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LT JG Jerome Milsap: The Road Back


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((USS Constitution-B, Sickbay))

:: It was impossible to tell whether minutes or years passed in the darkness, but Jerry was sure of one thing: this guy was terrible company. :: 

Milsap: oO Ya know, if you're gonna set up shop in someone's head you should make sure you have some conversation skills. Or at least bring a pack of cards or somethin'. This is ridiculous. Oo

Entity: oO Hungry. Oo

Milsap: oO Yeah, you said. Repeatedly. Oo

:: Jerry wondered if he was hungry, too. He sort of felt what he could call hunger, but where he was headed he didn't think it would matter. He really hoped he wasn't already dead, because if he was dead and hungry there were bigger issues. Like, what do the dead eat? The only thing that came to mind was brains, and Jerry had seen enough of those in his day to know they were really unappetizing. While he contemplated which afterlife might offer the best sandwiches, his mind registered what he could only think of as a tingling sensation. ::

Entity: oO Scared. Oo

Milsap: oO Son, you only have two modes, hungry and scared. It got old like two minutes after you got here.  Oo

:: Now the light was back, even brighter than before. The tingling sensation increased, almost like a mild electric shock. It faded after another indeterminable time. ::

Milsap: oO Ha, how'd you like that, fool? No, wait, let me guess. Scared, right? Or maybe hungry. It's always a surprise with you. Oo

:: Silence. ::

Milsap: oO Don't tell me you're sulkin' now, son. Although it might be nice to have a new emotion in the place. Oo

:: More silence. Jerry mentally searched for the entity but could no longer sense its presence. Apparently he was finally alone. Something about that bright tingly light made it go away, buy why? How? Suddenly he remembered the entity had only left Riyao for good after he was dead. So, that's what the light was. But shouldn't he have crossed over then, to some kind of afterlife? Maybe this was the Limbo he'd heard of. Or maybe there really was nothing, and he was just gone. But if that was the case, how could he still think? ::

Milsap: oO Welp, something tells me this is gonna be boring. And I still don't have a sandwich. Oo

:: He sighed, if you could call it that. Another short eternity later he could swear he heard something, faint and far off. There were voices, some urgent, but he couldn't make out the words. There were beeps and pings and buzzes. Overall it reminded him of things he'd hear in the sick bay.

Sick bay, that was where he should be. His boredom gave way to sadness when he reflected on what he was leaving behind, the people he was letting down. Wyn. Of course Wyn would be fine, when it came to medicine - especially microsurgery - he had more talent than anyone Jerry had ever met. But Jerry liked Wyn, and enjoyed working with him, as hectic as it could be at times, and he would miss it. Tox. He wouldn't be able to camp with him again. Dial. He wouldn't get to help her become a full doctor. Jalana. 

What about Jalana? He liked her, sure, and he got the impression she liked him too. That dance they had at the holiday party was really nice. But it's not like they worked together every day. What made her pop into his head? ::

Rajel: Hey Jerry. It's me, Jalana. 

:: Jalana's voice was much closer than the others but still sounded distant and unclear, almost like he was hearing it through water. ::

Milsap: oO Oh, great, now I'm hearing things. Well, as far as hauntings go I guess I could do a lot worse. Oo

Rajel: You might realize that I have never talked with an unconscious person, because I have no idea what to say. It's kinda useless to ask how you are, or how it feels, or if you have ice cream where you are, since you can't answer anyway. 

:: Unconscious? So he wasn't dead? Or was he just imagining all this as some kind of coping mechanism? Either way, at least it was someone to talk to, even if he didn't get a response. ::

Milsap: oO I suppose I'm ok for the shape I'm in. It feels boring and no I don't have ice cream but I really want some now so thanks. Oo

Rajel: You should see what Wyn and Nijil did to help you. I am not completely sure how it works, but I'll read all about it in the report. But I can tell you that a Tribble is involved. 

:: A Tribble? There's no way Jerry's subconscious would come up with something that insane, but it was just the kind of nutty brilliance Wyn was capable of. Maybe he really wasn't dead. ::

Rajel: Sounds fun doesn't it? If the big that they told me got put together in my head, you had a bit of that entity in you, which drained your energy and put you here. I... I'm glad that they were able to do something before you'd have joined Riyao. 

:: Well the entity part was certainly true. As Jalana spoke Jerry could feel a genuine concern in her voice. Of course she probably felt the same concern about every member of her crew. But she didn't personally visit with every member of the crew that wound up in sick bay, did she? That was something to think about. At any rate, he felt glad that she was glad, and for the first time he had a real glimmer of hope that might come out of this after all. ::

Rajel: Sorry about that. It has been a long day and this entity must have gotten some of my energy too. I even had some hallucinations of the Grim Reaper and for a few moments I had thought it was real.. I can't wait to be out of here. Oh we are on the way by now. So I hope you'll wake up in time to enjoy some of that shore leave we all have earned ourselves. 

:: Unless his mind was playing tricks on him, Jalana's voice was getting clearer. He focused on it, imagining it as a signpost marking the way back home. He just had to follow the path. ::

Milsap: oO Grim Reaper? Oh, I can't wait to hear about that. I heard folks were seeing things, but that must have been a doozy. I am all for makin' ourselves scarce in this stupid nebula, and some shore leave sounds great right about now. Oo

Rajel: Remember you owe me a breakfast. You won't get out of that. 

:: It really had been a long time since he and Jalana had shared breakfast in his cabin, soon after he'd first come aboard Conny. ::

Milsap: oO Now that you mention it, I recon it is high time we do that again. Oo

:: Jerry could clearly picture the imaginary path in his mind's eye now. As he watched it widened from a dirt trail into a rough country road. ::

Rajel: You better wake up soon. I'll wait right here... 

:: The road transformed from dirt to asphalt, morphing into a city street, then a highway speeding him toward his destination. ::

Milsap: oO Just hang on, I'll meet you wherever this ends up. Oo

:: At the end of the road the light returned once more, but this time it started as a sliver, slowly widening as Jerry opened his eyes. Once they adjusted he could make out the bright lights of sickbay. He was still alive, and free of the entity's presence. A wave of relief washed over him. He wasn't in Heaven or Hell or Limbo or any other afterlife, but right back where he was supposed to be. Suddenly eager to get out of the biobed he tried to raise his head, but immediately realized what a mistake that was. He gently laid his head back on the pillow and heard something at his side. He turned his head gingerly and his vision was filled with Jalana's face, resting on her folded hands and sleeping peacefully. So it really was her voice he heard, guiding him back to the world of the living. ::

Milsap: oO If this ain't Heaven, it's the next best thing. Oo 

:: He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep with a smile on his lips. ::

Lieutenant JG Jerome Milsap
Assistant Chief Medical Officer
USS Constitution-B

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