Tales from Space Short Story Contest - On Now!

Tales from Space Short Story Contest - On Now!

Dr. Johnson-

A Glimpse into the character of Jellicman doctor, Stephen Johnson, from “Dalton’s Daughter”:

At first it was just noticing that when I asked a question Stephen would answer, sounding happy and excited to share his information with me, and then I noticed that he treated Sarah as though she was stupid if she asked an equally legitimate question. I overheard Ange, one of the other nurses teasing Sarah, it was just one comment about how Steven had found fresh meat to go after and then I realized that the ‘meat’ they were talking about was me. I put togther that he laughed at my jokes, which historically only Anastasia had ever laughed at, and he would linger anytime we touched… our fingers, our hips as we moved around the lab or the examination room…

With my heart racing I tried to analyze my own feelings about Steven Johnson. I had never thought of him, not that way. I liked him a lot but to be perfectly honest, I found him to be very alien. Being able to see his bones and his blood vessels, even to see the outside of his brain as he analyzed and thought… it was alien and alien wasn’t attractive.

But it was flattering. He was very intelligent and he was so very kind… well, to everyone except Sarah. I wondered what she had done to him break his heart and make him so angry. I automatically placed the blame for the failure of the relationship on Sarah, how could Dr. Johnson go from being so kind to so callous unless she had done something… in a totally groundless leap of logic I decided that she had had an affair on him and only realized her mistake after breaking his heart. That was a fanciful and absurd assumption and it turned out that I had it all exactly wrong.

I went to the store and used a few of my hoarded credits to buy some lipstick and eyeliner. I wore them into the lab the next day and noticed that there was a tingle when our fingers touched. I let our fingers touch for that extra moment and watched the transluscent corners of his mouth quirk up into a smile. My fingers started to shake and I felt.. excited. My breath caught and I liked the feeling I had of being out of control. I liked the sudden flush of heat across my abdomen, I liked the shaking of my hands, I liked the ragged edge to my breath. I moved my hair behind my ear and waited to see what he would do, to see where he would go next. He moved away from me and I felt a surge of disappointment and then I heard the sound of footsteps.

Dr. Johnson, there’s a patient to see you… he said he had a head injury but he walked in here without any problems… should I get him to lie down?”

Dr. Johnson cursed in Jellyman under his breath and moved Sarah aside to go out to tend the patient. She looked at me and her eyes narrowed perceptibly. I watched her, trying to keep my face vague but knowing that a horribly blush was spreading up my neck and across my cheeks. She shook her head at me and turned on her heel to follow Johnson to tend the patient. It was no good, she and I both knew it but she seemed to have an odd insistance in folllowin things through to their embarrassing conclusions. She came back into the lab, her tvoice was filled with cold rage and she didn’t bother to conceal the glare in her eyes in the slightest.

The Doctor would like your assistance with the patient… Sasha.” She managed to turn my name into a threat. She seemed to know that I understood now where things stood in the office and all attempts at trying to suppress her anger with me had vanished. She blocked the door so I had to turn sideways to get past her to do as Dr. Johnson had asked.

Dr. Johnson had the young cadet laid out on a flat board and he showed me how to hold the injured neck in place so that nothing new would happen to hurt the patient more. He had shown me how to do it before using myself or Sarah or Ange as the patient but it felt different doing it with somone who was actually injured. He felt like jagged bits of glass were stuck in his neck when I touched it with my hands. There wasn’t anything physical like that, it was just a sense and when I moved him the slightest bit out of the optimum way I imagined that it was like rolling it around in glass and had to work not to flinch from him. Once he was strapped down we were able to lift him up and move him to the scanner.

Afterwards, I went to lunch with Dr. Johnson. That was when he asked me to call him Steven. I blushed again… hard. I wondered what it would be like to never blush and watched his food get chewwed through this clear cheek and then get swallowed until it disappeared beneath the collar of his shirt. He covered the side of his face with his napkin selfconsiously. I looked down at my chicken salad sandwhich, I was embarrased that I had embarrased him.

He cleared his throat. “I was wondering if you wanted to watch the Holo with me tonight. There is a movie…”

Yes.” I blurted out without even letting him finish.

