Thursday, May 14, 2015

Seeing is Believing

Month 6, Day 10
Drake MacGregor
1307 Hours

Drake struggled to open his eyes. Abdulla stood over him. “Good, one sleeping beauty has awakened. How do you feel?”
“Physically, fine. Mentally, confused. What happened? Did I have a relapse?”
“No.” He managed, somehow, to sit up. “Your console exploded.”
He considered her carefully. “Don’t you remember?”
She frowned in concentration. “I remember being on the bridge, listening to music or... something. Then I saw Mac. Or thought I did, but I knew I had relieved her. And she didn’t look normal; she looked... extra white. Even her hair looked... But I only saw her for a split second, then there was this flash - but not a bright flash, it was more like... darkness.” She gave a frustrated sigh. “I know, I’m not making sense.”
About as much as Takor did. Or are they both making perfect sense, and it’s my brain that’s scrambled? “Mac’s over there.” He pointed as he climbed off the bed.
“She finally caught the flu?”
“No, she was trying to make repairs with the help of 2 technicians.”
Abdulla’s eyes grew round. “Mr Smythe put Mac in charge of repairs?”
“He didn’t have much choice; other than one of those techs, she was the only communications personnel left.”
“If she doesn’t have the flu, what’s wrong with her?”
“Still trying to puzzle that out,” he admitted. “Takor said she was acting oddly, and when she got too close to him, he claims she was the source of a discharge that knocked her out. Knocked them both out, actually. I should believe him, but it’s pretty hard to swallow.”
“Poor girl.” Abdulla approached the other examination bed. “Nothing’s gone right for her since she came aboard.” She reached out to pat the redhead’s shoulder, but dark sparks crackled and Drake pulled her away.
“Space!” he exclaimed. “Did you see that, or did I hallucinate?”
“I saw it,” Abdulla stated breathlessly. “I don’t understand it, but I saw it.”
The coolness of her body against his made him realize he had a protective arm around her. I must have a fever, for her body heat to feel cool. He loosened his arm and let go of her. “Seems Takor was right; she is electrically charged.”
Abdulla gave him a quizzical look as he tried not to shiver. “Are you all right?”
No time for self pity. “It doesn’t make sense. She was picked up and carried here. I examined her. There was no sign of that then. Why now?” He gingerly reached out and touched the redhead’s hand. Nothing happened.
They both stared at the unconscious woman for a moment. “How long since she was brought here?” Abdulla asked.
He glanced on the chronometer. “Half an hour. Roughly.”
“How long since somebody touched her? Before I did, just now.”
“That would have been me, when she got here. But she doesn’t have any obvious wounds, so I would have been using the machines. Can’t say I actually touched her at all. Why?”
She gave him a quick grimace. “I wondered how much time a body needs to recharge itself, if it got... discharged.”
“You talk like she’s some kind of battery,” he stated.
“Well, we are electrical creatures,” she stated. “If I remember my biology lessons correctly.”
“You do,” he confirmed. “But human bodies don’t normally hold an electrical charge. Not like that.” He tried to sort out possibilities in his uncooperative mind. “If she tapped into the residual charge left in the console after it exploded-“
“Speaking of the console, am I released? Somebody needs to work on communications.”
The possibilities he’d been considering dissipated into fog. “Well, how do you feel? Headache or... anything?”
“A hint of a headache,” she admitted. “But if I were working, I wouldn’t notice it.”
“Well, try not to come back; give us some time to get somebody else functional,” he instructed. “But go, you’re released.”
“Thank you.” She headed for the door, then paused. “Just as a test, why not wait 20 or 30 minutes, then touch Mac and see what happens?” She left without waiting for him to answer.

Not sure I can stay awake that long. He pressed the button to lower his chosen bed a few inches and then rolled onto it. His eyes closed immediately.

