the fountain of maturity

'This time Doctor, even I have to say that you have brought us to somewhere worth coming to.’ admitted Amy rather grudgingly, as she reached out to hold Rory’s hand. 

The three of them stood on the top of a rock-strewn mountainous hill, overlooking a magnificent panoramic view of an orange desert landscape valley below. However, it was not the ground they were looking at but the sky. 

‘This place has been designated as one of the 700 natural wonders of the known Universe by the Terran Federation of Planets,’ The Doctor started to lecture, while taking in a deep breath of the almost pure oxygenated air. ‘This planet is called Guangzongshi, as named by its first human settlers as meaning - Light always.’ 

‘Guang-zong-she,’ repeated Rory phonetically, ‘that sounds Chinese.’ 

‘Very astute of you Rory, yes the first human settlers on this planet were mainly Chinese and Indian. It was those nations that forged the great Earth era of space colonisation in the late 22nd Century.’ 

Amy closed her eyes and re-opened them slowly, as if to confirm that what she was seeing was real. In front of her, she viewed the splendour of the six magnificent golden orbs, which had a variety of magnitudes and intensities and were suspended in the glowing pink atmosphere. Each sun was radiating a different brightness, which caused the sky to be filled with a multiplicity of colours. It was certainly the most beautiful and romantic view, she had ever seen and she was glad that she had the opportunity of sharing this with Rory. She could hear the Doctor continue his dreary ‘tour guide’ spiel in the background and just wanted him to shut up. 

‘It is called ‘Light Always’, as it is never dark anywhere on this planet. This is due to the fact that one of the six suns is always providing light.’ continued the Doctor. 

‘Thanks Doctor, that will do for now! Could you be a dear and give Rory and I a few moments in private?’ she spitted out in irritation.

The Doctor was taken aback by her outburst and it took a while for him to realise why Amy had wanted some time alone with Rory. It has certainly been a while since he had a couple travelling with him. He searched hard into his memories and recalled the occasion, when Ian and Barbara had disappeared off together for a walk around Ancient Rome and also when Ben and Polly had asked him politely not to join them in a Venetian Gondola. He skulked away silently, while expertly kicking away a small rock, as if he was placing it in the top corner of the net from a free kick. 

He looked back annoyed at the couple and found them in a tender and delicate embrace. He turned away from them as they kissed passionately and muttered ‘Humans’ to himself under his breath. The Doctor walked further away, looking around for ways to amuse himself, while his companions were otherwise engaged. He looked up at the primary sun and noted that it was about the same size as Earth’s sun. Incredibly, it seemed to be the same distance away from this planet as Earth was, from its only sun. He also noted how the other five suns seemed to be in exactly the same position relative to the primary sun, since his last visit. That had literally been a peak out of the TARDIS doors to look at the suns, followed by a rather hasty exit, as he remembered he needed to be somewhere else. It was almost as if their orbit was pre-determined in such a way that the other five would always appear in similar positions relative to the primary sun, almost as if they were rotating around it. 

The Doctor’s thoughts were interrupted by the sighting of a lone bird-like organism that flew across his sight-line. He followed the direction in which it was flying and saw it disappear from view in the distance behind a mountain to his left. The Doctor gazed more closely in that direction and saw something that made him as enthusiastic as a toddler, unwrapping a birthday present. 

He ran back immediately to Amy and Rory, without pausing to think. He found them still looking longingly into each others eyes, while still holding each others hands. They were still standing in the exact spot, where he had left them. 

‘Guys, I’ve found something really fascinating that you just absolutely have to see.’ he said as he strode up to them. 

The Doctor had lost all patience with his two companions, as they continued to blank him completely. Right, that was it! They had simply left him no choice. He physically separated them, while grabbing Amy’s hand in his left and Rory’s in his right. He started to pull them towards the mountain where the bird had flown and started to run back there, with the two of them, trailing behind him. 

‘Stop it Doctor, we don’t want to know.’ barked Amy, trying to pull loose from the Doctor’s strong grip. 

Rory looked at Amy and said, ‘It’s no use, you know what he’s like when he’s seen something.’ 

