Gray, a perfectly perfect gray, spanning the limits of his sights.
Not the dark gray of a shark, no, not like whales or stingrays or dolphins, but something akin to the color of a dove.
Yes, that was the color. Lovely gray. Lovely dovely gray!
Amused at his cleverness, he tried to reach out and touch the gray with a hand but he couldn't quite figure out how to do it. Odd… he should know how to move.
It was a nice gray.
Suddenly the world turned upside down and the gray disappeared in a whirl as new sights and sounds assaulted him. Shapes, light and dark and red and white shapes… black shapes and shiny things that seemed to dance merrily above him.
He smiled at their performance, certain they were trying to entertain him.
Sound solidified and he heard beepings and bells and distant voices. Then, unexpectedly, a face popped into view and he jumped at the surprise. He gave a short laugh at being so startled and tried, very hard, to focus on the face in question.
Blond hair, bluish eyes with a touch of gray-
Not the dovely gray of before, but still…
They were nice eyes. A bit hard to get the real look of them when they insisted on spinning about…
A shake, then. A name, shouted with an inappropriate amount of urgency. Didn't anyone know he wanted to stay and watch the shapes perform?
"Lee!" the voice was saying over and over again. He couldn't stop the giggle from returning as the sound echoed.
What a terribly amusing place this was!
A sensation of unwelcome sharp pain reoriented his thoughts. The face in front of him… above him… generated a vague memory. It was… it belonged to…
"Lee?" said the voice, very near.
"No," he answered matter of factly. He knew the face didn't belong to Lee. The very thought made the laughter bubble up for a second… he was Lee!
"Can you hear me?"
"Of course," he said, noting with puzzlement that his clearly spoken words had come out mumbled.
"Lee," the voice continued, "look at me. Focus."
"I know you," he declared triumphantly as a memory clicked into place.
"What's my name?" the voice challenged.
Well, that part was not entirely-
"Chip!" he replied with smug satisfaction. Ha!
"How do you feel?" the man named Chip asked, unimpressed with the accomplishment.
Boy, there was no pleasing some people.
"Feel wonderful!" he said, grinning broadly.
"You've been injured and you have to lie still-"
"My mother told me never to lie," he said, enjoying the reaction on Chip's face.
"What? Lee, I know things are confusing right now but I want you to try and-"
"Stop moving," he complained, mildly annoyed. One Chip, two Chips, three Chips all dancing crazily above him. Suddenly a thought struck him… what was it someone said? You can't have just one? Chips, they were talking about chips. That's why there were three!
"Lee, stop laughing," the voice admonished. Lee wasn't fooled: he could see the hint of a smile on Chip's face. Faces. "I mean it. You need to tell me where it hurts, okay?"
Hurts? No, he was feeling quite divine. Giddy, even. Never felt better…
"Captain?" said a new voice. "I see you've managed to earn a spot in Sickbay again…"
"Doc?" he guessed tentatively.
"Yes. Chip tells me you hit your head on the-"
"Chip, Chip, Chip," he corrected, pointing to the unsteady images. Lord, but it was funny!
"Doctor?" asked one of the Chips, probably the one on the left.
"I'm guessing a concussion at the very least. Wrist might be broken; look at the swelling."
"Hey, I've been working out," he interjected. "Maybe it's muscles!"
The second doctor turned to the third Chip and said in a bemused voice,
"Has he been like this since he woke up?"
"Thinks everything is funny. Says he doesn't have any pain."
"That won't last long."
"Probably. Though I have to admit he's never reacted quite this way before."
"Sort of a novel change. Do you think it's… permanent?" Chip Number One asked, a note of concern in his voice.
"Yeah," he said, peering at the balding man. "What's up, Doc?" With that, he snorted with suppressed laughter.
"Oh, God. This is worse than the Mummy…" Jamieson muttered. "Ah, no, Chip, I don't think it's permanent. I need to get him to Sickbay for some tests."
"But I haven't even studied!" he protested between giggles.
"Get the Admiral," Jamieson told Chip as he tried to hide his own smile. "This, he's got to see."
"Lee, sit down."
"No way. The bed keeps shifting."
"The bed is not going anywhere, I promise. Sit down or I'll have someone help you do it."
"Hmph," he answered petulantly. "You're no fun, no fun at all. Hey, maybe we can hit the fire alarm and watch everybody run around-"
He sat carefully, amazed that the bed was steady enough to stay on. "There. I sat. Happy now?"
"Not as happy as you seem to be."
"That's the problem," he said pointedly. "You are too serious!"
"Alright, enough of that talk. Now, tell me how your head feels."
