It was the start of a new day at the Norfolk, Virginia offices of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. It would also be the start of a very private Hell for those occupying those offices.
A gas mask-wearing individual had sneaked into the air conditioning control section, far below the occupied offices of NCIS, carrying a fairly high-tech vaporizor device. One laden with a large quantitity of dimethyltryptamine, DMT, which the also glove-wearing individual placed where it would be sucked into the air conditioning system, so as to do its worst with everyone in the multi-floor building.
Then, leaving as stealthily as he had entered, the gas-masked, gloved individual would head back to his car, situated well within the attached parking garage. Only then to remove his gas mask and gloves. Revealing a face not to be seen by anyone connected with NCIS.
Meanwhile, the first to feel the effects of the vaporized DMT would be the two individuals most associated with the medical examiner functions, involving dead bodies discovered in and around Norfolk, Virginia and the Washington, D.C. areas: Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard and the Assistant to the Medical Examiner Jimmy Palmer.
"Turning out to be a slow day, Doctor," said Palmer, as he nervously adjusted his wire-rimmed glasses, whilst observing Ducky with a body that did not die from a mysterious malady or in a felonious fashion.
"That all depends upon how you look at things, Mr. Palmer," Ducky stated quite succintly, even as he began using a traditional scaple to cut a Y-incision into the torso of a male Marine that had died in a car crash. "I prefer to look at it as a brief respite in the criminal actions of madmen hellbent upon reaking havoc with those enlisted men and women simply doing their jobs in either the Marines or in the Navy. One in which we should all pray to God doesn't involve our services anytime soon. As fascinating as it is to use our forensic abilities to get to the heart of Truth, when our slabs are heavily laden with murder victims, instead of accidental death individuals, such as as this Marine laying before us. You must view all things in a postive light."
"You mean," summed up Palmer in somewhat anxious fashion, "we need to be satisfied with being busy with accidental deaths instead of longing for the more emotionally-charged times when we're up to our elbows in murdered persons."
"Precisely, Mr. Palmer, now if you will give me a hand here-"
Ducky stopped short of using the red-handled rib-cutting utensil, in order to more readily expose the organ-laden torso of the dead Marine lying between himself and Palmer.
Sniffing the re-circulated air in the morgue area, Ducky rhetorically asked, "What is that smell? It's as if someone were burning plastic nearby. Very strange."
"Yeah," Palmer replied, also sniffing the re-circulated air, like a non-Alpha bloodhound wearing glasses. "It does smell like plastic burning. I wonder..."
Before Palmer could complete his thought, both he and Ducky fall under the hallucinogenic spell of vaporizor-spewing DMT.
Which meant, for Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard, that his mind would be wrenched out of the here-and-now, and sent spinning back to his time as a medical examiner in Vietnam, at the height of that long, drawn-out war.
Ducky soon found himself, at least within the confines of his "tripping" brain, rapidly cutting into young GIs being sent to his Red Cross tent from the front. Young soldiers, Marines included, whom had been killed horribly by the Viet Cong.
Ducky cringed as he cut into one, then another, and another of these poor boys caught in hopeless firefights for one supposedly important "hill" after the other.
"No," Ducky said again, in a breathed voice that could only be heard by his own ears. "Not again."
Ducky felt as though he would vomit, but, somehow, he kept it down, albeit tasting bile burning the back of his throat.
Hearing, and feeling to some extint, the explosions occuring not as far away as Ducky would've liked, as the war raged all around the tented rear war zone region of Vietnam.
"I can't take this," murmured a profusely sweating, even to the extint that large droplets of swear rolled down his also wire-rimmed glasses. "I can't go through this again. Not again. Please, God...not again!"
Assistant to the Medical Examiner Jimmy Palmer's "bad trip" merely took him back to his early days in college, even before he took Pre-Med, wherein the older frat boys would make sport of him, because his highly intelligent mind had made him a freshman in college far faster than the others.
"Leave me alone," Palmer panted, as sweat coated his face, and rolled down his glasses, in a similar manner as it was happening to Ducky. "Just leave me the hell alone!"
It was a prime example of how "personal Hell" was in the mind's eye of the beholder.
A personal Hell that would also soon be shared by the rest of the NCIS team...