Down the Rabbit Hole
Leaning back in the porch swing, I let the cold January breeze blow across my skin. It was too cool to be outside, but the house held the memory of the short time Eric had spent here with me hiding out from Marnie the psycho witch. She’d cursed him with amnesia and I had sheltered and fallen in love with him during that time. He wasn’t the Eric that I had come to know. He had been sweet and kind, almost human for a time. But now he was back to being Sheriff of Area Five, playing in the vampire pool and ruling his small kingdom from his vampire bar in Shreveport called Fangtasia. Before his memory had been restored he promised to bring me to his side, to share everything with me, and in general to love me like I wanted him to be able to, but I knew better. He might have meant it in his altered state, but he’d never believe anything that had happened between us if I told him. The fangbanger panty dropper would never believe that he had fallen in love with me. It was all about the S.E.X. that he couldn’t remember. I was sure of it.
Which explains why I was out here in the cold wrapped in a blanket and wearing the cranberry coat he’d bought me, I didn’t want to face the fact that I was just too scared to tell him the truth. I didn’t want to admit that I was terrified of falling in love with the real Eric, who was most definitely not my Eric. So I was avoiding the house and cleaning out the room that had been carved out just below my closet where Eric had been staying. The only thing I had done in the last few days was take the check for fifty thousand dollars that he had written me for hiding him to the bank. I wouldn’t even have done that except keeping any uncashed check around was just a bad idea.
My thoughts were playing dodgeball in my brain when they were frozen by the rise and fall of a whirring, whooshing sound echoing from the backyard. It sounded almost like the scrape of a snow shovel against pavement, a sound I rarely heard in this neck of the country. I unwound the blanket from my body and untucked my legs, stretching them quickly before jumping to my feet to see just what was making that crazy noise. Rounding the back corner of the house I saw a blue phone booth sitting in the middle of my grandmother’s garden.
“What on God’s green earth?” I wondered aloud. Just then a messy brown-haired man in a brown pinstriped suit and Converse sneakers poked his head out.
“This isn’t New York. Why can I never find New York when I want to?” He wore a look of utter confusion as his head swiveled taking in the trees and yard. A hand reached into his inner pocket and pulled out a long cylindrical something or other that looked like it might be a kindergartener’s thick first pencil. It made a brief buzzing sound and lit up as he waved it wildly around the yard. Finally he noticed he wasn’t alone.
“Um, hello sir. Can I help you? You seem slightly confused.” He stepped out of his box and reached into his pocket again, pulling out a pair of rectangular glasses and perching them on the end of his nose.
“You’re a blonde.” He stated as his frenetic movements took on a more subdued tone.
“Well yes, since the day I was born. But what are you doing in my grandmother’s roses?” I asked trying to hide my annoyance, I was southern and it wouldn’t do to be anything less than completely polite.
“Ah. Right. Roses…” His face took on a faraway look before he continued. “Right. Sorry about that. I’ll just be going then.” The door behind him slammed shut. “Well now, that’s strange. She’s never done that before.”
“She who sir? And who are you?” I wondered briefly if I had fallen down a rabbit hole without noticing as things just kept getting stranger.
“She. The TARDIS. And I’m The Doctor. Nice to meet you…”
“Sookie.” I completed for him.
“Sookie. Strange name.” He squinted at me and waved his magic wand or whatever it was in my direction. “Human. Well mostly human. Approximate age, 25. And it’s January 22, 2007, interesting.”
“Whoa there nelly. I’m totally human and Doctor Who?”
“That wasn’t an answer.” I was getting frustrated and beginning to wonder if this man was completely insane. Or maybe I was. How many people see random blue phone booths that materialize in their backyard? “Who are you? What is a tardis and why is there a phone booth in my grandmother’s roses?”
“I’m The Doctor, just The Doctor. And the police box,” he enunciated for my benefit, “is my TARDIS. Time and Relative Dimension in Space.” I must have looked utterly lost. “She’s um..she is my…well…she’s my spaceship. Sorry about the roses.”
Gah! I hadn’t even tried to use my telepathy since I was so flabbergasted by the events unfolding before me. I took a few steps closer to him and tried to read his mind, which was like trying to read a foreign language without a dictionary. The only thing I could make out was ‘reminds me a little of Rose’. I kept trying, but most of what I heard made absolutely no sense to me. Spacetime continuum, reverse the polarity, Raxacoricofallapatorius…totally confusing babble.
Alright, moving on.
“Who? How? What?” He waved his wand at me again; man I was getting sick of that. “Telepathic…ah…well that explains it. And definitely only mostly human, sorry to inform you.” He got close to me buzzing all around.
“Would you please put that thing away? I’m human, definitely human, no mostly about it.”
“That’s my sonic screwdriver and wrong, you’re only mostly human.” More buzzing and waving of his sonic screwdriver, whatever that was. “You’re part…hmmm…fairy? Could that be right? Anyway. I was supposed to be going to see Elvis in New York, but I failed again. Seems the TARDIS wanted me here for some reason. So let’s start with the basics. Where am I?”
