Copyright © 1998, 2000 Robert G. Ferrell

The Mind is a Terrible Thing

As a child and teenager, I had aspirations to be a script writer. How unrealistic we are in our youthful enthusiasm and innocence. One of the things that I aspired to write was an episode of Star Trek (the Previous Generation). I even ordered, and probably still have around somewhere, a mimeographed copy of the "Writer's Guidelines" from Gene Roddenberry. I was stuck for real plot details, though, and even at that tender age was sufficiently cognizant of the literary facts of life to realize that I had very little chance of producing a usable script and getting it past the legion of underlings who would have to paw over it before it reached anyone with any real decision-making authority (having learned from my disastrous application to the National Science Foundation for money to build a radio telescope in my backyard, but that is another story).

Here it is a quarter of a century later, and I'm still thinking about Star Trek. In order to discharge this particular fragment of psychological detritus, I think I'll just go ahead and write that script. Besides, I know so much more about the way the government works now...

Script Proposal
"The Mind is a Terrible Thing"

Cast: Kirk, Spock, Spock's voice, Computer voice, Scotty's voice, several recycled crew members who've been killed off by phasers, electrolyte-swilling rubber monsters, and various alien aggressors on previous episodes, but whom we're using again for budget reasons and hoping the audience doesn't remember them.

Opening shot: The usual stock footage of the Enterprise orbiting an oddly tinted, low-budget planet. Cut to Kirk, exiting his quarters wearing a freshly pressed uniform that is a teeny bit too small for him. He has to keep pulling down the shirt over his ever-so-slightly protruding midsection. He walks briskly down one hallway, then up another. Eventually he stops in front of a door and pushes the button.

Spock's voice: I regret to inform you that Mr. Spock is not in his quarters. If you'd care to leave a message, please speak clearly when you hear the tone. If you are selling subscriptions to Scientific Vulcan or on a membership drive for Mensa Galactica, please review Starfleet Regulations Volume 7, Chapter 84, Sections 3-5 and 9 inclusive regarding restrictions pertaining to solicitation activities on a commissioned Starfleet vessel. Thank you.

Kirk: Horta patties! Computer!

Computer Voice: Work-ing.

Kirk: Computer, locate Mr. Spock.

CV: (whirrr) Mr. Spock is on detail to Starbase 10.

Kirk: What in the name of Christopher Pike is he doing on Starbase 10?

CV: Mr. Spock is attending a mandatory First Officers' Skills Development Course. He will return to active duty on Stardate 2367.9.

Kirk: Oh, just peachy (stomps off down the corridor. Arrives at another door, which opens for him with the customary "whoosh")

Kirk: Bones, I need a drink....Bones?

Kirk: (exasperated) Computer!

CV: Work-ing.

Kirk: Where is Dr. McCoy?

CV: (whirrr) Dr. McCoy is attending the Starfleet Medical Corps Annual Briefing on Virulent Spacebourne Fungal Infections on Aesculapius-7.

Kirk: Of course he is. (Crosses to a corrugated plexiglass panel and slides it back. There are a variety of oddly shaped and tinted bottles inside, each in its own recessed cubbyhole. He reaches for one and a small door slides down abruptly in front of it, denying access).

CV: I'm sorry, but records indicate that you have not completed the Starfleet required annual reorientation entitled "Recognizing and Avoiding Pharmacologically Active Substance Abuse During Active Duty Assignments." This requirement may be satisfied at any of the Psychological Counseling Stations located throughout the ship.

Kirk: (between his teeth) Open the access panel, Computer.

CV: I'm sorry, but records indica...

Kirk: Can it, Computer. Open the access panel: Command manual override.

CV: Voice ID scan match. Kirk, James Tiberius, Captain. Override successful.

Kirk: (grabs the bottle) Thank you very much. Jeesh! What does a guy have to do to get a drink around here?

CV: Alcohol dispensation for nonmedicinal purposes requires that the requestor complete an annual reorientation entitled..."

Kirk: Right, you said that already. Remind me to stop by A.I. and have them recalibrate your "rhetorical question" detector.

CV: Noted.

(Dissolve to Kirk stepping onto an elevator)

Kirk: Engineering.

CV: (whirrr) Ambiguous directive.

