The Wrong Side of Reality
an excerpt from Daniel Jackson's Journal
Spoilers: CotG, Holiday, Crystal Skull, Legacy
March 26th, 2000
As worlds go, I don't think I'm a big fan of P3X472.
The stargate opened directly into a dark chamber that stank of stale water and old age. We haven't always had the best luck with the MALP sending accurate images of a world back to us, but this time it was just about right: steel and stone tunnels as far as the eye could see.
Granted, we couldn't see very far, since it was pretty dark. Some of the lighting was still working, but not much. Sam explained something about ambient light sources, but I admit I wasn't paying much attention.
There isn't much to say about the original structures of the tunnels and chambers. Like I told Jack, it looked a lot like an advanced civilization stripped the place and deserted it. I wonder what they were running from, or if they were in fact running from anything. There weren't enough clues left behind to determine that.
We wandered around for a bit, finding nothing interesting or useful, when we stumbled on a chamber that had been sealed with what Teal'c called 'ancient goa'uld technology'. The chamber didn't have a single working light in it, but it did have signs of 'life'. I tripped over a dead body no more than three steps into the room.
I think Jack wigged out a little – ordered us into our contamination suits, anyway. Sam figured out the bodies were the remains of goa'uld hosts after a moment. I didn't look at them too closely. Their skin had decayed and their eyes were sunken sockets. Instead I looked around for clues to explain why there were at least four dead goa'uld in the room (the final count was 9).
Found an odd symbol after just a minute – I've sketched it on the next page – and Teal'c said it was from the Limvris, a group of nine goa'uld that opposed the System Lords and intended to overthrow them. I guess they didn't succeed.
Also found a goa'uld tablet that seemed to be outlining a series of battle plans. Brought it home with me for study when I couldn't get the page-turner to work in the chamber. I need to go over it thoroughly anyway – I speak fluent goa'uld, but to get a really accurate translation from a written work takes time. Preliminary work suggests it's a goa'uld dialect similar to Latin, which should make for some interesting translations!
Dr. Fraser says the goa'uld died before the hosts did, and the hosts died of starvation or dehydration. She doesn't know why yet. Personally I find that a little spooky. The door was disabled from the inside, right? So who disabled it? And why?
Strange thing happened to me after the briefing, though. When SG-7 came through the Stargate, I could have sworn I saw one of the dead Limvris walking down the ramp! I looked away for a second and when I looked back, it was gone.
I didn't know I was so squeamish about decaying bodies. I'll admit I prefer them mummified.
March 27th, 2000
Something weird happened to me on that planet. Last night I saw an event horizon in my closet.
I'm just recording these thoughts for myself, right? But I want to make it clear that I know that's crazy. Event horizons don't appear in closets. But hallucinations don't reach out of closets and grab you by the collar, either.
Jack doesn't believe me, but I think that the Limvris figured out some way to cross the 'gate with us. It wouldn't be the first time things like this have happened. Maybe they're a form of energy or something else that Sam can explain away with all that astrophysics, but the Limvris are here. I don't know how or why, but they are here. The tablet says 'to enter by infiltration', so there's even evidence outside of what I've seen to back me up.
Jack's giving me this long-suffering look even as I'm writing this, and I wish he'd stop. Dr. Fraser is shaking her head at my test results. I'm going up to see Dr. Mackenzie in about half an hour.
Maybe I'm just having a nervous breakdown after all.
Jack is a man of many talents. He just made a Baby's Cradle for the yoyo he's playing with. I can't do that.
So the official diagnosis is 'schizophrenia'. I did a little research online and I don't fit half the criteria. I'm not depressed, I'm not taking any drugs except headache pills, there's been no gradual onset of symptoms … but my brain chemistry is weird in some way, and they're saying it's a side effect of Stargate travel, which explains why it's so sudden, I guess.
There is a history of schizophrenia in the family – not that I'll tell Dr. Mackenzie that. Nick's not been officially diagnosed with it, but he does see and hear things that aren't there.
I can hear the Stargate turning inside the game closet here in the VIP room. It's just a hallucination, though.
Dr. Mackenzie has promised me that if I don't hurt anyone and take these fuzzy pills he's giving me then I won't have to go to the medical institute he prescribes psychosis patients to. In other words, as long as I take something that makes my head feel stuffed full of cotton, I can stay out of a padded room.
