Jeffrey S. Rosenthal

(August, 1990)

(with apologies to Gene Roddenberry and (especially) Mark Twain)

My name is Huck. Huck Finn. I reckon you don't know 'bout me 'less you read the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or even read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. They's both books by Mister Mark Twain. I reckon he mostly got the things right, the things that he talked about. He stretched them a little, but he mostly got them right. Only there's some things that Mr. Twain didn't even mention a bit. I don't know if it were on account a he didn't know, or he didn't think it were proper, or he didn't think no one warn't gonna believe a word he said. Anyhow, there's this thing that happened once, that I reckon I's just gonna have tell you anyhow. I'll see if you believe it. I don't rightly believe it myself.

It all started one time I ran away from the widow again. I done that a few times, and this here was one a them times. She was trying a sivilize me and all, and it was just getting plain uncomfortable. So, one morning I wakes up real early, 'fore anyone else had even started to stir. I gets up, puts on my old rags, the ones the widow wouldn't let me wear nowheres, climbs out the window, and away I goes. It was a near perfect escape, and I hadn't planned it aforehand at all. I couldn't wait to go tell ol' Tom Sawyer, only I's afraid his ma would a seen me a coming from a mile away; there ain't hardly no trees 'round Tom's house. Anyhow, I's trying a think what I's gonna do next, once I got far away from the widow's house, and I's just sitting by this tree thinking.

All of a sudden, I see this strange twinkly light in front a me. I can't hardly believe it. I know it ain't no boat, 'cause I ain't near the river, and I know it ain't no carriage, seeing as I ain't near no roads. Anyhow, pretty soon there's three different pieces a light shining on up ahead, and then they starts to turn into people. Three people. I was so afraid I could hardly breathe. I just creeps down behind the tree I's at, behind the little hill that's there, and just waits and listens, and peeks out a little bit. Pretty soon I see three a the strangest people you ever done see. They's all wearing these strange shirts with funny patterns on 'em, two of 'em is blue and one is yellow. I sees they's walking my way, so I just catch my breath and don't hardly move a muscle. I strain and strain, and I thinks I can make out what they're saying. One of 'em, he looks a little older, he's yelling and screaming and carrying on. I can't hear too much a what he said, but he kept saying "Dammit Jim!" and glaring at the other one, the one that's wearing the yellow shirt. I couldn't imagine what was bothering him so much. The other two fellows, though, they don't seem to pay it no mind. They just keeps looking 'round, and looking at these funny little black boxes they got strung around their necks.

Finally one of 'em, the one in the yellow shirt, the one that the other one swore at and called Jim, he says "Let's split up". Sure enough, they all start walking in different directions like they's looking for something. That suited me fine, 'cept one of 'em, the one in the yellow shirt, starts walking straight towards me. I could see hiding warn't no use, he was gonna see me no how, so I decides to just make a run for it. I jump out from behind the hill and start running away fast as I can. Only the fellow, he sees me and starts chasing, and he's pretty agile. He calls out to me, "Wait! I won't hurt you!", so seeing as he's gonna catch me anyhow, I decides to stand still and hear what he's gonna say. But the moment he catches me, he warn't gonna wait to ask me no questions, he slugs me one right across the cheek. I falls over backwards, and he wastes no time leaping right on top a me. I figures I's most likely gonna die.

Anyhow, right then while the one fellow is leaping on me, and I's thinking I's most likely gonna die, the other fellow, the tall quiet one, who ain't said much so far, he's talking into this little box he's got in his hand. There's this voice from somewhere, I don't rightly know where, this women's voice, and she's saying something like, "... Klingon ship approaching ... landing party to beam up immediately." Right away the tall quiet fellow is calling out, "Captain! Doctor McCoy! Prepare to beam up to the Enterprise!" Then he's saying something else into the little box, and the next thing I know, right before I's about to die, is this other flash a light, most like the first one only closer and brighter, is all around me. That's the last thing I remember 'fore I starts to feel faint, and I reckon' I must a passed out.

