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Sarah Jane Drops In: Chapter Two

Title: Chapter Two: Happy New Zealand Holiday
Theme: Point of View Challenge
Elements: Gold, one, cylinder
Author's Notes:
See my Notes about the Doctor Who fictional universe in Chapter One. Chapter Two also includes footnotes to explain elements of the Who'verse for those who are unfamiliar with Doctor Who.

This chapter contains the August challenge elements, which I have included in bold type when each word is first used.
Summary: At a critical moment in Third Age history, a modern Englishwoman has dropped into Middle Earth. Or is it New Zealand in Summer 2008?
Word Count: 2395


Sarah Jane eagerly cleared a path through the thicket of dry bushes where the TARDIS had landed. Hopefully, the Doctor had not left her in an impenetrable forest far, far from Christchurch, the largest city in New Zealand's South Island. Behind her, she heard the TARDIS' engines rev up. In a second, she knew that the blue box would dissolve into the time-space continuum--or merely fly a few hundred miles away into Wellington.

She was on her own in the silent, pleasantly fragrant forest. Ah, how she loved the start of a vacation. Picking her way through the shrubbery, Sarah found a foot path with clear marks of recent boot tracks. As she walked, her hands rested instinctively on the small pack at her waist. Inside the pack was her passport with psychic paper insert. For her safety, the Doctor gave Sarah her very own piece of blank psychic paper, identical to the papers the Doctor used to convince government bureaucrats that the paper was a legitemate visa or other legal ID for their country.

Sarah reached into the pack to power on her local language to English translator device. The translator altered the language local people spoke to sound like English to English-speaking
listeners. It worked in reverse, as well, making it appear to non-English speakers that the English speakers conversed with them in their local tongue. Very nifty. [1]

When Sarah had requested a translator device, the Doctor laughed, "They speak English in New Zealand."

"What if I lose my way and have to ask directions from an Indonesian tourist?" Sarah reminded when she squeezed the translator into her waist pack.

Here in the New Zealand woods, she traveled down a short incline. The thud of her feet against the sandy trail reverberated in the motionless woods. If only she hadn't put her New Zealand travel map in her back pack. Odd. The ground vibrated slightly. Was this one of the island's frequent earthquakes? Sarah stopped and rested against a tree. In the distance she heard a rumble that drew come closer as she listened. Trucks! Surely the vibration and the sounds came from heavy vehicles. A road must be near by.

Sarah stopped at the top of a little knoll. Her path led down the slope to a well-graded rural dirt road not thirty feet beyond. The road appeared adequate for tractors and herds of sheep, but hardly sufficient for commercial trucks. The rumble grew ever closer. Through breaks in the trees Sarah could see off in the distance an oncoming troop of large men racing along the road in her direction.

She descended the knoll a little bit. She desperately wanted to know her location but feared to flag down the oncoming group in case they were military. Sarah hadn't exactly entered the country legally, psychic paper not withstanding. So she sequestered herself in a cluster of boulders about ten feet from the road.

As the figures drew closer, something peculiar occurred. The alien sensing watch that the Doctor gave Sarah Jane a few years ago flashed red on and off. Aliens? Here? It might be possible. However, she was on vacation and was not responsible for investigating alien presences for the New Zealand government. Sarah sank behind the rocks, peaking her head out to spy on the approaching runners.

The oncoming figures became more distinct, Sarah was taken aback. Judging from their black hued skin, the tallest must be Australian aboriginals clothed in thick rubber armor. Others were shorter, more wirey, green and blue skinned, with grotesquely shaped mouths. Many had stringy straight hair with objects like sticks or bones entwined into it. These colorful runners were clad in dust covered leather or burlap garments, and armed with weirdly shaped objects that might well be weapons.

They looked vaguely familiar.

Then Sarah Jane felt confident that she remembered their scenes and costumes well. Indeed, this lot had to be the Uruk Hai and orcs from the "Lord of the Rings" films. Sure enough, the TARDIS' somewhat unreliable computation of Terran dates had dropped her into New Zealand some eight years ago, rather than the present time. The Doctor had inadvertently dropped her into New Zealand during the filming of the "Lord of the Rings"trilogy. The orc horde thundered toward Sarah Jane's hiding place and then passed without hesitation. She heard one of the actors call out in a thick Kiwi accent, "Get a move on, maggots. We've got a job to do."

"Making you look better to your boss?" another Kiwi voice squeaked a complaint between puffs.

