On Every Screen
By Queenie Z

/begin communication.

"Doctor Brennan, paging Doctor Brennan... Earth to Doctor Brennan!" Silence. "...Nicole? You there?"

On his video screen, Isaac suddenly saw a familiar face rush into view. Her face slightly flushed and her hair tussled, the doctor sat in her seat, greeting him with an apologetic grin.

"Sorry!" laughed Nicole. "I was in the middle of changing!"

"Damn, and I missed it?"


Isaac chuckled at her reaction. "Can't help it. I'm a dirty old man, remember?"

The doctor playfully rolled her eyes. "Right. So how's my dirty old man doing? You sure look like you're in a good mood."

"That's because," he answered with a look Nicole instantly recognized - that boyish look of accomplishment which followed the successful completion of one of his "projects", "I've got something to show you."

She laced her hands under her chin. He was so cute sometimes. "I'm watching."

"Take a look." The excited engineer walked into the living room of their apartment, moving the camera attached to his wrist towards a large, holographic television screen. Nicole was surprised to see her own face on it, playing back her video transmission as they spoke.

"How did you do that?" she asked. "I thought the transmission could only go to the bedroom!"

"Easy," said Isaac, "just a bit of network rerouting. It's not just the living room screen either. I sent it to the one near the workbench, too." He repositioned the camera to point it at himself. "Now I can see your lovely face on any screen in the apartment."

Nicole's smile broadened. "You are such a nerd, you know that?"

"You wouldn't have me any other way," he said with a waggle of his eyebrows.

"Of course not."

Isaac let out another laugh, then a short sigh. "Hope you're still having fun up there. I miss you a lot."

"I miss you too, Isaac." She tilted her head. "But just think - we're coming back to Earth in a few months, and by then I'll have made enough for us to take a nice, long vacation together. Does that sound good?"

"I'll hold you to that, Nicole."

Suddenly a separate audio transmission interrupted their conversation. "Accident down on flight deck, Doctor Brennan."

"I'll be right there." Nicole turned off the other transmission and scowled. "Dammit! I'd just changed out of uniform, too... Sorry, Sweetie, I have to go." She stood, kissing her fingertips and placing them on Isaac's face in the screen. "Bye."

"Go get 'em, Doc."

/end communication.

He sat at his workbench, his forehead resting on a schematic and his arms over his head. What had he been working on? Whatever it was, he couldn't work on it with this pounding headache.

The headache. Always the headache, the pressure in his eyeballs, the feeling like something had burrowed deep inside...

Isaac jumped when he heard the sound of static. It flickered on and off, its loudness only serving to make his headache worse. Slowly, he lifted his head, looking to the side at screen on the far side of the countertop.

/incoming transmission: Nicole Brennan.

Suddenly the pounding in Isaac's chest began to synchronize with the pounding in his head. Please, no, he pleaded in his mind, don't let it be her, anyone but her, that monster, that -

"Didn't you say you wanted to see me on every screen, Isaac?"

The hiss that the mockery of Nicole on the screen let out caused Isaac to fall out of his seat. In a panic, he crawled back into his living room, only to see that hideous, bloody, glowing face once again on the larger screen. As the hissing and the static grew louder, he buried his head in the carpet and covered his ears. He groaned wordlessly as he waited for the nightmare to end, for his god-forsaken brain to fling him back into reality where he wouldn't have to see her like this -

"Mister Clarke! ...Mister Clarke!"

He awoke with a gasp to an unfamiliar man in a medical uniform. However, before he could ask who he was or why he couldn't move his arms, the man spoke again.

"It's time for your session, Mister Clarke."