The Storyteller

Save Me

There was a full moon that day but I was the only one to see it.

The beginnings of a huge thunderstorm were coalescing above us, only to be cast adrift on a northern wind to wreak havoc in the city of Boulogne, on the night of the 6th of May 1889.

On the 31st of May the South Fork Dam will collapse to kill over 2,200 people in and around Johnstown, Pennsylvania in America. They're not connected (I think). It just happens.

On the 6th of June, a month from now, the Great Seattle Fire will ravage through the city. No fatalities.

"But, Doctor..." Denise said. "That all happened years ago. We're talking about 1889. That is not now."

"It used to be now. Then it was then. Just like tomorrow will be now tomorrow and will become yesterday the day after that."

"Yes, I get that, but Doctor..."

"So what if time could stop, like it did on the 6th of May 1889? What would physically happen at the heart of the storm? What happened to Nikola Tesla?"

He died 1889 instead of 1943. Aged 44. Forty-four years of unequaled brilliance, lost. Half a life. All the inventions he made. All the power he'd unleash. All the heads he'd turn. All the minds he'd inspire and the people he would meet, and all the lives he would change!

What would happen to Thomas Edison and the war of the currents? No wireless radio. Or wireless power. Edison would win the Nobel Prize! We can't let that happen! And what would happen to Samuel Clemens?

Time was changing in that very instant. Every second that passed was one second we drifted away from the original universe. Timelines were separated again. No longer islanded in a stream of stars, we were adrift on its mighty current heading towards a waterfall. The sun had set only to become a whole new dawn never seen before.

The universe had been affected and I could feel it like waves hitting me over and over.

"We killed him, Doctor," Amy said. "He's dead. How's that even possible?"

"Everything's possible," I said nervous. "Time's always in flux. Time can be altered. Time can be rewritten."

"You've said that before. You said sometimes it can't. How do you know this isn't one of those times?"

"BECAUSE NIKOLA TESLA IS DEAD."

I lost my temper. I was nervous. I was shaking. I was THINKING and she was interrupting me. And it certainly didn't help that Jack was rushing me, constantly reminding me that the general's forces would surely make their way to the top soon.

Of course they were desperate to find out what had happened. Human curiosity always getting in the way. Don't they have airplanes to invent somewhere? Or basketballs?

"No Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," I whispered.

"No," Amy said. "Just a Scottish girl on the Eiffel Tower scared out of her mind! Tell us what to do, Doctor."

"Doctor, they're coming," Jack said and he was right. We didn't have much time. But did we have hope?

There was something in the corner of my mind. Something was wrong. Time was literally running out. Again.

Simon looked at me, and my police box, my TARDIS, and his mouth sort of...moved...without making any sound. I knew what he was thinking.

A full moon shone through the gliding clouds and no-one was looking at my spaceship. Well, they did but not the way I wanted them to. This was definitely not the triumphant return I was hoping for.

I mean, I get where they're coming from. Just when they thought it was all over out comes another alien hiding from within their midst and so I think I broke their minds. Just a tiny bit.

And I think I broke time as well. I broke human history and there was no way to fix it.

No doubt, it was the greatest magic trick ever pulled. I made the Eiffel Tower disappear and then had it reappear out of thin air. There was no way I could top that. I can't bring back the dead...

And in my mind's eye I saw Rory and Penny and all the people I'd ever lost...

The weight of the universe is sometimes a bit heavy for just two shoulders to bear.

"The universe is unfair," that's what he'd said. The Nameless.

The Doctor looked into her eyes and for a second there he startled her.

For a second Denise forgot he was addressing her. She had completely removed herself from the picture completely immersed in his story. Maybe that's why she managed so well here, because of her ability to disconnect herself from everything around her. Sometimes she felt like a ghost wandering the halls but not really there. In the hospital she was just going through the motions, looking at every face and knowing what it meant. What would they have to face when they got back home?

"A million is just a number," the Doctor said as his eyes wandered from face to face. Most of the soldiers were sleeping. The dreaming Amy looked like an angel amidst the fallen warriors, bloodied and gritted. Then he smiled at Denise. "One is a tragedy."

The grandfather clock chimed six times.

"I wish I could give this story a happy ending. I'm really trying."

