Last night I dreamt a Doctor Who short story. I woke up and wrote it down. Here it is.
THE LAST WALTZ
The traveller stood on the deck, gazing out at the smooth, black, glittering ocean. Above him the steam from the funnel curled and faded into the star-speckled night. The only sound was the steady, whooshing lap of the waves. The traveller breathed deeply, taking in the view, the vast tranquillity, the cold breeze ruffling his hair.
A woman appeared behind him. “It’s nearly time”, she said softly. The traveller turned and, with a knowing smile, she led him indoors, through narrow, winding passages, down steep stairways, until they came to the ballroom.
The orchestra played a gentle waltz. Something by Schubert or Strauss. The ballroom was full of dancers. The traveller stood in the doorway and watched as the figures slowly span and spiralled across the dancefloor. He didn’t recognise them, and yet they were somehow familiar. An elderly man, his face set in a determined, proud frown, dancing with a woman in an elegant French gown. A short man with thick, unruly hair and furrowed features dancing with a girl in a heavy Victorian gown. A tall man in a velvet jacket and frilled shirt dancing with a girl in ancient Greek clothes. A bohemian dancing with a girl in renaissance clothes. A cricketer dancing with a woman in an Edwardian dress. A man in colourful coat dancing with a penguin. A small man dancing with a Georgian aristocrat. A man with long hair whirling across the floor with great enthusiasm, sweeping his partner off her feet with every turn. A man in a tuxedo dancing with a waitress. And a man dancing manically, arms raised above his head with all the elegance of a newly-born gazelle. And there were others there too, other friends and passengers, as well as two men in leather jackets, standing on the side, one perfectly still, one awkwardly shrugging and swaying in time to the music, his arms folded.
The traveller gazed at the dancers and realised there was something odd about them. They were transparent. Sometimes he could see one pair of dancers through the bodies of another. Sometimes their drifting, meandering routes would take one pair of dancers through another. But they didn’t seem to mind, or even to notice.
The woman waited beside the traveller. “Who are these people?” he asked. “Are they from my past, or my future?”
“The way you live your life, sweetie,” she replied, “It’s very hard to tell.” She took his hand. “Come on.”
She led him out of the ballroom and back through the winding corridors. He didn’t know where they were going but he knew he had to follow. But he paused at a porthole, to gaze out at the glittering ocean one more time.
He’d thought the ocean was reflecting the night sky. But it wasn’t. The ocean was full of stars.
“This way,” said the woman, leading the traveller onwards and downwards. “There’s someone waiting to meet you, someone I think you’re going to like very, very much.”
They arrived at a pair of double doors, painted blue, with glass windows in the uppermost panel. The woman held the doors open for the traveller.
The traveller was nervous about what lay beyond the doors. Fearful but curious. “Is this death?” he asked.
“Oh no,” the woman smiled. “Quite the opposite.”
And then there was a wheezing, groaning sound...