‘Tis Charity to Show
Rand woke up on the hallway floor in a crushing fugue state. Her head was so heavy on her neck it wobbled, and the tightness around her eyes and temples pierced through her like shards of flint rock twisting through her membranes.
She struggled mightily, pushing herself up from her stomach with weak arms until she landed heavily on her bottom, straddling her elbows on her knees while her head hung between them. Rand was surprised by how winded, how out of breath she was, how spent. Funny, because the air wasn’t thin at all, she thought.
After giving herself a few minutes she raised her head and looked around. The hallway was dead, stone quiet, and the amber hue of dawn seeped its way through the area, glazing the atmosphere in it’s floating, glittering clarity.
Rand was embarrassed, having woken up in the middle of the floor like a complete fool. The others were probably in bed, like normal people; except there wasn’t much normal that’s been happening on this mission. It was obvious that she never left the hallway, so she wasn’t about to ask herself how she ended up here. What got to her was that she couldn’t becoming sleepy, much less becoming so sleepy that she was unable to make it back to her room. Ironically, she had left her room because she was unable to sleep in the first place.
Rand came to the conclusion right then that she didn’t fall asleep.
Something else must have happened. But what?
“Hey, something ‘s missing,” Rand thought and looked around the hallway from where she sat.
“Where the hell is Riley?”
He was not in his former spot, up ahead in the hallway, like before, mangled under the frightful gaze of Mr. Spock. Where do he go?
Rand was feeling a little stronger now, so she hoisted herself up with great care onto her feet and slowly stood up.
“There. That wasn’t so bed, was it, Janice?” she thought.
She turned around and walked the length of the obstacle course, from the hallway to the dining room, knowing that’s where she’d most likely find Riley.
And find him she did, wedged between a love couch and a small shelf, asleep on his side, wrapped in her pink and lilac yoga mat.
Rand’s mouth went agape and her eyes widened. Then, after thinking about it, she laughed to herself. She didn’t even want to begin to wonder when and how the opportunity presented itself for him to get her mat back. Later for that one!
Rand heard some stirrings behind her, like soft shuffles of people turning over in their sleep, so she turned towards the kitchen, where she’d left Scotty and Dr. Begay, and headed there, finding the two men sprawled on the floor by the white counter, covered with the spilled contents of individually wrapped snack foods from the upturned crates they were fishing through earlier.
“I don’t understand this! I don’t get any of this shit,” she fretted to herself.
Rand suddenly had the instinctive thought of checking on the others—the others being Spock and Nurse Rose, to see if they were all right. She walked down the corridor to Nurse Rose’s room and opened the door. Sure enough, Rose was there, in bed, her eyes closed, looking like she was asleep, though Rand wasn’t sure whether it was sleep or something else that hit the crewmembers.
The soft amber dawn bathed Rose’s quarters, as her blinds were up and tucked away from the window to give one an unobstructed view of the early morning stillness of the desert landscape. Rose’s face was softened by the light, Rand noted to herself. She looked peaceful, almost angelic.
“Yup,” Rand thought. “A portable little lamp attached to her neck would do wonders for her.”
She chuckled at her admitted cattiness and left it at that.
Then, Rand noticed something that made her head jerk back. Was she seeing what she thought she was seeing?
In the far corner of Rose’s quarters were containers—canvas sacks, knapsacks, specimen boxes and tool kits, filled to brimming, with pre-packaged snack foods!
So, that’s where they all went!
It was then that she recalled telling Scotty and Begay about her instincts on Nurse Rose possibly stealing the snacks.
Dead on, Janice O Girl!
She walked over to the corner where the boxes were and looked inside to access the damage, to see just how much food Ms. Bottomless Pit ate. She was pleasantly surprised and absolutely relieved to see that there was still more than enough snack food to last this mission, and still enough food for the whole damn landing party.
Rand cut a glance at Rose, sprawled in the covers of her bed, and snorted in disgust. “Rose’s appetite wasn’t even a hearty one, it was grotesque and pitiful,” she thought.
Rand took both a knapsack and a canvas bag full of food and slung them over her shoulders, careful not to let any of the contents spill over. Then, she walked out of Rose’s quarters and headed back to the kitchen, where she dropped the heavy bags onto the counter.
She had to make three more trips to Rose’s room in order to retrieve every snack food bundle taken, before she was able to put them all back in the cabinets behind the serving window.
Rand heard the groan right outside the serving window. After closing the last of the cabinets she left the pantry and returned to the counter out front, where she saw Dr. Begay wobbling on his hands and knees, while Scotty lied next to him moving his head from side to side groggily, his eyes open but droopy.
“Hey, are you guys all right?” she asked.
She came to Begay’s assistance, holding him by his shoulders and guiding him to sit on his buttocks.
