February 10, 2408 (Continues)
The Voyager’s sick bay lies at the end of a long, slowly turning hallway on Deck 5. From the starboard lift it can take a minute to reach it at a brisk walk. I approached the automatic door in hopes of finding an empty waiting room. My anticipation turned quickly to disappointment. Every seat was full. I don’t want to exaggerate, every seat means all four of them but when you are in a hurry, four might as well be fifteen.
I walked over the register and presented my thumbprint. “Hello Commander Williamson,” the monitor said in a calm female voice. Just the kind of voice you’d want to hear if you were coughing up a lung. “You have been registered. Please be seated. Your estimated wait time is twelve minutes.”
I wondered what my next course of action would be. Twelve minutes wasn’t enough time to do something else but an eternity when your standing in a room full of the sick and near dead. My choice became clear when the computer monitor invited Ensign Jackson to step into the DC (Diagnostic Center). I took the empty chair and picked a place on the wall to stare. My super ego, trained by years of service in the fleet, reminding me of the work I could be doing on my PSD (Personal Service Device). I took it out and scrolled through my messages. It is amazing how easy it is to delete a message without reading it when your not feeling well. I put it away after discovering it was too uncomfortable to read with my head locked to one side. I went back to my passive examination of the spot on the wall.
“How are your new recruits?” Lt. Marlow asked from across the room in a low, raspy voice. Lt. Marlow was new to the Voyager. A member of the ship’s security department. A survivor of the USS Baltimore. She was found alive in an escape pod two weeks after the battle. Her pod mates had died one by one. It had an effect on her I was told by those that knew her from before the war. She was once a ‘by the book’ kind of officer. The new Marlow was kind and quick to turn an eye from things that, at another time, would have sent her straight to the Captain.
“They’re a challenge. Raw material waiting for the refiners fire,” I answered turning my whole body toward her because of my screwed up neck.
“I see you slept wrong,” she said to continue the conversation. “I’ve done that before. They’ll get you squared away in no time. They’ve got this new muscle relaxer that will put you right as rain.” The conversation ended with a coughing spasm. She was called in right after that.
Twenty minutes after registering my name was announced. I pulled out my PSD and quickly messaged the cadets giving them a reading assignment that would keep them occupied until I could get there.
“Commander Williamson,” the monitor said again without any sign of annoyance at my delay. I stood up and walked toward the small hallway to the DC. At the end of the hall a door opened. I walked in facing a holographic doctor.
“Please describe your illness in detail,” the projection said. I gave it my symptoms.
“Please step into the Diagnostic Chamber,” the hologram said politely. I stepped in.
A light came on and the scanner began its work. A solid bar of light moved across my body from head to toe, front and back. I was asked to place any finger into the ring at the end of the hand hold. I felt a quick jab and was asked to remove my puncture finger. A small red dot marked the spot of entry .
The last step of the scan was the sniffer. Air was blown over my body and monitored. Smells tell a great deal about a person’s health I’ve been told.
“Please step away from the Chamber,” the holograph said. I looked into the eyes of the projection. They were looking at me but also not quite focused correctly into my eyes. Very real - yet not quite. I was directed to another small waiting room. I waited another ten minutes and in walked the Ship’s Doctor.
Dr Monroe was ancient by any standard. His records indicated an age of 126. Mandatory retirement used to be 100. Now, after the war, retirement is a thing of the past. All reserves are back in service. Monroe, as he wanted to be called, had a
no holds bar attitude toward everything. “Im too old to care about procedures,” he repeated to anyone that would listen. His dress and mannerisms reflected that attitude.
“When you’re 126,” I would tell my cadets upon their first physicals with Monroe,”You can say and act any way you like but at twelve years old you do it my way or there is always the air lock.” They understood.
“According to this report from the DC you’ve got a broken leg and low blood sugar,” Monroe said leaning against the wall chewing the end of a stylus. His face was unshaven and his shirt untucked. His white hair looked like it hadn’t seen a brush in years. He stopped reading and looked at my leg from the doorway. “Looks more like a broken neck. That damn DC couldn’t tell the difference between an apple and orange,” he snorted as he hobbled toward me.
“Not broken Monroe, just unwilling to respond to my real need to stand straight. As for the low blood sugar - just another false reading. Why haven’t the tecks fixed the DC? Last time I was in here you were using some pretty colorful language to describe its diagnostic abilities.”
He waved his hand in front of his face to say a conversation about the tecks would only be a waste of valuable oxygen. He ran his fingers over the back of my neck.
“Ow!” I reacted to his less than gentle examination.
“This will do the job,” he said. I felt a jab and a warmth flooded the back of my neck.
I lifted my head upright. No pain. “There, you don’t look like those jackass Breens anymore. We’re busy right now so come back in a few days and we will look ar your blood sugar. Most likely nothing but wouldn’t hurt to check it out again.”
“Thanks Monroe,” I said as he hobbled toward the next exam room. “Buy me a drink in the lounge next time I see you - its the only kind of thanks needed.” His voice trailed behind him as he disappeared around the corner.
I was off toward the lift and the waiting cadets.