Today happens to be Friday the Thirteenth. So I can’t resist sharing a story I wrote several years ago about how my recurring character, Sam Jones, spent Friday the Thirteenth. This is a scene from a long Star Trek serial I wrote. The only context you need, aside from a slight knowledge of major characters from the original Star Trek, is that in a previous chapter Dr. McCoy adopted a black cat and named him Surak, after the Vulcan philosopher (on the theory that they both had black hair and pointed ears).
And, of course, it also helps to know that traditionally, terrible things always happen to the red-shirted security guards aboard Kirk’s Enterprise.
For more backstory on Jones in particular, check out the Richard Samuel Jones category of Fiction Friday posts.
One other note: Jones was always my red-shirt when I was writing Star Trek stories. For this scene I also borrowed a friend’s red-shirt, Lt. Simmons. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I can send you over to her blog as a years-later thank-you for the loan. So I don’t own Lt. Simmons, or Star Trek, or any other copyrighted material involved. On to the story…
Simmons, deputy chief of security, had a problem. He often had problems, to tell the truth. Problems happened when your department lost a man or two every week or so. But this was rather a different sort of problem. And whenever someone had a different sort of problem, they tended to call up the captain. No particular reason, simply because. So Simmons contacted the bridge.
“Captain Kirk? I have a slight problem,” Simmons said over the comm.
“Oh.” Kirk considered. On the emergency scale, ‘slight problems’ could rate anywhere from one to ten. From Scotty, ‘slight problems’ could mean imminent warp core ejection. Definitely a ten. Tens rarely came from security though. “What slight problem is that?”
“Well…one of our security guards, Ensign Jones, is refusing to report for duty.”
“Ah.” Well, that rated about a zero-point-two.
“He won’t come out of his quarters. I threatened to call you and he said ‘go right ahead’ so…”
“Hmm.” A crewmember barricaded in his quarters had some possibilities. Maybe not on the emergency level, but perhaps on the interest level. “I think I’ll take care of this personally.”
“I—thank you, Captain.”
“All part of the job description.”
* * *
It took Kirk a little while to arrive on the scene. Mostly because he had not the faintest idea where Jones’ quarters were. So that slowed him down a bit, but he eventually managed to locate them with the help of the computer. He arrived to find Simmons involved in a heated argument with a closed door; or rather, with Jones who was on the other side of the door.
“There is absolutely no reason to barricade yourself!” Simmons was shouting.
“Well I happen to think there is!” Jones could be heard shouting back.
“Even if there is, you can’t just barricade yourself! If we all barricaded ourselves whenever there was danger, landing parties would never make it off the ship!”
“I’m still not coming out!”
“Oh really?! Well the Captain’s coming, and we’ll just see what he says—”
It was about there that Simmons realized the Captain wasn’t coming. He was already there. Simmons jumped to attention, and snapped off a somewhat wild salute that, had Kirk been a bit closer, would have taken his head off.
“Um…at ease,” Kirk said.
“Yes, sir! Ensign Jones still refuses to come out, sir.”
“So I see.”
“I’ll take over from here. You can go back to…whatever it is you do,” Kirk finished rather lamely. “Which, of course, I’m sure is very important to the ship’s security,” he added quickly.
“Yes, sir!” Simmons marched smartly down the hallway, off to whatever it is he did on the ship. He currently had two funerals to plan.
Kirk walked over to Jones’ door, and rapped on it. All that did was make his knuckles smart a little. He ignored it.
“Jones, this is Captain Kirk! Open the door!”
“No!” Jones shouted. “I won’t! I won’t!”
“I’m ordering you to come out!”
“I still won’t!”
“Then I’ll have to come in!” Kirk warned.
“Go right ahead and try!”
Kirk eyed the door. He backed across the corridor from it to allow for momentum. Then, with a bit of a start, he went crashing against the door, with every intention of breaking it down as they did in old movies.
The door did not react. As for Kirk, his eyes widened, he clutched his shoulder, muttered a few things that won’t be included for the sake of our G-rating, and went to call Spock.
What exactly he expected Spock to do about this whole mess is somewhat unclear. But whenever the captain had a different sort of problem, he tended to call up Spock. No particular reason, simply because.
* * *
Spock arrived within minutes. Even so, he was beaten there by McCoy. No one had, as yet, called McCoy, but somehow he tended to know everything that went on anyway. And so he walked onto the scene.
Kirk observed him coming, and stopped clutching at his shoulder. Wouldn’t do to have the doctor ask him what had happened. “Hello, Bones.”
“Hi, Jim. Heard there was trouble with Ensign Jones.”
“Yeah, he won’t come out of his quarters.” Kirk glanced past McCoy and grinned. “I see you brought company.”
McCoy looked at him, puzzled. Kirk pointed behind him, and McCoy looked back. Sure enough, a small black cat was following him. McCoy sighed, and scooped him up.