Kirk: (Sighs) Engineering Command Section, Deck 6

CV: Destination accepted.

Kirk: You have my eternal gratitude.

(Elevator doors slide apart, but with an odd screech stop just short of completely opening).

Kirk: Computer?

CV: Work-ing.

Kirk: Apparently not.

CV: I don't understand that directive.

Kirk: What is wrong with the elevator door?

CV: (whirrr) Sensors indicate insufficient lubricant in the glide channels and a foreign object lodged in the housing terminus.

Kirk: (peering into a small inspection port near the floor).
It looks like there's a rivet or something stuck in here.
(He stands up and the sign on the wall that says "Deck 6 Engineering" suddenly spins around and hangs loosely, perpendicular to the floor).

Kirk: Computer.

CV: Work-ing.

Kirk: Schedule maintenance technicians to repair the elevator door and this sign.

CV: Acknowledged. (Whirrr) (In a different voice) Command not processed. Error condition 547 alpha.

Kirk: What are you talking about?

CV: (Normal voice) I don't understand that dir....

Kirk: List reference error condition 547 alpha, context maintenance scheduling directive.

CV: Error Condition 547 alpha: An error has occurred while processing this directive. Please refer to Galactisoft Database Systems Administration Manual, vol. 4 for further information.

Kirk: Never mind.

CV: I don't understand that dir..

(Cut to Kirk walking briskly away, shaking his head. He rounds a corner and is almost flattened by a hurrying young yeoman, who turns a sickly shade of white when she sees his face).

Yeoman: Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry, Captain.

Kirk: That's all right, yeoman. I was beginning to believe I was the only crew member not on temporary duty somewhere else right now.

Yeoman: I beg you pardon, sir?

Kirk: Never mind. Where were you headed in such a rush?

Yeoman: (looking sheepish) Um, I was going...that is to say, sir, I was on my way to the 'personal maintenance station.'

Kirk: (puzzled) Come again?

Yeoman: The, uh, the 'physiological products ablation facility.'

Kirk: I'm sorry, yeoman, but you're not making any sense.

Yeoman: The loo, sir.

Kirk: Oh. Why didn't you just say 'restroom'?

Yeoman: We were told to use official Starfleet terminology at all times while on board, sir.

Kirk: I see. Very well, carry on.

Yeoman: Thank you, sir. (Scurries away).

(Kirk turns and approaches a door with a sign above it that says "Engineering Command Section." It opens without incident).

Kirk: Scotty! Are you here? Oh, thank the Organians. I was starting to get lonely.

(Scotty turns to face Kirk. He's obviously a little too...sheer. He begins to speak, but looks past Kirk, at the wall next to the door).

Scotty's voice: Ye ha' reached my Personal Hologram. I'm sorry I canna be here in person, but I'm mickle busy. If you'd care tae lea' a message, I'll get back ta ye as soo' as I can.

(Kirk sinks down onto a chair and closes his eyes for a moment).

Kirk: (wearily): Computer.

CV: Work-ing.

Kirk: Please tell me that Lt. Commander Scott is aboard this ship somewhere.

CV: (whirrr) Negative. Lt. Commander Scott is giving a virtual paper at the Starfleet Engineering Technical Symposium on Advances in Antimatter Containment Technology.

Kirk: Can't you just once tell me what I want to hear?

CV: I don't understand that directive.

Kirk: That wasn't it. (Fade to black).

Open shot facing elevator doors on the bridge. They swoop open and out steps Kirk. He glances over at Uhuru's station and does a double take. There's a large ichthyoid there now, with two short stubby legs and three elongated fins, each of which seems to end in three graceful fingers. The fish has no apparent external ear, and instead of the normal auditory transceiver wears a collar of some sort about where its neck would be, if it had one. Kirk shrugs and swings around to sit in his command chair.

Kirk: Mr. Sulu, report.

A gravelly, strangely disjointed voice replies, seemingly from all corners of the bridge at once.

F!ng$$lopn!!gzzzp: I'm sorry, Captain, but Mr. Sulu is on TDY at the Starfleet Junior Officers' Financial Responsibility Awareness Academy. I am his replacement, Ensign F!ng$$lopn!!gzzzp.

Kirk: I'm sorry, can you repeat that?

