The Doctor appears late in this sordid tale. All the attention is given to the protagonist of Canaanabis Roach. He’s special and he’s just been given the power of speech. Now he talks about his adventures in past lives, This one happens to include the namesake Time Lord and an impossible girl.
(Doctor Who fan fiction)
Mr. Binger (aka Matthew Sawyer)
I’ve got a chamber in my pipe. I’ll explain what I mean when I say “chamber” in a minute. I mean it is really called a “chamber,” but some of you might not know what I’m talking about. This is my “weed pipe,” my pipe for smoking weed, marijuana. I am not going to lie about it, you saw me.
You caught me with my dick in my hand. Literally, it looks like a dick – my pipe does. It’s blown, opaque purple glass and it has a bulge on the end where you suck out smoke. It looks like the vacuum-sucked head of a circumcised penis, like a doorknob stuck on the end of some guy’s pecker. A purple one. That’s the chamber. You suck the smoke out of the pee-hole of a big, sensitive dick. I’m getting another pipe or I am just going to roll joints from now on. After this bowl.
What was I saying? Yeah, that bulge in my pipe is a “chamber” where pot smoke gets concentrated. All that THC swirls into there like scented incense into a cathedral, a whole lot of incense… frankincense, mire and that kind of shit. Fundamentalist Christians throw crap in there that makes the smoke sparkle. Catholics think Jesus is hiding in there, that cloud, above the tabernacle to be precise. I’ve never seen him. What I was saying? Oh, so much smoke gets packed in there, you get blinded. I mean, you can still see, but you can’t see through that haze in the chamber. And that’s before you take the hit, but you’ll be fine. Marijuana is safer than you think.
I flick my transparent and unbranded lighter and touch flame against the bowl in my pipe, and my lips against the bulging glass phallus, then I take a hit. I draw a sooty vapor of cannabinoids into my mouth then lungs and I feel something sharp and serrated against my bottom lip. That something had come poked out of the chamber. I spit and there goes all the smoke I tried holding in my lungs.
Sat beneath the wasted intoxicating vapor, I examine the desecrated end of my purple penis pipe. A long, jagged stem projects from the opening. It looks like it may have come from the marijuana I had packed into the pipe. It was stemmy – the marijuana Sativa strain called Sunday Schoolgirl is full of stems. Sunday Schoolgirl is stemmy. And I wonder if I had loaded so much weed into the bowl of my pipe it now came out the other end. That was impossible.
The openings between the chamber and the bowl of the pipe are tiny. And there is a metal screen in the bowl that holds the weed in place. It’s where ash and resin collects. Cinders hardly ever pass through the restricted passages – which was a merit for the design of the glass pipe. A big stem could never fit through this artful and obscene piece of smoking apparatus. That would be like asking a pregnant woman to swallow a camera to examine a fetus in her womb. There are barriers.
Unmindful of the unborn, I pinch that stray stem of Sunday Schoolgirl between the nails of my thumb and my little finger and I pull it out with a snap. I’m sure I hear the pipe scream – in my mind. Did you hear it? I tell myself I heard the inanimate twig cry in my imagination. I am baffled at first when I inspect the foreign object in my hand.
What had touched my lip is a leg, an insect leg; the leg of cockroach – a cricket, I hoped – but its dismembered source follows from out of the pipe. From out of a maybe a four caliber opening at the end of the chamber, an oversized blond cockroach crawls. “How did you get in there?” I say to the insect clinging upside on the pipe. I don’t expect an answer so I should have ended that statement with a period.
Although I am repulsed the smoking creature is just above the open palm of my hand, I have my senses and remain in control of myself. The only thing I don’t pay conscious attention to is the question, “How did that huge thing ever get out of the chamber?” If marijuana smoke was dangerous, this thing should have been trapped and gassed to death, fumigated.
“Don’t kill me,” I hear it cry. The bug is talking to me. I drop the pipe when the cockroach tells me, “I am so high.” Both fall out of my hand and toward the floor.
