By Gregg Pearlman
It all started six days ago when Geological Technician "Skippy" Fisher came in complaining of sinus pain and a runny nose. "You've got a cold," I told him. "Get back to work if you don't want a spectroscopic rectal exam and a freezing cold enema," I said with a smile. Fisher high-tailed it out of the sick bay.
Skippy's such a weenie -- I mean, at least three times a month he comes in and moans about some piddly little ailment: a hangnail, ingrown eyebrow hairs, constipation. The guy's an incredible hypochondriac, and Captain Kirk has tried at least half a dozen times to get him transferred to some ditzy little geological outpost on some boring little planet where he'd be free to whine to his heart's content -- away from the Enterprise.
(Ever since Fisher tattled on the captain for giving Janice Rand a little grief after pretending to have been split into two personalities, Jim's been referring to him as "that weenie asshole Fisher tweak." Usually Jim just calls him "Grippy" -- a rather snide reference to Fisher's predilection for seeking, shall we say, bodily fulfillment in the can -- by himself.)
Anyway, Skippy came in about a half hour later looking like he was ready to make out his will. "I think I'm really sick, Doc." I said, "Skipster, I'm telling you: you've got a cold. You caught a draft from someone opening a door or something, or some anti-matter's gotten up your nose. Now get back to work. I'm a doctor, not your mother."
Well, Skippy pitched forward in a very convincing attempt at a dead faint. After Nurse Chapel and I stopped applauding, we noticed that Skippy wasn't moving. "Maybe the captain has finally got his wish, doctor," said Christine. (I of course turned my head and made a face -- her breath could stun a ship full of Gorns, poor thing. I don't know what it is: she gets a great kick out of eating whole raw white onions like apples. Feh!)
Well, Skippy hadn't died or anything, but he'd legitimately passed out. So I did the standard examination and added a couple of nasal slides. Woo-wee -- I'd never seen orange nasal mucus before. I looked at it under the microscope, magnified it several thousand times and was appalled to see a bunch of tiny critters with orange fur, claws, fangs and polka-dotted bow ties. Never seen anything like it. Sound magnification allowed me to hear their high-pitched giggles.
Now, bear in mind that as a doctor, nothing pleases me more than to nuke minute vermin with whatever's at my disposal, but this time I really wanted to squash these little buggers, because not five minutes after I listened to their fetid little slobberings, Tonia Barrows staggered in, broke our date and collapsed. Now, you bet I'm pissed off, because she's broken two dates in a row -- and just when I'd figured she was finally about to put out. (She uses a pretty feeble excuse: "Ever since that Don Juan thing, I just don't feel right about it." Sure.)
Sure enough, I ran a mucus slide and found the same little orange scumbags hopping up and down under the microscope. I tried all the usual things: light, sound, heat, cold, antibiotics, aspirin, penicillin, Vulcan gitchliflorn spit -- but nothing even slowed them down. In fact, they seemed to be having sort of a celebration on that slide, and the sound amplifier started making noises like cardboard party horns.
In droves, the crew of the Enterprise began dropping by sick bay complaining of colds, then passing out. By now, I was smart enough to have donned a gas mask. Evidently this epidemic started with Skippy, who gave it to Tonia (and you can bet that I'm wondering just what the hell she was doing with him), who gave it to Chekov (There's another one I'm going to have to ask her about. Is she coming across for everybody but me?), who gave it to Uhura (that little commie gets around -- but at least he has taste), who gave it to Spock (I'll never figure that one out.), who gave it to....
Captain Kirk declined to tell me who gave it to him, but it became obvious that there were only a couple of ways to spread it.
So anyway, I had, like, nine million people backed up into the halls trying not to faint and/or die. I was the only one who managed to get a gas mask on in time. However, Nurse Chapel didn't contract the virus. (I guess you'd call it that.) Fascinating, as Spock would say in that thoroughly irritating, superior manner.
I looked under the microscope again. There they were, the little bastards, having a microscopic orgy.
Just then Christine came in, looked into the eyepiece and said, "Is there anything I can do to hhhelp, doctor?"
The amplifier then started emitting several high-pitched chirps -- it sounded almost as if they were screams of discomfort. Sure enough, when I looked in the microscope, several of the little bastards had an oddly different expression: one of being dead. Two and two were slowly being put together. I said, "Christine, look down there and say that again."
She looked into the eyepiece and repeated, "Is there anything I can do to hhhelp, doctor?" More screams.
"Again!" I cried. A couple of screams. "Again!" No screams. I looked at the slide: all dead. No movement whatsoever. Their final expressions betrayed extreme distaste.
It was her breath, of course. I grabbed the slide I got from Skippy, cut an onion in half and placed both in a box. No dice. But when Christine breathed on them again, bingo.
So I wolfed down an onion, wiped the tears from my eyes and breathed on the slide. Nothing.
Obviously the onions wouldn't be enough by themselves: they had to mix with Christine's chemistry in order to work. I had her breathe into a plastic bag and pumped the air into the box with the slide. Lo and behold, it worked. There they were, dead as asphalt.
The next 24 hours saw Christine breathing from her mouth into little oxygen tanks and me (with gas mask firmly ensconced over nose and mouth -- you betcha) spraying the unfortunate crew with Essence of Chapelstench.
I'd never seen a huge group of people recover from anything so fast.
The virus was squashed, and Christine was a "hhheroine."
We held a banquet in her honor for all ranking officers. Of course, we all put on gas masks when it was her turn to speak, but we're all grateful -- if largely repulsed -- for her taste for onions.
Christine is now undergoing forced psychotherapy: we're trying to see if we can break her of the onion habit -- I mean, if this virus ever catches up to us again, all we need is to stuff some onions into Christine for a cure. However, there's no reason we should have to deal with that breath on an everyday basis.
Medical Log Update -- Stardate 42313.0.
Well, Nurse Chapel, through intensive hypnosis, is no longer eating onions all the time, and being around her is almost tolerable. In the last two days there have been no reports of anyone gagging audibly in her presence. Congratulations, Christine.
Copyright ©1988 by Gregg PearlmanLast updated 7/6/96
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