Psi Phi's Star Trek Books Database
Edited by Peter David
Now: Labor Day--Monday, September 2, 2363
There's a Klingon saying: today is a good day to die. Morgan Primus has seen a lot of good days and tried a lot of good ways. She stopped trying for about five years. Then, a couple of months ago, she tried with an antique plasma pistol, but all she got was a visit to the emergency room--care of the police--and a nosy psychiatrist.
Still, today's another damn fine day to die.
The shuttle's cabin smells like warm cotton candy. Morgan's skin still tingles from the September sun, and she scratches the right side of her neck where the seawater's dried, leaving a crust of itchy salt. Her muscles are rubbery from running in sand, and there's grit on her tongue. The end of summer and Robin's childhood: it's been good, this last day.
But nothing good lasts. I should never have told Charles because now he thinks I'm a freak, a monster. Morgan's eyes burn, and her instruments waver as if she peers through a window into the rain. Dr. Pointer's wrong. Love isn't enough. And as for Pointer, the look on his face when she used the phaser--her sharp nails bite into her palms; her flesh rips and there's a brief flicker of pain--even he's repelled.
I'm like Alice, only I can't get out of the mirror.
Morgan looks at her hands and sees that her cells have begun their tireless ritual of mending together. In another minute--or maybe three, she stopped counting centuries ago--there won't even be a scar. She carries nothing except memories that fade and blur. Even Robin, her little Cheshire Cat, will grow up and move away, and then Morgan will be alone again.
Not if I can help it. Her hand moves to her console. Go to warp, and they'll rocket past Venus and Mercury before hurtling into the Sun. A bright flash, a flare of unbearable heat--and then nothing but cold, black, merciful oblivion. Robin never has to know.
Morgan looks into space, and because the cabin lights are dim and they're approaching Venus's dark side, Morgan sees herself reflected in a black void. For a wild, insane moment, it looks to Morgan as if someone's scissored the fabric of space in a perfect circle, cutting away the stars to reveal nothing but the utter darkness on the far side beyond space, a limbo she's inhabited all the long days of her life: Alice, in the mirror, on the knife edge of night.
"Alice, and her Cheshire Cat," she says, out loud, and laughs. "I'm mad, you're mad, we're all mad here."
Then she hears a small soft sigh like the formless cry of a young child, and her blood freezes. No, she can't be awake, I gave her the drugs, she isn't supposed to know...
"Mom?" Robin's voice is dreamy with sleep, and Morgan's throat constricts in a sharp pang of tenderness and despair. "Mom, what . . . what are you doing?"
* * *
Dr. Kevin Pointer stands at one end of a long hotel corridor that smells of recycled Wyndham air and oranges. (In his dreams--green nightmares that spit him from sleep--the corridor is thick with the sickly sweet stench of bloated, decayed bodies, and he moves in slow motion, the nightmares cutting off as if hacked by a guillotine, just as he wraps his hands around Ellen's throat.) The hall is so quiet he hears the tiny pops and crackles in his knees as he shifts his weight from one foot to the other. At both ends of the corridor, there are identical rectangular mirrors trimmed with gold scrollwork, and Pointer sees himself--his wheat-brown hair and the white oval of his face peppered with black stubble--hemmed by an endless cascade of smaller worlds, staggering off into infinity.
Like Morgan Primus: I'm Alice, in that mirror, and I can't get out...
Ellen's in Room 421. Third down from the left. Pointer's head feels as huge and empty as it did when the investigator showed him the surveillance tape, and Pointer saw how Ellen laughed with that other, nameless man, and touched his arm in an intimate way that made the feeling leak out of Pointer's body like runny chalk on a wet sidewalk. When the investigator handed him the passkey crystal and beam-in coordinates, Pointer realized that he really hadn't wanted to know at all. Best, maybe, for Ellen simply to have stayed gone, a missing period at the end of the last sentence.
They'll jerk awake, or maybe they're making love, but I'll kill them both because--my darling, treacherous Ellen--Morgan was right. Sometimes love isn't enough, and I'm so tired of the pain, I'm sick to death of loving you.
The door is an antique, with a brass latch. Pointer tugs the passkey crystal from his left jacket pocket, and the phaser from his right. Then he inserts the passkey; there's a tiny scraping snick of crystal against metal. When the small red light winks green, he depresses the latch and pushes. The door swings in with a faint squeal of hinges.
"Ellen," he says, stepping into a darkness edged with the grief of a single short summer. His thumb flicks the phaser to kill. "Darling, it's me."
Copyright © 2003 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
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