Once the ambulance arrived everything happened so fast that later, much later, Donna couldn't exactly recall how she ended up with the silver ring inside her pocket. It must have fallen out of his hand when the paramedics lifted the injured man onto the gurney, or he must have lost it earlier when the kids attacked him. She couldn't remember picking it up, or finding it lying somewhere in the gravel. It was only when she was sitting in the police station, giving her account of what had happened to the nice young police officer with the quirky smile and dark eyebrows and the nice lips, that she put her hands in her pocket and discovered that she had it. She felt the smoothness of the cool metal brush against her finger tips, and for a moment she looked puzzled. All she was supposed to have in that pocket was an old crumbled Kleenex and a sticky sweet.
"Something wrong, miss?" The handsome officer asked, raising his dashing eyebrows in the most attractive sort of way.
"Wrong?" She fluttered her eyes. "No nothing is wrong. Except for what for had happened of course. That was awful."
"It was very brave of you to intervene."
"I didn't do anything, really." Donna's face flushed. She took her hand out of her pocket.
"Kids these days, they could have carried anything. I would hate to see something happen to someone like you."
Donna's cheeks are becoming even more flushed. If it wasn't for the fact that she felt quite miserable, she would have jumped on him and planted a big smacker on those gorgeous lips. "Hope he's all right." She said. "Did you hear anything from the hospital yet?"
"No miss, but I could make a note and let one of us call you when we know anything."
"Yeah." Donna nodded. "I would like that. Poor man."
Her head felt warm and horrid, as if it was stuffed with cheap isolation material. Suddenly, she wasn't so sure that the hot flushes she felt were only related to how good the officer sitting at the other side of the desk looked.
"I think we're done with the report. Mind you, my colleagues might have to contact you next week when there is a problem with the investigation, I hope that's not inconvenient."
"Oh no, that's fine." She took a deep breath and felt how a slow headache started to hammer inside her skull. "I'm glad to help."
The officer rose from his chair, and shook her hand. "Are you sure you're alright miss?" He asked in concern, noticing how hot she felt.
"Well, I don't know. It's just… I've a terrible headache."
"You look like you might have caught the flu. It could also be shock caused by emotional distress. It's the way how our body copes with this kind of unpleasant situation."
"I suppose so."
"You know what. If you just wait here, I'll get a colleague to finish this for me and I'll bring you home. The traffic at this time of the day is awful but if I turn on the serene we will be in Cheswick in no time."
If it wasn't for the awful headache terrorizing her, Donna would have melted at the spot, and fainted in the guy's arms. "Oh that would be great." She said, as gracefully as she could, and smiled sourly. Why couldn't she get a response of a good-looking bloke like him on any normal day? One on which she didn't had the feeling that she was going to puke out her liquefied brains anytime soon? What was this, some kind of sick cosmic joke?
She didn't have much time to muse about it for long. Although she promised herself that she would definitely ask for the officer's phone number, she passed out in the back seat instead as soon as she got into the police car. She didn't wake up till they pulled over in her own street. When her granddad came out and helped her into the house together with the young officer, all she could say to him before he left was some gargled dribble about a woman on a stone relief in the museum that had stolen her mole. It didn't exactly make the right romantic impression. The officer left soon afterwards, visibly confused.
His eyes opened, slowly, as he woke from a dreamless sleep. His mind dreaded it, telling him that it was better to stay far away from consciousness. His body didn't listen thought, and slowly, certainly and painfully, he was sucked back into reality through a straw. There was a blitzkrieg of voices, all around him. Shadows of people in green, running on and off. Harsh, artificial light, shining in his face.
"Hang on mate, you're going to be all right."
He didn't think so. He felt cold, although his entire body was wrapped up in a plastic bag to contain the temperature. A large, open-jawed snake rushed right at him, trying to swallow his head. No, it was not a snake, it was an oxygen mask. He could hear his own breathing rasp against the tube.
"Look at his heartbeats per minute. It can't be."
"His blood pressure is off the charts as well."
More questioning voices, more amazed comments. Someone adjusted the belt around his arm, surely the measurements were incorrect. Surely, there was something wrong with the machinery. They loosened it and fastened it again, turned the apparatus off and on, it didn't help. The same signals, the same insanely high numbers.