Some options. Doesn't anyone see a correspondence between our leaving P3X472 and these weird problems? Doesn't anyone realize that instead of watching me like a hawk, they should be keeping an eye out for the Limvris lurking around the base?
I just tried to tear a goa'uld that wasn't real out of Jack O'Neill's neck.
Jack, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Please stop looking me like I'm crazy.
But I think I am. Nuts, that is.
Mackenzie's going to take me to that padded room now. Jack didn't think he had a choice. I don't blame him. But even he won't listen to me when I warn him about the Limvris.
Without me there, they're going to find someone else. I know it. I just hope they figure it out in time and I can go home soon.
Goddammit, twenty-three languages and I can't find a way to say I'm scared out of my fucking mind.
March 31st, 2000
They just gave me back my glasses and my pen, and since I have a long drive ahead of me, I might as well go ahead and write down what's happened these last three days.
I don't remember a whole lot of them. That is, I don't remember what was real and what wasn't. According to the visitor's book, Sam, Jack and Teal'c visited me yesterday, which fits in with what I recall, so that makes me feel better.
Let me start at the beginning.
On the 27th I attacked Jack, thinking I'd just seen a goa'uld invade his neck. It was a hallucination, so Mackenzie obligingly came over to the SGC and carted me away to the loony bin with the air of someone who'd been expecting this all along. He took away the oral pills he'd offered me before and gave me a shot of something stronger. That's when things got really hazy.
I remember feeling like everything was removed from me, as if it was happening to someone else and I was watching from very far away. Someone was always touching me, holding my elbow or my shoulder, even when they made me change into the outfit they wanted me to wear in my new room. I remember arguing over my glasses, but they took them away anyhow. My eyesight's not that bad, but it was the principle of the thing.
I wasn't suicidal. Yet. I guess I could see how staying in a continuously lighted, white padded room could eventually make you that way.
I think I made a fuss about going into the padded room, too. I didn't feel like myself at all. I wonder if the shot Mackenzie was giving me was some kind of anti-inhibitor. Mackenzie and his hired hands gave me a second shot – and I know I fell asleep right after that because I woke up leaning against the far wall of the padded room.
From there I remember things in patches. The Limvris seemed to visit me a lot. Now I know those were imaginary, but at the time I thought they were coming to make me a host.
Mackenzie gave me even more drugs. The problem was, they didn't make the Limvris go away; they just made it harder for me to pretend they were hallucinogenic products of my mind.
I imagined Sam, Jack and Teal'c all coming to visit me on separate occasions. They never talked to me, just looked at me sadly or with contempt. Sam's eyes kept glowing, and sometimes Jack's did, too. The worst hallucination I remember was when Teal'c's symbiote jumped out of his stomach and tried to enter me. I remember it because three men had to pin me down to give me another dose of drugs (a personal record).
I spent a lot of time mostly lucid, though. That was almost as bad as imagining things, because there was nothing to do except try to figure out how to make myself stop seeing things. One of the bigger medical personnel brought me food once in a while. I picked at it a couple of times then refused to eat it at all. I drank sometimes. The room smelled funny, but at the end of the second day they gave me a bath.
That was the most humiliating experience of my entire life. These people don't trust you to wash yourself, even. (Never mind the latrines. At least I could pee with a nurse looking the other way.) By that point I was starting to wonder if I really was just a nutjob, I was so twisted around in my head from the drugs and dreams.
On the third day Jack, Sam, and Teal'c all really did come to visit me. I was scared for a while that they were just hallucinations, too, but the Jack in my head wouldn't even talk to me, and this Jack asked me how they were treating me. 'They' being Mackenzie and his team of doctors, of course. That's how I knew they were real; I think I actually burst into tears and apologized for being a headcase. Sam told me it wasn't my fault.
Thinking back on it now, I realize that Jack was still trying to believe my theory on why I was schizophrenic. He told me that he and Teal'c wanted to know what I'd thought brushed by me in the Limvris chamber.
I'm afraid that triggered another 'episode', though. I don't really remember the conversation after that; I recall seeing a Limvris right behind Teal'c. Thinking back on it now, it's obvious I was dreaming it up, but at the time it seemed very real. I jumped at it. Teal'c caught me. Sam left to go get those huge nurses I was starting to hate.
