Author: Alan Decker
by Alan Decker
The situation had become untenable. That much was certain. He would have to take action despite his reservations. The reservations were very strong, though. He was not one to allow personal problems to affect his duties, and the idea of having to approach one of the crew to assist him in his difficulties was especially unsettling.
In spite of this, Lieutenant Commander Jaroch had made the appointment and was now standing outside of her office door. He took a deep breath and pressed the door chime.
“Come in,” the warm voice of Counselor Claire Webber called.
“No!” a voice in Jaroch’s head screamed.
“Yes! We need this,” another said.
“You will all die!” a third bellowed.
“Stop it,” Jaroch said aloud, drawing confused looks and stares from passing crewmembers. “There is nothing to discuss.” He stepped forward into the office.
“Have a seat, Jaroch,” Counselor Webber said, waving him to the bean bag chair across from the one she was seated in.
This was Jaroch’s first time into the counselor’s office, and he was not sure that he found the environment to be therapeutic. The walls were painted in a mural depicting a meadow in spring. Rabbits bounced merrily toward a stream populated by several happy frogs. Jaroch almost thought he could hear the chirps of the birds that had been painted in the trees and flying on the ceiling over him. Actually, he could hear chirping…and buzzing and croaking. Webber must have some type of environmental sounds playing. A cluttered desk sat against one wall, while, on the other side of the room, a large table sat covered with paints, clay, and other artistic tools.
Jaroch pushed his observations aside and attempted to sit gracefully in the bean bag below him. He failed. Grace ended where gravity took over, sending him falling into the seat.
“That’s the spirit,” Webber said happily. “It’s good to have fun with bean bag chairs. I love to just fall into them.”
“Indeed,” Jaroch replied. “Fun is not what I have come to see you about, however.”
“Well then, what would you like to talk about?” Webber asked, turning around in her bean bag to bring her head closer to him.
“I…am experiencing some internal debate that is causing me much distress,” Jaroch said.
“Difficulty making decisions is perfectly normal. We often debate with ourselves over matters and decisions that are important to us.”
“I am afraid that you are not quite comprehending me, Counselor,” Jaroch said. “I am not debating with myself, but with my past selves. They are refusing to leave me in peace.” His head jerked violently. “Well, that is because you are being ridiculous,” a voice that wasn’t quite Jaroch’s said. “Leave him alone. I’m just speaking my mind. Well, leave his mind alone.”
“Jaroch!” Webber said. Jaroch shook his head and turned back to the counselor.
“My apologies,” he said. “But you see my problem.”
“How long has this been going on?” Webber asked.
“I first heard an occasional voice shortly after we finished placing Waystation in position. I did not think much of it, but over the last couple of months, the situation has degraded to the point where I am constantly disturbed,” Jaroch replied.
“I see.” Webber tried not to show her worry. If Jaroch was losing control of his mind, the whole ship could be in danger. Jaroch was the one who they relied on to solve problems. Webber had to help him. “What can I do?”
“I believe that we need counseling to deal with our disputes,” Jaroch said. “You must treat each life like the separate person that they are. I hope that we can settle this quickly. THEN JUST DO IT!” he shouted suddenly.
“Oh dear. Well, how many personalities, I mean lives are we talking about here?”
“Not all of them are involved. Besides myself, there are three concerned parties.”
“OK then,” Webber got out of her chair and pulled three more bean bags over, forming a little circle. Then she opened a cabinet on the far side of the room and brought out three dolls. She put a doll in each of the empty chairs.
“J’Ter will not be represented in such an insulting manner, human,” Jaroch bellowed. “She is just trying to help,” he said more calmly. “Leave your warrior-prince ego out of this.”
“Why don’t we go around the circle and introduce ourselves?” Webber said. “I’ll start. My name’s Claire Webber, and I’m here to be your friend.”
“J’Ter has no need of friends as weak as you,” J’Ter said.
“So you are J’Ter. Why don’t we make you the red-headed doll sitting in the blue chair? OK?” Webber said.