That would be nice… It would be nice to get to know you better, Sasha.”

We finished our lunch in near silence. I had to work very hard not to be clumsy when we returned to organizing the lab. He kept brushing up against me, leaning over me to reach something. He was much taller than me and when I looked up I would see the blood vessels in a transluscent wrist wrapped around bone sticking out of his lab coat and watch his pulse as his finger bones grabbed the big jugs on the shelves over me. He smelled warm and a little like something that I couldn’t identify at the time but I later on realized was the ocean.

I bought contraceptives from the store and then I looked on my PD only to realize that Jellymen were a different species and there had never been a successful breeding between a human and a Jellyman. Then I wondered what was wrong with me that I thought that making babies with someone I had only called by his first name over chicken salad a few hours ago was even an option… or rather, trying to not make babies with him… you know what I mean.

Then I decided that I didn’t care and I brought them with me anyhow. I also bought eye shadow and mascara and lifted my chin defiantly to the girl who rang me through, daring her in my mind to ask me about my evening’s plans.

He let me into his room and it was much more normal than I had been afraid of. I had been worried that it would be a big deal and the he would have dimmed the lights and put on romantic music. I worried that the whole thing would be like a bad Holo that my mother would watch and cry over. It wasn’t like that.

It was brightly lit and there were stacks of journals all over the place. He had several cats that climbed on everything and made me sneeze until he matter of factly reached into a kitchen drawer and took out a hypo and injected me with antihistimines.

I’m sorry about the cats, it seems like everyone from Dalton has allergies so I keep hypos in here now for any complany that I might have.”

I squinched my eyes shut and nodded, hoping it would kick in soon. I tried to wipe my eyes with a kleenix so that I didn’t smear my new mascara all over my cheeks. When I went to the bathroom I discovered that it hadn’t worked as well as I had hoped and went about wiping off my raccoon eyes and trying to repair the damage to my red, swollen eyes with plenty of cold water. I wouldn’t say that I looked sexy when I was done but I looked a little less horrible at least.

Steven was banging pots around in the kitchen and his cats were wandering around on the counters and winding around his legs. I was very upset that my first time seeing cats for real was going so badly. I had never had a hard time with allergies around Penny but this was completely different. They were so soft.

I reached down and petted one who seemed to have decided that she should groom any extra fur off on my pants. She was blackish brown with streaks of orange. Her eyes were bright green all over with no whites at all and a little slit where her pupil should be. She looked up at me and I had the distinct impression that she was laughing at me.

“They look like they should be able to talk.” I was surprised that I had spoken my thought out loud and smiled shyly at Steven.

“Not these ones… I think I’d go mad if they could talk, look how demanding they are even without the ability of speech. I’d feel like a slave in my own house.”

The at I had been petting mewled plaintively at me and I realized he was right, but I hadn’t realized that any cats could talk. “Are these ones… umm, not as smart as the ones who talk?”

“It depends, they are genetically engineered from regular cats. These ones are just cats, from earth, but very exotic for me. There aren’t a lot of furry things on my home planet. “

“Do dogs ever talk?”

“Well, I’m no expert on them, but I have heard that some have been enhanced to do so. You can genetically modify nearly anything to talk if you have money and the will to do it. It’s mostly a question of why you would in most cases.”

“Loneliness,” I blurted.

“Definitely loneliness,” He agreed.

“I think if I was going to get a talking animal, it would be a dog.”

“You don’t like my cats?”

“Dogs don’t make me sneeze.” I answered evasively. The cats were unnerving to me in a way that Penny had never been. If Penny could talk I thought she’d be the best friend ever, well, nearly the best friend ever, I ammended.

“There is an entire planet of Dog people, the Canines. I know that they held some protests about having widespread genetically modified talking dogs. I guess I can’t blame them for being upset.”

I didn’t understand why they would be upset but nodded agreeably. There was so much about the universe that I didn’t know. Growing up on a remote resource planet had left me extremely sheltered from most of the galaxy and I was a complete hick. I knew nothing about the different races of people out in the galaxy. Jellyman Steven was my first encounter with an alien, although technically I guess Penny kind of counted as an alien being as well.