"What are we going to do?"
"Stitch him up quickly, He needs a blood transfusion."
"What? With that blood pressure?"
"He lost at least two liters of blood. Besides, those numbers can't be accurate. Call the blood bank for three bags of O neg."
When they tried to stick an IV needle inside his arm, he panicked. It was something with the blood, packed neatly inside transparent bags that dangled above his head like heavy fruit from a tree, that made him jump. Something was terribly wrong with it. Hands, coming from every direction, holding him down. Another needle in his arm, injecting a river of ice into his veins. He froze up, his muscles, his limbs, everything became heavy and useless. He tried to warn them, yelled inside the snake's mouth, but his words were sucked down into the tube.
The IV needle went in. The blood started to drip. He watched with hollow eyes as the bloody fruits above his head bled into his body and slowly destroyed him.
At 10:00 PM, the surgeons believed that they had saved their patient, and send him down to the trauma ward to recover.
At 10:30 PM, his temperature suddenly climbed, as his immune system reacted against the transfused blood, and started killing off not only the new blood cells, but also his own.
At 11:04 PM, his body went into shock. With every artery of his body dilating, his blood pressure dropped dramatically. His two hearts had to overcompensate by beating twice as fast, and one of them soon decided it had enough, and stopped working.
The doctors didn't have a clue why it happened, but recognized the symptoms nevertheless. Mismatched blood transfusion, it shouldn't have happened with O negative blood. They removed the IV, but didn't know what to give him instead. Besides, it was already too late.
At 11:43 PM, his second heart stopped beating, and the patient was dead.
Donna was sleeping inside her bedroom. She dreamt feverously. They were confusing dreams, a whirlwind of voices, faces, and places, and nothing made sense. Monsters, creatures that looked like nightmares turned into flesh, songs echoing over vast valleys covered in a blanket of virgin white snow, a huge library filled with books and shadows. A man, a tall, handsome man, standing in front of a blue box, the features of his face lost in the bright blinding light. He snapped his fingers, the box closed, and she was left in darkness.
These were dreams of fire, flames leaping up at her, the heat scorching her face. She turned and toiled in bed, drenched in sweat. A spider, a mother queen, trapped in an inferno, her cries ringing in Donna's ears as she arched her back and raised her front legs to the sky in agony.
"Doctor! Stop now, please. Stop it now!"
The man of the blue box stared down at Donna. His face was devoid of any emotions.
"Doctor!" She screamed.
And then it started to rain, cool, wonderful rain. Cold against her hot skin, like ice. A wind swept her hair back, and she was standing on a rocky hillside where down below was a field of rockets. They were ticking time-bombs, cultivated so lovingly for destruction and death. She held a black box in her hand. One push on the button and these beautiful flowers will bloom. Nothing could stop her. But the man of the blue box raised his hand. Give me the remote, he said. You can't do it. You never could. He knew her so well. She despised him for that. Nothing would satisfy her more than to prove him wrong. But she couldn't. She handed over the remote, and she lost control. Now she was defeated. Now she was his prisoner. She would rather die.
A shot in the dark, a smoking pistol. She fell. She fell backwards and into his arms. The man of the blue box. Now he looked sad. How ironic. He begged her to stay with him. Nothing would satisfy her more than to make him grief and regret. This man of the blue box, her enemy and friend.
She woke up past midnight to find her sleep shirt soaked in sweat. Everything in the room turned and swirled. She realized that she was ill, really ill. She needed a doctor. Her body felt like a furnace, as if she had swallowed the sun. She could hear her blood rushing in her veins, and her heart drumming in her ears. I'm going to die, she thought, Oh my God, I need to stop, I'm burning up.
She crawled out of bed.
I need to cool down, I need to stop. Where is the rain? Where is the rain to qench the flames?
Voices, so many voices, all of them were from the man of the blue box, spilling out a thousand words per microsecond, cramping her aching head. She pressed her hands onto her ears. It didn't help. There was so much that she came to know, too much, she stumbled into the dark room without direction or purpose, she needed to cool down, she needed rain and ice.
A single voice, rising above the turmoil, calling out to her. It wasn't the man of the blue box, but someone else.
"Take the ring." It whispered. "Take it and it will stop."