The Doctor came to an abrupt stop and his two companions had to suddenly put on their brakes, to stop themselves going too far past him. 

‘Look over there in the distance.’ the Doctor pointed to an area at the bottom of the mountain. 

Amy and Rory strained their eyes to scarcely make out a dome-like structure, made of a strange, bright-coloured plastic. Even from this distance, it was clear that there were some buildings inside the structure and that it was certainly a settlement of some kind.

‘Doctor, you’re seriously not thinking of getting us to trek all the way down there, are you?’ appealed Rory. 

‘It’s the year 4024 AD; that’s two thousand years in your future. Don’t you want to see how your great grand children, well give or take about fifty generations, are getting along?’ 

‘Well Doctor, if we must go then can’t we please use the TARDIS? I don’t think Amy would be up for such a long walk down this rough terrain’ protested Rory. 

‘Actually Rory, my lovely, stupid-face husband, I wouldn’t mind in the slightest. It’s such a lovely day and I could do with a nice tan.’ said Amy, as she started leading the way towards the settlement, leaving the astonished Doctor and Rory, in her wake. 

Amy was enjoying the reasonably long walk; especially the warm tingling feeling, she was getting from rays of the multiple suns. She thought it was great how someone could get tanned from all directions at the same time, without having to turn over. The Doctor and Rory had eventually caught up with her, but there seemed little point in making conversation en route to the settlement. As they got closer, they could see that the plastic dome was made up of large, equilateral-shaped triangles. Some of these seemed to be blacked out, while others were translucent enough to allow the buildings below, to be seen. 

After about twenty minutes of trekking, they found their way to the base of the dome. Up close, the triangles looked much larger than they expected, with each side’s length measuring about 30 feet. The Doctor used his Sonic Screwdriver on one of the plastic panels and immediately the clear glass turned black. 

‘Ahh, these panels are using photo-obscuring technology,’ the Doctor thought out loud ‘Very useful to block out the light.’

‘Yep, or no one would get any sleep around here.’ observed Amy.

‘Now where’s the door to this place?’ mused the Doctor. 

‘Over here, I’ve found it!’ called Rory from about fifty yards further around the dome, ‘Now use that sonic thingamajig of yours Doctor and get us into this place.’ 

The Doctor rushed across to Rory with the Sonic Screwdriver all ready and primed in his outstretched arm. He wasted no time engaging it and the door opened smoothly. 

The three travellers tip-toed through the door and found they were in a concrete courtyard. The grey, hard concrete was mostly plain except for a small area, which had various shapes drawn on its floor. An Indian man and a Chinese woman, both in their thirties, were standing next to these shapes. The man was hopping around on one foot, while the woman chanted a rhyme. When they saw the three strangers, the woman whispered something in the man’s ear, which caused them both to giggle out loud. They both ran off through an open door into the building behind them. Amy ran after them, but it was too late and they had both disappeared into the building. 

‘Well Ponds, we’ll just have to follow them inside.’ declared the Doctor confidently. 

This time, the Doctor led the way forward and the three of them found themselves in a long, dark corridor. Amy was the last one through into the corridor. She started to follow the Doctor and Rory, when she felt something on her shoulder. She turned around and was immediately startled by someone shouting ‘Boo!’ close to her ear. The middle-aged, oriental man with grey hair and specs blew a raspberry at Amy and followed up by making a silly face at her. Before she could react, he had run away from her in a flash, heading in the opposite direction to Rory and the Doctor. 

Amy turned back and saw that Rory and the Doctor were now standing in the doorway of a room, looking in. She joined them and peered inside to see what they were looking at. Inside the room were many people, sitting behind several lines of desks. Most of them were from either a Chinese or Indian origin, while only a handful of them were White Caucasians. They were generally behaving in a raucous manner and were throwing objects around the room. One of them was drawing a picture of a child with a comedy face, on a board at the front of the room. 

