Chapter 6 – A Memory
The light was shining through the windows of Tobias' office right over Jim's chair, making him squint as he looked at the doctor, the large man's posture mimicking his own. For the first time that week, Jim actually had something to discuss with him as well. After the preliminaries had been dealt with, the standard questions that Tobias always asked, things like how he'd been dealing with his panic attacks, informing Jim that he was learning to control them well and they were unlikely to put him on any medication, not unless they began to worsen to the extent they'd been when he'd first arrived at Drake's. Once he'd congratulated Jim on learning how to shave they reached the part of the session that he'd been waiting for.
"So," Tobias asked, "Is there anything that you'd like to tell me?"
As usual the time he spent with the disembodied voice came to the forefront of Jim's mind. He pushed the memories back, it was not the time to dwell, he'd save that for later when he was alone in his room, then he could close his eyes and imagine a faceless man to go with the cadences. Instead he thought of the event that had occurred the previous night when he'd been alone, tinkering at the piano, practising the scales that Bridget had taught him.
Stealing himself, Jim managed to stutter out, "Lauren…she, erm…she kissed me…"
He could see it in his mind's eye, she'd came and sat down next to him on the piano stool, there had been a few minutes of awkward conversation where she was always touching him and before he knew it she'd pressed her lips to his. It had not been a bad sensation but he did not feel the things he'd expected to, having read about kissing in one of the many books he'd borrowed from the town library. He'd even kissed back, hesitantly at first as he got used to Lauren's movements. He had imagined that kissing a woman would feel different than this though, deciding that the whole experience was just very wet, rather than being sensual and heated like he thought it would be. It could have been because of the lack of feelings he felt towards Lauren, in books, the people who kissed and felt these things had always loved one another, or at least found each other attractive, neither of the emotions applied to how he felt about her.
After a while her hands had started to grope at his groin. He wasn't stupid, he knew what she expected to happen and wasn't surprised in the least when she pulled back and was offended by his lack of arousal. Lauren had shouted at him, asking what was wrong with him in a way that Jim knew she wasn't wondering so that she could offer comfort but to offend. She'd stormed off then, leaving him to his own detrimental thoughts, maybe there was something wrong with him. Maybe impotency was something that he had suffered from before coming to Drake's, it wasn't a nice thought but it was possible.
The idea that he couldn't make love to a woman or a man had then sent him spiralling off into a welcome panic attack as he hunched over the piano keys. He'd came then, assuring Jim of his worth, telling him everything that he'd wanted to hear and more.
"Did anything else happen?" Tobias asked, his face as stoic as ever.
"Yes, she, Lauren that is…I think she wanted to have sex with me but I couldn't…I'm still having problems…" Jim trailed off, not wanting to actually name of his affliction out loud.
"I see," the psychiatrist replied, scribbling a few things down on the clipboard in front of him before lifting his head to lock eyes with Jim. "How did the experience make you feel?"
Jim thought about it for a moment, "I guess that…I didn't feel anything. Not really. I don't think I felt what you're expected to feel while kissing a woman…obviously."
Tobias allowed him a small but rare smile, "There's nothing in your medical history suggesting that you suffered from erectile dysfunction before your accident. The strain that the incident put on you, one your mind, this kind of affliction is not uncommon. You just have to give it time."
"How much time though?" he muttered bitterly, looking away from Tobias to stare at the wood panelled door.
"That is a much harder question to answer," the man said calmly, "I believe that patience will be the key here. Your body may be healed, but your mind, who knows how long it will take before it allows you to commit such base acts that define many a race. You are clearly not attracted to Lauren in any way and that might be part of the reason you could not achieve an erection despite the stimulation. Like I said, just give it time. The passing of the days is a fine healer."
"Is that a quote?" Jim asked bemusedly, "If it's not, it should be."
"It is not," Tobias flashed his smile again, "but thank you all the same."
They continued to just chat after that, Jim enjoying talking about everyday things, the new books he'd been reading and how much pleasure he was taking from Bridget teaching him basic skills on the piano. The activities helped fill his days and honed his ability to concentrate on the tasks given to him. He reported, with a grin, that he was now able to write a full paragraph without his hand cramping and he hadn't broken a pen by exerting too much pressure on it in days. His ability to perform tasks that were classed as normal was improving at a steady rate and he did feel proud of himself, everything was an uphill battle but he was getting there, he hadn't even burned his toast that morning.
When he finally left the room there wasn't much left to the day, his talks with Tobias always being scheduled for the late afternoon. He headed straight for the kitchen as it was his night to cook. Bridget was already there, ready to assist and supervise as he learned basic culinary skills. Jim enjoyed cooking, liked the methodology behind it but also its complete flexibility. Simple dishes could be turned into extravagant masterpieces if you wanted them to and it was something he was keen to explore once he had the necessary knowledge to try and create such things.