The insect screams, “Eeee…”
The jetsam vanishes until a second later I see the bug clinging on the cuff of my right shirt sleeve. Brimming with discourtesy, I shake my arm and holler, “Get off, get off!”
Somewhere from under my arm the cockroach seems to speak to itself. It moans, “My leg, I lost my leg. Oh, the pain… the vision… the power of speech!”
“Is this a miracle?” I babble aloud. “What’s going on?”
The cockroach lets go of my sleeve and it swings itself onto the table in my kitchen. Landed skillfully despite missing an appendage, the cockroach informs me, “You tore my leg off! Giant, monster! Now I’ve only got five”
“Nah,” I object. I say no again then realize I am indeed guilty. “Yeah, okay…”
“Okay,” echos the insect. “Hey, it is okay. I can talk. The trauma and the marijuana – I can talk.
“Like the animals when the Messiah was born,” I conjecture aloud.
“What?” the bug asks me. “You’re faith is not exactly canonical.”
“Huh? Shaken is what you should say.” I ask the talking cockroach, “Who are you?”
“I am Canaanabis Roach,” he tells me.
“No,” I stutter while I am still confused. “What are you?”
“I can tell you.”
“I can tell you a story,” Canaanabis Roach promises.
My agreement comes out with an emphatic, “I suppose.”
Pushy, I ask him more. “Where do you come from.”
“Possibly from where we all come from,” Canaanabis says. “We live forever, you and me. Each life follows one past. And I think we’re all going to the same place.”
“You’re a bug, a religious bug,” I say when I answer this riddle. “Are you reincarnated? Did you do something bad?”
“Bug?” the cockroach described itself. “I would have you know, my shape today is the peak of evolution. All life on Earth will arrive at this pinnacle before the planet ends.”
“The Earth is going to end?” I ponder in morose.
Canaanabis ignores my sad realization and he still talks about himself. “I have always looked like I am, but perfected at each birth. You are too. Maybe regeneration is the correct word for what happens at death and not reincarnation.”
“I got to take a hit,” I state so and I do just that. I ignite the glass bowl again and swallow smoke from pipe without again looking at the instrument. Luckily, I never get in touch with another relative of this Canaanabis Roach.
My head swims and I repeat myself. “You’re talking.”
“We covered that. It’s the smoke,” the insect says then jumps because I bring my hand with the pipe down hard upon the table. I almost kill the miraculous bug. The whole incident is an accident.
“Careful,” it shouts at me.
“Sorry,” I beg from the creature. “It does seem a reasonable thing for bugs to worry about, getting squashed; that and fumigation.”
“You made my heart jump,” Canaanabis says.
I ask him, “Do you have a heart?”
“Of course,” he replies, “It’s full of love. I’m not even sore about the leg. The power of speech is something anyone would imaginably give a limb for.”
“Look at you, poor creature,” Canaanabis tells me. “I shouldn’t feel bad, you only have four.”
“Nevertheless,” he says and talks until he is calm again. “Have you ever had a premonition? Have you ever received a sign something bad is going to happen?”
“Whoa,” I answer. “You want another hit? Cuz’ I do.”
“Sure,” the bugs says. “I think marijuana makes me smarter.”
“It’s safe, too,” I relate while I hold smoke in my inflated chest. The swelling subsides and another question rides out of my mouth upon a stream of vapor. “How? How are you going to smoke. Do you have lungs?”
“I don’t,” Canaanabis notes.
Both of us consider a puzzle before the cockroach suggests, “I got an idea. Get that bowl smoking. Get it hot and let it smolder and put it down. I got it from there.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Take a hit,” insists Canaanabis. “Take a big one, a really big one.”
I do what I am told and place the smoking pipe on the table, carefully, next to my new friend. I make a toast and blow out smoke. “This one is for the Kafka!”
Canaanabis Roach crawls over and on top of the smoking bowl – his missing leg presented him no disability. His other five work fine. The insect hovers over the hot embers and in this way Canaanabis absorbs vapor into himself. He speaks to me while he procrastinates on top of the pot. He lingers there until the last waft of smoke dissipates.
