It began with a terrible pain, a terrible pain that traveled the course of the universe. Slow and unhurried, it traveled through spiral galaxies and brightly colored nebulae, through the pitch blackness of nothing and into an ever growing light, an absolute light, bright beyond imaginings.
“He’s awake… Doctor, he’s waking up!” a voice shouted, inaudibly loud.
The light was all encompassing. Nothing existed beyond it. Nothing, save for a voice. Louder and clearer it grew with each syllable uttered until every word threatened to shatter the world.
“Come on Doctor, he’s waking up!”
A loud noise sounded, and then another voice joined the chorus.
“Good… good. Give him a cool rag, Shora.”
Slowly, the light had begun to break, giving way to forms of darkness that obstructed an absolute world with new complexity. Something eased the pain and a world of solids constructed itself through the filters of perception. It was still bright, to be sure, but that light now shone through a green canvas tent. It looked like the sunlight of an early day, he seemed to know.
“That’s right… easy now” a voice came from his side “deep breathes, my friend, deep breathes.”
He sucked in air, filling his lounges ever larger with each attempt, clearing the feeling of nothingness from his chest. I’m alive he realized.
Just as obvious as it might have seemed to any man, it was the most profound discovery that this man felt he could ever have come upon. I’m alive his own unfamiliar voice echoed in the empty chamber of his mind.
“Easy now, Nathan”
He struggled with the word. It felt wrong.
“Easy, Nathan, you’ve been asleep for a long time.”
Above him, a face appeared. It was a woman’s face, young and beautiful. She loomed over him for only a moment but in that time he studied her with a precision he had never, in his few minutes of life, known to be possible. Her eyes were chestnut brown, her cheeks pink, and her lips drawn into a firm red line. All about her features, strands of brown hair escaped the bun that sat upon her cranium and cascaded downwards. She looked warm, her flesh clammy and reflective, the hints of a few droplets forming above her brow.
“Don’t crowd him, Shora” the second voice was that of a man.
“But look,” she said “He’s smiling.”
“So he is”
Another face loomed overhead, peering down as if entranced by some unknown mystery. This face was broad and firm, the face of a hard and inquisitive man. On top of his head was a thin, unkempt matt of brown fuzz that quickly traveled down the side of his head and formed a shaggy beard speckled with strands of grey. His features were simple enough, a round nose, cheeks broken by both smile and scowl lines and the dark skin of a man whom had worked in the sun. Behind small lenses hid a pair of searching blue eyes. His brow shone with considerably more moisture then that of the girl.
Just as soon as it had appeared, the face of the older man disappeared and quickly there after the girls followed as well.
“He’s thirsty, no doubt. You’re thirsty, aren’t you, Nathan?”
There was a silence.
“Go get some water, girl.”
Footsteps sounded and the girl rushed from the tent, slapping the doors flap to the side as she went. The Doctor stood, staring from across the room, his body propped against a desk of clutter and both his arms and his legs crossed. He was dressed in a simple white lab coat over brown cargo pants and laced military boots.
Beads of sweat formed on the man’s brow as he stared intently. They dropped and ran down his face to be joined with his beard, only to be replaced by more, equally patient as they grew in size before running down to follow their comrades in that bushy marsh.
A long moment passed with the Doctor staring, unmoving, save for his eyes which searched rapidly across whatever lay before him; a consciousness now self aware, now searching its surroundings, now staring back into the blue orbs of the man whom watched him.
Finally, the tents flap was kicked viciously to the side and the girl came bounding in with a tray. Upon it sat three glasses, all filled with water. The Doctor sprang from his intensity and moved to a more natural posture.
“There she is, at last.”
“Sorry, Doctor, there was a queue,”
“It’s really no matter, Shora. Thank you.”
The Doctor took his glass and drained it in a single motion before moving to assist his patient.
“You’re thirsty, aren’t you?” he asked.
With some effort, a nod was forced.
“Good, of course you are. You’ve been asleep a long time, Nathan.”
The Doctor tilted the glass to his patient’s lips and with a rush so cold it consumed the whole of his focus he was cured of his blinding pain.
“That’s better, isn’t it?” the Doctor asked once the glass had been drained “It should be, at least, I put some medicine in it… to help with the pain. Now then, can we get up? Can we speak?”
“I…” he tried “I…”
He had nothing to say. No comment, no question.
“Who am I?”
The Doctor stared at him from behind his glasses.
“Shora, take our glasses away.”
“Take them and go, I will call for you.”
The girl collected the drinking glasses begrudgingly and with no apparent hurry. The Doctor waited until she had left, showing no sign of irritation. He rested himself upon the frame of the bed that held his patient.
“Well then, where to begin. You’re name is Nathaniel Bordosky, you know this much, don’t you?”
“No…” he said “I… I don’t know anything.”
“I see. Well then…” the Doctor sat in thought for a moment.
“Who are you… and… where are we?”
“My name is Dr. Edgar Rodgore. I am the leader of this… settlement. Nathan, you were brought here on commission to build us a new water mill and you did so with considerable skill, if I do say so. Anything more then that, I cannot say.”
“Where will I go?” he asked.
“You may stay her for the time being, Ill have Shora find you a tent.”
The Doctor got up to move.
“You’ve some items, personal belongings. I’ll have those sent to you. Oh, and…” he paused “Medicine, Ill be sure you get your medicines.”
“Shora!” he shouted to nowhere in particular.
She appeared instantly.
“Let’s get him home.”
“Can he stay with me?” she asked.
“No” the Doctor replied, “We’ll find him a tent. Can you stand, Nathan?”
With some measure of effort the two pulled him to his feet, one under each of his arms. As a trio they stumbled through the tent and into the world beyond.