F!ng$$lopn!!gzzzp: Of course, Captain. Mr. Sulu is...

Kirk: No, no, I got that part. What was your name again?

F!ng$$lopn!!gzzzp: F!ng$$lopn!!gzzzp.

Kirk: Thank you, Mister....Fing. Report.

F!ng$$lopn!!gzzzp: We are currently in a parking orbit around Beta Zeopalonis 6, awaiting your orders, sir.

Kirk: Very well, Ensign. Mr...hold it. Where is my navigator?

Kuz-gesh: Here, sir.

Kirk peers at the navigator's station, but sees nothing.

Kirk: Where is 'here,' mister?

Kuz-gesh: Here, sir. In my chair.

Kirk: I don't see anyone in the navigator's chair, mister....what is your name, anyway?

Kuz-gesh: Ensign Kuz-gesh, sir.

Kirk: Why is it that I don't see you in your chair, Ensign?

Kuz-gesh: I'm sorry, sir. I'm Kultarian, and this is my transparent phase.

Kirk: (pauses) Well, try to breathe heavily or something so I know where you are.

Kuz-gesh: As you command, Captain.

Kirk: Right. Mister Kuz-gesh, plot a course for Starbase 10.

Kuz-gesh: Plotted and laid in, sir.

Kirk: Mr. Su..uh..Mr. Fing, take us out of orbit. Ahead, warp factor two.

F!ng$$lopn!!gzzzp: Aye aye, sir.

Kuz-gesh: Whuu WHUUUUU.

Kirk: I beg your pardon?

Kuz-gesh: I'm just breathing as you ordered, sir.

Kirk: Oh. Carry on, then. And you, communications officer: what is your name?

Gaaaah: Sir, I am Lieutenant Gaaaah.

Kirk: At ease, Lieutenant, don't strain yourself.

Gaaaah: No, my name is Gaaah.

Kuz-gesh: Whuu WHUUUUU.

Kirk: Forgive me, Lieutenant. Would I be sorry if I asked you where Lieutenant Uhura is?

Gaaaah: I cannot estimate your reaction without further psychological data, sir.

Kirk: No need. Just tell me where she is.

Gaaaah: She has taken maternity leave, sir.

Kirk: (startled). Maternity leave? Uhura? Well bless my stripes.

D'nak: Why would anyone desire to perform a religious ceremony centered on your rank insignia?

Kirk: It's just an idiomatic expression. And you are?

Kuz-gesh: Whuu WHUUUUU.

D'nak: Commander D'nak, sir. Tempory adjutant and science officer in Mr. Spock's absence.

Kirk: You are Vulcan?

D'nak: My mother was Vulcan, my father Hesthopian.

Kirk: Ah. That would explain the third leg.

D'nak: Indeed, sir. Hesthopian culture prides itself on the ability to generate and resorb appendages at will.

Kirk: I can see that they would. Please refrain from any unnecessary somatic growth in my presence, Mr. D'nak.

D'nak: As you command, Captain.

Kuz-gesh: Whuu WHUUUUU.

Kirk: Stop that, Ensign Kuz-gesh.

Kuz-gesh: Stop breathing, sir? It's not a voluntary function.

Kirk: You may continue to breathe, Ensign, just do so more quietly.

Kuz-gesh: Yes, sir.

Kirk: As long as you are silent, I'll assume you're at your station. Just inform me if you leave it for any reason.

Kuz-gesh: Understood, sir.

Kirk: You have the com, Mr. D'nak. I'll be in my quarters. (Exits through the elevator doors. Cut to doors opening to Kirk's quarters).

Kirk: Well, I guess I'll catch up on some reading or something. (Notices flashing light on Vidscreen panel). Hmmm. A message from Starfleet.(Presses a button beneath the light).

CV: Message a2347sfc-p-a. Addressee Kirk, James T., Captain. Commanding NCC-1701, Enterprise. This is a class B standard encryption communication. Class B encryption in effect. Indicate when ready to receive message.

Kirk: Proceed with message.

CV: Acoustic profile verified as recipient Kirk, James T. Message follows: Admiral Estik Isgram, Starfleet Personnel Resources, to Captain James T. Kirk, commanding USS Enterprise. You are hereby ordered to report to Gamma Bellia 3 on or before Stardate 2365.2 for mandatory Sensitivity Training. Duration: 5 standard days. Complimentary planetary breakfast in the lounge.