“You’re in Bon Temps, Louisiana. I’m a fairy huh? Interesting.”
“Yes, you are, but never mind that.” He waved his hand to indicated we were moving on. “Louisiana, never been there before. You haven’t seen Elvis have you?”
“Well he was here a few days ago, but he’s gone now. And you really ought to know he doesn’t like to be called by that name. He goes by Bubba since he was turned.”
“Turned. Like he was a rotisserie? And you know Elvis? I must admit Sookie, you aren’t making much sense here.”
“Look who’s talking! I can’t even get a proper name out of you. And turned, like since he became a vampire.”
“Elvis is a vampire? Well that would explain a lot. So there are vampires in this world. What was he doing here?” The madman with a box asked me.
“For goodness sake, his name is Bubba. He was here helping me protect a friend of mine. And there’s lots more than vampires here and they will all help protect me if you try any funny business.” I tried to copy Eric’s threatening eyebrow raise though I’m not sure I entirely succeeded.
“So a world where the supernatural isn’t in hiding. Fascinating. Utterly fascinating. So now, why do you think she brought me here?”
“She who? Are you keeping a woman captive in that box of yours?” I moved closer towards the blue box.
“She, my TARDIS, keep up Sookie.”
“Yes, I’ve noticed that about myself. Now what about you? Tell me what’s been going on in your life that might have attracted me here.”
I really didn’t want to talk about it, but maybe he would leave soon and I could get back to my self-pity party. “Well let’s see. About a year ago vampires announced themselves to the world when a Japanese company invented a blood substitute for them. I’m a telepath and most recently I’ve been housing a thousand year old Viking vampire who was cursed by a witch with amnesia, but we got that all straightened out.”
“A Viking vampire? Oh this is someone I must meet.” His face broke out in a crooked grin as he looked around as if he expected Eric to jump out of the bushes in broad daylight.
“First it’s daylight so no, not meeting him right now. Second, he’s not here anymore and I’m not real anxious to call him up to come and meet a madman.” I backed away worrying that this was yet another threat that would end with me getting beaten up. I’d made that New Year’s Eve resolution for a reason even if it hadn’t worked out so well so far this year.
“That’s unfortunate. Why wouldn’t you want to see him? It seems that he would have a wealth of stories to tell. Older than me too which is hard to do.” He seemed honestly confused.
“It’s complicated. We were involved when he had amnesia, but now we’re not.”
“So what’s his story?” The madman asked an interested gleam in his eye.
“I don’t know much beyond he was a Viking, now he’s a handsome, yet insufferably arrogant, overly protective vampire.”
He raised an eyebrow at my description, which made my heart pang for Eric. “Handsome and arrogant. Sounds like me! Now I definitely want to meet him.”
“Not gonna happen buddy. You just stay the heck away from Eric.” I stepped closer to The Doctor getting ready to threaten him if he even looked askance in Eric’s direction.
“So she’s overly protective herself it seems of this man she doesn’t want to see.”
Harumph. “Am not.” I realized I was very obviously trying to cover something up so I continued on. “Alright, so yes, I might be slightly overprotective of him. Doesn’t mean anything.”
“I beg to differ. It means there’s more to the story than your telling me. I tried to send someone I cared for away once, she came back of her own free will, then I lost her anyway. Now I’d give anything to get her back, but it’s not possible. So why don’t you explain why you’re holding back. I promise it won’t end well.”
“Rose?” He nodded sadly. I pulled out two lawn chairs gesturing that he should take one. Though I didn’t know why I felt like I could trust him, I did and started pouring my heart out to this stranger. “See I was dating this vampire named Bill who introduced me to Eric who is his Sheriff, vampires here have a very feudal society, who took a shine to me. He flirts and manipulates and has the confidence of twenty men, but I never trusted him even though he made it clear that he wanted me. That is until he lost his memory and I found him on the side of the road one night. I took him in and protected him from the witches who cursed him. Long story short he promised me the world and proclaimed his love for me. Then he got his memory back, but didn’t remember our time together. Now that he’s back to being the old Eric, I won’t risk loving him. That’s a short walk off of heartbreak pier. Besides, he just wants to use me.”
The Doctor leaned forward his elbows perched on his knees and his chin tucked into his thin hands. “Are you sure of that?”
“Sure of what?”
“Sure that he only wants to use you. Doesn’t sound like you’re giving your vampire a fair shake. A thousand years old and he loses his memory only for you to find him? Here in the middle of nowhere? Seems like a bit more than coincidence in my book, well in my book there is no coincidence, but never mind that. Did you ever think there might be a bigger reason for all of this? Did you even give him the opportunity to try and understand?”
“Well, no, but I know…”
“Pish posh,” he interrupted. “What if who he was with you is who he really is? Did you ever think of that?” I shook my head. “What if you could?”
“Know the real him? The person he’s been for a thousand years? Would you take that opportunity? Or squander it on suppositions and insecurities?”