What a thrill, Sarah thought. She mustn't let them see her and think she was one of the eager fans who perpetually tried to crash the film site. Still, something was singularly odd. Her alien-detecting watch continued to flash. Not only that, shouldn't the pack be accompanied by a film crew--and maybe even Peter Jackson--brandishing cameras, lighting equipment, hand held microphones and other paraphernalia? Oh well, this must be just a dress rehearsal.

When the crowd disappeared behind a bend in the road, Sarah crossed and found another foot path into the trees. The huge throng of actors she just saw could only mean there must be a filming crew in the vicinity. She could ask them for directions and perhaps even a lift to Christchurch.

Sarah slowed her pace down the new path. With each clearing, she stopped and crept carefully from tree to tree, surveying her surroundings, taking care to make as little noise as possible. About ten minutes after she spied the running actors, she heard voices that sounded fairly near.

Hoping that her judgment was correct, Sarah Jane left the path and slowly wound her way through the trees and under brush. She could distinguish the voices of two men. As she drew nearer, Sarah quite distinctly heard one voice say, "Are you sure you do not suffer needlessly?"

A second voice responded, "I know what counsel you would give me. And it would seem like wisdom but for the warning in my heart."[2]

Those words! Sarah recognized those words immediately, though she wasn't quite sure in which scene they were spoken.

The first actor's voice continued, "Warning? Against what? We're all afraid, Frodo."

Frodo! She was right. The TARDIS had miscalculated time by eight years. They were filming the Lord of the Rings trilogy right here. That was Boromir, Sean Bean's character, speaking. What a thrill. Bean, the pride of Yorkshire, in one of the great scenes of his career. She heard his voice continue:

"Ah, the Ring. The One Ring. Is it not a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt for so small a thing."

As the actors continued their scene, Sarah crept closer. A ring of bushes obscured her view, though she could clearly hear Elijah Wood answer.

"It is best that it should lie hidden."

Disregarding its scratching branches, Sarah Jane knelt beside a bush. With trembling hands, she parted its leaves and peaked out. In a clearing she saw the back of a tall, broadly built man dressed in a fine woolen, Medieval style tunic over glittering chain mail and leggings. His long black hair was gathered in a cue by a leather thong. Hardly Sean Bean. Most likely Maori.

Some feet away from him stood a boy, back to Sarah Jane. He was probably ten or eleven years old, with curly brown hair. The child wore a Victorian style frock coat and trousers ending just below his knees. Almost predictably, he was barefoot, with thin tendrils of hair quite convincingly wrapped around his toes. Sarah could make out his hirsute feet even at a distance. Fantastic costume.

Sarah sighed in disappointment. She had clearly misjudged the Doctor. It was 2008 and these two must be re-enactors from one of the many tour groups that visited the "Lord of the Rings" film locations. As they continued their scene, Sarah's eyes drifted across the small clearing where the two stood. Her hunch was confirmed. They were alone-- no sign of a film crew, not even a friend or tour guide with a digital camera to record what must be, for these two, a special moment. She got up from her uncomfortable position. Might as well make her presence known. Maybe these tourists could give her a ride to Christchurch.

Just as she was about to step out of the thicket and reveal herself, the Boromir wannabe growled in such a terribly convincing manner that Sarah Jane stopped in her tracks. "It is not yours save by unhappy chance. It could have been mine!" he threatened. Then he grabbed for the boy, who tumbled into the grass.

"It should be mine! Give it to me!" the tall man demanded. The boy who played Frodo twisted out of Boromir's grasp and cried, "No!" He twisted his head in Sarah's direction. His face froze Sarah's blood. Though the features were very pleasing to her eye, this Frodo did not look like a pre-pubsescent boy at all, nor did he look like Elijah Wood. Here was the face of a full-grown man somewhere in his 30s, though clearly no more than four feet tall.

Boromir turned as well and, as Sarah now feared, he was not Polynesian but clearly Caucasian, with an angular face, well trimmed dark beard, and skin pale as any sun-fearing black Irishman. "Give me the ring," he threatened and lunged to grab for Frodo. Just as his hand would have grabbed the small fellow's leg, Boromir instead grabbed thin air.

Where was she! Sarah swiftly lifted her hand to her lips to stifle a scream. She turned and fled from the scene, knowing that she knew its horrendous outcome. That strange little man--well, that HOBBIT, had vanished from sight as though he really and truly had slipped the One Ring onto his finger.

The forest about her had suddenly come alive. She heard the thunder of many feet, voices calling, screams, grunts. Where had the Doctor left her? This was no film site nor re-enactors gone amok. Her alien-sensitive watch flashed like a neon sign in Piccadilly Circus. Where could she be? The two people she had seen had called each other Boromir and Frodo.

