You stand next to a bio bed, ready and waiting for a patient. The crew of the Enterprise had just rescued a
group of hostages from the fringes of Klingon space and there were many sick
and injured. Your orders are simple:
wait for them to be brought into medical and attend to them as best you can until
a doctor can come by to take a look at their wounds. You’ve been a nurse for so long that you feel
like you’re ready for whatever challenges these patients of various alien races
The doors open and you welcome the first patient – a frightfully thin looking
humanoid with pale green skin and a ridge atop their skull not unlike the
sagittal crest possessed by ancient Terran australopithecines. You gesture toward the bed and they collapse
onto it more than climbing up so you give them a hand in lying back. Once they’re settled, you activate the bed
and try to make sense of their vital signs, recalling as much xenophysiology as
you can as you make your assessment.
You talk them through the procedures as you set some scans to run so they’re
ready for whichever doctor comes by to see to them, explaining that you need to
remove the awful, prison-type jumpsuit they’re wearing in order to get a better
look at their wounds. They agree and you
get to work on the zipper, gasping as you reveal their abdomen.
On the creatures skin are hundreds of small, deep indentations with dark purple
centers, making them look not unlike lotus seed pods. Your breath catches in your throat and you
stumble away so quickly you knock over a tray of instruments, sending them
clattering to the floor. No one eve
notices the ado in all of the chaos. No
one, that is, aside from your CMO. He’s
at your side instantly, glancing from your patient to you, his voice loud so he
can be heard over the din as he asks you what happened.
“I can’t,” you say, vaguely gesturing at the patient on the table, your
breathing becoming ragged as your heart rate climbs. “The indentations… Oh, God!”
You catch yourself on a strangled sob and turn on your heel, bolting from the
room. You can hear Dr. McCoy calling
after you and you now you’re going to be in trouble later on but you don’t stop
running until you’ve reached your quarters.
You’re not sure how much time goes by as you sit curled up on your couch, knees
pulled up to your chest, before you hear a knock at the door. You don’t say a word, and you hear another
knock, followed by more silence, before you hear a code being punched into the
keypad outside. You know it’s Leonard
even before he moves into your line of sight, and you keep your teary eyes
downcast, running a shaky hand through your hair.
“What was all that, darlin’?” He asks
you softly, taking a seat beside you and resting a hand on one of yours,
stroking his thumb over your knuckles to steady your trembling.
“Her skin,” you breathe. “All those
As you talk about it, your breathing becomes more and more shallow, your mind
flashing back to the pock marks with their sinister dark centers. Leonard doesn’t let the anxiety win, though;
he takes you in his arms and gently strokes your back, murmuring soft
reassurances into your ear and kissing your temple.
“Trypophobia,” he offers, and you’re startled by his insight.
You nod mutely, burrowing your face into his neck, inhaling his scent and
fighting the onslaught of flashbacks..
When I was younger I was a stupid kid with big dreams. I lived in a
tiny little shitsmear of a town in the middle of the rust belt, a place
where kids unironically hopped on their dad’s tractor to hitch a ride to
school in the mornings. I used to gaze out at the endless fields of
shoulder-high corn, ridged like green corduroy off into the horizon, and
I would think to myself, “Fuck this. Fuck this so hard.”
I’d always been a horror movie geek, and in my junior year of high
school I scrounged together enough cash to buy a cheap video camera off
eBay. I got my friends Anna, Kevin and Dylan together, and, from sundown
until curfew, we’d be out in the woods shooting our own homemade horror
flick. We didn’t know what we were doing; the shots were dark as hell,
you couldn’t hear 80% of the dialogue, and the fake blood looked like
dollar-store barbecue sauce (because it was). But it gave us a purpose,
and The Killer in the Woods became our own little masterpiece.
I was ecstatic. I knew what I wanted to do with my life, and I had a
plan for finally escaping that terrible small town with its pervasive
manure stench and its suffocating right-wing god-and-guns culture. I
promised myself that, as soon as I’d saved up enough from my crappy gas
station job, I was going to catch a bus out to LA and become a
And then Anna got pregnant.
We weren’t even dating, exactly. Actually, if you want to get
technical about it, she was Dylan’s girlfriend at the time. But Dylan’s
nutty Christian parents had discovered naked men in his browser history,
and they threatened to kick him out of the house unless he could prove
he wasn’t “tainted by perversion.” He started dating Anna, and though
I’m sure he cared about her in a way, Anna told me he would recoil away
from her when she tried to kiss him, as though she was sticking a dog
turd in his face.
Anyway, she was at my house late one night while I was editing the
movie, telling me all about what a joke their relationship was, how
confused she’d become, how lonely. I don’t have an excuse, not a good
one anyway. I told myself I was helping out a friend in need, but
honestly we were both just horny teenagers who weren’t thinking. It’s
okay, I told myself. No one will know. Just make sure to pull out, and it’ll all be fine.
Anna was Catholic, and she refused to even consider getting an
abortion. She told me she was going to raise the baby, and that I could
stick around if I wanted, or not. I was scared, and angry, and deeply
confused about why this was happening, just when I was so close to
finally getting out of that town. I thought long and hard about leaving
anyway, but I remembered how hard it was on my mom and me when my dad
took off, and I swore I’d never do that to anyone. No, I wasn’t going to
be like my dad. I was going to take care of my responsibilities like a