That was when I saw something little and blue come out of me and burrow into Teal'c's arm. The moment I saw it, I felt a little bit more like myself again.
That didn't last long. I shouted at Jack that something had gone into Teal'c. He told me I was hallucinating, which was especially frustrating because for the first time since the event horizon in my closet, I was certain I wasn't. Then I was being wrestled to the floor again and heard Machello's voice.
He said, 'You have delivered me to the vile goa'uld so that I may destroy it.'
I didn't understand at the time. Then Mackenzie came in and announced they were upping the medicine dosage. Not now! I wanted to shout at him. Not when I'm finally figuring it out!
Instead I found myself staring at Sam as she gave me this look of sickened horror and pity. It made me sick, too.
I really didn't have any sense of time in that room. Sometime in the middle of what I assume was the nighttime I suddenly figured out what had happened. That blue thing I saw go into Teal'c was some kind of goa'uld killing machine-virus that Machello had made. Somehow that thing had gotten into me in the Limvris chamber, and then waited for me to get close enough to Teal'c so that it could go into him. My head was still fuzzy and I didn't have full control over my emotions yet, but I knew I was better since the thing had left my body. I hadn't seen the Limvris come after me even once. The schizophrenia must've been some kind of weird side effect of the virus.
I pounded on my door for a while, but Dr. Mackenzie wouldn't come. I had to get out of that room and warn them before Teal'c's symbiote died, taking Teal'c with it.
Mackenzie came back this morning in the wee hours with three nurses to give me my morning dosage of brain-numbing shots. Let me just say that slowly being cornered in a room by two huge men, one young lady, and one needle that you know is going to leave you nearly senseless for two hours is really scary. Especially when you know that your logic is the only thing that's going to get you out of it, and you also know your logic is nearly useless since you're supposedly insane.
Dr. Mackenzie told me that it was time for my meds. I told him that I needed the drugs that were already in my system out of my system, which was probably not the best way to start my argument. I backed myself into the corner again, a little alcove that let me be surrounded on three sides by padded white walls.
"No, Dr. Jackson, you need rest," Dr. Mackenzie told me. It was hard to think straight, but I thought it was unfair how he kept patronizing me by using my title to address me. I told him I thought I'd rested enough. Mackenzie didn't even grace that with an answer. He just advanced on me again, so I asked him quickly if Teal'c was sick.
If Teal'c was sick, that was my out, my key to proving that I wasn't just making things up. How could I possibly guess Teal'c was sick unless I really did see something go into Teal'c?
But Mackenzie didn't know if Teal'c was sick or not. I'm afraid I got frustrated and hit the wall with my elbow, which gave Mackenzie an excuse to warn me that he could put me in restraints and give me even more drugs.
I remember giving him this look of utter disbelief. The man isn't a creep. He just genuinely thinks I'm stark raving mad. The thought of being in a straitjacket and half-senseless 24 hours a day for the rest of my life scared me into forgetting that, though. I demanded to know why he was so quick to think I was out-of-control and insane. He just looked at me, and I thought back over how I'd acted over the past few days.
When I don't really have control over my own emotions, I'm an extremely physical person, evidently. I'm sorry I was such a difficult patient, come to think of it.
Well, maybe I'm not sorry. The point is, I could see where Mackenzie was coming from after all.
I still felt like my head was stuffed with cotton. I left the little alcove again to stand against the wall so I could stand face-to-face with Mackenzie and tried to think of a convincing argument. What I said was, "Look, I'm sure you hear this from patients all the time, but I think I'm cured." I even clasped my hands together.
Mackenzie wasn't convinced. He came closer, and so did the nurses. I pressed myself back against the wall. Luckily Mackenzie didn't force me into the shot right away. First he told me that you don't get better from 'this sort of thing' overnight.
You do, I told him, if you have an alien technology in your blood that makes you think you're crazy when you really aren't.
Reading back over this conversation, no wonder Mackenzie kept giving me those disbelieving looks. He asked me how I found this out and I explained to him about Machello – how he'd told me the mission of the technology. For obvious reasons he didn't believe me, which reduced me to begging him to just do me one favor: find out if Teal'c is sick, and let me speak to Jack if he was.
