The beeps of the machines caused a monotonous pattern as Doctor Constantine completed his rounds. Each of the children in his ward were the sickest you could find anywhere, and it was heart-breaking to see. For many of them, there was no hope of a brighter future, and for some there was no chance of a future at all.
He had worked in Wales’ Gallifrey hospital for many years, and over his time he had seen so many youngsters pass through his ward; today’s round was really no different.
Each child had their assessment on a Wednesday and Doctor Constantine knew he had to start early in order to get everything done on time.
His old, stiff joints creaked a little as he walked to the first bed; the oldest of all the young people in his care (at least, they thought he was). No one knew where this boy had come from; no one knew his name, his age, nothing. He had appeared at the hospital door dying. He’d been fighting for over a year now, and still no one had come for him. His case saddened Doctor Constantine like none had ever done before. The young boy with spikey brown hair, who had been found with the oddest things in his pockets was, to everyone else just a nobody, but he was someone to Doctor Constantine. Over the year the boy had been there, Doctor Constantine had tried to think again and again as to why this young man had a screwdriver and a blank piece of paper in his oversized coat pocket, and why did a boy who had no one have top of the range Converse shoes? It was all just a mystery. They had named the boy John Smith; it was standard, easy, just another name in the crowd; for really, that all the boy was. Apparently, according the big chief – the horrible Madame (Doctor Constantine still couldn’t understand why she got special treatment) Kovarian – that the boy would have been left to die if it weren’t for the unusually high levels of brain function the boy possessed. For although ‘John Smith’ couldn’t breathe on his own, it was like he had a whole other world in his own mind of which he had escaped to, and no one could bring him fully back for love nor money.
Doctor Constantine sighed as he moved onto the next patient. She was a four year old girl called Rose Tyler. She didn’t have long. Her mother visited every day, sometimes staying the night just to be with her little girl. Once, on a day in June, she had told Doctor Constantine that it was her wedding anniversary, but her husband had died, and she had told Rose not to be scared because she would be joining her daddy in heaven soon, and wouldn’t that be great? The worst part of his job was consoling the parents; it must be so hard to lose one you love so dearly, and for people like Jackie, who had lost everything, it was even harder.
As he checked her stats, Doctor Constantine glanced back over to John Smith. It was strange, for the day Rose was admitted to the ward, was the day John’s brain activity had begun to spike. It was almost as if there was a connection between the two of them, for sometimes – only occasionally and Doctor Constantine was the only one to ever notice – their hands would stretch out towards each other, as if they were holding each other’s hands.
Run! Come on Rose! We’ve seen the end of the world, Slitheen in Downing Street, a real living werewolf, met King Louis VI, and been to the year 5 million… You can’t give up on me now!
It was the following Saturday when Jackie Tyler agreed to turn off the life support machine he daughter had been plugged into for so many weeks. Doctor Constantine announced her death and once again turned to John Smith, who seemed – though surely, it can’t have been – to be crying, as if they had become friends and he had lost her.
Her name was Rose. Thank you, Jackie Tyler.
The strange happenings repeated themselves. First with Martha Jones, who was only with them for two weeks before she passed on and whose mother found young John Smith to be creepy and had demanded they be moved away from him.
I’m not who you think! We’ve seen Shakespeare! Shakespeare wrote a sonnet for your daughter what are you doing!? I’m not dangerous!
Then with Donna Noble, apparently a very fiery red head in her time, who had dated all the boys despite only being 7, who had “Never shown she was afraid of death” he grandfather Wilf had said, “She’s a brave little one is my Donna” before she too, passed away after merely three weeks on what had been come to be known as the cursed ward.
Donna just wanted to be my mate… she was my best mate… but she’ll never come back, just another who won’t return. Back in the TARDIS I guess…
And for a while, there was nobody. John’s brain activity had spiked every now and then, as if he was angry and then frightened and then…
Everything went wrong. A month after Donna had died, John crashed. The fight to save him had lasted 14 minutes, one minute before they would have pronounced him dead. But Doctor Constantine knew he was a fighter and he pulled through. And he seemed to be saved by the final two children Doctor Constantine was ever going to nurse; Amelia Pond and Rory Williams. They were placed either side of young John Smith.
Amelia Pond? That’s a name from a fairytale!
And what’s your name?
I’m the Doctor, and I’m here to make everybody better
And it was as Doctor Constantine watched the three of them for four weeks that he realised what was going on, although he could of course never report his findings. He’d spent weeks studying John’s brain activity, when it spiked, when it lulled and he realised. John was dreaming of the children in the ward. He had created a world where they could live out there last days with him until they had to leave and then they would fade from his memory. But John was a smart lad, and he knew the world was dangerous, and really danger was fun, nothing is fun without a little risk. So he invented danger in his mind. Yet sometimes the danger was too much, the threat too strong, he’d be killed; and that’s when he kept crashing.
Doctor Constantine retired the week after he made this discovery, finally knowing he had truly, once and for all, seen the limits of human kindness. A boy, giving his life, to make other people’s lives better.