Kirk: Spiffy. Acknowledge message.

CV: Message acknowledged and transmitted. Orders entered into log.

Kirk: (punches intercom button on desk) Kirk to Bridge.

D'nak: Bridge here, Captain. D'nak speaking.

Kirk: Mister D'nak, change course to Gamma Bellia 3. Maintain current speed.

D'nak: Aye, aye, Captain.

Kirk: Oh, and Mister D'nak?

D'nak: Yes, Captain?

Kirk: Stop over at the Planet of Eager Young Nymphomaniacs with Permissive Parents. I need some R&R.

D'nak: I'm not familiar with that planet, Captain. I'll need to search the Astronavigational Database. Do you know what system that is?

Kirk: The reproductive system.

D'nak: I beg your pardon, Captain?

Kirk: It was a joke, Mr. D'nak. I was testing your Vulcan half.

D'nak: I see. Shall I continue searching for the Planet of...

Kirk: Forget it, Mr. D'nak. Kirk out. (Gets up and stretches). Time for a shower and a nap, I guess. He pulls off his uniform and walks over to the shower unit in the wall. When he opens the door and steps in, the tiny shower stall dissolves into a large cubical room marked with gray gridlines. Several men and women stand there looking at him with curiosity, embarrassment, and perhaps another stray emotion or two. One of them steps forward.

Man: Sorry about that, Captain. Must have been the tachyon resonance calibration in the warp field generator. Time travel can be such an adventure sometimes. We'll take care of it right away. Sorry to trouble you.

Kirk: Trouble me? Where in the Cygnus X-1 am I?

Man: On a holodeck, actually.

Kirk: And that would be?

Man: Sort of a programmable interactive fantasy projector.

Kirk: And your 'fantasy' involves a naked Starship Captain?

Man: Not exactly. It just involves watching a Starship Captain from the past at work. It's really more of an assignment than a fantasy.

Kirk: From the past. How far past are we talking about here?

Man: Oh, about 150 standard years.

Kirk: May I please leave now?

Man: Oh, sure. Sorry about that. (Pushes a lever on a small black box.)

The room dissolves again and reassembles itself back into Kirk's shower. He stands there for a few moments trying to assess what just happened. Then a door chime interrupts.

Kirk: Who is it?

Spock: Spock here, Captain.

Kirk: Spock! Just a minute. (Throws on some trousers.) Enter.

The door slides open and Mr. Spock steps in. He looks concerned.

Kirk: Spock, am I glad to see you. How was Starbase 10?

Spock: Starbase 10? I don't follow you, Captain.

Kirk: You weren't on Starbase 10?

Spock: No, Captain. I have not left the ship since our last shore leave on Stardate 2358.8, approximately 34 standard days, 7 hours, and 36.9 seconds ago.

Kirk: And Lieutenant Uhura: Is she pregnant?

Spock: (One eyebrow up all the way) I have not inquired into the Lieutenant's reproductive status, Captain, but if I understand human physiology correctly she shows no outward signs of gestation.

Kirk: (Tiredly) I think I need some rest, Spock.

Spock: Captain, I came to your quarters because you have been 'resting' for two crew rotations now.

Kirk: (Surprised) I have?

Spock: Yes, Captain. Since this is most unusual behavior for you, I felt it prudent to ascertain your health and well-being.

Kirk: Thank you, Mister Spock. That was quite correct of you, as always. I will join you on the bridge shortly.

Spock: Very well, Captain. (Leaves).

Kirk wanders around the room looking for parts of his uniform when he happens on an old-style book. He picks it up and recognition slowly dawns. The book is titled US Naval Officers Handbook, 1998. Suddenly he remembers reading virtually the entire book at a sitting after a series of particularly taxing Starfleet maneuvers, and then falling into a heavy sleep.

Kirk: I must have been dreaming. Better cut back on the Arcturian Brandy; I can't handle it the way I could.

He steps into the shower. On his Vidscreen a green light blinks three times. A message appears. It reads:

The Planet of Eager Young Nymphomaniacs with Permissive Parents welcomes you, James T. Kirk. Sign in now and enter our online playground!
Fade out