Bridget sat knitting while Jim went through the motions, talking to him through what he was doing as he was doing it. Once he'd placed the dish of Macaroni and Cheese in the oven to brown the top off, he joined her at the kitchen table. "Hmm," she mused, looking at him intently, "You definitely suit being clean shaven over when you had that thing sitting on your face."
"I prefer it too," he laughed, and then decided to broach something to her that he'd been thinking about for the past few days, "I know I haven't been here that long…but do you think they'd clear me to go out and find a job?"
"You can always ask," she shrugged, "just depends what you want to go for I suppose."
"Well I know there's a position open at the library, I saw it advertised on the notice board the last time I went for new books, inventory and stuff like that," he explained.
When Jim had seen the job offer he'd wanted to see if they'd take him right away but then his more rational sense had spoken to him, telling him about all of the paperwork that would have to be cleared first. After trudging back to Drake's, new books under his arm, he'd decided to talk to Tobias about it that night, but he hadn't. What if he wasn't as ready as he thought he was? Even though he knew the more he put it off the more likely the position would be filled.
"Have you talked to Tobias about it?"
"No," he admitted. It was up to his shrink to sign off on it but Jim also knew that Tobias wouldn't turn around and say 'you're ready to go out and work' but that he'd let Jim come to the decision himself and then conclude whether or not he was fit to work in such a public environment. Jim worried that his panic attacks would be the cause behind Tobias not allowing him to work just yet, although he was starting to experience them less and less, much to his own dismay. The fewer attacks that occurred the less likely he would be able to hear him, and as Jim learned how to cope with everyday life it left him longing for the infrequent times when something in his environment would set one off, the situation causing the unreachable part of his mind to make itself known. He never actually remembered anything but he knew that something about the situation struck a chord from before.
"Like I said," Bridget remarked, "All you can do is ask."
"You'll keep your fingers crossed for me though, right?" Jim suggested, an easy grin stretching his lips.
"Toe and eyelashes, darlin'. Fingers, toes and eyelashes."
That night when Jim was lying in bed, reading, with the light set at 70%, he turned at page but stopped seeing the words. Instead what he saw was a nightmare. Before his eyes images started to flash of a world he'd never seen, or at least, a world he couldn't remember. Letting his lids flutter closed he gasped as the memory unfurled.
He was standing on a balcony, overlooking a large square filled with many people, most of who were crying.
"Close your eyes when I tell you too Jimmy," said a voice from beside him. He turned and looked up at another boy, who was slightly older then he was, his hair just as blonde in the bright sunlight. It was Sam, his older brother.
A man stood on a raised platform below, calling out over the many heads, "Jackson, Ryan. Jackson, Elissa. Anderson, Gareth. Harlow, Nancy. Cho, John. Smith, Kenya. Oslo, Idris. Oslo, Karl. Step forward and know that what you are doing is for the greater good, let that be the last thought in your mind as you die."
They did not step forward, instead soldiers grabbed them and pushed them into the open space in front of the platform, forcing them to their knees. A little girl cried out over the noise of the square, "Mommy!" There was a scuffling and suddenly the girl was in the open space, running towards her mother, only to be caught by another of the adults and held back as she kicked and screamed.
"Mommy loves you, Rose, never forget, Mommy loves you!"
"Silence!" A guard hit the face of the woman on the end of the line, knocking her to the ground before roughly pulling her back up. She stayed quiet, out of fear or because she was in a daze from the blow, Jim was not sure.
"Shut your eyes, Jimmy, shut them now," Sam whispered frantically, gripping his hand.
But Jim could not look away as the soldiers lined up in front of the people on their knees and on the order the man on the platform, shot them.
The thud of bodies hitting the ground met Jim's ears and blood flowed over the cobbles in the square. Many people wailed out, knowing that the same fate met them. As the bodies were moved the man on the platform once again read out another eight names.
Jim heard a strange keening sound coming from around him but he couldn't pin point where it was materializing from. Then Sam had wrapped his arms around him and he realized dully, as he gripped the front of Sam's t-shirt, that he was making the odd noise, it was the sound of his sobs.
"Bring him to me," He called from behind them. Sam held Jim harder, his grip almost choking. "Now."
Jim felt himself start to shake uncontrollably as Sam pried his hands away from his front and led him silently towards Him, where he was sitting in the shadows of the balcony, able to see the proceedings without being seen. The two boys stopped in front of Him and He reached out His long arms, grasping Jim around the waist and pulling him onto His knee.
