Author: Alan Decker
by Alan Decker
“Chief Medical Officer’s Log, Stardate 50320.3. Having completed my first couple of months as the CMO of the Secondprize, I have come to the conclusion that I am stationed on the mobile equivalent of the eighth circle of hell. I could use the terms weirdos and psychopaths to describe the ship’s crew, but they wouldn’t begin to cover the reality of it. In a desperate attempt to retain my own sanity, I’ve decided to visit Doctor Rebecca Singer, my predecessor as CMO, to see how she dealt with the crew. The wisdom of this move is debatable, since Singer is currently living at the mental health facility on Tantalus V, but I hope to, at the very least, determine what not to do in my dealings with the crew.”
Doctor Elizabeth Aldridge pressed the door chime outside of the Tantalus V administrator’s office.
“Come right on in,” a boisterous voice called. Aldridge stepped inside just as a large, smiling man was standing up from the desk.
“Doctor Aldridge, I presume,” the man said, extending his hand.
“You presume correctly,” Aldridge said. “You must be Doctor Washman.”
“Please, call me Kevin. Now then, the communique that Captain Rydell sent says that you want to visit Rebecca Singer,” Washman said, sitting back down.
“That’s right,” Aldridge said, taking the seat across the desk from him. “Is there a problem?”
“Well, not really. I just want you to understand that Rebecca is…well…bonkers. She is completely unstable both emotionally and in terms of her personality.”
“Was all of this a result of her time aboard the Secondprize?” Aldridge asked.
“Oh no. She never should have been put on a starship in the first place. She was emotionally unstable to begin with. She’d go from crying to laughing and back to crying with little or no reason,” Washman said.
“How did she get as far as she did?”
“Clerical errors, etcetera,” Washman said nonchalantly. “Happens all the time. Unfortunately, in Rebecca’s case, she was put into situations that further damaged her psyche and drove her over the edge. The accidents with a couple of hyposprays didn’t help any either.”
“Oh yeah. She accidently injected herself a couple of times. That caused no end of trouble. No matter. Are you ready to meet her?”
“I guess,” Aldridge said hesitantly. Maybe this trip wasn’t such a good idea. Singer was probably way too nuts to give her any insights into the Secondprize crew. But a morbid fascination drove Aldridge onward. She had to see what had become of her predecessor.
Washman led her back out into the corridor and took her towards the patient facilities. The numerous nurse and guard stations both soothed and unsettled Aldridge’s nerves. It was good to see that the facility was well-staffed, but how dangerous were these patients that they required so many armed guards?
“So, Doctor Aldridge, are you a psychologist?” Washman asked, trying to make conversation as they walked.
“Me? No,” Aldridge replied.
“Oh, then what is your field?”
“I’m qualified for surgery and general practice, but my specialty is pathology.”
“Pathology. Got it. Well, if anybody dies while you’re here, I’ll know who to call,” Washman said smiling.
“Please do. I haven’t been able to carve up a corpse in months. All these damn live patients are starting to get on my nerves,” Aldridge replied, only half-joking.
“I see,” Washman replied. He glanced at Aldridge nervously, then continued the rest of the walk in silence.
Washman led Aldridge into a small waiting lounge and gestured for her to sit down. She sat in one of the two blue plush chairs that were positioned across from a small sofa. The room had the feel of a living room in someone’s home.
“Help yourself to something to eat,” Washman said, pointing at the replicator. “I’ll return with Rebecca in a moment.” He stepped out of the room, leaving Aldridge alone. In the silence, she noticed soft music playing in the background. It was too soft to really listen too, but loud enough to be annoying, like a bug buzzing around her. Aldridge stood up and started pacing, just to drown out the music.
Oh yeah, this place is real therapeutic, she thought.
A moment later, Washman returned. Following him was a tall, thin woman with long, straight black hair. She smiled upon seeing Aldridge and took a seat on the sofa.
“Doctor Washman tells me that you want to see me,” she said warmly.
“Yes, my name is Doctor Elizabeth Aldridge.”
“Well, I’m Doctor Rebecca Singer,” Singer said quickly, as if she was trying prove something. “Now that we have the introductions out of the way, what can I do for you?”
