It’s not exactly Jane’s best day.
Still motionless, Jane looks at McCoy. “I know you. And not from TV.”
McCoy chuckles. “Of course you do, Jane. I’m your old friend: Survival. Some people say I have my own spot in the brain, the place where fear and uncertainty meet. But I like to think of myself as the ‘Kirk of the Subcortex,’ of everything below all those officers and their SOP’s. I’m the whole point of this dog-and-pony show down here.”
“What…do you want from me?” Jane asks.
“Oh, come on, girl! I’m an old 68-Whiskey (68W) medic, like yourself. You know what all of us 68W’s want: to bring our folks back alive. And since I’m in your brain, Janie, that means bringing you back alive, whether in the middle of the desert or in the middle of the wacky fantasy this doctor’s got you in.”
“I…I just want this PTSD to get better.”
“Oh, don’t we all, darlin’? But when the old man has to come out and settle things down? We’ll leave the ‘gettin’ better’ for another day, another time.”
“Mr Scott?” Jane asks, looking at him. “Aren’t you…”
“Sorry, ma’am,” he says. “True, I’m the Officer-in-Charge, but at times of ‘freeze,’ whether back then or now, my only real job—to keep communication open with the Bridge—breaks down. We can hear them, but they can’t hear us. That’s why you remember terrible times as so hazy, strange. I’m in Communications, not Medical. When it comes to survival, the Sergeant Major here is in charge.”
“And without guidance from the Bridge,” Sergeant First Class (SFC) Sulu Sr. says, “I’m left with only two choices for physical reaction. I fly into a panic or rage, just as Joe did. Or I freeze. Just as you are doing.”
“And after a while,” says SFC Uhura Sr., “there’s little adrenaline left, and the Engine Room crew of the brainstem has to resort to the calming-chemical system. But now it’s not about calming. It’s about slowing everything done as much as possible, to preserve energy, to keep the body alive.”
“Plus, ma’am,” says SFC Chekhov Sr., “as you can see, I’m not filming. During freeze, no time-based memory is made. Any so-called memories of the situation become incoherent. They don’t fit together in time. What takes seconds can feel like hours, and vice versa.”
Jane looks back at McCoy. “What do you want from me?”
“Simple enough, Jane,” says McCoy, no longer smiling. “I want you to stop this ridiculous game you’re playing. Scott here already tried to invite you to head back to reality. You seem to be having problems with diplomatic suggestions. So we’ll cut the diplomacy. You need to get the hell out of here.”
“But…” Jane says.
“No ‘buts,’ Janie-Jane,” McCoy says. “Up to this point you’ve kept to yourself all the war shit that’s stored down here. Until now I’ve been willing to give you a break and not torment you too much about it, because you had at least been cooperative with our little co-pact of silence. But we both know what this place looks like and sounds like when you start thinking about the war too much, and I ain’t having it. We survived once. We ain’t going back there, no way, no how.”
“You got hearing problems?” McCoy shouts, walking up to the guardrail. “We are not going back to the War, not now, not ever. So I’d suggest you wake yourself up right about now and drop five bucks for a whiskey and tell your fine VA shrink ‘thanks, but no thanks,’ and stare at the lights of Omaha below until you get your ass to sleep, before…”
“Before what?” Jane shouts.
McCoy steps back. His eyes narrow.
“It is time to be done. Now.”
“What does Kirk have to say about this?” Jane shouts. “I want to hear from him.”
McCoy steps back even more. Then he begins to laugh.
“Oh, Sister-Sue,” he says. “Are you f-in’ serious? Kirk?”
He turns to the rest of the Transporter Room crew. “Our fine lady wants to know what Kirk has to say about this?”
No one moves. He turns back to Jane
“Mr. Scott,” he shouts, staring Jane in the eyes.
“Yes, Sergeant Major,” Scott replies.
“A request, sir, if I may.”
“Yes, Sergeant Major?”
“Might you be so kind, sir, as to turn on the intercom so that Jane might be able to hear what her fine Colonel Kirk has to say about this?”
“Certainly, Sergeant Major. Glad to…”
“Oh,” McCoy says, turning to Scott. “But, sir, please. A moment first?”
“Of course, Sergeant Major.”
McCoy turns back toward Jane.
“A change of costume, Jane. Shall we?”
With that, McCoy pivots 360 to his left.
But when he faces Jane again, he is no longer McCoy.
He is an eleven-year-old Iraqi boy, shirtless, shoeless, dust-covered.
“Hello, Miss Jane,” the boy says, looking directly at her.
Jane doesn’t move.
The boy turns toward Mr. Scott.
“Now, Mr. Scott,” he says. “if you will.”
The boy turns back toward Jane.
“Ahmed always like to hear from the Colonel.”
The boy then smiles.