Denise felt it too.

"Then just be honest," she said and the old man sighed.

"People die. People always die...and I can't help them...

Simon was the first to state the obvious, calling for help several miles atop the Eiffel Tower where all help would always be too late.

"Someone get a doctor!" Simon cried out. Ha. "Someone call the police!"

Simon the coward. Simon the office clerk. Always punctual, prim and honest and never a spot on his jacket. Magnificent moustache. He feared me. With good reason. They all did.

I turned my mind's eye back one hour and looked around at all their faces staring at the end of the universe.

There was Buffalo Bill and his men, Annie Oakley the best sharpshooter in the world and Sitting Bull the Sioux all the way from America. There were the men of science and the men of culture. The women of wealth and the men of fine taste. And Bernárd.

They were all looking at me now but I had to shut out their current faces in order to see their past versions in my memory. The longer it took the more it would slip away.

We'd somehow entered the glass zone but all the others didn't. What changed?

"Simon, Amy, Jack, Nemo and me..." I thought out loud. What did we have in common?

"Jack was dead, Amy unconscious and so was Simon and Nemo..." I concluded loudly and Amy was hanging by my every word.

She found a glimmer of hope in my confusion, thinking it was a good thing. She grabbed my collar and pulled me closer. The absence of the bow tie put her off.

"Doctor, we killed Nikola Tesla!" Amy cried.

"You don't have to let the whole world know!" I hissed back. People were watching and suddenly I cared.

"What will happen to time now he's dead? This wasn't supposed to happen. What did we change?"

I gasped to find the right word. "Everything..."

I then wondered whether it had been Nikola in the glass dimension. Whether it had been his mind crafting that nameless persona, swallowed by time...Thousands of years trapped inside no-man's land can change a man. Maybe that's why I didn't recognise him. Or maybe his mental vision of himself is a generous one. But would he have ditched the moustache?

I looked deep into Amy's eyes and clasphed her hands as I tried to explain: "Nikola and I were at the heart of the storm. The very centre. Somehow I made it through the rift intact. Your minds were dormant. You slipped through unaffected..."

"Except Nikola didn't..."

Human minds are so weak!

"You killed him..." Amy said.

I couldn't believe she just said that. I couldn't believe she was blaming me. It's not always my fault. Even when it is, I don't like to admit it. I killed him...

"It wasn't my fault!" I whinged. "I saved you... Why are you all looking at me like that? I've got a spaceship. And a rocking bow tie!"

Then I felt my neck. It was gone.

"I'm cool..." I whinged desperately.

How much had I changed? What happened to the world in our absence?

"This is why I don't usually stick around for the end!" I grumpily remarked. "People start pointing fingers! Humans...looking for a scapegoat..."

"Doctor..." Jack said holding on tight to the wound in his pale gut.

They didn't know it, but history had been altered. I felt rattled. Panicked. Things were about to kick off and unfold in untold directions and who knows what the outcome would be? I could feel it in my gut. I'm a Time Lord. It's instinct.

"This is what he does," Simon said distraught. "This is what he always does. He leaves death and destruction in his wake...I should've known better..."

"Stop it," Bernárd told him. "The Doctor saved us! You owe him more than that!"

"You don't know him!" Simon said. "You don't know what he's like!"

"I know the Doctor," Bernárd said. He put his faith in me. He shouldn't have.

The survivors had already been amassing inside the lift to get as far away from us as possible. They couldn't wait to go home and forget all that had happened, like a bad dream.

Only the brave and the foolish were left standing around Nikola's body. Out of respect for their fallen comrade Bill and his crew were already attempting to carry the body down.

I sonicked the body again as they gathered around. Then when someone touched his skin something happened.

"Wait!" I told them and the company froze. "Do that again."

-"But wait," Denise said. "I've heard that name before. Nikola Tesla. He didn't die. He's still alive!"

When it happened again I crouched down beside Nikola to feel his pulse. I turned his wrist over and saw his watch had stopped at the moment the crack in time and space had opened.

Someone had closed his eyes but I had to open them again, hoping there was still activity behind those pupils somewhere. Any spark of electricity within his brilliant brain...

Then I looked at his watch again.