Bless the man for giving my theory a shot and calling the SGC to find out if Teal'c was sick. He even let me go without my shot when he found out I was right.
Jack was skeptical too, but not as skeptical as Dr. Mackenzie had been. (I think it helped that he remembers Machello's romp in my body.) I told him I was better as soon as he walked in the door, and he gave me a look that suggested he wasn't so sure.
I think it was a good sign that he came as quickly as he did. It's an hour-long drive between the Mountain and the ward, so his arrival an hour and a half after Mackenzie let me off my meds was pretty impressive.
He asked me if I had a theory as to why I was better 'all of a sudden'.
I told him about Machello. That got an incredulous look that I don't blame him for. We both watched him die, after all. I asked him to hear me out and he got that belligerent look he gets when he's sure the answer's going to be long and boring and quite possibly not worth his time. I explained as quickly as I could about the goa'uld-killing technology.
"And that's what made you … nuts?" he asked. That's Jack all right, straight to the point.
By this point I was feeling almost normal, but I didn't have time to argue semantics with him. I told him that schizophrenia must have been a side effect of the invention. (Jack mouthed at me 'nuts' when I hesitated on the word for the psychosis. And he was still looking at me like I was not quite right in the head.)
I reminded him that Teal'c was sick, and he does have a goa'uld.
That galvanized Jack into action. I don't think he completely bought my story, but if this meant there was a solution to Teal'c's sickness, then he was on top of it. He left the room and about fifteen minutes later, the nurses were back with my clothes, my glasses, my journal, and my pen. I got to change all alone there in that padded room, with no one looking inside to make sure I didn't do something self-injurious.
Mackenzie was at the reception desk when I left and told me there would be a follow-up examination next week as well as a preliminary one when I got back to the SGC. They're going to find me as normal as I ever was. Right now I'm trying to not be angry with Mackenzie for just doing his job, but I'm still wondering why he was so quick to write me off as insane – Dr. Fraser, too. I don't blame Jack, Sam, or Teal'c so much. It's not like they understand all that medical jargon any better than I do, and Fraser and Mackenzie could have you believing anything at times. Plus, I did try to rip a goa'uld out of Jack's neck. That did seem pretty crazy, I'm sure.
Jack checked me out and now we're almost back at the Mountain.
So far I've managed to stave off conversation by writing in this journal. Hopefully I won't have to talk to anyone about the hospital stay extensively until after Teal'c is back to normal.
April 1st, 2000
I should've written this journal entry last night, but I was too busy enjoying a real full night's sleep in my own bed. I think the meds have completely flushed themselves out of my system now. I don't even feel especially irritable.
Jack and Dr. Fraser have made a full recovery from their own bout with the goa'uld-killing inventions, and 'the little buggers' (Jack's term) have been sequestered away and marked as one of those things we hope we never have to look at again. Sam's pretty happy to know she could do something for everyone. Jack and Sam have both gone upstairs to get something to eat. I ate already, so I'm drinking a cup of coffee. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not dependent on the stuff (I managed to survive a whole year without it on Abydos), but it does help me wake up in the morning. Teal'c is on the mend – I'm sitting next to his bed right now.
"I am glad to see you well, Daniel Jackson," he said to me just a moment ago. He has this way of sounding like an unmovable rock, even when he's sick in the infirmary. I told him I was never sick, and he did his regal head nod. "I see." Which is his way of saying he doesn't really see at all, but he's willing to accept what he's been told.
There's really no need to go into great detail over what happened when I got back to the base. We discovered the page-turner that wouldn't work in fact held ten of those little goa'uld-killers inside it. That made sense; the virus invaded the nine Limvris, and the last one must have gone into me when I used it.
We would never have found any of this out except for Jack supporting me when I explained what I thought had happened. Dr. Fraser was incredulous at the thought of Machello planting the devices and I couldn't explain it so she'd believe me. Jack came to the rescue by saying they were like land mines. My hero. Although it was nice to know he was willing to trust me after I'd spent three days raving about dead Limvris coming to get me. He did give me a hard time right before coming up with that little gem of an explanation. I must've stood up under his scrutiny.
