Dreams of Emerald
Posted on June 17th, 2003 by William Marlowe
He had a dozen possible explanations for the aliens’ hibernation cycle and the prospect of exploring all of them in any detail gave him a headache. He’d always preferred surgery to lab work . . . and then it occurred to him that he had skipped the files on their anatomy in favor of the biochemical and genetic material–the solution to the hibernation problem probably lay in one or both of those two areas, and that’s where he started–but Doctor Airell was already looking over those, and Science was probably going through them as well. He pulled up the negelected files on his console and started reading.
They were a tall race. Lithe. A report from the first contact survey team used the word “willowy,” and the screen automatically scrolled down and he saw an image of the aliens. The sun shone brightly behind the subject, obscured a little because of his height. The last thing he felt before he got lost in the light was a vague tug in his stomach.
“What’s . . . ”
. . . Bright. It hurt, and he turned on his side and shielded his face with his broken arm.
“He’s still alive. We can help him.”
They slept in beds of some sort of moss. He would never feel again the way he felt in one no matter how hard he tried; but he suspected that wasn’t because of any failure on his part–you can duplicate beds but you can never duplicate someone you share it with.
She pulled back and he couldn’t help staring at her when she turned toward the window.
“It’s . . . not right. Not time.”
“What do you . . . ”
She put her hand on his breast just above his heart.
“Remember me. Don’t forget . . . ”
The pain was exquisite.
“You have been here before and you will see this place again. The destiny of this planet and its people are entwined with yours. . . . But that is the future. In the present, know that you have allies here. Friends . . .
” . . . family.”
“Doctor? Are you not well?”
Siwa’s thick Nilusian accent cut through the haze and brought him back to sickbay.
“Are you certain? Shall I get Doctor Airell–”
“No–no. I’m fine. These images–the aliens–just bring back memories of something else–something very far away from here and that has nothing that has to do with anything at the moment.” He’d confused himself and shook his head briefly to clear it. “What is it?”
“The supply inventory you requested in case an away mission is required.”
She offered him a PADD.
He took it from her and thanked her. He shut off the console and tried to look over the PADD–but he couldn’t look at anything but the markings on his hand. They weren’t tatoos exactly; the pigments in the skin itself had been irrevocably changed. They were green, ivy-like though they didn’t match any species he’d seen yet–and he’d seen a lot, because you tend to take a very serious interest in botany when something like this happens to you. He felt the vines wrap around his fingers, his hand, his arm. Down his leg. Around his neck, up his jaw, and a lone green strand on his cheek. All springing from the handprint on his chest, enshrined in the greenry like a religious icon.
He would dream of the ones who had put him back together after the crash of the Hawthorne on a world lightyears distant from the planet below, the ones of whom he had retained precious little memory after he came to aboard the hospital ship, and the vines would burn for an hour after waking.
Don’t forget . . . !LUCHA!