G R Matthews
USS Chesapeake (Memory)
Way, way back when I first started writing for others to read I did a great thing (for me anyway). I joined a Star Trek RPG ... get back here right now! It was a collaborative writing universe based on a Starship - The USS Chesapeake.
I had a great time writing short posts from the view point of my character, Ensign Hanna. It taught me about characters, about scene setting, description and speech. Was I a great writer? No. But I had fun. Tonight, I went and looked up that old group (1999... 17 years ago) and found a standalone piece. Which I present for you here... as it was written, no editing or polishing.
Oh hell, and reading it through again, I remember the inspiration... and I am sad once more. I had been, the week previously, to the funeral of one of my pupils, an 18 year old. I had sat alongside the Headteacher in an overflowing crematorium and listened to his family, his friends, his girlfriend speak about his too short life. Outside, more people, more of his friends listened on the speakers that had been set up. I can still see his face in my memory.
No matter, here it is and, Michael, know you are still missed. No one should die that young. I hope you know how many lives you touched in those short years.
In the vast universe were many galaxies, in each many millions of stars, countless planets, and on those planets beings looked up to the shining points and dreamt of travelling between them. Some beings imbued the stars with mystical powers over life and death, love and loss. Some beings saw them as gods striding through the dark sky, others as pin pricks in the blanket of night which the light of creation leaked through. But to all those beings the stars were beautiful and if they could they would reach out, grasp them and hold them close to wonder at the marvels they would see.
There were some beings lucky enough to sail between these stars, to traverse the skies, to travel between the worlds, to meet the many beings, to talk of their dreams, and to marvel at all they held in their grasp. But for this chance to stride amongst the gods there was a heavy price to pay, some paid it willingly, some did not, and some did not even realise they were the coins in this vast game of economics. Dreams must be bought, they do not come free, and eventually some one has to pay the price. Crewman Michael Quiller had understood the game, he had known what the cost was for the gift he had been given, for the chance to realise his dream, and he had paid the price willingly.
"Get out, get out!", the voice sounded muffled through the smoke.
With her leg trapped beneath the fallen support Ensign Hatter had no way out and she could begin to feel the heat of the flames on her face. Another explosion rocked the room and amidst the violent noise she could hear the screams of the wounded, the panic in the voices, the desperation. When she realised the voice she could hear was her own she became even more scared,the realisation that she may not survive for the first real time entered her thinking. The course at the academy had dealt with loss and fear, the emphasis had been on the training and how this would help you cope and survive. Right now that day, that course, that life, was a million years ago, that was a dream of another life. Now all her world was smoke, heat,pain and fear. Pushing against the support with both hands she tried to free her leg but the strength to do it was beyond her. She coughed once, then again, the smoke was getting to her and panic was setting in, the situation was beyond her control and Starfleet taught that every situation could be controlled by calm thought and training.
*What did they know! Had they ever been trapped in a burning room, coughing up blood, oh no I'm coughing up blood, I'm dying, someone help me, please for the love of life someone help me!!*The smoke although dark was beginning to glow and Hatter knew that the fire was coming closer. The choice, she laughed weakly, is to die by fire or by smoke. Commander Terry never mentioned that in his lectures. Falling back off her elbows she landed heavily on her back, knocking what little airtheir was from her body. The effort to breath was almost too much, the hot, scratchy, smoky air burned all the way down and on the exhale was followed by blood which soothed her parched throat. As her eyes dimmed and the smoke grew heavier she felt a weight lift and her body become lighter like she was floating upwards.
*So this is what its like... and I can never tell anyone.....*
The bright lights blinded her and tears sprung from her eyes. Everything was white, and she could, from a distance hear many voices all calling to her.She couldn't pick out the words but they sounded like they were calling her name. Her eyes were slowly beginning to focus and the light to dim down a little.
"Ensign Hatter, Ensign Hatter....." the voice repeated.
Hatter tried to look to left and right but the light still blinded.
"Ensign Hatter, are you alright?" the voice spoke clearly and Hatters senses jarred back to reality, the sick bay of the USS Chesapeake.
"Ensign Hatter?" the voice again.
Her eyes finally seemed to regain some use and Hatter gazed up to the faceof the CMO and beyond zir the ceiling of the medbay.
"I'm alive... but... I felt myself..." Hatter began.
"Yes, your alive," Jady said, "You were lucky, Crewman Quiller pulled you out of the room."
"What about the others?"
"Three other people were saved, 4 died in that room," the doctors voice held sympathy, "and one died just a minute ago in here."
"But that's too many, there were only eight of us."
"The ninth was Crewman Quiller. He got there before the rescue crews. He got you out and one other. The rescue crews had to drag him out... he went back for more but was overcome by the fumes."
"Is he alright?", Hatter asked.
"I'm sorry... he died a few minutes ago... just as you woke up.", the soft voice of Dr.Jady still was not enough to soften the impact of the words. "Do not cry for him, celebrate his deed, Ensign. The dead do not need our tears just our memories."
I made a note at the end of the post, for the others in the group. It said, "Sorry for the cheery post."