“I wanted to ask you about the Secondprize,” Aldridge said.
“Ah yes, Captain Rydell and company. It’s a good ship. I have enjoyed my service there immensely. I saved Alex from hot chocolate once you know. Then there was that mess with his brain getting swapped.” Aldridge could tell Singer was getting upset. “He was stuck in the past, and we didn’t know if we were going to be able to get him back.” Tears began flowing freely. Dr. Washman held a handkerchief out in front of her. Singer took it gratefully and wiped her eyes. “We got through it, though, Alexander and I.”
“So you were pretty attached to Captain Rydell?” Aldridge asked.
“Fixated on him is a better word for it,” Washman said. Singer didn’t even acknowledge that he was speaking. “Rebecca has taken what must have been a latent attraction to the Secondprize’s captain and exploded it to the point that Captain Rydell has come to symbolize all that is good in her life.”
“I see,” Aldridge said. She turned back to Singer. “So how about the rest of the crew? Any problems with them?”
“Oh no. They were all a nice bunch. Fairly healthy, too. I got very upset when they got sick, so they did their best to stay well. I liked all of them. Well, Trinian troubled me a little bit. Ever since I had that accident with the muscle relaxants, I had the feeling she was out to get me. I also had this dream about her hitting me with a rolled up newspaper, but…never mind.”
“So you didn’t find them all a bit…strange?” Aldridge asked.
“Nope. They were just a bunch of normal people,” Singer replied. “I can’t wait to get back to them.”
“Well, thank you for your time, Doctor Singer,” Aldridge said standing up. “I’d better get back to the Secondprize.”
“Oh, you’re stationed there?” Singer asked.
“Yes, I’m the new Chief Medical Officer,” Aldridge asked. Singer stood up to face her.
“The new Chief Medical Officer?”
“Yes, I replaced you after you came here,” Aldridge replied. Singer suddenly screamed and pounced, knocking Aldridge to the floor and landing on top of her.
“I AM THE ONLY CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER THEY NEED!” Singer screamed. “STAY AWAY FROM ALEX, YOU BITCH!”
“Calm down, Rebecca,” Dr. Washman said, trying to sooth the mad woman.
“She’s choking me,” Aldridge gasped.
“Rebecca, please stop. You don’t want to hurt anyone,” Washman said, sounding more and more like a children’s show host with each word. Aldridge decided that traditional methods were going to get her killed. She thrust her knees forward, propelling Singer off of her and into the wall. Aldridge quickly rolled over and leapt back to her feet, ready for Singer’s next assault. It never came. Singer lay in a ball against the wall sobbing uncontrollably.
“I’d better go,” Aldridge said as Dr. Washman leaned down to help his patient.
“We have quarters prepared for you on our visitor’s floor,” Washman replied.
“Thank you. I think I’m just going to stay there until the shuttle from the Secondprize arrives to pick me up tomorrow.” Aldridge said.
“Secondprize…Secondprize…,” Singer sobbed softly. “Alexander…Alex.”
Aldridge made a hasty retreat to her room.
Singer stopped crying as soon as she left. Singer knew that she was the real Secondprize Chief Medical Officer. This Aldridge woman was obviously insane, and she had to be destroyed.
That night, Aldridge slept fitfully. The idea of trying to rest while inside the bounds of a mental asylum just wasn’t real appealing to her. She had nodded off for the sixth time when a blinding light flared up outside. The light moved back and forth across her window as if it were searching for something. In her exhausted condition, Aldridge couldn’t even begin to think what that something might be. A second later, the comm panel by the replicator beeped. Aldridge crawled out of bed, shielding her eyes from the light, and stumbled over to the panel.
“Aldridge here. What do you want?” she demanded groggily.
“Sorry to wake you, Doctor,” Washman’s voice said. “But a slight…situation has developed that I thought you should be informed of.”
“Too late,” another voice, a female voice said. Aldridge belatedly realized that the voice was Rebecca Singer’s and that it was coming from inside her room. Singer came out of nowhere, knocking Aldridge away from the comm panel.
