K-PAX: what prot said to the astronomers
by elizabeth hensley
with great love for both gene brewers
and the unreal.
(let the following fan story be an advertisement for the three K-PAX books; by Gene Brewer; K-PAX, On a Beam of Light, The Worlds of Prot, and the great movie, K-PAX from Universal Studios.)
After prot finished his drawing to a planetarium full of open mouthed astronomers, Dr. Flint turned to Dr. Brewer and said, "Gene do you mind if we talk to prot alone for a few moments?"
Dr. Brewer gazed at prot questioningly to see if he minded. Prot just
shrugged and grinned.
"I guess not. I know he can handle you. I just hope you can handle him! Ah
Roman you stay here, just in case."
Roman grinned, "You don't actually think prot would hurt them do you?"
Dr. Brewer grimaced, "No. Then he whispered in Romans ear, "I am more worried
about them kidnapping him with misguided motives of rescuing him." He gave Roman
a rueful grin and went out the door. Steve followed behind him.
Dr. Patel went over to the door and made sure they were out of earshot. Once they were, he nodded that the coast was clear and Dr. Patel turned to prot and asked, "Prot, do you want out of the mental hospital?"
The alien being looked at Dr. Patel in surprise, and said, "No. I like it there very much."
Dr. Patel gave him a look of gentle puzzlement, "But why prot? Why ever would
you want to stay in a psychiatric facility? You've pretty much proved to us that
you are what you say you are, and some of the greatest minds in astronomy would
love to talk to you!"
Prot nodded, "Yup, And the military, and the cia and the fbi and probably the
kgb or whatever they have over there now, and the chinese's secret services, and
every newspaper and film reporter on this entire miserable PLANET. The way it is
now, the only one I have to talk to is Dr. Brewer and I LIKE talking to him. As
for the 'greatest minds in astronomy talking to me,' they still can. Come to
mpi. Bring me fruit and bring the other patients candy."
Dr. Patel swallowed, "Ah, but prot aren't you afraid they might give you
Prot shrugged, "They already did, at long island psychiatric hospital. It
didn't hurt me any. They don't any more, because to quote my medical chart, I
was 'cooperative but completely unresponsive.' I was also, quote, 'cooperative
but completely unresponsive' unquote, to various psychiatric drugs. Right now
they give me a sugar pill 3 times a day, and I know it and they know that I know
it, but the other patients don't know it. Some of them only take their meds
because I take mine."
Dr. Flint asked, "But what do you do there all day?"
Prot gave them one of his best Cheshire cat grins, "Besides answering all the questions you sent me, lets see," he glanced at the starry ceiling, and scratched his chin, "What do I do each day? Well, to start with, when I wake up in the morning, nurse rosey or nurse jennefer brings me pancakes and a sunny smile, or, if nurse rosey has been fighting with her boyfriend again, she at least brings me pancakes. Then I go out to the rec room and say good morning to everyone and work on my report a while. Then we have lunch. Then I take a nap, if I feel like it. If not, I simply admire the botany around the building. Then I work on my report a little bit more, or play or talk with some of the other patients, except if is wednesday I go talk to dr. b. After that I go for a walk or jog around the back 40 a few times to get some exercise. Or perhaps I'll jump around or climb one of the trees and rest awhile."
Dr. Flint raised his eyebrows questioning.
Prot explained, "The back 40 is what we call the outside rec area. Then I eat supper and then I work on my report or watch television with the other patients, or read something in the quiet room. Or if it is tuesday night I take a course in livings skills course taught by penny carlson. Once in a while penny actually teaches me something and she learned a few things from me too. After that the other patients go to bed and I work on my report, or read, or look at the STARS, or just think, until about four in the morning. And then I go to bed until nurse rosey or jennefer wakes me. Maybe I am alien intelligence but just what part of this am I not supposed to like?"
Dr. Flint swallowed and nodded, "But if you had to get out of there could you?"
Prot shrugged, "I think I can, but if it turned out I couldn't, then that would mean I really was crazy and I would be just where I need to be, now wouldn't I?"
They stared back and forth at one another shaking their heads. Finally they
relaxed a little bit, "You aren't going to give our planet a bad mark because
they locked you up, are you?"
Prot smiled, "I won't for doing THAT. Folks in the mental health care system
have been pretty darn decent to me. It is other things about your horrible
species that I do not like. I hate your perpetual wars and your killing and
devouring fellow beings, and your outrageous level of reproduction, and the fact
you practically have to be an alien to get health care, or food, or shelter
without enslaving yourself to someone else. Believe you me, the long island
psychiatric hospital, Bellevue, mpi, and dr. brewer and dr. segal are a few
bright spots in an otherwise dismal document. Give or take a few rare beings, of
Dr. Flint stared at him horrified and asked, "What will your people do to us
when they read your report?"