"You know why I have to do this, don't you, son," He said, his voice oily, and Jim shuddered at the use of the endearment. Jim was not this man's son.
Left with no other choice, Jim nodded, but He continued to explain anyway, "It iss because we do not have enough food. It was either them, or we all die. We are the chosen ones, and you my sweet boy, with your brother, will rule this land long after I'm gone, to continue the standards I have set down for the people in this colony. Is that not what you want? To be a King? To be a God?"
Everything within Jim was screaming at him to run, to hide, and to get as far away from this man as possible. A man who thought he was right when really what he was doing was so wrong, in every sense of the word possible. Jim had no other choice but to agree with Him, and to tell him how grateful he was, despite how much the thought revolted him. If he did not agree he'd be punished, and Jim didn't like being punished. His back still hadn't healed from the last round of whipping.
It sickened him, disgusted him to the very core, what He was doing, made Jim want to go to sleep and to never wake up, just to get away from this, this farce of a ruler, of a life. He petted Jim's head in a manner that was meant to be sympathetic. "One day you'll see," He said vaguely as He set Jim back to the ground, "Now go and play with your brother."
Taking Jim's hand again Sam led him into the quiet darkness of the citadel and away from the shots and the screams.
The memory faded into nothing, white replacing the once vivid colours inside of his gasped, bolting up right in bed and looking around wildly.
He was James Tiberius Kirk, he was twenty-eight years old, his birthday was March 23rd. He grew up in Iowa and both of his parents were dead, his brother, Sam, lived at the other end of the galaxy. He was a car mechanic. He lived in Drake's House in Salinas, Kansas, so he could be successfully integrated back into the community after the onset of Retrograde Amnesia cause by his involvement in a motor cycle accident.
Over and over he repeated the mantra. Trying to discern what he'd seen with what he knew, what was real, but that memory, that nightmare, it was real.
He looked down and saw that he was holding the book in a death grip. Throwing it aside he rolled off of his bed and landed heavily on the floor. Shakily he pulled himself back to his feet as a sob ripped its way out of his chest, all of those people…
Using the wall for support he stumbled out into the hallway and along to Bridget's room, tripping over his own feet a few times and almost landing face first in the carpet during the short journey. Jim knocked hastily as another sob bubbled it way up to his lips. He'd been so helpless to that man's power, utterly unable to stop what he knew was wrong.
"Jim?" Bridget asked and his eyes cut to her, his ears picking up her gasp over his own gut-wrenching sobs. Without asking she took his hands and pulling him gently inside, pushing him down onto her bed and sitting next to him. "What's the matter darlin'?" She asked softly, rubbing a hand soothingly over his back, "What's got ya like this?"
He couldn't answer, he could only wail as he relived the memory again, fresh in his mind as if it had happened the previous day. He cried for the people killed, for the little girl who had lost her mother, for himself and for Sam since they had to live through that and pretend that they agreed with their dictator's scheme.
At some point he lay down, curling up into a ball on Bridget's bed, unable to stop the tears from falling freely down his face as he continued to cry silently. All the while Bridget stayed with him, murmuring soothing words despite not knowing what had caused his distress and always keeping a hand on him somewhere, just to let him know that she was still there, that he was safe.
Sometime later Jim finally cried himself dry and was just lying there shaking when Bridget gently pushed his hair out of his eyes in a motherly gesture, "You want anything, darlin'? Tea? Coffee?"
"A glass of water please," he rasped, his throat dry and sore.
"Coming right up, you just hang tight," Bridget told him, squeezing his arm gently before leaving, disappearing into the hallway. Jim could hear her soft tread on the stairs.
He felt lost right then. He didn't know who he was. From the information he'd been told about himself he'd concluded that he'd lived on Earth his whole live but that place, that colony, was on Tarsus IV. He'd been whipped, he wondered…
"Bridget?" he asked as she came back into the room, a sweating glass of water clutched in her hand.
"Would you…check something for me," he croaked out, frowning as he sat up on the bed, "I was just- could you tell me if there's anything on my back, anything at all…please?"
"Of course, but why?" she questioned, placing the glass on her bedside table and coming to stand in front of him. "If I do this will you tell me what all of that," she gestured around herself, "was about?"
"I'll try," he murmured, balking at the idea of having to relay what he'd seen, have to relive it again.
"Let me see your back then…"
Wordlessly, Jim pulled his loose t-shirt up and over his head before turning around and exposing his back to Bridget. She sucked a breath in in between her teeth making apprehension seep through his veins, a prickling heat that spread slowly, completely unnerving him.