It seemed as though I had also been invited for dinner as well as a Holo and so I amused myself by snooping around his apartment while we chatted. He didn’t seem to mind and I was curious about him. He had a lot of plants as well as papers and cats. The cats seemed to come out of everywhere, I counted seven by the end of the evening but I had the unsettling suspicion that there were more that I had missed somehow. The room was cool but humid and there were vents that occassionally sprayed out a chill mist into the room. I wasn’t exactly cold but I felt like I could shortly be quite cold if the mist kept spraying.

I thought about what it would be like if I married Dr. Johnson. They were idle little fantasies but I found it hard to imagine living in this apartment in the chill damp air that seemed to be always circulating and blowing with his seven cats and constant injections for my allergies. It was such a mess, of course we would have to find a way to organize all the papers and get shelves for the plants…

What was I even thinking? Imagination-stop it.

He made spaghetti with meatballs for us and afterwards we sat on his couch, surrounded by cats and watched, “Death be not around” with James Haskins in it. He took me in his arms when we moved into the living room and pulled me towards him as though we had always cuddled up on the couch. I felt his warmth, so much warmer than the room and closed my eyes so I could only just see the Holo through my eyelashes.

“Are you cold?”

“A little,” I said. In all honesty I was trying to keep my teeth from chattering, I had gotten very cold after we ate. He was a good cook and a lot of his food was fresh, some of it from the plants in this very room, others imported, a few of the things he had I suspected were off the black market but I knew I wasn’t galactic enough to know for sure.

He pulled a blanket overtop of us and I worried about the cat hair on it bringing on another allergic attack but at least for the moment I was fine. He put his arms around me and I burrowed in, both for the warmth and for the opportunity to be close to another human being and also because he smelled like the ocean.

His hand trailed from my shoulder to the edge of my breast. He had large hands, larger than most human men have. In all he was the size of a very large human but because he was all clear around the edges it was easy to think he was a more regular size. His fingers traced circles on the edges of my breasts and I wanted him to do more to me. I made no effort to move away, I opened myself up to more. We didn’t see much of the movie, or at least, I didn’t. I was waiting every moment to wonder what he might touch next, how far he might go. It was only at the part where Sally realizes that her uncle has become Death that he lifted up the edge of my t-shirt and touched my bare skin.

I moaned softly and bit my lip. He looked down at me with kindly smiling eyes that would never blink and started to explore me in earnest. I wriggled and sighed under his touch and when he undid my pants I helped to get them off of my hips and when he stood up and started to remove his own clothes I wondered what a transluscent man would look like once the pants came off and helped him with his fly.

I fell asleep in his arms, my curiosity on the matter and some other matters as well thoroughly sated. It wasn’t until I woke up, sticky with a strange fluid and warmish that I realized that a Jellyman bed was more jelly than bed.

Waking up in a bed that covers you in chill pink slime after a night of intense love making was an uniquely disturbing experience. Steven was still asleep and I woke up with his arm draped over me, entangled and naked in his pumping blood vessels and bones. I moved his arm and he rolled over away from me, clutching his pillow and smiling. The bed was gooshy like it was filled with water but it was also a little bit warm and it was pink and the pink had transferred itself to me in the night. How had I not noticed the bed when we had come to it?

I thought about the previous night, it had started on the couch and we had taken off each other’s clothes. He was an intimidating presence naked. His heart was pounding and with each flush of the muscle it made his chest seem to glow with redness. I had been with only two men in my life and even though the second one I had been with had been pretty rushed and it had been dark, I was absolutely sure that it hadn’t moved around all on its own and I was also sure that it hadn’t nestled in a cluster of tinier moving, wriggling penis-like organs. His spaghetti was partially digested and stained his stomach and intestines. I looked away, embarrased that I was staring at him once more. I wondered what he thought of my opaque body, so much less interesting than his own. I wondered if it was weird for him too.

He lifted my chin to meet his eyes, “It’s all right for you to look, Sasha. I want you to be comfortable, I want you to enjoy me.”

