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cursed!

PART TWO

The Doctor helped Leon off his chair and propelled him towards the oaken door, wishing with all his hearts to make sure the man got some proper treatment for his illness, before the villagers decided to render their own brand of cure!

'Where are we going?' asked Leon, anxiously. 'For God's sake, Doctor...I've told you, I've got to be killed.' He resisted the Time Lord's efforts with the ferocity of a...a wolf!

'Listen, Leon,' chimed in Peri, while catching hold of his other arm. 'Nobody around here is gonna die, you especially. If the Doctor says he can treat you, he can treat you...'

The Doctor's voice interrupted her triade: 'And, where there's life, there's hope.' He looked down his nose and mumbled under his breath, 'Even if there is very little...'

Putting on the most confident smile he could and failing to inspire the necessary morale boost, the Doctor decided action needed to be taken. He literally shoved Leon through the open door, straight into the barrels of six very primitive breech loading rifles held by the six justices, and behind them most of the men folk from the village.

'There, you see, Leon, we've even been given an armed escort. That's very good of you.' The Doctor beamed radiantly at Quinn and Marlok, and then his expression soured because the rifles never moved from their aimed positions. 'Killing Leon isn't going to stop it you know...anyone could have been bitten any time.'

He walked, shoes squelching in soft-liquid mud, past the pointed rifles until he was face to face with Quinn. 'You!' He then turned to Marlok and pushed on his shoulder with his finger: 'You!' with a flourish of his arm the Doctor encompassed the whole village, 'All of you!'

Feeble grunts and angry mutterings came form the crowd. They shuffled on easily, moving slowly forwards, though still circling Leon and Peri. The Doctor, hands thrust deep in his pockets turned back to Marlok and fixed him with an unblinking stare. The Time Lord could see the fear flare in his eyes and stayed there  flickering. All he had to do was fan the burning flame of fear.

Marlok knew he was sweating, he could smell himself and he knew his heart was thumping, he could hear it in his head - a dull throbbing. With shaking hands he brought the rifle upwards and aimed it hesitantly towards the Doctor's nose. All he had to do was squeeze the trigger and this meddler would be finished, but there was something about him...something unearthly. He had the power and he knew how to use it.

Knowing he was about to make Marlok wet himself, the Doctor continued, unflinchingly. 'Yes, you were there and chased Leon last night didn't you? You could easily have been bitten. It's not hard to conceal any wound that small, and anyway, Leon revealed to us exactly who he attacked last night on the way over here from the Inn, and guess who was last on his list Mr. Marlok?'

'No! No! It's a bloody lie, you hear, it's a lie!' Marlok looked for morale support from his fellow comrades but none was forth coming.

Quinn was beginning to think, noted the Doctor. His normal stupid looking face was suddenly a mask of intelligence. The words almost died in his throat. 'You, you were limping a bit after you came back this very morning!'

It was working, thought the Doctor. 'Show us your ankle, Marlok.' The Doctor knew Marlok was a cretin, enough to actually believe in what was happening to him.

As Marlok bent to roll up his roughly sewn trouser leg, the Doctor took the only chance he could. As all eyes were turned towards Marlok's fumbling hands upon his right ankle, the action-packed Gallifreyan put his shoulders forwards, bent his head low and plummeted straight into Marlok and past straight into the knot of villagers.

At first there was confusion, until one of the Justices jabbed his rifle butt straight behind the Doctor's ear, and a sickening crunch resounded. The Doctor moaned, twisted in mid-air and collapsed to the oozing ground.

Peri, totally ignoring Leon, rushed to aid her mentor as the villagers' and Justices' attentions focussed on Leon and they surged past her.

Leon did little to resist. He realised his time had come and he wanted to die, here and now after so much agony. With cries of 'Burn him!' and 'Shoot him!' ringing in his ears he felt hands tearing at his clothing and he was dragged forward towards the middle of the village where a great funeral pyre had been set up. Thrust upon the rough resting place, he watched as Quinn stepped forward unrolling a tattered scroll.

'You know of the rights of a citizen of this village?'

Looking bravely onwards, Leon croaked, 'Aye,'

Quinn smiled, sadistically. 'Well, they don't apply to you!'

'It doesn't really matter. I deserve to die. Only then will I truly be free...at least I won't see you again.' Defiant to the bitter end, Leon placed vehemence on his words.

