The Flange

Disclaimer: Just a short story to make people laugh. I do not own any of these characters, and I hope I haven't accidentally re-written what someone else has already wrote; the idea is hardly unique. But enjoy nonetheless!

-Rodney's Traumatic Death

It hurt to breathe. It hurt so bad that each desperately gasping, sucking breath felt like ground glass had settled in his windpipe. His body burned, as if it were live fire, and his heart fluttered like a sparrow beating desperately against a badly build wooden cage. This was where exploration had gotten him. This was where the love of science and discovery had landed him. Dr. Rodney McKay felt betrayed, as if a beautiful woman had just stabbed him in the back. Who knew it was to end like this? All the hard work and pain, for what? What had he really accomplished? He, a brilliant young scientist of staggering intelligence doomed to die in this forsaken little city called Atlantis.

Rodney lay on his back in his room, concentrating solely on his breathing. He had felt strange during dinner that evening, but of course he didn't say anything. He was never one to complain. He had just stated that he was tired and was going to bed early; none of his team had even really noticed, as they were all wrapped up in their own problems. Gallantly, Rodney had left them to mull over their worries in a collective lump and had gone straight to bed. But he had woken up no more than an hour later, aware that his heart was racing and his body temperature had gone up. Rodney was very much in tune with his body.

Bracing himself, Rodney had tried to lift himself off his bed. He reached for the com so he could gaspingly contact Carson, but it was as if his muscles had turned to Jell-O and he jiggled from the bed onto the floor. Moaning in desperate pain, he let his body lie where it was, and focused on the all-important task of taking air into his rapidly closing lungs.

"The Flange," Rodney dreamed Teyla explaining in his delirium, "is a disease widespread on the planet of Mogul. The people there are very susceptible to it, and very rarely our own people are susceptible to it too. It can kill a strong, healthy man in less than a day."

"Oh, boy," Rodney growled. "Let's just go re-visit the Black Plague."

"I'm sure the area's no longer contaminated," John scowled. "The village has been deserted for years."

"That is what local intel said, but I don't trust any locals to understand how virus's can live for thousands of years in ideal environments.

"Oh yeah, like caves in Antarctica?

"That's from a movie, John, and you know it!"

Rodney woke in the darkness and began to cry. They should have listened to him. Rodney knew the dangers of virus's better than any man alive. He also knew that it didn't matter that they hadn't been on the Flange planet for two weeks; some virus's had years to incubate. Rodney only hoped that Carson would be able to use his tortured, tormented corpse to find a cure for the rest of his team.

The dawn light gently washed over Rodney's tired, still body. Rodney opened his eyes, an eerie calmness settled in his being. He watched with detached interest as the sun rose over the water, the window to his room still being open because he had lacked the energy to shut it. Curiously, Rodney wondered if it were the last time he would watch the sun rise. He felt a sense of utter detachment, as if his body were no longer agreeing with his mind. In fact, everything felt vague about this moment. Almost surreally, he felt himself getting lighter and lighter. He was just tied to his body with just a thread of life; a tenuous, quivering thread that was just about to snap at any moment. And suddenly, from a distance he heard a worried brogue and felt a hand jar him.

"Rodney!" Carson's Scottish brogue had never sounded sweeter. "Come on Rodney, you're late for breakfast. You canna stand me up again; it unnerves the rest of the base when no one will eat with the doctor."

Rodney blinked, feeling much more in tune with his body than he was supposed to be for a dying person. "Carson, is't you?" Rodney slurred.

"Well-a-corse it's me, you oddball. Get up and look at me."

"I can't," Rodney groaned. "I'mb dying, Carson."

"Are ye now? Of what, I'd like to know!"

Rodney began to laugh. Of all things, a doctor not being able to see a fatal disease seemed the most ridiculous and ironic. Rodney coughed a pitiful cough and whispered, "The Flange."

Carson shook his head, took out some tools from about his person, and began to examine Rodney. For the moment, Rodney felt remarkably clear headed. It was as if the events of the evening were beginning to fade away, and the dawn was giving him strength. Yes, if he really, really tried, he could probably stand. And, though he dared not hope it, he could probably eat something! He was a little hungry.

Carson took his stethoscope out of his ears and shook his head morosely. Silently, he began pocketing his various doctor tools. Rodney felt his heart plummet again. Swallowing to wet his throat, Rodney managed to squeak out, "What's wrong. Oh my gosh, what's wrong?"

Carson shook his head. He refused to look at Rodney and let out a heavy sigh. Rodney felt his heart stop.

"Rodney," Carson began solemnly, "it is my duty to tell you that you have a slight cold and a fever of 99.0, .4th of a degree from where it should be. Should you be requiring someone to write your eulogy, may I suggest Sheppard? I'm sure he'd love to hear about your brush with death."