Friday, 27 November 2015

A Fine Time to Lose

Jackson had a gift.  Everything came naturally to him.  

As a child he had a natural love of learning and could often be found pouring over a book in his father's study, whilst his friends played outside, their parents looking in uncertainly. 

But Jackson was exploring his own worlds.  He loved the fantasy created by the writers and spent his days with Peter Pan, Pirate Longbeard and Aslan.  But he didn't limit his reading to the fantastical, he was equally at home with studies of flowers, animals and the simian body.

At school he excelled, drinking in everything around him.  But Jackson was no genius, at least he didn't think so, he just loved to learn and easily retained knowledge. 

At school he was an avid member of many different clubs and societies and all agreed that his ability to "get it right" was uncanny.

"How?  How did you win!?"  Murphy spluttered.  "That was the riskiest opener I have ever seen!"

"I'm just lucky I guess."  Jackson joked.

Adele rolled her eyes.

"Lucky, my backside!" she said "It's all those brains in there.  Too smart for your own good!  I bet you could see the end of the game before the pieces hit the board!"

As he grew, his love of learning took a more focused direction and he set his sights on a career in medicine. He threw himself into his school work, excelling at all that he tried and always with his goal in his mind.  At university he became the go to guy for his fellow students. If they struggled with a theory, couldn't identify an organ or needed someone to re-explain the lecture; Jackson was there.

However, he remained the social butterfly and, although their chances of winning greatly diminished with his presence, people always included the personable young medical student.

"You really want to raise that?"  Jackson, looked at Murphy with incredulation.

Murphy stared back, "Well, not now!" he laughed.

Moira shifted in her seat.  "Too late, money's in the middle.  And I fold."

Their eyes shifted to the final player.  She smiled.  "After statements like that from Jack, I'm gone!"  Her cards skidded to the middle.

"Well, sorry bud" said Jackson, "I gotta call."  He threw in his chips and flipped over his cards. 

Murphy's jaw dropped.  "B...B...But.  That's not possible!"

"It is if you think of the averages.  I couldn't believe it when you raised.  Concentrate on your averages, man!"  Jackson laughed jokingly.

"Ever since high school this guy has been fluking wins against me!"  Murphy hurrumphed.

" I wouldn't worry about it, hun."  said Moira.  "I bet Jackson is beating Blicblock in his sleep!"

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

During his time at university he met Diora. She was pretty and clever but most of all she could stand to be around him when he began telling of the complexities of the simian nervous system. She loved the spark in his eye when he talked about his passion. 

It didn't matter that she didn't understand a word. 

They became the best of friends and, not without having to cope with major pushing from their friends, remained that way.  They both knew that the friendship was stronger than a romance could ever be, and neither would have it any other way.

By the end of university his medical knowledge had surpassed anything his tutors could have imagined. But his excellence came at a price. He was head hunted by one of the biggest and most well established hospitals in Sim City. It was an opportunity that he couldn't turn down. But it was also a move that Diora couldn't make.

“I have my life and you have yours.” she said. 

She gathered him in her arms, “You cannot turn down this job, it's what you've been working so hard towards. And I can't walk away from my work here. It wouldn't be fair to either of us.”

She pulled him up to face her. 
It's going to be fine.”

And with that she was gone.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Jackson loved his work.  Sims would happily wait months on a waiting list if it meant time with THE Doctor Symmington.  He became known as the Miracle Doctor, able, so the stories went, to cure a sim with a look.

This was, of course, all nonsense, but Jackson sometimes kept up the mystery for his younger patients.  Jackson continued to use his computer-like brain to identify the best treatment, one that would secure the best outcome.

That was a million to one shot!” Murphy exclaimed. “I have never seen anything like it!”

It's not amazing.” Jackson said sincerely, “With the correct understanding of the sim body it's a basic procedure. Anyone could do it.”

No. You could do it. I wouldn't have known where to start!  How did you know it would work?  I mean, the middle of surgery, no time, it would literally never have crossed my mind it was a possibility, let alone trying it!”  Murphy looked like a cross between an adoring fan and an angry parent.

"Like I said."  Jackson replied, "Just something I'd read about, I've seen it done before, in this situation it seemed the surest way to success."  He smiled, "And stop making me sound like some crazy daredevil!"