I waked up sometime later, I don't rightly know how much later. Only, as soon as I opens my eyes, I don't know where I is. I know I ain't at the widow's house, or at Tom's house, or at any other house I know. I's in a strange room somewheres, with bright lights everywhere, and strange arrows and flashing lights on the walls. I's lying on a bed somewhere, only it's the strangest bed I ever done seen. I's alone in the room, 'cepting this young, pretty woman, with blond hair, who's standing a few feet away and looking with concern at some a the flashing lights and arrows and things I was just telling you about. When I tries to get up, she immediately looks over with surprise, and calls out "Doctor!".

The next thing I hear is coming from this other room, that I can't see, only it's the same growly voice that I heard afore. I know right away it's the fellow with the blue shirt, the one who's always yelling and stuff. "What is it, nurse?", the fellow growls, and just then he walks into the room and sees me. He don't waste no time afore he starts a yelling again.

"Oh, finally decided to wake up, huh?", he growls at me. "You sure you wouldn't rather just lie there forever, and not wake up no more? 'Cause that's what's gonna happen if you insist on getting into trouble with the natives EVERY SINGLE TIME you beam down to a planet, for any reason at all. You can't even look for nineteenth century medicinal moths without getting into a fight, can you?? Now let me take a look at that bump on your head."

By this point I's sure I don't know what's going on, but I let the fellow examine my head. I reckon I must a got a bump thar when the yellow-shirted fellow done knocked me down. It hurt some, only it didn't hurt too much. "Well, you'll live", he growls at me after a bit. "Now go clean yourself up, and get back to command. Just look at you!" With that he pulls me up and makes me see myself in this mirror they done got thar. Only, it's the strangest thing: it ain't me in the mirror! It's the fellow I'd seen before, the fellow with the yellow shirt! Afore I have time to say another word, this door opens, and in walks the other fellow, the tall quiet one with the other blue shirt. He looks at me real quick like, and then he looks over to the other blue-shirt guy, and says, "Doctor, I must talk to the captain, alone."

The first blue-shirted guy glares back at him, real ugly, only then he says, "Come on, nurse, let's leave this pointed-eared robot to his battle plans", and the two a them walk out the same door the first blue-shirted guy had just come from.

As soon as we're alone, me and the first blue-shirted guy, he says, "Captain, I must talk to you at once. You, the doctor, and myself were beamed back from nineteenth century Earth when a Klingon warship, also in time warp, attacked. The Enterprise then successfully travelled back to our own time period. However, there was a strange disturbance in the transporter just when we beamed aboard, possibly caused by Klingon phaser fire. I have just gone over the computer readings, and it appears the disturbance centered on you in particular. My findings are not yet complete. Do you feel all right?"

I says that I feels okay, only 'cept that my head hurt a little. The man nodded, and says, "Very well then. I shall continue my research, and keep you informed."

The man turns to go, so I says, "Bye, Mister." He turns around kind a puzzled, and says, "It is usual for you to refer to me as Mr. Spock." So I says, "Bye, Mister Spock", and I didn't never cease to call him Mister Spock after that.

Bye and bye there's this sort a whistling sound, and a voice says, "Captain Kirk to the bridge please." Just then the other blue-shirted fellow comes in, the one they called Doctor, and he says, "Dammit, Jim! You're supposed to be on the bridge now! Are you sure you didn't knock your brains out when you fell down there on that planet?" Well now, I didn't rightly know what he meant by planet, but I was sure I still had my brains inside me, and I said so. The fellow just looks at me kind a strange, and says, "Maybe I'd better escort you up there." He takes me by the arm, and starts leading me through these doors that open without nobody being there to open them, and through hallways full a people wearing these same funny shirts, only some a them was red, as well as yellow and blue. Then we go into this strange moving box, and he says "Bridge", and it starts moving this way and that. Finally the doors open, and we's in this room that I reckon they call the bridge, only I don't know why.