I considered it. Would I like to know who Eric had been before I met him? Would it change my mind? “I never thought about it.”
The Doctor stood quickly and started pacing. “She knows a thousand year old Viking vampire and she never thought about knowing him. What a waste, maybe I shouldn’t even bother. Hmmm…just get back in the TARDIS and go try and find Elvis, the real Elvis mind you not the vampire Elvis.”
“You’re rambling Doctor…” I began.
“Well I suppose I am. Happens that way sometimes you see.” His hands ran through his hair making it stick up at odd angles.
“What does it matter? It’s not like I can go back in time and live a thousand years beside him.”
“Well no, not a thousand years, that would take way too long; even I don’t have that kind of time. But say you could see parts of his life as he lived them? Would you want to?” He stopped his frantic pacing and just stared at me. “The TARDIS travels through time and space you see.”
Wow, that was seriously mind-blowing. “Then yes, absolutely.”
“Do you have anything that might have his DNA on it?”
“Well, I’d have to calibrate the TARDIS to seek out his timestream which, since I don’t know him and you don’t know his history, would be easier say if you had something of him.”
“I’ve got a sweatshirt that he wore while he was staying with me, would that work?”
“We’ll find out. Get it and meet me in the TARDIS.” He dashed off before I could say anything else like…uh how in the heck were we both gonna fit in that box? But I did as I was told, locking up the house behind me, since I had no idea when I’d return. Crap. I had to work. Well I’d just have to let this Doctor know that I needed to be back in two days.
I made my way out into the backyard and knocked on the thin blue door before entering. What I saw blew my mind more than any combination of supernatural creatures ever could. I jumped back outside quickly and poked my head back in.
“Come in come in, don’t let all the bugs in, terrible to get out once they get into the wiring and now there’s a dangerous situation, bugs gnawing on the bits and bobbles.”
I closed the door and walked into what must be the control room that looked like it might be alive with its center tubing, with what appeared to be some kind of pump that might very well breathe for the spaceship. “It’s bigger on the inside.”
He grinned wildly at me. “Why yes, yes it is. You wouldn’t believe that no matter how many times they say that it never gets old. Now the sweatshirt.” I handed it to him and he began searching it until he found a stray hair that Eric had left behind. He hit a button and some kind of a drawer slid out into which he put Eric’s hair and then he began maniacally hitting buttons. “Now where shall we start?”
“At the beginning? I began wondering if Eric’s amnesia self might have been his human personality before you know, he spent a thousand years as a vampire. But I need to be back in two days. That isn’t a problem is it?”
The Doctor swiveled a screen around to inspect. “Absolutely not, absolutely not. Now let me see…ahhhhh yes. Here we are. Born in 974 AD in Gettlinge on the island of Oland in Sweden, I don’t suppose you want to know him as a baby so let’s aim for 994.”
He grabbed a bunch of levers, pulling and pushing with both his hands and his feet, making me wonder if I’d made a mistake by coming with him. He really did seem insane. The TARDIS made that whirring, whooshing, shovel sound again and I had to grab onto the console to keep from being thrown to the floor. It lasted only a minute before we became still.
“Okay first things first, you need to change.”
“What’s wrong with my blue jeans and t-shirt.”
“Besides the fact that it’ll be centuries before denim is invented?” Ah, well that made sense. “Now go through that doorway, take your third left, up the spiral staircase, past the swimming pool, through the library and then it’s your second door on the right. Find something with leather and fur.”
I shrugged my shoulders, deciding to just go with it, after all, chances are we’d still be in my backyard and I’d really only lose a pair of jeans and an old University of Louisiana t-shirt. I followed his directions and found myself in a wardrobe as big as my house. It took me awhile, but I dressed as close to what I imagined a Viking woman ought to look, a kind of suede laced up dress, a fur-ish kind of wrap, and some soft-soled boots, and headed back down to the control room. He was still in the same brown suit.
“What about you? Aren’t you going to change?”
“I’m the Doctor. I don’t change, I just blend in wherever I go.”
Okay, going with the flow here, “So how am I going to understand anything that’s being said?”
“The TARDIS matrix: she’s sort of hooked into your brain now and she’ll translate any language anywhere and anytime.”
I felt around my head searching for some kind of wire port like in the Matrix, but everything seemed to be the same as it was before I went flying off into time with a madman in a box.
He laughed at me. “No, no. It’s kind of like your telepathy. In your head. No wires necessary.” He circled around me taking in my costume. “You look authentic enough although you smell rather like strawberries, it’ll have to do. Are you ready?” He held out his hand to me.
I really was beginning to think I had fallen down the rabbit hole. “So outside that door is Viking era Sweden and pre-vampire Eric?”
“Yup.” He wiggled the fingers of his outstretched hand. “Now, would you like to see this Eric of yours or shall I take you back to Bon Temps?”
“No, I’m ready. Let’s go.” I slipped my hand in to his long waggling fingers and we walked out the door onto a beach next to the Baltic Sea. I nearly fainted.