I think I've finally made some headway with the Trekkies.
Normally, before each meal, they stand in front of the toaster oven and make their orders. I remember when I first asked the one who calls himself Chakotay (we've been unable to find out their true names as of yet) why he did that.
He'd looked at me strangely. "It's a replicator, isn't it? It seems to be broken."
"A…replicator," I'd repeated slowly. Was that a Star Trek thing? I'd been chosen to act as this group's therapist because of the…interesting properties of their delusions. All seven of them had been taken to our facility after attacking the famed John De Lancie at a Star Trek convention, insisting that he take them home. Upon their arrests, they had told the police that they were on a classified mission, and that's when they were committed. All seven were convinced that they were refugees from some Star Trek spaceship, and nothing we said could change that. Once they were officially declared delusional, my bosses had conducted a facility-wide search for a Trekkie. My brother had seen pretty much every episode, so I was drafted. But I knew very little abt the shows. "That…copies things?"
The man had shaken his head. "I forget sometimes…a replicator is how, in the future, we get our food. It converts energy into matter."
"Aren't you breaking your Prime Directive or something by telling me that?" I'd asked suspiciously.
Chakotay had shrugged. "At this point, the captain says that we can say what we want. Until our ship comes for us, only the doctors and patients here will know what we've told them about the future, and none of them will believe it. I'm crazy, remember?"
Then, his matter-of-fact clarity had been eerie. Now, I was used to it.
So I was pleasantly surprised when the woman who calls herself Kathryn walked straight past the toaster oven and sat down immediately.
I went over to her. "Kathryn, you didn't…"
"No," she agreed. "It's not a replicator, is it?"
"No," I conceded gladly. "It isn't."
Kathryn smiled and shook her head. "We've been clinging to every little piece of home that we could find in this place. I suppose it's made us stupid."
"It's perfectly understandable," I said soothingly. "But this is a giant step for you. Tell me about your home."
Kathryn smiled. "I have two homes, really," she explained. "One is on Earth, before I left for the Badlands. The other is on Voyager."
"No, Kathryn," I put my hand on her shoulder. "Your home on Earth…tell me about it."
A dreamy look filled her eyes as she began to describe the place. It didn't take long for me to figure out that her "Earth" home wasn't her real home, but another fictional future location.
"Kathryn, none of that is real," I began. "Try to remember- where were you before then?"
"Captain." Tom and Harry stood behind us. The two were inseparable, irritatingly so. It was hard to convince Harry of anything with Tom right behind him, keeping him skeptical. "Is she bothering you?"
Kathryn smiled at the younger men. "No, it's alright. She's just trying to do her job." They sat down next to her anyway, and glared up at me.
I sighed. It was going to take a long time to get them to trust me, much less believe me…
However, it still didn't stop me from telling Dr. Murray what had happened with Kathryn. "I think she, at least, understands a little more of what reality she's in. She's the leader, too. If she believes us, we're so much closer to helping the rest of them."
Murray looked at me sharply. "Are you sure? Because Phase Two could just as easily destroy her."
I nodded. "I know. And I don't think that she's ready for Phase Two." I stared up at the shelves behind Murray's head. Seven brand-new seasons from Star Trek: Voyager stared back. "But I'll keep working on them. Maybe if I could watch a few-"
"No!" Murray nearly shouted. In a more rational voice, he repeated what he'd told me before. "I don't want you understanding the world they've seen. I want you understanding the world within their minds. There's something very wrong with those seven, and only a healthy dose of real life is going to cure them."
I nodded reluctantly. "I'll call my brother again. Maybe he has some ideas."
But it wasn't about ideas, I knew. It was about illness. And no knowledge of Star Trek could cure those damaged minds. So no matter what I did or didn't know about Trek, it was all up to me…