'That's fair enough. You heard him. Admittance of guilt. Mr. Marlok, the case please.'


~~~

Believed to have himself back into his fellows' confidence, Marlok had a renewed vigour. He took a small black box from his pocket. He opened the lid a fraction and removed a cover slip, concealing the words written upon it.'For Use In Emergencies Only'. There in the box sat a small silver ball. Without reluctance, Marlok handed it to Quinn. Then the stranger appeared again:

The Doctor supported by Peri, staggered through the crowd of villagers and roughly thrust aside Marlok, the butt of the Doctor's anger.

'You interrupt the course of justice again, stranger.' growled Quinn.

'If you're going to kill him you'll have to shoot me at the, the...' The Doctor winced, blood was beginning to cascade once more from the wound upon his head. He staggered and Peri tugged on his sleeve.

'Come on, Doc., keep it together. You're Leon's only hope.' she hissed into his ear.

Seeing what seemed to be, two Quinns facing him, as well as four times as many villagers, the injured Gallifreyan rocked back and forth and began to scramble for something to hold on to. He dropped, leaving Peri empty handed. It was up to her now.

Peri took up the stance shielding Leon's form. She heard him screech angrily, 'Get out of the way, Peri! It's time for me to rest in peace.' Her bottom lip quivered and a tear streaked her face; a tear both for Leon and the Doctor. She faced Quinn shivering and stuttered.

'You, you wouldn't want to kill an unarmed girl, would you?'

Quinn's answer sickened her. 'To me, you're just another trouble maker and if you're to die with that scum behind you, then so be it. I'll shoot this bullet straight through you if need be!' He brought the rifle level with Peri's heart, then jerked the weapon upwards catching her under the chin.

Peri's head snapped backwards, crying out she flopped towards the still form of the Doctor. She sank to her knees sobbing.

The action inflamed Leon. He leapt for Quinn's throat, hands outstretched, ready to squeeze the soft flesh and crush the sizable Adam's apple. He never reached is desire.

Quinn squeezed the trigger, smoke from the carbine clouded the air between Leon's gurgling, writhing body and the smoking barrel. With the greatest satisfaction Quinn admired his handiwork, as he watched a scarlet stain spread its liquid fingers across Leon's white shirt.

With the agility of a dead fish, Leon crumpled and fell backwards upon his thorny death bed.

Quinn raised the rifle over his head and brandished it high. ' 'tis done, the evil has been purged. Burn the abomination!'

A yelling, jostling tide of villagers crashed past him and their leader, followed by others, applied torch, after blazing torch to the growing pyre. The flames reached Leon's body and charred it beyond recognition in an instant. They stood in a ring, like a cult offering a sacrifice to appease their gods, as two bedraggled figures heaved themselves from the Earth to walk, wounded both physically and in spirit away from the scene of carnage. Little did they realise it was not over yet...at least Peri did not know that.

~~~

They sat in solemn silence in Leon's deserted cottage as the chill air wafted the scent of the dead towards them. 'I'm sorry, Peri. I tried.' The Doctor hung him head low, trying to ease his conscience and his headache at the same time.

'Don't...' Peri began but was interrupted.

'Blame yourself?' The Doctor sniffed. 'I can't. Leon wanted death. He was happy to die, but there's something nothing quite right about his death. For a start, it was all very methodically planned for and, all the villagers were suddenly very enthusiastic about it. They could have killed him before and yet...and yet obviously they didn't want to. That's it!' The Doctor slapped his brow. 'Marlok said Leon killed one of the Justices. He was after revenge.'

'So, what does that prove? Marlok incited the village against Leon, that's all.'

'Yes, yes but he could have done it at any time before now, the trigger was the death of a Justice. Obviously they are of great importance to each other. And another thing. While I was crawling about, I got a good look at the Justices' boots...'

'So?'

'So, my dear Peri, they're made of a substance not of nineteenth century Earth, The smell of them was all wrong, not leather at all. We're sitting on top of the biggest anachronism, but I don't know why,  and won't until we've sniffed around a bit more.'

Peri turned, watering eyes to him. 'Can't we just leave? There's too many memories here.' She gazed mournfully towards Leon's writing bureau, noticing the leather bound diary still sitting there; the last personal link with Leon. She took it into her hands and opened it. But she dared not read the contents. 'Can I keep this, Doctor?' Her pleading eyes begged.

Absently, the Doctor waved his hand. 'Of course, of course, but we're not leaving yet. There's something more to this place than meets the eye; boots that aren't boots and Justices of the peace that are something more in a village, straight out of some ghastly horror film.' He rose from his seat, pacing up and down, finger upon chin in deep thought.

'Now, the only place no one goes to in this village is the Courthouse as Leon told us. That has to be the final place in the anachronistic jigsaw puzzle...' He sank back into the chair again and went into a thoughtful trance.

Feeling that she was not wanted, Peri began to sidle towards the door. 'I'm going to see Leo's body...' she stuttered. There was no answer and so Peri turned and left.

A few moments later and Peri was back, babbling breathlessly. 'Doctor, Doctor, his body. It's gone. Someone's taken it to the Courthouse!' She shook the Doctor's shoulder which immediately shook him from his meditation and then he sank back into insensibility again. 'Oh forget it!' she snapped, 'Do I have to do everything myself?' Angrily, Peri turned on her heel and ran from the cottage.

~~~

A blackened, gangling mass of charred flesh was roughly thumped down upon a solid metallic slab.

It was a small, darkened room within the confines of the Courthouse, containing a metallic bench in the centre; a rack of gleaming surgical instruments; a large overhead operating table illuminator and a small neat control console and microphone.

Marlok sat at the console, his legs upon the lit surface. He watched with distain as three Justices in surgeon garbs, hovered like vultures around the corpse of Leon. With a dull voice he began his monologue into the microphone:

'Base One to Homeworld. Day 5204. Time: 22.10 home standard. Countdown to zero hour, eight hours, twelve minutes awaiting notification code and tractor order. Log 5204: This is Citizen Justice Marlok reporting an emergency procedure ten for Citizen Leon Flanders. Body is being prepared for zero hour, dispatch taking place in two, home standard minutes. Awaiting orders. Out.'

The snake like microphone retracted and Marlok watched, drinking in the scene before him, like some elegant bouquet of claret with an egotistic glee. He'd got rid of Leon himself.

The surgeons worked with meticulous ease as they began to dissect the darkened remains of Leon Flanders, cutting into the hardened crispy flesh, severing tendons and muscles until the
final tearing of flesh from the bone. Yes, this was going to be a rare delicacy

The meat was tossed into an open wall drawer and once full of limbs and all the other vital organs, it automatically slid back into the wall. There was a 'hiss' of another door opening somewhere and then the drawer slid back out - empty!

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