“Surak, what have I told you about staying in Sickbay?” McCoy lectured.
“Mrrr,” Surak said cheerfully.
“Expecting a cat to comprehend a complex idea such as ‘remain in Sickbay at all times’ is not logical.”
Kirk definitely didn’t say that, which meant Spock had arrived on the scene.
“And just what is so illogical about it?” McCoy challenged him.
Spock regarded him calmly. “Cats are primitive creatures. They rely on instinct, not intellect. Therefore, if the cat’s instinct is to roam, he will not grasp that he is safer remaining in Sickbay. Besides which, cats are not evolved sufficiently to allow for a language. Therefore he cannot comprehend that you wish him to remain in Sickbay when you tell him that.”
“Spock, are you insulting my cat?”
“I am stating scientific fact, Doctor.”
“Notice he doesn’t use Surak’s name while insulting his intelligence,” McCoy commented to Kirk.
“Doctor, that is not—”
“What say we do something about Jones, hmm?” Kirk interrupted, fully aware that if he didn’t interrupt they could be there all day.
“Yes, Captain. As I understand it, he has suddenly and for no apparent reason refused to leave his quarters.”
“That’s right! And you can’t make me!” Jones shouted from behind the door.
“Why?” Spock asked.
“Because I’m not coming out!”
“Actually, I was referring to why you won’t come out,” Spock clarified. “I can see where confusion could arise.”
“Don’t you know what day it is?!” Jones shrieked.
Kirk was mildly insulted. “I make a log entry every day! Several times a day! Of course I know the date! It’s Stardate—”
“Not that kind of day. Old Earth calendar day. It’s September thirteenth!”
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy looked at each other.
“And…” McCoy prompted.
“It’s also Friday!”
They looked at each other again.
“And…” McCoy prompted again.
“It’s Friday the thirteenth!”
“Don’t make me say ‘and’ again,” McCoy warned.
“Friday the thirteenth is bad luck!”
“What do you know. He’s superstitious,” Kirk commented. “But Ensign, there’s no reason to think Friday the thirteenth is bad luck.”
“Bad things always happen to me on Friday the thirteenth!” There was a pause. “Well, bad things happen to me a lot of days, but still!”
“There is no logical basis for believing the calendar date affects how events play out,” Spock said.
“So what? It is bad luck.”
Spock considered. “Actually, there are some things science can’t explain.”
“Spock, if you turn superstitious…”
“I have no intention of doing so, Doctor. I was simply attempting to consider another side of the matter.”
“Never mind the other side,” Kirk interjected. “How do we get him out?”
Spock thought about that. “The door is locked.”
“No, really?” That came from McCoy.
“Yes, really. But it may be possible to get into the mechanism and—”
“No explanation necessary,” Kirk said, cutting off a long piece of technobabble. “Just do it.”
Spock went to work on a panel next to the door, quickly revealing a complex bit of machinery. Kirk and McCoy, meanwhile, continued talking to Jones.
“This is the twenty-third century, you know,” McCoy pointed out. “Don’t you think it’s about time superstitions were dropped?”
“Do you think time affects the forces of good and evil?!” Jones shrieked. “No! On Friday the thirteenth, bad stuff happens!”
“If you’re that sure, what makes you think staying in your quarters will help any?” Kirk asked reasonably.
“If I spend the whole day hiding under my bed in my quarters, what can possibly hap—ulp!” Jones was cut off by the sound of something cracking and a strangled yelp.
Kirk and McCoy looked at each other, mildly concerned.
“Jones?” McCoy asked.
Kirk looked towards Spock, who was still fiddling with wires. “Spock, can you get the door—”
The doors slid open.
“Yes, Captain, I believe I can.”
Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Surak peered in. It looked pretty much like the quarters of all the other crewmembers of low rank who were stationed aboard theEnterprise. There were, however, two noticeable differences. One was the fact that the bed along one wall had collapsed, apparently due to a broken leg. The other was the arm sticking out from under that bed.
Between the three of them, they lifted the bed and hauled Jones out from under it. Surak watched in fascination, finding the whole business highly entertaining. McCoy examined Jones, and concluded he was basically fine. If somewhat bruised. And dazed.
Jones sat up slowly, and glanced around. His gaze came to rest on Surak, who was sitting on the floor and looking at him sideways. Jones panicked, and scrambled to his feet.
“Augh! Black cat!”
McCoy sighed. “Why does everyone seem to have something against my cat?”
“Keep it back! Don’t let it cross my path! Not on the thirteenth!”
Jones tried to rush to the door and escape. In his haste, he managed to trip over his own feet. In a spectacular move vaguely resembling a swan dive, Jones went crashing to the floor. “Ow…” he mumbled.
McCoy shook his head, and pulled out his tricorder again. “You know, I have really got to look into this boy’s psych file.”