She swaggered to the corner of the room where her mom had laid out her clothes over a chair. She sank down her knees in front of it and with trembling, sweaty hands, she searched her pockets, remembering the cool smooth surface of the silver ring.
She wrapped her fingers around it, and immediately, the fire rushed out of her, and ran through her veins, down her arm and hand and into the ring. Her mind cleared, the man of the blue box vanished out of her head. Her heart quieted down, and her temperature cooled to normal. She stared down at the ring that glowed brightly orange with heat, and dropped it when it burned into the palm of her hand. It left and angry red circle on her skin. She blinked her eyes, and studied it, stunned, as if it was only now that she had awakened from her bad dreams. On the floorboards, the ring glowed brightly, then weakly, before it finally dimmed.
Somewhere hidden away deep underground in a secret nameless bunker, a young man was studying the numbers and figures streaming over one of the six computer screens surrounding him. He watched and waited impatiently while the program churned out the data. His throat felt strangely dry when his senior officer came in. He stood up from his chair and saluted him. His boss couldn't fail to notice that the young private's hand was slightly trembling.
"Rest soldier. So, what's going on?"
"Sir, it's the automatic screening system for the national medical databases. A man was brought into the Saint Michael's hospital in London today. The medical report states that he has a binary cardiovascular system."
"Two hearts? Are you sure?"
The young officer nodded nervously. "The doctors only found out about it after he died. He was brought in with a potentially fatal stab wound, they didn't screen him immediately, but they did notice that he had very unusual physiological parameters during the operation. They examined his body after he died of shock. Something to do with a mismatch in blood type."
"Dear lord. It's…it's not him, is it?" The senior officer asked, hesitantly.
"No sir." The young officer answered. "It's not the Doctor. But…we did find a match in the Unit Alien-Enemy database."
The relief that had washed over the senior officer's face quickly disappeared.
"It's not…it can't be." His face darkened. "He's dead. According to the Torchwood files he was executed on board of the Valiant. It can't be him."
"I couldn't believe it myself, sir." The young officer answered, and turned to the keyboard to activate the standby files. "But I used these pictures extracted from the hospital's security camera. See, here he is, being brought in." He showed the footage to his superior, and then clicked on the extracted picture with an extreme close-up of the man's face. "I fed these into the database and this is what the AE identified." He pointed at the screen. A picture of Harold Saxon, his face mapped by digital lines and dots, flashed over and merged with the picture of the unidentified patient. The message that appeared on the screen was loud and clear.
"It's a 100 match sir."
His supervisor stared blankly at the violently flashing screen that lit up with numerous warning codes like the lights in the devil's Christmas tree. Any hope that the boy had made a mistake, had been completely wiped away in the last few minutes.
"Sir, I'm afraid it's him. It's…"
"It's the Master. God help us all." The senior officer whispered. He turned around. "Alarm the Unit headquarters and get the London units ready. We have to act immediately. Code 005."
"Code 005? But the hospital records say that he's dead sir." The young officer said. "Surely, he's less of a threat now. Maybe something killed him before he could regenerate."
"We thought he was dead already, private. Now he pops up and dies for a second time. I don't think we can afford to underestimate the abilities of the Timelord race. Code 005. And no more questions."
The young officer saluted this senior before he returned back to the computer screen. With sweaty hands, he typed in the code and sent it out to the Unit headquarters all over the world.
Donna could no longer sleep. She stayed up and parted the curtains to watch the sky turn from complete darkness, into continuous lighter hues of blue, till the first silver rimmed clouds appeared at the horizon. She dressed herself, and with the ring kept safely inside her pocket, she grabbed her coat and the car keys and went outside, carefully closing the door behind her to not wake her mom and granddad. Sitting in Silvia's car, she considered for a moment the absurdity of the situation, with her sneaking out so early in the morning without telling her family where she went. She was not a teenager anymore, and to her own judgment, she wasn't going to do something stupid or dangerous.
It was just that it was too weird to explain.
So let me reconsider this, you're really going to the hospital to seek out a complete stranger, and you're gonna hassle the poor bloke with weird questions about this ring you accidentally took from him while he was wallowing in pain and bleeding to death in the streets. And that's because for some insane reason, you have come to believe that his little trinket has probably saved your life…
Maybe she was going to do something stupid after all.