Murphy laughed.  "Jackson, Daredevil Doctor! He cuts where others fear!"

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

The doors of the ER burst open and a bed was rushed in. Jackson pulled on his white coat, hurtling down the hallway, adrenaline buzzing.  He wouldn't say he loved ER shifts, the suffering of other Sims was not high on his list of 'Things I enjoy" but he liked the variety, the uncertainty and the quick thinking required.

What do we have?” he commanded before the doors had closed.

Young Adult. Female. Involved in a collision, bike versus truck. She struck the windscreen full force. In and out of consciousness. Meds administered on scene, ahh, 15ml...of...”

The sounds in the ER drifted as Jackson saw the sim lying on the bed. Even through the blood and debris there was no mistaking those eyes. How long had it been since they'd spoken?

Everything slowed. 

This one mattered.

...patients name is.."
Diora Hemmington” said Jackson.

Ahh..., yeah.” the medic, looked up.  "You know her?  Her husband and kids are on their way, should be here shortly."

The ER was looking at Jackson now. He snapped out of his shock and quickly went about his task.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Mr. Hemmington.”
Marcus” He reached out a hand and shook Jackson's. "I wish we'd met under better circumstances, Diora always spoke highly of you."

Marcus. Diora has suffered an extreme blow to the head. This has caused a bleed on her brain. Without treatment, the pressure inside her skull will be, well," he lowered his voice to a whisper, glancing at the children, "fatal.” 

Marcus stared through Jackson, through to Diora lying on the bed behind them. Surrounded by machines. The peaceful, rhythmic sounds of the ventilator belying the true magnitude of what lay with her.

The man's eyes snapped back to Jackson.

"I know you're the best.  Diora always said you were to treat her if she got sick.  You know that.  She said that to you?"  Marcus' voice was panicked, he stared earnestly into Jackson's eyes.

"I know.  I know she did, a long time ago."  Jackson said softly.

"So, whatever you think you need to do.”

Jackson paused and with a nod turned back into the room.

Diora had woken.  Jackson was pleased.  The treatment was difficult and complicated.  He wanted Diora to, if she could, be aware of what was going to happen to her.  He explained the situation. His colleagues, in the room, exchanged glances. Was what Jackson was suggesting possible?

Diora turned her tired eyes to Jackson. Reached out her hand; it wavered until he took it gently in his. He quietly explained what he needed to do.

For a moment, silence. Then she laughed.

"I still don't understand anything you say when you go all 'medical'.  I don't care what you have to do. I know it is risky. I trust you. I always have.”

She smiled again. Looked him straight in the face.

"It's going to be fine."  she said to him. 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

The children waited with Marcus in the hall. As Diora was wheeled passed them to the surgery, her bed was halted so they could exchange hugs. Marcus leaned forward and kissed her lightly on her forehead.

See you soon.”

Jackson, who had joined them in the hall, watched with her family as she moved away.  He flashed the kids a smile and a wink from "The Miracle Doctor".  He touched Marcus on the shoulder, the man turned and looked at him, behind his weak smile, desperation strangled hope.

Marcus headed towards the theatre.


He'd done the procedure before.  A thousand times.

Didn't even occur to him that he couldn't.  He always did.

But this time.. 

He lost.


  1. Let's try this again....

    I really enjoyed this one. To have someone always win and do everything...lose - it's gonna be tough to bounce back from - it he even can. Loved how you set us all up for the same failure. I'd forgotten the theme was lost until the second to last panel and didn't except that at all. Although I should.

    I think this is my "most want to read what happens next" story...cuz it's gonna be rough.

    1. Thank you! I may carry this story on, in some way. I am so pleased you felt the impact at the end, it was what I was aiming for, glad I pulled it off! :) It was tricky trying to not "give it away" too soon!

  2. Ooo, this was most excellent! Jackson's character was just so well developed in such a short amount of time. Great story, beautifully put together!

    1. Thank you! It's great you found that with his character, I was worried I was trying to fit too much story into the word limit and people wouldn't get the right 'feel' of him! Not going to lie, it had me tearing my hair a couple of times! Lol!

  3. This leaves me wondering how he will bounce back from such a loss after all those wins in life. A very beautiful story.