"Dr. Flint, we are beings, not people. Und nichts. As invasions go, I'm all
Dr. Patel asked, "Can your people help us?'
Prot shook his head, "Beings. Gene roddenberry of 'star trek' has it right.
It is not wise to go interfering with other PLANETS development. You have enough
resources to help yourselves. You just aren't doing it."
"But prot how do we do it?"
He shrugged, "If a being is hungry, feed him or her. If a being is cold,
shelter him or her, or at least give him warm clothes. If a being is lonely,
comfort him or her. Hugging covers a multitude of misery. If a being is sick,
give him or her medical care. And quit killing and hurting one another! You
humans! Your cleverness and your cruelty both never cease to astound me! You can
split the atom, figure out your own genetic code and go to your MOON, and you
doing it at a time in your development when most species would be just about to
the point of discovering fireworks. Why is simple kindness so hard for you?"
"Prot, that sounds like the Sermon on the Mount."
Prot shrugged. "That carpenter being was right about a lot of things. So was
buddha, but only very rarely do any of you listen to either of them. The
carpenter nailed it all right as to what you need to do to help yourselves. Just
don't follow his example about eating fish. Fish like to live too."
The astronomers stared at one another with troubled looks on their faces. "We
will try, prot. Our species has a lot of problems."
Prot nodded, "Well, humans like doctor brewer try to help as best they can.
You should listen to him, and his peers."
Dr. Patel nodded, "We will try prot, we will try."
Prot tilted his head, "You are not trying hard enough, but who knows? Maybe
you WILL make it. This place could be a K-PAX too in a few hundred years, IF you
manage to survive the next 50-some years. The potential is there."
Dr. Brewer and Steve came back in. The good doctor asked, "Have you talked to him long enough?"
Dr. Patel shook his head, as did all the astronomers, "Dr. Brewer I don't think we will EVER talk to him long enough. But we do realize that it is late."
Prot nodded, "Yes, roman has to go all the way to new jersey to get home, and
then he has to get up at four in the morning to get to work on time. And he
needs eight hours of sleep. Also, dr. b is in trouble with his wife already for
spending more time with his patients then he does with her. I would talk to you
all night but for their sake…," prot turned to roman and gave him a little smile
and held us his arms so he would be easy to grab, "Roman take me back to my room
Roman grinned and declined the offer to hang on to him, knowing full well
prot didn't need it.
They toddled out and Dr. Brewer turned to get one last look at the
astronomers. They were still staring, open mouthed.
Dr. Brewer gave them a helpless look and sighed. "If he really is an alien
what can I do?"
Dr. Flint said, "He seems to like you and your little loony bin. He doesn't
want to leave. We asked him. Take care of him for us. Our planet may depend on
Dr. Brewer lowered his eyes, "Lets hope we're not as bad off as he thinks."
They went back out to the parking lot. Prot suddenly chirped, "Race ya!" and took off running towards the waiting taxi.
Roman took off after him. To his horror he realized prot was much faster than
Dr. Brewer didn't even flinch. He just, shook his head and smiled at the
The astronomers stared at him, concerned,
"Doctor, your patient is getting away."
Dr. brewer's smile grew even broader, verging on a Cheshire cat. "He has opportunity and ability but no motive. See where he's headed?"
Sure enough prot ran to the taxi and dove in. Roman caught up with him, panting and climbed in next to him, "Quit fooling around!" Roman complained. "You had me scared there for a moment. I could lose my job if a patient escaped from my custody!"
Prot gazed calmly at Roman. "I would NEVER do that to you, friend, but I
outran you easily." He grinned mischievously. "That ought to convince those
would be rescuers I really am serious about wanting to stay at mpi!" He laughed
boisterously, thrilled with what he had just achieved.
Roman nodded, "You certainly convinced me. Whew! Prot its been a long day!
Please no more surprises!"
Prot put up his hand in the boy scout salute, and said in a childish voice,
"I prwomise, no more surprises. I'll be a good widdle mental patient."
Dr. Brewer sauntered up to the car and calmly got in.
"Back to mpi!" prot chirped happily to the taxi driver. "Gentleman start your
"He's serious, isn't he?" the taxi driver asked the doctor. He glanced at
prot in the rear view mirror a bit nervously. "You are taking him back to the
Brewer nodded, "Yes indeed. We have a contented patient here. He wants to go
Prot bowed his head sadly, "More than you can ever know gene, more than you
can ever know."