“I am so high,” he says. “I hope this doesn’t wear off.”
“You know what it feels like?” he asks me.
“I’m sure I do,” I admit. “But I’m not so sure how it feels for you.”
Canaanabis says, “It feels like warming your cold butt… like when you’re warming yourself on Christmas morning and you get warm inside.”
“Is that your butt?” I say dismissing the sentimentality. “It looks like your tummy.”
“Let’s not talk like children,” scorns the cockroach.
In defending myself, I put all responsibilities on the many little shoulders of my new buddy. “You said you were going to tell a story.”
“I will,” Canaanabis answers and crawls down onto the table. He gazes up at me and he proposes, “I will tell you about my hunt for where I came from. I’ll tell you about my past lives.”
“Talk about non-canonical,” I tease the insect.
“Keep your opinion to yourself,” he tells me. “This really happened to me.”
“Okay,” I relent and admit to myself I am talking to a bug. I am happy with this fantastical experience – quite content with my little ‘trip.’
“I was in Japan at my beginning,” Canaanabis Roach tells me. “Long ago, there was a man called the Doctor. He wasn’t from this planet.”
I choke then say, “Hold on, man. Are you talking about the science fiction television show, Doctor Who? That’s fiction, man. There’s a copyright on that shit. The BBC.”
“You don’t even know what’s real. You’re talking to me,” the cockroach reminds me. “You have magic marijuana. And what are you holding? Look at that pipe, dude.”
“This happened in the past, anyway,” Canaanabis rants. “What would you know? This was before your time, long before.”
Surrendered, I say, “Okay, You met Doctor Who. Go on and tell me the rest of your story.”
“I never learned his name, but he knew mine,” the cockroach submits. “I never saw him again.”
Settling onto his haunches, and after myself being seated, Canaanabis continues his narrative. “This was in the Higo Province on Kyushu.”
“Kyushu?” I ask the insect.
“It’s the big island at the very south end of Japan.”
“Okay,” I confirm. “What’s a Higo?”
“The Province was named for the resident castle town. The Kikuchi clan administered the territory. Kikuchi Takefusa, the samurai, he was away fighting Mongols in China. Prince Koreyasu was the shogun.”
At this opportunity, I make a complaint. “Hey, is all of this going to be in Japanese? I don’t know any foreign language. I know sushi, if that isn’t an American word. Domo arigato, maybe.”
“I’m just giving you names,” the insect explains. “Write them down if you have to.”
“I’ll give them numbers,” I tease. “Uno, dos, tres…”
The cockroach grumbles. “It’s good the Doctor is just the Doctor.”
“What were you doing in Japan?” I ask and encourage my friend to tell his story.
“Discovering where I came from,” he replies while standing in contemplation. “I was born in Japan. Or so I thought until the Doctor told me I was a Mongol. I was a Chugen at the time…”
“A foot soldier,” Canaanabis Roach tells me. He then says immediately, “I was about to be promoted a rank and become an Ashigaru.”
“Hold on,” I say and interrupt. “You were human in a past life?”
“I said we are all the same,” Canaanabis states as if he were some mystic oracle. “And I have always appeared as I am today?”
“As a bug?” I say aloud. I cannot be certain I had not meant to ask the abrupt and rude question. “I mean, you were a Japanese soldier and you were still a cockroach. Were you small?”
“No,” screeches the outraged insect. “I was as tall as you are now.”
“A giant cockroach?”
“That’s what the Doctor said when I met him,” Canaanabis conveys and simmers.
I laugh. “That’s the hook, isn’t it? Go on. Tell me your story. I’m listening. It’s already wild.”
“Okay,” the cockroach promises. “I was fetching water for the gashira – I did that every morning and night. I could carry four buckets, one in each hand…”
“You walked upright?” I blurt shocked.
“Do you want to hear this story?” Canaanabis Roach asks me as if he were proposing an ultimatum.
