Problem Child

By Amy Chused and Charles Dickson

Page 11

  Captain's Log, stardate 48637 PM: I have been captured and 
  detained on an alien ship in which everybody seems to think I 
  belong in the library for some reason. I am currently plotting 
  my escape and the completion of my secret mission.
  Scene: Library. This is a large room with several tables and 
  even more comfy chairs scattered about. On two walls stand 
  shelves of precious paper books behind locked glass doors (The 
  Head Librarian has the key, and is generous about lending them, 
  but locking is star fleet policy). To the side of the entrance 
  stands a rack of readers and a bin of returned books (to the 20th 
  century eye they would look like disks). Several terminals are 
  in use; one is in the process of dispensing a disk. The Head 
  Librarian and the Music Coordinator are standing at a far table 
  with several sheets of paper in front of them. 
  At a table at the far end, Lite sits in a chair squeezed against 
  the wall, with a book open on the table in front of him. Across 
  the table, his huge bulk blocking any way out, Thokk sloowwwly 
  scans through a copy of 'Elementary Food Machine Operation', 
  looking up every once in a while at his prisoner. Lite very 
  carefully rips a corner off of one of the pages in his book, 
  making as little noise as possible and with his eyes on Thokk the 
  entire time. He balls it up, and puts it in his mouth. 
  Sound Effect: Ptoo!
  Thokk: (looking up from his book) What was that?
  Lite: Wasn't me! What, did something happen?
  Thokk rumbles annoyedly, and goes back to his manual. Lite 
  begins to tear at another corner of his book.
  At the other side of the room, the Head Librarian Guillaume and 
  Music Coordinator Stoops are arguing about the filing of new 
  music.  Bits of the conversation drift over, and Lite pricks up 
  his ears trying to listen to it.
  Guillaume: This piece by Renee Serendipity goes nicely with his 
  previous works. We can file them under Modern Dissonance: Renee 
  Serendipity: Opus 13.
  Stoops: Are you out of your mind? This is a complete departure 
  from anything he's done before. Just feel the tonality 
  underlying the discord. It's even got a hummmmmmable tune. (She 
  demonstrates). I think we should file it under Subter-fugue, 
  with a link to his previous works.
  Guillaume: Do you know how much maintenance needs to be done on 
  those annoying links? Minutes of computer time every single day!
  Lite, on hearing "Subter-fugue" perks up. He fires another 
  spitball, which sticks to Thokk's face just under his left eye.
  Thokk: What? What was that? (picks it off his face)
  Lite: Nothing! Wasn't me! There's something dripping down from 
  the ceiling!
  Thokk: This looks like an irregularly shaped piece of flat 
  cellulose, which has been crumpled up and dipped in some sort of 
  liquid. (looks suspiciously at Lite, then suddenly shoots a 
  burly arm across the table and clamps a hand around his throat, 
  pulling him out of the chair a few inches)  This isn't a 
  spitball, is it?
  Thokk: Good. Don't do it again. (Lets go. Lite slides down 
  into his chair and feels his neck carefully)
  On the other side of the room:
  Stoops: Look, you asked for my help in classifying these things. 
  If you don't want it, just tell me and I'll take my expertise and 
  information elsewhere.
  Guillaume: No, no. I do want your help. We'll do the link. 
  It's fine. But what do I do about this bugs stuff? 
  Stoops: Bugs?
  Guillaume: Apparently these were popular songs 400 years ago, 
  but got lost during the Eugenics wars. The Eugenics leaders 
  thought the songs corrupted youth from self-improvement. 
  Stoops: Oh, Beatles. (she laughs)
  On "Eugenics wars" Lite carefully resumes his ripping, checking 
  extra carefully before shooting another spitball at the 
  Thokk: What! What's going on here! I saw you that time, little 
  shrimp! You really what your head ripped off or not?
  Lite: Really! I didn't do it! It was somebody else! (looks 
  around, but there isn't even anybody else at their end of the 
  library.) Don't hit me! I won't do it again.
  Guillaume: Hey! Tho-okk! Quiet in the library!
  Thokk: Sorry. Won't happen again. 
  Thokk glowers over the kid for about a minute, then slowly sits 
  down staring at Lite for another two minutes. 
  Guillaume: Beatles, Bugs, whatever... this is some kind of old 
  recording, from some vinyl disc recording media which they 
  discovered recently. Something about "the original listening 
  experience" or some fool nonsense, and now we get to file it. It 
  doesn't go under show tunes. It is not at all dissonant. It's 
  not current popular music. I suppose I could file it under 
  historical music, but then I have to specify non-classical.
  Stoops: Trust me, file it under popular songs, singable. It's 
  good stuff...
  Thokk finally glances down. Lite's fingers creep towards the 
  pages of the book. He starts to rip.
  Thokk: (Lunging over the table for Lite in a blind rage) 
  Lite: IIIIEEEE! (Ducks under the table, scrambling out from 
  underneath on the other side. Thokk's legs wave over the edge of 
  the table, but he is now wedged, head first, between it and the 
  wall, and unfortunately it is bolted down.)
  Guillaume: (looking up) Hey, what's happening over there?! 
  It's too late. Lite is charging over from the other side of the 
  room, and manages to impact both people with a crash and a flurry 
  of papers. Lite grabs the remaining pages of sheet music from 
  the counter and shoots out the door with a whoop. Guillaume and 
  Stoops slowly get up from under the table.
  Guillaume: What was that?

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