“Come on. Red is the color of war and blood, you know,” Webber said smiling.
“That is acceptable.”
“Good. Now who’s next?”
“I believe I am,” Jaroch said. “I am Jaroch.”
“OK. Jaroch, you can be represented by you. Next.”
“I am Jarl. I want to be the blond doll.”
“Is that fine with everyone else?” Webber asked, looking around.
“I have no objections. I would not be caught dead in the outfit that blond doll is wearing.”
“All right, that means our brown-headed doll is?”
“I am Telsa Tecpa J’Mer, and may I say that the tie-died uniform you have on is a wonderful statement, Counselor.” He leaned forward and kissed Webber’s hand.
“My apologies, Counselor,” Jaroch said, appalled at what he had just done. “I had no idea that…”
“It’s fine, Jaroch,” Webber said. “I understand that your body isn’t totally yours at the moment. Let’s just get this moving. Who wants to go first?”
“They are all puny and must die,” J’Ter said.
“Alright. Let’s start there. Does anyone want to comment on what J’Ter is feeling?” Webber asked.
“As usual, he’s nuts,” Jarl said.
“Now now. We’re all friends here. Keep this friendly, Jarl. Why do you disagree with J’Ter?”
“If we all die, he dies too. He lives in Jaroch with the rest of us.”
“That is true,” Jaroch said. “The end of my life would end all of yours until our next incarnation.”
“I don’t want you dead,” Jarl said. “I just want you to take some action.”
“He will act in his own time,” J’Mer said. “These things take time.”
“To what action are we referring?” Webber asked.
“That is irrelevant to this discussion,” Jaroch said.
“Tell her, you wimp,” Jarl said.
“It is his life. Let him lead it,” J’Mer said.
“You all disgust me,” J’Ter said.
“Shut up, you no-brained barbarian,” Jarl snapped.
“You will DIE!” J’Ter screamed. Jaroch latched his hands around his own neck and started throttling himself. He scrambled out of the chair and flung himself across the room, hands still clenched around his throat.
“Let me go.”
“This is all your fault.”
“Why don’t you?”
“Jaroch!” Webber screamed. The one-man, four-mind brawl continued unabated. Webber rushed over and started trying to pull Jaroch’s hands away from his throat, but he was holding on with an iron grip. Webber backed away to prepare for another attack. Jaroch’s eyes were starting to bulge from lack of oxygen. Webber waited for an opening, then charged. She slammed full-force into Jaroch, sending him smashing to the floor. His hands let go of his neck as he gasped frantically for air.
“Thank…you…Counselor,” Jaroch said.
“I don’t want to see that kind of behavior again, J’Ter. Do you understand?” Webber said.
“Yes, mortal,” J’Ter replied.
“That’s Counselor Webber!”
“Yes, Counselor Webber.”
“Better. Now, go sit down. All of you.”
Jaroch picked himself up and returned to his bean bag followed by Webber. She jumped into her seat and turned to face Jaroch.
“No progress will be made if you kill each other,” Webber said. “It appears that you are all divided upon what Jaroch should do about a certain situation that has come up in his life. Out of respect for Jaroch’s wishes, I will not pry further about what exactly that situation is. But I do want to hear your feelings. We’ve already gotten J’Ter’s opinion; how about somebody else?”
“I think he is being a wimp,” Jarl said. “He is letting his duty to Starfleet cloud his judgement. He is being a martyr.”
“I am not,” Jaroch said. “I am just doing what is best for all concerned.”
“A likely story.”
“I happen to think Jaroch is right,” J’Mer said. “Let him lead his life.”
“This is getting us nowhere,” Jarl said.
“Agreed,” Jaroch said. “I am still no closer to regaining control.”
“You may be right,” Webber said. “I think that it’s time we tried a different form of therapy.”
“I fail to see the value of this,” Jaroch said as Webber eagerly ran her paint-covered fingers around the paper on the art table.