“Yeah,” I claim. “It’s that you said you walked on two legs. Can you do that now?”
The bug only stares up at me.
“Fine,” I say once I relent. “Tell your story, just don’t surprise me and say you wore a kimono or something.”
“Don’t be,” he warns me. “I told you, we are all the same – begun at once in one place and the same in the end.”
“Don’t punish me with church. I’ve had enough of that,” I say and cover my ears. “I just want to hear you tell your Doctor Who story. Please.”
“Fine,” Canaanabis replies. “Be quiet.”
I respectfully mouth the letters, “O,” and, “K.” My five-legged friend then continues speaking.
“I was coming past the pit-houses…”
“Wait,” I shout when I can no longer restrain my disbelief. “Was everybody a cockroach?”
Canaanabis Roach stares at me a long while. He then asks me, “Is that what it says about the Japanese in your Western history books?”
“I guess not, no,” I opine. And I admit, “History was not my strongest subject.”
“Obviously,” the insect says. “Let me answer your questions. Just don’t interrupt the story again.”
I wave both my hands in surrender. After I exhale a held breath, Canaanabis says, “The Doctor’s time machine materialized on the path ahead. The road to the Danjo. There was a loud, labored sound like your breathing is now and the time machine appeared.”
However the storyteller meant my involvement in his tale to sound, I understand the cockroach to say I was acting noisy. I hold my breath and Canaanabis tells me more. “A gaijin wearing a black cape and accented with frills stepped out the blue box and he walked straight toward me. This one meant business. A small brunette girl had come with him.”
I think, “Which regeneration? Which Doctor is this one? There are like a dozen.” And I don’t mean Canaanabis Roach’s vague definition of reincarnation. I’m talking about canon, There’s a linear progression of Doctors in the series. The clues I had been given indicates this story includes the Third Doctor.
The woman with him could be Liz or Jo or Mary Jane Smith – if at this point the cockroach truly now adheres to canon. Canaanabis tells me outright, “Her name was Clara.”
“Oh,” I wince and pretend the noise I made was a natural and involuntary human function.
“Fascinating,” Canaanabis says the Doctor told him and I give my attention to the speaker again. My friend tells me, “We spoke the same language but I still distrusted the foreign visitors.”
“I asked the Doctor if he and his companion were ikko-ikki, rebel peasants – my masters would need to know.”
The Doctor told Canaanabis, “She may be icky…”
And Clara complained, “Hey!”
But the Doctor merely grinned and never stuttered while he yet spoke. “I’m a bit more important. The three of us have a riddle to solve. You two have a connection.”
“To that?” Clara objected and pointed. Canaanabis ignored the woman in respect for the Doctor.
“How so?” the upright, man-sized cockroach asked the time and space traveler.
“You are both impossible,” he told my friend. “You each are reborn again and again. Do you have any memory of who you were?”
Clara warned Canaanabis. “He started asking that question. It usually goes somewhere, I don’t know where. Just answer him.”
“Are you a monk?” Canaanabis said he asked the Doctor. The bug clarifies for me his question was based on the Doctor’s declaration of afterlife. Overly reverent, he asked him, “Are you a sohei?”
The Doctor said, “Something like that.”
The time traveler then directed the upright cockroach, “If you don’t remember any past lives, as my lovely friend, Clara, does not, let’s start at the beginning. Where were you were born? Here, in Japan?”
“My master would know,” Canaanabis answered. “He adopted me when I was born. I have no idea where my mother has gone or if she is even still alive.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem,” Clara is said to have stated. The Doctor hushed his companion.
“And your master is in mainland China,” the Doctor said knowingly. “He should have almost reached the Yangtze River by now… tell me, is there anyone at his Dojo that can answer questions about your past?”
Canaanabis said, “If there was, I would have found out and talked to him by now.”
“Let’s go to China,” the Doctor decided then hustled everyone into his marvelous box. “Everyone into the Tardis, the both of you. I will not have this mystery haunt me the rest of my lives. It’s like both of you are fragmented – split tachyons radiate off you into random directions. Look at you, Canaanabis Roach. Heavens, now you’re a bug!”