Then I looked at him in earnest, as I had wanted to do all along. Except for being a little large and for the mass of moving organs in his groin, he was very much similar to the other men, and there were a couple of organs that he had I knew from the lessons he had taught me that humans didn’t have but they weren’t very noticeable. I wouldn’t have known that they didn’t belong if he hadn’t been teaching me about anatomy to further my understanding of medicine and emergency field surgery.

He ran his fingers through my hair and traced the outline of my jaw with his soft yet firm jelly finger. I put my hand on his chest and I could feel his heartbeat stronger than I could feel my own heart beat in my own chest. It seemed to resonate and impact things more than human flesh and when it throbbed I felt more of my self control yield to him. I could feel his member moving against me, it seemed to be seeking entry without any assistance from Steven and I had a moment of revulsion and tried to pull away. Steven hushed me, he hummed and the vibration from his humming made me forget what had been upsetting me.

He had hummed frequently throughout the sex and what had first felt alien and upsetting turned to feeling erotic and pleasing. I submitted to him after that without question and even when he pushed my head down to the writhing transluscent mass I took it in eagerly. I wanted him and the humming to never stop.

“Jellicmin, commonly called ‘Jellymen’ are native to the planet Jellic in the Alpha Quadrant. They had limited space travel before being encountered by the GAGA but were an enthusiastic and open member to GAGA affiliation and soon had access to space travel in exchange for the resources that the Jellicmin had to offer.

The Jellymen are unusual in that all of their muscles, tendons and ligaments are nearly completely transluscent. They are solid but considerably more pliant than the average human is accustomed to feeling flesh. Their blood gives them most of their visibility and their food is highly visible when being absorbed and digested as well. They are at home in a moist, cool environment and enjoy beds that have been designed to provide a viscous emoliant while they sleep. These beds are often called ‘clam shells’ and are often designed to mimic the shape of clams as well, although that is inconsequential to their purpose.

Jellymen are intelligent and practical and share many common traits with humans that have made them integrate especially well into the human regions of the GAGA.

They are not able to interbreed with humans or most other alien life forms but they have made several ‘mules’ with dolphins and other cetaceans. They excrete a sound that has been inaccurately compared to the purring of a cat that they use for soothing and anethetizing friends or foes. They are extremely soothing when they choose to be and can hypnotize with the beat of their pulse and the vibrations that they put out. They also excrete a substance when sexually aroused that can cause further pliancy and has been shown to have highly addictive qualities, especially in humans.”

I read the article the next morning while I was mooning around the lab, trying to learn how to test for a new form in influenza that was storming through the Delta sector. It wasnt’ hard stuff, but my mind was elsewhere. I was worried about what the article said about the possibility of addiction because I was feeling a need to be back in Steven’s arms that I had never felt before.

Sarah seemed to be fully aware of what had transpired between Dr. Johnson and I the night before. She was ignoring me and walked away from me when I asked her to hand me a stethoscope even though it was right in front of a patient. She was even somewhat rude to Steven and usually he was immune to any of her bad moods. She didn’t have a nice word for anyone that day and I pitied the patients she had to examine and the rough hands she handled them with.

It was nearly the end of my free time before basic training and I realized that it was going to be strange to not spend every single day in the infirmery and I fretted about being away from Steven. It was irrational since I had signed up to be an officer so I would be shipped off to Easty-Westy in no time and my connection to Steven was beyond tenuous. In fact, in the lab, he was much more calm and far less attentive to me than he had been the day before.

I was concerned about the sudden shift in attention away from me until we were nearly at the end of the day and then he asked me if I wanted to come back to his room again. I nodded, noting out of the corner of my eye that Sarah had overheard our exchange. That night went much the same as the night before. We had dinner which he cooked and then we watched a holo together until it devolved into sex.

I was feeling wonderful the next morning and I had never seen myself have such pink colouring and my eyes were large and shining. My hair was glossy and had a wildness to it that made me tie it back into a ponytail with extra effort to keep the strands from unwinding themselves around my face. It was like my body was hyper-charged with energy. My mind, however, was hyper worried about the mention of addiction and the feeling that I had that my senses had been messed with. I reluctantly decided that I had to break up with Steven and ‘come down’ off of what I was reluctantly quite certain was a Jellyman addiction.

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