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[2006: MAY-JUN] *WINNER* The Window

Julia Harden

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The Window

My fingers were digging into my hips, the tips gripping in tight self control. The only thought flying around my mind was to maintain a calm voice. Our orders had been clear: Find The Window, study it, send back a full report. I was in charge. It wouldn’t do for me to lose my temper. And the only way I'd ever defused a situation was with humor.

Kedon was yelling in his fury, “I don’t care that you’re a commander! I don’t even care that you’re the only officer on this planet! You get me?”

Keeping my voice soft, I said gently, “I didn’t know a Bajoran’s nose ridges could pucker up like that.” My lips twitched with laughter as soon as I'd said it. That was funnier than I'd thought it would be.

Kedon kicked a rock then limped to another and sat down, rubbing his toes. “You’re infuriating,” he said, without the former anger.

“Dull or sharp pain?” I asked.

“Dull. It’s not broke. Give me about ten minutes. I’ll be fine.” I nodded then sat next to him. “We’re expendable, Julia,” he commented as he gently took off his shoe.

It was hot and the converted environmental suits didn't help much. Converted to allow us to move easily without being contained. Air conditioning stripes ran vertical down the length of the suit to our boots. There was no helmet as that might impair our vision.

Again I nodded. “We’ll get the answer they want and if we don’t survive, they’ll have their information anyway. But that's Star Fleet. We knew it coming in."

He glanced over at me and I knew he was judging my reactions. "I'm not Star Fleet, Julia. I'm a scientist they tapped for this mission."

Deliberately, I looked ahead of me at orange rocks and yellow skies. I laughed. “Kedon, I was born on a starship, you know? I always thought I’d die on one.”

Kedon ignored my statements. “My foot’s fine. You ready?” he asked.

I put my hands on my knees to push myself to my feet and in the process, I looked at my hands. They were soft, a doctor’s hands. Sensitive and kind. Maybe that was part of the reason I could never really get angry at Kedon. As much as he irritated me at times. Through classes in med school and parties on various beaches, we'd gotten to know each other. I hated having him here with me where either one of us could die. I couldn't think of Kedon dying. I just couldn't.

Kedon reached over and took hold of my fingers. “Let’s get this done. The commodore will be here to beam us back to the ship in about 45 minutes.”

Kedon helped me pick up a small container filled with medical instruments. I’d do the testing while Kedon took electrical readings.

A Window had been recorded hovering over this class N planet. Three teams of scientists had been beamed down to study it. All (almost all) had returned with the same story. As they moved close, the window had moved away. After several attempts to approach it, two of the scientists had been able to walk right up to it. They’d sent back strange readings, determined that they could find out more by walking through it and that was the last anyone had seen of them.

So here we were, a civilian Bajoran scientist living and working on DS47 and me, Dr. Julia Harden, of the USS Victory. The captain wasn’t keen on my participation in this investigation but she was a captain in Star Fleet. So she’d given me the order and told me to return. That had been an order, too.

Then there it was... The Window.

It floated in the air about two meters off the ground. We ran forward to crouch behind a rounded boulder. The Window seemed to have seen us because it turned, moving slowly in our direction. “How could it see us?” I asked softly, “but I get the impression it did.”

Kedon shrugged but didn’t speak. My tricorder was off the charts, as they say.

“Getting anything?” I asked.

Kedon showed me the MultiMate. The sensors were going crazy. I didn’t understand it but it looked impressive.

The Window stopped moving and hung a half meter away from us. I took a chance and peered over the boulder directly into The Window pane. On the other side was an old man sitting at a kitchen table. He was cradling a cup of hot tea, the tag hanging down the side. His elbows were set comfortably on the table as though sculpted there. Beyond him, I could see a doorway and several people milling about.

I stood up, placing my hand on Kedon’s shoulder. I glanced at him knowing instantly that he was seeing into The Window also.

“What do you see, Julia?” he asked quietly.

“A man drinking tea. You?” My voice was just as quiet as his. The Window hung out there, not moving, the figures and objects becoming clearer. I hadn’t known they were indistinct until that moment.

With my noticing, The Window moved closer.

The old man set his tea cup down, moving his hand, revealing the Star Fleet communicator on his chest. I gasped. Kedon grabbed my wrist as the man got slowly to his feet. His shirt was open from the top two buttons and it wasn’t a Star Fleet uniform. I would have recognized one immediately. Two women walked through the doorway behind him. The three of them stood near the table and gestured to us.

As I watched the people beckon at us, Kedon crossed in front of me. The man at the table stood, obviously old or in bad physical health as he leaned tiredly on the table for a while. Gathering strength from somewhere within himself, he shuffled to the window pane and pulled/pushed it open.

They all looked human. Kedon walked as in a dream to the window. He started to put his leg up and over the sill. The people inside rushed forward, their arms reaching to pull Kedon inside.

“NOOooooo!” I screamed. I heard the sounds of laughter, sobs and gasps but I couldn’t tell where they came from. Turning, stumbling, I grabbed the back of Kedon’s blue and gray shirt. I heard the rip, felt the cloth come loose in my hand. I heard myself sobbing, “Kedon! Kedon!” I was crying his name knowing -somehow- that he would be gone forever if he made it through That Window.

A hand brushed against mine. Fingers gripped then lost their hold. Kedon was part way into the Window. My heart thumped crazily. I was losing. Losing Kedon.

“Kedon!” I screamed again.

This time he turned his head, looking at me as if seeing a ghost.

“Julia?” he asked. There was bewilderment in his voice.

Then something snapped in his features. His knee was resting on the Window ledge. My breath caught in my throat. Their hands had a hold on him. My fingers dug into a section of his torn shirt. All at once, I had my other arm around his neck, my fingers reaching to get a hold across his chest. I was pulling and Kedon was helping me. He was resisting the hands of The Window. I felt the hot air of the planet brush against me, so hot I thought my body was burning up.

I wondered what the result would be if I let Kedon go. If I climbed in there with him. We might not come back out but we'd be together. He wouldn't join Star Fleet and I couldn't stay away from it. In there we could live out our lives together.

All of a sudden, we were gasping for air, laying in each other’s arms. The sand was rough under me. Kedon shifted, leaned up on his elbow to peer behind me. Following his eyes, I turned around, my Star Fleet uniform ripping on a sharp rock. I didn’t pay attention to it. My gaze was riveted on The Window moving away. The people inside looked sad, forlorn.

Kedon’s voice was soft; I could hardly hear him.

“Nothing, Jules. There was nothing in there. No feelings, no people, nothing.”

I buried myself against his chest as the transporter beam took us away.


Edited by Julia Harden
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