“I am what I am,” my friend said in defense of himself.
Clara told him, “It’s alright, ignore him. He’s made me mad, too. He just doesn’t know any better.”
“Excuse me?” the Doctor said inside his inverted spaceship. He explained to an awed Canaanabis, “This machine is larger than your whole village.”
Clara also answered the Doctor’s question. “You’re rude.”
“Me?” the Doctor argued and piloted his box over the East China Sea. Canaanabis said he watched their fight on a view-screen. The Doctor also challenged his female assistant. “Me, rude? What about you, you pint-sized mistress?”
“It’s called the TARDIS,” he told his other, insect guest. The machine landed with a thud. Clara scolded the pilot.
He told her, “Look what you’ve done, you’ve made her mad.” The Doctor was talking about his machine. He said about his Tardis, “She’ll remember that.”
“Oh,” Clara groaned. She pulled a red lever on the angular console in the center of the room and the outside doors opened. “Let’s go. Let’s find out who I am and why I’m connected to a mutant cockroach in feudal Japan.”
“We’re in China now,” the Doctor corrected her. “Near Shanghai.”
“Is my master here,” the insect asked the Doctor and peeked outside. He saw only the length of a wide, golden river.
The Doctor told my friend, “I expect so.”
Outside the Tardis, Clara asked Canaanabis, “Excuse me, doesn’t anyone say anything about… I’m sorry for being direct. What do people say about your appearance?”
He told her honestly, “The peasants think I am the child of a spirit under the earth. Lord Kikuchi’s army thinks I’m good luck.”
“If that is the case, they’ll be happy to see you here,” the Doctor said and shut the door of his machine. Canaanabis makes a personal comment in the midst of his story.
“We were outside again. All I saw was earth, water and sky and it still seemed smaller than that time I was in the Doctor’s time machine.”
He then told me the Tardis had materialized on the banks of the Yangtze near a rope corral holding thick, big-headed ponies. A circle of tents stood behind the fenced animals. A large blue jin-maku, the camp curtain, was clearly visible displayed on a center tent within the ring. Its letters proclaimed this was the army of Kikuchi Takefusa. The Doctor wasted no time marching around the fence then straight into the camp’s perimeter.
“Halt,” two armored guards told him and barred the passage with crossed naginata. “The curved pole arms were an intimidating barrier,” Canaanabis emphasized for me.
“I know Takefusa,” the Doctor told the guards. “He and I met at the dojo we shared when he was a boy.”
“They didn’t believe him,” Canaanabis said to me. “That’s why the Doctor started yelling for my master.”
“Takefusa,” he shouted. “Takefusa, come out here. I have questions about our mutual friend. I’ve brought him here.”
“’Canaanabis Roach?’ Kikuchi Takefusa said. He looked so full of hope that day I saw him, when he said my name. Then he saw the Doctor and the samurai’s face went pale.”
My friend said, “His hand dropped onto the hilt of his katana.”
“Who?” shouted the samurai. Kikuchi Takefusa could not disguise the recognition he had for the Doctor. He inquired, “How is it possible? You, you have not changed.”
“I am blessed, I imagine,” the Doctor replied. “I am blessed to see my friend grown to become a powerful lord.”
“I am a lord, Time Lord,” Takefusa told the Doctor. “I never understood what that could mean. I thought you were telling a child a tale.”
“Now you do,” the alien traveler replied and took advantage of the implied explanation for everything about him that had not changed.
“He knows everybody,” Clara proclaimed and threw up her arms and shrunk low.
“Canaanabis,” Kikuchi Takefusa said to the insect. “We need your luck. The ships have not arrived to take back our hoard. My men will eat all the horses if the barbarians come first and he must fight them.”
The pole arms were then uncrossed and the Doctor and the overstrung Japanese warrior conversed without obstruction. “That’s too bad,” the Doctor stated in sympathy. “Tell me, where did you find our friend, Canaanabis Roach?”