It was bright, much brighter then it had been in the tent and Nathan sought to cover his eyes but with both arms being held around the Doctor and Shora he was unable to do so. Instead, he was forced to squint, grasping at images as he fought back the tears that clouded his vision and the light that pierced his eyesight. He saw trees, a path, what looked like sunlight reflecting off of a large body of water.
“This… is a settlement?” he asked, seeing very little in the way of permanent structures.
“That’s right, Nathan” the Doctor replied “There was no longer any room for us.”
They stumbled down what seemed to be a half-hazard path made only by frequent use. Momentary patches of shade allowed for a measure of comfort and Nathan peered with squinted eyes into the unknown. His surroundings seemed to be a sort of gradual oval shaped bowl that sloped, covered in grass, towards a lake that stretched out some distance away. There were tall, gnarled trees that reached up randomly into the crystal clear sky and towards the shore of the lake these trees seemed to grow ever thicker on one side, creating a canopy of sorts. All around, the horizon seemed to be the same; a surprisingly close ridge of grass that stopped any sight from reaching beyond topped by an ever glorious dome of absolute blue sky.
“This way” the Doctor said.
They turned at a fork in the path, travelling towards the center of the bowl and towards the lake. A few tents decorated the shoreline.
“How many people live here?” Nathan asked.
“Thirty—One” the Doctor replied, with a look towards Nathan.
“Does everyone live in a tent?” He asked.
The trail came upon a modest creek that bubbled and trickled down a weaving course of stones. There was no means of crossing, though the creek was certainly shallow enough that doing so would have been no difficulty, and the path instead turned to follow the waters course downhill.
“Is it just this basin, then?” Nathan asked, gesturing with his head to the area around them.
“That’s right” the Doctor replied.
Suddenly something struck Nathan as strange.
“I see no roads… no means of transportation. How did I arrive? Where did I come from, for that matter?”
The Doctor stared straight ahead. Shora looked uncomfortable.
“We never asked” said the Doctor.
“You never asked..?”
“That’s right. You came upon your own accord and with your own means and we never asked how it was that you did so.”
“I just showed up one day?”
“Not quite, we did ask for you.”
“You asked whom for me?”
“We just asked.”
“You just asked, and I came, to build you a watermill?”
“You can see it, just up there” Shora jumped in, pointing with her unused arm.
Sure enough, at the end of the creek, some distance away, a large, very modern looking watermill sat turning as the waters tumbled into it. Patches of dense vegetation grew on its far side, backed by what looked to be a number of very old, very large trees. The watermill seemed to mark the edge of the lakeside settlement, beyond it grew the canopy that casted a shadow upon the lake and along the shoreline, stretching in the other direction, a number of tents sat erected, growing in density as they went, but never becoming anything more impressive then a large campsite.
They walked in silence for a time, following the trail as it zigzagged lazily along the creeks side. The groan of the watermill grew louder as they grew closer. It seemed to be built of metal entirely, but perhaps with the aid of a blue plastic like substance that could have easily been for decorative purposed only. The mill was huge, looming well into the sky. Despite its metallic construction not a sign of age or rust could have been picked out.
“I built this?” Nathan asked.
“You did, and with great skill and efficiency, I must add” the Doctor replied.
Nathan stared in awe. No, the three of them stared in awe, cast in the shadow of something magnificent.
“Shall we?” the Doctor asked.
Silently, the others fell in, and the continued down the path towards to settlement. Nathan stared at the mill as it fell in behind them.
“I could never have built that” he said, as it drifted further and further away.
“I saw you do it” said Shora.
“We all did” added the Doctor.
“All of us” another voice chimed in.
A man, in his mid twenties from the looks of him, leaned against a tree along the paths side. It was apparent by their reactions that neither Shora, nor the Doctor had noticed him until he spoke and a look of satisfaction flickered across his face as they started at his voice.
His face was long and defined, almost perfect in every proportion and every measurement. Upon his head sat a neatly trimmed cut of golden hair. Stubble ran up his neck and around his lips and up his jaw and a pair of eyes the color of the sky looked out at the three whom travelled down the path.
“Let us not forget that it was a spectacle for us all” the man said, moving to join them on the path.
“And the accident…” he added.
“Bertram…” the Doctor seemed to warn him.
Bertram smiled a big smile, showing his perfect white teeth.
“Of course, Doctor. Tell me, are we going to keep him as a pet now? We got our watermill, and I thought that was all you wanted from our friend here.”
“We can discuss this later, Bertram; right now we need to get Nathan here to his tent.”
“Of course, of course, Doctor. Here, let me assist.”
Bertram squeezed his way in-between Shora and Nathan and with an arm that was clearly very strong, he secured himself in a position to help.
“Wait!” Shora protested.
“Hush, girl, run along” the Doctor insisted.
“Bertram’s much stronger, let him help.”
With a scowl Shora fell in behind and the four of them continued down their path.
Within a few minutes of walking, they had begun to pass a few tents and despite their relative scarcity, Nathan began to realize that throughout the whole of the settlement there were likely many more tents then would be required simply to house thirty one people.
Still on the edge of the camp the Doctor announced that they had arrived and they began to lower Nathan into a very small one person tent.
“Doctor” Nathan asked.
“I will be allowed to leave, wont I?”
“You may leave whenever you like, of course.”
There seemed to be no walls, no guards, and no reason that, once his strength recovered, Nathan could not simply walk out of the basin if he so desired and so with heavy eyelids and his headache returning, he eased into his new bed and began to drift away.
“Ill have Shora bring you some medicine in a few hours” the Dorctor announced, as he straightened himself up.
Outside, Nathan could hear some heated discussion between the Doctor and Bertram as they walked away. He tried to strain the meaning from them, to work his mind around the words, but his faculties seemed to fail him and he found that he was losing consciousness.