“Now, Rebecca, don’t do anything that you’ll regret,” Dr. Washman’s voice shouted. Singer raised her arm and blasted the comm panel with a phaser. Aldridge snapped herself out of her sleepy delirium. There was an armed, deranged woman in her room.
“The two of us can just have some girl talk now,” Singer said, turning towards Aldridge. The light was hitting Singer full in the face, illuminating the demonic look of hatred she flashed at Aldridge.
“Talking is good,” Aldridge said, attempting to regain her composure. “What do you want to talk about?”
“You and my Alexander,” Singer said. She fired the phaser, sending a blast scorching past Aldridge’s head. “I know you’ve been with him.”
“We’re on the same ship, but that’s it,” Aldridge said.
“You’re lying!” Singer said, sending a blast by the other side of Aldridge’s head.
“What do you want me to say? That I slept with him?”
“I KNEW IT!” Singer screamed. Her body began to shake violently with anger. Aldridge noticed that she lowered the phaser just a little bit. An idea began to form; it was dangerous, but it could work.
“You’ve caught me,” Aldridge said, throwing your arms up. “I’m Alexander’s lover.”
“Oh yeah, we’ve been together ever since you left, and let me tell you…”
“No! Stop!” Singer said. The shaking was becoming even more violent.
“He’s wonderful. And great in bed. I’m not destroying your relationship with him by telling you this, am I?”
Singer let out a blood-curdling scream and charged at Aldridge. Aldridge dodged sideways and slammed her elbow into the back of Singer’s head as she ran by. Singer smacked into the wall, then fell to the floor. Aldridge was on top of her in a second, wrestling the phaser out of Singer’s grip. She stood up, phaser in hand, just as her door chime sounded urgently. Covering Singer with the phaser, Aldridge walked over and unlocked the door. Dr. Washman ran in followed by three orderlies.
“Why is it that the cavalry always shows up after the danger has passed?” Aldridge said.
“We get better ratings this way,” Washman said.
“Are you alright?” Washman asked.
“I’m fine,” Aldridge said.
“Not you. I’m talking to my patient.” Washman rushed over to Singer and helped her up. “Everything is going to be fine, Rebecca. Take her back to her room.” The orderlies flanked Singer and led her from the room. At the threshold, Singer turned to face Aldridge.
“Alexander’s true love will return to him, and all pretenders will be destroyed,” she said.
“I’ll pass that message along, since I’m going to see him and you’re not, you psycho,” Aldridge replied. Singer lunged at Aldridge, but was caught by the orderlies.
“I’m going to kill you! Kill! Kill!”
“Whatever. Get her away from me.” The orderlies dragged Singer down the hall as Dr. Washman followed.
“This place is a mad house,” Aldridge mumbled, falling back into her bed.
“Chief Medical Officer’s Log, Stardate 50321.4. I have, with great relief, returned to the Secondprize secure in the knowledge that the crew is not as crazy as I thought. Doctor Rebecca Singer is crazy; these people are…eccentric. My visit to Tantalus V probably set Singer’s therapy back a bit, but I value my life over her sanity. Call me selfish. I’d also like to know how Singer got her hands on a phaser. It definitely gives me concerns about the security at Tantalus V. But right now, I have something to discuss with Captain Rydell.”
“Come in,” Rydell called after the door chime to his ready room sounded.
“So, how hot and heavy was it?” Dr. Aldridge asked as she walked in and took a chair.
“You and Singer. Come on. You can tell me. Did you two perform some special surgery on a biobed? Or does she make house calls?”
“Me and Singer? I don’t know what she told you, but…”
“You’re going to deny your one true love?” Aldridge said smiling.
“She said that?”
“Oh yeah, you’ve got that woman body, soul, and what’s left of her mind.”
“That’s nice, but I think I’ll pass,” Rydell said.
“Good idea. She’s a bit on edge right now.” Aldridge stood up to leave.
“So you just came up here to harass me?” Rydell asked.
“Sure did,” Aldridge said, heading toward the door.
“Doctor, Rebecca Singer and I never…”
“Yeah, right,” Aldridge said. She walked out of the ready room leaving Rydell alone and speechless.