She turned the key in the ignition, and drove the car into the direction of the hospital.
Albert Ansley was a not man who was easily excited, and he had good reasons for being so. In all those years that he had been working as a coroner at the Saint Michael's hospital, he had seen almost everything, from people who have died in bloody car accidents, or hollowed eyed junkies who overdosed, to suicide jumpers whose brains he had to scrape from the bottom of the body bags. The causes of death were hardly ever enticing to him, except for the odd deadly virus that pops its head around once in a while. When he was a younger doctor, Albert had aspired a shining career in science where he could put his extensive knowledge of the human anatomy in good use. Working as a coroner was just a temporary job till something better came available in one of the more acclaimed academic hospitals. Now he was in his late fifties, and except for one or two publications in the little known London Medical Correspondence, had not exactly made a name for himself in the scientific community. His wife knew about his frustrations, and didn't make a fuss about it. Just another 5 years or so, she thought, and then he could stop working and go into early retirement. They had already been saving for a charming little farmhouse in the south of France.
It struck her therefore as odd when one morning, she found her husband jumping out of bed with all the enthusiasm of his former younger self.
"Where are you going Albert?" She asked sleepily.
"To work." He said, while he was wrestling into his pants.
"To work? But it's 4:00 AM. And you only came home three hours ago."
"Yes I know dear." He gave her a peck on the cheek. "Someone special was brought in yesterday. I need more time to get a better look at him."
He drove to the hospital, taking shortcuts through the now almost deserted London streets while whistling along with the golden oldies on the radio. Meanwhile, his mind was turning, working up an extensive protocol of how to perform the vivisection step by step. Everything needed to be perfectly recorded, weighed and measured, for this was going to be his long awaited scientific triumph. An exciting case study, no longer for some insignificant local journal, but for a publication in the internationally acclaimed journals of Science and Nature. A description of a 30-year-old male with a functional binary cardiac system. It had never been reported before. Finally, he would get the acknowledgement that he had longed for all those years.
He parked his car three meters away from the hospital's entrance, and swirled down the stairs with the frivolous steps of a young medical student. The mortuary was in the cellar of the institute, kept out of sight from the public's eyes. He swiped his security card to get pass through the double doors and entered his domain. The air was stale, for there were no windows. Sterile light shone down from the ugly high ceiling where the innards of the building, the pipes and electrical circuits, lay open for everyone to see. He entered the cold-room where the temperature was kept on at a chilly 10 degrees, it was enough to keep the biological processes of decay from catching up with his work. On the stainless steel table lay the body of the patient who had died only six hours ago. He was still in his hospital-gown, his lower half was discreetly covered with a green cloth.
There was a tall drawer with instruments in the corner of the room. On the table next to it was an old CD player with a stack of classical CDs. Albert turned it on and Gustav's Holst's The planets suit sounded through the deserted place. He put on his white coat, latex gloves and blue paper mask, and hummed along with the music while he took out his instruments, smooth stainless steel glistening in the artificial light, as he arranged them in an orderly row on a green cloth.
When he was ready with his preparations he went over to the table, and spoke into his voice recorder.
"Body of patient number 126605, examined by doctor Albert Ansley at 16:46 AM, 12th of august 2008."
He removed the cloth and cut the gown open, exposing the bare skin.
"Subject is male, approximately 30 years old, identity unknown. Died last night at 11:45 PM after he went into shock. Preliminary diagnosis of the cause of death is a severe autoimmune reaction in response to mismatched blood transfusion from an O negative donor. "
"Which shouldn't have happened." He mumbled, but he continued.
"Subject was brought in at 8:54 PM, with a stab wound in the lower abdomen at the left side, which had caused severe blood loss. Blood pressure and number of heartbeats per minute were remarkably high…"
Directly after the body was brought in, Doctor Johnson had informed him about the diseased patient's unusual physiology. He didn't believed him at first, but after he had studied the patient's medical files, the coroner's curiosity took the better of him and he had immediately put the body under the MRI for a quick internal examination. The high-resolution pictures taken from that session were more than clear. The man had a binary cardiac system. Two hearts, which based on the perfect anatomical features of the organs, must have functioned perfectly during his life. Albert's own old heart had skipped a beat at that moment of discovery, only to continue in a joyous, and excited pace. It had not rested since.
