“Guys, we need to talk,” said Victor.
He had practiced this speech a thousand times, but as the words left his mouth, they felt foreign to him, distant. He couldn’t believe he was actually saying it.
Victor and the rest of the colony had spent their entire lives together. Every hour of every day. But he knew it was time to move on.
Victor was part of Colony Sarff, a collection of serpents that could fuse themselves together to form an anthropomorphized figure. They worked for Davros, a sociopath who created the Daleks. And, as of late, they were tasked with searching for the Doctor across the known universe, which would be nearly impossible even if he wasn’t a time traveler. Victor had had enough.
His snake brothers and sisters eyed him suspiciously as he went into his prepared speech.
“Being a part of this colony has been amazing. You guys have literally been there with me my whole life. From the good times, like my first molting, to the bad, like when Suzy and I had that really rough break up, one further complicated by the fact that we still have to see each other every day.”
Suzy looked down at the ground, too embarrassed to make eye contact with Victor.
“But as much as I love slithering around the universe with all of you, bound up tight together making an odd-looking, creepy man, I need to move on. I need to find out who Victor really is, outside of the colony. I just … need some alone time.”
“Victor, you can’t leave,” said Tony, the de facto leader of Colony Sarff’s lower third. “We need you to form the colony’s right calf. You’re integral to making this whole thing work. Without you, the legs aren’t even. You want us out there looking like Joe Theismann?”
“You guys can figure it out. Maybe you can find another snake to replace me.”
“Or, I could go with you,” said Lindsey, who comprised the colony’s left calf.
Victor couldn’t believe it. He had been in love with Lindsey since they were young, but didn’t think she ever noticed him. He would often catch himself staring at her as the colony traveled along – her scaly skin, her flicking tongue, her black eyes. She was perfect.
“You too?” Tony responded. “What’s happening here? This whole operation is falling apart.”
“We are a democracy, Tony,” Victor said, tapping into a confidence he never knew was there. “If Lindsey and I want to leave, we should be free to go.”
Their first night alone was rough. It was so quiet without the other snakes milling about. And both Victor and Lindsey were used to falling asleep pressed up against other snakes in tight places. But snuggling up against each other seemed too familiar for their first night alone together. Instead, they eyed each other nervously, unable to fall asleep.
By the sixth night, all of that pretense had dropped away and they were snuggling up against each other to fall asleep. But it didn’t help. It was too quiet. They felt too alone.
“I’m going back,” Lindsey said. “And I think you should too.”
A month later, they were back on Skaro, once again filling in as the calves in Colony Sarff. Victor would occasionally look over at Lindsey, but it wasn’t with longing, it was with remorse and shame.
Then, he’d look over at Suzy and think about asking her out again. But those thoughts quickly passed.
There was a part of Victor that would always feel incomplete. One that felt like there was more out there. But he was a part of something – something bigger than himself. And most days, that was enough to keep him going.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.