Witness by Djinn

Five men walk into a bar. Was it five? Or was it three? Maybe it wasn't men? Maybe it wasn't anything human. Five gender-neutral entities walk into a bar. It doesn't work that way. It isn't funny that way. Why can't you remember the joke?

"Bones, how is she?"

"I don't know."

"She's not responding?"

"Oh, she's responding, Jim. Just not to me."

Five men walk into a bar. No, they don't walk into a bar. They walk into a room. A noisy room. There's a flash. No. That's not how it went. Five men walk into a bar...

"Chris? Can you hear me? Spock, can you meld with her?"

"I can try. I cannot guarantee that it will help."

"Just try."

"I will not harm you, Doctor Chapel. You must"

"Chris, it's all right. We're not going to"

"Dammit, Jim. I told you not to push her. Nurse!"

Five men walk into five men walk into five men walk into...

"I'm sorry, Jim. I don't see any other way."

"I'm not leaving her at that Starbase."

"Jim. She may never come back."

"She will. I know she will."


"Bones. She will."

"Okay. We'll keep her here a little while longer."

Five men walk into a bar. On a planet. A bar on a planet with an orange sky. The bar is orange on a sky with a planetno. The bar is wood. Some kind of orange wood. The sky is orange. The planet is an orangeno. Five men walk into a bar and order orange drinks.

"Chris, it's me. I'm just going to sit here and if you want to talk, you can. I'm listening."

"Five men walk into a bar."

"What does that mean, sweetheart?"

"An orange bar. An orange sky bar. Five oranges in a sky of bars."

"Chris. I don't understand."

"Five men...in a room in a flash on a sky on a bar. Step on a crack, break your mother's...not mother's. Her back. Her legs."

"Chris. I'm here."

"Legs, not back. Men are back. Did the men get back from the bar?"

"Yes, Chris. They got backChris? Chris, keep talking. Please keep talking."

Five men walk into a bar. It's orange. The bar is orange. The air is orange. Not the air. Fire. The fire is orange. The bar is on fire. The men are on fire. Five men are on fire. Five men walk into a bar on fire. No. Five men walk into a bar. Then there's fire.



"Yes. There was an explosion."

"Fire in five."


"Five men walk into a bar."

"It wasn't a bar, Chris. It was a hospital. They blew up the hospital."

"Five men...hospital."

"Yes. Hospital."

"Five hospitals?"

"Hospital Five. Strinarii sector. Vega Upsilon prime. Do you remember, Chris?"

"Five men."

"More than five, sweetheart."


"Yes. Fire."

Five men fall onto a bar. A bar. Fire. Fire knocked loose the bars. Five men fall onto five bars. Not orange. Red. So much red.


"Yes. There was blood."

"Why? So much blood. Why?"

"Shhhh, Chris. It's okay. There's no blood here."

Five men bleeding from the bars. Fire and blood and screams and no jokes and no wood just metal and dust and hurting from where the hospital blew into a thousand million pieces.


"You were hurt. You were working, do you remember? You were at Hospital Five. You were in the triage area outside when the bomb went off. Thank God you were in the triage area outside."


"Yes. Do you remember? Chris, do you remember?"

"No. Five men walk into a bar."

"There's no bar. There's no men. There's just this. You were hurt, but you pulled people out, Chris. Before you collapsed, you pulled three people out of the wreckage."

You are pulling five men. No, not five men. You are pulling a hand with five fingers because there are five fingers on her hand. You pull and pull and pull and then it moves and she is free. But when she comes out, she's not all there.

"Three and a half."


"Oh, God."

"Chris, it's all right. Come back to me. It's safe here. It's"

"I need to get the rest. I'll pull harder this time. I'll pull faster."

"It's too late. It was too late when you started."

"I can save her."

"No, love. You can't."

Screams. Five screams from five floors of Hospital Five as you look down and see half a woman staring back at you. Half a woman who's still alive for one brief moment. Half a woman who mouths, "Why?" as you let go of her hand and begin to shake.


"Because they're animals."


"Because they're fighting."


"I don't know why."

The screaming becomes a distant backdrop. Smoke and dust and the smell of blood and guts and torn-up people fill the area, fill your nose, fill your mind. You are outside, but there is no fresh air. You turn; you turn because you can't stand to look at what's left of a hospital after that much explosive goes off. You turn and you walk across the street. Across the street and away from the death and into a bar. You look down. Your hands are there. Five fingers covered with blood, but still five. And you have five toes on each foot. Your feet are there; you are all there. Half a woman died in front of you, and you are all there, and you can't help anyone. You are just five fingers in a bar. Like the old joke. How did it go?

"Five men walk into a bar."

"Chris. There were no men in a bar. There was just you. That's where we found you."

"You found me?"


"Jim. You found me?"

"Shhh. It's all right now."


"That's right, Chris. Let it out."

"I let her die."

"No, you didn't."

"I watched her die."

"Yes, you did."

"I'm supposed to help."

"Sometimes, we can't. Sometimes we just have to watch."

You feel Jim's arms around you. You feel him shaking as he holds you close. You see five men in your mind. You see them walk into a bar. Jim is wrong. They are there. They turn. They beckon. You could go with them. You could go and forget and never have to remember what it feels like and sounds like and smells like and looks like. You could still go back inside where it's safe.

"Five men walk into a bar."

"Chris, don't."

"There are no men. There is no bar. I have to stay here."


"Don't let go, Jim. I might fly away."

"Chris, it's okay. Look at me."

"I'd like to go with them."

"Don't. Stay here."

"You said they weren't here."

"Forget what I said, Chris. Don't go with them. Stay with me."

"It's ugly. Life is ugly."

"Yes. Sometimes it is."

"How do you stand it?"

"I have you."

"You didn't give up on me."

"I'll never give up on you, Chris."

Five men walk into a bar. The door slams shut between you and them. They're safe; you're not. But you're with him. You're not safe...together. He found you. He'll always find you. You remember what he lived through as a child. Maybe he pulled too slow? What did he smell and see and hear? Did he want to run away too?

"Five boys walk into a bar."



"I love you, Chris."

"I know."

"Let's get you out of here."


"Jim, this is foolishness. I can't release her."

"Bones, she's coming with me."

"Let me go, Len. Let me go with him."


"Bones. Trust me. I was right, wasn't I?"

"Okay. Okay, Jim."

"You never give up."

"Not where you're concerned."

"I love you, Jim."

"I'm going to hold you to that. I'm going to make you stay here with me. It's not over, Chris. It's going to hurt for a long time."

"You know that?"

"I do."

"You'll show me the way?"

"We'll find it together."