Friday, May 8, 2015

New Illness

Month 6, Day 10
Drake MacGregor
1254 Hours

In sick bay - the original sickbay, not the overcrowded make-shift ward the open gym had become - Takor and Mac lay unconscious in neighboring beds. Drake stood slump-shouldered between them as he considered one readout panel and then the other. Shaking his head, he glanced at Abdulla in the third bed.
Turning, he found Jane standing in the doorway and made a half-hearted effort to straighten his shoulders. “I can’t find anything wrong, Jane,” he stated as he approached her. “I mean, Freyer’s got the flu, those signs were unmistakable. She went straight to the sick ward. But these guys... There’s nothing wrong with their read-outs, they just aren’t awake.”
“When will they wake?”
Drake fought a moment of frustrated irritation and shrugged. “I have no idea.”
“I cannot speak for the others.” Takor propped himself up on its version of elbows. “Our physiologies are quite different. However, I have awakened.” It turned to regard Mac. “Interesting.”
“I’ve never heard Takor express interest in a human female before,” Jane muttered to Drake. “Genders usually confuse him- it. Perhaps it was a larger shock than you thought?”
Takor sat up and moved its legs off the edge of the examination bed, still watching the redhead. “Is my perception not correct, or is her coloring normal once again?”
Again? “She’s always been a redhead,” Drake stated.
“The last time I saw her, on the bridge, the hair was not that shade. Nor was her corneum.”
“Skin,” Drake corrected, more for Jane’s sake than for Takor’s. “Perhaps she was blushing. That makes her skin redder, which might make her hair appear... different. She blushes quite easily.”
“I am aware of that phenomenon,” Takor returned. “In this instance, her cor- skin was not pink nor red, it was white. More white than normal. More white than I have ever seen a human be. And her hair was... Humans have several names for shades of red. I am not certain which shade it was, but it was not that shade that sits atop her head now.”
After a short silence, Drake sighed. “If you can’t describe it, I don’t know what to do.”
“Tell us what happened, Takor,” Jane urged. “All I know is the communications equipment let out an ear-splitting squeal, then you and MacDowell were thrown to the floor, unconscious, while one tech carried the other onto the lift.”
“Freyer came down with the flu,” Drake muttered, to explain the actions of the technicians. “The other headed back to the bridge, but without any guidance, I don’t know what he can do.”
“Smitty’s up there,” Jane stated. “Takor, did communications explode a second time?”
“No,” the Sciss replied. “I was deep in a study of the planet’s life forms when I felt- thought I felt an insect bite. When I looked up, Lt MacDowell stood nearby, staring at her hands in confusion. As I said, her coloring was... odd. I spoke, but she didn’t react. When I stood to approach her, she responded with fear, although she never has before. She backed up hurriedly, striking the console controls, which produced the squeal you mentioned. She reacted by jumping forward, toward me, there was a discharge between us... I assume that discharge rendered us unconscious.”
“A discharge,” Jane repeated. “You mean, from the equipment.”
“No,” Takor denied. “From Lt MacDowell. A display of black sparks remains in my mind, although I am not familiar with that phenomenon.”
He must be mistaken. “Jane, I’ve run all the tests I can think of,” Drake stated. “There’s nothing unusual about her. Certainly not any electrical charge strong enough to shock them both unconscious! She’d be dead!”
“Yet she is not,” Takor pointed out, rising to his feet.
“Exactly!” Drake snapped.
“Duck, there must be an explanation,” Jane said.

“Well, I don’t have it,” Drake growled, completely fed up with the Scissan’s puzzle. “Over half the crew sick-. Only half a dozen of us are immune, you know. Eventually, we’ll start having more recover than we have succumbing, but in the meantime, even my staff is reduced by half. I don’t have the resources to chase answers to impossible questions. I’ll leave that to Takor, since they’re his questions. Takor, you’re released. Nothing’s gotten through that thick hide of yours, and I could use the bed for a little shut-eye myself.” Drake walked over to the now-empty bed, took another look at the read-out panels of the two occupied beds, then lay down and thankfully closed his eyes. “You know the way out,” he told them. “If I’m lucky, I might get 5 minutes before somebody else comes in.”