His pulse pounded in his abused head. He
tried to ignore it but the pain was insistent, forcing him to acknowledge
his throbbing eardrums and aching head.
Last time I felt like this Coach Anderson was hollarin'
at me to “shake it off,” goddam football coaches.
Trip gingerly cracked an eye open but Malcolm had
long since disappeared around an outcropping. He held his breath
and listened carefully but he couldn’t hear Malcolm’s
splashy swimming. That didn’t mean anything either way
though, any soft sounds were lost in the thrumming of his pulse in
his ears. The sun was shining on his face, he could feel it
slowly burning his skin.
//”Charlie, come inside and put a hat on.
You’ll look like a lobster in no time.R 21; His six
year old self had pretended not to hear, running barefoot on the grass.
Hats weren’t any fun, all they did was blow off. He stretched
his arms out, he was flying. He sprinted away from the front
porch, making engine noises as he “flew” across the lawn.//
Trip tried to rouse himself to think about his
What are ya gonna do if Malcolm takes too long?"
He almost managed to be serious with himself.
He knew he had to get it together, but he felt so tired.
Trip closed his eyes and allowed himself to slip back in time until
he was that boy again, delighting in the feel of grass between his
//His momma called from the house. He turned
in a wide arc and headed towards the house. He could see the
front porch clearly, there was that little table they put outside
in the summertime. It was lunchtime, on the table there was
a plate with a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of lemonade.
He flopped down on the chair and eagerly grabbed the glass, bring
it to his lips.// This wasn’t right, there was supposed
to be lemonade...
Trip licked his dry and cracked lips , the ocean
permeated his senses. He turned his head so that one side of
his face was sheltered from the scorching sun. The sun warmed
rock was rough on his cheek. He sighed and opened his eyes as
he took stock of his situation. The water was almost at his
collarbone. He held out his arms but they sunk much faster than
he expected, it was almost like they didn’t float at all.
There was something about this planet’s “water”,
somehow it wasn’t as dense as an Earth ocean. He experimented
with his arms again. There wasn’t any doubt about it,
you didn’t float nearly as well as you did in an earth ocean.
Trip vaguely remembered T’Pol talking about the planet’s
surface gravity being greater than Earth’s. He figured
the 1.something g must be adding to the buoyancy issue.
Trip leaned heavily against the cliff as he struggled
to stand upright. He was almost there when his shaking knees
betrayed him and he fell back onto the ledge. He splashed until
he managed to prop himself up again and force himself upright.
He managed to hold the standing position for a few minutes before
his knees gave out and he was sitting on the ledge. The water
had risen, it was at the top of his uniform’s zipper.
Not much longer now.
He tried to bury that thought.
"The last time I almost died..."
Trip wryly grinned at the tone his inner monologue had taken.
"Ya’d think I’d be used ta this
by now. I’ve been vacuumed, broiled and frozen, now
I’m pickled in some alien ocean. Hell, it ain’t
that bad. Ya can’t kill Trip Tucker. Must be some
sort of cosmic law by now, or at least one of those generally accepted
things everybody knows. Yeah, like inert gases don’t
react or that you can’t travel faster than 3.00 x 10^6 m/s.
It’ll be fine, forget “Danger”, Mr. Malcolm “Determined”
Reed will get to the away team. It’s not that far of
Trip’s grin faded at this.
"Dammit, if it were only Jon. Jon I trust
implicitly, not to mention the fact he’s not afraid of water.
Who ever heard of a guy from a line of navy men who’s afraid
of water? Not fair, not fair. He’s the one who
jumped in the ocean to pull my sorry ass out. It’s just,
hell, give anyone in my situation the choic e of who to be stranded
with and they’d pick the water polo player over the aquaphobic.
Not to mention the fact that I already owe Jon my life enough times
over it wouldn’t make a huge difference. Even with the
airlock incident Malcolm still respected me. Well, still respected
me a bit. Okay, so I frequently stick my foot in my mouth
and wander off cliffs but I’m a decent engineer. Just
a damn sorry excuse for a C.O. Starfleet’s best and
brightest my ass."
Trip sighed and brought his hand up to dribble
cool water over his face. The ocean had risen to the extent
that the water was at his chin.
"Something must have happened. Maybe
he just couldn’t swim well enough, maybe he panicked.
Maybe he drowned. It's been far too long, the cavalry should
have arrived a while back. I guess we’re both dead.
Can’’t believe I was so stupid. What an idiotic
Trip took one last look at the ocean before closing
his eyes to try and think of his family.
"And I’m supposed to be the optimistic
There was a roaring noise above him. Trip’s
eyes shot open and he squinted into the sunlight. A shuttlepod
was silhouetted against the sky. Awestruck, he watched as it
slowly dipped lower towards his position. The pilot held it
steady while keeping the engines carefully angled away from him.
Trip smiled broadly.
"Must be Travis."
When the shuttle was a few meters above him the
hatch opened and a figure jumped out. A few seconds later Trip
found himself hauled upright by no less than Jonathan Archer.
“Come on Trip, up we go”
“Let’s get you back to Enterprise commander,
Phlox has got a biobed with your name on it.” The shuttle
maneuvered lower until it was at a height where the people on the
ledge could climb through the hatch. Jon laughed in response
to Trip’s mumbled question. “Yes Trip, by the looks
of your head you deserve a barrel of Phlox’s special ‘happy
juice’.” The commander was carefully transferred
to the shuttle before the captain clambered aboard and it gained altitude.
Trip sat in a puddle on the floor of the shuttlepod.
A blanket was draped across his knees and he looked up to find a rather
damp lieutenant Reed sitting in the jumpseat.
Trip grinned widely. “Good job Malcolm,
I never doubted ya for a moment.”
Malcolm smiled his half smile before turning to
hail Enterprise, “Shuttlepod 2 returning to Enterprise,
all people accounted for.”