the fountain of maturity


Dishi slowly walked up the steps and took his customary place on the middle tier of the Filiate House’s circular chamber. This was where all the filiators met regularly to debate and vote on the important decisions affecting the settlement on Guangzongshi. At the centre of the chamber was a perfect circle, about 10 metres in diameter. Surrounding this, were comfortable, red leather seats upon five levels of metal flooring, which rose in elevation the further you got from the centre.

Dishi was now sitting with the other 9-12 year olds in the third tier. He remembered back to only a few years ago, when he would sit in the front row and command the complete respect of the house. Now his views were considered less important than the younger statesmen seated in front of him. Surely, he was just as capable as they were, so why then was his age counting against him? In his mind this was institutional injustice. He had once travelled for trade purposes to a human colony on a nearby planet. He was shocked to see how old age was seen as a sign of wisdom rather than a weakness. Why couldn’t his society be the same? If only, there was a way in which this society could be changed.

These aspirations would have to wait as this day was turning out to be something out of the ordinary. He wondered with both excitement and bewilderment as to the reasons why the Empress Seetha had called this unprecedented emergency meeting of the ‘House of Filiate’. He wondered whether this had anything to do with the three visitors that had come to his classroom a week ago. Although by now, whatever remained of them would surely be lining the stomachs of the wild, carnivorous HuHows.

A loud trumpet sounded and the entire chamber fell silent in anticipation. The floor of the centre circle parted into two and slid apart to reveal a passage beneath the chamber. Loud, dramatic music deafened the chamber as a small saucer-like podium slowly floated up from the gap in the centre. Seated upon this podium in her familiar lotus position was the Empress Seetha. Her eyes closed in silent meditation as she smoothly floated upwards. As the podium established itself at the centre of the chamber, the floor slid back into position several metres below it. The tiny Empress opened her eyes and the podium on which she was floating, now rotated very slowly so that she was able to see all the filiators in the chamber

My dear brothers and sisters, you may be wondering why I have called you here today for this special meeting.’ said the Empress in a high-pitched voice, ‘It is my unfortunate duty to inform you that the fateful day that we have been warned about for centuries, has finally arrived.’

She paused for a few moments to let the enormity of the news sink in with the filiators, before continuing. ‘In a few moments, there will be a loud noise, a gushing wind and the arrival of a blue casket, just here to my left.’ said the Empress Seetha pointing her left arm down to a spot on the floor.

‘From inside, will emerge a very powerful and wise man. A “Time Lord” with the power to alter the destiny of our well-established society forever. His desperate actions to save his friends and himself could jeopardise the way we have lived for centuries. His actions threaten to revert us back to the ways of our barbarous forefathers. However, we must do everything to encourage the three of them to join our society. At all costs and no matter what happens, we must never mention “The Fountain of Maturity” to them as that could have grave consequences for us all. The time has now arrived for the TARDIS. My dear brothers and sisters, please welcome the Doctor, Amy and Rory.’

On cue, the TARDIS materialised below the levitating Empress and the Doctor emerged from its double doors. He was still pulling apart his two companions, who were trying to scratch each other’s faces. The three of them were far too pre-occupied to notice the three hundred pairs of eyes that were staring at them.

‘That short-term sedative I’ve given you both should kick in a minute. It will hopefully keep your minds in check, so please try and behave yourselves until then, will you?’ pleaded the Doctor.

‘Welcome back, Doctor, Amy and Rory to Guangzongshi. Our planet is honoured by your presence here.’ the Empress called from above them.

Her sweet, babyish voice seemed to stun the three travellers back to reality and they looked up at the floating child empress, who had now stopped rotating. Rory and Amy suddenly became aware of all the children seated in orderly fashion around them and tried unsuccessfully to pretend that they hadn’t been fighting.

‘I’m so sorry for the behaviour of my friends. Kids these days, eh? You know? Actually you wouldn’t know? Anyways, as you probably heard, we visited your planet to enjoy the beautiful views of the suns, but the rays have affected our minds and made us immature. We are hoping you can help us get back to being grown-ups or in my friends’ case, as grown up as they ever were.’ said the Doctor.

‘Doctor, we know of your affliction. We have been expecting your visit for many years. We are here to help you in the best way possible.’ advised Empress Seetha.

‘Coooool, so you can cure us, right?’ said Amy.

‘Unfortunately there is no cure for what ails you. We have had so many visitors to this planet and each one of them has been affected in the same way that you have. We have welcomed them all into our society and helped them live out their remaining years in happiness and tranquillity. We extend that same hospitality to all three of you and would like to welcome you into our society. A society that has been designed specifically to help our elders.’ the toddler explained.

‘Just like the Hotel California,’ mused the Doctor, ‘such a lovely place. You can check-out any time you like but you can never leave. So what you’re saying is that you won’t be helping us at all.’

‘Doctor, you are much wiser than your old body would suggest.’ said the Empress.

‘You know, I can honestly say that no one has ever said that to me before.’ the Doctor said.

‘It’s not fair! This place should have a health warning or something!’ shouted Rory.

‘There are several intergalactic warnings to stop people from visiting here. The planet has been designated a no-go area on every intergalactic map in the quadrant. The last people to visit here had crash-landed. Were you not aware of the warnings, Doctor?’ asked a four year old filiator from the front row.

‘I must have missed that particular warning when I read up on this planet in the 700 wonders of the universe brochure.’

