understand better than ever. “But Amy dear, you should try it. It’s very freeing.”
“I’ll pass,” she answers with the hint of her Scottish accent coming through her tone.
“As you wish,” I sigh and flip a switch nearby. A moment later, a light shimmers around my body, and my traditional white survival jacket and brown pants materialize over my skin. They’re actually holographic clothes, viewable only by those who are telepathically linked to the TARDIS. Since my mother had been aboard the TARDIS long before she and my father even conceived me, her link showed her my uniform. I’ll get the real thing out of my closet at some point, assuming I remember to. “Better?”
“Much. So? Where are we going? Time for me to meet Jim the Fish, I hope!”
“Spoilers,” I warn with a smirk. “But not quite. No, she came and got me out of prison for some reason, not sure why just yet.”
My mother looks around. “Who did?”
“She did,” I repeat, gesturing towards the console.
My mother looks at me with a pained, confused expression, one I found to be typical from humans born in the late twentieth century. “The TARDIS?”
“River, the TARDIS can’t speak.”
“I know that.”
“Then how did it get you to come?”
“She just came and got me.” I knew I could give her all the details, and she might understand completely. Very few would ever dare to say my mother is not clever, but she also has a wisdom that I enjoy testing from time to time. You know, normal mother-daughter stuff.
Amy rolls her eyes. “Whatever. Next thing you know you’ll be stroking the console and calling her ‘Old Girl’ too.” I chuckle, turning back to the scanner. “So, where are we going then?” Without warning, the TARDIS quaked, and Amy and I were thrown to the floor. The console flashed with sparks from numerous ports, but the central column continued to breathe up and down. In the distance, we could hear the muted gong of a large bell. “Now the bell is ringing. Why is the bell ringing?” she yells over the din.
I reach up, snatch the nearest hold on the console I can manage and pull myself up. “The cloister bell tolls if there is immediate danger of monumental proportions,” I remind her. I stretch out my arm and grab the handle of the scanner, pulling it back into view. “There’s been a localized rupture of the space-time continuum, approximately ten light years from our current position.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Amy groans as she pulls herself up off the floor.
“It means that the universe has been ripped open.” I read through the last of the details. “And the rift is growing.”
“A rift?” she asks, her face turning pale. “Like the cracks in my wall?”
“No, much worse,” I say with a frown as I steer the TARDIS away from the rupture. The scanner blazes red, and then an array of symbols flash across the screen. “That can’t be!” I breathe.
“What? What is it now?” Amy asks as she walks to my side of the console, being sure to never lose a firm grip. The TARDIS shakes again, but we both manage to remain standing this time.
“It’s High Gallifreyan,” I reply, pointing to the symbols.
“What does that mean?”
“It means there’s a Time Lord trying to contact us. I think … I think it’s a distress signal.”
“But the Time Lords are all dead,” Amy says as she tries to decipher the symbols. “The Doctor told us that.”
“Well,” I mutter adjusting the scanner to focus on the signal, “there have been a couple to show up, but yes, you’re right. The Time Lords all perished at the end of the Time War.” I gulp, remembering the role my husband had played in the genocide of his own species. Again, a puzzling story for another time. “But this signal is definitely coming from another Time Lord from inside that hole in the universe.” I can’t help but lock eyes with my mother. “And we need to find out who it is and close that rift before it destroys all of existence, including us.”