Episode 6: The Meeting is the Hardest Part

Captain’s Blog, Temperamental. I’ve scheduled a Senior Officers’ Meeting in Sick Bay, to try and get a handle on the situation. We are rapidly approaching the starbase, and still have neither solved the plumbing problem nor contained the Bord contagion that is turning my crew members into moping Smiths fans. Oh, and there’s still this weird issue of all these extra floors showing up in the first place. Are these Bord intruders the “cause” of the new floors appearing, or do we really just need more thorough tours of the ship when we sign on?

“Okay, guys,” Clerk said as they all sat in the Waiting Room. “I don’t know how every single senior officer on this ship managed to get time off at the same time, but rest assured, I’m going to get to the bottom of it. We have three or four major problems going on right now, and hardly anybody who can solve them. The ship is in danger, gentlemen. Any ideas on how we can get out of this?”

Dr. Flüshaht spoke up first. “Well, you know what I think about them Bord kids.”

“I realize that, Doctor,” replied the Captain. “But them Bord kids now includes over 11% of my crew, including a couple of really cool guys from Engineering who were going to teach me hypercrocheting next week. Besides, regulations state that no more than 7% of a ship’s crew can be ejected for Emergency Purposes at any given time. So that remedy is out.”

“We oughta get them to clean up that mess at The Port. It’s probably their fault!”

“We tried that,” Wharf chimed in. “They just stood there, complaining about the smell. After a couple of hours we couldn’t take the whining any more, so we had to lock them back up.”

“Doctor, have you been able to come up with anything about their infectiousness? We’re losing crew members left and right.”

“Well,” Flüshaht said, leaning forward, “that’s the strange thing about it, Captain. Near as I can tell, there are no recognizable pathogens, no chemical agents, no weird mind rays, no nothing! The only thing I can think of might be some sort of subconscious mind manipulation or something like that, but I can’t even see any evidence of that, either. Usually something of that sort would leave some telltale patterns in their brainwaves, but I can’t find any. I have no idea how this is happening, Captain. But it ain’t medical, from what I’ve seen.”

“It’s as if you just look at them and feel sorry for them…” Wharf’s voice started to trail off, and his gaze slowly moved toward the floor…

Clerk jumped over the table, grabbed Wharf’s shoulders, and shook hard. “Snap out of it! They’re getting to you!”

A light bulb came on.

“They’re mental, Doctor! They’re mental!”

“You can say that again, Captain.”

“No! I mean, it’s a mental thing! They’ve got some kind of psychological power over people! They can actually make people feel sorry for them!”

“Captain, I already said, there’s no recognizable mind manip–”

“I don’t mean they’re messing with people’s brains,” interrupted Clerk. “They’re playing with our emotions somehow.”

“They’re just misunderstood, Captain,” moped Wharf.

Clerk shook him again. “Wharf! Stop it! That’s an order!

Wharf stood up, slowly, holding his head. “Whoa… I could feel myself… getting all depressed… and wondering where I could get the best price on black nail polish.”

Flüshaht’s eyes widened. “Jimi, I think you’re onto something!”

Ignoring his least favorite nickname, Clerk got out his communicator. There was no time to waste.

“Clerk to Psychology Department!”

Secondprize Mental Wellness Center. Can you hold please?”

“No, this is an–”

The muzak cut him off. The tune was catchy, even though it was a cheap MIDI replication of the original. Clerk paced the floor for at least five minutes before the voice returned.

Secondprize Mental Wellness Center, this is Ethel. How may I help you?”

“This is your Captain speaking. There is–”

“Oh, I’m so glad you’ve finally decided to give us a call. We can schedule you for an evaluation on–”

“No, I’m not calling for an appointment! This is a psychiatric emergency!”

“A what, now?”

“We need every available psychiatrist on the ship to meet me down at the Brig! I’ve figured out how to–”

“The brig? Do we have one of those?”

“Yes, it’s the room we’ve been using for Bingo Night.”

“I was wondering why we didn’t have a game last night…”

“Anyways, I need everybody down there. Even the student assistants. The fate of the ship is at stake!”

“Right away, sir… now are you sure you can’t squeeze in an appointment sometime next week?”

Clerk sighed. “Not now, Lt. Ethel. Ship comes first. Clerk out.” He turned to Wharf and Flüshaht. “Gentlemen, let’s get down there. These kids — I mean, my crew members — need help!”

“You ain’t kiddin’, Captain,” Flüshaht said under his breath.

As soon as they were all on the elevator, the Captain gave the order. “To the Brig, please.”

“The Brig?” replied the elevator. “That’s where those Bord people are.”

“Yes, and that’s where we’re going.”

“But they’re so depressing, do we really need–”

“We’re going there.”

On purpose?

“We’re going to help them.”

“Okay…” the elevator sighed. “It’s for a good cause, I guess.”

The trio arrived on the scene minutes later, greeted by everybody even ancillarily related to the Psychology Department.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the Secondprize Mental Wellness Center,” the Captain spoke up, “you’re probably wondering why I’ve called you here today…”