Problem Child

By Amy Chused and Charles Dickson

Page 6

  In the Artificial Gravity Room:
  Ensign Metag is sitting cross-legged in front of the artificial 
  gravity cube with a pensive, almost zen-like look on his face. 
  He sighs and once again begins:
  Metag: Pandora, initiate phase one testing.
  Pandora: How many times do we have to do this? I've already 
  tested this thing 36 times this week. It's working fine.
  Metag: Maybe it broke in the last 10 minutes. Maybe the HVR 
  ship emanated weird rays that interfered with it. Just do it, 
  initiate phase one testing.
  Lite oozes through the door, glancing over his shoulder, then 
  looking around with a satisfied expression. He sees Ensign Metag 
  before Metag sees him and scurries into a corner.
  Pandora: Beginning testing. Gradual increase.
  Ensign Metag sinks into the floor a bit and the hidden balance of 
  his zen-like position becomes obvious as his muscles tighten and 
  he remains seated. Lite, however, is flattened out in the corner 
  and seems to be unable to get up. He is very carefully quiet, 
  mostly because all his energy is centered on breathing.
  Pandora: Continuing testing. Gradual decrease.
  Ensign Metag's taut position becomes looser and looser as his 
  muscles relax from the tension and then he gradually floats into 
  the air, remaining calm while floating a few millimeters from the 
  floor. Lite, on the other hand, sprung up when the crushing 
  gravity was lifted, and when the gravity continued to decrease, 
  he flew into the air. He suddenly appears from behind the other 
  side of the gravity cube, startling the H*** out of Ensign Metag. 
  Lite: Woooooooah!!!!!
  Ensign Metag:  Pandora, identify floating creature.
  Pandora: That appears to be the newest arrival from the HVR ship, 
  Lite: I HATE that name!!!
  Pandora: He appears to be headed for a rendezvous with the 
  ceiling. Continuing phase one testing. Swift increase.
  Ensign Metag: HALT TESTING! Geez Pandora, don't you know better 
  than to initiate high gravity when there's a floating object in 
  the room? Especially a little kid!
  Lite: I am NOT a little kid!
  Pandora: You told me to initiate phase one testing. I told you 
  we shouldn't do it, but you told me too. You insisted even. But 
  all right. Phase one testing canceled.
  Lite: (Jumping around the low gravity room) WHEEEEE! This is 
  fun! Much better than that prissy counselor's `games'. 
  Ensign Metag: Pandora, initiate a gradual return to normal 
  Lite falls to the floor. He doesn't fall hard because the return 
  was gradual, but he is not happy.
  Lite: Hey, make the gravity go away again.
  Ensign Metag looks straight at Lite and acknowledges his presence 
  for the first time. 
  Metag: Why?
  Lite: Because it was fun.
  Metag: (reminiscing) I used to think gravity was fun.  
  Those were the days. (at Lite) What was fun about it?
  Lite: I could fly and jump and everything.  They never let 
  us... I mean I never tried to do that on my space station. Make 
  it go away again.
  Metag: Why should I?
  Lite: I told you to.
  Metag: Yes, but why should I obey you. Who are you?
  Lite: (Drawing himself up to his full 4 feet) I am Bloocheez 
  Lite, nephew and heir to Bloocheez! I tell you, peon, to turn 
  the gravity off again so that I may play.
  Metag (tremendously amused for the first time in ages): Well, 
  mister Bloocheez Lite, what if I'm tired of gravity? What if I 
  don't want to change the gravity again?
  Lite: You HAVE to do what I say. I've got a starship and I could 
  blow you up if you don't.
  Metag: (even more amused) Where?
  Lite: (stomping his foot) Outside, you idiot! They shot at me 
  and then that stupid J lady tried to kidnap me. But I escaped 
  and came here. And I order you to do what I say.
  Metag: That J Lady? Would that be Counselor Jiapa?
  Lite: Yeah, that's her name. Man, is she dumb.
  Metag: (instituting a poker face) Well, she didn't seem that 
  dumb when we were at the Academy together. Perhaps you didn't 
  give her a chance?
  Lite: She's an idiot, and I want to play with the gravity. What 
  makes the gravity?
  Metag: That cube is the gravity generator. Didn't you have one 
  on your ship?
  Lite: Yeah, but they wouldn't let me see, I mean, Yes, but I 
  couldn't be bothered to go inspect it.
  Metag: Well, this cube makes our gravity.
  Lite: How does it work?
  Metag: It would take far too long to explain. Simply, the cube 
  makes the gravity and these coils carry it all over the ship to 
  where it is needed.
  Lite climbs on top of the cube to see the coils Metag is pointing 
  Lite: These coils?
  Metag: Yes, those. This one carries the gravity to the bridge. 
  These two carry it to sickbay, and that one carries it to this 
  Lite: Oh BOY!!!! I wanna float.
  He grabs hold of the indicated coil and starts to tug. Luckily 
  it is firmly attached to the cube and Lite can not even move the 
  Metag: (smiling indulgently) I told you Lite, I control the 
  Lite looks over at Metag hollers: I want to FLOAT! Make it go 
  Metag: (wryly) Well, if you ate your mushrooms...
  Lite: (confusedly) What do veggies have to do with floating? 
  (forcefully) Don't change the subject, peasant! I told you, (an 
  escalating yell) I want to float and I want you to make the 
  gravity GO AWAY!!!
  Metag puts his hand to his head.
  Metag: Don't yell so loudly; you're giving me a headache. Let me 
  think a sec.
  Lite patiently waits all of 500 milliseconds before shouting...
  Metag winces at Lite's volume which has echoed throughout the 
  small room. He is not used to children, and although he wants to 
  be friendly, he is especially not used to loud imperious 
  Metag: (calmer and slower than before, and gradually getting 
  quieter) I can't turn off the gravity, Lite. This gravity 
  controls the whole ship, and it would not be fair to everyone 
  else to turn off this gravity.
  Lite is jumping up and down on the cube, stomping on the 
  connecting coils. They are well attached, but this is still 
  making Metag nervous. He is also shouting FLOAT at the top of 
  his lungs. He pauses, however, when he hears the 'this gravity' 
  in Metag's statement.
  Lite: There's other gravity? Where I could turn it off and 
  Metag: (tremendously relieved to get a question instead of a yell 
  from Lite starts to answer thoughtfully) Why yes it's possible. 
  Commander yaz-pistashio has lowered gravity in his quarters.   
  (he stops to ponder how Lite could float) And if you really want 
  to float I suppose you could ask Pandora to make up a holodeck 
  for you...
  Lite doesn't even hear Metag's last sentence, however, for as 
  soon as he heard yaz's name, he jumps off the cube and dashes out 
  of the room. Metag looks up, sees that the kid is gone, shrugs, 
  and returns his attention to Pandora.
  Metag: Pandora, are there any other life forms in this room 
  besides me?
  Pandora: Nope.
  Metag: Then, Pandora, continue testing.
  Pandora: Do I have to?

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