“What?” yelled the samurai. “He comes from here.”
Kikuchi Takefusa spoke directly to the cockroach. Canaanabis tells me he said, “My friend, didn’t you know? You come from here? The Mongols were going to eat you.”
“Ergh,” the cockroach said he gagged.
“Clara was hiding,” he explained to me. He claims, “I don’t think she was trying to stay concealed. She was short, much shorter than the Doctor. And she was shorter than me when I wanted to be a samurai. The woman was standing behind us and no one knew she was there.”
Kikuchi Takefusa told my friend, “Your mother was a witch. I found her here in China with her snake. She held you captive, Canaanabis, and the woman made you part of an experiment. I heard she transformed you into what you are now. She did this to you in her quest for immortality.”
“Now we’re getting somewhere,” the Doctor is said to have interjected. “A clue.”
“Transformed?” my friend said he wondered aloud. He tells me out of the context of his story, “I don’t think I have ever looked different, in this life or a last.”
I flatter the bug, “You look fine. Go on, so now you think you were human?”
Canaanabis Roach pauses and I am impressed with the idea my new friend is cross with me. After some time of hearing my intermittent breaths, he reminds me, “Please, pay attention.”
“I do,” I claim. In order to assure my guest, I apologize. “I’m sorry. Please, go on.”
The cockroach finally says, “Clara pushed between us, the Doctor and me. I think she wanted to say something but then my master spotted her.”
“Kikuchi Takefusa shouted, ‘The witch,’ and he pulled his sword from its sheath.”
“Clara was a witch?” I can’t help and ask astonished.
Canaanabis replies, “She was my mother.”
“My master, Lord Kikuchi Takefusa, sought to cut off her head but I stepped between them.”
The insect pauses. At this opportunity, I point at the cold pipe with a fat, fresh ounce of weed packed into its bowl. Whether or not my friend registered I was offering another round of intellectual enhancement was an infertile question. Canaanabis began speaking again. He sounded melancholy.
“I’m sure you’ve heard the claim in popular fiction – when a samurai draws his sword, he must also draw blood.”
I nod my head.
“He drew mine,” my friend says. “I sacrificed my life for the life of my mother. Lord Kikuchi took off my head.”
“Duh-ah,” I sputter in sympathy.
Canaanabis tells me, “He might have killed Clara, too. I don’t know.”
“I don’t think so,” I say and hope I cheer the insect. “The Doctor was there. He knows Venusian aikido.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Canaanabis tells me.
“Why is that?” I ask.
“Because the Doctor is coming back.”
“Huh?” I gush. “Really?”
I am sure the cockroach curtsies and he tips his head multiple times. “When?” I ask him.
“Today,” he says. “Maybe my awakening isn’t an accident.”
“Today?” I am astonished. Even so, I cannot believe a bug. “You’re having a laugh.”
“I know I saw the Doctor again,” he testifies. “I remember a dream in which he told me we were going next to the prehistoric Middle East. Clara is supposed to be there.”
Filled with doubt, I verify, “And he’s coming for you today?”
“I remember,” Canaanabis says.
“That’s convenient,” I state and pick up my unsightly smoking instrument.
My lighter refuses to produce flame. Excessive white sparks fly from the spun flint wheel but not one finds enough aerated fuel to foster a fire. I shake the empty lighter in hopes of conjuring flammable vapor but my effort is wasted.
“Let me get another lighter,” I tell my insect guest then try pushing myself out my chair. The effort produces no effect. Without any thought, I plant my hand solidly and suddenly upon the surface of the table in the spot where Canaanabis Roach had squat.
This was the end of this life for him. Completely unintentionally and now wholly remorseful, I discover I had squashed my friend. “Clumsy, me,” I scold myself.
“Clumsy, stupid me,” I say then I hear the Tardis wheeze. The Doctor was indeed coming. And I realize I have got something unfortunate to tell yet another character from my imagination. Before he gets here, I find a damp dishcloth and I wipe our mutual friend’s guts from the palm of my hand.
- END -
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