He had saved the files not only in the hospital's database, but also on his own PC, and took hardcopies of it home with him. Now, he needed to conduct a full examination, dissect the hearts and preserve them in fixatives. He wanted to keep them in perfect condition.
He stopped talking into the recorder, everything that was important to note had been said. New findings were awaiting him, new discoveries to be unraveled, lying just underneath the surface of this man's skin.
He took a fine, sharp scalpel in his skilled right hand, and with the precision and gentleness of an artist brushing over his canvas, cut a thin red line over the middle of the sternum. When the cut had reached the lower half of the chest, a small sigh suddenly parted from the dead man's lips. Albert stopped for a moment, and stared at the patient's face.
He picked up his voice recorder and noted that the subject had air trapped inside his lungs, which was not uncommon for people who died in full consciousness and were gasping for the last breath of air before their body shut down. He wasn't alarmed by it and continued to work.
His knife slit down, an ice skater over a smooth cool surface, till he reached the arches of the ribcage. He followed the natural curves, creating an upside down Y on the chest. Then he took a sturdy pair of forceps and lifted a corner of the skin, and carefully, he used his scalpel to peel off the skin from the layer of muscles underneath.
He stopped when he noticed that the chest suddenly rose and fell, as if the body was fighting to breathe. Albert blinked his eyes. Spasm, he told himself, it was spasm of the deteriorating muscles. The last contractions of dying tissues. But for some reason that he couldn't explain even to himself, he shot a nervous glance at the man's face, and saw, just for a fraction of a second, that the eyelids fluttered.
"Oh." Albert's face turned pale. He took off his gloves and rubbed his hand against his eyes. "This is madness. I didn't see that."
Suddenly, an old childhood memory came back to him. Albert Ansley was 10 years old and was about to dissect a frog in biology class. He killed the animal in the ether pot, and had it pinned down on a slap of wood. He had carefully followed the instructions of his teacher, cutting it open from the neck down to the belly, exposing all the shiny pink and purple innards for examination. He was using his forceps to unravel the intestines when the frog suddenly twitched its long legs. It wasn't dead, and woke up from its ether-induced sleep with its belly sliced open and its guts spread out over young Albert's desk.
It had been a horrid sight.
Albert watched, horrified, how the eyes of the man that he had presumed to be dead drew open. A choking sound came from his mouth, and his lips moved as if he was trying to speak. A hand rose up and hovered over the hideous wound that he had created. As if it was the hand of a blind man, it touched the exposed muscles and strips of peeled off skin, trembling fingers feeling its way through the devastation. The former dead man took a deep breath and threw his head back, the eyes were now fully open and conscious of the immense pain. A pitiful cry came from him, which was too weak to be heard outside this isolated room, but sufficiently terrible to send the hairs at the back of Albert's neck arise.
The man's eyes, filled with fright and confusion, met Albert's and he had to quickly turn away. "No no no no no. You can't be alive. I didn't… I didn't cut into you while you were still alive." He clutched onto his medical utensils, and accidentally cut himself in the hand.
"Shit! Shit Albert!"
Then he remembered what he had done with the frog. Albert Ansley was not a violent or a cruel man, but the very idea that he was responsible for the suffering of another living being, made him sick to stomach and filled him, at the same time, with blind stinking panic. He grabbed hold of the largest scalpel that he could find and realized that he had to stab him right in the heart if he wanted to end his misery. He turned back to the table where his victim was now fully awake, and was shaking violently of the pain he had to endure. The young man stared up at him with eyes ablaze with fear as the good coroner raised the blade with two hands in the air.
Albert didn't immediately feel the pain when one of his own treasured scalpels that he had left on the table slit his throat, severing his main arteries. He staggered back with the scalpel still raised in his hands but with all purpose of its action lost, while the blood splashed out of his neck like a crazy lemonade fountain. The man on the table dropped the blood-drenched scalpel and lifted his foot to kick him in the stomach, and the doctor tumbled backwards to the floor.
The last conscious thought that came into doctor Albert Ansley's mind just before it ceased to be, was that of the dead frog, which he had decapitated with a pair of scissors when he was a kid.
UNIT and Donna are on their way to the recently resurrected Master, who will get there first?