“Just do it,” Webber said. “Let go and allow your unconscious to paint for you.” Jaroch shrugged, then dipped his index finger in some blue paint. Without looking at the paper, he set to work, his finger darting quickly across its surface. Less than a minute later, he stepped back to appraise his creation.
“Masterful,” J’Mer said, looking at the dress he had drawn. “My whole life and afterlife have been building up to this design. My work here is done.”
“I’m glad that you are pleased, J’Mer,” Webber said.
“He is not here,” Jaroch said. “He has returned to where he belongs.”
“I guess he wasn’t kidding when he said that his work here was done,” Webber said.
“J’Mer was a tailor. He wanted to be a fashion designer but died before he got very far along that path. His love of clothing exceeds all other concerns.”
“So, since he’s gone, we only have J’Ter and Jarl to deal with,” Webber said.
“That is correct.”
“All right. What was Jarl in his previous existence?”
“So how do we fulfil a journalist’s greatest dream?” Webber asked.
“I do not know. Journalism is not exactly in my field,” Jaroch replied.
“Are you two plotting against me?” Jarl asked.
“No,” Webber and Jaroch said.
“Is he listening now?” Webber asked.
“I do not believe so.”
“Good, I’ve got an idea.”
Jarl awoke on a hard surface. His eyes sprang open as he sat up to look around. He was in a park. No, he was in THE park. It was the park across from his office at the paper. Somehow, he was back on Yyns and alive! He reached down searching for something. It was there, right where it should have been. Jarl picked his briefcase up off the ground and set it into his lap. He hadn’t held this briefcase in over three-hundred years.
A loud bang and a blinding flash snapped him out of his thoughts. Above him, a transport craft (similar to what humans would call an airplane) was smoking badly and plummeting towards the surface. More specifically, right towards the park. Jarl had just stumbled into one hell of a story. He pulled his tape recorder out of his briefcase and started talking.
Suddenly, it became clear why the craft was crashing. Something had collided with it. There was some type of vessel sticking out of the side of the transport. Jarl had never seen anything like it. Aliens! It had to be aliens!
The importance of the story just jumped monumentally. He was the only reporter on the scene for the event of the millennium.
Jaroch stepped out of the holodeck, pulling uncomfortably at the old Yynsian suit he was wearing. Counselor Webber was standing in the corridor expectantly.
“Did it work?” she asked as she and Jaroch started to walk back to her office.
“Yes,” Jaroch replied. “Jarl was completely fooled. Fortunately, although he shares my body, he does not share my knowledge of the holodeck.”
“Well, we’ve only got one to go,” Webber said as she walked into her office.
“Yes, we do…PUNY MORTAL,” J’Ter bellowed, diving at Webber. Before she could react, the long dead warrior-prince’s hands were locked around her throat, choking the life out of her. Her mind raced frantically trying to figure out how to stop J’Ter. Finally, she fell back on the very first and most effective therapeutic technique she ever learned.
Webber wrapped her arms around Jaroch/J’Ter and clutched him in a giant bear hug.
“Release me,” J’Ter gasped. He felt as though his very essence was being squeezed out of him.
“Not until we’re all friends again,” Webber said weakly. Slowly, J’Ter’s grip on her throat relaxed, then his arms fell. Webber hugged even tighter. “Now, isn’t that better?”
“Losing consciousness…been defeated…you have won this time…mortal.” Jaroch’s body went limp in Webber’s arms.
“Let go,” Jaroch managed to gasp.
“Is that you, Jaroch?”
“Yes, Counselor.” Webber let go allowing Jaroch to fall to the floor. “Thank you. They have all departed now. I appreciate your services.” Jaroch picked himself up weakly and headed toward the office door.
“Wait a minute!” Webber said. “What about your problem that started this in the first place? Don’t you want some help with it?”
“No, Counselor. I have had enough minds giving their input on the issue. Now, it is time for me to handle this myself.” He walked out of the office leaving Webber alone and wondering what was really weighing on Jaroch. She returned to her fingerpaints, lost in thought.