Silence. Five seconds, ten.
"Lee? Answer me."
"Can't," he said slyly.
"You said you had enough of talking. So, no talking. Doc's orders."
"Oh, for crying out loud," Jamieson said under his breath.
"What's going on?" said a new voice from the doorway. "I heard that Lee had been injured during that shock wave…"
"I was shocked!" he cried with delight.
"What-? Jamieson, what the devil's going on here?"
"Admiral, Lee's experiencing a bit of unusual… euphoria… associated with his head injury. I've never seen anything quite like it."
"How serious is the injury?"
"Too serious," he declared emphatically, slapping the mattress. "That's the problem. Everything is too serious around here!" He looked from the Admiral to the doctor and realized something incredible.
"Hey, where did the other you go? There's only one Doc now."
"Vision is clarifying?" Jamieson asked, pulling out a penlight and flashing it into Lee's eyes.
"Hey, watch that! What, are you trying to blind me?"
"Hardly. Lee, are you sure you're not feeling any pain?"
"I am, now."
"Got a headache from that stupid light."
"Indeed. I daresay you've got a headache from that concussion of yours, not from my tiny little light."
"You dare?" he said with a grin. "I double dare- "
"Captain Crane," said the Admiral with his best serious voice, "that is enough. You will listen to the doctor and answer his questions properly."
"Says you and whose navy?" he challenged, waving his hand imperiously at the command.
"Whose-?" The Admiral turned away and said, "Isn't there some sort of sedative or drug you can give him?"
"Just say no," came the comment from the bed. Another bout of giggles.
"They don't pay me enough for this," Jamieson whispered to himself. "Now, take your shirt off and-"
He brought the blanket up to his chest protectively and shook his head.
"I barely know you!" he exclaimed. "I'm not taking my shirt off for anyone! What kind of guy do you think I am?"
"The kind of guy that's going to be in deep trouble if he doesn't do what he's supposed to," the Admiral answered sternly. It was becoming a real challenge to keep a straight face.
"No way. Forget it."
"You told Chip you'd been working out," Doc said, inspired. "If you take your shirt off you can show the Admiral your muscles."
"Yeah, but will he respect me in the morning?" A mischievous snicker escaped.
"Doc," the Admiral said as he shook his head in amusement, "do what you have to. Shirt or no."
Before he could protest the doctor jabbed something evil and sharp into his upper arm.
"Hey, no fair!" he exclaimed with a pout. "I was behaving!"
"Now, you just ease back down and rest for a moment," Doc said in a soothing tone. "Things should start to feel relaxed any minute."
"But I don't want to relax," he protested with a frown. "Where's Chip? He's a lot more fun than… than you." He yawned, surprising himself. He hadn't felt tired a little while ago… he wanted to… what was it he wanted to do?
A cottony cloud began to wrap around him.
"Feeling sleepy?" came the doctor's voice from a distance.
"Yeah," he said as his eyelids grew heavy.
"Go to sleep, then. It'll all be clearer when you wake up."
"Hey, can I go to the… the gray place? Again?" He'd been so happy there.
"The gray place, Lee?"
"Where the lovely gray… the… dov…"
"Well?" asked Nelson impatiently.
"Report indicates no permanent damages, Admiral. The blood tests show an exceedingly high elevation of endorphins in his system. He's never shown evidence of such a reaction before and I can't explain it. My best guess is that the initial impact generated a sudden, intense burst of pain and his body over-reacted in the production of natural blockers."
"He almost seemed… drunk."
"At least he was a happy drunk," Doc grinned. "With that amount of chemicals surging through him, that observation is fairly close to the mark."
"I set the wrist, stitch up the laceration on his head, and make sure he keeps quiet for a while."
"And when he wakes up?"
"I'm betting he won't remember a thing. He'll be in pain for a bit but it's nothing he won't be able to handle."
"It was rather amusing to see him so darned happy," Nelson commented wryly.
"It was a switch. Usually he's brooding or angry or furious when he's here. I… sort of enjoyed it."
"I suppose I should protest that remark but I tend to agree."
He stood by the sleeping figure and smiled down at his long-time friend.
"Double dare, huh?" he repeated with a chuckle. "Don't give up your day job yet, son. You're much better at drama than stand-up comedy."
"Doc," he said as he turned away, "let me know when he comes back to reality."
"I'm sure we'll all know when that happens," came the sighed reply. With one last glance at the Captain, he grinned and headed for the ream of paperwork waiting on his desk. Well, he mused, his reports were never quite routine. This one might even get a few laughs.
Copyright 1999 by Tina Louise Jones
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