“I’ve got another story for you, if you want it.”River leans back on the bench, kicking off her sandals.
“What’s this one about?”
“It’s about when Amy lost her hair and we walked on the bottom of the ocean.”River frowns in puzzlement.
“Wait and see.”
It’s a couple of months since they joined the Doctor on the TARDIS and waved the Earth goodbye, at least for the moment.They’ve visited New New New New New Earth (the only one the Doctor hadn’t popped in on yet.After half an hour sitting in the rain at a hoverbus stop he declares it the most boring New York ever and hustles them back into the TARDIS) and a few planets Amy can never remember the names of.Rory’s been attacked by Venus human-traps and she’s had all her hair shaved off by an insane cult of bee-worshippers, and they’re starting to wonder if ‘all of time and pace’ is all it’s cracked up to be.
“I miss my hair.”She complains miserably, examining her reflection in the wardrobe mirror.Rory slips an arm around her waist and kiss her lightly on the ear lobe.
“The Doctor said he’d have something to grow it back with by this evening. And at least you have a very nice shaped-head.”She pushes him off her in mock anger.
“ ‘A very nice shaped head’?Rory, you really have no idea do you?”
There’s a tap on the door then, and the Doctor appears.
“Hello, sorry to interrupt.Just thought I’d let you know, I’ve got a hair growth tonic brewing and it should be ready in a few hours.In the meantime, I was thinking we could go and visit Woman Wept.”
“Woman Wept?”Amy asks, “What sort of a planet name is that?”
The Doctor grins, a man who knows something others don’t.
“You’ll see.Come up to the console room when you’re ready, we’ll be there in a minute.”
Five minutes later, they see do see.
“That’s…amazing.”Rory whispers, peering through the door over Amy’s shoulder.
The Doctor has steered the TARDIS so she hovers over the planet, twenty miles from the surface.And there, spread out before them, is the lone continent of Woman Wept.
Rory’s seen pictures of land-shaped-like-things before, in the countless pirate stories he used to read as a little boy, where Short Jack Steel and Whitetash sailed to islands in the shape of dragons, weighed anchor in coves where the beach curves into the image of a skull.But never in all the illustrations did he see anything as perfectly formed as this.
The continent is entirely flat, not marred by the puckering of mountains or high crops of trees.Just smooth sand, a hundred miles across to the beaches.And what beaches…they twist and bend into what can only be described as a woman, head bent in mourning.There is even a single round island a few miles offshore, a spit curving back as if a tear has slipped from the woman’s face and frozen, eternally suspended below the curve of her cheek.
“That’s…amazing.It can’t be natural.”Amy says, “It just can’t.”
“But it is.Nobody knows how or why, but I suppose that amongst all the planets in all of time and space it had to happen somewhere.”
The Doctor pulls back into the TARDIS and clambers over the railing to spin a few wheels.
“Woman Wept isn’t a planet in the sense most people think of,” he continues, as Amy shuts the door so they can dematerialise. “Nothing has ever lived here. No plants, no bacteria, no people.We’re going to be the first living things on the planet!And the waves are just incredible, hundreds of feet high.I’m landing us as far from the coast as I can so we don’t get washed away.”
They land with a dull thud in the sand and all pile out of the door at once, desperate to see what nobody has yet seen in the history of the universe.
Amy thinks it’s more beautiful than anything she’s ever seen.The sky is a deep and forbidding blue – so close to black that she thinks had she not met Vincent then ‘black’ is exactly what she would have called it.Far across the universe, a sprinkling of stars glows on the vertical horizon.It’s only by the light emanating from the TARDIS that they can see anything of the planet at all.
And oh, the things they can see…
The level plane of sand stretches out on all sides, glimmering faintly.Unlike the dull beige beaches they are so used to on Earth, this sand is vibrant and dark with shades of baked terracotta.Amy’s only wearing pumps and as the sand shifts to accommodate her feet some of it gets into her shoes.She feels it warm, despite the lack of sunshine, between her toes, with none of the gritty texture she expected.It’s like silk turned to grains, like the sand you always imagine you’ll find one day on some tropical beach but never really do.
But it’s not the sand that captures their attention and leaves their mouths open in amazement.That privilege is reserved for the ocean beyond the sand.
Magnificent, Amy thinks, doesn’t even begin to cover it.The ocean is rich with greens and blues and all they can see, all around, are the waves.Huge, spectacular waves which build and build and then crescendo into terrifyingly tall pillars of foaming water, a hundred feet tall.Then they fold in upon themselves, crashing to the sand and sending ice-cold spray over their faces. It’s an all-encompassing wall of noise, the roar and bellow of water brutalising the shore.
“Why are they so big?”She asks, brushing droplets from where they cling to her eyelashes.
“Well, you know how the tides on Earth are controlled by the moon?”The Doctor explains, turning his head towards her but not actually taking his eyes from the water “It’s the same here.Except that Woman Wept has three moons moving in a very distinct pattern around the planet.That, along with the fact there’s only one land-mass, leads to…this.”He sighs, small and awed.
“What happens to it?”
Amy jumps, a little startled.So absorbed had she been with watching the water she’d almost forgotten Rory was there.“Does it just stay like this forever, the water coming back and forth forever?”
“No.”The Doctor sighs heavily, sadly.“No, Rory, it doesn’t.In...” he checks his watch, squinting to read the detail, “…about the equivalent of three years, something happens.I don’t know exactly how, but the sun goes out.And all of this,” he gestures at the foaming waves, “Freezes at once.”
The Doctor smiles a little then, like he’s remembering something from long before he’d ever heard of Leadworth and Amelia Pond.
“That’s the only other time I’ve been here,” he says, “I came with some friends, years ago.Years ago for me, years to go from here – we came after the Catastrophe.It was and there were just the stars in the sky to see by and we walked over the ocean, beneath frozen waves that glistened in the starlight…” he trails off, caught in the memory.
“Can we go?”Amy whispers, not wanting to break his reverie but she can’t imagine that these huge, powerful waves that thunder and crash so brutally could ever be tamed into ice.
He glances over, a fond smile turning the corners of his mouth.
“We can.But I don’t think so.I hate repeats, and look what we’ve had!” He raises his arms, glorying in the majesty of the ocean around them, “Don’t you just feel like we’re walking on the seabed?That we’ve parted the waves to walk down the middle? Haha!” Laughing he sweeps them both into a bone-crushing embrace.
Something suddenly beeps, surprising them all.It’s the TARDIS.
“Oh, good!Your hair-growth drink is ready Pond.Come on then, back into the TARDIS and let’s stop you from looking like someone in a gang.”Amy rolls her eyes at the Doctor’s attempt to sound like he knows all about Earth culture and follows him through the door.
Ten minutes later Amy’s taken her drink (complaining bitterly about the horrible taste but, as the Doctor says, what sort of medicine would it be if it wasn’t disgusting?) and they’re making ready to move on.
Amy and Rory stand in the doorway, looking across at the planet.
“I can’t believe it’s all going to get frozen.”Rory says.“How can this end, after it’s been here for so long?”
The Doctor leans against the console, watching them.
“That’s the thing about the universe, about travelling through time.” He says, “You realise the one thing that holds true everywhere.And no matter what people you meet, what thoughts and intentions and places and plans you find, the knowledge of that one thing will always be there, in the back of your head.Nothing lasts.”
Amy gives a little shiver at his words and slips her cold hand into Rory’s warm one.He looks down at their interlocked fingers then back up at her, pleased and surprised.
“We’re going to last.”She whispers.“We’re going to last forever.”