THE COFFIN

By Lorraine Anderson

The hallucinations were finally getting to him. He turned over and over in the narrow space of the sarcophagus and tried to sleep, or die, or go crazy so that the hallucinations would be comforting rather than horrific. He hadn't breathed for weeks and weeks, yet his lungs gasped continually for breath that his coffin wouldn't provide. Yet it kept him alive, and, more than that, it kept him awake, at least most of the time. He wondered, for the thousandth time, if that was a malfunction or a deliberate action.

He turned over on his right side. So, was this some trick of Ba'al's or some trick of Anubis, or Yu (Yu who?), or maybe even Ra or Apophis from the grave. Hell, he wouldn't even put it past Thor to do this, after that little trick he played putting him and Teal'C in that cave with that lizard guy.

If it weren't for those tiny flashes of normal life he got every now and then, he supposed he would go mad. He never knew he had quite this kind of imagination. He closed his eyes. Oh, yeah. He was bowling. He liked bowling, though he only remembered doing it once or twice in his life. Why he was flashing on normal life here, he didn't know, it usually happened on the base, never in the field. Still, he grasped the visions like he would a life-ring.

Hell, he couldn't even expect Daniel to pop in. He didn't know where Daniel would fit. What would fit in here – a talking head? He giggled, and then put his hand to his mouth. Giggles were bad. Giggles meant he was going bats, one fry short of a Happy Meal, one Jaffa short of a posse, one…

#

Sam brought her fist down on the control board. That was a mistake – now her hand hurt - and anger really accomplished nothing, Daniel put his hands on her shoulders and kneaded. She put her hand on his. "If all else fails – "

"I know. Go back to the beginning." She turned, but looked of into space beyond him. "But we have been back to the beginning. We've been back to the planet, we've looked at the moonlet, we've even went back to the previous planet. Where the hell else do we go?"

Daniel sat down opposite her on the table. "Then we look back even further."

She looked over at the next table. "Where? On the base? I don't even want to track how many times he's been to the bathroom on this base."

Daniel looked down. "Actually, I don't either." He saw General Hammond come in the cafeteria and made a bee-line for the table. "Heads up. He doesn't look happy."

"Shit," Sam said into her hand. She looked up. "General?"

"I got an order from Washington. I presume you know what it said."

Sam deflated. "Yes, sir. Is he," she gulped "—going to be declared –" she couldn't finish.

"Missing in action, Major. No more than that." He looked at Daniel, and he looked at Sam. "If you want to continue to investigate in your spare time…"

Sam smiled sadly. "Spare time, sir?"

Daniel looked straight at the General. "It seems like Jack would be worth more than our spare time."

The General nodded his head. "I agree. But Washington doesn't. All they know is that you saw him fall over a cliff, chasing after something only he could see. They also feel that searching a week is more than enough time."

Daniel nodded his head. "That's what we all saw. Yet we all know that we didn't find a body – and it's not that steep of a cliff."

"Which logically presumes," continued Sam. "That the Colonel was transported someplace." She looked off into the distance. "The Goa'uld didn't have transport technology until recently."

"This leaves the Asgard, quite possibly the Nox, and the ancients." Sam looked down at her plate and moved around some food.

Daniel wrinkled his forehead. "We're forgetting something." He raised his eyebrows. "We are forgetting something."

"What?" Sam said.

"The Furlings."

"The fourth race," Hammond looked contemplative.

"But we don't even know where the fourth race came from. Or where they're at. We know they had transport technology, but…"

Daniel looked like he had a revelation. "Oma knew." He leaned his hand into his fist. "I remember. Oma knew, but wouldn't tell me. She just smiled." He looked up. "Why did I just think of Oma?"

Hammond looked across the cafeteria, and then just stared. "Is that…"

They looked where he was staring. "Skaara." Daniel breathed.

He smiled, nodded, and disappeared.

"Abydos," Sam breathed. "Back to the beginning? Would Oma help us like that? Or was this Skaara's idea?"

"What difference does it make?" Daniel said. "We have a destination."

They both moved swiftly towards the control room, leaving General Hammond in his chair. "You have a go to Abydos," he smiled at the empty chairs. "Dismissed."

#

"Walter, dial Abydos," Sam yelled, as she ran into the room.

The Sergeant turned around in his chair and gaped at the pair running in. "But…"

"Do it," Sam yelled. "Or get out of the way."

"But you don't even have…"

A couple of corps man ran behind them, carrying equipment. The phone rang, and Walter answered. "Yes, sir, they're here… yes, sir." He turned around again. "Dialing Abydos." They were already dressed, and Teal'C was suddenly there, carrying his staff.

"And where do we go when we get there?"

Sam thought a second. "I'm hoping we get a hint when we get there."

#

He was in the tenth frame. He was one – two – three steps, his arm was going forward –

And the coffin lid opened. The dream was gone. He left his eyes closed. "Colonel!" Sam said. "Colonel. Are you all right?"

"Major, I was just about to get a strike!"

"He's delusional," Daniel said.

"If you were in a frigging coffin for weeks and weeks and couldn't sleep and couldn't eat and couldn't pee, you'd be delusional, too." He opened his eyes. "Where have you been, anyway?"

"Sir, you were transported to Abydos. And it's only been a week."

Only a week? He sat up. "Refresh my memory. We didn't start out on Abydos, did we?" He looked around. Yep, desert. Sure looked Abydos. Of course, it looked like a ton of other planets, either.

"No, sir. We're speculating that this was a trap set up by the Furlings. We think that rather than killing their intruders, they sent them to Abydos to be conscripted by Ra."

"The Ewoks? Kind of bloodthirsty of them, wasn't it?"

Sam grinned. "Yes, sir." She sobered. "I suspect that you have just enough Naquada in your blood that their machinery could detect. This was why you were transported. Or perhaps…"

"Then why didn't it take you? Or Teal'C?"

"We did find a dead piece of machinery," Daniel said.

"Lucky me. The batteries ran out before you got there. Damn Ewoks." He shook his head. "Abydos doesn't have a Stargate. How?"

"We think that Oma Desala helped," Daniel said. "We saw Skaara."

Teal'C spoke up. "Skaara showed us the way. I blasted the rock covering you."

"Thank you, Skaara!" He started to get up, shook his head, and fell back. "I may need a little help to go home. I haven't slept for weeks."

"Only a week." Sam stood still. "You weren't… unconscious? The sarcophagus is supposed to…"

"Didn't work like that this time. Damn Ewoks." He looked blearily at her. "Don't you get any ideas about turning me over to the shrink."

Her eyes crinkled. "Never, sir. Never."

His eyes closed, and he felt himself picked up by two sturdy teammates on either side. Who, he didn't care. He was going home.

END