The Ends of the Earth

by vegetables [Reviews - 1]

Printer Chapter or Story
  • Teen
  • Explicit Violence, Swearing
  • Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Angst, Drama, General, Introspection, Mixed, Romance, Standalone

It was around her, now, as it had been when she’d been at the hospital. Another Earth, another branch of possibility. The closest one, the one that had leaked radiation. That had poisoned Allie, the nameless policeman, many others. An Earth that had been a killer, and which was about to die.

She was in the same overgrown crater, the same day. The world was as she’d seen it, only a short while ago. The same tune on the radio as when she’d confronted Doctor Clayton— but there were no Doctors here, not anymore. Only a few scattered passers-by: their hands in their pockets, their eyes firmly turned to the ground.

And the Doctor regarded the world that they lived in, now. Leaves trampled in the dirt with the mulch smell of late October. The air turning bitter, the wind blowing cold against her cheeks. When she travelled with human beings through time and space, they’d always say how history felt more real than they would have thought. The grass and the birds and the insects, all the same as they were in the present. The past was a foreign country, after all. It was always so similar to the place that you’d come from; you knew.

The music on the radio had stopped, and a voice was announcing something. The words washed over her, as she tried not to listen. To absorb the weight of them. She could feel her pale fists clenching against the cold.

There were people running towards buildings and some lying down on the ground, trying to cover their skin with their gloves and hats. And there were people doing nothing, and why would they, after all? They knew well enough that there would be no saving them now. Their eyes and expressions showed something beyond even fear. It was an emotion that deserved acknowledgment, which bore observing. It was the reason a Time Lord gave, when she said she should not look away.

As a child at the Academy she’d been told she should stand and watch, that this was the way of her people. That it wasn’t just a custom, but a Law of Time, and now she knew she was the one who had laid down those laws. And she was observing them now, as she stood and she stared, doing nothing. She was a good little Time Lord until the first of the hydrogen bombs.

In truth, the sight of it wasn’t anything. Only a light beyond light, merely a heat beyond heat. The centre of the sun turning up in the centre of London, obscuring the death it was causing, eclipsing the end. The heat and the fire veered round the Doctor, as she’d banked on. She was too much of an anomaly for the force of the bomb to hit. A lawmaker of physics, who’d committed too great of a crime.

You can’t change history!” she’d once cried, to two teachers who should have been dead, been dying now, here in this city with the children who they had been teaching. They would be melting with millions of other human beings, because that was what her oath had always meant.

Her hands shaking, she took her Geiger counter out from her pocket, thumb pressed tight on the button to switch it on. It screamed, of course, because there was so much radiation around her, but that wasn’t what she was interested in, not right now.

She’d thought that changing history would mean she’d go mad with power. But this was the world that would happen if others agreed. Where Vasilai Arkipov had ordered his vessel to fire. Where Stanislav Petrov waged war against missiles that weren’t really there. Where they knew the end was inevitable, and so it became inevitable. Where they felt to way to withstand the force of despair.

The Doctor stood for fate, and the Doctor stood for hope.

But in the end, the Doctor was a choice.

She was pointing the Geiger counter at her chest and it was roaring at her, telling her this was how things had to be. Because of course the world had ended in 1962, everyone knew it, of course people couldn’t get out of a situation as hopeless as this. The bombs were still falling and the counter blared louder, and the whole world was nothing more than a terrible scream—

The Doctor yelled, and slammed the counter hard against her knee. There was a crack, and the sound stopped, and that world was gone.

She stood in the same glade, back in the living London. The sound of wind. Birds crowding the twigs of a tree. Laughter in the distance, from humans who were now not dead. She stared at it all before her with wild brown eyes.

A man walked past, then laughed when he saw her expression.

“Cheer up, love!” he called. “It might never happen!”

The Doctor glared at him poisonously, and he scuttled off.

Then she was alone again, without any Doctors or humans.

London stretched out before her, impossibly, unbearably, alive.