"What?" he asked frantically as he tried to turn his head to see his own skin, "What is it?"
"You're back…Jim, you're back is covered in scars!" Bridget exclaimed as she reached a hand out and began to trace them. From the touch Jim gathered their shape. Thin lines typically left from the slap of a whip against soft human flesh. He shuddered. His body had been mutilated at the hands of that man and he hadn't even known about it, unable to see his own back. Would he want to look at the scars? To see the puckered lines of healed skin marring the image of the smooth skinned back that he'd held in his head, assuming that that was what it would look like unable to actually see it when instead…
Forgetting about his shirt, Jim ran towards the en suit in Bridget's room, falling to his knees and retching over the porcelain toilet bowl but without bringing anything up. After a moment of continued retching he leant his head against the seat, gulping in lungful's of air. Bridget appeared beside him with the glass of water, which he took gratefully, downing it in one. Placing the glass to the side he threw himself backwards, sinking down to lean low against the wall.
"What happened?" Bridget asked his again, kneeling down in front of him and frowning.
"I remembered something," he admitted, gulping back the fresh tears that sprang to his eyes, "It wasn't a good something." Jim thought for a minute, thinking of how best to go one without causing himself anymore emotional strain. "There was a man, a man with an empty face and emotionless eyes. He had ordered people to be…executed, shot even, because there wasn't enough food on the planet for everyone to survive."
"Tarsus IV, that's what you're describing, the events on Tarsus IV in 2246. I can't remember it actually happening but I read about it while I was here. It was horrible. The Governor Kodos made the decision to kill four thousand of the colony's occupant's when an exotic fungus destroyed their food supplies," Bridget explained, her frown deepening. "You were there weren't you?"
Waves of nausea rolled through Jim again at the mention of the name so he only nodded, not wanting to risk voiding the contents of his stomach.
"Oh darlin', what a thing to remember," she patted his leg gently, trying to sooth him with her touch.
It worked too, this feeling different from the one in his memory. As the old woman comforted him it did not make waves of disgust crash through him as it had when Kodos had touched him. "I was in the citadel when it happened," he croaked out, "with my brother. He, Kodos, was making us watch the executions and when…when I started to cry he drew me onto his lap and told me that I was the one of his chosen. He and my older brother were to follow in his footsteps and rule after him. It revolted me. He told me that I'd be a King, be a God."
"Well you ain't either and I prefer you just the way you are," Bridget declared, drawing a small smile from Jim. "People who pretend to be God's or King's, Jim, lose sight of what it is real and what is present. Living in their own twisted head and abusing their power, eventually leading their own subjects killing 'em just to be free. The same things been repeated through history thousands of times and yet none of 'em learn that a little compassion and common sense can go a long way."
She sat back then and stared at Jim thoughtfully, "You know only nine of the survivors, all kids, ever saw Kodos' face. That makes you one of them. There are journals about the psyche evaluations they went through afterwards but all of the names are blacked out. You'll be in there somewhere."
"You think I should read them?" Jim asked, feeling the blood drain from his face.
"Oh God no!" Bridget said quickly. "Sometimes the past really is better left in the past… Was it Kodos? Who gave you those scars?"
"No," Jim shook his head, before snorting, "If my memory serves me, then it was one of his soldiers who actually whipped me…he ordered it though." There was a brief silence before- "Why did no one stop him? Surely there must have been someone who would have been notified…whoever deals with things like that."
"You mean Starfleet?" Bridger asked, "They did arrive eventually, too late to save any of the four thousand Kodos condemned though."
"Starfleet?" Jim mumbled. The name, it rolled off of his tongue in a way that left a strange taste behind it, pinging at the vast white in his head. His life was starting to unravel with the occurrence of this memory and he wasn't sure if he wanted to learn about his life before anymore. If he'd witnessed such a massacre, would he really want to find out what type of man he used to be?
"Yeah, they're this right fancy operation who go about and explore other planet's and like, keep the peace between different civilizations and such…one of my old friends, who I remember from before I lost my memory, I write to her still, she has a son in Starfleet. I think he's a doctor actually…or a weapon's expert in the Science track. I'm not sure, either way, he wear's blue."
"Huh?" Jim shrugged, "Never heard of them."
Bridget snorted before saying sarcastically, "Well there's a surprise!"
A/N: Sorry if it's a little late guys and not up to usual standard, I've been ill this week and I've just edited it while being really tired, I just want to try and get it to you on time because you're all so awesome :) Thank you everyone who's reviewed, favourited, followed and read this story so far, you guys are awesome and I look forward to find out what you though of this chapter :) I'm going to go to sleep now...Much love! xx