Everybody sort a looks up at me as I enters the bridge room, like they 'spect me to know what to do next. Only I don't, as you might s'pose. This woman comes up to me with some paper in her hand, like she wants me to read it or write on it or something, only I don't know what it is, so I just stand there 'til finally she walks on. The blue-shirted Doctor fellow leads me to this chair in the middle a the room, and sets me down real gentle. I figure this ain't so bad, being treated with such respect and care, 'specially since it warn't so long afore that I figured I'd surely be dead soon.

Some yellow-shirted fellow, sort a Chinese looking, I later found out his name was Sulu, he's sitting up in front a me, and saying, "Shields are completely drained, sir. Transporter readings are imperfect. There is minor structural damage. I suggest we head to the nearest starbase immediately, and begin repairs." Suddenly he turns 'round and looks square at me, like he was saying all them other things for MY benefit, and like now I'm supposed to know what to say next. When I don't say nothing right away, all the other people in the room, they all start staring at me, waiting for me to talk. So finally I says, "Well alright then." I figured that'd take their attention off a me for a while, only they keep right on staring, and then the Sulu guy kind a glances over at the other yellow-shirted guy sitting next to him, I later found out his name was Chekov, and that he talked mighty strange. Anyhow, they started giving each other this sort a meaningful glance. Later I seen that they was ALWAYS given each other this sort a meaningful glance. It right got on my nerves, 'til I was ready to bop 'em one. Only right then, the Sulu guy says, "Should we lay in a course for Starbase Eight then, sir?" I likes the sound a that, so I sits back and says, "Eight is fine." He presses some buttons, and then says, "Warp factor one, sir?" By this point I's feeling pretty good, what with all the respect he's given me. Only, first he'd said eight, and now he's saying one, so I says, "No, I reckon I prefers eight." He and the Chekov guy exchange another a them meaningful glances, 'til I's just about ready to bop 'em, when the Sulu guy slowly says, "Aye sir, ahead warp factor eight."

He goes presses some more buttons, and the whole room begins to shake a little, like them earthquakes you hear 'bout in California and all. Anyhow, pretty soon things settle down, and I's just sitting there comfortable on the chair I's on, when all of a sudden the Sulu guy says, "Approaching Starbase Eight, sir." After a pause, and another a them meaningful glances, he says, "Begin docking sequence, sir?" I likes the sound a that, too, so I says, "That's right." Pretty soon the room shakes again, and all kinds a people start running all around, saying all kinds a things, pressing all kinds a buttons and all. Everyone 'cepting the first blue-shirted fellow, the Mr. Spock guy. He just sort a tilts his head and looks at me, and then says, "Captain, may I have a word with you, please?" He walks over and takes me by the arm, and leads me back into the moving box place, through the door that opens without no one being 'round nowhere to open it.

Well so far this suits me fine, seeing as I liked this Mister Spock fellow. He was quiet and kind, he warn't like that other blue-shirted fellow, the Doctor guy, that was yelling all the time. I didn't hardly 'spect what was gonna happen next. Right as soon as the doors close in behind us, the fellow reaches up toward my neck. Afore I know what's happening, he squeezes down real hard, and I tense up all over my whole body. After that I sort a went limp, and couldn't rightly remember what happened next, 'cept I half remember some big, mean-looking fellows in red shirts grabbing me and taking me somewhere, and the Mister Spock fellow saying, "Take him to the brig and leave him there. Await my orders." Then I went out just like a lantern that's out a oil.

The next bit was all kind a confusing. I was left in this small little room, with only a bed in it, and no paintings or flashing lights or nothing. At one end was this opening, where I reckoned I'd walk out and have a look, only it was some sort a trick, and whenever I went up to the opening I got this real funny feeling in my arms and legs, and got thrown back the way I came from. I warn't having no fun anymore. I was lonely and scared. I almost wished I was dead. Why, I reckon I'd a rather gone back and lived with the widow, and been sivilized by her hand, 'stead a staying in this strange, lonely room, in this strange place.

I was in that room for hours and hours and hours. I ain't sure exactly how long, seeing as there warn't no window so I couldn't see the time a day. They brought me food every once in a while, some big red-shirted guy carrying it in on a tray, then leaving without so much as saying a word. The food was this strange cubical stuff, that mostly I didn't know what it was, though some a them cubes did taste a little like 'taters. I didn't care much, though. I warn't much hungry, and I didn't rightly feel like talking to none a them red-shirted men anyhow.

