Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pale Truth

Month 6, Day 10
Beth Temple
1636 Hours

Beth stumbled as she entered sick bay and bumped into the door jamb. She paused long enough to stifle a yawn and regain her balance. Then she moved to the nurses' station and pulled a dozen different medicines out of the cupboard, jumbling them together in a tray. This place is a mess, but I don't have time - or energy - to do anything about it right now. Another week... or two.
A noise in the exam room caught her attention, and she peeked through the doorway, saw MacGregor asleep on one of the beds. That's where he disappeared to. No spots. Probably exhaustion. We're all exhausted. Except Monroe. Not that she was ever much help.
She stepped into the room, glanced at the still form on the other bed. Mac's down, too. Expected her to succumb long ago. Wonder why she's here and not with the rest of them.
Beth walked closer to MacGregor and studied the readout panel over the bed. Just asleep, but his organs are starting to labor. I should let him sleep, but... I can't. A hand on the doctor's shoulder and a gentle squeeze got his eyes to open, but they seemed to have difficulty focusing. “Davis fell asleep,” she stated calmly. “Fong is sick. Ellis is on a 6-hour break. Without you, that leaves Koontz trying to oversee everything.”
MacGregor grunted and rubbed his face with one hand. “Stimulant.”
“Just a second,” she responded and returned to the nurses' station. As she considered the proper dosage for her boss, her eyes went blurry. Her mouth tight with determination, she gave herself a dose of stimulant before she returned to give one to him.
Drake's eyes opened again as soon as the stimulant hit his blood stream. “Thanks,” he said as he sat up. “How are the nurses holding up?”
“I just gave myself a stimulant,” she revealed. “Otherwise, we're much the same. Oleander is sick; Pulliam is back to work.”
“And Monroe?”
Beth tried not to grimace. “The same; asking to-” She stopped, her attention caught by movement behind him as Mac suddenly arched her back, then straightened out. “Mac?”
The redhead's eyes fluttered, and then opened. Beth gasped in confusion. “She's so... pale!” Her boss turned to look as he climbed off the exam table.
Mac abrupt sat up, stared at her feet, her brow furrowed. She reached toward a boot, then studied her own hand as if she had never seen it before.
“Those readouts don't make any sense,” Drake muttered.
Mac turned her attention away from herself to study her surroundings, and when her gaze found the two medical personnel, her mouth dropped open in surprise, and then she scurried off the opposite side of her examination bed.
“Come on, Mac, we’ve had stimulants; we don’t look that bad,” MacGregor growled softly.
“Why is she here?” Beth wondered. “What’s wrong with her? She’s not covered in spots.”
“Some kind of electrical charge, according to Takor,” Drake responded. “Guess I should have listened to him more closely. Her coloring is definitely off, she sparked when Abdulla reached out to touch her a few minutes ago, and she looks absolutely confused.”
Beth cleared her throat and adopted her most soothing tone. “You’re in sick bay, Mac. You don’t seem to have the flu like everybody else, but there was an accident. I know you’re confused, but we need you to get back on the bed so Dr MacGregor can make a diagnosis.”
Mac had watched Beth’s mouth in growing frustration, and now looked around the room again. Swinging her attention back to the two of them, she moved to the end of the bed and then started for the doorway. Beth started for her, arm outstretched to stop her, but Drake pulled her away from the redhead’s path. “Drake!” Beth protested, and watched as the now-pink-haired young woman dashed away. “Why did you let her go?”
“With her coloring that far from normal, I suspect she’s got a full charge again. The last time, the discharge knocked out both her and Takor. I wouldn’t mind if she was unconscious again, but I can’t afford for you to be. You’re the only thing holding the medical staff together right now.” He moved to the intercom on the wall. “Sick Bay to Bridge.”
It only took a moment for the captain to respond. “Bridge here.”
“Lt MacDowell just ran out of here,” Drake stated.
“Well, that was fast work, Duck,” the captain returned. “Is she headed back here, or did you tell her to get some sleep?”
“I have no idea where she’s headed. Her coloring is back to what Takor described, she didn’t seem to know where she was, and she didn’t say a word to us. Almost seemed afraid of us. For the record, I did not release her.”
“You want her back in sick bay?”
“I do, but I suspect she has that powerful electrical charge in her body again, and if she really is as confused as she seemed, I’m not sure how I’d get her here.”
The captain hesitated half a second. “I’ll alert Security.”
“Well, don’t let them shoot her. If she is electrically charged, I don’t know what a stunner would do to her. Nor what a discharge would do to regular humans, so no physical contact, either.”
“That... could be a challenge,” Burke stated.
“Yeah, well... if they manage to get her here, I have to figure out how to treat her.” He broke the connection and turned to face her. “In the meantime, I’d better get back down to the temporary ward and see how Koontz is doing. Are there any supplies we should take down?”
“That’s why I came up. I’ve got them gathered in the other room.”

“Let’s not forget stimulants. I figure we’re about half way through this epidemic. We just need to hold ourselves together long enough to get to the end of it.”

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