"Eu-reka!" I yelled. "I might just have it. Seriously, I'm stoked! Oh, this hasn't happened in a while. A genuine medical mystery and you've got just the right man for the job! Annie!"

"What?"

"Listen to me very carefully," I told her. "Don't be alarmed. Just take two very deep breaths because I'm going to ask you something that'll probably freak you out. Are you ready?"

"Doctor, what are you doing?" Amy asked but I shushed her with one raised finger.

"Will it save this man?" Annie asked.

"No," I said. "And yes."

I could tell Bill was desperately looking for eyecontact but Annie would have none of it. She only had eyes for me.

"What'd you want me to do?" she said with her beautiful accent.

"Good. I want you to shoot him."

"What?"

"Shoot Nikola. It'll make sense in a minute, don't worry."

"Can't it make sense now?"

"If he's dead, he won't feel it," I said. "And if he's alive, he definitely won't feel it."

"You want me to shoot a body?"

"Doctor, what are you saying?" Amy said, catching on. But mostly she was putting out fires by acting as my translator. "You're saying the bullet won't hurt the body?"

"Of course it won't!" Bill cried out. "The man's dead!"

"Not exactly," I said. "He looks dead, but isn't. He's actually, more or less, on ice. Frozen, as it were. And a teensy bit listening to our conversation. Because you are listening, aren't you Nikola?"

I lifted his eyelids again. His pupils were dilated this time. I felt the distortion with every touch of his skin. As if he were drenched in anti-time and trapped outside of causality. Like a conscious aneasthetic patient, except he's experiencing time vastly different from our perspective. He's slowed down.

Think of time and space and everything as fabric and we're all rag dolls. Living breathing, walking, talking living dolls! And Nikola's been cut out of the tapestry, disconnected and his energy was slipping away in suspended animation, not even suspended animation...His lifeforce was oscillating, neither dead or alive, drifting unchecked into the fault lines of the universe. The crack had still not healed entirely. That would take time.

We had to rewire Nikola and patch him up. There had to be a way. There was still time to fix everything.

"I'm cool..." I smiled. I shook off my grumpiness like a wet dog.

Jack collapsed. The wound had finally gotten the better of him.

"Amy, Simon, get Nikola into the TARDIS."

Jack called my name in pain, because he obviously didn't want to be left behind. And miss all the action. Except he'd seen enough that day.

"Buffalo Bill Cody," I told the eponymous cowboy. "Take care of my friend. He's earned it."

"But what about you, Doctor?" Bill asked. "Where are you going?"

"I'm off to save history," I said and then turned round by the TARDIS door. "Again...It's a weird sort of day, isn't it?"

"Good luck to you then, you mad mad doctor!" he told me as he shook my hand.

"Oh, it's good to be back!"

"Doctor!" Bernárd grabbed my attention just before I was off. Bright lights from the balloons were shining directly at me so I could barely see his face.

"What's going to happen to me?" he asked and I only had the simplest and most complicated answer to give him.

"You'll live."

It took him barely two seconds to understand the gravitas of those two words. He's clever. I liked him.

"Thank you, Doctor," he beamed and he was about to run off.

"Bernárd..." I said and he turned back. There was one last thing left to say before the end.

"Thank you..." I said to him.

We clung to hope in this starlit night of storms. Because it's all we have, really.

As the TARDIS dematerialized into dusk Jack looked to the next time he'd see me again, when he'd find me, which he knew he would.

Bernárd held his hand to help with the pain. We all need a hand to hold in the end.

"What did you mean?" Jack asked the boy. "What did you ask the Doctor?"

"Doesn't matter," Bernárd said. "That's all over now."

"Think so? I'd like that. Argh."

"Don't move," Bernárd told him. "It'll hurt more."

Jack smiled.

"The Doctor told me I was going to die. That I had to die. I was...I was going to write my final word on the Tower and become the body lying in the labs. But that wasn't me. I was terrified all day, aching, because of what they told me. Because of what I saw. But it's over now."

"What body?"

"The elevator's coming up!" Bill Cody roared at the pair of them. "Hang on there, son! We'll be down soon!"

Jack grabbed Bernárd's collar. His sleeve slid down his arm to expose his leather wrist strap and the device Bernárd had seen inside.

"WHAT BODY?"

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