Only one time while I was in there did I hear anything much to talk about. I couldn't rightly see nothing, but I could hear the Mister Spock fellow talking with another man. The other man had a sort a Scottish voice, just like this fellow that had once passed through our village back when I warn't more than five years old. Anyhow, the Scottish fellow was sort a excited, and he was sort a shouting when he spoke.

"Are you trying t' tell me that that's no' the captain??", he was yelling. "That the Enterprise has bin ... well, she's bin in the hands of a ... a ..."

"A nineteenth century Earth barbarian, Mr. Scott," it was Mister Spock's voice I heard now. "A creature whose knowledge of commanding a ship consists of standing on a piece of wood and drifting down a river."

"An' we really have to repeat the time-warp slingshot trajectory, and run the risk o' blowing this ship t' little bits, all to put a slimy little prehistoric runt back on his ..."

"That's quite enough, Mr. Scott. Please take your position in the pod, and prepare for matter-regeneration-anti-annihilation-positronic-energy configuration."

"Aye, Mr. Spock, I'll do i'. But if the resonating-bi-deflector semi- invariant crystaline waves exceed the limiting force-vibrator ... well, you'll just have to jetison the pod."

"I understand, Mr. Scott. I only hope, for your sake as well as the captain's, that that won't be necessary."

I didn't hear nothing for quite a while after that. I had the feeling that there was people everywhere preparing for something real important, only I didn't rightly know what. Anyhow, finally I feel the whole room, and maybe the whole building, begin to shake all around. I get tossed around in my little room 'til I almost don't know which way's up. After a long while a this, things get quiet again, and it ain't long afterward that the Mister Spock fellow is walking right towards me in the room. "Force field off", he says, and then he walks right through the opening where I'd walked, only without getting bothered none by it. I wished I'd known them words "force field off" aforehand, I could a saved myself some pain and got a chance to walk around a bit if I'd known it.

Mr. Spock don't hardly say nothing to me. All he does is, he turns to one a them big red-shirted guys, and he says, "There is little point in trying to communicate our intentions to the barbarian. I shall simply escort him to the transporter room, and proceed with the matter-energy reformulation." The next thing I know, he's leading me -- dragging me along, more like -- through them doors everywhere that's opening and closing all by themselves, down hallways and all, and even back into the moving box at one point, 'til finally he gets me to this funny room with some circles on the floor that's made a white glass. He shoves me on top a one a these circles, and 'structs me to just stand still, and don't move none at all. I don't say nothing, I just does what the Mister Spock says, then all right away he runs over to this table they got there, starts pressing a bunch a buttons, and says to this other guy who's there, "Begin the reformulation, track A ... now." Then after a while, he's saying, "Cross-circuiting to B ...". Finally he says, "Energize."

Right when he says "energize", this other guy who's there, he starts pressing on something on the table, and right away I start seeing these twinkly lights, much like the ones I seen at the beginning that started it all. All of a sudden I starts to feel real strange, and weak-kneed and downright sick. I's almost ready a throw up all over the place. But then the twinkly lights done go away, and I sees that I's left standing back in the woods right around where I was standing afore, when the yellow- shirted fellow attacked me and I almost thought I was gonna die. Well, I knowed I warn't gonna die now! I was feeling fine already, I was back to being myself again, I was wearing my old rags, and as quick as you could kill a fly I knowed where I was, and how to get back to the widow's house.

And then a funny thing happened. I almost warn't gonna go back to the widow's house, on account a I was just running away that morning, only I figured I's tired and hungry and a mighty bit confused by what I'd been seeing lately, so I reckoned a little sivilized living with the widow, for just a few more days to get my bearings back, might just do me right.

Only afore I even went back looking for the widow's house, I just had to go pay a visit 'round to the Sawyer's. I was just DYING a tell Tom what I'd been through, an' a see if he'd believe it any more than I believed it myself.

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