‘Excuse Me, Please!’ a voice called from behind Amy.  The three of them turned to see where the voice came from, but they couldn’t see anybody at their eye level. The voice continued, ‘If you don’t mind getting out of my way, I’d like to go in.’ they adjusted their gaze downwards by a couple of feet, to see who it was that was speaking. 

A nine year old Chinese boy stood behind them, dressed in a white shirt and a red striped tie. They cleared the doorway by stepping inside and the boy strode into the room, while thanking them in a sarcastic tone. It all suddenly went quiet in the room and the men and women sat quietly at their desks, as if they had always been sitting like that. The boy looked at the board at the front of the room and immediately turned to the class. He walked straight up to the man, who the visitors had earlier seen drawing the face on the board. 

‘Which one of you horrible lot, drew that picture of me on the board?’ he shouted into the man’s face. 

‘Not me, sir.’ replied the man in total fear of his young master. 

‘Right then, if no one is going to admit to it, then you will all stay behind.’ declared the young teacher. ‘Now open your training devices to ‘Day 1122’ and answer the exercises. Let’s get those brain cells working overtime.’ 

‘It’s obviously a classroom, but the students are all adults and the teacher’s only a kid.’ Rory observed. 

The Teacher, overhearing Rory’s remark, turned away from his class and walked up to three newcomers. 

‘Well don’t just stand there; go and sit down! There are a few spare desks at the back of the class.’ ordered the young boy. 

‘No, you don’t understand, we’re just visiting this planet for a short time.’ explained Amy.
‘Visitors from another world, really?’ said the boy in surprised manner.

The Doctor and his two friends nodded back to him. ‘Welcome to our planet Guangzongshi! My name is Dishi and I am the ‘Mind Coach’ for this class. Please be my guests and take your seats.’ the smiling boy added, while gesturing the trio to sit down at the back. 

‘You are Dishy, aren’t you?’ tittered Amy flirtatiously. 

‘I’m the Doctor and these are my friends, Amy and Rory.’ the Doctor said trying to cover Amy’s somewhat playful comment. 

After they had all sat down, the young teacher addressed his entire class. 

‘Listen everybody, we have just had the first visitors to our colony for nearly forty years.’ he announced. 

The pupils in the room responded with a warm round of applause for the three travellers.
As much as he tried to stop himself, the Doctor couldn’t help but raise his hand up.

‘And why is it that you’ve not had any visitors to this wonderful planet of yours for so long?’ he asked. 

‘Well that’s obvious, isn’t it? We don’t get visitors here, as once anyone arrives, they can never leave! You three will now become part of our society, so you may as well join in with our class.’ The boy’s reply sent the travellers into a state of shock. 

‘Can you please explain why we can’t leave?’ the Doctor asked with a concerned frown on his face.

‘Well, can anyone answer our friend in the bow tie’s question?’ Dishi asked the class.

A moustached man raised his hand and started to speak, after receiving a nod from his mind coach. 

‘The early Earth colonists, soon after their arrival, discovered that all humans, over the age of twenty, are affected by brain activity degradation on this planet. As they grow older, they use less and less of their brains, until they are no longer able to do anything useful by themselves. However, their body continues to age, as normal.’ 

‘What causes this?’ interrupted Rory curtly. 

A girl, about the same age as both Amy and Rory, put her hand up and answered him, ‘Our Scientists think that this is due to exposure to the radiation of our six suns combined with the gravitational pull that they exert on us.’ 

‘Ok, but then why can’t we leave?’ Amy asked the girl, trying hard to make sense of their predicament. 

‘This process is irreversible even if the person leaves our planet. Outside this planet, the affected people would be without any specialist help, but here we have modified our society and provided facilities to help them make the most of their remaining lives.’ 

The Boy Teacher added, ‘Our Scientists have discovered that our young children have many more times the brain activity of the adults and that they are not affected too badly until they reach the age of twenty. It is at this age that their brain activity starts to reduce. That is why in our society, we have a special accelerated programme for our newborns in order to provide them with the knowledge, experiences, interactions and environments they need. This develops their minds to full effectiveness, by the time they have reached the age of three. Our wisest and most intelligent people are the three year olds. They therefore make all our important decisions.’