In any case, when Sam, Jack, and Dr. Fraser tested one of the page-turners, they all ended up infected with several of the inventions. I wanted to go in and help them, but the General wouldn't let me.
For a moment I thought there would be some vindictive pleasure in knowing that Sam, Jack, and Dr. Fraser would finally find out exactly what I felt like when I was schizophrenic, but it didn't come. I felt ill. I hope no one is ever infected by one of those things again. Being insane isn't fun. It's just as awful to watch your friends go insane, even when you know why. Jack curled up in the corner and shook, probably seeing things that weren't there. Dr. Fraser almost unclothed herself.
Luckily, Sam's blood ended up being the key. The goa'uld-killers were stopped by the presence of the protein marker left by the body of a dead goa'uld. Dr. Fraser struggled through the visions to tell Sam exactly how to separate out the proteins in her blood so she could give a dose to the doctor and Jack. As soon as the devices left their body, they were back to their old selves again. They all heard Machello speak to them as the inventions poured out of their ear, too.
Dr. Fraser gave the protein to Teal'c about half an hour later, and the thing wriggled out of his ear and died. His goa'uld's almost completely healed itself now. Dr. Fraser says Teal'c will be up and about by this afternoon.
I'm glad to hear it, because tonight we're all going out for dinner at a local steakhouse – O'Malley's, apparently a favorite of Jack's. After three days with barely more than a cracker or two, I'm starving. Teal'c is too – he can't eat when his goa'uld is sick.
Also, I think we all need to talk a little bit. Jack's been giving me guilty looks all morning.
Dinner was great. I think O'Malley's is going to be a favorite place of mine as well. Teal'c ordered the biggest steak on the menu and I think he was impressed by its size. Amazingly, Jack footed the bill. Something about 'treating his kids to dinner'. Jack would never admit it, but he has a paternal streak as wide as the Atlantic Ocean.
We had the conversation we needed to have, I think. Jack dragged me along when he went to the bar for drinks and told me, "Daniel, when I had those things in me … well … I …"
"You felt nuts?" I filled in for him, and he gave me his 'ouch' look, the one that says I've been too blunt.
"Hey, hey. I didn't want to think you'd gone crazy, but …"
"I know," I told him. I did know. Jack knew, too, now.
"So …" He has a hard time apologizing. I nodded at him.
He got a funny look on his face, like he still wanted to say something but didn't know how to say it. He didn't have to, anyway. I like to think we've got a really good friendship going, and thinking the other person is crazy – in that healthy, normal way of two people who don't understand each other – is periodically going to happen. He'd experienced the same insanity I had, so he knew what had happened and was sorry he'd not understood earlier. It's easier not to blame him, so I'm not going to.
I smiled at him and reminded him that he wanted a Sam Adams bottle. He grinned at me and clapped my shoulder, giving it a squeeze. It's about as close to normal as we get.
Apologies with Sam were a lot more direct. "I'm sorry I didn't believe you," she said apologetically. I told her that she shouldn't have, anyway, because my theory was wrong until I saw the device go into Teal'c from me.
"Well, I'm still sorry I thought you were … schizophrenic," she amended, looking guilty. "We should have waited for more evidence before writing off what you were experiencing."
I smiled at her, and I hope it was a reassuring smile, because I think she was right – they should have waited for more evidence, given all the weird things we've seen. But Mackenzie was claiming it was Stargate related, which surely wasn't helping. "We all make mistakes," I suggested.
She smiled at me, and I know she won't make the same mistake twice.
Teal'c didn't really understand the entirety of what was going on, in my opinion, but he still apologized to me as if following Sam's example. "I too am sorry, Daniel Jackson," he rumbled. "For I also thought that you were unwell mentally."
In a way, I was unwell mentally, I explained, and that led into a whole discussion about schizophrenia and what its symptoms were. By the end of it we were talking about Rainman and trying to explain to Teal'c what a savant was. This is the kind of weird spinoff conversations we usually have, with Teal'c struggling to understand human – and American – culture, Sam getting scientific, Jack getting pop-culture on us, and me trying to explain the history of the whole thing.
This is also why I like having the friends I have.
As tomorrow we are slated to go off-world, I've got to get some sleep now.
I'm pretty sure I still want to know what tomorrow will bring.