“Easy now, don’t push it. I was just here myself, so I know what you’re experiencing.”
Begay breathed quite heavily once he was sitting up, as if the simple act of doing so had spent him greatly.
“Jesus Christ. Did I fall asleep on the kitchen floor? I can’t even remember being sleepy.”
He placed both hands on his head and grimaced, like he was in pain.
“Head feel like a sack of pebbles?”
“Yep, just like me earlier. You’ll just have to wait for it to pass.”
“Wonderful,” Begay deadpanned.
Rand chuckled and patted Begay’s shoulder reassuringly.
“I’m going to go and check on Scotty,” she said.
“Wuh-wuh-wuh-wherres th-th-thu bloody f-f-fuh-fooood?!”
Scotty was standing by the counter, frantically searching for the boxes of food that he and Begay were searching through earlier. Rand couldn’t believe that this was the same man who was lying on the floor barely conscious just a few minutes ago.
Exactly when did he get up?!
“Scotty, you can calm down. All the food’s back in the cabinets, and I mean all of it. All of it was retrieved, all found.”
Scotty looked at Rand, his eyes wide, before he dodged to the pantry without saying anything else. Rand could hear the doors to the cabinets open, the shuffling of boxes, and the rustling of cellophane being rummaged through.
“B-b-b-bluh-bluh-bloodyyy h-h-helll! Y-y-yuh-yuhr r-r-r-…”
“Where did you find the food, Janice?”
Rand turned to Begay and gave him a self-satisfied smirk.
“Take a wild guess,” she said.
Dr. Begay shook his head, drawing his lips in a frown.
Begay jerked his head back and gave Rand an incredulous look.
“Why the hell was she hoarding food in her room like that?”
Rand sighed. She was sure as shit not going to run around that tree again!
“What the hell is that? Is someone moving furniture around?” asked Begay.
Rand groaned inconsolably. God, not again. Rand pushed herself off from the floor and went into the dining area, where she saw a newly charged up Riley methodically rebuilding his obstacle course, holding his palms up in front of his face like a filmmaker looking for that perfect shot.
He ignored her as he engrosses himself in his dubious work.
“Give me back my goddamn food, you stuttering ass!”
Rand would recognize Rose’s voice anywhere, but the high-pitched screeching coming from her was alarming. Rand left Riley to his own shaky devices and ran back into the kitchen area, where she witnessed Begay wedged between Scotty and Rose. There was an open crate of snack food spilling onto the floor right by their feet.
“What’s going on now?!” yelled Rand.
She wanted to pull her own hair out, this was getting to be too damn much. All this insanity!
“It’s my fuckin’ food!!” bellowed Rose.
Rand took Rose by her collar and yanked her away from both Begay and Scotty.
“It’s your food, my ass! What the hell were you doing hoarding the snack foods in your room anyway, for fuck’s sake?!”
Rand had just about had it with this woman. With everyone. Even Dr. Begay, with his earlier irritatingly blank-faced cluelessness.
“It’s my food! MY FOOOOOOOOD!”
Rose yelled in Rand’s face, the spittle spraying against her nose, lips and chin, the stale order of almond, cheese and gut acid assaulting her nostrils.
“Hold it together, Janice,” she thought. “Restrain yourself from wrapping your hands around this buzzard’s fat neck!”
“Listen,” Rand said in a steady voice. “You don’t want to go toe to toe with me, ok? So I suggest you don’t cast your reeking breath in my face again. Ever.”
“Janice! What are you doing?! Let go of her collar!”
Dr. Begay reached out and angrily pulled Rand’s fingers off of Rose’s collar. There was something about the gesture, his hand tearing at hers, that felt like an intrusion, even a personal slight.
“Calm down, Matthias! You act like I was gonna take a hurl at her!”
“Well, it sure looked that way!”
“Maybe you need to look a little more carefully before you go around accusing people, Doctor!”
Who the hell did he think he was?! The back of her neck grew hot. Rand suddenly had thought of hurting this man, really hurting him. Maybe even eviscerating him.
Like that kid back in that mining colony he used to be stationed at, she thought with grim glee.
“Look, I know what I saw!”
“And what exactly what is it that you saw?!”
Just then, Scotty ran away from Begay and headed towards the crate of food that was on the floor, gathering its fallen contents and placing them back in the container.
“No, my food! MY food!” yelled Rose.
She made as if she was heading for Scotty, but then stopped suddenly, covering her mouth with both hands while her face contorted and turned ruddy, and her body jerked and heaved like a small, helpless animal struggling against the blades of a meat grinder, her eyes popping wildly.
Rand, Begay, and Scotty were frozen where they were, watching Rose gag and then vomit up the sour, curdling, yellowish paste of partially digested snack food right there in the middle of the kitchen floor.