WARNING!!!!!!!! MASSIVE SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!!!!!
I lay there in suspended animation.
I felt myself floating.
The bear was melting. Old grizzly bear, my friend. Good old bear.
I demorphed. The snake was still in my mouth. Motionless.
I was Rachel again, the human Rachel, alive, unhurt. I could have bounded up and gone off to the mall to shop. But I didn't kid myself. I didn't hope.
I spit the snake out.
I was surrounded on all sides. I was only a weak human girl now. The polar bear loomed over me, his strength the equal of my own grizzly, but now I was just me, just Rachel.
I could see the viewscreen. I could see my best friend Cassie. Jake. Marco, funny Marco. Ax.
He had morphed. He was his human self once more. He'd done that for me. And because he was crying. I understood. Humans cry, hawks don't.
"I love you," I said to the screen.
And oh, god, how could so much regret and so much sweetness and so much sadness all be present in that single moment. I was already dead and missing my unlived life. I was already dead and Tobias was mourning.
I tried to smile. For him.
The polar bear said, <You fight well, human.>
Then he killed me with a single blow.
He came to me. The Ellimist. The puppet master come to watch my final
act. It figured. He was in his saintly old man guise. As fake as everything else about him. The all-powerful weakling. The mighty manipulator.
"You," I said accusingly.
"Who are you?" I demanded. "Who are you to play games with us? You appear, you disappear, you use us, who are you, what are you?"
And then, for what seemed a very long time, the Ellimist told me. I saw. I understood.
But I also knew he would not save me. That he couldn't under the arcane rules of his millennia-long war with Crayak. The Ellimist was there to honor me, and I guess that was nice of him. Wasn't going to help me much.
I wanted so much to live. I wanted so much to stay and not to leave. In a moment no answer would matter to me, but just the same, I wanted to know what I guess any dying person wants to know.
"Answer this, Ellimist: Did I . . . did I make a difference? My life, and my . . . my death . . . was I worth it? Did my life really matter?"
"Yes," he said. "You were brave. You were strong. You were good. You mattered."
"Yeah. Okay, then. Okay, then."
I wondered if —
BOOM. A loud, shattering noise. And a strange metal thrumming, slowly fading away.
I opened my closed eyes. Huh. I hadn't even been aware I'd closed them.
There was a large blue box standing (floating?) right next to the Ellimist and me. It was a bit taller than a tall man and about as wide as three. Across the top was written "Police Telephone Box."
"What the-" I muttered.
The doors of the blue box opened, and a man stepped out. He was normal height wearing a grayish-black suit, a pair of Converse, and a carefully styled messy hair. I felt myself blush.
"What the…" the man said, speaking in a strong British accent. Then he saw the Ellimist, completely ignoring me.
"Hello, Doctor," the Ellimist said politely. "Long time."
"Ellimist! You again! I told you, last time, you CANNOT pull my TARDIS out of movement like that whenever you want. I mean, all right, I do your work sometimes. But you send me instructions ON MY CONSOLE next time, all right? God!"
The Ellimist walked slowly around the blue box, smiling a little. "I see you've remodeled since the last time we met. Good. I approve. The old interior was a bit fusty for my taste."
"Are you even listening to me?" the man said, exasperated.
"I should think not," the Ellimist replied.
"Why did you call me this time?" the man said, seeming resigned this time.
"Don't take that tone with me, young man. You know I only make house calls for a good reason. This is very important."
"I'm nine hundred and and fifty two. Hardly young," the man said snidely.
"Well, I'm six billion, four hundred million, and… well, to be honest, I've lost count. But you watch your mouth."
"Oh yeah? Well, —"
"STOP!" I yelled.
Both of them looked at me, surprised.
"Excuse me, but I think I'd like to know WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON! I was just dying!"
"Well, this one's got spunk," the man observed.
The Ellimist seemed rather amused by my outburst. "Ah. Yes. Where are my manners? Rachel, this is the Doctor. Doctor, this is Rachel Berenson."
The man strode forward and shook my hand. "Hello Rachel, I'm the Doctor. How do you do?"
I shook slowly, stunned. "How do I do? Well, to be honest, I'm not sure if I'm alive or dead."
The Doctor laughed. It was a wonderful sound. "I like you, Rachel Berenson."
I turned a little red. It wasn't every day that a dashing man in a suit told you he liked you. Especially not in the presence of a God-like entity."
"S-sorry, Doctor who?" I said a little shakily.
He turned to the Ellimist. "I love it when they say that. Don't you just love it when they say that?" He turned back to me. "Just the Doctor, thanks."
"Oookay…" I said.
"So, you were saying, Ellimist?" he said.
Suddenly, there was a loud beeping from inside the blue box. The Doctor dashed inside without preamble, leaving me even more bewildered than before.
He came out a few seconds later, red in the face. "Ellimist! Terrible news! I just intercepted a Yeerk transmission! One of the Animorphs is dead!"
The Ellimist smiled. "A little behind, aren't you?"
"What do you mean?" the man asked, confused. His gaze turned to me. Then back to the Ellimist. Then back to me.
"Oh!" he said, his mouth a perfect circle. "Oh! Oh no!" He looked at the Ellimist. "But I thought— you couldn't bring the dead back? Under Crayak's rules?"
"Wait. What about Crayak?" I said.
They both ignored me. Urgh. Men!
"Correct, Doctor. I cannot save her. But YOU can," said the Ellimist with a twinkle in his eye.
"Ohhh," the Doctor said. He snapped his fingers. "Genius! I think I do have some old Sontaran rebooting technology somewhere!"
"One more thing, Doctor. She's in bio-stasis. You know what that means," said the Ellimist.
The Doctor nodded. "I'll have to move fast," he said grimly.
"What are we doing?" I said, completely lost.
The Ellimist turned to me. "Goodbye, Rachel. I'll make sure you make it safely."
He turned to the Doctor. "Oh, and Doctor? Do and try not to lose this one."
Then the world went black, and the pain came.