‘So it’s your fault again, Doctor,’ screamed Amy, ‘you never read the fine print, do you?' 

‘No matter, you are in safe hands now. One of our filiators would be happy to take you into their home and look after you. Your every need will be taken care of.’ interjected Seetha.

‘Which of you filiators will accept this great honour?’ the Empress now addressed the auditorium.

‘Thank you, but that won’t be necessary. We have absolutely no plans to stay. We’ll find our own way out of this. Allons-y Roamy. You don’t mind me calling you that do you, eh? Or do you preferAmory? You know, like Brangelina or Bennifer.’ said the Doctor.

‘Now, Lets get out of…aaaaaaah’. the Doctor screamed out in pain and held both his temples in agony.


'Are you ok, Doctor?’ asked Amy.

‘Yes, I’m fine now’ replied the Doctor.

‘Sure?’ asked Amy.

‘Told you already, I’m fine,’ said the Doctor, ‘Right, you lot, I think we should leave, we’ll get nowt from these uncooperative ankle biters. Maybe someone outside this den of bureaucracy may be more obliging.’

The Doctor aggressively strode out the biggest doors of the auditorium into the burning, sun-lit street, leaving Amy and Rory to catch him up. The rays of the six suns were not as strong due to the glass dome, but it was still brighter than any day on Earth. The immaculate, pristine streets were busy with people bustling around their daily lives; shopping for groceries; getting to work or school or meeting some friends.

‘What now, Doctor? Also, why are you talking like a Mancunian?’ Amy enquired.

‘I used to talk this way a few regenerations back.’ the Doctor replied, ‘I warn you that you will see many changes in my behaviour over the next few hours. I used to have some rather unusual mannerisms. Compared to my other persona, this one is pretty normal by Earth standards.’

‘So, what you’re saying is you’re gonna get even weirder than usual.’ summed up Rory.

‘In a nutshell, yeah...we should ask someone for help.’ said the Doctor as he turned away.

‘Alright mate, can you help us? We need a hospital or a doctor.’ said the Doctor approaching a man walking down the street.

‘Ha ha, the Doctor needs a doctor!’ laughed Amy to herself.

‘Sorry, my children have told me never to speak to any strangers.’ replied the man walking away more briskly.

‘Oh fantastic, I keep forgetting it’s the kids I need to speak to. Hey love, can you help us?’ said the Doctor to the next passing child.

‘Sorry, not now. I’m late for a very important meeting.’ the young girl said without even looking at him.

The Doctor and his friends tried to speak to almost anyone they could find but no one was either willing or capable of helping them. After several hours, the three of them sat down on the pavement of a quiet side street to rest their weary legs.

‘Amazing,’ said the Doctor ‘I’ve never seen a more unhelpful lot in my life. It’s like they’re scared of helping us.’

‘You’re right, they’ve been told not to help you.’ said a voice from the dark shadows.

‘Who’s that?’ asked the Doctor moving towards the voice.

‘Stay where you are, I mustn’t be seen talking to you.’ said the young voice, ‘Your only hope is to find Aymar’s house on Shenhua Street. Turn right onto the main road and eventually you’ll see Shenhua Street. It’s about an hour’s walk away. Ask Aymar about his great grandfather?’

‘Hold on, How do we know you’re not lying to us?’ asked Rory.

‘I feel sorry for you and this really is your only hope. Now, go before anyone sees me talking to you!’ said the mysterious voice.

‘Well I suppose we’ve got nothing to lose, Lets go Rose....I mean Rory ‘n Amy. ’ said the Doctor as he briskly strode down the main road in the indicated direction.

Very soon after the travellers had left, Dishi emerged from the shadows wearing dark sunglasses and a large hat, in an attempt at a disguise. He looked around suspiciously to see if he had been spotted by anyone. Reassured by the silence, he took off the hat and sunglasses and got into his gleaming transporter, which floated up into the air almost silently. Dishi went as high as he could under the dome until he could make out the three visitors from a safe distance. He smiled to himself at the thought of the Doctor leading him to ‘The Fountain of Maturity’. He couldn’t wait to drink from it and maximise his mental prowess. This was exactly what he needed to take over from the Empress and change this society forever.


'Are we there yet?’ moaned Amy.

‘Nope, I think it is much further than that lad made out it was...Oh no!’ said the Doctor as he once again felt the pain inside him. This time it started from the pit of his stomach and extended up to his forehead, until he felt his brain would actually explode.

He stopped and bent over under the pain. Amy and Rory looked on in concern, when unexpectedly the Doctor was back up and striding forward with renewed energy.

‘Come along, my dear friends. We must nearly be there.’ said the Doctor leaving Rory and Amy looking at each other in bewilderment.

A few minutes later the Doctor stopped again, this time in front of a grubby sign on a filthy, litter-strewn street. This part of town certainly appeared much more down market to where they had come from.

‘Look Shenhua Street, we’re here.’ pointed the Doctor proudly.

‘Finally, now what do we do?’ said Rory.

‘Don’t worry, I’ll find this “Aymar” chap. Finding people is a particular proficiency of mine.’

As he said this, a young five year old boy with blonde hair, blue eyes and dark tanned skin, approached them.

‘Are you looking for someone?’ he asked.

‘Yes as a matter of fact, we are my dear fellow. We are looking for Aymar, Do you know him?’