Sarah eschewed retracing her steps and instead raced for a nearby copse of trees. She flung herself against the ground, the weight of her backpack pressing her heaving diaphragm into the scratchy underbrush. Where was she? Had the TARDIS landed her right into the mind of Professor Tolkien? She had heard the Doctor speak of similar adventures in one of his early incarnations. Was she now in the place where the Doctor had once landed, the unpredictable Land of Fiction? [3] How could she get out of this mess?

In the distance, Sarah heard the voices of young men calling amongst themselves. Then came the pounding of heavy feet, the crash of steel and groans of bodies colliding against each other. She had to get out of here, wherever "here" was. She could not see far beyond the trees but could hear the sound of combat quite clearly. Not far off, the sound of a horn, clear as a bell, vibrated in the air. Recognizing the fateful sound, Sarah Jane slowly raised her body into kneeling position. Her hand reached into her bra cup. The trusty gold cylinder had not
budged from its usual position, pressed against her right breast.

"Hey, what's this?" A deep voice boomed. A huge orc, or was the creature an Uruk, bent over her, spewing a hideous vapor of bad breath, "A fancy boy elf?"

Sarah's mouth gaped open, her right hand stuck inside her bra cup. In a lightening moment, she could hear the Doctor's voice warn, "We cannot change the course of Earth's past events without
affecting the future of the universe."

What about changing the course of Professor Tolkien's book? Sarah Jane's mind whirled as the uruk yanked her to her feet. "I am neither an elf nor a boy," Sarah yelled back at the uruk in defiance what she feared might be her last words.

"I say, whatever you are makes no difference," the creature grunted as he hurled Sarah over his shoulders. "Boys, look what we've got for dinner," he called out to his buddies. "Chicken meat!"

A roar of hearty approval rose from the creatures nearby. Sarah kicked her abductor's back as he started to run. Her unbound right hand withdrew the cylinder from her bra. To save her own life, she would, indeed, have to change Professor Tolkien's story. She craned her neck upward and saw a small rock approaching on the path some ten feet beyond. Raising her sonic lipstick case [4] she aimed its sound wave beam at the rock, which flew into the air. Sarah could hear the object's collision with the uruk's head. The stunned creature crumbled backward, heaving Sarah Jane's body on top of him.

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

AUTHOR'S NOTES ON THE WHO'VERSE

[1] My favorite example of the alien language to English translator is in the episode "Smith
and Jones" from the new Dr. Who, Season 3.

[2] I chose for this chapter lines from Tolkien that appear in both the books and the movies.

[3] The second Doctor and his companions Jamie and Zoe visited the Land of Fiction in the
adventure, "The Mind Robber." There they met many characters from myth and fairy tale.

[4] The tenth Doctor, as currently played by David Tennant, gave Sarah Jane the sonic lipstick
case at the end of the episode "School Reunion." The sonic lipstick is a similar tool to
the Doctor's own sonic screwdriver. The lipstick case emits sonic beams, which are mostly
used to open closed doors or stuck locks. The Doctor's sonic screwdriver is not supposed
to be used as a weapon. However, the beams from the sonic screwdriver, or sonic lipstick,
can be used to turn ordinary objects into lethal weapons--the plot device I just used.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
lindahoyland
Aug. 18th, 2008 04:16 am (UTC)
This is gripping,though Doctor Who is utterly alien to me,and I thought the translator came from Star Trek!I'll be fascinated to see if Sarah Jane is in a book or she is about to discover that LOTR really happened.
It was truly chilling when she realised that Frodo was a Hobbit and not a child!
stefaniab
Aug. 18th, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC)
Hi Linda (and Leo). I think translator devices were pretty common in mid-20th century TV science fiction. The original Star Trek TV show came out about three years after Dr. Who. I think both shows shared much in common, including ghastly special effects in the early episodes.

Poor Sarah is totally freaked at the thought that Boromir and Frodo might be real. The next chapter should have a very "Who" explanation as to where Sarah is. She also gets to meet most of the Fellowship, just as they are about to sunder. Poor girl has to test her knowledge of Tolkien's world in order to give some fancy explanations as to just who and what she is.

I'm so glad to hear that this chapter held your interest.
mrowe
Aug. 27th, 2008 03:46 pm (UTC)
Ah, she really is in trouble there...

Looking forward to the next chapter:)
stefaniab
Aug. 27th, 2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Nath. I'm in trouble, too. I have to write that next chapter. Yikes! Stay tuned.
blslarner
Aug. 29th, 2008 06:59 am (UTC)
Excellent turning of the expectations to realization. And love that Frodo is FRODO, and not Elijah Wood after all, and that Boromir is Dunedain! Yes!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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